Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)

Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)
Author: Emma Chase
Prologue

I don’t use an alarm clock. I’m one of those people with an internal timepiece that wakes me up at the same time every morning, regardless of how tired I am or how late I was up the night before. I was that kid—you mothers know the type I mean. The kind who makes you beg for just a few more minutes of rest before you eventually lay down the law that no one’s allowed out of bed before the sun shows up.

Which explains why, even though it’s Sunday, my eyelids crack open at five a.m. sharp. I stretch out the sore stiffness in my complaining muscles, caused by lack of sleep . . . and from the strenuous workout after we got home from the bar.

I kick back the covers and climb out of bed, still naked, and walk past the head of soft blond hair that peeks out from under the blankets, to the bathroom. After a satisfying piss, I brush the foul residue from my teeth and splash cold water on my face, slicking back my unruly black hair. With a groan, I crack my neck and stretch my arms.

I’m getting too old for this shit.

But then I remember the finer details of the evening’s second act. The thrill of a new hookup, the verbal gamesmanship—saying just the right thing in just the right way. The sweaty foreplay, the hot, tight fucking, the long legs over my shoulders . . . and I grin.

There’s no such thing as too old.

I walk to my closet for a T-shirt and sweatpants, then silently head out to the kitchen. I press the button on the ready coffeemaker—forget dogs; a good coffeemaker is man’s real best friend. While it brews, I switch on the small flat-screen perched on the counter; the early-morning anchors drone on about the latest world horrors, sports stats, and weather.

Stanton, my roommate from law school, moved out last year to live with Sofia—a fellow attorney at my firm. Stanton’s a hell of a guy, Sofia’s a kick-ass woman, and though they started out as banging buddies only, I could see them going domesticated from a mile away. Having the apartment to myself has been fantastic. Not that Stanton was a slob, but he’s a former frat boy. I’m an organized guy; I like things a certain way—my way. Routine. Discipline. Neat and easy are words to live by. My mother always said I’d make a great military man, if it wasn’t for the authority factor. The only orders I follow are my own.

Steam wafts from my cup of black coffee as I step out onto the balcony, sipping it slowly, while the silent DC street comes alive around me.

The anchor’s nasal voice seeps out from the open balcony door. “I-495 was closed yesterday for several hours due to a collision that claimed the life of noted environmental lobbyist Robert McQuaid and his wife. The cause of the deadly crash is still under investigation. In other local news . . .”

Delicate arms wrap around my waist from behind as small hands fold together over my abs. A soft cheek presses against my back. “Come back to bed,” she whines sweetly. “It’s sooo early.”

Sorry, Cinderella, but the clock struck twelve. The coach has turned back into a pumpkin and it’s time to collect your glass slipper. I never pretended to be Prince Charming.

Some women can handle a nameless one-night stand or a casual hookup. But honestly, most can’t. As long as they understand sex is the only thing I have to offer, the only thing I want in return, I’m up for a repeat. The minute their eyes get that soft, sentimental—or worse—wounded look, I’m out. I don’t have time for games, don’t have any interest in talking about “where this could go.”

I twist out of the blonde’s arms. She follows as I walk back into the kitchen and put my empty cup in the sink. “I’m going for a run. There’s coffee in the pot and cab money on the front table. You don’t need to be here when I get back.”

Plump lips—that were delightfully stretched around my cock last night—now form an unhappy pout. “You don’t have to be an asshole.”

I shrug. “I don’t have to be . . . it’s just easier that way.”

I slip into my running shoes and walk out the front door.

1

Four weeks later

They treated me like a common criminal! It was humiliating.”

Milton Cooper Carrington Bradley. Heir to a renowned international luxury hotel empire . . . and a perpetual client of mine. Chronological age? Twenty. Mental age? Four.

“Stupid peasants didn’t know who they were dealing with! I told them I’d have their jobs.”

Yes—his name is actually Milton Bradley. Obviously his parents are dipshits.

“Especially the head stewardess—she was a rude bitch. You play racquetball with the president of that airline, don’t you, Dad? I want her gone.”

And this particular apple sure stuck close to the tree.

I lean back in my chair as he continues to whine to his father about the unfair rules of the flight crew and all he wants done in retribution. I’m a criminal defense attorney at Adams & Williamson—one of an elite group of rising stars at this firm. But this is the year that counts. It’s time to pull away from the pack—to demonstrate to the partners that I’m one of their own. The stud in the stable. The best.

Unlike my coworkers, who also happen to be my closest friends, I’m not hindered by time suckers like family, girlfriends, marriage, and kids—the ultimate third rail for any career-driven adult. My lack of outside distractions makes proving my commitment to the firm, displaying my skill, just a little bit easier. I like my job. Wouldn’t say I love it—but I’m really fucking good at it. It’s interesting. Challenging. Keeps me on my toes. Because criminal defense isn’t about defending the weak or protecting the innocent—it’s a game. Taking the hand you’re dealt, the facts of the case, and spinning them to your advantage. Outsmarting, outmaneuvering the prosecution. Winning when all the odds say you can’t.

Appealed (The Legal Briefs #3)

Appealed (The Legal Briefs #3)
Author: Emma Chase
1

“You rotten bastard!”

Kennedy sits up and stares at me like she doesn’t even recognize me. Which is pretty weird, considering we’re bare-ass naked in my bed. Every inch of us is intimately acquainted.

But it’s the tone of her voice that bothers me most—flat with tightly controlled anger and breathy with pain. Like I stole the air from her lungs—like I punched her in the stomach.

The words don’t worry me. Insults are our flirting. Arguing is our foreplay. One time, she was so worked up she hauled off and took a swing at me—and my reaction was a boner that wouldn’t be denied.

It’s not as twisted as it sounds. It works for us.

At least it did up until ten seconds ago.

“Wait. What?” I ask, genuinely surprised.

I thought she’d be grateful. Happy. Maybe offer me a blow job to demonstrate her supreme appreciation.

Her eyes glitter dangerously, and thoughts of letting her anywhere near my dick flee like tiny fish in a big aquarium. Because she’s not a woman to be taken lightly; she’s a force to be reckoned with. A breaker of hearts and a buster of balls.

“You planned this all along, didn’t you? Screwing me silly, lulling me into a false sense of security so I’ll drop my guard and you can win the case,” she hisses.

