Ripped – The Invinsibles Book 12 by Heather Slade

The Invincibles Book 12
USA Today Bestselling Author


He’s an Invincibles contractor on the fast track to partner.
She’s a cult captive looking for answers.
Together, they’re INVINCIBLE.


I ’m on my way up—up the Invincibles ladder, ready and willing to be named partner. But first, I need to take down the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a brainwashed cult that will stop at nothing to get ahead, even hurt their own kin. And that doesn’t sit well with me. When I meet her, the daughter of the brotherhood, I know something is wrong, and dangerous. She’s in trouble and has nobody to turn to—until now.


Conflicting feelings. Emotions that have me reeling. My father is dead. The grief is real, but the relief is paramount. I’m free. I’ve escaped the clutches of him and his vile men. With nowhere to go, I have to trust the Invincibles, especially the one who’s trying to help me. But something tells me, if I get too close, he’ll RIP my heart out.

Vex and Scottie (McKenna Walsh) have been working undercover in Aryan Brother of Texas (ABT) compound. They heard some chatter that the woman they took under their wing, Pearl Fischer, was in danger. In order to prevent anything happening to her, Vex and Scottie manage to get her out of the compound on the pretext of a meeting of the Aryan Nation in Idaho.

Since Vex and Scottie had more to do, they call in Rip to take Pearl to a safe house. Instead Rip takes her to his home on Hammer’s ranch. He felt it would offer the best security for her. There was only one little problem, and that was her ‘father’ John Fischer had kidnapped Hammer’s wife, Maeve. Rip hoped that wouldn’t be an issue.

His goal is to keep Pearl safe from the Aryan’s and figure out why they want her.

Pearl had always lived on the compound, she has no recollection of her mother, only her father. She shared a cabin with her father so she wasn’t with the rest of the single women on the compound in a barracks. Vex and Scottie had taken her in after her father died so she still was with the others. She wasn’t treated well by the other women even though she worked with them. They all had jobs to do. Only Ms. Opal treated her well and taught her to cook.

Rip first researches information on ‘cult survivors’ so he can help Pearl transition to the real world. She has no identification at all since that was all controlled by the men of the ABT. He is slowly introducing Pearl to the freedom she now has. Taking her riding and fishing, while also letting her feel useful by cooking and some cleaning.

A favorite scene is when they go fishing and after.

I couldn’t help but breathe in the scent of her. It was fresh and pure, like a meadow in springtime, when the sun has been shining down on it. I stepped around her and held the fish up once she’d reeled it in far enough. “You got a big one too! Look at that.”

“What do we do with it now?”

“This here is catch-and-release fishing,” I said as I removed the lure and tossed the largemouth bass back in the water.

“What’s the point if you just let them go?”

“It’s relaxing.”

She raised both eyebrows and cast her line again. After an hour, Pearl had caught and released six to my zero.

“Are you sure we can’t keep any?” she asked when she caught number seven, which looked bigger than the others.

I shook my head. “Why do you want to?”

“Fishing made me hungry.”

I chuckled. “Me too.”

“I don’t think I like fish, though.”

“No? I love a good fried catfish.”

“I’ve never had it.”

“Catfish or any fish?” I asked.

“Any fish.”

“Then, I know just the place for us to get some.” It would take some finagling on my part, but I thought I could make it work.

We were about fifteen minutes from the ranch when I pulled over and placed a call.

“Hey, Rebel,” I said when the woman who helped out behind the bar and in the kitchen at the Long Branch when needed answered. With both Maeve and Hammer taking some time off before the baby was born, my guess was Rebel and her husband, Edge, who was one of the Invincibles partners, were there pretty much every day.

“Hey, Rip. What can I do for you, sugar?”

“You don’t happen to have two orders of catfish you could package up for me as take out do you?”

“Sure do. You want coleslaw and potato salad with those?”

I looked at Pearl, who could easily hear everything Rebel had said. She nodded her head enthusiastically.

“That’ll be perfect.”

“Give me about fifteen minutes, and I’ll have ’em ready.”

“I’ll swing by the family entrance and grab them.”

I ended the call and was about to put the SUV in gear when I noticed a group of motorcycles headed our way. Rather than pull out, I waited a couple of minutes to give them time to pass. I wasn’t worried about any of them seeing into my vehicle since the windows were tinted pretty dark, but I wanted to get a good look at them, as much as I could see by the light of the moon anyway.

