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Played is coming! Here’s the cover and a sneak peak

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PLAYED (Fire & Lies, book two)

books2read.com/u/4EWaRO
Release date, February 15th.

BLURB

The gripping follow up to Partners (Fire & Lies -One). Be sure to read Partners first.

Be careful whom you trust…
It’s something I thought I knew but with Chloe Donovan, all of my reasons seems to fly out the window the moment I’m around her.
Blinded by lust, persuaded by love. I hedged my bets on our forever. Twice. And both times, I lost. She’s gone. And once again, she’s ruined my life.
Stuck helping a federal agent by the name of Drake Jefferson, I’m biding my time until I can find where she is.
I won’t be giving up my partner in crime to the authorities. I’ll be dealing out my own brand of justice, and when I’m done, I don’t care if I rot in prison for it.
Chloe Donovan had better start sleeping with one eye open. Because I’m coming for her.
She played me.
I let her in, and she played me. If she sees me. She’d better run.
I won’t be trusting her a third time.

You can preorder it from your favourite eBook store via this universal link – books2read.com/u/4EWaRO

And if you haven’t read book one, Partners, you can grab that for free for a very limited time via this link –books2read.com/u/bWKlG0

Here are the first three chapters to get you started (unedited and subject to change)

1

 

Caitlin

“Benson Tanner?” I arrive at a suburban home in the city’s south east and approach a stout looking man of Indian descent who is watering his lawn. Running a hand through my brown shoulder length hair, I wish I’d remembered a hair elastic as the bank manager eyes me curiously. I smile at him then reach into my navy suit jacket to pull out my badge before I continue. “I’m Agent Caitlin Saunders with the federal police. I was hoping you were feeling up to answering a few questions about your recent ordeal.”

I can see the sweat beading on his brow. His whole body begins to shake which is wholly evident by the quivering of his jowls. The poor man is a nervous wreck. I’m not surprised. Being an unwitting accomplice in one of our country’s biggest bank heists isn’t something that happens every day.

“Shh…sh…sure,” he says, gesturing for me to head toward the house as he shuts off his hose at the tap. His wife opens the screen door before I’m even close. She’s been watching us, concern etched in the creases between her eyebrows.

After introducing myself to her, she offers me a drink then sets about in the kitchen making a pot of tea. We sit in silence until she brings it all out and places it on the table that is covered in an old lace tablecloth with a bowl of fresh fruit in the centre.

“Do you have children?” I ask casually, nodding thankyou to Mrs Tanner as she sets my cup in front of me.

Mr Tanner looks almost dumbstruck and looks to his wife for help.

“We have a teenage son,” she answers, her lips pressing into a straight line as she takes the seat beside her husband. “He’s in his room, probably has his headphones blaring in his ears.”

Mr Tanner grips his mug and stares at the hot liquid intensely. “They strapped a bomb to my chest.” The words fall out of his mouth in a rush, and he struggles to lift his mug without spilling the contents.

“Can you tell me much about them? What they looked like. What they said.”

He shakes his head, staring at nothing even though I know he’s reliving the robbery as if it’s happening right in front of his face. I hate doing this. Interviewing witnesses and forcing them to recount everything in excruciating detail, only prolongs their suffering. Most want to move on and forget. I’m the one not letting them.

“The big one did most of the talking. There were two of them. I thought they were father and son at first, coming in to talk about managing some farm holdings. But they pulled out a vest with a….” He meets my eyes. “With the bomb on it. And they made me put it on u…under my coat. The big one, he talked like he was my friend, like it was fun for him. Said stuff like, ‘You’re doing great’ and he thanked me for being such a wonderful help. The little one, he was just a kid, he only stood there waving his gun about. I don’t know which one was worse. The talking, or the silence.” HE runs his hand over his face, his brow furrowing with the pain of the experience. “I…I didn’t know what to do. I had to left them in the safe, right? I…I couldn’t have done anything different, right?”

I reach across the table and touch his hand. “The fact you’re sitting here able to tell me this information, is a testament your actions. You didn’t the right thing, Mr Tanner. No one got hurt, and that’s all because of you.”

He nods quickly, his shoulders hunched forward, telling me he wants to withdraw into himself.

“tell me, where there only two men inside the bank?”

He shook his head. “Three. Maybe four. The big one said that if I didn’t h…help that I’d be dog mince and that his…his man would take out my employees.”

“So there was someone watching the entry foyer?”

“That’s what he said.”

“Did you see them?”

“N…No. They locked me in the safe, and the police were there when I got out.”

“I see. Can you give me the names of the other employees in the bank at the time?”

He rattles off the names of two female tellers that match the information I already have.

“Can you tell me how many people where in the bank when you entered the safety deposit area.”

His face drains of colour as he shakes his head faster. “I…no. I…a bomb.” He hits his chest. “A…a fucking bomb!” The man cracks, and his wife rushes to get some pills for him while I attempt to calm him as he rocks in place.

“I think he’s had enough,” Mrs Tanner gasps, her arms around her husband, soothing him.

Nodding sagely, I pull my card from my pocket and place it on the table. “Thank you for your time. And for the tea. Call me if there’s anything else he remembers. Any time. My mobile phone is on there too.”

“Yes. Fine.” Her words are short and snippy. I see myself out and squint up at the mid-morning sun, taking a deep inhale to clear the tension from that interview out of my mind. Poor man. I can only imagine how frightened he was.

As I walk back to my car, I get a call from my partner, Drake Jefferson.

“You finished with the bank manager?”

He doesn’t even wait for me to say hello. Nor does he say hello to me. With Drake, it’s all about him, all of the time, and he doesn’t waste any of that precious time on niceties.

“Just now. He didn’t give me much.”

He pauses. “I guess that’s what we expected. Are you coming back to the hospital soon?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Good. I need your help with something.”

“Help with what?”

He disconnects and I’m talking to thin air. Typical. I suppose I’ll find out when I get to the hospital where he’s currently waiting for our only solid lead in this case to wake up. Aiden Price, the big guy Benson Tanner was talking about.

***

At the hospital, Drake leans on the door jam and gives me his best lady killer smile. “Come on, babe. Just swing by and check on the fish. I haven’t been home in days and the auto-feeder will be gone by now.”

I can’t believe this is why he wanted me here. His damned fish.

“I’m not your ‘babe’. Perhaps if you quit having so many sleep overs, your precious fish wouldn’t be an issue.”

Drake chuckles then places his hands on his hips and steps back.

“I love that you call them ‘sleepovers’, Trix. That is the cutest damn thing I have ever heard.”

Rolling my eyes, I mumble out a response, “Fuck you, Drake. I’m so far from cute it’s not funny.”  I shake my head before glancing at the patient handcuffed to the bed in the room we’re guarding. He seems to be stirring.

“You’re cute, Trix. Live with it.”

I glance back at Drake. “Do you even know what cute means?”

“Sure I do.”

“It means ‘ugly but interesting’.”

“No. That’s not what it means. It means that there’s potential to be hot.”

“Potential?” I let out a hollow laugh. Drake has never seen me as anything more that an annoying partner he was forced to work with.

“Yeah. Potential. As in, if you just gave me one night, I could turn this cute between us into something very hot.”

The insinuation pisses me off. I’m well aware of Drake’s proclivities and they consist of one night stands with model-types. The exact opposite of what I am.

“Back off. I can have you done for fucking harassment, Drake. I’m your partner. Don’t forget that.”

“Aw, come on. You wouldn’t do something like that. Secretly, you love me. I know you do.” There’s amusement in his words. He seems to get off on teasing me.

“That’s just wishful thinking on your part. You, Drake Jefferson, will never be loved, liked, or worshipped by me in any way. Now, I’m going to go home, shower and eat. You can look after your own fucking fish.”

“You wound me, Trix. You just took my heart and stomped it into the ground.”

I walk out the door. “You’ll live, tough guy,” I say over my shoulder as I head toward the elevators and pretend that interaction didn’t pluck at my emotions the way that it did…

 

2

Aiden

My eyes open, and  slowly, the room comes into focus. Blinking, I hear unfamiliar voices. A man and a woman are talking about fish and the definition of cute. What the fuck? Who are these people?

I lift my hands to rub at my blurry eyes. But only one hand makes it. The other is jolted after moving only a short way. Handcuffs. Fucking fantastic.

My eyes slowly begin to clear and the room comes into focus. I’m in a hospital room. I’m cuffed to the bed and my chest hurts like…Well, it hurts like somebody shot me in it.

Fucking Chloe.

Moving slightly, I wince at the pain in my chest as memories of the bank job replay in my mind. I have to wonder why the hell she didn’t kill me. It would have been cleaner. She could have taken the bags and kept it all—the cash, the jewels—to herself. It didn’t make any sense. I know how good a shot she is. If she wanted me dead that bullet would have gone straight into my heart. Why would she keep me alive?

One thing was for sure, the first thing I wanted to do was find her and share this pain a little. Perhaps a bullet in one of her outer extremities would finally get her telling me some sort of truth. Right now, everything I thought I knew seems like a stinking pile of bullshit.

“Back off. I can have you done for fucking harassment, Drake. I’m your partner. Don’t forget that.”

My attention gets pulled to the two standing in my room. They’re obviously Feds. Dark suits. Badges on hips. Holier than thou attitude.

“Aw, come on. You wouldn’t do something like that. Secretly, you love me. I know you do.”

They seem to be flirting with each other. Internally, I roll my eyes—this is the calibre of feds these days?

“That’s just wishful thinking on your part. You, Drake Jefferson, will never be loved, liked, or worshipped by me in any way. Now, I’m going to go home, shower and eat. You can look after your own fucking fish.”

Get a room, guys.

“You wound me, Trix. You just took my heart and stomped it into the ground.”

“You’ll live, tough guy,” the woman says as she walks out the door. My eyes land on the guy as he half smiles and turns my way. He looks about the same age as Jared, and has dark hair, a slim but strong looking build, and one of those faces that looks like it went to private school. I kind of want to punch him in it.

“Oh, you’re awake. Nice,” he says when he makes eye contact with me.

I would have thought that after robbing the bank and being left for dead next to the getaway car I would’ve been given a one-way ticket to the lockup. But the fact this guy is smiling at me tells me he wants something.

He pulls a chair to my bedside and takes a seat. Glancing at the IV pole, I consider using it as a weapon to make my escape. I’m not  interested in cutting a deal with this devil.

“You’ve been out for a long time, I was actually getting pretty bored waiting.” He stretches his legs out and places them on the bed beside me. He’s cocky. Yeah, I really want to hit him.

“I’m Agent Drake Jefferson with the Federal Police. Seems like you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of trouble, Mr Price, or can I call you Aiden?” I raise my brow and just look at him, my hands itching to carry out a plan that ends with him bleeding on the floor and me free as a bird, ready to hunt down the bitch that blindsided me and put me in this position in the first place.

Not knowing my internal diatribe, he continues. “Well, Aiden, as I said, you’re in a bit of trouble. But if you can work with me—help me get to the truth—then we can probably work something out. I have bigger fish to fry than some basic thief that can’t even getaway properly.”

Basic? I’ll fucking show him basic. My hand makes its way toward the IV pole…

“I’ve looked into your past—your military past. Special ops? Ring a bell?” I don’t respond. There’s no way this guy has clearance to access that shit.  “I figure with your skill set and my access level,  we can do some great things.”

My hand stills. “I thought I was basic.”

He smiles at me like we’re best mates. “Is that what I said? Nah, I think you’re useful. What do you say?”

