Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Snifter of Death - Historical Suspense - and a Contest #HistoricalSuspense #Contest

If you like historical suspense check out Snifter of Death by Chris Karlsen.

She's also running a great contest.

Read on for details...

__________



Title: Snifter of Death
Author: Chris Karlsen 
Genre: Historical Suspense (With Romantic Elements)
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC. 







The summer of 1889 was proving to be a strange one for Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner. 

They had a sexual pervert loose. The man didn’t actually harm women but threatened them at knife point, fondling them, and ultimately stealing their stockings. 

Far more serious were the murders of influential men, which appeared random other than they were all killed by arsenic poison. Never had he and his partner had cases with so little workable evidence. 

Also, the rivalry between him and his detective nemesis at London’s other police department was intensifying. That nemesis was the boxing champion of their department and looking to challenge Rudyard, who never trained as a boxer. 

Besides Rudyard’s pride being at stake, and the pride of his station, his nemesis also had in his possession a photograph of the woman Rudyard cares very much for. The new lady in Rudyard’s life had captured his heart and he’d fight the devil himself to save her reputation.







The autopsy report and test results on the contents of the decanters were returned by midmorning the next day. Skinner had died of arsenic poisoning. The claret in the decanter was the same as in his stomach and both contained arsenic. The port did not.

“What the deuce kind of maniac do we have on our hands now?” Archie lamented.

“A strange one indeed.” And Ruddy meant it. “Shall we give Jameson the bad news?”

“Let’s get it over with.”

Jameson listened with a pained expression. The crease between his eyes deepened with each named similarity. When Ruddy finished, the Superintendent looked from Ruddy to Archie and back to Ruddy. “Is there no other way to look at these cases other than as connected?”

“We could. We can always take a different approach. Follow a different course of investigation but I think sooner or later we’d have to pursue this theory. If nothing else, to eliminate the possibility they’re related,” Ruddy said.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. The idea we may have a demented looney on the loose poisoning well-to-do businessmen curdles in me.” He fixed hard eyes on Ruddy as he made his objection known.

Ruddy had a response sitting on the tip of his tongue. He’d love to tell the Superintendent the nature of the case didn’t exactly set him doing a jig either.

“I’m beginning to think there’s something about you Bloodstone, that attracts these cases involving influential people. Somehow, someway while investigating the case I just know you’re going to overturn a rock and an ugly frog of information will pop out that has another influential person screaming like a banshee.” Jameson pointed a finger in Ruddy’s face. “I believe that. I truly do.” He turned to Archie. “I can feel it. The two of you. Get out.”

Back at their desks, Ruddy snatched his coat from the stand where he had carefully hung it. “I hope we do discover some toff involved up to his wealthy neck in these cases,” he said without bothering to lower his voice. “I hope it turns into a carbuncle on Jameson’s bum.”

“Shh,” Archie raised a finger to get Ruddy to quiet down. He’d drawn the attention of the other detectives who were listening with interest to the tirade.

“Let’s talk to Cross’s staff first. His residence is closest and on the way to Belgrave Square. If they don’t recognize Skinner as a friend or associate, we’ll move on and speak to Skinner’s family,” Ruddy said, changing the subject and putting on his coat.

“Good idea. I’m happy to get out of here for a while,” Archie said with a quick glance toward Jameson’s closed door.






I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books.

My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. 

I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream. I write three different series. My paranormal romance series is called, Knights in Time. My romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters. The newest is The Bloodstone Series. Each series has a different setting and some cross time periods, which I find fun to write.

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and five wild and crazy rescue dogs.













Thanks so much for reading today's post. Hope you enjoyed it!

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner
Please feel free to share the post via FB, Twitter, Google+ and more...share buttons below. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hero Undercover - Erotic Romance Anthology & a Contest #EroticRomance #Anthology #GCGiveaway


If you love erotic romance anthologies, as I do, you'll adore Hero Undercover.

Check out the great authors and smokin' hot stories. They're also hosting a contest.

