This is a contest anyone can win. Tell your friends, spouses, and neighbors. Tell the girl in braces behind the cash register at Kroger. Scream it from the rooftops or start a buzz going while you're in line to register your kid for summer camp.
All you have to do to win this contest is...FOLLOW MY BLOG!
I'll have the randomizer pick one winner from the list of my followers to receive these awesome ebooks. The winner will get to pick which format they'd like them in (Kindle, Sony, Nook, etc.). It's easy, folks! The contest will last until Friday's blog post, where I'll announce the winner.
Here's the loot, yo!
by Keri Stevens
When Delia Forrest talks to statues, they talk back. She is, after all, the last of the Steward witches.
After an arsonist torches her ancestral home with her estranged father still inside, Delia is forced to sell the estate to pay his medical bills. Her childhood crush, Grant Wolverton, makes a handsome offer for Steward House, vowing to return it to its former glory. Delia agrees, as long as he'll allow her to oversee the restoration.
Working so closely with Grant, Delia finds it difficult to hide her unique talent—especially when their growing passion fuels her abilities.
But someone else lusts after both her man and the raw power contained in the Steward land. Soon Delia finds herself fighting not just for Grant's love, but for both their lives...
by Keri Ford
He never loses control.
She always tests the rules.
Chief Deputy Mike Gabel is the man in charge in Apple Trail. No one gives him more trouble than a certain blonde. While her stunts are frustrating enough to deal with, it’s the constant way she keeps him trapped in knots that sends him over the edge.
Tiffany McBride has a reputation for act now, think…never. She’s been betting and causing trouble since her parents died when she was a teenager. What looks like a young woman sewing her wild oats, is actually desperate measures to gamble for extra money to put food on the table.
When these two acknowledge their attraction, sparks fly…that is if Mike’s public position can survive Tiffany’s frowned upon reputation.
by T.R. Ragan
Elizabeth Gardner (Lizzy) is seventeen-years old when she tells her parents she’s going out with her girlfriends. Instead, she meets up with Jared Shayne, her boyfriend of two years. As she walks home beneath an inky black sky, her perfect night becomes her worst nightmare.
Fourteen years later, Lizzy is a licensed PI known as the “one who got away." When she’s not searching for runaway teenagers, working on insurance scams, or talking to her therapist, she’s at the local high school teaching young girls to defend themselves. But her world is turned upside down for the second time after she receives a call from Jared Shayne. He’s an FBI special agent now and he needs her help. Lizzy has no plans to get involved. Not until Jared tells her the kidnapper left her a personalized note.
Escaping from a madman should have been the end of her nightmare…but it was only the beginning.
by Liliana Hart
My life was a disaster.
I sat in my car with a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel and watched the rain pound against the windshield. I was soaked to the skin, my skirt was ripped, and blood seeped from both knees. There were scratches on my arms and neck, and my face was blotchy and red from crying. Along with the external wounds, I’d lost a good deal of my sensibilities, most of my faith in mankind, and all of my underwear somewhere between a graveyard and a church parking lot.
I’ll explain later. It’s been a hell of a day.
My name is Addison Holmes, no relation to Sherlock or Katie, and if God has any mercy, he’ll strike me with lightning and end it all. I’ve had a job at the McClean Detective Agency for exactly six days. It’s been the longest six days of my life, and I’ll be lucky if I live to see another six. Unspeakable things, things you’d never imagine have happened to me in six days.
Now I faced the onerous task of telling Kate McClean, my best friend and owner of the McClean Detective Agency, how I’d botched a simple surveillance job and found a dead body. Another dead body.
I should have kept my job as a stripper.
Saturday, Seven Days Earlier
I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in thirty years of living. Like when I was eight and I decided to run away from home with nothing more than the clothes on my back, peanut butter crackers and my pink Schwinn bicycle with a flat front tire. And the time when I was sixteen and decided it was a good idea to lose my virginity at an outdoor Metallica concert. And then there was the time I was nineteen and decided I could make it to Atlanta on a quarter tank of gas if I kept the air conditioner off.
There are other examples, but I won’t bore you with the details.
Obviously my judgment has gotten worse as I’ve grown older, because those bad decisions are nothing compared to the one I was about to make.
