Unexpected Fate by Harper Sloan

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Unexpected Fate
(Stand alone)

Blurb:

Have you ever felt like you were living your life for a future that was predetermined? Like there was some bigger picture you just prayed you would someday see clearly? That picture has been crystal clear to me since I was old enough to recognize it for just what it was.

Or I should say recognize him for who he was.

I’ve loved Cohen Cage since I was a small child. He’s been my everything for the last twenty-two years. I’ve loved him through every girlfriend he’s ever brought home. Through his college years and then mine. I’ve loved him through two deployments. And ever since the day I told him how I felt, he’s acted like I’m a stranger.

My name is Danielle Reid, and it’s time for me to get my man.

Our future is an unexpected fate, and no matter what our parents, siblings, and friends say…it’s going to be worth every second of the fight to make it happen.

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Review

OMG! Cohen and Dani are FUCKING AMAZING!! I mean really, if you have read any other books by Harper Sloan then you would already know this…but seriously this book is probably my favorite so far.  The chemistry between Cohen and Dani is undeniable. It just jumps off the page (or kindle lol) and you can feel what they feel. I knew before I read it that it was going to be great but Harper went above and beyond what I thought and I loved every second. I stayed up until 3am on a work night reading this because I couldn’t put it down. One of the things I love…well besides the whole book was that EVERYONE from the original series is there.

I give this book 5 GOLD SWAY SPARKLE STARS!

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Excerpt

“Dani-girl.” His voice, that rich rumble of masculine excellence, washes over me and I shiver again before cursing under my breath. The rumble of his low laughter tells me that he definitely didn’t miss that little move.
Kill me now.
“Hey, Coh,” I say with a smile. “What brings you in? Last minute, I might add.” I pat the chair before walking around and holding the back while he sits down.
When his scent hits my nose, I almost come on the spot. Lord, he smells good. I wonder what he would smell like while his body covered mine, all sweaty from hours of good lovemaking. I run my fingers through the longer lengths on the top and feel my cheeks heat slightly, thinking about doing the same when his face is buried between my legs.
“…needed a trim.”
Shit. I missed what he said because, naturally, I was thinking about him naked. Naked and thrusting into my body. Naked and feasting between my spread thighs.
“You feeling okay? I thought Nate said you were better?”
“Uh, I’m fine. Just—is it hot in here?” I fan my face and avoid his eyes.
He’s silent, so I take that as a sign that it’s safe to bring my attention back to him.
Big mistake there. His knowing eyes are boring right into mine. The chocolate depths sparkling in a way that makes it clear he has a good idea about where my mind was going.
“Did you hear what I said, Dani-girl?”
“Of course I did, Cohen. What, did you think I was standing here daydreaming?” I joke.
“Well, yeah, that’s exactly what I think.” His eyes darken and he smirks a devilish grin. “Did you know you talk in your sleep, Dani?” he asks, and I drop my comb.
Oh, God. Shut up, shut up, shut up. This is not happening. No way.
“No, I don’t,” I childishly snap.
“Dani, you do. So, yeah, I do think you were standing there daydreaming. Want to know why?” He uses his booted foot to move his chair so that he’s facing me, and then he leans in so that his face is dangerously close to mine. Even when he’s seated, his head is almost level with my own. Curse my horizontally challenged self. “While you were zoning off into space with your fingers running through my hair, you had this smile on your lips. The same smile you had the other day when you were dreaming. About me, Dani. And don’t deny it, because you don’t moan my name if you’re dreaming about another man. Yes, Dani, you very much do talk in your sleep.” He smiles again before leaning back and looking down to his phone. “Clean up my neck please, cut the length off the top, and give me a buzz on the sides. Other than that, you’re clear to continue with your thoughts.”
