Friday, August 19, 2016

First Chapter Spotlight: Kindled




Christmas Pets & Kisses 2 is coming October 11th, and I'll be spotlighting the first chapters of the books featured in the set! Today's sneak peek is Kindled, by Jade Kerrion.

Preorder your copy of Christmas pets and Kisses 2 for 99 cents. 12 stories, one low price. All new sweet Christmas romances! 






KINDLED

Nicholas Dragov, a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, is the bad boy of ballet. On stage, his grand jeté defies the laws of physics and gravity. Off stage, he lavishes money on fast cars and fast women. His small-town roots are abandoned in the past, until a career-ending injury traps him back home, in the care of the woman who broke his heart.
Marisa Chantilly was Nicholas’s first dance partner, but he alone made it onto the world stage. In the eight years since they have seen each other, she has married, become pregnant, a widow, and a mother. Now, Nicholas is home, his beautiful body broken, and his attitude darker and deeper than a volcanic crater. A massage therapist, she knows how to work with sports injuries, but no amount of training or professionalism can help her endure the man who abandoned her when she needed him most.

CHAPTER ONE

Motorcycle headlights rippled through the night, turning the water droplets silver and the field of gravestones ghostly white. Nicholas Dragov swung his leg over the motorcycle. He was reaching for his helmet when motion flickered at the corner of his eye. He turned and scrutinized the graveyard, but he saw nothing out of the ordinary.

He scowled. Of course nothing was out of the ordinary. No other sane person would be out here in this weather, at this time of the night, on Thanksgiving. He shouldn’t have been out here either, not when his parents were at home, working their way through the second round of their Thanksgiving feast.

His glance fell on a particular gravestone framed by fresh flowers. Be seeing you around, buddy.
The distinctive roar of his Harley Davidson engine coming to life cut through the soft patter of rain. With easy expertise, he turned his motorcycle onto the narrow road leading from Westchester Cemetery. He could make it back to his Manhattan apartment in a little over an hour, in time for a good night’s rest and the 8 a.m. master class tomorrow. He had only stretched for two hours in the morning, and his muscles felt tight from not dancing that day. He would pay for it in class tomorrow. If he did not dance for two days, his partner would notice. Three days, and the audience would. Ballet was the least forgiving of the arts, and a host of talented soloists eagerly waited in the wings to claim his position as principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre.

He could not slack.

He never had.

The familiar roar of the Harley’s engine kept him company through winding roads pockmarked by the light of occasional streetlamps. Westchester was no longer home, but he still knew his way around. Eight years earlier, he had turned his back on family and friends and fled to New York City. The eternal bustle of Manhattan kept the loneliness at bay. The punishing and unrelenting schedule of classes, rehearsals, and performances kept him from dwelling on his loss.

He had a new life, and it was a great life. Everyone said so. Obviously—his mouth twisted into an ironic grimace—they must be right.

An image of a whitewashed house tucked in a corner of a small Westchester neighborhood flashed through his mind. The neatly mowed lawn and freshly planted flowerbeds. The brown picket fence and the black Labrador reclined on the front porch, pink tongue lolling in a half-grin. The gabled red-tiled roof and a slim, feminine shadow at the window, looking out at him.

With effort, he wrenched his thoughts away from the memory. His throat tightened. Hallucination. She’s never stood at the window looking out at me. Anyway, it’s all in the past.

The headlights of passing cars whizzed by him. Rain pelted down, but traffic filled the narrow streets. Nothing as mundane as a thunderstorm could dampen the enthusiasm of pre-Black Friday sales. His motorcycle, however, allowed him to cut through the blockade of vehicles lined up to turn in at the mall.

He was on the outskirts of Westchester when something large and black darted across the street. A curse tore from his lips as he swerved to avoid a crash. His motorcycle wheels spun, but failed to grip the road, and the machine crashed to the ground, sliding across the street. Sparks skittered as steel grated against asphalt. Nicholas tumbled from his bike; momentum sent him skidding over the street. White-hot shards of pain tore through his back, burning through the leather of his black motorcycle jacket.

