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Extras Category: Bonus Scenes

Bonus Scene: Mistletoe and Mischief, a bonus scene for Rules and Roses

First Christmases are fun. The first Christmas Frankie and all four boys were together, they were in ninth grade and they thought they were smooth. Really, they were just adorable. 


“Rules are rules, Curtis,” Jake informed me as he stood on the other side of the pool house door.

I rolled my eyes. Coop’s mom had dropped us off on her way to work. This Christmas was a weird one for Coop and he stood right behind me, waiting for me to go inside. The fact Jake had thrown open the door as soon as Jeremy showed us outside and pointed to the pool house hadn’t been lost on me.

Nor the fact he wore a smirk.

In the last three months, he and Coop had both shot up taller than me and then some. For a while there, we’d been neck and neck. But even Bubba had already begun to leave me behind. Fine, I could handle being the short one, but…

“What are you up to?” I peered at Jake and his grin widened.


Right. I didn’t believe that for a second. His birthday had been the day before. Today, the five of us were celebrating Christmas before everyone else had to go hang out with their families. I would probably end up at Coop’s for Christmas dinner. That or Mom and I would be eating fried chicken and watching terrible Christmas movies together. That could be fun.


Coop gave me a gentle nudge, but I locked my legs. It was warm this year. In fact, outside of like three days where the temps hit the forties for five minutes, we’d been warm all December. I was in shorts and so were the guys. They were up to something.

“Come on, Frankie,” Bubba called from deeper in the pool house. “We’ve been waiting for you two to get here.”

Uh huh.

“We’re not getting any younger,” Archie threw in when I still hesitated. Behind me, Coop bounced from one foot to the other. Right. They were all up to something. I didn’t know Archie as well as these guys but we’d spent a lot of time together the last few months.

This was all suspicious.

Arms folded, I shook my head. “You know what, I’m gonna stay out here.” Cause if it was a water gun war or a water balloon waiting to hit me, they were gonna have to catch me first.

“Come on,” Jake said, arms dropping. “It’s us.”


“Hard way it is,” Coop announced. Not like his agitation wouldn’t give him away and I squealed as he tried to pick me up. That just had “throw me in the pool” written all over it. Jake tried to help and I eeled out from between them and the two collided in the door frame.

And then I saw it.

The mistletoe hung right inside the door.

Laughter exploded out of me.

“Oh hell no,” Jake said as he gave Coop a shove. But bless Coop, he made kissy noises and smacked his lips against Jake’s cheek in a noisy raspberry that set off my giggles. “Get off.”

Despite his complaints, Jake was grinning and Coop snickering as they broke apart.

“Sneaky,” I informed them. “And rude.”

“Rude?” That got me twin looks of wtf. “Why rude?” Coop asked.

Archie popped his head around the door as if he hadn’t been hiding back there the whole time. “Well, if we asked you nicely, will you stand under the mistletoe?”

I considered it and him.

“Tell you what… You guys stand under the mistletoe.”

They all looked at each other, I could almost hear the mental debate. I was also dying to know who bet who what.

“You know what,” Archie announced. “You only live once.” He stepped right into the doorway and then got shoved out by Coop who took his place. Only Jake wasn’t going for it, so he moved Coop. I saw it coming and lost it laughing when Bubba gave Jake a solid shove out of the way himself and then he was in the door.

The next ten minutes involved a lot of scuffling and wrestling. It was worse than the last time we played Twister, but it was funny as hell. When Jake had Bubba in a headlock and Coop parked himself in the door and Archie almost managed to make it in there, I walked over. They were too busy shoving each other to grab me.

One by one, I gave them each a kiss on the cheek.

That stopped all arguments.

“I win,” I said, then scooted right between their legs to crawl inside. One perk of everyone getting suddenly taller than me.

Their laughter chased after me, but none of the guys complained as we all piled into the living room of the pool house. The big television was already on and a game paused. The guys might have been waiting for us, but they were already entertaining themselves. There was a tree in the corner and it had a few presents under it.

Jeremy came out with sweet treats, hot cocoa, and more. We cranked the air conditioning down until we needed the fireplace on and we played games. More than a few, cause they’d stashed mistletoe just about everywhere.

Archie snuck a kiss when I came out of the bathroom. Jake got me when I switched chairs. Coop pounced when I grabbed something from the tree. Bubba bided his time, but he snagged me when we decided to go jump in the pool.

They were bad.

But I had to admit, my sides ached from laughing and if I had to kiss anyone under the mistletoe, at least it was them.

Though I did spot the sprig right before it was time to go home and I gave Jeremy a kiss on his cheek. Course, I learned my lesson. From that year forward, watch out for the mistletoe traps.

Bonus Scene: Sins and Secrets, a bonus Frankie scene for Songs and Sweethearts

Congratulations on hitting 200 reviews on Songs and Sweethearts. The following bonus scene took place while Ian and Frankie were on tour. While y’all had a tie vote between “more” Jake and Archie versus “anything” with Dominic (at the 24 hour mark it was 47 to 47), I let the vote “inspire” me. That said, if you haven’t read Songs and Sweethearts, this might contain some spoilers for you.


The phone rang at four in the morning. Dragging myself up right, I stared at the vibrating device on the nightstand. Ian and I got to sleep not two hours earlier. Had it been two hours earlier? Wait… where were we? My brain was all cobwebs and fog. Snatching the phone before it vibrated off the nightstand, I stared at the caller ID.

The guys and Rachel—along with Jeremy and Hank—were the only people who could ring past the do not disturb. Hitting the answer, I slid out of bed and whispered, “Hang on.” If she was calling me this early in the morning then she had to need something.

I still wasn’t sure where we were. The tour had taken us to all kinds of clubs, bars, and other venues across California, to the Pacific Northwest, then farther west. We could wake up in one state, then be in another that night before we had to hit the road for a third. Sometimes we got hotels—like this one—and a couple of times, we’d just slept in the car or SUV or whatever was working as our transport.

I dragged on some shorts. Okay, I’d been wearing shorts the night before. We were somewhere warm. Fuck, I hoped so. I found the hotel room card and then crept over to the door. It made a little squeak as I opened it and I glanced back at the bed. Ian was still out.


With care, I stepped out into the humid air and made a face before closing the door behind me. Definitely warm. The rooms along this block were all dark, and the parking lot was full.

“Sorry,” I murmured to Rachel as I made my way along the second floor balcony toward the stairs. The ground was cool under my bare feet. “I didn’t want to wake Ian up.”

“S’okay,” Rachel said. Well, slurred really. “I probably shouldn’t have called. It’s four in the morning.”

Four in the morning. Oh, we were in the same time zone. At the end of the block were steps leading downstairs. I perched on the top one so I could glance back in case Ian came out.

“You should…go…” There were other words in there, I swore, but they were not intelligible.

“I’m awake,” I said, scrubbing a hand over my face. “I don’t want to go. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” If the muffled and slurred speech weren’t disturbing enough, the fact she half-sang those last two syllables would have demanded a response. “Really. Nothing. Go back to bed. Pretty boy in your bed. Have fun with the pretty—”

“Rachel.” I tried not to sound impatient or irritated. I wasn’t either of those things. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m drunk,” she admitted. “That’s what’s wrong. Went out with your boys tonight—they were being my wingmen.”

I bit my lip.

“Jake promised he would get me laid.”

Nope, I wasn’t laughing.

“We had fun, cute bartender at this place. You know, she and I hooked up a few times.”

No, I didn’t know but I made a little sound of agreement.

“So, she wanted to hook up. Kisses like a damn demon. All tongue and teeth. Really good with the tongue.” There was a sigh, like she couldn’t believe she was admitting this. The slurring words weren’t helping either. “But nothing happened.”