I must have been standing there like an idiot because he looks up from his phone, laughs to himself, and, with one tan hand, reaches out and pushes my mouth closed.
“You’re going to catch flies that way, Dani-girl. One day, maybe you can clue me in on what those dreams are about.”
Drives me insane, the control he has over me. There isn’t a single person in the world, other than Cohen, who can turn me into a ridiculously stupid, sputtering fool. My normal confidence disappears. And clearly, he isn’t as oblivious to my feelings as I originally thought.
How in the hell am I supposed to handle this?
Wait a minute. Cohen or not, I’m not going to let him pull my strings when I know he is just doing this to make me feel uncomfortable.
So, time to call his bluff.
“Why? You planning on doing something about it?”
He looks up sharply, clearly not having expected me to actually say something in return since he was going for shock value.
“Try me,” he demands, his voice thick and even deeper than normal.
I throw my head back and reach out to run my fingers thought his hair again, just barely suppressing the shivers. Curling my fingers slightly so that I can grab a good hold, I lean in and pull his head back at the same time. With my nose just a hair away from his and our breaths mingling together, I say, “Cohen, you couldn’t handle the truth of my thoughts when it comes to you and we both know it. So how about you let me know when you’re ready for me to clue you in.” I give his hair a light tug and smile when he swallows loudly and shifts in his seat. “Ready for that trim?” I ask with a wink, and I’m rewarded with his groan.
I have no idea how I do it, but I manage to get through his cut without coming unglued. I can see Lyn trying to get my attention from across the room. Stella had to leave after she overheard my words to Cohen because her giggles were getting the best of her. Cohen has remained silent the whole time. His eyes though… They’re speaking louder than his words ever could.
They haven’t left my reflection in the mirror since I started. I can feel them every time I shift. When I stopped to go grab another comb after I dropped my fourth one, I felt his gaze follow me across the room to Stella’s station. The few times I stopped cutting to meet his eyes, the heated promise written all over his face almost did me in. I almost just said ‘fuck it’ and climbed on his lap to have a go regardless of the people watching our every move.
I finish the last buzz of my clippers around his right ear and move to brush all the stray hair off. “All done,” I say softly and unclip his cape.
He stands, shoving his phone in the back pocket of his jeans, and walks over to stand in front of me. I continue to pretend I’m busy with the cape I just removed, brushing stray hairs off here and there, when his hand comes up, his finger and thumb hitting my chin, and my face is lifted until I have no choice but to look in his eyes.
“Do not tease me, Dani. It’s not a game you want to play if you don’t intend to follow through.”
“I-I wasn’t… I wouldn’t,” I stammer.
“You did, and I have no doubt you’ll have the brilliant idea to do it again. The next time you allude to those dirty thoughts I know you have about me, don’t think for a second that I won’t drag you to the closest bed to show you just how fucking dirty they’ll get.” He leans close, his scent hitting my nostrils, and I involuntarily inhale deeply, earning me a rumbled chuckle. “What you don’t know, Dani—because contrary to what you think, you don’t know me well enough to assume what having me would really be like. But I promise you this: every little thought that you have had that causes you to moan my name while scissoring those perfect legs back and forth, praying for completion—it would be so much hotter than you could ever imagine.” He gives me a soft, sweet kiss against my temple that has fire racing from that spot all over my body until it ends in the awareness that I’m pretty sure I just came in my pants.

