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Extras Category: Bonus Scenes

Bonus Scene: “Lost and Longing”, a summer before senior year Ian PoV

The following is a brand new scene that takes place during the summer before Rules and Roses

Rules and Roses is Book 1 in the Untouchable series.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.

“Lost and Longing”


The music cranked up a notch and I had to remember to thank Archie for letting me have the party here. My parents volunteered to host it. One, we didn’t have this much space in our yard or pool. Two, our neighbors would care if the volume was even half of what it was now. Three, I loved my mom and dad, but considering how many people were making out and half-naked already or the couple of girls who’d flat out ditched their suits entirely?

Yeah. Not a good idea.

I lifted the cold bottle of beer and took a long drink. Besides, alcohol wouldn’t have flown there either. I met Jake’s bland stare across the pool where Maria was currently glaring at him. He rolled his eyes and I shook my head. Jake had broken up with her twice, but she kept coming back.

Sharon slid onto my lap and looped damp arms around my neck blocking my view. “You’re just sitting over here, birthday boy, why don’t we go somewhere and make it fun?”

“Not having fun at my party?” I took another long drink of the beer even as I glanced around the throng of kids dancing, swimming, laughing, and playing. The blonde in my lap wasn’t the one I was looking for. She did a little grind against me and my dick twitched, but he had about as much interest as I did at the moment.

When she leaned in to nuzzle my ear, she whispered, “Just think about how much more fun we could have if we were naked?”

I might be able to work up to that. When she pressed in tighter to me and tried to suck on my ear, I scanned the crowd again and then paused.

Right there on the other side of the pool, near the side gate that let people in without having to go through the house. A blonde turned around, a small birthday sack in her fingers. It wasn’t fully dark out here yet, but the movement of others kept blocking my view, then she faced the pool and seemed to be searching.

Fuck me.

It was the first time in nearly three months she’d shown up anywhere. I started to stand and Sharon jolted.

“Off,” I ordered her.

She frowned. “You don’t have to be rude…”

I didn’t have time for this. I scooped her up and stood, then dropped her back in my seat.


Ignoring her complaint, I shotgunned the last of my beer then left the bottle on the table and walked away. People moved between us, but I threaded my way through the crowd. When I didn’t spot her right away, I frowned

No fucking way I imagined—

“Hey.” The soft huskiness of her voice was a hug I hadn’t even realized I’d been missing. Turning around, I found Frankie standing there with a hesitant expression in her perfect green eyes and a tremulous smile on her lips. “Happy birthday.”

Fuck my birthday. I wrapped an arm around her and dragged her in for a hug. Beyond going to Mason’s to grab a burger and hopefully a snatch three or four words of conversation, I hadn’t been close to her in months. She didn’t answer text messages or phone calls. Fuck, if Coop hadn’t made a regular point of checking on her when she did her damn laundry I might have camped out at her back door.

A part of me still wanted to, but she’d said something about traveling for colleges and… fuck it. She was here. She came. I would make the most of it.

Her shoulders were a little stiff at first but then she softened. Finally, she hugged me back. “Sorry, I’m late,” she told me as she gripped me tight and I closed my eyes as I held on probably a few seconds longer than I should. But it was my damn birthday.

“I haven’t seen you since I was seventeen,” I tried to tease her and keep it light, but I didn’t want to let her go even as I made myself take a step back. Accepting we’d only ever be friends was one thing. Accepting I didn’t get to see her anymore?


Her rolling her eyes at me was the second best thing I’d seen in months. Lifting the gift bag, she glanced past me to the party and shifted on her feet. I swore, it looked like she was ready to bolt so I moved to block her view of the insanity. Fuck, there were actual naked girls out there. I was pretty sure at least a couple of people were screwing. We’d never have let the party get this out of hand if she’d been here…


“Let’s go somewhere quiet?” I suggested more to get her out of here than anything else. A hand on my back almost made me want to punch something, I didn’t even have to look to know Sharon had come to lean against me.

Fuck. My. Life.

“Don’t be greedy, Frankie. The birthday boy can’t disappear from his own party.” The possessive arm she tried to wrap around me irritated the fuck out of me.

“Sure he can,” I told her and stepped out of her grasp even as I caught Frankie’s hand in mine. The tautness in her fingers and the fact she immediately tried to pull away was a sharp little stab. “It’s my birthday and on my birthday…”

“Birthday boy gets what he wants,” Frankie finished.

“Exactly.” I grinned at her and a faint smile turned up the corners of her mouth but then she flashed a look beyond me to the party again. Definitely time to get her out of here. Fuck, I wish I hadn’t let Jake talk me into picking me up. If I had my bike here, I could take her for the first ride on it. I’d been dying to show her the bike since I finished that class. “What I want right now is time with my friend,” I told Sharon and jerked my chin back toward the pools. “Go hang out somewhere else, okay?”

I didn’t wait for her to answer as I walked Frankie away from the party and toward the gate. It only took walking around the corner of the house to get away from some of the noise and I blew out a breath.

“You didn’t have to leave the party.”

“Hush,” I said, letting go of her hand and slinging an arm around her shoulders to tug her close. She smelled like Frankie. Hints of her shampoo, but none of the burger smell. She’d gone home to shower after work probably. “Indulge me. It’s my birthday.”

Okay, low blow, but if the guys caught sight of her, they’d be here in a heartbeat. And I kind of wanted to be a little selfish. A lot selfish.

She huffed out a laugh and I did a little internal fist pump. We walked slowly together and she didn’t try to pull away. Archie’s parents’ place was huge and there was one of those side patios up around the way not far from the kitchen. We could probably sit there.

“I should have grabbed you a drink.” Shit. Idiot.

“I’m fine,” she told me. “Besides. That was a lot of booze flowing back there and I’m driving. So no drinking for me.”

“There’s Cokes and stuff, too,” I admitted, then ran a hand over my face.

“That’s why you smell like a keg.”

I grimaced.

“Ignore me,” she added quickly with a wave of her hand.


We reached the patio and there were no lights on and with the sun’s descent the fading light left us in shadows. The air was hot and sticky, but that was all of August and I let her go, albeit reluctantly, then pulled out a chair for her.

Once we were seated, she set the bag in front of me. “Happy birthday, Bubba.”

“You showing up is the best present I could have.” No lie. The last few months had been so fucking weird without her. But I hadn’t even realized just how much I missed having her around until she showed up. Or how much I’d been looking for her. The one girl I wanted to ask out more than anyone else, but she just didn’t date. She was flat out oblivious to the fact that guys and girls alike looked at her.

So, we kept the hordes away and kept her safe. It was the least we could do.

“Uh huh…are you opening presents now or do you want me to put it somewhere?” There was an element of weariness in her voice that had me leaning forward.

“Let me open it now,” I said reaching for the bag. “I don’t know if there are other presents. It’s really not that kind of party.”

“What kind is it?”

I opened my mouth and then winced. “A little out of control,” I admitted.

“Uh huh. Drinking. Screwing. Just—cutting loose?”

Another wince and I squinted at her. Getting her away from the party had been a stellar idea. But tucking her here where I couldn’t really see her was a terrible one.

The lights cut on overhead and we both squinted. Then one of the glass doors to the kitchen opened and Jeremy paused to glance out at us. “Mr. Bubba and Miss Frankie…it’s good to see you. We’ve missed you around here.”

“Hey Jeremy,” she greeted him with a far warmer smile than she’d given me. Then again, Frankie always had liked his cooking. “Sorry, we can shuffle back to the party…”

“Certainly not,” he intoned then gave me a mildly reproving look. Message received buddy. Not that I wanted her back there anyway. “You two make yourself comfortable and I’ll change the light settings so we don’t attract the insects. Can I get you anything to drink?”

“I’m good,” Frankie told him.

“Maybe some water?” I tried. Hopefully I didn’t look as desperate as I felt.

“Sure,” she agreed.

After Jeremy delivered a pair of ice cold water bottles, he locked back up and as promised dimmed the lights. So far the bugs hadn’t bothered us, but it was Texas and August, it was more a matter of if than when.

She nudged the bag toward me and I pulled the ribbon she’d tied it closed with loose then eyed her. “Should I guess first?”

A real laugh escaped her this time, half-hearted at best, but still real. “Go for it.” There was a genuine smile and I grinned. I rattled the bag, and made a big show of examining it without opening it.

