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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

☀ Coming Home [1-3] - Meli Raine

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for  Coming Home, a New Adult Romantic Suspense series by .

Download the first book, Return, FREE, and for a limited time, pick up the second book, Revenge, for only .99!

PREVIEW: Check out details about each book in the series, including synopsis and excerpt..

Author Meli Raine will be awarding one (1) ebook copy of the Coming Home series (books 1-3) to one of our readers,and a $25 Starbucks gift card + signed print copies of all 3 books a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.


Synopsis | The Series | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

The Series: Coming Home

A romantic suspense trilogy.

MY HEART WANTS A KIND OF JUSTICE THE LAW CAN'T GIVE

Return | Revenge | Reunion |

Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt.

Return [1]

**Download it FREE**

On a dark, rainy night I drove my overstuffed junker car back to a town I never expected to see again.

And when I needed a rescue by the side of the road, a six-foot tall piece of hot, unfinished business named Mark was what the universe sent me.

Three years earlier I'd fled town (and Mark) to follow my wrongly-convicted father to his federal prison, working crappy jobs to stay afloat and visit him every second I could. But now Dad's dead and I'm mysteriously offered the best job of my life at the college where his life blew up when he was accused of a crime he didn't commit.

Someone wants me here. Desperately.

I'm hoping it's Mark.

Because if it's not, I'm in more danger than I ever imagined.

And if it is?

Mark may be the most dangerous choice of all.

[Published 28 July 2015, 196 pages]

