Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tour and Giveaway - Back Forever

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: Karen Booth
Genre: Women's Fiction Romance
Publication Date: January 20, 2013
Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.

Music critic Claire Abby is a single mom dreading her daughter’s departure for college and worried that turning forty will leave her career running on fumes. She’s floored when she lands a Rolling Stone cover story on 80s British rock legend Christopher Penman. She spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend.
In person, Christopher is everything Claire feared he’d be—charming, witty, and unwilling to address the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. Still, she contains her adolescent fantasies and manages to earn his trust, unearthing the truth and the devastating secret behind it. His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling and flirting. She knows she should maintain a professional distance. She knows she should focus on the story. She knows it would be best to simply walk away. But how can she say “no” to the man she could never forget?
Title: Back Forever
Author: Karen Booth
Genre: Women's Fiction Romance
Publication Date: February 16, 2014
The sequel to 'Bring Me Back'.
Back together after a painful breakup, Christopher Penman and Claire Abby are looking only to their future. Christopher’s band is making a run at it after a long hiatus. Claire lands a magazine job she never dreamed she could get. Only a ring on Claire’s finger and a baby on the way could make things more complete, and Chris is determined they’ll have everything they ever wanted.
But when Claire’s dad starts behaving strangely, and her teenage daughter feels left out, Chris and Claire’s picture-perfect plans begin to unravel. A piece of devastating news casts doubt on whether they’ll have the life they envisioned. Through everything fate throws at them, Chris and Claire must find the good and hold on to it with both hands. They will have it all as long as they have each other, forever.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |
About the Author
Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with rock ‘n’ roll led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Much of her writing revolves around the world of backstage passes and band dynamics. When she isn't creating fictional musicians, she's listening to everything from to Duran Duran to Otis Redding with her kids, honing her Southern cooking skills or sweet-talking her astoundingly supportive husband into whipping up a batch of cocktails.
Connect with the Author: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Tia Louise's Valentines Event and Scavenger Hunt

**Readers search through the Post and find the Scavenger Hunt Clue (it will be in [brackets]) and then when you have all 3 Clues for the task come to the event and post a picture of the Clue!!**

Event Link:


ONE TO PROTECT is coming soon, and Derek faces his biggest challenge yet… 
Here’s an early peek to get you ready~  

Add ONE TO PROTECT on Goodreads:  

ONE TO KEEP By Tia Louise *unedited draft, subject to change* expected release March 2014 © 2014, Tia Louise 