“Nothing breakable.” I checked with her, but all she did was take a drink of water. Yes, her eyes were still on me and the dim light didn’t hide their amusement. “Hmm…not heavy enough for a book.” I squeezed it. “But not hard either.”

Okay I was a little puzzled. I shot her a look and all she did was raise her brows. “Any guesses?”

“It’s something I’m going to love.”

“You sound certain of that.”

“You gave it to me,” I admitted and tugged the top of the bag apart. “And you came to my party.” Opening the bag, I stared inside at the sheet music books. I’d been wrong. It was a book, but it was soft covered and…

Before I could say anything though, Jake’s voice cut through the dark. “Bubba, if you’re gonna sneak off to fuck some chick could you possibly get rid of the other girl first. Sharon is a pain in the—oh, fuck. Hey, Frankie…”

“Frankie?” Archie was a half-step behind him and then they were both there and she scooted the chair back to stand. I closed the bag as they both shoved their way into the alcove. “What the hell are you guys hiding over here for?”

Archie snagged her hand and for the first time in a long time, I wanted to punch him. I hadn’t wanted to hit him this hard since ninth grade when he spent months trying to date Frankie. Probably would have if I hadn’t ended up feeling bad for him.

“Let’s go. It’s been too damn long since you came to party.”

Jake grabbed her for a hug and she squirmed a little at the contact and then sighed as she gave him a hug back.

“Let go,” I muttered and shouldered Archie gently. “Birthday boy here and you know the rules.”

“Lucky bastard,” Jake murmured, then surrendered her. I really didn’t want to take her back to the party, but they were herding us there.

“Come on,” Archie said. “I’ll get you a drink and we can catch up. It’s been months, babe. Way too long.”

The minute we got back to the rowdy party, it was hard to miss Coop and Laura making out on one of the lounge chairs. Patty made a beeline for Archie, while Sharon was right there glaring at me because I’d told her to get lost.

Great. Mitch cut in and thumped me on the shoulder. The whole football team was here and Mitch was half-trashed. “Hey, Frankie girl. Where you been? I thought you dumped these losers.”

“Fuck off,” Jake told him even as Maria wrapped herself around him. He wasn’t paying an ounce of attention to her. Hell, I didn’t blame him, I was watching Frankie, too. Mitch just shrugged off the verbal threat, but he also didn’t stick around. We ran a pretty tight ship and Jake had made it clear, more than once, what the rules regarding Frankie were.

Archie didn’t take long to grab beers for all of us and he handed her one, but she didn’t take a sip. Then the music changed and Sharon dragged at my arm. “Come on,” she told me, taking the present out of my fingers and tossing it on the table. “I love this song.”

One dance and I’d get rid of her. “‘l’ll be back,” I told Frankie and squeezed her hand before I let Sharon lead us to the makeshift dance floor. More kids had arrived while I’d been talking to Frankie. They were everywhere. Some of the girls were topless and there was more than one blowjob going on. Fuck, the guys better watch out for her.

I ended up dancing twice with Sharon because Maria dragged Jake out there and then I was done. I wanted to get caught up with Frankie.

But she was gone.

Archie handed me a beer. “I sent her in to grab a suit so she could join us, but she slipped out.” He didn’t even have to ask who I was looking for. He sounded like I felt. “And before you ask, I already checked to see if her car was gone.”

“Thanks.” I should never have danced with Sharon. It took me a minute to find the present Frankie had given me. Some asshole had tossed it near the bin with the used and empty bottles. Sharon slid right up on me again and this time, I really did shrug her off.

“Come on, Bubba. Let me make you feel good…” She had her hand in my swim trunks and I tugged free.

“Enough,” I snapped and this time when she reached for me, I caught her wrist. “I meant it, Sharon. Fuck off.”

She blinked. “What?”

“You’re not getting the picture. You and me, we’re not a thing. We had some fun, but you’re getting on my nerves now. So fuck off.”

And I’d had enough of that, I downed the beer and dropped it with the other empties and stalked away, sheet music in hand.

Jake caught me heading inside. “Done?”

“More than done,” I told him. “I need a real drink and to get the fuck away from…” I waved to the party.

He nodded. “Head up to the deck. I’ll tell Arch and we’ll clear it out. Might take a while.”

“That’s fine.”

I needed a while.

Upstairs, even with the dull throb of the music from the party still playing, I checked my phone.

No messages from her, but I sent her one anyway.

Thanks for the music. I love it. Maybe we can get lunch this week?

I thought about adding more, but then just shut off the message. There were a few above that she’d never read. I didn’t even know if she’d read this one.

But she’d gotten me sheet music. She remembered.

She was the only one who ever did.

Fuck, I missed her.

Bonus Scene: “Ringing in the Blue Year,” a brand-new post Money Shot scene

The following is a brand new scene that takes place following Money Shot. This is a very special scene brought to you not only as part of the review challenge as indicated below but also as part of the holidays.

Money Shot is Book 4 in the Blue Ivy Prep series. To read more, Problem Child is Book 1.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.

“Ringing in the Blue Year”


Sound checks were part of the business. While the official kickoff for Torched on Tour wasn’t for another three weeks, we were playing several venues in New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore, before we kicked off the album launch in Tokyo. We would move west, heading for Europe after the Tokyo launch.

A world-wide tour to kick off a brand new album we’d been teasing for weeks. A tour that would take fifty-nine weeks with over 135 shows in forty-eight cities. It was ambitious even for us. As much as I’d craved normal and sought it out at Blue Ivy Prep—what I’d found there was anything but. Ramsey and Lachlan were seated in the front row, but Jonas was actually up on the second floor of the arena, near the back.

In the wide-open arena, empty save for our crew, the venue staff, and us along with the band—there was an odd kind of intimacy to this. The guys were here. They’d signed up for this crazy tour without a second thought.

“Hey,” Yvette bumped my shoulder, jerking my attention back to the stage where the band warmed up. The crew had the stage dressed, it would be ready for tonight. I had my own guitar on, the strap a familiar weight over my shoulder and across my chest. “Focus and stop leering at your fuckboys.”

I snorted. “They are not fuckboys.”

“You fuck them. They are boys.” Her grin widened and she winked. “They are your personal fuckboys.”

I groaned. “Don’t start.” Thank fuck we hadn’t turned our mics on yet. In fact, one of the crew was heading toward us to set up the headset microphone and the power pack at my back.

We would alternate throughout the show, but a lot of our performance involved movement and dance. This show more than any other we’d done. The songs were also an epitaph to the past two years—and all the shit that went down between Dix’s betrayals and Forrest’s…

Aubrey strode out behind the crew. Like me and Yvette, she was also in shorts and a tank top. High summer was here and tonight’s performance was New Year’s Eve in Auckland, we would be wrapping up with an hour to spare before the countdown. If we were lucky.

The guys had been placing bets on who got to kiss me at midnight, but I pointed out there were numerous “midnights” all around the world. That meant we could spread the love around. When Lachlan immediately started on a schedule, I’d groaned but left them to it.

“Check, check,” I said after the mic went hot and there was a bit of feedback that made all of us flinch. Aubrey made a face and I stuck my tongue out at her.

In addition to the concert tonight, our first video for the new album would drop at midnight Auckland time which was still really early in the States. Backstage Chaos was a personal one for all of us, because it was about more than what had gone on behind the scenes—it had been about our lives and our choices off the road.

Aubrey had written several parts of that one, adding lyrics to the score I’d built. Yvette and Jonas had come in behind both of us to tighten it up. According to everyone, even Ramsey, it was a heartbreaker with a pounding beat.

Nothing that energetic should make you want to cry. I was pretty sure it had more to do with the fact we knew the players and the game. We also knew the hurt.

“Again,” the crew said after he made some adjustments.

“Check, check,” I repeated and it came out smoother.

“Check on check,” Yvette added and the soft lilt of her French accent offered a familiar hug.

“Give me that check,” Aubrey finished it up. “Cause I’m paying.”

I snorted and she grinned. The smiles were coming back. They weren’t as easy or as fierce as they’d been for the last couple of years. During our time at school, Aubrey had been my rock. She’d been there for every damn thing that happened and Forrest snuck in under all our radar.

The wounds he’d left behind—they had left a considerable mark. Yvette and I were vigilant and so were the guys. But Aubrey didn’t want us to treat her any different especially when the nightmares came or she shied away completely from hanging out with new people.

