Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Texas Wedding by RJ Scott

Summary:
Sometimes Riley and Jack have to be the ones to fight other people's battles and stand up for what is right.

With the life changing prospect of a yes vote from SCOTUS on the issue of same sex marriage, Riley and Jack realise they have decisions to make. Add in some distressing family news and the very real possibility that old secrets may resurface, and this last book in the Texas series pulls together as many threads as the boys can manage to handle.

But through all the ups and the downs, children, family events, laughter, and tears, there is nothing as special as the forever love between these two men.


This book had me in tears, both from laughing and tenderness, had me fanning myself from hotness, simply put Texas Wedding had me in a jumble of emotion.  I don't really know what to say about Jack and Reily that I haven't already said throughout the series.  When Texas Wedding's release day arrived my heart warred between my need to know and my need to prolong the finale but my need to know won out.  This was a great way to end an amazing series and the idea of there being no more Jack and Reily is heartbreaking but I am sure we haven't actually seen the end of our favorite couple, even if their future is in the form of secondary characters in a future spin-off series, Legacy, coming in 2016.  Texas will always be my absolute favorite series in the M/M genre, not only because it was the first I read but because it is superbly written with characters that are interesting, intriguing, and real.  RJ Scott has given us a true gem when she created the world of Jack and Reily Campbell-Hayes.

RATING: 


Chapter One 
Jack slid his arms around Riley from behind and pressed his cheek to the space between broad shoulders. He couldn’t stop himself from moving his hands under the soft T-shirt material and caressing the warm skin. Touching Riley was an addiction.

“You all done?” he asked.

Riley turned in Jack’s hold, the laundry in his hands crushing between them.

“It’s like these tiny T-shirts multiply,” Riley groused. “I turn my back for one minute and suddenly there’s another ten of the damn things.”

Jack smiled up at his husband, at the narrowing of his beautiful hazel eyes and the stubborn set of his mouth. Then he released his hold of his waist and instead cradled his face.

“It was your idea to sort out the twins’ old clothes,” he reminded Riley.

“I wanted to box it away….”

“We can do it together at the weekend.”

“I want to do it today—”

“It’s a Tuesday.” Jack interrupted Riley’s reasons why. “I thought you said you had that report to read from Tom?”

Riley huffed a little. “I can’t concentrate.”

“So, you’re sorting clothes?”

“Is that a bad thing?” Riley sounded so defensive.

Jack sighed. “What are you avoiding?”

Riley raised an eyebrow, and Jack couldn’t help but press a kiss to his lips. After all this time together, he had learned these weird domestic chores Riley undertook were usually a way of avoiding things he didn’t want to do. Whether it was Riley’s way of thinking about things, or pure procrastination, Jack didn’t know.

“I have a shareholder meeting the first week of February.” Riley finally said.

“I know. I got the same letter, but I wasn’t planning on going. Why will this be different from any other meeting?” Jack was confused. Hayes Oil meetings were dry and boring, and he’d survived the only two he’d attended by slouching back in a chair directly opposite Riley. He would eat as many of the complimentary mints as he could manage and gently disrupt the meeting by rustling the wrappers. This never failed to make Riley smile. Mostly Jack conned Josh into going, or gave Riley his proxy. Still, when he did go, he loved nothing better than insolently lazing around and being all cowboy in the room full of suits. Inevitably, this led to hot sex with Riley, who couldn’t keep his eyes off Jack throughout the entire meeting.

“I have something to admit,” Riley said with a sigh. He eased himself away from Jack and leaned back against the cabinet. “Dad has appointed this new manager to the team, and we have a history.”

Jack huffed a laugh. “Riley, you have a history with so many people, I lost count.”

Riley looked affronted for a second, but that emotion didn’t slip into a ready smile, so Jack realized this was serious. Jack stood next to Riley and waited for the man he loved, to admit what the hell was going on. In fact, Riley had been weird for a few days: less quick to smile, less easy to poke at, in a hurry to go find a quiet space away from everyone.

“Not like that,” Riley said. “The woman’s name is Charlotte Harrold, and her dad is Josiah.”

Jack nodded. He and Josiah had their own kind of history, one where Josiah had tried courting Donna and failed, where Josiah looked down at Jack, and where Jack refused to give a rat’s ass. The fucker had blocked Hayes Oil on several occasions and didn’t have a high opinion of Riley, nor of Riley and Jack. Add to that, Tom, Riley’s right-hand man at work, had unfortunately had a run-in with Josiah Jr., Charlotte’s brother. Too much history between the Hayes and Harrold families.

“Why would Jim hire her, then?” Jack paused to think about what he knew concerning Charlotte. “I remember her being a bitch with daddy issues.”

Riley shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I asked him, and he said she’s good at what she does, and that she’s changed, whatever that means. Oh, and I should give her as much of a chance as people gave me.”

“Cryptic. So you think she’s going to cause trouble.”

Riley looked at Jack sharply. “Hell no. I know her work, and she’ll be an asset. It’s only….”

Jack tensed. “You slept with her.”

“Jesus, Jack,” Riley said instantly. “No way. She was Jeff’s. I mean she and Jeff were having an affair. He called her Charlie, and I damn well walked in on them once. The wedding photos were still wet at the printer’s, and there he was, fucking around on Lisa.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh. And we’re going to be in the same room as her. All I can remember is that Jeff was balls-deep in Charlie, and he had his hands—” Riley demonstrated with his hands in front of him in a ring. “—around her neck.”

