Friday, January 17, 2014



Back in London and free from the navy, Lieutenant Myles Harris is now a wealthy man of property. His late father parted Myles from his lover, the Earl of Thistledown, George Hardwick. Years apart have hurt both men, but their feelings haven’t disappeared.

George believes he has put the past behind him and has no interest in seeing Myles again. However, the earl can’t turn away Myles’ little sister, the sweet girl he watched grow up next door, when she runs from her abusive husband. Hiding her in his London home, George must also have Myles as a guest under his roof. The duo must work together for their common good. Passion reignites and soon the men are breaking laws!

The options are few, but they’d much rather defy the law than deny their hearts and abandon their honor.



George walked over to Myles with an intent look on his face. Dark brown hair and hazel eyes stood out on his pale skin. George was broad in the shoulder and tall. His muscles were well earned from riding and walking about his large estate. The memory of their romps in the barn had made Myles’ worst days at sea tolerable. The spark had not gone out on what they had.

In public, they had to be old acquaintances. Myles had no earthly idea what they truly were at that moment.

“Lord Thistledown,” Myles bowed.

“Harris, we need to speak in private,” George said plainly.

Hope sprung in Myles but they had to be discreet. “Of course, I can’t thank you enough for looking after my estate.”

“Do you have a room or not?” George demanded.

Myles turned and headed for his private chamber. The second George was inside Myles closed the door and forced himself to remain there. The small room with no prying eyes was no place for two men who’d spent as much time naked together as they had. Myles wanted to kiss his old lover. Just for a moment to simply forget they’d ever been apart.

George dominated the room. He paced as though he’d done nothing wrong. In fact he seemed like a wronged man full of indignation and anger. He still smelled of sandalwood and tried to hide his emotions. Myles could see through him.

“What is so urgent?” Myles asked.

Both men watched each other carefully. Myles could see the desire smoldering in George’s eyes. Their connection was nothing like the casual attachments Myles had made due with onboard ship.

“I don’t have time for pleasantries. This is not a social call.” George regained his composure.

“You came about the estate information at this time of night?” Myles masked his pain with orderly manners. Being alone with George had never been like this.

George threw open Myles’ trunk. “No, I didn’t come for the estate! Pack your things, you’re coming with me.”

“What? We do need to be alone and speak plainly. But I think a club is appropriate for me. We have time now.” The urge to be intimate with George churned within Myles but discussion could lead to more pain.

George grabbed Myles by the shoulders and shook him. “Your estate is the least of our worries. Pack your things. Your beaten sister is at my home. The doctor is with her. That husband hers could be hunting her down.”

Shock set in as Myles stepped back. The power of George’s touch faded as the words sank in. Myles sprang into action. The two men tossed Myles’ belongings into the trunk. Myles threw on his coat and grabbed the trunk, used for toting his own load without servants. The coachman quickly took the trunk once they were outside of the club and Myles joined George inside the carriage.

“Is it bad?” Myles asked.

“Bad enough that I ran out into the night without a footman or a pistol. That damn Baron.” George shook his head.

“You took her in. Thank you. How did she make it to you?” Myles let the guilt hit him. The time for action would come but first he had to be a brother. His sister was being abused. No happy marriage or quick romance.

“I haven’t a clue. She turned up at our door. Basil spoke to her at a ball earlier. I tried to avoid it but she seemed equally determined. The mess your father left,” George grumbled.

“I didn’t approve of it. Second sons rarely get a vote, especially at sea.” Myles let his head fall back and studied the Earl he loved for so long. The man still did the right things. Myles wanted to kiss him and ask so many questions as the carriage made its way through the thick after-party traffic. Instead, he focused on the one thing the men would agree on…Claire. “She was awake then? You spoke to her? Maybe she’s not that bad?”

“I spoke to her briefly. She fainted again. I hope it isn’t that bad, but that it’s bad enough.” George glared out the window.

“What does that mean?” Myles couldn’t believe George would want Claire hurt to any degree.

“Don’t look at me like that. I haven’t changed. My life and attitude are exactly as they were before you went to sea. Think, Myles. If she isn’t hurt much at all, then her husband can demand her return at any time. I’m not letting her go back to that hell. We have to find another way,” George said.

Myles cursed the law. “If she’s alive, we have no legal recourse against him. She’s his wife.”

“I don’t have the answers, but I will find a solution. She’s in my home and I won’t let Philips in or her out if I can help it. Basil is a wreck.”

“No less than I. If I’d known, I’d have done something. Found a way.” Myles looked George in the eye. Instead of solidarity and connection, Myles found a flicker of doubt. Beneath that, anger and resentment brewed. Myles couldn’t fight about whatever bothered George. Their past and feelings could only make things worse. If George had a new lover or ten, it didn’t matter. He was Claire’s best chance for survival.

George always had to direct the play. He was an Earl, a titled lord and every bit the man who owned his responsibility. There had been a time when Myles felt George’s love and trust in every glance. Their connection broke through the duty and public guise but it was a distant memory that he longed for.

Still, if his sister had to run into the hands of anyone, Myles was grateful she’d made it to George. No one would do more for her protection. Myles could try but he was not as well connected and had no house in town. Owing George for the care of his estate was no longer the sum total of their debt. Myles owed George his sister’s life.


Thursday, January 16, 2014



Highland Bears # 4

One determined crypto zoologist plus two hot Scots equals a match made in heaven.

Sunshine Campbell became a Cryptozoologist to prove to the world that her grandfather, Angus Campbell, wasn’t crazy.  His stories about legendary shape shifting animals were more than legends. He told her what he was and she believed him. She must prove they exist, even if it’s only to prove that the man who raised her wasn’t as crazy as everyone thought.

