Scott and Brandi

These are the deleted scenes from Scott’s time apart from Tori, when he had a brief stent with Brandi. A lot of this was shortened and recapped in Brandi’s head as memories in her book, to give my readers a gist of what was going through her head, but you never got the full details.

I think it really shows how Scott is still obviously in love with Tori, and how him and Brandi were just not a good fit, but this was just TOO much of another woman/another man to add to the other books, so it ended up on the chopping block.

**Disclaimer** These deleted scenes have NOT been through my editor, so please forgive any typos in them!

“What’s all this?” Scott asked as he walked into his condo. Brandi had opened up several boxes and was sifting through them.

“I figured I could help you unpack,” Brandi shrugged. “With the storm outside, I didn’t have much else I could do, but it looks like it’s starting to let up.” She nodded to the snow falling outside the large windows. 

“That’s sweet of you.” Scott wrapped his arms around her and gave her a kiss.

“How was the interview?” 

“Good,” Scott said furrowing his brow.

“But…” Brandi looked at him knowing full well he was holding back. 

“They want me, my resume is impressive, it’s just…”

“It’s the leg.” Brandi frowned.

“It’s gonna be a hard sell to get people past it.” Scott shrugged. 

“You know, you don’t have to do this, Scott. You could come back to Texas, live there, you could get some land, raise cattle like your daddy…” Brandi trailed off. “DC is really no place to raise a family anyway…” She made a sour face. “You have nothing to prove anymore, you’ve served your time so bravely.”

Family? Woah, slow down. He liked Brandi, a lot, but he wasn’t ready to walk down the aisle yet. Not until he had a career again, and raising cattle, living on the farm was not what he wanted to with his life. 

“You haven’t even seen the city yet,” Scott protested. “The public school system is in dire need for good teachers.”

“I saw the airport, and it was disgusting. So was that cab.” Brandi wrinkled her nose. “I shudder to think what the public school system is like here.” 

Maybe his dad had a very valid point. Brandi did not seem like she was exited at all about the prospect of DC. Flaw two, Brandi was a bit of a snob. 

“Let’s go out.” Scott nodded to the window. “The snow is letting up.”

“Oh, can we go to the Smithsonian? Pretty please?” Brandi seemed excited about that prospect. 

“Which one?” Scott asked. 

“There is more than one?” She asked curiously.

Scott blinked for a moment, not knowing how to answer that.

“I’m kidding silly man, I know there are more than one. What kind of teacher do you think I am?” 

Scott laughed. “You had me worried there for a minute. Get your coat on, we’ll grab a cab.”

His phone vibrated in his pocket as Brandi went to get her things. He pulled it out and glanced at the screen.

Tori: Hey sexy, how’s it going? Haven’t heard from you in some time. You off saving the world again?

Scott sighed, and debated on not responding. Why not respond though? They were friends, actually she was practically his best friend and he missed talking to her. 

Scott: Interview today, not sure how it will pan out.

Tori: How so?

Scott: Hard sell getting them past the nub.

Tori: Well, fuck them then. They don’t know a good thing when they see it. Bastards. Just keep at it. Don’t fucking give up on your dream. Don’t settle. Ever.

“Ready?” Brandi asked as she came out of his bedroom dressed warmly and ready to go. 

Don’t settle. Those words felt like a knife being twisted in his chest as he stared at the wonderful woman in front of him. Was he settling? 

“Yeah.” Scott nodded, shoved his phone in his pocket and grabbed his coat.

* * *

Scott took Brandi to the Natural History Museum. He figured with her being a teacher and all, that would be a good place to start. There was no way they’d get through it all, but he could at least show her a little bit of DC. As they stood in Ocean Hall in front of the large whale, he was shoved to the side by a large school group that came through. 

“Lord, will you try and stay caught up with the group please!” He heard a familiar, yet exasperated shrill voice echo over the crowd of unruly children. Scott turned around and there stood Keith, badge around his neck, and headset in his ear. His face was as red as his hair and he looked positively spent. 

Keith didn’t even notice Scott standing there, arms crossed, just watching him, totally amused at how out of his element Keith was trying to wrangle all those kids. What on earth was he even doing there? This wasn’t even his museum. 

Keith glanced at his watch. “Oh thank Lord, it’s lunch time.” He clapped his hands. “Alright kids! Back down the stairs, follow your teachers!” Keith began ushering them out of the area and he stopped and took a double take when he saw Scott, standing there, grinning ear to ear.

“Scott Harris? What the hell are you doing here?” Keith placed his hand on his hip.

“I could ask the same for you. I thought you worked at the Hirshhorn?” Scott laughed. “What in the world are you doing trolling around with a bunch of kids on a field trip?”

“A favor for a friend.” A sly grin morphed on his buddy’s face.

“Why do I have a suspicion this has something to do with sex?” Scott whispered slyly so the kids wouldn’t hear him. Brandi cocked her head to the side and turned around. 

“Because you know me well.” Keith cackled and wiggled his brow. “Worth it.” His blue eyes darted to Brandi curiously. “Who do we have here?” 

“Brandi.” She offered her hand to Keith, who accepted it and greeted her with a kiss on the knuckles.

“Brandi, this is Keith, a good friend.” Scott introduced them.

“Former roommate as well. Pleasure to meet you, hun.” Keith’s eyes raked her over, sizing her up. “You’re positively stunning.” He smiled warmly at her and glanced at Scott, a smirk tugging at this lips. “You sure do like them blonde, don’t you?” 

Brandi chuckled coyly and she leaned her head on Scott’s arm, feigning embarrassment. Scott rolled his eyes at Keith, but didn’t acknowledge his snarky comment. 

“Heard from Vic lately?” Keith grinned like the devil. Scott reciprocated with a fuck-you glare. Damn dirty of Keith to mention her, then again he was Tori’s best friend.  

“Yeah, here and there,” was all Scott offered. 

“Sounds about normal.” Keith snorted. “Listen, I gotta go.” He waved as he flittered away. “Call me and let’s do lunch!” 

“He’s…flamboyant,” Brandi said with a smirk once he was out of earshot. 

“He’s a red-hot mess.” Scott just shook his head and they walked along looking at the exhibits in awkward silence.

“Scott, who’s Vic?” Brandi finally asked.

Who is Vic? He frowned, not knowing how to answer the question. To say that Tori was just a friend was a lie. She was far more than that. To say she was a former girlfriend, also another lie. Tori was a big grey area topped with a huge question mark. After four years of knowing the woman, he still couldn’t figure her out.

“Tori is…” Scott sighed. “Tori’s my best friend.” That was honestly the most truthful answer that he could give Brandi. 

“Well then, silly, we should go meet her. I want to meet all your friends,” Brandi said warmly. 

Yeah, not happening.

“Well, she’s in New York last I heard.” He shrugged. 

“Oh.” Brandi frowned, seemingly chewing on that nugget for a moment. “Well, I’d love to meet her, someday.” She slipped her hand into Scott’s and they continued on. 

* * *

Back at his loft that evening they settled in on his sofa, watching some mindless television. “Oh come on, you have to at least try it.” Scott held the glass of whiskey out to Brandi.

“I don’t drink hard liquor, Scott.” She pushed the glass away. 

“One sip, for me, pretty please?” He gave her a sexy pout.

Brandi curled her lip and crossed her arms, pretending to be exasperated with him. It was so adorable when she made that face. “Fine. One sip, just for you.” She took the glass from his hand and took a swig. She swallowed it. “Not bad.” She tried to keep a straight face, but Scott could tell she didn’t like it.

Scott narrowed his eyes. “You’re so bullshitting me.”  

Brandi let out a breath and made a grimace. “Yes, it was terrible.” 

Scott laughed at the expression on her face. It wasn’t even straight whiskey. It was mixed with Coke. “So prissy.” 

“Prissy? Just because I don’t like a drink?” She huffed, stood and walked into his kitchen, uncorking a bottle of wine. She poured it into the glass, and placed it down on the counter. “Scott Harris you should be ashamed of the amount of mail you have piled up here,” she said, shuffling through the pile that was on his counter. 

“Eh, it’s mostly junk. All my bills are auto paid and I get e-statements. I don’t really even bother anymore with it.”  

“Well, you have a handwritten letter here it looks like it got sent to the wrong address. It’s addressed to Mike Reynolds, hmm, Canadian postmark from a Sheriff Rusty Cote. Someone must have sent it to the wrong address.” She hummed then cleared her throat. “You also got an invite to a gallery exhibition from Victoria Johnson, I’m assuming that’s your friend, Tori.” There was a definite edge to her tone.

Fuck. He rubbed his face, shifted in his seat and took a swig of his drink. “Just let it be. I’ll sort through it all later.” Brandi seemed to be a bit nosy, between her unpacking him the day before and sifting through his mail.

She waltzed back over and curled up next to him with her glass of wine, and turned her head to the TV. Scott went back to watching reruns of The Office

“Are you going to go?” Brandi asked after several minutes.

“Go where?” Scott turned and looked at her.

“To Tori’s gallery thing, silly.”

“Oh.” He shrugged. “I haven’t even looked at the invite yet.”

“Well, it’s this weekend. Tomorrow night, actually.” Brandi handed him the invite and Scott looked it over. It was here in town. Tori must have been coming back to DC for the weekend for it.

“Oh, well then, probably not.” Scott focused back on the TV. Jim had put all Dwight’s office supplies in Jello. He snorted in laughter. This episode was one of his favorites. 

“So, you’re telling me that you don’t want to go to see your best friend? Seems kinda rude if you ask me.” Brandi sipped her wine. “We should go support her. She’s obviously important to you. I’d like to meet her.” 

Scott sat his tumbler down on the coffee table and rubbed his face. Brandi and Tori meeting was not on his agenda. Ever. Scott thought about the finality of that and it twisted his gut. Things were turning serious with Brandi, so really that meant that his “friendship” with Tori was over. That thought caused a hollow ache in his chest, and not just because he’d miss fucking Tori. Sure, Tori was, well, she was fucking amazing in bed. The best he’d ever had. That’s not what he’d miss the most though. 

That laugh of hers. That stupid, loud, obnoxious laugh, that was first on the list of things he’d miss. Nobody could make him laugh like Tori did. He’d miss how uninhibited he was around her. That woman brought out the wild in him, probably to an unhealthy degree, but that’s what good friends do. He’d miss that. 

He looked over at Brandi. She was so beautiful, kind and had so much innocence to her. She was rock solid. Steady. Always made the right choices. Things were going good with Brandi. This could become something really amazing, and if he wanted to keep it that way he’d need to cut ties with Tori. It was the right thing to do. 

“This is our weekend to be together.” Scott rubbed Brandi’s leg. “Tori will understand, the art stuff, it’s not really my thing. She doesn’t expect me to be there. I never go.” 

“If you say so.” She shrugged, sat down her wine glass on the coffee table and went back over to one of his packed boxes, ripping it open.