Jack immediately realized what the problem was. The joined families, whether Campbell or Hayes, had quietly consigned Jeff and everything he had done to something never to be talked about. Riley never shared cute childhood stories where he, Eden, and Jeff were friends; no tales of brotherly misadventures. To Jack’s mind, Jeff had been born a sadistic bastard, and likely there were a lot of stories Riley hadn’t told him about the kind of things Jeff had done to both Riley and Eden.

“Seeing her makes you face what he did,” Jack said. He reached over and held Riley’s hand, lacing their fingers together and squeezing. This was what he did best. He was there for Riley, supporting him, holding him up, knowing as much as he needed to know, and still being there for the man who was his other half.

Riley sighed and bumped shoulders with Jack. “Yeah,” he whispered.

“So your dad doesn’t know that Jeff and Charlie were…?”

“No. I’m sure I’m the only one.”

“Lisa didn’t know?”

Riley squeezed back. “She always knew he was unfaithful, but with Charlie, no, I don’t think so.”

For a second, Jack allowed the words to settle. Lisa was damaged by much more than physical pain. She had a world of hurt where her dead husband was concerned, not least of which was the end result of what he did to her. The secret she carried with her was too awful for Jack to contemplate knowing how she lived with it.

“We don’t see enough of Lisa and the kids,” he said.

That was true. Lisa hadn’t visited in a while. Although to be fair, whenever Jack and Riley organized a family gathering of any sort, they always invited her. She’d moved to San Antonio with her fiancé, Ed, and was building a place for herself and the kids well away from the life she’d had here. Luke was sixteen, Annabelle coming up for nineteen. They weren’t at the ranch as often as Josh’s kids. They had lives of their own, but still, Jack was all about family.

“We’ll get them over, or maybe we’ll go visit them,” Jack said. He wasn’t going to let Riley focus on this one thing to distract himself from the central issue. “Back to the meeting. When you sit there, it will be all business, and if she comes over to talk to you, you smile, nod, and put on the best goddamn Riley act you can.”

“You’re not planning on being there.”

“I hate them,” Jack said, then he felt guilty. Riley was clearly concerned about the meeting, and he should make the effort. “I can try.”

“Don’t say that.” Riley smiled at Jack. “As much as I like it when you do that ‘I don’t care, I’m a hot, dusty cowboy’ thing, I seriously think you should stay away.”

“Yeah?”

Riley looked at him again. This time, the shadows had disappeared from his eyes. “It’s like torture for you.”

“Tell me more about how you like the cowboy thing,” Jack growled.

Riley grinned. “When you push the chair back and you kind of sprawl there, with your thumbs in your belt. You smile and nod when you need to and all I want to do is crawl over the table and ride you right there in the meeting.”

Jack’s cock swelled and pressed against his jeans. Riley’s voice was husky and low and sent every molecule of blood south.

“Jesus, Riley.”

“Sometimes you unwrap those stupid little mints, and you press one to your lips, and then you suck it in.”

“I like the mints.”

“All I can imagine is my cock in your mouth, and I’m so freaking hard I can’t concentrate on the numbers.”

Jack wriggled to get comfortable, and he had to press his free hand to his zip to ease some of the pressure. “Like it’s easy for me,” he muttered. “You in your suit, and those ties you wear, and all I can imagine is ripping it all off, tying you down and fucking you into tomorrow. That’s the only reason I go.”

Riley moved so quickly Jack didn’t have time to draw breath. He straddled Jack and pushed him back on the bed.

“Carol.” Jack mentioned their nanny’s name with the last remaining moments of having the presence of mind. “People…,” he added as a warning, as Riley stole his words with the deepest, dirtiest, messiest kiss he’d had since the last time they’d been in the barn.

Riley pulled back enough so Jack could look into his eyes. “Barn,” Riley said. “Now.”

Riley scrambled up and away, unbuttoning his jeans and adjusting himself. “Now,” he repeated.

With determination, they made it out of the house. Hayley was at school, Max out with Robbie and the horses, the twins were happy with Carol, so they had nothing to stop them. It didn’t matter it was ten in the morning, this was happening.

“Hey, boss,” Robbie called as Jack stepped outside.

Jack stopped so suddenly that Riley had to do some nifty footwork to try not to walk into the back of him. He didn’t quite manage it, and instead they met in a slam of limbs.

“Fuck,” Riley muttered.

“Hi, Robbie,” Jack said. He needed to cover the fact that he was hard and thanked the heavens that Riley had tugged out his shirt.

“Starting on the porch today,” Robbie said. He was carrying a box full of tools. “Lumber got delivered at the ass crack of dawn.” He gestured toward Jack and Riley’s barn, at the wood piled in front of the door.

Fuck. Whose idea was it to get a porch added to the main house?

Yours, you idiot.

Liam was next to him, a saw in one hand and a bucket of nails in the other. Liam didn’t seem to want to stand still, restlessly moving his weight from one foot to the other. Liam still wasn’t entirely comfortable talking to Jack one-on-one, but Jack didn’t have time to think about that now. He’d forgotten that today the lumber was arriving. Jesus. Fuck.

“Good. Riley and I are… inspecting… stuff.” Way to go with the lack of the English language.

“Stuff,” Riley repeated.

Robbie tilted his head a little and damn it if there wasn’t a slight smile on his face. “Okay, boss,” he said, then he and Liam carried on to the old barn and the woodpile.

