**You MUST read book one, MURDER NOTES, prior to reading this book.
**You MUST read book one, MURDER NOTES, prior to reading this book.
We are so excited to be a part of the Blog Tour for Leaning into Forever by Lane Hayes. This is a great read, all the happy feels! I have really enjoyed this series and this book is a great addition. I hope you’ll check out my review, the excerpt and the giveaway too!
LEANING INTO FOREVER
Leaning Into Series Book 7
RELEASE DATE: 06.26.18
COVER ARTIST: REESE DANTE
Geordie De La Rosa is a legend among wine lovers in Napa
Valley. His ultra-fabulous style paired with a penchant for leading impromptu sing-a-longs has
made him a star attraction at Conrad Winery. Co-owning a well-respected winery was never
Geordie’s aspiration but he likes the niche he’s made for himself. He won’t deny that his job and
his friends have helped ease his heartache and grief after the death of his longtime partner.
Levi Yeager excels at the art of reinventing himself. He’s been a
minor league baseball player, a college coach and now a restaurant owner. The problem is he
doesn’t know anything about the food business. And when his chef quits unexpectedly, he’s
afraid his new venture is doomed. But Levi isn’t a quitter. It may be the only thing he has in
common with the beautiful, sassy man from the neighboring winery who agrees to help get his
new business up and running. Neither man counts on their fast friendship or the wild attraction
they feel for each other. However, they know they won’t stand a chance until they let go of the
past and lean into forever.
4 – 4.5 Stars
This Geordie’s story and I have really been looking forward to and it definitely did not disappoint! I’ve enjoyed Geordie in the previous books, his flamboyance and fabulousness but it was clear he needed someone in his life. And Levi is the perfect match for him, it certainly may not seem that way initially but there is something so very wonderful between these two, right from the start. This is the sort of read that is just good for my heart!
Geordie is still mourning the loss of his love Mike, not ready and unable to move on, but when Levi shows up he challenges Geordie and doesn’t hide from his feelings. He doesn’t let Geordie push him away. They start spending time together and Geordie feels happiness again, genuinely enjoying Levi and what he brings to his life. I adored these two together. Yes, they have some things to work through and Geordie has to come to terms with the fact that he will always love Mike, but there just might be room in heart for Levi too.
I really liked the way this story progressed, these two start out working together and their friendship develops. It takes time for these two, but it’s a great pace. Their relationship never felt forced or one-sided, even during their challenges. This is exactly the journey I had hoped for Geordie and it made my heart so very happy! It’s one of those books I wanted to start over as soon as I finished just to feel it again. Definitely a must read book and must read series!
“I can’t decide what to sing. The Sound of Music is always a winner,
but perhaps I should try—”
“Grease,” Levi suggested out of the fucking blue. He chuckled when I jumped, and
then he handed me a napkin to clean the burgundy liquid that sloshed over the rim of my
“Where the hell did you come from? And why are you always sneaking up on me?” I asked
irritably as I wrapped the napkin around the stem of my glass.
“I didn’t sneak up on you. You asked for a music suggestion, and I gave you one.”
“I wasn’t asking your opinion,” I huffed without heat. “I was talking to myself.”
“I’m always talking to myself.”
I lifted my glass to my lips to hide my involuntary hum of approval. Damn, he cleaned up nicely.
His slicked-back hair and close-shaven hint of a beard went well with his white oxford button-
down shirt, houndstooth blazer, and snug designer jeans. And holy hell…cowboy
“People are gonna think you’re weird if you keep that up,” he singsonged playfully.
“I hope so. Weird is the ultimate badge of honor.” I raised my glass in a mock toast then gave
him a lascivious once-over that was too flirty to be taken seriously. “You look very handsome. I
wouldn’t think to pair a sophisticated jacket with ranch chic and yet, somehow you’ve made it
Levi crossed his arms and leaned against the wall with a slow-growing grin. The latent sensuality
in the lazy upturn of his full lips fascinated me. Or maybe it was the cowboy boots.
“Thanks. I think.”
“Anytime. I should go.” I shoved my glass into his free hand then flung my yellow scarf over my
shoulder and pinched my cheeks to add a touch of natural color before bowing theatrically.
“Adieu. My audience awaits.”
