Fabulous Friday Reads: Shelter (The Beginning)
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Allyson Young and Peri Elizabeth Scott’s hot new post-apocalyptic romance Shelter, out on July 18 and now available for pre-order. Take it away, ladies!
Addison Longwood survived the plague that struck down almost everyone around her. She survived the hazardous trek into the countryside to find shelter within a group of like-minded individuals led by a man she can actually respect. Settled and contributing, she allows herself a sense of hope.
From the remaining military, Captain Jesse Forbes is charged with locating survivors in order to rebuild the country. His initial impression of Addison’s band isn’t positive and he sets his sights on the young woman in order to infiltrate, and assess her leader—the end justifying the means, or so he assures himself.
But there are far greater dangers lurking, threatening the very existence of the survivors. Alliances are forged—and tested. Betrayal cuts deep, lives are lost and others changed forever.
Who are the good guys anyhow?
Wrapped in an old piece of toweling—another item to add to the shopping list—she was squeezing the moisture out of her mane when Jesse Forbes came through the door. One of her guys lingered just outside, guarding the man, but every molecule of her being told her to run, far and fast before she put some steel in her spine and managed a nod.
“Morning. I see you’re up ahead of most everyone else too,” he said.
Making small talk in the showers, with him fully clothed and her … not, sucked. To his credit, aside from one sweeping glance down her body, he looked at her face.
“Seems like it.” She edged around him, catching his amused stare and grabbed up her clothes. “Excuse me.”
“I wondered how long your hair was.”
She blinked, and despite herself, her hand rose to finger the wet tangles. Not particularly vain, she’d left her hair to grow, finding it easier to tie up and out of the way instead of fighting with the unruly curls. Especially now she could keep it clean and avoid the critters that tended to infiltrate dirty hair, particularly among close quarters. It had been carefully secured and out of the way on the mountain that day so he couldn’t have known.
Deciding not to answer, she ducked into the tacked-on separate room, no more than a tent, thank goodness for the temperate climate. She rubbed furiously at the dampness still on her skin and then yanked on her jeans under the cover of her towel. She pulled on her shirt, only then using the toweling to wring more moisture from her hair.
“Sorry. Again. I seem to put my foot in my mouth around you. And I’m not yet privy to the rules around here.” His smooth baritone sounded too damn close and she wheeled around, cursing the fact she’d turned her back on him. And he was between her and her rifle.
She hadn’t been mistaken about his size and breadth, although refused to feel intimated—or anything else. Besides, his guard was close by. Her brain processed his educated comment. Sometimes he sounded like an average Joe, then next, a college professor. Privy? Her obsession with books allowed for the interpretation, but still…
Forcing herself to project calm, or whatever felt close to that, she said, “Are you asking about segregation? Of the sexes?” And why had she used the word sex in his vicinity?
“That, among other things.”
“Mitchell, I mean, the Colonel, will apprise you.” She thought she saw a glimmer of intrigue in those strangely colored eyes but it passed too quickly to be certain.
“He said he’d assign someone. As a guide. Aside from my armed escort.”
“Then you’ll be set. Excuse me.”
“Is there a time that’s better for me—and the guys—to shower?” His hands went to the collar of his T-shirt and he tugged it over his head.
Addy had seen enough torsos—and other man parts—in her life. How could she not, given her history and where she now slept? So Jesse’s cut chest and chiseled abs shouldn’t have had any effect on her. And they didn’t, her excellent self-control surging to the fore. They. Did. Not.
“No set times,” she said, infusing her voice with casualness. “This shower is communal for the fighters. The camp defenders, I’d guess you’d call us. There’s another, larger one for the rest of the camp. The guys make allowances for us four women—me, Marcia, Denise, and Laura—first thing. I woke up earlier today.”
Was that a knowing look? She fought a blush. He was getting under her skin and she had no doubt he knew it. Probably knew women inside and out, had lots of experience with them. Well, she had lots of experience with men, too, and none of it positive.