Jack thought for a moment, then grabbed Riley’s hand, and in the space of a few minutes, they were leaving the ranch house and heading out on horseback. People were around; people were here: visitors to the riding center, people working. Along with kids, nannies, moms, dads, siblings. Hoping to find peace, Jack deliberately turned Solo to the east and into the parts of the ranch he knew Riley hadn’t seen, the rougher parts of the acreage that were fenced off.

Riley followed. Alex was a little skittish this morning until they were in a smooth canter and heading up into the thick, lush grassland to the east of the ranch. Ten minutes of riding, with no talking, and they reached a stand of trees. A small tributary from the main water supply to the Double D house carved through the coppice. It was a typically cool, fresh January day.

Jack dismounted and tied Solo off, grabbing Riley’s hand as soon as Riley had secured Alex. He tugged Riley into the trees, to the one place that Jack knew they would get privacy. In his pocket, his tight pocket, he had lube. He was stripping before they stopped walking, and by the time they reached the smooth grassed area in the shade, he was naked and a trail of clothes lay behind them. Jack hoped to hell there were no armadillos in hiding or snakes waiting to pounce.

Jack attempted to lay out the blanket he’d grabbed as he saddled Solo, but a naked Riley jumped him and tackled him to the ground, and he knew this wasn’t going to be gentle lovemaking. This was going to be raw, and Jack needed the connection like he needed his next breath. He always did.

Riley covered him, pressing him into the grass and the rucked-up blanket, and kissed him. The kisses were more of the same—hot, messy, deep, with no words. This was heat and fire, and Jack rolled so he was on top. He needed something; he wanted Riley in the worst way.

“I want you to fuck me,” Riley demanded.

Jack nearly lost it there and then. Riley asking him to push inside and—

Jack kissed and bit Riley’s nipples, laving them as they pebbled, sucking marks of possession into Riley’s tan skin. In answer, Riley arched up into Jack and, with his nails, dug biting crescents into Jack’s back. They were nothing but sensation, and Jack wanted to claw his way inside Riley.

He swallowed Riley’s cock with no finesse, no gentle licks, nothing soft and slow. Only when Riley slapped at him with a protest that he was close did Jack release the sucking. Without hesitation, he pressed his lubed finger against Riley.

“Tight,” he ordered.

Riley clenched, then released. They’d worked this out—that clenching the muscle was enough for it to loosen. They knew each other that well. Jack pushed in the first finger, letting Riley adjust, waiting until Riley rocked against it, and he never moved it once. More lube, a second finger, a third, and Riley was begging now. Jack swallowed his cock again, as deep as he could, pinning Riley to his fingers and scraping his teeth gently against Riley’s soft skin. Riley pushed him up, forced him away, and curled his spine. Jack went to his knees, using his thighs to position Riley, then pushed inside his lover. The sight of Riley near slamming his head back on the grass and wool, exposing his neck with a groan of pain and need leaving his mouth, was almost too much.

“Riley, fuck,” Jack gasped. He thrust inside, walking a little closer on his knees, stones pressing into his skin. He didn’t care. He was the other part of Riley; they fit like they were meant to be. He didn’t move again but let Riley press, move and writhe and Jack stole kisses all the time. “I love you, I fucking love you. Riley… shit….”

Riley reached up above his head and grasped at tussocks of grass, holding his upper half still, forcing himself down on Jack’s cock his eyes open and intensely focused. “Touch me,” Riley begged when it was obvious he was close.

Jack balanced himself on one arm, reaching for Riley’s cock. The tightening of Riley’s muscles, the ebb and flow of pressure, and Jack was fucking into Riley’s heaving body with a shout of completion. He stilled as Riley groaned, cursed and shot white stripes over his chest.

“I love you, Jack,” Riley forced past his kiss-bitten lips. “Love you.”

They stayed joined, kissing and exchanging heated words of love, until Jack softened enough to pull free. He used his discarded boxers to wipe at the come, knowing that Riley would need more than that after Jack had come inside him. Riley wouldn’t be comfortable, but it didn’t look like he cared for now. He was blissed-out, flat on the ground, half on the twisted blanket and half on the grass.

“I needed that,” Jack murmured. He flopped to lie next to Riley, tugging at the blanket so they were at least both on it. He held Riley’s hand, “You think it will ever stop?”

“What? This?” Riley gestured with his free hand. “Making love under the blue sky in the middle of the morning?”

“No,” Jack said thoughtfully.

Riley turned his head to look at him. “Then what?”

“The burning. To be with you, to want you, to look at you. Think we’ll ever stop?”

Riley smiled, and the smile reached his eyes, which were more green than brown today. “It burns in me as well.”

“Always?”

“Yeah. All the time. It isn’t only making love. It’s sleeping next to you, looking at you, seeing our kids. It’s everything.”

Jack squeezed Riley’s hand. “Hetboy, you’re my everything.”

“Back at ya, cowboy.”

Chapter Two 
They lay there for maybe thirty minutes, then laughed and joked as they collected the trail of clothes. It was only as they got dressed that Jack recalled something he’d meant to do before. They could do that something, seeing as they were this side of the ranch.

“Can I show you something?”

Riley twisted his hands around Jack’s neck and locked them in place. “You already did,” he smirked. “Wanna go again?”

“I’m not sixteen anymore,” Jack said, but he kissed Riley and enjoyed the feeling of holding and kissing.