“We good?” I asked and got at thumbs up. Next we wired up my guitar. The acoustic one was backstage and would come out later. We’d start with the electric. Aubrey had her own guitar and Yvette rolled her head from side to side. She was going to move to the piano for a couple of the songs.

A sweep of a glance over the band showed they were almost ready. Everyone was checking their instruments, I tested the strings and eased the tautness on one before tightening it on another.

“Sound check, first arena performance, Long Story Tour,” I said. “Welcome back to all our beautiful people.”

Spontaneous applause from the crew welcomed us back. Sadly, we’d had a few replacements. Some crew had moved on and a couple of the old band had taken new gigs, with another retiring to be home with family. Not like I could fault them for that.

I checked on my guys. Ramsey’s warm gaze was a grounding force. No matter what went down on this crazy tour so far, he’d been all in. Lachlan grinned next to him, sprawling back in his seat with his legs spread, and a knowing twinkle in his eyes. Shaking my head a little, I searched for Jonas. He wasn’t hard to find, he was standing right at the rail.

I was ready to do this, ready to tackle this tour. Tonight, we were going to rock this arena and after, I was going to celebrate the New Year with my guys.

Licking my lips, I tested the first chord, then the second before I turned and gave our drummer a look.





To be continued…

KC, the girls, and the Douchebags Three will all return for Torched on Tour in 2024.

Happy New Year.

Bonus Scene: “Mistletoe Fights & Kisses,” a brand-new post Fierce Dancer scene

The following is a brand new scene that takes place following Fierce Dancer. This is a very special scene brought to you not only as part of the review challenge as indicated below but also as part of the holidays.

Fierce Dancer is Book 9 in the 82nd Street Vandals series. To read more, Savage Vandal is Book 1.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.

“Mistletoe Fights & Kisses”


The music cranked as Vaughn drove across the bridge connecting us to Braxton Harbor. The guys drove most of the night, swapping out while I crashed in the back with one of them—currently Freddie—who had his arms wrapped around me while I cushioned against his chest.

As excited as I was about getting home and seeing the guys, the clubhouse, and more, I savored these moments with Freddie. He’d gotten more comfortable with casual contact, but sleeping together wasn’t always easy for him. The fact he’d just cuddled me close was probably one of the best presents I could have gotten.

“Grabbing coffee on our way to the Clubhouse,” Vaughn said, his voice pitched low. Rome sat in the passenger seat, he’d roused a little while ago. I was supposed to be asleep but I’d been enjoying Freddie’s arms, my view of Vaughn’s profile and the soft strains of music he’d turned down to talk to Rome.

“Good,” Rome said, rolling his head from side to side. “Any calls?”

“Nope,” Vaughn said, and a soft chuckle escaped.

“Huh.” The comment from Rome pulled a smile from me.

“Just cause they haven’t called,” Freddie muttered, “doesn’t mean they aren’t tracking us.”

I tucked my face against Freddie’s shirt to smother my giggles. He rubbed a hand up and down my back. He wasn’t wrong. All of us had trackers now. Not just me. My bracelet had one, but I also wore one as a charm on a necklace the guys had made for me.

Freddie had one in his wallet. He wasn’t a big fan of jewelry. Vaughn added one to an earring on his left ear. Rome had pierced one of his nipples and I was still getting used to the new accessories. Either way, we weren’t alone. Jasper, Kellan, Liam, and Mickey also had trackers of their own.

They weren’t necessarily panic buttons—though I had one of those too—they just allowed us to locate each other in case of emergency. Otherwise, we just tracked each others phones.

How had Liam put it? Our backups and contingencies had backups and contingencies. We’d worked hard to earn our security back, but the guys still liked me to have at least one of them with me. Considering some of our near losses? I refused to argue with them as long as they took similar precautions.

“Don’t rain on our good time with your pragmatism,” Vaughn said without an ounce of irony. My heart bounced at the playfulness finding its footing in him again. I’d been worried about him the last few months. His grief had been bottomless in some ways and it wasn’t just about any one person—but about the accumulation of so many.

Rome had stuck close to him too—that told me I wasn’t wrong in my concern. But one way I took care of them was to let them take care of me. Such stubborn men. Then I wouldn’t have them any other way.

“You awake, awake, Boo-Boo?” Freddie asked, pitching his voice lower and I tilted my head up to flash him a smile.

“Need me to move?”

“Yes,” he said. “My bladder isn’t apparently not enjoying the company as much as the rest of me.”

Laughter escaped me as I rolled upward, then he tugged me around for a quick, but very real kiss. “Morning,” I murmured.

“Merry Christmas,” he reminded me and I laughed.

“Eve…Merry Christmas Eve.” I wanted to wake up in Braxton Harbor, in our place in the Clubhouse. I wanted all of us to be together, even if Milo was off in New York. He was with Lainey and I’d call him the next day.

“It’s Eve,” Vaughn confirmed. “We’ll be there soon, Dove. Don’t worry.”

I blew out a breath. It didn’t matter that I knew it was eve, there was a stomach dropping moment thinking we’d be late. Ever since I’d said I wished we could be home for Christmas and the guys looked at our schedule and said we could do it. We didn’t pull the whole show. We just gave them a few days off and my next performance was New Year’s.

The surprise had been Vaughn’s idea since we weren’t sure how long it would take us to scatter everyone before we hit the road. By agreement, we weren’t telling them we were on the road to them but if they asked, we would.

It seemed a good compromise to avoid even the pretense of lying and preserve the surprise. The sun was barely a suggestion as Vaughn pulled up to our favorite coffee shop. “Need a bathroom, Boo-Boo?” Freddie asked and I grinned at him.

“I’m fine.”

“I’ll get the coffee.” Rome was already heading inside and Freddie followed after him. A sigh escaped me as I watched them go.

“They’ll be right back,” Vaughn said, scanning the street. I half-wondered when our vigilance would reduce. Then again, my nightmares hadn’t retreated. Not fully. Some days it was easier to believe that Uncle Fuckbucket was gone. Others, I’d wake up in a cold sweat, certain that he was right there waiting for me.

“I know,” I assured him, then scooted forward so I could lean between the front seats. “How are you doing?”

That pulled his attention from the street. Christmas decorations were up in all the windows and along the street lamps. It was gray, damp, and rainy without a spec of snow in sight.

I didn’t care. A wet and rainy Christmas was fine by me. Anything that involved being with my guys.

Expression softening, Vaughn twisted in his seat and he brushed his fingers down my cheek before smoothing back my hair. It was probably a wreck from sleeping curled up with Freddie.

“I’m good, Dove. You don’t have to worry about me.”

“Of course, I do. Just like you worry about me.” I caught his hand and kissed his fingertips.

“Touché,” he said with a chuckle. He flicked his gaze up a beat before the doors opened and Rome and Freddie returned wreathed in the rich scents of coffee, chocolate, and—

“They had sugar plum cheese danishes!” I almost squealed. Normally, I’d be embarrassed but the matching pair of grins on their faces were absolutely adorable. Rome slid into the backseat with me while Freddie took the front seat.

After giving Vaughn a quick kiss, I half climbed in Rome’s lap after my danish. The guys were laughing, and a real sense of joy unfurled within me. The tour had been amazing. I couldn’t wait to get back out there, but—we were home and we were together.

Rome handed over the paper bag filled with my prize and I rewarded him with a kiss. Once we had the coffees sorted and there were more treats—Freddie had also grabbed two boxes of donuts, we headed for the warehouse.

I polished off the warm danish with a happy sigh. I did offer to share but the guys all said no and I wasn’t complaining. The sugar rush hit as Vaughn turned down the alley heading toward the warehouse itself.

“We’re almost there.” I half-bounced in my seat. The guys were all grinning too. So either they were just as excited or my thrill was contagious. Probably both. The guys had been family forever and they made this wonderful spot for me right in the middle of all of it.

Vaughn hit the remote and I downed another long drink of coffee before setting it in the cup holder. The interior of the warehouse looked like it always did, wide-open, with pallets of goods waiting loading and a series of very familiar cars and one truck parked in a line.

Kellan and Jasper were already up and they were on the far side with loaders near the two rigs that had been backed in. A delighted sound escaped me that had Freddie flashing me a wider grin.

I barely waited for the car to stop before I had the seatbelt off and the door open. I’d seen Liam a couple of months earlier. And Jasper had managed a one night stop over a few weeks ago. But I hadn’t seen Mickey or Kellan since we left.

