A tree soldier in the Pacific Northwest

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A historical Thursday teaser from the novel

By J.L. Oakley

Camp Glacier

A couple of hours later, Hardesty was standing along the edge of the camp parade ground with the rest of his young squad mates. They all looked like they wanted to bolt.  He followed their line of sight. Behind the camp craggy, white mountains painted amber by the afternoon sun leered over trees most likely bigger than anything they’d ever seen. They had startled him too when he first came out. 

“Holy cow. Do you see them trees?” Costello dropped his duffle next to Hardesty with a thud.

“I see them,” Spinelli said on the other side of him. “Wonder which place is ours?”

Hardesty wondered too. The long wooden buildings lined up in neat rows looked no different from the last camp he had been in. Even the smoke brought the smell of roasted ham out of a building that suggested the cook house. It made his stomach growl.

A military type officer showed up with a clipboard and ordered the group to gather around. “Welcome to Camp Kulshan, F-23, one of the oldest Civilian Conservation Corps camps in the state of Washington. We make campgrounds, roads, bridges and fight fires. Three departments run it here: the Army, Department of Agriculture and Department of Labor. During your time here you’ll not only be sending money home to your folks, but will have the opportunity to finish high school and learn a trade. There’ll be more about that later. For now…”

Spinelli turned to Hardesty.  “That true about the girl and the bear?” he whispered.

“Where’d you hear that?” Hardesty was surprised news traveled so fast. 

“At the store. I didn’t know there were bears there. Only bear I seen was at the Bronx Zoo.”

“I think you’re safe,” Hardesty said. 

“…shots. You’ll line up at the infirmary and get your paperwork put away. Dinner is being held for you in mess.”

Spinelli slapped his arm. “I’m doomed.”

Hardesty followed the group into the barracks and once given the parameters of his new world, tossed his duffel on the nearest lower bunk. Identical to the last one he had been in, the barracks had double-decker bunks lining the fir plank walls on both sides, twenty-five to a side. The fir floors were worn and creaky. In the middle, trunks had been dragged in and left in a jumbled stack. He spied the worn army-drab one that was his.

My whole life’s in it. That’s all I have left.

“Hey,” Spinelli said. He held in his hand the mimeographed camp paper, The Mountain Call: An Avalanche of Events. “Mind if I go up?”

Photo by Devin Lyster on Unsplash

“Nope. The place is all yours.” Hardesty smiled. He liked Mario Spinelli the minute they met at the train station in Seattle. He acted tough, but he had seen the kid’s eyes when they left the train two hours later and headed east into the rugged Cascade Mountains. He was scared. The whole lot of them, their false bravado trying to cover the fact that they were about to meet their match: the forests of the Pacific Northwest.  For some reason, at the camp orientation, the kids started following him around.

Hardesty just wasn’t sure he wanted to be nursemaid. All he wanted to do was mind his own business and keep his head low.

Spinelli spread out his bedding and slapped his pillow before climbing down. “Do you remember where we take a leak?”

“Bath house. Out the front door to the left. How’s your arm?”

“Not a twinge,” he answered, even though he moved his shoulder like it had been struck with a bat.

Lights were out at 9:45. Taps called not long after. Soon the camp descended into snores and stirrings.  Except for a family of raccoons ambling forth in the direction of the mess hall’s garbage cans, no one was out. While the camp slept, the woods leaned over the buildings and grounds, jagged black guardians poking into the starry night sky. For once there was no hint of rain.

A faint light appeared at one of the barracks doors as a figure stepped out onto the small porch and slipped down the stairs. When he was sure of the direction he wanted to go, the flashlight went out. A few yards and he was in the forest.

It was chilly under the boughs of cedar and hemlock, a musky scent of lichen and moss caught in the damp air. At an old stump, some ten feet across, Hardesty found a spot on the other side, where he threw down his jacket on a log. When he became accustomed to the space around him, he turned the flashlight back on.

He didn’t like breaking curfew, but he had a hard time sleeping. Too much crowding in after a long day. Thirty hours ago he had been in Oregon. Now he was as far away as he could get without leaving a region he had grown to love. He hoped that he could start fresh again.

He took a brass medallion about the size of a silver dollar out of his pocket. He rubbed the hard, stamped surface between his fingers and read the words like Braille:

••LOYALTY•CHARACTER•SERVICE••

Honor Award

C.C.C.

The words rose in an arch over two wooden barracks set in the woods. Smoke from a chimney curled up to touch the middle “R” in the word “CHARACTER” overhead.