“Let me know if you recognize any of these bikes,” I said when they were almost to us. “Or anyone riding them.”

“All of them,” she said as they drove by in groups.



Rather than follow, I spun the SUV around and went in the opposite direction. Once I turned off the main road, I called Rebel back. “ABT headed your way,” I said when she answered. “You want me to call the sheriff?”

“A couple of them passed Tres on his way in, so he’s way ahead of you, Rip, but thanks for the heads-up.”

“I’m gonna have to take a pass on the catfish, darlin’. I’m really sorry about that.”

“Hammer is headed out with a couple of T-bones. You want me to have him bring your dinners to the ranch with him?”

“If he wouldn’t mind.”

Rebel laughed and ended the call.

I looked over at Pearl, who was wide-eyed and white as a sheet.

“It’s okay. You’re safe with me. You know that right?”

“They’re out looking for me. I can feel it.”

“Well, they aren’t going to find you.” Seconds later, we pulled through the gates of the Hammered Dubliner— a place we wouldn’t be leaving again anytime soon.

Rather than going to my house, I pulled up in front of Hammer’s and called to say I was here, waiting.

“You heard we had company at the Branch,” he said.

“Saw them myself.”

“We’ll talk more when I get there. Go on inside. I’ll let Maeve know you and Pearl will be having dinner with us. We might need to rethink the plan.”

“This is all my fault,” said Pearl. “He doesn’t want me here anymore.”

“I don’t know what you think is your fault, and unless you’re some kind of mind reader, you don’t know what Hammer is thinking either. We need to head inside in just a minute, but first, there’s something I want to talk to you about.”

I knew she didn’t want to go in. I also knew she would anyway. Either way, I was about to reveal to her exactly who I was. I had to, because even though I couldn’t read minds either, I still knew Hammer was going to suggest we relocate.

She turned her body so she was facing me. “Go ahead.”

“Before this goes any further, I need you to know I’m not exactly who you think I am.”

She folded her arms. “Who are you?”

“My name is Rip, or Zane, like I told you. I just never was a part of the Nazi Freedom Riders.

Pearl smiled.


“I knew that inside of five minutes of meeting you.”

I smiled too. “Yeah? How? Do I look too soft to have been one of them?”

“You’re too nice.” I could see the wheels turning in her head. “Mr. Robinson and Ms. Shay aren’t who they said they were either.”

“That’s right.”

“I think deep down I knew that too. Why are you telling me now?”

“So it’s easier for Hammer and me to talk freely about our next course of action.”

“What about Maeve?”

“You might not believe this, but… Maeve’s brother is actually the head of the CIA.

Again, her eyes opened wide. “She’s Irish.”

“He isn’t. He’s actually her half brother.”

“Is that who you work for?”

“Indirectly. I work for a company called the Invincibles.”

“Your woman said that name.”

I raised a brow. “She’s not my woman.”

“She wants to be.”

“You saw her for thirty seconds. What makes you say something like that?”

She turned her head away so I couldn’t see her face. “Any woman would want to be.”

“Pearl—” Before I could say another word, she got out of the SUV. I did too and headed her off before she got up the steps to the front door. “Don’t run away from me,” I said when she tried to skirt past me.

I put my hands on her arms. “Pearl?”


“Look at me.”

She sure as hell didn’t want to, but eventually, she did anyway.

“Any man would want you to be his too.”

“You’re just saying that because I said it first.”

“Am I? Are you reading my mind now too?”

“You don’t mean it.”

“You’re wrong.” Before I could do something stupid, like show her exactly how wrong she was, Hammer’s vehicle pulled up next to mine. “You head on inside, and I’ll help him bring the food in.”

She took off as soon as I released her.

“Hey, Pearl?”

She looked over her shoulder at me.

“We’re going to finish this conversation later.”
Heather Slade. Ripped (Kindle Locations 854-918). The Invincibles Book Ten.

Knowing the ABT is searching for her leads to them traveling to an even more secure location. Buck’s ranch, The Roaring Fork in Colorado.

I really liked that Pearl took the first step towards furthering the relationship with Rip and I respected him a lot for turning her down. Not because he doesn’t want her, but he wants answers to her situation and for her to heal more first.

Plenty of ups and downs in this one and more than one surprise.

I really can’t wait for the new series with Rip at the head.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Heather Slade

My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.

I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.

I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.

