New Collection Release from Isabella Kole

My alter ego, Isabella Kole, has a new release this week. This is a collection of three of my oldies, contemporary romances. Modern Day Doms includes Hannah’s Horror, The Seduction of E.J., and Her Captain’s Command.

Three oldies but goodies from Isabella Kole, with a little mystery, some stubbornness, and a rekindled love affair.

Hannah’s Horror
Hannah has a gift, but to her, it’s more like a curse. Can she use it in the way it is intended without getting in trouble with her boyfriend? Three trips over one summer break may hold the key for Hannah and Chad’s future.

The Seduction of EJ
EJ Haney is finished with dating. After the last disastrous relationship, she isn’t in the mood to try again. She is resigned to becoming an old maid schoolteacher.

But the new principal in town has different ideas. Jacob Ransing is determined to change her mind and is pulling out all the stops to make her his.

Her Captain’s Command
From the moment his new XO, Lieutenant Commander Vandecamp, walks onto his ship and Blaine discovers that she is, in fact, not only a woman, but his former lover, Charlotte Rose Hanna, the two ex-lovers will endure many moments of angst until the day she is called home on emergency leave.

At the end of their WestPac deployment, will they decide to go their separate ways again or will they choose a very different solution to their current situation?

Publisher’s Note: All three stories contain a theme of power exchange.

And in other news, I’m hosting an online auction this weekend on Facebook! The auction is to raise money for a custody attorney for my PA. Join us for the bidding on close to 70 items, ranging from books, books, and more books, most signed by the author, handmade items, hair products, goodie baskets, and a Kindle Fire.

If anyone would still like to donate, please contact me ASAP. Bidding begins at 10:00 am Saturday, August 29 and runs until 10:00 pm Sunday, August 30! You won’t want to miss it. Here is the link for the event!

https://www.facebook.com/events/402507090714495/

Take a Journey Along the Road to Romance

Welcome back! I’m so excited that the very first series I ever wrote is now available again! The beloved Fab Five Series is now the Road to Romance Collection, and it includes all nine of the original books plus a bonus book. If you missed these heartwarming books when they first came out several years ago, now is your chance to catch up.

Let me tell you a little about the collection.

Love after loss…

Five strong, beautiful women. Five loving, handsome men. Follow the journey as they and their children find the road to romance, overcoming the many obstacles in their way. 

TEN books in one collection.

Crossroad to Love
Ten years after a tragic accident claimed the lives of her husband and firstborn daughter, Katy Barron is finally ready to move on. Planning to meet her three best friends “the Fab Four” in Dallas for a week-long vacation, life will never be the same for any of them.

Katy is immediately attracted to the infamous Dallas playboy, Ryan O’Grady, and the feeling appears to be mutual. But when the two discover they share a link to each other’s pasts, it threatens to end the relationship before it begins.

The Road to Her Heart
Cara is in love with two men. She loves her fiancé, Caleb, but can’t get over Nick, the one who broke her heart. Days after learning she is pregnant, Caleb is killed in a plane crash, leaving a devastated widow behind.

Nick steps up to the plate, comforting Cara during her grief, even asking her to marry him. He offers to help her raise Caleb’s baby. Angry, Cara declines Nick’s offer, believing it to be a pity proposal.

The Road to His Soul
Colt Hart and Kendyl Durant have been dancing around a relationship for years.

When they finally get together, the two lovers immediately enter into a sensual relationship. But Colt is called to Texas on business time and time again, and temptations await him there. Kendyl begins to doubt that he will ever be able to commit to her completely, heart and soul. When she decides to give him a wake up call by calling it quits, she hopes to turn things around.

Love’s Winding Road
Sworn off women after the break-up with his long-time girlfriend Alexis, Dr. Jackson is pleasantly surprised to find he is attracted to his brother’s new physical therapist. Fiery redhead Stacie Abbott may be just what the doctor ordered.

As their relationship blossoms, Jackson soon discovers that Stacie has trust issues. She was in love once before and it ended badly. 

Rocky Road to Romance
Alex is attracted to the hostess at Chloe’s Place, Chelsea Wyatt. But Chelsea has a boyfriend…and a secret. When it becomes apparent to all around her she is in an abusive relationship, Alex is more determined than ever to convince her that he is the guy for her.

The Road to Forever
When Dustin stopped calling, she realized it might not be meant to be, so she did what any young girl would do, and started dating someone else.

When Dustin calls to invite her to meet him for pizza and explains why he stopped calling, Cortney realizes, she’s in love with him, not Brandon, the guy she’s been dating.

A Dangerous Road to Destiny
Marcos gets under her skin from the start.

Joanna has been hurt in love and would like to find a man she can count on. She starts dating Greg Grayson, whom she met on an online dating site. However, Greg is not who he appears to be. 