Excerpt

Chapter One

As Amy faints, she falls on my arm. I drop my phone. Amy’s shoulder bangs into it as she hits the floor. A sickening crackfills my ears.
     The flashlight goes dim.
     Oh, God. The one and only tool I have to try to get out of this horror show and it’s just been destroyed. Amy is breathing hard but steady. She’s not bleeding, but the bandage is soaked with blood. I can’t tell how long ago someone removed her arm.
     I can’t see.
     All I can do is feel.
     Blackness surrounds me. I hear nothing. I know that above us there is a coffee shop full of customers and employees.People are sipping lattes and eating pastries. They’re on laptops and checking email. Mothers come in with toddlers.Old ladies meet for a morning talk.
     And Mikey’s upstairs, knowing he trapped me in here.
     I let out a choking sound that is like a sob, only ten thousand times worse.
     Mikey. That face. His anger, then nervousness. What is that about? Why did he trap me in here? I sit in the inky darkness. The only sound I hear is Amy’s loud breath and my own sniffles. I pull her up against me, sliding her head and shoulders into my lap. She’s warm, but not hot. No fever.
     I’m careful not to touch the shoulder where her arm used to be.
     I make a weird sound of disbelief. Where her arm used to be. Whoever captured her has cut off one of her arms. Her entire arm. Where is it? When did they cut it off? Why did someone cut it off?
     I go bone-chilling cold.
     I know damn well who did it.
     El Brujo.
     My heartbeat feels like a voice. I know there’s no echo down here. Everything is muffled. At the same time, it’s like every sound is a scrape. Each time I move, I hear it magnified. Every time I shift Amy’s weight against me, it feels like the last time I’ll hear sound.
     As the reality of my situation sinks in, a small, scrabbling creature grows inside my breastbone. It’s fear, clawing its way out of me.
     I start to shake. I hold my breath, my body heaving as the air tries to get in. I can’t control any of this. It’s panic, pure and simple.
     My body is revolting against the truth of what is happening, and I’m literally a passenger in my own meltdown.
     Amy groans and rolls on one side. Her good arm is covered in scratches. I feel them with my fingertips. Because I’ve lost the sense of sight, I try to focus on what I can experience. Touch still works. Gently, I run my fingers over her arms, neck, shoulders and face. She has scratches everywhere, and one wound on her jaw that feels tender and slightly warm to the touch.
     I avoid the shoulder joint where her arm has been removed.
     “He’s coming,” she mutters. A streak of horror, like an electric current, zips from my heel to the top of my head.
     That’s what she said in one of my nightmares.
     A nightmare that has just come true.
     “Who’s coming, Amy?” I ask, stroking her hair away from her face.
     “The butcher...” The word comes out like a hiss, like an agonal sigh. It feels like it echoes into my bones. If I was freaked out before, now I’m completely frozen by utter terror. I can’t think. Can’t feel. Can’t move.
     Can’t anything.
     If he is really coming, then we’re sitting victims. We’re prey. We’re just here, waiting for our fate.
     One limb removed at a time.
     “Amy!” I whisper, shaking her. I feel her groan, then move.
     “Wha?” Her breath is hot against my thigh.
     “When did he do this to you?” The blood seemed fresh enough that it must have been recently.
     “Don’t know. How many days has he had me?”
     My gut clenches. Oh, holy hell. I count in my head.
     “A week. Seven days.” Has it really only been a week? It feels like half my life.