“So what did you want to show me?” Riley finally asked.

Jack climbed onto Solo’s back, and Riley followed suit onto Alex. Together the two men left their little haven of loud sex, and Jack joined a trail up and over to the acres beyond. They came to the stone building quite suddenly. Over a rise in the ground, nestled in a grassy hollow, was the house Jack had called the Ghost House when he was young. He’d done that to freak out Beth, and only because Josh had done the same thing to him, but the Ghost House was what it remained.

“What is it?” Riley looked left and right. “This is still DD land, right?”

Jack tied off Solo. “Yep, all ours.” He waited for Riley to dismount. “Let’s go look.”

The house looked as solid as Jack remembered. “It has its own access road of sorts,” Jack explained with a wave to an overgrown area to the front of the house. “It was the original ranch, or so we think. I’m pulling the records to find out for sure, but it would be way back before the land belonged to my family. Me ’n’ Josh called it the Ghost House.”

“Does it have a resident ghost, then?” Riley teased. “A grizzly old cowboy with chewing tobacco and a six-shooter?”

“We only did it to tease Beth. Didn’t want her up in all our boy’s business when she was little.”

Riley huffed a laugh. “Seriously? Poor Beth.” He stepped closer to the nearest wall and examined the stones. “Seems to me this would be exactly the right place for a ghost.” He looked through the space where there had been a window. “It’s kind of spooky.” He wiggled his fingers at Jack and let out a ghostly wooh, edged with laughter. Jack couldn’t help himself, he immediately pulled Riley close and held him tight. When Riley laughed and teased, Jack fell more in love with his husband.

Riley got with the plan, closing his arms around Jack and holding tight. They stood that way in the place for the longest time until Riley released his tight grip and kissed Jack deeply. They kissed and hugged, and Jack relaxed into Riley’s embrace.

“You okay?” Riley murmured.

Jack nodded. “Just an awful lot of memories in this place, y’know. Sometimes Dad would come out to find us, back when we were real tiny, and he’d play cowboys with us. I remember those days as happy.”

“Before he….”

“Yeah,” Jack finished. “Before the Hayes shit got inside his head and wouldn’t leave him.” Riley stiffened next to him and Jack immediately regretted his words. “I didn’t mean to say that.”

“Yeah,” Riley began softly. “You did, and it’s true. I wish there could be a way I could rewind everything and make it right.”

Jack frowned. What he and Riley had? That was making it right. All of it.

“Riley, we made it right the minute you said you loved me.”

Riley said nothing for the longest time, but when he finally spoke, his words were filled with emotion.

“If there had never been a Hayes-Campbell feud, we wouldn’t be together.”

They kissed again, and this time Jack pushed Riley back against the solid wall and made the kiss mean way more than I love you. He pressed his weight against Riley and felt the exhalation of Riley’s satisfied sigh against his lips. When they finally separated, Jack was so hard, it was like they hadn’t just made love under the trees. He wanted more, and it seemed like Riley did too, judging by how hard he was.

“I can never get enough of you,” Jack said.

Riley cradled Jack’s face. “And I can’t get enough of you.” He looked down at the ground around them. “We could….”

Jack grimaced. “I like the idea of a mattress this time.”

Riley snorted a laugh. “Thank fuck. I was wondering how my knees would survive.”

Jack kissed the laughter from Riley’s lips, then with reluctance he pulled back.

“So tell me about the place,” Riley asked.

“Don’t think it had a dramatic past. Nothing more than it got too small for the family, or they decided they wanted the flatland by where the ranch house is now.”

Riley pressed a hand to the stone. “But it’s old?”

“Yeah. But built to last.” They stepped farther inside, and Jack could see the sky where the roof had long since disintegrated into piles of kindling on the floor. “A new roof, utilities—we could make something of this.”

Riley leaned against an internal doorjamb where once there would have been a door hanging. “Make something of it? You mean us moving here?”

Riley sounded intrigued rather than concerned.

“Not exactly.”

“Tell me what’s on your mind.”

Jack worried at his lip. He’d been having thoughts about this building for a long time. Niggling thoughts that wouldn’t leave him alone. “It’s difficult to explain. Well, not difficult, but it would need investment, maybe more than the riding school, even.”

Riley didn’t appear worried by that. “Go on.”

“You remember when I was in Laredo for the court case?”

“Yeah, of course.” Riley looked puzzled as well he should. Jack was starting this story a long way back.

“I met three men there. Actually one was still a boy. They were the witnesses that were in the dock with Liam in the case against Hank Castille. I put some finances in place, started myself down the road for helping them. Only, it didn’t happen.” This was the difficult part. How would Riley react to what he said next? Jack had dropped the ball because he’d been so wrapped up in Riley and the kidnapping; so much so that everything had gone cold and he’d lost contact with two of the boys.

“Because you had me to worry about.” Riley’s insight into what had happened meant Jack didn’t need to explain. Riley didn’t sound pissed or guilty or any one of a million emotions Jack had considered. He should have had faith in his husband, known that Riley would be above all that now.

“Some,” Jack said.

“I get that. So what do you want to do now?”

“I can’t stop thinking about them. About why, when they were thrown out of their own homes, did they end up at the Triple K? Why had they been drawn to a ranch, then put in such a vulnerable position with Hank Castille, when they were just kids?” He took off his Stetson and ran his hands through his hair. It needed a cut; it was long and ever so slightly irritating. “Clearly they wanted to work on a ranch, and okay, it may have been because ranches have casual help, I get that. But, those three men and Liam, they loved the ranch. So I’m not saying I can fix the whole damn world, but I thought we could offer them a place here.”