Sunshine knows what she will do when she finds the proof that more than one bear existed in the area. What will she do when she and her best friend find not only one or two dead specimens, but an entire clan alive and well?



It was a damned good thing they had decided to pay a couple of the human locals to keep a lookout for anyone trespassing on their property. Ever since scientists found the skeleton of one of their kind in a cave in the area, there had been hundreds of eager scientists looking for more.

They had been lucky with the first one. The bones had been so old, there hadn't been even the tiniest amount of viable DNA left in it. He glanced at Gavin who moved up next to him. "How do ye suppose they knew about the cave?”

"I dinnae know," Gavin said with a grunt as he pulled himself up another arm's length with little more than the tips of his fingers.

The cavern was once a sacred place for his people. They lived inside, using the fresh water that ran down the walls to drink and the small, underground lake for bathing. Now, they merely wished to keep it hidden to stop others from finding the pictographs inside.

It was never easy to explain why the hunters on the wall appeared to turn into animals before becoming men once again. They would have destroyed the cave and its evidence of the existence of shape shifters long ago, if it weren’t for the historical significance it held for their kind.

Fifteen minutes later, Malcolm climbed over the edge, stood up and heaved a sigh as be bent to brush the dirt from his jeans. “That was a bit of a challenge.”

“I’ll bet it was, if you climbed up here from the bottom. That looks like a two-hundred foot drop.”

Looking up, Malcolm met the gaze of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Long red hair framed her heart-shaped face as she stared up at him with her gorgeous green eyes. Her thick jacket hung open over a sweater and blouse. She wore the legs of her loose fitting denims tucked inside thick, woolen socks. He cast a glance to her companion to note they dressed in a similar fashion. They were of a similar size, except the redhead was about two inches taller. He would have had a difficult time telling them apart at a distance had it not been for the long, fiery hair the one possessed.

“Aye, it is.” He smiled. “More like two-hundred and thirty.”

“You could have fallen!” The redhead looked genuinely worried for his wellbeing. It made his smile grow larger. Why, he had no idea.

“Aye.” He nodded. “Ye could have fallen, as well. The narrow path tae the cave isn’t much safer.” Malcolm didn’t mention that he would heal much faster from greater wounds than either of the women could. They were human. He and Gavin were not.

“Did ye have a guide, a local tae show ye around?” Gavin asked as he moved forward and offered his hand to the lass with the short-cropped dark hair. “Because if ye did, I’d like tae know who would bring two such bonnie lasses up here and leave them tae themselves.”

“No,” the two women said at the same time.

The gorgeous redhead shook her head, blushing prettily. “We couldn’t find anyone to lead us here.” She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. “I had this map my grandfather drew for me.”

Malcolm glanced at the paper, his temper flaring. “Did ye tell the locals what ye were about?"

"Of course we did!" She bristled. The action only made her more attractive. However, Malcolm doubted she would appreciate his saying so. "Do you think we have a death wish? We wanted help. We even asked for help. All we got were chuckles and innuendo.”

“Damn those hu—“

“Huge pains in the arses at the pub,” Malcolm finished for Gavin when the other man would have said humans.

“Aye. They are that,” Gavin agreed, shoving his hands in his pockets, his gaze shifting to his feet.

Do ye scent something different about the bonnie redheaded lass, Gavin? Malcolm asked as she moved toward the path down the cliff.

Aye, old friend. She smells sweet, like candy.

Malcolm’s skin prickled as he looked at the woman and took another deep breath. I think she’s my mate. He looked to his friend.Tell me ye scent it, as well. I dinnae think I could bear tae share her with a man I dinnae know.

Aye. I scent it too. Best we get them out of the cold and into the castle afore they slip away without a trace. We dinnae have an idea where tae find her should she disappear. I dinnae know about ye, but I want tae know where tae find her should she decide tae go home.

Malcolm wanted that as well. They had lived alone too long to lose her now. Let’s get them home and see if we can convince them tae stay awhile. Maybe her friend is someone’s mate, too.­ He wasn’t sure the men of their clan could get that lucky. However, he knew Gavin was correct. They needed to get the two females to go with them so they could learn more about the woman who just might be their mate.


Monday, January 13, 2014



Lauren Walsh, a divorcee and elementary teacher, wanted to feel sexy again, after her ex tossed her aside for a younger woman. Her teaching partner and best friend encouraged her to sign up for The Playhouse--a renowned dating agency.

Mac Thomas remained trapped in a marriage to a money grubbing socialite. Forced to stay away from his young son, Mac lost the ability to trust. After the death of his wife, he returned to care for his son but his sister wants more for him. She sets him up with The Playhouse.

Passion ignites but Mac’s a parent of one of Lauren’s students. A teacher and a parent dating could cost Lauren her job and her chance at happiness. Will Mac be able to convince the school and Lauren, that love is the most important thing?



Mac sat at the beautiful mahogony bar nursing his first beer. I’m more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory. The last place he belonged was somewhere as opulant as this. He ran his fingers up and down the condensation on the beer glass. Even though he grew up in a family with a great deal of money, his parents taught him the benefit of working hard and doing what you love. At eighty, his dad still worked in the stables every morning, grooming his horse or was out in the pasture feeding the cattle.

Claire never understood his family. Money wasn’t important to them unless the cash could be used to befit someone else. Mac shook his head. Sure, he used his family’s money to get inside some of those war-torn countries but only so he could show the world the truth.

He’d worked hard to be impartial but his soft heart swayed him. Seeing any amount of suffering hurt, making him known as a compassionate emmisary in those challenging countries.

