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Thursday, 25 February 2016

☀ Conflicted: Secrets and Lies [1] - M.M. Koenig

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Conflicted, a New Adult Romantic Suspense by (, M. M. Koenig, 385 pages).

This is the first book in the Secrets and Lies series, and you can currently grab a copy for FREE from most major retailers!

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below, as well as details of the other two titles in this series.  Read the first four chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | About the Author | Tour Stops

Synopsis

Find out what happens when a sexy, tattooed bad boy goes head to head with a sassy, fierce female in the first book of the explosive Secrets and Lies series!

Mia Ryan was on the path to make all her dreams come true. Her life was everything she wanted it to be; until one fateful night changed everything – leaving her broken and without direction.

Nearly a year later, she still has little faith in anyone or anything. Desperate to reclaim her life’s ambition, she takes an unexpected offer that promises to solve all her problems. But as Mia moves forward, she’s faced with obstacles she couldn’t have foreseen. The biggest of them lies within the mystery of Ethan Fitzgerald; a man who affects her like no other, but who she should avoid pursuing, at all costs.

On a mission himself, Ethan Fitzgerald didn’t care who he pissed off on his road to fulfill his mother’s dying wish. He relied on himself, and was closed off to the world around him – until Mia Ryan walked through his door. Normally one to avoid messy emotions, Ethan’s world is turned upside down by Mia, and he can’t seem to get enough of her.