Abandoning any pretense of grace or decorum, I ran across the warehouse toward the pair who both wore startled grins. Kellan thrust a clipboard at Jasper just as I got there and I bounced off the ground and into his arms.

The solid feel of his embrace grounded me and sent me flying in the same breath. Jasper let out a whistle and then said, “Wrap it up boys. We’re closing now. Shipments can go out after Christmas. Go home.”

Then there was a warm hand in my hair and I lifted my gaze to meet Kellan’s. “Merry Christmas Eve,” I said and then his mouth fused to mine and I sighed into the kiss. I had no idea how long we stood there, kissing, devouring each other but there was a thump.

“C’mon, share her,” Jasper said and Kellan let out an aggrieved sound as he lifted his head and then I was in Jasper’s arms. “Look at you, sneaking home…” he said before he kissed me.

I laughed, savoring the connection with him every bit as much as I had with Kellan. I murmured, “Good surprise?”

“Hmm,” Jasper groaned. “The best surprise.”

“C’mon, lets get you inside…” Kellan was saying, but Jasper just started walking toward the clubhouse while I kept my legs wrapped around his hips.

“Are Mickey and Liam here?” Cause if they weren’t, I wanted to call them.

The door to the clubhouse opened and there was a solid thud of a fist slamming into someone and I twisted as Liam went flying as Rome grinned at his brother.

“What the…”

But Rome wasn’t quite quick enough to miss the punch he got from Mickey.

“What’s going—”

“It’s okay,” Jasper soothed, then hurried forward and thrust me into the doorway in front of him. Mickey blinked. He’d gone from staring at Rome to me then to Jasper and back to me.

“Little Bit?”

“Hi,” I said, worry sinking me. “What happ—”

Mickey tugged me right out of Jasper’s arms and then crushed my lips with his.

“Need to get those cleaned up…” Freddie said. “I don’t think Boo-Boo is gonna go for it.”

Kellan chuckled. “Probably not.”

“She might,” Jasper said.

Liam grumbled. “You were supposed to be Jasper.” I thought he might be talking to Rome.

“You’re supposed to be faster.” Rome’s dry response had me laughing against Mickey’s lips and I finally managed to come up for oxygen.

“Wait… what is going on?”

“We’ll tell you, Hellspawn,” Liam said, curving an arm around me and pulling me away, even as he twisted me and Mickey so Mickey was in the doorway and just as Liam cleared me from the area, Kellan and Jasper pounced Mickey.

What the hell?

The punches they delivered were real, even if they were light but it wasn’t until we were all piled into the living room that I got the story.

There was mistletoe over the door. One of the rats had set it up as a joke years earlier. So the guys tended to punch anyone under the mistletoe. That joke grew—and became something of a tradition.

One they’d avoided when I’d first got there for—reasons.

“So—you hang mistletoe in random places and then wait, like it’s a trap, to spring the trap?”

“Pretty much,” Jasper said with an unapologetic grin. In the light of the living room it was hard to miss the hints of bruises. They weren’t bad but there was a shadow on his jaw, and Liam had the beginnings of a black eye. Kellan’s lip had been split.

“We keep score,” Vaughn said, chuckling. “Whoever gets the most hits, who got the most punches…”

“But why?” Were they crazy?

“Cause it’s fun,” Freddie told me, laughing. “Course, now we add a new category.”

“Yep,” Rome said, lifting me right out of Liam’s lap and into his. “Most kisses.” To prove his point, he kissed me.

When I glanced up, I saw the mistletoe hanging above his chair. It wasn’t the only place. There were sprigs in random places everywhere.

They’d have to walk some zigzag to avoid it.

“Look, it’s been something to do,” Jasper said with a shrug and Mickey laughed.

“Like you didn’t start the shit this year,” he commented.

“True, but I also got the first hit in, so I’m already winning.”

They hung mistletoe to punch people.

“So, I don’t have to punch you guys, right?” Cause that didn’t seem as much fun as kisses.

Liam snorted. “You’ve got a wicked right, Hellspawn. But no, you don’t have to punch anyone. We’ll amend the rules.”

“Unless it’s a rat,” Kellan said. “If a rat tries to kiss you under the mistletoe…”

“I’ll punch him,” Freddie, Liam, and Rome all said in unison.

Laughter bubbled up through me. I was home and we apparently already had our first tradition.

Mistletoe fights and kisses.

“Guys,” I said, capturing their attention. “We’re going to need a tree.”

“And more mistletoe…” Liam’s grin widened. “There’s a going to be a bunch going up in your room right over the bed…”

Yep. I liked this.

I liked this a lot.

Our first Christmas as us and who we could be.



To Be Continued in 2024 when Emersyn and the guys return for Dirty Dancer, that will follow her on tour with the guys and as well as their trips home and a little something more. You can also see more of the Vandals in Bay Ridge Royals beginning with Shamelessly Loyal. Be sure to subscribe to news and updates so you don’t miss a thing.

Bonus Scene: “Blue Memories,” A Party Crashers Deleted Scene

The following is a deleted scene from Party Crashers. This scene involves the first time Ramsey saw Torched perform and when he might have acquired the band tee of Torched’s that KC discovered that he had. It’s a story he referenced at the end of the book but they hadn’t gotten around to discussing yet.

Problem Child is Book 1 in the Blue Ivy Prep series. To read more, Mad Boys is Book 2.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.

“Blue Memories”


Years earlier…

“We don’t look for old songs, but for the memories they carry.”

The words danced in a circle in my head as I took my seat. There were easily a few hundred people packed into the open-air venue. It took a lot of luck, and some connections, to score a time slot at Pacific West Pop. The four-day music festival had been growing in popularity—hence why Dad was here, he was scouting for his label.

I studied the list of performances on my phone. I still couldn’t believe I’d seen her name on here. It had to be a glitch, right? Gibs hadn’t mentioned that she would be here. Then I hadn’t really talked to Gibs that much this summer. They’d left to kick off the Asia leg of their tour about five minutes after my graduation.

Lachlan and Jonas were with their respective fathers and I’d headed up to Seattle to hang with mine, though I had a couple of remote classes to finish to lock down the first twelve credit hours I needed to complete so I could apply to be a teaching assistant when we went back to school.

Shaking that off, I went back to the program again and scrolled down until I found the listing and then checked the time. Yep, I had it right, it was on there. Torched featuring Kaitlin Crosse, Aubrey Miller, Yvette Chanteur in debut performances of their first album.

Self-recorded and funded—well she could afford it—and the songs were all written by the girls. That was wild. She was twelve and she wrote an album. It would be amazing if they’d written one song, but no, they’d written several and they’d released the songs themselves with no label.

That was just wild.

“Hey,” Dad said as he eased past others to drop into the seat next to mine. He had a brown bag with what smelled like burgers. “Grabbed you some lunch.”

“Thanks,” I told him, but I wasn’t hungry.

He chuckled and then glanced at the stage. “I figured I’d find you over at the moody blues stages.”

I snorted and then clicked off my phone. I’d do more research on “Torched” later, I was here for curiosity’s sake. Pacific West was somewhere between Joshua Tree and Coachella and while I wasn’t usually a huge fan of the music scene, I’d been having a good time.

“Just curious,” I told him. “Did you see who the members are for Torched?”

“Yep,” he said as he leaned back in his chair and adjusted his sunglasses. “Gonna take a look at them for the label. There are probably a dozen other labels here on scouting missions cause of their ties to Gibs.”


Weird way to say “daughter” but I just shook my head. I was too used to the verbal play in the industry. Another reason to focus on other areas. Before I could retort though, a guitar solo began to blast out of the speakers and it cut off conversations everywhere as attention went to the stage.

Despite the wild acoustics, though, there was no one up there. I wasn’t the only one straining to see who was playing, but a sudden rippling gasp accompanied by people standing brought me to my feet and there she was…

Tiny little thing. At twelve, with cool blonde hair streaked in blue she began making her way between one of the wider “aisles” created by the amphitheater style the setup of folding chairs created.

Tiny, rocking a guitar that seemed almost as big as she was but the acoustics were damn near perfect and she was making that guitar weep.

“Holy shit…” I whispered and Dad blew out a breath next to me.

“That, Ramsey,” Dad said in a hushed tone full of reverence despite the rueful nature of his smile, “is how you know a star is born.”

To be fair, I could find no fault in that argument. She hadn’t sung a note, just let the guitar pour out her soul for all of us. By the time she reached the stage, the other girls had joined her and I vaguely noted there were more musicians up there.