Actually that was what he’d been thinking for a long time. Sitting in that courtroom had scarred him. Hank’s abuse of those young men had left a legacy in each of them that had to be so hard. Thankfully Hank had been found guilty and was serving his time. Jack never once hoped that Hank had it easy in prison because he’d grown fond of Liam, the fourth boy he knew had been hurt by Hank. Liam was working on the ranch now, and surely the other three could have work here if they wanted.

“The three men from the trial? There’s always room for more at the D,” Riley said.

Jack nodded. Sometimes he felt like Riley could read his thoughts.

“Maybe those three,” Jack said. “Maybe others. I haven’t thought this through as much as I should have.”

“You mean you want somewhere for kids who have nowhere else to go. A place like the one Steve works at.”

Jack glanced at Riley, saw the thoughtful expression in his hazel eyes. He could do this without Riley because he felt that strongly, but having him backing this play would make Jack’s life a lot easier. No, that wasn’t right. Having Riley love him and support him was what Jack craved.

“I thought we could maybe work with Steve, offer places. I know we give money, but that’s easy for us. I want to do something more proactive and concrete.”

Jack stopped. He thought that maybe he sounded like a bit of an idiot, as if voicing the proactive stuff made it seem like what he could do would make a difference? Kinda arrogant, actually. Doubt crept into his thoughts, and Riley would pick up on that. So he forged ahead positively.

“I got the impression from their testimony that all three wanted to work on the ranch, that’s why it was so easy for Hank to take advantage. They thought they’d landed on their feet, and look at them all now, scarred by what happened to them.” Jack could remember the three witnesses. The oldest, with the ill-fitting clothes, who’d had to be helped from the stand; the middle guy in a designer suit; and the kid who left with Family Services, his expression bleak.

“I don’t know how they survived,” Riley began.

“I’m not sure any of them have. The oldest, Kyle, is working minimum wage, living in this tiny pay-for-the-night room. He won’t take any money, and he won’t talk to me. The other two have disappeared entirely. I only have an address for Kyle.” He shrugged. Gabriel was evading all searches, and Danny went off the grid as soon as he turned eighteen a couple of weeks back.

“Okay, I’m not going to pretend I don’t worry. Have you thought about talking to Steve at the shelter? Maybe get him to use his contacts?”

“Already done. I asked for his help tracing the three of them, and he gave me the name of a couple of PIs, and also put feelers out. They have so many resources already in place.”

“What did Steve think of your ideas?”

Riley still sounded wary. “He calmed me down a lot, talked me out of an all-singing, all-dancing place with answers for everyone. He said to start small and keep him in the loop.”

“So that takes some of the pressure off you?”

“Yes. Off me and off us as a family, but I can’t promise it won’t swallow some of my time.” Jack had to be brutally honest. Otherwise, he’d be trapping Riley into an agreement on something he didn’t really want.

“Okay,” Riley began, “we start by finding the first of your victims.” He frowned as he said that, clearly uncomfortable with the word. “Then we talk to planners and get this place sorted? Or maybe we should do that first?”

Relief filled Jack. Riley was using the we word, and that was good. In fact, Riley was making it sound easy.

“There is one thing, though,” Riley warned. “Not thing, exactly… more person, or people.”

“Liam and Darren,” Jack said.

“Yeah, you need to talk to them about this. They’re part of the ranch now. Liam was another victim, and this is connected to Darren’s fucker of a brother, and Darren’s the first person to want to take the blame on himself….”

Riley knew what it was like to have a bastard for a brother. Unspoken was that Liam was important to them, and Liam was happy with Marcus and would probably want the past left where it was.

“I’ll talk to Liam and Darren,” Jack said. “But just between us here, you’re okay with this?”

Riley looked at him, puzzled. “You sound like you’re asking my permission?” He sounded as confused as he looked.

Jack couldn’t look Riley in the eye. “We already have the kids, and the horses, and the riding school.”

Riley crossed to Jack and held him close.

“I don’t think this will be easy at all. But you have such a big heart, and there’s room for so much more. We’ll manage to juggle it all, somehow.”

Jack hugged him back. “Really?”

“Hell, yeah. So where do we start?”

With that, Riley made everything right. 





Author Bio:
Writing MM Romance with a Happy Ever After...

I am in awe that people read my writing and thank you all for taking the time to read, rate and review. Rj xxxxx

About me...I live in the UK just outside London. I love reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror; however, my first real love will always be the world of romance. My goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and more than a hint of happily ever after.


FACEBOOK  /  TWITTER  /  WEBSITE /  ARe
EMAIL: rj@rjscott.co.uk



Texas Wedding #7
B&N  /  KOBO /  ARe


The Heart of Texas #1
B&N  /  KOBO  /  ITUNES  /  ARe

Texas Winter #2
B&N  /  KOBO  /  ITUNES  /  ARe

Texas Heat #3
B&N  /  KOBO  /  ITUNES  /  ARe

Texas Family #4
B&N  /  KOBO  /  ITUNES  /  ARe

Texas Christmas #5
B&N  /  KOBO  /  ITUNES  /  ARe

Texas Fall #6
B&N  /  KOBO  /  ITUNES  /  ARe

Curse of the Sphinx by Raye Wagner

Title: Curse of the Sphinx
Author: Raye Wagner
Series: Sphinx #2
Genre: Mythology, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: August 9, 2015
Summary:
How long can a monster stay hidden in plain sight?