The condo is dim as I cross back to the kitchen for a bottle of water. Only one lamp is lit, and I go to the enormous glass windows to look out and wait. A few lights dot the downtown area. It’s either too early or too wintery for most people to be out. With the tip of my finger, I touch the cold glass and try to imagine where he is right now. How much longer he’ll work. When he’ll be here with me… A noise at the door causes me to turn, and my chest squeezes when I see him standing in the doorway. His heavy grey overcoat makes him look even taller than six-two, his shoulders even broader. His dark hair is longer than usual, and it just touches his collar in gentle waves. Vibration hums under my skin as I watch him silently, my fingers curl with longing to touch him, slide through that hair. He shrugs off the top coat and hooks it on the rack, and I almost sigh audibly when I recognize the suit he’s wearing. It’s the same one from all those nights ago when I would gaze at him on my laptop screen. Back then I only had my memories and my hands. Now I have the real thing. Gorgeous. He doesn’t see me, doesn’t even know I’m here, and it takes all my strength not to call out to him. I’m waiting, wanting him to see me first. The entry light is on, and his attention is occupied by the stack of mail in his hand. I can see the tension in his lined brow, and even his shoulders appear tight. Touching my lips with my tongue, I have an idea for massaging that stress away, that luscious suit in a pile on the floor, my mouth covering his skin with kisses. I remember the band holding up my hair and quickly pull it out. My long, dark waves sweep over my shoulders at the exact moment his eyes rise. Beautiful blue eyes meet mine, and the center of my body turns to hot liquid. My arm drops, parting the robe, revealing a peek of my nude body underneath, and his confusion is quickly replaced by desire. Without a word, he tosses the letters on the table and shrugs out of the suit coat. He crosses the dining area fast, and I can barely breathe as he approaches, removing more clothing with each step. Tie off, his fingers unfasten buttons. He’s in front of me, shirt open, undershirt the only thing between his skin and mine. It’s possible I’ll come the moment we touch, but I snatch the edge of the thin white tank and push it up his lined torso, pressing my lips against his heated flesh. Large hands are inside the robe, sliding down my bare skin, and a little cry comes from my throat when he grips my ass lifts. I’m off my feet in a sweep, weightless in his arms. My back is pressed against the cold glass, and my breasts are flat against his bare chest. His waist is between my thighs, pressing, teasing, as his mouth muffles the noises coming from my throat. Firm lips push mine apart, and our tongues meet, his exploring my mouth hungrily. Our kisses are desperate, ravenous, and every time his hips push against my clit, fire surges hotter through my body. I need him inside me now. The only sounds are the little noises of pleasure coming from my throat, and his scent is all around me, flooding my senses. My fingers dig into his broad shoulders, pulling him closer to me as his soft lips and scratchy beard blaze a trail from my jaw down my neck to my breasts. I can’t help a moan as my head drops back against the glass. “Oh, god,” I gasp as he catches a straining nipple in his mouth and gives it a hard pull. The sensation registers directly between my legs to my core, and my insides tighten in anticipation. My hands are in his hair, pulling, threading the soft, dark locks, as his kisses climb back up my neck. He’s consuming me, pulling little bits of my skin between his teeth as he goes. “Now, baby. I need you now,” I whisper, begging. I can’t take much more of this before I explode. My thighs are already trembling and jerking, my inner muscles tight and aching… 

One to Hold (Derek & Melissa), 2013
One to Hold Series Book 1
Available Now

"HOT! FUN! ENJOYABLE! 5 STARS!!! I highly recommend this story and can't wait to read more from Tia Louise!" --Aleatha Roming, NYT & USA Today bestselling author of the Consequences series
***WARNING: Mature themes, strong language and sexual content. Recommended for adult readers (18+) only!***
Derek Alexander is a retired Marine, ex-cop, and the top investigator in his field. Melissa Jones is a small-town girl trying to escape her troubled past.
When the two intersect in a bar in Arizona, their sexual chemistry is off the charts. But what is revealed during their "one week stand" only complicates matters.
Because she'll do everything in her power to get away from the past, but he'll do everything he can to hold her.
(Standalone, M/F, HEA)

 One to Keep (Patrick & Elaine)
One to Hold Series Book 2
Now Available

WARNING: Mature themes, strong language and sexual content. Recommended for adult readers (18+) only!
There’s a new guy in town...

“Patrick Knight, single, retired Guard-turned private investigator. I was a closer. A deal maker. I looked clients in the eye and told them I’d get their shit done. And I did...”
Patrick doesn’t do “nice.”
At least, not anymore.
After his fiancée cheats, he follows up with a one-night stand and a disastrous office hook-up. His business partner (Derek Alexander) sends him to the desert to get his head straight—and clean up the mess.
While there, Patrick meets Elaine, and blistering sparks fly, but she’s not looking for any guy. Or a long-distance relationship. 
Patrick’s ready to do anything to keep her, but just when it seems he’s changed her mind, the skeletons from his past life start coming back.
(Standalone, M/F, HEA)

One to Protect 
One to Hold Series Book 3 
Expected Release: March 2014

WARNING: Recommended for adult readers (18+) only. Mature themes, strong language and sexual content.

Justice, revenge, retribution.

When Melissa's ex-husband Sloan manages to beat criminal charges, she stops believing he will ever pay for what he did. Derek Alexander will not accept that--a tiny silver scar won't let him forget, and he is determined to make the man who hurt his fiancee pay.