Wheels screeched, and cars honked. Headlights exploded into a blinding glare, and sound merged into a cacophony. His thoughts spun and twisted, gnarled into incomprehensibility by screaming pain—pain that stole his breath and blanked his mind.
Pain that plunged his world into blackness.

~*~
A pinprick of light pierced the darkness before expanding into a vague halo. Above it, a face appeared, its features blurry. “Sir? Sir? Can you feel my hand?”

Hand? Where? He hurt. Everywhere.

Movement swirled like a giddy pirouette as huge, blocky shapes gathered around him. The voice that had spoken to him now seemed directed to others. “On my count. Three, two, one.”

The sudden motion wrenched such sharp pain through him that he would have curled into a fetal ball if he could move. The jolt smoothed into a forward motion, and the darkness of the night overhead gave way to the sleek interior of an ambulance.

The scream of the siren sounded distant, but unshakable, like a recurring nightmare. The young man who had spoken to Nicholas squatted by him as the vehicle lurched to a start. “Take it easy; we’ve got you now. We’re on the way to the ER. Your driver’s license has a Manhattan address. Do you have family or friends in Westchester? Anybody you want us to notify?”

Nicholas’s tongue felt like a block of lead, but he rasped out his father’s phone number. The effort sapped the remnants of his strength. Voices and conversations around him melded into a tangle of sounds, and when blackness drew like a veil over his eyes, he let go and let himself fall into a void.

~*~

The first thing that penetrated Nicholas’s unconscious haze was the familiar stink of powerful antiseptic cleaners. The bright, unrelenting lights blazing through his closed eyelids were next. They twisted and turned his splitting headache through a psychedelic hell.

He dragged his eyes open and waited until his wavering vision anchored around a young woman in green scrubs. She looked up with a smile. “I’m Dr. Larson. You’re at the Westchester Medical Center ER. How are you feeling?”

Like hell.

His eyes—the only part of him that could move—flicked across the room. Slowly, sensations that weren’t shards of pain dribbled in. The stiff coolness of the sheets against the bare skin of his legs. The absence of pain or of any kind of sensation in his back. He stiffened, alarm widening his eyes.
The doctor must have seen his reaction. “We gave you local anesthesia.”

“My back?” His voice was rougher than sandpaper.

“The orthopedic surgeon came by to evaluate you while you were unconscious. Based on the X-rays, he doesn’t think you’ll need surgery. Luckily, you’ve come through without any broken bones, but the severe muscle tears will take almost as long to heal.”

“In my back?”

She nodded. “There are abrasions on your arms and legs, but they’re minor, relatively speaking. You had a concussion, but your helmet protected you from the worst of the impact.”

“When can I…get out?”

“Not for a while.” Her tone was kind but brisk. “Your parents are filling out the paperwork right now; we’re keeping you overnight. In fact, you’ll likely be here for a few days. Dr. Carter or one of the folks over at orthopedics will come up with a treatment plan for you, which will probably include physical therapy and chiropractor sessions.”

“But I can walk?”

“Eventually, yes, but I’d recommend a wheelchair for a few days, and have someone push you around, or you’ll strain your back muscles further by moving yourself around.”
Can I dance?

The question stuck in his throat, unvoiced.

He didn’t dare ask it.



Social Media links:
For free copies of Aroused and Betrayed, visit http://www.lifeshocksromances.com


Christmas Pets & Kisses 2 links: 


Friday, August 12, 2016

First Chapter Spotlight: A Merry Mountain Christmas




Christmas Pets and Kisses 2 is coming, and I'll be spotlighting first chapters from the 12 stories featured in the set. Christmas Pets & kisses 2 will release on October 11th, and is up for preorder now! 


A MERRY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS EXCERPT

BY P.C. ZICK

CHAPTER ONE

Fran wished they would stop. Stop bringing casseroles. Stop saying stupid things like, “When one door closes another one will open.” Or worse, “Carl is in a better place now.” What did that say about the life Fran had attempted to create for them for thirty-five years—thirty-five years in which she assumed Carl thought he was in the best place possible?

