Chapter Reveal

Chapter Reveal – Cain by Alexis Noell

Title: Cain

Series: Deathstalkers 2nd Generation #1

Author: Alexis Noelle

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: May 6, 2019
Blurb
When I found her that night I had no idea what I was getting into.

She’d been hurt, destroyed.

I couldn’t walk away from her.

Little did I know that helping her would change my entire life.

Now she’s in danger, someone is after her and I need to protect her.

The only problem is that once I make her mine who will protect her from
me?
Pre-order Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Prologue
Emma

Three
Months ago

“Bad dreams
bad dreams go away, good dreams good dreams come to stay. Close your eyes my
little one, tomorrow will be lots of fun.” Amy giggles as I lean down to give
her a hug and a kiss. “Love you princess girl.”

“I love you
momma.” She smiles up at me and it makes all of the stressful moments worth it.

I quietly
shut her door and walk out into the living room. Looking at the couch I think
about grabbing a glass of wine and enjoying some time to myself.

Who are
you kidding? You’ll be asleep after the second sip.

I decide
against the wine, grab a bottle of water and head to my room. Sometimes I want
to go get Amy and just pull her into my bed with me. I hate the loneliness that
comes at night. Most nights I sleep with the TV on just so I’m not jumping at
every noise I hear when the apartment is quiet. I turn on the TV and a movie
I’ve seen a dozen times before is on, knowing I’ll be passed out soon I don’t
even bother changing it.

Laying down
my hand trails over the large empty space next to me. I’ve been so closed off
since Amy’s dad screwed us over. I never wanted to put myself in that position
again. Giving someone the power to hurt me was not going to happen. I still
wonder how it would feel to have someone in our lives, a role model for Amy to
see how a man should treat a woman. I’m thankful that she was young enough when
everything happened with her dad that she probably doesn’t remember any of it.

We haven’t
heard from him in two years since he came clean about his affair and walked out
on us. I had been a stay at home mom, and had to scramble just to find a job to
support us. I was just digging myself out of debt now because for two months we
lived off of the credit cards I had. Some days I felt like I was drowning and
others I thought I had my shit together. I wasn’t close with my family so I had
no one to lean on but myself.

When your
back is against the wall you really find out what you’re made of. I was able to
see that I was so much stronger than I ever thought I was. I started out
working at one of the local daycare centers and the director took me under her
wing. I was now running the four-year-old classroom and also had just been
giving the responsibilities of assistant director. I catch myself falling
asleep even though I’m trying to stay awake and enjoy the little bit of alone
time I have.

The bed
dips beside me and I jolt from the movement. Amy must have had another bad
dream. “Climb under the covers and close your eyes princess.”

When there
is no response I open my eyes seeing a man hovering over me with one of my
kitchen knives in his hand. I open my mouth to scream but he covers it. “You
scream and your little princess might wake up. I’d hate to have to hurt her
because her mother made a stupid choice. Understand?”

I nod and
he takes his hand off of my mouth.

“You are so
goddamn beautiful.” He uses the knife to pull the sheets down the tip dragging
over my body. “I have been dreaming about this.” His fingers roughly pinch my
nipple and I yelp. “Ah, ah, ah. Remember what I said about being loud Emma.”

He knows my
name. Who is he? The ski mask on his face shows me nothing except for the small
holes cut out for his eyes and mouth.

The knife
slides under my shirt and he jerks it up quickly slicing through the thin
fabric. Tears start to fall from my eyes but I make sure to stay quiet. He does
the same thing with my pants and panties cutting them off until I am lying bare
underneath him.

“Don’t cry,
you’re ruining it for me. You don’t want me to be unsatisfied after this and go
looking for more right?” His eyes move to the door. He wouldn’t, but even as I
think that I know he would. “You will moan, tell me how good I feel, and how
much you like this dick. Understand?” I nod, but I have no idea how I am going
to get through this. His hands move down my body as he forces his fingers
inside of me I bite down on my lip to keep from crying out. He pulls out of me
and raises his finger to his mouth. “You are too sweet to just have once. I am
going to enjoy you tonight and then I’ll be back once a month on this date. You
make sure that you’re home or I’ll be back and I won’t be happy. If you think
I’m a monster now, you don’t want to see what I’ll be like then. Understand?”

