That Which Grows Wild collects sixteen dark and masterful short stories by
award-winning author Eric J. Guignard. Equal parts whimsy and weird,
horror and heartbreak, this debut collection traverses the darker
side of the fantastic through vibrant and harrowing tales that depict
monsters and regrets, hope and atonement, and the oddly changing
reflection that turns back at you in the mirror.
Discover why Eric J. Guignard has earned praise from masters of the
as Ramsey Campbell (“Guignard gives voice to paranoid vision that’s
all too believable.”), Rick Hautala (“No other young horror
author is better, I think, than Eric J. Guignard.”), and Nancy
Holder ( “The defining new voice of horror has arrived, and I stand
• “A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love” – a
teen experiences romance, while the world slowly dies from rising
temperatures and increasing cases of spontaneous combustion.
• “Dreams of a Little Suicide” – a down-on-his-luck actor unexpectedly finds
his dreams and love in Hollywood playing a munchkin during filming of
The Wizard of Oz, but soon those dreams begin to darken.
• “The Inveterate Establishment of Daddano & Co.” – an aged undertaker
tells the true story behind the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, and
of the grime that accumulates beneath our floors.
• “A Journey of Great Waves” – a Japanese girl encounters, years later,
the ocean-borne debris of her tsunami-ravaged homeland, and the
ghosts that come with it.
• “The House of the Rising Sun, Forever” – a tragic voice gives dire
warning against the cycle of opium addiction from which, even after
death, there is no escape.
• “Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos” – a gunfighter keeps a decimated
town’s surviving children safe on a mountaintop from the incursion
of ferocious creatures… until a flash flood strikes.
Explore within, and discover a wild range upon which grows the dark, the
strange, and the profound.
Eric J. Guignard is a writer and editor of dark and speculative fiction,
operating from the shadowy outskirts of Los Angeles. He’s won the
Bram Stoker Award, been a finalist for the International Thriller
Writers Award, and a multi-nominee of the Pushcart Prize. His stories
and non-fiction have appeared in over one hundred genre and literary
publications such as “Nightmare Magazine,” “Black Static,” “Shock Totem,”
“Buzzy Magazine,” and “Dark Discoveries Magazine.” Outside the
and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric’s a technical writer and
college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children,
cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles.
Excerpt from A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love:
YESTERDAY I SAW JAMIE GOODWIN BURST into flame. He was just sitting on one of those cheap aluminum-back chairs we all have, eyes closed in the shade of Hester’s old RV, trying to get some relief from the heat, same as everyone else. I was checking the stock of coolers, seeing if any held even a bit of water left to siphon out, when Jamie let out a tiny gasp like he woke from a bad dream. If it was a bad dream he had, he woke to something worse, ’cause little glints of light popped and fizzed off him like the sparklers we used to wave around on Fourth of July. Smoke or steam or something else rose up, then Jamie’s eyes went cartoon big and he turned into a fireball. Jamie’s the fourth person to spontaneously combust this month. Two women burned last Wednesday, and old Tom Puddingpaw blazed the week prior. Before that, we averaged onlyone or two fireballs a month, but now it’s getting worse. And after Jamie burned, Ms. Crankshaw didn’t even cancel lessons like she normally did, as if coming to terms that folks fireballing was the new natural order of things. “That’s another lesson in evolution. One day we’re apes, then we’re humans, now we’re fireballs.” She didn’t really say that, but she might as well have. At least Loud John and Rudy were there when Jamie burned, and they contained his cinders so it didn’t spread like when Quiet John caught flame. But I still saw the whole thing, and it still scared me, even if others pretend to somehow be getting used to it. “I watched him die,” I tell my friends. “Jamie didn’t scream. I think he tried, since his mouth opened wide, but nothing came out except flames.” “Why is this happening for no reason?” Ogre asks, though that question is rhetorical because he doesn’t expect an answer. His voice hitches and he overcompensates for it by yelling, “When’s it going to stop?” That’s rhetorical too.
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When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug,
Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely
annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is
he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are
the first to see him in a hundred years.
Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius”
is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her
his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s
feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.