He groaned. “What are you doing? I thought we were relaxing?” 

“Eh, this show isn’t really my thing. I don’t understand it. They just follow them around like a documentary, but it’s actually a sitcom? Putting office supplies in jello, isn’t that kinda mean?” 

“You said the word funny wrong.” Scott laughed. Brandi smirked and rolled her big, brown eyes. 

“Seriously Scott, you need to unpack. Unless you don’t plan on living here, just let me be your girl and help you.” Brandi’s voice went up an octave. Yeah, she’d only dropped a thousand hints over the past two days that she wanted him to move back to Texas. So much in fact, he was actually debating it. “Let’s see what’s in this box…” 

Scott pinched his nose, leaned over, flipped off the TV and stood, giving in to her. “What’s in the box? What’s in the box?” he wailed woefully. Brandi’s brow went up, not catching the reference.

“Seriously?” Scott raised his hands as he walked toward her. “Haven’t you ever seen the movie Seven?” 

“No.” She shook her head. 

“Oh my god, forget packing you have to watch it. It’s about a serial killer who kills his victims based on the seven deadly sins,” Scott explained. “It will leave your head spinning. It’s fucking great.”

Brandi cocked her head to the side. “You have a filthy mouth, Scott Harris.” She gave him a wide grin. “I can think of much better uses for that filthy mouth of yours.”

“Oh, can you now?” Scott growled and pulled her in close, kissing her neck. He felt her soften in his embrace as his lips grazed her creamy skin. “How about I toss you on this sofa, and bury my filthy mouth between your thighs?” 

“That does sound much more fun than unpacking.” Brandi giggled as Scott yanked down her pants and tossed her onto the sofa.

Scott climbed on top of her, planting his lips onto hers. “Say it.” Scott’s brown eyes looked into hers fiercely. “Say you want me to fuck you.” He ran his fingers over her full lips. 

Brandi’s brow furrowed, her lips tightening. “Scott…”

“Come on Brandi, say it,” he whispered in her ear. “Tell me how bad you want it.” He nibbled her ear. He wanted to hear that sweet voice of hers whisper filthy things. 

She let out a soft moan. “I want you, darling.” The way the word darling purred out of her mouth with that sweet little accent made his cock so damn hard. He wanted to hear more from her.

“Please what?” He lifted up her shirt and began showering kisses on her belly. His fingers clasped the side of her panties and pulled them down with a swift yank. Scott looked up at her and grinned, breathing his hot air onto her crotch to tease her, making her squirm. “What do you want, Brandi? Tell me what you want me to do to you.” He took his finger and rolled it in circles around her clit, then shoved two fingers and shoved them up inside her. She gasped in pleasure as a wide grin crept across her face.

“I want you to make love to me,” she breathed.

Scott tried to read her expression. Her eyes were clouded with tears it seemed. He knew it was time to back down with the dirty talk, because even though it worked for him, it obviously wasn’t working for her.

“You got it, beautiful.” Scott grinned and buried his face into her crotch.   

* * *

Scott walked into the kitchen the following morning and grabbed a mug out of his cabinet and poured himself a cup of coffee. “Ok, seriously what’s up with you and the unpacking?” he teased as he walked into the living room. Brandi stood over an open box and he admired the view of her from the backside with her little lacy panties sticking out from underneath her nightshirt. “I’m not ready to unpack yet, still thinking things over.”

Brandi didn’t say anything, her back was turned to him. Did she not just hear what he said? He was trying to give her what she wanted. He leaned against the counter and sipped from his mug. “Hello? Earth to Brandi.” 

She turned to him, her head was down staring at a frame she held in her hands. Her head slowly lifted up and he could see moisture in her eyes. “She drew this?” she hissed through her quivering lip. 

Shit. Scott put down the mug and walked over to her, prying the naked drawing of him that Tori made out of her hands. “That is from a very long time ago, Brandi.”

“You said you were friends.” A tear rolled down her cheek.

“We are,” Scott said honestly. 

“Best friends,” her tone grew icy, her normally warm brown eyes dark and cold. 

“We are.”

“You’ve slept with her.”

Scott looked at Brandi with softness. He wouldn’t ever lie to her. “I have,” he said plainly. 

She shook her head as tears rolled down her cheek. God, he felt like a bastard. “I don’t understand.”

You and me both. “Listen. Tori and I, we are…” He searched for the right word.

“Are or were?” Brandi placed her hand on her hip, cutting him off. He could see that Texas fire flash through her big brown eyes. He half expected her to haul off and slap him. It’s what he deserved after all for making her cry. 

He ran his fingers through his hair. “We were friends who occasionally fucked, that’s all.” That’s what he told Brandi even though he knew full well that Tori was far more than that. “She does her thing, I do my thing, every once in a while we’d hook up for fun. No strings attached.” 

“Do you love her?” Her brow went into a high arch.

“She’s just a good friend. She was there for me this past year, she helped me get through it all. I owe her a lot.” He knew he loved Tori as a friend and cared for her. Brandi still didn’t look convinced, and neither was he from the hollow ache in his chest.

“So that’s it?” Brandi asked, her expression softening. “She’s just a friend who’s on booty call?” 

“Pretty much,” Scott said as he wrapped his arms around her, feeling like a damn son of a bitch for lying to her. But Tori and him probably would never happen. It was exhausting chasing that woman. It was time to take the easy road. “I’m with you now, so that’s over. That is why I don’t want to go to her exhibition. I want to be here, with you.” Scott lifted her chin and gave her a kiss. “I will never be unfaithful to you. You have my promise.” 

Brandi opened her mouth to speak as Scott’s phone rang. He glanced over to it and let it ring. It could go to voicemail. She was more important.

“You need to get that.”
“It can wait.” Scott squeezed her hand.

“It could be them calling about the job, Scott,” she said wisely. 

She was right. Scott walked over to the table and grabbed the phone. “This is Scott.” 

“Harris! This is Jack Riley. Hey we’d like you to come on in tomorrow for the final round of testing. Need you to plan to stay all night through Monday if possible.”

A wide grin crept across Scott’s face. “Wow, that was fast.” He scratched his beard as his eyes bulged. He was really not even certain that they were going to consider him as a legitimate candidate, much less call back so quickly for the final round. 

“You sound surprised.” Jack’s laugh bellowed through the line. 

“I, I just…” Scott stammered. He wasn’t usually at a loss for words but they failed him at the moment. 

“Didn’t think we’d get past that nub?” Jack chuckled.

“Well, yeah, that was my initial impression.” Scott raised his brow in acknowledgment.

“Nonsense. That’s not gonna hold a guy with your credentials back. As long as you pass through the next round Harris, I can say with confidence we’d be glad to have a man like you aboard.” There was some shuffling on Jack’s end of the line. For the next several minutes Jack briefly went over with him everything he’d need to do for the physical and psychological examinations. “I’m assuming you got yourself a proper running leg for that nub of yours?” 

“Yes, I have one,” Scott said. Thank god he was smart enough to go to the clinic in San Antonio and get fitted for one before he left. It was quite simple since his socket was a great fit now. They just used the same mold to create the new prosthetic. He hadn’t spent much time on it and he hoped that didn’t bite him in the ass. He figured it would be weeks before he heard back from them and he’d have plenty more time for more practice on it. 

“Alright then, Harris. We will see you tomorrow.” The line went dead. Scott sat there staring at his phone for a moment.

“Well?” Brandi said, her brown eyes were wide as he turned to her slowly. “Was that good or bad?” 

“They want me to come in tomorrow for the final round. They want me.” 

Brandi smiled warmly but her mouth twitched in the corner, as if the smile was forced. “Well of course they want you.” She opened her arms up to him. “Well get over here and let me congratulate you.” 

Scott walked over to her and lifted her off the ground and spun her as she squealed in amusement. He finally planted her firmly back on her feet. “I have to go run.”

Brandi looked outside at the snow falling. “Are you suicidal? It’s coming down hard out there.” 

“Good, it will give me a challenge.” Scott nodded to the window. 

“Or make you split your head open after you slip on a patch of ice.” She frowned. “Then you won’t be able to do their standards at all. There has to be a better idea.” 

Scott scowled. She didn’t like him questioning him, but she had a valid point. If he got injured he was out of the running. “I have an idea.” Scott picked up his phone. “I think I know just the place where I can go.” 

* * *

“Well hey there fucker.” Nicole put her hands on her teeny hips as Scott walked through the door of the PT room on base. “I heard you cheated on me and went to San Antonio, and now you come crawling back to me.” She scowled and pretended to be angry but a wide smile broke across her lips and she flung her arms around Scott. 

“Good to see you, Piccoli.” Scott said as she beat her hand on his back. “Ow! Easy there killer.” 

“Who’s this?” Nicole let go of her embrace on Scott and nodded to Brandi.

“This is my girlfriend, Brandi.” Scott placed his arm around Brandi and gave her a squeeze. 

“So very nice to meet you,” Brandi said sweetly and extended her hand.

“Ditto.” Nicole gave her a hearty handshake, releasing a labored breath. “Alright, let’s see this blade they gave you.” 

Scott leaned over and unbuttoned the sides of his jogging pants, and pulled them off, revealing his shorts underneath. Nicole bent down and examined the blade, running her fingers along it. “Not bad, not bad at all.” She stood up. “How’s the socket?” 

“It’s great. They molded the one you had made for me and used that to make this one.”

“They better have. I nearly killed myself trying to get that damn thing to fit your shape shifting nub.” Nicole crossed her arms and frowned, which just made her traps look even more immense. The girl was a powerhouse. 

“Yeah, they had to adjust it a bit around the top.” Nicole nodded in understanding as he said that. That had always been one of his problem areas. “It’s still shrinking, but the bottom feels great.”

“Ok, so if it fits so great, why are you here, Harris?” Nicole raised her brow.

“I have a PT test tomorrow…” Scott started.

“Are you getting back in?” Nicole exclaimed and a wide grin broke across her face. “God damn that’s great news. I knew you had to miss hunting men.” 

Scott laughed. “No, not going back in, I have an interview with a private contracting firm.” 

“Oooh.” Her lips puckered. “Someone wants the big bucks.” 

He grinned sheepishly. Yeah, the money was good in the private sector. “Anyhow, I’ve had this thing about a few weeks now, and I haven’t had much practice time. I was wondering if you could maybe take a look at my gait and give me some pointers.” 

“How far do you have to run in it?” 

“Three miles.”


“Twenty-nine minutes.” 

“Three miles is a lot.” Nicole whistled.

“There’s more,” Brandi interjected and nudged Scott in the arm. “Tell her, she’s here to help.” 

“I’m listening.” Nicole crossed her arms.

“Fifty yard body drag at my weight.” Which was currently two twenty-five. “Agility test, shuttle sprint between cones,” Scott sighed, “and, three-hundred yard sprints in kit to include ballistic plates and magazines,” he scratched his beard, “and scale four foot wall and climb a twenty foot ladder.”