My stomach
rolls and I have to fight the urge to throw up. He plans to come back.

“If you go
to the cops, or you tell anyone. I will pay a visit to your little princess and
you don’t want to know how that will end. Maybe I’ll even pick her up from Wee
Care.”

My eyes
widen he knows where I work, where Amy goes to school.

“Do you
understand me Emma?”

I nod and
silent tears fall down my face as he lowers his mouth to me.


Chapter One
Cain

“I get
where you’re coming from, just make sure we cover our ass through all this
shit.” I look over at Logan as he nods his head.

Growing up
in the club everyone knew we would end up officers someday. For Logan everyone
assumed it would be his older brother Carter, but when the time came for their
dad to step down Carter didn’t want it. Logan jumped at the chance and named me
his Sergeant At Arms. Our dad’s still try to give us shit like we’re kids but
we have the club running like a well oiled fucking machine.

“I’m going
to head home, the early run this morning fucking killed me. See you tomorrow
brother.” I walk out of the office and through the main room. There is a party
tonight, but hell there is a party every night here.

“Hey,
Cain.” Trixie says as her hand grasps my wrist. “How about we head up to your
room?”

“Not
tonight. Go find someone else.” I pull my wrist from her and keep walking
toward the door. She’s a good time when I’m bored but lately she’s been to
fucking clingy. All the officer’s have rooms upstairs away from the brothers
rooms, but I also have an apartment. Sometimes it’s nice to just to get out of
here for a little. Plus the more I hang around the more the club girls are
going to swarm. They all have this diluted fucking idea that one of us will
fall in love with them and make them an old lady.

Fuck. That.
Shit.

Not only do
I not want an old lady but when I get one, she sure as fuck wouldn’t have
ridden every other dick in the club.

I hop onto
my bike and give the prospect a nod as I pull out of the compound. My apartment
building is only about ten minutes away, close enough in case I need to get to
the club in a hurry, far enough that I can get away when I want to. Walking
into the building I check my mailbox but it’s empty as usual. I take the
elevator up to my floor when I step out something catches my eye. A guy in a
black hoodie is closing the door to the apartment near the stairs. His hood is
pulled up and it seems like something might be covering his face.

I know the
woman in that apartment. Quiet, pretty, always smiling and she has a little
girl who is always bopping around with some doll in her arms.

I should go
to my apartment and mind my own goddamn business. For some reason I can’t get
my feet to turn around. I start walking toward the door and when I go to knock
the door opens a little. Before I can even say anything I hear the muffled
sound of crying.

Fuck.

“Hey, just
checking to make sure—“my voice catches in my throat when I see her.

The happy
woman who always greets me with a smile is on the floor huddled against the
couch completely naked. Her knees are drawn up to her chest, her face is tear
stained and red like she’s been hit. Even from fifteen feet away I can see her
entire body shaking.

I close the
door and grab a blanket off of the couch, placing it over her I kneel down in
front of her. “Are you okay? I’m going to call 911.”

“No!” she
screams and her face twists in fear.

“What do
you mean no? Whoever the asshole is that did something to you needs to fucking
pay.” I reach into my pocket for my phone but her hand grabs me tight.

“You can’t.
I can’t” She is crying so hard each word seems forced. “He’ll…”

“Mommy?” a
tiny voice fills the large room and I see her daughter standing there. She’s
rubbing her eyes and gripping a raggedy looking teddy bear.

I look at
the terrified woman in front of me. I can’t let her daughter see her like this.
“Well hey there beautiful. What are you doing up?”

“I thought
I heard something. Is mommy okay?” She starts to walk toward us but I stand up
and move to where she is before she can get far.

