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Cadger Cadger

A hand wrapped around my arm and I was pulled back to sit again. The contact of that hand was gentle, but I could feel the change. Power pulsed through my system. It was happening again.

“Nia, listen to me, okay? It wasn’t your fault,” Kane’s voice said, the olive-green of his aura both bold and calming.

Wait. Aura? How was that possible? I had felt the change, felt my body absorb something just like it had that morning, but for some reason, the colors were still there. My body was filled by a wild strength, as though I had the ability to lift a car off the ground one-handed.

What was wrong with me? What was I?

Call Her Forth Call Her Forth

Looking for a good, clean fiction romance book with a fantasy twist? Well you have come to the right place! Call Her Forth is about Trent Mason, a man who went to bed one night and had a dream he couldn't shake -- a dream that changed his life. Join Trent on the cusp of his 28th birthday as he struggles to figure out what he really wants in life. As he searches for direction, Trent meets the girl of his dreams in his dreams, though she comes with some baggage of her own. Can Trent help this dream girl, or will the distractions of real life keep him from dreaming?

Callie The Calico Kitty Callie The Calico Kitty

It is my first day at my new home in the country. I was a city kitty, but now I am a country kitty. My name is Callie, and I am a white Calico kitty. Calico means that my fur is spotted. I just love my new home. Everything is so different from where I used to live. There is so much land to run around and explore. I live in the small country town of Trenton, Texas. Years ago, it was known as "Wild Cat Thicket" because there were so many mountain lions and bobcats in this area.

The first thing I did was go exploring. Wow, what an adventure it was too. I looked across the field and saw a big black MONSTER! Further down the pasture were two more big brown monsters. They scared me, and I started growling at them. I didn't know what they were. I have never seen creatures like that. I asked my mommy what they were. She said, "It's okay Callie, those are just horses. They won't hurt you." I just stared at them and studied them for awhile. Then I noticed another brown monster on the other side of our land. It snorted at me!

I heard so many strange and unusual noises all around me. I wasn't sure what all these sounds were. I have never heard any of these sounds before. I asked, "What in the world is that loud noise?" My mommy stated, "Those are roosters." Then I heard another strange, yet different sound. I said, "Now what is that noise?" She replied, "Guineas." [Bahhhhh, Bahhhhh] Then I heard what sounded like a baby crying in the field across from us, but I couldn't see a baby anywhere. She said that noise was a goat. She said there was a goat farm across the field from us, and there are herds of goats.

I listened close to loud buzzing and chattering coming from all the trees around us. She said those are locusts, katydids and tree frogs. She said I would get used to them.

All of a sudden, this giant black horse came running across the back porch and came right up to me. Boy, it really scared me. I asked, "Are you a horse?" He said, "No, I'm not a horse, silly. I'm a dog." Callie remarked, "A dog? I have never seen a dog as big as you before." He stated proudly, "My name is Peanut. Yep, I am BIG, BLACK and BAD to the bone. I weigh almost 100 pounds! I am part bloodhound and part Labrador Retriever. I'm not just any old dog you know, I am a guard dog. I have a very keen sense of smell. I can smell something coming this way for miles, way before you can even see it. I can also track scents. I am very talented, and I do tricks too. Just wait until you hear me bark. I have a ferocious bark. You don't have to be scared of me. I am your new big brother. I will protect you from the coyotes and other animals that come around here. I will never hurt you, but there is one thing I must warn you about. Never try to eat my food. If you ever do then I will get VERY MAD at you, so don't ever try it." I said, "Okay, okay. I promise." Peanut sniffed me, and we became friends right away.
 

Chamber of Music Chamber of Music
A cruel smile graced her plump lips as she imagined Griffin’s reaction. She forced those thoughts away and focused on the first part of her plan.
     If she was going to be able to pull this off, she would need details from Griffin’s own thoughts to scare him into confessing. While music had been her curse for the past year, now she was more than grateful for it.
     
     Zeroing in on Griffin’s piano playing, she caught flickers of his emotions, like fireflies flashing in a vast, open country field on a moonless night. Insipid yellow splotches of nervous trepidation were followed by russet tinges of anxiety before bright purple and blue flashes of adrenaline-laced contentment swept out of his music and into her mind like ocean waves.
 
     The music swelled in a crescendo and Jazz’s fury grew with it. How dare Griffin be content when her life was a living hell, a prison that she feared even death might not even free her from?
 
     There was something different about his emotional colors, however. They were brighter and more intense than Jazz was used to seeing. His emotions had a certain crystalline brilliance that was so beautiful to experience, it made her even angrier.
 
