Summer Fire: Love When It’s Hot
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: dba 7th House Publishing, Imprint of Andromeda LLC
Date of Publication: May 26, 2015
Number of pages: 1,610
Word Count: 483,000
Cover Artist: Victoria Danann
20 ALL NEW summer romances by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors.
Love when it’s hot? So do we. Especially when we’re writing about gritty alphas, angsty bad boys, sizzling attraction, and unrequited passion. Military, cowboy, biker, humor, second chance love, and more.
SO LOOSEN YOUR BUTTONS, TURN THE FAN TO OSCILLATE, AND JOIN US FOR THIS STEAMY, GROUNDBREAKING BUNDLE OF SUMMER TALES THAT ARE HOT HOT HOT.
1. Gennita Low Sizzle Spies, Lola and Jake, fall hard for each other. Is their love strong enough for one assignment that would risk everything?
2. R.J. Lewis Sinful Two different people from two different worlds find their lives colliding in the most sinful way.
3. L. Wilder Summer Storm VP Guardrail’s life has always been his MC club. It’s up to him to fix a wrong, but he wasn’t expecting Allie to take him by storm.
4. Victoria Danann A Season in Gemini The first time sexy biker, Brant Fornight, saw Garland St. Germaine, he knew she was going to turn him inside out. And she did.
5. Kym Grosso Solstice Burn Love and temptation flare in a tropical paradise. When Chase rescues Penny, she learns to embrace her inner fantasies.
6. Cat Miller Sun Burnt Kesslyn inherits a ranch, but the city girl is unsure she’s up for the challenge. Can her sexy foreman rope her into staying forever?
7. Mimi Barbour Big Girls Don’t Cry He’s everything she’s ever wanted in a man. And she’s nothing like the girl she wants to be. Something’s gotta change…
8. Clarissa Wild Killer Secrets could kill you. He murdered her husband. She’s the prime suspect seeking justice. Only one of them can win.
9. Teresa Gabelman Rodeo Romance Jake McCabe had one rule. Never date a client. Trisha Summers had a new rule. Never date a man again. Rules were meant to be broken.
10. Helen Scott Taylor Irish Kisses Ten years ago he said he loved her, then he left and broke her heart. Now he’s back, and he wants her again, but can she trust him?
11. Victoria James Sweet Surrender Cade showing up on her doorstep is not what Julia wants-but this bad-boy is back and ready to convince her that this time is forever…
12. Mona Risk Husband for a Week A Sicilian vendetta, a fake husband, and a matchmaking grandmother complicate Jonathan and Isabella’s lives. Can love conquer all?
13. Patrice Wilton A Man for Hire Jordon’s ex-boyfriend is bringing home a bride. To save face she hires a hot guy for the weekend. Sparks fly–can this be love?
14. Linda Barlow My Mile-High Mistake Six years ago, she yearned for her sexy, forbidden high school teacher. Now she can’t resist his temptation at 35,000 feet.
15. Joan Reeves Heat Lightning Her husband found her, claimed her, rescued her. His touch makes her throb. Her body knows him, but she remembers nothing about him.
16. Danielle Jamie Tan Lines and Salty Kisses Becca and Parker have a second chance at summer romance. The spark is hotter than a Georgia July. Can it withstand news of his secret?
17. Terri Marie Someone Exactly Like You Cameron Barron’s plan was solid. A few lies, a disguise, and an apology to Chastity Newberry… What could possibly go wrong?
18. Lorhainne Eckhart His Promise A love they thought would last forever. A promise forgotten. Until one summer night.
19. Brandy L Rivers Summer Rhythm Doug never could resist Chloe. She always runs. Will this time be different or is their summer rhythm destined to repeat.
20. Nicole Blanchard Anchor I thought it was a weekend from hell, until he showed me a little piece of heaven.
Prequel to Stalker
By Clarissa WildUNEDITED EXCERPT - Subject to change
COPYRIGHT © CLARISSA WILD. All Rights reserved.
