Coming Soon


Coming January 23, 2018.


Chapter One Excerpt




As I look at the busy street below from my office window at Falco Corp., I can’t help but marvel at the changes in my life.  No longer am I a starving kid on the streets with my sole focus on feeding my brother and me.  It’s been so fucking long since I had to worry about where our next meal was coming from that it seems surreal to me now.  Sometimes I find it hard to believe I survived that.  My kitchen in the penthouse is always fully stocked, and I eat in restaurants where prices aren’t listed on the menu.  I’m no longer a gutter rat to be kicked aside like yesterday’s trash.  I’m a sought-after member of Asheville, North Carolina, society and invited to parties given by the mayor, governor, and the upper crust of society.

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that money and power will turn many an eye blind and even more ears deaf.  Rumors circulate about my past and the fact I’ve long operated in the gray areas of the law abound, but the good people in this city don’t give a fuck.  What they do care about is that I donate to whatever charity their guilty conscience prods them to support.

I’m not vain.  It’s simply a fact that I’m attractive to the opposite sex.  I also have a huge cock, and I know how to use it.  I could gun someone down in the street on live television and still be welcomed into women’s homes and beds.  Many years ago, this shit surprised me.  When you grow up as the son of a crack whore with little more than the clothes on your back most days, being accepted by your peers is the last thing you expect.  I was always an outcast, which was fine by me.  It’s what kept Pete and me alive.  Survival isn’t taught in public schools, but it damn well should be.  Especially the schools I attended.

Even as a kid, I instinctively knew I needed to be the alpha.  Even animals are born with this same ingrained knowledge.  You assert your dominance early on and reinforce it as needed.  It wasn’t that I enjoyed fighting as some did.  Hell, I never considered myself a violent man by nature.  But if it came down to the him-or-me scenario, it was him every time.  I’ve killed to protect myself and those I love, and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.  Does it haunt me?  Fuck no.  I’ve never physically hurt an innocent person.

That’s one of the many things Victor Falco taught me:  you don’t kill or torment for sport.  But on the flip side, you also don’t allow others to perceive you as weak.  When you make a threat, you back it up.  Your word and your reputation are the most important things you’ll ever have.  Your name, not so much.  You can change that at the drop of a hat.  But the core of who you are as a man cannot be altered.  Evil will remain evil no matter how you try to dress it up.  And good will remains true, regardless of the number of times you stumble.  On the rare occasion, a person doesn’t fit into either category, and that’s what I consider myself.  I’ve walked in the darkness, but I haven’t completely succumbed to the shadows.

My story might have been different without my brother and Victor, but I don’t think so.  I’ve never found any pleasure in violence.  It’s about necessity.  Have I found a certain satisfaction in vengeance?  Fuck yeah.  Anyone who says they haven’t is lying.  But at the end of the day, it’s all about doing the unpleasant things that need to be done.  Another lesson from Victor.

Damn, I still miss the man I considered a father.  The day he caught me stealing scraps from his restaurant kitchen was a turning point for me.  It was then that my path altered.  I learned how successful you could be when the lines between right and wrong were blurred.

Victor’s businesses were legitimate. The restaurant, the dry cleaners, the storage buildings, and a host of other entities I can barely remember now.  I sold them all off long ago.  But where Victor really made his fortune was laundering money for Draco Moretti.  Like Pete and me, they grew up together and had been brothers until the day they’d been gunned down by a fucking street thug high on crack cocaine.

The bond you develop when you have nothing but each other to depend on for survival does something that few can comprehend.  Victor saw himself in my eyes the night we met, and for that, I’ll be eternally grateful.  It’s not that I wouldn’t have made it on my own, because failure has never been an option for me.  Being cold and hungry will drive you to accomplish feats you never thought possible.  And for all his country club, homeowner’s association ways now, Pete will tell you the same thing.  My brother can and will kill a man in the blink of an eye if necessary.  No matter how you dress us up, we’ll never be what society perceives as normal.  We’ve seen and done too much.  Regardless of the reasons, our actions and the people we’ve associated with along the way have left irreversible stains on our souls.