“Hang on.” He stepped in front of me before I could escape. “I want to talk to you for a second.”
The billowy sleeves of my black tunic fluttered as I motioned for him to hurry. “What is it?”
“I didn’t have a chance to thank you for helping me out today. The stuffed jalapeños were a hit.
And they went well with the wine.”
“You’re welcome. I know my peppers, and I know my Pinot. You were smart to print out a
sample menu for La Vid. The font was all wrong, but it was still a nice touch,” I enthused. “Now
excuse me while I—”
Levi grabbed my elbow to stop me. “La Vid?”
“It’s just a suggestion, of course, but I think a touch of Spanish flair would be well-received.
Every other business in this town has the word vine or wine in it. La Vid would stand out. Think
“I will. What was wrong with the font?” he asked, furrowing his brow.
I grabbed my drink from his hand and took a small sip. “You used Helvetica, Levi. That’s almost
as boring as Times New Roman.”
It didn’t seem possible, but his forehead creased a little more as his frown deepened. “At no
point in my life did I ever think I’d ask this question at a party but…what font would you
“Andale or Century Gothic. Or better yet, Monaco,” I replied without hesitation. “Something
classy yet understated and sophisticated. That’s what you’re going for with your restaurant,
“Yes. Exactly. Wes told me you’re responsible for the overall aesthetic at Conrad Winery. Are
you a budding designer on top of being a cabaret singer?”
I grinned at his teasing tone. “Yes and no. I have zero training in either endeavor, but I’m pretty
damn good at both if I do say so myself.”
“And modest too,” he quipped.
“Modesty will get you nowhere. If you want something, you’d better speak up before someone
else swoops in.”
“Agreed. I want something.” Levi inched closer, seeming suddenly larger than life. His shoulders
were broader, and his expression was more intense.
“What do you want?”
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best.
Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early
age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These
days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years
ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and
subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow
Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern
California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.
This isn’t a story about a love triangle. There is no triangle involved.
This isn’t a story about an accidental pregnancy. Although having a baby with her . . . I would.
This isn’t a story about lies and deception, even though at times I’ve lied to myself.
No, this is my story.
A story about sacrifice.
A story about a man who fell in love with the wrong girl.
A story I wish I never had to tell.
This is a story about the true meaning of the downside of love.
Okay, this one is rough for me. I love Meghan Quinn, I loved her characters, her ability to tell a story and truth be told I loved the first book. But this one was a struggle for me. The writing is great, the story is strong but it’s not what I wanted for these characters, it wasn’t something that resonated within me. I wanted to love it, I wanted to root for them but I just didn’t. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth reading and putting your heart on line for, it just wasn’t what made my heart happy.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers and ruin this journey for readers but it was just a different experience for me. I think what she is bold and really brings the feels, unfortunately for me it just didn’t leave with me the feeling I was hoping for. It’s a bittersweet journey that will definitely get you in the feels, win or lose!
Tucked away at the base of the Rocky Mountains lived a little boy with one singular dream: leave this broken and battered home and become someone.
Be somebody’s hero.
That boy was me—Colby Brooks. Except I’m not that same little boy anymore.
My dreams might still be the same, but my reality isn’t.
I’m smarter. Stronger. A man.
And I learned a long damn time ago, the only way to achieve my dreams was to avoid distractions—at any cost.
Focus. Resolve. Determination.
But all it took was one single night. One night and my entire life…changed.
One night had me colliding head first with the biggest distraction of my life; Rory Oaks.
Smart. Charming. Beautiful.
Rory changed everything.
Quickly, my one-track mind started to bend.
Each kiss faded decade-long dreams.
And with one single incident, I fly off course.
Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.
Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.
Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!
“Sexy, sweet and heartfelt, Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a fresh take on Navy SEALs that will delight and entertain romance readers.”
–Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.
Title: Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #6
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: ebook: July 9, 2018 | print: July 31, 2018
Subgenre: M/M Contemporary Military Romance
Book Synopsis: Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.
Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.
Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether.
This book is approximately 82,000 words
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
4 – 4.5 Stars
I am such a fan of Annabeth Albert and this series and this is a fantastic addition! I loved these characters and their slow burn journey to happiness! I felt like I really got to know these guys and I loved that!