Never in my life did I think I would be the prime suspect in my husband’s murder. But looking back at the choices I made, it’s not so strange that people think I’m a killer.
I’m not as innocent as I portray myself. Looks can be deceiving.
However, I won’t go down for this. Not when I don’t deserve it.
I should’ve known it would end up this way. That man … Phoenix Sullivan … The moment I saw that deadly gaze in his eyes, the dark way he looked at me, I knew I was in trouble.
And something tells me there’s more where that came from.
This game of catch won’t be ending any time soon.
Look at her, in her fancy white dress, with her fake blonde curls, and that sweet, deliciously fake smile. Don’t you just want to fuck that pretentious smile off her face? I do. And I will.
She has no idea what’s coming for her. Or her husband.
You see, I’m not a nice person. When I have my eyes set on something, I do it. In this case, it’s killing the man she’s married to. She probably won’t like it, but that’s not my problem. She’s not my target … and she’d better not turn herself into one.
I’m here with a purpose, and nothing stands between me and my goal. Not even a pretty girl with an ass worth fucking. Nobody stands in my way, and if they do, they die.
Too bad for her I’m like a fucking canon, and when I shoot, shrapnel flies everywhere. If she gets caught in the fire, that’s on her.
When I want something, I’m going to get it, no matter the price. Whether it’s killing someone, or fucking her.
She wants justice, I’ll give her justice … my justice.
I bet she isn’t willing to pay the price.
Too bad for her I always win.
Tonight’s the perfect night to kill.
I can feel it in my veins; that undeniable urge flowing through me on nights like these. Exciting like drugs; the murderous kind.
Clouds prevent the moonlight from bursting through and cover the land in perpetual darkness. There are plenty of lanterns lighting the road ahead, but not the alley I’m headed for. In front of me is a small puddle of water, so I walk past the side to avoid my new leather shoes from getting wet. You see, I just bought these, and I prefer to keep them clean for as long as possible. They will probably lose their shine after tonight’s killings.
Oh well, it’s not like I’ll need these shoes for anything other than entering the party ahead and pretending like I belong. Gotta be fancy enough for the big crowd, because of course, someone in jeans couldn’t be nearly important enough as someone in a suit.
Bunch of fake fuckers. If I could, I’d burn the whole fucking place to the ground with them in it, but I’d rather not end up in jail if I can avoid it. Killing has to be done as inconspicuous as possible, so nobody will know it was me until I’ve already disappeared from sight.
It’s my thing, it’s what I do, or rather what I’ve become. After all these years, I don’t even remember what it was like to not be a murderer. Not that I want to remember; hell, I prefer this life over any other, especially the lives of those people in that party who are about to witness death.
I’ve got to admit, it is a rush. I just love killing, especially when it’s for the right reasons. Those reasons are obviously always to benefit me. Why the fuck else would I murder people if not for my own pleasure? Well, and for the money that sustains me, of course.
What can I say? I’m the scum of the earth, the disgusting vile that creeps in the corners to jump you at night … and I don’t regret being like this for even a second.
I turn into the alley and come face to face with a bulking, barely-fitting-in-his-suit, bodyguard. I cock my head as he frowns at me, probably wondering what I’m doing here.
“Excuse me, you can’t come here,” he says as I walk closer.
I smile. “Why not? This is where the party is.”
He folds his arms, making himself seem larger, but all it does to me is make it more laughable. “This is the rear entrance. If you want access, you have to take the front door. If you have a ticket, that is …”
He doesn’t believe me? Even in my fucking fancy suit? Well, fuck him. I wanted to spare his life, but questioning my slickness isn’t something one can get away with on my watch.
“Oh, I have a ticket, all right,” I say, narrowing my eyes. “How dare you talk to a guest like that.”
“I’m sorry, Sir,” he says, “But I’m not allowed to let anyone pass through this door. You will have to go to the front entrance where they can check your ticket. Sorry.”