There are lines you can cross that will change the course of your life forever …

Teaser: Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE


No Plan

     “What's my plan?” I stared at my ceiling taking in the rays of light as the sun slowly began to rise. I was awake with no chance of falling back to sleep. Every day began with the same thought – “What's my plan?” Life changed. Shit happened. That much was obvious. I definitely had a firm grasp on that fact. I wasn't that naïve. If your plan changed, you readjusted your course. I was, without a doubt, on a new path – but I had to say that the path was leading me and not the other way around. I kept hoping that one of these days, I'd wake up, and everything would be clear again.
      My head turned towards the light breathing next to me. It had to be nice to be able to sleep more than a few hours. I was having difficulty recalling if it was Braden or Brandon. Their shaggy blonde hair fell the same way. It was just the right length and sexy as hell for pulling when ... well ... you know. I needed to make a better effort at remembering their names or at least branch out to other letters in the alphabet. I was going through a crazy string of guys with names that began with the letter ‘B’.
      My life had changed so much in the last year. I was living with my closest friends in an amazing house. It was a far cry from the types of places I'd lived in before, but that was probably because it was in an uppity part of Chicago. Then again, everything was the polar opposite of the streets on the south side. This place was a testament for me though because I actually liked it here. In twenty-one years, I had never felt at home anywhere, but living here gave me that sense of home – it was a first. When this house opened up, Jackson jumped on it. The problem was that it ended up being bigger than he anticipated, so he needed to recruit roommates. After several rounds of ‘Mia, it's going to be epic’, I caved to his charms. I convinced Bri, Trey, and Shane to make up the numbers.
      The house was gorgeous. Situated in a swanky neighborhood a couple of blocks from the upper lakeshore, it was the perfect location and a short drive to the campus that everyone attended. The Victorian structure matched the rest of the neighborhood. It was a fine white with black shutters and heavy oak door. It came finished with a feature we all adored – a huge wraparound porch. A set of stairs divided it, and the right side of the porch had stairs that led into a side door that took you into the kitchen. On that side of the house, there was another deck on the second story that led out of the master bedroom. We fought for that room and the alcohol-induced shenanigans that we pulled to get it left us in rough shape. Jackson got it in the end. Shane and Trey took bedrooms near the stairs while Bri and I selected rooms at end of the hallway. Our rooms were next to the enormous bathroom that came with the house. The boys demanded the sizeable den for their man cave so we claimed the bathroom as ours.
      My thoughts broke when his arms reached for me. My flight instincts kicked into high gear. Our arrangement had always been casual sex. Spooning was not on the menu. I tiptoed towards the door. On my way downstairs, my eyes widened at the scene below.
      Unfuckingbelievable.
      I saw red wine peeking back at me from every part of the surfaces that were visible at this angle. Jackson and Shane were nothing but trouble when left alone during our parties. The result was always the same – disaster. Thank God the entire house had hardwood floors – it made it easier to clean.
      When I hit the kitchen, it was horribly wrong of me to assume I'd seen the worst. There was red wine everywhere; the counters, the island, the stools, the table, the cabinets – even the door leading out to the porch had a coat of it. It was confirmation that we had thrown another kickass party, but the mess staring back at me was less than desirable. Blocked by rows of kegs, the door to get outside was out of commission. On the island, there were enough empty bottles to make any bar envious at the end of the night. Everything else in the kitchen was its normal self: dirty dishes, to-go cartons, and plenty of empty pizza boxes littering the countertops and island. I peered around the landing for something to cover my feet from the sticky mess beneath me. Shane's sandals were at the bottom of the stairs and sufficed for the short trip to the stainless steel fridge. With his flip-flops on, I hopped through the wine puddles to grab a bottle of water.
      “I've got to reconsider getting a small fridge for my room,” I muttered under my breath.
      Scanning the living room, I got my second confirmation that last night was a real hit – ten or so people passed out on the couches and chairs. I couldn't point out any of them in a line up if you paid me. I hit the porch and glanced at the open couches covering it. We got several old couches and mixed them in with other normal porch stuff. If these couches could talk, they could pen a best-selling novel. With parties every other weekend, they were in use more than the furniture inside the house.
      I took a seat on the nearest one and opened my water. I welcomed the cool air as it blew across my face. The birds chirped a quiet tune, so I shut my eyes to enjoy their song and the temperature. In a few hours, the humidity would make it unbearable to be outdoors.
      “Why the hell are you up so early this morning?” Jackson yelled.
      He was strolling towards me from the long driveway that curled around part of the house. It was nice, considering all five of us had cars. Jackson rounded the corner of the house looking fresh in his ripped jeans and black V-neck shirt with his backwards baseball cap. Seeing the stubble lining his face, I fought the urge to lick my lips.
      “Look who's talking? Do you ever end the night here or is it second nature to make sure you end up in whatever random girl's bed?”
      Jackson was – for lack of a better phrase – smoking hot. His jet-black hair was long enough to fall into his eye line. He had thick eyebrows that framed his deep blue eyes with a perfect nose. The chiseled nature of his cheekbones matched the definition that ran from his muscular arms, which had plenty of tattoos plastered upon them. I met Jackson freshman year. After he stopped hitting on me, we became great friends, bonding over our shared major in journalism.
      He settled on the couch next to me and lit the cigarette in his hand. He flashed a crooked grin before playfully punching my arm. “Someone's on the feisty side this morning? Mia, I know your MO. You're down here to drum up an excuse to get last night's guy out of your bed.”
      I rolled my eyes. “I don't need any excuses. The difference between my rendezvous and yours are that I at least stick to the same couple of guys. With you, there isn't a tracking system made for human kind that can calculate the amount of women you've had in bed.”
      Jackson took another drag and puffed smoke circles. “Touché. You have to admit that it's easier to walk out in the morning than giving someone the kick to the curb.”
      I snorted. I hated admitting it, but he was right. With his looks, it was no surprise.