With Claire gone, his life had changed once again. He took a job as a reporter at the local station affilliate, reporting on the important events happening in his community so he could be at home with Todd. Realizing how much poverty and conflict existed in his own hometown left him cold. They say charity begins at home. Well, he was determined to find a way to help, while setting a good example for his son.

He took a look at the clock on the wall. Where was she? Maybe she took one look at him and ran for the hills.

Mac turned on his barstool in time to see a gorgeous brunette walk into the bar. Her steps seemed to match the beat of his pulse. Shifting in his chair, he adjusted his now tight, uncomfortable pants. Maybe it’s a good thing he was meeting a woman tonight, if she shows.

He twisted his stool around farther to get a better look at the hottie.

If only she was his date. The woman’s blue dress hugged her curvy body and he couldn’t take his gaze off those legs that seemed to go on forever.

Oh no!

One minute she remained all grace, next her poise went down the drain as her shoe broke. Mac lurched to his feet and ran over to help the stunning woman.

“Are you hurt?” He reached his hand out to help but instead of the tears he expected, Mac heard laughter coming from under the waterfall of hair which hid her face. He ached to touch the burnished bronze length. She reminds me of Dad’s favorite colt, a little skittish but feisty. I like spirited women.

Not wanting to see her sitting there on the floor, Mac scooped her up in his arms.Whoa. She was like a foal, all legs, and she fit perfectly in his arms. He could hold her all day.

“Sir, is the woman okay?” The bartender stood in front of Mac. He couldn’t tell if the guy wanted to grab her out of his arms for himself or to protect his hotel from a lawsuit.

Mac couldn’t help but growl like a dog defending his territory. “I haven’t checked yet. She appears fine. Why don’t you get her a glass of water?” Anything to get rid of him. He wanted to keep her in his arms.

Mac pulled her close to his chest. At the thought of letting her go, his heartbeat sped up. Maybe I can convince her to have a drink with me. He reluctantly set her down in a chair at one of the bar tables.

“Are you okay?” Mac brushed the hair back from her face.

The strands felt like silk between his fingers. Images of brushing this woman’s hair while they lay naked on the bed danced through his mind. Reluctantly, Mac pulled his hand from her and took a deep breath. He didn’t understand what had come over him. He didn’t have this strong of a reaction when he met Claire.

Like uncovering a present on Christmas morning, he could hardly wait to see her face. He watched as the woman lifted her head to meet his gaze. Mesmerized by the light dusting of freckles across the woman’s nose, his breath stopped. Her beautiful green eyes sparkled with merriment. Her tantalizing laughter danced across his skin making his slacks already tight very uncomfortable.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

STERLING NEW YEAR by Cheryl Dragon

STERLING NEW YEAR by Cheryl Dragon

Melody's stuck in Sterling, Alaska over the holidays, sewing custom dresses for her friend’s wedding. She'll do anything for her friends and is determined to be the best maid of honor she can be. There are just a few very sexy distractions.

Dale, Jason, and Ryan are lovers with an eye out for the right woman to complete their family. They're happy to let Melody use space to make the dresses, but Dale especially doesn’t expect the perfect woman for them to show up in their small town. How are they going to explain Sterling's unusual relationships. Even so, the trio is definitely interested in more than simply helping out with the wedding but can they win Melody over?

Melody has never been anywhere like Sterling—where group relationships are a tradition. She can’t pass up the experience of three hot men in bed but rearranging her life for them, or any man, is a ridiculous idea. Normal marriages don’t last and she’s had repeat wedding dress clients to prove it. What the quad has is more than sex but they have a lot of baggage to sort through for her to make it a Sterling New Year.



As best man for his big brother’s New Year’s Eve wedding, Dale Harrison knew this year would be different. Winter in Alaska could be downright depressing. Business was slower in the winter, with more repair work than new boat orders. Sterling Boats was Dale’s pride and joy. He surveyed the partially built boat in his workroom. With the upcoming wedding and associated festivities, the winter might not be as depressing, but he wouldn’t have as much time to work on his beloved boats.

Ben Harrison nudged Dale from behind. “I hope you’ve got the room. The dressmaker will be in tomorrow around eleven o’clock. She’s the maid of honor too. Single.”

Dale smiled at his brother and led him to the cleared-out section. One of two grooms for the wedding, Ben had gone into the coast guard instead of the family boat-building business. Ben and his best friend were marrying a pretty woman they’d saved when a tourist boat capsized.

“Your future wife already did a hard sell on her friend. Getting some new women into town is great. We’ll keep an eye on your dressmaker. Where is she from?” The tradition of ménage relationships dated back to the founding of Sterling. Mining had created the town, which was located near Homer on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska. The fishing and wildlife tourism that kept the town alive attracted men, but the harsh lifestyle kept women from flocking there.

“Melody lives in Michigan. So at least the snow and cold won’t be a total shock. Don’t worry so much, Dale. She’s just going to sew here. Isabelle will be thrilled to have her friend around. The other two bridesmaids won’t be in until about a week before the wedding. Mel needs the time to do all the dresses. Isabelle had no luck finding anything that flattered her figure, and sleeveless dresses were out. I wasn’t allowed to see any of them, but I heard about it. I don’t care what she wears, but she wants to look perfect.” Ben hooked his thumbs through the belt loops of his jeans. “The space is good. Put up some plywood for privacy. Mel will freak if things get dirty where she’s working, and she’ll want to do fittings.”

The name finally caught Dale’s attention. “What’s her name again?”

“Melody Cameron. Why?” Ben asked.

“Nothing. Pretty. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, no matter how many women your wedding brings in.”