“I slept fine,” she lied. “I woke early, is all. So if you hurry, you won’t be disturbed by the other women when they arrive. Unless it won’t bother you.” For sure it wouldn’t bother Denise and probably not the other two.
“I’ll just be quick then.” His long fingers reached for the button on his khakis. It didn’t escape her notice he didn’t remark on being disturbed by the women.
Refusing to look as though she was fleeing, Addy folded her towel before turning on her heel and stalking out, dipping to snatch up her rifle. The glimpse of his naked, sculpted butt and strong legs was emblazoned on her retinas, but she blinked the vision away. Add arrogance to his confidence. Not necessarily a nice mix.
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About the Author
Allyson Young aka Peri Elizabeth Scott lives in cottage country, Manitoba, Canada. She and her husband pretend to work well together in their seasonal business.
She has always enjoyed the written word, and after reading an erotic romance, quite by mistake, decided to try her hand at penning one. That was followed by a mix of spicy (Ally) and sweet (Peribeth) romances in various genres as well as a post-apocalyptic adventure without a lick of romance by Peribeth.
A bestselling Amazon author, a hybrid, and a coauthor, as of April 2018 she has published seven series and several standalones, with others in the works.
Wicked Wednesday Reads: The Time
Okay, folks, this is a bit different from the usual romance guest blogs I post, but this story by Peri Elizabeth Scott is most definitely worth a look. Check it out!
In a post apocalyptic world, a woman struggles to survive until reunited with her son, only to bring grave danger to the small band of people he leads. Choosing to sacrifice herself to protect the clan, Ann Murdoch discovers how resourceful she can be in the face of torture and death.
She knew revenge was a luxury even as she yearned for it, her daughter horribly dead at another’s hand. She herself killed a boy, albeit in self defense, and obviously someone connected to him doesn’t view luxury in the same way. And that someone is well past the yearning stage…
The quick retreat wasn’t totally silent. She could hear the sounds of the others, moving quickly along parallel lines to her own painful effort. Wondering how long she could keep the burst of energy up, she noted the noises diminished as people worked their way outward like the spokes of a wheel. Four hundred paces and the air burned in her lungs. Sh e fought the tough terrain and avoided the thickening flora, the damn sled hanging up at each and every turn. Her arms burned with the desperate efforts to free the runners and the hound whined with pain.
Six hundred paces had her bent doubled over with a stitch in her side. She went to her knees when the ground sloped away into a small ravine, nearly causing her and Gehlert to tumble into its depths, the momentum of the heavy sled a terrible burden. It was the dog who saved them, digging his forefeet in and throwing his body weight back to settle on his haunches. She hugged him fiercely, his pants and thundering heartbeat mirroring her own.
Skirting the ravine took them well away from what she reckoned was a straight path outward from the original starting point. She scanned the treetops in a near futile effort to reorient herself. The filtered light told her the sun was at four o’clock, so she deviated slightly to her right and pushed on, wondering where the strength to do so had come from.
Having lost count of her pacing, she chanced another three hundred, using images of what would happen if they got caught to spur her on. Certain they’d walked a half marathon, she chose a thick clump of gorse bushes, insanely wondering how they’d come to flourish this deep in the woods. The hound stepped away from the harness the instant she freed him and staggered sideways to collapse on a bed of leaves and other organic debris. Doggedly working to separate the lower branches of the bushes and wincing at the spiny press of the remaining leaves despite the cover of her thin gloves, she managed to secret the sled, or at least muddle the outline of it. She bent thinner twigs to camouflage it further and made herself take the time to stand back and take as critical a look as she could. Satisfied, she found another clump of the same vegetation and crawled in backward, stopping only when her feet couldn’t press any deeper. She then pressed a dog sized space open to her right.
“Gehlert.” Even a whisper hurt her parched throat, but she was rewarded with a faint thump of his tail. “Come.”
The hound visibly considered her command, ears lowering and eyes drifting before he levered upward, limping to her. He’d pulled more than his weight and was clearly on the brink of exhaustion. Even in the dappled light she could see where the harness had cut harshly into his hide, the thick guard hairs rubbed away. She wanted to cry. Blinking hard, she swallowed against the emotion.