“Fuuuuck,” Nicole whispered. “You’re out of your goddamn mind, you know that?”

“You can’t tell this man to back down from a challenge. I”m learning that.” Brandi frowned and looked at Nicole, almost as if she was pleading her case and expecting Nicole to jump onto her side. At least that’s what Scott assumed. She must have saw him frowning, because she backpedaled quickly. “But, I know he’s going to be just fine, in fact I bet he will blow the rest of them away.” Brandi reached over and rubbed his shoulder, trying to dig herself out of the hole.

A smirk tugged at Nicole’s lips. “You’ve got this Harris. Come on you crazy bastard, let’s head over to the gym and get you ready to blow their fucking minds.” 

“So where’s that other chick? Tori was her name, right?” Nicole whispered to him as he climbed up on the treadmill, once they were out of Brandi’s earshot. Her eyes darted over to said subject—who was sitting on a nearby bench watching them intently. 

“New York,” Scott said abruptly.

“You know that’s not what I mean. I liked her. What happened to you two?” 

“We were never together.”

“Bullshit.” Nicole cocked a brow. “You were living with the girl for Christ sake.” 

Scott laughed. “It sooooo wasn’t like that.”

“Whatever you say, Harris.” Nicole rolled her eyes as if she didn’t believe that for a second. “So are you seriously with this Barbie Doll now?” She nodded to Brandi. 

“Brandi is sweet. You need to stop it,” Scott growled at Nicole, growing protective. He wouldn’t put up with anyone talking shit about Brandi.

“She actually is really sweet, and gorgeous, I’ll give her that.” Nicole gave her the once over. “Maybe we could use a little sweet in our lives. You may be onto something here. Who knows.” Nicole shrugged. 

Scott sucked in a heavy breath. “Let’s just do this.” He flipped on the treadmill and began bumping the speed up. He didn’t come here to talk about his relationship with Nicole. 

“You may want to take it slow at first,” Nicole warned.

Scott bumped up the speed higher and flipped her off. 

“You are a stubborn asshole, you know that, Harris?”

“You know you love it.” Scott flashed a wolfish grin. 

* * *

Brandi lay there staring at the ceiling. She’d had a hard time sleeping ever since she got to DC with the noise from the traffic of the city. It was not something she was accustomed to. She was a country girl, through and through. 

She looked over to Scott who was sleeping soundly next to her. Was she falling for him again or just the idea of him? She wasn’t sure if she was in love with the man he is now, or the boy she met back in high school. The military had changed him. It had hardened him. She couldn’t begin to imagine what he went through over there. What it must have been like to lose part of himself. She hoped that playful boy she knew years ago was still in there. She’d seen sparks of it in the past few weeks, but he always seemed so solemn, so serious. No matter how hard she’d tried, she couldn’t bring out that kid again. 

She quietly got out of bed and wandered out of the bedroom, kicking the heat up a notch on her way into the kitchen. His apartment was so cold and industrial, and it matched this city—and his current personality. She’d hoped to help him unpack and make the place a little more homey. Ok, that was a lie. She’d hoped that he would just seal the boxes up and move back home to Texas. 

If he loved you, he’d do it. He’d go to the ends of the earth for you.

She poured herself a glass of wine, hoping that would induce sleepiness. As she stood in the kitchen taking a sip, Scott’s phone vibrated on the counter. Text message from Tori, it read. 

Brandi reached out for the phone and hesitated. She didn’t want to be one of those girls. The girls that were so insecure that they couldn’t trust their man. Her mind flashed to her ex-fiance, Cody. The sight of him on his knees in her living room in front of his best friend was seared into her mind to this day. A pang went through her chest as she shoved the memory aside. 

Really, it wasn’t Scott that she didn’t trust. It was this girl, and the hold she feared she had on him.

Scott is a good honest man, she reminded herself. If Scott says there was nothing going on, then there was nothing. It’s not like she hadn’t been with a few other men in their years apart, hell, she’d been engaged. Of course she never called those men her best friends—not even Cody. Brandi gulped down the rest of her wine and picked up his phone, clicking on the message. 

Tori: Damn. Saw your Facebook post. That running leg is sexy, just as I suspected. You’re still a fucking badass. I knew you had it in you still. Hope you can make it to my exhibition this weekend. Bring the panties, gorgeous.

Brandi dropped the phone like it was scalding her hands. She should not have invaded his privacy like that, and she felt ashamed of herself. Bring the panties? What on earth did that mean?

And that’s where the deleted content ends! If you’ve read Fighting the Blaze you know that Brandi snagged the invite and snuck into Tori’s exhibition, and if you haven’t well…I suggest you go read that now to find out exactly what happened.

She then came back to Scott’s apartment, packed her bags and broke it off with Scott (as we saw in Chasing Fire).

These two were good people, just not good with each other. Scott needed his Tori, and Brandi needed her Blaze.


Shitty tour guide

This was a deleted scene from Burn for You. This happens after Chad shows up on Scott and Tori’s doorstep in the middle of the night (my evil plot device to torture the reader a bit more with Tori’s secrets). Anyhow, I really loved this scene but I took it out because it just didn’t progress the story between Tori and Scott, it was much more Chad-centric as far as what HE was going through…and his book and self-reflection is for another time in another story that will be coming.

“Where to now tour guide?” Chad asked as they neared the Capitol reflecting pool. His feet were throbbing. Riding boots were not the best option for a day full of this much walking and he wished he would have swiped a pair of his brothers’ sneakers. 

They’d started at the Washington Monument, worked their way around the entire mall, looped the entire Tidal Basin and Chad had seen each one of the monuments. He was about done, but his brother’s chick looked like she was just getting started.

“Well, we could hit up a museum, but really if you see one more thing here I think you need to go to the National Archives.” She seemed very excited about that prospect. The girl had such an abundance of energy—far more than he had.

He frowned. That sounded dull to him. “I don’t want to see a bunch of boring books and shit.” 

“Oh my god you dork, it’s the Constitution and Declaration of Independence!” she exclaimed. He felt a little silly that he didn’t realize that, then again, he wasn’t book smart. Never applied himself and dropped out of high school. 

“Seriously, every American needs to go see it. It’s awe inspiring and will make you all warm and fuzzy on the inside. I want to see it through your eyes and I can live vicariously through you.” She clutched her hand to her chest with passion.

His eyes clouded up with tears like a fucking baby at her words. He couldn’t say no to that, no matter how blistered his feet were. 

His stomach rumbled, breaking the silence and he cleared his throat. “Do you have lunch on the agenda? I don’t know about you, chickadee, but I’m starving.” That and my damn feet hurt like a motherfucker. He guessed that entire trek was about five miles. He just needed a few moments to sit down and regroup.

“Yeah, I guess lunch would be a smart idea.” She cocked her head to the side. “What are you in the mood for?” 

“You’re the one that works around here. You know this place better than I do with your eyes closed, apparently.” Tori had pointed her building out to him as they passed it a ways back. It amazed him how she knew exactly where they were the entire time. Well, for the most part. She did point way too far to the left of the Washington Monument and Chad had to move her hand to the right spot. They both got a good laugh from that one. The girl was something else. 

“Well, it’s Tuesday, the deli I normally go to has this special—”

“Tori, it’s Wednesday.”

She grimaced as if something just dawned on her. “Shit! I didn’t work on Monday so I’m totally off a day.” She bit her lip and tugged on it as if she was worried. She tapped her Apple watch and it blurted the time. “We have to go, now!” She looped her arm with his, extended her cane and took off. She’d been leading him much more on this journey than him leading her.

“Woah, where’s the fire?” Chad stopped, pulling her back. 

“I just…it’s just…there’s just something I do every Wednesday. I’ll explain on the way, but he’ll be waiting and I don’t want him to think I forgot about him.” She urged him forward.

“He?” Chad laughed as they walked along the sidewalk. “You have lunch with another man every Wednesday? Does my little brother know about this?” 

She groaned. “No, I’ve never mentioned it to Scott—and I’d prefer it if you don’t either.”

“I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that.” He may have not been the most truthful and trustworthy person, but the thought of keeping the fact his brother’s finance had lunch with another man every Wednesday was some sketchy shit. “How would you like it if Scott was having a secret lunch meeting every Wednesday with another woman?” He grew protective of his little brother.  

She laughed as if it was the dumbest thing he ever said. “It’s so not what you think Chad, I promise.” 

“Well, do explain.”  

“I buy lunch every Wednesday for a homeless man named Owen.”

Ok, he had to admit, that was kind of her. Also very dangerous, especially since she was blind. Knowing his brother like he did, Scott would have a shit-fit if he knew. “You sure that’s safe?” He frowned as they crossed the street.

She stayed silent until they reached the other side safely and he watched her let out a labored breath. “Owen is perfectly harmless.” She lifted her chin. “Sure, there are the crazies and the druggies around here, but mostly they are just people who took a wrong turn in life. Sometimes they just need someone who gives a shit about them.” 

Kinda like me. 

“I guess that’s a wise way to look at it.” Or naive. He couldn’t decide which. Regardless, the way she cared for others was pretty incredible. Scott had told him a little about what she did after his injury, how she took care of him. Hell, Tori even saved Chad’s ass and bailed him out with Jett without even thinking twice about it, and she had only known him a couple days. Instead of repaying her for what she’d done, he’d just showed up on her doorstep with more problems. Now here she was taking time off work to show him sights that she couldn’t even see herself, and not acting the least bit put off by it. The more he thought about it the shittier he felt.

Not only had Scott got arrested the past weekend, she was assaulted by a total asshole. His mother had filled him in a little bit that she also had been having seizures. He’d asked her about her health while they were walking along the monuments, and she played it off like it wasn’t that big of a deal. Chad could easily see that it was hard on her and she was putting on a tough front. He couldn’t imagine the tailspin that was sending his brother into, and how worried he must be. 

Tori lost her father at a young age, had a drug addict mom, lost her vision and now had epilepsy. Scott fought bravely for his country and came back a wounded man, missing his leg and he still found time to volunteer and help other veterans get back on their feet. Life had hit them with blow after blow, yet they somehow rose above all the bullshit they were dealt. Chad was raised right, by a good, loving family and he’d fucked his life up royally. He had no excuse for his behavior.

Chad Harris, you really are a selfish prick.

She lifted her chin slightly, almost like she was taking a whiff in the air. He could smell the food, so she sure as hell must have. “The food truck should be right around here if I have my bearings right.” She pointed to her left.

“Close.” Chad laughed and grabbed her hand and moved it thirty degrees to the left, just like he’d done at the Washington Monument.  

“You turd.” She snickered.

“Sweet Victoria! I thought you forgot about me.” An older, thin, African American man with an unkempt, grey beard limped over in their direction. He wore a hat that said POW MIA on it, a raggedy old shirt with an American flag on it and a threadbare jacket. The old man screamed Vietnam Vet if Chad had ever seen one.