I don’t say anything. I’m not even sure what he’s after. Drake removes his feet from the bed and leans over to pour me a cup of water. I take it only because my throat is so fucking scratchy it’s like trying to talk with a sandstorm blowing through my mouth. Each sip is like drinking the elixir of life.

“I suppose we can look at it this way—you can cooperate by telling me who your accomplice was, the names of anyone else helping you. Plus, where they took all the valuables. And, anything else I might ask of you. Then I might find a way to overlook the fact that you and your friends turned an entire city on its head with that fake terrorist stunt you pulled.”

“And you just let me go—just like that?” I don’t believe for a second he has the power to do that.

“Not exactly.” He draws the words out, long and slow as we inch closer toward the truth of this proposal. “There’s a catch.”

“A catch?”

“You’re an interesting man, Aiden—a security specialist with a military file that is primarily redacted. You’ve seen some serious action in your time. I’m pretty sure you’re one of this country’s unsung heroes, so when I say I’m not interested you in you, I really mean that. But, my boss, he thinks you can be useful.”

“So far, it sounds like what you want is for me to do your job for you.”

He lets out a chuckle. “Well, you don’t get where I am by doing everything yourself. It’s called delegating Aiden.”

Thinking the IV pole idea might just be the best call after all, I try to sit up for better leverage. He’s wasting my time.

Drake takes a seat on the side of the bed and places his hand directly on my bandages to push me back. Gritting my teeth I wince through the pain that flashes behind my eyes and temporarily blinds me.

“Bad idea, mate. Assault of a federal officer will just land you behind bars and there will be nothing anyone can do about.” He presses a little harder. The pain burns so intense I almost pass out. “Except me, I could do something about it, but I’m a proud man—a vengeful man—and I’d be so busy making your life a living hell that I’d start to enjoy it. It’d become a game for me. A game I’d never want to end. So my suggestion is for you to lie back, I reckon you need all the rest you can get.” He pats my bandage twice causing the pain to surge forward again. Reflexively, I ball up my right fist, but the cuffs stop me from hitting out. I settle for grabbing him by the shirt with my left.

“Don’t fucking touch me again,” I growl, spitting from within my clenched teeth. My breathing labours as my whole body screams with the pain of a bullet wound.

“Then be a good little slave,” Drake says without the hint of stress in his voice. “I think I may have neglected to tell you that you and I have a common enemy.”

My hand relaxes and he slips from my grip, smoothing out the creases in his shirt as he continues to sit in front of me.

“I doubt you and I have anything in common.”

“Goldsmith.” His eyes widen dramatically and he lifts his hands as if writing the name in the sky for emphasis.

I relax back on my pillows. “Your enemy is Michael Goldsmith?”

“Of course. He’s been on our radar for a while. The whole Donovan Corporation collapse was a little too convenient for my liking. A wedding, a merger, then embezzlement? It makes no sense to me. Why would Terry Donovan be stupid enough to merge when that same merger would uncover his crime?” He shakes his head. “No. I smell a pile of shit in place of that story.”

“So you believe he’s innocent?”

“I don’t believe any man heading a multibillion dollar corporation is completely innocent. But of this crime, I think that perhaps the money went somewhere else. Somewhere else like in their many safety deposit boxes you emptied at that bank. Or maybe the daughter had something to do with it.”

“The daughter?” Just the mention of her sent my chest aching with pain all over again. My fists tighten. Chloe needs to pay for what she’s done. I never thought I’d feel this much anger toward a woman, but right now, it’s the only emotion I have for her.

“Chloe Donovan-Goldsmith. She abandoned her marriage very quickly after the charges were laid, and she’s the only one still in contact with Terry Donovan. We can’t find much on her though, she pretty much lives as a ghost and she’s excellent at shaking a tail. We haven’t been able to follow her anywhere that could help answer our questions.”

That didn’t surprise me.

“There’s a lot of speculation and a lot of moving parts in this thing, but we believe you’re the guy to help us put all the pieces together.”

“Is that so?”

“Sure. What were you really looking for, Aidan? I can’t imagine you’re desperate for money. You drive a pretty flash car, own a club, the security business. You’re not low on funds. So what would make a man like you go through all that trouble just to get to a few safety deposit boxes? This is literally the million dollar question. And the only thing I can think is that you did it out of revenge.”

“Revenge?”

He nods. “You know, that was a spectacular disguise you’re wearing. Word is, you really freaked out the EMT’s when your nose bent sideways while they were putting the oxygen mask on you.” He chuckles, slipping his hands inside his pockets as he stands and moves to the foot of my bed.

“I’m glad I was able to entertain,” I comment, keeping my voice steady and my features calm.

“Oh, you did, you sure did.” He begins to pace back and forth as if deep in thought. “Who exactly did that makeup job for you?”

“I learned it from YouTube,” I lie.

“And your partner?”

“YouTube.”

He grins. “It’s always YouTube, right?”

Feeling the ache of my wounded body, I find my attention starting to waiver. “How about we dispose of this chitchat and get to the point? I’m fucking tired and despite being cuffed to the bed, I don’t want to do this back and forth all day—exactly what are you asking me to help you with?”

He pauses at the end of my bed again. “OK, I’ll get to the point. You have a pretty impressive background from the Military. And considering you just robbed a bank that has the most up-to-date security system money can buy, I’m thinking you’ve got a team of highly skilled professionals at your fingertips.”

I say nothing. My ‘team’ is none of his damn business.

Narrowing his eyes, he returns to his pacing. “I’ll take your silence as a yes. We have use for people like you, Aiden. People who are clever enough to get a job done and done right with little casualties. The way I see this, there was no way in hell you were going to get caught. The only reason you’re here right now is that you had a traitor in your midst.”

A low growl seems emanate out of my chest of its own accord. I see the tick at the side of Drake’s mouth. He’s trying not to smile at my obvious slipup.

To say I’m angry at Chloe is an understatement. If I was anyone else I’d sign any fucking deal this guy offered me just to make sure she was dragged kicking and screaming into the nastiest women’s prison they could find. But I’m a guy who likes to do my own dirty work. I’m a guy who has revenge down to a fine art. No one crosses me. No one.

Already, my mind is ticking over, trying to work out the best way to make Chloe pay for what she did to me. I’m in the mood to burn everything to the to ground, and to do that, I need to get out of here.

I look at Drake. Despite my desire to punch that pretty-boy face of his, he’s my ticket out of here. I need this guy. I need him to believe me when I tell him I’ll help.

“I can help you, Aiden. I can help you get some revenge on this guy. Just give me the name of the guy who shot you, and I’ll get every law enforcement agency in the country looking for him. His picture will be on every news station in every newspaper and on the wall of every post office there is. Hell, I’ll even take out the billboard ad if that’s what it takes.” He moves back to the chair and sits down, leaning forward on his knees to talk closely. “I’m going to lay all my cards on the table right here. We need that guy. We need what he took with him. We need whatever was in those security deposit boxes. If you give us a name, we can close this bank case and move on to the big one. The one where you use your unique skill set and knowledge of company workings. The one where you help us land Goldsmith.”

He sounds like he’s a coach giving some down trodden team a locker room speech. But he’s barking up the wrong tree. “Listen, I never even worked for Goldsmith. I was fired before the merger. I don’t see how I’m supposed to help you”

Drake smiles. “I’m aware of that. Which is why I’m sure your motives for robbing the bank were steeped in your desire for revenge.”

“That job had nothing to do with revenge” I watch as he raises his brow in question then continue. “You stated it yourself—I’m not exactly wanting for money. Getting fired from the Donovan Corporation is probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I made more of a name for myself after Donovan than during.”

“Mate, I don’t think you want revenge because of money. I think you want revenge because of a girl.”

This one gets me. What the hell does he know? “A girl? You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sure I know. During our investigations, we found a busted iPad with some fairly… let see if I can word this nicely…compromising footage of you and Chloe Donovan-Goldsmith on it.”

“Chloe and I aren’t anything. We fucked. That’s all.”

He shrugs. “Looked a little more than fucking from where I was standing. If they had have put music to it, it would have made a beautiful love montage.”

My teeth grind in anger, hating that anyone saw that night. It was the beginning of my end and something I deeply regret in this moment.

“I don’t care what you think. There’s nothing between us; nothing that would motivate some sort of revenge plot anyway.”

“Is that so? Well, the footage was all conveniently dated only a couple of weeks before her wedding to Sebastian Goldsmith and not long before your job was no longer available to you. You can’t tell me these things don’t have something to do with each other.”

That growl rumbles in my chest again. I wish he would shut the fuck up. Any mention of her seems to be turning me into a rabid animal. She’s a betrayer; a siren in the night calling me to the depths to drown.

His eyes widen and the fucker smiles. “You hate her, don’t you?”

“Chloe Donovan means nothing to me. She was a fuck. A mistake. It cost me my job and there’s nothing more to it.”

He stands and paces the room again, talking like he’s putting on a show and I’m his captive audience.

“No. I’m right. I know I’m right. I’m pretty intuitive guy, Aiden. And these kinds of things are only ever about two things—money or women, and sometimes both. There aren’t a hell of a lot of other reasons why men do things. Let’s face it, we’re ruled by our dicks.”

“Speak for yourself.”

“I don’t deny it. And there’s no point in you denying it either. You see, there’s a hell of a lot of CCTV cameras around the city these days. And my partner, Agent Samuels, is somewhat of a computer expert. She found some recent footage of Chloe Donovan-Goldsmith exiting your club. You were working there that night so I’m sure she was there to talk to you—I can’t imagine a girl like that was hanging around an area like yours for fun.”

“Your partner is a hacker?” This makes things a little more interesting.

“Hacker is such a nasty word. It implies that she what she does is illegal.”

“Isn’t it?”

“Not when she’s doing it for the government.” He flashes a grin.

“Funny that.”

“Don’t get jealous, Price. I’m willing to let you use your unique skills and your history with Mr Donovan to get you a government pass on unsavoury activities too. It’s how Samuels got her job. Not every crime needs to be punished with a gaol cell.”

“It just gets punished with government servitude?”

He pauses pacing and laughs, looking down at his foot as he scuffs at some sort of mark on the floor. “That’s definitely one way of looking at it.”

For a while, I just stare at him, wondering exactly what he knows. More importantly, I wonder what hell don’t know.

There’s only one way to find out.

“Fine. I’ll work with you.”

“Give me a name, and I can make that happen”

 

3

Caitlin

Pulling up outside Drake’s apartment, I mumble to myself about what a sucker I am for turning up here to check on his stupid fish. Then I get out of my car, knowing that he knows I’m a sucker too. I’ll bet that right now he’s sitting comfortably in that hospital chair smiling to himself because he knows I’m here doing his bidding. It’s like I really want to hurt myself by being in his space and seeing the side of him that no one sees while knowing, knowing, that the only reason I see it is because he views me as some sort of assistant to his own awesome. He certainly doesn’t see me as a woman, and the fact he teases me like some schoolgirl tells me he’s well aware of my crush and using it against me.

He’s such an arsehole…

Then why am I even here?

Annoyed with myself, I use the spare key I have in my purse for moments such as these—yes, I have a key, I even know his alarm code. I’m freaking Money Penny to his James Bond.

Once I let myself inside I take a moment to look around his very clean and open space. Drake isn’t one for clutter, and he doesn’t do a hell of a lot of decorating either. Everything is a dark theme, and the only real colour comes from the bright tropical fish in his floor-to-ceiling tank.

Walking over to it, I stand quietly; listening to the hum of the water filter and watching the fish. They swim along, languidly weaving through the live coral as it waves about in the artificial current. They don’t seem to have a care in the world and are completely at peace. I get a brief moment of serenity watching them.

