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Extras Category: Bonus Scenes

Bonus Scene: High On Her, an additional PoV for High Note

The following is an additional PoV for a scene from High Note. This particular conversation took place off page but happens prior to the guys setting out from the house after they let Cash out.

Kill Song is Book 1 in the Cardinal Sins series. To read more, First Chorus 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.

“High On Her”


I took one last look out the front window just in case Vienna happened to appear. I knew that she wouldn’t. Fletcher was right, something was wrong.

Behind me, Cash bounded down the stairs with too much pep in his step with Fletcher right on his heels with a wipe, removing his fingerprints from the rail.

My eye twitched at his blatant disregard for leaving traceable DNA. As an FBI man, he should know better, or he was purposely leaving a trail.

At least when he approached me, his lack of stench made being in his presence more bearable.

“We need to start with checking out Sandra Jane’s house. I can look for signs of a struggle and rule the place out. It may possibly tell us where Dark Saint went And I’d like to get my hands on those journals,” he said more under his breath as he searched the room. I wasn’t sure what he was looking for. He’d already had his dirty hands all over everything.

My eye twitched again at the level of deep clean our house was going to require to be back at Vienna’s standards. I appreciated Fletcher’s efforts but it just wasn’t the same.

I flattened my expression as I squared my shoulders. We weren’t leaving the house. What if we missed her and she did come home? I also didn’t trust Cash enough to take him off the property.

Cash’s brows dipped over his eyes when we didn’t answer. “You’re not going to find her here. You let me out of the cage for a reason—”

“Hey, hey, hey.” Fletcher stepped between us when Cash took a step toward me. He chewed on his lip as he glanced between us. “Big guy,” he started off softly, “I don’t like this anymore than you do, but we have to do something. We need to follow his lead.”

“We don’t trust him. Not that much.” I shook my head and crossed my arms. We could do other things to find Vienna.

The corners of Fletcher’s mouth quirked up. “I have an idea…” He shot a quick look at Cash, then faced me so Cash couldn’t see the blooming smile. It wasn’t genuine, not really. The shadows surrounding him were too strong, but he was trying. For me.


“Fuck no,” Cash grimaced then sneered at Fletcher.

I held the black cloth draped over my hands as I waited for him to accept the blindfold. Fletcher’s idea was a good one. If he was blindfolded and in the trunk, he couldn’t cause any unnecessary trouble for us and it would give us a chance to see if we could trust him.

We weren’t leaving the house otherwise.

“Do you see the look on Rick’s face?” Fletcher pointed at me. “You have to pick your battles. Blindfolded and in the trunk or back in the cell. Your choice.” He stood tall and looked down his nose at Cash even though he was shorter.

Cash pressed his lips in a thin line as he moved his gaze from Fletcher to me, then to the trunk. The battery light in the garage cast a pale orange glow over his face, giving him a sinister air that wasn’t present in the house.

It didn’t matter, between Fletcher and me and the lessons from Vienna, we could get him back to his cell if need be. But if he could help get Vienna home…

I inhaled a deep shuddering breath. Whatever my feelings for him, if he could help, I had to try. Vienna was most important and she needed us right now.

“Fine. Give me the damned blindfold.” He held out his hand but I ignored it.

Stepping around him, I placed the folded cloth over his eyes, checking to make sure it covered a wide swath so there would be no peeking. Then I knotted it carefully so it didn’t catch in his hair. Vienna wouldn’t want me to be unduly cruel.

Once it was secure, Fletcher had the trunk open and waved a hand like the trunk was something other than…a trunk. “Go ahead, Fed. Your seat awaits you.”

Cash snorted but reached out a hand and patted along the edge of the opening before climbing in. He was a large man and had to be creative with how he fit in the trunk. If he were anyone else, under any other circumstance, I might feel bad.

Fletcher slammed it shut, then stepped back to be in line with me. We both studied the trunk, waiting to see if Cash was going to give us any problems.

“Well, if we decide he’s a liability we don’t need, we can always go off roading and kill him one rough bump at a time. I’m sure his hard head has a limit before his brain gets scrambled.”

“I can hear you,” Cash stated drily.

We exchanged a smile. It was time to find Vienna and bring her home.

©Heather Long and Blake Blessing

Bonus Scene: “So What,” a Problem Child Alternate PoV

The following is an additional PoV for a scene from Problem Child. A lot of conversations and scenes happened off page in this book particularly because the majority of it is written only from KC’s PoV. This scene takes place between the prologue and chapter one as the boys discuss the arrival of Kaitlin Crosse at their school.

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.

“So What”

“Grab your food before you sit down,” Ramsey called from his bedroom. He’d been in orientation for most of the day. Lachlan had been at practice, and I’d been in one of the studios working. I’d still be there if Ramsey hadn’t sent Lachlan to drag me back for dinner. The smell of beef, sausage, and pepperoni not to mention onions, red sauce, and so much cheese sent my stomach growling and tempered my irritation.

A roll of paper towels came sailing toward me and I caught it one-handed as I flipped open the boxes. Three different pizzas. One for each of us. The last one was the fully loaded supreme. It had a little bit of everything. I didn’t bother with a plate, just carried the whole box and my soda over to the living room. There were boxes stacked up by the door—Ramsey’s books—and more next to his unused second bedroom.

I had already killed a slice by the time Ramsey emerged from the bedroom. He’d taken the time to shower, and dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. Lachlan snorted as he carried his own pizza box in. “It’s still early for off-duty, Ramsey, isn’t it?”

“Shut up,” Ramsey retorted.

“Love you too big brother.” Lachlan smirked at me and I shook my head.

Ramsey, however, wasn’t playing. He walked out with his pizza box, then returned to the kitchen for more cold sodas.

“You could stock beer, you know,” Lachlan told him.

“I could,” Ramsey informed him as he dropped into his chair and popped the can open. “But you would still be too young to drink it.”

Snickering, I rolled another slice together before I took a bite. Course, then I had to wipe my hands off to open my drink.

“So why are we here? Cause—” Lachlan checked his watch. “I have a date that should be on campus in an hour.”

On campus? Payton was coming back early? I grimaced. Hopefully, he’d go to her room. All the noise canceling headphones on the planet weren’t enough to shut out her screech.

“Cancel your date, we have more important things to sort out before the school year starts.”

I frowned. “What happened?”

“Unless someone died,” Lachlan said. “I’m going. You might like living like a monk, I’d prefer something besides my hand to get off with…”

The bland look Ramsey shot Lachlan was in no way as neutral as he might like to think it was. In fact, there was a vein throbbing in his forehead. “We have a problem this year. The following information is not for public consumption. I’m telling you two and you two only.”

I wasn’t the only one straightening. Disbelief filtered into Lachlan’s expression. “Who are you and what did you do with my stick up his ass brother?”

Ramsey’s aggrieved sigh was almost funny. Almost. But he really did look unhappy. The last time we’d had this kind of conversation, it was about Mom and Gibs getting married—finally. I still wasn’t sure what I thought about that. It made her happy and I liked Gibs. He’d been in our lives forever, so it seemed like a good call.

Still, Ramsey hadn’t been upset about it so much as circumspect. Whatever it was he didn’t like about them getting married, he hadn’t really shared. He just wanted us to know before the news broke. Also, we’d needed to take three days to go to the wedding itself.

“Kaitlin Crosse will be coming to school here this fall. She moves in next week along with one of her bandmates—Aubrey Miller.”

“What the fuck?” Lachlan asked, his feet hitting the floor with a distinctive thump. “Since fucking when did the little narcissist enroll?”

Scrubbing a hand over his face, Ramsey shook his head. “This year, that was part of the meetings I had today was to go over the new rules and to remind us that there are nondisclosures as part of working at the school.”