“Okay. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?”

Rachel let out a little sound of absolute irritation. “I don’t know.”

“Been there,” I admitted.

“Yeah? You tried to hook up in a bathroom bar with a girl you knew would eat you out until you screamed and not ask for a damn thing back then turned her down cause she wasn’t the guy driving you nuts?”


A moment of silence, then she sniffed. “Good.”

“Oh, I’m going to regret this, but why good?”

“Cause if you said you had let some girl go down on you in a bathroom, I was going be really butthurt.” If it wasn’t for the element of misery in her sigh tangled up with all that regret and longing, I might have laughed.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “What can I do?”

“Nuffink. Nuffink anyone can do. That son of a bitch with his magic dick and pierced tongue has ruined me. It’s really annoying, Frankie. No guy is that good in bed.”

Not going to argue that point.

“Especially not guys who have secrets.” Something squeaked, just the whoosh of it and I could picture her falling back on a bed. “I think I’m gonna puke.”

“Then sit up and don’t bounce. If you need to vomit, go to the bathroom. Are you at the brownstone? Do I need to call Coop to come help?”

“Oh fuck you,” she muttered without any heat. “I do not need someone to hold my hair and that’s not why I’m gonna puke.”


The silence dragged on, but I could hear the soft sounds of her breathing, so I waited her out. I wished I was there. Rachel sounded like she needed a hug—bad.

“I’m sorry,” she said in a much softer voice. “You just want to help and I woke you up and now…”

“Hush. This is what a best friend is for. As I recall, you’ve listened to me whine and complain and cry and even waffle more than once.”

A beat. Then. “True.”

I chuckled.

“But you’re worth it.”

“So are you smart ass.” Then because she’d brought it up. “Dominic cares, Rach.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Not even the slurring could soften the hardness behind those words. Before I could say anything else, she said, “He’s all sins and secrets, Frankie. So many secrets.”

“What kinds of secrets?”

“I—it’s not important,” she said after a moment. “Not something you need to know.” Though she sounded a little more sober. “I wish I didn’t know.”

That just made my heart hurt. “Want me to kick his ass?”

“No. I don’t want you to bring it up with him at all.” There was that sigh again. “I shouldn’t have called.”

“You say that again, I’m going to kick your ass.” I slapped the bug away from my leg and stared down the steps.

“Wow, you even sound like you mean it.”

“Impressed?” I didn’t laugh but then neither did she.

“Yes. And maybe a little horny.”

Now I laughed and her soft huff came over the phone. “Rach, I want to help. I hate that you’re hurting.”

“I’m not hurting. I’m—complicated.”

“You are hurting,” I argued, but that wasn’t what she needed from me. She’d never drunk called me before. Hell, I didn’t think I’d ever seen her drunk. “I just wish I could fix it.”

“Me too,” she admitted. “But I’ll get over it.” Then there was another sound, like a light flicking on. “I have to. It’s better if I do.”

“Uh huh.”

“It’s five in the morning,” she said after another long silence. “You need to go to bed, what is it, two there?”

“No,” I said. “It’s five.”

She groaned. “Where are you?”

“No clue.”

“Then how do you know it’s five?”

I laughed. “Cause it said five on the clock in the hotel room.”

It took a moment, then she joined me laughing before the sound of water turned on. The shower. “Right, that means you’ve had what? An hour of sleep?”

“Two,” I said primly. Well mostly two, but I didn’t think she wanted to know about Ian and I spending thirty minutes unwinding after the show. Two counted. “But I can totally go back for at least one more.”

“Go do that. I’m gonna shower. Then—something. They’re probably gonna go running soon.” The absolute disgust in her voice made me laugh.

“Well, I don’t recommend it if you’re still drunk.”

“I don’t recommend it if I’m sober,” she countered. “Go back to bed you rock star bitch and forget I bothered you. Let’s just pretend this whole call didn’t happen.”

“No,” I told her softly. The running water still in the background promised me she hadn’t hung up. “You’re my friend, that means I hurt if you’re hurting. When I get home—you and me? We’re having a long, sober conversation about this.”

“Yeah.” The way she elongated the word said ‘no,’ loud and clear. “Might need some lubrication for that.”

“Then we’ll get trashed and talk about it.” I could do that.

“If we’re both trashed, who is gonna hold our hair?”

I chuckled. “We’ll take turns.”

“I can live with that. Now I’m hanging up on you, I smell and I need to brush my teeth.”



“You know I love you, right?”

There was a really long sigh on the other end of the phone. “I do know that and you’re a sappy bitch for telling me.”

I grinned. “What does that make you?”

“Lucky as fuck,” she said, then made a kiss smacking noise at the phone before she hung up.

I stared at my phone for a moment and then rubbed a hand over my face. Flipping to the texts, I fired off one to Coop.

Me: Is Rachel really okay?

I didn’t think he’d be awake, but he answered.

Coop: Nope. But she’s still lying to everyone, including herself. Jake’s gonna kill Dominic at this rate.

I frowned.

Coop: Go back to bed, Beautiful. We’ll keep an eye on her.

Coop: And I won’t let Jake kill Dominic.

Coop: Yet.

I sent him three kiss emojis then promised to call later.

Jake wasn’t the only one who wanted to kill Dominic. Sins and secrets, huh?

Yeah, I wanted to know what the fuck was going on there too.

Bonus Scene: Expectation, a bonus Kellan scene for Savage Vandal

Congratulations on hitting 500 reviews on Savage Vandal and thank you very much. Seriously, just thank you. I love these characters, but I’m blown away by your affection for them too and how much they have come to mean to everyone. I thought for this bonus scene, I’d do a little rewind to Kellan’s “first” meeting with Emersyn when she arrived in Braxton Harbor.  Enjoy!


The flight landed only fifteen minutes behind schedule. I kept one eye on the board and the other on my surroundings. It wasn’t like I had reason to come to the airport often. With the exception of one summer job and the time Milo had wanted to drive to see his sister, I’d never left Braxton Harbor. Those trips didn’t really count, one was for work and technically one was for business. Family business, but still business.

Waiting gave me plenty of time to study the passengers exiting through the automatic doors. Without a ticket, you couldn’t get back there. Some came out in business wear. Others were dressed in sweats and t-shirts. There were plenty of travelers wearing jeans and sweatshirts. Every one of them had a story.

Was this a vacation for them? Business, for sure, for a few of them. Were they coming home? Where had they gone? One of the reasons joining the army tempted me so much once upon a time. I’d get to leave. See the world. Be somewhere else.

Be someone else.

I shook off the malaise and depressing thoughts. This wasn’t about bloodlines or family legacy. Well, at least not mine. Milo’s, on the other hand, would be strolling through those doors any minute and I would be closer to her than I had been ever. The ride we’d given her when she’d been drunk and likely roofied didn’t count.

In all honesty, I doubted she remembered Milo, much less me. Totally fine. We got her to her hotel, safe and sound. The doors swept apart to let out another wave of passengers. I didn’t catch sight of her right off. Her slighter build proved harder to see behind the other passengers. She didn’t stay with the pack though.

Dressed in dark leggings, an oversized sweater, and furry boots, she looked like a pixie playing dress-up in borrowed clothing that was too big for her. Her hair was pulled up into a single ponytail that bobbed as she walked. Instead of pulling at her features and making them severe, the hairstyle just made her look painfully young.

Too young.

She glanced around carefully as she slowed. Belatedly, I lifted the sign I’d brought with me. A single placard that read Sharpe. Walking up to her without introduction would probably be weird, so I waited for her to notice me.

Slipping her arms through the straps of her backpack, she did another scan. I swore I could almost feel the caress of her eyes as she passed me and the zing when she locked on to the sign. Without hesitation, she strode straight to me.