For a moment, I can understand why Drake is so into his fish—they really are beautiful and calming to watch. But what I don’t understand is his refusal to bring the women he dates over to his place. If he could get over his stupid obsession with sharing a bed then I wouldn’t have to be here feeding his damn fish like some sort of servant.

I think in the two years I’ve been partnered with him, I’ve been the only female he’s allowed in his house. That fact speaks volumes to me. He flirts with me but he doesn’t mean any of it. I’m his partner. That’s it. At most, I’m a friend. But he doesn’t see me in any sexual way at all. If he did, he wouldn’t let me in here. In his words, he doesn’t like to share his space with anyone he is emotionally attached to. He thinks it complicates things.

I chew the side of my lip in thought as I reach up to open the feeding hatch. I don’t know why it all bothers me, it’s not as if I like him or anything—well, I do, I admit to having a crush.  I mean, he’s gorgeous so how can I not notice that. But, that’s as far as it goes.  The guy is my partner. He’s a player; a male slut—a charmer many would say. He’s not the kind of guy a geeky computer specialist would ever hook up with—even if I did want it to be more than it is. So really, it doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter how attractive I find him. Drake and I don’t match,  and the job comes first.

But even I’m aware how full of shit my own thoughts are. I guess I’m just trying to convince myself that all of this is OK—that I’m OK. But I’m not. Like these fish, I’m trapped in a limited world.

As I drop the food through the hatch. I watch the fish swim around frantically to grab it. I continue to muse about Drake and his many differences to me. We’ve been told numerous times that he’s the muscle and I’m the brains. But Drake is very smart on his own, and despite being a hacker by trade, my field abilities aren’t too bad.

No. I think someone put us together on purpose, thinking it would be funny to put Drake with a plain, needy girl to watch him squirm with discomfort when she swooned. Well, the jokes on them—I’m not the swooning type. I’m the type who secretly admires and never does anything about it. And here’s why; Drake is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome—just like my father was. And he left my mum the moment being part of a family got a little too tough. So I know Drake’s type—I’ve lived with Drake’s type,  and Drake’s type causes nothing but pain. I wouldn’t be stupid enough to do that myself. Not when I saw the fallout of heartache everyday since I was ten. I don’t see how falling in love is worth it.

But I don’t agree with Drake’s fuck-buddy policy either.

Brushing my hands against my black work pants, I make my way into Drake’s kitchen and open his cupboards. He’s into all that whole food crap. You know the stuff—whole grains, raw nuts, protein shakes—it all disgusts me, I have no interesting clean eating at all.

After I move a few boxes around I spot what I’m after—strawberry pop tarts. They’re the only unhealthy thing that exists in his cupboards, only there as a bribe for me because I’m forever feeding his stupid fish, like the lackey I am.

Tearing the silver packet open with my teeth, I bite straight into the jam filled pastry. Then I walk back over to the tank, chewing quietly. Once again, I watch the fish, this time making kissy faces at their wide gaping mouths. I look ridiculous, but it’s not as if anyone is going to see me doing it. Hell, the fish don’t even notice me. Story of my life.

I watch until I’ve eaten both pop tarts then throw my rubbish in the kitchen bin and head out.

“See you next time I do exactly what I tell Drake I won’t do,” I tell the fish as I leave..

Then I get into my car and head back to the hospital, hoping Aiden Price is awake so we can get on with this job. I need to know who they used to hack into the city’s mainframe. I’ve never seen their work before and it’s driving me nuts being unable to track them down.

Preorder via this link – books2read.com/u/4EWaRO

Or, read book one, Partners, free for a very limited time via this link –books2read.com/u/bWKlG0

Happy reading!

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I’m Baaaa-aaaack!

A quick update…

…on me and the fam before I get down to the business side of stuff. Our baby girl is now two months old, and we’ve settled into somewhat of a routine. Most of the time she is asleep in a wrap on my chest or playing in her little floor gym next to me, but we’re calm and the family is loving the new addition and all of her precious smiles. If you follow me on Snapchat (lilliana-books) you’ll get to see some pics of her when we play with the filters, but otherwise, I give a few updates with pics on my facebook profile.

Here’s a quick pic of us from Instagram –

She loved the butterflies #twomonthsold #babysmiles

A post shared by Lilliana Anderson (@lilliana_anderson) on

 

Now, down to business

I’m back! My brain has settled down from all those pregnancy hormones and I’m able to communicate with my characters – BLISS!

And returning with me is an all new cover for Partners! Why? Because I will FINALLY be releasing Played in 2017. This series has been floating about in the ether for a while—long story—but now it is definitely happening 😁

Series Info –

Book One (Partners) is a #FREE download on all platforms and Book Two (Played) will be releasing Feb 15th. Mark your calendars!

Links to Partners –

Amazon –
US – http://amzn.to/2fqlFgv
UK – http://amzn.to/2giPOmz
AU – http://amzn.to/2ghBG9g
iBooks – http://apple.co/2fql3HA
B&N – http://bit.ly/1s5vEML
kobo – http://bit.ly/1uTmJz5

BLURB

~Chloe~

Rules are made to be broken…

That’s what they say but I used to follow the rules. I used to have pride, honour, and obedience. I was raised to believe that in the world in which I lived, money and power ruled, and everyone made sacrifices. I knew my priorities. Family first. The company second. And what I wanted a very distant third.

I followed the rules, but couldn’t have known that obedience would ultimately cause betrayal. On many fronts.

My father was framed, and I’ll do whatever it takes to put the right man behind bars.

My name is Chloe Donovan, and I’m going to make things right. But to do that, I need to break the law, and I can’t do it on my own. I need help. The problem is, the only person capable of helping, hates me. I don’t blame him. I promised him the world and then I ran away…

~Aiden~

I used to follow the rules. Until Chloe Donovan. She was my boss’s daughter. I shouldn’t have touched her. But I did. Three years ago, she came into my life, consuming it. Consuming me. I needed her. She betrayed me, as did her father. Lies and deception. Never again.

Chloe was the worst mistake I ever made. She’s temptation and destruction wrapped in a beautiful package. But, my blood doesn’t really fill my brain when I’m around her…

Now, she’s back, declaring her innocence and once again, ensnaring me with her magnetism, her beauty, her allure. I should say no.

But Chloe Donovan owns me. I still want her. Her draw may be the death of me.

The NEW Cover for Partners

That’s it for now! Happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends, and a big hello to the rest of the world who are just enjoying a regular day! Kiss, kiss, and keep smiling!

 

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Till There Was You by Wade & Lilliana Anderson

till there was you release banner

⚜It’s finally here! The release day for TILL THERE WAS YOU by Wade & Lilliana Anderson⚜


⚜BLURB⚜
Haunted by his past, Lincoln Ryan abandoned his life in Australia, retreating halfway around the world to the town of Newsham, a place as remote and cold as his heart had become. It suited him perfectly—for a while.

When a fateful event forces him to help out local bar owner, Lily Colbert, Linc finds his life of solitude is suddenly flooded with the light and hope of one very stubborn woman. Slowly his walls begin to crumble as he lets the enigmatic Lily in. But when Linc and Lily dance perilously close to the ‘L’ word, his secrets re-emerge, rocking him to the core as he tries once again to outrun his past.

However, the thing about the past is that it always seems to follow you around, and for Linc, hiding may not be an option anymore. Not when he has Lily. Not when he might finally have a future….

Till There Was You is the debut novel by Wade Anderson, co-written with his wife, Lilliana Anderson (author of Drawn and 47 Things).

⚜iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1120160600
⚜Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1123873352
⚜Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/till-there-was-you-3

⚜Amazon
US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GH5HJA0
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GH5HJA0
CA – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01GH5HJA0
AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01GH5HJA0

 If you’d like to find out more, you can read the first two chapters here. Early reviewers called the book ‘a beautiful but at times heartbreaking story’, and said ‘loved this book, the characters are great. I laughed, cried, felt lots of emotions…’. Why not check it out for yourself?  Happy reading!

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Till There Was You – Sneak Peek 😮

Thoughts leading up to release…

When I woke up this morning and realised the date, I grabbed hubby’s arm and said, “Seventeen days to go.”

“What!?” The poor guy sat bolt upright, freaked out because he was sleepy and thought I was talking about the pregnancy.

“Our book releases in seventeen days,” I clarifed. To which he groaned and rolled over, burying his head in his pillow while mumbling something about nerves.

To say this is an exciting time in our house is an understatement.

To say we’re proud of this book is also understating things, because we worked together and made it to this point without killing each other—I’d say that’s a cause for celebration, right?

ICYMI

I revealed the cover, blurb and preorder links on my Facebook page and in my newsletter recently. Here they are in case you missed it…

Haunted by his past, Lincoln Ryan abandoned his life in Australia. Retreating halfway around the world to the town of Newsham, he found a place as remote and cold as his heart had become. It suited him perfectly—for a while.

When a fateful event forces him to help out local bar owner, Lily Colbert, Linc finds his life of solitude  flooded with the light and hope of one stubborn woman. Slowly his walls begin to crumble as he lets the enigmatic Lily in. But when Linc and Lily dance perilously close to the ‘L’ word, his secrets re-emerge, rocking him to the core as he tries once again to outrun his past.

Unfortunately, the past always seems to follow people around, and for Linc, hiding may not be an option anymore. Not when he has Lily. Not when he might finally have a future….

Till There Was You is the debut novel by Wade Anderson, co-written with his wife, Lilliana Anderson (author of Drawn and 47 Things).

PREORDER special price – $2.99USD (releasing June 30)
iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1120160600
Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1123873352
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/till-there-was-you-3
Amazon
US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GH5HJA0
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GH5HJA0
CA – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01GH5HJA0
AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01GH5HJA0

 

The Reason You’re Here…

Both Wade and I are very happy to present you with the first two chapters of Till There Was You…

Chapter 1

Wounded

“Stop!”

Looking at the groaning bodies on the floor around him, he turned toward her voice, pressing his lips together as his chest heaved. Coming here was a mistake.

A cheap shot from an unknown assailant connected with his jaw, causing a burst of pain as his lip split against his tooth. The taste of copper filled his mouth. He didn’t get the chance to react before a shock landed low on his back.

Argh.” Zapping agony raced up his spine, the pain momentarily blinding him and messing with his balance. He stumbled and tried to regain his footing.

Then came the blow to his head…

It was a good tactic against a man his size. It was what he would’ve done had he found himself out-sized and outmatched—pick your moment, do something to slow your opponent down, then do whatever it took to knock them out. Which was exactly what happened, and why he was now sinking deep into the darkness—a darkness he feared and loathed in equal measures. They were always waiting for him there, their innocent eyes reminding him of all he lost.

***

As Linc’s mind fled toward the light, he became aware of the ache in his back and the stinging pain in his lip. “What the hell?” he murmured as the room slowly came into focus and the memory of how he got there resurfaced. A small growl of anger rumbled through his chest.

“Welcome back to the land of the living, sleeping beauty.” A smug voice informed him he was not alone. “We thought you’d be out of it for longer than this. I did hit you pretty hard.”

Slowly, he rolled over to see whom the voice belonged to. The first thing that came into view was a solid looking set of bars; the second, a man standing on the other side of those bars wearing a police uniform with the name ‘Colbert’ on his nametag. He stood twirling a set of keys around his finger in a lazy fashion. Jackass.

Linc narrowed his eyes in contempt. “Screw you, princess. Come at me from the front next time and we’ll see who gets knocked the fuck out.”