     Gritting her teeth, she forced her gut-churning rage back down into her core and reached for his thoughts. Since she was so far away from the stage, it was like trying to tune into a TV station back when televisions were clunky boxes with flimsy antennas on top.
 
     Yes! She crowed silently, feeling triumphant as mundane images of long, tapered, masculine fingers on piano keys rolled from Griffin’s mind into hers.
 
     Now it was time to put her wildcard into play. Miranda had told her of a possibility that, if she focused hard enough, she might be able to rifle through another person’s memories once she was in their mind—but there was a chance it could harm her. Though it might not work, Jazz was certainly going to try, even if there was a remote risk it might kill her.
 
     Mentally sending feelers out into Griffin’s now-golden-tinged feelings of excitement, she softly pushed deeper into his subconscious.
 
     Nothing happened.
 
     Biting back a groan, she tried again, with a little more force.
 
     Complete and total failure.
 
     Panic began to fill her. If this did not work, Jazz did not know what else to do. Her entire plan hinged upon her being able to see his deeper memories. Desperate, she remembered Miranda’s advice about how her powers might be tied to her own emotions. She conjured up her memory of the accident.
 
     It was always the little things that came to her first. The muggy feeling of the rain-dampened tropical air, the floral scent that floated into the car through cracked windows, and the patter of water droplets against glass as the heavens opened up. Then bigger things came back to her, like the sounds of familial teasing and laughter before the screeching tires and screams erupted in the air, or the feeling of hot blood gushing out of her body and onto her clammy skin.
 
     Agony ripped through her as sharply as a razorblade through skin. Blinking back hot tears, she took all of that pain and used it to thrust her mental feelers as hard as she could into Griffin’s mind just as Rhapsody in Blue ended.
Chief of Thieves Chief of Thieves

June 15, 1865

Lily sat on her horse looking intently south, up the valley. The mountains blocking their path to the west, endless prairies as far as the eye could see behind them. They had joined a large wagon train at Fort Laramie and were into their second day on the Oregon Trail. The train was turning right, headed to the north, away from the valley and toward the mountain passes discovered by the mountain men decades before.
“What’s this valley called?” Lily asked the scout riding alongside.
“Doesn’t have a name I know of, ma’am. Maybe Chugwater? I’ve heard some call it that after Chugwater Creek way up the valley,” pointing to the south and east of where they sat.
“How far to Denver City from here?”
“Denver City’s about due south of here, ma’am. If you were a bird, you could fly there in a little less than two hundred miles.”
“Thanks. And the name’s Lily, not ma’am. Lily Smoot.”
She trotted over to the wagon. Gus was driving. John swaying up and down in a Cheyenne cradleboard on his back. Lincoln was riding alongside. As in the previous train, he had taken the job of getting children up and down the back of the wagon to ride with Auggy the bear.
“This is it, Gus,” she said.
“What, Lil?”
“Look all around. This is the valley Iliff told us about. The greatest ranchland ever.”
The two men looked around at the gentle hills to the base of the mountains, the trees green in the few creek beds to the south of them. A sea of ravines hidden among the hills all the way to the looming mountains in the western distance.
“Must be quite a sight when it’s covered with buffalo,” Lincoln said.
“It’d be an even better sight covered with our cattle,” Gus said.
“Iliff told us we wouldn’t last a week up here,” Lincoln said. “The Cheyenne and Sioux aren't even crazy about the wagon trains headed west through here, but they’ve agreed to give them free passage as long as nobody stays.”
As if on cue, two of the scouts trotted over.
“Gus,” one of them said. “Craziest thing. There’s a group of Indians approached us from the west when we made the turn to the north. The scouts said they came in peace. They asked if we had a wagon with a big black bear on it.”
Lily looked out to the west. Toward the magnificence of the mountains. And Mount Laramie towering over all. On a hill above the pattern of threaded ravines, about two miles away, she could just make out a small group that looked to be two of the wagon train’s scouts with three Indians.
“What’d you tell them?” Gus asked.
“I said we’d go look and see.”
“You got anybody who’ll drive our wagon for a while?” Gus asked.
“Sure. You going out to see what they want.”
“We know what they want,” Lily said.