     “Then a couple days ago. After they came back.”
     “You’ve been here the entire time?”
     “I don’t know. Where am I? Where’s my mom? I want my mom,” she cries. Her sobs shake my legs, her groans of pain mixed with the crying.
     Tears fill my eyes with sympathy.
     I want her mom, too.
     I want anyone right now.
     “He’s coming,” she murmurs.
     Anyone but him, that is.
     “The butcher?”
     She whimpers. “He cuts us.”
     “Us?” Bile rises in my throat. Are there more people in here?
     “The others. He’s been hiding us. All the women before me. He cuts them and then they go away. When you go away you never come back.” Her voice is slurred and she’s fading out.
     I realize she’s probably hungry or thirsty, at least. I feel around in the dark and my hand brushes against plastic. My water bottle.
     “Amy?” I shake her. “Are you thirsty?”
     She says nothing. I feel around for her mouth, then carefully guide the opening of my water bottle to her lips. She drinks greedily, then starts to gag.
     Hysteria rises in me like a vine seeking the sun. “Have they hurt you?”
     She makes a weird sound. “They cut my arm off!”
     “No, no,” I say, cursing myself. “I’m so sorry, Amy. Oh, my God. I meant, has he...has he raped you?”
     She sniffles, then struggles to sit up. Her hand touches my hip, then rides up my body as she tries to find my face. Her fingertips touch my lips. They’re dirty and caked with something that tastes like dried blood and sweat. I don’t pull away, though.
     “No. He says he has to save us all for his boss.”
     His boss.
     The picture of Claudia’s mother invades my mind. No arms, no legs. The Butcher, Amy called him. Is El Brujo kidnapping women and disfiguring them to meet some sick sexual sadistic need?
     “What happens to you all?”
     “The women. We had four of us in here. The other three, the butcher would come and take them. The screams—we’d hear the screams. Oh, God, Carrie, I don’t want to hear the screams again.”
     “You won’t.” My voice is stone-cold steel. I’m faking my strength, though. I have no idea how to get out of this. No clue how to get Amy out of here.
     But I will die trying.
     Allie. If only I’d said something to Allie...and then there’s Mikey. Why on earth would Mikey turn on me like this? Was he part of this horrible butchering?
     “Is Mikey part of this, Amy?” She’s leaning against me now and I hold her, rocking slightly. It’s like soothing a small, hurt child.
     “Mikey? Mikey Boynton? He’d never do anything like this.Why?”
     Why?
     Good question.
     I hear her take a very deep, very shaky breath. “I’m so glad to see you.”
     “Can’t see anything,” I reply.
     She lets out a small laugh. “I’ve really been kidnapped for a week?”
     “Yes.” My heart is breaking. She sounds so lost. So hopeless.
     “A week? They’ve had me for a fucking week?” Her voice is gaining power.
     “Yes.”
     “Do you have food?” Her stomach gurgles as if to emphasize her need.
     I paw around in the dark to find my purse. Thank goodness I’m a pig when it comes to the cinnamon croissants. “I have an extra croissant.” The brown paper bag the clerk put it in earlier makes a crinkling sound.
     “I’m drooling. They’ve given us bread and water and cheese.”
     I hand her the entire thing. I smell the sweetness of the bread as she brings it to her mouth.
     “Mmmmmm,” she moans. It’s good to hear a positive sound from her.
     A few bites later, I feel her fumbling in my lap. “Here,” Amy says. She’s shoving part of the croissant my way.
     “No, you eat it,” I insist.
     “We don’t know how long we’ll be in here, Carrie. We need to save some.”
     And with those words, I fall apart in an instant.

