Reviews

Cartel Queen by Chelsea Camaron

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Synopsis

Hardened.
Persistent.
I refuse to break at the hands of a man.
My situation makes me his.
He’ll never really have me.
I’ll never let him hurt me.
Until he claims more than my house, my body, and my life.
When Javier Almanza claims my heart, I’m no longer his cartel bitch.
No, I’m the queen.

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Review

Not quite what I expected ….

I loved the first book in the series, which introduced me to two fascinating individuals, their brutal reality, and the path that they navigated to not only survive but be better, and I have been so excited to discover where these characters will find themselves second and the last instalment in this duet..but unfortunately and unbelievably this book has left me conflicted…the author has written about intriguing characters who live in a world where there is little or no room for love…and as far as character development and emotional content goes, she delivered…my heart broke for the loss that Mari Belle and Javi suffered there loss felt raw and real. Further more the conclusion was everything I hoped for, however, there were some aspects that left me disappointed.

First of all this was quite a short story; I read it in one sitting. The page count suggested something longer but more than than a quarter of the book was taken up in extracts from other stories and series. I do like to read about other works by the same author, but I had been expecting more of Marie Belle and Javi’s story than I actually got..

In addition the story felt rushed…the potential drama and suspense was not given time sufficient to develop and I never felt the menace or peril that I associated with the first book…I wanted more darkness, more vengeance, and more sweet revenge…..it felt as if the author had simply run out of steam and it left me feeling cheated ….

Finally and this is a tricky because I do not want to give anything away but I think it is safe to say that Javi has a secret which he keeps until the end and once revealed I honestly felt it was inconsistent with his personality and his responses throughout the book towards both life, and in particular Mari Belle

So a mixed bag…I am glad I went on the journey and the second book had to be read for closure… I shall read more of this author’s books, and would encourage anyone reading this to do likewise, but I am sad this series is over and I am sadder still that the finale was not as grand as I had hoped….

~Sheena (3/5)

Reviews

Cartel Bitch by Chelsea Camaron

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Synopsis

There is a fine line between love and hate, we walk it together.

Unforgiving.
Relentless.
I’m to be feared.
When your family is as much a friend as an enemy, there is no one to trust.
I am Javier Almanza. Cartel kingpin.
No one can touch me.
No one can hurt me…

Except her.
Mari Belle Domniguez.

This is book one in the Almanza Crime Family Duet and a full length stand alone romance. This is a dark, edge of your seat romantic suspense featuring an antihero so there is a level of violence inside that may not be suitable for some readers. This is not meant to be an actual depiction of life inside a Cartel but rather a work of fiction meant to entertain.

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Review

Brutal soap opera…

The Cartel world portrayed here is sickening and violent and the majority of those within it have lost their humanity….Javier and Mari Belle are not born into the cartel but are drawn into it as products of the dysfunctional and brutal world that they grow up in…

This is a literary soap opera with friends and lovers who become enemies and where familial bonds are tested and broken; secrets and lies, death and destruction are all found within these pages…the story is told from the perspectives of Javier and Mari Belle and this makes the events all the more poignant as the reader is provided with a window into their innermost feelings and thoughts…Javier, like the majority of individuals in this book, is bad with a non existent moral compass but he is also loyal and protective and for those attributes, in my book world, he is worthy of some acceptance … the truth is that love does not choose or judge..

The plot covers an extended period of time as the central key players move from a childhood in the slums to a world of wealth fabricated on drugs and the exploitation of women..the time lapse did leave me frustrated as it journeyed swiftly through a number of years.. It is a measure of how much I enjoyed this story that I wished there had been more details of the missing years rather than brief recollections provided by the key main players…

Amongst the harsh reality there are some lighter/sweeter moments..I loved the relationship between Javier and Mari Belle before outside forces take their toll..the cliffhanger conclusion was shocking and left me desperate to read more and yet wary of embarking on the next chapter in the screwed up lives of these people…..

~Sheena (4/5)

Reviews

REVIEW: Scarred by Chelsea Camaron & Ryan Michele

This is book three in the Ruthless Rebels MC series and it focuses on Roelyn and Whitton who were childhood sweethearts but Whitton left her heartbroken now ten years later he goes by the name “Skinny” and what originally separated them brings them together again this time he’s determined not to leave her behind, when she’s placed in danger he steps up to claim what’s his.

I love, love, loved this I couldn’t put it down from the moment I opened it on my Kindle that was me captivated, not just reading it but living it I’ve never wanted to be part of an MC so much.