Read on for details...

____________


The authors will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.



Hero Undercover Box Set
by Annabel Joseph, Addison Cain, Renee Rose, Maggie Ryan, Maddie Taylor, Emily Tilton, Trent Evans, Jennifer Bene, Sophie Kisker, Megan Michaels, Katherine Deane, Maggie Carpenter, Jane Henry, Maisy Archer, Alyssa Bailey, Claire Conrad, Stevie MacFarlane, Piper Stone, Anya Summers, Lucy Wild, BJ Wane, A.C. Rose,  April Hill, Amelia Smarts, and Meredith O’Reilly


GENRE: Erotic Romance




BLURBS:

A Taste for Red by Piper Stone
When Private Investigator Shanna Jacobs and Cowboy Detective Cody Walker are forced to work on a wine fraud case, sparks fly in both directions. As the case moves into dangerous territory, the key players aren’t what they seem, but if they solve the case, will they learn to accept their intense attraction?

Justice, Roughly by Amelia Smarts
An undercover deputy must decide where his loyalties lie—with the law or with the beautiful criminal who rescues him.

The Strategy of Love by Alyssa Bailey
Part time photographic Journalist and benevolent worker Kayla Rhea was not haunted by the memory of her kidnappers but of her rescuer and his admonition. Ex-Army Major Hunter Barrett, settled in his civilian life, is now on a mission to claim the woman of his dreams or purge her from his life forever.

The Arms I Run To by Stevie MacFarlane
Can a woman be too smart for her own good?  Apparently, for when Joy Bradley takes a position she’s overqualified for she soon finds herself up to her neck in trouble.

Uncharted Waters by Maisy Archer
An undercover protection detail aboard a luxury cruise ship seems like just the kind of easy, straightforward assignment Lucas needs … Until he learns that the client he’s tasked with protecting is the one beautiful, headstrong, infuriating woman he’s never been able to get out of his mind.

The Rangers Shotgun Bride by Maddie Taylor
Having fallen hard for her father's hired man, Amelia is crushed when she learns he's behind a string of stagecoach robberies.  When she takes matters into her own hands, and goes after the bandits herself, she learns things aren't always what they seem.

Revenge Served Hot by Sophie Kisker
My name is Livvi, and for the next 13 months I’ll be on my knees, paying off my father's debts, owned by a man who seeks to destroy me. My life looks painfully short, until a man with a dark past offers to rescue me - but only at a price I'm terrified to pay.

The Mercenary’s Girl by Emily Tilton
CIA operative Jack Regensburg would have had enough trouble taking down mercenary kingpin Sir Jeffrey Young even if he hadn't fallen helplessly in love with one of Sir Jeffrey's captive girls, the lovely young Tess Roberts. When Sir Jeffrey decides that Jack, undercover as a bodyguard, must punish Tess in a new and extremely humiliating way, Jack must act, but will he be able to save Tess from Sir Jeffrey's fury without putting his cover, and the crucial operation, at grave risk?

Cherry on Top by Katherine Deane
What do you get when you combine a sassy, curvy baker, her over protective brother, his hot Army best friend, a crazy stalker, sexual chemistry hot enough to bake a chocolate cake, and nuns? The kinky spankings Cherry has always desired, a bit of Daddy talk Jacob loves, and a recipe ending with a Happily Ever After—and a Cherry on Top.

Saving Sarah by BJ Wane
When Sarah Thompson goes husband hunting at a local night club, she attracts the attention of a serial GHB rapist.  Police Chief Travis Nolan intends to be the man in Sarah’s bed and won’t let anything stand in his way, including Sarah’s stubborn tenacity. 

The Honey Trap by Lucy Wild
Nate - I went undercover to get the place shut down. Not to fall for her…

Kathryn - It was just a job. Until he arrived.

The Scarlet Stiletto by Maggie Carpenter
1940’s Murder Mystery.