      “I can't say that I'm not intrigued to know how you manage to kick them out and then get them to come back all too willingly,” Jackson mused.
      I gave him a flirtatious wink. “Now that would be telling, wouldn't it?”
      Sometimes I can't help myself. I like messing with him.
      Jackson finished his cigarette and stretched his arms as he let out a loud yawn. He eased himself up and headed for the door.
      “I'll see you around six tonight when you roll out of bed,” I called over to him.
      He glanced over his shoulder with a sleepy smirk. “Ah, you know me all too well. Good night, Mia” he said on his way into the house.
      I leaned back, absolutely loving my living situation. We had been here since last May. It had been a great summer, but now the beginning of August was upon us. It meant most people were back to school. They went back, but I was the exception to the group. I wasn't sure if I would. This meeting displayed promise. My advisor had an upbeat attitude when he requested it. It was enough for me to feel somewhat hopeful that something positive would result from it. I needed to do something other than watch everyone else move forward while I remained stuck in the same spot.
      I wrestled myself out of my daze because my boy of the week would be waking up soon. With my water in hand, I went into the house. I paused after entering the door to veer left into the living room. We circled the living room off on one side with two different couch and recliner sets. They had a perfect angle to the seventy-inch flat-screen affixed to the far left wall. Between each couch set we situated coffee tables. They came in handy since we never used the dining room. The furniture and most of the floor had sleeping strangers covering them. I announced that it was time to leave. I received some nasty glares, but they shuffled out of the door.
      I took the stairs two at a time on my way to the bathroom that Bri and I shared. The bathroom was astonishing, with a huge tub situated in the right corner complimented by a spacious tile shower and a vanity holding two sinks. The window above the whirlpool brought in the light and made soaking with the jets feel like a relaxing retreat to the spa. We had fun decorating it with a Zen-like charm.
      We had been inseparable since we met in junior high. The best thing with us was that we never worried about hurting each other's feelings by being honest. We fell into an easy rhythm and became best friends fast. We were as opposite in appearance as you could get. We stood at an average height of around 5'6", but that was where the similarities ended. Bri's body resembled that of a model. She had the perfectly thin figure and flawless skin that every girl wanted to have. To top it off, she had a movie star smile. Her long brown hair changed to match the latest hair fads and her makeup always brought out the sharpness in her emerald eyes. I was a shade paler than her, but not albino white. I usually curled my dirty blonde locks or pulled them into a ponytail. I had curves that men tended to appreciate. They complimented my toned legs and arms that were the result of years of playing sports. My deep brown eyes were set evenly apart. They were the only things I liked on my face besides my lips. I had full lips that had made kissing boys another extracurricular activity for me, once I had learned how to kiss.
      I tied my hair into a messy bun before brushing my teeth. On my way to my room, I pulled off my pajama shorts and tank top. I crawled into bed and snuggled into my flavor of the week.
      It's not as if what I'm doing is horribly wrong. I mean, I like sex. Who doesn't like to be woken up with sex? It's a great way to start the day.
      He was lying on his back, so nestling into him just the right way didn't take much. I started to run my fingers up and down his chest while letting my lips explore his neck, until settling on an earlobe. I gave it a gentle bite then slid my tongue down around his jaw line to get him to turn his face towards me. He rolled to his side, bringing his muscular arm around my waist. As my body inched towards his, there was no doubt he was ready by the hardness pressing into me. A soft moan found its way out when his lips captured mine as his hands slid over my breasts. What started as a slow kiss quickly became an intense exploration of each other's mouths.
      He pulled away and rolled me onto my back while giving my jaw tender kisses, as he made his way down my throat to my breasts. He picked up with the wicked suckling and biting that he had done last night. I shifted my hands from his ass to his hard length and gently stroked him.
      He certainly does know how to use his hands well. Pity I can't remember his name.
      While his lips tormented my breasts, his other hand slid between my legs. His fingers settled into a rhythm on my hot spot. Eager to move things along, I pushed him back onto the mattress and positioned myself on top of him. He grinned with satisfaction and grabbed a condom. He entered slowly and dropped his elbows to the bed.
      He started to rock, satisfying the hunger flowing through me. He kept to a pace that was slow, but I urged him with my hips to go faster. His eyes burned into mine with more care than I preferred during casual sex. I closed my eyes as his body pressed on at a steady pace. As the beads of sweat increased between us, he rolled onto his back to put me on top. I moved much faster with each thrust. I ran my lips down his neck to keep down the moans. As our lips traveled across one another and our bodies moved together at a relentless pace; we reached our climax.
      Just for a moment, the numbness faded from me. It probably made me a horrible person to use someone else like that, but I just didn't have it in me to care anymore. After everything over the course of the last year, I had stopped opening up. I was numb all the time and preferred it that way. I sought out sex to feel something physically, enough to ease the deadness temporarily.
      When we caught our breath, I kissed him lightly on the cheek. He gave me a shy smile and ran a finger delicately above my eyebrow to rid it of sweat. It was far too intimate a touch for me. “As much as I would love to do this all day, I have to get ready for a meeting I have this afternoon,” I said, rolling on to my back.
      His smile faded as his eyes looked for more than I could ever offer him. “I guess I better get going. Thanks for inviting me to your party. I had fun last night.”
      I smirked at the tone in his voice, because he made no effort to hide his amusement. “Well, you didn't seem to mind too much once we were upstairs.”
      He grabbed his shirt from the end of the bed and slipped it on with a wide grin. “You have a way of making everything else fade away. Can I call you this week and maybe we grab dinner?”
      I sat up and tossed on my clothes. “Let me give you a call. If this meeting turns into something, my current schedule could change,” I replied, forcing a smile.
      He finished dressing and waited for me to exit with him. As he went down the stairs, it hit me that I should have let him call me so that I could figure out if he was Brandon or Braden.
      Shit. Oh well, next time.
      I turned to go to my bedroom. The slam of a door, followed by an irritated huff, made me stop. Knowing exactly who was behind me, I wheeled around to face her. Bri leaned against the door with no reservations in displaying her disappointment in me.