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Legacy and Lovers – Untouchable Book 11 by Heather Long

Legacy and Lovers
Untouchable Book 11
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Long


When did we become the adults? When did we become the ones who had to make the hard calls? One by one, we’ve all left our teenage years behind. College brought new challenges even as Bound Hearts brought us more.

Whether we’re making music, love, war, games, or trouble, we’ve found a good balance. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Together, we know we can do anything.

We’ve learned that even being apart doesn’t mean we aren’t together.

Life has a habit of throwing curve balls. School, careers, new hobbies, friends in need, and family demands are hitting us from every angle. We’re going to need each other more than ever.

Archie, Coop, Ian, Jake, and I are a team. We’re constantly figuring it out and sometimes, we fight. We also make up.

And we’ll have each other’s backs, today, tomorrow, and into the future.

This is a reverse harem and the author suggests you always read the forward in her books. Contains some bullying elements, mature situations, violence, and is recommended for 17+. This is the eleventh in a series and the story will continue through future books.

Once again if you haven’t read the other books in the series STOP, go back and start at the beginning.

This book starts pretty much where the last one ended. It’s the beginning of their third year at NYU. It’s been a busy two weeks and Frankie wants some alone time with Coop. He’s volunteering at a center in Flushing so it’s a bit of a commute, but Frankie doesn’t mind taking the subway to meet up with him to travel back home together. This was so much fun and I loved the phone conversation with Hank.

Jake’s taken up playing hockey and he’s pretty good at it. He loves that Frankie comes to watch even his practices and I loved seeing the after of this one.

Frankie and Rachel always get me laughing and when Frankie models for her it’s so much fun. Rachel drops a bit of a bomb, but dang if Frankie doesn’t counter it like a pro.

I think the interactions with Jeremy and Miss Abigail are hysterical, but she’s a puppy after all and does need to have manners.

Ian and Frankie have some new things to think about with their music and it’s both fun and exciting for them. School however is the priority right now.

The person everyone is concerned about is Archie. He’s buried himself in projects and working long hours. It’s his way of dealing with Grandpa Ted’s death, but he’s isolating himself. I really loved the way Frankie stepped in.

Now all that’s just a touch of the beginning of this book. This relationship is always sizzling and full of fun innuendos.

It’s taken me a while to decide on my favorite scene, but I think when everyone gets sick after Halloween night takes the prize here. I love how they take such good care of each other.

Two days after Halloween, I woke up with more than a sore throat and Jake propped his head up on his hand as he gazed down at me. Bless him, he didn’t say anything until I said, “I think I’m sick.”

It came out so hoarse and rough, he smiled gently and pressed his lips to my forehead. “We know. You’ve been flush for two days, Baby Girl.”

I groaned, closing my eyes and putting a hand up to my face. My head hurt, my throat hurt. Even my muscles hurt. When I tried to sit up, Jake wrapped an arm around me and tugged me up against the pillows.

He nodded over to the nightstand next to the bed and I could have cried. Cold meds sat there with a tumbler on the warming plate. I’d bet anything there was hot tea in there.

“Ian or Coop?”

“Both of them, but Coop was up here earlier and he noticed how hot you were running.” There wasn’t an ounce of reproach in his voice. I cradled the tumbler and then took a sip of the tea. “Archie sounded a little rough this morning, so Jeremy banished him to his own room for a few hours.”

I grimaced.

“Bubba’s got a stuffed nose but otherwise he seems fine and Coop’s got the constitution of an ox, so he’ll be swapping out with me after he gets back from work later.”

“Jake,” I protested but he just shook his head at me.

“Nope. You’ve got a cold and a fever. You’re the worst off. It’s not our first rodeo.”

“And if you get sick?” Misery might love company but I didn’t want them sick. I told them I wasn’t and then they were all sleeping in here anyway.

“Then we get sick. I’ve never been afraid of your cooties.”

That just made me giggle. Unfortunately, that giggle turned into a cough. I covered my mouth and grimaced. Reaching past me, Jake got the meds out and held them over to me. I took them. The tea was amazing, but my throat felt like I’d swallowed crushed glass and I swore my pulse thumped in my head.

“You hungry at all?”

I shook my head, I kind of just wanted to go back to sleep. “I have to call my dad.”

“I’ll do it if you want.”

“And I have to call Eddie.”

“I can do that too.”

Sniffling, I took another swallow of the tea and then put it back on the warming plate before I turned to snuggle into Jake. He chuckled, stroking my hair.