Expecting the perfect woman to fall into their laps was asking a lot. Dale counted himself lucky finding one great guy in high school. Then when they went to college in Anchorage, they’d found one more. Not that they all didn’t want a group relationship with the perfect woman. Although they’d had plenty of fun sharing a girlfriend now and then in college, it’d never worked out.

Having a woman around all the time would change things. “Jason and Ryan are bringing in some boards to tack up. It’ll be fine.”

“Isa is thrilled Ryan is doing the virtual wedding online. Not all her family can come. Hell, half of them think she’s crazy moving up here.” Ben chuckled.

“Moving up here or marrying two men?” Dale checked the space Melody would work in. An office chair and a large table were the only furniture in the area.

“Legally, she can marry one. So people who don’t get it don’t have to come.” Ben shrugged. Dale envied how his brother didn’t care what others thought.

Ryan and Jason carried a big section of plywood into the room. “There’s the lucky groom!” Jason said.

“Think the dress lady will mind if I put a camera in here?” Ryan asked.

Dale admired his men for a minute. Jason was the hunky engineer with mysterious hazel eyes, short brown hair, and big muscles. Ryan, on the other hand, was leaner with soft brown eyes and dark brown hair. They both wanted kids and the right woman. Deep down, Dale did too.

Still, he’d been lucky enough to find two men who loved the life and work he did. He should be content with that. Sometimes asking for too much was asking for trouble.

“Dale!” Ryan shouted.

Shaken from his reflection, he looked at the guy with the camera. “What?”

“You didn’t tell us all three of the bridesmaids were single.” Jason tapped nails gently into the edges of the plywood while Ben placed the sawhorses to keep the board in place. Ryan set his camera down and left the room.

He returned a moment later, a floor lamp in each hand. “We only need one.”

Dale didn’t like the direction the conversation was heading in. “Don’t get your hopes up! Two of them are just coming in for a week. They may not be our type. They might think Alaska is too rough a life or Sterling is crazy. Ménage isn’t for everyone. Besides, they have lives, jobs, and homes. Ben got lucky, but this is his wedding, not a bride-importation service.”

Ben patted Dale on the shoulder. “Relax, little brother. I hope one of them is right for you guys. You’re smart not to have any expectations. Just do me a favor and keep an eye on Melody for car trouble or rookie mistakes, since she’ll be here longer.”

“Don’t worry. We’ve got it covered.” Jason kept tapping the nails in.

Dale nodded as Ryan worked on his tablet. The guy was a tech genius and always connected.

“Melody Cameron, a fashion designer from Michigan. They have a lot of fashion in Michigan?” Dale asked, looking for possible flaws in the woman. Why would a fashion designer choose to live in Michigan?

Ryan turned the tablet around. “Her Web site looks good. She specializes in custom gowns for the hard-to-fit bride. Just our type.”

Dale studied the pretty, plus-size woman smiling in her Web site photo. With pale skin and long, reddish-brown hair, she was surrounded by samples of her work. Seriously attractive. Damn, this best-man gig would be harder than he thought. “She might hate it up here. Even southern Alaska isn’t easy for everyone.”

Jason stepped away from the board, then plugged in the floor lamps for overhead lighting. “Natural lightbulbs should help, Dale. You’re getting a touch of SAD, and we don’t need you scaring off a friend of Isa’s. These lamps should help Melody deal with the darkness.”

Dale walked around the space where the dresses would be made. “We might need to add a space heater over here, with the boards blocking the airflow.”

“I’ll grab one from the office.” Jason headed out.

Dale glanced around the room and tried to think of anything else Melody would need. “Maybe we should get a box cutter and unload?”

“I don’t think we should touch anything until she’s here.” Ben looked at the wall, then went to the corner and picked up a hammer. “Maybe if we put a sheet up over this, it’ll look better?”

Dale liked that. “You’re right. The plywood will snag material, I’m sure. Keeping fancy dresses clean and safe won’t be easy.”

“According to Isa, Melody isn’t really shy. She’ll tell you what she needs.” Ben set the hammer down. “Don’t give up on the right woman. You’re thirty-two, not seventy-two. Just because you’re in a relationship with two guys doesn’t mean there isn’t a woman out there who would love all the attention the three of you can give. Maybe she’s not coming to this wedding, but every summer brings a new crop of tourists.”

Dale stood near the floor lamp outfitted with bulbs that simulated natural light, and soaked in the rays as well as his brother’s positive attitude. “I hope you’re right. No one needs to get hurt. The right woman is one thing, but I need to appreciate what I have.”

Ben turned and looked his brother in the eye. Dale felt the unspoken understanding of a sibling. Kids didn’t always value what they had until it was taken away. There was no way Dale would make that mistake.

* * * *

Cold and snow didn’t impress Melody Cameron. Michigan had plenty of nasty winters with lake-effect snow. Still, Alaska was different. The darkness flat-out sucked. Anchorage had all the amenities of a real city. But since getting off the plane in Sterling, she felt like she’d gone back in time. There were lots of log cabins and plenty of businesses, but not a restaurant chain or coffee-shop franchise to be seen.

“You had five boxes shipped in. They’re at the boathouse. Ben’s brother’s got space for you.” Isa drove the truck through calm streets.

“Thanks for picking me up. I couldn’t ship all the fabric, just in case.” Melody had to admit Isa’s future hubby was hot and Isa looked happier than ever, but Mel kept glancing at the boxes in the back. The trouble to get the stuff here made her paranoid.

“Don’t worry about it. Ben’s following in your rental, so you won’t be stranded anywhere. We’ll get you settled at the Sterling Inn, and you can start work tomorrow.”