Seventeen year-old Hope Nicholas has spent her entire life on the run. But no one is chasing her. In fact, no one even knows she exists. With her mom, she’s traveled from town to town and school to school, barely staying long enough to meet anyone, let alone make friends. And she’ll have to keep it that way. It’s safer.

When her mother is brutally ripped away from her, Hope’s life shatters. Is this the fulfillment of Apollo’s curse, murder from the shadow monsters of the Underworld, or have the demigods finally found her? Orphaned and alone, Hope flees again, but this time there’s no one to teach her who to trust—or how to love.

Set in a universe where mythology is alive and well in the modern world, Curse of the Sphinx irresistibly blends action, suspense and romance.


The box slipped from her hands, the contents spilling on the asphalt. The sleeve of her mom’s sweater landed in the gutter, the splash of red contrasting with the darkness around her.

Even before she turned to the car, the fermented stink of alcohol wafted on the breeze. Two men, just more than shadows, came from the left, their drunken gait slow as they ambled toward her car. Even if she ran, she couldn’t get in the car before they reached her. She sucked in a deep breath.

Adrenaline washed through her body, and her muscles tensed. The sound of her heartbeat pounded in her ears, pages of a book rustled in the wind, and then the sharp intake of breath from a man.

The shorter man leered, and his brown eyes bespoke his mortality, and his smirk promised pain. His fist clenched the handle of something. A hammer? No, a wrench.

The taller man’s gait was steady, and something about his features was . . . off. Wrong. Washed out. And . . . his eyes! Two solid orbs of pitch.

Skia.


Trailer

Meet the Author

Greek Mythology in a modern world.




Author Bio:
Raye Wagner grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, the second of eight children, and learned to escape chaos through the pages of fiction. As a youth, she read the likes of David Eddings, Leon Uris, and Jane Austen. Inspired by a fictional character, Raye pursued a career in nursing, and thought to help the world one patient at a time.

One summer afternoon, a plot dropped into her head, and she started writing.
Raye enjoys baking, Tae Kwon Do, puzzles, and the sound of waves lapping at the sand. She lives with her husband and three children in Middle Tennessee.

Origin of the Sphinx is her first publication, and the beginning of the Sphinx series.

You can connect with Raye Wagner via her website, or on Facebook.


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Shopping for a CEO by Julia Kent

Title: Shopping for a CEO
Author: Julia Kent
Series: Shopping for a Billionaire #7
Genre: Romantic Comedy, New Adult
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Summary:
I’m thrilled to be the maid of honor in my friend’s wedding, but the best man, Andrew McCormick, is a chauvinistic pig with a God complex.

And I can’t stop kissing him in closets.

(Don’t ask.)

He’s the brother of the groom and the CEO of my biggest mystery shopping account, but suddenly he’s refusing to be in the wedding. He won’t talk about it. Won’t see reason.

He’s such a man.

And he still won’t stop kissing me in random closets.

(Thank goodness.)

I’m a fixer. That’s what I do. I can fix anything if given the chance. But when the game is fixed there’s only so much I can do.

The ball’s in his court now.

Game on.

* * *
Shopping for a CEO is the 7th book in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping series. When CEO Andrew McCormick and mystery shopper Amanda Harrington find themselves in the unlikely position as maid of honor and best man in the Boston society wedding of the year, an undeniable attraction and dual stubborn streaks add fuel to the fire in this romantic comedy from Julia Kent.