“Hot,” I grumbled.

“Yes, you are, in more ways than one.” He nuzzled a kiss to my head. “Go to sleep, Baby Girl. I’m going to get a damp cloth. Hopefully the meds will work and we’ll get that fever down.”

I hated being sick.

He slipped out of the bed, but came back with the cold wash cloth, after he tucked it around my neck and let me cuddle right up to him, I was out.

The next time I woke up, Jake was still there. He had a book open on the Kindle and he was reading. He scooted out to go grab food for me and more hot tea while I went to the bathroom. I stood under a tepid shower when he came back up, but I was already swaying from the headache before I was totally done.

Skipping clothes altogether, I just crawled back into bed. There was soup, meds, more tea and water and then a Jake to snuggle before I went back to sleep.

The whole weekend passed with only brief moments of being awake enough to take meds and eat. My fever finally broke sometime on Sunday morning. Ian was there and he picked me up and carried my nasty, sweaty self right into the shower.

Thankfully, he was an old hand at washing my hair. They all were. Jake was waiting when we were done and they toweled me off and combed out the tangles before I got to be in fresh pajamas.

They’d even changed out the bedsheets. Jake also looked a little flushed and Ian told him to get in the bed and handed him the same meds I was taking. Archie definitely had the cold so he came up to join us, leaving Coop and Ian to run all over the place, but I could actually help.

What a shitty weekend.

Well, not so shitty I guessed because by Monday, I was mostly better except for feeling like a snot factory. Coop had finally taken a turn and he was definitely rough. Archie was already bouncing back, and Jake’s fever broke.

So far, Ian was the only one who’d escaped unscathed, but we skipped classes to look after everyone else. Thankfully, none of us managed to get Jeremy sick. Which was definitely a win.

“Hey,” Coop said in a raspy voice. He was the last of us still sick. Jake, like me, had a mild cough and a stuffy nose but he’d felt a hell of a lot better after the fever passed. Archie seemed to have dodged all of that.

Coop, though, he got all the cooties. “Hey,” I greeted him, his forehead was definitely damp and his hair sticky. “How are you doing?”

“I feel like ass,” he complained and I chuckled. “I recognize that feeling.”

“Your cooties had some kick.” The half-echo of my earlier thought made me smile even more. He shoved himself up and I twisted to get him water. If he had to drink tea, he would, but he wasn’t a fan.

“Well, maybe next time, we skip making out while I’m sick.”

He gave it a beat like he was considering it, then shook his head. “Nah. Totally worth it.”

“You’re terrible.”

“But you love me.”

Not even a question. I leaned in and when he lowered the water bottle, I nuzzled a kiss to his stubbly cheek. “I love you even when you’re gross,” I promised him.

“Good.” He made a face. “Cause I’m pretty sure I’m offending myself.”
Heather Long. Legacy and Lovers (Kindle Locations 1748-1794).

Thanksgiving is quite the occasion with all the families. It was fun and their was a lot of handling the question of their plans for the future with Frankie.

A surprise event had me tearing up. Frankie and the guys really show how much they’ve grown here and I don’t think it could have been handled better.

Archie’s grief also takes a turn and with Frankie and surprisingly Eddie it gets better for all of them.

A big plus in this one is the happy cliffhanger, it was absolutely perfect!

As much as I don’t want this series to end, I know the next book is the last. I can’t wait for their HEA.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Heather Long Heather Long

USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.

From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.

When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.

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Simon Says…Scream – Kate Morgan Book 4 by Dale Mayer

Simons Says…Scream
Kate Morgan Book 4
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer


It’s taken some time, but Detective Kate Morgan’s various relationships are gelling at work—and even at home. Until Simon starts screaming in the middle of the night. Worried and not sure she’s up for this, Kate distances herself from him. When a tortured female body shows up, Simon’s visions are of no help, until he describes one specific injury, … the same injury on Kate’s latest case.

A case getting weirder as more is uncovered. A similar tortured death happened more than a decade ago, where the killer was caught and served time. As a suspect he looks good for this current case because he’s now out and back in society. Except he has a solid alibi …

This isn’t the only victim though, and, as the Vancouver PD Homicide Unit digs deeper, Kate’s team finds several more cases—all with connections to the same suspect. But Kate’s still not convinced.