Spencer is a well known journalist with strict professional boundaries. He is out and proud but not looking for a relationship. Bacon works hard as a SEAL, but he has a secret, he’s pan, but it’s really no one’s business. When Spencer lands an assignment that has him embedded with the SEALs, Bacon is the one assigned to him. These two don’t even know what’s coming for them!
Spencer and Bacon are just fantastic together! They have such great conversations and banter and they just click together. I liked the differences between these guys too, not just age but personality and experience. These guys really get to know each other, there’s as much of an emotional connection as there is a physical one. This story was full of feeling, the lighthearted moments, the sweet ones and some ones that get you in the heart, and it’s a wonderful addition to this series. Overall a great journey and I have to say I loved loved the way it all came together!
“Came because I didn’t have anywhere else I’d rather be.” Bacon’s voice lowered, became more mournful. “And trust me, I’m every bit as pissed about that too. Fuck you for getting under my skin. Everything on base is too damn quiet right now. And I’m too…itchy. You make me itchy, Spencer, and I hate it.”
“Don’t you dare say sorry.” Bacon’s mouth was millimeters from Spencer’s when he paused. Held. Gave him a chance to escape, but even though it was the height of stupidity, Spencer wasn’t going anywhere.
“I hate it too,” he whispered, right against Bacon’s mouth a split second before Bacon claimed his mouth in a punishing kiss. Spencer was used to being the aggressor with kissing. It was just how he was wired—he’d always been the one to take the lead in bed. But Bacon left no space for him to take over. In fact, all he could do was cling to Bacon and hope they didn’t burn the damn hotel down with the force of their passion.
It was like they’d been longing for this for years, not days, and like they were both longtime lovers reuniting and mortal enemies enraged at their attraction. Bacon kissed like he operated in the field—with deadly intent and utter precision as he systematically took Spencer apart, lick by lick, nip by nip, breath by breath. But really, who needed air with kisses like these? Bacon kept up the aggressive assault, body pushing him against the wall, mouth ensuring his compliance.
Finally, Bacon proved himself mortal after all and pulled away to gasp for air. “Fuck.”
“Still mad?” Why Spencer was goading him, he really couldn’t say, other than he wanted more of this wild, unleashed, more-than-a-little unhinged man.
“Very.” Bacon bit at Spencer’s ear, which made him shiver like a teenager in a backseat for the first time. God, he was putty for this man, absolute wet clay for him to mold and use. “So damn pissed.”
But he belied his words by sinking to his knees, as graceful as any dancer Spencer had worked with. He went straight for Spencer’s waistband.
“Wait.” Spencer had to regain a little control here, assert himself, not simply get caught up in the Bacon express train of lust and anger. “Still don’t know your name.”
About Annabeth Albert:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series.
To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.
Rafflecopter prize and code: Reader’s Choice of any Out of Uniform book in paper + surprise swag pack!
Hope everyone had a great 4th of July! Today we are sharing the release blitz for Play it by Ear by K.M. Neuhold.
PLAY IT BY EAR
REPLAY SERIES, BOOK 2
RELEASE DATE: 07.02.18
My muse is gone, and I haven’t written a word of music in over a year. Every time I close my eyes, all I can see is Dawson. Nine years ago, just before Downward Spiral’s first major tour, I met my soulmate and then I walked away. Now that I’ve finally tracked him down again, things have changed. I’ll have to make him fall for me all over again. But is it possible I put our single weekend together on a pedestal or could Dawson really be The One?
A traumatic brain injury nine years ago left me deaf and with spotty memory of the first twenty years of my life. When one of the biggest rock stars in the world shows up and seems to know me, I’m not sure what to believe. Is it possible he’s telling the truth when he says he’s been in love with me for nine years, even if I can’t remember ever meeting him?
***Play it by Ear is the second book in the Replay series. Each book in the series will focus on a different band member getting a second chance at love. Each book can be read as a stand-alone.
I am really enjoying this series and I think Lando and Dawson just became my favorites! (So far) It was pull at the heart strings but not overly angsty or dramatic, it felt just right. Both men living a life they hadn’t planned on, without each other until fate brings them back together again!