The cop smirked. “Australian, huh? Heard the loner in the Plowman place had an accent.”

“My nationality has nothing to do with the fact that I’d beat your arse in a fair fight. Blindsiding a guy is dirty—even for a cop.”

“Think I’ll pass on that invitation. Saw what you did to the four guys at the bar—who, by the way, say you started it by sucker punching two of their friends.”

Bullshit. Those fucking cowards started it after they ignored the waitress’ protests and grabbed her arse. I just stopped them.”

As that bit of information surfaced, the smug smile slipped from Colbert’s face. If Linc hadn’t been watching, he never would have seen it, because it quickly erased when a pounding on the front doors grabbed everyone’s attention.

A younger cop emerged and moved toward the doors. He peered outside, squinting to see through the stormy night before turning back, his brow furrowed and his lips pressed into a thin line.

“Um, it’s your sister. She looks seriously pissed.”

Against his better judgment, Colbert released a resigned sigh and motioned for her to be let in.

When the door opened, it seemed as though two storms raged into the room, one born of Mother Nature and freezing cold; the other of human flesh, a torrent of blonde hair, and female indignation. When she stopped in front of her brother, there was something about the raging hot look on her face and her white knuckled fists balled at her sides that had Linc recalling times past. He had to look away and squash those memories into the back of his mind where they belonged.

The key twirling stopped abruptly as Colbert’s hands went up and he took a few steps backwards in the face of his sister’s wrath.

“Whoa there, Lil, take it easy. Look, no real harm done.” He pointed to the cell where Linc had taken temporary residence. Despite himself and the uncomfortable split lip, Linc smiled at the Mountie’s obvious fear of his hot-headed sibling.

“Let him out,” she yelled. “Those assholes started it. And if he hadn’t punched them in the face, I was about to.”

The other officer let out a chuckle, obviously finding her amusing. She spun around in white-hot fury and focused her luminescent green eyes on him. “You don’t think I could?” she demanded, holding up her fist like she was about to hit the guy in the nose.

“No, I…ah…” he stuttered, shrinking back from her. Feeling his lip would split further if he smiled any broader, Linc thought it best to hide his amusement behind his hand and turn away until he had a straight face.

“Let him out, Matt. Now.

“Can’t. Won’t.”

Her tone matched the temperature of the storm outside. “And why not?”

Brave or foolish, the young cop answered, “It’s policy, Lily. Once in for drunk and-or disorderly, it’s an overnight stay, for better or worse.”

“Don’t worry, sis. I’ll make sure no charges are pressed, and he can go first thing in the morning—after a good night’s sleep and when he doesn’t look like he wants to punch my face in. Besides, it will give us a chance to learn a bit about our reclusive friend here.”

Lily looked between Linc and her brother. “I’ll be back first thing in the morning to make sure he gets out of here.” Her tone left no doubt about her displeasure.

“Yeah, sure, do whatever you want. You usually do anyway,” Colbert said to her back as she stalked outside, deliberately leaving the door open as she vanished into the swirling white embrace of the storm from which she had appeared.

The younger cop rushed to shut the door as soft but stinging wisps of pure white snow bit at his exposed hands and face. After a brief struggle, he managed to close and lock the door, letting warmth seep back into the room.

“Well, I’ll take the first shift. You go home and get some sleep,” Colbert ordered.

“Sure thing, Sarge,” the younger cop mumbled as he moved toward the back of the station, rubbing his hands over numb ears.

Linc watched as Colbert grabbed a chair and placed it close, but not too close to the solid-looking bars before taking a seat to stare directly at him.

“The name’s Matthew, Matt, or Sarge, feel free to use whichever one you want. Now, let’s start with your name.”

“Fuck you, Sarge,” Linc replied, his voice monotone.

“Well, that’s a really shitty name. How about your age?”

All manner of questions followed the first—from background to likes to dislikes—but the only response Linc used was a calm, consistent, “Fuck you, Sarge.”

After a solid twenty minutes, Linc was glad the cop was showing signs of frustration.

“So, you’re going to give me nothing here? No name, no reason as to why you moved here—nothing?”

Linc shrugged. He didn’t have any information he wanted to give.

“Why the secrets? You hiding something?”

Without responding, Linc stared at Sergeant Matt Colbert, Head of Police in the tiny town of Newsham. From looking at the cop, he could tell the mystery he presented was eating at him. Cops were usually inquisitive by nature, and this guy seemed no different. After arriving in Newsham about a year ago, Linc had kept to himself as much as possible and only ventured into town when he absolutely had to. He’d avoided making friends and limited every conversation to the barest minimum. He simply wanted to be left alone.

With a heavy sigh, Colbert stood and slid the chair back into place. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of trying to hold a conversation with myself. Enjoy your night, John Doe. We’ll get to the bottom of who you are in the morning.”

Chapter 2

 Countdown

Raging hot in spite of the chilling winds tearing around her, Lily made her way back to the bar, kicking at any snow that had the audacity to get in her way. When she reached the front door, she unlocked it and shoved it open with more force than necessary, causing it to thump against the wall before closing again with a heavy thud.

The mess from the fight was right where she’d left it. Two tables and more than a few stools lay in splintered pieces from the wild brawl that had been fierce and frightening. Everything had gotten out of hand way too fast.

With a heavy sigh, Lily began clearing away the chaos in front of her, going over the events in her mind. She’d never felt so out of control before. She’d never been so scared. Had it not been for him—the stranger with the intense eyes—she had no doubt that a few broken stools would have been the least of her worries…

The holiday season was always busy for her small bar, and being the only bar in town, New Year’s was by far the busiest day of the year. Even with all her staff on duty, they were run off their feet. But it was something they could handle, and rowdy drunks tended to be par for the course. Lily was known to give as good as she got and had a reputation for being a bit of a ball breaker. On this particular New Year’s Eve, however, a group of out-of-towners seemed to struggle with the concept of respect toward women.

They had arrived at the bar early to celebrate the occasion and had been drinking beer steadily for most of the night. As midnight drew closer, they switched to downing shots, which is when their rowdiness started to show.

“Come on, sweet thing,” one had called out to Bec, Lily’s youngest server. “How’s about you show a man some real fun to ring in the new year?” he continued, coupling the remark with some sexually suggestive hip movements.

Noting the look of discomfort and disgust on Bec’s face as she shook her head and tried to smile as she refused their attentions, Lily decided to put an end to their unwelcome behavior before it went too far. Throwing down the cloth she’d been using to wipe down the bar, she stomped over to their table and stood with her hands on her hips.

“Something I can help you with, gentleman?” she asked, glaring at them all one by one.

Completely ignoring the question, one of the men rocked back on his chair and lifted the hem of Bec’s skirt, causing her to slap his hand away as she jumped out of reach.

“Don’t touch me!”

Lily knew from experience things were about to go from bad worse. With a quick look at Bec, she nodded her head in the general direction of the police station where her brother was working. As much as she was sure she could handle herself if things got ugly, the odds weren’t in her favor, and she had a feeling she was going to need help against these four.

“You sure can help, darlin’,” the dark haired one said as he sucked his teeth and eyed her up and down, his gaze practically licking her from head to toe. Lily’s stomach twisted uncomfortably. “With a pretty mouth like that, what you can do is get on your knees and suck my dick as we count down to twelve.” He reached down to his crotch and began to pull his belt loose from the buckle.

A sudden quiet came over the bar as the last words fell slurred from the man’s mouth. The townsfolk knew from experience you didn’t speak to Lily that way—especially not if you wanted to keep your balls.

“What did you just say?” Lily demanded, her arms now folded and eyes blazing with anger. Her facial expression and body language spoke only a little lower than a direct scream in someone’s face. A person would have to be pretty stupid not to pick up on the level of her anger. Stupid, or incredibly drunk…

The biggest, drunkest, and loudest of the group leered toward Lily and spoke to the reckless enjoyment of the other idiots at the table. “He said get on your knees and suck him off.”

Taking a deep breath, she told herself to be calm and patient. But as soon as Beck moved toward the front door, one of the group, a freckle-faced ginger bastard, reached out and grabbed her around the waist, trying to force her to sit on his lap while he and the rest of his comrades laughed in mirth. Lily couldn’t contain herself any longer. Placing her hands on the edge of the table, she shoved it into the ginger’s chest.

“Get the hell out of my bar,” she yelled, giving Bec the chance to break loose and run out the door.

The big one’s face flushed red with anger as he burst out of his chair and grabbed Lily by the front of her shirt, bringing his face close to hers. “Make us, bitch.” As he spoke the putrid smell of alcohol wafted into her nose as spit formed at the corners of his mouth. She had to fight the gag in her throat.

“Hey!” Some of the locals stood to come to Lily’s defense, but were brought up short as the other three guys stood, creating a human barricade designed to cut her off. Pushing and swearing ensued, and the noise level in the bar rose to a roar.

“Let go of me,” she growled twisting her body and attempting to knee her captor in the crotch. But he deflected the move and simply laughed at her attempts to force his hand.

Hot breath dampened her ear. “I thought you were told to get on your knees.”

Gripping her tighter, he attempted to force her to the floor. With all her strength she tried to fight him, but as her knees buckled under the strain, a sinking feeling formed in her stomach. She was out of her depth and cut off from the other patrons in the bar. She needed help.

“Come on, sweetheart. You know you want it. One good hard fuck is all you need to get rid of that stick up your ass. Now, get on your knees like a good girl.”

“Fuck you!” She spat in his face and with an almighty twist of her body, managed to bring her leg up enough to stomp him on the foot—hard. This was her bar—the only thing she had left of her dad. She wasn’t going to let these bastards ruin it for her. She wouldn’t let them win.

“You fucking bitch!” he roared as he used his other hand to wipe the spit from his eye. “Now you’re gonna get it.”

Two things happened next: the big guy spun her around and locked her arms behind her back. Then, as she struggled against him while he was forcing her to bend forward, her frightened eyes locked with the quiet stranger in the back corner of the bar—the only person not blocked off by the big guy’s thug friends. He’d been there since ten, with the same untouched glass of whiskey the entire night. She knew he was local, she’d noticed the tall, dark-haired man around town more than once. He had always intrigued her, but he kept mostly to himself. No one knew him. Some were a little afraid of him. She just hoped he would heed her plea and do something to help her. She needed him.

Time moved in slow motion as Lily watched a range of emotions flit through the stranger’s eyes. He glanced at her to his drink and then back to her as he rose from his chair with catlike grace. With an apologetic look in his eyes, he upended the glass on the floor and made his way over to where she stood, still painfully gripped by the drunken idiot.

“Let her go,” he demanded, his voice calm, deep, and foreign.

“Fuck you,” the big guy spat, tightening his grip on Lily’s arms.

Without any further comment, the stranger leaned between them, the simple weight of his body forcing the big guy to let go of Lily and take a drunken step backwards. Immediately, Lily took refuge behind the bar as the stranger stood calmly in front of the drunkard and placed the empty glass upside down in the middle of the table.

“This isn’t any of your business. Stay the hell out of it,” the big guy grunted, poking the stranger in the chest to punctuate each word.

Lily wondered whether it was the Dutch courage from the alcohol or the three guys backing him up that gave the big guy enough backbone to poke the dark stranger in the chest. Anyone could see the barely restrained anger radiating off the man. He was about to explode, and on the last jab, he did exactly that.

Not only did the big guy’s finger not make it to the stranger’s chest, but with a swift movement and a distinctive popping sound, the stranger had realigned the offending digit so it was now pointed in an unnatural direction.

“My finger!” The big guy howled in pain as the stranger picked up his empty glass and slammed the base of it into the center of the man’s throat.