She moves to hop off the bed but I grab her arm. “You think my cock is powerful enough to turn you stupid? Aw, precious, that’s really flattering, but I don’t need to whore myself out to win my cases. You’re freaking out over nothing.”

“Fuck off!”

I used to have a way with women.

If the word fuck came out to play, it was always followed by me and then words like harder, please, and my friend, more.

Those were the days . . .

She jerks out of my grasp and scrambles off the bed, furiously gathering clothes that are strewn across the hardwood floor. And because she’s doing it naked, bending down, jiggling in all the best places, I have to watch. There are teeth marks on her ass—my teeth marks. No broken skin, just dark pink indentations. It’s possible I got a little carried away last night, but her ass is just so damn sweet and round and bitable.

I grab the prosthesis sleeve from the bedside table and slide it onto the stump on my left leg. Yes, part of my leg was amputated when I was a kid—a transtibial amputation if you want the technical term. I’ll get into that later, because she isn’t waiting. I actually like that about her—she doesn’t give an inch. Doesn’t even think about making special concessions or treating me any differently than the fully capable man I am.

Or the prick she apparently thinks I am at the moment.

I snap the pin of the sleeve into my prosthetic leg and stand up, just as she finds her shoe in the corner, adding it to the pile in her arms.

“Calm down, kitten,” I try, my voice level.

“Don’t call me that!” she snaps. “We said we wouldn’t discuss the case—that was our agreement.”

I move in closer, palms out, the universal sign of I come in peace. “We agreed to a lot of things that no longer apply, sweet-cheeks.”

Her nostrils flare at the trial nickname. Guess I can add “sweet-cheeks” to the no column, which is a damn shame. It suits her.

“I only brought it up because I’m trying to help you.”

It’s official: I’m a fucking idiot. Of all the wrong things I could’ve said, that’s the wrongest of them all.

“You think I need your help? Condescending cocksucker!”

She turns for the door, but I grab her arm again.

“Let go. I’m leaving.”

I want to respond with a good old Like hell you are or the more direct You’re not going anywhere. But they both have a psychotic, it-puts-the-lotion-in-the-basket-or-it-gets-the-hose kind of vibe. And that’s not what I’m going for.

Instead, I snatch the clothes from her arms and head to the window.

“What are you—? Don’t!”

Too late.

Her designer skirt, sleeveless silk blouse, and red lacy underthings float on the air for a fraction of a second, then fall to the sidewalk and street below us. Her bra gets snagged on the antenna of a passing car and waves majestically down the street like the flag on a diplomat’s vehicle from some awesome country named Titsland.

Feels like I should salute it.

I close the window, cross my arms, and smile. “If you try to leave now, poor Harrison may be scarred for life.” Harrison is my butler. Again—later.

“You son of a bitch!”

And her fists come flying at my face. All those years of ballet classes have made her quick, gracefully agile. But as fast as she is, and as mighty as her disposition is, she’s only five foot one at best. So before she can land a punch, or thinks to knee me in the balls, I easily toss her onto the bed. Then I straddle her waist, leaning over to press her wrists into the mattress above her head. My cock brushes hot and hard against the smooth skin just below her breasts, which gives him some fabulous ideas—but that’s gonna have to wait until later too.

Pity.

I gaze down at her. “Now, peaches, we’ll continue our conversation.”

That nickname fits too. Her silken skin is all peaches and cream. And the way she smells, Jesus, the way she tastes on my tongue—sweeter and softer than a ripe peach on a summer day.

Strands of blond hair dance across her collarbone as she bucks beneath me, giving my dick even more fabulous ideas. “Fuck you! I’m done talking.”

“Good. Then how about you shut that beautiful mouth and listen? Or I could always gag you.”

Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)

Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)
Author: Emma Chase
Prologue

I don’t use an alarm clock. I’m one of those people with an internal timepiece that wakes me up at the same time every morning, regardless of how tired I am or how late I was up the night before. I was that kid—you mothers know the type I mean. The kind who makes you beg for just a few more minutes of rest before you eventually lay down the law that no one’s allowed out of bed before the sun shows up.

Which explains why, even though it’s Sunday, my eyelids crack open at five a.m. sharp. I stretch out the sore stiffness in my complaining muscles, caused by lack of sleep . . . and from the strenuous workout after we got home from the bar.

I kick back the covers and climb out of bed, still naked, and walk past the head of soft blond hair that peeks out from under the blankets, to the bathroom. After a satisfying piss, I brush the foul residue from my teeth and splash cold water on my face, slicking back my unruly black hair. With a groan, I crack my neck and stretch my arms.

I’m getting too old for this shit.

But then I remember the finer details of the evening’s second act. The thrill of a new hookup, the verbal gamesmanship—saying just the right thing in just the right way. The sweaty foreplay, the hot, tight fucking, the long legs over my shoulders . . . and I grin.

There’s no such thing as too old.

I walk to my closet for a T-shirt and sweatpants, then silently head out to the kitchen. I press the button on the ready coffeemaker—forget dogs; a good coffeemaker is man’s real best friend. While it brews, I switch on the small flat-screen perched on the counter; the early-morning anchors drone on about the latest world horrors, sports stats, and weather.

Stanton, my roommate from law school, moved out last year to live with Sofia—a fellow attorney at my firm. Stanton’s a hell of a guy, Sofia’s a kick-ass woman, and though they started out as banging buddies only, I could see them going domesticated from a mile away. Having the apartment to myself has been fantastic. Not that Stanton was a slob, but he’s a former frat boy. I’m an organized guy; I like things a certain way—my way. Routine. Discipline. Neat and easy are words to live by. My mother always said I’d make a great military man, if it wasn’t for the authority factor. The only orders I follow are my own.

Steam wafts from my cup of black coffee as I step out onto the balcony, sipping it slowly, while the silent DC street comes alive around me.

The anchor’s nasal voice seeps out from the open balcony door. “I-495 was closed yesterday for several hours due to a collision that claimed the life of noted environmental lobbyist Robert McQuaid and his wife. The cause of the deadly crash is still under investigation. In other local news . . .”

Delicate arms wrap around my waist from behind as small hands fold together over my abs. A soft cheek presses against my back. “Come back to bed,” she whines sweetly. “It’s sooo early.”