I connected well with Roelyn and Skinny they were great characters as were the secondary characters and it was a great storyline.

I love it when these two collaborate as I know I’m in for a treat, individually in their own right they are amazing authors put them together and you’ve got a dynamic duo who know how to write a story that packs a punch filled with a host of emotions, there’s pain, loss, love, heartbreak and a whole heap of drama.

~Cheryl (5/5)

Weekly Releases

Weekly Releases: 22nd May, 2017

Scarred by Chelsea Camaron & Ryan Michele

Scarred Cover-2Whitton ‘Skinny’ Thorne– scarred skin only covers a beautiful soul.

Bitter with a capital B.

Life has been hell from the beginning when Whitton was burned as an infant, yet as much as he pushes me away I’m always coming back for more.

When I finally let go, he wants to let me in, how do I survive when we’ve both been scarred?

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Falling Hard by Lexi Ryan

Falling Hard Ebook Cover-1An NFL player with a secret past, and the one woman with the power to turn his world inside out…

Former actress Emma Rothschild is partying in Vegas in disguise. But I’m not fooled. Five years ago, I knew that body better than my own, and I haven’t forgotten a single detail—not the curve of her hip beneath my hand or the hitch in her breath when I kiss her neck. 

When Emma’s unexpectedly left alone in Sin City, I agree to spend the weekend with her. As friends. Why not? If I can knock down the toughest guys in the NFL, I’m strong enough to keep my hands to myself, even if she is the sexiest woman I’ve ever met.

Emma is part of my past—years so shrouded in secrets that not even my best friends know the truth about who I am. I’m a single dad now and not interested in revisiting my old ways or trying to win back the only woman I ever let close enough to break my heart. 

But this is Vegas, where all bets are off, and with Emma, nothing ever goes as planned…

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All For You by Melody Grace

All for You Ebook CoverSummer Bloom lives for adventure—and buttercream bourbon frosting. As a high-end pastry chef, she spends her days (and nights, and weekends) whipping up sweet treats, but when an unexpected detour leads her to the dilapidated bakery on Blackberry Lane, she decides to take a chance on her dreams and leave it all behind for a new life in Sweetbriar Cove. She has everything she needs for baking bliss—she just isn’t expecting her new landlord to melt her heart, as well as her chocolate truffles…

Grayson Reid knows better than to fall for his impulsive new tenant. He keeps his life quiet and drama-free, but there’s something about Summer he just can’t resist. He’s learned the hard way that a woman can turn your whole world upside down, but her kisses—and those croissants—are too tempting to ignore. He’s determined to keep the lid on their romance, but soon, their chemistry is heating up the kitchen—and he doesn’t want to play it safe any more.

Can this headstrong pair mix the right ingredients for love? Or will their passion burn out before they can find their happily-ever-after? Find out in the new novel from New York Times bestselling author, Melody Grace!

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Cheater’s Regret by Rachel van Dyken

VanDyken-CheatersRegret-23431-CV-FT-v4ANew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken returns with a smoking-hot story about the satisfaction of plotting revenge on your ex—until he turns your world upside down again.

Austin Rogers’s dreams of domestic bliss involved watching Netflix and eating hot dogs with the love of her life. But then he cheated on her. And dumped her—as if the whole thing was her fault. To maintain her pride and restore her sanity, she decides to get revenge. It feels immensely satisfying to plot her ex’s downfall—but so does kissing him.

Thatch Holloway, a plastic surgeon straight out of residency, knows he ruined the best thing that ever happened to him. But not all cheaters are created equal. He got himself into this messed-up situation—true—but he has his reasons for what happened, and he’d do it all again to protect Austin.

He’s not over her. And she’s not over him.

Austin wants closure, but since Thatch refuses to give it to her, she takes matters into her own hands. She needs to write a human-interest piece for her MBA, so she demands the full plastic-surgery experience. Sparks fly as they’re forced to work together. But Thatch isn’t afraid to play dirty in return. And he’s still hiding something—something that has the power to destroy not only Austin but their second chance at finding forever…

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Set Us Free by M.R. Leahy

34725305For Emmalyn and Kodah being set free meant living in the real world away from the clutches of her step-father. It meant living a life they always dreamed about together.

But it’s never that easy, is it?

Life is cruel and untamed.

And not everything in their past can be forgotten. Nor is it as settled as they hoped.

