It Felt Natural…

Bent Teaser

The band was playing a Garth Brooks song about running into an old love. How fitting. As promised, Micah was a gentleman as he gracefully led her around the floor. He was a far better dancer than she remembered. As the guitarist sang about how time had changed the former couple in the song, Julia wrapped one arm tighter around Micah’s neck. She wanted to stay mad at him forever but she couldn’t. It felt natural to be in his arms. The arms that were much stronger than the ones that held her at senior prom. She felt the ridges of his chest against the back of her hand when he drew it between their bodies. His heart was pounding furiously under their hands. At least she wasn’t alone.

Bent by HB Heinzer is available exclusively on Amazon.com

Bent (Back to Brooklyn, #1)


Bent Relaunch Day and a Pre-Thanksgiving Special

Bent by HB Heinzer Happy week of Thanksgiving! Today I’m especially thankful because Bent is being relaunched by Montlake Romance! The holiday season plays a vital role in the renewal of the love between Micah and Julia, so it seems fitting that my publisher chose this week for Bent’s big day! 

Micah walked through the door on Wednesday night, prepared for an evening of shopping and dinner with Julia and Caleb. He was surprised to see Julia ridiculously bundled up in one of his Carhartt work coats with hot pink gloves and the clunkiest boots he’d ever seen.

The only thing more surprising than her attire was her mood, “Hey baby, change of plans,” Julia chirped. He had no clue what caused the tension between them to melt away but he was thankful for it.

“Um, okay?” Micah replied, raising an eyebrow in curiosity.

Julia wasted no time pulling him out the door. “We have to head downtown. Lizzie called and they need help getting everything ready for the tree lighting ceremony. I told her we’d love to come down.”

It wasn’t the evening Micah had planned but it gave him an idea. Understanding what was driving Julia’s good mood, he threw her the keys so she could drive. “I have to send a couple of emails for work. Is that okay?” This was one time he figured she would forgive him for lying to her. As soon as she was behind the wheel, Micah started tapping out text messages from the passenger’s seat.

Micah: Hey, you still have the card I gave you the last time you were down?

Adam: Yep. Need it back?

Micah: No, can you go shopping for me tonight?

Adam: I suppose. I do have something I need to do later, how long will it take?

Micah: Hopefully not long. Head towards Madison and I’ll call you as soon as I can get a minute away.

“Everything okay?” Julia asked as the text alerts continued coming in.

Seeing her eyes shifting towards his hands, Micah turned the phone away from her. “Yep, everything’s great.” It would be much easier to surprise her if he hadn’t broken her trust.

 

By the time she parked the truck along Main Street, Julia’s good mood was fading fast. Something was going on with Micah. She didn’t know what it was but he had a guilty look on his face. She hated the way things were between them now. She hated second guessing everything he did or said.

“I’m going to go find Lizzie,” Micah said as leaned over to kiss the top of Julia’s head. “I probably should have asked sooner, but where’s my son?”

He would have felt bad for not thinking about Caleb sooner but he knew Julia wouldn’t leave him home alone. In some ways, Micah felt like she was more of a parent than he was.

“Annie picked him up after school. He’s down here somewhere,” Julia said, her eyes flitting from group to group trying to find them. “Tell you what, you find Lizzie and I’ll find Annie. We’ll meet back here when everything is done.”

With that, Micah watched Julia as she nearly floated down Main Street. He picked up the phone as he walked to where he knew they always set up the staging area for the decorations to give Adam his orders. Minutes later, he was perched high above the street in a bucket truck draping the gas-lamps with evergreen garland and lights. Julia’s laugh echoed through the cold night air.

He looked to the courthouse lawn to see her head pop up from behind a six-foot toy soldier just in time to lob a snowball at Caleb. Before long, a wintry war broke and it seemed that every volunteer whose feet were on solid ground was hurling snowballs as fast as they could make them.

It was the first time Micah had seen Julia without a trace of worry since she woke up on Saturday. As tempting as it was to lower the bucket and join the fun, he decided to stay safely out of harm’s way and revel in the scene below.

As the fight dwindled, volunteers returned to setting up the same set of decorations that had adorned the courthouse lawn for generations. Micah saw someone approach Julia from the opposite side of the building. With the number of people working in the area, it shouldn’t have concerned him but it did. As soon as he saw the nearly threadbare red coat, he fumbled for the controls. He needed to get down and go to Julia.

Pick up Bent by HB Heinzer today!

Bent – Bumpy Road to Happiness

imageHer hands trembled as she found Adam’s number in the list. She hadn’t even thought about what would happen if Karen found Caleb. She panicked, knowing Karen and the thug she was with could be headed to him now. She didn’t give Adam a chance to talk when the line picked up. “Adam, get Caleb. Now!” she whispered loudly. If, by some chance, they didn’t know Caleb had wandered off with his friends, Julia wasn’t going to be the one to tip them off if they were still nearby.

“Jules, what’s going on?” Sensing her fear, Adam’s voice rose and she could hear Micah in the background asking the same thing.

There was no time to explain, “Get him. Just get him and go to my house. Adam, you have to get him.” Adam pulled the phone from his face and told Micah to get Caleb, that something was going on but he didn’t know what. Micah sounded frantic, trying to get Adam to tell him what was going on.