Hardesty knew the words by heart just like he knew the way the scars lay on the palms of his hands.

He had been proud when he was given it, but truth be told, some days he didn’t feel like he deserved it.

And why he ran away again.

Tree Soldier

One mistake can ruin a life. One mistake can transform it.

A government forestry camp set deep in the mountainous forests of the Pacific Northwest might not seem the likely place to find redemption, but in 1935, Park Hardesty hopes for just that.

Blaming himself for the fiery accident that caused his brother’s disfigurement and the death of the bootlegging woman he loved, planting trees, building bridges and mentoring tough, homesick New Jersey boys brings him both penitence and the renewal of his own self-worth.

When he wins the love of Kate Alford, a local naturalist who envisions joining the Forest Service, which allows only men, he also captures the ire of a camp officer who refuses to let her go.

Just when he is ready to seek his brother’s forgiveness, he is falsely accused of rape. Every aspect of his life he has tried to rebuild is put in jeopardy.

In the end, the only way he can defend himself is to tell the truth about his brother, but he risks being kicked out of the camp. Worse, he could lose Kate’s love forever.

Get it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her characters come from all walks of life, but all stand up for something in their own time and place.

Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

When not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th century folkways, including churning some pretty mean butter.

Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017. It is set in 1860 on San Juan Island in Pacific NW during a time with the British Royal Marines and US Army jointly occupied the island—peacefully.

Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley13.

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Clipped Wings

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Enjoy this sample of the brand new Paradise Crime Mystery Novella Book 4.5 with Hawaii Recipes

By Toby Neal

Rosario dried her hands on a clean white towel and took the order sheet on its clipboard off of the metal rack that held her favorite pots and pans, and headed for the walk-in refrigerator.

She pulled open the heavy steel door of the walk-in, and parted the dangling plastic panels that helped keep the cold inside. As she stepped through, she inhaled deeply, taking in the rich smells of ginger, onions, garlic, and fresh vegetables, with overtones of the tropical fruits that were a unique part of Hawaiian cooking. She stepped forward on the raised rubber flooring with its round holes for traction and drainage, and examined the rack of metal shelves that lined the chilly room.

She had established an order of storage for the items, so it was a fairly rapid process to check how many eggs and how much butter, cheese, salad dressing, sauces, fruits and greens she had.

Rosario and her brother Wayne had grown up poor on the Big Island. They were the surviving offspring of a Portuguese paniolo ‘Hawaiian cowboy’ on a big Waimea estate, and his Hawaiian wife, their beloved Mama, who’d cleaned and cooked for the family that owned the ranch. Wayne had taken to the paniolo lifestyle in his father’s footsteps, while Rosario had learned her mother’s skills in cooking and estate management.

Photo of the Island of Hawai’i by Sarah Humer on Unsplash

Their parents had died in a car wreck when she and her brother were in their late teens, and Rosario had moved to California, hoping to build a better life for herself—which she had done in working her way up to into establishing Aunty’s Hawaiian Food Place with her partner, Momi.

Rosario ticked down her order sheet on autopilot, her mind drifting back to the ways that life had taken dark turns: her brother Wayne and his wife Maylene falling into drugs. Maylene’s death by overdose while Wayne was incarcerated, which had brought their feisty daughter Lei to live with Rosario at age nine.

Her niece Lei had had a traumatic and abuse-filled childhood that had left her with lasting scars, but Lei had come so far in overcoming her past that she was now an FBI agent on Oahu.

And with any luck at all, she’d be coming to her aunt’s for Christmas this year.

Rosario inhaled the smell of baby new potatoes, parsley, mint, and ginger in their boxes, instinctively sniffing for anything spoiled.

There was—a small red potato with a spot of black rot. Rosario extracted the offending tuber from the box and opened the square, sealed bin where she stored spoiling food and leftovers from the restaurant to feed to pigs at a friend’s farm, in trade for a supply of fresh pork.

Her eyebrows rose as she dropped the spoiled potato into the bin.

It should be nearly full after three days. She had the waitstaff scrape plates into a special garbage bag, and then deposit it in the bin along with any expired, unsold food from the stand of convenience foods Rosario kept stocked at the counter. Several bags of leftover food and a half dozen expired hard-boiled eggs, along with some papayas and avocados she’d bought for garnishes that had been overripe, should be in the bin.

But there were only two eggs, no papayas or avocados, and a couple of white plastic bags of leftovers.

Rosario was the one to take the bin to the pig farm twice a week; who would take food meant for the animals?