“Fuck her, I didn’t sign a goddamn nondisclosure,” Lachlan said as he slumped back in the chair. “She doesn’t want her face in the news, maybe she should stop showing off all the damn time.”

“She’s performing,” I supplied. “Not showing off. They are supposed to stand out then.” Still… she was coming here? “I’m surprised Gibs didn’t tell us.”

“Maybe he doesn’t know,” Ramsey suggested, though he didn’t sound certain. “She wasn’t at the wedding.”

“No, she was on tour,” Lachlan said the last with such disgust, I made a face. “She hasn’t made time for him in years. Why would she bother now?”

“How does she have time to come to school?” I didn’t understand that. “They were in Europe most of last spring into summer?”

They were, right?

I was pretty sure they were in Europe during the wedding. I’d checked her Instagram. I probably shouldn’t have. But i’d kind of hoped she would show up and surprise Gibs.

But nope.

“I don’t care,” Lachlan said. “She’s probably counting on riding her popularity for grades.” He shut his pizza box with a half-slam and stood. “If that’s all we were talking about, then I’m out. I can get my dick sucked and enjoy the person doing it without worrying about Kaitlin fucking Crosse.”

“Lach—” Ramsey stared at him. “We need a plan. Because all personal feelings aside, she’s going to be a student here and we have to respect that.”

A chuckle escaped Lachlan. “No, you have to respect that. I’m here for another ten months, then I’m gone. I don’t have to respect shit. She can’t even be bothered to show up for her father’s wedding or send him a damn holiday card. I don’t owe her shit. So—you two figure it out and I’m going to get laid.”

Then he stalked out, slamming the door behind him.

“Fuck,” Ramsey swore before he looked at me.

I wasn’t really sure what he wanted me to say. “You okay?” was about all I could come up with.

“No, but I’ll manage,” he answered more honestly than I think he was even comfortable with because a grimace quickly followed the statement. “I need you to keep your distance from her.”

“Why?” I wasn’t that worried about meeting her. “We’re her stepbrothers,” I reminded him and that just seemed to sour his mood further. “What does it hurt?” At the end of the day, Gibs had done a lot for us. “Maybe we can help Gibs out—”

“Jonas, what we don’t know about this girl? It’s a long list. What we do know? Not so pretty. You have enough issues and if she’s the hard partier the news makes her out to be, she would be a bad choice for you.”

“But not Lachlan?” I wasn’t irritated. My meds were working and I had my counseling sessions. I wasn’t planning on falling into drinking or drugs or even fighting… Then again, I hadn’t really planned on all the fights the year prior either.

Ramsey didn’t even try to dispute it. “If I tell him to keep his distance, he’s going to try and get in her pants and park there.”

I didn’t laugh, cause it wasn’t funny. At the same time…

“He has someone to suck his dick,” I reminded him and Ramsey made the same face I did.

“Some things, I don’t need to know…just do me a favor? Keep your distance. Keep it at least until we know more about her? She’s made it pretty clear she wants nothing to do with Gibs and Mom, and her absolute and total absence at the wedding or even bothering to send a card drove that point home.”

I sighed. “Maybe she just doesn’t like us?” We hadn’t done anything to her.

“She doesn’t know us enough to make that call,” Ramsey countered. “Either way, keep your distance. Focus on your junior year and keeping your shit toegther.”

“What about Lachlan?”

“I’ll keep an eye on him, but if you see him—”

“With her?” I chuckled. It was Lachlan. He was going to do what he wanted. “Yeah, I’ll tell you. Then again, maybe she can humble him.” It was trying to make a joke, but it wasn’t funny. Kaitlin Crosse was an enigma. Her father was one of the best guys I’d ever known. I admired him and more than once, I wished he was my dad not that I didn’t love my father—but I liked Gibs.

A lot.

She’d shit on him.

“They are due here in a couple of days, they’re moving in to the dorm next door. They got one of the nicer suites.”

Lucky bitch. We’d gotten them too but we’d been here. She was getting it on move in? Yeah, her name had privileges.

Suddenly, my appetite was gone. “Did you tell Gibs?”

Ramsey didn’t answer, that in and of itself, was an answer.

“Should we tell him?”

“I don’t know,” Ramsey admitted. “A part of me says yes and a part of me says stay out of it. Technically, not supposed to discuss it with anyone.”

Yet, he was making sure we knew. Making sure we weren’t ambushed.

Maybe she was nice. Maybe she wasn’t.

“So what,” I said before I reached for another slice of pizza. “So what if she is coming to our school? We were here first.”

That mattered, right?

Raising his drink to me, Ramsey shrugged. “Good attitude. We’ll go with that for now.”

But his expression didn’t shift much and he didn’t relax. Ramsey was worried about her being here. Lachlan storming out didn’t say he was unaffected either.

I couldn’t really blame either one.

“Maybe she’ll flake out before the first quarter is over…” She wouldn’t be our first celebrity.

Not all of them lasted.

“Maybe,” Ramsey said but he didn’t sound confident.

I supposed we could always make her leave…



Bonus Scene: “Treasured”, an alternate PoV for Dangerous Renegade

The following is an alternate point of view for a scene that took place in Dangerous Renegade. If you’ve read Dangerous Renegade, then you know the original scene was told from Freddie’s PoV. This is Emersyn’s

Dangerous Renegade is book 6 in the 82nd Street Vandals series that began with Savage Vandal. To read more, Merciless Spy is book 7.

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.



Milo punching Ezra made so much sense and at the same time— “Liam…” I didn’t want any of them to fight. I was still sore, and Rome was bruised up. Even Liam sported bruises. We’d just made it safely home. I really didn’t want Milo getting hurt. Liam could stop him. He had before and there was already blood dripping.

With a grunt, Liam muttered, “Fine,” and stalked forward. I didn’t smile, but relief still feathered through me. Liam would take care of them. Lainey frowned. She hated when any of them told her what to do and Ezra was being a bit of a dick. Then again, it wasn’t anything new for Ezra. At the same time, I was getting used to the brawling. These guys were all physical and intense. They filled every room they were in and there was no mistaking the threat they offered to everyone else.

But I was safe here.

That safety resonated within me.

“Come on,” Freddie said pulling my focus from the fight. “Let them figure this out. You probably want to shower and change. Then I can watch, and it will be a much nicer show.”

The last line punctured the bubble of tension and I grinned. Freddie was a master of deflection. At the same time… I liked it when he played with me.

“Lainey?” I didn’t want to leave her to deal with the chaos on her own. Then again, I was pretty sure she could handle it.

“No,” she said. “Freddie is right, you should go grab a shower and change. Your doctor friend probably wants to go over all your injuries.”

“I’m fine,” I assured her. Mickey giving me an exam was not at the top of my list. I ran a hand down Rome’s arm. “You okay?”

“Go,” he said, then gave Freddie a look. Even as I took Freddie’s offered hand, I glanced at the guys. But even Jasper shooed me to go and Vaughn lifted his chin. They were fine.

They were fine and we were back.

Rome was safe.

Relief spilled through me as they got Milo and Ezra separated finally. So when Freddie gave me the lightest of tugs to go, I went. His fingers were warm against mine and his grip was light, but very much there.

Once we were upstairs, he headed straight for Kellan’s room. Mine was still tucked in between Kellan and Rome’s and the only door to get inside was via Kellan’s.

“Okay, I can wait out here.” He squeezed my fingers.


“Yes, Boo-Boo?”

Pivoting, I faced him fully. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For wanting to LoJack me. I think it’s really sweet.” It really was. Maybe it should be more weird. But I didn’t want to be lost any more than they wanted to lose me.

A flush touched his face. “I just don’t want to lose you.”

“You won’t.”

“Pinky swear?” His dare as he raised his pinky only made my smile widen. I hooked my pinky around his and drifted closer. Freddie was very much my safe space, I wanted to be his.