With their new-found freedom comes challenges no one should ever face. Separated by memory but together at heart Emmy and Kodah must find their way back to each other so they can finally live their happily ever after.

So they can once and for all be set free.

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Nudes by Sarah Robinson

Ben Lawson is making a comeback…nudes pg version

After a few tabloid headlines, they think they know me. They don’t know a damn thing.  As CEO of a movie production company, I’ll show them who I really am when we hit it big at the box office. My ex thought her smear tactics would ruin me, but I’m unbreakable. Rising from the debris, I swore I’d never let a woman distract me like that again. But then, my leading actress walked on the set and changed everything.

Seductive, sexy, and unapologetic, Aria Rose could break me. I wanted to help her, protect her…love her. Instead, I destroyed her.

Aria Rose is baring it all….

I knew better.  I knew not to trust another Hollywood heartthrob with a reputation like his. He was my boss and became my ruin. I should have stayed far away from him. Ben Lawson promised me the world.  He even promised me his heart.

But he destroyed everything–my heart, my career, us.

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Sexy Motherpucker by Lili Valente

Sexy Motherpucker Ebook CoverWhen the family dog trots in with my diaphragm in its mouth—in front of my date, his parents, and his adorable little girl—you would think I’d hit rock bottom.

WRONG.

Let’s back this up a sec…

Brendan Daniels is the sexiest man alive. The captain of the Badger’s NHL team is also clever, kind, funny, and was my good friend…until we cruised out of the friend zone one weekend with a red-hot fling. Come Monday morning, I wanted to keep riding the Big O train to happy town, but Brendan wanted someone who was “stepmom” material.

A.K.A, not me, apparently.

The problem? I’m crazy in love with him and his daughter. So when he asks me to be his pretend girlfriend for a long weekend with his former in-laws, I say yes. We’re still friends, after all, and friends don’t let friends fake it alone.

***

Laura Collins is the last woman I should be thinking about taking in the back seat of my car, in the woods behind my in-laws’ house, or in a hotel room where we’re sharing one very small, very squeaky bed.

I need a steady, stable influence for my daughter, not a fling with this too wild, too young, too impulsive red head. So what if she’s beautiful and intense and passionate and has the biggest heart I’ve ever known?

I don’t want to fall in love. I really don’t. The whole “pretend girlfriend” thing was supposed to solve my problems, buy me a little more time.

But when it comes to Laura?

Hell, maybe I’m just not cut out for faking it.

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Goaltending by Jami Davenport

WANTED: Single dad needs nanny–In more ways than one.goaltending_cover

Martin “Brick” Bricker is living the good life. He’s playing the sport he loves, has all the women he can handle, and parties like a rock star. At twenty-six, he has no interest in slowing down or taking anything seriously–except hockey, of course.

Then a knock at his door changes everything.Suddenly he’s the single father to a five-year-old daughter he didn’t know he had, and he’s trading his playboy ways for Barbies.

Amelia Stacey struggles to make ends meet and juggles her day-care job with a full load of college classes. When she’s offered a temporary, two-week nanny position making more money than she imagines, she jumps at the chance. Before she knows it, she’s in over her head, not just with her five-year-old charge but with the girl’s hot single father.

Brick always goes after what he wants, and he wants Amelia. Only responsible Amelia doesn’t want anything to do with the party boy. Struggling with fatherhood and his unexplainable attraction to his nanny, Brick has to figure out where his daughter and Amelia fit into his life.If they fit at all.

But one thing’s for sure: Brick can’t block this shot straight to his heart.

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Dax by Jessie Cooke

FINAL-Dax-4Dax Marshall is six foot four of hard muscle and raw animal magnetism.

As president of the Southside Skulls Outlaw Biker Club, he’s had his share of women, but never one who meant more to him than his Harley or the brotherhood.

That was before she walked into the Spirits Bar and told him her name—Angel.

Angel Brady went searching for something she would only find by hiding who she really was.

But she found much more than she was looking for, and now her secret stands between her and what matters most.

Can Dax and Angel overcome the other dangers lurking in the shadows that threaten everything they live for?

Secrets that even Angel never knew.

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Disgraced by Natasha Knight

Disgrace: the condition of one fallen from grace.DisGraced-FINAL-EBOOK-May2017

She is my forbidden fruit. The one temptation I cannot resist.

The first night…

I rescued her from an attack in the seedy underground of New York City.

The second night…

She told me the first of many lies.