“I couldn’t forget about our lunch date, Owen.” Tori grinned at him. He returned the smile and hugged her. The stench coming off him was unbelievable, but his brother’s girl didn’t even shy away from the man.

“You brought a bodyguard today?” Owen teased.

“This is my brother, Chad.” Tori rubbed his arm as she said that. It warmed Chad’s heart that she called him her brother, even though her and Scott were not married yet. 

Chad nodded to the man and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Owen.” 

“Would you like the usual?” she asked, propping her cane against her chest, digging into her purse.

“Yes please.” The man nodded and grinned. He was missing several teeth but had a kind smile with soulful eyes that had seen far too much pain in his lifetime. 

“My treat. I insist.” Chad pushed her hand down as she pulled out her wallet.

“Alright.” She nodded. “Owen likes a hot dog with everything but onions, with a Coke.”

“Yes, no onions.” The homeless man patted his stomach. “They don’t agree with me.” 

“I’ll take one with the works, with a Diet Coke,” Tori added.

“I think the hot dog negates the diet in the soda, Tori.” Chad laughed at the absurdity of girl-logic. 

“That’s why I drink the diet.” She shrugged. “You gotta level the evil with some good now and again.” 

Chad paid for their order and the three of them sat on a nearby bench. Tori chatted with Owen like they were old friends or something. She could adapt to whatever social group she was around it seemed. Chad had seen her hang now with what some would consider the lowest in society, himself included, but also knew she worked in that fancy circular building he could see in the distance. The girl was a chameleon.

Chad’s phone chimed in his jacket pocket and he pulled it out.

Scott: Has my girl worn you out yet?

Chad: God yes. Heading to some archive place next. Just finishing up lunch.

Scott: Ah, it’s Wednesday. You must be having lunch with Tori’s homeless buddy, Owen. 

Chad snickered. Tori turned his direction and a curious look washed over her face. “What’s so funny?” she asked.

“Nothin, just something my brother said.” He wasn’t going to give away that Scott knew exactly what she was up to. He also wasn’t going to spill the beans on Tori either. Those two were too funny with their stupid little secrets from each other. 

Chad: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Scott: Surrrre ya don’t. Don’t tell Tori I know. Let her have her little secret. I’ll catch up with you all later.

He glanced up from his phone and saw the man walking away. He offered him a friendly wave and the man smiled and waved back. 

“Does he look warm enough? Does he have a coat?” She leaned and whispered. 

Chad’s heart squeezed at her caring enough to ask that. “Yeah, he’s got a coat on, some layers.”

“Good.” She nodded in satisfaction. 

“Why do you care so much anyway?” Did Tori feel like she had some debt to repay to society? That’s how things worked in his world. “I mean, there are thousands of homeless people, why him?”

“Because it matters to him. Hell, I know I can’t feed a thousand homeless people, but if everyone took the time to reach out to one person in need, how much better of a place would this world be?” 

Chad cocked his head to the side. She was a better person than he was. She didn’t deserve the shaft that she got in life by losing her vision. “Tori, you’re a damn good person in this fucked up world, you know that? Sometimes things don’t make a damn bit of sense.” He slung his arm around her and gave her a squeeze. “I’m sorry I said you weren’t no angel. I guess you have wings after all.”

“Those and a very dented, tarnished halo.” She chuckled nervously and sucked in a deep breath. “I’ve done a lot of devilish things.” An awkward silence hung for a moment as she shifted and cleared her throat. “Well, are you ready to go?” She placed her hand on Chad’s thigh.

“Yeah, I think my feet have recovered.” He groaned.

“You Texans and your big trucks are spoiled driving everywhere.” She gave him a playful nudge. “Stop being a sissy boy. It’s not too far, just half a mile.” She nodded and gripped the handle of her cane that was draped over her shoulder.

A half mile? He died a little inside.

“You east coast people really hate your feet.” Chad nudged her back. “Fine, let’s roll.” 


Fighting the Blaze is LIVE!


Fighting the Blaze coverTitle: Fighting the Blaze

Series: Fire and Fury #4

Author: Avery Kingston

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Formats: E-book and Paperback

Cover by: Avery Kingston

Editor: Writer’s Rebirth

Released: April 26, 2019



Brandi Turner has spent her entire life being the good girl. Good grades. Church every Sunday.  Responsible alcohol use and never anything stronger. Certainly no one-night stands. Brandi has become an expert at playing it safe.

Ian Hodges (a.k.a. Blaze) has never muttered a truthful word in his existence. He’s pompous, arrogant, and never beds the same woman twice. He’s a rebel who lives his life by no rules.

Blaze is the last person on earth Brandi should fall for. 

But even so, something about this man lights a fire inside her. Brandi has spent her life being a good girl, but Blaze makes her want to be bad.  Very bad.

As hard as she tries, Brandi struggles to resist Blaze’s charms.  And she can’t help but wonder:

What if she just gave in?

Dear Readers: Fighting the Blaze is book four in the Fire and Fury series and can be read as a standalone. It begins the tale of Brandi and Blaze’s epic love story.

If you want to read the other books in the series, books 1-3 focus on one couple, (Scott and Tori) and those must be read in order. You can read part one of Scott and Tori’s story in Chasing Fire, part two in Smoke and Mirrors and part three in Burn for You.


“Why a houseboat?” She turned after she placed her purse on the dresser next to the television. “Why not a house, or even an apartment?” She frowned, wondering how hard pressed for cash he truly was. The man was basically living in a floating trailer.

He grinned, popping those dimples. “Come here.” He pulled her by the hand, dragging her downstairs. When they got to the kitchen, he stopped and he snagged two glasses out of the cupboard, then rifled through his fridge, pulling out a bottle of red wine.

“Wine?” he offered.

She gulped. “Yes, that would be lovely.”

He poured two glasses and handed her one. “Come on,” he took a sip, “Trust me; you won’t want to miss this.” He grabbed the bottle off the counter and slid the door open.

She followed him out to the deck and they sat on a swing overlooking the water. He was right; his view was completely unobstructed.

“This is why I choose a houseboat.” He pointed west to the sun barely peeking over the clear, blue water. The sky was lit with beautiful hues of pink, purple and orange. The boat swayed back and forth as the waves lapped up against it, lulling her into a state of calmness.

They sat there in comfortable silence, sipping their wine and taking it in. It was so spectacular it made all the agony of the past twenty-four hours worth it. She couldn’t believe she was sitting here on the Atlantic Ocean watching the sun go down.

She finished off her glass, and he bent down, retrieving the bottle from the deck and topped her back off as his knuckles grazed hers on the cushion of the swing, fingers dancing so close. Like two school kids, they sat there barely touching—neither one wanting to make the first move. Finally, she succumbed to the moment and grabbed his hand, intertwining her fingers with his. She took another sip of wine and a contented sigh passed her lips as the last sliver of the sun disappeared behind the horizon.

Ian turned to her, staring her dead in the eye. The shimmer of the water bounced off his emerald orbs, illuminating the flecks of gold in the center. “I’m not broke, Brandi. I just don’t need much. A fancy lifestyle has never suited me. I’ve had enough complicated to last a lifetime, so I prefer to soak up the beauty of the simple things life has to offer.” He reached over and cupped her cheek, his calloused thumb grazing her jawline.

Her heart squeezed in her chest. She wanted a simple life. A small house to call home, a dog and a couple kids. And all she’d ever wanted was to share it with a man who desired the same. A man she could sit with on the porch, hold his hand, and watch the sun go down.

She leaned closer, inches away from his lips, yearning to kiss them. But if she did that, she wasn’t sure she could stop. The moment was too perfect—the wine, his words, and the sunset all clouding her judgement. Instead, she leaned her forehead against his, and closed her eyes, releasing the shaky breath she was holding in.

“Oh, you’re smooth.” A dry chuckle escaped her lips. “You almost had me there.”

He ruffled her hair at the nape of her neck. “Only if you’re ready, doll,” he said with a chuckle, planting a kiss on her forehead. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”


Avery Kingston writes sexy, emotional romance featuring wounded characters at a high heat level.

Avery is a wife to a man who’s demons play well with hers. Mom to a slew of crazy kids. Dog lover. Crazy cat lady. Artist. Free spirit. Lover of unusual beauty. Fitness junkie. Collector of boots and fonts. Angsty drama addict and avid wearer of yoga pants.

Avery is a military wife and a sucker for a good wounded hero story. She set out to write stories where the leading characters were smart, sexy, confident and strong. Avery began writing the type of romance novels she would want to read. Stories about real couples, wounded either physically or emotionally, with an open door into their steamy bedroom.

She loves her stalkers!

amazon link



Burn For You is LIVE!


Burn For You coverTitle: Burn For You

Series: Fire and Fury #3

Author: Avery Kingston

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Formats: E-book and Paperback

Cover by: Avery Kingston

Editor: Writer’s Rebirth

Released: November 16, 2018



Scott and Tori have promised forever to each other. 

But for a girl whose life has been full of misfortune—forever is a fantasy word that only exists in fairy tales and fables.

In spite of blow after blow Tori still fights to grab onto her happily ever after with Scott. But as the wedding looms on the horizon, the demons of her past resurface with a vengeance—and this time they’re dragging him down with her.

For Scott, to sacrifice himself for his bride is not even a question. It’s his duty, his honor.

The man goes down; the girl goes free.

That is his mantra. His father ingrained it in him, the military further instilled it in him, and his sons will someday live and die by the same creed.

His headstrong woman believes this shouldn’t be his battle to fight, and she’ll go to any length to protect those she loves.

“Till Death Us Do Part” takes on a whole new meaning when both are willing to burn for each other.

Burn For You is part three in Scott and Tori’s epic love story. You can read part one of Scott and Tori’s story in Chasing Fire and part two in Smoke and Mirrors. All novels are full length books featuring a hot-as-hell alpha and a sexy artist who both have filthy mouths. Intended for a mature audience.


He flipped on the TV and watched a full rerun of The Office before checking the time. He frowned, grabbed his crutches, and went to check on her. The light from the hallway illuminated the room. Tori lay next to Jacob stroking his hair, singing to him, lulling him back to sleep. She must have heard him because she put her finger up to her lips, telling him to stay quiet as she continued singing.

He’d seen this woman face down naked with her backside up in the air. He’d watched her scream his name and clutch onto the sheets for dear life. But this, her singing softly to Jacob, was the most goddamn beautiful thing he’d ever seen. He rested his head on the door frame, unable to look away for even a second.

The last time he’d heard her sing was a few months ago out on his folk’s land. He was just as mesmerized then as he was now. Her voice was soothing to his soul. A smile crept across his face as he watched her with the kids. Tori may not have seemed like the mothering type to those that didn’t know her well, but she definitely had it in her. His heart swelled in his chest.

You’ll get this. He didn’t care how long it took, or how much they had to fight for it. This woman deserved to be a mother and any child would be lucky to have her.