A frantic but beautiful woman bursts into the office of a roguishly handsome detective and begs him for help, claiming she found her red stiletto at the scene of her husband’s murder. The sexy seductive siren with me kiss-me-now lips is hard to resist, but he quickly discovers there are gaping holes in her story.

The Russian by Renee Rose

 I don't care if I get whacked by the mob or fired from the FBI. I can’t stay away from her. And there’s no way I’m letting her get hurt. Hell, if any of them touch her, I’ll blow my cover in a second.

A Thief for the Duke by Megan Michaels
Rescuing a thieving beauty from the prospect of prison, the Duke of Norfolk has taken on the role of Headmaster for a School for Wayward Women under the guise of reforming the waif into a lady of society. Will it be she who is reformed, or will it be he who is changed in the process?

Tamara’s Choice by Trent Evans
Assigned to infiltrate the shadowy Dominion Trust, a vice cop on deep cover visits the lurid, penitential installation known as The Farm.

But to rescue one of the beautiful inmates from her sentence of sexual slavery, he must save something else first — himself.

Detective Hercules by A.C. Rose
Detective Hercules Andrews and drive time radio dating expert Lizzy Harper bond over their respective injuries. When she reveals details about the super hot cop on her show, a New York City controversy of epic proportion ensues and he's forced to go undercover – as her boyfriend.

Slave for a Day: an Idan and Svali novellaby Jane Henry
When Svali’s sister is taken hostage on a foreign planet, Svali and her fierce warrior husband are eager to undertake the rescue mission. Neither Svali nor Idan anticipated their job would mean masquerading as master and slave…. nor how very erotic the venture could be.

Testimony by Maggie Ryan
Vows—hers to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth—his to protect the witness with his very life. But when both are up against pure evil, what will the ultimate price of justice be?

Her Protector by Annabel Joseph
Rowan Park works in a secret, hyper-secure area of the government, defending the homeland from malicious hacking attacks. When a kidnapping attempt threatens her life, she’s forced to seek shelter—and comfort—in an unexpected protector’s arms.

Monster by Jennifer Bene
Cold, ruthless, vicious… I’m Paulo García’s monster, and I’d swallowed that bitter pill whole, learned to deal with it — until Nicky. I know I should try to help her, protect her, but then who will save her from me?

Her Undercover Doms by Anya Summers
Sherry can't believe her luck, she followed a Dom to the Bahamas only to have him fall for another submissive and to make matters worse, that same Dom has issued her an ultimatum, either submit to the handsome Doms Patrick and Nick to become a better sub or leave the island. Will the two undercover CIA Agents convince the gorgeous beauty that she is the submissive for them or will their undercover investigation tear them apart?

A Night by my Fire by Addison Cain
The risk River had taken saving a stranger bigger than a linebacker and as grateful as a psychopath put her in a bad position. Someone had left him to die... and good men didn’t get dumped in the cold.

Eye of the Storm by Desiree Holt
It’s been a year since Zane Colby rescued Dara McKennon from the waters of Estero Bay in the middle of a horrendous storm, a year in which they healed each other emotionally. Now settled in their new D/s situation, Zane is called on to go undercover when Dara’s friends begin disappearing from The Playroom, an upscale BDSM Club

The Officer's Little Girl by Meredith O’Reilly
Adam is assigned to go undercover at 'The Little Resort' and take down the owner who has been selling illegal drugs. He gets partnered to be Chloe's Daddy and ends up falling head over heels in love for his little girl.

Pandora and the Pool Guy by April Hill
Forced to enter the Witness Protection Program, Pandora finds a mutual attraction with the pool guy. But is he really just the handyman next door?

In Too Deep by Claire Conrad
One chance encounter is all it takes for hard-ass undercover agent Jace Montgomery to fall in love. When the woman who stole his heart is taken hostage, he'll destroy anything and everything in his way to save her.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 





AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Alyssa Bailey
International Best Selling author Alyssa Bailey is the author of eighteen books including the Chase Abbey historical series and the O’Connors rancher series. As a Texan living in Alaska she has plenty of material for her spanking and power exchange stories, all complete with happily ever afters that make you feel good.