For the first time, she hoped the work space had no windows. She didn’t want to be reminded of the lack of sunlight. She frowned at the dim sun hanging in the sky; a little light was better than none. “There’s plenty of day left, right? I’d rather put the stuff inside so there’s less risk of damaging anything. I have extra fabric, but I want to know it’s safe.”

“Sure. We’ll go right to the boathouse. Dale, Jason, and Ryan are good guys. If you need anything, let them know.” Isa made a right turn onto a road that led to a large lake visible in the distance.

Melody admired the view. There was an eerie glow on the distant ice, and the dark water looked ominous. No doubt if she wandered off in the wrong direction, she’d be in danger. Nature was awe inspiring, and here, there was a lot of it. With the dresses to make and the mostly dark days, she wouldn’t have much time for sightseeing. “Thanks.”

They parked outside a huge building. She exited the truck, then opened the back door. Before she turned around, she saw the reflection of three handsome, solidly built men in the window. No distractions! She slid the box containing the material for Isa’s dress out of the backseat.

Ben pulled up in the rental. As he exited the car, he said, “Melody Cameron, this is my brother Dale, and his boyfriends, Jason and Ryan.”

She turned, clutching the box. Three good-looking men smiled at her. Dale gave a polite nod. The other two looked eager to help. Isa had talked about the trio a lot, but Melody hadn’t expected them to actually be attractive.

“Let us give you a hand.” Jason tried to take the box.

She wasn’t used to help. However, she couldn’t move the boxes by herself in this cold. Reluctantly, she let him take it. “Please be careful.”

“I’ll be careful; I promise. We can fly to Anchorage anytime we need to, as long as the weather holds. If the worst happens, you can get more.” Jason grazed her hand with his gloved one.

She let go of the box, then dug into her pockets for the good leather gloves she’d brought. “Thank you. I have a lot of work to do, and I can’t afford to lose time.”

Dale looked her over with ice blue eyes, then went around to the other side of the vehicle. “Well, we better get inside before it starts to snow.” He opened the door and pulled out another box.

“The boxes you shipped here are inside. I’m doing a virtual wedding; I hope you don’t mind,” Ryan said. He pulled out a camera from his pocket.

“I told her about that.” Isa handed Mel the keys to her rental and warned, “Drive carefully here. Let’s get inside and let the men bring in the luggage. We’ll warm up faster if you stop guarding the material.”

Mel’s face flushed as she followed Isa inside. The heat felt good. Unfortunately, the warehouse space wasn’t much. Wiping her feet on the mat, she inspected the room. Boxes were lined neatly along the back wall. The table and chair would help, but the old wooden floor with its dirt-filled cracks was a potential problem.

As the men brought in the rest of her stuff, she opened the boxes. While she dressed mannequins in one corner, she could avoid looking at the men. She’d been so busy with sketches and logistics she never imagined the men would enter her thoughts. Isa had gone on and on so much Mel figured they had to be too good to be true. Isa hadn’t exaggerated.

“You don’t need to get to work right now,” Isa said as she helped her with a mannequin. “I appreciate you coming up early and helping. Few of the dresses in the boutiques had sleeves, and the ones that did were hideous. No one designs them like you. I hate dragging you up here a month before the wedding, but arm flab isn’t good in pictures.”

“If you had found a dress you loved, I could’ve made you a jacket or wrap. But with your bridesmaids being plus-size, it’ll be better this way.” Melody was thrilled to help her friend. The four women had been close since college, especially Mel and Isa. Besides, the custom dressmaking business had fallen off since the recession hit.

She’d tried to convince Isa she could sew the dresses at home and then ship them up. However, Isa, ever the micromanager, wanted to see them in progress and didn’t want to risk the Alaskan winter weather delaying the dresses. She’d insisted Melody work locally. Isa had offered to pay Mel well, but Mel couldn’t accept. Now Melody thought she might have been set up to meet these men. It didn’t matter, though. The work would keep her too busy for distractions.

“I wanted a Cameron original. Winter has been mild so far. Doesn’t mean we won’t get an awful blizzard.” Isa smiled and twirled.

Melody laughed at her free-spirited friend. “I’m glad you’re so happy. Taking a trip to Alaska is exactly something you’d do. However, falling for two men and moving here?”

“It’s sort of normal around Sterling. Jimmy is working right now. You’ll meet him later.” Isa opened a box. “The material is so pretty!”

“Let me help,” Dale offered.

Mel rushed over. “Don’t touch. No oily or dirty fingers near the dresses.”

“Sorry, I’ll be careful.” He backed away.

“I won’t get in your way. I’ll be locked up in here for at least a couple weeks while I’m turning them into fabulous gowns. Then we’ll have fittings and the bridal shower. There’s plenty of work for me to do. I’ll try not to be any trouble.” Independence was her motto. Still, she was in unfamiliar territory.

Ryan took video of the room, panning slowly over the mannequins. “You couldn’t be trouble. I’d love to capture the progress of the dresses.”

She ran her leather boot over the old wood flooring. “That’s up to Isa. But could we get a clean tarp or something for the floor? I just want a little traction and something I can control the cleanliness of before I put any fabric out.”

Dale pushed his hood down, treating her to a better view of his jet-black hair and disapproving glance. He clearly wasn’t thrilled she was there. Maybe Isa had specifically and pointedly mentioned that Melody was single? A girl finds her man, or men, and suddenly wants everyone married. Mel had no intention of flirting…just working.

Jason took off his jacket and gave Mel a smile. “I’ll get something.”

“Thank you.” With Jason out of the bulky coat, Melody could admire his well-muscled form. Short brown hair, broad shoulders, a handsome face, and kind eyes—Jason was a hottie. She did her best to ignore the growing attraction as she watched him in action.