Chocolate Flowers Chocolate Flowers

A week before Mother died, she told me a story about a conversation she had with her grandmother a week before her grandmother died. Mother looked at me in a way I knew meant that she needed me to really listen and told me the story. This how the story went:
She said, “My grandmother knew she didn’t have long to live from her stage-four breast cancer when she looked at me and asked, ‘What would you like from me when I die to show you that there is more to life once you pass?’ I felt shocked but responded, ‘I would like one of your red flowers to show up the day you die.’”
Mother continued, “A week passed and I went outside to the back patio to water plants and in a pot that had an old tree, a red flower had appeared as red and as perfect as could be, just like the one I had asked my grandmother for. I later found out that my grandmother had passed away around the same time that flower appeared.”
Mother then asked me, “Now, what would you like from me when I die to let you know there is more to life once I am gone?”
I knew my mother had been fighting a rare blood cancer for years, but she often talked about dying so it did not come as a surprise that we were even having this conversation.
I replied, “I want a red flower, too.”
Mother smirked and replied, “You do not even like flowers. You are not a ‘flower-type girl.’ You would like something different — you do like chocolate. I know! Chocolate flowers!” Mother said with a big, proud grin.
I looked at Mother, shocked, and knew there was no way she could arrange chocolate flowers. I just replied, “Sure, that sounds like me all right.” I smiled and looked at her — there she was with such a genuine grin and twinkle in her eyes. I kissed my mother on her forehead and took a long look in to her hazel eyes. I wondered when I would have the next chance to see her and whispered, “I love you.”
Mother didn’t respond. She didn’t look well — she had a tint of green and yellow to her skin and her thinning hair was a dull salt and pepper color, cut extra short and clinging to her scalp. She had no makeup on, which told me she just had no more energy. I began to walk out of her room and turned to look at her. I wanted to run up to her, shake her, and beg her to tell me she loved me and was proud of me. But when I looked at her, she was already sleeping.
A week passed, and I was busy working at my real estate office. One of my office phones rang, which was a surprise because I normally don’t give that number out. I answered it, and it was a man asking for Jori. I told him that I was Jori.
He replied, “I am at your home, and there is no answer. I have a floral delivery for you.”
I told him I was 20 minutes from my home and to leave them on the porch.
He said, “I need your signature.”
I said, “Just sign my name, and I’ll come right home.”
He replied, “I can’t leave them out; it’s a hot day, and they are chocolate flowers. I’ll go see if one of your neighbors are home.”
I hung up the phone and grabbed my purse when that same phone rang again. I answered it, and it was my stepdad. He sounded upset.
I asked, “Did Mom die?”
“Yes.” He sounded shocked.
“I will meet you at your house, Dad.”
I grabbed my purse, my cell phone, and yelled to my coworkers, “My mom just died. I am going to go help my dad!” I got into my silver Honda and drove home. I felt a dumb shock but was anxious to get my chocolate flowers while I wondered how my mother arranged a chocolate floral delivery at the exact time she passed as promised. I arrived home to the note on my door to go to the neighbor on the right. I knocked on the door and a grouchy, older man answered. Without saying a word, he went to his refrigerator, opened i t, and said, “I think these are for you.”
He handed me this large bouquet of fruits all cut like flowers and dipped in chocolate.
“It looks like chocolate flowers,” he said with a grin, adding “I had a few, and they are great.”
I held my delivery. I opened the small envelope and read the card:
Dear Jori,
I appreciate you showing us homes and although it has been months, I woke up this morning with a thought that we should do something nice for you today. I hope you remember us. The Johnsons.
This was a previous client who is a pastor. He never knew I had a mother who had cancer nor did I ever mention the conversation about the chocolate flowers. It had been several months since I had heard from this couple who were considering purchasing a home. I called the client, whom I hadn’t even spoken to for such a long time. I was confused and wanted to know what made him decide to send me chocolate flowers, and why that day, of all days? He said he woke up and told his wife that they should do something nice for someone. He thought of me. His wife was the one who thought of sending me chocolate flowers.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked Dad when I met with him at home and handed him the chocolate flowers. He was so hungry from being at the hospital with my
mom all day that he hadn’t even thought of eating. He sat and ate the entire bouquet by himself without saying a word. At that moment, I knew that the chocolate flowers were for my dad, and at that time I did not know then what I know now:
Chocolate Flowers “the book” was for me.

Dr. Phil Chocolate Flowers

Chocolate and Cyanide Chocolates and Cyanide

A woman in Johannesburg returns home from a trip to Belgium. Her dark blue suitcase is mistaken for an extremely similar suitcase belonging to a man travelling to Botswana. Just before going to bed the woman, Aziza, opens the suitcase to find it is not hers, but sees on top a brown paper package containing a box of chocolates. She knows it is not her suitcase but she cannot resist opening the box and eating a chocolate.