Author: Alyssa Bailey
Twitter:@blushingalyssa

Amelia Smarts
Amelia Smarts is a #1 Amazon bestselling author of domestic discipline/spanking romances, usually involving a cowboy, always involving a firm hand and a scorched ass.

Author: Amelia Smarts
Twitter: @AmeliaSmarts

Maisy Archer
Maisy is a romance-loving book-nerd. She writes bestselling contemporary tales about hot, unapologetically-kinky, alpha heroes and the crazy stuff that happens when they fall in love.

Author: Maisy Archer
Twitter:@ArcherMaisy

Stevie MacFarlane
Best-Selling author Stevie MacFarlane has been writing in her spare time for more than twenty years.  While most of her stories are on the sweet side, she never fails to add just enough kink and humor to keep her loyal fans clamoring for more.

Author: Stevie MacFarlane
Twitter: @StevieMac1175


Maddie Taylor
USA Today Bestselling Author Maddie Taylor is a multi-genre author with over 30 published titles, with #1's in the U.S. and Internationally in Erotica, Western, Historical Romance, BDSM, Time Travel, and most recently SciFi.  She works with two well-known e-book and print publishers and has had success in self-publishing under her own brand, Breathless Romance.

Author:Maddie Taylor
Twitter @MaddieTWrites

Sophie Kisker
Sophie Kisker writes erotic romance that sometimes travels a dark and uncomfortable path, before arriving at a happily ever after. She lives in the American Midwest with her husband, son, and the cat, who is really the one in charge.

Author:Sophie Kisker
Twitter: @SophieKisker

Emily Tilton
USA Today bestselling author Emily Tilton, whose books have hit number one on Amazon in six different erotica categories, is a married professor who lives in New England and has two wonderful children. Her stories are what she wishes her real sex-life could be.

Author: Emily Tilton
Twitter: @ETiltonExp

Katherine Deane
USA Today bestselling author Katherine Deane is a multi-published, top 100 romantic and BDSM author and romantic at heart. She loves cheese, red wine, chocolate, and snuggling up with her daughters’ kittens while reading a good book.

Author: Katherine Deane


BJ Wane
I live in the Midwest with my hubby of ‘too many years to count’, enjoy spending time with my daughter, love dogs and working any kind of puzzle.  I’ve been writing erotic, spanking romances with a touch of suspense for to years.

Lucy Wild
Lucy Wild is a contemporary romance author who specialises in dark romances. She lives on the Yorkshire coast with her partner and their border collie in a house full of books, sweets, and more books.

Author: Lucy Wild
Twitter: @misslucywild

Maggie Carpenter
Award-winning and best-selling author Maggie Carpenter has published over fifty romance novels spanning a variety of genres. Her readers describe her work as steamy, funny, suspenseful, beyond a five-star read, and exciting unpredictable romance.

Author: Maggie Ryan

Renee Rose
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR RENEE ROSE is a naughty wordsmith who writes kinky BDSM novels. Named Eroticon USA's Next Top Erotic Author in 2013, she has also won The Romance Reviews Best Historical Romance, and Spanking Romance Reviews' Best Sci-fi, Paranormal, Historical, Erotic, Ageplay and favorite couple and author.

Author: A.C. Rose
Twitter:@acroseauthor

Megan Michaels
#1 Amazon Bestseller in Erotic Western & Erotic Historical, Megan Michaels writes BDSM Romance that is Contemporary, Western Historical, Sci-Fi, and Victorian. Her books delve into Domestic Discipline, Dominance/submission, and all of them have elements of BDSM.

Author:  Megan Michaels
Twitter: @MeganMichaels3


Trent Evans
A USA Today bestselling author, Trent Evans specializes in several flavors of BDSM erotic romance and erotica. A long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest, he tends to use his long hours cooped up inside spinning yarns about things he’ll never see or experience — such as sunshine.