She thinks she can keep me out of her world, but she’s in over her head. Watching her, being near her, it gives breath to something dark inside me. Something primal and forbidden. Forbidden to me.

Because in six months, I’ll be an ordained priest.

And she complicates things.

She thinks she is my disgrace. Truth is, my fall had begun the moment I’d laid eyes on her.

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Ruckus by L.J. Shen

33643772Rosie

They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They’re right.
No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking.
He is my forbidden, shiny apple.
The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth.
He is also my sister’s ex-boyfriend.
One thing you should know before you judge me;
I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first.
Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance.
Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.

Dean

They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right.
She sets my mind on fire.
All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart.
In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius.
Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart.
This time, I dare it to try.
Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus.
Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight.
And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.

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Viable Threat by Julie Rowe

34626224Special Forces soldier and medic Walter River would give anything to snatch more than a few seconds of down time to see if he can rattle the no-nonsense and incredibly hot Dr. Lloyd he’s protecting, but dodging explosions, snipers, and student radicals who’ve unleashed a lethal bio-engineered microorganism have made that almost impossible. Maybe he’ll get a chance—if he can figure out how to keep them both alive.

CDC microbiologist Ava Lloyd races to find a cure for a bio-terrorism organism sweeping El Paso. The few stolen moments with her very hunky bodyguard River have been explosive, but no matter how alluring he is, she can’t afford to get distracted. The clock is ticking, people are dying by the hundreds, and once this crisis is solved, they’ll both be off on their next assignment, thousands of miles apart.

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Never Far by A.A. Dark

34952167I wasn’t a good person. Even amnesia couldn’t erase the fact that deep inside, there was a darkness I couldn’t deny. Flashes of strangers—of blood and torture—heightened a mystery impossible to unravel.

The man I called my best friend landed an axe in my head trying to save himself. He says I’m a murderer. He may be right.

Until memories return, I don’t care. There’s only one person familiar to me. His sister, Lucy. She’s the only thing that matters now. Where I once kept myself at a distance, this new world I’ve awoken to revolves solely around her.

Lucy is mine.
She’s always been mine.
No one is standing in the way of that.

It is believed, the loss of one’s memory can be a fresh start. What they don’t tell you is not all beginnings are derived from good things.

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Excerpts

CHAPTER REVEAL: Scarred by Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele

 

Scarred

(Ruthless Rebels MC Book 3)

Co-written by:

Chelsea Camaron

And

Ryan Michele

Copyright © Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele 2017

 

All Rights Reserved. This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction in whole or in part, without express written permission from Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele.

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

1st edition published: May 2017

Cover Design by: M.L. Pahl of IndieVention Designs

Editing by: Asli Fratarcangeli

Proofreading: Silla Webb

 

This work of fiction is intended for mature audiences only. All sexually active characters portrayed in this book are eighteen years of age or older. Please do not buy if strong sexual situations, violence, domestic abuse, and explicit language offends you.

 

This is not meant to be an exact depiction of life in a motorcycle club, but rather a work of fiction meant to entertain.

 

Scarred

 

Whitton ‘Skinny’ Thorne – scarred skin only covers a beautiful soul.

 

Bitter with a capital B.

 

Life has been hell from the beginning when Whitton was burned as an infant, yet as much as he pushes me away I’m always coming back for more.

 

When I finally let go, he wants to let me in, how do I survive when we’ve both been scarred?

 

Chelsea Camaron and Ryan Michele have teamed up to bring you an explosive new MC romance that will have you panting for more of the Ruthless Rebels. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride full of action and suspense that these two authors are known for. Throw in two people who finally get their second chance, and things are about to get smoking hot.

 

Chapter One

 

Roe

 

Fairytales, nursery rhymes, and childhood memories, none of them are really all that great!

 

Holding my hand in the air with three fingers up, I sing the song about Sally the camel and her humps. Simple.

 

I don’t have or need complications in my life. Sally has humps that come and go, she has issues, me – I’m good.

 

The twenty-two smiling children sing along with me with utter enthusiasm. They love this song. Most days we sing it once sometimes twice before we do the weather and calendar first thing in the morning. Our routine, the structure the kids need to thrive, and I need to feel like things are in order.

 

I look up when the door to my classroom opens.

 

It’s preschool. The director of the school comes in and out throughout the day so at first I don’t think much of it. When my assistant teacher Ms. Jennifer stands up to take over, it’s then I make my way to the door. As the lead teacher if the director comes in it’s Jennifer who takes over for me and I meet with the director. Any changes necessary from the director, I will make them. Jennifer and I have worked together for three years now so our system is solid.