Her body is found the following morning when she does not go to work having died from extreme cyanide poisoning.

The police realize that the suitcase has just come on a flight from London, and they trace the other suitcase, her suitcase, to the man in Botswana who traveled on the same flight as Aziza to Johannesburg. He is naturally concerned as he has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and following a visit to an Ayurveda clinic in Edinburgh has just started on a course of treatment with apricot pits, which contain minute traces of cyanide, and in his briefcase he has a half kilo bags of apricot pits!

The police contact Scotland Yard in London, who realize that there may be some connection with the recent theft of cyanide from an agricultural company in Cambridge, with the cyanide eaten in chocolate by the woman in Johannesburg.

The following joint investigation produces several “Red herrings” principally from the players in a string quartette playing in several locations in the east of England, until eventually it is narrowed down to a family in Lincoln, when they learn who purchased the fatal box of chocolates, and then they find a partial fingerprint on the sealing cellophane. But they still cannot determine a motive for the murder, and their problem is how the fatal box of chocolates managed to get into the man’s suitcase when the cities of Cambridge and Lincoln are one hundred miles apart.
 

Christmas Interrupted Series Christmas Interrupted Series

3 holiday stories by one of your favorite Christmas authors, Judy Moore.

Airport Christmas
Getting snowed in on an airport layover during Christmas would be a terrible experience for most people. But for thirteen-year- old Jack, twelve-year- old Ethan, and eleven-year- old Lily, it’s the adventure of a lifetime. Traveling by themselves from their mother’s house in San Diego to their father’s in Florida, the kids learn to fend for themselves as well as bring some Christmas cheer – and even love – to other stranded passengers.

The Holiday House Sitter
A recent graduate of UCLA, Molly McAlister has just landed her first job and loves it. The problem is her demanding boss, who seems to think he’s in charge of her free time too. Under threat of layoff, her boss manipulates her into giving up Christmas with her family in Florida to pet-sit his two beloved purebred poodles.
When Molly arrives at his house in Santa Monica a few days before Christmas, she learns she must also watch two ill-tempered Rottweilers, Darth and Vader, who scare her to death. His hypercritical wife seems to think Molly is a maid too, and leaves her a long list of chores and rules. Molly’s expecting to have a miserable Christmas, but things start to look up when she meets the boy next door and his family. Unfortunately, they’re embroiled in a neighborhood feud with her boss.

The Hitchhiker on Christmas Eve
It’s Christmas Eve, and Renee is a mess. She has barely slept or eaten for two weeks. Her hair is ratted, her eyes are puffy and bloodshot, and her clothes are filthy. In the throngs of an anxiety attack, she decides to commit suicide by jumping off a nearby bridge, though the thought of it terrifies her. As she drives toward the bridge through the Virginia countryside, she considers driving into an oncoming cement truck. But at the last moment, she can’t do it. Then, she sees a dark, foreboding man hitchhiking. On a whim, she stops and picks him up. What does it matter anyway? But she immediately regrets her decision. Who is the intimidating, tattooed hitchhiker – and what are his plans for her?

Colors of Oppression Colors of Oppression

Charles Carpenter, the author of the revered memoir Handcuffed does it again with Colors of Oppression.

The well written narrative explores the anatomy of the often hostile, racially divided prison environment. Charles Carpenter details the social and psychological ramifications of oppression, and describes the wisdom needed to navigate through a microcosm of hatred, racism, deception, and prison politics.

This book highlights various deceitful tactics employed by the correctional officers and inmates, thus giving the general public an unadulterated glimpse into the world within a world - prison.

Colors of Oppression is an educational tool for anyone interested in a career in the field of corrections. This book also raises the awareness level for those interested in analyzing the dynamics of prison life.

Congo and Will Congo And Will

"Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Will, happy birthday to you." Everyone is singing happy birthday to Will. It is Will's birthday party and he is 10 years old. His mother surprises him with a special gift. She gives him a Congo African Grey Parrot! He is so excited and gives his mother a huge bear hug. He names his parrot Congo. Congo is very tame and has been hand raised by a breeder in Oklahoma. His mother had the bird flown in from Oklahoma.

Congo and Will live in Africa. His mother works in Africa helping the people of Africa to get fresh clean water. Sometimes his mother will take him to work with her, and he gets to visit some of the local tribes in Africa. Africa is very different from The United States where they used to live. Will and his mother are from Oklahoma. Will always brings Congo with him when he goes to visit the tribes. The tribes have never seen a parrot that is tame before. They don't know what to think about Congo sitting on his shoulder. All the children want to hold Congo and pet him. Congo loves all the attention from the children. He also talks to the children, and they all start laughing. Congo gets very excited when he is around the children.