Lando still remembers the guy he hooked up with years ago, the one he spent a weekend with, the one who never called. He can’t seem to get over that guy and he is struggling professionally and personally. Dawson can’t remember a lot of things, he lost his hearing and a lot of memories in his accident. He’s obsessed with a band he can’t ever remember hearing. Both men end up in the same Florida town where they met and they find each other again.
These two are just meant to be, you feel it from the start and that feeling just grows as these two find each other and get to know each other again! My heart hurt for them both, the different things they’ve been through and then to find each other, it made me so happy! I loved their relationship, sure it’s quick but I totally bought in! I loved their connection, despite everything that happened. And I LOVED Dawson, he totally owned my heart! I really enjoyed this book from start to finish and am looking forward to the next!
The blank pages taunt me cruelly. No matter how many times I put the tip of my pencil to the paper, it remains blank. Have you ever felt like your entire life depended on your ability to do something that you suddenly couldn’t do? Not that I’m going to die if I can’t write. But if I can’t do this, the band will be dead, and I might as well die along with it.
“Just write,” I command myself, putting the tip of the pencil to the paper once more. “It can’t be that difficult. You’ve written three dozen songs, if not more. Just put one word in front of the other until you have enough words to fill three minutes or so.”
I drill the tip of the pencil into the paper, but still no words come.
“Goddammit,” I roar, snapping the pencil in my fist and throwing the pieces to the ground. “Dammit, dammit, dammit.”
A familiar resentment simmers in my chest. If Lincoln wasn’t such a mess, I wouldn’t be in this position. When we signed our first contract with Epic Records a decade ago, Lincoln and I agreed we’d share the responsibility of writing music. How many songs has Lincoln written? Two. Two fucking songs in ten years while I sit here with an ulcer over needing to get a whole album written in the next few weeks.
“Fuck you, Lincoln, and fuck me, too,” I mutter, heaving myself off the couch and heading to my kitchen to grab another beer.
How’s this for the wild Friday night in a rock star’s life? Drinking beer and berating myself in my deathly quiet penthouse.
I wander over to the window that takes up the entire east wall. City lights twinkle like stars all around, but when I tilt my head to see the actual stars, there’s nothing but hazy light polluting the sky.
I lift the bottle of beer to my lips and gulp down half of it in one go. None of this was how it was supposed to be. When we started this band, we were nothing more than best friends sharing a love of music. When we were signed by Epic, we were all so sure this was going to change our lives. We weren’t wrong. A decade later we have seven albums, three of which went platinum, we’re a household name, our songs—my songs—are on every radio station. We’re living the dream. So why does it feel so empty?
I rest my palm against the frigid glass of the window and wonder for the millionth time what the point of all this is.
The shrill sound of my phone ringing makes me jump. I reach into my pocket and see Archer’s name on the screen. There’s only one reason our band manager would be calling me after midnight on a random Friday.
“Is he okay?” I ask as soon as I answer. My voice sounds flat to my own ears, and I wonder if Archer notices it. I feel wrung out physically and emotionally. I’m a battery with only ten percent life left and no charger in sight.
“He’s in the hospital,” Archer replies, sounding just as exhausted as I am.
“How bad is it?”
“Not sure yet. They’re pumping his stomach. It looks like he drank a liter of whiskey. I found him asleep on his balcony, damn near frozen.”
“On his balcony?” I put my hand back on the freezing glass and shiver. “It’s like twelve degrees outside.”
“Yeah,” Archer agrees.
“What do you need me to do?”
“Nothing tonight. I just wanted to let you know, and I was hoping I could swing by to talk after he’s out of the hospital. Maybe tomorrow evening?”
“Yeah, any time,” I agree. “Do you want me to call Benji and Jude?”
“It’s okay; I need something to do to distract myself while I wait. Thanks though.”
“No problem. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I hang up and gulp down the rest of my beer. Sometimes it feels like these aren’t the lives we were meant to live. We all got off track somewhere. I can pinpoint exactly where my life split into a before and after. I’ve written a dozen songs about him. I’ve stayed up nights thinking about him. I’ve gotten drunk and cried over him. I hardly know him, but in nine years, I haven’t been able to shake him. What I wouldn’t give to go back and do something differently. Maybe I’d never leave him. Maybe I’d beg him to come with me. I don’t know what I’d do, but it wouldn’t be this.