All Roads Lead to You
Jordan and Abbi have had an on and off relationship for years, but through it all have remained the best of friends. When Jordan changes his career plans and drops out of his residency at Baylor, it looks like it’s also the end for the two young lovers.

Eternal Road to Love
Madison Grey’s life has been out of control since she was fifteen. After learning the truth surrounding her birth, she feels betrayed by all who profess to love her. It takes the understanding and patience of her childhood friend, Caleb Winters, Jr., to convince her that they were only trying to protect her from her biological father.

Road to Romance
Mary Kate O’Grady is at loose ends, working in her family’s downtown restaurant while she figures out what she wants to do with her life.

Until the night a sexy Dallas firefighter saved her life, then it all became crystal clear.

And here is where you can buy it:

I’ll have another great release for you next month, so be sure to check back. Until then, happy reading!

Interview with Author, Dee Stewart

Hi! I’m back with another author interview. This time, I am talking with Dee Stewart! Find out what she has to say.

Anna: Hello, Dee. Why don’t you tell the readers a little about yourself, where you are from, hobbies etcetera.

Dee: I am a wife, mother, and a high school English teacher. I live in Spring Hill, Florida. I started writing at age 13 and finished my first romance as a junior in high school. I’ve been an indie author for almost two years now, with nine books on the market. When I’m not teaching or writing, I love reading, watching movies with my husband, and socializing with my friends.

Anna: What genre do you write?

Dee: Contemporary romance/ romantic suspense

Anna: Tell us about your latest release.

Dee: Fighting for Brielle is the first book in a brand-new series – Laguna Beach Cops. Justice McQuaid is a former SEAL and lieutenant commander who loses his team in an ambush. When he’s forced to retire, the Secretary of State offers him a job as chief of police in Laguna Beach, where something fishy is going on that threatens the country. While patrolling the beach, he meets Sergeant Brielle McAdams, a feisty woman who is training for SWAT and his partner in every sense of the word. When she goes missing during a thunderstorm as they are working a major accident scene, Justice will stop at nothing to find her before a self-proclaimed revolutionary leader can turn her against her country. I especially love this couple!

Anna: What can we look for in the future from you?

Dee: More books in my Waiting Game series. I’m working on book three Waiting for Addie as we speak. And more books in my Laguna Beach cops series, and possibly a spin-off series of my Choice novels that have a darker edge to them.

Anna: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? Contact info? Social media links?

Dee: You can find me here: Email authordeestewart@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deestewartbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordeestewart/

Book Bub: bookbub.com/profile/370812207

Dee’s Romantic Delights Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/574241319811298/

And here is the cover and blurb for Fighting for Brielle!

Forced to retire from the Navy after an ambush kills his SEAL team, former Lieutenant Commander Justice McQuaid is sent to Laguna Beach by the Secretary of State to be its newest chief of police. His mission is to investigate a possible domestic threat, though he questions why he was specifically chosen for this job, especially since he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Nothing is going to deter Sergeant Brielle McAdams from achieving her goal of becoming a SWAT officer for the LAPD. But unless she can pass one final physical challenge, she’s out. When she meets Justice patrolling the beach, she finds herself drawn into his life and his investigation.

When Brielle goes missing, it is a race against time to rescue her from a madman. For Justice, this is a mission he cannot fail to complete. Losing his men and his career nearly destroyed him. But losing Brielle, the woman who holds his heart, will break him. 

Rescuing her is his greatest mission.

Thank you for joining us, Dee! Best of luck with your new book.

Readers, join me next week when I interview Author Jenny Plumb.

Latest News

How are you all holding up with social distancing? Starting to get back out there? We’ve been home since March, only going out for essentials and doctor’s appointments. But I think we’ll venture out on Thursday for our wedding anniversary, very carefully.

I have lots of exciting things to share today. I’ll start with what’s coming soon. The first three books I wrote as Isabella Kole, back in 2013 and 2014, are coming back in a three book collection on May 14th. It’s titled Desire for Discipline Collection.

Also the very first book I ever wrote, Crossroad to Love, is in production for audio. No release date yet, but it should be available in a few months.

And today, another audio book released! Her Promised Dom, by Isabella Kole, is now available.

And the really big news is that I’ve decided to start sending out a monthly newsletter. If you’d like to be on the mailing list, here is the link to subscribe.

https://www.subscribepage.com/w5z0p6

I am also going to start featuring a few other authors by doing interviews with them right here! This will begin soon, so watch for them.

Isabella Kole’s New Release

Welcome back! Today, I’m going to tell you all about Karia and the Prince, book two of Isabella Kole’s Avalon Adventures series. Soon, some other very talented authors will be adding a story of their own to the series, but right now, let’s talk about book two.