      “Don't think that I didn't overhear that exchange.”
      I gave her an exaggerated roll of the eyes. “It's early. Do you want to get into this now?”
      She folded her arms across her chest with her eyes narrowed at me. I rested against the wall to brace myself for the debate to come. I stifled a laugh while taking in her morning attire. She had on Trey's boxers and T-shirt, with her clothes presumably strewn across his bedroom floor.
      “Stop being stupid and I'll quit being a bitch about it.”
      “What in particular am I being stupid about this time? I don't think you're one to talk considering you've slept with Trey again. He has yet to declare that you two are in a relationship with each other.”
      “I may not have a definition for whatever this is,” Bri shot back, gesturing her hands in the air. “But at least I've been sleeping with the same person and not a different guy every week.”
      “It's not like it's hundreds of guys. I'm seeing a few guys at the same time. Why is that a crime? Guys get away with doing it all the time,” I grumbled.
      Bri stared at me, unmistakably annoyed. “They aren't running from their feelings. You are. It's to keep everyone out because of what happened with Micah.”
      “Don't go there. We're not getting into that shit. I'm enjoying having no strings. There's no shame in that. It's not like I'm not safe about it,” I snapped, glaring at her until she backed off.
      Her shoulders sagged on her way to her bedroom. Stopping short of her door, she turned around visibly concerned. “That isn't what I was implying. You aren't being honest with these guys or yourself. You've got to start letting people back at some point.”
      My face flushed and my next words flew out with more bitterness than I intended. “Just stop. I have my meeting later today. This is the last thing I want to discuss. I let you in so I'm not shutting everyone out.”
      I walked towards my room. Her eyes became more sympathetic as she followed me into my bedroom.
      “It's not my intention to make you feel like shit. I just worry about you.”
      “I know. Let's put that worry to good use. Come help me find something to wear.”
      We looked through my clothes for a few minutes before I turned to her with a grin.
      “It was your turn to keep Jackson and Shane in line so that they didn't trash the place. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're going to have your hands full after class.”
      “How bad is it?” Bri asked.
      Her head shot out of the closet as her eyes grew in alarm.
      “Let's just say it gives seeing red a whole new meaning,” I teased.
      She grimaced before focusing back on my wardrobe. I scanned the clothes in front of me. My eyes zeroed in to my black pleated mini skirt and a red V-neck halter-top.
      “You're going to help me right?”
      I smiled. “You know I will. We have to stick together with these crazy boys. This one is going to take forever. I wouldn't be opposed to hiring someone to clean for us.”
      She groaned and grabbed the clothes that I was just considering. “Yup, this is the outfit for today. I know you're nervous. This will definitely help.”
      I cocked an eyebrow. I wasn't sure how showing a hell of a lot of skin would help me.
      Bri rolled her eyes. “You really don't get how hot you can make yourself.”
      I shook my head in disagreement and went for another outfit. Not liking that one either, I let out an agitated huff. It wasn't the clothes that had me irritated. “It's going to be weird to be back on campus today,” I admitted.
      Bri nodded as the sympathetic look from earlier emerged in her eyes. “Do you have any clue what your advisor wants to talk to you about? I mean they expelled you with no eligibility to return. So what gives?”
      I shrugged. “I'm not sure. Academically, I'm pretty much ruined, but maybe he has something I can take that will get a toe towards journalism.”
      Bri gave me a slight smile, but I could tell that she didn't want me to get my hopes up. I don't understand your field but you know I try.”
      “I know and I appreciate it. All the in-depth conversations on the topic are for Jackson,” I said, stifling my amusement. Her forehead wrinkled with her wheels spinning. “What?”
      “What's going on with you two? We've all noticed the amount of time you're spending with each other these days,” Bri interrogated.
      She flopped onto the bed. My back remained in her direction mostly so she couldn't see the aggravation on my face.
      “I'm getting to know him better now that we all live together. We've been friends for ages but being roommates is different,” I said while fumbling around with my shirts.
      “He's a playboy. He doesn't do the girlfriend thing. I don't want to see you get hurt again,” Bri cautioned.
      “You know I'm not in the market for a boyfriend. I know who he is. Half our conversations are joking around about all of his women. What's the big deal if we hang out more? I hear that's what roommates do when they get along. What the hell Bri?”
      I pulled away from my clothes to face her. My neck flushed as my temper started to climb. Taking a huge breath, she sat up. “I don't want to fight about this with you. I'm just making sure you know what you're doing. I know how crappy things have been after what Micah did to you.”
      “If you don't want to fight, then stop pushing things that aren't issues. First, it was about who I was kicking out of my bed this morning. Now, it's about how much time I'm spending with Jackson. Do you realize how judgmental you're being?” I bit back.
      Bri scooted to the edge of the bed with her eyes on her magenta-painted toes. She shifted her gaze back to me with a half-smile. “Maybe I'm being a little too hard on you. I can't watch you fall apart again. Mia, I know that you were hurting, but it tore me up to witness it,” she said quietly.
      “You're looking out for me. I get it. I need you to understand that there's nothing there with Jackson. Is he attractive? Of course. Do we flirt? Yes. I enjoy his company, his friendship, but I don't want to be with him.”
      Bri tried to maintain her smile, but the uneasiness stretched across her face. I sat down next to her and gave her shoulder a nudge to ease the tension. She grabbed the outfit that she had selected earlier. “This is the outfit hun. It's smart and sexy all in one package. Plus, you rock in it. If you want help with your hair and makeup, I'm all yours,” she offered.
      I grinned. “Yeah, it would be great if you could help me get all girly. It's one skill I never acquired being around so many boys growing up.”
      She shuffled to the doorway. “True. I'll meet you in the bathroom in twenty.”
      I had to give Bri credit. If you wanted a makeover, she was the person to see. Bri weaved intricate braids in my hair and tied them into a sophisticated bun. She gave me a final touch with smoky eyes and mascara. By the time she finished, I felt a lot more confident. I strolled into my room to finish off my ensemble. I rarely changed my diamond earrings. I secured my long silver necklace around my neck before grabbing my black leather studded cuff. I slid it over the scar on my right wrist that always remained covered.