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Unexpected Fate by Harper Sloan
Prologue

“Axel Reid, don’t you dare!” my mom exclaims. Then she yelps when my daddy charges through the front door.
“Don’t I dare what, Princess? No way that boy is going near my girl. Look at him! He looks like he can’t wait to creep on my daughter!”
“Well, there is no need to scare him to death!” she mocks.
My cheeks heat instantly when I see Dane start backing away from the porch. My hopes of being able to actually go to my senior prom are starting to go up in flames.
Poof.
Just like that.
Not that I should be surprised about it. Mom did her best to calm Daddy down, but we should have known better. He took one look at me and stormed over, only to return ten minutes later looking like he does now.
So embarrassing.
“You need to stop this nonsense right now, you big lug, or you’ll be sleeping on the couch,” Mom fumes.
“Like hell I will, woman!” Daddy roars at my mom.
I watch her face get sharp. He stops long enough to sling one of—that’s right, ONE of—the rifles he’s carrying over his shoulder, where it lands next to the other one he already has over his other shoulder.
Only my mom would be brave enough to deal with him when he’s in “Protect Dani from everything with a penis” mode. He looks absolutely ridiculous. He has two hunting rifles now hanging by their leather straps over each shoulder. He has two handguns strapped to each thick thigh, two on each side of his belt, and various knives along the way. His shirt, which he thinks is hilarious to wear when I attempt to go out on a date, says I kill things…and eat them. I know it’s a hunting shirt—for animals, not teenage boys—but Dane doesn’t.
Mom moves in front of him, standing in the front doorway and blocking his path, where Dane is still slowly retreating. She’s been dealing with this way before they even had me. He’s…protective. I guess that’s the nicest way to put it. Well, she calls him protective. However, I call it possessive, overbearing, controlling, demanding, and jerky.
“This is her senior prom, Ax. You wouldn’t let her go last year.” She pauses when he grunts. “And I’m sorry, but you won’t be stopping her this year. She has a right to experience this. And Dane is a nice boy. Right, Dane?” she yells over her shoulder.
“Uhh…” he stammers, causing my daddy to grunt some more.
“The boy doesn’t even know how to talk, Izzy. I bet he will be nothing but handsy and think with his little pecker. Nope. No way. Not near my baby girl.”
Oh. My. God. I wish I could just fall into a hole right now. I try to see over my parents to find out if Dane heard that, but with Daddy basically being a giant, that’s not happening.
“You did not just say that!” I yell at his back.
Daddy turns around, his movements awkward with how many weapons he has strapped to his body. His green eyes, so like my own, slant and harden. He looks down at my dress for the thousandth time since I came downstairs and doesn’t even bother hiding his displeasure that it’s showing too much of my body. Even if it is about as tasteful as it gets.
My strapless, red dress has a sweetheart neckline, and everything he calls my “girly bits” is covered. There isn’t really any cleavage. Well, okay, there is some, but surely with my lack of being busty, you couldn’t even call what is showing “cleavage.” His first problem was with how much of my legs was showing. Then I made the mistake of turning around without my wrap on. That’s when he saw that the dress was completely backless to my bra line. Well, what it would be if I had been wearing one. Which is clearly when he lost his mind.
“You look just like your mother did that night twenty years ago when we finally came back to each other. Right down to those strappy shoe things. And I guarantee you, Danielle Reid, any teenage boy who doesn’t bat for the other team will be thinking thoughts I’ll cut his dick off for. No. You aren’t going with that boy, and that’s final.”
I harden my eyes, and his narrow even further.
I put my hands on my hips, and he squares his shoulders, his rifles clinking together.
I raise one brow, and he mirrors the action.
“Daddy.”
“Dani.”
“I’ll cry.”
“No, you won’t. You have more balls than that.”
“Want to bet?” I attempt to muster up some tears, knowing that he won’t be able to handle them, but before I can force the first one out, my brother jumps into my line of sight and blocks our standoff.
“Yo, Dane! You just run along now. Dani is unfortunately feeling a little under the weather. Ebola. Or the flu. I don’t know. It’s really ugly and you probably don’t want to be around this. The boils—they could pop at any moment.”
“You did not just do that,” I heatedly whisper, fuming at his nerve.
Nate turns and smirks at me. “Oh I just did.”
“I can’t believe you two!” I spin to look at the one person who can help me. “Mom, seriously?”
Her expression softens, and she just shakes her head. “I’m sorry, Dani. I tried.”
“You two,” I start, pointing between my older brother and father. “You just can’t leave it alone? I’ll be eighteen in a few months. What are you jerks going to do then?”
“You’re not dating, Danielle. Not ever.”
“Oh yeah, Daddy? And how realistic is that crap?”
“Watch your mouth, little princess.”
“Mom?”
“I’m so sorry, Dani.” She walks over and wraps me in her small arms.
I could probably really cry now a lot easier than when I was trying to fake it, but I’ve never been one of those girls who weep constantly. It would be easier to just go upstairs, take off the dress mom and I spent hours looking for, scrub off the light makeup she helped me apply, and pretend this night didn’t happen.