Blurb:

She’s dating the most eligible bachelor in the country, the heir to the throne, yet she craves the discipline of another man.

Follow Karia’s journey as she begins another year at the Academy of the Arts in the secluded Avalon Mountains. This year, she is deepening her relationship with the prince and finding out what dating a royal is really like. The paparazzi continues to stalk her whenever she is in the city.

Her assignment for this year is to write an article about the fashion industry. Designer Melinda Matthews has been a good contact and has helped her tremendously. Fashion Week is an experience she will never forget.

Still torn by her feelings for both the prince and the master, Karia continues to be confused as she excels in her work and studies. Should she just give up on men completely? Prince Henry is too busy for her at times, and even though the master still seeks to demand her submission, Karia feels that maybe she should forget them both and concentrate solely on her work.

Publisher’s Note: This is a story about power exchange.

And here is an excerpt from this story about a college girl and the love triangle she has found herself in:

Bloody hell, I thought I was going to get out of this. What does he want now? I hope it’s only discuss my week in the city,she thought as she waited for the other students to file out of the room.

Oliver wasted no time in getting to the reason for his request that she stay behind.

“Ms. Daly, I understand your visit to Fashion Week was a smashing success,” he began.

“I’m not sure what you mean, sir. I was able to get a lot of inside information for my article, which Professor Evelyn says is nearly ready to turn in.”

The man smiled, and his dark eyes seemed to twinkle. “That’s good to hear. And only one incident with the tabloids, which turned out not to be bad.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied as she looked down at her hands in her lap.

“Now, Ms. Daly, I doubt that you are going to agree with my rationale on this matter, but I believe you need a subtle reminder that you are no longer in the city with glamourous designers and high society people, attending one of the largest events of the year. You are back at the academy, a student, and you are not staying with the royal family, being given a driver and a royal guard for your use. You are living in a dorm room, attending classes, and your job right now is to study.”

“I’m not sure I understand, sir.”

He smiled at her again, and a shiver ran up and down her spine.

“My reason for saying you would most likely not agree with me. Now, I want you to stand and come forward.”

Karia got up, wiping her sweaty palms on her skirt, and walked to his desk where he now stood.

“Bend over my desk,” he commanded in a low tone.

“Yes, sir,” she answered as every nerve ending in her body stood at attention. He was going to punish her! She hadn’t done anything wrong. What was it he had said? This was a subtle reminder. He was putting her in her place, so that she wouldn’t forget where she belonged. It wasn’t in the city, attending fancy events, wearing designer clothes, or staying in the palace as a guest of the royal family. She was Karia Daly, student, commoner.

Why was she feeling excited? Was she one of those people who enjoyed the pain, the kinky side of life. Did she really like being spanked by the master? Was it just Oliver, or would she take it from any man? Henry certainly wasn’t willing to dish it out. Was she just a slut who wanted to have her cake and eat it too? She was using Henry for sex and Oliver for punishment? No, that wasn’t it at all. It couldn’t be. She was so confused.

She didn’t have time to dwell on it, though, because she felt the cold air hitting her bare behind when Oliver lifted her skirt and pulled down her serviceable white cotton panties required by the school. She missed her sexy lacy ones she had worn last week, the ones Henry liked.

As he rubbed the creamy white globes, Oliver said, “I will give you twenty with my hand and twenty with the paddle today, Karia.” He had used her given name! Not Ms. Daly!

She braced herself for the onslaught, and a second later, the first smack hit. She jumped, having not had a punishment in several days. The sensations began immediately, causing her juices to begin flowing. She only hoped she was spared the embarrassment of having him know.

Oliver rubbed her cheek before administering a second blow, this time, to the other one. His touch ignited something in her that she couldn’t explain. Eight more slaps rang out before he took a break and walked over to his cabinet to retrieve the wooden paddle she hated so much.

Karia was more confused than ever by this point. Her ass was on fire from only ten smacks of his hand, but there was a more intense fire burning within her. What did it mean? Was she attracted to her professor? He was young and handsome, in his dark and brooding way, but really? He was as different from Henry as the dark night was to the bright day. What did it all mean? She would not be able to deny him if he were to throw her over his desk and make love to her right this minute. And that thought, more so than any of the others running through her mind at that moment, greatly disturbed her. She was with Henry. They had never discussed being with others, but she assumed that he thought they were exclusive. Even with his reputation as a playboy and womanizer, she had no reason to believe he was seeing anyone else.

And then, Oliver returned. He had the paddle in his hand, and he commanded in a low tone, “I want you to count each swat of the wood. There will be ten in all, as I said before.”

“Y-yes, s-sir,” she managed to get out.