With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a
powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man.
She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can’t help but
wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again.
wild mustang is shot in Montana, renowned horse whisperer and
telepath, Emma Horserider, is called in to calm the herd and find out
what happened. Once on scene she is almost killed by a bullet-spewing
drone, and calls her black ops brother for back-up.
Emma’s help roars into her life covered in tattoos and riding a Harley.
Remote viewer Bronco Winchester takes the assignment because he is
ordered to, but he wonders what type of assistance, his boss’s sister
needs. That is until he sees Emma, a valiant Warrior Woman proud of
her Crow heritage.
Posing as a married couple, Emma and Bronco go undercover to infiltrate
stop a hate group. Both are anxious enough without the now growing
attachment they feel for one another. When the lives of many are on
the line, they are not sure if they will live or die—let alone have
a chance at love.
One soars like an eagle. One strikes like
But for both hearts, revenge can be
deadly when it’s nourished.
Director and shapeshifter Bert Blackfeather doesn’t need a
boss with no experience. So what if she’s beautiful or gives him a
jolt when she shakes his hand? He never plans to get seriously
involved with another woman–not in this lifetime.
Phoebe Wagner, an empath with psychometric abilities and an advocate
deaf, gets more than she bargained for with Bert. One touch and she
relives his IED injuries. So what if he’s handsome and hot? She
doesn’t need to add his secrets to her own. Phoebe’s are bad enough.
When his niece goes missing from Hotel LaBelle, Bert
goes to Montana to help–and Phoebe insists on going with him. Can
these two hard-headed people share their darkest secrets in order to
work together? It may be the only way to save an endangered
child–and their own hearts when Bert’s past rears its ugly head.
has been writing fiction since middle school and has the
rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care
delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a
PhD in Public Health. She is the author of the Hotel LaBelle Series,
the Jinni Hunter Series, and the Obsession Series. When not
attempting to make students and colleagues laugh or writing, she can
be found fishing, walking her dogs, herding cats, or breaking bread
and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.
Wild Mustang Ranch, Montana/Wyoming Border
Emma Horserider pressed the gas pedal of her battered pick-up truck like a NASCAR driver in
a dead heat with the devil. She hoped no mountain goats decided to go for a walk in the middle
of the road winding around the side of the rocky cliff. She didn’t have time to stop and wait for
the stubborn beasts to decide if they would charge her truck or get out of the way. She was on a
mission to protect the horses she loved and help to keep them unfettered by human saddles and
The call from Margie Hunter, the long-time director of the Wild Mustang Ranch, had been
frantic, almost incoherent, “Terrible. Slaughtered. Horses panicked. Get here fast!”
A lump rose in her throat, and tears threatened at the recollection of Margie’s grief-strangled
message. She shook her head.
“None of that nonsense, Horserider. Marines don’t cry. Semper Fi!” As she shouted out the last
words with a defiant whoop, she rounded the last bend in the road. Stunned at seeing the gates
closed, she skidded to a halt in front of the white truck with the ranch logo parked dead center in
the way. A string bean of a man in a worn Stetson, boots, and shearling vest leaned against the
hood of the vehicle, a shotgun cradled in his arms.
“Holy crap.” She’d never seen anyone bearing arms out here, much less standing guard. Things
must be even worse than she thought. Grateful she’d brought her trusty Mossberg, Emma rolled
down her window.
“Thank God you’re here, Miss Emma.” Ralph, the director’s aged right hand man removed his
hat and dragged the sleeve of his red plaid shirt across his pleated brow. “This is the worst thing
I’ve ever seen in my life.” The creases on his sun-weathered face deepened. “We have no idea
how it happened. No one’s been up here except the employees.” He pointed at the video camera
mounted on the gatepost. “Nobody came through this gate last night. No one.”
“Let me get in, see what’s going on.”
Shoulders sagging, he nodded and opened the gate. “Talk to them, Miss Emma,” he called as
she drove through. “They trust you.”