Too much more is going on, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of this, before someone else dies a painful death …

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This book opens with Simon waking from a nightmare screaming. Kate was there with him and immediately looks for the source of the scream when Simon tells her it was in his head.

The case Kate gets called to is a brutal scene, the victim tortured, and her vocal cords cut. The call she makes to Simon really isn’t a surprise considering his nightmare.

This is a favorite scene.

As Simon headed off, after this final meeting, and walked toward home, he pulled out his phone again. “You called,” he said, when she answered.

“I did,” Kate answered briskly. “Remember that nightmare?”

“Which one?” he asked in a hard voice. “There’s been a few lately, and why the hell do I have to remember them anyway?”

“You don’t,” she acknowledged, “but you and I both know that whatever is going on in your psyche won’t let you rest until whatever the hell is going on is solved.”

“That’s an awful lot of vagaries,” he noted.

“Well, anytime you want to give me something definitive,” she replied in a cheerful voice, “I’d be happy to have them.” Her voice dropped as she added, “Especially right now.”

“Ah hell.” He stopped in his tracks; a person walking behind him bumped into him. With both of them apologizing and moving out of each other’s way, he hissed into the phone. “What did you find?”

“A pretty ugly scenario,” she replied quietly.

“I don’t really want to deal with any more ugly scenarios.”

“I get that,” she noted, “but, in this case, I’m not sure any of us have a choice.”

“Why not?” he snapped.

“Because her vocal cords were cut,” she answered quietly. “To stop her from screaming.”

A long, drawn-out hiss escaped as Simon realized which nightmare Kate was talking about.

“Ah, crap, the woman who was screaming but not screaming.”

“Yep, that one. At least as far as I can figure, that’s the one we’re talking about.”

“Meaning that I have more than one nightmare?”

“No,” she stated, with a note of finality. “Just hoping that we don’t have more than one murder victim.”

“Isn’t your desk piled rather high?”

“Too damn high,” she groaned.

“So it’s not like murder takes a holiday.”

“No, it doesn’t, unfortunately.”

He groaned. “What do you need from me?”

“As always, anything you have to give.”

“Wow, Detective,” he said in a mocking voice. “I didn’t know you cared.”

“You know I care,” she snapped right back in a pithy voice. “You just don’t know if I care very much.”

He shook his head at that because it was very true. He wasn’t even sure where the hell their relationship was at these days. She was independent, and, as much as he wanted her to be less independent, she struggled with their relationship as it was right now. “Fine,” he muttered. “What would you like from me?”

“A heads-up if you get any insights.”

“You know I’m pushing them away.”

“But I know that sometimes they won’t let you push them away. And, Simon, I get that you don’t want to do this,” she said. “I really do. But I’ve got to tell you, I really don’t want to stand over any more women who were in the condition of the one I saw today.”

“That bad?”

“Worse,” she replied. “I’ve got to go. Remember. Any answers you get, I’ll take them.”

“You don’t even believe in this bullshit,” he argued.

“I don’t know what I believe anymore,” she snapped right back.

It was an argument they’d had many times, and he couldn’t blame her because he was definitely on the same side in terms of not knowing what to believe. Obviously he was a believer, but sometimes it all just seemed too damn far-fetched to be feasible. As he went to answer her, he realized she’d already hung up on him. He swore, staring down at his phone.

A man standing nearby, waiting for a bus, laughed at him. “Had to be a woman,” he stated. “Those are the only calls that can screw us over so badly.”

Simon looked at him, realized what the guy was saying, then chose to ignore him and walked away.

“You can run, but you can’t hide,” the guy called out with a laugh.

The trouble was, it was almost true.
Dale Mayer. Simon Says… Scream (Kindle Locations 275-309). Valley Publishing.

More victims, more clues that lead nowhere and Simon’s senses overloading. Kate and Simon work together to find a woman who isn’t yet dead but is telling Simon she wishes she was so the pain would stop.

Frustrating for Kate and her team and Simon as well as they race the clock that is counting down rapidly.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Coming Soon!

Dale Mayer

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.

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Severed Dreams by Becca Jameson

Severed Dreams
USA Today Bestselling Author
Becca Jameson


I’m having dreams I can’t explain—nightmares of faceless people watching me on what should be the most important day of my life.

Something really bad happened to me. So bad that I can’t quite piece anything together. It’s making me paranoid. I swear I’m being watched all the time.