 

Beside the director, Ms. Marie, is the cutest little girl. Obviously, this visit is to bring us a new student. Her blue eyes are a bit too big for her face making those rounded little cheeks stand out too. There isn’t fear in her blue depths, but there is a lot going on in that brain of hers. Finishing the song to the delight of the children on the ABC carpet, I let Jennifer continue with the next song. I focus my attention and greet our newest student, warm smile in place.

 

I bend down to her level looking her in the eyes. “Hello, I’m Ms. Roe and what’s your name?”

 

“Marlayna,” the little girl in pigtails says softly.

 

My heart breaks when I see the scar on her neck that her hair isn’t covering. I know those marks too well. I fight back the emotion that sits just under the surface.

 

Burns.

 

This little girl has suffered a tragedy and I hate that for her.

 

“Would you like to join us in circle time?” I offer as I fight back the past. He is not the only person to be burned in their lives and survive. So many things twist inside me and I have to push it down. The emotions that keep beating down the well-structured walls I’ve built around them over the years always try to spill over, but I won’t allow it. I’ve had no other choice but to keep a handle on it all.

 

My job is about teaching and nurturing Marlayna, today is not about him or his scars.

 

She nods her head and the day commences with story time, rhyme time, nap time, and all the normal activities of my day. Marlayna adjusted very well in the class for it being her first day. She went with the flow no trepidation and without much of a reaction to anything.

 

It pains me. I don’t like when the kids cry, but when they come in almost numb like little Marlayna it hurts more to wonder what has hardened them to life already. Children should be free to be kids not caught up in some adult situation or punished unnecessarily.

 

The afternoon passes with little Marlayna quickly falling into the routine and making friends. After each of the children are gone and I get my room cleaned up, I head out.

 

Arriving home, I sit on the sun room of my two-bedroom house and enjoy the Georgia afternoon. When I moved out, this was my one requirement, sun room. I love the outdoors and not feeling closed up.

 

Blakely, Georgia, population five thousand. Small town lifestyle near the Alabama – Georgia state lines.

 

April is my favorite month of the year. The weather is sunshine, the birds sing, and the humidity isn’t unbearable so boob sweat is a non-issue for the time being. No woman ever wants boob sweat. August, in the deep south is hotter than hell so I’ll enjoy my outside time while I can.

 

In fact, tomorrow I think I’ll take my class to have a picnic and maybe do sidewalk chalk and hopscotch on the playground. They love the outside and it helps to get as much of their energy out as possible.

 

My mind goes to little Marlayna. She is in the system. Foster care, with the Brown family, who are regulars in the community when it comes to taking in children. They will be good to her.

 

I once knew a boy who lived with the Brown’s. My mind, my heart, they always go back to him. I wish it wouldn’t but we have too much shared between us. His scars were similar to hers only they covered his face and half his body.

 

Whitton Thorne, the boy down the road with a tortured past. His mom had things so twisted in her head when it came to her twin boys. She believed Whitton was evil and Waylon was the son of Jesus or something crazy. I wasn’t privy to all the details. I just know every time the state let the boys go back to her, Whitton was returned to his social worker more damaged than before. I know once they tried to send Waylon back and leave Whitton with the Brown’s only for Waylon to run away to be with his twin. The two of them were close. In their situation, I would imagine one would have to be. They were also complete opposites.

 

God, I loved Whitton.

 

From the beginning when he was the boy I bumped into in grade school to the man who grew into there isn’t a moment in time since I met Whitton Thorne that he didn’t have my attention. He intrigued me. His strength captivated me. And the more time I had with Whitton Thorne in my life the harder I fell in love with him.

 

Even now, years have passed and I can’t help but hope he’s okay. Hope that somewhere he found his slice of happy.

 

Night comes and I slide into my t-shirt blend sheets. I don’t make much with my job, but this is my splurge, soft bed sheets. After all, one can’t be at their best with twenty children without a good nights sleep. I close my eyes and the fatigue of the day quickly consumes me.

 

“Whitton Thorne, one day you’re gonna be the President.” I smile proudly at my friend.

 

“The President of the rejects club, maybe,” he replies in his normal tone.