Much as she kept her gift under wraps from the outside world, here in this equine sanctuary,
everyone knew of her special bond with the animals. Her ancestor, Beautiful Blackfeather,
would have called it horse medicine. Her brother Bert called it telepathy, in keeping with his
work as Director of Homeland Security’s Anomaly Defense Division. No matter what other
people called this ability, Emma had been born with an unbreakable sacred bond with horses,
one handed down through generations of the Crow or Absaalooke people. When old age,
sickness, or injury carried a mustang away, it was hard on the entire herd. But…
Death by violence?
Five Things I’ve Tried but Will Never Do Again By Sharon Buchbinder While I have more, for this post I decided to go for some of the most ridiculous ones.
Rock wall climbing: Every year on my birthday, I try to do one thing that scares me. When I turned 60, I decided to try rock wall climbing. We belonged to a fitness center with a big one and those little kids were like armies of spider. Easy, right? After brief instructions, I harnessed up, put the climbing shoes on and began hauling myself up the wall. At the end of what felt like climbing Mt. Everest, I looked down to see I’d made it up one story. Slid down the rope and slunk out the door.
The Blue Man Group: In Las Vegas we were convinced this was a MUST SEE ACT. It’s not— unless you’re a 10 year-old boy and enjoy fake vomiting and wearing ponchos for the seats in the splash zone.
Cutting my Bangs: One time I became very frustrated with my bangs. It was late at night. I was annoyed. I had a pair of sharp scissors. Ever see Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda? Like that, only shorter and more crooked.
Owning a Boat: My husband came from a family that was active in power boating. His dad had boats, until he decided to do his own (terrible) repairs and disconnected the flying bridge and fell off the ladder. We decided if we were boating, we’d do better, get someone to maintain it for us.
That’s good until you’re in the middle of a harbor with a bad cell connection trying to reach Sea- Tow for the third week in a row. Now we fish with a captain and he owns the boat.
Driving Cross-Country with a U-Haul Filled with Cats: Yes, you read that correctly. FULL OF CATS. A dozen (12) to be exact. You see, my husband and I had this crazy hobby, breeding and showing cats. When we moved from Albany, NY to Chicago, IL, there were no cat moving services, so we had to do it ourselves. We also had two dogs. To give the cats room for litter pans, food and water, we arrayed show cages on the walls of the truck. We also put a blow-up mattress between the cages so we could take turns driving and nap. As my husband took a nap, we had a massive jailbreak and twelve cats running around in the back of the van, along with some pretty excited dogs. Yeah, that was fun I hope you learned from my experiences—and had a chuckle or two. Tell us what is something you will NEVER do again to be eligible for a $5 Amazon Gift Certificate!
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1924 Chicago is a turf war: the North Side against the South Side. Booze,
guns, money, and blood are all currency here.
Prohibition is a breeding ground for the rise of organized crime in
America, and for the ambitious, it means building a fortune.
Mia Scalisi, a street-smart showgirl, has big dreams of leaving behind
the small-time supper club she performs at night after night. She
wants to see her name in lights—and maybe even on the silver
screen. And her brother Nick, an ambitious Mafia capo determined
to be the next underworld prince, promises to use the spoils of his
new liquor deal to make it happen.
With the career of her dreams within her reach and friends like Al
and Johnny Torrio, Mia’s future has never looked brighter, and she
turns a blind eye to Nick’s criminal activities and morally
bankrupt ways…until it all catches up with them.
Too late, Mia discovers ambition always comes with a price,
and that price must be paid—in blood.
When her world implodes, there’s only one thing she cares
Meredith Allison has embraced her nerdiness from youth, with minor jaunts of
attempting to be “cool” during high school and college.
Spoiler alert: she was unsuccessful at fooling anyone. After this
dark period, she returned to the light, embracing her bookish nature
and penchant for action and horror films, bloody survivalist video
games (she’s looking at you, Resident Evil and Call of Duty)
interspersed with the occasional sweeping fantasy adventure RPG
(Final Fantasy, anyone?). Along the way, she developed her knack for
storytelling, which began when she was a mere child-person many moons ago.