Carl died. Period. Fran lived. Period. Nothing in between existed, and she wished everyone would quit trying to make it better or different. She stood at the kitchen window watching the rain drip down the glass, waiting for the drop to lose its tenuous grip and splatter on the sill and then disappear forever. That’s what happened to Carl when the idling tractor rolled down an incline and crushed him as he pulled on a tree limb to get it out of his way. Splattered right before her eyes as she watched helplessly from the back stoop of the house. And then he disappeared from her life. It’s what happens to everyone in some form. The drops continued to fall, and she turned away from the window.

She hated those thoughts on her bad days, so she pushed them aside. She needed to finish her work before her two guests arrived. Both the baking and the visits from Gracie and Jed always lightened her mood. The two young friends, ages ten and nine respectively, spent two afternoons a week at Fran’s while their parents worked. Both of them had become her adopted grandchildren over the past year, even calling her “Franma,” an endearing term that always brought a smile to her face.
Gracie’s mother Molly had just married Fran’s son Nick, and Jed was the son of one of Nick’s friends. Soon the two kids—her life preservers—would traipse into the house dripping with rain and laughing from their run after the school bus dropped them off at the end of the drive. Gracie and Jed, along with their parents, had been the thing that kept her going when her man lost his life tending to the farm they’d grown together.

The farm was outside of town in a valley surrounded by Johnson Mountain, named after her family by the locals. A creek ran through the back of the property, and it was there that Nick had built his home for Molly and Gracie, just as Carl had built this house for Fran and their children.
Fran worked at the coffee shop a few mornings each week, and she provided all the pastries for the shop every day. Her dark mood lightened even further when she thought of the owner, Cecelia Jones. They’d become very close, even though Cecelia was young enough to be Fran’s daughter, but she never noticed the age difference between them. The night before Cecelia had asked Fran to stand up with her when she married David Bellwood next week. Then the smile turned to a frown when she thought about who else would be at the wedding. What would he think of her after all these years? She pushed a stray lock of blonde—on its way to white— hair away from her eyes. Time to get a cut.

She went to the living room to gaze out on the mountains. Fog covered much of her view, but it moved across the landscape quickly, changing with each gust of wind. The rain had finally stopped. She stepped out to the front porch and saw a dog running up the driveway. At first, she thought it might be her friend Lacy’s dog, Willow. Its size and yipping bark resembled that of the little Shih Tzu. But as it came closer, she realized it had more black on its back and around its eyes. And this little fellow hadn’t been groomed in some time. Its hair was matted and hung over its eyes.
The dog ran up the front steps, running circles around Fran’s ankles, yapping and wagging its tail that stood straight up in the air. She tried to calm the hyperactive little thing by singing a lullaby she always used with Gracie and Jed. The dog slowed down and then sat at her feet as she knelt down to pet its scruffy head and pull long strands of dishwater white hair away from its eyes. She heard the rumble of the truck before she saw it and hoped it meant the owner of this mangy sweetheart had come looking for it. She turned its collar around to see if there was a tag but to no avail. A cherry red Jeep Cherokee pulled into the driveway, but stopped at the end. A man jumped out of the cab, calling for what Fran imagined to be the now quiet beast at her feet. The dog ignored the calls and looked up adoringly at Fran. The man hadn’t yet spotted them on the porch, so she waited. And then, as she watched him holler for “Chester,” she gasped.

Michael Bellwood. She shouldn’t have been surprised because she’d just been thinking of him attending the wedding of his son. She’d been dreading this moment while looking forward to it at the same time ever since she learned David, the publisher of Murphy’s new paper, was his son. She never imagined the meeting would occur on the steps of the home Carl had built for her before they married.

She watched him walk toward the house, still hollering for the dog, who seemed to have decided Fran was his new person. Then Michael finally looked up and saw her standing there. She could tell the same shock of recognition hit him just as it had her a few seconds earlier. She fussed with the hair she recently pushed out of her eye.

“Frannie? Is it really you?”