She heard the whooshas the implement swung through the air before making contact with her already red bottom. “One,” she said, wishing with all her heart that she could reach back and rub out the sting. Oliver prevented that by holding her hands with his free one.

“T-two,” she said, fighting hard to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall.

Another whoosh, and the wood smacked again, causing her to cry out, “Ow!”

“Count,” was all he said before she did.

“Four,” she said, tears now making their way down her cheeks.

The fifth swat hurt like hell, and then he started on her sit spots.

“Halfway there,” Oliver said as he placed a sixth on the top of one of her thighs.

“Seven,” she said as he placed a hard swat to her sit spot.

“Eight,” she groaned between sobs as the top of her thigh took another hit.

“Nine, ten,” she managed before she heard him lay the paddle on the desk. He pulled her up and she was in his arms before she really knew what had happened. What was this? He was holding her and whispering in her ear as she sobbed against his chest.

“There, there, it’s all over now, Karia. That’s a good girl, let it all out,” he was saying.

And she did. She cried and sobbed and held on to his shirt. When she had finally calmed and the sobs became occasional hiccups, he reached down and pulled her panties up gently. Her skirt fell back into place and he positioned her at arm’s length. Then, he handed her a tissue.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

How did she feel? Really, he was asking that after he’d just blistered the hell out of her ass? She couldn’t be honest with him. That was for sure. She couldn’t tell him that she wanted him to kiss her at this very moment, to tell her that he wanted her. What in the bloody hell was wrong with her? So, instead, she simply said, “May I go now, sir?”

He sighed and said, “Yes, of course.”

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087C7CBZY

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087C7CBZY

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B087C7CBZY

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B087C7CBZY

Watch for book three, Karia and the Master, in the coming months!

New Series for Isabella Kole

USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Kole presents her new Avalon Adventures series. Set in a mythical mountain, this book is very much a contemporary suspense filled romance with many twists. Combining the magical place with the real world and acknowledging some very true to life royal concerns, the first book is like nothing you’ve read before. The Academy tells the tale of a young journalism student destined to follow in her father’s footsteps being sent away to a college in the mountains where old fashioned discipline is practiced. A sexy playboy prince, a darkly handsome professor, and one young student begin a four year adventure that will end with Karia choosing the man she will spend her life with and her future role.

Here is some more information for you:

Treat yourself to an early Christmas gift. Take some time to relax during all the hustle bustle and read! $0.99 for a limited time only!
USA Today Bestselling Author, Isabella Kole, presents book one of her new series.

He’s the Playboy Prince.



Prince Henry never had to worry about anything – until his brother died.
From that moment on, his life was turned upside down, and he enrolled in
the prestigious academy.

Karia wants to follow in her famous father’s footsteps as an investigative
reporter. Her first assignment: Prince Henry. The only way to get close
enough is to spend time with the handsome young royal. And can she do that
without falling for the Playboy Prince?

But there is danger afoot, and the very stern, very dark and handsome
Master Armstrong doesn’t like the idea of Karia and the prince spending so
much time together.

Now, Karia is torn between the two men. She is secretly dating the prince,
but there is something about the master that keeps drawing her to him…

Publisher’s Note: This steamy academy romance contains strong elements of power exchange. 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082VLV2TJ
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B082VLV2TJ
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B082VLV2TJ
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B082VLV2TJ

New Release by USA Today Bestselling Author, Isabella Kole

The Daring Doms

Isabella Kole has a new release. Let me tell you a little about it. It’s a standalone about two brothers and the women who love them.

Blurb:

Dane and Dax Daring are brothers. They are also Doms who are having problems with members of the opposite sex.

When Dane met Ann Slade, Annie to all who know her, he fell head over heels… so much so that he ignored what his brother and his friends said about being her rebound lover. He married her after three months of dating, giving up the lifestyle without even telling her he was a part of it. But once the couple starts having trouble, Dax suggests that maybe it’s time things change if Dane wants to stay married.

Dax, on the other hand, has always been adamant about exclusive relationships in that he just doesn’t do them. Now that he has gotten to know his new sister-in-law, he knows he can never settle for anyone who isn’t just like her. The problem with that is he’s been in love with Annie’s best friend, Angela, since he met her. And she is nothing like Annie. Will he keep fighting the temptation, or can Angela convince him they are meant to be?

Publisher’s Note: This sweet romance about two brothers and their women contains elements of power exchange. 

AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/Daring-Doms-Steamy-Cont…/…/B07YX9GRQB
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daring-Doms-Steamy-Co…/…/B07YX9GRQB
AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Daring-Doms-Steamy-C…/…/B07YX9GRQB
AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Daring-Doms-Steamy-Conte…/…/B07YX9GRQB

Be sure to one click today to find out how these brothers win the women who hold their hearts. If you like anguish, adventure, romance, and happy endings, this one’s for you! Isabella Kole writes romance with a dash of discipline.