Meredith is a writer (and reader) of many kinds of fiction, but in
spy thrillers, military-esque suspense, and historical crime. A
native of Lincoln, Nebraska, she is by proxy a Huskers fan (GO BIG
RED!), as UNL is her undergraduate alma mater, and moonlights as an
obligatory Blue Jays fan due to completing her graduate MFA studies
at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
When she emerges from her writing cave, blinking in dismay at having to
exposed to the cruel light of day yet again, she can be found romping
with her two Pomeranians, serving her overlord cat, hanging with her
husband, battling it out with the undead or practicing a new kind of
magery on her PlayStation, or simply huddled in a dark corner
somewhere with just enough light to read a favorite book. Other
interests include baking, cooking, and blogging about new restaurants.
Mia walked out of the dressing room, her coat slung over an arm. She’d changed out of her costume into another white
dress, a filmy chiffon number with a low neckline and sparkling beadwork down the front. She was chilly, but she wanted Charlie
to get a load of her in it before she covered up with a coat.
She spotted D.C. leaning against the wall just outside and rushed into his arms. “I was hoping you were still here!” she
exclaimed, squeezing him. “Wasn’t that exhilarating?”
“More people ought to join show business,” he replied with a grin. “They’d forget all about booze after getting up on a
stage like that in a place like this.”
“We just might be the new premier entertainment around here,” Mia said. “And our names will be on the marquee.”
“If that crowd was anything to go by, I think you’re onto something. What are you doing now? Got a hot date tonight?”
D.C. smirked. “I noticed Charlie sniffing around out here before the show.”
“They’re both taking me to dinner,” Mia said, shoving his chest a little. “Can’t have much of a date with my brother
D.C. looped her arm through his and they strolled toward the lobby. There was a handful of acts left for the night, so the
corridors were still bustling with performers, some stopping to offer brief congratulations. “Well, you’re in for a treat for the rest
of your life, then, because I don’t see Nick laying off anytime soon.”
“He will if he knows what’s good for him,” Mia retorted. “How about you? You and Mac heading someplace fun? He
doesn’t have a gig tonight?”
“No gig. Took the night off special for me. Says he’s got a surprise.” D.C. shrugged and smiled coyly.
The lobby was chilly, as if the door had just been opened and let the cold air in. Charlie was already walking toward her, an
appreciative smile on his face to let her know that her dress had been a good choice.
He greeted her with a light kiss on the cheek, like before, only this time, it lingered a breath longer than it should have.
“You were incredible, kid,” he said. “The start of a big career here. Nick’s already got big plans for you. You, too, London.” He
shook D.C.’s hand. “Both of you knocked their socks off.”
“Oh, go on,” she said, lightly swatting his arm. “But we were pretty good, weren’t we?” Charlie laughed. “Where’s Nick?”
“He just stepped out a second ago. Vinnie came running in, something about the end of the world with the warehouse.” He
jerked his head toward the door. “Come on, let’s go save him.” He pulled her coat from her arm and opened it for her.
“I suppose I can help until Mac gets here,” D.C. said, releasing her arm so she could put on her coat.
She was just reaching into a sleeve when the loud screech of tires from a car careening down the street pierced the air. Mia
In the space between seconds, she became aware of her own breathing, heavy and echoing in her ears, as her head snapped
toward the sound.
Then, the glass lobby doors shattered, tiny bits of glass exploding toward them. Charlie shouted and grabbed her, pulling
her out of the way. Her cheeks stung, letting her know he hadn’t been fast enough, but all thought stopped when she made out the
sound of gunfire an instant later.
Nick had just stepped outside a second ago, Charlie said.
He stepped outside.
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last a thousand lifetimes when you’re an Immortal… or so they thought.
What’s become of the Immortal Darius? His wife, Stella, worries about
fate as she rules over their city-state of Deminon, especially when
she learns he’s been the victim of treachery. She’ll do anything
to get him back.
Enslaved as a traitor to Rome, Darius is forced to fight gladiators as part
the funeral rites of powerful Romans. His years of experience on the
battlefield serve him well in the arena—until he’s forced to
fight Marcus—a younger, stronger gladiator who is unaware of his
Sure he’s about to suffer a defeat by the hand of Marcus, Darius is
forced to make a decision that will change his future and
Stella’s—preserve his essence by allowing his body to die so that
he can live on in Marcus. His two-thousand years of memories and life
experiences should be powerful enough to overcome the essence of the
untested Immortal. Allow him to return to Stella and resume their
life together, even if she won’t immediately recognize him.