Lithe and slender, she moved with purpose and the oversized sweater dwarfing her couldn’t minimize the attitude swirling around her. It hadn’t been but a few years since the last time I saw her in person, how the hell had she grown up and managed to still strike me as painfully young at the same time?

“Hello,” she said. “I’m Emersyn Sharpe.” The soft contralto was like a caress all its own. My dick straightened like he’d been called to salute. Fucking thing had no sense. Hadn’t since the first time I’d gotten hard staring at Callie Timmins.

Yep, all brawn, no brains. That was my dick.

Really not the time or the place. 

I offered my hand. “I’m your driver, Kestrel. If you want to point me to your luggage. I’ll collect it for you.”

“Actually,” she said. “I’ve already requested the airline send it directly to the hotel. Is your car close?”

Apprehension wrapped around my spine. “Close enough. Are you ready to go?” While she didn’t look behind her, I glanced past her. She wasn’t nervous but there was something off about her.

“That would be great,” she told me. “I do need to see your driver’s and hack license.”

The directness surprised me, but it also impressed me. Tucking the placard under my arm, I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out the folio wallet that had both my driver’s license and my hack license. Granted, the second was only a few days old, but it wouldn’t raise any eyebrows.

She studied both cards intently, then pulled out her phone and took a picture of them. Curiosity flooded me. Flicking her gaze up at me, she smiled. “You can never be too careful. And thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Can I carry your bag for you?”

“I’m good,” she told me, before pocketing her phone. “Where to, Kestrel?”

“This way.” I shifted as we walked and kept one arm slightly behind her without touching. I also drifted a step behind and over. In this case, if she didn’t want to be seen or to linger, then I’d make sure of both. While she hadn’t offered up any other reasons, I still kept an eye out all the way to the car.

The fact she let out a deep sigh of relief as she sat down had every alarm bell ringing. What had her so worried?

She didn’t sit right behind me, and that was fine. It meant I could glance back at her more easily. I waited until we were out of the parking garage. “You’re staying at the Beauregard, correct?” That was the hotel information the service had given me.

“No,” she said. “There’s been a change of plans. I am going to be staying at Harbor North Hotel.” That was several miles from the other hotel. “It’s on…”

“I know where it is.” I had to change lanes because we’d need to get on a different road once we were out of the airport. “I’ll get you there.”

“Thank you,” she said, then slumped back into the seat and turned her head to look out the window. It was a gray and dreary day with rain spitting. It was also chilly.

The desire to ask her how she was burned on the tip of my tongue, but I was the driver. Not a friend. Not a brother to her brother that she didn’t know existed. I was a stranger. I had a job. My only job for the next few days, be available to get her around and shadow her so no one bothered her.

The ebb and flow of traffic meant we ran into delays. Her phone rang and she lifted to stare at the screen. Then she silenced it. When it rang again, she turned it off.

“You’re probably gonna get a call in a minute,” she told me. “The chaperone is going to want to know where I am. She’ll have gotten your number from the service.”

“Chaperone?” Wasn’t she over eighteen now?

“Don’t ask, it’s about as horrible as it sounds. But I’m not a minor anymore and I don’t want her to know where I’m going. I don’t want anyone to know where I’m going.”

“No problem, Miss Sharpe.” I smiled at her. “No problem at all.”

Sure enough, my phone rang. It wasn’t one of the guys so I sent it straight to voicemail. Like her phone before it rang again and again until I just silenced the phone.

“You’re not going to get into trouble are you?” The barest hint of concern for a stranger.

“No,” I promised her. And if I did, well bring it. I could handle whatever they wanted to throw at me. “Customer’s always right.”

Another flicker of that smile and then it grew. “Thank you.”

“Not a problem.” Then because I couldn’t ignore the faint grumbling of her stomach especially since we were stuck in a backup getting through the interchange, I asked, “Can I stop somewhere to get you something to eat?”

“I’d kill for a cheeseburger,” she admitted. “Like legitimately kill.”

“Well, you won’t have to go that far. If anyone needs killing, I’ll take care of it and we’ll get you a cheeseburger.”

She laughed. That was my intent.

“Now tell me,” I continued. “Do you have a preference?”

Burger. Death. Whatever. I was good. She was nothing like I expected, but I was going to enjoy the next few days. If I had anything to say about it, so would she. 


Bonus Scene: Fight Song, a bonus scene for Kill Song

Congratulations for hitting 200 reviews on Kill Song. So as promised (and as you voted on) here is your bonus Merrick PoV! 


“Watch your left,” Vienna commented from where she sat on the mat watching me work out against the heavy bag. Today was a “training” day. She promised to spar with me, but first I had to work on my strikes.

“What’s wrong with it?” I did combination strikes, one-two punches. First the right, then the left.

“You’re favoring your right,” she offered, then leaned forward. She had her legs stretched out in horizontal splits and rested currently on her elbows as she observed me. “You have more force with it, and then you pull the punch with your left. You’re gonna hurt yourself if you do that too much in a real fight.”

A real fight.

The critique wasn’t criticism. But I studied my fists, then the bag. It didn’t feel different when I hit. As if reading my mind, Vienna rolled forward and then to her feet in one smooth motion. While I was in a loose tank top and sweats, she wore a pair of leggings and a tank that just hugged her figure. She was a thing of beauty as she sauntered over to me.

“Do you mind if I show you?” The fact she asked when I’d practically begged her to show me how she fought made me smile. While I might not have excelled in any kind of fight training, I had listened to those teachers.

More, I wanted to listen to her.

“You don’t fight like me?” While I added the question to the end, I was still curious. I wanted to soak up everything she shared.

“No,” she agreed easily, then bumped her hip to mine, nudging me to move to the side. “But I know how it’s done. The person who taught me knew multiple styles.” As light as those words were, something flashed across her tawny-eyed gaze too fast for me to capture. “And he also insisted that I train against others in different styles. Never the same teacher for all of them.”

“Except him,” I guessed.

She nodded once. “But I never had anything to fear from him.”

Everything in me sobered. “You had something to fear from the others?” Not for long if I had my say.

Vienna laughed softly. “No, because they never saw how I fought, only what they taught me.”

I considered that as she took up the position where I had been striking the bag. “And your primary instructor would have eliminated them if he thought they were a threat.” That wasn’t a total guess. “Or you would have.”

The very real smile she favored me might have held an element of sadness but it still ignited the pleasure within me. “Precisely. Even when we spar, never show me everything you can do. Never show anyone everything you can do.”

“You wouldn’t hurt me.” And I’d die before I hurt her.

“You’re too good for this world,” she commented, but the compliment added to the sense of pride and pleasure unfurling in me. I loved that she let me be a part of this world. Her world. “Now focus, because if you get hurt, I’m going to be cross.”

“Yes, ma’am.” I couldn’t help my warm smile because my safety mattered to her. Nor did I miss the flash of humor in her eyes. She bumped me with her hip again and I moved to brace the bag but also where I could see what she was doing.

“Left fist. Right fist.” She held them up, her fingers curled carefully without tucking her thumb. “You’re right hand dominant. Most people favor their dominant hand.” She mimed a strike. “You know just how much strength you have, you trust it, you lean into it, and you deliver.” Twice more, she demonstrated then she struck the bag.

Her hands weren’t wrapped but I didn’t interrupt. There was a kind of sexy focus to her instruction. The strike didn’t really move the heavy bag, but the force of it was clear.

“Your left hand can probably do everything your right hand can do—even write—if you took the time to train the muscle memory. Most people don’t.”

I would bet she could. Another fun fact I filed away.