Author: Trent Evans
Twitter: @TrentEvansTales

A.C. Rose
A.C. Rose is a sex and love journalist who also writes very steamy romance books. As a former editor of an iconic women’s magazine, sexy stories and beautiful men have long been her beat.

Jane Henry
Jane is a bestselling erotic romance author in multiple genres, including contemporary, historical, sci-fi, and fantasy. She pens stern but loving alpha heroes, feisty heroines, and emotion-driven happily ever afters.

Author: Jane Henry
Twitter: @janehenryauthor

Maggie Ryan
USA Today Best Selling Author Maggie Ryan brings you stories that you can disappear into, to experience what might have been or what may be to come. She invites you to curl up in your favorite chair and take a journey and wishes you happy reading.

Annabel Joseph
Annabel Joseph is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of emotionally intense BDSM and erotic romance. She writes mainly contemporary romance, although she’s been known to dabble in the medieval and Regency eras.

Jennifer Bene
Jennifer Bene is the international bestselling author of the Thalia series, and other dark and devious romance and erotica in a variety of genres.

Author: Jennifer Bene
Twitter: @jbeneauthor

Anya Summers
Anya Summers is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family.

Author: Anya Summers
Twitter: @AnyaBSummers

Desiree Holt
USA Today Bestselling and award winning author Desiree Holt has more than 200 books to her credits. USA Today labelled her the Nora Roberts of erotic romance.

Addison Cain
Pitch black suits Addison Cain’s tastes just right. Driven to push her characters beyond the pale, Addison’s books are not for the faint of heart.

Author: Addison Cain
Twitter: @addisonlcain

April Hill
April Hill is a best-selling author of women’s romance, known for her wry humor, sensitive character development and of course, the love.

Claire Conrad 

Claire Conrad is a full time writer and chocolate enthusiast who writes sexy alpha males, hot aliens, fantasy lovers and anything else her muse thinks might be fun (or a little naughty). She loves a good red wine, traveling just about anywhere, coffee and is absolutely addicted to a hot read with a happily-ever-after.

Piper Stone
Piper Stone writes in several genres including thrillers, erotic romance, dark erotic, Domestic Discipline, spanking, Domination and submission and traditional romance. She has a love of the non-traditional, preferring to create worlds that defy the imagination. Wine and sous vide cooking are only second to her love of golden retrievers and you might find all three nestled in the pages of a book or two.

Author: Piper Stone

Meredith O'Reilly
Twitter: @oreilly29






Thanks so much for reading today's post. Hope you enjoyed it!
Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner
Please feel free to share the post via FB, Twitter, Google+ and more...share buttons below. :)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Harper's Place - Romance & a Contest #Romance #Contest #GCGiveaway


Check out Harper's Place, a new romance by Sheryl Winters.

Sheryl's also offering a great contest.

Read on for details...

__________

Sheryl will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


Harper’s Place
by Sheryl Winters

GENRE: Romance



BLURB:

Harper Grey is fed up with over-bearing men. Her father wants to sell the family hamburger joint to her brother because a woman could never make it successful.

Harper knows she has the same flair for business as her mother, and sexy Navy SEAL Patrick O’Brien dares her to prove it to the world.

When duty calls and Patrick must leave her side, will Harper be strong enough to make her dream a reality?



Excerpt:

“How would you bring in new business, though?”

I’m amazed that he seems to find our conversation interesting. He’s an audience willing to listen and I’ve not had that in a long time. Damn this crush of mine. It won’t be easy to tame after tonight.

“New menu items, specials, things like that. Start serving dessert, like pies. Easy cook items. With the new burgers I’ve created and a new décor, I’d open in the summer when the air is fresh and everyone is happy to be out of the snow, hungry for grilled food. I think we could do fine.”

“What’s your hold up?”