Of course they all think I’m not a guest, because let’s face it … I look like a guy you wouldn’t want your daughter to talk to, even if it was in broad daylight in your own fucking home. With my piercings, black hair, and merciless attitude, I usually scare people to death. I have the kind of face you’d see in your nightmares … except, when you see me in real life, you’re really dead.
Like this guy.
“Yeah, yeah … so let me get this straight …” I shuffle around, looking at the floor, distracting him. “You’re basically telling me I can’t walk here, even though this is a public alley, just because this isn’t the ‘correct’ entrance to the party I’m supposed to be attending?”
“I’m only doing my job.”
I look up at him. “So am I.”
In a fraction of a second I’ve grabbed his coat and flip it over his head. I twist around, to his back, and wrap it around his neck. His screams are quickly muffled by the fabric stuffed in his mouth, choking him as I drag him back into the corners of the alley. He claws at the coat, desperate to free himself before time runs out. Stumbling backwards, we fall to the ground, and I wrap my legs around his chest to prevent him from moving. His body fights for survival, his legs thrashing, his hands punching in the air. It’s no use. I will win this fight, as I always do. He’s losing his energy fast, and his muscles are losing their strength. It won’t be long now. With his fingers growing whiter every second, all the blood is rushing to his face, in a last attempt to breath. But it’s already too late; there is no oxygen left and his lungs are shutting down.
His legs stop moving and his hands drop to the floor, the last groan slipping off his tongue like a ghost leaving his body.
Death has made his entry.
I unwrap the coat from his face and crawl out from underneath him. Then I drag his body to the dumpster in the back and put him on the side facing the brick wall. I take his coat off his dead body and swing it around until it’s long and thin, like a rope. Then I tie it around a handle of the dumpster and tightly wrap the other end around his neck. I make sure his body is positioned right and the tension on the coat is just right, so that when the paramedics or police find him they’ll think exactly what I want them to think; that this was a mindless suicide with no further need to investigate.
Hopefully, they won’t find him before morning, when I’m long gone.
Before I leave I fish in his pockets and take out a rather convenient card that will grant me access to the backdoor of the building. Smiling at him, I say, “Sorry, dude. Business is business. No hard feelings.”
One look, a simple glance, can change everything.
A nod, narrowing eyes, or a twitch of the lips is all it takes to convey a message that destroys everything.
I should’ve trusted my instincts, should’ve listened to the warning signs. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, the dread rippling through my veins, telling me this wasn’t right.
Instead, I give my husband the glass, my smile, and a soft pet on the shoulder.
“Here you go, darling,” I say, giving him a peck on the cheeks.
When I turn to look back at the man I exchanged looks with, he’s gone.
My husband laughs and takes the glass from my hand, pulling me from my thoughts. “Vanessa, let me introduce you to Cordelia.”
The woman next to him holds out her hand, her smile full of fakery as she says, “Cordelia, I’m a fan of your husband’s work.”
“Vanessa, lovely to meet you. My husband seems to have many fans at this party.” I laugh and smile like the good wife, pretending not to have noticed the wink she gave him. Her tightly squeezed dress reminds me of my husband’s hand, which was on her ass just seconds ago. I wonder if the squeeze was good enough, or if he’ll find more asses to pat later.
In one go, I chug back my drink.
Everybody looks at me like I’ve gone insane, but I ignore them. I place my glass down on a tray held by a waiter passing by and return with a smile. “So, Cordelia, I’ve heard a lot about you. You’re one of the actresses in my husband’s movies if I’m not mistaken.”
“Yes, our latest movie will be airing in January this year, so I’m quite excited about that.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful. Did you work closely with her?” I ask my husband. “Since you two seem to know each other so well.”
“Ah, yes, well …” My husband chokes on his wine.
“Phillip showed me all around the set. He’s quite a charm,” she says, giggling. “He knows so much about this business, I swear, I feel like a rookie again when I’m around him.”