“Here.” She patted the small space beside her and he obligingly wiggled in, somehow turning in place three times before he settled down. Draping an arm over him, she tugged a few branches into place over, poking herself in the cheek as she did so, then dropped her head onto the fertile earth.
After a time, her heart slowed and her breathing returned to normal, as did the hound’s, although he hitched from time to time with a little gasping noise. At last, she could focus on her surroundings and actually hear the forest sounds, the faint creak of living wood, the rustle of a small breeze among the remaining leaves, and the occasional call of a bird. The ground was reasonably warm, despite the approach of winter, and with Gehlert pressed close, she wasn’t terribly uncomfortable. She only wished she’d thought to bring one of the water bottles into her makeshift shelter, her body crying out for moisture after the forced march.
Time crept by and she became aware of how her pistol rested with solid intent against her belly, the barrel grinding into her hip. Seeing that her weapon was the only thing between her and whatever was out there hunting them, she cursed fluently under her breath and hitched up enough to worm a hand beneath her. With some judicious pulling and peeling back of the layers of clothing, she was able to free the butt and work the pistol out from under her, blessing her foresight to set the safety. She brought it up beside her head, one finger through the trigger, palm resting lightly against the pommel, before she flicked the safety off.
The hound stiffened beneath her lax arm and she strained her ears, suppressing a shudder. Perhaps it was one of the others, off course and passing by, still trudging those thousand paces, that had alerted him. Or an animal, picking its way through the trees. Alas, it was the base notes of a number of male voices she heard, far off, their words indistinct, distorted by the numerous trees and the uneven terrain—and the sudden escalation of her heartbeat. Stark terror froze her in place, chilling her blood, making her sex draw up in self-defense. Her belly clenched in on itself and goose flesh broke out all along her spine. Air rushed in and out of her nose as she tried hard not to pant, knowing how foreign the sound would be, how easily heard if someone cared to stop and listen. Her dog shivered in response to her angst and made a faint whine.
That whimper awakened her higher brain functions and she gained control. With a firm squeeze, she signaled Gehlert into silence. They huddled together and waited as she held her weapon at the ready.
Disjointed phrases drifted to her ears, accompanied by faint crashing sounds of something larger than a person.
“…signs of at least…”
She was certain she felt a cold stare focused on their location, something malevolent and inhuman, and remained as still as possible, willing their hidden forms to blend into the surroundings. Nothing to see here. Just more trees and underbrush. She prayed there were no dogs, and cast her eyes down, refusing to risk even that chance of a flicker of awareness.
Minutes passed as she counted the seconds. Three hundred and sixty, then six hundred and sixty. Eleven minutes, give or take. The evil stare lingered in her imagination, or perhaps its owner was still out there, patient as a spider. The adrenalin leached out of her muscles, leaving her spent and far more fatigued than ever. She wouldn’t move, wouldn’t make it easier for whoever it was out there to find her, but felt as though she had nothing left to defend herself if he did. Her pistol seemed impossibly toy-like against the threat and her knife was still in her boot.
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About the Author
Peri Elizabeth Scott lives in Manitoba, Canada. After closing her private practice as a social worker and child play therapist, she joined her husband in running their seasonal business where they pretend to work well together.
Writing for years, The Time is a departure from her usual romance genre, but it was a story that had to be told!
Peribeth also pens erotic romance under a different pen name and reads everything she can lay her hands on.
Nicola’s Sunday Shoutout: Jennifer Simpkins and Peri Elizabeth Scott
Today’s Sunday Shoutout goes out to the double-barreled team of Jennifer Simpkins and Peri Elizabeth Scott and their new book Full Circle, now available from Evernight Publishing and other purveyors of erotic romance. Take it away, ladies!
Heath abandoned Ellie Scott thirteen years ago, disgusted and betrayed. He’s now reluctantly back for his father’s—count ’em—fourth wedding because he promised his little sister. Mia wants him to make up with their dad—and she’s never stopped talking about Ellie.