Sorry, Cinderella, but the clock struck twelve. The coach has turned back into a pumpkin and it’s time to collect your glass slipper. I never pretended to be Prince Charming.

Some women can handle a nameless one-night stand or a casual hookup. But honestly, most can’t. As long as they understand sex is the only thing I have to offer, the only thing I want in return, I’m up for a repeat. The minute their eyes get that soft, sentimental—or worse—wounded look, I’m out. I don’t have time for games, don’t have any interest in talking about “where this could go.”

I twist out of the blonde’s arms. She follows as I walk back into the kitchen and put my empty cup in the sink. “I’m going for a run. There’s coffee in the pot and cab money on the front table. You don’t need to be here when I get back.”

Plump lips—that were delightfully stretched around my cock last night—now form an unhappy pout. “You don’t have to be an asshole.”

I shrug. “I don’t have to be . . . it’s just easier that way.”

I slip into my running shoes and walk out the front door.

1

Four weeks later

They treated me like a common criminal! It was humiliating.”

Milton Cooper Carrington Bradley. Heir to a renowned international luxury hotel empire . . . and a perpetual client of mine. Chronological age? Twenty. Mental age? Four.

“Stupid peasants didn’t know who they were dealing with! I told them I’d have their jobs.”

Yes—his name is actually Milton Bradley. Obviously his parents are dipshits.

“Especially the head stewardess—she was a rude bitch. You play racquetball with the president of that airline, don’t you, Dad? I want her gone.”

And this particular apple sure stuck close to the tree.

I lean back in my chair as he continues to whine to his father about the unfair rules of the flight crew and all he wants done in retribution. I’m a criminal defense attorney at Adams & Williamson—one of an elite group of rising stars at this firm. But this is the year that counts. It’s time to pull away from the pack—to demonstrate to the partners that I’m one of their own. The stud in the stable. The best.

Unlike my coworkers, who also happen to be my closest friends, I’m not hindered by time suckers like family, girlfriends, marriage, and kids—the ultimate third rail for any career-driven adult. My lack of outside distractions makes proving my commitment to the firm, displaying my skill, just a little bit easier. I like my job. Wouldn’t say I love it—but I’m really fucking good at it. It’s interesting. Challenging. Keeps me on my toes. Because criminal defense isn’t about defending the weak or protecting the innocent—it’s a game. Taking the hand you’re dealt, the facts of the case, and spinning them to your advantage. Outsmarting, outmaneuvering the prosecution. Winning when all the odds say you can’t.

Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs #3.5) Read book online free

Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs #3.5)

I still don’t use an alarm clock.

My internal clock is as dependable as ever, but I don’t wake up at 5 a.m. like I used to—I get up even earlier. Because these days it’s not a run or the thought of fresh coffee that gets me going in the morning.

It’s her.

I sense Chelsea before my eyes open. The press of her hip against my leg, the feel of her long, delicate arm draped across my bare chest, the tickle of her breath along my collarbone, the scent of lilac in her hair. The promise of lazy kisses, soft moans, and tight, wet heat.

We’ve been married for about two years and there hasn’t been a single morning when I didn’t wake with a smile tugging at my lips. Not one fucking time. Because she’s beside me—half on top of me—and the six little shits we love more than anything are tucked safely away upstairs. They’re all really good sleepers. That’s key.

Getting laid with six awake kids in the house can be a challenge. It takes planning, stealth. When moments of spontaneous opportunity strike, they’re never without risk of discovery. They require awareness—attunement to the movements and sounds beyond the closed door. What the kids are doing, where they are—if they’re going to interrupt us with any one of a thousand ridiculous but urgent questions.

It can be a pain in the ass—though I wouldn’t trade it for the world, wouldn’t change a single thing about the life we’ve made together.

But here, now, in this bed, in the still darkness of morning—it’s different. We can move how we want, say what we want—fuck in any position or on any surface that we can think of.

Because this is our time.

In these moments we’re not a defense lawyer and a part-time museum curator, we’re not parents, we’re just Jake and Chelsea. A man and a woman who are crazy about each other.

Without opening my eyes I slide out from under her arm and down the bed, taking the blankets with me as I go. Once in a while, she’ll surprise me and wake up before I do. Those are fun mornings. There is no greater wake-up call in the history of the world than the sight of Chelsea Becker’s thick auburn hair covering my crotch and her plump, pouty lips wrapped greedily around my dick.

But today, I have the upper hand—and that’s fun, too. I flip to my stomach and push Chelsea’s thin nightgown up over her hips, exposing her to my now open eyes. She doesn’t wear underwear to bed—there’s really no point; it’d be on the floor come morning anyway. Her pussy is pink and perfect—smooth and bare except for a tiny auburn landing strip that never fails to turn me way the hell on. I rub my nose against the dusting of hair and inhale. And her scent—fuck—that gets me going, too. Clean and warm, like honeysuckle.

Her leg shifts near my shoulder and she lets out a little sigh.

Then I lick her.

Slowly, firmly, deep between those waiting lips, before gently circling her clit with the tip of my tongue.

Her foot slides up, bracing against the bed, her leg bent at the knee—and that little sigh turns into a longer moan. I open my mouth and kiss her, my tongue still dragging up and down, tasting her growing slickness.

I fucking love that. How easily she gets wet. Sometimes she’s drenched before I even touch her. Once I asked if she dreamed about me going down on her, if that was why she was always so ready. But she just blushed and wouldn’t answer.

I spear her with my tongue now—gliding in and out—sucking gently on that plump bundle of nerves.

Her voice is husky with sleep and heat when she moans.

“Fuck me . . .”

I can’t tell if it’s an expletive or an order. Either one works for me.

I crawl back up, turning Chelsea to her side and settling in behind her. My hand glides up her stomach to pull the top of her thin-strapped nightgown down so I can cover her breast and rub my palm against the peaked nipple.

Chelsea’s hand comes up behind my head, guiding me to her mouth for a slow, deep kiss. I release her breast, lift her leg, and nudge my hips forward—my pelvis pushing against her ass and my cock sliding between her legs, hard and hot and searching. Chelsea breaks the kiss, turns her face toward the pillow, and pushes her hips back against me—telling me without words that she wants it and she wants it now.