Clipped Wings

Clipped Wings cover

Even Christmas can be darkest before dawn.

She just wants to survive.

The sixteen-year-old Robin Hood bandit responsible for starting an anarchy movement in Hawaii is now the target of an escape plot at a juvenile detention center, sparking FBI agent Lei Texeira to get involved with a manhunt.

She just wants to find the burglar.

Someone is stealing food from Aunty Rosario’s restaurant kitchen, but the holiday takes an unexpected turn when she catches the thief in the act.

Favorite Hawaii recipes submitted by readers and served in Aunty Rosario’s Hawaiian Food Place restaurant are included!

Clipped Wings 4.5 takes place between Broken Ferns #4 and Twisted Vine #5. A portion appeared as a short story in an anthology.

Find out more on the author’s website.

Toby Neal

Award-winning, USA Today bestselling social worker turned author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. Neal is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her stories. Neal’s mysteries and thrillers explore the crimes and issues of Hawaii from the bottom of the ocean to the top of volcanoes. Fans call her stories, “Immersive, addicting, and the next best thing to being there.”

Neal also pens romance, romantic thrillers, and writes memoir/nonfiction under TW Neal.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @TobywNeal.

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Thursday teaser: What Had to be Done

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The new young adult novel by USA bestselling author

DelSheree Gladden

I lose my train of thought when my pool cue is suddenly yanked out of my hand. I whip around to find a tall, not-at-all-lanky frame and set of blue eyes staring down at me. The combative set of his jaw is surprising and a little upsetting. Suddenly, I remember Carlos’s warning.

Tamping down my fear, I hop down from the pool table where I’d been sitting. I land a scant few inches away from him. He dwarfs me by about six inches, but that doesn’t stop me from glaring at him.

“I wasn’t finished with that.”

“Sure looked like you were.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” I say, almost choking on the words. “Take you for instance…tall and built as you are, I would have pegged you for someone willing to look out for a girl new to town, not one who goes around snatching pool cues out of their hands and making them want to slap you.”

“What does you being new to town have to do with anything?”

I snatch the pool cue out of his hand and stamp it down on the ground. Thankfully, he is still focused on my eyes and not on my shaking hand. I do not want to start off my tenure here in Santa Fe as the class weenie. “Generally, new arrivals like me come to a party to make friends, not a hit list.”

“Maybe I’m not interested in friends.”

“I doubt that,” I say.

“Why?”

“Because you wouldn’t have come over here and barged in if you didn’t want to know who I was.”

In a flash, his pushy demeanor disappears. A grin replaces his scowl. “Wrong again. I already know who you are, Anna Elizondo.”

“Then why did you come over here, Dave?”

He laughs at the fact that I know who he is as well. He must realize Carlos warned me about him. The merriment in his expression folds quickly. “I came over here because I’ve heard some not so nice things about you, but you look too sweet and innocent for them to be true.”

Surely Carlos wouldn’t say horrible things about me to his friends. Is that why he disappeared so quickly?

“Who told you about me?”

“You don’t know?” Dave asks. “Didn’t Carlos tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

Photo by Santiago Steinkamp on Unsplash

He doesn’t answer. What he does is turn around and call out to someone. When he turns back, all of my false bravado falls away when I see who’s coming toward me. In three years, he’s grown nearly a foot. I can see the same honey-colored eyes I looked into almost every day for years, but never before have I seen such brazen anger in them.

“Felix,” Dave drawls, “look who’s here. It’s your favorite person. Say hi to Anna.”

In front of Dave, I stood my ground. In the face of Felix’s frozen glare, I wilt like flowers in July. My hand shakes to the point that the pool cue I’m holding clatters to the ground. I can’t stop staring at him. The same lips I wanted to kiss a thousand times curl up in a sneer. His hands held mine so many times, the touch always strong but gentle. Now, both of his hands are balled up at his sides.

I haven’t cried since my mom died, but I feel a tear slip down my cheek.

“Felix.”

The single word slips out unbidden. He flinches as if my voice were acid.

“What are you doing here?” he demands.

“I…I live here,” I say weakly. “What are you doing here?”

He half turns. For a moment I think he’s going to walk away from me like I did him three years ago. He almost does. Before his face vanishes completely, he snaps back around. “I spend summers with Carlos’s family. He’s a real friend, unlike other people.”

After his attack, he waves me off and walks away. Dave, who called Felix over in the first place, looks stunned by Felix’s reaction. He watches his friend storm off with a frown.