“Hmm … I can imagine,” I say, smiling again. First name basis already. That went quickly.
Phillip coughs a couple more times, his wine glass shaking so much that it spills and droplets fall to the ground.
“Oh dear, are you all right, Phillip?” Cordelia asks, placing her hand on her chest.
He coughs some more, this time bending over, punching his own chest. I grab the glass from his hand and put it down. “Phillip? Talk to me,” I say.
“I’m … fine,” he mutters, but I can clearly tell he’s not. He’s coughing too much, more than I’ve ever seen him do, and that’s noteworthy, as he’s a fervent smoker.
“Do you need me to help you?” I ask.
“No … no, no, I just need some air.”
I place my hand on his back. “Let’s go outside then.”
“I think it’s better if you took him home,” Cordelia says, swallowing away the lump in her throat. “He seems … ill.”
“Thank you for your concern,” I say. Always so involved. “We’ll be fine.”
“No, she’s right.” Phillip places a hand on mine. “Let’s go home. Seems this wine was a little too much for my body to handle. I’ve had enough drinks for one night.” He laughs, but it’s more pathetic than anything. “Besides, I’ve shown my face and talked to some people. The party will probably go on fine without us.”
“All right, if you’re sure. See you later, Cordelia,” I say, waving back at her while I take my husband outside.
The doors are opened for us as I escort him outside. My husband dismisses all the help the waiters want to give him, much to my dismay. I help him down the stone staircase, which is quite a feat. The more we walk, the more he leans on me, and it’s becoming harder and harder to help him walk. Soon, I’m the one carrying most of his weight.
“What’s happening to you? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he says, the coughs still increasing in volume. “Just had a little too much, that’s all.” He stumbles across the pavement, almost pulling me down with him. I can barely keep us both on two feet.
“Phillip, this isn’t right, you can’t even walk,” I say, walking him all the way to our car.
“Nothing’s wrong, I’m just a little … tipsy, that’s all.” He fumbles in his pockets, leaning against the car as he takes it out and I open the door to step in.
“No, no, I’m driving,” he says.
“What? No way, you can’t. You’re too intoxicated.”
He frowns. “No, I’m not. Now, step aside and let me drive.”
I make a face. “Must you always be so damn stubborn? Just let me drive. I can bring us home safely.”
“There’s nothing wrong, now move aside, woman.” He shoves me so hard that I have to hold onto the door to stay steady.
Before I have time to protest, he sits down behind the wheel and slams the door shut.
My hands turn into fists as I storm to the other side of the car and mouth some foul words. This man … ugh, the amount of crap I have to put up with is driving me insane.
I open the door and sit my ass down, slamming the door shut behind me. The car starts and he drives off with a hiccup, hitting a stone ridge to the side of the road.
“Watch it!” I say.
“Oh, c’mon,” he says, driving out of the parking lot. “Can you just give me a break?”
“No, this is dangerous, and you know it.”
“I said I’m fine, what more do you want from me, huh?” He starts driving faster.
“Oh, not this again,” I sigh.
“Keep quiet then and let me do my job.”
“Your job is driving?” I jest, as we ride through the city.
He throws me a glance. “Can you just not make it worse? Like, for one fucking second in my life, can you just not annoy the ever-loving shit out of me?”
The car is going faster and faster, even when a traffic light is eminent.
“No, you stop.”
“No, I mean, the lights!” I yell.
Too late, he’s already rushing straight through while it was red. I put my hands in front of my eyes so I won’t see the impending disaster. My heart is racing, my breathing is ragged, and when I open my eyes again nothing has happened. Phillip is still sitting next to me, his breathing loud and his veins bulging through his skin, his face red with rage.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I scream.
“Nothing, you’re what’s wrong with me!” he yells back.
“You just drove straight through a red light. Are you insane?”
“If I am, it’s your fucking fault for always getting on my back,” he hisses.