I toss the empty bottle in the recycling and amble to my bedroom, stripping out of my clothes as I go. Maybe I’ll dream some damn lyrics and save my own ass. More likely I’ll dream of him.
I’m an author of m/m and new adult romance. I have a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well.
How can heartbreak turn into happily ever after?
Tommy Gordon is all set for happily ever after—until heartbreak strikes when his husband-to-be leaves him at the altar. In a bid for distraction, his best friend, Grayson Phillips, suggests he takes advantage of the luxury honeymoon anyway! But the last thing Tommy wants is to go alone, so he invites Grayson and his son, Petey, along.
Beautiful Bonaire lends itself to romance, and along with close quarters, relaxing on the water, and a matchmaking kid, Tommy and Grayson soon find themselves closer than ever… and considering more, much to Grayson’s delight. But before they can plan the best best honeymoon ever, dark clouds descend in the form of Tommy’s ex and a sting from paradise that could ruin everything.
This was such a fun and sweet read and I absolutely fell head over heels for these characters! Tommy and Grayson and Petey just won my heart! This is the perfect read when you’re looking for something without too much drama and a just wonderful, meant to be love!
Tommy is all set to get married, he thinks he’s found the one, until the one decides he just can’t go through with it and leaves him the day of the wedding. Tommy is ready to crumble but his best friend Grayson is there by his side, ready to help him. Grayson even convinces Tommy he should go on his honeymoon and enjoy the vacation and in turn Tommy convinces Grayson to come too, and to bring his adorable son Petey. The three of them head off together and it’s a trip that changes everything.
I just loved this group together, not just the romance between Tommy and Grayson but the family unit they are with Petey. Tommy and Grayson have been friends for years, both men harboring secret crushes on each other but the timing has never been right for either man. But there, on that beautiful island together Tommy and Grayson sort through their feelings, about past relationships and for each other. These two just felt right together, even as Tommy works through what his craptastic ex did him, the love between him and Grayson is evident.
I really enjoyed this story from start to finish! Grayson’s constant strength is the perfect match for Tommy and his self doubt and workaholic tendencies. These two grow together and become a beautiful family. There’s just enough drama to keep it exciting, a wonderful read all around!
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.
Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Daniel worked hard at college, using coping strategies to shut himself off from any situation that might hurt. But, persistent nightmares and fears for his future drive him to revisit the past. Now Legacy might be the only place to give him a chance at peace.
After the tragic loss of his parents, Corey is head of the family now, and the welfare of his three younger sisters are what matters the most. Corey is desperate to find Daniel, tell him the truth and somehow convince him to keep secrets. Even if this leads to heartbreak.
When the world crumbles around Corey, and Daniel is running scared, Legacy ranch is their only hope.
A new story set in the world of Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes and the Double D Ranch, Texas.
Oh the emotional journey with this Legacy Ranch group and wow does Daniel round it out! This story made me feel so much! Daniel and Corey both have so much to deal with – it’s powerful, emotional and filled with hope so have some tissues ready!
Daniel is trying to live a normal life, trying to escape the pain and horror of his past. He knows people think he’s weird but he’s still trying. Corey’s life changed dramatically when his parents and uncle unexpectedly died, now he’s in charge of the business and his three younger sisters. Going through his father’s old journals opens a crack, exposes something so painful Corey knows he needs to hide it from his sisters but he also feels he needs to try to right some of the wrongs. And that is how Daniel comes into his life.
For me, a lot of this story was more about the healing journey than the romance and it worked for me. The lives of both of these men have spiraled a bit, and it takes time to recover from that. Aside from their individual issues, there are issues between Daniel and Corey, the connection they share and the questions of being able to separate it all and RJ Scott does a great job of bringing these two together. They find friendship together and it leads to more and it just made my heart so happy! This book and this series, while not always easy on the heart, are so full of love and hope. I love how this group becomes a family, the stories going beyond just finding romantic love, but also the love of a family.