“Well,” Dave says, “I guess Carlos didn’t tell Felix you’d be here, either.” He walks away after him.

I’m too shocked to move. Lacey comes around the pool table to stand next to me.

“I’m gonna make a wild guess and say Felix is the friend you crushed.”

I swipe at my eyes to brush away the evidence of my betrayal. What I did to Felix…crushed is putting it mildly.

What Had to be Done

Everyone has bad days. Anna Elizondo is going on three years of bad days.

It started with her mother’s illness and eventual death, continued with a decision that ruined a friendship, and culminated in her father announcing they were broke and moving away right before her senior year of high school.

Maybe a fresh start will turn things around. Or maybe it will put her face to face with her former best friend, Felix, and the hatred in he still carries for her.

The only bright spot in Anna’s move to Santa Fe is meeting her new swim coach, a long-time hero who has big plans for her athletic career. The pool is her refuge, but she can’t hide there forever. Living in a small town makes it impossible to stay out of Felix’s way, and unlikely their history will remain just between them for long. If Anna can’t find a way to make things at least tolerable with Felix, it’s going to be a very long summer.

Get it from:

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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Thursday teaser: Finding You

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A free sample of the romantic suspense

By D.G. Torrens

Eden’s eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness enveloping her. Her heart pounded in her chest when she realised she could hardly move. Her breaths quickened and panic was setting in fast. She could just about move her arms. She extended her arm above her and felt around. She was enclosed…

Fear consumed her. Her body trembled. She screamed – but her cries were ignored. She utilised all the force she could muster in the tight space. She tried to push the top of the box, but all that achieved was a rush of loose soil slipping through the cracks, covering her face.

She shook her head vigorously feeling the impending danger. Her lower lip trembled. Her eyes were gritty and sore. She sobbed.

Who would do this? What is happening to me? Where am I?

Her eyes widened, aware that someone was there… She froze. The person is silent – not a sound. Then all she could hear was the sound of footsteps fading into the distance.

Finding You

Eden Marshall catches the eye of the wealthy and mysterious bachelor, Noah Ainsworth. Noah has been hiding away in his ivory tower for far too long. He decides it’s time to start living again. Eden Marshall is his motivation – captivated by her, he begins to trust in love again. Until a dark secret from his past threatens all that he loves…

Get it on Amazon.

D.G. Torrens

is the author of 14 books, including the bestselling trilogy, Amelia’s Story #1, Amelia’s Destiny #2 and Amelia The Mother #3. This is an emotion-charged true story that the author wrote for her daughter.

D.G is a mother/writer/blogger who has a dream to inspire as many people as possible through her story. To show those with little hope that dreams can come true.

Born in England, passionate about writing, D.G. Torrens is married with a daughter. Her first book, Amelia’s Story, has inspired people all over the world. Amelia’s Destiny, book #2 is the sequel and is followed by Amelia The Mother book #3 in this awe-inspiring trilogy. A memoir that remains with D.G.’s readers long after they have put the book down …

D.G is a prolific writer and in 2013, her works were recognized by BBC Radio WM, where she has given several live interviews in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Thereafter, D.G. became a regular Headline Reviewer for the radio show for the next 12 months.

Visit her on:

And follow her on Twitter @torrenstp.

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Terror teaser: The Dark

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Spooktober continues on BestSelling Reads with this taste of the chilling novel

By David C. Cassidy

Harmon devoured a handful of hard candy before heading out. The wood-chopping went well, but when his bum hand grew strained he took a break to change his dressing. Sitting at his kitchen table he found his leg healing, but as he unraveled the next-to-last strand of gauze around his hand, he lowered his head slowly, like a man ready for the gallows door to fall.

“God … let it be better. Let it be better.” He removed the last strip.

Moss had consumed his flesh, spreading like the wild growth that it was. The wound was a grassy mound. The shoot sprouted lime-colored spores, like pus-filled pimples that begged to be popped. Thick veins, like those of a healthy leaf, ran across his palm and his fingers.

He stood up and brought his hand close to the light. His new flesh was cloudy but translucent. His thinning bones looked like tapering branches.

He fell back in his chair. How far did it go?

He rolled up the sleeve of his snowsuit and hiked up his shirtsleeve. All the way to the elbow. His forearm pulsed with bulbous veins.

He laid his hand on the table. He fingered the spores with his good hand. Squishy. Ripe.

Ripe for what? he wondered. He considered bursting them before they grew into something worse than he could imagine.

So he burst one.

The oily sac splayed open, spewing pus into the air. His head jerked right, his neck pierced by searing heat.