Gripping his throat, the big guy gasped for breath as the stranger leaned close, his lip curled back in contempt. “Do as the lady said. Get your arses out of here before I make you leave myself.”

They should have listened. Instead, the big guy’s companions surrounded the stranger and attacked in unison. The entire bar seemed to hold a collective breath as the stranger moved with fluid grace and took each of them down with what seemed like minimal effort in a series of swift, heavy punches.

“Holy shit,” someone gasped as the three men lay on the floor, unconscious. “Did he kill them?”

The stranger’s eyes locked with Lily’s and an expression washed over his face that broke her heart. He looked lost, ashamed even.

“Thank you,” she said, hoping to let him know he’d done her a great service by coming to her aid. But the sound of breaking glass drew their attention before he could respond.

Cradling his sore hand against his side, the big guy swung the jagged edge of a broken bottle at the stranger. “Come on, motherfucker. Let’s see how tough you are now.” The stranger dodged, and the big guy continued to jab.

When the door opened, a wave of relief washed over Lily, her brother, Matt, had finally arrived with his off-sider in tow to put an end to this. “Thank god,” she gasped, meeting his eyes briefly before he took a grim assessment of the situation as it unfolded in front of him.

The drunk had clenched the bottle tighter and the recluse started to smile as if he were playing some game with the drunk. The jagged glass came in straight, aimed directly at his face, but he stepped forward and to the right, his left hand reaching to push the bottle away as his right fist darted in twice, delivering two heavy blows. The first landed on the big guy’s ribs with a crack that caused a shuddering chill to run down the spine of every person present. The second landed on the side of his open, screaming jaw. The drunk and the bottle hit the floor with heavy thuds as the stranger stepped over him, fist raised, ready to continue beating the living daylights out of the awful excuse for a human being.

“Stop!” Lily yelled. The guy was knocked out; there was no need for any more violence.

In the same moment, her brother moved, taking the opportunity to land a punch against the stranger’s jaw, followed by a Taser blast to the lower back.

“What are you doing, Matt!” she shrieked. The stranger had stopped. The fighting was under control. There wasn’t any need to Taser the guy unconscious.

Eerily, the stranger made no noise as he dropped to one knee. But as he fought the Taser, a deep growl built in his chest while he forced himself back up again. His fists clenched by his side as he turned on Matt.

Lily covered her mouth, fearing the worst, but Matt’s fist connected with a heavy thump against the side of the stranger’s head. When it seemed that hit wasn’t going to be enough to put him down, Matt kept his finger on the Taser trigger. The clicking sound rattled through the air as the fire that seemed to rage in the stranger’s eyes died, replaced by a sudden look of panic as he wobbled on his feet and hit the ground, a trickle of blood leaking into his full, scruffy beard.

With his chest heaving from effort, Matt signaled for his constable to give him a hand getting the big recluse off the floor. “Call an ambulance for this lot,” he told Lily, indicating the men on the ground.

“It wasn’t all him, Matt,” Lily informed her brother as he struggled under the weight of the stranger.

“Just close this place down, Lil. Night’s over…”

What a nightmare evening, Lily thought as she carried broken wood to the dumpster outside. When she walked back through the empty bar, an overwhelming sense of sorrow washed over her. She didn’t dare let herself think about what would have happened to her if the stranger hadn’t intervened. But she knew that she owed him—big time.

Deciding the rest of the cleaning could wait until morning, she left the bar and looked up, checking her watch as she walked toward her truck. It was almost two in the morning. They completely missed the countdown to midnight.

What a crappy start to the new year.

 

⚜PREORDER⚜ special price – $2.99 (releasing June 30)⚜

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1120160600
Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1123873352
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/till-there-was-you-3

Amazon
US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GH5HJA0
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GH5HJA0
CA – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01GH5HJA0
AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01GH5HJA0

Signing off…

Those in my reader group & Newsletter subscribers are getting the first FOUR chapters delivered to them in the next 24hours. So, if you’d like more Lily and Linc, feel free to join up to get an extra taste.

Remember, Till There Was You releases on June 30, and if you preorder you’ll get it for the discounted price of US $2.99

Happy reading!

Lilliana and Wade Anderson xoxox

 

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Happy Holidays!

This is a super quick post to wish you all the happiest of holidays, whichever one it is you celebrate. I’ve been crazy busy this December with my children’s end of year concerts and plays, as well as working on In the Wind to get it ready for release on January 5th. We had a wonderful Xmas at my mother in law’s apartment by the water and spent part of the scorching Australian day in the beautiful waters of Hampton Beach.

Next, we’re preparing for the New Year in our own family style by having a Star Wars marathon with our kids. Shockingly, we haven’t introduced them to the movies before now, so they’re in for a treat. Hope your holidays are wonderful, and I’ll see you all with a brand new book in the New Year!

Take care,

Lilli xoxox

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#SALE!! 8 Amazing Novels by 8 Amazing Authors. All 99 cents. Limited Time Only.

99cent sale

For one week only, I’ve teamed up with 7 other amazing authors to offer you 8 fantastic reads these holidays.

The following books have all been discounted to only 99cents – I’m offering my Drawn to Fight bundle, which includes Zac & Evie PLUS Hugo & Meg. Bargain.

On top of offering amazing reads for the change you find in your couch, we’re also giving away Amazon gift vouchers. So, get your oneclick finger clicking and scroll to the end of this post for the link to the rafflecopter.

Remember, you have only ONE WEEK to get these

PASSIONATE ADDICTION by Eden SummersSPARK by Jennifer RyderHOW TO SAVE A LIFE by Lauren K. McKellarCOLLISION by K.A. SterrittDRAWN TO FIGHT – BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY by Lilliana Anderson (US & UK only)CADENCE by Lisa SwallowNOW LEAVING SUGARTOWN by Carmen JennerTHIRTY-EIGHT DAYS by Len Webster

Enter to win one of eight $20 Amazon Gift vouchers!

rafflecopter-click-to-enter-logo.png

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Happy Halloween! from David & Katrina…

Hi all! It’s late night in Australia and as per usual, Halloween was pretty uneventful for most of us – it hasn’t really caught on yet – but I believe that one day it will. Although, some of us do have Halloween parties, and a couple of years ago, I wrote this Halloween short story featuring David and Katrina from the Beautiful Series for a blog called ‘Reading Between the Wines’. I thought it might be fun to dust it off and post it for Halloween this year. Enjoy…

A Beautiful Halloween – David & Katrina. 
By Lilliana Anderson

“Seriously Trina – a Halloween party? They know we’re in Australia. Right? – Who here, celebrates Halloween?”

“Fun people. That’s who,” I point out, as I drag David through the door of the costume shop.

“Please tell me that we aren’t going as a lame couple dress up. I don’t think I could take that if we did,” he groans.

“Yes we are David. But relax. We are going to look amazing. You are going to look amazing. So amazing in fact that when we get home I’m going to…” I lean close to his ear and whisper about all the delicious things I’d like to do to him, just envisioning him dressed up the way I want him.

“Whoa Trina,” he breathes, his voice sounding a little thicker than it did before. “That’s so not fair.”

“Well, sometimes a girl has to use all of her feminine charms to get her man to do what she wants,” I tell him with a wink.

The costume shop is surprisingly busy. David is right about people not really celebrating Halloween in Australia. It’s never been a big day on our holiday calendar, but I have noticed that over the last few years the stores are pushing it a lot more. I’m not sure that it will ever catch on, but at least kids can now go Trick or Treating without getting the door slammed in their face these days.

I link my arm with David’s as we join the queue in front of the register. I ordered our costumes online the moment I knew we were going to this party. I spent my lunch time at work scouring couple costumes. I didn’t want to do anything too lame – like go as sailors or something. I wanted to do something fun. So I did a google search and ended up finding the perfect outfits.

His outfit isn’t really that risqué, but mine is – and I know he’s going to love it. Just wait and see.

Once we make it to the front of the line, I give the teenage boy my name and he goes and gets our costumes. Thankfully, they’re in black garment bags because I would hate for the suspense to be over already.

“Show me what it is,” David presses, as I walk ahead of him to the car. “Come on Trina. I should get to know what I’m going as.”

I keep my mouth shut until we get home and I hand him his costume bag. “Han Solo,” I tell him as I press the bag to his chest.

He takes it and laughs. “That’s hilarious. You find old Harrison Ford sexy huh?”

“David, every girl finds Han Solo sexy. It’s just the way it is,” I smile, giving him a wink as I head to the bathroom to start getting ready.

“So you’re going to be Princess Leia? Are you going to have those side buns just like she does?” he calls after me, I can hear the smile in his voice as he does.

“If you’re lucky,” I call over my shoulder, before shutting and locking the door.

As soon as I’m in there, it’s go time. I hang the bag on the back of the door and unzip it, sliding the material out of the bag and letting it hang in front of me. I can’t help but grin to myself, as I know that David’s eyes are going to pop out of his head the moment he sees me in this.

I didn’t get your typical Princess Leia costume, I got the slave bikini. You know that metal bikini, with the split skirt she’s wearing when Jaba the Hut has her as a prisoner? Yeah. That one. I’ll actually be lucky if we manage to leave the house – that man can be insatiable sometimes.

It takes a while for me to apply the bronzer over my body, get the hair piece in and put on the costume. I can hear David out in the living area, asking if I’m done yet. I can just imagine the grin on his face as he’s imagining me coming out in the big white dress and a side bun headband.

I look at myself in the mirror, and I have to admit that I’m looking pretty amazing as an enslaved Leia. Moving over to the door, I open it a fraction and call out to David.

“Close your eyes.”

“Come on Trina. Just come out. I already know what you’re going to look like,” he laughs, and I can tell he’s enjoying this whole charade.

“Just close them,” I repeat.

“Alright, alright. They’re closed.”

“Ok, I’m coming,” I announce, walking out of the bathroom to stand in front of him.

I have to admit, that he is looking mighty fine in his Han Solo costume. He’s wearing a white shirt, with a black vest, dark blue pants and a gun belt with a fake blaster in it. All topped off with a pair of boots. In my eyes – he looks even better than the real thing.

“Oh baby. You look amazing,” I tell him. “Are you ready to see me?”

“Only if you say that ‘help me Obiwan’ bit that she does,” he laughs.

“Wrong scene,” I say in a slight whisper.

“What do you mea–” he starts to say as he opens his eyes. He stops speaking however, as his mouth drops open and his eyes do exactly what I was hoping for – they practically bug out of his head.

“Do you like it?” I ask, as he slowly circles around me.

“Oh Trina. This… this is not what I expected at all,” he breathes, shaking his head slightly from side to side.

“Good though?”

“Amazing,” he whispers, now moving toward me with a predatory glint in his eye.

“Whoa, whoa David Taylor! What do you think you’re doing?” I laugh, holding my hands out in front of me and moving back as he approaches.

“I don’t think we can go to the party,” he murmurs. “You just too…”

“Too what?” I whisper, as I back up into the wall.

He presses himself against me, gazing directly into my eyes, his eyes dropping to my lips as his breathing quickens. “You’re just too fucking sexy,” he growls, taking my mouth in his.

As his hands start to roam, my insides come alive, and my body revels in his touch. I couldn’t say no to this man if I wanted to – my body wouldn’t let me. As I find myself melting against him, I know we aren’t leaving our apartment any time soon.

It’s still fashionable to be a little late to parties… isn’t it?

Did you know that the first few books of the Beautiful Series are coming out in audio on December 1st? They’ll feature Australian narrators so you can actually hear David and Katrina talk in Too Close,  A Beautiful Struggle, and Commitment. Keep your eye out for more information.