June 23 – Xtreme Delusions, The Way She Reads, OMG Reads, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, Abbey’s Fully Booked, June 25 – Love My Reads, June 29 – The Novel Approach, Making It Happen, MM Good Book Reviews, The Geekery Book Review, Cupcakes & Bookshelves, RAM PA Group, July 2 – Mirrigold, Sexy Erotic Xciting, Gay Media Reviews, July 4 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Lelyana’s Reviews, July 6 – Jim’s Reading Room, July 11 – Padme’s Library, Wicked Reads, July 13 – Lillian Francis, Virginia Lee
Eight years ago
I want to go home.
Daniel Chandler trudged miserably down the long black ribbon of road, tears burning his eyes, and hopelessness tightening his chest. The heat of an August Texas day had subsided to a slightly cooler evening, and the sky was a brilliant mass of stars, but he couldn’t bring himself to look up at them anymore.
How had everything gone this badly wrong? Brett had promised that he would take Daniel somewhere far away from his foster family, but one weird question from an inquisitive cashier at a gas station and Brett had panicked. He’d refused to go any further, and said he was going home.
Daniel didn’t want to go back to San Antonio. He wanted freedom, and the ability to decide for himself where his life was going. He’d overheard his foster parents talking about how he was a liability; that he costed them more than they made, and he knew it was only a matter of time before they got rid of him anyway.
So he refused to leave with Brett and got out of the car.
Brett didn’t care, and he drove away, leaving Daniel stranded.
Daniel kicked a stone, stumbling a little when he misjudged the curve of the road. He’d eaten the cereal bars that Brett had tossed him and used up all the water. Which left him in the heat, without food or drink, and carrying a backpack with limited clothes. He also had books—his favorites, and a wallet which contained nothing more than a couple of hundred dollars he’d saved from his gardening job. The only official thing he had in the bag was his ID.
He’d left his most recent home at six-thirty a.m., with no real idea of where he was going or what he was doing, only knowing he wasn’t going to spend another minute in a house where he wasn’t wanted.
Hunching his shoulders against the weight of his backpack, he carried on. Sometimes he hummed to a song in his head. Other times he counted the steps he took, but most of the time he stared ahead, not counting or humming at all.
A car pulled up alongside him. No, a truck, and at first his heart leaped. Brett was back. He’d changed his mind and returned to help Daniel.
A female voice called out. “Can we give you a lift somewhere?” she asked through the open window.
Daniel saw she wasn’t much older than he was, long blonde hair swept up into a ponytail, her smile wide, her expression kind. A man sat in the driver’s seat, but he was in the shadows, and at first, Daniel couldn’t make out his face until he leaned forward. The first thing Daniel noticed was the dog collar, then the same kindly smile as the girl. They were clearly related, both fair, with light eyes and an angular balance to their features.
“Hello, young man. My daughter and I are heading to Laredo. Would you like us to take you?”
He smiled at Daniel, this man in black with the white collar. This was an average family. They probably thought he was a hitchhiker and were offering genuine help. If Daniel couldn’t trust a man of the cloth traveling with his daughter, then who could he trust? He scanned the road behind him, waiting for Brett to suddenly appear and pick him up, but he was tired, hungry, and verging on desperate.
“Thank you.” Daniel opened the back door. He’d never hitchhiked before, didn’t know what the etiquette was, but he felt like he should offer to pay. “I can cover gas,” he said.
“No need for that,” the dad said and extended a hand awkwardly over the seat, which Daniel shook. “Father Frank Martins and this is my daughter Andrea.”
Andrea glanced back at him and grinned again. “Hey.”
“Daniel,” Daniel replied, as mute as usual around a girl as he was with boys. She turned back to the front, and Frank put the truck in drive.
“Buckle up,” he said.
Daniel did as he was told. Then settled back for the ride.
“Where are you from?” Frank asked after a few moments of silence, filled only with the soft sound of tires on blacktop.
“San Antonio,” Daniel answered.
“Really? What brings you this far south?”
Andrea shushed her dad, “Stop asking him questions, Daddy.”
Her dad huffed a gentle laugh. “Sorry.” He used the mirror to see Daniel. “You like music?”
Daniel nodded, thankful to Andrea for running interference.
Frank fiddled with the stereo. Country music filled the cab, and Frank hummed along. Andrea was on her phone, as evidenced by the glow of light as screens changed, and Daniel regretted leaving his phone at home. In his mad, stupid, anger, he’d wanted no way for his foster parents to keep tabs on him, but right now, he kind of wished he could phone them. He should pluck up the courage and ask Andrea to borrow hers. Maybe give his foster-parents a quick call, apologize, get them to pick him up, or at least arrange a bus.