“She’s
okay, she just stubbed her toe really hard and yelled when it happened.
Thinking that’s what you heard.” The little girl looks from me to where her mom
is in front of the couch. “Hey, how about we get you a drink of water and you
can show me your room?”

A huge
smile breaks out across her face. “I’m Amelia, my friends call me Amy.”

I grab a bottle
of water off the case that is on the table. “Well, my name is Cain. Can I call
you Amy?”

She arches
an eyebrow at me like she’s considering my request. “I haven’t decided yet.”
Amy laughs before running down the hallway.

I follow
her knowing I need her to get back to bed and stay away from her mom right now.
Walking into the bedroom it looks like every little girls dream room. There are
unicorn, rainbows, and princesses everywhere. “Well this has to be one of the
coolest bedrooms ever.”

Amy laugh
as she climbs into bed. “Goodnight Cain.”

“Goodnight
Miss Amelia.” I close her door and walk out into the living room.

Walking
over to the couch I look down at her. “Your little girl is back in bed and I
doubt she had any idea anything was wrong. If you expect me not to call the
cops you need to start talking. Let’s start with your name, if you didn’t catch
mine it’s Cain.” I notice her clothes on the floor and pick them up to hand
them to her, except their cut in half.

Fuck.

I walk back
into the hallway and go into the room on the other end. Heading over to the
dresser I grab the first pair of pants and t-shirt I can find. When I walk back
out she’s managed to wrap the blanket around her body and she is standing up.

“Grabbed
these for you.” I hand them to her and turn my back. To give her some privacy.

“Thank
you.” I turn around and she is sitting on the couch. Her gaze is fixed on nothing
and the color is drained from her face. I walk over and sit in front of her.
“My name is Emma.”

She looks
me in the eye and I can’t look away. Her eyes are a deep green and even though
they look so fucking sad, they’re beautiful. I wait for her to say something
but she has her eyes are trained on the tiny hands wringing in her lap. “I know
you don’t know me for shit, but I need to know what happened. Especially if
you’re saying to me that you aren’t going to the cops. I could help you more
than you know.” Like castrating that asshole and making sure he never breathes
again.

“I…I can’t
tell anyone.” Her eyes don’t meet mine but I follow her gaze to the hallway
where Amy’s room is.

“He
threaten you?” She doesn’t answer. I dip my head down so my eyes catch hers.
“Tell me.”

She nods as
a few tears fall down her cheek.

She’s in no
place that I’m going to get anything out of her right now. “Tell you what. Go
to bed and we can talk this shit over in the morning. I’m gonna stay here on
the couch.”

Her breath
catches like my offer surprises her. “No, it’s okay. We’ll be fine. He never
comes back.”

My head
snaps up at that sentence. “What does that mean? This shit’s happened before?”
No answer. “Emma, that’s the only question you need to answer tonight from me.
After that go lay down and get some much needed rest but I need that answer.”

“Twice
before.” He voice is so quiet I almost don’t catch the response.

What the
fuck? He’s done this to her three times?

“I know
what you must think of me, but you don’t understand.” Tears fall freely each
one making small drops on her gray pants.

I take her
hands and at first she jumps before looking up at me. “I think that you have an
amazing kid back there. I think that whenever I see you, you’re always smiling.
I think that whoever is doing this will regret the very day they were born when
I’m done.”

“You can’t
do anything. No one can.” She stands up and walks toward the hallway. I want to
go after her. I want to tell her that somehow I am going to make this shit
right. I let her go though, she needs to rest and I need time to figure out
what my next move is.

I text Dom
asking him to pull camera feeds from anywhere he can find, and let him know
what he’s looking for. Anytime the club needs something tech wise we go to him.
Best part is that he isn’t the kind to ask questions.

My hands
scrub over my face.

Dom:
What is her last name?

Me:
Don’t know it

Dom: How
do you know her?

Me: She
lives in the building.

Dom:
Watch where you choose to stick your nose brother.

Me: Yep.
I know he’s
right. With all the shit the club gets into we don’t need any added attention.
There is no way in hell I can just walk away from this situation though.