“Shit! Ohhhhhh, shit!”

He scrambled from his chair and nearly upset the table. His skin sizzled, and he rushed to the sink to douse himself with water. Bubbles of flesh rose and fell on his throat as his skin boiled. Some burst.He snatched a cloth from a drawer, ran it under the tap and slapped it against the burns. The cold eased the torture, and only then could he bear the pain. It was all he could do not to scream.

Upstairs, he stood at the bathroom mirror. He removed the cloth and found blood. When he looked up, he saw the true horror cast by the spore.

Something had invaded his flesh. His skin was raw, burned away. Shredded strips dangled limply along his neck. He picked them off, and what he saw next horrified more than the wounds themselves.

Scores of small punctures marked his throat. They ran red, but for how long they’d bleed that color he couldn’t know. If he was pissing green, he might start bleeding the same.

He leaned close to the mirror.

Things—things—were moving under his skin. Crawling.

He slipped against the wall. He stood silently, hopelessly, watching his reflection falter as the creatures worked their way through his body. It felt like a hundred insects, hundreds of legs creeping beneath his skin. His body jerked and started. His heart pounded. Cold tore through him. He pulled up his shirt over his rounded belly and watched the things ripple across him in waves. On occasion the creatures would pause and expand—breathe—and a sharp stab would accompany each breath.

They were eating him.

Harmon Wyatt closed his eye.

No one saw his tears.

About The Dark

2015 National IPBA Award Winner in Horror Fiction

2015 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner in Horror Fiction

4-time Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Selection

Pure Heart meets Pure Evil.

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy draws you into a realm of terror, a world unlike any other. With the inspired flair of Clive Barker and the pulse-pounding beat of Stephen King, The Dark will leave you breathless, reminding us all that for all we desire there is always a price, the currency in suffering and sacrifice. Brimming with insidious evil and a nerve-wracking pace that never lets up, this story will grab hold of your most primitive fears and crank them up to Warp 10—and won’t let go. 

It knows what you want.

It knows what you need.

In denial over his father’s death in a horrific accident, Kelan Lisk has grown fearful and withdrawn. For this meek and bullied child, a burning desire to tame a deadly sledding hill consumes him, drawing him inside a wondrous place where anything is possible … including his father. But as this strange new realm spills into this one, twisting an innocent little boy into an agent of evil, the world is forever changed, devoured by an even greater evil—the Dark. 

“Move over Stephen King and Dean Koontz … The Dark is everything that horror fiction fans want—scary, unsettling, relentless and so creepy that you will not want to read it at night.” — Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite

“I haven’t enjoyed a horror novel this much since the early days of Stephen King’s work.” — Miss Lyn, Amazon Reviewer

“You can’t read this in the dark because the author has made it too real … this is horror at some of its finest.” — Samantha Colville for Readers’ Favorite

“The Dark compares with works of King and Koontz and is tremendously difficult to put down.” — Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite

Get it on

David C. Cassidy

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several chilling books of horror and suspense. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating tales of terror where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots.

David lives and plays in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and workouts, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

Website   |     Facebook     |     Google+     |     LinkedIn     |     Twitter     |     Instagram

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Thursday teaser: Fighting for Fall

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Enjoy this excerpt of the upcoming second book in the Seasons of Love series

By Kayla Dawn Thomas

Maddox held out a big hand, and the older women pressed the key into his palm. The glow in her eyes was back. Chanel fought the urge to reach over and slap Alice’s bony wrist by telling herself this was the most action the grouchy old broad ever got. It cheered her to know she got to go upstairs with Maddox and would be making love to him in a matter of minutes.

“Thanks, Alice,” Maddox said taking the key and passing it to Chanel, which reminded Alice of her presence.

“There is a marked pet area on the far side of the garden. That is the only place on the grounds where animals are allowed to do their business. Bags and a trash receptacle are provided, be sure to use them.” Alice glowered over her tiny rectangle glasses. “Security cameras are running around the clock both inside the public areas of the building and outside.”

Chanel forced a smile, felt Maddox stroking her back urging her to keep her cool. “I’m glad security is such a priority here.”

“I’ll give Chanel the rundown on everything else.” Apparently Maddox could feel Chanel’s growing agitation. He grabbed the luggage he’d set on the floor and took off toward a bank of elevators.

Once inside the plush elevator car, Chanel sagged against the rail and rested her head on the soft green upholstered wall. “I don’t know if I can do this. The traffic, the building Nazi tracking my every move. She does not like me.”