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Hugo & Meg is LIVE!!! Student-Teacher, Fighter-Lover. This one has it all at 99cents for one day only!

 

The lovely ladies at Give Me Books have been awesome and put this amazing post together for Hugo & Meg’s release. But, before I let you get into all the teasers and excerpts, I want to let you know how much I loved writing about these two. It was hard at first because of Meg’s age and the fact her story runs alongside Zac’s, but in the end, I’m so incredibly happy with how it turned out, and I hope you will be too!
As a thank you to all of my loyal readers who preorder and buy on release day, Hugo & Meg is 99cents. The price will go back up on the 27th, so if you’re umming and ahhhing about grabbing it, now is the time.
Thanks for hanging in there with me, and happy reading!

 

 

Title: Drawn to Fight: Hugo & Meg
Series: Drawn to Fight #2
Author: Lilliana Anderson
Genre: New Adult/Fighter Romance
 Release Date: October 26, 2015
Blurb

 

Sometimes, it’s inappropriate to fall in love with a certain someone. I should know. When I met Hugo Sparks, I didn’t know he was my art teacher. But, by the time we found out, it was too late – we’d already fallen. But, we did the right thing, we tried to fight it. Eventually though, we gave in. That was when my brother Zac caught us. He said it would tear our family apart – we were already hanging on by a thread. I said I was in love. He didn’t believe me and did everything he could to keep us apart.

Including breaking my heart.

In return, I broke his.

My name is Meg Reid – Zac Rivers’ half sister. This is a tale of hurting the ones you love, and thinking it’s for the best.

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / AU
Also Available
AMAZON US / UK / AU

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS
Excerpt
“Heads up!” I snapped my head up and saw the football just in time to lift my hands and catch it. “Thanks, sir!” A kid in year nine said as he ran toward me and took the burgundy ball from my hands. He stopped for a moment and squinted up at me, his freckled nose wrinkling as he seemed to consider something.“Something you need?” I asked.

“You see those girls over there?” He pointed behind me toward the English building where a group of year eleven seniors were sitting and talking while looking at their mobile phones. My stomach flipped. Meg was with them, sitting close to a boy I’d come to know as Blake Ryan. He spent an enormous amount of his free time glued to Meg’s side. I needed to suppress the growl before it reached my throat each time I looked at him.

“What about them?” I asked the boy, my restraint quiet, my nerves on edge.

“They have an Instagram account called ‘The Spark’. It’s full of pictures of you.”

My eyebrows lifted and I took a calming breath. “Is that right?”

“Yes, sir. Don’t tell them I told you though. My sister will shave my eyebrows if she finds out I blabbed.”

I try not to smile at the threat his sister gave him as I pat him on the shoulder. “You did the right thing,” I said, watching him leave while I considered my options.

I could ignore it, or I could report it to the principal and let him deal with it. Or, I could confront them myself and find out exactly what they’re playing at.

Did Meg know about it? Was she involved?

Aggravation boiled below the surface of my skin and I struggled to keep my temper in control. I couldn’t lose it at school, and in hindsight, I should have walked straight past them and reported it to the principal. I shouldn’t have done what I did. But I couldn’t stop myself. It had been six months since I’d spoken to her and I was losing control. I just wanted to be near her.

“Hi Mr Sparks,” a girl called Melinda said as I approached. She assumed a stance that she obviously felt was sexy as she smiled up at me and fluttered her eyelashes. I glanced at Meg, my heart beating a mile a minute being this close to her. She looked the other way. I had to force my eyes back to the matter at hand.

“I want your phone,” I said to Melinda, holding my hand out.

“Excuse me?” The girls who stood around her shifted uneasily and exchanged glances. I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the way they behaved compared to Meg. She was so different to them in the every way…

“Give me your phone,” I repeated and slowly she placed the iPhone in my hand. It had a pink sparkly case and when I hit the home button it asked for a passcode. “What is it?”

The heat was rising in her face and I could tell that she knew exactly why I was here and she hesitated for a moment.

“The code.”

“Eight one two six,” she said, her voice small as she wrung her hands together in front of her.

I keyed in the code and opened the Instagram app on screen. Sure enough, there I was. They’d taken a shot of me catching the ball and posted it with the caption ‘Oh my god! Look at those arms!’

Glaring at her, I could see her cowering as I scrolled through the many photos of me. Some weren’t even at school. Some were taken while I was out running. There were even a couple taken out at Londonderry while I was fighting with my shirt off. Shit.

“Who else was involved?” I asked, my jaw set tight as I continued to scroll.

“I…I don’t know everyone’s names. People just send photos…” Melinda stammered.

Meg had turned to pay attention to what was going on and I turned to her, my words escaping my mouth before I had the chance to think about the fact that singling her out could cause a problem. “Did you know about this?” She shook her head. And I narrowed my eyes at her. “I don’t believe you. You sit with these girls every day and you had no idea what was going on – didn’t even think to tell me that my privacy was being invaded?”

Meg opened her mouth to speak but it was that boy Blake who’s voice I heard. “She said she didn’t know, sir. I’ll kindly ask you to back off now.” He stood up and took Meg by the hand. “Come on, Meg, you don’t need this shit.” Then he led her away from the group. I stood there glaring after her, and she flashed an angry look in my direction.

“Um…sir?” Melinda’s voice broke through the desperate emotion in my mind. “Mr Sparks?”

I turned back to her and she was frowning, looking between me and Meg quizzically.

Shit. I’d just singled her out for no reason. I’m a fucking idiot.

Letting out my breath, I handed the phone back to Melinda. “Delete the account. If I find anything about it again, I’ll have you and everyone involved suspended. Is that understood?”

“Ye…yes, sir.” Melinda took her phone and I abruptly turned and walked away, hearing the quiet murmurs of the girls behind me as I headed back to oval where I was the teacher on yard duty.

When I stopped, I turned around and spotted Meg with that Blake kid. He had his arm around her and she was shaking her head with her arms out as if she was denying something. I was too far away to hear anything they said or even see their lips move. And I tried to watch without being obvious, but then he hugged her. And I stopping pretending and openly stared.

Then he kissed her on the top of her head, and I wanted to punch his face in. I didn’t want him touching her.

I didn’t want anyone touching her…

 

Author Bio

 

Bestselling Author of the Drawn Series, the Beautiful Series, and 47 Things, Lilliana has always loved to read and write, considering it the best form of escapism that the world has to offer.Australian born and bred, she writes New Adult Romance revolving around her authentically Aussie characters.

Lilliana feels that the world should see Australia for more than just it’s outback and tries to show characters in more of a city setting.

When she isn’t writing, she wears the hat of ‘wife and mother’ to her husband and four children.

Before Lilliana turned to writing, she worked in a variety of industries and studied humanities and communications before transferring to commerce/law at university.

Originally from Sydney’s Western suburbs, she currently lives a fairly quiet life in suburban Melbourne.

Author Links
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Hugo & Meg – 99cent Preorder + a look inside their heads

 

Hugo & Meg is on it’s way! It’s the second book in the Drawn to Fight series, but don’t worry if you haven’t read Zac & Evie as they’re both standalones that exist in a similar timeframe – they are two sides of a story revolving around a brother and sister (Zac and Meg) left to fend for themselves and their younger siblings. You can read one or both, and it doesn’t matter which order you read them in either. But those of you who have already read Zac & Evie are finally going to find out what Meg was thinking when she did what she did! As we know in our own lives, both sides of the story are rarely the same…

BIG bonus – the preorder is only 99cents! It’s releasing October 26th, and as I said, it’s a standalone story in the Drawn to Fight series. Full HEA. No cliffhanger. Just awesome angst and drama.

Let’s get into the fun part —>

BLURB

Sometimes, it’s inappropriate to fall in love with a certain someone. I should know. When I met Hugo Sparks, I didn’t know he was an art teacher at my school. But, by the time we found out, it was too late – we’d already fallen. But, we did the right thing, we tried to fight it. Eventually though, we gave in. That was when my brother Zac caught us. He said it would tear our family apart – we were already hanging on by a thread. I said I was in love. He didn’t believe me and did everything he could to keep us apart.

Including breaking my heart.

In return, I broke his.

My name is Meg Reid – Zac Rivers’ half sister. You may already know his story, and you may hate me for what I’ve done. But, that’s because you don’t understand. You only have one side.

This story is mine. It’s a tale of hurting the ones you love, and thinking it’s for the best. I wish things could have been different…

PREORDER LINKS 
AMAZON – http://mybook.to/HugoMeg

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/drawn-to-fight-hugo-meg/id958226357?mt=11

Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drawn-to-fight-lilliana-anderson/1121082687?ean=2940046516234

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/drawn-to-fight-hugo-meg

ZAC & EVIE
If you’d like to find out Zac’s side of the story before you read Meg’s, you can get your copy via the links below

Amazon – http://mybook.to/zacevie

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/drawn-to-fight-zac-evie/id948766946?mt=11

SNEAK PEEK TIME!
(excuse any errors. This is unedited and could possibly change before release) —–>

Prologue

 

Meg

 

“Talk to me,” Hugo implored, his chest heaving as he stood in front of me, his emotions high, tension buzzing in the air as I stared into his ice blue eyes.

“I hate you,” I replied. “I love you.” My eyes stung, and when I licked my lips, all I could taste was salt from the torrents of tears I’d already shed.

“I have to do this, Meg. I can’t forfeit. That’s not the deal.”

“And I can’t stop what’s coming.” Folding my arms across my chest, I walked away from him. I didn’t want to talk about it.

He followed me and placed a strong hand on my slight shoulder. He was so gentle with me. No matter how he was feeling, he was always so gentle with me. It hurt my heart even more.

“If I don’t fight your brother, everything I’ve done – everything I’ve been working toward – fighting for – it’ll all be gone.”

“And if you do fight my brother, you’ll lose me for good.” I turned around and glared at him, showing him how much I understood. He gave me a pained look then ran his hand down the length of my hair.

“Now do you understand why we needed to wait?” he whispered, shaking slightly as he withdrew his hand and dropped it by his side. It’s then that I noticed the ring that was tied around his neck, attached by a leather cord.

Blinking back my tears, I reached and took it between my fingers, holding it between us, my breath unsteady as I squeezed my eyes shut tight. “What was the point of all this, Hugo? What were we even fighting for if you were just going to throw it all away?”

He looked down at the ring in my fingers and closed his hands over mine. “We were fighting for a chance.”

“And now we’re just fighting each other. What happened to us?”

He shook his head, his hand moving up to grip the back of his neck in frustration – a movement I’d come to know well in our time together. “I guess our timing was just wrong. Fate made us meet too soon.”

Pressing my lips into a straight line, I nodded. “I thought you didn’t believe in fate.”

Curving his lips in a sad smile, he reached behind his neck and untied the cord, letting it fall so that the ring was still in my hand. “With you in this world, I think I can believe in anything.”

I looked from the ring to him as he lowered his hand and pressed a kiss to my forehead before he stepped away.

“Take it,” he said. “It’s yours.”

The squeaking of brakes in the driveway caused me to lift my head, the crunch of gravel under tires let me know it was time to go. “That’s my ride,” I said, my voice almost a whisper as I reached down to pick up my bags.

“I wish you hadn’t done this.”

“I wish for a lot of things. But that was when I was a girl, and I still believed in magic. I’m not a little girl anymore, Hugo.”

“I know, Meg. I never thought you were.”

A buzzer sounded and I needed to go downstairs. He looked at me, his eyes flickering with a restrained panic.