“Hey, Queen of Denial, you’re up.”
I gave the bouncer guarding the stage entrance my haughtiest glare, sucked in my corseted stomach, tossed my head so the black wig I wore shifted uncomfortably on top of my scalp and flicked my cat-o-nine tails hard enough to leave a welt on my thigh. It was all in the attitude, and if I had anything to do with it, The Foxy Lady would never be the same after Addison Holmes made her debut.
The music overwhelmed my senses, and the bass pumped through my veins in time with the beat of my heart. The lights stung my eyes with their intensity, and I slunk across the stage Marlene Dietrich style in hopes that I wouldn’t fall on my face. Marlene’s the epitome of sexy in my mind, which should tell you a little something about me.
I’d run into a little problem lately, and let’s just say that anyone who’s ever said money can’t buy happiness has obviously never had the need for money. My apartment had a date with a wrecking ball in sixty days, and there was this sweet little house in town I wanted to buy, but thus far the funds to buy it hadn’t magically appeared in my bank account. I could probably make a respectable down payment in three or four years, but I had payments on a 350Z Roadster that were killing me, yoga classes, credit cards, a new satellite dish that fell through my roof last week, an underwear of the month club membership to pay for and wedding bills that were long past overdue. My bank account was stretched a little thin at the moment.
None of those things would be a big deal if I was making big executive dollars at some company where I had to wear pantyhose everyday. But I teach ninth grade world history at James Madison High School in Whiskey Bayou, Georgia, which means I make slightly more than those guys who sit in the toll booths and look at porn all day, and slightly less than the road crew guys who stand on the side of the highway in the orange vests and wave flags at oncoming traffic.
Since I’d rather have a bikini wax immediately followed by a salt scrub than have to move home with my mother, I’d declared myself officially desperate. And desperation leads to all kinds of things that will haunt a person come Judgment Day—like stripping to my skivvies in front of men who are almost as desperate as I am.
The beat of the music coursed through my body as I twirled and gyrated. The lights baked my skin and sweat poured down my face from their heat. Something tickled my cheek. I caught a glimpse of black out of the corner of my eye and realized a false eyelash one of the working girls had stuck on me earlier sat like a third eyebrow on my glistening skin. I swiped at it nonchalantly, but it wouldn’t budge. I ducked my head and peeled it off my cheek, but then it stuck to my finger and I couldn’t get the little devil off.
I shimmied down to my knees and knelt in front of a portly man with rosy cheeks and glazed eyes that spoke of too much alcohol. His sausage-like fingers came a little too close, so I gave him a slap with my whip to remind him of his manners and the fact he was wearing a wedding ring.
I ran my fingers through his thick, black hair and left the eyelash as a souvenir of his visit to The Foxy Lady. The thought crossed my mind that he might have a hard time explaining the eyelash to his wife, but the music kicked up in tempo and I had to figure out something else to do with my remaining two minutes on stage. Who’d have guessed it would take me thirty seconds to run through all my dance moves?
The arches of my feet were screaming and I almost laughed in relief when I saw the poles on the far side of the stage. I could spin a few times on the poles and hang upside down a few seconds to take the pressure off my feet. Besides, I watch T.V. Men always seem to go crazy for the girls dancing with the poles.
I swung around the pole with more gusto than was probably wise and little black spots started clouding my vision, so I slowed my momentum down until I was walking around the pole like a horse in a paddock on a lead rope.
I made another lap around the pole and saw Mr. Dupres, the club’s owner, frowning at me. He swung his arms out and gestured something that resembled either taking off his shirt or ripping open his chest cavity, and I realized I still had on every scrap of clothing I’d walked on stage with. I threw my whip down with determination and ripped my bustier off to reveal the sparkly pasties underneath. I tossed the bustier into the audience and cringed as it knocked over a full drink into some guy’s lap. Just call me the human version of a cold shower. Not a great endorsement for a stripper. I waved a little apology in his direction and tried to put a little more wiggle into my hips to make up for the mishap.
Would this freaking song ever end?
I prayed someone from the audience would have mercy and just shoot me. I spun one last time on the pole and nearly fell to the ground when I saw a familiar face in the audience.