Maddox stood square in front of her, his blue eyes soft as he ran large hands up and down Chanel’s arms. “You’ve got this. You’re just wound up from the drive. We’re going to get in the apartment, and I’m going to help you unwind.”

He lowered his lips to hers sparking a fire in Chanel’s lower belly. Maddox had a way of wiping everything from her mind when he kissed her, a feat of pure magic as her brain was constantly on the go.

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open on the tenth floor.

“Get it! Wooo!” A male voice thundered into the car.

Chanel jumped in surprise while Maddox laughed and turned with a smile to greet the giant in the doorway. “Hey, Clavin.” The two exchanged a complicated handshake. “Meet my girlfriend, Chanel. Chanel, Clavin Marks. He’s an O lineman on the team. His place is next door to mine.”

“Hey, girl, it’s about time you got yo ass into town. This boy’s been lonely!” Clavin held out a beefy hand. Chanel took it to shake, but he pulled her in for a hug that all but suffocated her in his bulk.

Maddox laughed as he shuttled Chanel’s luggage out of the elevator. “Let her breathe, man. I’d like to keep her around a while.”

Clavin chuckled, a rumble that shook his whole body, and turned Chanel loose. “And who do we have here?” He knelt as Soda crossed the threshold, tail wagging. She leaned into the big man as he pet her with a surprisingly gentle touch. “You an old lady, aren’t cha.” His voice went up an octave as he spoke to the animal.

Image by Charlotte Post from Pixabay

“This is Soda,” Chanel said. She couldn’t help but smile at the pair on the floor. The two seemed smitten with each other.

“You a beaut,” Clavin said in his dog voice.

Chanel looked over at Maddox, who grinned and shook his head. “Clavin was planning to go to vet school if he hadn’t been drafted.”

“Oh, I’ll be goin’ as soon as this ride’s over,” Clavin said, regaining his feet. “I love animals. I got two dogs, a Sheltie and a Brussels griffon. Make Alice crazy every time we go downstairs. I taught ’em to bark extra when she around.”

“Albert, the griffon looks like a damn Ewok,” Maddox said, running a hand through his shoulder length blond hair.

That move had always turned Chanel on. While she was enjoying meeting Clavin, she really just wanted to get her man into his apartment and all to herself.

“So, it’s not just me she doesn’t like?”

“Hell no. Alice picks her favorites round here and’s a snot to everyone else. She ’specially don’t like dogs. She thinks they belong outside, but she don’t own the place, so she don’t get to make the rules.” Clavin’s phone chimed from his pocket. He dug it out. “I got to go, Sean’s waitin’ at The Dive for me. Don’t tell Coach, but we havin’ gut bomb burgers for dinner.” He poked the button to reopen the elevator door. “Awesome to meet cha, Chanel. Bring Soda over to play with Albert and Barbara sometime.”

“Will do,” Chanel said, giving Clavin a parting wave.

“Later, man,” Maddox said as the door slid closed.

“He’s a good guy,” he continued as they walked down the soft gray-carpeted hall. “Loves to eat, and hates Coach’s diet restrictions. He and the other linemen sneak greasy grub almost every Monday night since we usually have Tuesday off.”

Maddox stopped at a door with number 1082 on a plaque beside it. He grinned at Chanel. “Here we are. Home sweet home.”

Fighting For Fall

Seasons of Love Book 2

Go. Fight. Win. Love?

Chanel Eber, a rancher’s daughter, faces down her fear of big cities to follow the love of her life to Portland, Oregon where he’s living his NFL dream. But the Wolves aren’t the only ones looking to score. Another woman’s got her eye on Maddox, and Chanel’s going to have to fight harder than ever if she wants to keep his eyes on her.

Meanwhile, Delsi Melita has a big decision to make. She’s a single mom, the only woman in the athletic training room, her boss is a pompous jerk, and she’s falling for the team’s owner. Can she have the job and the man, will she have to pick one, or will she lose both?

The stakes are high, and both women stand to lose big if they don’t fight hard for love.

Kayla Dawn Thomas

Kayla Dawn Thomas grew up on an Idaho cattle ranch, but now calls the wheat fields of the Washington Palouse home with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

Kayla writes romance, chick lit, and now romantic suspense. Her rural roots inspire her writing, and she enjoys giving the world a little taste of a life most folks have never experienced.

A rabid reader, when Kayla isn’t writing, ushering dogs in and out of the house, or taking care of the humans in her family, you can find her in a comfy spot with a book.

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