A knock on the door behind me pulls me from my thoughts.  Kara.  What an amazing difference a few months has made in my niece.  It wasn’t long ago that I was verbally kicking her ass and attempting to pull her from the pity party she was intent on languishing in.  Pete’s daughter looks so much like my own daughter, Lia, that I get a lump in my throat every time I see her.  The girl owned me before I discovered my long-lost child and that hasn’t changed.  Family is everything to me, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for those I love.

Kara survived breast cancer and a serious bout of depression.  She also fell in love with Aidan Spencer, my son-in-law’s best friend and right-hand man at Quinn Software.  They’ve had their ups and downs, but even now, as she frowns at me in irritation, there’s no missing the glow underneath the pissed-off exterior.  Of course, I know what she’s angry about, and momentarily, I feel like a naughty schoolboy before I remember that I own the company.  “Uncle, are you serious?” she begins.  “How many does that make?  I thought we agreed that Jen was the best assistant since Liza left.”

I pick up a pile of papers from the corner of the desk and wave it in the air.  “She stapled these reports in the right-hand corner.  Who does that shit?  Everything is ass backward with her.  I swear to God, she refuses to make coffee in the morning, yet brings me a damn triple shot espresso at four in the afternoon.  Thanks to her, I haven’t slept in a month.”  Kara gives an exasperated sigh before sinking into a chair in front of my desk.  I perch on the corner, knowing she’s getting settled in to lecture me.  Hell, I don’t even know who wears the pants around here anymore.  It sure as fuck doesn’t seem to be me.  Ever since she left… Or maybe even then it wasn’t me.

“What are we going to do now?  Most of the temp agencies have stopped returning my calls.”  Rolling her eyes, she adds, “Don’t look at me like that.  I’m not going to be your assistant again.  You’re a horrible boss.”

Not in the least offended—because it’s damn well true here of late—I shrug.  “Just until we find someone else, sweetheart.  I promise I’ll do better with the next one.”  That was a fucking Oscar-worthy performance.  I should take a bow.

“Have you even attempted to talk to Liza lately?”  She moves right in for the kill.  She’s so like me.  I’m so proud.  Except for right now.

I turn away, pretending to be fascinated by the pen on my desk.  “She quit.  What is there left to say?  I don’t go around begging former employees to come back.  She’s moved on,” I add quietly, feeling it like a punch to the gut.  The woman I love—who should be mine—now belongs to someone named Harry, for fuck’s sake.

Misunderstanding my words, Kara wrinkles her nose in the same way she has since she was a kid.  “How do you know she’s got another job?  Has someone called for a reference?”

I’m confused for a moment by her question before I realize she’s taken my comment the wrong way.  Although I am aware she’s working somewhere else as well, I don’t want Kara to know I’m having one of my guys follow my former assistant, so I reluctantly tell a lie to cover my tracks.  There’s no way I can sell that for anything more than what it is—love.  If only things were different.  “Yeah, months ago.  So there’s really nothing to discuss here.  She couldn’t handle the pressure and quit her job.  End of story.”  Shit, I sound like a complete asshole. By the expression on my niece’s face, she agrees with my thoughts.

She finally stops glaring at me long enough to look down and study her nails.  “You know, Uncle Lee,” she begins as if making idle chitchat. “I remember that talk you had with me not that long ago.  I believe the moral of your words was that I shouldn’t be a coward.”  I tense, knowing what’s coming.  “So you can imagine how ironic I find this whole situation.  We both know you’re in love with Liza, yet you just let her walk away and did nothing to stop her.”