I need to
help her.

To make
sure that she’s safe.

And I don’t
even know that I really understand why.


Chapter Two
Emma

The sound
of Amy yelling jolts me from my sleep. Throwing the covers off of me I run out
into the living room to find her hitting Cain with a pillow. I’m about to tell
her to stop when he shoots up yelling “boo” and scaring her. Amy starts to
laugh and then runs over to me hiding behind my legs.

Cain’s eyes
meet mine and I freeze. I know he said last night that he was staying, but I
didn’t think he actually would. I have seen him a handful of times in the
building but we have never spoken more than a ‘hi’ to each other. His eyes seem
to scan my body like he’s making sure everything is intact.

“Mornin’”
he says as he stands up. The hat he had on last night is laying on the couch,
his buzz cut is a little bit long and his beard is a bit disheveled. I can’t
help but stare as he seems to be stretching after being scrunched up on my tiny
couch all night. His blue eyes meet mine and its almost like I can’t move under
his gaze. “Hey Amelia, how about some breakfast?”

“Yes! I’m
so hungry I could eat a cow!” Amy runs over to him jumping up and down in
excitement.

“Well I
don’t have a cow, but how about a pig? I have bacon and eggs. You can even
help.” He winks at her and starts walking toward the kitchen with Amy hot on
his heels.

“I actually
don’t think I have any of that.” I usually grocery shopped on weekends so come
Friday we are down to the bare bones.

“You
didn’t.” Cain looks back at me and smiles. “I had it taken care of.”

What is
that even supposed to mean? “Oh I didn’t realize you went out this morning
already.”

He pulls a
kitchen chair up to the table for Emma then walks over closer to me. “I didn’t.
I told you last night I wasn’t leaving and I meant it. I had it taken care of.
No big deal.” His hand rubs my arm and my skin immediately heats under his
touch. “Now I’m going to make breakfast with Amelia, then after that we are
going to talk about everything. Relax until then.”

He walks
away from me and whispers something in Amy’s ear that makes her laugh. The two
of them start cracking the eggs and getting pans out of the cabinet. Walking
over to the counter I grab a cup of coffee and then sit at the table, just
watching.

Cain
interacts with Emma like he’s known her for her whole life. Looking at him I
would have never assumed he would be like this. He looks so intimidating and
serious. I watch them make breakfast enjoying a site I never expected I’d see,
at least not any time soon. When Amy walks over with the plate for me she has
such a proud smile on her face. “This looks amazing princess, thank you.”

She wiggles
a finger at me and I bend my head down to her. “Cain did most of it, but he
said I could take credit.”

I look over
at him mouthing the words ‘thank you’. He smiles back at me and I swear it hits
me right in my chest. We eat breakfast with easy conversation and lots of
laughs. I look over at the man sitting across from me who as of last night was
a total stranger to me. For some reason he’s taken an interest in us. He slept
on my couch last night knowing I was scared. He helped me with Amy knowing I
was in no place to last night. I’m trying not to be suspicious, and skeptical
but I can’t help wonder what his motives are. Why would he want to help us the
way he is?

“Mommy, I’m
done. Can I go play?” Amy looks over at me and I nod my head. “Cain, do you
want to play? I have lots of extra princess dresses and crowns.”

Cain chokes
on the bite of food he had been chewing. “I need to talk to your mom for a
little but maybe after that.”

“Okay!” she
runs off toward the hallway.

I look
across the table at Cain not ready to have the conversation that he wants from
me. Do I owe him an explanation? He has put in so much effort, making me feel
safer last night, the way he’s been with Amy “Thank you for everything.”

“It’s no
problem.” He grabs our dishes off the table and puts them in the sink. I move
to the couch and start fidgeting with one of the throw pillows. The couch dips
when Cain sits down next to me. I glance up at him and meet his eyes that feel
like they can see right through me. “I know you don’t know me but you can trust
me and I can help you.”