When his gaze dipped briefly to my lips, I made the leap. “Kiss and makeup?”

“We didn’t fight,” he said the words almost too slowly, but he didn’t retreat and his eyes didn’t show even an ounce of fear or reaction. His pupils were steady even if his breath seemed to come a little faster.

But then my heart was racing too. “Then pinky swear and kiss to seal the deal.” It was an offer, but I wanted to kiss Freddie. I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted it to be okay if we did.

Then he dipped his head and he brushed his lips against mine so lightly I barely felt them. Yet, they were so soft, that barely there and gone again feeling just left me hungry for more. I leaned into him, tightening my pinky around his. I wanted to tell him touching was okay and to make sure he was okay with it.

His kiss started as just a brush against one corner of my mouth, then the other. But he didn’t pull away and I parted mine half-tempted to press deeper into the kiss when he kissed me for real. It wasn’t just a sip, but a full drink. The sweep of his tongue, darting against mine sent all the hairs on my body to stand on end then I couldn’t breathe for the want of him.

He tugged my hand up to his chest and pressed my palm to his heart. The invitation to touch, the embrace, the slow, deepening strokes of his tongue as he sealed our lips together sent my pulse galloping. This was everything and I savored the connection. Freddie was here.

He was alive and holding me and we were both safe. Safe to explore and to feel.

To kiss.

As much as I wanted for more, I didn’t fight him when he lifted his head. This was a lot of contact. A connection we both needed, or at least I did, but the intimacy took time and it took a lot to trust.

That he could, at all, with me was something I treasured.

I treasured him.

“Welcome home,” he whispered and my smile grew.

“I’m really glad to be here.”

“LoJack,” he said firmly.

And a thrill went through me. The possessiveness and determination in that one declaration made me laugh.

“LoJack. We’ll find you the best.”

Lifting my hand from his chest, I brushed my knuckles against his cheek. I kept the touch light, but I wanted to feel the hint of stubble. Another reminder that I was here. We were here. “Wait for me while I shower?”

“Forever,” he promised.

Another laugh slipped free. “I’ll try not to take that long.” Then I made myself let him go and headed into my room. I didn’t close the door. I didn’t need to, I trusted Freddie.

I wanted him to know I trusted him too. After I got some clean clothes, I blew him a kiss and the depth of emotion in his eyes threatened to undo me.

Blowing out a breath, I headed into the bathroom. I was so damn glad to be home.


I was home.

I was treasured.

I treasured them.

I treasured him.


Bonus Scene: “Blue Moon,” a Mad Boys Additional PoV

The following is an additional PoV for a scene from Mad Boys. Although Mad Boys was told via multiple PoVs, there were still moments that happened off page. The following scene between Jonas and Lachlan is one of them. It takes place toward the end of Mad Boys, following KC learning about Gibs performing the song she wrote with Jonas.

Problem Child is Book 1 in the Blue Ivy Prep series. To read more, Mad Boys is Book 2 and Party Crashers is Book 3.

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 Moon”


Blue Moon

“The problem with being a celebrity is everyone thinks they know you better than they do. Stalkers fall into the same category, but most of them are harmless.”

Those words were on a permanent loop inside my head. They whispered at me from my dreams, haunted me while I was awake, and every single time I caught sight of her blue hair moving away from me? Yeah, they were right there as a permanent reminder that I’d screwed up.

Fuck, it was so much more than a screw up. It might not be so bad if I’d actually fucked up on my own. Instead, I’d been blown out of the water by someone else dropping lit dynamite into it. Now, I flopped around on land, gasping for a second chance—or maybe it was my third chance—like it was the air I needed to survive.

“Hey,” Lachlan said, snapping his fingers right in my face. I jerked my head back and glared at him.

“What the fuck?” The snarl escaped before I could stop it. Lachlan had been up my ass for three days. While KC may not be talking to me and barely acknowledging that I was alive, she seemed to be actively avoiding him. So when he wanted me to hang out, I let him take me off-campus. The last thing she needed to deal with was Lachlan in our suite.

“A table just opened up,” Lachlan said, nodding to the pool table on the far side. We’d put in the request when we got here. “Let’s go.”

I picked up the cold glass of soda I’d ordered but hadn’t been drinking. It was sweating as the ice melted. The Rockston Arcade wasn’t exactly a bar, although they did serve alcohol and bar food. Music throbbed out of the speakers, video games lined the walls, more than one oversized television aired sports from around the world and there were pool tables.

It was like a dive bar that cost too much money to actually be a dive bar, but it wasn’t fancy enough to be an upscale sports bar. Lachlan liked it cause you didn’t have to be twenty-one to get in, just twenty-one to get alcohol.

Not that he didn’t know a guy. He knew a few. But him and Ramsey didn’t drink when I was out with them. My meds meant alcohol wasn’t the best idea. Ramsey didn’t really drink a lot either.

At the table, I set my drink on a high top next to it and checked the cue sticks while Lachlan racked up the balls. The music shifted and changed to a different group. I didn’t recognize this one, though the song seemed familiar. They’d been playing mostly classic rock, so at least I wouldn’t hear Torched just pop up.

That just added to the sense of melancholy. How the hell did I fix this with KC? I hadn’t given the song to Gibs but I didn’t think she’d believe me if I told her. If anything, she’d barely even seemed to acknowledge when I was there. In the meanwhile, all I could think about was how her lips felt beneath mine and how soft they’d been.

Only to have that sweetness soured by the hurt in her eyes.

“You want to break?” Lachlan asked and I shrugged. I didn’t even want to be here. But he insisted and I didn’t want him bugging her, so here we were. “Right, try to contain your excitement.” He eyed me but I didn’t say anything. With a sigh, he took a long drink before he headed over to the table.

The first crack of the cue ball slamming into the triangle formation sent the balls scattering. He sank a solid in the corner right pocket. He sank the next two shots neatly but completely scratched on the third.

I didn’t say anything, just eyed the table and took the easier shot for getting the two ball into the side pocket. We played the first game almost silently. He took that game. Then I got the break on the second and I won that one. It wasn’t until the third that, Lachlan stepped right into my path when I would have gone to line up my shot.

“Don’t,” I told him as I met him stare for stare.

“You need to talk,” he said and I snorted. “What? Just cause I’m not all huggy feely like Ramsey doesn’t mean I don’t get it.”

I just stared at him.

He sighed. “You’ve been a wreck for weeks—”

That made me raise my brows.

“You and Ace aren’t as tight as you were.”

I said nothing.

“I want to know you’re okay. Ramsey is worried about you.”

Which was why we were out and off campus tonight.

When I continued to say nothing, he scowled. “Fine, if I win this game, you tell me what happened.”

I didn’t agree.

I didn’t disagree.

He also didn’t win.

His annoyed half-growl as he set his cue stick aside did make me grin though. “I’m going to get drinks and order food. Rack us up again. Best out of five and you tell me.”

Whatever helped him sleep at night.

When he wanted best out of seven, I almost laughed.

At midnight, he shot me a dirty look. “You could always try the racing games.” I nodded to the wall of them on the far side. “If you want a better chance…”

“You’re a dick,” he muttered, but he was already half-smiling as he turned way and I snorted.

Huh. I was being a dick and he—wasn’t.


Also, kind of nice.

He slid into the seat of the old-style arcade game. The metal pedals took some force to slam down and the controls were kind of shit.

They were still fun.

He was crowing when he won the first race.

“Best two out of three,” I informed him and he narrowed his eyes as he glared.

“Fine,” he said, then cracked his knuckles. “I’ll get it out of you one way or another.”

He also couldn’t hide his own smile. Sometimes, Lachlan wasn’t so bad.