After exhausting all legal options, Derek is ready to take matters into his own hands. Until his partner Patrick Knight shows up with an unexpected solution...

Note: This stand-alone adult romance will be best understood if read following One to Hold and One to Keep.

Tia Louise is a former journalist, world-traveler, and collector of beautiful men (who inspire all of her stories... wink)—turned wife, mommy, and novelist.
She lives in the center of the U.S.A. with her lovely family and one grumpy cat. There, she dreams up stories she hopes are engaging, hot, and sexy, and that cause readers rethink common public locations…
It’s possible she has a slight truffle addiction [IN THE KITCHEN]!!!

Don't miss a single new release or announcement! 
Sign up for Tia's Book News: 

Tour and Giveaway - Forget Me Not

Title: Forget Me Not
Author: Belinda Boring
Series: The Mystic Wolves (#2)
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Blushing Heart Press
Release Date: May 2012

Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print


What would you do if a simple errand takes a deadly twist, turning you from cautious prey to dangerous predator?

Someone is trying to send a deadly message to Mason, arranging the deaths of those he loves and it puts the entire pack and Alpha on high alert. Darcy understands the primal instincts driving her beloved Mason's commands. With the help of those he sets as protectors, she learns about herself and the things she'll need to help support her Alpha and pack. When events turn dire however, one truth offers her strength - once given, oaths are unbreakable ... even if it means risking it all.

Book Links
Barnes and Noble
Book Trailer

A homesick Aussie living amongst the cactus and mountains of Arizona, Belinda Boring is a self-proclaimed addict of romance and all things swoon worthy. It wasn't long before she began writing, pouring her imagination and creativity into the stories she dreams. Whether urban fantasy, paranormal romance or romance in general, Belinda strives to share great plots with heart and characters that you can't help but connect with. Of course, she wouldn't be Belinda without adding heroes she hopes will curl your toes. Surrounded by a supportive cast of family, friends, and the man she gives her heart and soul to, Belinda is living the good life. Happy reading!

Author Links


My Rating: 4/5

My Review:

Wow.  This book really took me off guard.  Although I liked the first book, there were a few things that I found a tad off, so I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I had hoped.  I worried when I started reading book two that I would have a similar issue, but boy was that not the case.  The little things that nagged me from book one did not carry over to book two at all.  I found myself completely encased in the story and loving every moment of it.
I can't think of another book where I detested a character as much as I did Amber.  I take that back, I really hated Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter.  Although I loathed these characters, the books were fantastic because I was so very invested in the hero overcoming someone I hated so very much.  It takes a skilled author to create a character that's so easy to hate without effecting how I feel about the main characters, and Ms Boring is definitely a skilled author.
This book picks up immediately where book one ends, which was perfect for me, because I started reading it immediately after finishing book one.  It's not common in my experience to enjoy a second book more than the first, but this was definitely the case in this series.  Book two blows book one out of the water, creating a nemesis that is truly worthy of Darcy's strong will.
As in the first book, there's a wicked cliffhanger, so definitely have book three ready!  The more I read from this series, the more I want to recommend it to all paranormal readers.  <3 p="">


“Excuse me?”

I looked the woman up and down. It irritated me how she hung on Mason, as if she had every right in the world to do it. I growled and stepped forward, ready to go to war for the man I loved. I didn’t even care about whatever excuse she would give for invading our lives with her false presumptions—I was pissed. I could feel the change happening, and I smiled. Judging from the way she blanched, I knew my fangs must have shown.

“Darcy, stop.” Mason’s voice broke through my anger, and luckily for him he’d moved away from her. “This is Amber, and it’s not what it seems.”

“Who is this, Mason? And why does she think she has a hold over you?” Amber asked.

The syrupy sweetness of her tone set my teeth on edge, and I launched myself at her.