“You
can’t.” I want to believe he can, that anyone could. The things this asshole
has done are straight out of my nightmares.

“I need you
to just trust me.” His voice sounds so sincere.

This secret
has been killing me. I’ve wanted to let someone in, confide in someone for so
long. Am I really willing to confide in a stranger though? I look up at him and
when our eyes meet I feel pulled to him. Like there are magnets drawing us
together. “Last night was the third time. He comes on the same day every month.
The first time he told me that he would be back every month, he warned me that
I needed to make sure I was home.” My hands fist the pillow as the memories
start to come back. “He said if I told anyone, went to the cops, or I wasn’t
home that he would come after Amy. He mentioned the name of the school she goes
to, and that I work at. Even after the first time I was contemplating going to
the cops but the first week after I got notes from him every day. Some
mentioned certain clothing I was wearing, or a place I had gone that day. He
made it clear he was watching and I—“ a sob wracks my chest and I can’t finish
the sentence.

His hands
take my arms and pull me against him. I let myself sink against his chest
needing the comfort he’s providing. After keeping everything in for so long
it’s like I’ve opened up the floodgates. I let myself cry as Cain just holds me
silently. His arms around me almost feel like a shield, like nothing can touch
me when I’m there.

I don’t
know how long passes but once my crying has slowed down I feel his arms tighten
around me. I sit up some breaking his hold and noticing that his t-shirt is now
completely soaked where my face was. “I’m sorry…” my voice trails off realizing
how little I know him and how vulnerable I just let myself be.

“Don’t be.
I couldn’t care less about my shirt.” His thumb swipes a stray tear from my
cheek. “I am going to help you. This asshole will never lay a hand on you
again.”

I shake my
head. “I told you, you can’t. I won’t put Amy at risk. I’d rather deal with
that monster every day then chance him coming near her.”

His fingers
grip my chin to bring my gaze to his. “He won’t touch her, or you ever again. I
will make sure of that. I know shit seems impossible but as long as you trust
me you’ll see. This shit ends now.”

I take a
deep breath trying to take in everything he is saying to me. “Why?”

A look of
confusion crosses his face, “why what?”

“Why are
you doing this? Why do you care?” I just can’t wrap my head around him being
here.

“If I’m
honest, I’m not completely sure why.” He takes my hand, “when I walked in here
last night I would have done anything to fix what happened, to take away the
pain that I saw inside of you. “

I just look
at him not really knowing how to react to what he said or the fact that he is
trying to be my knight in shining armor.

He tucks a
strand of hair behind my ear. “I will be here every night, me or one of my
brothers will also be with you wherever you go. You will not be alone.”

“Brothers?
How many do you have? I don’t want a lot of people knowing about this.”

He laughs,
“not those kind of brothers. I guess I should back up a minute and really
introduce myself.”

I look at
him so confused as to what he could be talking about.

“My name in
Cain Marshall and I’m the current Sargent At Arms for the Deathstalkers MC.

Holy crap.
Author Bio
I love reading romance books! I feel like being able to lose yourself in
a book in one of the more exciting aspects. The books I love to read and write
will be ones that make you feel for the characters. You should have an opinion
on every character in a book. Whether you love them, hate them, or think they
are up to something.

I live in Levittown Pennsylvania, with my two kids, and two dogs. On top
of starting a writing career I am a full time teacher, and a full time mom. I
love spending time with my kids, although I have to hide the computer from them
when I am writing! I love being active and being able to do any activity
outdoors.

I have always thought as an author the most important critic is your
reader, so I would love to hear from you. If you read the book and loved it or
hated it, tell me. As long as it is in a constructive way I will always answer
and interact with you. I want fans to feel free to tell me what they want for
the characters in the story and what they want to see happen.
Author Links

CHAPTER REVEAL & PRE-ORDER BLITZ ▪︎ Mr. Fantasy ▪︎ by Cambria Hebert

CHAPTER REVEAL & PRE-ORDER BLITZ

Title: Mr. Fantasy

Author: Cambria Hebert

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: April 2, 2019

BLURB

Better than your reality…

A Caribbean island.
A rich CEO.
A woman thrown overboard.
A delicious one-night stand.
Want to know what happens next?