©️ Heather Long, 2023

Bonus Scene: “Big Brother, Little Sister,” a Problem Child Alternate PoV

The following is an additional PoV for a scene from Problem Child. A lot of conversations and scenes happened off page including several of her calls with her brother. I wanted to be able to dig deeper into one of these chats. If you’ve read Problem Child you know it is written exclusively from KC’s PoV, whereas this scene is written from her brother Bronson’s PoV.

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.

“Big Brother, Little Sister”


I texted Mom I was home as I jogged up the steps to the house. Her response was immediate with a quick task list of chores, including checking the crock pot for dinner. She would be late. Loved me. I fired back a loved her and then I was inside. I’d barely changed clothes when my phone vibrated.

KC: Home?

Right, shit. Yeah. She’d messaged between my last two classes and I told her I’d call when I got home. Where were my earbuds—there they were. I fished them out of the side pocket of my backpack and shoved one into my right ear before I headed for the kitchen. The stew smelled fantastic. I hadn’t been hungry before I walked in the door and now I was starving.

After hitting her contact, I shoved my phone in my pocket. It barely rang once before she answered.

“Oh thank fuck you’re home,” she muttered.

“Well, good afternoon to you too,” I teased as I sailed into the kitchen. “I am definitely home and open for business. What’s up?”

“I hate this place.” The level of vehemence was very not KC. Really not her. She’d been so excited about the school. She even got excited about homework. I figured that would wear off after she got there but this was…well, I wasn’t sure what this was.

“Yeah?” I tested the waters. “This is the same school you spent all of last year talking about? Like the best school for privacy and for education, and they’d been willing to take all of your homeschooled credits.” That was her too, right?

“Yes, they are and they were supposed to be and the school is great but the people—Bronson…the people suck.”

I dug into one of the drawers for a ladle to get some stew out then opened the dishwasher. Right, I needed to empty that but food first. “You know, it’s probably just the adjustment period.”

“I wish,” she grumped. KC didn’t call to bitch and complain. Not really. Sometimes, I had to pry it out of her like it was a state secret and I needed the right code words. “I’ve been here two months and it just keeps getting worse. The first douchebag was a problem, but the second and third ones? C’mon.”

“Douchebags?” I prompted, cause that was a clue. Clearly. The smell of the stew was killing me. I got out some bread and butter then spooned up a bite that I had to blow the steam off of before I shoved it in my mouth or I’d scald my tongue. Was probably gonna scald it anyway…

“I’ve told you about the douchebags, right?” There was a definitive bounce sound like she’d fallen on her bed or sat up. One or the other. What time was it there? I swung my head to look at the clock. Almost eight.

“If you did, it couldn’t have been memorable…”

“Ugh.” The drama in that single syllable followed by the exhale of breath was so audible that I had to swallow a snicker. “The douchebags three. Started with the dick I met like day one of classes or right before classes. I dunno. It was fast. But he was in our dorm and just—he’s a dick. He stared through me like I wasn’t there. Was kind of rude. But fine, whatever, he doesn’t like me. I don’t expect everyone to like me.”

I squinted a little at that. It bugged her when people didn’t like her and she didn’t know why. Occupational hazard of living her life under a spotlight and a microscope, but I let that go.

“He’s in all of my classes. Well most of them. He gets ruder. We got paired for an assignment and I fucked up, I forgot parts of it cause—I had to leave for a few days. Mom.”

That needed no further explanation. Jennifer Crosse was an amazing actress and a beautiful woman. Most of the time, she was a shitty human. My opinion, not KC’s and not my mom’s opinion of her. My mom just thought she needed to be in therapy.

Right walking away from that landmine.

“So, that is on me. We had an assignment we were partnered on, and he turned it in but made sure to tell the instructor I’d flaked so I got a zero on that and academic probation.”

I winced. “Shit.”


“That explains him.”

“Does it?” She didn’t seem to think so. “I don’t get him at all. He hates me, Bronson. I mean, like I ran over his puppy, hates me and I don’t know why.”

“Some guys lack social skills. Maybe he has a crush on you.”

Her snort was so damn derisive it was funny. “You know the whole the boy who likes you will pull your pigtails is a misogynistic way of excusing bad behavior from guys and conditioning it into girls from a very young age, right?” The deadpan delivery of Mom’s description had me snorting now.

“You know, I have heard that before.” This time I didn’t bother to hide my chuckle. “Doesn’t mean he may not be as open and in touch with his feelings as you are.”



“Bite me.”

“Nah, I got stew. So tell me about the other dickweeds.”

“Douchebags,” she corrected and I swallowed a smile with another bite of my stew.

“Douchebag Two—he’s a TA Bronson. He’s supposed to be like you know a part time instructor. He acts like I kicked his cat and I’m the most high-maintenance actress in Hollywood. I honestly don’t think I could offend him more if I did spit in his face.”

“That’s my sister, winning friends and influencing people. Teachers are supposed to push us…”

“He changed my schedule,” she said in a tone even angrier than she used when she said her set order had been rearranged by management. Ut oh. “Canceled one of my classes, pulled me from classes that I liked and shoved me in other ones, so I would have a free hour every day for tutoring. Also, he thinks I’m an entitled, overbearing, Hollywood princess.”

I winced. “Maybe you’re reading too much into it.”

“He called me that. To my face.” There was no drama or magnification in that statement, just a kind of empty bewilderment. “I don’t know what I did. He acts like I’m putting him out and I’m an ungrateful bitch because he’s taking so much time for me and I’m imposing.”

Yeah—that was a little fucked up. “Maybe he’s just one of those guys who lacks interpersonal skills?” Harder to fish up that.

“Douchebag Three?” Maybe this one would be better.

“Oh—him.” Nope, definitely not better cause there was real hostility there. “This asshole—he shows up when I’m running every day. He shoved me in a pond. He harasses me. He even cut my bra like he wanted a good look at the girls before he took off.”

He did what? I was not a violent guy.

Nope. Mom taught me from day one, do not act out. Do not give in to my temper. Do not show aggression. The world had a thing against black guys who stood their ground. Being half-anything wasn’t going to protect me from prejudice.

But this guy? I was going to beat his ass.

“Fine, he’s a grabby douchebag, I’ve dealt with those before. But then—”

But then? “What did he do?”

Then she told me about the costume party and her first kiss—and that it was this guy.

Right, Mom was going to kill me. Could I get to the East Coast and kick this dick’s ass?

“The thing I don’t get,” she said finally. “I’m trying really hard to be understanding and to adapt. I mean this is what I want. To go to school. To be normal. Is high school really like this?”

“High school sucks,” I pointed out. “You’re not even going to normal high school. I know why you picked that place, but you’re going to school with a lot of entitled rich dicks, clearly. Mom would tell you that was an assault, you know that right?” Cause she hadn’t told Mom, if she’d told my mom? Oh, I’d have heard that nuclear reaction.


“KC, no maybe about it. It’s an assault. No one should have to deal with that. I’m tempted to buy a bus ticket today…”

“Don’t,” she said, and I could practically see her sitting up to stare at me. “You can’t afford to miss classes and Jackie would kill us both.”

No, she’d probably be right up in their face if she knew this was going on.

“And don’t tell her?”

I grimaced. “Lying to Mom is never a good idea.”

“It’s not lying if we just don’t tell her.”

“Right, KC, that’s called a lie by omission. I also don’t like the idea some guy is doing that to you. Period.”

“I can take care of myself, I promise. I just—I’m frustrated, Bronson. I thought this would be better than it is and Mom is—well she’s Mom and I miss Yvette. Aubrey’s here and she’s amazing, but we don’t even have classes together now. I feel like I’m getting everything I wanted and I hate all of it. Kind of makes me entitled.”

“Nope, makes you human. But the douchebags? I’m on your side with them. The first two—maybe they are just dicks. But number three? I want his name and to kick his ass.” There, I said it.

“I love you too,” she said and the smile in her voice settled me. Some.