Revenge [2]

**On Sale for only .99 for a limited time** Everything I know about my life is a lie. The more I dig into my father's death the more I find myself in peril.

Mark turns out to be a liar, someone I thought I could trust. He's not what he seems, and worst of all, a part of me can't let go.

My boss might be an international drug lord disguised as a dean at one of the top five universities in the country.

Like anyone's going to believe me if I try to out him?

But I can't help myself. I should learn to keep my mouth shut.

Someone's decided to do that for me.

Make me quiet once--

And for all.

[Published 17 August 2015, 266 pages]

Excerpt

Chapter One

I try driving my heel into his foot but he moves and laughs softly in my ear as I twist and struggle, my neck hurting. He’s pushing on the hollow between my collarbone and the base of my neck, the feeling making me gag.
     “This isn’t a joke, you know,” he says. I’m pulled behind a car. He drags me as I rake his arm with my fingernails. He makes a sound of disgust in the back of his throat but says nothing.
     Soon my feet are off the ground. I weigh nothing to him.What, exactly, is he doing?
     As he pulls me around a pillar I get pissed. Red rage fills my eyes and I elbow him as I go limp. The backpack slides and gives me some leverage. Dead weight is hard no matter how strong you are, and my movement throws him off balance just as I kick backwards and up. My heel catches a thick, soft patch of skin and the air goes out of his lungs.
     Aha.
     Target hit.
     “Mark!” I gasp.
     He’s still got a death grip on me, but now I can see him.His eyes are frightening. Cold. Calculated.
     The eyes of a killer.
     “Shut up if you want to stay alive,” he hisses, yanking me to the ground under a set of metal stairs. Just as we crouch, I hear the clack clack clack of someone in dress shoes running. The sounds are hard and definitive. Not high heels.
     Men’s dress shoes.
     Mark’s breathing slows as he controls it. Soon he’s completely silent. His eyes cast around the parking garage.He’s like a robot.
     A robot designed to protect me.
     Great. No one bothered to tell me I’m secretly Sarah Connor and that I now have my own Terminator.
     “What are you—” His fingers silence me, shoving in my mouth with so much force I feel the corner of my mouth tear.He covers my lips with his palm. I try to bite but he knows how to move his fingers just right. Somehow, he can gag me and keep me quiet without giving me any way to fight back.
     How does he know how to do this?
     My hair is pinned between my shoulder and the cold, dirty wall behind me. Mark’s hand tastes salty and thick in my mouth. My lips are dry and buzzing. Copper fills my senses as I taste blood. My heart pounds so hard in my chest it feels like my eyes move with each heartbeat. I close my eyes because everything starts to spin.
     Is Mark the kidnapper from the video? Is Amy being held captive by...Mark?
     The sound of men’s footsteps recedes slowly. I hear a metal door open, then the slow wheeze of it closing.
     Click.
     Mark lets go of my mouth. He gives me a fierce look. He doesn’t need to explain.
     Be quiet.
     I look down and realize why he didn’t use his other hand to make me be silent.
     He’s holding a gun.
     I make a squeaking sound. I can’t help it. My knee drops to the ground and I feel a sickening crack. I can’t take my eyes off that gun. My nose fills with the scent of sweat and panic. I can’t tell if it’s Mark’s or mine. One look at his face, though, tells me he’s not panicking.
     It’s the opposite.
     He’s in complete control.
     “Are you going to kidnap me, too?” I hiss. I know I shouldn’t speak, but I can’t help it. “Like Amy?”
     He tilts his head, jaw tight. His tongue goes between his cheek and teeth and he gives me a look. You know that look.Eyebrows raised, eyes angry and narrow, cheeks raised in disbelief.
     “You think I kidnapped Amy?”
     No.
     The word No pops into my head without hesitation, the sound of it like someone clapping. Just once. It feels brutal, like a BB someone shot into my head, ricocheting around.
     No no no no no.
     But I don’t say that. I just stare at him.
     And wait.
     “Jesus, Carrie.” His voice is filled with so much hurt my stomach drops. “Christ,” he gasps, looking away. If I stabbed him through the spleen I don’t think I could hurt him more. “You think that of me?”
     I let my other knee drop, my skirt catching on a piece of metal in the concrete behind me. The sickening sound of cloth tearing fills my ears. It feels like my heart being shredded by his tone of voice. There’s real anguish in the words he’s saying. What am I supposed to think right now?
     What am I supposed to feel?
     “I don’t know,” I finally say. Mark’s looking right at me and I can’t meet his eyes. I feel ashamed. I feel like I did something wrong. He’s the one who just grabbed me. He hurt me. He...I don’t even know what he’s about to do with me.
     And I’m the one who has an apology in my throat? What?
     “I’m trying to protect you,” he spits out.
     “You have a funny way of showing that,” I say as I touch my cut lip gingerly.
     “He was coming after you.”
     “Who?”
     “Eric.”
     “Eric?” I laugh. “Eric wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
     Mark looks pointedly at my wrist. Oh. Right. That. The bleeding stopped but the blood’s smeared all over. Then again, I have blood on my face, too.
     It’s all mixed together, just like my thoughts. My fears. My feelings.
     My everything.
     “All I know, Mark,” I say with an exhaustion that feels thousands of years old, “is that you seem to know exactly who took Amy. You know a lot more than you’re telling anyone, including the police chief. And so help me God, if you hurt Amy after what you did to my dad—”
     Mark’s hand goes over my mouth again. I shove it away.
     “Carrie, you’re in dangerous territory here—”
     “Fuck you, Mark.”
     His head snaps back in horror. It would be comical if we weren’t crouching in a parking garage under a set of stairs while I bleed all over and he holds a gun.
     “What?” He knows I don’t like to say curse words. In fact, he’s never heard them out of my mouth. Dad always said that just because I was raised by a bar owner didn’t mean I couldn’t be a lady.
     It’s time to stop worrying about being a lady when my ex-boyfriend may have kidnapped my best friend and might be kidnapping me, too.
     “Fuck. You,” I say with an icy clarity. It makes my skin go cold and my racing heart come to a screeching halt. All the blood in his face drains out. Haunted eyes look at me. He starts to say something, then stops himself, looking around the garage suddenly.
     I stand. He grabs my injured wrist and yanks, hard. I jerk back (fuck you) and my hip whacks against a pillar. He loses his balance but hangs on and I fall forward, cracking my head on a concrete-covered metal stair before landing on his body.
     And the world goes black.

Reunion [3]

You can think you've had everything stolen from you. That there's nothing left to lose.

You would be wrong.

My best friend's been kidnapped. I was just captured. What I thought was a massive drug operation run by a man who killed my father turns out to be ten times more horrific.

I'm trapped. My best friend may be dead.

And Mark has no idea where to find me.

Some secrets should remain buried, my captors tell me.

And it looks like I will be, too.

Buried alive.