I would have recognized the comb-over and pasty complexion anywhere, though when I usually saw Principal Butler he didn’t have a stripper grinding in his lap. I kind of hoped the way his glasses were fogged would keep him from seeing me, but when he took them off and wiped them on his tie my hopes were dashed. He did a double-take and blinked like an owl before he paled.
I just wanted to vomit.
Mr. Butler practically shoved the woman in his lap to the ground and reached for something in his pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and snapped off a picture. Not good. I guess he wanted proof to show to the school board before he fired me.
I covered myself with my arm and edged back toward the curtain. The music pounded. I waved to a few customers on the front row, their faces twisted and disgruntled at my early departure. I considered my bounty. A grand total of seventy-two cents on a bed of peanut shells lay at my feet.
Principal Butler’s eyes were still glued to my chest as I finally found my way behind the thick curtains at the back of the stage. It was a darned good thing there was only a week left until school was out. Maybe the summer would give Mr. Butler time to forget that he saw me in pasties and a thong and me time to forget that I saw my principal’s tiny excuse for an erection.
Or maybe not.
So it turns out I’m not cut out to be an exotic dancer, and I’ll be checking the employment section of the paper again.
I have to say that after the conversation I just had when I was fired from The Foxy Lady, I probably can’t count on them to give me a glowing recommendation.
“Listen, Addison, I just don’t think you’re cut out for this type of work,” Girard Dupres told me after my first and only routine.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times in my life I’ve heard those exact words. If I weren’t such a positive person, I would live in a constant state of depression.
Anyway, Mr. Dupres was the guy who hired me, and he looked like a Soprano’s reject—thinning dark hair, beady eyes, hairy knuckles and greasy skin. He obviously didn’t know anything about hiring good strippers or he never would have considered me.
I decided it was best to look slightly downtrodden at my termination, but inside I was relieved that exotic dancing wasn’t my calling. I don’t think I pulled off the reaction I was hoping for, because Mr. Dupres thought it would be a good idea for me to perfect my technique in a private showing just for him. But to give him the benefit of the doubt, it’s hard to have a conversation and not look desperate when you’re topless and covered in sweat.
I told Mr. Dupres “Thanks, but no thanks,” and headed backstage to gather my things and get dressed. I decided to keep the costume and cat o’ nine tails just in case I ever had a dominance emergency, but I left the itchy wig on the little plastic head I’d borrowed it from.
I took out the blue contacts I’d worn to cover my dark brown eyes and creamed off the heavy eye makeup. I pulled my dark hair back into a ponytail, slipped on my jeans and baby-doll tee from the Gap and stepped into a pair of bright pink flip-flops. It was nice to see the real Addison Holmes once again. I’d only misplaced myself for a few minutes, but it was long enough to make me realize that I liked the real me enough to find some other way to make the extra money I needed.
I’d just hide this little incident away and no one but Mr. Butler and me would ever know about it.
I pushed open the heavy metal door that led from the dressing areas to the alley behind The Foxy Lady and squinted my eyes as the sun and heat bore down on me. I slipped on a pair of Oakley’s and hitched my bag up, digging at the bottom for my car keys.
If I’d been looking where I was going instead of at the bottom of my purse, I’d never have tripped over the body. I’d probably have walked a wide path around it and wondered how someone could already be drunk enough on a Saturday afternoon to be passed out in a strip club’s parking lot. As it was, my foot caught the man right in the ribs and sent me sprawling to my hands and knees.
I muttered various curses as the raw skin on my palms bled. I pushed myself up slowly and took stock of my aching body. My jeans had holes in both knees and a lot of blood covered the toes of my right foot.
“What the hell?” I said as I wiggled my toes to see what the damage was. There didn’t seem to be any cuts so I turned around to see what I’d fallen over.The body sprawled out in the gap between the cars. It seemed twisted in an odd arc, but shadow shielded me from witnessing the carnage that created so much blood. If nothing else, I knew where the blood on my toes had come from. I couldn't pretend he was drunk with the dark stain spreading out across his dress shirt like a Target ad. Nor would I be able to keep my recent dabbling into the exotic arts a secret once I called the police and explained to them I’d just found my principal dead in the parking lot.
To be continued...
Good Luck, Readers!