Still pissed. “You’re really all right? I mean it, like you’re not afraid to walk out your door? And he didn’t hurt you more than what you described?”

“No,” she said. “I promise.”

“You didn’t report him, did you?” Why was I even asking that question? No, if it had been Aubrey who was pawed, she’d have lit that school on fire. “KC, promise me something.”

“If I can…”

“Don’t protect the school or the douchebag. Protect yourself.”

Cause she could. She just had to remember to do it. She sighed. “I just wanted to be normal…” Then she let out a little groan. “Okay, enough about me. Tell me about you.”

We were not done talking about this. “I’m awesome. That’s all you need to know.”

Her laugh wasn’t even forced. “And so humble…”

“You don’t have to be humble when you’re the best. You taught me that.”

When she flat out snorted in the middle of her laugh, I relaxed some. She sounded more like her. Didn’t make me worry less, but I’d keep an eye on her and I had Aubrey’s number.

Maybe she could get me the name of Douchebag Three.

©2023 Heather Long

Bonus Scene: “Dreamy and Devoted,” an additional Legacy and Lovers moment

The following is an additional scene from Legacy and Lovers. It takes place after the end of this particular book and prior to Farewells and Forever.

Legacy and Lovers is Book 11 in the Untouchable series. To read more, Rules and Roses 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.

“Dreamy and Devoted”


Laughing, I made my way off the dance floor while fanning a hand toward my face. The club was amazing, the music was fantastic—but even better, everyone was here. My friends. My family. I glanced down at the rings on my finger—my fiancés.

That sent a little thrill through me. At the bar, I found a spot where air conditioning was actually blowing downward. Stopping there, I tilted my head back to let the coolness wash over me.

“What can I get for you?”

When I opened my eyes, the bartender was standing there. “Water, please. Ice cold.”

He chuckled. “Coming right up.”

If I had alcohol right now, I might throw up. I’d danced with the guys, multiple times. Danced with KC. Danced with Chloe. Danced with Dad. Even Alec and Craig had gotten pulled into the action. It was all so overwhelming and at the same time—amazing.

“Hey,” Rachel said as she slid up to the bar next to me. “You good?”

Sweat gleamed on her brow and her lips were a little swollen. I didn’t make any comments on that because she was still working on her and that was the important part. The bartender brought over the ice water and I grasped it gratefully as Rachel ordered one for her and a soda. Holding up a finger, I downed about half the glass.

Between the chill of the water and sitting under the fan, I didn’t feel like I as overheating as much. “Oh, I’m fine—just hot.”

Rachel laughed. “You’ve been hot forever, why is that an issue now?”

I rolled my eyes even as I laughed. She grinned and when her water got there, she clinked her glass with mine.

“Cheers, gorgeous,” she told me. “I still think you’re nuts for taking on four of them, but they might almost be worthy of you if they keep spoiling you the way they are.”

“I adore them,” I reminded her. “They’re perfect just like they are.”

She made a gagging sound, then grinned. “I’ll give them credit, they make you smile and that’s the important part.”

“I miss you,” I confessed and she sniffed.

“Of course you do, because I’m awesome.” She managed to hold the arrogance for all of five seconds before we were both cracking up. Another couple of drinks and I was almost not boiling alive when she added, “Are you happy? I mean for real? This is—” She motioned to the club, the Greek themes with its columns and nooks, the dance floor and the stage.

“It’s Archie,” I reminded her. “And yes, I am happy. Like—no caveats happy.”

“No caveats?” Rachel raised both eyebrows. “That’s something.”

“Right?” When Dad and Eddie asked me out to dinner tonight, I’d had an idea that something might happen. Archie’s was the only proposal left, but… “It’s everything,” I admitted. “Rach, I have a family. A huge family. Not just Dad and Kelly and the kids, though that’s so cool. I have Jeremy and Eddie—I couldn’t imagine Eddie being ‘family’ but he is. Then the guys…they’re everything. We’ve had some ups and downs, but they’re still my best friends and they love me and I love them—”

“You know there might be something wrong with you,” she teased.

“Maybe, if there is, I don’t want to fix it. Because there’s also you.”

“Saving the best for last,” she said, grinning.

“Absolutely, Mr. Thorns.”

That cracked her up all over again. “I still think I could give these guys some tips but after today, I might have to admit Archie’s got the romance and showmanship down.”

Laughter bubbled up through me as effervescent as the champagne that had been flowing since Archie “popped” the question. “He does,” I said.

“Okay, all dreamy swooning aside—this what you want? Marriage to all four of them? You guys are ready for it?”

“Can anyone be really ready?” I asked before I drained the water and the bartender slid another over to me. I mouthed thank you and he winked at me before Rachel groaned. “What?” I said swinging a look at her.

“He’s flirting with you.”

I held up my hand. “Sorry, I’m taken.” We stared at each other for a beat and Rachel’s lips trembled.

“But you noticed he was flirting.”

“I didn’t care,” I said, rather than admit that I wasn’t really paying attention to the bartender. Nice guy brought me water. So what if he winked? He wasn’t one of my guys.

“That was the right answer,” Jake said as he slid up behind me and wrapped his arms around my middle. Thankfully, I wasn’t dying from heat stroke but even if I was, I’d still have leaned back into him.

Eyes closed, I just drank in his nearness as he pressed a kiss just behind my ear. “Rachel.”


I cracked my eyelids open to find Rachel giving us an indulgent smile.

“Looking after our girl?” Jake asked.

“Always,” she said. “Also, you look ridiculously happy.”

I grinned.

“Don’t hate,” Jake teased and I elbowed him. He gave a gentle oomph then squeezed me lightly. “Fine, we love Rachel, we just don’t tell her that. We’re much better at the snarking and the threats.”

“This is true,” Rachel agreed. “Now, go away, I want time with my BFF before you guys drag her back out to the dance floor.”

“I was thinking of stealing away to a private room,” Jake mused. “Maybe celebrate a little more personally.”

Rachel made a gagging sound.

“Don’t worry,” Jake said, still grinning. “You’re not invited.”

“Oh my god,” I laughed and tilted my head back to look up at him.

“Too much?” His eyes were practically dancing and I smiled as he brushed his lips to mine.

“Nope,” I promised. “You’re perfect.”

“No ma’am, that’s you. But I will let you girls have a drink. I’m gonna threaten the bartender so he doesn’t flirt with you again.”


“Hey? It’s me.” Then he winked and gave me another kiss before he slipped away and when I glanced back at Rachel, she was laughing.

“Ridiculously happy,” she commented. “And I am glad. I still don’t think anyone is ever going to be good enough for you, but those four come the closest.”

“They’re perfect for me,” I said. “They’ve always been perfect for me, even when I didn’t see what they felt or were asking me for.”

Her expression softened. “Want to go find a table with our waters and gossip for a bit?”

“You have anything good to tell me?” I raised my brows. Her smirk was adorable.

“Maybe, you’ll just have to work at getting it out of me.”

The bartender had brought over two fresh glasses with ice water and no winks. Scooping them up, Rachel and I weaved through the crowd. There were well-wishers and more than one quick side hug as we climbed the stairs to the second level. It was definitely cooler up here.




“Damn,” Rachel said, lips quirking. “Foreplay, Frankie. Foreplay. You want me to come clean with the details, you need to work me up to it.”

I rolled my eyes and laughed. “You’re terrible.”

“And you love me, so don’t bitch.”

It was true, I did love her. “Fine…have I mentioned how beautiful you are to me?”

“That’s better,” Rachel said and when she winked, I held up my left hand.

“Still taken.”

“Don’t I know it.”

There was a beat and then we were cracking up all over again. I caught Archie’s eye from across the room and he raised his glass to me where he was talking to Eddie and I grinned, before I blew him a kiss. Coop had Trina on the dance floor and Ian was—there he was, he was dancing with Chloe and she was laughing.