When the last notes from the guitar drifted off, I wasn’t alone in holding my breath. The whole crowd was silent and then exploded in enthusiastic applause.


She was a star.

As the crowd quieted, she opened her mouth and released the first notes of a song I’d never heard before. She performed it acapella with the girls jumping in on the second line and I was riveted.

I had no words to describe the purity of their voices, the higher notes they could reach seemed effortless but it was the way they worked their voices together—they sang like it was their instrument and they could make the words do whatever they wanted.

Yeah, I bought a t-shirt by the time they were done.

I bought one of their CDs too.

Bonus Scene: “Trauma,” an additional scene from Fierce Dancer

The following scene takes place after Chapter 49 of Fierce Dancer and before Chapter 50. In the 1 to 3 months after the raid of f*ckbucket’s estate. This scene will obviously contain spoilers for Fierce Dancer and you shouldn’t read it if you have not read that book.

Fierce Dancer is book 9 in the 82nd Street Vandals series that began with Savage Vandal.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.




It was a beautiful day. The sun warmed my face and I’d tucked the hat on after Rome squinted at me then the sky. Yes, I could get a sunburn if I wasn’t careful. The hat and the sunglasses were protective, but I was enjoying sitting there on the sun-warmed concrete steps while he worked on his project.

I’d almost hated the idea of leaving the clubhouse earlier. No, not almost. I’d definitely hated the idea. I wanted to be there for Vaughn, for Freddie, for Jasper and Liam. There was so much still to do. Kellan and Mickey were both overdoing it. Everyone was. They needed me to be there, but Rome said we needed to go out.

He looked right at me and said, “I need you with me.”

Five words detonated all of my resistance. He waited patiently while I made a point of telling everyone. Liam and Kel got texts cause they weren’t there. Then Liam called Rome and all Rome had said to him was, “No,” before he hung up again. I didn’t ask what Liam wanted to know, but I could guess.

None of us wanted to be out of sight of the others for too long. None of us. I wasn’t the only one holding on tight. The need to protect them wasn’t going anywhere and I caught all of them checking on me as regularly. Were we holding on too tight?


I didn’t care. I needed to hold onto them and I needed them holding onto me in return. It was who we were. Yet, even understanding that, I tilted my head back so I could soak up more of the day’s heat. It was quiet here in the abandoned park with just the hum of traffic in the distance. I thought I could hear kids, but they weren’t coming down to the court with its cracked and broke pavement.

This was the first spot Rome had taken me all those months ago when I fist came to stay with the Vandals. Stay—like I’d been a guest. I mean, I was a guest to them but not to me. Oh, it didn’t matter anymore. We’d seen things differently and now we didn’t. But this had been the first place Rome took me when he helped me get out of the clubhouse.


It had been a lot colder that day, but I’d savored the time then. Even more, I’d gotten to enjoy him painting and it had been so beautiful. Then later the Diamonds had shown up and Rome protected me. Their arrival had nearly spoiled a beautiful day.


Being back here after all this time was kind of revelatory. I knew my place and my value. I belonged here. It never occurred to me that Rome hadn’t come back to finish the piece he’d been working on, but it didn’t seem any different from the day when we’d been here. Once I was settled, he went to work and now, that beach scene grew following the landscape around like a crescent to where a city rested in the distance.

So beautiful.

A scrape of a shoe alerted me to a new arrival and I twisted. The sun was right in my eyes but another step and Bodhi’s shadow blocked it out. Relief bounced through me. It had been a few weeks since I’d seen him. He’d been stabbed at least twice and Mickey had to dig four bullets out of him.

I pushed to my feet and went straight to him. “I hope you’re a hugger,” I warned him before I offered him one. Thankfully, he didn’t reject it or act like it was unwelcome. Instead, he just returned the hug with the same care I offered it. Then I leaned back to study him.

“Hey PPG,” he said then looked past me. “Rome.”

I twisted to find Rome studying us both then he tilted his head as his gaze met mine. Did I need him?

I smiled. Always. But Bodhi was a friend and Rome could keep painting if he wanted.


He nodded then lifted his chin toward Bodhi before he turned back to his work.

I retreated a step and glanced at Bodhi again, he wasn’t looking at me but at Rome and the artwork. “He’s good.”

“The best,” I agreed. When I motioned to the steps, he followed me over and then sat down with care. If I hadn’t been watching for it, I didn’t think I’d have noticed the stiffness. His movements lacked some of the casual, almost fluid grace, he usually moved with and who could blame him? “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” he said it almost automatically, like he’d had to answer the question many times. “Healing.”

“I’m glad. I was worried about you and I’m so sorry you got hurt.”

“I’m not,” Bodhi answered with a shrug. “We got the son of a bitch. You’re better, yeah?”

I turned that over in my head, the question, the feelings— “Mostly,” I admitted. “And I have time now.”

Time to heal. Uncle Fuckbucket was gone. He couldn’t hurt me ever again. The nightmares might never go away fully, but knowing he couldn’t come back? That was good.

That was real good.

“Then worth it,” Bodhi said.


“Thank you,” I told him. “I don’t know if I’ve really ever said it before—maybe I did.” So much had happened. “But thank you. For Pinetree. For finding my mom. For coming here to help. For caring about Freddie. Thank you for all of it.”

Bodhi nodded. “You’re welcome.”

So simple, yet, so much was there.

“I’m gonna go now,” he said, almost conversationally. “I came to see Doc, he wanted to check the wounds. Told me to take it easy. I will, got things to do though. Not sure when I’ll be back this way. You guys are okay now.”

Freddie and me. Yeah, I heard it. “I’ll take care of him,” I promised. I didn’t need to understand the bond between Freddie and Bodhi. It existed. They cared. That was all that mattered.

“If he needs me,” Bodhi said, locking gazes with me. “Or you do. Call. I’ll always come.”

“You’re a good friend.” A great one. “You know the same goes for you, right? If you need us?”


“What Starling said,” Rome interjected without looking away from the art. “You’re not a Vandal, but you’re one of us.”

Bodhi studied Rome for a long time, saying nothing, then he looked at me and smiled. “One of them.”

“Us,” I corrected. “One of us.”

“I like it.” He stood, the stiffness reflected in the way he stretched. “See you around, PPG.”

“You too, Bodhi.”

Then he walked away, drifting out the way he’d drifted in. He didn’t have to come here to say goodbye. But I bet he’d already talked to Freddie, probably before he came here. Talked to him and made sure he was okay. Looking away from where Bodhi went, I went back to watching Rome paint.

We all had trauma. We were all healing.

We had the time to do it now.

“He’s never going to call us,” I said to Rome. “Is he?”


Rome paused, head half-turned so he could look at me. “We’ll help him anyway.”

I grinned.

Yes we would.

Bonus Scene: “Beguiled,” a missing scene from Savage Vandal

The following is a previous unseen flashback for Savage Vandal. The scene is referenced later, but we don’t actually see it occur on the page. If you’ve read Savage Vandal, you know that Vaughn was also undercover during Emersyn’s show when it arrived in Braxton Harbor. This is part of how he started that job and when he saw her for the first time.

Savage Vandal is book 1 in the 82nd Street Vandals. To read more, Vicious Rebel is book 2.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.



The crew had spent the previous two days, unpacking every bit of their equipment while also going over the items for maintenance. While the location had items they would use including fly wheels and winches, the show traveled with their own ropes, silks, and harnesses, not to mention beams and cross-bars.

Day one of being hired meant a crash course in set safety that basically involved don’t run into anything, pay attention to where you put your feet, and if you broke something, it was coming out of your check. There was also one rigger who seemed to understand how everything needed to be set up to work correctly.

When the crew chief assigned me to his team, the rigger had given me long, studying look. “Big guy. Can you pull your own weight up on a rope?”

“Yep,” I answered. Better to keep conversations to a minimum, at least until I had a better idea of the political landscape. Jasper was working for the venue itself. Kel got a job driving her around so he could be close. I was the one tasked with getting to know their crew.

So far, most of them were just normal people. A mix of guys and girls, the crew all had various specialities with some crossover. The biggest issue I saw was…

“Hey big guy,” John, the rigger, said from where he was standing at the door that lead out onto the stage. “I need you up in the catwalks. Check the rig ties, then we’re going to do some pounds per pressure tests.”