***

An hour later, I’m sitting in my bedroom, still wearing my perfect dress. My makeup is still done and my hair is still flowing in long waves. And I’m no less mad at the men in my life than I was earlier. I’ve considered climbing out my window. I’ve considered asking my best friends, Lyn and Lila, to come help me escape. But what would be the point? Rambo-Dad already scared away my date, the only boy left in school who had been willing to ask me even though his friends had warned him about my father.
I lie down on my bed and stare up at the ceiling. Maybe I should go away for college. I planned on living at home while I attended Georgia Tech, but there is no way I can deal with this stuff any longer. If my father had things his way, I would be shipped off to become a nun. Or he would buy an island and make it an all-girls cult.
“Uhggggg!” I yell to the empty room.
“Seriously, Dani-girl, things can’t be that bad.”
I jump up when I hear the deep, gravelly, insanely sexy voice coming from my bedroom door. That voice. My lord. The things it alone does to me should be classified as illegal.
My hair slaps me in the face, a good handful landing in my open mouth, and I hastily pull it out before I turn to where he is standing.
My lord, he’s beautiful. He’s always been. My heart speeds up when I take in his smirking face and the mischief dancing in his brown eyes.
“Cat got your tongue?”
I shake my head.
“Speechless?”
I shake it again.
“Do you really have some flesh-eating, boil-slash-Ebola-like sickness?” he laughs.
I narrow my eyes at him, and his rich laughter booms through the room.
“I’m just kidding, Dani-girl. Come on. Get yourself ready and let’s go rock this prom.”
My jaw drops again. “What?”
For the first time, I notice that he’s dressed in a perfectly tailored tux. My eyes travel down his tall form to his shining, black dress shoes. On the way back up, my eyes hit the corsage spinning around his finger before I look back up into those gorgeous eyes.
“Let’s go, beautiful.”
“Does Daddy know you’re here?” I ask, not moving from my spot.
He sighs, steps into my room, and walks over. His cologne, Gucci Black, wraps around me. He’s worn the same scent for years. I perversely sniff it every time I hit the mall with Lyn and Lila. That scent—it’s my undoing.
He grabs one of my hands and gives my knuckles a kiss before placing the corsage around my wrist. He gives my hand a squeeze before letting go. Placing his strong hands on my shoulders, he presses down until I’m seated on my bed. Kneeling before me, he takes my feet one by one and fastens the straps of my black heels before standing and grabbing my hands, again, to pull me to my feet.
The whole time, I act like a freak and just gape at him.
What in the hell is going on?
“Ready?” he asks.
“Uhhh…”
“Right. You’re ready,” he laughs, grabs my hand, and pulls me through the house, down the stairs, and into the entryway of the house, where my parents are waiting.
Mom has her camera ready, forcing us to take some pictures, for all of which I’m sure I’m just standing there in a daze. I think I smiled in them, but I was too busy trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Daddy smiles big and triumphantly the whole time, like he’s won some battle here.
“Oh, good. You got here,” Nate mumbles through a sandwich he’s stuffing down his throat.
I shake out of my stunned stupor and look over at him. “You did this?” I ask with disbelief.
“Well, duh. Can’t have my little sister miss her prom because of some boils. Plus, I knew this guy,” he says, pointing at our father, “wouldn’t mind him.” He takes another bite before he looks over my shoulder. “And I know he isn’t going to try to pet the cat.”
“Nathaniel Gregory!” Mom gasps.
“What? Why do you think Dad acts like he does? Just because I’m willing to say the words doesn’t mean you have to freak out.”
I look over at my mom, who has turned bright red.
Daddy laughs at her embarrassment and pulls her into his arms. “Are you sure we didn’t drop that one a few times as a baby?”
She slaps his hard stomach and shakes her head. “You look beautiful, honey. Have fun, okay?”
I smile at her and move my eyes to Daddy to judge his mood.
He just smiles at me. “I trust him. He won’t let any of those pimple-faced, prepubescent boys touch a beautiful hair on your head. Have fun, sweetheart.”
I walk over and give them both a hug, standing up on my toes as far as a can to whisper my gratitude in his ear. He’s annoying, overprotective, and possessive of his girls, but I love him and I know he comes from a good place.
“Uh, excuse me? Do I not get any little-sister love here? I’m the one running this show, you know?”
“You’re such a dork, Nate,” I laugh and give him a hug before turning back to my date.
He’s standing by the door, talking in low tones to my daddy. I can’t hear him, but he’s still smiling, so I’m guessing there isn’t any talk about dismemberment going on. He looks over, his smile deepening and the lines around his eyes crinkling. Something moves behind his eyes that darkens them slightly, but he looks back over at Daddy, finishing up their conversation.
“Ready, Dani-girl?” he asks a few minutes later, making my heart speed up again.
Holy. Crap.
“Yeah. I’m ready.” Or at least as ready as I’ll ever be.

**

That night, while dancing to Brett Young’s “Kiss by Kiss,” I knew I would never be the same. I could feel the jealous waves coming off every female in the room as he held me in his arms. Of course, I had a man and not a boy as my date. Five years older than I am and very obviously not a teenager.
Being held in his arms was a dream come true. His scent invaded my lungs with every inhale. His eyes twinkled as his smile held me hostage. I knew I would never love a man as much as I love him.
Yeah. That was the night I confirmed what I had always known. What I had always felt.
Cohen Cage owned my heart and I never wanted it back.

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Meet Cohen & Danielle in the newest stand alone
in the Hope Town Series by Harper Sloan!
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Nook

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harper sloanAbout the Author:

Harper lives in small town Georgia just a short drive from her hometown of Peachtree City. She (and her 3 daughters) enjoy ruling the house they dubbed ‘Estrogen Ocean’, much to her husband’s chagrin. Harper has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books; you can almost ALWAYS find her with her eReader attached. She enjoys bad reality TV and cheesy romantic flicks. Her favorite kind of hero–the super alpha kind!