Ellie never got over Heath Granger. She had no idea why he left, only that it cut to the bone. She’s doing the flowers for his father’s wedding so they are bound to meet.
Thrown together again, Ellie learns why Heath abandoned her. Like father, like son, except she quite likes Mr. Granger. Heath, not so much, considering how quick he was to believe a lie—and think the worst of her.
Faced with the truth, Heath is ashamed of his actions. He can walk away again, or man up and make amends. But will Ellie forgive and forget? Will they come full circle?
Ellie buried her head in her hands and silently screamed, frustrated by the situation Mia had put her in. When she looked back up she saw him. His dark hair was a tad too long for convention, but it suited him. For half a second she let herself imagine what it would feel like to run her fingers through the thick mane. The simple touch used to bring her so much pleasure, but then that thought forced her to remember their last time together and that was enough to bring her back to present time. She couldn’t ignore his same strong, handsome features. Heath gave off an air of command even at this distance, and he wasn’t soft at all from his desk job. So probably not staid either. Of course, he looked more mature, but still like Heath.
A white buttoned up shirt tucked into a pair of dark slacks was anchored with a thin belt. The first two buttons on his shirt were left unattended to, giving him a more casual, cool look. His slick, black dress shoes were the only part of his attire that stood out to her though. And if Heath being beyond sexy wasn’t enough to knock her off balance, him not being alone was. As she had somehow already suspected, a blonde bombshell in a sleek, blue dress hung on Heath’s side, as if claiming him and warding off all other women. High heels showcased her long, tan legs. Ellie became insecure in her simple, flowered sundress paired with white sandals. If this was what he was into… No, Ellie, don’t you dare do that to yourself.
Mia saw them about the same time. Leaping to her feet, she about tumbled over her chair, trying to reach Heath. In that moment, seeing how happy her friend was, Ellie figured all the discomfort that was bound to happen tonight would be worth it.
Mia pulled her brother into a tight hug. “Heath, you’re here!”
A smile spread across his perfectly shaped lips as he took his sister into his arms. He looked genuinely happy. “It’s good to see you, little sis.”
Mr. Roy beamed. “It’s wonderful seeing my kids together again. I’ve missed this.”
Renee acknowledged Ellie first. “I didn’t know you would be here.”
“Yeah, Mia’s full of surprises. It seems she didn’t tell anyone I was coming tonight,” she said, looking in Heath’s general direction.
Mr. Roy left his children’s side, and Ellie stood, accepting his bear hug. “It’s good to see you, Ellie.”
“You too, Mr. Roy.”
The only other person left to greet—well, two people—was Heath and his date.
Heath was first to break the awkward silence. Extending a hand, he leaned into her. At that very moment she made the mistake of inhaling, taking in his fresh smelling cologne. “Ellie.” His voice came out low. And that did funny things to her stomach. The flip flops only got worse as he swept his eyes down her body, from her face to her painted toes and back up to her flaming red cheeks. Damn him.
“Hi” she said, clearing her throat, clearly not as unfazed by their meeting as he appeared.
His stare set her body on fire. He made no attempt to move and she became aware she’d failed to shake his hand. She’d taken it into hers, and lord help her. His hand was rough and strong, making her want to shiver. She also couldn’t ignore his eyes as they bore into her, dangerously dark, sending a jolt of excitement to her core. This couldn’t be happening. After all these years, he still had the same effect on her. And then it seemed the connection broke his calm and collected exterior because he didn’t let go immediately. Instead, he raised one beautifully arched eyebrow at her.
His touch, his smell sent her back to a time when things were just as complicated. Except then she welcomed the complication he brought into her life. His lips, warm and moving over hers. His tongue swirling with hers, sending little jolts of electricity to her sex. His body rubbing against her. The feel of his—
“Heath, darling, who is this?” Blondie was now back on his side, running her manicured fingers up and down his forearm.
A cold dose of reality put out the fire that had sparked between her thighs. It was going to be a really long night.
Heath cleared his throat and collected himself. She wondered if he’d allowed himself to go back to that place too. “This is Mia’s best friend, Ellie Scott. Ellie, this is Melissa Adams.”