“On it.” There were two ways to get up to the catwalks, both required a little eeling on my part. One was an open ladder that led to a relatively small hatch onto the walk. The other was a small hatch to get into there ladder area, but easier to get onto the catwalk.

Squeezing myself into the chute, I rolled my head from side to side once past the tighter fit. Up I went, aware of the faint vibrations in the metal. The walks were bolted and cross-chained. At the same time, they were thin and designed to blend into the darkness up here. During a performance, lights strung lower than the walks would keep them obscured.

I started on the eastern half, checking then rechecking every single tie off. According to the rigger, we had to set up a dozen different base points. Each one could be used to drop or drape a silk depending on what our performer decided she was going that night. She rehearsed regularly and liked to change up the show so that visitors coming multiple nights got to see something different.

Made sense.

There were also set-ups for duo performances, though he indicated that there were no silk duos scheduled on the call sheets. She would have to do a duo with her partner on the ground, then she would ascend and finish the show when she fell back to him.

With that in mind, I didn’t want a single rope to come loose. Each tie meant a layer of security. While she might way next to nothing, torque and force along with velocity was still a sing. Three steps from the next tie, it hit me I wasn’t alone up here.

“Sorry,” I said and the woman who’d been standing there as still as the shadows she occupied swung her head to glance at me. Dark hair fell in one long cascade from a ponytail. Without a trace of cosmetics, she looked almost painfully young. The fact she was levels of starvation skinny irked me. Her clothing hid her ribs, but I’d bet every dollar in my tip jar that they would be on display.

“It’s okay,” she murmured, keeping her voice hushed. “I’m not supposed to be up here yet. I’m not supposed to be at the theater yet.” With that, she pressed a finger to her lips.

“I didn’t see you, so you couldn’t possibly be here.” It was one of the easiest offers I’d ever made. The speed of the smile flashing over her face didn’t leave me long to savor it, but I had a mental polaroid that I wasn’t going to let go of anytime soon.

“Thank you—I know you didn’t see me, but can you make sure that the ties for this one here and the one closest to the stage hatch on the east side have a link.”

A link. “You want a harness to be able to travel between them?”

“Yes and no, the pulley for the silk attachment. If I can make it swing from one to the other, it will help with one of the moves I want to do. It only has to go the one way—but that also means it’ll need to be reset between shows.”

That wasn’t a problem. “That’s not on the tech sheet.” John had been pretty specific.

“No, because they told me there wasn’t a safe way to do it.” Something, she clearly didn’t believe. Head canted, I moved a little closer to her, but more so I could study the other platform and the rig there then the rig below me. To hook one to the other would require a way to swap “tracks” or in this case ropes.

Doable. But it could take a few hours to make sure it was one hundred percent safe.

“Sorry,” she apologized again. “I didn’t mean to ask you for something beyond your job scope.”

“Nothing to be sorry about,” I said, then drank in the sight of her. Diminutive, and young as she might be, there was a sense of power around her. Power and confidence. “Give me a couple of hours to work out something that will let you switch without risking a tear or break. But I can do it.”

Might take more than a couple of hours, but they didn’t get to rehearse in the venue until the next night. “Thank you,” she said and sunshine kissed both syllables. The warmth in her grin was an embrace I wanted to lean into. “I’d offer to hug you, but I’m not here.” It was an easy flirt, a careless one that promised nothing at all. Still…

I chuckled. “Well, if you were here and offered, I’d tell you to wait until I delivered.” With that, I winked and she grinned again. Below, John shouted something and I narrowed my eyes, but when I turned back to the dancer—she was gone.

Pivoting, I swept the catwalks with a searching look. She could be hiding in a shadow but still—she was just gone.

Never here.

There—a faint hint of perfume amidst the competing scents of sawdust, polish, and metal. She’d been here. It was the briefest of interactions and I already missed her.

Missed her and wanted more.

Bonus Scene: “Conventional,” an additional scene from Merciless Spy

The following is an additional scene that took place in Merciless Spy between chapters 29 and 30. This scene was referenced in Chapter 30, but we didn’t actually see it happen.

Merciless Spy is book 7 in the 82nd Street Vandals series that began with Savage Vandal. To read more, Reckless Thief is book 8.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.




The last thing I wanted to do was take Hellspawn out and expose her or Rome. At the same time, I also didn’t want to disappoint Mom. Dad was right, I’d been keeping my distance. While it was on purpose, it had absolutely nothing to do with pushing them away. Telling myself that hurting them would keep them safe didn’t work for me. So, Sunday, I scheduled a private table for brunch at Rodin’s.

Mom’s delight when I called her with the name promised it had been the right call. Hellspawn’s smile when I told her agreed. So, here we were, with me dressed in a suit, sans tie while Hellspawn chose a white floral print high-low dress. The blue and green florals added to the ethereal air around her. The strappy heels added a bit of height and I eyed the bare arms but she held up a simple white sweater.

“You’re too pretty to take out,” I rumbled. That dress had a sash in the front and looked wraparound. I wanted to tug it and see what would happen. But she held up a finger.

“Uh-uh,” she scolded. “We’re meeting them at eleven. We don’t have time for what you want and for me to get ready again.”

I grunted. Before I could answer, Rome walked out to join us. Surprisingly, he was in a button down shirt, and slacks. No jacket or tie, but he looked more than presentable. The running shoes were not quite the right attire, but I wasn’t going to criticize. “Why is your shirt the same shade of blue as the flowers on her dress?”

“Because I asked Starling to match.” Rome shrugged and she grinned.

“You look wonderful.”

“It itches.”

Crossing over to him, she tilted her head. “May I?”

He nodded and she checked his collar, then slid her finger around. A tiny rip and she came away with the interior label. Finished with that, she smoothed it down again.


Rome seemed to consider the question, then he nodded. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Turning, she threaded her arm through his and looked at me. “Ready?”

I pulled out my phone and aimed it at them, then I snapped a picture. Her eyes were bright, the cosmetics she’d chosen were simple and barely noticeable except for the faint blue around her eyes. Rome even looked pleased, though his smile was faint. When she crooked her finger, I went to her obediently and handed Rome my phone. Then she posed with me.

Finally, we did a selfie and I stared at the three photos in my gallery with a small shake of my head. The impulsive thought was more enjoyable than I realized. I liked having her there. I liked having her with us. Hell Rome hadn’t even protested the photo.

Right, more pictures.

“Okay, let’s go.” I checked my gun. They couldn’t wear one, but Hellspawn had two in her purse. It was a big bulky thing that Rome usurped before we were even a step out of the apartment. But it meant they had weapons with them. The added security around Mom and Dad should help, but I didn’t want to leave an angle uncovered.

“It’s going to be fine,” Hellspawn soothed me. “Your mom seems really nice.”

“She is,” Rome said without missing a beat. “Pushy too. But always smiling and kind.”

That—described Mom to a T so I just chuckled. “I know it will be fine, but they’re right, I’ve never introduced them to a girl I liked before.”

“You never had Starling before.”

And that… was accurate.

I met Rome’s gaze over his head. He was completely relaxed. Also not something he usually was where my parents were concerned. Dipping my gaze to Hellspawn, I found her watching me with a small smile. “What?”

“You’re nervous.”

I was not.

“It’s cute.”

I scowled.

Her laughter, however, was delightful.

They were already there when we arrived and Mom beamed as we walked into the private room, I’d requested. It was bright, filtering in sunshine from the private atrium and we were blissfully alone save for the staff.

“Liam, oh, you did bring Rome…” Mom smiled at him after she pressed a kiss to my cheek. “May I?”

I was ready to intervene, but Rome dipped his head. “One,” was all he said. He’d allow one kiss and for a moment, real joy shone in Mom’s eyes as she pressed a kiss to his cheek.

“Thank you, dear boy.”

He nodded then Mom looked at Emersyn and my hellspawn matched her grin for grin. “Come along with me young lady.” She held out her hand. “You are officially my favorite person.”

“Hey,” I protested as Hellspawn took her hand easily.

“Hush, she made sure I got to see both of you today and that you didn’t find an excuse to duck out. So she is going to sit next to me and we’re going to have a wonderful lunch.”

Dad laughed as Mom tugged Hellspawn away and Rome followed like a magnet. I got it. I wanted to go too. But Dad clasped my shoulder before shaking my hand. “Go with it, son.”

“It’s going to make her happy, isn’t it?”

“It already has. Family, it’s all she’s ever wanted to give you too. A nice, normal family.”