Adam growled, “I don’t know yet. Just go get him, dammit. She’s freaking out… Just go.” He put the phone back to his ear. “Okay, Micah’s getting him. Where are you? What’s going on? What happened?” The questions fired out of his mouth like an automatic weapon.

“Karen’s here,” Julia sobbed. She tried to push herself up from the floor. Her shoulder wasn’t dislocated but something was messed up. She leaned back against the cool concrete blocks.

A frenzied series of indistinguishable profanities flew from his mouth, “How do you know? Did you see her? Where the hell are you anyway?”

The fact that her brother was unable to ask one question at a time really irritated Julia. Knowing that Caleb was safe, she had time to think about her own condition. Her face throbbed and she could barely move her right arm. She pushed up using her left hand but her knees were weak and she had to lean against the wall for support. “I’m at the pool house bathrooms. Bring your car up here and I’ll explain on the way home.”

“Jules, you need to tell me what in the hell is going on,” he huffed. She could tell he was running through the park.

“Just get your ass up here,” Julia barked. “Please Adam, just get up here.” She desperately wanted out of the bathroom but couldn’t face walking back in the dark. Adam didn’t press for more information.

A couple of long minutes later, Adam flipped on the light in the women’s room to find Julia cowering against the wall. “Holy hell, what happened in here?” he seethed. Julia flinched at the sound of his fist making contact with the door. In one quick but gentle motion Julia was safe in her brother’s arms. She pressed her face into his chest as the sobs overwhelmed her.

Bent  is the first book in the Back to Brooklyn series. It will be relaunched on 11/26 through Montlake Romance. You can pre-0rder your copy today!

Big News for Bent

Just over a year ago, I sat down at my computer and started writing Bent. Two weeks from today, it will be re-launched through Montlake Publishing!  To go along with the new release, Montlake has given the cover a facelift. What do you think?

image

Breaking the Rules – Stealing Moments

717 breaking the rules teaser

Breaking the Rules is the second book in the Back to Brooklyn Series. You can check out Bent while you wait for Adam and Carly to be unleashed upon the world! While it is a stand-alone series, meaning there are no cliffhangers and the each book spotlights a different couple, there are some things that make more sense when you read the books in order.

The beer stand wasn’t as busy as he’d expected it to be, so he took the opportunity to spend a little private time with his girl. He pulled her through the entrance gate and they walked down Main Street.

“Come here,” Adam whispered, leading Carly between two buildings. “I’ve been dying to do this all day.”

Adam rested his hands on the wall to either side of Carly’s head. Their lips crashed together as Adam urgently kissed her. This kiss was completely different from anything they’d shared previously. There was desperation and need that wasn’t normally present. His teeth grazed across her lower lip pulling them closer together.

He moaned when Carly’s delicate hands began tugging the hem of his t-shirt from his jeans. Her hands felt like fire running up the length of his back. Adam leaned closer to her, needing to feel his body against hers. “Damn, you have to go to my house tonight,” he groaned breathlessly. He broke away from Carly and reached into his pocket. “Take my keys. As soon as we can get away, you go check on Gran, and then go to my place. I’ll text you the address.”

Adam’s skin felt cold in the humid night as soon as Carly removed her hands from under his shirt. The second to the last thing he wanted was to put a halt on their mutual exploration. The only thing he wanted less was to take Carly in a dark alley. He pulled Carly in for one last kiss before turning her back towards Main Street and leading her back to the dance. They walked to the end of the alley with Carly under the crook of Adam’s arm just as they did so many nights in New York.

By some miracle, there was still no line at the beer booth when Adam and Carly made their way back into the fenced-off area of the street. They took a few seconds to straighten and tuck their shirts in before grabbing the next round of beers and heading back to their friends.

Breaking the Rules hb heinzer web

All hell was starting to break loose about the time Adam found their table. “You and Adam are crawling up my ass trying to take care of me. I came here tonight to have a relaxing time, and that is just not possible when I have you two walking around like my personal bodyguards.” Julia was doing a poor job of trying to keep her voice quiet enough to avoid creating a scene. Everyone at the surrounding tables had turned to watch her lay into Micah. Adam couldn’t blame her for feeling suffocated. She hadn’t been allowed to go anywhere on her own for nearly twenty-four hours, and that’s not something she was used to. At the same time, they’d tried to talk Julia out of coming at all since it wasn’t safe for her to be alone with Karen walking the streets and obviously holding a grudge. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get Annie and Carly, and we’re going to dance. Without the two of you,” she demanded, looking at both of the men in her life.

Carly and Annie trailed behind Julia trying to keep up with her near running pace towards the dance floor. Adam couldn’t wait to hear what Carly had to say about this latest debacle when he got home tonight.

“What the hell was that all about?” Adam asked, handing Micah one of the plastic cups.

“Hell if I know,” Micah paused to empty half the glass in one swallow. “She was fine, and then she just snapped. I mean, I know she hates having us hovering, but we told her it was going to be that way. If she’d have just let us stay–”

“Damn, man. You’ve know my sister for how long?” Adam asked, shaking his head. “She’s one of the most independent broads out there, and now we’re stuck to her ass like glue. I’d be pissed too.”