[Published 31 August 2015, 210 pages]

Excerpt

Chapter One

New job. New apartment. Old town. Old regrets. Same Carrie.
     Or am I?
     The drive into town as I pass the old sign declaring that I’m entering the town of Yates makes me shiver. My thin cotton v-neck is suddenly not enough to keep me from feeling cold dread. You’d think three years would be long enough to come back without feeling like I have my tail between my legs, but apparently not.
     The sick feeling in the pit of my stomach makes me wonder if I’m doing the right thing. A little late for that. After all, I’ve quit my old job at the bank, pulled out of my room with my roommates in the ratty old house we shared outside of Oklahoma City, and come back to my hometown, ready to finish what I’d started years ago.
     If this isn’t the right thing to do, I have undone my entire life for nothing.
     It’s one of those nights where the sky is so clear and the clouds arrange themselves so perfectly around the moon that you’d think they were trying to get its autograph. Like something out of a movie poster, a little too perfect. The kind of night that deceives you into thinking maybe—just maybe—you can get a fresh start in life.
     The lightest sprinkle of rain begins to dot my windshield. It’s more than a mist but not quite a storm. I’m humming along to a fabulous song and it’s all good.
     Life is getting better.
     And then my bald tire blows out. Rear passenger tire. Yanking the jerking car to the right, my hands know what to do because this is the third tire to go on me in seven months. Fixing an already-patched tire is my only option. The twenty-five dollar repair was cheaper than the eighty dollar used tire. A new tire might as well have been lined with gold bricks from the quote the mechanic gave me.
     My long hair comes loose from the scrunchie as the car jolts to the shoulder of the road, riding the rim. A strand of hair catches as my hand struggles to grip the steering wheel. If I damage the tire rim I’ll be in for a repair job that costs more than my piece-of-junk car is worth.
     A loud crack, like the sky snapping in two, makes me jump. My forehead bangs the visor. A huge flash of light blinds me. And then that lovely, dewey drizzle turns into a raging thunderstorm in seconds.
     Great. Just great.
     Fumbling in my purse, I find my phone.
     No bars. No service.
     “Oh, geez,” I mutter, tossing the phone on the cracked vinyl seat and running my hands along my bare arms. The night chill starts to creep in and I wonder how far from town I am. Cheap flip phones with ten cent per minute pre-paid fees don’t exactly get the best coverage. At least it can turn into a flashlight when I go into desperation mode.
     When? I am in it already.
     Blowing a puff of air in a sigh that echoes for miles, I hunch over the steering wheel and think out my options. I can’t call the only friend I have in town. Amy would come and help me, but no signal means no help.
     The rain sounds like bullets falling on the hood of my dented Civic. The old car is kept together by my own determination and rust spots that make it look like something growing in a petri dish from a high school biology class. I close my eyes and will myself to think.
     Spare tire? Yep. Bald, like the one that just shredded, but it is good enough to get me to my new place. If I can get there, I can set up my clothes, my coffee maker and my ancient laptop, all of which are currently crammed in my car.
     On top of my spare tire.
     Mumbling a curse my late mother would have disapproved of, I open the car door. It responds with a loud, rusty groan. I make a similar sound out of frustration.
     I get to work.
     In seconds I’m soaked through.
     I am my own wet t-shirt contest.
     Just as I open the trunk and start figuring out where to put my things on the wet ground, blue and red lights flash behind me.
     No. Just no. My heart speeds up and starts slamming against my ribs. My fingers go numb from cold and fear. You would think I would be relieved to get help so quickly, but you would be wrong.
     What are the chances, though? There are only ten cops on the force. There’s no way that on this one, wet night, in the middle of this long, wooded road the one cop who happens to be patrolling this stretch is—
     “Carrie?”
     Oh, God.
     It’s him. Mark. My ex-boyfriend.
     I can’t look. I just...can’t. Too many memories are in that face. That rugged, handsome face. My heart jumps up like an excited puppy, wagging in my chest, eager to be acknowledged and touched. The rest of me shoves it down.