“Tony, Dad. It’s complicated.” I shrug. His arm feels good, and I have the overwhelming urge to nuzzle against it. "Did you kiss Amy Parker when you were twelve? She still brags about it." Did I just ask him about kissing? What is wrong with me? Will this mouth of mine never shut up? Stop it, Stop it, stop it!

"That I did, in a closet over at Robert Anderson’s house."

"Ew."

"I was twelve and desperate. You can't blame me. I do blame that stupid soda bottle.  And your first kiss?" There is a challenge in his voice.

"Kevin Monroe at the Klines Movie Theater. He sent me a six-page note the next day about how much he loved me, and I freaked out and dumped him."

"Any regrets?"

I choke back a giggle. "Naw, ‘cept I remember I liked his cologne. It could have been aftershave, but it was nice." It’s not half as nice as the Aramis that Patrick has on. Something about it sends a shiver up my spine that has nothing to do with the zombie waiting in Dad’s office.

"The dark isn't so bad, now is it?"

"I guess not."

Silence surrounds us. The fear that enveloped me seems to disappear.

"Are you seeing anyone?"

"No." It sounds terrible now that I've said it out loud. Like I’m admitting to being a desperate and dateless leper.

"So," he drawls out, "ever thought of dating a military guy?" He squeezes my fingers.

Is he serious?

His fingertip smooths over the rough callouses I've gained from years of hard work. Suddenly my wasted evening of not going out to celebrate is starting to look better. "I think it would depend on which military guy."

"You're killing me. You know that, don’t you?" His strangled tone only sets off a case of the giggles.

"Are you asking me out, Patrick?"

"Trying to, but you're not making it easy.” The challenge is back in his voice.

"I wouldn't mind a date or two,” I manage to squeak out. Breathe, Harper, just breathe, calmly through your nose, out your mouth. Sainted Mother of God, Patrick asked me out! I hit the jackpot! Now all I have to do is not hit him.

 Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I never set out to be an author. Only a storyteller. Some days I succeed better than others.

Links:

Twitter:https://twitter.com/WintersSheryl





Thanks so much for reading today's post. Hope you enjoyed it!
Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner
Please feel free to share the post via FB, Twitter, Google+ and more...share buttons below. :)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Skin Deep - Wanna Be Bad Anthology #EroticRomance #TinaDonahueBooks

Skin Deep is my latest erotic romance - featured in the Wanna Be Bad Anthology

99¢



Featuring Skin Deep

The best is yet to come…

Turning forty and losing her job in the same week sends Tori into a tailspin. At her lowest point, she meets Jon. He proves there’s more to life than work, and she’s just getting started on the future she deserves.

Excerpt:

For the first time ever, Tori Samms feared she might faint. A definite no-no in Silicon Valley. Here, nothing mattered except youth, outrageous success, and balls—figuratively and literally. If you failed to have the right equipment and got old, you were eventually toast.

Blood rushed in her ears, the noise blocking whatever the Chief Information Security Officer said. Couldn’t be good. Seconds before, Mark coldly announced the company had eliminated Tori’s position.

Last week, she’d won an industry award. Today, Mark and Jennifer, the human resources director, regarded her as homicide detectives did a serial killer.

Jennifer slid papers across the conference room table to Tori.

Mark provided a pen.

A box holding Tori’s things rested on an ergonomic chair the Inquisition would have coveted for torture. After years with the company, she hadn’t accumulated enough personal stuff to fill a container. No family photos or anything to indicate her personality and preferences. Too dangerous. Only performance mattered.

Outside the room, twentysomethings whooped and bounced, urging on the challengers in a rousing ping-pong game. What corporate deemed brainstorming time.

Jennifer drummed her nails. Fresh out of college, she wore black polish to match her Goth look, which the founders encouraged. Gave the company a modern, with-it vibe investors loved. “You need to sign these papers, Val.”

“What? Wait.” Tori’s pulse ticked up another notch, pushing her toward a stroke. “What?”