“Speaking of stuck like glue, where’d you and Turner disappear to?”

Adam felt his cheeks flush remembering how heated their little walk had been and how much further it could have gone if he hadn’t pulled the brakes. “Just a little walk. It’s not easy being together but not, you know?”

Micah shook his head, staring into his beer for a long moment. “I don’t see why you’re not openly together. It’s ridiculous, man.”

“We didn’t want to add any stress for Julia. I don’t think she’d mind, but Carly’s convinced she’ll have a conniption when she finds out.” Adam was grateful there was at least one person he could talk to about the entire confusing situation. “We had a huge fight the last time I was in New York, to the point I was pretty sure we were done. All because I agree with you, it’s fucking bullshit that I can’t let everyone know she’s the reason I’m happy lately.”

“Dude, you sound like a girl,” Micah laughed. “I don’t think Julia will freak out. I think the only way there will be an issue is if you hurt Carly and put your sister in a place where she has to choose one over the other. So do yourself a favor…don’t fuck this up.”

“Don’t plan to. But she might very well put me in the asylum before this is all done. You know how much it sucks to not be able to touch the girl you’re fucking crazy about.” Adam emptied his cup and tossed it into the nearby barrel. “Actually, if you’re screwing my sister again, I don’t want an answer to that.”

Micah laughed. “I’ll spare you the details, but yeah, I guess I can understand a little of what you’re feeling. Come on; let’s see if we can get these girls out of here. I’m assuming you and Carly are taking off to your place?”

“She’s gonna head out there. I’m going to help you make sure that Julia’s cool, then I’ll head home.” Adam grabbed Micah, giving him a brotherly hug. “Thanks, man. And I’m warning you now; if you hurt Jules again, I will find you, and it’s not going to be pleasant. I’ll put you through as much physical pain as you put her through emotionally.”

Micah thumped Adam’s back. “No plans on doing that twice. No worries.”

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Breaking the Rules – Night With a Friend

Breaking the Rules hb heinzer webThey settled into a high-top table near the back of the bar. There was an ease in the conversation that made it feel as if this were a regular occurrence rather than a chance meeting earlier in the day. It almost felt like a date; something Carly realized she hadn’t been on in far too long. By the time their waitress brought their sirloin burgers to the table, Carly had managed to stop thinking of Adam as her friend’s younger brother. She was thrilled because she was tired of trying to keep herself from flirting with him.

It was after three in the morning when they left the bar. “You said you live near here?” Adam bristled, looking around at the less than attractive surroundings. It wasn’t the best area, but it was livable and the rent was almost affordable. There wasn’t anywhere in New York that was truly within Carly’s budget, but she always made it work with the help of her rarely present roommate.

“Yep, one block back,” Carly said, pointing down the street.

Carly wished she had put a jacket in her bag this morning. When she wrapped her arms across her body, Adam pulled her in tighter rubbing her arm. He was a walking space heater. “I’ll be fine. You probably need to get back to your hotel,” she said, not wanting him to feel obligated to walk her home.

“Come on now, Papa Bear would have a conniption if he found out I let you walk home alone,” Adam said pulling her closer to him. Papa Bear was the man they had all adopted as a second dad in Wisconsin. It was funny that Adam was worried what the man would think about him letting Carly walk home without an escort. He was right; Papa Bear probably would find a suitable punishment for him, even if he were twenty-seven. “Besides, I’m having a terrific time. Usually, it’s just me in a crappy hotel room with ESPN.”

Knowing that Adam was enjoying himself made her relax. “So, when do you go back?” Carly asked, chewing a fingernail. Her lip curled as she realized she was turning into a whiny girl. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d enjoyed an evening as much as this one and she liked to think there might be the possibility of a repeat performance.

“Well, I was supposed to fly home Friday, but they moved around a few meetings for next week,” he said. His pale blue eyes shimmered in the moonlight. “So, I’m just going to stay here through the weekend, and I’ll go home next Tuesday night.”

Carly hated knowing he was going to be here the entire time she was busy and then go home on one of her days off. “This is me,” she pointed to the non-descript brick building behind them. “Want to come up for a while?”

She was exhausted but not ready to say goodnight. As soon as the words fell from her mouth, Carly wondered if Adam thought she was asking him upstairs for a late-night booty call. She wasn’t thinking that, but why else would a single woman ask a man into her apartment in the middle of the night?

“Sure,” Adam shrugged. “I don’t have anywhere to be in the morning.”

They walked in silence up the five flights of stairs. After two years of hiking to the top floor every day, it no longer affected Carly. Adam, on the other hand, seemed winded by the time they reached her door. “Couldn’t find a place with a few more stairs?” Adam huffed as she fumbled for her keys.

It wasn’t often that Carly invited anyone into her apartment. The walls, which had once been a muted sage, were now dull grayish green and the hardwood floors were marred beyond repair. Most of the furniture was from a former roommate who left everything behind when she moved to parts unknown. It wasn’t much, but the price was right and she had injected her own personality into her place as much as possible.