She placed her hand on Jacob’s chest to check his breathing. Then, she rolled out of the bed, walked to the door, and reached out, her hand landing on Scott’s chest. She rubbed his bare skin and smiled. He backed away, letting her pass.

They settled back into bed and he turned off the light, rolled over, and wrapped his arms around her. His mind swam with the events of the evening: the mess in the kitchen, bathing the kids, her listening to the movie with them, getting them to bed. Seemingly simple things that probably were an uphill battle for her, yet she didn’t complain. Not once.

He wanted to tell her how patient and wonderful she was. He wanted to tell her how great of a mother she would be. He wanted to tell her that her blindness didn’t matter because she saw more than any person he knew. He wanted to promise to give her babies, and everything her heart desired. Instead, he whispered in her ear, “I love you, baby. Goodnight.”


Avery Kingston writes sexy, emotional romance featuring wounded characters at a high heat level.

Avery is a wife to a man who’s demons play well with hers. Mom to a slew of crazy kids. Dog lover. Crazy cat lady. Artist. Free spirit. Lover of unusual beauty. Fitness junkie. Collector of boots and fonts. Angsty drama addict and avid wearer of yoga pants.

Avery is a military wife and a sucker for a good wounded hero story. She set out to write stories where the leading characters were smart, sexy, confident and strong. Avery began writing the type of romance novels she would want to read. Stories about real couples, wounded either physically or emotionally, with an open door into their steamy bedroom.

She loves her stalkers!

amazon link



First Halloween

Last year I posted a deleted scene/flashback of Scott and Tori on Halloween. In this flashback we find out that Halloween is Tori’s favorite holiday.

I thought this would be a fun tradition to carry on this year, and post a little short story about their first Halloween together as a REAL couple in their new home.

This story would fit into the timeline in my upcoming book Burn For You between Chapters 4 & 5. I did my very best to not give spoilers for what is coming in that novel. (Yes, they get a dog in Chapter one of my upcoming novel, and my readers will learn ALL about Kahn there.)

For those that haven’t read, this gives you a little glimpse into the lives of Scott and Tori. After years of being friends with benefits (this story is in Chasing Fire) they finally have committed to each other. They’ve promised forever and are engaged (this story is told in Smoke and Mirrors) Burn For You will pick up right where we left off in Smoke and Mirrors. Scott and Tori happy, committed and starting their home and family.

So, without further explanation here it is:

Scott eyed Tori as she wandered downstairs, their German Shepherd, Kahn, hot on her heels. Only two weeks together and those two were best buds. Mainly because his bride to be spoiled him to no end. 

 “You’re up early,” he remarked. It wasn’t like her to wake up early, especially after the past week of her not feeling so swell. “You going back into the office today?” 

 “Nah. I’ve still got some leave so I’m gonna take a couple more days.” She ruffled her fingers through her disheveled platinum locks, shook her head and pattered into the kitchen as the dog followed.

 “I can work from home today,” he hollered to her.

 She was quiet for some time while he listened to the opening and shutting of the cabinet doors. “Good, I can use your help,” she shouted back as her mug hit the counter with a clank. 

 “My help?” 

 She emerged from the kitchen a few moments later, coffee in hand. “Me being down this past week has put us on a time crunch.”

 Kahn came over to him and rested his head on Scott’s thigh. “Time crunch?” He gave the pooch a good rub on the head.

 “Today is Halloween, goof.” When she got close to the sofa she reached out for him. 

 “Ah, I’d lost track of the date.” He grabbed her by the hand and gently pulled her down next to him.

 “We need candy for trick-or-treaters, costumes—”

 “Costumes? That sounds like a lot to put together last minute.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Maybe we should just kick the porch lights off and pretend we’re not home.”

 She snapped her head in his direction and scowled as if he’d just suggested to a kid they cancel Christmas. 

 “I mean we already decorated the front of the house…” She’d done that before they were even finished unpacking boxes from the move. He knew that Halloween was her favorite holiday, and he obliged to her whims. It took hours for them to get it just like she envisioned when there were so many things higher on his priority list. They decked their porch out in skeletons, spiderwebs, bats and they even had tombstones littering their yard. 

 “I will not be those kind of Halloween people.” She sucked in a breath then lifted her mug to her mouth. “My mom always tried to pull that kind of shit and it pissed me the hell off,” she mumbled behind the mug before taking a sip. Finally after a long swallow she lifted her chin and set her mug down. “I want us to be the Halloween house. The house that people talk about in the neighborhood.”

 He snorted and rolled his eyes. “I think we’ve got that covered already.” Between him doing yard work in his prosthetic blade and his blind bride-to-be coming and going with her cane, they’d drawn plenty of stares from rubberneck neighbors. A few had introduced themselves, but many whispered and kept their distance. This was par for the course in their world. People feared the unfamiliar. Some teens in the neighborhood had taken to pranking them. They loved to ring the bell to see how long it would take for them to get to the door, only to run at the last minute. It just solidified the fact to Scott that teenagers were awful creatures. 

 “Which is exactly why we need to make a show.” A wicked smile morphed on her face. 

 “What evil idea do you have brewing in that sneaky brain?” 

 She threw her head back and cackled like a madwoman. “The neighbors want something to talk about, let’s give them something to talk about.” 

* * *

 They spent the day running all over town to gather the items on her list. Shopping included a trip to the thrift store where they’d purchased a used dress for her, and a suit and tie for him that she planned to rip to shreds and trash. 

 “Do you really think this is a wise idea? To freak out the people in the neighborhood?” He pulled the big bottle of faux blood out of the package and set it on the kitchen counter with the other makeup items they’d purchased. “I mean, fuck those awful teenagers, but what about the younger kids?” 

 “Listen, you big softie.” She crossed her arms and turned to him. “Getting scared as a kid is a rite of passage on Halloween. Also, parents aren’t idiots. Our lawn already looks like a graveyard, so it gives fair warning. If their kids are too freaked out, they’ll just pass us on by.”  

 A knock came at the door, followed by a bark from Kahn. 

 “That’s Keith!” Tori clapped her hands and jumped up and down. “Come in!” She shouted. 

 The door creaked open and Keith popped in, with Jonathan, his latest fling behind him. Kahn emitted a snarky, low growl. 

 “Kahn hush!” Scott snapped at the dog who lay on the floor obediently. 

 “Oh shut the fuck up you beast.” Keith reciprocated with his own snarl back at the dog and a middle finger after he shut the door. “Why does he hate me so much?” 

 “Because you won’t pet him in fear you’ll get fur on your pristine pants.” Scott chuckled looking at Keith’s very tight, white, skinny jeans.

 “I love the yard. You two really go all out for Halloween,” Jonathan said as they wandered into the kitchen. “Amazing kitchen!” He eyed the large kitchen with the white cabinetry and ran his fingers over the double-door stainless-steel fridge. “I can’t wait to get to work in here!” He pulled items out from paper sacks. 

 “Have at it Jonathan. My kitchen is now yours!” Tori grinned and turned in Keith’s direction. “Did you get ahold of your friend at the theatre, Keith?” 

 “Yup. Got what you ordered.” He dug into his messenger bag and pulled out several vials of what looked like fluid.

 “Woah. What’s this?” Scott picked up the vial and eyed it.

 Keith laughed and jostled his shoulder. “Look at you examining it like its heroin or something.” 

 Scott read the vial that had Theatrical Lenses imprinted on it and raised a brow. “Contact lenses?” 

 “Scott you’ll get the zombie, icy ones and our little blind bat gets the creepy as hell black ones…”

 He cringed at the thought of something going into his eye. He couldn’t even do eye drops. He placed the vial down and caught Jonathan quietly holding back his giggles. 

 “Oh put on your big-boy pants and suck it up buttercup.” Tori patted his back. “What about Kahn’s costume? Can you hand sew some items on it for me quick?” 

 Scott held his hands up. “Wait. What? We’re dressing the dog now? Is that what the stupid dog sweatshirt was for?” He just figured that was to keep him warm. She spoiled that dog rotten.

 “An un-dead family need a zombie dog.” She shrugged. “That’s also why I got the huge bone.” 

 “What are we doing with the bone?” Scott assumed that ginormous bone was to keep him occupied while they handed out candy. 

 “We’re sticking it into one of your sneakers for him to chomp on, of course.” Tori threw her head back and laughed like a crazy person. “You’ll be going sans-prosthetic tonight, babe.” She patted his shoulder. 

 She had the sickest, most twisted sense of humor. He scratched his brow and mumbled. “We aren’t just going to scare the neighbors, we’re going to traumatize them.” 

* * *

 Two hours later after having makeup slathered all over his face Scott sat on a chair in their bathroom, growing impatient. 

 “Ok. You have to stop blinking every time I get near your eye,” Keith huffed after trying to get the contact in his eye the millionth time. 

 “I got them in just fine, babe.” She turned to him and blinked a few times. She looked positively terrifying. Keith had done a phenomenal job with her makeup and Scott was seriously impressed. The way he drew the black lines from her lips made the corner of the mouth extend into what looked like a fully slashed open cheek. The contacts she was wearing were something Keith called “sclera” lenses. Whatever they were, they were all-black, freaky as hell and covered her entire eyeball. That haunting look added with dripping black and red lines her lids was horrifying. He shivered a bit looking at her.

 “I’m sorry, but that’s an unfair comparison. She can’t see it coming for her. I see something coming for my eye, I blink!” Scott barked back. They’d been at this for thirty minutes and they’d only managed to get one contact in. “Just let me try it myself!”

 “But I don’t want you to see my masterpiece until I’m finished!” Keith whined. “Come on, you’ve been through getting your leg blown to bits. I assume you’re tough enough for this.” 

 “Fine.” He took a deep breath and leaned back, tilting his head to the ceiling. He zoned out and thought about the boring contracts at work sitting on his hard drive, anything to get his mind off the fact a finger was coming toward his eye. 

 As soon as Keith neared him again though, his natural reflex took over and he once again blinked. 

 “Oh for fucks sake. You promised!” Keith stomped his foot. 

 “I’m sorry.” He shook his head and could only laugh. Finally Scott cheated and turned to look at himself in the mirror. “Holy. Fucking. Shit.” 

 “I told you not to look!” Keith scolded him. “We still haven’t got the contacts in!”

 “Dude, this is excellent even with just the one in!” He tilted his jaw side to side, admiring Keith’s handiwork. 

 His skin was a blanch shade of reddish-purple, and his eyes were huge, dark circles perfectly blended into the skin. Lines were drawn on his face to give the impression of veins underneath the paper-thin looking skin, and his lips were blackened. Keith had sprayed his hair and beard full of grey to give it a dulling, dying look. The one eye that had the contact in was a whitish-blue with a small, black pupil. 

 “Fuck it. I’ve got a contingency plan. I give up on the other lens.” Keith waved his hands. He then turned and opened the linen cabinet that had their medicine on the top two shelves. “Oh, come on, tell me you’ve got some gauze in here.” 