But Marcus isn’t giving up so easily. Especially when he meets Stella.
Will Marcus help Darius take revenge on the one whose deceit led to his
arrest on charges of treason? Or will Darius’ essence slowly be
subsumed, the memories of his nearly two-thousand-year lifespan—and
of Stella—fading away in the mind of Marcus?
These Immortals once had all the time in the world.
described nerd and lover of science, Linda Rae spent many years
as a published technical writer specializing in 3D graphics
workstations, software and 3D animation (her movie credits include
SHREK and SHREK 2). An interest in genealogy led to years of research
on the Regency era and a desire to write fiction based in that time.
A fan of action-adventure movies, she can frequently be found at the
local cinema. Although she no longer has any fish, she follows the
San Jose Sharks. She is a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC) and makes
her home in Cody, Wyoming.
Marcus awoke with a start a few minutes later, a slight breeze cooling his sleep-warm
body. Turning over, he discovered the door he had used to escape the bedchamber the night
before was still open. He glanced at the slumbering Stella, and thought for a moment to simply
remain in the comfortable bed, in the event she wished for his cock again. He would freely
provide it. She had given in equal measure what he had given her, their mutual ecstasy an event
he would gladly experience again. Never had he felt so satiated after a night with a woman.
Even his own wife.
Her words of earlier that morning had him wondering if he had agreed to her
suggestion—that he marry her and become King of Deminon. He couldn’t remember if he had
said anything in response, or if had simply taken the body she offered.
Marcus knew she didn’t want him, exactly, but rather the being with whom he shared his
head. He supposed he couldn’t blame her. Having watched a parade of images, a stream of
memories from the other Immortal’s past, Marcus understood why it was she was so beholden to
Why Darius was so beholden to her.
She loved him. Had loved him for all of eternity. Or at least since she had been plucked out
of that olive tree on Thera all those years ago.
And she would continue to love him until the end of Time. Of that, he was quite sure.
But he is not me, Marcus thought, deciding he really needed to close the door.
For the first time that morning, the other being in his head—Darius, he now knew was the
being’s name—put forth a thought.
I am you, and you are me.
Another gust of wind made its way into the bedchamber, as if to reinforce the words.
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agent Nate McIver hasn’t been able to get sexy, impetuous Maddie
Worth out of his mind since the last time he saw her at a wedding. If
only she wasn’t his best friend and colleague’s sister. That’s
about the only thing that gave him the strength to back away from the
steamy encounter they shared. But now take-no-prisoners
Maddie wants his professional help. And with her life on the line,
all bets are off . .
Maddie’s overprotective brother may have had her blackballed from
the FBI, but he can’t stop her from conducting her own undercover
operation—whether it’s between the sheets with unforgettable Nate
and his abs of steel—or on the streets, trapping a notorious drug
lord. And when she combines the two, the result is explosive for
everyone involved . . .
good guys, and then there are highly trained good guys—the kind
who make the world a safer, sexier place . . .
Former military and ex-FBI agent Ethan Worth is searching for a new
serve and protect. On a break in Beaufort, North Carolina, he just
may have found it. It starts with saving a tipsy damsel in distress
from a shady troublemaker. But it ends with the surprisingly sober
beauty outraged by his rescue. That’s all Ethan needs for his
expert instincts to kick into high gear . . .
Riley Jones is back in Beaufort for one reason only: to find her missing
best friend, Hanna. If that means using herself as bait for the kind
of guy who’d prey on a vulnerable young woman, so be it. She
doesn’t need a rugged knight in shining armor like Ethan
distracting her, and she doesn’t want his help. But it turns out
she needs it. And together, as the heat between them rises, so does
the danger. Until both their lives are on the line . . .
In a high-stakes world of privilege,
betrayal, and the sexy thrill of
the unknown, you never know where a dangerous distraction will lead . . .