Everything about their night felt normal. She wasn’t sure what spending time with Adam was supposed to feel like, but it wasn’t this. She curled up next to him on the couch while he explained his rise from the assembly line to one of the lighting manufacturer’s top salesmen in a major market. She shared her dreams of directing rather than doing the grunt work backstage.

Before she knew it, the sun filtered through the blinds. It was going to be a long day.

Just a few weeks left until Breaking the Rules goes live!

Breaking the Rules – Full First Chapter

Breaking the Rules hb heinzer webThank you to everyone who helped spread the word today! When I said I would post the first chapter of Breaking the Rules if we hit 3500 fans by tonight, I really thought it was going to be a push to get there. NEVER did I think you’d manage to spread the word and do it in an hour! Rather than make you wait until tomorrow, I’m posting the entire first chapter right now!

***

Theater companies worldwide affectionately call tech week “Hell Week,” with good reason. It doesn’t matter how smooth everything has gone from casting through rehearsals; everything that can go wrong will in the last week before a show opens. Carly Turner knew everything was going too smoothly with the latest production at the small theater on 42nd Street.

“Turner, get out here,” bellowed the stage manager. “Do you see the problem? How are we supposed to open in three days like this?” Dax shouted, flailing his arms towards the ceiling.

Weaving her way through set pieces, trying to avoid moving anything off its mark, Carly assessed the cause of Dax’s current freak out. Yes, this was obviously a problem, but Carly had no clue what he expected her to do about the two nonworking light rigs hanging above the stage. She wasn’t a lighting tech; she was a gofer working on the show because she was desperate for experience.

Carly nodded. “Yes Dax, I see the problem. What, exactly, are you hoping I will do about it?” Dax Jameson was the only person she wasn’t going to miss when this show closed. She’d worked with difficult stage managers before, but there was something about Dax that made her skin crawl.

“I don’t know; just get the damned lights working,” Dax moaned as he stormed off the stage, leaving Carly alone to solve the latest in a long line of hell week problems.

When Carly finally reached the control room, one of the junior lighting techs was leaning against the doorframe waiting for her. “Here,” he said, flicking a business card at her. “You’re gonna have to call ETS. Cheapskates around here keep putting off fixing shit until it’s too late. Now we have three days to open, and I would bet my check they’ll have to send someone out to fix it. Accounting office is gonna love that.”

“Thanks, Clark,” she said, giving him a peck on the cheek. “You’re a lifesaver.”

Grabbing her purse, Carly ducked out the back door into the alley. If she had to sit on hold and listen to horrible music, she was going to do it while getting some fresh air. And by fresh air, she meant she was going to enjoy a cigarette while surrounded by the smell of rotting garbage from the deli next door.

Just her luck, the music stopped less than halfway through her cigarette. “ETS, this is Adam. How can I help you?” His voice was deep and rich, the type of voice that made Carly go a little bit weak in the knees.

“Hey, Adam. This is Carly Turner with Schumann Theater in New York. I’m hoping you can help me. We’re supposed to open in three days, and we have a dark stage.”

“Well, that would pose a problem.” He laughed, quickly putting Carly on edge. It was easy to see the humor in the situation from behind a desk wherever the hell he was. From where she sat, there was nothing funny about it whatsoever.

Adam started running through a script of troubleshooting questions that Carly didn’t have answers to. Why isn’t someone from lighting making this damn call? Beyond knowing the final result of the problem, Carly was clueless.

She crushed her cigarette out against the side of the building and headed back inside to the booth. “Here, you talk to him.” Carly snapped at Clark as she shoved the phone into his chest. After assuring the ETS rep that they had already gone through the entire process and still couldn’t get the lights to work, he handed the phone back to Carly.

“Told you so. They’re going to send someone out, but we’re going to be dark for tonight’s rehearsal. Their tech will meet someone here at eight tomorrow morning.” Clark laughed. “I feel bad for whatever sap draws the short straw on that one.”

Carly already knew who was going to be stuck opening the doors for the techs. No way in hell would Dax get out of bed before noon when he could tell Carly to come in early.

***

The morning commute was Carly’s least favorite part of the day. Everyone was rushed to get somewhere, and common courtesy was non-existent, even more so than later in the day. She could feel judgmental eyes boring down on her as she followed the fashion-forward pedestrians wearing cut-off denim shorts and bright orange oversized t-shirt slouching off one shoulder. There was no point in trying to look fabulous when you were going to spend most of the day painting and cleaning.

The only solace from coming in so early was that she had a few hours before Dax would grace her with his presence. That almost made it worth the unease she felt over being the first person in the building. Ever since Phantom of the Opera, Carly was terrified at the idea of being alone in the theater. Yes, it was irrational, but she had yet to find a way to prevent the fear.

Moving the set was normally a job tackled when there were at least two people working. Too much could go wrong trying to do it alone. Unfortunately, no one thought to move the cumbersome pieces last night, and she would need to move them before the contractor could do his job. Carly cursed her irrational fears as she tripped, shoving the roof of a building directly into one of the heavy, velvet curtains.