“And this is payback? Scaring me? How dare you,” I say. “Stop this car.”
We’re nearing the highway, and I don’t want this to get worse. I need to get out. “Phillip, stop this car. Right. Now.”
“No,” he repeats, fuming.
“Let me out!” I scream.
“We’re not doing this. Not now,” he says, grinding his teeth.
I look around, but all I see are roads and other cars, no grass in sight to even remotely think of jumping out, even though that’s a ridiculous idea. But when you’re afraid, stupid things go through your head. I hate danger.
Shit, we’re already driving on the highway. It’s too late.
“What are you doing?” I ask. “Get off the highway!”
“I’m getting us home. Now will you shut up already?” he yells. “You’re driving me crazy with your constant whining.”
The yelling causes him to cough so hard, the car is swaying.
“Be careful,” I say, sweating like crazy.
“Shut up! Just shut up, all right? If you can shut your mouth for like ten minutes, we’ll get home safely, and I’ll be rid of this nasty cough,” he growls, still coughing.
“Fine,” I say, and I turn my head to look out the window.
The lights pass by quicker with every mile we drive, cars shooting by as if they were never even there. I try to focus on my breathing, trying to calm myself down so I can think of a rational solution to this problem. The problem being his cough and incredibly bad temper. I try to ignore the fact that the car is still speeding up and that his cough still has not subsided, even though he said it would when we’d stop talking. After a few minutes, the swaying becomes so bad, I turn my head to see if I can help.
What I see makes my heart stop.
Phillip’s eyes open and close.
His body is limp.
His hands aren’t on the steering wheel.
And the car has already veered from one lane into the other.
“No!” I squeal, grasping the wheel with all I have, trying to straighten it in time.
But the car is already too skewed, and when I turn, it starts to spin.
The backside slips to the left, crashing into the guardrail. Another car hits ours so hard it catapults us into the air.
At this moment in time, my body is bumping into my seat and into the window, my head exploding in pain. My vision becomes blurry as the car cartwheels across the road. I swing from left to right, up and down, as the belt proves to be of little use to protect me. My hands clamp around my face in an attempt to protect myself as the car flips again and again.
When the car comes to a stop, I’m hanging from the top, gravity pulling on my body. My lungs are about to burst from the air locked inside. For a moment, my mind leaves my body, and I fade in and out of consciousness. Blood trickles down my nose, keeping me awake. My hands feel numb and my feet are swollen, but somewhere inside me, I find the courage to move.
I lift the belt and unbuckle myself. My body drops to the hard roof, which is now the floor, crushing my ribs. I howl in pain, but stop when I can’t breathe. I blink to clear my view and look around. Phillip hangs next to me, his body lifeless and limp. And then I notice the smoke.
“Phillip,” I whisper. “Phillip, wake up.” My throat burns and my muscles ache as I attempt to free him. However, a flicker of fire is enough to make me stop in my tracks. Flames are eating up the car, and by the time I slide out of the car, they have swallowed the metal.
I crawl further away, hoping to get on my feet and run to Phillip’s side so I can drag him out myself, but when I try to stand my legs won’t budge. Cars around us stop as I fight to get away from the car. The fuel entering my nostrils is the adrenaline that pushes me to keep going.
When I turn my head to look at the car, flames have engulfed it.
My ears are ringing, my eyes tearing up from the pain.
My husband is in there, and despite my efforts, I can’t make it back in time.
He’s burning alive.
“No!” I yell, but then cough because I can’t bear the pain. It’s so hot, and everything hurts.
As I look around, someone comes toward me. One of the people from the cars that stopped. My vision is getting blurry again, and my strength is fading fast. Even though I try to lift my arms, they don’t listen to me, and I lie lifelessly on the cold asphalt, waiting for the ordeal to end.
Feet come closer until they stop in front of me. I pour my last ounce of strength into gazing up into the eyes of the one who will pull me out of here.
He’s none other than the man I saw at the party.But his eyes show no mercy.
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