Ryan set down his camera to shrug out of his coat. He was leaner than Jason and Dale, with big brown eyes that matched his brown hair. He was the boy-next-door type and seemed very into his video work. Maybe all Alaskan men weren’t hunters or fishermen. Ryan grabbed his camera again. He pointed it at her, rather than at the stuff in the room. She could feel his gaze on her through the lens.

“We’ll see you at the Captain’s Catch for dinner. No arguing.” Isa hugged her. “Unpack. Just don’t get lost in work.”

“Okay, deal.” Mel turned to Ben and smiled. “Thanks, Ben.” She tugged off her gloves, then shimmied out of her Alaska-weather-approved coat. She finally felt like she could move, but would the men look at her as much when they realized the coat wasn’t the only padding on her?

“This tarp should do the trick,” Jason said as he came through the door. He set the bundled cloth down in the middle of the room. Dale stepped forward to help unroll it.

“Thank you. It’s perfect.” She walked around the edge of the tarp and reached for a mannequin. Jason rushed to help her. “We can store things along the walls, and I can work in this area.”

“The mannequins are all different sizes,” Dale observed as he set one carefully onto the canvas.

“Yes, because the bridesmaids are different sizes. I can add or remove layers of cloth and foam to get the dress size as close as possible.” She spotted the crate that housed her sewing machine. “Can you help me with this one?”

“Sure.” Jason jumped on the task, grabbing a crowbar from the table. He popped the lid free with a couple of quick yanks.

Dale glanced inside the box and chuckled. “We have sewing machines here. You could’ve borrowed one. Plenty of women in town sew.”

Melody laughed. “If they sew like I do, they won’t give up their machines for three weeks straight. I’m settling for nothing less than perfection for my best friend’s wedding.” Mel folded her arms over her chest and smiled proudly.

“We want it to be great too,” Ryan said. “Do what you have to do. We’re working on repairs and a new boat in the next room, so let us know if you need anything,”

“Do you have a radio I can borrow to drown out the noise you’ll be making? I’ll focus better.” She smiled at him.

Jason lifted the sewing machine out of the box and set it on the table. “I’m sure we can find one for you by tomorrow. Not much for stations, but it’ll be white noise.”

“That’s all I need.” Mel relaxed when Ryan turned the camera to the sewing machine, then to Jason.

Ryan pointed the camera at Dale. “So, best man, what do you think?”

Dale’s smile couldn’t quite hide a ripple of annoyance. “I think my sister-in-law will have the best wedding dress Sterling has ever seen.”

Ryan hit a button on the camera before kissing Dale on the lips. “Good answer.”

The affection between the attractive men triggered an unexpected arousal in Melody. Isa had told her they were in a bisexual ménage relationship. Hearing it over the phone or asking questions via text was one thing. Seeing it was different. Men together were hot. Their bisexuality opened up options Melody never imagined happened in real life. Maybe women like Isa were that lucky, but not Melody. It would take a little time for Sterling’s ménage-friendly reputation to sink in.

“Melody?” Jason came to stand beside her.

His body heat sparked a sudden craving for affection. “Yes?”

“You’re staring.” Jason grinned at her.

“Sorry. I’m still getting used to the ménage idea for Isa and that it’s normal here.” She turned to check on how her sewing machine had survived the journey. “I have a lot of gay friends back in Michigan, but they’re all couples.”

“We’re not gay. We’re bisexual. We just haven’t found the right woman yet.” Jason grabbed the empty box from the floor. “I’ll move these out of your way. We’ve got a closet in the back. Nothing will get tossed.”

“Great. I really appreciate the help.” Bisexual. I have to remember to use that term. These men seemed to be stressing their willingness to share a woman. Isa had mentioned women were the minority in Sterling. Maybe I can have a little fun. A girl does need some playtime.

“Don’t worry,” Ryan said. “And you’ll get the hang of Alaska. There’s a lot to adjust to. The darkness will be weird, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to keep warm at night.” He winked at her, then headed after Jason.

She got that flirtatious hint loud and clear. Instead of forcing Dale, the quietest of the three, into conversation, she unpacked her sewing kit. The men might be glad to have new meat around, but they stared at her like she was prime rib.

Dale took the empty box from her. “Don’t mind them. They’re thrilled to have more women in town for the wedding. A lot of people are excited.”

“I checked the census. Two thousand people don’t make a tiny town. There have to be women here.” She shook her head.

“Sure. I grew up with them in school and everything. Most marry young and move away after college. If one of the few remaining hasn’t clicked with us by now, she probably isn’t the right woman. Anyway, don’t take the flirtation you’ll get here too seriously. You’re the new blood. Jason and Ryan don’t mean any harm. If you feel uncomfortable, put them in their place.” Dale lifted a full box onto the table, then opened it for her.

For a second, she was annoyed. Did he think she didn’t get hit on and would misread flirtation because she was a size twenty? Then she realized she had been a little overwhelmed by the group approach. If she was outnumbered in the town as well, Dale’s advice might be sound. Maybe he was just being nice in his weird, quirky Alaskan way. “I can handle forward men. A coordinated trio would be a new experience.”

“A lot of women like the attention. Mining and fishing bring people here, so naturally, there are more men than women. Men have to be more competitive to win a woman. But they certainly value their woman once they win her. Isa is lucky; you’ll see.” Dale cracked a real smile.

She unloaded sketches she’d done of the dresses, followed by shoes that matched the bridesmaids’ gowns’ fabric. “I’m sure you’re right. Ben seems nice. Hopefully, we can agree that your brother is very lucky to have Isa.”

“Damn right!” Dale nodded at the shoes. “You thought of everything.”