I grip myself at the base and drag the head of my cock through her wet folds—rubbing against her clit, teasing her hole. My little wife whimpers, then she digs her fingernails into my thigh. “Jake . . .”

A chuckle rumbles behind my lips. Looks like teasing isn’t on the menu today. This also works for me. I line myself up and thrust hard inside her—deep to the hilt.

Damn that’s good. So, so good.

Chelsea’s back bows and she breathes out a welcoming groan. I lift her leg and start pumping in and out—smooth, shallow, building jabs. Her inner muscles squeeze me fantastically, while the rest of her body goes slack with pleasure, her spine relaxing back against my chest.

I kiss her shoulder and lick her neck and bury my face in the waves of her silky hair. The sounds of our pants and slapping skin fill the air and our bodies grow slick with exertion—her pushing back against me as I withdraw and stroke up into her. And time stands still. Or more—it loses meaning. All that we know, all that matters, is the growing, electric pleasure coursing through us, sparking between us.

Making love sweetly has its place; long hours of endless foreplay are great, too. Hell, I can even get into the romance stuff—candles and rose petals and warm baths. But hard, fast fucking should never, ever be underestimated—’cause it’s awesome. Even for married people, even for couples with kids.

Royally Screwed (Royally #1) Read book online free

Royally Screwed (Royally #1)
Author: Emma Chase
MY VERY FIRST MEMORY isn’t all that different from anyone else’s. I was three years old and it was my first day of preschool. For some reason, my mother ignored the fact that I was actually a boy and dressed me in God-awful overalls, a frilly cuffed shirt and patent-leather brogues. I planned to smear finger paint on the outfit the first chance I got.

But that’s not what stands out most in my mind.

By then, spotting a camera lens pointed my way was as common as seeing a bird in the sky. I should’ve been used to it—and I think I was. But that day was different.

Because there were hundreds of cameras.

Lining every inch of the sidewalk and the streets, and clustered together at the entrance of my school like a sea of one-eyed monsters, waiting to pounce. I remember my mother’s voice, soothing and constant as I clung to her hand, but I couldn’t make out her words. They were drowned out by the roar of snapping shutters and the shouts of photographers calling my name.

“Nicholas! Nicholas, this way, smile now! Look up, lad! Nicholas, over here!”

It was the first inkling I’d had that I was—that we were—different. In the years after, I’d learn just how different my family is. Internationally renowned, instantly recognizable, our everyday activities headlines in the making.

Fame is a strange thing. A powerful thing. Usually it ebbs and flows like a tide. People get swept up in it, swamped by it, but eventually the notoriety recedes, and the former object of its affection is reduced to someone who used to be someone, but isn’t anymore.

That will never happen to me. I was known before I was born and my name will be blazoned in history long after I’m dust in the ground. Infamy is temporary, celebrity is fleeting, but royalty…royalty is forever.

ONE WOULD THINK, as accustomed as I am to being watched, that I wouldn’t be effected by the sensation of someone staring at me while I sleep.

One would be wrong.

My eyes spring open, to see Fergus’s scraggly, crinkled countenance just inches from my face. “Bloody hell!”

It’s not a pleasant view.

His one good eye glares disapprovingly, while the other—the wandering one—that my brother and I always suspected wasn’t lazy at all, but a freakish ability to see everything at once, gazes toward the opposite side of the room.

Every stereotype starts somewhere, with some vague but lingering grain of truth. I’ve long suspected the stereotype of the condescending, cantankerous servant began with Fergus.

God knows the wrinkled bastard is old enough.

He straightens up at my bedside, as much as his hunched, ancient spine will let him. “Took you long enough to wake up. You think I don’t have better things to do? Was just about to kick you.”

He’s exaggerating. About having better things to do—not the plan to kick me.

I love my bed. It was an eighteenth birthday gift from the King of Genovia. It’s a four-column, gleaming piece of art, hand-carved in the sixteenth century from one massive piece of Brazilian mahogany. My mattress is stuffed with the softest Hungarian goose feathers, my Egyptian cotton sheets have a thread count so high it’s illegal in some parts of the world, and all I want to do is to roll over and bury myself under them like a child determined not to get up for school.

But Fergus’s raspy warning grates like sandpaper on my eardrums.

“You’re supposed to be in the green drawing room in twenty-five minutes.”

And ducking under the covers is no longer an option. They won’t save you from machete-wielding psychopaths…or a packed schedule.

Sometimes I think I’m schizophrenic. Dissociative. Possibly a split personality. It wouldn’t be unheard of. All sorts of disorders show up in ancient family trees—hemophiliacs, insomniacs, lunatics…gingers. Guess I should feel lucky not to be any of those.

My problem is voices. Not those kinds of voices—more like reactions in my head. Answers to questions that don’t match what actually ends up coming out of my mouth.

I almost never say what I really think. Sometimes I’m so full of shit my eyes could turn brown. And, it might be for the best.

Because I happen to think most people are fucking idiots.

“And we’re back, chatting with His Royal Highness, Prince Nicholas.”

Speaking of idiots…

The light-haired, thin-boned, bespeckled man sitting across from me conducting this captivating televised interview? His name is Teddy Littlecock. No, really, that’s his actual name—and from what I hear, it’s not an oxymoron. Can you appreciate what it must’ve been like for him in school with a name like that? It’s almost enough to make me feel bad for him. But not quite.

Because Littlecock is a journalist—and I have a special kind of disgust for them. The media’s mission has always been to bend the mighty over a barrel and ram their transgressions up their aristocratic arses. Which, in a way, is fine—most aristocrats are first-class pricks; everybody knows that. What bothers me is when it’s not deserved. When it’s not even true. If there’s no dirty laundry around, the media will drag a freshly starched shirt through the shit and create their own. Here’s an oxymoron for you: journalistic integrity.

Old Teddy isn’t just any reporter—he’s Palace Approved. Which means unlike his bribing, blackmailing, lying brethren, Littlecock gets direct access—like this interview—in exchange for asking the stupidest bloody questions ever. It’s mind-numbing.

Choosing between dull and dishonest is like being asked whether you want to be shot or stabbed.

“What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?”