Find all the answers and more between the pages
of this sizzling standalone romance—Mr. Fantasy.

Mr. Fantasy is a standalone contemporary romance novel and contains an HEA.

GOODREADS LINK

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44177896-mr-fantasy

PRE-ORDER LINKS

US: https://amzn.to/2FkO2Nf
UK: https://amzn.to/2HsrEDZ
CA: https://amzn.to/2CqLfQN
AU: https://amzn.to/2VURKCK
B&N: http://bit.ly/2TPntI6
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2W0gSYT
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2HyYAtN

CHAPTER 1 + 2 of MR. FANTASY

1
Nora
“I can’t believe the week is almost over.” Val groaned, then consoled herself with a large gulp of the fruity cocktail sitting in front of her.
I sighed sadly, silently agreeing with her. Spring break needed to be a lot longer than a week. Pretty soon, it would be back to work, back to classes… back to reality.
Reality sucked.
Especially when I gazed around this tropical resort and realized some people lived like this all the time.
“One week in paradise just isn’t enough,” I said out loud, playing with the pink umbrella perched in the coconut drink I held. Rotating the barstool, I spun to face the turquoise water of the ocean and pure-white sand beneath it.
Grass umbrellas dotted the beach, and under them, people lounged and played. Beyond the beach, people also played in the water, running around in skimpy bikinis and golden tans.
The breeze off the ocean blew through the tangled strands of my blond hair, and sand clung between my toes. Focusing past the shoreline, I gazed across the water, past the floating cabanas, and out to a small island filled with palm trees.
“I’d like to see the guy who owns that island just once while we’re here.” My voice was wistful as I plucked the cherry out of my drink and popped it into my mouth.
Sweet juice from the fruit burst over my tongue as I stared.
Val made a sound and slapped me on the shoulder. “Don’t even tell me that’s the reason you haven’t had a fling yet!” she practically yelled.
Swiftly, I swung in her direction. “Shh! God, Valerie, don’t announce our sex life to the entire resort.”
“At least I have a sex life,” she muttered, fitting her straw into her mouth. “That’s what spring break is for. Letting loose, having fun… no regrets.”
“Hey, I’ve done that, too.”
She made a rude sound. “You’ve turned down three guys since we got here.”
I shrugged and looked back at the ocean. “I’m picky.”
“You have to let him go, Nor,” Valerie said gently. Leaning in, she rested her cheek on my shoulder. “I know you loved him, but Alan wasn’t good enough. And he hurt you.”
Yeah. Yeah, he did.
I sucked on the straw until it made that annoying slurping sound because my alcohol had officially run out.
“Having a fling is the best way to get him out of your system. Let someone rock your world for a night, and forget about him completely.”
I smirked. “You think a one-night stand will erase a guy I dated for nearly a year?”
Val sat up and wagged her eyebrows at me. “The right guy will.”
I laughed, and she snagged the empty coconut out of my hand and held it over her head. “Bartender, another!”
“Now, about that.” My best friend pointed out toward the distant island. “Please tell me you haven’t been holding out to see if Mr. Island shows up to rock your world.”
I scoffed at her assumption.
“I knew it!” she yelled.
People around us turned to look at her.
I smiled at them, “Sorry. She’s a bit extra.”
“You’re still hung up on your cheating, scumbag ex, and now you’re hung up on some faceless guy who might not even exist?” Val dropped her forehead into her hand. “I’ve failed as a best friend.”
I slipped an arm around her shoulders. “You have not.”
A tap on my shoulder made me turn, my eyes colliding with a set of piercing green ones. “Oh,” I said, a little breathless.
“Your drink is ready,” the bartender said, leaning over the bar, holding out my refill.
“Oh!” I glanced down at the drink. “Thanks.”
“Anytime, gorgeous,” he quipped and winked.
I nearly spilled the drink in my lap right there. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and he had the bronze tan of a local with an accent to match.
“You need anything else, just wave.”
I nodded, unable to reply.
“See!” Val said, putting her arm around me, bringing me back around. “This is exactly what I’m talking about. You’re gorgeous. You could have any guy here you wanted. Even the bartender. Yet you’re busy mooning over some guy who’s probably old enough to be your grandpa.”
“I am not mooning!” I insisted. Then I grimaced. “And ew… grandpa.”
“You really expect some young, hot single to own that island over there?”
I shook my head. “Not just the island… this entire resort.”
Valerie moaned. “That’s just a sexy rumor the staff here likes to tell women like us. It makes us even more excited about this place.”
“It could be true,” I murmured, staring out to sea. “He really could be some young, rich computer genius who sold off an app and bought this place.”
“Uh-huh. And he has a hot body and the stamina to make you forget all about Awful Alan.”
“Hey,” I accused, salty. “I didn’t judge you when your fantasy was to sleep with a yoga instructor to see if they really were more flexible than other guys.”