Will always takes pictures of the children and Congo together. One of the children gave him a necklace made out of shark's teeth. He loves his necklace. He gave the child a bunch of Congo's colorful feathers that he had been keeping. The children love feathers and make things out of them all the time.

Will has started a scrapbook of Africa. He tells his mother that he wants to go on an African safari so he can take pictures of the lions, zebras, elephants, and other wild animals in Africa. His mother promises him that she will take him on a safari soon.

Some of the children and adults from the tribe are getting ready to go down to the river. Will asks his mother if he can go with them. Since there are adults with the children, she lets him go to the river with them. All of the adults carry spears with them. When Will gets to the river, he looks across the river and sees a jaguar! A jaguar is a huge cat that is a type of panther. They are tan with black spots and are just beautiful. The jaguar is at the edge of the river and watching something in the water. Suddenly, the jaguar dives into the river and within minutes he comes up with a crocodile in his mouth! Will could not believe his eyes! He started taking pictures of the jaguar and the crocodile. The crocodile was fighting for his life, but the jaguar won. The jaguar dragged the crocodile up the riverbank with his powerful jaws. What an amazing thing to witness! He had never seen anything so exciting in his entire life.

Africa was such a wild adventure for Will. He loved living in Africa. He loved all the animals and birds. There were so many different kinds of colorful birds in Africa. He began taking pictures of all of the birds for his scrapbook of Africa.

Will's mother took him on a safari one afternoon as she had promised him. He had the time of his life. He saw so many wild animals and loved every minute of the safari. He didn't want the safari to end. He took photographs of a huge hippo in the river, an elephant with her baby elephant, six zebras and a huge lion. He got to witness the lion chasing a zebra! He saw a group of vultures gathered all around and eating something. They also saw a bunch of Cape Buffalo, African Rhino, hyena and giraffe. They saw a cheetah zip past them running super fast after an antelope. Then they disappeared into the bushes. They looked up into a tree and saw a beautiful leopard resting in the tree! They got to see a pretty red fox that was watching them closely on top of some large rocks.

While Will was visiting with some of the children of a local tribe, a woman from the tribe came running out and screaming something over and over. Then he realized she was screaming, "Mamba! Mamba!" One of the men from the tribe grabbed his spear and went after the Black Mamba. The Black Mamba is a huge poisonous snake of Africa and is one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. Everyone in Africa fears the Black Mamba. The man killed the Black Mamba with his spear before it bit anyone. All of the tribe members began to cheer for him. Will watched them as they cleaned the snake and cooked him over an open fire. Then everyone ate the snake. They handed him a bite to taste it. He ate the piece of snake and he thought it was very good. Now he can say that he has eaten snake. He thought it tasted like chicken.

The Puff Adder is Africa's deadliest snake. The Puff Adder has killed more people than any other snake. The Puff Adder has large fangs and its venom is powerful enough to kill a grown man with just one single bite!
 

Contradiction Contradiction

Contradiction is a riveting and dynamic account in which Charles Carpenter unveils the core of why at risk youth become attracted to gang subculture. Charles Carpenter shares his personal experience regarding his attraction to gang life. Profound insight is offered regarding loyalty and the ugly face of betrayal. Charles delves into how the catalyst that motivated his change was when a fellow member of his former gang violated the code of honor and respect by having a capricious affair with his wife; this transgression was the foundation that led to Charles Carpenter's conviction of second degree murder.

After years of living a destructive life style which continued to yield negative fruitage, Charles Carpenter vowed to make positive changes in his life. He made a conscious effort to change the behavior patterns that ultimately shaped the gang member that he diligently aspired to become. Charles Carpenter outlines the anatomy of his change and describes what is required to learn positive behaviors.

Crimson Bayou Crimson Bayou

The next evening, Carissa stood outside and beat her flashlight against the palm of her hand. Really? Why did the batteries have to die now? She cursed under her breath and fished her phone out of her back pocket, second-guessing her aversion to smartphones. Her little flip phone didn’t have a flashlight, and the camera flash didn’t last long enough to get anything done. Frustrated, she straightened up and turned to Aden. He’d shown up a few minutes earlier, wondering what she was doing, and even offered to help. He said he could see everything as clear as day.