Dominant Men, Book Six is live!

Her Hesitant Dom by USA Today Bestselling Author, Isabella Kole, is available now on Amazon!

Blurb:

When Kayla finally told her fiancé about her past, she feared he was going to call off the wedding. But twenty-four hours after storming out of her apartment, he returned and told her that he still wanted to marry her. He even promised that once they were settled, he would be willing to discuss the lifestyle with her.

Six months passed, and that conversation had never taken place. Until one night, when he let her know that he was displeased with something she had done. Now, Kayla is torn between her sweet, vanilla Zane and the new Dom he has become. She should be ecstatic. After all, this was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Then why is she having such a problem with it? To add to her confusion, the past rears its ugly head and questions need to be answered. It seems they both have issues to overcome.

Will her once hesitant Dom prove to be the man she needs, the one she craves? Can Zane learn to blend his vanilla persona with the new version of himself into the perfect man for his beautiful, sexy wife?

Publisher’s Note: This steamy contemporary romance contains elements of power exchange. While it is book six of the Dominant Men series, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VGPPJ18

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VGPPJ18

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07VGPPJ18

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07VGPPJ18

One click your copy today!

The seventh and final book in the series, Her Ambitious Dom, will release in September, 2019.

I’m back!

graphics with website linkHello there! I know many of you haven’t heard from me in quite some time. Well, there is a good reason for that. I’ve suffered three deaths in my immediate family in the last year and a half, and writing was very difficult for me. I have since remarried and moved to Florida, and things are falling into place for me as I start this new chapter in my life.

But, the good news is I’m back, and 2019 is looking good. I was able to release a few books in 2018, but this year, I’m determined to get back in the game. I’m working on a series, Dominant Men, with my Isabella Kole pen name. The first one released in October, 2018. Book two will release in March and book three in April, with more to come. I released a children’s book with one of my granddaughters, using my real name. Abraham’s Soul, by Anna Kristell, was rereleased with a new cover in October. And in December, I put together a book about my hometown, which was a collaboration of several people from the town, reliving some of their favorite memories.

As Anna, I’m also involved in a secret project with some awesome authors. Look for the preorder to that book later in the month.

I’ll give you the links to my 2018 books in this post, so you can check them out.

Her Blue Collar Dom

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Twelve Naughty Days of Christmas

Yuletide Dom cover

Abraham’s Soul

Abraham's_Soul_500x755

Bailey to the Rescue

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Memories of a Small Town

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It feels good to be back, and I hope you’ll be hearing from me more often this year. Thank you all for your kindness and patience while I was putting my life back together.

Dallas Fire and Rescue Kindle World

Paige Tyler’s Dallas Fire and Rescue Kindle World just had a new launch!! I wrote a sequel to my January release, Dallas Hot, and it’s titled Dallas Hit! Both are crossovers between my Fab Five series and Paige’s Dallas Fire and Rescue series.

I am thrilled to be a part of this new launch with these awesome authors, Aliyah Burke, Heather Long, Irish Winters, Ripley Proserpina, Megan Mitcham, Donna Michaels, Delilah Devlin, Rachel Naquin and Kandi Silvers. Check out all the books in the Dallas Fire and Rescue world here:  www.paigetylertheauthor.com/BooksDallasFireandRescueKindleWorld.html

Buy Link for Dallas Hit: https://www.amazon.com/Dallas-Fire-Rescue-Kindle-Novella-ebooks/dp/B071S1Q941/

Want to know a bit about my story?

Blurb:

Beth O’Grady survived the ultimate betrayal, only to find herself the target of a stalker who is out to destroy her.

Colin Sutherland is the undercover Dallas cop who saved her life once before. Now that they are building a relationship, will he be able to stop the stalker before it’s too late or is he a little too close to the situation?

And who is behind the notes, phone calls and text messages? When her twin sister, Mary Kate, and her new husband, Braydon, become the first example of the seriousness of the situation, Colin decides to step up the security by moving Beth into his house. The stalker, however, is one step ahead of him…

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Beth O’Grady stepped back and admired her masterpiece. She sighed deeply and smiled. Perfect!

Her mother, petite and perky Chloe O’Grady, walked in and gasped. “Oh, Beth, it’s beautiful! Mary Kate will be so pleased.”

“Do you really think so? I want it to be everything she always dreamed of.”

“I am absolutely positive she will love it, sweetie. Ah, here she is now, you can ask her yourself.”

“What are you going to ask me, sis?” Mary Kate, Beth’s twin sister, asked with a giggle as she entered the kitchen of the family’s upscale Dallas restaurant.