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Friday, February 7, 2014

Tour and Giveaway - The Mystic Wolves

(Note:  Many apologies for the lack of pictures, blogger has decided that it hates my face today.  //sigh)

Title: The Mystic Wolves
Author: Belinda Boring
Series: The Mystic Wolves (#1)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Blushing Heart Press
Release Date: Jan 2012
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print
What would you do if a simple errand takes a deadly twist, turning you from cautious prey to dangerous predator?
Someone is trying to send a deadly message to Mason, arranging the deaths of those he loves and it puts the entire pack and Alpha on high alert. Darcy understands the primal instincts driving her beloved Mason's commands. With the help of those he sets as protectors, she learns about herself and the things she'll need to help support her Alpha and pack. When events turn dire however, one truth offers her strength - once given, oaths are unbreakable ... even if it means risking it all.

Book Links
Barnes and Noble
Book Trailer

A homesick Aussie living amongst the cactus and mountains of Arizona, Belinda Boring is a self-proclaimed addict of romance and all things swoon worthy. It wasn't long before she began writing, pouring her imagination and creativity into the stories she dreams. Whether urban fantasy, paranormal romance or romance in general, Belinda strives to share great plots with heart and characters that you can't help but connect with. Of course, she wouldn't be Belinda without adding heroes she hopes will curl your toes. Surrounded by a supportive cast of family, friends, and the man she gives her heart and soul to, Belinda is living the good life. Happy reading!

Author Links
Amazon Author Page

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Review:

I really have the give the author some credit with the way this entire series starts.  She really goes off the beaten path.  She jumps right into the story, effectively disarming a reader from receiving their fairly common "get to meet the characters" stage.  It was a bit alarming for me at first, I admit.  I double (and even triple) checked the order of the books in the series to ensure that I wasn't skipping ahead into the series.  I have to say, though, that if this starting throws you off, don't give up.  Chapter seven on thoroughly explains everything you may have felt that you have missed, giving you back that time that the author teased you with by withholding it.

The main reason why this book is at a 3.5 instead of a 4 or 5 is that the writing style (with the different style of beginning) really threw me off and made it harder to enjoy the book.  Although everything pulls together and I did enjoy the book, it was a little harder for me to get into.  I felt as if I was missing such a vital part of the story, even though I was eventually filled in.  Like I said, I still really liked it, I just feel that I would have liked it more were it done a bit more traditionally.  Of course, I'm not the best person to deal with change. ;)

I loved the characters!  I especially loved such a strong willed main character.  I have to admit, I'm so tired of these weak willed women that become so submissive to their alpha men.  Ugh.  It just gets old fast for me.  Well, this is the farthest thing from a description of Darcy.  She's strong and smart-mouthed, which is definitely a heroine that's gunning to steal my heart.  She has her moments of vulnerability, which seemed a tad whiny for her normal personality, yet instead of being annoying, really just fleshed out the character and her imperfections.  Mason's possessiveness did annoy me a bit, but every time it turned out to be completely necessary worry.  This made me very happy.  Were he being possessive just for the sake of being possessive, I would have disliked him for attempting to crush a spirit as wild and free as Darcy.

The storyline in this book was a great start to the series, and I have quickly learned why this author is called the queen of the cliffhangers.  Really?!  Oy!!  So glad I have the remaining books in the series.  This was a fun read that was worth the slow start, and really?  The series just keeps getting better and better the farther I read into it.

“You want to be wooed, huh? I’m not sure I know how to do that. You may have to tell me what to do.” The cocky grin he’d been wearing suddenly became softer, his eyes twinkling, and I caught a flash of the boyish charm I’d fallen for.
“Oh no, I’m not explaining anything to you. You should know by now, Mr. Almighty-I-Am-Alpha. Just know this—if you don’t get it right … you’re a dead man.”
He let out a rich, throaty laugh, and the sound made the soles of my feet tingle. In fact, it made everything tingle, and I braced myself. I was about to get ravished.
I didn’t move a muscle as he advanced, or resist as he finally gathered me into his arms. My eyes instantly closed and I tilted my head—waiting. Everything was still, our surroundings dimmed to a quiet hush.
He moved slowly, brushing his mouth against mine softly, tenderly. It was almost like a whisper, the feel of his breath fanning gently over my skin, and when he repeated the motion, goose bumps erupted.
Even though I knew it was coming, the touch of his tongue tracing my bottom lip had me leaning into him, my hands gripping the top of his pants to steady myself. I don’t know how long we stood there for, his mouth barely caressing mine before the mood changed, and he made his move.