No one ever called her that except her first love. The first love no one in her life ever knew about. Now he stood before her, still handsome and tall. Her knees began to shake, and she grabbed the railing on the porch to steady herself. Hearing him say the name came as a caress to her heart and opened up a flood of memories gushing toward her as if the TVA had just opened the Hiwassee 
Dam.

“Michael.” One word, that’s all she could manage. Her throat felt constricted. She’d imagined seeing him a million times. After David came to town, she knew it was inevitable, but she never dreamed it would be here in Carl’s home. Even after David and she became friends, she never mentioned that she knew his father. No one knew that they had loved one another at one time.
She’d kept the memories of Michael separate from her life for so long that it jarred her now to see him here in full vivid light, not in her dreams. The years had treated him tenderly and with generosity, reminding her a bit of how George Clooney had aged. She sighed and pointed to her feet.
“Is this Chester?” she asked, trying to keep her voice from quivering.

Michael laughed that same deep guttural laugh he’d had as a teenager that had sent thrills and chills up her spine back then, and as she was suddenly discovering, now.

“Yes, this is Chester, and I’m about to give him away to a good home. Interested?”

“I’ve got a few pets around here. Don’t think I can handle another.” She stared at him as he stood at the base of the porch steps. “Chester here looks as if he’s in need of a good groomer. And maybe some tags, if he runs away often.”

“He’s a rescue dog I picked up in Atlanta last week so I haven’t had a chance to do the things I should.”

“That’s nice.” Fran tried to think of something else to say. “I’ve thought about getting a dog for the house. I have a couple of farm mutts who prefer sleeping outside or in the barn. But ever since my husband died, I’ve thought a pet might keep me company.” Now why had she told him all that?
“I’m sorry to hear about your husband. David mentioned it when he told me all about his new friend, Fran. I knew it was you right away.”

Then she remembered her manners, the one that made her the hostess for many in the area. “How about a cup of coffee? Chester seems to have settled in.”

“Funny, I’ve never seen him this calm. You still have the touch, Frannie.”

She put her hands to her cheeks which started to burn with his comment. She still had the touch. He didn’t need to remind her of how they had touched one another all those years ago. Fervent, stolen, heated touches on the swing at his family’s cabin. Kisses, hot and passionate, and always ending in frustration for both of them when Fran pulled away and said insisted they stop.

“Fran? I said I’d love that cup of coffee.”

She forced herself back into the moment. He was really here. All six-foot-five of him, still handsome although gray sprinkled his hair as if paint had splattered from a brush. His brown eyes, the color of a fine leather, were now edged with the wrinkles of the past thirty-some years since she’d last seen him. He’d kept himself in fine shape. She patted her hair and smoothed down her blouse which she realized was still covered with the apron she’d been wearing when she came out on the porch.
“Of course, come on in. I’ve been baking so things are a mess.”

Michael’s presence in the house she had shared with the other love of her life worried her. It was perfectly fine to ask him inside. She was free to ask anyone to come into the house. She could even have an affair if she wanted. Was it still called an affair if neither of them were married? If they kept it from other people, which she’d have to do, then technically it would be an affair. She was being a silly old woman. Besides, from what David had told her, Michael had plenty of women even though he wasn’t currently married. What was wrong with her, thinking all these stupid things? She was seeing an old friend from nearly forty years ago. She wasn’t embarking on anything clandestine.
“I guess you’ve come back for the wedding next week.” She decided to keep the talk to the present. They didn’t need to stroll down memory lane. Too many bad memories there. Too many wonderful memories, as well.

“I’ve been promising David I’d come up to see what he’s been doing with the cabin after he was able to get it out of the clutches of my ex-wife. And of course, I wanted to see this paper he’s publishing. I didn’t think he was making a wise decision at first.”

“And I’m sure you wanted to meet the woman he’s going to marry.” Michael sounded cold and distant talking about his son, his only child.

“Yes, of course, to meet Cecelia Jones. Do you know her?”

“Very well. I help her out with her coffee shop.” She gestured around the kitchen cluttered with flour and baking equipment. “I bake all the pastries for Aroma Roads. Have you met her yet?”
“We’re having dinner tonight. I guess I get to meet her mother, too.”