“So you have to focus on training up this side. The benefits—you deliver even strikes and you can distribute the force. You also always have a hand for fighting even if someone stabs, shoots, or breaks your dominant hand.”

That was a thought.

“Merrick,” she murmured and I could barely suppress the full body shiver at the way her lips shaped my name. Right. Focus. She struck the bag with her left. The same even line she’d used with the right. Then she traded back and forth. There didn’t seem to be a discernible difference.

“Okay,” I said when she paused. “I see your point. How do you propose I work on my strikes?” It was exactly the right question. She beckoned me with a curl of her finger and I was in motion before she even completed the gesture.

“Right here,” she told me, as she maneuvered me in front of the bag, then she pressed herself up to my right side. Awareness of her curves and the warmth of her as she leaned into me kept my focus on her. “Put your arm around me.”

She did not have to tell me that twice. I gripped her hip, loving how neatly she slotted up against me. Even better, I loved the sight of her against me visible in the mirror. A smile stretched my mouth. She truly was a thing of real beauty.

“Focus,” she murmured, and I chuckled.

“Yes, ma’am.”

When she rolled her eyes, I grinned wider. Grasping my right hand she slid it down until I was damn near cupping her ass. That definitely took focus. I cut my gaze away from the mirror to look down at her. The knowing gleam in her tawny eyes held me captive. I rubbed my thumb against the curve of her ass, the taut muscle there a reminder of the strength housed in her frame.

“Now,” she said gently, touching two fingers to my jaw to turn my face toward the bag. “Hit with your left, don’t move your right, and don’t jostle me.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

It took every ounce of my concentration to land those left strikes. But I kept my hand on her ass and I kept my right arm still. Someone would have to break it off to get me to move it. As it was, my left biceps and forearm were burning within ten minutes. Every strike was deliberate, by the time she touched my left arm to halt me, I was panting.

“Do you feel the difference?”

Glancing down at her, I wanted to drown myself in her eyes. The soft plumpness of her lips invited me to kiss but she’d asked me a question. “I’m feeling a lot of things right now.”

Her smile lit me up. “We can practice more later.”

“Yeah?” The flare of her nostrils and the fact she turned more into me and wrapped her arms around my neck derailed any hope of getting my mind back on the task at hand. “I’m sweaty.”

The belated acknowledgment was a little late. The sweat dripping off me was already soaking her top and when she tilted her head as she arched up to meet me, I swooped in to claim the kiss she offered. When she hitched her thighs to my hips, I turned us away from the bag and headed for the mats.

Thank fuck I’d been cleaning this place every day.

It was gonna need a full treatment before we were done.

Fight training was the best.

But she was better.

©2021 Heather Long and Blake Blessing

Bonus Scene: Education, a bonus PoV scene for Ruthless Traitor

Congratulations on hitting 500 reviews on Ruthless Traitor! Sorry for the delay on this extra “bonus scene” but I had to think about which scene I wanted to add a Bonus PoV for. As always, if you haven’t read Ruthless Traitor, this bonus PoV will contain spoilers.


“We’re here to teach you how to drive my car. Lessons for how to ride me come later—and they’re extra.” The distinct invitation to play echoed in his voice. Kellan hadn’t flirted with me since I’d discovered his “betrayal.” Then again, it wasn’t really a betrayal, was it?

“Extra?” Excitement threaded through me as if in absolute defiance to my wariness. Kellan had been the first one I’d ever been attracted to. The first to almost feel like a friend. Then—the truth chipped that away, turning everything I thought I knew into a lie. “How much was the car lesson?”

But had it? Or was it all discolored by the confusion and the pain surrounding my rather savage arrival into their world? At my question, however, Kellan unsnapped his seatbelt and reached across the divide to pin me to the driver’s seat.

The fire in his blue-green eyes beckoned to me and then his mouth was on mine. The fierce kiss I’d given him earlier had nothing on this. With sweeping demand, he thrust his tongue against mine and I drank him in like he was the oxygen. Whatever reticence might have remained went up in flames as he slid his hand from my chin to my throat.

The possessiveness in the grip didn’t tighten or choke, he didn’t collar or chain me, but it grounded me so deep in the moment, I trembled from the violent surges of desire and need. Want burst through me. This want was so different from the sex I’d been trying to seduce from him then.

Then we were both lying.

That reality settled in my bones. We weren’t lying anymore.

“How wet are you right now, Sparrow?”

I clenched my thighs together as I shuddered. “Soaking.” No more lies.

“Good.” He ran his tongue over his lower lip, this close, I could practically feel the action and then he laved that tongue over my lower lip. It wasn’t all that hard to imagine his tongue elsewhere. My nipples pulled so taut they stung. “Consider ‘that’ the cost of today’s lesson.”

Lesson. Right. Car. “We haven’t even started the car.”

“The cost covered the whole day, whether you drive it or not.”

That was probably good, I was having trouble remembering the rest of the lessons.

“Uh huh and when can I get on the highway?”

“Depends on what you’re willing to pay—”

Amusement and annoyance struck a match and flamed right through the bone-shaking desire quivering in me. “Right…you’re a fucking tease, Kellan.”

“Don’t worry Sparrow, I’m sure you’ll find some relief. Who knows—maybe I’ll send a Hawk over to find you after.”

I smacked his chest. What a—wait! Had he just offered to send Jasper to me? My cunt clenched tight around the emptiness. The wildness of that suggestion was so damn provocative that it only amped up my need.

His expression gentled, the kindness I’d found there so long ago returned. He meant it. Every word. Tripping over the wonder of that, I barely heard him as he said “Let’s start the car.”

Giddiness swept me up. I was really going to learn how to drive a car. It was a skill I’d always wanted, but who had the time? And if I had the time for lessons—then I could have them at—nope. I pinched that thought off. He got no part of this moment.


“I still can’t believe you’re gonna teach me to drive. “

After he’d gone over where I needed to put my hands, and more—a refresher I was grateful for because my scrambled neurons were still considering what he would feel like bare against me—he answered a question that had pinged around inside of me.

“As for why I’m teaching you, I want you to have every skill you need. Driving is an essential skill. It gives you a way out. Jasper is probably gonna take you to the range if he hasn’t already. You said Liam’s teaching you how to fight. The others are all trying to teach you different things, share different parts of ourselves with you.”

Share different parts of themselves with me.


This was Kellan offering a part of himself.


Hell yes, I was ready. I cut a glance at him and his smile offered me confidence and faith. Yes, he was holding out his hand in offering, all I had to do was take it.


Bonus Scene: Showcase and Shutterbugs, a Rachel Bonus Scene for Rules and Roses

Congratulations and THANK YOU for hitting 500 reviews on Rules and Roses. It’s hard to believe that book is a little over two years old, but the best part of Frankie and the boys for me is how people keep discovering them, keep finding them on their journey, and keep joining them. We’ve had a few bonus scenes for R&R over the last couple of years, but in honor of 500 reviews and a few other key facts, this bonus scene is going to be special.


Five minutes after I got the last restriction removed from my driver’s license, I had to resist the urge to scream. Despite all her protests about me spending money on driver’s ed, wasting some of my college money on a car, and even all the hours I plagued my poor uncle to play the role of guinea pig and licensed driver while I practiced, my mother crowed like it was her achievement and not mine.

She hadn’t gotten off the phone, not once. First it was the grandparents. Then my other aunts and uncles. My cousins. Her cousins. All the way back to the house, she chatted away to everyone who wasn’t me about the achievement. It was eye-roll worthy, but I ignored it. Let her crow.

I had a driver’s license, a car, and the insurance paid up for the next six months. I was doing great! The funny thing was, Mom didn’t even notice I didn’t follow her out of the car after I pulled up to the house to let her out.