“I hope so.” She smiled and surveyed the room. “Things cost a lot more here. I’d rather take my time and be careful with what I have. Flying back to Anchorage, or even having something brought in, would be a pain.”

“Welcome to Alaska. We always make the most of what we have. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. We’ll find a way to get you what you need. The wedding is a big deal for the town. People will help.” Dale picked up some empty boxes and headed out as Jason and Ryan entered.

She felt the change in the room as the two flirts returned. “Is the wedding really that big a deal?” she asked them.

“Yeah, lots of friends and family coming in.” Ryan held up an expensive-looking video camera. “Mind if I put this in here to capture the whole thing? I can do a time-lapse effect to let everyone see the dresses and your hard work.”

Melody hated being on camera. For the wedding, how could she say no? Isa’s grandmother was too frail to make the trip up. The Web site would stream the wedding live and also show the activities leading up to the big day. People could replay it wherever they were. It wasn’t only ingenious. It meant the world to that ninety-year-old woman on dialysis.

“Sure, a camera is fine. We’ll need to rig something for privacy when I do fittings, though.”

Ryan gave a dismissive wave. “Jason will figure it out. He’s a genius at throwing things together.”

Jason hugged Ryan playfully. “I’ll have it for you before the fittings.”

Eventually, she would forget a camera was there. “Sounds good. So the bridesmaids won’t be the only single girls in town. Isa had me worried,” Mel said, trying to make small talk.

Chuckling, Jason shook his head. “Most of the guests will be family. Don’t worry. Even Alaska doesn’t have an official bride-hunting season.”

She laughed but sensed he was only half-kidding. Deep down, she had a feeling that eighteen hours of darkness wasn’t the biggest challenge she would have in Alaska. The way the two men were looking at her, staying on deadline might be tricky.

Copyright © Cheryl Dragon

Saturday, January 4, 2014



The Wind River Pack 3 

Aurelia Salazar has a special gift the government wants to know more about. She can heal with just the touch of her hands. For five years they kept her hidden away while they studied her. And then two brave Marines helped her escape and smuggled her out of the country.

When some of the children of the Wind River Pack become ill, Zack remembers the young girl and her unique abilities. He goes to South America to find her and bring her back so she can help. He doesn’t expect to find she’s his mate.

Now, they’re racing against the clock to get her back to the States before it’s too late for the children. But Zack isn’t the only one searching for her. What happens when the scientist that held her prisoner for all those years finds them?



Zack squatted down next to the girl. “What do you want me to do?”

“Unfasten his belt and pull his pants down.”

Zack wrinkled his nose and moved to do as she asked. He noticed she turned her face away and blushed as he pulled the trousers down past the man’s boxer shorts, leaving them bunched around his calves. “Okay, I’m pretty sure the damn thing’s broken, Medina. It looks bad. I need to call a medical transport, man.”

Aurelia turned back around and glanced at the injured leg. “That won’t be necessary.” She moved closer to Medina’s body and pulled off her gloves. Taking a deep breath, she rubbed her hands together as if to warm them, and then placed them on his thigh.

As Zack watched, a slight orange glow formed around her hands, highlighting each finger. With her eyes closed, she breathed in and out steadily. It was like she disappeared into her own little world. Medina groaned and then visibly relaxed. His head sank back onto the ground as he sighed.

After a couple of minutes, Aurelia gasped and pulled her hands away. If anything, she was even paler than before. “How is it?” she asked.

Medina moved his leg up and down and laughed. “It’s all better, girl. Damn, I’ve seen you do that before, but it never fails to amaze me. You fixed it.”

“What’s going on?” Zack asked. Medina sighed and awkwardly got to his feet. He pulled up his pants, fastened them, and then reached to help Aurelia stand. Zack frowned when she swayed slightly. “Is she all right?”

Medina nodded. “The healings always take something out of her, some more than others. This was minor compared to some of the things I’ve seen her do.”

“It’s time for you to tell me the truth. What are you doing out here? I know you came from the building because you left the door open.”

“I had to. I needed a way back in where nobody could see me.”

Zack crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m waiting. What’s going on?”

“He’s helping me escape.”

Zack frowned and looked at the girl. “Escape from what?”

“The government,” whispered Aurelia.

“I couldn’t leave her in there any longer, man. They’ve been holding her here, against her will.”

“Why?” asked Zack.

“Because of my gift.”

“Your gift? I don’t understand.”

“She can heal people with the touch of her hands,” said Medina. “It’s not a scam. You saw it for yourself. They found out what she can do and they wanna know more. Hell, they’re keeping her drugged most of the time. They’ve been running all kinds of medical tests when she’s unconscious. I’m afraid of what they’ll try to do next. They can’t figure where her power comes from.”

Zack knew all about having abilities one had to keep secret. “How did they find you?”

Aurelia’s eyes filled with tears. “I’d been able to heal my brother’s small cuts and bruises since I was about five. When my father accidentally backed over his dog, I healed him right there in the driveway. Up until then, I’d kept it to myself, but my father was a witness this time.” She wiped at her eyes. “At first, he was afraid of me, but then he began to wonder how he could benefit from my gift. He wasn’t discreet, and before he could make any real plans, the government made him an offer. Basically, you could say he sold me. They gave him money and a small piece of land and then took me away to live in their labs.”

“How long ago?” asked Zack.

“Five years. I was nine years old when I last saw my family.”

Medina grabbed Zack’s arm. “Please, you’ve got to let her go. They’re planning to transfer her soon, and I might not be able to go with her. She deserves a chance at life.”

“Where were you taking her tonight?”