Normal was weird.

Nice…but weird.

©2023 Heather Long

Bonus Scene: “Secrets and Souls,” a new addition for Farewells and Forever

The following is a new scene that would take place in Chapter Twenty of Farewells and Forever.   If you haven’t read Farewells and Forever, this scene will clearly contain spoilers for the book.

Rules and Roses is Book 1 in the Untouchable series. To read more, Changes and Chocolates is Book 2.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.

“Secrets and Souls”


Life was weird. It could go from being ridiculously busy to almost too routine. Other times, it could be so full it was overwhelming and still leave you aching as you missed the people who weren’t there. Then there were days like this—when your best friend helped you with a secret plan with no questions asked.

“How are you doing?” Rachel asked. “We can take a break.”

“Oh don’t you start,” I scolded, despite my amusement at the question and dropping a hand to rest on my hip. “We’ve been doing this for twenty minutes. I’m hardly going to wilt like some delicate fucking flower.” As it was, we’d barely even started taking pictures.

“I will if I want to,” Rachel countered, mutiny filtering into her expression. “You were tired when you got here.”

That was an accusation.

“Yes, because it was a long drive and I still have to pee every thirty seconds.” I wouldn’t deny it. “That does not make me hapless or on the verge of collapse.” Archie had wanted to drive me in and he’d only stopped fussing when Jeremy took over the driving duties. 

“No, but you are very pregnant. I mean—” She straightened and swept a hand in my direction. “Girl, there is robust and full of life and then there’s you.”

“Thanks.” I wasn’t sure if it was my baleful expression or my tone, but Rachel cracked up. Warmth flooded her eyes and her smile expanded. Both managed to puncture my irritation with her. “Seriously, thanks.”

“You are welcome. It doesn’t hurt that you’re fucking beautiful,” Rachel said with a wink. “It also lets me indulge you when you decide to get cranky.”

“You’re lucky I love you,” I teased her and she grinned without even an element of irony.

“Oh, I’m very well aware of how lucky I am—I almost wish I could work so that I could be a fly on the wall when you show them these pictures.” She hid her face on the last, snapping another picture as I tilted my head. Almost eight months pregnant. If you’d told me I would go out of my way to document this moment, I’d have laughed.

Everything was swollen, from my feet to my hands. It was hard to sit to lay down to stand—pretty much anything. And I constantly had to pee. At the same time, there was a thrill involved in every step of the way. The guys were…

“Perfect,” Rachel murmured as the snap of her camera brought me back. We were in the city. It was a surprise gift for the guys—all these photos—and Rachel had helped me with the secret keeping, going so far as to arrange a private shoot at the studio. She’d also done my hair and make-up with the help of her girlfriend. It had been my first chance to really sit and talk to her. I liked her.

A lot.

Still, the fewer who had to keep our secret, the less chance it had of getting out. Her girlfriend slipped off and left the two of us to do this and Rachel had a dozen different ideas from the sweet to the sexy. Since I trusted her, I let her set the tone.

“What’s perfect?” I asked, turning to face her. The baby shifted and I dropped my hand onto my stomach to soothe him or her. We’d voted three to two to wait and see. The guys argued constantly about the idea of a boy or a girl. They were in love with the idea of a girl. Right up until they remembered that boys like girls and then they’d all get growly and scowly.

It was adorable.

A laugh escaped me and Rachel grinned as she snapped another photo. “Your expression was perfect and now it is again—want to share what dirty thoughts are going through your head?”

“They are not dirty thoughts,” I said with a sniff but it did little to diminish her smile. “I’m just happy.” I really was. As uncomfortable as being pregnant was, I liked looking forward. I liked anticipating… I liked how the guys were alternating between excitement and irritation with each other and the process.

The prospective grandparents weren’t much better and Rachel—for all she gave me hell—she’d been thrilled for me from the moment I told her I was excited. Thrilled and supportive.

I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it. Not even…

All at once the whole bubble seemed to tremble and Rachel lowered the camera. “Frankie?” Concern reflected in her eyes and her tone.

“Do you think, if Maddy had this kind of support I do now when she was having me…”

“No,” Rachel said abruptly and I blinked. “Your mother could have had all the support in the world, she chose to walk away from all of it. She made it about her, not about you, not about the future. She made selfish choices.”

I swallowed, rubbing my hand against my abdomen. “I wish…” I did and I didn’t. I had Kelly. She wasn’t my mother, but she was a mom and she showered me with affection whenever I let her. I had Sara, Ian’s mom. I had Carly and Alicia—and even Klara. I had a lot of maternal figures who wanted to be there, but none of them tried to be Maddy.

None tried to take her “place.”

“I wish…” Closing my eyes, I had to fight back the sudden surge of tears. Most of the out of control emotions had eased in the last couple of months. But there were still momentary crying jags and wild laughter. “I shouldn’t—” I couldn’t complete the thoughts.

They were selfish.

One more snap of a camera and then Rachel caught my hand and tugged me over to the windows. The city sprawled out beyond. I swallowed around the lump in my throat.

“There is no should and, of course, you wish,” Rachel said in a tone that brooked no arguments. In fact, it was so absolutely reasonable and no nonsense, it demanded I focus on her. “You miss your mom. You wish you could connect with her right now. That’s okay and you have every right to feel that way—”

Tears burned in my eyes. “Sometimes it feels so stupid and others…”

“I know,” Rachel said with a sigh then she wrapped an arm around me and leaned her head against mine. Closing my eyes, I rested on the strength she offered. “I wish she’d been a way better mom to you so she could be here right now. I wish you could have every goddamn thing you’ve ever wanted.”

I sniffled, then summoned a smile. “My life’s not so shabby…”

“No,” Rachel said, agreeing with me. “It’s not.” She didn’t have to say anything else. As much as it irked me to miss Maddy, I did—but it wasn’t Maddy I missed so much as who Maddy could or maybe should have been.

“Love you, Rach.”

“Love you too,” she whispered.

We stood there for a few more minutes while I got my wild emotions back under control. The tears evaporated, slowly, and the ache in my soul eased.

Finally, Rachel blew out a breath as she moved away and I didn’t miss how she dabbed at her own eyes. Right, time to get a grip for both of us.

“What’s next?”

“Topless photos. I want to enjoy what pregnancy has done to your breasts and we can take pictures that will make those idiots you married drool.”

I laughed. This was what inspired the photo shoot in the first place. I’d seen photos of Demi Moore years earlier and the imagery had always stuck with me.

“Fair warning,” I said as I dried my own tears. “Big boobs hurt.”

“Beauty is pain,” she deadpanned.

We locked eyes for a long moment before we both cracked up. Yep, life could be painful too but it was also full of moments like this.

Moments I wouldn’t trade for anything.

©2023 Heather Long

Bonus Scene: “Unhinged”, a Dirty Devil alternate PoV

The following is an alternate PoV from a scene that takes place in Chapter 30 of Dirty Devil. The original scene takes place in Emersyn’s PoV, this takes us into Freddie’s head. If you haven’t read Dirty Devil, this scene will clearly contain spoilers for the book.

Savage Vandal is Book 1 in the 82nd Street Vandals series. To read more, Vicious Rebel is Book 2.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.




I glanced up at the imperious command. It was the middle of the day. Still early, I was waiting on Boo-Boo to get here but she was late from whatever appointment she’d had.

“Come,” Bodhi repeated and I glanced to where the staff disappeared. No one was even looking at us. I pushed up from the table and went right behind him. “Grab clothes from your room.”


“Your pretty pussy girl needs you.”

I stopped asking questions. I stopped worrying about anything. We left the day room and I slid into my room grabbed an extra shirt and then I was back out again. Where was Boo-Boo? Bodhi had picked up a bag, I had no idea where he’d gotten it from and I didn’t ask.

“She needs to leave here,” Bodhi said as he strode down the hall toward a wing I hadn’t made it into before. “Today.”

“How?” We needed a plan. I wasn’t “ready” to get us out of here, but I was beyond ready to make it fucking happen no matter how we had to do it.

“Leave,” Bodhi said as he used a keycard that opened the heavy doors to the medical ward. Where—you know, I didn’t care where he got it. He had it. “Past the cells, there’s a way out down there.”

Past his room.

Okay, I could get us down there. It didn’t require secure cards.

“Do you know where they store our shit?” I swallowed the next question as we passed a nurse. She didn’t even glance in our direction. Bypassing one open door, I caught sight of a table with restraints. Nothing in that room looked—friendly.