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tour and Giveaway - Suddenly Sorceress

Suddenly Sorceress
Erica Lucke Dean
Red Adept Publishing
PMS can be a real witch.

Ivie McKie isn’t your run-of-the-mill kindergarten teacher.  After an encounter with a horny goat, Ivie has a confrontation with her lying, cheating fiancé. She is shocked when the big jerk suddenly transforms into a skunk—the black and white furry variety.

Enlisting the help of her shopaholic friend Chloe and sexy club magician Jackson Blake, Ivie is forced to play a literal game of cat and mouse as she races against the clock to change her ex back before she’s arrested for his murder.

With every new spell, a fresh wave of sexual desire draws Jack further into Ivie’s troubles, along with her panties, the car, the kitchen, and assorted seedy bathrooms.

Ivie soon discovers what every witch worth her spell book knows: There’s nothing worse than a bad case of Post Magical Syndrome.
Buy Links
About the Author
After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains, where she lives  in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180 lb lap dog, and at least one ghost.

When she’s not writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens and diabolical ducks, she’s either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the main character in her first book, To Katie With Love, Erica is a magnet for disaster and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.

How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.

Other Links
1.      (MRB) Your books are always so hilarious! Where do you find the inspiration to be so funny at any given moment?  
(ELD) I was always the quiet shy type when I was a kid. Until you got me around the people I knew really well. Then I opened up and acted like a total dork. I think maybe it’s a little of that leftover insecurity peeking out. Then again, maybe it’s survival instinct. It’s hard to attack when you have liquid coming out of your nose from laughing so hard, you know? And I swear my husband only keeps me around for my entertainment value.
2.      (MRB) I know you have some quirky animals around your house. Do you ever find a little bit of your animals in your characters?
(ELD) Hubby won’t let me have a skunk. I tried to convince him it was strictly for research, but he said there’s this little thing called the “internet” and I could find out whatever I needed from here. Otherwise, yes. I definitely use the animals for inspiration. I have a story in the plotting stages that will be set on a haunted farm (just like home) and most of my animals will make an appearance.
3.      (MRB) Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? Do you change as a person? Maybe find yourself hiding out with your computer more, being more irritable, needy, emotional, etc?
 (ELD) My writing process involves red flannel moose pajama pants, a well-loved Eddie Bauer sweatshirt, IBC root beer (straight from the bottle…hard core, I know) and some sort of chocolate. I like to write in the middle of the living room with my dogs at my feet and my husband across the room on his laptop. I don’t mind noise around me as long as no one attempts to engage me in conversation. Oh, and FB is turned off. LOL
4.      (MRB) What can we expect from you next? We already have two hilarious books with Suddenly Sorceress and To Katie with Love; do you plan on sticking with comedy or trying something different with your next book?
(ELD) My next book is actually a contemporary women’s fiction collaboration with my friend/critique partner, Laura M. Kolar. It has elements of angst, romance, humor, and hope all rolled into one book. I hope people embrace it. Then I’m working on the sequel to Sorceress. That should be pretty funny.
5.      (MRB) What book can you just not put down? Any favourites?
 (ELD) I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to literature. I loved Water For Elephants. I literally couldn’t put it down. But I also loved Fifty Shades of Grey, for completely different reasons. It’s the story, the characters, the mood I’m in on that particular day. I don’t even know how to explain it. I’m just a fickle girl.
6.      (MRB) Obviously, I love Helena as a character. << For no reason other than my own vain curiosity, do you have any future plans with this character?
 (ELD) Oh, Helena definitely comes back in the sequel. And the third book too, if I make it that far. I’d like to think I’ll make it that far. ;) After all, I made it here. And who would have ever guessed that?