“Hello?” A deep voice resonated from backstage. The way the timbre of the man’s voice echoed off the acoustic panels in the empty theater sent a shiver down Carly’s spine. Men whose voices could melt butter surrounded her daily, but something about this particular voice that heightened her senses.

“Out here,” she shouted, still wrestling to pull the set piece out of the curtain without causing any damage Dax would make her fix later. She blew a stray hair away from her eyes as the lighting contractor rounded the corner.

When she looked up, she did a double take. The broad shoulders and angled jaw were all new, but there was no mistaking the icy blue eyes looking down at Carly. They were the same eyes she had seen almost every day of her childhood. “Adam?”

“Carly Turner? What are the odds…?”

When she had moved away from home, Adam Sanders had been a bit gangly and not nearly this tall. She figured he would have grown up to be the man a woman grew to love for his heart despite his awkward appearance. The fact that it looked like he wasn’t opposed to spending time in the gym and he had lost the baby face did nothing to settle her nerves.Carly shook the thoughts out of her head. This was Adam, the little brother Carly never had. Even if she had never felt that familial bond with him, there was clearly a rule about drooling over your best friend’s younger brother.

“Well, I think they’re probably long enough that there’s no point in buying a lottery ticket tonight,” Oh god, did I just compare seeing Adam to winning the lottery?

“What in the hell are these?” Adam laughed, twirling the long blonde pigtails that fell in front of her shoulders. The childish hair restraints didn’t seem like as good of an idea as they had this morning. Carly flinched and felt her glasses sliding down the bridge of her nose. Pushing them back to her face using a knuckle, she looked away. Once again, she chastised herself, this time for imagining Adam’s strong hands on parts of her body other than the pigtails she wore for purely utilitarian purposes. This was, without a doubt, the least put-together Carly had been in a long time, and Adam happened to be around to see it.

Her cheeks heated under his critical gaze. “I’m not really going for the high glamour look when I’m moving set pieces.” She was flustered. It wasn’t a condition Carly was used to which put her even more on edge.

“That’s good because you’re off the mark if that’s what you were trying to achieve.” Adam laughed as he ran his hand down Carly’s back. Her skin felt like it was on fire under his caress, immediately followed by cold emptiness when he removed his hand from the middle of her back. He grabbed his tool bag from the ground and moved to the front of the stage. “Hey Carly, it’s a good look on you.” When he threw a bright smile over his shoulder, Carly noticed he still had the chip in his front tooth that he’d had since they were kids. Even that looked sexy as hell when framed by his square jaw with the slightest shadow of a beard. What others might see as an imperfection only added character to his All-American good looks. Carly had to fight the warmth she felt inside from that single glance.

Nice recovery.

“Let’s go…” This time she did roll her eyes since he couldn’t see her. She hoped the awkwardness would diminish once he was working. She needed to focus on her checklist, not Julia’s kid brother.

Even though she told herself she would disappear after showing him the light rigs, she lingered on the stage watching him work. “Are you going to be able to get the lights working?”

“That’s the plan.” He jumped off the stage, heading to the control room. The way his jeans stretched over his thighs with every movement was jarring. She wanted to touch him to see if the denim felt as worn and soft as it looked. If there isn’t some sort of rule about annoying kid brothers growing up to be walking, talking sex, there should be. Carly didn’t need to be thinking about what it would feel like to have Adam’s arms wrapped around her, but she couldn’t help it. He was just the kind of man who caught Carly’s eye when she was paying close enough attention to see who was around her.

Without Dax’s constant interruptions, Carly quickly got the prop tables set for the first act. By the time he sauntered in, everything was ready to go for the evening’s rehearsal and Adam had located the problem. They sat side-by-side with their feet hanging over the edge of the stage while Adam waited for a vendor to return his phone call.

“Am I paying you to sit on your ass?” Dax snapped, throwing his purse on the floor. She didn’t care what fancy name Dax tried to give it, the brown leather bag was, without doubt, his purse.

Adam raised one eyebrow causing Carly to stifle a laugh. Dax was in a foul mood this morning, and she wasn’t about to give him ammunition. “My list is done, and he’s waiting on a part. We could sit around talking or sit here in silence. I decided to be personable and keep him company.” She stood and reached a hand out to help Adam up. “Now that you’re here, I’m going next door to grab something to eat. I’ll be back.”

Dax narrowed his eyes, “Where’s he going?”

Just a few more weeks. “He got here right after me, so I figure he might be hungry too. Plus, I’m not leaving him here with you. I don’t want to subject him to your mood. Seriously, you need to take a Valium or something before you start scaring the cast.”

Now it was Adam choking his laughter back. She nodded to him and then motioned to the back door. “Let’s go.”

***

“That was impressive. I don’t remember you being so mouthy.” Adam chuckled as he opened the door. As soon as they were outside, he threw an arm over his nose and mouth. “Damn, did something die back here?”

Carly shrugged. “You get used to it,” she lied. There was no way a person could get used to the smell of rancid meat and rotting fruit, but there was also no way to change it. It was part of the reality of trying to succeed in New York. Even the shiniest dreams tarnish over time.