Ever since the dreams started, nothing in my life makes sense. I don’t trust my instincts. I’m not sure I trust anyone around me. Not even my family. They mean well. But they treat me with kid gloves as if I’m fragile. Maybe I am…

Whatever happened, it’s over and I have to move on. I need to get back to work at my family’s department store. Instead, my parents and my sister insist I convalesce at the beach. And I don’t trust them enough to tell them about my relationship with Bryon, a man I was instantly attracted to who seems to have secrets of his own.

I need closure and a new normal. I’m trying, but it’s hard when everything feels wrong and I don’t even know who I am anymore. Why can’t I get my life back on track? I’m young. I have my entire life ahead of me. It seems like no one wants me to move on. I’m stuck. In limbo. As if I’m outside my body watching.

And whoever is watching me is getting closer every day.

This romantic suspense will take you on a ride that will have your mind questioning EVERYTHING! Prepare to search for the answers with Jessa before tragedy strikes again.

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This book is a series of before and after scenes. In the before we see Jessa fall for an undercover detective she meets at an accident scene. She stopped to help an older woman who was trapped in her car. Ashton is the name she heard first but when he makes sure she gets home okay his card says Liam Barnes. The romance and secrecy is difficult for both of them especially when he meets her parents.

Jessa works at her father’s department store, although he doesn’t really want her working. Her sister is in charge of their Miami location so Jessa doesn’t understand the difference.

The before follows the relationship to marriage, to the accident.

The after is Jessa putting pieces together as she has no recollection of her life prior to the accident.

This is a favorite scene.

The only person I regularly saw was my sister. She lived in the building next to mine. And she treated me with the kid gloves I probably needed.

But this man… This man was gorgeous. Or perhaps it was just his smile. It captivated me.

He pointed at the drawing under my palm. “You’re very talented.”

“Thank you.” Half of me didn’t want to encourage him. The other half was drawn to him. The dimple on his cheek endearing. He was harmless. I needed to lighten up. A little human contact wouldn’t kill me.

And if I wanted to start lifting my face to the world again, I couldn’t imagine a better specimen stepping up to the plate.

He squatted beside me, his gaze still on my sketch. He oozed masculinity in a way that didn’t seem quite fitting for a stroll on the beach this early in the morning. He wore khaki dress slacks and a white dress shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. No one dressed that way on the beach. My gaze roamed down to his feet— bare, his toes digging into the sand.

Appropriate morning attire on the beach included jogging shorts or swim trunks.

He shifted his gaze to the rising sun. “It’s so beautiful out here in the morning.”

I stared at him with an urge to ask him to stay very still so I could sketch him instead of the designs I was gathering from my imagination. He was that beautiful.

The thought was ludicrous since I didn’t draw people. I drew clothes. Maybe if I had a sketch of him instead of ten thousand dresses, I would have something entertaining to enjoy in my apartment.

I told myself my attraction to him was based purely on looks, a gorgeous subject matter. There was nothing wrong with that. He was tall and slender. A businessman. I guessed he probably worked in an office. Not much time for sun or working out.

“Are you a professional designer?” he asked, turning his head in my direction.

I shrugged. I had no intention of telling him who I was. Every time I met someone, their opinion of me changed the moment they heard my last name. It had been like that my entire life. I’d learned over the years to keep personal information to myself initially.

“Bryon.” He gave me his name as he held out a hand.

“Jessa.” I tentatively gave him mine.

His grip was warm, inviting. A spark ran between us, instantly bringing my entire body to full alert. I licked my lips. He smelled fantastic, his personal scent wafting toward me. He plopped onto the sand, so close our knees bumped. It was crazy. I shouldn’t be so attracted to someone just sitting here on the beach. I shouldn’t be falling for his pickup lines. I shouldn’t be feeling anything at all. But I was human.

I couldn’t stop myself. I closed my sketchbook, making a conscious decision to engage this intruder instead of brushing him off. If nothing else, the interaction with another living being felt surprisingly good.

My life needed changes. I’d been reclusive for too long. It seemed appropriate to put myself out there. After all, I was just flirting. After three months with very little human contact, it felt good to have someone approach me, even if it was a stranger on his way to work. It was refreshing. Maybe speaking to someone who knew nothing about me or my life would somehow be freeing. I didn’t need to divulge any personal details to the man. I could simply enjoy his company like a regular human being.