 

I sigh. The boy is nothing short of amazing. He’s smart, athletic, and cute. He just doesn’t see it. Him and his twin brother look nothing alike. All the girls crush on Waylon. He has this mystery to him. Whitton, though, Whitton is the kind of boy you can talk to, really talk to. There is depth to him. The intrigue of him keeps me on edge to know more, see more, and have more time with him. From the time we met in elementary school at eight years old until now he has captured my attention. We’re young, he’s seventeen and I’m sixteen, but I can’t get enough of him.

 

“What do you see in me, Roelyn Duprey?”

 

I feel the blush cover my cheeks. “All good, I see all the good in you Whitton.”

 

He smirks. “You got the wrong Thorne, Roe. Maybe you think I’m Waylon.”

 

I prop my hand on my hip. “I know what I see in you Whitton and I see potential!”

 

“You have all the potential, Roe. The future is in front of you and there’s not a single thing to hole you back.” He tells me like he does all the time. “You need to have bigger and better than what Blakely, Georgia and a misfit like me can offer.”

 

“Oh, Whitton, you will have bigger and better in your life. I know it.”

 

He laughs me off like he does every single time I tell him I think he’ll be someone someday. Only thing is, I know down to my soul he has so much more to give in this world. My heart bleeds that he doesn’t see it.

 

My alarms blares drawing me out of the dream. The memory of a lost time when things weren’t complicated and the boy I knew and believed in may not have believed in himself, but back then he believed in me. Something I desperately needed.

 

Whitton Joseph Thorne, my best friend since we ran into each other playing at recess when we were only eight years old. Twenty years later, I still consider him the best friend I’ve ever had … only everything between us has changed.

 

No longer is he the boy I thought could give the world goodness. He’s a grown man who left everything in Georgia behind ten years ago when we crossed a line.

 

Would I cross the line again? If I knew the outcome would be this, I’m not so sure. At the time, it felt right. Hell, I thought it was going to change everything into something we could build a future on.

 

Except, Waylon took off and Whitton was right behind him. Where one brother went, the other was sure to follow. They had a rough start in life. Bonded as twins, bonded as brothers, and bonded by the times life kicked them while they were down those two would always stick together.

 

Part of me blames Waylon. The other part of me, knows the truth. Whitton ran. Yes, he woke up after the best night of our lives and couldn’t handle the emotion. He found out Waylon took off and he followed. It was an escape and an all too easy excuse.

 

I’m not sure he realized that no matter the distance he put between us, he still had me with him. I haven’t figured out a way to get that piece of me back from Whitton yet. Even after all these years, I belong to him in a way that keeps me from moving on.

 

Looking at little Marlayna yesterday and waking up today, it’s time I let go of Whitton. Everything I thought we could one day be is a far fetched dream. Marlayna has her life ahead of her. No matter the past, she has a future.

 

The same can be said for Whitton Thorne and it’s a future that he decided would be without me.

 

**

 

Sitting down to a late dinner, I pull out my phone and scroll social media. I don’t know why because it only tells me things I don’t care to know. Even with a bowl of vegetable soup in front of me, my stomach growls at seeing the yummy chocolate desserts. I have a sweet tooth. My ass and hips thank me for it.

 

Sipping my soup, it warms me. My thumb moves on my phone screen, skipping past people I went to high school with that I never talk to. Why I’m even friends with them, I’ll never know. Maybe it’s time to declutter my life. Most of the time people friend you just to see what you’re doing and then delete you. Personally, I like it when people take out their own trash.

 

My private message pops up and internally I groan seeing it’s from Lance. Hi. See you’re on. Want to talk to you. He types. I need to figure out how to block people from seeing when I’m on and when I’m not. Or maybe I just need to block him. I’m thinking the latter.

 

Going out with Lance was up there with many mistakes I made in my life. Two dates, then I called it off. Only he didn’t seem to get the point. Even telling him flat out I wasn’t interested, he still messages me, texts me and calls me. Not wanting to appear rude, I’ve answered all of them. But this, I just don’t want to engage with him. I’m tired of it. I repeat myself all day everyday with my students. My personal life, I don’t want that.

 

I move the little bubble that shows a picture of a golf club, Lance, and toss it down below to get rid of it off my screen.

 

The phone begins to ring and I jump. First thought is, Lance is calling me. Then when I look at the screen, I see Elizabeth Calling. A smile crosses my face as I except the call.

 

“Hey woman!” I greet my best friend. We met in college, which seems like a lifetime ago, but really wasn’t.

 

“Hey back at ya! What are you doing? I want to meet for drinks.”

 

I look to the clock noting it’s only five-thirty, but I do have to work tomorrow. Drinking and then rowdy children in the morning is not a good combination.