“See for yourself,” Beth said as she pointed to the seven-layer wedding cake she had just lovingly baked and decorated. In fact, she had spent the entire morning crafting the perfect cake for her sister and her fiancée, Braydon Butler.

Mary Kate, or M.K. as she was known to family and friends, stepped back, her face full of awe. “Oh, my. Oh, my.” She turned to her twin.

“Uh oh, is that a good ‘oh, my’ or a bad ‘oh my?’ Beth asked worriedly.

She needn’t have been concerned, which she quickly learned when her sister grabbed her and gave her a big old sisterly hug.

“It’s wonderful, sis. It amazes me how much talent you have.”

Beth grinned and pointed to their mother. “Everything I know, I learned from the master.”

Chloe O’Grady blushed at the compliment. “Thank you, my sweet girl; I may have taught you to cook and bake but you possess a passion for it.”

“Yeah, I missed out on that particular part of the gene pool, it seems,” M.K. said with a sigh.

“Hush now! Not everyone is cut out to be a chef or baker. You have your own special talents. You help people every day in your job as a fire investigator,” Chloe said.

“She’s right, you know,” Beth added as she gave her sister another hug.

“What’s on your agenda today?” their mother asked as M.K. poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down on one of the stools in the kitchen.

“My leave time officially starts today so I’m planning to do some last-minute shopping for the wedding and for our trip afterward.”

“Would you like some company?” Chloe asked.

“Actually, Mom, that’s why I stopped by. I know Beth is working all day but I thought you might be able to sneak out for a few hours. I’d really like some time with you before everything gets hectic with last minute wedding craziness.”

“How can I turn down an offer like that?” her mother asked. “Give me a few minutes to wrap up some things in my office and I’ll be ready to go.”

“Take your time. I’ll sit with Beth and drink my coffee and chat while she works.”

When she was certain their mother was out of earshot, Mary Kate asked her sister quietly, “Anything else weird happen lately? Any more phone calls or mysterious notes on your car?”

Beth glanced over at her before replying. “No, not since the two notes a few weeks ago. And there was only one strange phone call, which could have been a wrong number.”

“Still, I want you to be aware of your surroundings at all times. That scuzball ex of yours probably has connections. He could be arranging for you to be stalked, even from inside prison.”

“Sis, I really think you are overreacting. I know, with everything that went down last year, you are worried for me. I honestly don’t think Dalton is doing any such thing. And, if you are thinking of his dad, you know he knew nothing of his wayward son’s plans.”

“So he says,” her sister said with a frown. “I still don’t know if I believe that story.”

“Well, he’d be pretty despicable if he allowed his son to take the full rap for the fire.”

“And your point?” Mary Kate asked. It was obvious she didn’t trust father or son.

“Look, sis, let’s not get into that whole mess now, okay? Your wedding to Mr. Dallas Hot Fireman is only a few days away. We should be concentrating on that and enjoying every second of the frenzy.”

Her twin sniggered. “Ah, Braydon still blushes every time one of us refers to him by that nickname. I really had no idea when you first referred to him that way in my hospital room, I would end up marrying him. I thought he was the biggest playboy ever.”

“If I remember correctly, he thought you were a rich society girl, stuck up snob.”

“Luckily, we were both wrong,” Mary Kate said wistfully as she poured another cup of coffee and helped herself to a Danish.

“I’m glad you’re finally happy. It took a while to get your life together but, now, it’s perfect. You’ve found the best job for you and the hottest, sweetest guy.”

“You make it sound like I was lost before. I was doing fine, being single and working here until the right career caught my attention. As for the hot, sweet guy, that was never supposed to happen. At least, not at the time it did.”

“But aren’t you glad it did?” Beth asked.

Mary Kate smiled and took a sip of her drink.

 

* * *

 

Chloe breezed back into the room, accompanied by her sister-in-law, Katy. “I’m ready when you are, honey,” she said.

“I came down to say hello to my beautiful nieces,” Katy added.

“Aunt Katy, would you like to come with us to the mall today? You have such good taste, and I know we will have a blast together, the three of us,” Mary Kate said.

“Oh, I don’t want to intrude on the mother and daughter time,” Katy said.

“Nonsense, you know you are always welcome. She’s right, it’ll be fun,” Chloe was quick to reply.

“Well, if you’re sure I’m not butting in, I’d love nothing more,” Katy said. “Let me run back to my office and grab my purse.”

“Beth, I’m sorry you can’t go,” Mary Kate said, looking at her sister who was busy putting together a lunch order.

“It would be fun but I will be able to spend the next few days with you. Today is my last day on the schedule until after the wedding. You guys enjoy. You and I will do something tomorrow.”

Katy returned and the three O’Grady women said their goodbyes to Beth and the rest of the staff before starting out on their shopping adventure.