“Again, Val, you need to—”

“It’s Vic. Not Val.” They didn’t even know her stupid nickname that Tori loathed. She’d called herself Vic, short for Victoria, to fit in with the overwhelming testosterone in this place, hoping a male moniker would protect her from a layoff, outsourcing, termination. It hadn’t. She spoke through her teeth. “It’s not even Vic. It’s Tori. Want me to spell it for you?”

“No need to get defensive.” Mark read something on his smartphone. At twenty-five, he was one of the “older” men on payroll. “This isn’t personal. It’s business. Companies have to evolve to stay ahead of the game. If you want your severance, you’ll have to sign the papers.”

“Not without my attorney reviewing them first.”

Jennifer screwed up her mouth. “How long will that take?”

Until Tori found a lawyer she could afford. In this hyper-inflated area, that might mean months. “As long as it does. I’m not signing anything without legal representation.”

Mark worked the keyboard on his phone. “No signature, no dough. Simple as that. Let us know what you decide.”

On cue, two security officers strode inside, both middle-aged, jaws clenched like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. Dressed in matching blue uniforms, they flanked Tori for her last walk to the lobby before this place spit her out.

Alone. Unwanted. Unappreciated.

Old.

In five days, she’d turn forty. An unforgiveable sin in tech.

****

Tori guzzled coffee at JR’s Java, a local coffeehouse, and checked her smartphone. Out of two thousand LinkedIn contacts, only ten had answered her buoyant emails. None could help her find new and interesting employment opportunities, nor had a single industry friend responded to her thinly veiled appeals.

Being unemployed was worse than having an STD.

Two full days had passed since UniAstro had axed her. She’d sent resumes to every major, midsized, and minor company in the vicinity and called numerous search firms. Her professional background, current certifications, and Stanford degree impressed, until the hiring managers and recruiters learned what year she’d graduated.

Google searches weren’t a miracle. They were a freaking curse. Even if she’d gone the Botox and facelift route, which she wouldn’t, nothing could erase a person’s history on the Net.

Edgy, she brought up attorneys. No matter her severance, she couldn’t sign the insulting separation papers without someone telling her she had no choice.

Loud laughter exploded from behind. Lucky them. They probably had jobs. Possibly her old one. Mark hadn’t fooled her. Eliminating a position was corporate-speak for wanting someone younger,

She scrolled through the area yellow pages.

A leather-and-tobacco fragrance wafted close, mingling with the café’s rich coffee and sweet pastry scents. Someone in black jeans lingered at her table.

Curious, Tori lifted her face.

His easy smile carved a dimple in his left cheek, shadowed with beard. “Doing okay?”

She wasn’t certain how to answer. Kindness shone in his gray eyes fringed with long, dark lashes. Ruggedly handsome, he belonged in an ad for luxury cars or executive services, not here holding a coffee pot. “Ah yeah, I’m fine. Thanks.” She lifted her empty cup for a refill.

Her hand trembled. Not entirely from too much caffeine. He radiated effortless charm, the kind a guy owns when he’s comfortable in his own skin. Whatever life circumstances had reduced him to work as a barista, he didn’t seem to mind. By her guestimate, he was in his early to mid-forties, his thick black hair combed back, faint silver streaks on the temples. An out-of-work actor or model? For some reason, he seemed familiar even though she’d never noticed him here before. Of course, she’d always been glued to her phone or tablet.

He glanced at her jittery fingers. “Sure you want more?”

“Please. Going to be a long night.”

“Boss keeping you busy, huh?”

His rumbling voice soothed more than she should have allowed. He’d folded the sleeves on his black shirt, revealing powerful forearms dusted with dark hair. “I wish.”

“Seriously?” Chuckling, he filled her cup. “You want more work than you already have? You must be some employee.”

“I wish.” Tears filled her eyes. Embarrassed, she blinked them away. She hadn’t cried since her mom died.

“Hey, are you all right?”




Thanks so much for reading today's post. Hope you enjoyed it!

Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner
Please feel free to share the post via FB, Twitter, Google+ and more...share buttons below. :)