Valerie giggled. “They are. They totally are.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’re incorrigible.”
“Hey, I’m young, single, and being safe. What’s wrong with a little fun?”
I drank some of my cocktail.
“Besides, at least my fantasy was attainable. Yours is practically from the pages of some cheesy romance novel.”
“Whatever.” I sighed. This conversation was bringing down my buzz. “Finish your drink so we can go lay on the beach.”
“Your time is running out.” She reminded me. “We’re going home tomorrow night. If you don’t have a fling soon, you’re never going to get over Alan.”
I’d had enough of this conversation, and if she said my ex-boyfriend’s name one more time, I was going to scream. I jumped down off the barstool and tripped on my flip-flop, stumbling.
“Whoa,” I stammered as I fumbled forward. Seconds later, I collided into the back of a chair, falling over the shoulder of whoever was sitting there and dumping my drink down their chest.
The shoulder under my waist stiffened, and I scrambled to leap back.
“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!” I exclaimed. Dumbly, I looked down at the drink in my hand. It was empty.
Horrified, I skittered around the chair as the person sitting in it stood, pushing it out from beneath him.
Our bodies collided and I tumbled back, but he caught my arm to keep me from falling. Another apology formed on my lips, but the second I looked up, it dissipated.
He was tall. So tall I had to crane my neck back to look up at him. His shoulders were wide, and his jaw was chiseled. His skin had the same deep bronzed look as all the locals, and his hair was the color of midnight.
I didn’t know if his mouth was just sexy as hell or if the way he pursed his lips as he regarded me made them look pouty, but the effect was still the same.
Everything inside me tightened and then went liquid, as though he’d melted me with just one glance.
My mouth moved, but no sounds came out. I was exceptionally aware of his large hand wrapped around my upper arm. Even though we were sitting in the shade, his hand felt warm like he’d been in the sun. Goose bumps erupted along my bare arms and legs, and my scalp prickled with awareness.
Glancing down to where he held me, I couldn’t help but notice how his hand was so big it wrapped around my arm completely. Involuntarily, I shivered as I thought about what else his hands would completely cover.
Embarrassed, I jerked away from his touch. His hand dropped beside him, and then I realized the entire front of his shirt was completely soaked with my drink.
Gasping, I tossed aside the empty coconut and let my hands hover near him. “This is all my fault,” I exclaimed. “Can I get some napkins over here?” I yelled. “Valerie!”
My best friend, who was standing there just as speechless as I was, burst into action and turned toward the bar.
“I’m so clumsy,” I told the guy. “I’m so sorry. I’ll buy you a new shirt,” I offered. “And whatever you’re drinking today.”
“No need,” he said. His voice was quiet but so commanding it didn’t need to be loud. “It’s just a shirt.”
Glancing down at the ruined garment, I groaned again. It was blue silk. Probably cost more than I made in an entire week. And because of the material and the fact that it was soaked, it was plastered to his chest as if he’d been caught in the rain.
He was thin… but imposing. Everything about him was.
Val shoved a towel in front of my face, and I snatched it quickly. Rushing forward, I didn’t even think twice about reaching out to try and dry the shirt.
The thin material was saturated, and it seemed no matter how much I patted and wiped, nothing helped.
Above me, a throat cleared. “Are you done?”
I froze, towel still pressed against his shirt, and looked up. His chin tilted down, and our eyes met, pure desire sliding through me.
I jolted back, flushing. “Sorry, I was trying to…” What was I trying to do?
He smiled, reached up, and unbuttoned the shirt to peel it off his body and drop it in the sand. “I’m pretty sure it’s not savable.”
My mouth ran dry. I couldn’t look up from his tan, smooth chest.
A second later, he snapped in front of my face, making me lift my eyes. “You might want to lay off the alcohol the rest of the day. I think you’ve had enough.”
Dumbly, I nodded and held out the towel for him to take.
He glanced between me and the offered towel, then smiled. “I’m good,” he replied, then turned around and walked away.
I stared after him long after he was gone, still holding out the towel like a moron.
Val jumped in front of me, eyes wide. “Oh my God!” she whispered. “That guy was hot!”
The towel fell out of my hands, landing beside his forgotten shirt.
“Hey!” Val yelled toward the bar. “Who was that guy?”
“Never seen him before,” one of the bartenders called back.
“Sucks,” she muttered, then grabbed my hand. “C’mon, let’s go get some vitamin sea.”
“Wait!” I exclaimed, pulling back before she could drag me away. Bending down, I picked up the wet, sandy shirt he’d just discarded from his body.
Val tsked and dragged me toward the beach. “First the island guy, and now this.” She sighed. “You’re completely hopeless, Nora. Hopeless.”
As I stared down at the shirt clutched in my hand, I couldn’t help thinking she might be right.