I couldn’t adore them more if I tried.

“So damn gone on them,” Rachel commented.

“Yep,” I admitted. “One thousand percent.”

©2023 Heather Long

Bonus Scene: “Song Sung…who?” a Kill Song alternate PoV

The following is an alternate PoV for a scene that opens Kill Song. If you’ve read Kill Song, you know it is written in multi-PoVs and the first chapter is from Merrick’s PoV. The first meeting between Vienna and Merrick is life-altering for both of them. With that in mind, I wanted to revisit their first meeting from Vienna’s PoV.

Kill Song is Book 1 in the Cardinal Sins series. To read more, First Chorus 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.

“Song Sung…who?”


It took some effort to let my marks convince themselves they are the ones luring me away from the illusion of safety. Some took far less effort than others. Tonight’s target had already decided they wanted a quickie in the alley before they’d walked over to where I was sitting. From the moment they latched their gaze on me, I’d been the entree in whatever meal they promised themselves.

That meant taking my time so that I didn’t look overly eager. That got noticed, not just by the mark but the people around them. It also meant not seeming too reluctant because they might move on and that wouldn’t do either. Ultimately, The game had to be played with patience because when he coaxed me out of the doors and slammed me against the wall—well, my mark was quite enthusiastic about where he thought the night was going.

Using his hand as a necklace wasn’t high on my list, but it definitely gave him the illusion of control. Head tilted back, I all but bared my throat. It was harder sometimes than it seemed to let big men think they had all the power. Even more difficult, not snapping his fingers in three places so he learned that you didn’t touch when you hadn’t been invited.

The whiskey on his breath overpowered the peppermint he’d palmed to his mouth before he dragged me out the door. The stink was hardly attractive. With his thumb adding pressure to my throat as if he needed to strangle his dates, I pressed one hand to his chest. His pulse was hardly racing, though it had begun to accelerate and there was no disguising the tent in his pants. Especially when he pressed said erection right to me.

The man didn’t have that much to be proud of, layers of clothes or not. When he dipped his head for a kiss, I turned my cheek at the last moment. It brought his wet lips to rest against my skin. The smell intensified but I blocked that out. Fortunately for me—and I supposed him—I did not have a weak gag reflex.

“Open up, sweet lips,” the man mumbled. “I want a taste before I shove my dick down your throat…”

“So attractive,” I said, my tone idle though kissed with disdain. “Not that I think your dick can reach my throat, but it’s good to have goals.”

The taunt set a match to his temper and his hand closed tighter around my throat and he lifted. Oh, that was better. With my feet off the ground, it wouldn’t take much to turn this around. I’d been taking deeper breaths, then more shallow—panting like I was as eager as he was—it helped to flush out he carbon dioxide. As long as he didn’t crush my throat, what was a little strangulation on my way to answers.

“Bitch,” he muttered and I slapped him. It wasn’t really any kind of painful for him. I barely made my palm sting. The rake of my nails over his eye though—oops—that had to sting. The point was to put on the show. Then he backhanded me with his free hand even as he released me. I dropped to my feet and hit the wall at the same time.

He was right where—

A second body slammed into my mark’s and he was ripped away from me.




A pure mountain of a man, all dark shadows rippling as his fists flew. The distinct, meaty sound of flesh impacting on flesh peppered with the crack of bones played like a brutal symphony. I don’t know what I expected, but the mountain brought down my mark with such brutal lethality that I was almost transfixed.

I didn’t know the newcomer. I couldn’t see him, but I understood bodies and how they moved. I didn’t know this man or his body. The heavy scent of copper joined the whiskey, trash, and faint stink of brackish water.

Bones gave way to wetter thumps. My mark never got a chance to make a sound. Not really. If anything, the only noise in the alley was the cadence of fists slamming into my target and the harsh huffs of breath that rent the silence. Finally, he stopped swinging long after my mark had stopped resisting.

I was pretty sure the mark was dead. As annoying as that was, he wasn’t what captured my attention. The man at my feet, decorated in splattered blood, stared up at me with almost no expression. Then like the sun gradually peeling back the shadows, he smiled.

“It’s okay,” he reassured me. “I’ll keep you safe.”

At that moment, I wasn’t sure whether I should be entertained or furious. I’d been after this mark for a while and now he was gone and at my feet, the man who’d taken him from me looked so earnest and pleased with himself.

He’d saved me.


(c)2023 Heather Long & Blake Blessing

Bonus Scene: “Blue Ace,” a Problem Child Alternate PoV

The following is an alternate PoV for a scene from Chapter 5 that took place in Problem Child. If you’ve read Problem Child you know it is written exclusively from KC’s PoV, so I thought I’d come at one of these encounters from Lachlan’s angle.

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 Ace”


“…did you see the new Kincaid’s? I would kill for a pair from the first run, but Daddy already said no. First, I have to show some ‘obvious effort,’” Payton all but rolled her eyes as she conferred with Vivian. They were locked arm-in-arm as they studied images shared on their favorite designer’s Instagram. I swore, it was like losing IQ points just listening.

“We can totally send him an update,” Vivian suggested. “You have the emergency card, just order a set and ask for forgiveness later.”

“Maybe,” Payton murmured. We’d left the dining hall earlier, mostly cause the girls wanted to gossip. Blane smirked as Payton cast me a hopeful look. “I do have a birthday coming.”

Yep, subtle. I rolled my head from side to side, easing the stiffness. I needed to get back on my regimen. The last couple of weeks had been irritating. Mom was on a tear about something and Dad had a big court case. I was ready to head back here before summer break was over.

Frankly, I liked the school better than home. Pretty sure J felt the same and fuck knew Ramsey lived, breathed, and shit this place. A flash of color in the hallway snared my attention. Was that…

“Are you kidding me?” Vivian said with an almost indignant snort. “Who sleeps in a hallway?”

“Oh, fuck,” Blane said with a laugh. “I know where she can sleep—but she wouldn’t get much rest there.” The locker room talk around the blue-haired rock star had been getting dirtier and dirtier. Not that I minded, hardly the first chick we’d all thought about fucking. The bets for who would get in her pants first would be coming soon.

Vivian glared at Blane as he eyed Kaitlin Crosse. She was the only chick in school with blue hair despite all the rules and regulations for appearance. Hardly a first, plenty of us had tattoos even if we didn’t advertise, but those were all things covered up. She wore hers out where everyone could see it.

“I swear this school is going downhill,” Payton muttered. “Rock star trash does not belong here.”

I spared her a look but she wasn’t even focused on me. She was glaring at KC where she sat on the floor next to the lecture hall door, arms wrapped around her book bag like it was some kind of teddy bear. It was—kind of sweet.

Payton stalked forward and kicked her. Classy move. Head tilted, I waited to see what the blue-haired menace would do. Thick lashes lifted to reveal a stunning pair of blue-eyes. I’d seen them in plenty of photos over the years, but there was something hypnotic about looking at them in person.

“You do know that this isn’t a park bench, right?” Payton’s shrill voice cut through the air, but I didn’t drag my attention away from those gorgeous eyes. The awareness flooding them beckoned to me.

“This is a school,” Payton continued, enunciating each word clearly, “not the back row of your low-rent concerts. You don’t just go to sleep out here. That’s what your room is for. Idiot.”

Sleep fled those eyes and they hardened. Not gonna lie, the attitude filling her expression sent a pulse of wild lust to bounce right through my system. “Bitch, our concerts have never been low-rent. I guarantee you the tickets cost more than that red whore lipstick you’re sporting.”

Not laughing took effort. She wasn’t wrong about the shade of Payton’s lipstick, then Vivian tossed her red soda all over KC. The splash of crimson was vivid against her white shirt and jacket, highlighting the outline of the lacy bra she had on underneath.