“Sandra. You’re in for an interesting evening. Sandra is unpredictable.” Fran didn’t want to say much more. He’d find out in time what the infamous Sandra Jones had to offer. It wasn’t much. Fran hated the way she treated her daughter, again an only child.

“David told me your husband died here on the farm, so I take it that it was unexpected.” Michael still stood in the kitchen as she prepared the coffee.

“Yes. He was trying to get the tractor out to the back field, but a big limb had fallen the night before and blocked the road. So he left it idling while he moved the limb. He hadn’t engaged the brake fully and so when he went to get the limb out of there …” Fran stopped, the words catching in her throat. She hadn’t had to tell many folks what happened, and it sounded so gruesome. She grimaced and felt annoyance growing that Michael had invaded her home and memories.

“It’s okay, Frannie. You don’t need to say anything more. I’m sorry. You were married a long time.”
“Almost thirty-six years.” Tears threatened but she didn’t cry in front of other people so she took a deep breath and continued. She certainly wasn’t going to cry in front of this man. “But he was doing what he loved and he was on his land, something he loved probably more than he loved me.”
“I find that hard to believe, Frannie.” He came toward her then. “I’ve never forgotten you, so I don’t know how any man in his right mind would love a farm more than you. I found out the hard way that not all women are as pure and loving as you.”

She turned back to the counter. How dare he come into her house like this and say these things? He’d been the one to leave all those years ago, without a word, and after he’d asked her to marry him. Instead, she had heard he’d married Inola, a woman she’d hated and who had hated her. When Carl, a boy she’d known all her life, asked her out on a date soon afterwards, she accepted. And that was it. Carl was a good man, who loved her until he died. She had forced herself to forget Michael. But most importantly, she learned to love Carl.


P.C. ZICK – SOCILA MEDIA Links
Website: www.pczick.com/


Christmas Pets & Kisses 2 links:






Friday, June 17, 2016

Cover Reveal: Irresistible








Irresistible Book One in the Forever Us Series
Bailey is the cowgirl from the bayous of the small town of Caernorvon, Louisiana who loves her tattoos. Dallas is a sexier than sin tattooed Cowboy who just moved to town. When Bailey and Dallas meet for the first time sparks fill the air. There’s an instant connection between the two—but is what they share truly irresistible or will a ghoast from her past tear them apart? The only way to find out is by reading Irresistible, the first book of the Forever Us series written By Jennie Marie

Teasers:



About the Author:
Author Jennie Marie was born with a rare eye condition called Iriscoloboma of the optic nerve and retina, leaving her completely blind. Doctors didn’t have any hope that she’d ever be able to see anything—including light.
But against all odds when she was 10-12 weeks old, her eyes started tracing along with light. Doctors were amazed, but couldn’t explain or understand how Jennie Marie was able to see the light. By age 2 years she was able to recognize and match colors—again bewildering the doctors. As she grew, her left eye straightened, but never was close to perfect. Falling victim to bullying at school, Jennie Marie parent’s found a specialist that was willing to do an experimental surgery that would make her right eye look like the left, instead of turning in so far that all you saw was white.
Two weeks after the surgery (when they took the bandage off—and once again beating the odds) she was able to see slightly…not as well as her left eye, but she still had sight
Jennie Marie made it to 7th grade—still getting bullied—but her 7th grade reading teacher found a way to channel her emotions into self-expression poetry. Soon after she wrote her first poem, Sight, she became published around the world more times than she could count. Writing was her world until hurricane Katrina hit, washing away everything she’d written away. But she still didn’t give up. She published 2 poetry books of her very own before age 25, but during the time of putting the two collections together, Jennie Marie was diagnosed with a rare form of a rapidly progressing form of glaucoma that’s slowly taking away what little sight she has left. Still she fights through pain and blurred vision every day to keep following her dream of being a poet and novelist.