With so many family living with us, the driveway was already a jigsaw puzzle of parked cars in varying ages from a couple of years to a couple of decades old. My uncle’s favorite clunker was parked proudly in the garage. Then again, it earned that spot because it was broken down and we’d have to shove it out and down the driveway.

Periodically, he went out and tinkered with it. More than once he’d gotten the engine started, it would bellow black smoke, backfire a couple of times and promptly die all over again.

Then again, it was a forty-five year old car, that was older than he was. But he loved the damn thing. In fact, he was out there smoking a cigarette with a kind of indulgent grin on his face when I saluted him from the car. He gave me a thumbs up and then I pulled away.

The car gave me the kind of freedom I’d craved for the last four years. Well, more like for my whole life, but it was only in the last four years that I’d begun to discover that I was an oddball even in my quirky, non-traditional family. Go figure.

Too tall. My nose was too big. My attitude too sharp. My laughter too loud. My voice too cutting. I didn’t participate enough in school. I didn’t run with the right crowd. I didn’t have goals. The last one was laughable. Also, most of those weren’t my immediate family’s opinions, but my far more conservative grandparents who’d wanted me to move to Ohio for high school.

Kill me.

As Uncle Basil would often say, “Fuck that.”

Keeping my eye on the speedometer, I cut across town toward the Rappaport Center. It housed the senior community center, the library, recreation center, the new town hall, and a few city offices. It was also host to some modern art installations including a huge metal piece that played a tone as the wind passed through it.

Creepy fucking thing.

It was also located on a huge park area that had walking trails, creeks, trees, and the best places to get some “nature” photography that didn’t involve going all the way out to the lake. Perfect for my latest assignment. I wanted to submit a series to a showcase in autumn. I’d won two years running, both offered up a nice tidy sum toward college.

The more the merrier.

Parked, I pulled out my favorite camera. It was older than I was, but it still took excellent depth images. I had a much newer digital one—Uncle Basil had given it to me for Christmas—but when it came to art, I liked working with my shutterbug.

I was halfway across the parking lot and doing my best to ignore the melting temperatures sending up dizzying waves of heat from the pavement when a squeal of laughter erupted ahead of me. A familiar, gorgeous blonde pursued a much larger, thick-headed jock.

Her shirt was soaked revealing the curve of her bathing suit beneath it. The dark-headed jock cut away as she sent a splash of water from her cup at him, but she missed.

“Asshole,” she declared and the asshole in question just laughed.

“Aww, you’re gonna hurt my feelings.”

She shot him her middle finger as she turned a disgruntled expression on her clothing. In this heat, that thin cotton shirt would dry in no time. She plucked at the fabric and let out the most pitiful of sighs.

I was thirty or forty feet away and in the shade of one of five trees growing up on the little green strips between the parking spaces. On a whim, I raised my camera up and focused on her.

Frankie Curtis was a pain in my ass. Smart as a whip and twice as beautiful, we competed in a lot of areas from grades to—well to not much else. I didn’t worry about the social scene. I could play the game well enough to keep the school’s more vicious bitches off my back and cultivated my reputation with care.

Curated you might say. Very few fucked with me because I would fuck with them right back. Except Frankie. She never tried to sabotage me and she never minced words either. Surrounded by four of the most besotted, numbskull idiots, she also didn’t know what she was missing either.

Most people gave her a wide berth. Guys anyway. Girls who wanted to date said besotted idiots, swarmed her. It was enough to nauseate me. I narrowed the focus, I almost had the perfect shot, her head tilted down, the shadow of her chin just adding depth. Even the wet shirt would make for a solid texture.

If not for the lens focus, I probably would have missed it, but the wickedest most mischievous smile was on her face. I pressed down on the shutter release, not letting up as it snapped photo after photo.

Jake—the jock—had already returned to her, a half-formed apology on his lips. Aww, guilt was a beautiful thing. It didn’t let him see the trap. As soon as he got to her, she twisted away and when he sighed, she spun and then dumped all the ice in her cup over his head and down his shirt and right into his shorts.

Damn she was fast. Admiration burned through me. I caught every slice of the action. His yelp was a thing of beauty. Smart girl took off running at speed, with Jake right behind her as she plowed right into another jock.

Bubba. Half-climbing him, Frankie put him squarely between her and Jake.

It was adorable and hilarious.

The last shot I got of her, she looked right at me. Her smile was so damn open it yanked my heart up into my throat. I lowered the camera, ready to give her a smile in response but she wasn’t looking at me. A whistle came from my right and I sighed.

Should have known. The other two Musketeers had arrived. Their laughter cascaded through the park. That stunning smile hadn’t been for me.

But I’d captured it.

Glancing down at my camera, I crossed my fingers. Even if it wouldn’t work for the showcase, I kind of wanted it for me. Another laugh rolled toward me. I tracked the five of them as they headed for the rec center. The ache in my chest burned.

It wasn’t until they disappeared from sight that I headed toward the walking trail. Sweat trickled down my neck, but I ignored it. I had five rolls of film in my camera bag.

I’d already burned through one.

Time to see what else the old shutterbug could capture.

What I wouldn’t give to have had her smile at me like that for real.

Bonus Scene: Certified, an alternate PoV Bonus Scene for Dirty Devil

First and foremost, hats off to all of you for hitting 200 reviews and then 500 in such rapid fashion on Dirty Devil. I’m overwhelmed, delighted, touched, and just so happy that the Vandals and Emersyn have connected with the readers this way. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love these characters and how invested in their journey that I am.

This is the first of the two bonus scenes you’ve earned. Please note, this scene will contain spoilers if you have not read Dirty Devil. Buckle up folks, cause this is the PoV you asked for.


The white ceiling bored the fuck out of me. Even if it wasn’t totally white. Cracks in the drywall created imperfections in the paint. A place where it bubbled in one corner. Another where it created a kind of plateau like someone used way too much spackle to fix a crack. Either way, every imperfection showed a tint of gray to it. Like the depth of the paint occluded the light.

It was a lot like me. Gray in places. I shifted my gaze across the landscape created by lazy workmen who were either in too much of a hurry or just didn’t give enough of a fuck to do a decent job. Then again, who cared? Pinetree might charge the “patients” in this wing the same as those in the more luxurious accommodations, but it wasn’t like we were gonna be leaving them a review on Squawk or Squeal or whatever the hell was the trending app these days.

I could see it now, Pinetree Psychiatric Facility, a private facility offering customized solutions for your mental health issues. Fuckers would add a lot of different services like, twenty-four hour monitored counseling, “certified” professionals, “group” counseling, “private” accommodations, and some spiel about Doctor Schuitevoerder and his elite credentials.

Mengele was a fucking doctor too.

Reviews wouldn’t be from the patients unless they read zero of five stars, the care here sucks. They don’t give a fuck if you recover, they just want your family money. Need to get rid of that troublesome relative? Pinetree is the place for you.

A scrape in the hallway cut through my mental composition of a review. I glanced at the door. It was reinforced. All you needed was the right set of keys to get in and out of it.

They’d changed the locks since my last visit. I could be patient. I mean, I was a patient.

Laughter shuddered through me and I grinned. I was a patient. Thumping came from down the hall. Probably old Darryl running into the walls again. Darryl had been trying to take himself out for weeks. The man really sucked at it.

I could give him a hand. Offered even. He said he’d think about it.


Another scrape in the hallway.

It was awfully late for a visit. Or early, I rarely slept so who the fuck knew what time it was.


Excitement scraped along the nerves under my skin. Every once in a while, one of the orderlies got cocky and came down here to “beat” on the inmates.

Oh please pick me.



The door locks tumbled against each other and then the door swung open.


I didn’t move from my spot, but the last thing I expected was the kid from group and the bitch from the day room to fill the open doorway.