Harper started using writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night; and with a house full of crazy it was the perfect way to just relax. It didn’t take long before a head full of very demanding alphas would stop at nothing to have their story told.

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Meet Me at the Beach By: V.K. Sykes

Meet-Me-at-the-Beach-VK-Skyes

Meet Me at the Beach
Seashell Bay # 1
By: V.K. Sykes
Releasing February 24th, 2015
Grand Central / Forever

Meet Me at the Beach coverBlurb

YOU CAN’T STOP A RISING TIDE

When Lily Doyle spots her high school crush Aiden Flynn on the inbound ferry, she knows trouble is about to dock in Seashell Bay. And not just because he’s more handsome than ever. If Aiden’s in town, the rumors must be true about his family’s plan to sell their coastal land to the highest bidder. But Lily will do whatever it takes to convince the hottest guy on the beach to protect their idyllic island home.

Gorgeous Lily Doyle was the only thing Aiden missed after he escaped from his hometown to play pro baseball. Now all Aiden wants is to wrap up the business deal and get back to his life, not relive a past that still haunts him. But as memories rush in about the night of passion he and Lily shared long ago, everything else washes right out to sea-everything except the desire that still burns between them.

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Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo | Book Depository

 

VK SykesAuthor Info

V.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance and also romantic suspense. Randy excels at plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to that pesky old thing called emotion. That’s where Vanessa steps in. She usually writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name. You can check out Vanessa’s bestselling historical romances at http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Excerpt:

Lily thought she’d done a fairly respectable job preventing Darts Night from deteriorating into full-blown war. Not that Bram would ever lay a hand on a woman, much less one almost three times his age, but Granny had lots of supporters in the Pot. Any one of them would have been more than willing to throw a punch on her behalf.
Aiden had done his bit to keep the situation under control too. He’d reacted calmly and decisively, keeping his stupid brother locked down and treating Granny with a sweet, old-fashioned respect.
And she had to admit that his understated confidence turned her on a little too.
Okay, he was pretty much melting her panties.
Once a high school hunk, Aiden had now matured into an incredibly sexy man with a laid-back assurance and masculinity that vacuumed up the attention of every woman in the bar but Granny. Every cell in Lily’s overheated body was telling her that he felt the pull between them too, and that he was more than willing to act on it. Should she use that attraction to get closer to him and probe for info? She hated the idea of using such sleazy tactics, no matter how just the cause, and the idea of getting involved with Aiden was even more anxiety provoking.
She felt pretty certain that would be a one-way boat ride to a whole lot of heartache.
But Gramps had made her mission crystal clear—find out where the boy stood on Seashell Bay’s future. Would he honor his mother’s inheritance, or would he side with his jerkwad of a father? From the few clues Aiden had dropped, she sensed that he had yet to make up his mind. Aiden wasn’t the kind of guy to let his father—or anyone else—force him to make a decision before he was ready.
So there was time to push back, especially if he hung around for a while. And if he did, Aiden just might be a temporary fix for the other problem that was keeping her awake at nights.
If she could get him to agree to it, and that was a very big if.
She flashed him a bright smile when he hit the double ring to score another twenty-six points with the third dart of his turn. “Very nice.”
Lily didn’t need to fake her compliment—he was damn good. Now it would come down to the first person to hit the double needed in order to check out.
He casually rested his hand on the base of her spine as she took up her position. His hand, big enough to nearly span her lower back, sent heat through to her skin. The sensation forced her to lock her knees to hold her stance.
“Feeling the pressure yet?” His deep voice made her want to press her thighs together. “You must really hate the thought of losing in front of the home crowd.”
“Lose? In your dreams.” She mentally winced at the squeaky note to her voice.
He was teasing, but his words contained an element of truth. Lily hated losing, and there were a few people watching who would find pleasure in rubbing it in. Folks in Seashell Bay took their darts seriously, and she’d been whipping their asses for years. Still, she’d developed a game plan, and she had to stick to it.
Think big picture and get over yourself, girl.
“Put him away, Lily,” Morgan shouted, her face lit up with loyal enthusiasm.
“She’s gonna bust,” Bram retorted.
Lily shut everything out and threw three straight darts just outside the double nine, scoring zero for her turn. Perspiration prickled along her spine where Aiden’s hand had rested only moments ago. It took skill to throw a game and not look suspicious.