 “Top shelf left-hand side there is a tackle box that’s a first aid kit,” Tori chimed as she tucked her hair up under a wig cap. 

 “Leave it to Scott Fucking Harris to use a tackle box as a first aid kit.” Keith chuckled.

 Just then Jonathan came into the room. “Any luck with the lenses?”

 “No.” Tori frowned, as she slipped on a pair of grey tights over her lacy, black underwear. Even with the gory makeup the site of her prancing in next to nothing made him a little stiff. He adjusted himself. 

 “Are you seriously getting an erection?” Keith huffed as he walked back over, gauze in hand.

 “I can’t help it. She’s hot.” He shrugged. 

 “Not my cup of tea.” Jonathan set a large bowl on the counter then wrapped his arms around Keith from behind. “But she does have a pretty decent rack, for a girl.” He winked at Scott who could only chuckle inwardly that Tori was practically naked in front of three men—two of whom her smoking hot body was totally lost on.

 “Yeah, yeah. Vic’s tits are a work of art.” Keith rolled his eyes. 

 “What’s in the bowl?” Scott nodded to the counter. 

 Keith yanked his chin toward him. “Hold still.” Keith wrapped his head in the gauze, covering one eye. 

 “Jello eyeballs.” Jonathan flashed a pearly-white grin and held them out for him to see. 

 Scott belly laughed looking at the bowl full of eyeballs. “So fucking gross.” 

 “Which just helps my plan here!” Keith cackled. “With her all black orb’s and you patched up, this works perfect!” 

 “Seriously, you don’t think this is all too much?” Scott looked down at his residual leg poking out from under the ripped pants. Keith had bloodied it up and added some bite marks. The scarring and stump alone was probably enough to frighten small children. 

 “Nah.” They all chimed in unison. 

 “Babe, this isn’t any scarier than the stuff people see when they walk into the Halloween store.” She waved her hand. 

 “What about you two?” Tori asked as Keith as he dabbed some faux blood to the eye covered in gauze. “You two should get zombiefied with us.” 

 “We’ve had our costumes ready for weeks now.” Jonathan chimed. “Ya, know for the big party.” 

 Scott winced. Jonathan was not supposed to mention that. Keith shot him a shut-the-hell-up look. 

 Tori stopped dead in her tracks and turned to him. “What party? Do you mean Natalie’s party? As in my boss Nat?” 

 “I…I…I’m not sure.” Jonathan grimaced and rubbed the top of his shaved head. His brown eyes pleaded with Scott and Keith for help. 

 “I didn’t’ think she was having it this year…” The wig clutched in her grasp fell to the ground as she swallowed hard. “Guess I wasn’t invited.” She reached to the ground and swiped her hand across the floor, looking for the lost wig. 

 “Here, baby.” Scott picked it up and handed it to her and helped her slip it on.

 “Vic, Nat was just worried about you, she didn’t know if you’d be up for it this year.” Keith rubbed her shoulders. “You’ve been through a lot, and she didn’t want to pressure you.” 

 “No, what she didn’t want was the embarrassment of having me there after the bad press I gave them. God forbid I have any other embarrassing mishaps in front of her hoity-toity DC friends.” Tori stood and straightened her wig. “I should consider myself I’m lucky I’ve still got a job.” 

 “Vic, you know that’s not true. She gave you the entire private event area for your exhibition next month and—” 

 “Just stop.” She held up her trembling hand. “Scott, did you know about this?” 

 Scott reached out and clasped it in his grasp, rubbing it. “I didn’t want to upset you. I’m sorry, baby.” 

 She lifted her chin, and a silence fell over the room, and he waited on her backlash. Finally, she lifted her chin and spoke. “I’m not gonna let this get under my skin. This is my first Halloween in our home. I don’t need her fancy, snobby party. I’ve got all I need right here.” She squeezed his hand tight. “Now, where is my fur baby? Kahn!” She whistled, and the dog came charging into the bathroom. 

 Scott laughed as the dog ran into the room, breaking the tension. “Holy shit babe, he looks fantastic.” Keith had given him a dog onesie and sewn and open rib-cage to the side, covered in blood. “He looks like one of those damn hellhounds from Resident Evil. It’s epic.” 

 She reached down, and felt the side of the costume, taking it in. “Perfect. Just what I wanted.” A grin morphed on her face as Kahn gave her cheek a good lick. 

 “Don’t let him lick you, Vic!” Keith shrieked. “He’ll fuck up that makeup.” 

 “Well, then let’s give him Scott’s leg.” She made air quotes with her fingers as she said the word leg.

* * *

 Before the guys took off Scott made Keith snap some photos of their little family—him, Tori and Kahn—on the front porch. Then they said their goodbyes and took off. 

 He exhaled as he slumped down onto the porch swing, and his crutch hit the deck with a thud. “Dammit, I forgot the bowl of candy…” 

 “I’ve got it. You’re in worse shape than me right now.” She chuckled and disappeared into the house. 

 It was true. With only one crummy wooden crutch—she wouldn’t let him use the metal one—and only one eye he could barely see out of, he was feeling very disabled at the moment. 

 His phone chimed in his pocket and he yanked it out. Keith had quickly texted all the photos to him. He grinned wide looking at the megawatt grin on his girl’s face. All the agony of the exhausting day was worth it to see that smile. Honestly, this was the best damn costume he’d ever had. The certifiably looked dead and decomposing. The lack of his leg helped…a lot. He posted them quick on Facebook and tagged Tori. His mom was gonna have a fit when she saw them. He was never allowed to wear gory costumes growing up. He chuckled at how irked she’d be as he tucked his phone back into his pocket. 

 He laughed louder as he looked down and saw Kahn chomping on the leg bone shoved into his sneaker. It was positively gruesome. 

 Tori came back out with the bowl of candy in hand and sat next to him. 

 “Now what?” he asked. 

 “Now we wait and see who’s brave enough to come to the creepy house.” She smirked and rifled through the bowl, unwrapped a piece of candy and popped it into her mouth, looking quite satisfied. 

They sat there quietly for a few moments as the street lights flickered on. In the distance he could see their first wave of trick-or-treaters heading down the sidewalk. “We have our first.” He nudged her in the side.

“How old?”

“About thirteen.” That was his best guess based on the height. “There’s a big group of them. I think it’s the teenagers.” The ones that loved to Ding-Dong-Ditch them.

“Perfect. Follow my lead.” She plopped the bowl of candy in his lap and exchanged it in her for the bowl full of Jello-eyeballs sitting on the patio table next to her. Scott stifled his snicker watching her zombie walk across the porch, dragging a foot behind her.

Whispers came from the kids and one pushed their pack leader out toward her.

“Trick Or Treat!” the boldest one chimed through his vampire teeth as they walked up. Tori slowly extended her arm with the bowl. The kid went to dig his hand in and froze.

“My eyes!” Tori moaned and clawed under her left eye with her free hand.

The teenager looked over his shoulder at the kids cowering behind him. His eyes shifted to Kahn mowing on the “leg bone” and that’s when the kid squealed and jumped back a few feet.

Scott stood and leaned into his crutch, grabbed the bowl of candy with his free hand, and groaned as he limped over, offering the candy.

The kids all exchanged side-eyes debating if the candy was worth it. Scott grunted and nudged the bowl closer to them and flashed a wicked grin.

A smug grin morphed on the kids face and their eyes locked in mutual respect for the payback prank. The kid jutted out his chin. “Sweet costumes, dude.” The kid palmed the candy and shoved it into his bag. The others shoulders relaxed and followed suit, then they turned and left.

“Holy shit, did you see that?” Scott could hear their whispers as they ran down the sidewalk. “Those people are crazy!” He grinned in satisfaction at the street-cred he just earned with the kids.

After the kids were gone they sat back down. A wide grin was plastered on Tori’s face.

 “You seem happy.” He patted her thigh.

 She swallowed. “Stoooopp.” 

 “What?” He feigned ignorance.

 “That whole droop in your voice. Just don’t.” She shook her head. “I don’t want to talk about my boss, and the fact I wasn’t invited to her party. I don’t want tonight to be about worry over me. I’m glad I wasn’t invited. Honestly. There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be than right here, on our front porch, with you, scaring kids.” She reached up and touched his cheek, then grimaced. “Ew, your skin feels nasty.” She giggled and rubbed the smudged makeup between her fingertips

 “Yeah, I’d kiss ya, but you’re pretty nasty yourself, woman.” 

 They both erupted in laughter. His heart swelled with adoration for this amazing, strong woman that he was going to spend forever with. Every day he fell harder, deeper and more in love with her. 

 “Aw fuck it. I love your nasty ass.” He leaned in and kissed her. 




My Sophomore Book – Smoke and Mirrors

I’ve been busy putting the final polish on Smoke and Mirrors, my sophomore book, the second in my Fire and Fury series.

This book. Oh, where do I even begin?

Of course THE week that I sent over to my editor for the final proofing would be the week that I decided to read not ONE but TWO amazing books that make me doubt everything about myself.

This book… oh this book… I’ll be honest. This book has about KILLED me.

Have I mentioned before that I re-wrote this book not once, oh, not twice, not even three but FOUR (yes four) times?

Draft one of Smoke and Mirrors was a mess. Originally I’d ended Chasing Fire on a cliffhanger and I felt that I was doing a huge disservice to my readers by not giving Scott and Tori their HFN. I didn’t want a gimmick. I wanted readers to read on because they love these two as much as I do. So before I published Chasing Fire I fixed the ending. Then I knew I had to fix the second book. I had this huge weird mystery plot in book two that just didn’t work for the first half, and the second half Scott and Tori went off to Texas to meet his family. It was like two different books jammed together and it was NOT working. I really loved the second half of the book, and that is where most of their growth was as a couple. I knew that THIS is really what I wanted Smoke and Mirrors to be about.

So I rewrote it. Then I rewrote again. Finally it began to take form. It turned out to be a much more laid-back type of book.

Chasing Fire was this fun, flirty (and yes angsty) will-they-won’t-they, I’m-gonna-yank-my-hair-out type book. For some it was a frustrating read. For others, they loved the angst. I started writing Chasing Fire as a fun hobby between my husband and I. We’d write these sexy scenes/snippets about these two friends with benefits back and forth while he was on military orders. I somehow managed to make it work as a romance. I took three years to mold Chasing Fire into a novel that actually made some sort of sense. It took time to give these characters motivation for WHY they circled each other for so many years without committing. I was certain it was doomed to fail. It wasn’t the typical romance novel. I broke all the rules writing this thing and followed no formula. BUT it was Scott and Tori’s story and they eventually told me WHY they did the things they did, and for them, it made sense.

Guess what? It did hella better than I ever expected it would. Readers GOT my characters. They understood that it was really a novel about two people loving each other in the wrong place at the wrong time with life constantly getting in the way. They saw how human Scott and Tori were and loved them in spite of their glaring faults and terrible decisions.