Running a hand through my hair, I take a moment to rein in my temper.  The urge to lash out is strong, but the woman in front of me doesn’t deserve it.  And in a strange way, I’m proud she has the balls to call me out.  Denial of everything she’s said is on the tip of my tongue, but I don’t want to continue lying to Kara.  She’s also correct.  I said similar shit to her and expected her to get it together afterward.  That’s where our situations differ, though.  I can’t do anything to change things.  Being born a different man isn’t an option.  Because for all her assurances to the contrary, Liza has no idea what I’m capable of or the things I’ve done in my life.  In her head, I’m the guy from Fifty Shades of Grey.  Maybe I like to throw out a few spankings because of my fucked-up childhood.  Books and movies like that have women clamoring to find a damaged guy to save.  But my past sins run far deeper than a rich guy wanting to experience some kink.  Don’t get me wrong, a good spanking absolutely has a place in my life, but so does killing, if it’s justified and necessary.  For all her bravado, Liza doesn’t have a fucking clue.  She’s goodness and light, and I’m forever in the darkness.  Not claiming her and bringing her into my world is one of the few selfless acts I’ve ever committed.  The fact I’m in love with her makes it doubly unbelievable that I stepped aside and let her go.  Realizing that Kara is still patiently awaiting a reply, I say truthfully, “There was nothing I could do.  Liza wanted to be more than an employee of Falco, and I couldn’t give her that.”

Ever persistent, Kara asks, “But why not?  You don’t have a girlfriend.  I mean, I know you must… have women sometimes, but—well, that’s a guy thing.”

This conversation is spinning out of control.  My niece is obviously alluding to me screwing other women.  Even now as I try to think of a way to end this awkward talk, her face is flushed and she’s stumbling over her words.  It’s time to put us both out of our misery.  “Kara,” I say sternly, and am relieved when the room goes silent.  Hell, I feared she would ask me next if I used protection.  “Trust me when I say there are some things I’d rather not discuss.  I care a great deal for Liza, which is exactly why I didn’t attempt to change her mind.”  When Kara opens her mouth, I shake my head, signaling that the matter is closed.  She knows me well enough after all these years to see that she’ll get no further—at least today.

Getting to her feet, she lets out a long-suffering sigh.  “Why are all the men in my life so damn stubborn?”  She steps forward to kiss my cheek.  “I’ll take care of things until I can beg someone else to do it,” she grumbles.

“Thank you, sweetheart.”  We both knew she’d give in all along, but I’m not about to point that out.  She has the Jacks’ temper and will possibly throw something at me.  She walks out of my office and closes the door behind her.

I return to my chair behind my desk and open my email.  As usual, there’s a daily report from Jenkins.  I open the attachment and begin scrolling down it, seeing nothing new.  I’m almost at the bottom when my hand freezes.  The name seems to leap from the page.  Wrenn.  I haven’t spoken that name in twenty years.  The last I heard, he was living in Chicago.  Even though he’s a man I count as an enemy, I haven’t bothered to watch him through the years.  There are plenty of threats a lot closer with more to be pissed off about.  I merely took one of his many companies out of his greedy hands.  I did that for Victor and Draco.  It hadn’t been personal, just another day in the life.  Even though it was barely a blip on my radar, I never forget a name from my past.  Especially if I wronged them.

According to the report, Liza has been at Hunter’s for almost two hours, so it certainly wasn’t a case of making a wrong turn.  Picking up my cell phone, I place a call to the man who shadows the woman I love.  As always, he answers simply, “Boss?”

“What the fuck is she doing at Hunter Wrenn’s?” I hiss, unable to hide my frustration.  I don’t need this shit.  My life has had enough drama in the past year to make me feel twenty years older than my current age of forty-five.

Jenkins, well accustomed to my abrupt personality, answers without pause.  “Don’t know, boss.  Wrenn’s house is only about ten minutes from her apartment, but she wound around the city, through the country, then onto the expressway.  She took a few exits, got back on, then finally made her way there.  The whole thing was strange.  I just figured she got lost.”

I don’t bother to point out that I know Liza has a GPS in her car.  There’s no way she accidentally took a route that far out of the way.  I could see her making one wrong turn.  Hell, I’d even give her two, but the scenario he just described says something else.  She knows me well enough to suspect I keep an eye on her.  But why would she not want me to know she was at Wrenn’s?  I never discussed the man with her, so regardless of what took her to his house, she should have had no reason to hide it from me.  “I want to know immediately if she goes back there.  I’d also like for you to do some digging into her background and his.  Find the connection.”  I’ve never been a man to believe in coincidences, and I damn sure don’t plan to start now.  I’m missing something, and I won’t stop until I find out what it is.  My previous security head, Sears, ran a background report on Liza as he did all employees before her.  Of course, I realized Sears himself was a fucking bumbling idiot who missed key information on Lia.  He was fired immediately, which I thought solved the problem.  But now I wonder if the dumbass had screwed up much more.  “Something is off here, and I want to know what it is as soon as possible.”