Or safe.

Most of the doors were closed and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad. A flickering light in one corner seemed an ominous sign.

“Yes,” Bodhi said and I dragged my gaze back to him. Yes—oh, our shit.

“They took all my stuff, including phone. Can you get it and the bag I had?”

Bodhi looked thoughtful. “Maybe.”

Better than no.

Not once on this whole trip had he even slowed his pace. The door he opened this time went into an office… My gaze went to the bloodied body on the floor even as movement pulled my attention across the room. Pale and shaky, she leaned against the door jamb like it was the only thing keeping her up.

Blood was all over her.

“Holy shit, Boo-Boo,” I headed straight for her. “Fuck me. What happened?”

“He touched me.”

I froze mid-step, then glared down at the body on the floor.

“He’s dead?” I needed to know.

“Definitely dead,” Bodhi confirmed. “We can do it again, though. Maybe cut the head off. I did that once. It’s messy. But not as messy since he’s already dead. Shouldn’t gush too bad.”

I almost wished he wasn’t dead. I wanted to make him hurt.

“I killed him.” Boo-Boo’s broken voice wrenched my attention back to her.

“Well,” Bodhi said. “Maybe. You weren’t sure. I definitely killed him.”

He’d found her in here. He’d found her. He’d helped her. Then he came to get me.

That was all that mattered.

‘“It doesn’t matter right now, Boo-Boo. Are you hurt?” I studied her. “Is any of that blood yours?”

Next, we needed to get out of here. Bodhi brought her pants, I had a second shirt. I nudged her back into the bathroom more for her privacy. The words “he touched me” kept circling in my head. Bodhi was a friend, but Boo-Boo was everything.

Get the blood off her.

Get her changed.

Get her out of here.

Then I wanted to kill everyone that had anything to do with this place.

“I want to go home.” Those soft words dug into my soul.

“Home—home or…”

“The clubhouse. Liam’s. Home.”

I couldn’t help but smile. We’d never wanted her to leave. I never wanted her to leave. “Good. That’s where you belong. Okay. Let’s get you changed.”

Everything in the bathroom stayed clinical. That was what she needed from me. No jokes or stupid comments. We’d do that later. Her bare feet worried me.

“It’s time,” Bodhi said.

“Yeah, we need to go. We’ll get you shoes out there.” I didn’t want her to get hurt.

Bodhi was already on the move. He was right. If we strode out of here like we belonged, we could do this. He’d come through on everything else. The guy was unhinged but he was my kind of people.

I clasped her hand. “Stay with me, okay, Boo-Boo? No running off. Trust me.”

She grabbed a stapler of all things. “I promise.” But I didn’t ask. If she wanted it, then we were taking it.

The alarms started screaming.

Yep, Bodhi was definitely unhinged.

Thanks, man.

Now to get Boo-Boo the fuck out of here.

©2023 Heather Long

Bonus Scene: “Beating the Blues,” A Mad Boys Deleted Scene

The following is a deleted scene from Mad Boys. This scene takes place after Ramsey decides to take Jonas and KC off-campus for a break.

Problem Child is Book 1 in the Blue Ivy Prep series. To read more, Mad Boys is Book 2.

Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.

“Beating the Blues”


I fired off a message to Aubrey before I got changed.

Me: Going out with Jonas and Ramsey. Some place called Jack’s Escape. Bowling might be involved. Want to come with?

She didn’t make me wait long, the phone lit up even as I changed out of my t-shirt for a henley. Off campus meant layers and I didn’t want to show any bruises.

Aubrey: Do you need me?

The response was telling on a couple of levels. Hugging the leggings to me, I sat down on the edge of the bed and tilted my head from side to side. My brain kind of hurt. I’d had a headache for a week but it was better. I was just—tired. Part of me didn’t want to go out at all. I’d rather just curl up in the bed and hide here.

It was why I had to go.

That and for the first time since I got out of the hospital, I’d seen real animation in Jonas. I didn’t think he was sleeping, at least not well. More than once I’d woken up in the middle of the night and he’d already been awake. Or maybe he’d just never gone to bed.

Me: I’ll be okay. I think I want to go. Need a break. You know?

Me: Go have fun. You’ve had a lot of KC duty lately.

I set the phone down and then pulled on the leggings. It was a little like pulling on armor. Casual clothes, no uniforms. Not concert clothes either.

Aubrey: Forrest and I can change our plans. I mean it. If you need me, I’m in.

I loved her.

Me: I know. I think I’m okay. I want to be. So I’m going to be.

Make up your mind, set the goal, and the rest will follow.

Me: Love you. Have fun.

Aubrey: You too. Talk later.

It wasn’t a request. I sent her back a thumbs up and a kiss blowing emoji. Then I stuffed my feet into warmer Uggs before slipping in the bathroom to braid my hair. I’d tugged a little knit cap over it, the beanie worked with the rest of the outfit and it completely hid my hair.

I loved my hair, I refused to change it. At the same time, I needed to disguise it. Jonas waited for me out in the sitting room, his frown was instantaneous. “You’re worried about being seen.”

We were going to have a good time, I reminded myself. It was going to be great. I was okay. That was my mantra, and I planned to stick with it. I went for my jacket and the crossbody purse. “I want to just go and have fun and not deal with worrying about photos or people interrupting us.”

All true.

Jonas’ frown deepened.

“Its going to be great,” I told him. “I insist. You’re taking me out.”

His eyes narrowed, a hint of suspicion in them. “Technically Ramsey is taking us both out.”

“Semantics,” I said with a shrug and some of the worry in his expression eased. When he joined me to grab his jacket, I bumped his shoulder. Like me, he’d dressed in casual clothes, though he’d gone for a t-shirt. It put his tattoos on display and I did like looking at them. Another reason for my Henley—my tattoos got noticed as much as my hair. Most of the time I didn’t care.


Today I just wanted to relax.

“We’re going to have fun, right?”

His smile erased the rest of the dark cloud on his face and he nodded. “If it gets to be too much, you’ll tell us?”

My stomach chose that moment to growl, loudly, and I grinned. “I think we might need to feed me.”

He nodded solemnly. “We’ll grab snacks on the way…”

Jackets on, we headed out and descended the stairs. There were other students out and about, but I didn’t pay any attention to them. Jonas kept putting himself between me and everyone else. It was sweet. Ramsey waited near the exterior door and it was—unnerving to see him dressed down. I kept forgetting what he looked like when he wasn’t wearing a dress shirt and tie.

Good was how he looked. There was no sign of Lachlan and relief bled into me. Better. Ramsey studied me for a beat. “You sure you’re up for this?”

“She’s great,” Jonas said, flashing me a quick smile. “But we need to feed her before her stomach assaults us.”

I had to laugh because…well, I was starving. “I think you’re both safe, for now.” My stomach gurgled and Ramsey’s lips twitched. “But I make no promises if we don’t get something soon.”

“Then let’s go,” Ramsey said. “We can grab burgers on the way. It’s an hour to Jack’s anyway…”

An hour? My grimace made Jonas laugh and he pulled open the outer door. “Ramsey doesn’t drive like an old man. We can probably get there faster.”Ramsey just rolled his eyes but his smile relaxed me as did Jonas’. Right, we were going to have a good time.

As promised, Ramsey stopped at the burger place right next to the highway. Jonas had climbed in the back with me rather than ride shotgun with Ramsey. His droll look had cracked me up. We all got burgers, fries, and I went for a chocolate shake. We didn’t talk much, but bit by bit, the tension seemed to drain out of me. The food definitely helped.

When we got to Jack’s Escape, it was every bit the loud, garish, brightly neon lit up place you could imagine. It really didn’t seem like the guys at all. Jonas, on the other hand, seemed to brighten as well.

“KC,” he said as we headed inside. “What do you want to do first? You get the first pick. I got second. Then you again…”

“What about Ramsey?”

“I’m good,” Ramsey said, dryly. “Clearly I’m just here to pay for things and drive.”

I bit my lip.

Jonas cocked his head. “Fine, Ramsey can go after your next turn.” It seemed like a genuine concession on his part and the smirk on his face was downright adorable.

“Generous,” Ramsey said with near hysterical exaggerated graciousness.

“You’re welcome,” Jonas retorted.

I was hard pressed to not laugh, then they both glanced at me. Right, I needed to pick something to do. “What about…”

©2023 Heather Long