Carly led Adam to one of her favorite spots a few blocks away. Carly filed into the grill line. “I’ll grab us a sandwich to split. You get sodas and chips,” she instructed. When they had been walking to the deli, Carly worried that it would be weird having lunch with Julia’s little brother. Instead, it felt perfectly natural as if they had been doing it for years. Even more surprising, Adam pulled a Cherry Coke from the cooler and a bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles off the rack. Somehow, he knew what she wanted. Was that a lucky guess or does he somehow remember my lifelong addictions?

Adam was the first person from home she had seen in six years. Her friends from Wisconsin were all so busy with their own lives that it never worked to meet up, and Gran Turner, the only family member Carly had, didn’t fly and couldn’t sit for long car trips. It was wonderful to be sitting across from someone who understood her. As much as she tried to fit into the New York lifestyle, there were some Midwestern quirks so ingrained in Carly’s personality she would never get rid of them. Unfortunately, her city friends couldn’t understand those oddities.

“So, how’s your sister?” Carly could only think of a few things to ask since she actually knew little about the man sitting across from her. The only thing she knew they had in common was Julia, unless she wanted to bring up how he used to torment the girls when they were younger.

The last she had heard, Julia was living in Nashville and getting ready to file for divorce. A true friend wouldn’t have to ask her brother how she’s doing. A true friend would have kept in touch. Carly preferred to think their lack of communication had more to do with living life on different schedules rather than admit they weren’t as close as they once were.

“She’s good, I guess,” Adam said around a mouthful of corned beef and Swiss. “She’s planning to move back to Wisconsin once the divorce is final. She says she’s okay with it, but I’m not so sure.”

“Julia’s moving back to Wisconsin? Nu-uh,” she exclaimed in disbelief. Carly and Julia swore they would never go back to Wisconsin once they got out. They were dreamers, and their dreams required more than small town living could fulfill. Carly knew Julia had put her own desires on the back burner for her soon-to-be ex and figured she would use her newly found freedom to start finally living her dreams. “Madison or Milwaukee?”

Adam shrugged. “Not sure. She’s been pretty vague.”

It bothered her more than it should have that Adam didn’t seem to know particularly much about his sister’s life. The siblings had relied on each other for support after their mom left. Growing up an only child, Carly liked to think that she would have stayed close to her siblings if she’d had any.

Adam excused himself to answer a phone call and Carly once again found herself watching him walk away. His confident swagger made it appear as though he was floating out of the room. No matter what he did, it seemed Carly couldn’t stop herself from staring. She didn’t like that one bit.

“It will be about two hours before the parts get here,” he said when he returned to the table. “You in a hurry to get back?”

Carly shook her head. She knew she should get back to the Schumann and see what menial tasks Dax could find for her, but she knew she would have more than her fill of him tonight. Since she had started work four hours early today, that should buy her some free time in the afternoon. “No. I can show you around for a while. I just need to pop back and let Dax know I’m going to take a longer break.”

Adam laughed. “Believe it or not, I don’t need a tour guide. I probably spend nearly as much time in this part of town as you do.”

“Huh?” She cringed at the unintelligent utterance. At some point, she would gather her wits and be able to produce a complete sentence again.

“It feels like I’m always out here for work. I keep telling them it’d be cheaper than traveling to move me out here, but they haven’t gone for it so far.”

It didn’t make sense that a company the size of ETS didn’t have sub-contractors to take care of repairs like those they sent Adam to make. “Why are you out here so often? Wouldn’t it be more cost-effective for them to hire someone who’s local to do the work?”

Adam laughed again. Carly wasn’t thrilled at the idea of being his primary source of amusement for the day. “I don’t normally do repairs. One of the big-shots knows someone at the Schumann, so he asked me to come out and personally take care of it. Normally, I’m on sales calls.”

“Oh.” It stung to know that someone she knew had been so close so many times. Had either of them known the other was in New York, maybe they would have met up sooner. If she had kept in touch with Julia, Carly might have known that Adam was in the city frequently. She sat there watching him finish his soda. It was one of the few times since moving that she thought about how she had lost touch with just about everyone. Even if they couldn’t visit, she could have made more of an effort to call or e-mail.

As soon as they walked through the stage door at the Schumann, Carly knew a break was out of the question. “Turner, where in the hell have you been?” Dax’s nasally shriek echoed through the empty theater.

“Sounds like someone’s in trouble,” Adam whispered in her ear. Carly swallowed hard. There certainly had to be a rule about getting butterflies over a friend’s younger brother. Oh, to hell with it. I haven’t even talked to Julia in over a year.

Carly rolled her eyes. “He’s just a drama queen. You know how theater people can be. I’d better see what his highness needs.”

“Rain check, then?”

There was no way she would have time before Adam went back to Wisconsin. The thought depressed her more than it should have. “I’m going to be stuck here until late every night this week. Maybe next time you’re in town?”

Adam’s shoulders fell. “Right. Opening week–” In a twisted way, it lifted Carly’s spirits to see that he was upset.

“Turner!” Dax was clearly in a foul mood today.

“I have to get out there. Try to find me when you come back with the part,” she grumbled. She turned back as she neared the stage. “Hey, you said two hours, right? The queen will want to know.”