Read book online free The Ending I Want

The Ending I Want
Author: Samantha Towle
My seat belt is fastened. Window shutter is down.

I have a window seat. I hate window seats. Because I hate flying. No, actually, that’s wrong. I don’t hate flying. I’m afraid of flying. So, sitting by the window with the view of clouds and sky for the next six and a half hours, reminding me that I’m thirty thousand feet off the ground, is going to be torture for me—not that I don’t deserve torture. I deserve everything I have coming to me. And in the grand scheme of things, flying on this plane really doesn’t matter.

But in my defense—yes, I’m defending myself against myself—fear is not rational. It doesn’t give you a choice. It just is. So, yeah, I’m afraid.

Still, I know what matters is the reason that I’m on the plane. I’m going to London—the place I have always wanted to go. I’m going to see where my mother was born and grew up, where my parents met and fell in love. And, while I’m there, I’m going to complete my list.

The list.

I pull the piece of paper titled Things to Do If I Live from my bag. It’s the list I wrote when I was sixteen years old, and I had a life-threatening brain tumor.

I have one of those again—a brain tumor, I mean. Well, I’m almost ninety-nine percent sure. The symptoms are here again—the severe headaches, vomiting, and fatigue. I just haven’t actually gone to my doctor to have it confirmed. Because, if I do, Dr. Hart, my doctor, she will want me to have surgery and radiation therapy and take endless amounts of medication.

She’ll want me to fight to live.

And I don’t want that.

I just want to complete my list while on the trip I was supposed to take with my family before they died, and then…

I don’t know what’s at the end of that sentence. Actually, yes, I do know. Death is what’s at the end of that sentence.

Death and relief. Relief because I’ll get to be with my family again.

I plug my headphones into my cell and put the buds in my ears. I select the Music app on the screen, find the song I want, and hit play.

The sound of Coldplay’s “Paradise” starts to bleed into my ears.

This song was played at my family’s funeral. I listen to it regularly, not to only torture myself—because I deserve to be tortured—but also to remind myself of what I did, what I stole from my family—their lives. It’s not that I need the song to remember because what I did is always there. The knowledge that my mother, father, brother, and sister all died because of me is with me every single second of each day.

But what this song does remind me of is that I will get to see my family again, and when I do see them, I’ll be able to tell them how very sorry I am. I’ll be able to beg them for their forgiveness.

I’ll be with them again. Hear their voices and the sounds of their laughter, touch them…hold them.

It’s all I want.

And, now, thanks to the tumor growing in my head, that day will be sooner rather than later.

I’m going to die. And it’s a relief.

Maybe I should rename my list to Things to Do Before I Die.

Grabbing a pen from my bag, I pull the Hunter Airways brochure from the storage pocket on the seat in front of me. I put my foot up on the back of the seat and rest the brochure on my thigh. Then, I sit the paper against the brochure. I correct the title at the top of my list.

Things to Do If I Live Before I Die

There. That looks better. More appropriate.

Okay, so let’s see if anything else on here needs to be updated.

Go to London, England.

Kiss a boy.

Kiss a boy definitely needs updating. I’ve kissed a boy since I wrote that.

I draw a line through it.

Kiss a boy.

Okay, what should I put there instead? What haven’t I done that I want to do?

I’ve never kissed a stranger. That sounds like it could be fun and daring.

Perfect. I’ll put that.

Kiss a boy. Kiss a stranger.

Okay, what next?

Have sex.

Done that, too.

Benjamin Harley in the backseat of his dad’s Toyota. It happened a month before my family died. I’ve not had much sex since. Benjamin and I did it a few more times after that first time.

But, when my family died, it changed things. It changed everything.

I have had the occasional meaningless one-night stand here and there over the years when I had too much to drink or the pain and loneliness was just too much to bear, but getting close to anyone wasn’t something I was looking for. I’m still not. But I figure I’m dying, so I might as well go out with a bang—literally.

I draw a line through that and write…

Have sex. Have LOTS of sex. Have sex with a stranger. Have sex with a stranger outdoors.

Okay, what is it with me and strangers? Kiss one. Have sex with one.

The one-night stands I had weren’t complete strangers. I spent some time with them—drinking with them and learning a little about them, like what their names were—before I jumped into bed with them.

I want no-names-wild-monkey-sex-within-minutes-of-meeting-a-stranger sex.

I guess it just seems hot—the thought of having sex with a total stranger. Someone who doesn’t know me. I wouldn’t be Taylor, the girl who killed her entire family. Or Taylor, the brain tumor girl. I’d just be the no-name chick, the girl to have sex with.

And the good thing is, everyone in England is going to be a stranger to me. Not that I’m going to have sex with the whole of England. Just a few guys will do.

Maybe I should add more sex things to the list.

What haven’t I done?

I’ve never received oral sex.

Sad but true.

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Read book online free Revved (Revved #1)

Revved (Revved #1)
Author: Samantha Towle
I LOOK UP AT MY MUM. She looks worried, and she’s holding my hand tight. She always does this when Dad’s racing, but I don’t mind. I know she gets nervous, so I let her squish the life out of my hand because I know holding it makes her feel better.

I don’t know why she gets nervous though. I don’t get nervous, ever, simply because my dad is the best driver in the world. He’s the champion, and he’s about to be the champion again.

I wriggle my fingers a little as they start to feel funny.

“Sorry, darling.” Mum smiles down at me. It’s a tight, worried smile.

I wish she wouldn’t worry so much.

I smile up at her, trying to make her feel better.

She’s really beautiful, my mum, and very tall. She used to be a model, but she gave it up when she had me.

I’m going to be tall like her. I’m already tall for my age. I hate it. I’m ten and taller than most of the boys in my class. I’m all limbs and gangly. Ugh. I wish I were small and petite, like the other girls in my class.

Everyone says that I look just like my mum though, which is a nice thing because she’s the most beautiful person in the world.

My dad says I look like her, too, and that he’s in for a nightmare when I grow up. Apparently, he’s going to keep a cricket bat by the front door to beat away any boyfriends I might have.

He’s crazy. Like I’ll ever have a boyfriend. I won’t have time for boys when I’m older.

I want to race like Dad does or maybe even be a mechanic like Uncle John. He’s not my real uncle, but I always call him that. He’s my dad’s best friend and my godfather.