Cal Hart walks a blurred line of honor. The rock-hard former Marine has
his lethal skills at the service of the highest bidder. Until a
contract comes in to kill Lana Vanderpoel, the sultry, charismatic
heiress and billionaire’s daughter. She’s way too sexy to end up
at the wrong end of a silencer. So Cal takes the job—and starts
planning how to get Lana to safety while he unearths who’s behind
the threat . . .
Lana only knows she’s been kidnapped—and she’ll fight tooth and nail
against whoever has snatched her from her life. Her stern-faced
captor sends a tremor of ice through her veins, yet a thrill lies
beneath her unease. He’s dark and dangerous, his body ripped,
honed, and capable. But lust isn’t the same as trust—and whether
or not she can believe what Cal’s telling her, there’s at least
one person close to Lana who wants her dead . . .
Samantha Keith resides in Saskatchewan, Canada, with her husband and
brilliant daughter, who share her love of literature. Teddy, the
family multi-poo, completes her family. Samantha writes steamy,
fast-paced, romantic suspense novels in the rare moments she has
uninterrupted—even interrupted, she manages to apply words to
paper. Aside from her love of writing, her other interests include
cooking vegan meals and creating recipes. Abducted, the
first book in the Dangerous Distractions series, came in first place
in the romantic suspense category for the Heartland Romance Authors’
Show Me the Spark Contest.
A shiver of disgust rippled over Maddie’s skin. Her six-inch heels scuffed across the
pavement and her feet throbbed. She scooped her hair off the back of her neck and dropped it over
her shoulder. His hands had been all over her tonight—serious progress. But the second she got
home, she was going to scrub her skin raw. A horn blared from the dark street ahead and a car
whizzed past. The smash of a beer bottled sounded behind her. She didn’t turn around.
She dug her hand in her black shoulder bag that matched her skimpy, black dress and pulled
out her keys. She enjoyed dressing sexy every once in a while, but prancing around the club with
naked dancers on stage and bringing drinks to sleazy punks was not her cup of tea. But she was
almost done. She’d spent two months laying bread crumbs, and the stupid oaf was finally showing
interest other than wanting to take her in the back room and screw her senseless. She shuddered.
One day, she’d have to sleep with Carlos in order to keep up the charade. Her finger pressed the
unlock button and the headlights of her sleek, black Mercedes flashed at her.
She opened the driver’s side door and her bare legs slid over the warm leather.
Goosebumps raced over the back of her neck and she slammed the door and locked it. She
swallowed and closed her eyes. This assignment had her on pins and needles. It wasn’t like her
other investigations in the past. This one was more than just work, more than putting a bad guy
behind bars. This one struck a nerve. And if Carlos found out what she was up to…he would kill her.
An arm closed around her throat from behind her, crushing her back against the seat. Her
heart slammed against her breastbone and her fingers gripped the black sleeve that surrounded her.
Her chest screamed for air, but not a sound left her mouth.
She wouldn’t die like this.
She twisted against the arm, hurling herself forward, but he held her tight. Her fingernails dug
into her palm and she shot her fist over her shoulder, connecting with his face. It was enough to
loosen his hold. She
yanked his arm forward, gripped his fingers, and bent his wrist back toward his elbow. He yelped.
“Christ, Maddie. It’s me,” he growled.
Her gaze flew to the rear-view mirror. Fiery hazel eyes met hers. Her chest expanded on an
exhale and she whipped around in her seat. Her eyebrows snapped down.
“Hey, easy now. I was only trying to help you. What the hell are you thinking getting in your
car without checking the back seat? Are you trying to get yourself killed? Because that’s how easily it
could have happened.”
Her anger settled to a low simmer. Nate McIver made her blood boil like no one else. He
pressed her buttons, teased her, and worst of all, wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole. Oh no.
Nate was too noble. Too
good of a friend to give in to the attraction that burned between them like a flashfire. And he wasn’t
her friend. Barely, anyway. He was a coward and a jerk… but he was here. He’d shown up when
she’d needed him. The
only one she could trust right now.
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