My Rating: 5/5 Freakin' Amazing Stars
My Review:
I have to admit, this was definitely my most waited for book throughout 2013.  I'm sure it didn't help that the lovely author kept sending me teasers for it, but no matter how frustrated I got when I read the teasers, I waited (mostly) patient to receive the book for review.  Finally the day came, and what a glorious day that was.  It was like a Christmas present!  I'm definitely glad I didn't have to wait as long as everyone else!  =P
I was hooked immediately from the prologue (which will be posted below in this post).  I ate this book up like holiday leftovers.  I'm pretty sure my husband was fairly annoyed by my behavior for the day that I spend stuck in this book.  I'm a fast reader, but I was even annoyed by myself.  I wanted to know everything NOW!  I felt like I was reading too slow, but at the same time, I knew if I read any faster, I'd probably miss out on something important.  I've never actually got annoyed at myself for reading "slow" before this book.
As far as the story goes, this book is absolutely hilarious, which I wouldn't expect anything less from this author.  She has a knack for turning ordinary (or in this case magical) situations into something much more, something that would cause you to spray your computer screen with whatever you're eating/drinking.  I'm actually pretty happy that my tablet is fairly ramen resistant. 
The characters are fantastic and quirky!  I absolutely loved them all, although, I must admit that I was a tad partial to Helena... >.>  I have to say, I fangirled pretty hard seeing my name in a book.  When you're named something like Helena, you rarely see your name in any publication, so just seeing the first name is enough to make me squeal, but FULL NAME?  Yeah, I may have strut around my house like I was the Queen of England... Probably why my husband was a bit upset with me for that day. =P
I think the only thing about this book that I didn't love is the fact that my favourite part, I can't tell you!  I hate spoiler reviews, and ugh, let's just say the information given at the end is absolutely lovely, and it totally made my day.
Although I was miserable waiting for this book, It was definitely worth it.  I recommend this book to anyone and everyone that loves a hilarious romance.  Also to anyone that secretly wishes that they could turn their ex into a smelly animal.... Which I know I do!
“You’re too sexy, my ass!” I tried to tune out the Right Said Fred ringtone as I fished my fiancé’s cell phone from the pocket of his discarded Dockers. I glared at the flashing caller ID. “You just don’t give up, do you?”
That was lucky number thirteen. Thirteen missed calls in the span of an hour. Thirteen calls he was unable to answer.
Because of me.
After pressing ignore one more time, I shoved the phone back into the pocket where it belonged, hoping it would muffle the sound somewhat. I didn’t know why I didn’t just turn off the damn thing. I’d endured his ridiculous ring tone more times than anyone should have to, obviously determined to punish myself. Between the maddening song and the horrible smell, I certainly felt punished. Even if it wasn’t nearly enough.
Way down deep in my bones, I knew my life had been forever changed. Even if I could somehow fix things—put them back to normal—nothing would be the same again. Not ever.
Swallowing against the crystal ball-sized lump in my throat, I dropped Matt’s pants where I’d found them, along with his shirt, his boxers, and his shoes, and I collapsed onto the rumpled blankets on the bed.
That sort of thing didn’t happen in the real world. Only small children or crazy people believed in… no, I refused to even think the word, let alone say it. It’s impossible. But I’d seen it with my own eyes, and whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t normal.
My scruffy housecat made another frantic orbit around my feet as the phone sounded again, the self-centered lyrics looping, making me cringe. Apparently, he’d also grown weary of the tune.
If only I could say the choice of ring tone was ironic, a product of his wry sense of humor. But he didn’t have much of a sense of humor. Matthew Green was exactly that arrogant. Despite every despicable thing he’d done to me, every insult, lie, and betrayal that had led us there, I truly wished Matt could answer his stupid phone himself. Unfortunately, wishing didn’t seem to be on my side that morning.