Voice just above a whisper—audible to only Heath and Ellie—Melissa said, “I’m Heath’s lover.”
Ellie stared back in horror. Was she supposed to have a response to that? No wonder they’d never worked out, if this was the type of woman he’d been waiting for.
Where To Buy
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About Jennifer Simpkins
Jennifer Simpkins has always been an avid reader, but it wasn’t until she became a stay-at-home mom did she start to read romance. Her passion of reading romance turned into another passion she had as a child—writing. One late night of writing about sexy heroes and strong-willed heroines turned into two nights, until seven months later she had written her first novel.
She lives in a small, North Carolina town with her supportive husband (whose dream is to be on the cover of one of her books), a beautiful daughter, and two dogs who can’t seem to get along. If she’s not writing you can find her reading, hanging out with her family, or cheering on the New York Yankees.
About Peri Elizabeth Scott
Peri Elizabeth Scott lives in Manitoba, Canada. She and her husband have a wonderful son, and a houseful of animals. She closed her part time private practice as a social worker and child play therapist to spend more time with her husband. Peri has written for years, mostly short stories and poetry, and reads everything she can lay her hands on. She more recently turned to penning contemporary romance, although has published dark erotica under another pen name.
Nicola’s Sunday Shoutout: Lynn Rae and Peri Elizabeth Scott
Hello darlings! Today’s Sunday Shoutout goes to Lynn Rae and Peri Elizabeth Scott, whose new book Prohibited is now available from Evernight Publishing and other retailers of fine erotic romance.
In the early 1920’s in Lima, Ohio, John MacDonald Adair hides his speakeasy from the law, and his mixed heritage from the KKK, mingling with the rich, piling up the cash and taking his pleasure within the ranks of the flappers who patronize his speak.
Lilly Townsend is a serious, modern woman, a suffragette and temperance advocate with nothing to hide and no patience for the frivolity of the times. And she doesn’t break the rules—yet.
Such disparate souls should never meet, but Fate conspires otherwise. Powerless against overwhelming chemistry, and something far deeper, Mac and Lilly must make some difficult choices and face down societal mores—together—to attain their happily ever after.
Making her way up the wide stone steps to the porch, Lilly shifted the pie to one hand and pressed the doorbell with the other. There was a barely discernible chime through the leaded glass and walnut door but no other sound. She waited and pressed the button again. The door opened with a rattle and creak.
When she recognized the person glaring at her, all the breath left her body in a gasp. It was Mac Adair. Of course. Of all the people in Lima who could have purchased this house next to hers, it would have to be that man.
He narrowed his eyes at her and propped his arm across the door opening as if to deny her entrance. He was wearing a soft-looking red shirt with far too many buttons unfastened, and sturdy black trousers. When she realized he wasn’t wearing an undershirt and she could see the tanned muscles of his chest, her arms weakened and the pie wobbled and dropped from her useless hands.
Stifling a shriek, Lilly flailed for the pan but it was too late to catch it. Spraying its contents, the pie landed on the porch with a sickening squash and the entire pastry top cracked apart as reddish goo welled up like heart’s blood. Scarlet gobbets clung to her forearms and the front of her embroidered linen dress.
Horrified, she looked up to find Mac Adair still staring at her, although his features had smoothed away from the frown he’d worn earlier. The corners of his mouth twitched with disgust or amusement at her predicament. Lilly knew her own mouth was gaping open but she was frozen with embarrassment and powerless to close it.
Stricken might be too strong a word for Mac to apply in this circumstance, but it came damn close. Perhaps another might find humor in this beauty brought to her knees by some version of slapstick, but he was mortified for her.
It wasn’t lost on him, this neighborly gesture of welcome, although no doubt she’d have painted a black daub on his door to warn others had she known he lived here after the way he’d treated her in his speakeasy. Mac fumbled for his handkerchief.
“Here, let me…” He squatted to reach out and pat the worst of the spill from her wrist then thought better of it and offered the cloth to her to apply instead.