Mary Kate suggested one of the better malls and Chloe offered to drive. They piled into her SUV and, soon, they were getting out of the vehicle in the parking lot and walking into the mall. The first stop was a jewelry shop, where Mary Kate purchased gifts for her bridesmaids. After that, they went into one of the boutiques and, with the help of her mother and aunt, she chose two new outfits for her wedding trip. After that, she found two adorable bikinis. Then, they decided to break for lunch before hitting the Victoria’s Secret store.

After they were seated in a booth at a chain restaurant in the mall, Chloe said, “You’ve done well so far. I love that turquoise outfit you chose.”

“Do you know where you are going or is it a surprise?” Katy asked.

The server came by to take their drink orders just then. When she had gone, Mary Kate answered her aunt’s question. “We are going to South Padre Island for a week.”

“Oh, that’s one of Ryan’s and my favorite spots. You’ll enjoy it, I’m sure,” Katy replied with a smile.

“Yes, it is lovely there,” Chloe agreed.

Each of them ordered a salad and the conversation revolved around the wedding for the rest of the next hour. When they finally decided it was time to move on, Katy offered to treat her sister-in-law and niece. “Lunch is on me. I’m so glad you included me today.”

“Thank you, Katy, that’s so sweet,” Chloe said.

“Yes, Aunt Katy, I’m glad you were able to join us. I told you we would have fun.”

Victoria’s Secret was their next stop. Mary Kate blushed profusely when her aunt chose a racy little red lace teddy for her. Her mother’s pick was a tiny bit more demure, in pink, but still very sexy. After deciding on a white negligee and a black lace short gown, Mary Kate decided the four new lingerie items were enough. She paid for her purchases and joined her mother and aunt.

“Where to now?” Chloe asked.

“I think I’m finished, unless one of you would like to go to another store.”

“I’m good,” Katy said.

“I am, too. I finished my shopping for the wedding last week,” Chloe said.

“I should get back to the office to finish some paperwork today. I want to devote tomorrow to decorating for the rehearsal dinner and, of course, Saturday morning to the reception,” Katy said.

“I’ll help you,” Chloe said.

“I can help, too,” Mary Kate said. “I know you will make it the most beautiful reception ever. The party room at the restaurant is the perfect place.”

“What else do you need to take care of? Is there anything I can do to help?” Chloe asked as they got back into the SUV.

“I just need to follow up with the florist and photographer to make sure everything is set. Since the restaurant is catering, Beth will take care of that.” Mary Kate seemed calm for a girl about to be married.

“You’ve picked up the dresses?” her mother asked.

“Beth and I will do that tomorrow. We had our final fittings last Saturday.”

“Sounds like you have everything under control,” her aunt remarked.

“I hope I haven’t forgotten anything but I think we’re good. I’ve had a lot of help.”

“Is Braydon working today?” Chloe asked.

“Yes, his leave begins in the morning. He has a list of things to take care of, too.” Mary Kate giggled. “He was going over it all last night with me.”

They reached the restaurant and said their goodbyes, Chloe and Katy returning to their offices and Mary Kate heading to the kitchen to speak to her sister.

But when she entered the room, Beth was nowhere to be seen. She asked one of the other chefs where she was.

He nodded toward the employee lounge. “She got a phone call and seemed upset. She’s in there, taking a break.”

Mary Kate wasted no time in getting to her sister. When she opened the door to the lounge, she shuddered. It hadn’t been all that long ago that her life had hung in the balance in that very room, or rather, the employee lounge that had been there before the fire that had destroyed her family’s restaurant. If Dallas firefighter, Braydon Butler, hadn’t rescued her, things would have turned out very differently, indeed.

Right now, though, her attentions needed to be focused on her sister, who had also nearly lost her life to the same madman who had set fire to the restaurant, her fiancée at the time, Dalton Raymond.

She found Beth curled up in a ball on the window seat, sobbing.

“Beth, what is it?” she said softly as she crossed the room and sat down next to her sister. She wrapped her arms around her.

“It h-happened again,” Beth said between sobs. “Another c-call.”

“Male or female?” Mary Kate asked.

“It was a man. He said, ‘I know what you did and you will pay.’ Oh, M. K., what did I do? I have no idea what he is talking about.”

“I don’t think you did anything. I still think this has something to do with the whole Dalton fiasco. I think either Dalton or his dad or someone who works for them is harassing you, blaming you for his being found guilty.”

“He was sent to a prison for the mentally ill. That wasn’t my fault. He was proven guilty and he admitted setting the fire. He also threatened to kill me. His own dad heard him say it, as well as the police officers who were at the scene. Colin saw it all through the window, too. He saw that I was tied to a chair and that Dalton had a gun.”