“Here. In you go.” She tried to shove the kid inside, but he just glanced off the wall and staggered away. Huh. The nurse pocketed more drugs than she distributed and she sure as fuck didn’t care how the patients were doing.

Pretty sure she liked banging crazy too. Too bad her family couldn’t afford Pinetree.

“Dammit,” she snarled, yanking the kid’s arm and something hit the floor. It skittered all the way into my room. A cell phone. Look, today was my lucky day. “What the hell was that?”

Without a sound, I was off the bed and at the doorway. The dumb bitch had her back to me. Was she trying to shove the kid in here? For what? Delivering meat to a lion?

Yeah, I didn’t kill on command.

Besides, the kid wasn’t so bad. He actually liked my stories.

This bitch though?

Oh, I didn’t like her.

At all.

She fought to drag the kid forward, not paying a lick of attention to me.

Hateful and stupid. What a delightful combination.

The kid yanked away from her and she stumbled right back at me. I caught her head in my hands. For a moment, her whole body stilled. The world stilled. Flash-frozen, a split-second in time. Her hair was rough against my palms.

She really needed to get a better conditioner. I applied the right pressure with my fingers and gave a sharp twist. The crack of her neck spread through me like a mini-orgasm. Profound relief as her shrill presence blunted. Letting her go, I rode the wave of pleasure in the absolute perfection of that moment.

Crumpling like the broken and discarded toy she’d become, the nurse hit the floor at my feet. Exhaling, I glanced down at her. Yes. That was much better.

So much better.

“I’m keeping the phone.” It was still in my room and I glanced at the kid. He just nodded, then gave me a thumbs up.

“What are you going to do with her?” He didn’t care. Not about her. It was a kind of curious question. A solid one really.

I glanced down at her again. Couldn’t keep her in here. She would definitely stink the place up. Besides, I didn’t like her. This space might be a shitty space, but it was my space.

After pocketing the phone, I dragged her up and over my shoulder. Dead weight or not, she was hardly a burden. The keys that jangled in her pocket gave me another shiver of pleasure.

This was definitely a good day. “They have drain cleaner here,” I told him. It had been a while since I dissolved a body. Entertainment for hours.

After closing up my room, I headed down the hall toward the maintenance closets. They kept all the cleaning supplies down here. Very helpful.


Pivoting, I faced the kid but kept moving as I walked backwards. I’d almost forgotten he was there. “Yeah?”


“Not my best work.” I grinned, touching two fingers to my brow. The kid didn’t linger. Probably good. Dissolving bodies was a gruesome business.

At least this chick was bony, less body fat to worry about. Humming, I made my way down the darkened hallway. Phone. Keys. Dead body.

Definitely my lucky day.

© 2022 Heather Long 

Bonus Scene: Flummadiddled, a Freddie bonus scene from Dirty Devil

Congratulations on reaching 500+ reviews on Dirty Devil so fecking fast! It’s legit become one of the most breakout books in terms of pre-orders, page reads, reviews, and more. The Freddie love is delightful! So thank you so much! If you have NOT read Dirty Devil, this scene will contain spoilers.



or less commonly flum·a·did·dle \ ¦fləmə¦didᵊl \ or flum·did·dle \ -​m¦-​ \ or flum·mer·did·dle \ -​mə(r)¦-​ \ or flum·my·did·dle \ -​mē¦-​ \ or fum·a·did·dle \ ¦fəmə¦-​ \

inflected form(s): plural -s

1: something foolish or worthless : nonsense, trash

2: bauble, frill


Hitting the counselor had been really fucking therapeutic. My knuckles stung a little, but I’d barely broken any skin. Lamer than the therapy session, had been his glass fucking jaw. One solid pop and he went down like a popped balloon.

Kind of made me wish the guys had been here for this. Liam and Vaughn would have appreciated the art. Jasper would have rolled his eyes, but fuck knew, he’d have approved. They’d only been trying to teach me to use my fists rather than a knife for a decade.

To be perfectly fair, if I’d had my knife, the guy would not be waking up. He hadn’t pissed me off that bad.

At least not yet.

Then the orderlies tackled me and a nurse jabbed that needle into my leg. I hadn’t intended to thrash and fight, but that part had just happened. Kicked her in the face.


Got one of the orderlies in the balls.

Yep. Not finding an ounce of regret for that shit.

Fuck. Them.

Still, I floated all the way back to my room, they kept pumping me full of the good stuff. Some part of my brain was all, not the plan, man. Not the plan. I told you to not get dead.

I flipped that part off. It sounded way too much like Jasper growling at me. Not that his growls scared me. Clearly. The dude was my biggest fucking supporter and I still had no goddamn idea why.

A sob tore through the silence and all the air backed up in my lungs. That sound killed me and I tried to sit up. The spirit was willing but the body fucked right off.


The good stuff.


Okay, I’d wait. The high would come down eventually and the shakes would start. Then I’d be able to open my eyes. Hopefully I didn’t piss myself in the meanwhile. Why the Hell had I gone there? Now I really needed to pee.

Like, seriously.

Fuck. Me.

Okay, my boy, I told myself. Get up.

Yeah. That was effective.

Take two.

Get. The. Fuck. Up.


I must have fallen asleep cause Jasper was just there. He glared at me with those slate gray eyes that made me think of the skies right before a hella-bad thunderstorm hit. Those used to scare me too.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“Dude, you’re not even here. Don’t start shit with me. I can’t even win-win the argument cause you’re not here.”


Right. “You’re a dream or a hallucination or just like a drug trip…wait, my drug trips are usually not you scowling in disapproval. This is more like the crash.”

Jasper sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face. He hadn’t been taking as good a care of his beard. Someone should tell him to clip it. Cause currently it was all curly and shit. Kind of reminded me of bad pube hair.

“Why are you laughing?” he asked and I didn’t tell him. I mean, he wasn’t here. He wouldn’t know. But I would. If I told him here then saw him later, I’d never stop laughing.

Nope, better to not say anything.

A nurse walked right through Jasper and she gave me a scowl. Oh, her.

God she was such a bitch.

“You suck,” I told her.

“You wish,” she commented in return. “Now shut up,” she continued without slowing as she jabbed me again. “You’re irritating me.”

I did it! I lifted my hand and flipped her off. “Good. Cause you’re a bitch!”

But she wasn’t there anymore.


Had she been there?

“Focus,” Kellan said, from where he leaned against the wall. “You’re spiraling.”

“You never sit with me,” I argued.

“You never remember that I’m there,” he replied in a thoroughly calm tone. “Jasper never leaves, but we all come and stay when you need us.”

Yeah. I don’t need anyone.

Not that I gave voice to that. What a fucking lie. “Boo-Boo is here.”

But Kellan didn’t respond, I glanced over at the wall and he wasn’t there. I scanned the room and no one was here. Well, wasn’t that special.

Oh wait, my eyes were open. Yes!

I fell right off the bed as I managed to turn over. The world swayed beautifully. Oh, yeah, this was the best part. No pain. No sweats. No shakes. No fear.

Gotta pee though.

I made it to the bathroom, somehow, pretty sure it didn’t take near as long as I thought it did.

The piss was like a ten out of ten where relief was concerned. Almost orgasmic. Like—fucking best piss ever.

I even hit the bowl, from where I stood leaning at the wall.

Ha. That was the secret to fighting with the knife.

Excellent aim.

Mine was killer.

Sometimes, I cracked myself up.

Or maybe, I was just cracked?

When I wandered back to my bed, the nurse was there. Ugh.

I’d much rather see Boo-Boo. Naked. Dressed. Smiling. Or just there.

Yeah, I wanted to see Boo-Boo, not this bitch.