Trembling fingers snatched it from his grasp, the slight contact sparking a frission of static up his forearm. Lil patted at the sticky fruit and flakes of pastry, lips set in a thin line as she visibly regained her composure. Not that her full, bee-stung mouth could compress into a truly regimented grimace.
“Thank you.” A quiet, dignified murmur at last. She raised her coffee brown eyes to his again, the long lashes sweeping up to unveil returning self possession. His heart pounded harder, and another part of his anatomy responded as well, refusing to listen to his brain scold.
As awkward as a boy in the company of his first crush, Mac struggled to his feet, offering her the hand not occupied with the detritus of the pie as he did so. Lil reached out to take it, and their fingers met amidst the gooey residue as he helped her up. He felt his lips twitching and registered a similar movement of Lil’s. Laughter bubbled over, a welcome warmth that enveloped his senses, and he guffawed in response.
“My pleasure to meet you, Miss Townsend. Please come in and you can freshen up.”
“I think it will take more than a mere freshen up. And it’s Mrs. Townsend, but please call me Lilly. After our two, um, disparate meetings…”
She was married? How had he missed that fine gold band? Married to that sap.
“Ah—” What in hell was that man’s name she was with last night? “So, Walter is your husband.”
“Walter? Heavens, no! My husband passed four years ago.”
The rush of relief at the news made his knees weak—he was a total bastard for welcoming such news. “I’m sorry for your loss, Lilly.”
“Thank you.” She stared at him expectantly and he shuffled backwards into the foyer. Lilly gracefully followed, only to come up short.
“Do you have a powder room on the main floor?”
“There’s a newly constructed bath just off the foyer.”
Carefully disposing of the ruined pie in his sterile kitchen, he hustled back to the porch with a rag and a small basin of water. He hadn’t cleaned a floor on his knees in, well, ever, but the flies were gathering.
When Lilly emerged, the stuff of her dress sported large, spreading damp spots tinged with an unfortunate hue of pink, the same hint of blush remained on her cheeks.
“I had no idea you were my aunt and uncle’s new neighbor.” The frost was back in her tone.
“Or you wouldn’t have deigned to make me a welcome to the neighborhood pie. Let alone cross the threshold.” Damn it, he was biting back as a dog snaps at flies.
She flinched at his comment and held her head even higher. “I definitely wouldn’t have. You own a speakeasy! Your reputation—”
“My reputation? I’m a businessman, Mrs. Townsend. I serve the public, at least those who seek my services. And if memory serves, you were in my speak just last night. How might that have impugned your reputation, I wonder? Or perhaps it reflected who you are beneath the trappings.”
If he could have ripped out his tongue by its very roots he would have done. Lilly’s breasts lifted and fell rapidly in response to his set down and he tore his eyes away from that bewitching sight to meet her very hurt gaze, swiftly being hidden by outrage and disdain.
“I know who I am beneath my trappings. Mr. Adair. Who or what do you hide behind yours? My slight lapse in judgment last evening, correction, serious lapse in judgment won’t be repeated. Of that I can assure you!”
Hell’s teeth, she was lovely! All flashing eyes and high color. He couldn’t resist pushing her harder.
“I knew my first impression of you was correct.”
She sputtered. It was fascinating to observe, those succulent lips parting with fury.
“If you consider calling me priggish and straight-laced an insult, sir, you’re sorely mistaken. I’m simply fine with your assessment. At least I’m contributing to the moral compass of this world, unlike some people who undermine the very fabric of—oomph.”
It was just too much. Too much of everything. She had slipped a verbal dagger between his ribs and pierced his conscience. Coupled with her intense appeal, he felt pushed over the brink and reacted to both quiet her and soothe his abraded soul.
Her wealth of hair spilled from its gathered twist on the back of her head as he pulled her roughly into his arms, soft curves imprinting against his chest. He caught a glimpse of her wide, startled eyes before taking her mouth with his own in fierce possession, plundering the seam of her lips. Groaning with the effort of suppressing his lust—he longed to sweep her up and carry her into the parlor where a fainting couch reposed—Mac contented himself with kissing them both senseless.