Conflicted
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The Series: Secrets and Lies

|| [2] || [3] ||

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


Complicated [2]

Mia Ryan has learned the hard way that her choices can have horrible consequences. Taking an offer that was supposed to get her life back on track was nothing but a ploy. To keep the ones she holds dear safe, she's forced to finish what she started, without any hope of finding out why she was targeted in the first place. Though Mia has Ethan by her side, she can't seem to believe in him, especially since most of his life remains a mystery.

Ethan Fitzgerald has done everything in his power to prove to Mia that she can trust him, but it never seems to be enough to convince her to drop the last wall around her heart. With deep and dark secrets lurking around every corner, he has his own plan to keep Mia from any danger, but it may just shatter their love forever.

There are so many questions – with even more shocking answers – and when Mia uncovers the truth, nothing will ever be the same...

[Published 22 July 2014, 328 pages]

Concealed [3]

Mia Ryan’s past and present are about to collide in startling ways, leaving her to question everything she’s ever known about herself.

After a shocking turn of events that revealed some mind-blowing secrets, Mia becomes more determined than ever to take back her life from the darkness that’s consumed her. In her pursuit for answers, she quickly discovers that parts of her past, which have always been a mystery, might be the key to saving the ones she loves…and the man that stole her heart.

Ethan Fitzgerald knows that things are never what they seem. Taking down his father’s empire wasn’t supposed to be a challenge—that was before Mia Ryan waltzed through his door. Forever changed by a love that reignites his purpose in life, Ethan is willing to do whatever it takes to protect Mia, and his enemies know it.

In this edge of your seat finale of the Secrets and Lies series, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been before. Can Mia and Ethan’s relationship withstand the malicious forces threatening them, or is letting go the answer that saves them and the ones they love? Everything comes at a cost—and it might just be true love.

[Published 28 September 2015, 441 pages]

About the Author

M. M. Koenig enjoys being active and has a variety of interests that coincide with her passion for life. Always one to try new things, she has acquired a variety of skills. Her sarcastic nature and multitude of experiences tend to find their way into her novels.

When she has free time and isn't writing, she spends as much time as she can with friends and family. To fuel her soul, she is constantly looking for new music, movies, and books to keep the writer's block at bay.

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