They would help him. He didn’t doubt that. Even if he’d been an idiot and they wanted to hand him off to the next family, they would never leave a fourteen year old kid stranded miles from home.
“You thirsty?” Frank asked, and before Daniel could answer, Frank had unlocked the glove box and pulled out a bottle of water, passing it back to Daniel.
He took it with grateful thanks and downed a third of it in thirsty gulps. They reached the outskirts of a small town, and the car slowed to a stop outside a cookie-cutter house, a pretty place with manicured lawns.
Andrea turned around to look at Daniel.
“This is where I get out,” she announced. “Nice to meet you, Daniel.”
I thought they were both going on to Laredo?
Frank turned around as well. “I can take you all the way into the city. It’s only another ten minutes or so to the bus station or somewhere like that? A hostel?”
“I’m not sure—”
Frank interrupted, “Or you could stay the night here or a motel. We have one a few blocks down from here.”
Andrea shut the door and jogged up to the house, vanishing inside.
“Could I just borrow your phone?” Daniel asked.
Frank smiled, nodded, and pulled out his phone, tutting as he did so. “Oh my, the phone’s dead. You want to use my house phone? Or shall I just get you to the city? The bus station, right? They have public phones there.”
So many decisions. So many difficult choices, he thought and yawned.
“Yeah.” Daniel just wanted to get home.
“Yeah, what?” Frank prompted.
Daniel blinked at him. He was tired, and everything felt kind of hazy. “Yeah, home.” Back to his pretend parents and his pretend family, but back to a warm bed.
“Come on. Get in the front here.”
Daniel did as he was told, his limbs feeling heavy, and his coordination shit. Finally, he was belted in the front, and he closed his eyes briefly, exhaustion washing over him.
“That’s a good boy,” Frank murmured. “You sleep now.”
The country music got quieter, Frank’s humming was louder, and the journey to the city took a long time, the car swaying, and Daniel’s head thicker, full of softness and a weird kind of peace. He saw fields and signs, but none of them made any sense. Finally, he couldn’t fight the overwhelming lethargy, so he slept.
And woke up in hell.
About The Author
RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.
RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.
She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.
The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.
Happy Wednesday, hope everyone is having a great week! Today we are excited to share the Release Blitz for Knowing You by Rebecca Donovan! I love her writing and am definitely excited about this one!
Knowing You (Cursed #2) by Rebecca Donovan
Release Date: June 27, 2018
Genre: Young Adult
Synopsis: Under suspicion for a crime she watched him commit, Lana will pay for her silence. Her new lawyer strikes a deal, sending her to a boarding school in Vermont. It’s supposed to be a second chance. An escape from a dead-end life in Sherling. Except Lana doesn’t want to leave those who depend on her behind.
Lana is convinced she has nothing in common with the sons and daughters of celebrities and politicians who attend Blackwood School. But she soon finds out, that they’re all delinquents… just like her. Theirs is a world of contrived headlines and publicity facades, and Lana’s unabated honesty is a keen contrast to their lie-filled lives. She finds herself with new friends, just by telling the truth.
But not everyone is welcoming. Someone is out to destroy Lana, and she has no idea why. The longer she stays at Blackwood, the more dangerous it becomes for her and everyone she cares about. And it will only get worse when Lana discovers the truth.
Optimism seeps from every pore of my body. I truly believe that what’s supposed to happen… will! In that regard, I don’t know how to give up; it’s not part of my biological make up.
I’m a passionate (and some would say, overly enthusiastic) person. I learn by doing (and have been burned more times that I’d like to admit), but I will always throw my entire self into whatever I do – fail or succeed.
I think this is evident when I write, leaving nothing behind and spilling it all out on the pages. I give it all to my readers – love it or hate it.
The path I’m on is very often my own, veering off the beaten path at the sight of something more interesting or captivating, getting caught in the vines and thorns in order to experience the beauty and intrigue others often pass by. And I always meet the most interesting people along the way…
Connect with Rebecca:
Amazon Page: http://amzn.to/2zeeN2Y
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