     The set-up: Amanda overheard Andrew talking about being CEO. He's chased after her, kissed her in front of Shannon/Marie/Declan to shut her up, and now he's summoned her for a meeting at his office.
     Andrew spins around in his Herman Miller chair and holds one finger up to me. His face is intense, eyes dark in concentration, and he’s coiled with the kind of frustration that comes from negotiations that are stalled. The telephone conversation he’s having is one that probably calls for more privacy, but I instinctively do as told.
     As I lift his suit jacket from the chair, his cologne fills the air.
     It takes every bit of self control I possess not to huff his jacket like a little kid with fruit-scented markers and no adult supervision.
     My fingertips can’t help it, though. They’ve seceded from my rational mind, stroking the fine cloth that has just been resting against those cultured pecs minutes before. The cloth is warm, still, as if he shed the jacket seconds before I walked in. It’s almost like being in his arms last night.
     Almost.
     The pale imitation is worse than nothing. I would rather never, ever see him again than sit here, trying not to lick the wool weave, using every ounce of restraint I possess to maintain a professional exterior that shows my true nature.
     I am a fixer.
     I can fix this.
     I can fix me.
     Andrew ends the call and gives me his full attention. It’s like drinking from a trickle at a water fountain and suddenly having a fire hose aimed at your face.
     A sensual, sultry, hot-as-Hades fire hose.
     “I assume you’ve kept your mouth shut?” he starts. Nothing like cutting to the chase. I see what this meeting is about. We’re here to talk business. The business of keeping his secret about becoming the new CEO of Anterdec Industries. Nothing more. I can play this game.
     “Except when you’re kissing me.”
     Or I can play my own game. My rules. My board. My pieces.
     My tongue.
     The way he tilts his head just so as his mouth tightens, then spreads into a smile is like watching a rainbow form in the sky.
     “I appreciate that.” His voice goes low and suggestive. Flirty, even. I’m not imagining this.
     “Open-mouthed kisses? I noticed.” I match his tone.
     He blinks repeatedly, the smile impossible to suppress. Dimples. Dear God, he has the McCormick dimples. Of course he does. His family’s DNA has more dimples in it than Tom Brady’s.
     “I was talking about silence,” he says, standing quite suddenly. The movement may be abrupt, but his animal grace is studied. He knows how his body affects mine. Andrew McCormick is a master at knowing how to read other people.
     He has a problem, though.
     So am I.
     Andrew has tells. One eyebrow quirks up right now as he gives away the fact that he’s less self-assured than he was when I entered the room. The open discussion about kissing is intriguing him, but it’s not distracting him. This meeting has a purpose.
     And he’s determined to stay focused.
     “Silence. You mean the kind of silence that comes after being kissed by you? Or the kind of silence you assume you can kiss your way into?”
     The eyebrow goes down. His face goes slack. Those smoldering eyes narrow.
     Now I have his full attention.
     “I kissed you because you were about to spill a family secret at a less-than-opportune time.”
     I look pointedly at the door to the closet in his office. “Really? Which time? After your spin session right there?” I motion toward the door. “Or after Shannon swallowed your mother’s engagement ring?”
     “You know perfectly well which time.” His voice is full of an amused smoothness. Instead of resuming his seat behind the desk, he walks around and sits on the edge, manspreading in front of me, a foot and a half the only space between us.
     There goes that cologne again.
     “I do?” My words come out breathy, like Marilyn Monroe running after the ice cream truck. “It’s getting hard to keep track of all the kisses. I’m nearly ready to draw up a spreadsheet.”
     “Would you like my assistant to create a database instead?”

Top 5 Ways to Handle a Momzilla at a Billionaire’s Wedding
5. Tiramisu. Preferably with something in it she can choke on.
4. Use the word “Elope” repeatedly, like garlic waved at a vampire.
3. Accept, with defeat, the fact that you’re going to have to wear that tartan thong that matches your dress for the Scottish-themed wedding.
2. Offer her an unlimited budget (hey, you’re a billionaire...).
1. When all else fails, run away. Sometimes the only way to win is not to play. ;)

Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent turned to writing contemporary romance after deciding that life is too short not to have fun. She writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at jkentauthor@gmail.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook and blog.


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Anchor by M Mabie

Title: Anchor
Author: M Mabie
Series: Wake #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Summary:
I believe in love at first sight.
Now I know soulmates exist. 

Nothing has ever been easy for us.
Every fight, every struggle, has been worth it.

I’m stubborn, but what woman isn’t?
She’s hard work and I love the overtime. 

He’s frustrating and unpredictable. I hope he never changes.
I love driving her crazy. That’s half the fun. 

Lou’s sexy curls.
Honeybee’s pink nose. 

He still looks at me like I’m precious and unflawed.
She treats me like I’m the center of her world. 

Our future will be full of happiness.
Despite everything, we’re two of the lucky ones. 

I took the bait.
She was a lucky catch. 

He is the wind in my sail.
She’s the anchor that grounds me. 

The wake our love made is beautiful.
Every day I thank God for her. 

No matter the hurdles, we’ve jumped them side-by-side.
No matter the obstacles, we’ve made it through together. 

For better or for worse, I’d do it again.
I’ll love and protect her all the days of my life. 

We made it.
We always will. 

Chapter 1 
Blake
Sunday, June 13, 2010
“When you wake up, you should probably go ahead and ask me to marry you,” I whispered in the dark to a man who—quite literally—owned my heart. Fair and square. There was a nightlight on in my bathroom down the hall, but other than that it was completely dark and quiet. When I’d woken up, from thoughts I still wouldn’t allow myself to think about—when I had the choice—I was sweaty, in a warm bed with Casey. Except, not in the way I would prefer to be.

Over the past week I’d been in a haze from the strong painkillers, and I was still sleeping at the weirdest times even though they’d all but worn off by then. However groggy, and regardless of the hour, every time I woke up, he was there ready to talk. Ready to make me laugh. Bring me something to drink. Feed me to the point of nausea.

He seemed calm, which I was thankful for in that moment. Relaxed and peaceful. He
needed rest, and I felt obligated to leave him alone, so he could catch up on the sleep I knew I’d deprived him of. He had to be exhausted. He was always awake when I was.

So I lay there absorbing him and reflected. My heart rate slowed from the dream as I let my mind wander around our new reality.

I’d been home for a few days. It was Sunday—I think.

Days blended together. I measured time by what television shows were on and what he was trying to feed me. Breakfast. The Today Show. Lunch. He was watching a cooking show. Dinner. The news. If it weren’t for those minor clues, and the light from the sun and moon filtering in from outside, I’d have no clue what time it was at all.

It was dark out when he carried me to bed. My bed? Our bed? There was so much that wasn’t clear. So much that needed discussing. Defined. Lines needed to be drawn. Sad as it was, I was still nervous that it could get worse before better. Would Grant cause more trouble? Would I have to go through a trial? I wanted to sever myself from the past, not continue living in it.  My mind traveled into dark corners, so I focused my thoughts on him.

The beautiful man beside me. His physical appearance and the word ‘beautiful’ were exclusive. It was everything about him. His kindness. Passion. He loved me unconditionally. Goodness oozed from him and coated everything it touched. Including me.