My heart beat faster as I watched his slow smile spread across his face. He made me feel alive again. I grabbed onto that feeling and ran with it. “Is this how you always dress for the beach?” I teased. His pants rode up his legs enough to reveal pale feet that matched his pale forearms. He clearly didn’t spend much time in the sun. Either that or he had an unusually light complexion that burned easily.

He chuckled, a deep sound that vibrated through him and reached into me when our knees bumped again. “No. I was on my way to work. Decided to stop and take in the view first.” His gaze met mine and held it.

What view was he talking about? I had my suspicions. But then again, he couldn’t have known I was sitting in that spot when he made the decision to stop at the beach.

“Where do you work?”

“On the mainland.”

Ah. Of course. Few people worked on Miami Beach itself. But he hadn’t really answered my question.

“Who do you design for?” He pointed at my sketchbook.

I shrugged again, biting my lower lip while I tried to come up with a feasible answer without giving myself away. “I’m mostly doing freelance right now.”

He hesitated, his brow furrowed for a moment before he nodded. His short-cropped wavy blond hair was perfectly styled and lay as if he’d just stepped off a photoshoot. And his smile took my breath away. His eyes were a rare, deep green. Mesmerizing. I couldn’t look away from them.

Did he not buy my lie? Jeez, I wasn’t that bad, was I? “Do you live on the island?” I supposed the term “freelance” coming from a woman lounging on the beach on a weekday morning could equal “unemployed.”

“Yes.” He pointed at the apartment complex behind us, the one I lived in. “I have an apartment here.”

That made more sense. It wasn’t that he’d driven up to the beach and stopped on his way to work. He hadn’t left for work yet.

“Maybe this is too forward, but I was just about to grab a coffee in the strip. Would you care to join me?”

I smiled at him, pondering the offer. What would it hurt? It was just coffee. I tried to shake off the feeling of regret I carried like a heavy weight. I was in no mood to tell this stranger anything about myself. I would keep the previous year of my life tucked close to my chest. I had no desire to discuss it. Or face it. Hell, I had no desire to discuss much of anything about my past. Forward was the only direction I needed to be moving.

Whoever this Bryon guy was, he simply smiled at me, waiting for my answer.

Finally, I nodded my consent. “Sure.”

Normally this would be way outside my comfort zone, but I felt bold, and what could go wrong? It wasn’t as though he could abduct me from the beach in broad daylight, or the coffee shop under the apartment building. Not to mention the fact that I had absolutely nothing to do since my parents seemed determined to coddle me. Hell, even my sister was continually telling me to take it easy and relax in her overly cheery voice.

All three of them were humoring me. They walked on eggshells around me as if I were fragile. It felt good to speak to someone who didn’t know anything about me and therefore had no reason to look at me with deep sorrow pouring out of his eyes.

I stood, brushing the sand off my butt and stuffing my pad into my shoulder bag. I glanced at my clothes. I looked like any regular person— white T-shirt, jean shorts, and flip-flops. I was tan, very tan. Three months on the beach with little else to do did that to a person. I adjusted my sunglasses on the top of my head to hold my hair back. My curls were out of control in the humid Miami air. But I was enjoying the carefree look. It suited me and my resolve to take a step back, examine my life, and relax.

Bryon, the stranger ill-equipped for a stroll on the beach, was the perfect next step on my bucket list of things to accomplish.

Throwing caution to the wind, I tucked my hand under his elbow when he offered it and let him lead me to caffeine.
Becca Jameson. Severed Dreams (Kindle Locations 134-193). Becca Jameson Publishing.

We see Jessa starting a relationship with Bryon. She doesn’t recognize him but he definitely knows her.

This is an edge of your seat read as you discover all the intricate twists this tale holds.

There’s plenty of suspense to go with the romance and sizzle as the past intertwines with the present.

5 Contented Purrs for Becca!

Becca Jameson Becca Jameson

Becca Jameson is a USA Today bestselling author of over 100 books. She is most well-known for her Wolf Masters Series, her Fight Club series, and her Club Zodiac series. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and Goldendoodle. Two grown kids pop in every once in a while too! She is loving this journey and has dabbled in a variety of genres, including paranormal, sports romance, military, and BDSM.

A total night owl, Becca writes late at night, sequestering herself in her office with a glass of red wine and a bar of dark chocolate, her fingers flying across the keyboard as her characters weave their own stories.

During the day–which never starts before ten in the morning!–she can be found jogging, running errands, or reading in her favorite hammock chair!

…where Alphas dominate…

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