 

“Is something up?” I take the last bite of my soup and push it to the side.

 

“Yes, but I don’t want to tell you over the phone. Meet me in twenty at Carlyle’s?”

 

Looking down at my clothes, the puppy dog pajama bottoms won’t cut it going out. “Give me thirty. I need to change.”

 

“Epp.” She makes the sound then, “Okay, see you then.” And disconnects. Whatever she has in store must be exciting.

 

At least one of us has something good going on.

 

Chapter Two

 

Skinny

 

Flames extinguish, scars fade, but the burn can’t be felt forever!

 

I strike the match and watch it burn.

 

The blends of reds and yellows into oranges is mesmerizing. The flickers of colors all move as if they’re dancing together. The heat gets closer and closer to my fingertips as the flame grows intently.

 

I feel no pain. I feel nothing.

 

Void. Empty.

 

My life is not one of colors and blends.

 

Poof. I blow the match out. The flame is extinguished. All that’s left is black smoke. It’s like my soul. Dark, unforgiving.

 

I sit in the dim lit room I call home. Ruthless Rebels MC – my family and the clubhouse where I calm myself at the end of every day.

 

The ten feet by ten feet space has my bed, one nightstand, and a dresser. The closet is small but I keep a three tiered bookshelf in there, full of different books and photo albums. It’s not much, but it’s mine. Beside that door is the door to the bathroom.

 

Feeling the acid burn in my gut, I get up and make my way in front of the porcelain. Dropping to my knees I wretch.

 

I don’t remember the last time I woke up and didn’t throw up within an hour. It happens, every damn day. I finish, stand, wash up, and brush my teeth. There’s no use in looking in the mirror, I already know the mess I’ll see.

 

I hate fucking mirrors. Only one time in my life did I ever look in a mirror and not see the hideous beast I am … and that will never happen again. Roelyn Duprey, she made the man in the mirror not a monster but a lover. She is everything beautiful I should never touch. It’s a memory I’ll hold onto.

 

She believed in me, believed in having something not understanding the monster I am. From the beginning the devil gripped my heart and never let go. The bitch known as my mother told me I was spawned in evil. She scarred me, marked me, and made sure the world could see me for what I am. A horrible, vile, demonized man.

 

Roelyn Duprey had rose colored glasses on. I let her keep them on because I needed her lifeline. The spark between us, I fed. Continuing to fuel, provide the heat, like a flame, I watched us grow, flicker, and rather than watch us fade, I snuffed it out quickly leaving nothing behind but black smoke.

 

My brother needed me and Roe needed me to go away even if she didn’t know it. I took off, never looked back, and haven’t looked in a mirror since the night I watched me fuck her in one.

 

Spitting in the sink, I rinse my mouth and walk away never checking my reflection. I know what I’d see. The flames of hell flicker in my eyes and burn in my soul, no need to remind myself.

 

Throwing on a clean pair of jeans, I don’t bother with boxers, briefs, or anything to cover my junk. The raw denim rub will remind I’m alive. Somehow, in the hell that is my life, I keep surviving and I’m not sure why. Sliding on my shirt, I grab my cut as I drop my feet into my boots before I head out, not bothering to tie the laces till I get to my bike.

 

Today I have packing duty. I don’t mind. I’ll head to the warehouse, pack the guns to ready for shipment, and then meet up with Waylon.

 

My twin, Triple Threat, as he’s known in the club is everything I’m not. He’s good looking, level-headed, and not held back by a damn thing.

 

Me, I’m a scarred mess, hot-head, and haunted by the one thing I gave up so long ago.

 

Yeah, tonight calls for the strip club. I’ll pay to have a stranger grind on me till I get hard, then head back to the clubhouse and fuck a trick until I can’t remember my name, my past, and the woman I left behind.

 

**

 

“It’s a boy!” Shamus rushes into the clubhouse announcing. “DJ has a healthy, happy, eight pound, nine ounce, twenty-two inch baby boy. Kenderly is doing good.”

 

There are smiles and happiness that fill the space. Shamus comes over to me, slapping me on the back. “You wanna go with us to set up the house, brother.”

 

I nod. There isn’t a single thing with any of my brothers I would miss because they are all I have. And for once in my life, I belong.  

 

After DJ’s whore mother dropped her problems on Kenderly’s doorstep, DJ claimed his woman and in turn the Rebels handled their shit. Kenderly and her mother had an uphill battle to climb with everything they had already lost, but DJ’s mother cost them their home.