     Officer Mark Paulson stands in front of me in uniform, soaking wet, his hat making the rain fall in streaks in front of him. The curtain of water catches my eye. It’s easier to watch it than to stare at him. If I did stare, though, I know what I would see.
     Broad shoulders under that crisp black uniform shirt. A thin scar running under his jaw, where he was knifed in a fight when he did a tour in Afghanistan. Wet, blonde hair I used to love to stroke. Gentle hands that once cupped my face. Eyes that could draw me in with a hot breath. The tender taste of lips meant only for me.
     He speaks, pulling me out of the memory. Stop it, Carrie, I think. Stop with the dreams you destroyed.
     “You okay?” he asks, looking around swiftly. He’s worried. That’s really touching. It’s nice to know he cares. Three years is long enough for him to stop hating me, right?
     And I know he hates me.
     He has to. I disappeared one day and never said goodbye to him. When you do that to someone, they tend to really resent it. Especially if they love you.
     “I’m, uh...” My voice fails me as I watch the water fall in sheets down his cap. “My tire blew.”
     He thumps his hand on the car door. “She’s still around, huh?” I know he means the car, but it feels like a dig. Like he’s cutting into me for leaving.
     Like he’s still hurt.
     If he’s still hurt, that means the feelings haven’t faded, and if his feelings are still that strong, then mine make more sense. I thought when I left town I would shed so much damage and hurt. Because leaving town meant I could leave behind so much pain.
     But leaving Mark? That meant the pain came with me.
     I start to shiver. It’s not from the cold and the rain. Those arms. The rain drops gather and ripple down his taut muscles, dotted with a sprinkling of dark hair. I remember when I was in those arms.
     I remember every single time he touched me.
     “Uh, yeah. Gum and duct tape,” I joke. It’s easier to be coy. I can’t get hurt that way. And I can’t hurt him. My heart beats so hard it’s like a bass drum. Can he hear it? I’m sure he can. It’s beating in my ears. My throat. Behind my eyeballs.
     Everywhere. Hard.
     He chuckles, then his face gets serious. Tipping his head up to the sky, he shakes his head at the storm. The tiny bit of moon between the clouds shines on his face and makes him look wolflike. Predatory. Attractive.
     Dangerous.
     I can’t let him in again. My hands itch to touch him. My heart feels covered in barbed wire.
     “Get in the squad car and I’ll change the tire for you.” His hand reaches out for my arm. I pull back before we can make contact.
     Mark flinches, then nods. He doesn’t say another word, just sweeps his long, muscled arm toward his police car and starts popping the trunk of my car. I remain in place.
     My legs can’t remember how to move. A deep breath helps. He mistakes my exhale for impatience.
     “Give me a minute. Cool your jets. I’ll have this changed in no time.” He’s standing in front of the open hatchback. I’m to his left, next to the road. The sound of the rain is so hard. I wish it could drown out the screaming inside me, the voice that says—
     Kiss him.
     Headlights come and go around a corner. The dull flicker of the red and blue lights on the squad car blends into the background and time disappears. Mark shuffles all my crap in the car around, then turns to me. It’s the first time I’ve looked him in the eye.
     They’re so deep, like whiskey glistening in sunlight. But even more, they’re eyes that see the real me.
     The only pair in the world.
     “I’ll have to get some of your things wet,” he says, regret in his voice, as he sticks plastic storage tubs on the ground. “There’s no good way to get your spare tire.”
     A distant, tinny sound of voices from his radio catches my ear. The scanner. The unreality is hitting me now as my teeth chatter. I’m coming home to a mess. My car is a mess. I am a mess.
     And Mark is here helping me fix the mess.
     And then, suddenly, his arms are around me and he’s yanking me to the ground.

The Coming Home Series
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About the Author

Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes -- and the women who love them.

Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

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1 comment:

  1. I really like the covers, very eye catching. How did you come up with the idea?

    ReplyDelete