Irresistible Book One of the Forever Us Series Release Date 7/1/16


Coming Soon!
Cherished Book Two in the Forever Us Series
Endless Book Three in the Forever Us Series

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cover Reveal: Living Out Loud

Title: Living Out Loud
Series: The Living Series Vol. 2
Author: Melody Dawn
Genre: NA/Contemporary Romance

Haunted by a sexual experiment that went awry in his late teens,
Connor Reece knows he isn't safe for any woman.
For six years, he's kept everyone at a distance, until the day his twin brother finds his soulmate.
When Connor is introduced to her best friend, Madison McKinley, she becomes the light in his dark world.
Both are attracted to each other, but neither believe in love.
Until they receive news that changes everything. 
Can Connor convince Madison to take a chance on him?
Or will their trust issues deny them the chance at an epic love story?
Prologue

Connor


Sitting here alone on a Friday night drinking whiskey…how times have changed. My bitter musings are interrupted by the sound of the back door opening and I look over to see Jayson and Chloe walk in. They are completely oblivious to anyone but themselves and so much in love; it’s a little ridiculous. Actually, I’m happy for them…I just don’t want to see the evidence of it tonight.


I watch as my mirror image wraps her up in his arms and kisses the hell out of her. As the kiss grows more heated, I feel sort of like a voyeur. They don’t even know I’m here and although I love to harass Chloe about being a “closet freak,” I need to get out of here before they see me, not because I’m a noble guy, but because I don’t want to answer the 2,000 questions they will throw at me.  


Taking care not to disturb them, I climb the back stairs to my room and get ready for bed. Once, I’m lying down, I reach for my phone without thinking and send a text.


Connor: What are u doing?


Madison: I thought u weren’t talking 2 me.


Connor: I’m not. Never mind


Madison: U could come over. I miss u.


Connor: I’m not having this convo again. You had a choice…and you didn’t choose me.


Madison: Maybe I was wrong. Come over and let’s talk about it.


I don’t bother responding. She knows where I stand on this issue and her request to “talk about it” means she wants to distract me with sex.


With a mirthless laugh, I wonder at the absurdity of the situation. Connor Reece, Mr. Commitment-Phobe, is shutting a girl down because she won’t have a relationship outside of casual sex. I’m betting Karma is having a huge laugh at my expense for every time I was a huge asshole to the girls who wanted more from me than just fucking.


Shame fills me when I think of what a bastard I’ve been to some of the girls I hooked up with in the past. Jesus, if I had known what rejection feels like, I would have become a monk and saved everyone some grief and pain.


I always thought just being a hook-up guy was the right way to go. I got my needs met and the women stayed safe. That’s been my biggest priority: not exposing a woman to the darkness that rests inside me…the darkness I discovered at age 17.


Sure, I’ve let hints of it come out with a few partners, but I made sure to keep a tight rein on myself. Years ago, I swore I would never put myself in a vulnerable situation with a girl again. I can hear Karma laughing even louder in my head…looks like I’m the one that needed protecting…maybe not my body, but the heart I thought was on lock down…the one Madison McKinley crushed to pieces with two words, “I can’t.”


Hoping to extricate her from my mind…at least for the night, I turn over, punch my pillow, and try to sleep…waiting for the alcohol to numb my brain. Unfortunately, that’s not the case…even though sleepiness begins to overtake me, my mind is working overtime.


Soon my eyes begin to droop, but the memories push through…ones that I thought I buried years ago. Flashes from that night swoop in and my jaw clenches in reaction. The alcohol as well as the situation with Madison is just the right combination to bring back memories I would rather not have right now or any time actually. The harder I try to keep them back, the quicker they come. Finally, I give in and the last 6 years of my life play out like a movie in front of me.
Melody Dawn is an aspiring contemporary romance author residing in the southern part of the US. She started reading romance novels when she was a teenager and became addicted to Happily Ever After’s. She got her own HEA when she met her soulmate 20 years ago and they have been together ever since. They have two furbabies who think they are Kings of the Castle and require a ton of attention. When she is not reading or writing, she loves to refurbish old furniture into new pieces, scrapbook, and most of all spend time with her main guy.
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