I needed him forever.






Author Bio:
M. Mabie lives in Illinois with her husband. She writes unconventional love stories and tries to embody "real-life romance."

She cares about politics, but will not discuss them in public. She uses the same fork at every meal, watches Wayne's World while cleaning, and lets her dog sleep on her head. She has always been a writer. In fact, she was born with a pen in her hand, which almost never happens. Almost.

M. Mabie usually doesn't speak in third-person. She promises.


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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Get Real by Tellulah Darling

Title: Get Real
Author: Tellulah Darling
Series: Get Real #1
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romantic Comedy
Release Date: September 26, 2015
Summary:
Magic and Mayhem in Manhattan

Francesca Bellafiore comes from a nice Jewish family — one that happens to have magical powers. Underneath her good-girl exterior, though, she’s a wannabe badass with dreams of becoming a paranormal detective.

Party boy Rafael Muñoz does everything possible to publicly disappoint his high profile father. Privately, it’s a different story. His carefully crafted bad boy reputation masks the fact he’s a master illusionist, forced into solo covert ops. The role is wearing thin and Rafael longs to be part of a team.

When Francesca and Rafael meet, it’s love at first sight… For about five minutes. Rafael is spectacularly attractive—and, Francesca discovers, fully aware of the fact. Rafael knows from experience that girls like Francesca are more trouble than they’re worth.

So it sucks big time when they’re caught in a web of magic, minions, secrets, and enough sexual tension to power NYC. Their only chance to save the city and survive is to team up, trust each other–and maybe even fall in love.

Provided they don’t kill each other first.

Get Real is a romantic comedy, urban fantasy whirlwind with sass, sex, and swoon.

POV: Rafael
     I shoved my hands into my pockets, jiggling the loose change and wanting some kind of confron- tation. I stepped outside. That girl with Byron who’d been staring and laughing earlier was candidate numero uno. Want to diss me? Do it to my face, chica.
     I found her healing a gash on some guy’s cheek, holding a vase in her free hand while berating him for his choice in headwear. “Va bene. Go,” she ordered.
     He slunk away with a sheepish look and I stepped up, my shadow falling over her.
     “If you need medical services it better not be alcohol poisoning because I will not let you enjoy it.” She turned. Her fingers tightened on the rim of the vase at the sight of me.
     “Hi,” I said.
     She raised her chin, regarding me levelly with these amazing dark brown eyes. “It’s you.” Her sexy Italian accent hooked into me.
     “Apparently.”
     She fumbled the vase.
     We both grabbed the same edge before it could hit the ground, my hand landing on hers. Her skin
was cool and smooth. The rest of her was twitchy and flustered. It cheered me up in a petty way. “Rafael. Call me Rafa. Official friend of the Byron–Jones hook up.” I patted my shirt down with
my free hand. “I had a badge but I lost it.”
     “Next time ask for a lanyard.” She tugged the vase away with a slight smile, tucking it under her
arm like a football. What a mouth. ¡Dios mío! “I didn’t buy tickets to the event,” she said.
     I pretended to look stern, mostly because I wanted to check her out some more. “You boycotting
the games?”
     That got me a full–on grin, which hit me in the gut. Who was this girl and how had I never seen
her before?
     “Seen one game, seen them all,” she said. She walked briskly past me back to the swing she’d been sitting on earlier and set the vase on the table.
     I followed, sinking into the chair beside her. “You know my name. It seems unfair I don’t know
yours.”
     She hesitated for long enough that I wasn’t sure she was going to answer with anything other than
“get lost.” “Francesca,” she said at last. She flicked her bangs off her forehead. “My mom works for your dad. You’re Javier’s son, right?”
     Those words were like a douse of cold water. “Yeah.” I waited for her next words. Her next look. Her obvious disdain. I stiffened, reminded of why I had come out here in the first place and ready to rip into her.
     “She’s a Liaison.” Even for the simplest of sentences, her hands gestured madly. Cute. “Mirella Bellafiore.”
     My heart sunk. Now I knew exactly who she was. And wished I didn’t. Francesca Bellafiore, golden girl. Latest pride and joy of the Bellafiore clan and totally off–limits to me. Javier would freak, which would be fun, but honestly? Good girls weren’t my thing. “Yeah, sure. I’ve met her. Guess you’re ex- cited to start all that healing stuff.”
     Disappointment and contempt? flickered in her eyes. Apparently hot girl and I were natural ene-
mies. Figures. I wasn’t about to be an asshole to her though. It would ruin my façade.
     I was about to make my excuses and go, but I noticed her twisting this hideous bracelet tighter and
tighter into her arm. “You okay?”
     Her hand stilled. “Are you reading me?”
     “No,” I said with exaggerated patience. “I don’t go around reading everyone I meet. Don’t need to
most of the time. People telegraph enough on their own.” I nodded at her reddened skin. She jutted her chin out. “People shouldn’t take everything at face value.”
     Like me.

Author Bio:
Tellulah Darling
noun

1) YA & New Adult romantic comedy author because her first kiss sucked and she’s compensating.
2) Firm believer that some of the best stories happen when love meets comedy and awkwardness ensues.
3) Sassy minx.

Both a hopeless romantic and total cynic, Tellulah Darling is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. Her romcoms come in a variety of flavours and heat levels.

Sassy girls. Swoony boys. What could go wrong?


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