Smoke and Mirrors was much more the romance novel I wanted to write. A novel about two broken people learning to love in a committed, monogamous, relationship. I really wanted to crack Scott and Tori open and see what happens when you put these two damaged people together for real.

It’s VASTLY different from Chasing Fire. So that of course leaves me with much lingering self-doubt. Now that they don’t have the will-they-won’t-they to keep the pages turning… are my characters enough to keep readers engaged?

Of course I hear all the rules screaming in my ear as to why my series is doomed to fail. Things like:

“You can’t have a sex scene in the first chapter… you have to build to it.”

Sorry, this is kinda my signature thing with these two. I did it in the first, and second and I plan to do it again in the third. Because admit it. Scott and Tori have some seriously HOT boinkage.

“Readers will not stay engaged and follow a series about the same couple.” 

Um, ever heard of Twilight? Fifty Shades? Outlander? I mean, I could go on and on about all the RULES. Ya know what? Screw the rules. (That’s me channeling my inner Tori). I’m going to write the story in me that is screaming to be told.

Personally once I fall for a couple I could read about them doing laundry together and be completely satisfied. Not everyone is hard wired this way. But, like I’ve said before I set out to write the type of romance novels I would want to read. I guess this is because I wanted to mirror what I have with my husband in Scott and Tori. TV shows like “This Is Us” inspire me to write about real couples going through the drama of life together, and somehow still staying strong. If you ask me, a couples story doesn’t end at the HEA or HFN. Things happen. Life goes on. Trials come. The romance keeps blossoming. People grow deeper in love. I wanted to show what it was like when people try and work through their issues to grow stronger and become better people.

Scott has to really battle his nature to lead men and control. Control is what keeps others around him safe.

His ability to be in control kept him and others around him safe. It was his creed that he’d lived his life by and prided himself on. Leave a situation to the device of others and they’d fail the mission, or wind up dead. Just like the day of his explosion. He’d known that the CO’s plan was shit. He was right. If he’d been in control he wouldn’t be walking on a peg and Jones wouldn’t be six feet under.

As a soldier this is his thing. He barks orders and men just are expected to fall in line.

“I have a permit.” Scott shrugged.

“A permit?” Tori’s brow went up.

“An I-can-do-whatever-I-want permit,” Scott said with arrogance.

Isn’t that the damn truth?

Harris did what he wanted and nobody was ever allowed to bat an eye. They all were just expected to fall in line. Except Tori it seemed. Harris’ girl seemed to march to the beat of her own drum.

Of course fate would pair him up with the ONE WOMAN who refuses to submit. This is the essence of their conflict in book two. His father wisely points this out to him:

Scott took a pull from the beer. “I never want her to feel trapped. Ever. I love how free spirited and wild she is, but I hate it at the same time.” Scott scratched his brow. “I’ve been in some dicey situations. Bullets have flown by my head. I’ve been blown up. I’ve seen my brothers die in front of me, but nothing terrifies me more than the thought of something happening to my girl.”

“I suspect she fears being out of control and loss as much as you do.”

“Oh I’m certain she does.” His eyes widened.

“Funny thing, isn’t it? How we somehow manage to end up with the one that forces us to look in the mirror—reflecting all our faults and fears.” Wayne let that hang in the air for a moment. “Makes us have to work on our shit. We have to become better men.”

This is what Smoke and Mirrors is. It’s all about growth. Growth as a couple. Growth as individuals. Scott needs to learn there is a fine line between control and keeping her safe. Tori needs to learn to trust him, grieve her losses and figure out the woman she now is without sight.

Tori has lived her life closed off. She keeps people at a distance to protect her heart from further loss. She hides behind the walls of her sexuality because honestly, deep down, she’s not near as confident as what she portrays to the world. Pairing her up into a monogamous relationship brings all these fears to the surface, and it forces her to deal with her junk that she’s stuffed down. She never really had a chance to deal with her grief in book one. I think women are going to relate to Tori much more in the second book. We get to see a much softer side of Tori in Smoke and Mirrors:

“I’m so fucking angry. The one thing that I was good at was stripped away from me.” She sobbed into Keith’s chest. “I just want my art back. Even if I can’t see it, I need to feel it in my soul, and I’m so exhausted from having to think so much, I can’t even do that.”

“Honey, I’m so sorry I called it a fun challenge. I didn’t—”

She shook her head and pulled back. “You only said that because I’ve said that a hundred times in the past several months trying to remain positive. It’s my damn suit of armor. I’ve fooled everyone. It’s all smoke and mirrors; an illusion. Reality is, I’m still really pissed.”

My worry about how Smoke and Mirrors will be received has left me up at night in a sweat of panic. I guess because Chasing Fire did so much better for a debut than I could have ever hoped for. I want to deliver a satisfying read to my loyal fans for the next book. I still give my readers the smoking hot love scenes. We still have the dashes of humor that I love so much. Tori is still as reckless as ever and it drives Scott insane. The thing is, it’s just not near as gut wrenching as the first. I felt my readers, myself and my characters needed a break from all the major drama and angst. I wanted some time to enjoy Scott and Tori as a couple before all hell breaks loose (and trust me, it does in book three). But don’t worry. It all works out in the end. That I promise.

So yeah, Smoke and Mirrors is a transition book. It’s a lot of growth and really digging into my characters issues. I’m hoping my loyal fans that fell in love with Scott and Tori in the first book will enjoy their journey in this second book. I know I’ve enjoyed writing it (even if it took me four times to get it right).

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Meet Judith

Happy Mothers day to all the mamma’s out there! I decided in celebration of mother’s day, I’d share my favorite book mamma, Judith Harris with the world.

In book one of the Fire and Fury series (Chasing Fire) we briefly met Judith Harris (mother to Scott Harris). We get a LOT more of Judith in book two (Smoke and Mirrors).

When I set out to create Judith I didn’t want her to be the southern, Christian mamma that you see Hollywood portray with the crummy accent and the southern bible thumping stereotypes. I didn’t want her to be the monster in law like many books and movies paint the hero’s mother to be. I wanted her to be a realistic image of what a Texas, southern mamma was like. I wanted her to invite Tori into her family with open arms. I wanted her to “Love Jesus but drink a little.” (Best quote EVER).

Judith’s husband (Scott’s dad), Wayne, says the following when Tori slips out a curse in front of him:

“Judith sings sweetly with the choir on Sunday, but can cuss like a sailor Monday through Saturday when the preacher ain’t around. Just don’t ever say the big F word in front of her. She will whack you upside the head for that one.”

Judith is a fiery red-head southern mamma that takes shit from no one. When she says jump, you can really only ask how high. You don’t argue with Mamma Harris.

Tori’s fork dropped out of her hand and clanked loudly on the plate. “Church?” Tori swallowed her mouth full. Scott didn’t say anything about church being on the agenda.

“Well of course, it is Sunday after all,” Judith said as if it was normal practice for Tori to go to church on Sunday. “Pastor hasn’t seen Scott since he was a teenager and I would love to show you off, Victoria.”

Tori knew she had to look like a deer in the headlights. She dug her nails into Scott’s thigh.

“Oh, dear I’m sure they’re exhausted from the flight, we don’t expect you two to go.” Wayne came to her rescue. Tori was not a hugger but she could have jumped across the table and flung her arms around the man at that moment.

“Yeah mom, we’re pretty worn out, maybe another time.” Scott squeezed Tori’s hand on his lap.

“Fine, but next Sunday I’m not taking no for an answer,” Judith said adamantly. Tori knew there was no way they were going to get out of it the following week. She was learning one thing, you don’t argue with Scott’s mom. Judith was already displeased that they were sleeping in the same bedroom. Tori thought it was ridiculous. They were in their thirties after all.

The woman has grit and a strong backbone. She’s also very nurturing. She will go above and beyond for her kids (to a fault… she can be a bit smothering at times), but she does it from the bottom of her heart that is the size of Texas.

“And look here at this sweet girl you brought home!”

The next thing Tori knew she was getting a bear hug from Scott’s mother. “Oh!” Tori flinched and chuckled in surprised amusement from his mother’s ambush. Tori politely returned the warm embrace around Judith’s small, yet strong frame. The hug lasted a few moments longer than Tori was comfortable with.

“Well my goodness.” Judith pulled back and held onto Tori’s shoulders. “Aren’t you a pretty little thing?”

“Thank you, Mrs. Harris.” Tori gave a genuine smile. Although the welcome was a bit much, it made her feel warm all over. She’d never been hugged that tightly before even by her own mother. How on earth could she have been afraid of this woman with the sweetest voice she’d ever heard?

Family is not really Tori’s thing. Her father died when she was very young and her mother turned to self-medication with booze and drugs. She’s never had anyone that she could really count on to be in her corner. She knows that Scott comes from a good, wholesome family. So heading to Texas to meet Scott’s very large family is going to bring a lot of issues to the surface. Without getting too into spoilers, my goal was even through the turmoil and self discovery that Tori has to do while on this trip, this was to become a very healing process. Finally, Tori gets the family she never had growing up. Judith fills a little of the gaping hole that was left in Tori’s heart.

Judith’s hand reached over and squeezed her leg. “Oh honey! I didn’t mean it like that. I know you’re quite capable. I just care about you. Lord, I bet people question you all the time. That must feel awful…” Judith sounded so upset with herself. “I should know better, when you need help you’re smart and bold enough to ask. I just…” she let out a heavy breath, “I just wanted to mother you a bit.”

Tori put her hand on top of Judith’s and squeezed it. There were about a thousand emotions that filled her with that statement, but they all clogged in her throat. Finally, Tori managed to croak out a meager, “Thank you.”

Judith isn’t perfect. That’s my number one rule about characters, they MUST have flaws. Judith is a bit nosy, and overbearing, and controlling (ahem, now we know where Scott gets it from). She tends to smother the ones she loves a bit too much.

Scott leaned in and gave her a deep kiss. “Now let’s head inside. Mom’s peering out the window being nosy, as usual. I can see her wild red hair poking over the frame.”

Here is a little from Blaze’s perspective on Mamma Harris.

He may have never met the woman face to face, but he’d know her for certain if he passed that red head on a crowded street. The woman that sent him not only letters, but dozens of cards with sky filled doves and bible scriptures scrawled on them when he was in the hospital. Oh, and cookies. Yeah, he appreciated those. He read every word she wrote, trashed the scripture filled cards, and ate every last crumb. The woman could bake a mean ass chocolate chip cookie.