Payton laughed. It was a grating sound, but I paid less attention to her comment of “Remind me to call the janitors next time. They know better than to let the trash just lay in the halls…” than I did the way those sexy blue eyes frosted with fire. Could fire be icy and hot at the same time?

She rose to her feet, graceful and menacing as she stripped off the jacket. It gave me an even better view of her slim, athletic figure. “You really should be kinder to yourself. Calling yourself trash is a negative affirmation, no matter how accurate…”

The little jerk Payton gave almost made me laugh out loud. Fire and ice. The verbal slap landed even as the chime sounded for us to get to class. The door opened and the teacher stepped out. His gaze swept over all of us before he glanced at the Blue Ace standing there all defiant.

“Good afternoon. Are you all right, Miss Crosse?”

“I’m great,” she declared with a smile. “Just need to get cleaned up.”

“Excellent. Miss Webber,” the teacher said, snapping his attention to where Payton and Vivian were both videoing the event. Petty little shits. Still…that meant I could savor the way Ace made that red-stained shirt work for her. “You know better than to film on campus. Let’s see it…”

Too late. She’d uploaded it and gave the teacher a false, oops of a smile. I ignored Payton. If she got nailed by administration, not my problem. I did twist to track Ace’s movements as she strolled away from us. It was definitely a stroll. No anger marred her movements, it was like she couldn’t be bothered with the likes of us.

Fuck that was hot.

©️ Heather Long, 2023

Bonus Scene: “Carnal”, an additional PoV for Dangerous Renegade

The following is an additional scene that took place in Dangerous Renegade. If you’ve read Dangerous Renegade, then you know Emersyn spent three days at Liam’s after the two of them finally hit the sheets. This is a scene focusing on their first morning together from Liam’s PoV.

Dangerous Renegade is book 6 in the 82nd Street Vandals series that began with Savage Vandal. To read more, Merciless Spy is book 7.

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.



A soft sigh and a groan snapped me from asleep to awake. The shift of the bed next to accompanied by a low, drawn out cry pulled all of my attention. Hellspawn faced me, with Rome behind her. He had a hand on her breast and another on her clit as he thrust into her from behind.

The strain on her face, the soft “o” formed by her mouth was a gorgeous sight. Rolling onto my side, I caught Rome’s gaze but he just lifted his chin before returning all of his attention to the woman in our bed. So determined to swallow all the sounds of her own pleasure, Hellspawn writhed and moved.

Every thrust from Rome had her twisting her hips. The feel of her when she did that to me was fucking amazing. I leaned forward, blew a teasing breath across her neglected nipple and her dark eyes fluttered open. I waited for her to focus on me.

Surprise flickered through her drowsy pleasure followed by delight. The delight beckoned to me like a lighthouse in the storm. I swooped in to kiss her, teasing that same breast while Rome tended to the other.

Their movements grew more frenetic as I kept up the kiss, breaking the contact for only brief seconds to gasp some air and then her cries escalated. Rome’s thrusts stuttered as she gripped the back of my neck and his very sharp grunts had me lifting my head to watch as the orgasm rolled over her.

Hellspawn strained and then shuddered only to tighten her fingers against my nape. Another little sound escaped and they collapsed together. I settled on my side, drinking in the sight of her. Pink flushed her chest and her cheeks.

Even in the low light of the sun filtering through the privacy shades, she looked radiant. With light fingers, she traced my face even as she curved her free arm behind her to hug Rome.

“Good morning,” I said, grinning slowly. My own erection was definitely hard as a stone. Morning wood had nothing on this.

“Hi,” she whispered, her voice ragged. Her light touch drifted down my chest to my dick and she wrapped her hand around the base. The touch was almost too light, so I bumped against her palm as she began to stroke in an agonizingly tender way.

“Going to torture me this morning?” I teased, more than content to just enjoy the sight of her like this. As soon as she rallied, I planned to pin her to the bed for another round.

Who was I kidding? I wasn’t planning on letting her out of bed for at least twenty-four hours.

“No,” she said, laughing and it was the siren call of that lyrical sound that drew me in. “Just trying to recover…this was an amazing way to wake up.”

“Compliments of my brother.” The quip earned another smile, this one even brighter than the last.

“Thank you, “ Rome said, without irony as he lifted his head and pressed a kiss behind her ear. “You’re welcome.”

Her laughter escalated. She twisted, still giving me lazy pumps while she kissed Rome. It did something to me to watch them together, the way she kissed him and the absolute unabashed openness.

My mirror loved her without reservation or demand. The fact she seemed to not only reflect those same emotions but welcomed me into that knot of affection tying them together…

When she broke from Rome she leaned forward and I met her kiss with the same firm gentleness. It turned hotter and more demanding. I dragged her to me and she gave a soft cry and a shudder. Rolling over, I angled myself and slid home she wrapped around me and indulged me in a long, slow, and lazy pursuit of our pleasure.

The sound of the shower running intruded on our carnal good morning haze. “Need to get up,” she mumbled and I ran my hand down to her ass and stroked it in slow circles. That she could let me touch her was an amazing gift. Even more, that she was so boneless and relaxed against me.

“You don’t need to do anything,” I told her. “When Rome is done, I’ll carry you in there and wash you myself.”

Her swift inhale and the surprise dancing across her expression as she lifted her head satisfied something truly primitive in me.

“When I care about someone, Hellspawn, there’s nothing I won’t do for them.”

Her smile softened as she studied me. “You know, you have given me that impression.”

“Good,” I said firmly. Course, when we did make it to the shower and she went to her knees for me, I forgot how to breathe.

“You should know,” she told me, eyes dancing. “When I care about someone, there isn’t anything I won’t do for them either.”

Fuck. I forgot how to think and my legs were definitely the ones shaking when she finished. We eventually left the shower, but Hellspawn didn’t bother with clothes. I turned up the heat to make sure she was comfortable and then we went to have breakfast with Rome.

An hour later, I coaxed her back to bed and I had zero plans of letting her out of it. Rome promised to be back later and that was fine.

More than fine.

“Liam…” She groaned during one sweaty break while I trailed an ice cube along her spine.

“Too much?” I’d hardly been gentle. Even when I fought to be, she fought me back and it was so damn easy to get lost in her.

“No,” she whispered. “But I think you might be stuck with me. Not sure I can move.”

I grinned.

“Fine by me,” I promised then kissed her. “Rome will tell the boys.”

Her sigh only added to my humor. “I don’t know how long I can stay.”

“We have time,” I soothed her. “Where you go… I’m going to follow.”

No more denials. No more running—unless it was to her.

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©️ Heather Long, 2023

Bonus Scene: Daughters and Discovery, a Hank alternate PoV from Graduation and Gifts

We’re celebrating 500 reviews on Graduation and Gifts. As always, this scene naturally contains spoilers for the series up through Graduation and Gifts. This is an alternate PoV on the scene that opens the book.


“I was looking for Frankie Curtis,” I said, eyeing the young man who opened the door. A boyfriend? Probably. Though that came with its own kind of twist to my chest. She was so damn grown already. Right, get it together Hank. “I’m Henry Jackson.”

The guy answering her door went stiff, his eyes narrowed, and there was no mistaking the cool assessment in his expression. I couldn’t see past him into the apartment and I didn’t press except, he kept staring.

“I did get the right apartment?” Did I get the address wrong? “Sorry, if I’m coming by late. I drove here straight from the airport and I got lost once.”

Coming late? Yeah, eighteen fucking years Hank. The mental scolding didn’t do me any favors right now. I could nurse the guilt of missing my daughter’s whole life later.

“No,” he said slowly, some warmth sneaking into the chill of his voice. “You’re at the right place.” He glanced over his shoulder once, but didn’t move. I had a feeling, that door wasn’t going to budge if he didn’t decide to open it.