2
Carter
I sat there listening to quite an amusing conversation going on behind me.
One bad girl and one good… The bad trying to corrupt the good. I guess I could understand the appeal. The good ones were always the best at being bad.
I never got involved in guest affairs, even though all these scantily clad women were ripe for the picking. It was too easy. Too boring.
I liked a challenge.
Like being able to erase a man from the mind of a woman who couldn’t let go.
I wondered if the good girl behind me was as open to that kind of fling as she pretended to be or if she clung to the rumors about a man on an island because she knew he probably didn’t even exist.
Sometimes holding on was easier than letting go because at least the pain of holding on was familiar.
The second her drink spilled over my shoulder and across my chest, I wondered if it was my karma for listening to their conversation or if there was something else here at work.
The sparks between us were practically visible, and the way she shivered beneath my touch excited me. Still, I pulled away, because sometimes being a mystery was better than being real.
I felt her eyes against my back the entire time I walked away. I pondered if I would ever see her again, if I would be able to rise to her challenge.
The way my life had turned out so far was all because of fate. So I decided to leave this up to fate, too.

AUTHOR BIO
Cambria Hebert is an award-winning, bestselling novelist of more than forty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of birds (including chickens). You can often find her painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails) or walking her Chihuahuas (the real rulers of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. She has also written romantic suspense, science fiction, and male/male romance. Her favorite genre to read and write is contemporary romance. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, GearShark Series, Text, Amnesia, and Butterfly.

Recent awards include: Author of the Year, Best Contemporary Series (The Hashtag Series), Best Contemporary Book of the Year, Best Book Trailer of the Year, Best Contemporary Lead, Best Contemporary Book Cover of the Year. In addition, her most recognized title, #Nerd, was listed at Buzzfeed.com as a top fifty summer romance read.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.
You can find out more about Cambria and her titles by visiting her website: http://www.cambriahebert.com.
Please sign up for her newsletter to stay in the know about all her cover reveals, releases, and more: http://eepurl.com/bUL5_5.
Text ‘Cambria’ to 7606703130 to sign up for new release alerts

AUTHOR LINKS

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