I could go on and on about Judith. My inspiration for her was a mash up of all the mother figures that have poured into my life. My mom, like Tori’s dad, passed when I was very young. Judith has a dash of my mother’s willingness to go above and beyond for those she cared for. My husband’s mother is the same way. My very kind, loving mother in law will constantly inconvenience herself for all us kids. My husbands grandmother is a very wise woman who loves without condition and will always give you big hugs, AND tell you exactly how it is as she heaps you up spoonfuls of her home cooked roast on Sunday. And as far as her mouth, well, Judith gets her no-filter will say anything that pops in her head mouth from my Nanaw. My nanaw was also a bit of a southern gossip. That woman never knew when to keep her flap shut, but she was a RIOT. If I had a birthday party and the kids were playing musical chairs, you better believe my Nanaw was right in there with the kids being a total goofball. As far as her backbone and grit to take anything that life throws at her, she gets that from my stepmom. That woman has survived open heart surgery, breast cancer and MUCH more. She’s one of the strongest women I know.

So to all you strong mammas out there today, I salute you, and Judith Harris. I can’t wait for you to fall in love with Scott’s mamma.

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Chasing Fire is LIVE

Today I sent my babies out into the world. Chasing Fire is officially LIVE!

Let me recap my past month.

I spent countless hours painstakingly pouring over the changes sent to me from my editor.

It took me five days, 352 pages of edits and clocking in at 98K. My hands were nearly too tired to type another word, but the final draft of Chasing Fire was finally finished. I did two final read throughs and tried to catch every last thing.

In between working on the edits I put the book on Amazon for pre-order and it was approved by Amazon, so my plan was to launch the links for order on Monday April 2nd (which I did).

For fun on April 1st I checked the pre-sale stats and expected too see nothing. After all, I’m a newbie author with zero reader base and I haven’t even promoted the links yet.

Then I saw that I had orders.

Holy freaking crapola.

I blinked several times and stared at the screen. This can’t be real.

My hands started to tremble and tears began streaming down my face. This was becoming REAL. This was happening. Five long years of labor on this book baby and it’s going to be in the hands of readers.

Today that dream became a reality.

Over the next several weeks orders continued to trickle in. All this time I was formatting the ebook using Scrivener (then converting it to a .mobi file by using Calibre – I’ll go over this whole process in a separate post). I was also working in InDesign for my print copy and blasting promos on social media.

My Amazon ranking steadily climbed. I sent out ARC’s and had an overwhelming response for my first novel. Then this week was basically promo…wait…promo…wait.

Tuesday my print proof came in the mail. I can NOT tell you what it feels like to hold that baby in your hands. It’s like holding your newborn (but not QUITE as emotional). I did cry though. Big happy tears.

All this time lingering self doubt clouded my brain. Then, something miraculous happened. The ARC’s started coming in. People LOVE Scott and Tori.

Here are a few of the words that have made me cry this week from advanced readers:

It was phenomenal. Tori and Scott are wonderful characters. These books must be a part of my library.

I absolutely loved Chasing Fire by Avery Kingston! I was captivated from the very first chapter, I liked Tori immediately she seemed like she was so much fun, and Scott wow totally Alpha loved him! The feels in this book, I was all over the place!!

Chasing Fire was fantastic. I can’t believe this is a debut novel. Amazing writing, superb characters, a vivid and honest portrayal of military life, and plenty of yummy steam make this a total must read.

My biggest hope as an author is that readers will find my characters authentic. I wanted them to fall in love with Scott and Tori as much as I did. Scott and Tori are SO VERY REAL to me, and I needed them to be real to others as well.

I can’t wait to continue their story. I can’t wait for readers to find out what is in store for them. Lots of angst, drama, pain and joy is coming in the future.

Hold on tight readers. You’re in for one wild ride.
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Chasing Fire available for pre-order

Chasing Fire is officially up for pre-order! Grab it today and it will be delivered to your Kindle on April 20th.


A military alpha hero. A flirtatious vixen. A crazed game of seduction.

One pair of panties changed his life.

“I’m putting my panties in your back pocket. You have until two am to get them back to me. If you do, you will be rewarded. Handsomely.”

Those were the words Victoria Johnson whispered to Scott Harris after she stuffed a pair of lacy red panties into his back pocket. That was Tori’s favorite game: No strings attached sex. But he’d have to chase her first.

Years later, when Scott returns from Afghanistan minus one leg, he thinks the sexual games are over.  His military career is over. Hell, his life is over.

But then Tori shows up in his hospital room as fiery and flirtatious as the day he left. It turns out she’s more than just a beautiful disaster with sexy red panties.

Much more.

She may be trouble but she’s everything he’s ever wanted. Except for Tori, things are never that simple. Because Tori faces a tragedy of her own. An accident that rips her life apart, leaving her without sight and struggling to recover the woman she once was.

For Scott, Tori’s still the one he’s waited his whole life for. He’s done letting fate tear them apart. It will be a challenge to win her shattered heart once and for all.

Lucky thing Scott Harris never backs away from a challenge.

Chasing Fire is a full length romance with LOTS of steam and a HEA. Featuring a hot-as-hell alpha and a sexy artist who both have filthy mouths. Intended for a mature audience.


Tori’s heart pounded nervously as she walked down the hall toward Scott’s room. She may have gone home from the bar a week ago and cried herself to sleep worrying about him. She may have lied to Keith when he’d walked in that night and caught her sobbing. She may have spent the last week checking her phone every five minutes. She may have texted Shauna and asked her to drop some hints to Scott.

She quietly cracked open the door to his room. The blinds were drawn shut, and he lay sleeping in the darkened room. She shut the door gently behind her. It had been almost two years since she’d laid eyes on him. She crept closer to the bed, glancing him over. Slightly leaner, but still in impeccable shape. His facial hair was thick and unkempt, framed by a tube giving him oxygen. 

He had some bruising and stitched cuts, but it didn’t detract from his looks at all, and she ashamedly thanked God the explosion spared his beautiful face; many of the men she’d passed in the hall were not as fortunate. She could see under the loose sheet where the mound of his left leg stopped and was missing. 

An IV bag was hooked to his arm, which donned a new tattoo of what looked like a Spartan with some lettering on his forearm extending below the tribal on his bicep she was familiar with. She lightly touched his fingertips, leaned closer, squinting in the dark room to make out the words. It looked like Latin or Greek, but she wasn’t sure. 

His hand gripped her wrist, yanking her down. Tori gasped, and her eyes bulged. He studied her for a moment. Gradually, his dark, cold expression faded, his grip loosened, and those soulful brown eyes softened. Her unease disappeared as a slight smile crept across his face.

They locked eyes, neither of them saying a word, barely breathing. He pulled her in close by the back of her neck and kissed her sweetly. Familiarity washed over her as his lips touched hers, and a soft moan escaped her mouth.

“Hey, you,” Scott said, his voice hoarse. He had the sultriest look in his eyes, slightly tainted with the weight of all he’d endured. He kissed her gently once more and caressed her cheek. 

“Hey, Sailor.” She pulled back and studied him. 

“You’re a sight for sore eyes.” His eyes raked her up and down. “You cut off your hair?” He tugged a strand of her blonde waves between his fingertips.

She tucked it behind her ear and fiddled with her earrings. Her mouth quirked up as her eyes darted to the mound under the sheet. “You cut off your leg.” 

His face broke into a wide grin, and he laughed loudly, which made him cough and wheeze. “Touché.” 

Tori loved the way his eyes creased in the corners when he was amused. He carried a perpetually pissed off look that some would be intimidated by, but it was that impish grin that brought out the playful Scott, the Scott she’d met that night in the bar. God, he looks good.

“Sorry I startled you, was checking out the new ink.” She nodded to his arm. “I like it. It’s sexy,” she added with a playful wink. “Although I have no idea what it says.”

“Molṑn Labé,” Scott replied. “It means ‘come and take them’,” he explained further. “Legend is that Xerxes, king of Persia, demanded the Spartans surrender their weapons, and King Leonidas responded with this phrase.”

“Defiant.” Tori wrinkled her nose. “I like it.” 

He chuckled. “Speaking of ink, I noticed from your photo you had some yourself.”

“Yeah.” She turned and lifted her little blue casual dress, exposing a purple, lacy thong with the red lips on her right cheek at the hip. “Got this and another one I like even more.” She traced the lines of her tattoo. 

“Another?” His brow arched. “I’m not sure what can top saying kiss my ass.” 

She smiled. “You’ll see it sooner or later,” she said coyly. “When you’re up to it.”

“Now you have me intrigued.”

“Good.” She grinned. 

Tori pulled up a chair and sat next to his bed, kicking her feet up on the side lazily. She folded her arms across her chest, heaving a big sigh. He looked down at her sandaled feet, fiddled with her toe rings, and traced his fingers over the feathered tattoo wrapping her ankle.

“So how have you been?” He rubbed her calf with his rough hand. 

“Better than you, I presume,” she said kindly with a long breath. “I’ve been good. Got into grad school at Georgetown next fall. Getting ready to move in with my friend Keith after graduation. He’s got a kicking job at the Smithsonian and has a small place in Georgetown. He’s renting me his spare room. I’m hoping he can put in a good word. My degree requires an internship at a museum next summer, right after I finish spring semester, either in London or New York.” 

“Look at you, all grown up, going legit. I had no idea you had it in your bohemian blood. I’m impressed.”

“You should be. I’m kinda a big deal.” She made a silly face, crinkling her nose.

“So, who is this Keith dude you’re moving in with?” His brow wrinkled.

Tori tilted her head to the side, and a calm smile fell over her face. “Is someone jealous?” She let out a huge laugh as Scott rolled his eyes. “Keith is as gay as a row of pink tents.”

Scott laughed loudly, which made him cough again. 

“Hungry?” she asked.

“Very. Food here sucks.”

“I figured.” She bent over and grabbed her suede purse with the fringes on it, digging through it.

“Fringes?” he teased her about her purse, as he did about most of her clothing all the time. “You’re such a freaking hippie, Tori.”

“And you’re a wounded vet. Look how stereotypical 1960s we are.” She stuck her tongue out at him.

“Sneak in any cigarettes in there?” He nodded to her purse.

“You know I don’t smoke,” she smirked and added, “not cigarettes, at least. That shit will kill you.”

“So will explosions, but I’m still here.” He raised his palms.

She pursed her lips into a displeased scowl. From the sound of his lungs, the last thing he needed was a cigarette. She pulled out a large bag of chips. “Brought you some non-hospital food, Lieutenant Dan.” She tossed him the bag.

“Haha. Very funny.” Scott caught the bag. “Funyans. Fancy.” He opened the bag and popped one into his mouth.

“Oh, don’t act like they aren’t your favorite. I remember.” 

“That you did.” He grinned smugly. “Burgers are also my favorite.” 

“Hey! I’m a poor, starving artist living off my meager earnings from selling my paintings.” She leaned over and grabbed a chip from the bag and tossed it into her mouth. “That bag of chips was the last few dollars in my wallet”—she crunched on the chip—“and out of the goodness of my heart, I spent it on you. I probably won’t eat the rest of the week now.” She licked her fingers clean. 

“Well, I guess I better share. I can’t have you starving all week. Get over here, beautiful.” He patted the mattress next to him.