It seemed to take an eternity before he nodded and backed up a step. Then she was there. The slender, athletic build with a wild fall of golden blonde hair. Holy shit, she looked like Maddy. But where Maddy had a cool, almost cold edge to her there was nothing of that in this girl’s cautious manner.

And her eyes…. the rich, warmth of verdant green. Goddammit. Hate for Madeline Grayson swelled in my chest to the point it threatened to suffocate me. Frankie reached for her boyfriend’s hand and she lifted those eyes to meet my gaze steadily.

“I’m Frankie,” she said with a half-smile, her unease at all of this communicated itself perfectly. Oh sweet girl… me too. She went to extend her hand and hesitated. “I mean, yes, I’m Frankie. Would you like to come in Mister—or is it Professor…”

I clasped the offered hand before she could withdraw it. Her palm was a little sweaty, but then again so was mine. I could handle a lecture hall full of kids and wrangle all three of mine—one would think this wouldn’t be so damn hard.

“Hank,” I told her. Meeting her like this was both a shock and a wonder. I’d missed so damn much, but look at her. Look at the way she faced me even when her own fear was there. “Call me Hank.”

Would I prefer Dad? Fuck yes I would. That would take time though. Time and effort. I’d been absent for all of her life, but that wasn’t her fault. If I needed to earn that trust with her, the I would damn well be patient and take the time.

“And I can come in or we can go somewhere. I don’t want you to feel cornered or ambushed, just… You called and you mentioned graduation and I thought if you were reaching out that maybe you wanted to meet me and I’ve wanted to meet you.”

The words spilled out in a rush, but I wasn’t kidding. I wanted to meet her. I had since the attorney contacted me. She’d called…

Focus Hank, I snapped at myself mentally. She called. Maybe I jumped the gun a little but, actions spoke louder than words.

“I did want to—Yeah, it’s fine, come in.” She beckoned me indoors even as she backed up. The air was warm outside and the interior much cooler.

“You have company,” I said, catching sight of the others in the apartment. It wasn’t just Frankie and her boyfriend. They had friends over. “I’m interrupting.”

“It’s fine, these are my boyfriends, you’d have to meet them anyway.”

These are my…

Wait. “Boyfriends?”

She nodded, the corners of her mouth curving into a real, if shy smile. “Yeah, that’s Jake and…”

“Ian Rhys, sir,” the young blond offered even as he extended his hand. We shook hands briefly, then the second blond approached.

“Coop Brennen,” he said, grinning. “Boy next door and resident best friend as well as boyfriend.”

Frankie laughed. “Smart ass.”

“Benton,” Jake said as he took his turn for a handshake.

“And I’m Archie,” the fourth said, moving forward to stand next to Frankie. He was a dead ringer for his father, Maddy’s on-again, off-again…what was his name? “Standish.”

“Eddie Standish’s kid.” It wasn’t a judgment, but it was like falling into some kind of time warp. I’d seen Maddy and Eddie together. We weren’t friends, I’d been a TA and they’d been in one of my classes.

Where Maddy had been cool and dominating, Frankie radiated warmth and affection. Standish’s kid wasn’t like him either. There’d always been a wariness to Eddie. A discomfort like he wasn’t always sure where he stood, but his desperate love for Maddy had also been clear—even if they cheated on each other regularly.

“Unfortunately,” Archie said with a half-smile. “Hopefully you won’t hold that against me.”

“Not at all,” I assured him even as Frankie leaned into him. I didn’t miss the flicker of fear over her face as he spoke. Then again, who knew what they knew after all of Maddy’s lies… “Just surprised,” I admitted and then glanced at Frankie again. She was… I could picture her when she was the twins’ age almost too easily. She reminded me of Chloe, of who Chloe could become when she grew up and it was both heart wrenching and utterly magnificent. “I’m going to make this weird and keep staring, just ignore me for a bit. I promise I’ll get over it.”

“It’s okay,” she said with a laugh. “It is weird. I mean… Are you looking to see how I’m like you or how I’m like her?”

Five minutes with her and I didn’t see Maddy anymore. Yeah, some surface similarities, genetics more than anything else. But she was not like her mother at all. “More me than her, I mean, you’ve got her coloring. But those are my mom’s eyes and that little—crinkle right there at the corner of your right eye? That’s us too. Jackson family trait. We all do it.”

The most adorable of open grins spread across her face.

“Yeah, see,” I said, glancing at her circle of guys who kept a watchful eye on the both of us.

They were protective, it shown in the way they all stood, one foot angled toward her. Jake and Ian were both ready to block, that was clear from their posture. Coop seemed the most relaxed, but Archie made up for that in how he kept a very focused gaze on me.

“I’m making it weird. Kelly told me I do that because I talk, talking is my thing and I get chatty and then—well, everything kind of comes out jumbled. Great when you’re lecturing, can keep the room engaged, not so great when you’re meeting your adult daughter for the first time and she has no idea who you are.”

Right, definitely making it weird. I needed to get this under control

“He is so Frankie’s dad,” Coop said in a low voice, before he pressed a kiss to her temple. “If it’s all right to call you, Hank, sir, why don’t we all sit and I’ll grab some coffee. We could order in food if you’re hungry. We pretty much decimated the leftovers already.”

“Hank is fine, boys,” I said, taking the offer of a lifeline. I wanted time with Frankie and she had… “Boyfriends,” I muttered, then shook my head. “That’ll take a little getting used to. Chloe’s all of seven and she’s not allowed to date until she’s thirty.”

I let them take their seats first, then chose the love seat to be closer to her. Meeting my daughter for the first time. The world had shifted when Maddy reached out to me saying she was sick and she needed to find a paternal match.

First it was outrage, then worry, and ultimately, disappointment. If the tests excluded me, that was good, I didn’t miss out on a child’s life… then Frankie’s attorney called.

Maddy lied to me, not once, but twice. I’d missed out on so much and my whole world flipped upside down.

“Chloe is your daughter?” Her soft question grounded me.

“See, there I go… yes.” I shifted forward to pull my phone out of my pocket. Then I flipped through the photos app to pull up a picture of all of us. The twins and Alec all got their mother’s coloring, but Alec looked a lot like me. “This is Kelly, she’s my wife—she’s also looking forward to meeting you. I thought about bringing everyone, but Kelly insisted that it should just be us at first, then when you’re ready you can come meet your siblings.”

The little catch in Frankie’s breath, the flash of her teeth over her lower lip, and the way her knuckles went white where she gripped Archie’s hand were all tells.

“If you want,” I rushed to assure her. “No pressure. I mean, yes, this is pressure me showing up, but really no—I… I wanted to meet you. I’m very sorry I didn’t know about you. She never told me. Not until she asked for a DNA sample because you were sick.”

Worry darkened her expression.

“I know you’re not,” I continued keeping my focus on her. “Mr. Wittaker explained. Of course…” I cleared my throat as emotion clogged it. “I’m sorry about that either way. And I’m very glad you’re not sick.”

“No.” Apology coated every word. “I’m not. And I’m sorry she made you think I was.”

“Yeah well, that was then and this is now and when your attorney called, I was… I was surprised but I told him I’d already done a sample and I didn’t mind doing it again. Apparently, once I agreed to it, the lab released the results. I told him, I wanted to speak to you and that I would welcome any contact.”

“He told me,” she admitted. “I wasn’t… Okay confession time, I wasn’t sure about meeting you. I had no idea…and Maddy and I aren’t… Well we’re not close. She didn’t tell me anything about you either.” Her nerves were right there and holy shit did I feel that. “And maybe I was a little afraid.”

Right, my little girl was afraid. Get your shit together, Jackson. Didn’t matter what came next. Time to make it better for her.

Missed the first eighteen years, and I didn’t want to miss another moment.