Adam tried to stifle his laughter. “Yes, tell his majesty I shall return in two hours.” Carly nearly lost it when he bowed flamboyantly before disappearing into the summer sun. Just as the door was about to slam shut, he threw it open again. “Oh, and Carly, it was great seeing you.”

***

Two hours later, Adam returned with a box that looked far too small to hold anything that had the ability to cripple the intricate lighting plan for their show. “Time to save the princess from the evil king.”

“My hero,” Carly shrieked, throwing her arms around Adam’s broad shoulders. She kissed his cheek and immediately felt the burn as her cheeks turned red. Between feeling the firm ridges under her fingers and inhaling an intoxicating blend of body wash, soap and woodsy cologne, Carly knew she was in trouble.

“Turner, what in the hell do you think you’re doing? Even if there weren’t a hundred things to do, you can’t screw the vendors.” Carly’s embarrassment from Dax having caught her changed quickly to laughter at Dax’s stunned expression. Anger quickly followed her laughter as Carly hit her breaking point with his mood.

“Screw you, Dax,” she shouted toward the stage, her arms frozen around Adam’s neck. Not usually one to feel a need to explain her actions, Carly followed him. “For your information, Adam is a family friend. I have no intentions of screwing him backstage or anywhere else. And even if I was going to screw him, you’re just pissed that he would be one more gorgeous man you’re not getting.” Maybe one of these days Dax would realize that Carly’s tolerance for his bullshit directly correlated to the time she was required to roll out of bed in the morning.

Dax didn’t respond to Carly’s dramatic monologue. In fact, he acted as if he hadn’t heard a single thing she had said. That was actually a good thing because she needed to make it through this run so she would have one more show on her resume. She couldn’t wait until he had to find another whipping post.

When Carly turned to apologize to Adam, he was nowhere to be found. Her fingers brushed across her lower lip. The taste of Adam lingered on her skin from just that slight touch and her lips tingled, remembering the feel of his whiskers brushing against them. She reached into her bright green leather purse, grabbing a cigarette and her iPhone. When she stepped outside, she crouched against the side of the brick building and tapped out a quick email.

 

Hey Annie,

Do you ever talk to Julia? I heard a rumor she’s moving back to WI, but not where. Let me know. We need to catch up.

C

 

In high school, Carly didn’t go anywhere without Julia on one side and Annie on the other. If anyone would know what was going on with Julia, it would be Annie. Asking about Julia wasn’t what Carly actually wanted to talk to her about, but she figured it was better wading into the conversation rather than jumping directly into the deep end by asking for information about Adam.

“You know those will kill you,” Adam said, plucking the cigarette out of her mouth and taking a long drag. The way his lips curled around the butt of the cigarette made Carly wonder what they would feel like on her skin. When he exhaled, a perfect ring of smoke ascended into the air from his lips. She briefly wondered what other oral talents he possessed. This had to stop. Nothing but trouble could come from thinking about Adam this way.

“Have you seen what I have to deal with?” She deadpanned, waving her hand toward the stage door. “I figure it’s me or them. I can’t go to prison for killing myself. And wouldn’t the same go for you? I highly doubt you’re immune to their toxic effects.”

Adam extended a hand and pulled Carly so that she was standing close enough to smell his cologne over the rotting garbage. “True,” he agreed, tapping her on the nose. Carly felt the corners of her mouth turn up slightly. “But it’d be a waste for you to kill yourself. Plus, you’re going to be one of those scary broads whose voice sounds like a dude someday. That will seriously kill the cute little sex kitten thing you have going on now. I, on the other hand, don’t have to worry about sounding like a guy or killing my sex appeal.”

Deflecting the attention off herself, Carly smacked Adam in the chest. “Stop it. You’re the creepy little brother; you don’t get to call me sexy.”

For a moment, Adam looked almost hurt by the statement. “Creepy, huh?” Carly worried that she’d offended him until he started laughing.

“I… Uh…” Once again, words failed her. She rolled her eyes. “Shut up, you know what I mean. So, are you done? Does his highness have light once again?”

“Yes, all is well in the kingdom.” He bowed before her and she broke out laughing. Having someone laid back to talk to was fun. “Guess I’d better let you get back to it.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” she said without trying to hide the disappointment in her voice. She wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Even though they wouldn’t have time to get together during this trip of his, she hoped there would be a next time. It would be wonderful to have someone laid back, and down-to-earth to talk to from time to time. “Next time you’re–”

“Turner,” Dax threw the door open, almost hitting Carly in the face. “We’re getting ready to have a rehearsal in here. Care to join us?”

“Coming,” she snapped. When she turned to give Adam her phone number, he was turning onto the street at the end of the alley. She had obviously misread any vibe she thought she had gotten from him.

My Unexpected Forever Cover Reveal

Do you want to know why I love my job? Because I get to read books my friends are writing before anyone else! And let me tell you, getting to read Harrison and Katelyn’s story was heaven and hell all at the same time! When you buy this one, and you NEED to buy it, you won’t have as much hell because you won’t have to wait between chapters. You also won’t have the author taunting you!

I expected a life of music.
I expected to raise my son.

It took one look to make everything change.

I never expected happiness.
I never expected to find her.
I never expected to feel desire.
I never expected I’d be a family man.
I never expected to be loved.
I never expected to fall in love.