She gave me a look, and I just started laughing at her. The bitch. Not Boo-Boo. I didn’t want to see her naked. I missed my pretty pussy girl.

Missed her way too much and if I kept thinking about it, I’d start blubbering again.

Not cool.

“Let me guess,” I slurred. “I take the pills or I get the needle again?”


Well, it wasn’t a no.

I held out a hand. “Pills, please.” See, Jasper? I even remembered my manners.

Without a word, the woman passed me the little paper cup and I dry swallowed the damn things then stuck out my tongue so she could see.

One nod and she left.

“You’re welcome!” I called after her. “It’s usually polite to say thank you when someone cooperates!”

Sadly, I didn’t catch whatever she said in response. It would have been worth it.

I gave it another five minutes, then dragged myself back to the bathroom to pee. It took a couple of coughs, but I managed to get the damn things out of my throat as I emptied my bladder again.

Damn, how bad did I have to pee? Or how long had I been waiting to pee?

Who knew?

Humming, I wandered back to the bed and fell on it. I wasn’t getting out of here today.

So, I just had to wait.

Wait and be flummadiddled.

That word cracked me up.

I’d read it somewhere and it was like the best word.

I had to remember to tell Boo-Boo.

We could be flummadiddled together.

Bonus Scene: Farewell Chorus, an alternate scene for First Chorus

Look at you guys go! We hit 200 reviews on First Chorus and that means a bonus scene. So how about a little something-something regarding our mysterious FBI agent Cash. While this bonus scene does not contain any direct spoilers we recommend not reading if you haven’t read the first two Cardinal Sins books. 


The key scraped against the lock as I let myself into Pops’ old bungalow outside of DC. He refused to live close to the Bureau. Said it was too much hustle and bustle for him, and he hated being that close to important places that were constantly under threat. 

Ole Pops, he wanted to relax on the rare occasions he was home. 

Light rustling drew me to the back of the hallway where his bedroom was. I walked through the living room, doing my best to ignore the somber mood blanketing every surface. When he called me and said there wasn’t much time left… I was shocked. 

I’d just had lunch with him a few weeks earlier before we were sent to different parts of the US. 

Him, following a lead on the Judge while he was in between cases.

Me, tracking down a known pedophile now that he’d escalated to kidnapping and crossed state lines. 

His bedroom door was cracked, and as I started to push it open, an older plump woman in a pair of smiling cats scrubs turned from the dresser where she’d laid out medicines, probably pain killers.

“You’re Mr. Morgan’s son?” She kept her voice pitched low as Pops’ loud breathing dominated the small space. 

“Yes,” I nodded. I was his only son. His only family. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters, parents had passed away when I was a kid. Mom was just a bad memory for him. For years it had been just us. 

I ducked under the doorframe. Pops and I were both tall guys. Why he lived in a place with such low doors and ceilings made no sense. If I were going to profile him, I’d say the small enclosed space made him feel more secure. Safe. 

But we didn’t profile each other. 

“He’s had a good day. We’ve managed the pain as best we could. I don’t think it will be long now,” she scooted around me toward the door, stopping for a brief moment as she squeezed my biceps. “I’m sure he would be happy you’re here.” She started to leave, but I stopped her with a question. 

“Will he wake up?” Grit caught in my throat. 

She pursed her lips as her gaze shot back and forth between my eyes. “Maybe. It wouldn’t be impossible, but don’t beat yourself up if he doesn’t, okay?” 

I jerked my head up, then she slipped down the hallway. Probably for a smoke break if that was a faint trace of smoke lingering on her clothes. Honestly, it was hard to tell. 

The smell of pending death permeated the air, making it hard to detect anything else. 

“Pops, how did this happen?” I whispered as I took the nurse’s stool and pulled it closer to the bed. I slid my hand in his, savoring the warmth that my head was screaming wouldn’t last long. 

If it wasn’t for my eyes, I would be a carbon copy of him, but I got my eyes from Mom. Now, looking at his gaunt and yellowish skin, his slack mouth, he was frail and sickly. Something he’d never been before.  

I sat there for a full hour, soaking in his presence that even dimmed was still a physical force. 

Then something happened. 

His eyelids fluttered.

“Pops?” I jumped up from the stool. 

“Mm.” His voice was weak, but he used it. 

“Can you hear me, Pops?” 

“Cash,” he wheezed, his voice just a little stronger. Thicker. 

“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere,” I choked out. I wouldn’t cry. We weren’t that type of men. But fuck if I didn’t want to. This was the only person in my life I cared about. Hell, I’d followed in his footsteps. Picked up his obsessions. 

Well, one obsession. 

“I…want you to take the journals, ‘kay?” 

“The…journals…” That was not entirely unexpected, but not what I thought he’d use his last bit of energy to tell me. 

“They’re yours. Secrets…yours now.” 

“Are we talking about your work journals, or did you have a cute personal journal with a lock on it?” I tried to joke with him, but I choked over the words again, damn it. 

“Work journals. You’ll find him. I know you will.” His murky green eyes clouded over as he tried to focus on my face. But he couldn’t. 

He wasn’t asking. He didn’t have to. He knew I was in deep from the first time he’d shown me the files at age thirteen, and how much it meant to both of us. 

“I will, Pops.If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll find him. We’ll close the case. That’s our legacy, right?” 

“Shame…” He coughed, sounding like loose pieces of his lungs bounced around in his chest. 


“All victims…assholes.” 

They absolutely were. Every one of the victims we’d identified were glamorous criminals. Kind of hard to want to punish him for those deaths when the system failed. 

Except we’d been on the trail for so long, Pops for decades, that we couldn’t give up now. 

Shit. I couldn’t give up now. 

“You’re right. They’re assholes.” I chuckled, and this time, it was real. This was our banter. It was familiar. Welcome. 

“When find him…Tell him…I…” His breathing became labored, his chest rocking with each attempt.

“Tell him what, Pops?” I gripped his shoulder. “What did you want me to tell him?” I kept asking in case it would make him fight harder, if only for a few minutes. 

“Love—you—kid,” he got out, in between breaths. 

My mouth dried out. We didn’t say those words. I couldn’t remember a time either one of us had ever come close. But I didn’t hesitate to return it. “I love you too. But what did you want me to tell him?” I asked again, desperately trying to keep him with me. 

In the end, it wasn’t enough. 

He lapsed back into sleep and never woke up again. Instead, I sat there for four hours and listened to his struggling breaths. I doubted I blinked once the entire time.  I stayed in case he woke long enough to finish saying what he wanted me to tell the Judge. Sentiment didn’t play a huge role in our lives.

Honor did. 

My head was tied up in the puzzle of the Judge and who he was. How he’d managed to evade us for so long. 

Like any good puzzle, I just needed to make sure I had all the pieces, then I could pick apart all the patterns. 

And there were always patterns. I just couldn’t see them yet. 

The next day, when I left Pops’ place. I took the journals with me. 

It was my case now.

© 2022 Heather Long and Blake Blessing

Bonus Scene: Whispers and Wishes Deleted Scene


“Nope, I think Jake is just the right touch. And it’s a quick conversation. We’ll be right back. Not going to lay a finger on him.” The promise cost me nothing to make. Amusingly enough, Frankie didn’t buy my crap for an instant. If anything, she smiled at us and rolled her eyes without rolling her eyes. We weren’t fooling her.

Then again, I wasn’t really trying to fool her.

“Hmm-hmm,” Frankie said. “I’ve heard that before.” Then… “Just remember, if Sis likes him, you have to be careful.”

“So does he,” I reminded her. This wasn’t our first rodeo. It was one of the first for me to have to deal with some little punk eyeing my sister. I’d had plenty of practice with the guys who used to check out Frankie.