I love when Uncle John lets me work on the cars with him, and I get all covered in oil and dirt. Mum gets mad though when I get it on my clothes, but I don’t care.

Mum doesn’t say it, but I know she doesn’t want me to work on cars, and she definitely won’t want me to race. I think she’d be happy if I did what she used to—be a model.

But I’m not into pretty things like her. I’m like my dad. I love cars.

And Dad says I can do anything I want as long as I put my mind to it and work hard in school.

“And he’s set to do it! Coming in on the final lap!”

At the sound of the announcer’s voice, I look up at the screens and see that my dad is on the last lap, leading and heading for the finish line.

I get that excited feeling in my stomach like I always do when I see him racing, and I start jigging on the spot.

“Our reigning champion, William Wolfe, is set to take home the trophy again. Wait—something’s happening. Wrong…oh God, no. There-there looks to be a problem with the car. Fire’s coming from the back of his car…”

I watch helplessly as my dad’s car tailspins out of control, the back end on fire, and he crashes into the barrier.

I feel his impact like it’s my own body hitting that barrier.

Then, everything happens so fast yet so incredibly slow.

I can hear Mum screaming. And people are yelling. On the screens above, I see the marshals running to his car.

I can’t move. I don’t want to move or look away from the screens in case I miss anything.

Please be okay, Daddy. Please.

Then, without warning, I’m being picked up from behind and carried away.

Uncle John.

He turns me in his arms, pressing my face into his chest, so I can’t see anything. He moves quickly through the garage, taking me away from the screens, away from the track.

Away from my dad.

I’m yelling, “No!”

I’m trying to fight him. I have to be here. I have to see that my dad is okay.

Then, I hear the bang. It’s so loud that it hurts my ears through my headphones.

Uncle John stops moving.

He slowly turns with me in his arms. Every muscle in his body goes rigid.

Fighting free, I look at the screens, and that’s when I see it.

My dad’s car is gone.

Replaced with flames. And smoke.

Thick black smoke, billowing up into the sky above.

“I’M GOING TO MISS YOU SO MUCH, DARLING.”

The emotional edge in my mother’s voice has my lips wobbling and my eyes misting with tears.

“I’m going to miss you, too.” I hug her tighter.

Leaning back, she takes my face in her hands, staring into my eyes. She’s crying. I hate seeing her cry.

“Are you absolutely sure you have to go?”

We’ve had this conversation a lot over the past few weeks. I know I’m hurting her—I hate that I am—but I have to do this. If I don’t, I know I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.

“Mum, this is an amazing opportunity for me,” I say softly. “I know you’re worried, but I’ll be fine. I’ll be with Uncle John, and it’s not like I’m actually getting in the race cars and driving them.”

“I know…” She sighs.

It’s a worrisome sigh, and I know where it comes from. I know my leaving is hurting her for many reasons—mostly because she’s going to miss me, but largely because of where I’m going. It’s stirring up painful memories for her.

“I’m not trying to hurt you,” I say softly. “I just…I have to do this.”

“I know.” She kisses my forehead. “You are so much like your father. He would be so proud of you, you know.”

Well, that just sets me off, and a tear spills down my cheek.

Mum wipes it away with her thumb. “I’m just being a silly clucky mother. I don’t want to let my baby girl go.”

“I’m coming back,” I reassure her. “I’m not leaving forever.”

Click here to Read book online free Revved (Revved #1)

Read book online free Revived (Revved #2)

Revived (Revved #2)

Author: Samantha Towle
TWO PINK LINES.

I check the instructions again.

Two pink lines…pregnant.

No. Oh God, no.

I can’t be pregnant. I can’t. I’m only seventeen. I live in a group home. I can’t have a baby. I can barely look after myself.

It’s okay, India. Paul will know what to do.

He’s older, responsible. He’ll fix this.

But no one can find out that I’m pregnant. If anyone finds out that Paul and I have been sleeping together, he’ll be in trouble. Big trouble.

I’m just afraid to tell him. What if he thinks I got pregnant on purpose?

Kit. I need to tell Kit. He’s my twin brother, my best friend. He’ll know how to handle this.

But if Kit finds out about Paul and me, he’ll kill Paul. My brother is really protective of me. And he might only be seventeen, but he’s big for his age.

Oh God, what a mess.

There’s a bang on the bathroom door at the group home I live in. There’s no peace in this place.

“One minute!” I yell.

My hand shaking, I push the test back into its box, shove it into my jacket pocket, and zip it up. After washing my hands, I flush the toilet and unlock the door.

Zara, nosiest cow in the world, is on the other side. “You’ve been in there for ages. What were you doing?” She gives me a suspicious look.

“Same thing as you’re going to do in here.” Without another word, I walk past her.

I can’t go to my room. I need to get out of here.

I need to talk to Paul.

He’s not here today. He should be at home.

I’ll go to his flat.

I should probably text him to say that I’m coming to see him. I always have to text him to let him know.

He worries that people might find out about us, so he says I should make sure that it’s safe for me to go.

But nothing feels safe anymore.

I’m going to have a baby.

Leaving the group home, I artfully manage to dodge Kit.

I catch a bus for the short journey to Paul’s flat.

I get off and walk on trembling legs to his place and go up the two flights of stairs to his door.

I ring the doorbell.

No answer. But I know he’s here because his bicycle is outside in the hall.

I ring again but nothing.

Maybe he’s in the shower and can’t hear me.

I decide to try the door. He rarely locks it if he’s in.

Handle turns.

I let myself inside and walk to the living room.

Not there.

Or the kitchen.

I walk past the bathroom. I can’t hear the sound of running water.

Then, I hear voices. Plural. Coming from his bedroom.

And my heart sinks.

No. Please no.

Fear fills me like poison. I’m struggling to catch a breath. My body starts to shake, my heart banging against my rib cage.

Forcing myself to move, I stand outside his bedroom door. With a trembling hand, I reach out and turn the handle.

My sunken heart drops like a stone.

Paul is lying on his bed. He’s naked with a woman astride him. A naked woman.

They’re clearly having sex.

Jesus.

My hand clutches my stomach. The pain is so bad that it’s spreading outward to the rest of my body.

Tears fill my eyes.

He instantly sees me standing there, and his face blanks. Shock and fear fill his features.