“You got it, boss.” I toss my phone onto the desk as a prickle of unease makes its way down my spine.

What are you doing with him, Liza?  Hunter Wrenn isn’t a good guy, by any means.  His father had been a crook, and from what I’d been told back then, the son had been proud to continue the family tradition.  Surely to God she isn’t dating him.  She’s supposed to be seeing some safe and boring guy named Harry.  I’m not happy about it, but at least he appears to be a solid and unexciting choice.  Much better than the likes of me.  But Wrenn?  Fuck no.  I’ll be damned if I let her be with a man like that.  Whatever this association between them is, it will be over the minute I find out about it.  If I can’t convince Liza of that fact, then I’ll make sure Wrenn understands what will happen if he doesn’t walk away.  I’ve taken from him before, and I will do it again without a moment’s hesitation.




Coming February 6, 2018

When Asher Jackson, the playboy co-owner of the Oceanix Hotel Chain, meets Dana Anders, manager of the gourmet coffee shop within the Oceanix Resort, he longs to strike up a good rapport with her. But to his surprise, his typical charm immediately fails him and he can’t help but provoke her with sarcastic remarks at every turn.

Even though Dana can give as good as she gets, she’s confused by Asher’s hostility toward her–especially when she harbors a secret attraction toward him. When she finds herself with unexpected bills to pay, Dana strikes up a deal. For a reasonable fee, the financially strapped Dana will pose as Asher’s girlfriend to drive away bitter women who are making his life miserable. Asher hasn’t engaged in a serious relationship since his heart was broken five years previously, so he thinks playing husband to a fake wife won’t be a problem. But as the relationship continues he’s no longer quite so certain. And as the line between false animosity and real attraction becomes blurred, Dana begins to realize that the one thing she wants is what she’s pretending to already have.



Coming Spring/Summer 2018 – The story of Anthony Moretti (Draco Moretti’s son).

I lean my hip against the second-floor balcony and glare at the dark-haired woman below.  “What in the fuck is she doing?” I snap to my club manager, Jax Hudson.

Jax shrugs his shoulders indifferently.  “Don’t know for sure, boss.  Seems like a weird place to hold a job interview, but that’s what it looks like.  She’s got people filling out paperwork, and hell, there’s even a pen stuck in her hair.  She’s hot, though, so maybe I should go apply for whatever this position is.  I’ve always had a thing for the nerdy accountant look.  Shit, look, she’s wearing glasses with those granny neck straps.”  He licks his lips in a way that makes me want to punch his face. “That’s smoking.”

Rolling my eyes, I shake my head in resignation.  If I’ve learned nothing else in my time as owner of one of the hottest clubs in town, it’s that people are basically nuts.  I’m not surprised anymore, but seeing the woman below in a pale silk blouse collecting papers from the group of men who surround her table is a first.  Even from a distance, something about her is vaguely familiar.  Her slim build and the curve of her neck stir something in my conscience, but I can’t place what it is.  Even my body is reacting to her, which is downright insane.  I’m surrounded by scantily dressed women every night—most of whom throw themselves at me regularly.  So why in the fuck would I look twice at some uptight broad who’s obviously picked a bad place to conduct whatever business she has.  “Go down and see what’s going on.  Her little enterprise is blocking the entrance to the bar.”

Jax straightens away from the banister saying, “You got it, boss,” before leaving to do my bidding.

I remain where I am out of curiosity as he reaches the bottom floor and approaches the table in question.  He weaves his through the group of men and leans down to speak in the woman’s ear.  She nods a few times, then looks up.  Her eyes search the area before locking on mine, and I hiss in shock.  Holy fucking shit.

The hair is different, but I know the face.  It’s haunted my dreams for months.