She looked back at her malfunctioning flashlight, and then back to the man on the sidewalk. She huffed out a breath.
“Okay, Mr. I-Can-See-Perfectly-In-The-Dark, come over here and find the darn thing for me,” Carissa said, rolling her eyes.

His grin wolfish, Aden sprinted up her walkway. “You have to admit it, first.”

Carissa snorted. “Admit what? That you’re a creeper who only comes out at night and likes to spy on me whenever you get the chance?”

He winced. “I haven’t been spying on you. I live across the street. Do you expect me to never look out my windows?”

Carissa laughed, wrinkling her nose at him. His sentiment was oddly close to hers. “Okay, I’ll give you that, but you’re still a creeper.”

Aden stepped closer, closing the distance until she had to look up to see his eyes. She sucked in a breath. He didn’t look socially awkward tonight. “That’s not what you really think. Admit it. You have a crush on me.”

“Pfft. That’s what you think. I’ve said no such thing,” Carissa said, pushing on his chest. “I barely know your stubborn ass.”

Aden didn’t budge. His mouth turned up. “For now.” He looked down at the ground. “How badly do you need that key?”

Carissa slapped her hands on her hips. “Very. I can’t get into work without it.”

Aden reached out and gently tugged on her ponytail. “So, just admit the truth, and I’ll get it for you.”

Carissa rolled her eyes, her mouth twitching. “I’ll just wait until morning.”

Aden chuckled. “Ah, yes, the enviable day. And just how many of those have you had since you lost it?”

Carissa narrowed her eyes. “Two,” she muttered.

He raised an eyebrow at her. Damn the man. He knew she couldn’t find it without his help. “Fine!” she grumbled, “You’re not the most unattractive man I’ve ever seen.”

He stared at her for a moment, blinking, then his deep laugh flooded out, wrapping her in the resonating warmth of his amusement. Aden touched his finger gently to her chin. “You are the most contrary woman I’ve ever met.”

Carissa crossed her arms over her chest and tried not to think about the spark that ignited at his lightest touch. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Aden chuckled again, and turned away, bending down to look on the ground underneath the vibrant orange flowers in her flowerbed. He stood up almost immediately, the tiny metal key in the palm of his hand.

“It looks like it was in your garden the whole time.”

She tilted her head to the side. He was hiding something. “You knew it was there, didn’t you?”

Aden dusted his fingers off and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He flashed her a wicked grin. “If I did, are you going to punish me?”

Carissa smacked his arm, eying his large muscles. “I doubt I would succeed if I tried. No, I think I might be better off running.”

His grin widened, showing a hint of teeth. “I could tackle you before you ever reached the driveway.”

Carissa gulped. The driveway was a fair distance away from where they stood. How could he be that fast? She shook her head, more confused over the fact that she wasn’t scared. Aden was mysterious, and as she noticed the first night she saw him, magnificent. And he also looked a little sheepish. Maybe he wasn’t as cocky as he was trying to seem. Carissa pulled the sunglasses off the top of her head – they’d been there since she started looking...during the day – and hooked them into the front of her shirt to give her hands something to do, something to keep from touching him again.

She wasn’t used to all this attraction bombarding her senses. He was obviously flirting, and she didn’t know how to handle it. He reached out and gently rubbed his thumb over her cheek.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Carissa. I couldn’t,” he said softly.

Her breath hitched, the mental plug in her heart shifting. Her eyes met his, the deep blue of his gaze more shocking than the zap she’d received from the cable box a few hours prior. His thumb left her cheek, slowly tracing the outline of her mouth. Her knees went weak, and she instinctively grabbed his biceps to keep from falling. His other arm encircled her waist, pulling her firmly against his hard chest. His fingers trailed her spine, ending with the lightest of touches to the back of her neck. She gulped again.

His face lowered toward her, his lips moving ever closer to her own. Her heartbeat sounded like jungle drums in her ears, buzzing with the fire of her intense attraction. He stopped, eyes on hers, a breath away from her mouth. His eyes grew brighter the longer she looked. Her tongue darted out to moisten her lips, and his eyes flashed, the light illuminating his face.

Carissa jumped back with a squeak, stumbling backward up her stairs while Aden stared, mouth wide in shock. She shook her head. “I-I’m sorry, Aden. I have to, uh, do laundry.” She turned and ran inside, locking the door behind her with a snap.

She leaned against the wall, her hand over her wildly beating heart. His eyes glowed. Glowing eyes. Carissa closed her own. That was not possible. She’d wanted to know more about him and who he was, but now she had a more important question:

What was Aden?