“I have to go.”

“Meg…”

I paused and waited.

“The promise in your hand – it will always be true.”

Tears stung my eyes again and rising on my toes, I pressed my lips to his softly. “I never wanted a promise, Hugo. I only wanted you.”

Then I pressed the ring back into his hand and walked to the door. I placed my hand on the handle before turning back to him and giving his apartment one last look over. This was the place all my best memories were. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to.

I sniffed back a tear and forced a smile. “Hey. Maybe I’ll see you in school. You can get your job back now that I’m gone. You can teach again.” I knew it wasn’t possible, but pretending was what we did. It fit so well with all the secrets and the lies…

He nodded his head, his mouth open. He wanted to say something that could change what was happening, but he couldn’t. It was too late. We were already through. Fate was wrong to bring us together.

“Goodbye Hugo.”

“Goodbye Meg.”

When I left his apartment, I was driven away to an entirely new life. It wasn’t what I wanted, but someone had to put a stop to all the fighting and the secrets that were governing our lives and our decisions. Someone had to be the adult, even if it was a seventeen-year-old girl who took charge – going against the wishes of everyone else involved.

I didn’t do it for revenge.

You need to understand that. Everything was falling apart. I had to take a stand. Someone had to stand up and say that we were suffering. Someone had to save us from each other.

And, being that someone, it cost me everything…everything.

 

PART ONE

 

‘It is difficult to know at what moment love begins;

it is less difficult to know that it has begun.’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

One

 

Meg

 

Falling for him wasn’t something I planned. In fact, it was entirely an accident that we were brought together – a literal accident. You see, shopping trolleys and car park aren’t exactly made for each other. Especially when said car park had a slight tilt to it, and the girl pushing the trolley was rail thin and not built for wrestling four uncooperative wheels over the tiny stones in the asphalt.

“Fucking, Zac.” I cursed my older half-brother under my breath as the one of the wheels jarred against a bump on the road. He was supposed to be doing the groceries. I was supposed to be at a friend’s house, swimming in their pool and enjoying just a moment of summer. But he’d gotten so badly beaten the Friday night before that his eye was swollen shut, and he couldn’t see to drive. That left me, a sixteen-year-old girl, to do the grocery shopping for our family of five kids abandoned by their parents. Well, there was almost one adult. Zac would soon be eighteen – not that it made much of a difference. If social services found out we didn’t have parental supervision, they’d put us all into foster care faster that you could list our short names. And that was our worst fear. We didn’t want to be separated. Zac insisted that no one would take on three primary school kids along with their sixteen-year-old sister. I’d be put in a group home. My three younger siblings would be split up and sent to whatever family could accommodate them, and Zac would be left alone, hating himself for not being able to keep us together. And Zac had suffered enough.

With a resounding sigh, I looked over the trolley full of food that we wouldn’t have been able to afford if Zac hadn’t fought as hard as he did. He did whatever he could to provide for us all and keep me in school. I felt guilty for being annoyed with him. He was trying his hardest – we all were.

I gave the trolley a shove with my hip to get it moving again.

“Holy shit!”

I shoved too hard, and it rolled out of my grasp then went hurtling toward the entry lane, bumping and bouncing along and picking up speed as though it was laughing at me for being unable to control it.

I ran after it. “Come back!” I yelled. I don’t know why I did that; it couldn’t hear me. But at the time, it seemed fitting, as it wouldn’t be long before it hit the street and then, well, it would all be ruined and Zac’s black eye would have been for nothing.

“No, no, no.” A blue sedan had turned into the drive, and I could see what was about to happen. In that moment I could actually peer into the future, and there was no way I was going to be able to stop it. Zac was going to kill me.

A screech of brakes. A crunch of metal. Shocked murmurs coming from people around me. I’d covered my eyes, not wanting to see, and when I peeked through my fingers the first thing I saw was a dark haired man standing at the slightly bent trolley while surveying the dent in his car. His hand was on the back of his neck, his arm muscular as it strained against the cotton of his dusty blue shirt. Milk dripped on the ground, leaving a massive white puddle that ran down to the gutter and took off toward the closest drain.

He turned to the side, looking around for the trolley’s owner. I lowered my hands and stepped forward, my heart thudding against my chest as I took in his features and prepared to meet my doom. He was beautiful. Ice blue eyes. Pitch black hair. A slight tan to his skin and a strong stubbled jaw. Pink lips… I noticed all this in seconds as his eyes met mine.

“Is this…yours?” He pointed to the trolley, and I saw that some of my groceries were on the hood of his car. I swallowed hard and nodded.

“I’m sorry. It slipped from my hands and…” I let the words trail off. “I’m sorry. I’ll fix it. I’ll…I’ll…” I shrugged my shoulders and bit my bottom lip. I didn’t know what to do. We couldn’t afford this. “I’m sorry,” I said again.

He stared at me for a long moment. Just enough for me to feel uncomfortable. I wondered if he would start yelling at me for being a ‘stupid girl’…

“I’m sorry.”

His eyes moved from my face, scanning the car park for a moment before he turned back to me. “Don’t worry about it,” he said with a sigh, surprising me with how calm he was being.

I stepped forward. “I should pay for the damage.” Don’t make me pay for the damage.

Reaching out, he picked up some of the loose groceries and returned them to the trolley. I moved quickly to help him. “There’s no serious damage. Just a few scratches,” he said softly as he pulled the trolley away from the side of his car and checked if it still worked.

My eyebrows shot up. “That’s not a scratch.” I pointed to the dent in the body of his car, just above the front wheel. A lot of the paint had been scratched off. He’d need to visit a panel beater to get it fixed.

“It’s entirely possible that was already there,” he said with a smile as he took hold of the trolley then looked around the car park again. “Which one is yours?”

“Excuse me?”

“Car. Which one is yours?”

Unsure of why he wanted to know, I pointed to the large family van that Zac had spent all of his savings on when our stepfather had taken off – mum had left long before for many selfish reasons…

He nodded and began to push the trolley toward it with great speed. Oh god, I thought. He’s going to dent the van to get back at me.

“What are you doing?” I demanded, rushing up beside him, a slight edge of panic in my voice.

Glancing at me, he smiled and I noticed that one tooth was the tiniest bit crooked. A tiny blip in his perfection. I suppose that’s when it happened – when I started to like him. I liked faults. I could understand faults. When you’re a sixteen, your faults are all you see – all you can focus on. Sometimes they were the only things that seemed real.

“I’m helping you,” he said, pushing the bowed trolley with ease until we reached the back of the van and stopped.

I looked over to where his car was still sitting near the entrance of the car park. There were cars swerving around it, their drivers yelling out mouthfuls of expletives – ‘fucking idiot’ being the most common of them. “Don’t you think you should move your car?”

With a non-committal shrug of his shoulders, he held out his hand to me and without thinking, I handed him the keys. Then he opened the boot and began to load the bags into the van.

“You work at a florist?” he asked as he slid the bags in place. I helped, working beside him while checking the damage our accident had done to the food. Most of it was all right.

“I um…” I started to respond with the truth. I started to tell him that I was still at school, that I was only a kid. But, there was something in the way he treated me, something in the way he looked at me. He thought I was older. He thought I was like him – a grown-up – one who could actually drive legally. I was still six months off turning seventeen and getting my license.

I glanced in the back of the van. There were large white buckets and blue crates, along with the distinct scent of mixed pollens and still water, a scent synonymous with florists everywhere. Zac worked for the florist. I was about to become a high school senior.

When I looked back at him, he was still smiling, tilting his head curiously as he waited for my answer.

I didn’t want to lie to him, so I settled for a slightly different version of the truth. “This is my housemate’s van.”

“Housemate? What’s that like?”

“It’s all right.”

“All right? What are you, still at Uni or something?”

I nodded. Now I was lying. Now the sun felt incredibly hot and I was starting to sweat. “I’d better get back inside. I need to buy milk again,” I said, trying to change the subject.

Reaching for the last bag, he looked inside then closed it again. “And eggs. These are destroyed.” He placed the bag back in the trolley then reached up and shut the back of the van.

“I really am very sorry about your car.”

He shook his head and leaned against the back of the van, his eyes squinting in the bright sun as he looked over to his sedan. “Don’t be. It’s a bomb.”

“I still wrecked it.”

“Nah. It’s not your fault. They need to fix the parking lot.”

“Move your fucking car!” A man hit his horn, the loud burst of noise causing me to jump and turn sharply toward the sound.

“I guess I’d better go. It was nice to meet you…?” He held out his hand for me to take.

“Meg,” I said, placing my small hand into his large palm. He closed his hand around mine. I didn’t want him to let go.

“Meg,” he repeated, his eyes travelling over my face as he completely ignored the continued yelling of the man in the four-wheel drive stuck behind his sedan. “I’m Hugo.”

We shook once. I smiled at him. He smiled at me. Then he let go and jogged back to his car. I wanted to go with him and tell him to drive away and never look back. The idea seemed so perfect to me at the time.

***

“That will be eight dollars and sixty cents,” the cashier told me after she’d scanned the milk and eggs. I counted out the cash and thanked her, and as I took my receipt and went to pick up my bag, I realised it wasn’t there anymore.

“Thought I should make sure these make it to your car safely this time,” Hugo said, that smile of his calling to me like a siren at sea. My heart soared. He was back. All at once, I wanted this man to see me as a woman. I wanted to be his equal. I wanted to feel like more than I was. I wanted to be different – someone else.

He seemed like the perfect escape. But, I wasn’t supposed to let anyone get too close…

“You don’t have to do that. I can manage.”

“I want to. Besides…” He reached into his pocket. “I still have these.” He handed me back my keys.

“Jesus. Thanks. I don’t know how I would have gotten home without them.”

“Your housemates would have gotten hungry and come looking for you,” he said. It was meant to reassure me, but instead I looked at him sharply, worried that perhaps I’d already been caught in this lie.

“I suppose.”

We walked along quietly until we were once again at the van.

“Listen, I feel really bad about your car.”

“I’m sure we can find a way for you to make it up to me,” he started before his face went bright red and he shook his head. “That came out completely wrong and sounded creepy. I don’t normally do this by the way.”

I smiled up at him; it was kind of interesting to watch a man becoming nervous in front of me. I only knew boys, and while I knew I should have just gotten into the van and left, I couldn’t help but stay standing in front of him, wanting more of this moment.

“What is it you’re doing?” I asked after a while.

“It probably doesn’t seem like it, but I’m trying to ask you if you want to go to dinner sometime.”

“OK.”

“OK?”

I nodded. “Ask me.”

A nervous laugh escaped his lips and his tongue snaked out to wet them. “Would you like to have dinner with me?”

“No,” I said immediately.

“No? Wha– Oh wow, that was embarrassing. Do you…do you have a boyfriend, or…Jesus, I should just shut up. I’m sorry.”

“Give me your phone,” I told him, holding out my hand as I watched him flounder, his face almost bright red. It was endearing to say the least.

He frowned. “Seriously?”

“I don’t have a boyfriend.” With a dubious expression, he handed me his phone and watched while I entered my number and saved it. “But maybe, if you call me at the right time, I might answer.”

“OK.” He said the word slowly and grinned as he took his phone when I handed it back to him. “Wait,” he said when I went to get in the van. I stopped and turned to face him with my head tilted in question. He aimed the camera at me and took a shot. “Now I won’t forget which one you are.”

Laughing, I took a step away from him. “I thought you said you didn’t do this all the time?”

“I don’t. That was just a shitty joke.”

I smiled and moved to the driver’s side of the car. “I’ll see you around, Hugo.”