“I know that and you know that, but Dalton is nuts. His dad is a powerful man.”

“His dad made restitution for all the damage. Why would he hire someone to harass me now?”

“Revenge, who knows? Have you told Colin any of this?”

“N-no, not yet.”

“I think it’s high time you did. Please, Beth, talk to him. Tell him about the phone calls and the notes. I don’t want to leave town on my wedding trip worried about your safety.”

“I am meeting him for dinner tonight. I promise to tell him then. I don’t want you to worry about me. This is your special time with Braydon and nothing should mar it.”

“How can I not worry, after all we both went through in the last year?”

Beth shook her head. “It never seems to end. We both thought we got our happy endings—you, with Braydon, and me, with Colin. Now, I just don’t know about that.”

“Oh, honey, Colin is your destiny. Never doubt that. Just tell him, so he can protect you. He is an undercover cop, after all. He can surely arrange for some sort of extra protection.”

“I will tell him. This last call has really unnerved me. I tried to pass this off as a prank of some sort, but now, I’m not so sure.”

“You need to take it seriously. Now, how much longer until your shift ends?”

Beth looked at the clock on the wall. “Actually, I need to get back out there and finish something; then, I can leave.”

“Go splash water on your face. I’ll wait for you and walk you to your car. I’m not doing anything tonight since Braydon is on duty until the morning. I’ll stay with you at home until either Mom or Dad or Colin shows up. I will most likely stay in tonight, anyway.”

“Thanks, sis. I won’t be long.” Beth freshened up and returned to the kitchen, leaving her twin to worry about her.

Seeking extra protection, Mary Kate left the lounge and found their cousin, Alex. Alex was Katy’s son and the general manager of the restaurant.

“Hey, cuz, do you have the pre-wedding jitters yet?” he asked as she approached him.

She smiled. “Not pre-wedding but other jitters. Can we talk in private for a minute?”

“Sure, what’s up?” Alex asked as he led her into the private dining room and sat down.

“Promise you won’t say anything to anyone else just yet. Not your mom or Ryan or my parents, you have to promise.”

“Okay,” her cousin replied hesitantly.

She quickly explained to him about the calls and notes Beth had been receiving.

“Wow, just wow. I thought this was all behind us. What do you need me to do? You know I’d do anything for either of you girls.”

“Beth will be off duty in a few minutes. I’d like you to walk both of us out to our cars when we leave. I’m going to follow her home and stay there with her. She’s having dinner with Colin tonight and she’s promised me that she’ll tell him all about this.”

“You mean she hasn’t told him yet?” Alex asked in surprise.

M.K. shook her head. “Apparently not yet. I think I’m the only person she’s confided in. She didn’t want to upset Mom and Dad right before the wedding, I think. She also thought it was nothing more than a prank until today’s phone call.”

“I will do that and I’ll make sure, from now on, she always has an escort. Although, I imagine when Colin hears this, he’ll arrange for around the clock protection for her.”

“That’s my hope. I’ve been encouraging her to tell him.”

“We’d probably better get out there; she’s probably looking for you. Her shift should have ended five minutes ago,” Alex said as he looked at his cell phone.

They walked out of the private dining room together and, sure enough, Beth was looking for her.”

“Oh, there you are. I couldn’t find you. Hi, Alex.”

“Hi, Beth. Are you ready to go? I’m going to walk out to the parking lot with the two of you,” he informed her.

Beth looked from one to the other. “You filled him in?” she asked.

“Yes, I thought it was necessary but I’ve sworn him to secrecy,” her sister replied.

“It’s okay, Beth. I’ll keep your secret, as long as you tell Colin tonight, at dinner,” Alex said.

“I’ve already promised M.K. I would. Thank you, Alex.”

The three of them walked outside into the late afternoon Texas sunshine. Alex looked around to make sure no one suspicious was around before allowing the girls to proceed to their cars. He walked Beth to hers and made sure she was securely buckled in and the doors to her vehicle locked before he escorted M.K. to hers and did the same. He leaned down and told Mary Kate, “Call me when you get to the house.”

“I will,” she replied as she rolled up the window and waved to her sister to leave first. She followed Beth out of the parking lot and all the way to their parents’ house, where both girls still lived.

Safely inside the house with the doors locked, she phoned Alex to let him know they had arrived. Turning to Beth, she said, “You need to take a load off. Go take a hot bath and relax. I’ll brew some of that herbal tea you like and we’ll have a cup when you come back down.”

“Thank you, sis. I hate that this is happening two days before your wedding but I love that you’re taking care of me. I’ll be back down soon.”

Mary Kate watched her sister walk slowly up the stairs, shoulders slumped. She sighed as she headed for the kitchen. She was going to get to the bottom of this. No one terrorized her sister and got by with it.