He grabs the woman by the arms, stopping her in her endeavors.

That’s when she turns her face to me.

Then, I see she’s not a woman at all.

She’s a girl.

A girl I know. Cassie. She lives at the group home where I live.

And she’s fourteen years old.

Bile rises in my throat.

I stumble out of the flat to the sound of Paul’s shouting voice.

I run out of the building, heading straight for the bus stop, which is thankfully empty. I hide around the back of the bus shelter, so Paul can’t see me.

I swipe the tears from my cheeks.

Cassie. She’s only fourteen.

But wasn’t I fifteen when Paul started sleeping with me? It seemed so romantic that a man wanted me then, but now, after seeing him with her…it seems wrong.

Why didn’t I see it then? Why didn’t I see what kind of man he is?

Now, I’m pregnant—with the man who works at my group home.

A man who likes to have sex with teenage girls.

I can’t stop myself from throwing up.

When I reach the point of dry-heaving, I try to steady my breathing. My mind is going a mile a minute.

Moving away from the stench of my own vomit, I stand around to the side, still staying out of sight. Hand pressed to my stomach, I lean my back against the shelter. I slowly pull my phone from my pocket and speed-dial the only person in the world I have.

Kit answers on the first ring, “What’s wrong?”

Twin intuition. Kit and I always know when there’s a problem with the other.

“I’m in trouble.” Tears tumble down my cheeks.

“What kind of trouble?”

“I-I…I’m pregnant.”

Silence.

But I can hear him breathing down the line.

“Kit?”

“Where are you?” Disappointment laces his voice.

It slices me wide open.

A sob escapes me. I take a deep breath. “I’m at a bus stop.”

“Where?”

I hold my breath before speaking next, “The one near…Paul’s flat.”

More silence.

He doesn’t need to say anything. I hear it in that silence.

That’s how Kit deals with things. He doesn’t rage or shout. His silence is his anger, and it speaks volumes.

“I’m coming to get you now.” There’s a barely restrained edge in his voice.

Christmas Shopping for a Billionaire (Shopping for a Billionaire #5) Author: Julia Kent

Christmas Shopping for a Billionaire (Shopping for a Billionaire #5)
Author: Julia Kent
 
Chapter One
The call today from my old boss, Greg, two days before Christmas at 2:12 p.m. should have tipped me off. I should have let it go to voicemail. I should have ignored it and not stopped decorating the Christmas tree in my boyfriend’s apartment. The tree that Declan had ordered from some place in Nova Scotia where all trees look like something out a movie set and the super-nice Canadians hire Tibetan refugee monks to rub the trunks down with virgin coconut oil and chant “Om Mani Padme Hun” for universal nirvana.
That is, before they chop the tree down to ship it by helicopter to a waterfront high rise on the Long Wharf in Boston, where it will look pretty for two weeks and then get the chipper treatment at a recycling center. That’s a form of reincarnation, right?
But I don’t ignore Greg’s call even though I might be a little intoxicated by the sight of my man wearing a Santa hat, tight jeans, and a snug green cashmere sweater that makes me want him to hurry up my chimney tonight.
(C’mon. You knew the pun was coming).
“Hey, Greg. What’s up?” I answer.
Declan is hanging one of the new ornaments I bought him, a candy cane made from glued cloves. Mom’s friend holds a Sustainable Free Trade Christmas Fair every year, and I’d been told a young African girl made the clove ornament to raise money to buy a three legged-goat for milk to feed her family, or something like that.
The details are fuzzy because I couldn’t listen through my sobs as I handed fistfuls of money to Mom, who just picked out a few items and patted me on the back, mumbling something about how I is just like my father. He had been banned from the fair two years ago when he bought all five hundred handmade Christmas cards from the Ivory Coast refugee who was promoting slave-free chocolate, sobbing with guilt and apologizing profusely for his KitKat addiction.
“Did Carol call you?” My old boss sounds frantic. Greg isn’t the type to descend into hysteria. A chill runs up my spine, and it isn’t from the nine inches of snow that blanketed Boston yesterday. I know that tone of voice.
That is the tone that got my hand shoved down a toilet in the men’s room of a fast food restaurant when I worked for him as a mystery shopper, evaluating customer service at stores and companies.
The tone that gave me a brand-new car that looked like a Goliath took a steaming dump on top of it when we were doing branded advertising for a website.
The tone that made me listen to podiatrists wax rhapsodic about toe fungus as they eyed my feet like I was starring in a fetish story from one of my dad’s old Hustler magazines that he kept stored in his backyard Man Cave.
That is the tone of desperation.
“No. Carol did not.”
Declan looks at me, tilting his head to the left and making a low voice in the back of his throat that indicates displeasure. While I work for Declan’s company now, I fill in for the occasional mystery shop at my old job. My oldest sister, Carol, has my old job now and sometimes does the really professional maneuver where she calls and begs and whines and pleads and threatens to tell my boyfriend all about that time I bought a chest enhancer and got my budding nipple caught in the springs, in order to get me to take on a shop.
Yeah. Professional like that. Carol would make a great women’s prison kitchen chef.
So Greg is a step above. “Carol had a mystery shopper no-show on her, and she can’t come in because of your nephews. Something about needing a babysitter—”
“We can go over and watch Jeffrey and Tyler!” I say in an overeager voice as Declan continues his vocal imitation of Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, making more guttural sounds than a female sea lion with strep throat.
Of course, I offer to babysit. Because the alternative is…
“That doesn’t work. Something about one of the kids having the bubonic plague,” he adds. Carol can get a wee dramatic, but I vaguely remember Mom telling me one of the kids had something that generated more snot than a bunch of postmenopausal women watching Steel Magnolias.
“Did you try Josh?” Josh is the company technogeek, and he almost never gets pulled into mystery shopping. Right now, though, I’ll throw him under the bus if it means staying here with Declan for the rest of the day, my eyes memorizing the tight little ripples of muscle between his lower ribs as he stretches up on tiptoes to hang an ornament. His sweater pulls up enough to make his torso look like it was finely carved from tanned alabaster.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
A humping in the bedroom so fine I forgot my name.
(So what if it doesn’t rhyme. Just go with it).
“We need a female,” Greg stresses. I look down at my overflowing bosom, tightly encased in a green wrap shirt that makes my cleavage pour out like a split muffin top. Damn. For once, having breasts qualifies me for a job.
“He looks really good in drag,” I tell Greg.
Declan halts in mid-stretch and plants his feet firmly on the floor, turning to me. He points to himself and shakes his head slowly, eyes steely green.
Not you, I mouth.
“Good,” Declan says with his hands on his hips, one knee bent, like a man in pose to argue, the male equivalent of Talk to the Hand.
“Josh does that stuff?” Greg asks, incredulous.
“No,” I confess. “I just don’t want to do whatever it is you want me to do.”
“We need a sexy female elf.”
“A sexy female elf?” Did I hear him wrong?
Declan appears instantly at my side, suddenly very interested.
“You would be a very good sexy female elf,” Greg and Declan simulcast in my ears in two completely different tones of voice. Both, though, carry the tiniest hint of desperation.