She gave it a beat, then nodded. “Well, go get ’em.”

“Like I said,” I spread my hands. “It’s just a conversation.”

She chuckled and shook her head, but shifted in the chair to watch us, and emotion fisted tight in my chest. Not only did she not try to stop us, she offered her support. I bet if I asked, she’d help me threaten the guy. Not that I’d ask.

Or that I would threaten him.

No, threatening him was why Jake was going with me.

He had zero issues delivering threats he could not only back up, but had already paid interest on in the past. His reputation gave us a leg up.

“This is going to be fun,” Jake admitted as we headed right for the little shit.

I snorted. “Not as fun as this morning.”

This morning had been amazing. Irritation flamed through me at the fact that I had to go and deal with Auburn when I’d rather be back at the table with Frankie.

Check that, I’d rather be back at Frankie’s place with her. I hadn’t expected to find her right on the cusp of orgasm when I opened my eyes, but I sure as hell wasn’t sorry about it. And it had been everything I thought it might be and more as Jake took her apart.

Fuck. I was already half-hard. Mood souring rapidly because the little jerk had decided to hit on my sister, which meant I had to do this rather than be where I wanted to be, I stalked forward.

Jake hummed as he strolled along next to me. The kids at the table spotted us coming. Two of them were freshmen, and they paled. They also abandoned their buddy without even a gesture from me or Jake. I tapped the kid on the shoulder sitting to Noah’s right.

The arrogant expression on his face faded as he looked from me to Jake. Then he muttered, “I gotta go be somewhere…”

He left, and the kid on the other side of Noah wasted no time following him. Jake hadn’t even had to ask.

Biting back a smirk, I dropped down into the first kid’s spot, and Jake bracketed Noah on his other side. With a dismissive look across the table, Jake said, “Go away.”

The other kids scrambled, and that left us with Noah. He started to stand, but we clamped a hand each down on him and kept him in place. All friendly-like, Jake slung an arm over his shoulder as I turned half-sideways so I could study his expression.

Noah wasn’t a bad looking kid. A little bit on the scrawny side. He didn’t do sports, but that wasn’t a crime. I didn’t do them either. He did smell like a fucking ashtray though. “So…” Jake said, opening the conversation. “How you doing?”

Sliding a look from me to Jake, Noah cleared his throat. “I’m…fine. I think.”

“You think?” I mused aloud. “You having trouble figuring out the answer to that one? It’s pretty binary. Yes and no.”

The kid swallowed convulsively, and his Adam’s apple bobbed. Jake grinned wider and gave Noah a little squeeze. “So, either you are fine or you’re not. What’s it going to be?”

“I was fine before you sat down,” Noah admitted. Then he slanted a look at me. “Am I going to be fine when you get up?”

I didn’t smile. Damn good answer though. Look at that, the kid scratched out a point. “Undecided,” was how I answered him, and he paled a little.

“My friend tells me you’ve been giving cigarettes to his little sister.” Jake leaned in and took an audible sniff. “Not that I needed the update. Here’s a tip—you stink.”

“I smoke.”

“No shit, Sherlock,” I retorted in a dry tone. “Only the nose blind wouldn’t notice.””No shit, Sherlock,” I retorted in a dry tone. “Only the nose blind wouldn’t notice.”

“And…your sister’s Trina, right?” Noah squinted at me, uncertainty etched into every facial contortion. The kid really didn’t know whether to piss his pants or try to bluff his way out of this one.

Okay, so he wasn’t stupid because he took the mid-line. That might scratch him out another point.

“Yep,” Jake answered for me. “She’s just turned fourteen.”

“She’s cute,” Noah admitted. “Funny, too.”

“Fourteen,” I repeated. “You’re what?”

He swallowed. “I’ll be sixteen next month.”

So almost two years. Still, a long way between sixteen and fourteen.

“And how many dates have you been on, Auburn?” Jake asked.

“Um…a couple. Maybe three.” The uncertainty stampeded its way through his features again.

“Three dates. Same girl? Different girl?” I pinned him with a look, but I tried to keep my features pleasant. No glaring.

The kid was already sweating, and it looked like he had some acne along his potential beard line. I said potential because if this kid had to shave every day, I’d wax my balls.

I wasn’t waxing my balls.

“Why is that important?” His lower lip firmed from the trembling, and he lifted his chin.

“Noah,” Jake said, all friendly like and gave his shoulders a firm squeeze. “We ask the questions. You answer them. That’s how this works.”

“Look…Trina’s cute, okay? Just—cute. She hangs out. I like her. Asked her to go to the movies.”

“Still not an answer to the earlier question.” I propped my chin against my fist and studied him. The kid really had lost all the color under his tan and looked like he wanted to puke.

“Fine. Three different girls. Not really good at the dating thing.” Then he tried to smirk, but it looked more sick than amused. “Maybe I should get a couple of my buds to go in on the dating with me. Maybe that would make it work.”

I didn’t say a word. Jake’s grip slid to the back of Noah’s neck, and the pressure had to be unbearable because tears sparked in his eyes.

“Let me be very clear,” Jake said in a low, deadly voice. “You say shit like that again, and I’ll do more than just get friendly with you. I’ll introduce you to the table. At speed. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” he choked out. “I was just kidding.”

“I wasn’t,” Jake told him. “You want to ask Trina out on a date, there will be rules and you will follow them to the absolute letter, or you will piss me off.”

“You really wouldn’t like him when he’s pissed off,” I commented, and reached over to pluck one of the mini-muffins out of the bag the kid had been eating.

“Okay,” Noah said.

“Good, rule number one,” Jake said. “Stop fucking smoking around her.”

“Just stop smoking,” I told him. “You really smell like shit, and I’m going to have to wash these clothes just from being next to you.” I didn’t want to imagine what Jake’s shirt would smell like.

Noah swallowed.

“Rule number two,” Jake continued. “You keep your hands to your fucking self. Any body part you touch her with is subject to me ripping it off and beating you with it.”

I didn’t think the kid could pale any further, but damn, was he going to pass out?

“Rule number three,” I added. “She’s my sister. You treat her with respect and if you’re dating her, she’s the only one you’re dating, and if you can’t hack more than one date, you don’t ask. She’s not there for you to create notches. Clear?”


Noah slid his gaze from me to Jake, then back.

“Anything else?”

I considered it and met Jake’s gaze. “Yeah,” I said as though I really needed to think about it. “Don’t ever make another crack about Frankie again.”

Jake murmured something to him, and Noah gave a full body shudder. Then he said, “We’re good now, right? We understand each other?”

“Yes,” Noah pushed out in a shaky voice.

“Great,” I told him with a grin and clapped his shoulder before I grabbed the rest of his mini-muffins and stood. “Good chat. Trina asked me to double-date with you. Looking forward to it.”

I swore the kid shrank.

Jake snorted, then rose and glanced at the kid’s apple. “You mind if I have this? No? Thanks.” He winked, then took a bite of it as we walked away. I didn’t look back. Not when the kid’s chair fell over or when the sound of his shoes slapping against the floors echoed back to us.

Even with distance between us, I could still smell the cigarette smoke. Ugh. I offered Jake a muffin. He chuckled, and across the cafeteria, I met Frankie’s amused look as she shook her head. Archie said something, and she laughed.

That was better.

“That felt good,” Jake admitted.

I snorted. “Tell me how it feels when it’s Becca getting asked out.”

His amused look vanished, and he scowled. “She doesn’t get to date until she’s twenty-one.”

I laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Keep telling yourself that.”


We were still chuckling when we got back to the table.

“All done?” Frankie asked.

“Yep,” Jake said. “Good chat.”

I nodded. “Definitely.” Then held out the bag to her. “Muffin?”