They say you should expect the unexpected. I didn’t realize my unexpected would be the forever kind.




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Heidi McLaughling is offering My Unexpected Forever up for pre-buy for those attending the Naughty Mafia Rocks Vegas 2013. Pre-buy: http://bit.ly/11JRWEP

 

Pre-buy My Unexpected Forever for August delivery: http://heidimclaughlin.com/buy-books/

 

Heidi is the author of USA Today, Digital Book World, Amazon and Barnes & Noble Bestselling novel, Forever My Girl.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell and two Parakeets.

During the day Heidi is behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, she’s writing one of the many stories planned for release or sitting court-side during either daughter’s basketball games.

 

Breaking the Rules Cover Reveal and Teaser

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Synopsis:

Growing up in small town Wisconsin, Carly Turner couldn’t wait to escape when she graduated high school. Now, she’s living the life in New York City, even if she isn’t seeing her name in lights like she used to dream about at night. She’s living paycheck-to-paycheck, working behind the scenes in small theaters off Broadway. When there’s an equipment malfunction the week before opening night, Carly makes a call that winds up changing everything.

Life in the city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While she feels like she’s getting closer to making the move from behind the scenes to center stage, she misses being surrounded by people who understand the quirks that come from living in a town of five thousand people. That, and the fact that he’s sexy as sin, make Adam everything she feels like she’s missing.

The only problem? He’s her best friend’s kid brother…

Adam Sanders wants to settle down, find a good woman and start a family like he sees so many of his friends doing. But how is he supposed to meet Ms. Right when he’s constantly on the road for work? When he’s sent to New York to handle a repair that would typically be contracted out as a favor to his boss, he’s just about to his breaking point.

Everything changes when the stagehand sent to open the theater for him is none other than his big sister’s childhood friend. The same girl he lusted after as a teenager. Could this be fate’s way of showing him that he was looking in the wrong place for love?

As Adam and Carly’s friendship develops, lines will be crossed and rules will be broken. Will they be able to come out the other side without destroying everything they had back in Brooklyn?

Teaser

When she looked up, she did a double-take. The broad shoulders and angled jaw were all new but there was no mistaking the icy blue eyes looking down at her.  They were the same eyes she had seen nearly every day of her childhood. “Adam?”

“Carly Turner? What are the odds…”

When she had moved away from home, Adam Sanders had been a bit gangly and not nearly this tall. She figured he would have grown up to be the man a woman grew to love for his heart despite his awkward appearance. The fact that it looked like he wasn’t opposed to spending time in the gym and he had lost the child-like face did nothing to settle her nerves.Carly shook the thoughts out of her head. This was Adam, the boy who had been the little brother Carly never had. Even if she had never felt that familial bond with him, there was definitely a rule about drooling over your best friend’s little brother.

“Well, I think they’re probably long enough that there’s no point in buying a lottery ticket tonight,” Oh god, did I just compare seeing Adam to winning the lottery?

“What in the hell are these?” Adam laughed, twirling the long blond pigtails that fell in front of her shoulders. The child-like hair restraints didn’t seem like as good of an idea as they had this morning. Carly flinched and felt her glasses sliding down the bridge of her nose. Pushing them back to her face using a knuckle, she looked away.  Once again, she chastised herself, this time for imagining Adam’s strong hands on parts of her body other than the pigtails she wore for purely utilitarian purposes. This was, without a doubt, the least put-together Carly had been in a long time and Adam happened to be here to see it.

Her cheeks heated under his critical gaze. “I’m not really going for the high glamour look when I’m moving set pieces.” She was flustered. It wasn’t a condition Carly was used to which put her even more on edge.

“That’s good because you’re off the mark if that’s what you were trying to achieve.”

Blessed Fate is Now Available!

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The wait is over for Blessed Fate!

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Synopsis:

Colton Bradford never believed in love at first sight. And then, Rain Maxwell walked through his buddy’s front door. He knew there was something special underneath the shy, guarded exterior and was determined to find out what it was.

The problem? Rain had devised her own set of life rules and “Never get involved with a band mate” was right near the top of that list. She allowed Colton into her heart as one of her closest friends, but pushed him away at the mention of anything more.

When tragedy strikes Rain’s personal life, Colton is determined to be there for her in whatever way she’ll allow. Will she finally open up to him and consider taking things to the next level? Will Colton’s ways of trying to bury his feelings for Rain in the past ruin the possibility of a future for them?

If you are looking for a solid 5 ++ star Rock Star Romance series then Blessed Tragedy is the series for you! I felt there was immense growth between the first book and the second ~ both were awesome but for some reason this one is my FAVORITE! Totally worth the read ~Shh Mom’s Reading

 

I adore the relationship between Colton & Rain and this for me was a really good read. What I liked best is that there were no questions left unanswered, I felt connected to every character in the story, not just Colton, and there is a sweet, sweet, HEA!!!! 4.5 stars ~Book Crush

HB Heinzer wrote an awesome story and Colton is definitely a one of a kind rock star that you can’t help but fall in love with but then also want to smack! I adored this story! ~Three Chicks and Their Books