Shopping for a CEO’s Fiancée (Shopping for a Billionaire #9)

Shopping for a CEO's Fiancée (Shopping for a Billionaire #9)
Author: Julia Kent
 
Chapter One
Waking up naked with your face between your girlfriend’s legs is the best way to start your morning in Vegas.
With your brother screaming at you from the other side of the covers? Not so much.
Amanda’s thighs make great pillows that muffle out my brother bellowing, “What the hell happened in here?” His outrage makes the mattress vibrate, like those beds in seedy motels on television shows. In a pinch, Declan’s yell is worth a quarter. Maybe fifty cents.
I sit up and scream back, “WHAT THE FUCK?”
Because that is a perfect example of executive mastery and grace under pressure.
It’s the morning after my brother’s wedding. I am in my hotel suite here at Litraeon, the Las Vegas Strip resort owned by my company, Anterdec. My girlfriend, Amanda, is with me. We’re both naked. We should be alone.
We’re not.
That needs to be rectified.
My head fills with metal shavings masquerading as lightning bolts that run through my veins. I flop back, eyes closed.
The world needs to stop spinning. Now.
I reach for Amanda. Her soft, creamy skin anchors me to the world. She’s mine again. Mine. All mine. She moans, the sound unrecognizable. It’s nothing like the little gasp I elicit during intimate moments. She sounds like Gloria Steinem at a Ted Cruz rally.
If I ignore Declan, he’ll go away. Maybe this is a nightmare.
“ANDREW!”
Nope.
I lift my arm to rub my eyes and ask Declan why the hell he’s barging in on Amanda and me. Who keyed him into my suite? Someone on our security team is getting fired. Besides, it’s the first day of his honeymoon. Doesn’t he have something better to do right now?
Something deep in my core stirs, a discontent that is both familiar and exasperating.
I start to rub my eyes in a weak attempt to wake up and—
Wait. What’s that weight on my left hand?
And when the hell did Declan start to look so much like my dad? My vision clears and there’s Dec, standing next to Shannon, who is watching Amanda with an intensity I’ve only seen in one other woman, ever.
Jessica Coffin.
“Is that a wedding ring on your left hand?” Declan shouts, like I’m Gollum and he’s Sauron. What ring? What the hell is he talking about?
I check my hands. Right hand clear. Left hand—
Uh, oh. How did that get there?
Amanda screams. My sister-in-law’s cat, Chuckles, is on the bed. He’s wearing a veterinarian’s surgical cone with the words “WILL SLEEP WITH PUSSY FOR FOOD” written in Sharpie.
The handwriting is familiar.
Too familiar.
Chuckles claws Amanda, yielding a wild shriek from both. Declan gets the cat off her and she sits up and—
She’s Gollum, too. Yep.
My precious has the Ring.
Amanda starts saying something about a tuba, and then her friend Josh pops up from the floor. He looks like a really whiny ninja with no body fat. He’s fully dressed, fastidiously so.
I clear my throat and start to stand, ready to resume control over this mess. The stirring inside me has taken more breaths and awakens, assessing, observing. Time to exert authority over these people. The cacophony is too much. I can’t take it. They need to do exactly what I tell them, which means leave.
I stand.
I’m naked. Damn.
Unlike my brother, I don’t believe in parading my junk for the world to see. Only people with something to prove need to do that.
You know. Like guys who aren’t CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
I clutch the covers. My stomach twists. I feel like a victim in a Dexter episode, except there’s been a mistake. Amanda’s pinning her head in place with her palms, and a weird ringing fills my head. Josh has his hand in the air, a strange glare of sunlight on—
Oh, shit. A ring.
What the hell happened last night?
Rainbows explode all over the other side of the bed. Rainbows and chocolate penises. A chocolate penis the size of a baseball bat is in the hands of a guy wearing a tie-dyed shirt and a head made of rainbow hair.
This is all a dream, right? The rainbow is wearing a wedding ring, but no underwear, and a sudden, cold clarity hits me as I look around the room.
I have a wedding ring.
Amanda has a wedding ring.
Josh has a wedding ring.
Rainbow chocolate-dong-holding dude has a wedding ring.
One of the hallmarks of my moving up the ranks so quickly at Anterdec has been my split-second decision-making ability, and my willingness to take business risks that scare the hell out of anyone else. Puzzle pieces fall in place in seconds when I observe, analyze and act. No wishy-washy wondering.
Intuition kicks in. Judgment is based on the gut. Decisions rest on data points and an ambiguous collection of—
Hold on. Sunlight passes over Amanda’s left hand.
“Who the hell is she married to?” I ask Declan, pointing at Amanda. Her skin is so luscious in this morning light. A lovely, healthy glow that reminds me of sunsets on the ocean.
Then I narrow my eyes and realize her breasts are orange.
Day-glo orange. They look like Donald Trump’s face. The nipples are paler than the rest, like eyes.
Shannon’s damn cat pees all over the really nice giant teddy bear I bought Amanda, prances over, and leaps into Declan’s arms. I want to ask how my brother trained the cat to do that, but Amanda’s screaming in my ear.
“Who am I married to? What? What kind of question is that?” she snaps. I liked her better when she moaned like Rachel Maddow interviewing the Zodiac Killer at a presidential primary.
“There are three men in here with wedding rings on!” I shout back. Only one of us should be her husband, of course. Me.