Stifling a groan, I pulled myself from the warmth of the bed to dig the phone out of Matt’s pocket again. Geez, persistent much? With a deep, cleansing breath, I mashed down the button to accept the call.
“Matt! Where are you?” Matt’s receptionist, Ginger, snapped before I had a chance to say hello. “Friday’s your busiest day. Do you have any idea what time it is? You’ve already missed two appointments.”
Even without caller ID, I would have recognized her breathy Betty Boop voice. She sounded as though she’d been sucking helium all morning. I didn’t know her well, but I suspected she was banging my fiancé.
“We’ll be lucky if there’s enough time for a quickie before the next patient arrives,” she continued in a whisper.
Yep… definitely banging him.
“And another thing.” Her sweet baby voice morphed into a feral growl. “Candy’s been standing outside your office all morning. I thought you said you were done with her? I’m not kidding, Matt, if I find out you’re still screwing her, I’m going to cut off your balls.”
Apparently, I was engaged to a pathological cheater. Of course, I hadn’t known that when I agreed to marry him. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about Matt. Then again, there was a lot I didn’t know about me.
“Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?”
 “Uh… hi, Ginger.” I cleared my throat and resisted the urge to “say anything.” “This is Ivie. Matt can’t come to the phone. I… uh... don’t think he’s going to be able to… uh… make it into work today.” I managed to stammer through the basics without my voice cracking.
“Oh, hi, Ivie.” Her voice changed again; she sounded as if she’d been sucking lemons. She didn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed. “What’s wrong with Matt? He hasn’t missed a day in… Actually, I don’t think he’s ever called in sick.”
My eyes darted to the closed bathroom door, and I shuddered. “He’s really not feeling like himself today.” Understatement of the century.
“Is he sick?”
“Um… I definitely don’t think anyone wants what he has.” I tiptoed around the answer. I wasn’t good at coy, but I gave it my best shot.
“Oh… Well, in that case, maybe it’s best if he stays home.” I could almost see her coiling a lock of her thick red hair around her finger as she spoke. “Just tell him I hope he feels better, and not to worry. I’ll reschedule his appointments for him. Do you think he’ll be well enough to come in Monday?”
I tamped down a flicker of panic. “I really hope so.” But I seriously doubt it.
After listening to Ginger rant for a minute about missed appointments and the difficult task of rescheduling, I ended the call, staring at the bathroom door as if I expected a silent command to open it. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the door swinging wide and my fiancé sauntering out. I popped open one eye. The door hadn’t moved—not even a crack.
For far too long, I’d avoided that room. With three tentative steps, I closed the distance between myself and the master bathroom, covering my mouth and nose with one hand as I cracked the door. I’d almost gotten used to the foul odor in the bedroom. It was bad but not unbearable. The stench in the bathroom was overwhelming. The fumes poured out, bringing tears to my eyes. The small space reeked worse than when I’d locked him in there last night. It smelled as if someone had cooked up a potion of burning tires and rotten eggs in a boiling vat of sour ammonia, and even that comparison wasn’t quite bad enough.
Blinking back the sting of tears, I scanned the room. I didn’t see him anywhere, just a puddle that looked suspiciously like urine in one corner and in the other, a makeshift bed fashioned out of—were those my good bath towels?
No Matt.
A quick rush of adrenaline kick-started my heart. What’s happened to him now? This is bad. Very, very bad. As if things weren’t bad enough already. What sort of person was I? What I’d done was unspeakable, so horrible even I didn’t know what I’d done.
Just as I was about to have a full-blown panic attack, he slinked out from behind the hamper. I should have been relieved he was still alive, but I wasn’t sure if his current state was much better. He stared up at me—his beady little black eyes blinking in the harsh fluorescent light—so much smaller than he used to be and covered in a thick pelt of black and white fur. My fiancé.
The skunk.

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