“My cousin is waiting about a mile from here, through the woods. He’s gonna get her out of the country and take her someplace they’ll never find her. I was gonna go back inside and make it look like she’d escaped.”

“Was Raulston in on this?” asked Zack.

“No, but I knew I could get by him. He’s been drinking on duty lately.”

Zack turned away and walked a few feet. When he turned back, his gaze settled on Aurelia. His coyote wanted closer, wanted to protect the little girl. Nobody should have to live their life as some kind of specimen. “For this to work, It’s gonna have to look like both of us were taken unaware. I wouldn’t be able to explain how she got past me while I was on patrol. You’ll have to knock me out and then go back inside and do whatever you can to make it look like you were overpowered.”

Medina smiled. “Then you’ll help us?”

Zack sighed and nodded. Aurelia moved quickly and threw her arms around his waist. “Thank you, oh, God, thank you. Bless you, sir. I’ll never forget you.”

Zack cleared his throat and pushed her away. “Go on and get her to your brother. I don’t wanna know where you’re going. I’ll be waiting by the back door. When you get back, we can set the scene.”

Medina holstered his gun. “Thanks, Wind River. I’ll owe you, man.”

“Call me Zack, please.” He motioned toward the woods. “Go on and get moving. You’re wasting time.” He stood and watched as the two of them hurried toward the northern border of town. Just before they disappeared into the trees, the girl turned back and gave a small wave. For some reason, his stomach clenched. For a moment, he fought the impulse to chase after her, and then turned to make his way back to the building he was supposed to be guarding. It was definitely going to be a long, cold night.


Zack moved to the foot of the bed and prowled up Aurelia’s body. He cupped her head and gazed down into her eyes. Then, unable to help himself, he kissed her, devouring her mouth. She lay back as he covered her body with his. Dropping close to her ear, he nibbled on her lobe. “You excite me, mate,” he whispered against her damp skin. Reaching up, he cupped her cheek and brushed his thumb tenderly back and forth across her skin.

Biting back a groan, his hands ran up her torso to the outsides of her breasts. Bending, he covered the tip of her breast with his mouth, teasing the sensitive bud of tight flesh. He took the engorged nipple into his mouth and sucked gently, reveling in the fact it was his touch that aroused her so much he could scent her desire.

Needing more, his hands roamed down her stomach and over the swells of her hips and buttocks, and then dropped to search between her legs. Pleasure shot into his balls as she gasped, her entire body shivering in response, her fingernails digging into his scalp. Moving restlessly beneath him, she caressed his arm, his shoulders, his back, every part of him she could reach. Groaning, she dragged her nails down his back as he left a wet trail on her skin with his lips and tongue. He worked his way down her body as she squirmed in pleasure. Then, she froze when his fingers brushed the inside of her thighs.

Looking down, he gazed at her open pussy, moist and gleaming. Bending, he brushed his knuckles against her silky skin and then flicked his tongue along her inner thigh. She moved restlessly as he licked her leg slowly from her ankle to the inside of her knee, and then trembled when his mouth inched a little farther up her thigh.

Zack could smell the moisture pooling between her legs as he studied the curly patch of damp hair covering the entrance to her sex. He rubbed circles on her belly before his fingers explored her moist heat. Her nails bit into his shoulders as she clung to him, her head thrown back, her lips parted.

Coating his fingers in her slick excitement, Zack found her clit and rubbed it before he pushed a finger inside her core, followed quickly by a second one. Gently he pumped them in and out of her pussy as her inner walls clamped down around his fingers. She moaned when he took her clit between his thumb and forefinger and rubbed the slick flesh slowly in tiny circles. He plucked and teased the sensitive flesh, and then slipped his thick index finger inside of her, moving it slowly in and out before he traced her cleft again.

Leaning close, he thrust his tongue inside her to explore her intimately and felt her pussy flood with cream. “You taste even better than you smell.” Zack could hear Aurelia muttering but couldn’t understand what she said. A harsh sound escaped her lips as she closed her eyes and opened her legs a little more. Accepting her invitation, he extended his tongue and lapped slowly, feasting on her juices, savoring her musky scent and salty taste. “Come over my tongue, mate. Give me what I need,” he whispered.

Zack swirled his tongue through her folds and right up into her channel as she cried out. His fingers moved into her hot sheath at the same time he clamped down on her clit. Aurelia’s body stiffened and shuddered under his hands as she exploded. Arching upward, she let out a cry as she came, her inner walls clutching at his fingers. A fresh surge of cream erupted from her pussy, coating his hand.

Zack moved up her body quickly and thrust his tongue between her lips. Eager and demanding, he moved it deep into her mouth. He panted as he pulled back to look into her eyes. “I need my cock in you, now.” When Aurelia nodded, he grasped his sex and pushed the tip slowly inside of her, watching as her flesh parted for him. Guiding the head, he pushed it just inside while she arched toward him eagerly, aiding his descent.

His shaft slid into her with ease, her channel wet and welcoming as he stretched her walls. She caught his hips, urging him to move faster, delve deeper. Zack released a harsh breath and drove deeply, grinding his hips against her, and slid all the way in with a powerful thrust. Aurelia locked her ankles behind his back and lifted her arms, looping them around his shoulders and spearing her fingers through his hair. She clutched his shaft with her inner muscles.

Catching her buttocks in his hands, Zack arched upward even as he bore down on her. He angled his strokes higher up on her body so his shaft rubbed her clit and then flexed his hips to sink a little deeper inside. Aurelia dug her fingernails into the tops of his shoulders and squeezed his shaft with her strong inner muscles. He cupped her bottom in his hands and lifted her hips as he pumped between her thighs.

“Faster, Zack, faster.”



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