 

It took some time, but DJ won over Kenderly’s heart. They have a good life, building themselves a solid future. And now their new addition. Everything is looking good for my Rebels’ brother.

 

Not too long ago, DJ bought them a big ass house and furnished it to Kenderly’s liking. Now, it’s time for the Rebels to ride in and make sure our newest member is set.

 

“Your woman handle buying the goods?” I ask Shamus knowing he and Andrea have decided not to have kids because of the health risks for her.

 

“Shit, brother. She loves shopping for all this baby crap. Kitten has a soft spot for being the auntie apparently. She even bought Kenderly a video baby monitor instead of the basic one they had on the registry.”

 

I laugh. “Nothing wrong with that.”

 

“I didn’t think so but apparently DJ and Kenderly had talked. DJ didn’t want to be fuckin’ his woman and look to the nightstand and see their baby awake.”

 

“I never thought a damn thing would give DJ stage fright.” We both laugh before heading out to go set up a nursery Rebels style.

 

“Guess a baby changes things. I’m good with how my life is so no change needed here.” Shamus adds with a smirk. Things are good in the club, they are good for DJ and Shamus. It’s even better to feel like I’m a real part of something.

 

Andrea is already inside when Shamus, Lurch, Triple Threat, and I pull up. She rushes outside and over to the car parked in front of the house.

 

“Mom brought me over, got lots to unload.” She says more to Shamus than anyone with a smile that is relaxed and easy going.

 

Given the path Andrea went through to finally be okay again and with Shamus, I smile with her. Like me, her life is full of scars.

 

Only in all the turmoil, Andrea has found a way to not allow her scars to define her.

 

She lived a different life. Following her dreams into investigative reporting landed her half dead in a hospital oceans away from her home. She survived her traumatic brain injury like I survived my burns. With no place to go to pick up the pieces she came home. It took a bit, but Shamus and Andrea worked their shit out. Their past isn’t holding them back from a future.

 

Waylon and I won’t have this. Our past defines our future and it’s not one that looks so bright.

 

For a moment, I had hope that somehow I could have a second chance to have something real in my life outside of the club. With DJ and Shamus both getting their second chances, I thought maybe there would be a sliver of time where Waylon and I could have more than what we have managed to secure. Then I dreamt I caught a look in the mirror and quickly remembered what my life has been destined to be from the moment I was born.

 

I am my brother’s keeper. My place on Earth is to protect him even from himself. I don’t have the time or emotion for anything else.

 

Our mother is a psycho bitch who thinks my brother is the second coming of her God or some shit. Apparently during an ultrasound, it appeared that I, baby b, was kicking or hitting, baby a – being Waylon. From that moment on I was destined to the damned.

 

She even tried to have me aborted but the doctors said she was too far along and it was risk to my brother. Then we were born.

 

She tried to leave me at the hospital. The nurses told her it wasn’t good for infant twins to be separated this early. According to the medical records we later dug up, they felt she was suffering from post partum depression and would eventually want me. Having two babies at once via c-section meant she couldn’t hold us right away so she didn’t bond properly the doctor noted.

 

Bond.

 

What a joke. The woman tried to kill me more than once.

 

I’ve never had a mother’s love. Neither has my brother.

 

She may have wanted me marked, condemned, banished, and branded, but she wanted my brother to be some savior to the world.

 

We just wanted to be boys. We grew into men who just wanted to live life. To this day I still can’t understand her mindset. I gave up a long time ago trying. Waylon – that’s another story.

 

I’ll go to the ends of the Earth for my brother. I’ll protect him from her or God himself if I have to.

 

“Snap out of it, these diapers won’t unload themselves!” Waylon says throwing a box of the shit holders at me.

 

“How many boxes do they think Kenderly needs?” I ask looking at the van full.

 

“Daisy, XXX (Lurch’s woman forgot her name), Andrea, her mom, Kenderly’s mom and aunt, and every other woman around swear they will go through these and more.” Shamus says walking inside with a bag of clothes.

 

“Wonder what it was like for mom to have twins?” Waylon says out loud and my chest stings in the pain I know he feels.

 

Yeah, we have no future like what DJ or Shamus have found. I need to stop disillusioning myself into ever thinking I could. Walk the line, it’s what I have to do.

 

If I fuck up, I’m not the only one who suffers, Waylon will too. I won’t do that to him or me. Yes, I’m better off alone.