“I hope so.”

Grinning, I shut the door and started the engine. He was leaning against the car parked beside me as I reversed out, and I waved to him as I left, struggling to wipe the cheesy grin from my face the whole way back home.

I knew I’d never be able to date him. For one, he was older, and two, we weren’t allowed to let anyone get close. But, I still liked him. I liked him a lot.

 

Two

 

Hugo

 

The sound of the rubber mallet hitting against metal echoed with a crack in the distance, momentarily obscuring the noisy chirp of the cicadas in the eucalyptus trees overhead.

Pete paused for a moment, wiping the back of his forearm across his sweaty forehead before he picked up his beer, kept cold in the heat with a stubby holder depicting the Australian flag, and took a thirsty swig. “Jesus, mate. I hope you at least got this girl’s number. She did a good job fucking up the side of your car.” He took another mouthful of beer then set it back on the sandstone rock beside him.

“Yeah, I got her number.” Although, I’m not going to tell him I already called her and didn’t get an answer. Twice. That was over a week ago. “Want me to take over?” It was thirty-eight in the shade. I was sweating buckets just standing still.

He shook his head. “Just keep the cold ones flowing and we’re good. I’ll be finished soon.”

Pete was a panel beater by trade. He did jobs for those he knew in exchange for a slab of beer. He was my older brother’s best mate, and because my brother and I were so close in age that we were enrolled in the same school year, Pete was my mate too. Although, I hadn’t seen a lot of him socially in the last six months, things had been awkward for everybody since then. But, we preferred not to talk about it. It was easier that way.

“Looks good to me,” he stated, turning the panel over and running his hand along the chipped paint. “I can put something on here to seal it, but we’ll have to paint it another day when I have the right colour.”

Helping him carry the panel back to my car, I held it while he fixed it in place. “Still looking after your mum?”

“I am, and she’s still consistently drunk and irritable,” I replied with a smile.

“So no change from normal then.”

“No. No change.”

“You’d think she’d change her tune without Donovan anymore.” Pushing himself off the ground, he stood and dusted himself off before looking up at the clear blue sky.

“I’m pretty sure she thinks Donovan is my fault too. She barely says a word to me when I go over there.”

“Then why do you?’

I shrug. “She’s the only family I have.”

He looked at me for a moment then nodded his head before looking up to the sky. “Fuck this weather, mate. Fuck summer.”

I leaned down and pulled a fresh beer from the ice in the Esky and handed it to him, taking another for myself. We twisted off the tops and tilted the bottles toward each other without actually clinking.

“Cheers, mate,” he said, tipping it back and draining the ice-cold liquid before letting out a loud ‘ah’ when he finished. Then he sniffed and looked at me. “You wanna go a few rounds with the bag for old time’s sake?” He motioned toward the house where he’d installed a gym in his spare room, when he, my brother and I started training together for the Londonderry fights. We were just kids then, and to us, Londonderry was the height of every wannabe fighter’s dream. Although we knew better now. Experience had taught us that they were a trap that sucked you in and never let you go.

“Maybe some other time,” I said.

***

In the early morning air, my feet pounded the concrete path as I wound my way through the mulberry bushes, the scent of their rotting fruit mixing the hot damp earth and polluted river invaded my nose. There had been a storm last night that broke the worst of the heat, although it swelled the river and caused it to collect debris from its banks. It made the churning water a muddy brown as it rushed to wherever it emptied out, eager to become the clearer steady flow it was only a day before.

While the temperature had lowered, the storm had caused a humidity that hung heavy in the air. It caused my shirt to stick to my body uncomfortably, and I stopped running, breathing heavy as I walked toward the water to stand under the shade of a maple tree. Reaching down, I peeled my shirt off and wiped it across my face, tucking it into the side of my black running shorts as I looked out at the water and watched it rush by. A blowfly attacked my face, hitting against it angrily as I swatted it away.

“Fuck off,” I growled, trying to actually hit it so it wouldn’t bother me again.

“They’re terrible after the rain,” a voice said from above me. I jerked my head up and frowned – surprised – taken aback. It was her. It was Meg. I was staring, my mouth open. The blowfly seized its opportunity at a new source of moisture, and I jerked my head away quickly, blowing a raspberry in disgust at almost swallowing the repugnant insect.

She was kind enough not to laugh, but when I looked up at her again, she was smiling at me. “Of all the trees along the river, you chose mine.”

“Yours? You climb up there often?”

She giggled. “I do. The view is better up here than it is down there.” She let out a sigh and looked out in front of her, her long slim leg bent at the knee, swinging, as she balanced on the wide branch with feline ease. “You should climb up and see.” She looked back down and met my eyes, her long white-blonde hair, hanging over her shoulder in a long ponytail. She had blue eyes, darker than mine. They reminded me of an angry sea and had featured quite heavily in my dreams of late.

Without hesitating, I climbed the tree and she slid along the branch to make room for me.

“See?” She tilted her chin upward, indicating the view of the blue sky with its cumulus clouds peeking between the green leaves of the canopy. I could see homes across the river. I could watch the cars on the other side, driving along River Road. I could see all the way to the freeway bridge and in the opposite direction, to the railway bridge. I could even see the pontoon where there were rowers lined up and getting out of their skulls. “I like to come here too for a change of perspective. You can see the beauty in the world when you aren’t smack in the middle of it.”

I turned to look back at her, absorbing her words, deciding in that moment that she was probably the best part of this entire view. “I’d like to paint it. Or at least photograph it.”

She shook her head. “Not me. Then I’d have to share it. I like having it all to myself.”

“You’re sharing it with me.”

A smile curved her pink soft looking lips. “That’s because I like you.”

I smiled in return. It’s funny how often you spend smiling at someone when you don’t really know them. There are so many things you want to say. So many questions you could ask, but instead, you smile, and hope they don’t see the secrets you’re hiding just behind the light of your eyes.

“I tried calling you,” I started, rubbing my palms together as I looked down at the ground below, littered with dead leaves and dark dirt.

“I know.”

“Twice.”

“Yes.”

“You didn’t call back.”

“I didn’t know what to say.”

We stared at each other, and without knowing much about her, I felt sure she was the most interesting person I’d ever met. There was something about her, something that made me want to learn all there was to know about her, while at the same time, I wanted nothing at all. It was like she was a moment in time, one I couldn’t quite grasp, but I wanted her just the same.

“Are you hungry?” I asked.

“I’m starving.”

“Come on then.” I pushed off from the branch and dropped to the ground, bending my knees softly to break the fall. She dropped next to me almost immediately, and stood there watching as I pulled my shirt back over my head.

“You have a nice body,” she stated, her tone serious, her expression even as if she was just rattling off a fact.

“So do you,” I returned, a smile curling at my lips from her compliment. I liked the way she looked at me. I liked the way I felt when I looked at her…

“So they tell me.”

I grinned fully. “I’m sure they do.”

Then she did that curious tilt of her head before she turned around and began to walk back toward the path. I followed, drawn to her side, and together we walked to where I’d parked my car, a gentle hum between our bodies where we almost touched.

“You fixed it.”

“A friend did.” I leaned in front of her and unlocked the passenger door, holding it open to let her in, hoping I didn’t smell too bad after running in the heat. She thanked me and I walked around to my side, starting the engine before driving us both to the nearest café.

We both ordered their big breakfast, an apple juice and coffee, and while we were waiting for our order we continued to make small talk, asking questions, learning answers.

“What are you studying?”

“I’d like to be a lab technician,” she said, twisting the saltshaker between her fingers.

“As in pharmaceuticals?”

“Yes. My brother seems to think I’m going to discover the cure to cancer or something.”

“Or the common cold. I hear they’re after a cure for that as well.”

She glanced up at me. There was that smile again. “What about you? Are you an artist or something?”

“I studied art, yes.”

“Studied? So you’re finished with school?”

I sat back in my chair. “For the most part, yes.”

The server brought over a tray with our drinks and placed them in front of us before returning to the counter and bringing out our meals.

“Smells wonderful,” she commented as she inhaled the scent of bacon, eggs, tomato and mushrooms with a wedge of buttered toast on the side.

My stomach grumbled in agreement and we both laughed, eating and chatting away with ease. I was leaning so much yet so little. I didn’t want it to end. But her phone rang, and without answering it, she simply looked at the screen and silenced the call before announcing that she had to go. She wasn’t even finished eating.

“Wait. Can I see you again?” I asked as she stood to leave.

She smiled again, her hands sliding into the back pockets of her jean shorts as she stopped beside me. Then without warning, she leaned down and she kissed me. It shocked me, and at first I didn’t respond. But that was a momentary pause before I reached up, my hands sliding along either side of her face, holding her steady as I entwined my lips and moved my tongue with hers, taking that first stomach flipping taste of her. Immediately I was addicted. I breathed in deeply, drawing her scent inside me, memorising her taste, my head spinning, my body feeling more alive than it had in months.

Regretfully, I released her, my eyes locked with hers as she pulled away, her cheeks pink, her blue eyes dark, her lips red. She was prettier than the most perfect oil painting.

“We’ll let fate decide,” she whispered.

“I don’t believe in fate.”

She shrugged. “You should. It led you to my tree.”

Then she turned away and left the café without even looking back, and I wondered if she was right. I wondered if fate really had intervened…

PREORDER LINKS 
AMAZON – http://mybook.to/HugoMeg

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/drawn-to-fight-hugo-meg/id958226357?mt=11

Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drawn-to-fight-lilliana-anderson/1121082687?ean=2940046516234

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/drawn-to-fight-hugo-meg

 

Happy reading!

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47 Things is now available!

 

Wow. For a while there, I didn’t know if this book was going to make it out of my head. It’s been in there for so long and I really liked having these characters dancing about in my mind. But, now there out of my head and out in the big world of readers, who may, or may not love them as much as I have.

Our main man, Tyler, is that guy we all knew from high school – you know the one who seems like he’s got it all going on. He’s the guy who infuriates the hell out of you because it seems no matter what he does, everyone loves him. But, like many popular boys, he’s hiding something behind that million dollar smile…

Sarah is our narrator and of course, she’s Tyler’s love interest. They grew up in the same town and she was the girl who was smart and tough, and dreamt of bigger things than a country town could offer her. She was that girl, sitting there, looking at the popular kids and wondering what made them so darn special. She wasn’t blinded by the facade Tyler put up to the world, and as a result, she was the one person he could never win over. That is, until their final days of university when a stick of gum intervenes…

 

★* ღ 47 Things is LIVE!ღ*★ and it debuted at #2 overall on iBooks AU! So excited! Thanks to all who preordered.
And for a limited time, it’s only ‪#99cents‬!
So grab your copy now and be sure to grab a box of tissues. This one’s a tearjerker. heart emoticon

Here are you links –

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/1SDcuWR
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1MJlE2k
Amazon AU – http://bit.ly/1HSUuT8
Amazon CA – http://amzn.to/1SDcF4q

 

Here’s the blurb –

“What’s your name, sweetheart?”….

That was the first thing. I wasn’t his sweetheart, and he should already have known my name. But that was the moment I became caught in Tyler Lohan’s sight. He was wonderful and complicated and I’d spent my life trying to hate him for being the golden boy who had everything easy. But once we gave in, there was no stopping what we had.

There would be a total of forty-seven things that sucked me into Tyler’s life then forced me away. Forty-seven things that ruined me forever.

Forty-seven was never going to be enough.
There was no number great enough…

47 Things. A standalone new adult romance that follows a couple as they come to terms with falling love in a world they can’t control, and the certainty of the inevitable.

 

Enjoy!

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