I've asked my publisher for the rights back to my debut novel. As of October 1st, they revert back to me and this book will no longer be available. It's going into the vault! LOL
So, for the next few weeks I'm going to share some of my favourite snippets from this novel and whet some appetites while readers can still get their hands on this story. (Or perhaps I'll just put up the first three chapters here and run some teasers on Facebook) Stay tuned!
This was the first book of mine ever published. It will always have a special place in my heart, but it's time for me to put that part of my life behind me; time to close that chapter, so to speak.
I will always be grateful to Totally Bound and my awesome editor Amy Parker, for accepting my very first erotic story, because it opened a flood gate of acceptances that have sent me on this wild and crazy journey, that I love with all my heart. Writing and sharing my stories has changed my life. I've learned a ton, good and not-so-good. And along the way I've met some incredibly generous and talented people. Like I always say, if this writing gig doesn't work out, I have met some people who will be life-long friends, even if we never meet face to face. And you know who you are, dawlings, and how much I love you. ♥
This was also my first taste of covers and art design and Emmy Ellis, did an incredible job on this one. For an entire year, I think this guy's amazing backside was how people saw and identified with H K Carlton on social media! And I'm okay with that. That is one amazing posterior to be associated with! :D
I'm taking this opportunity to show off all the artwork I have, since this will also be the last chance to admire it.
One reviewer on Amazon described Swap as "Twisted Good! Damn good storyline! Suspenseful sexy complicated family drama! Damn good sex scenes and fantasies come alive!!!" It was one of my very first reviews and I was thrilled by her comments. Thank you, Brooke!
But because of the subject matter, adultery and cheating, I also received some negative feedback and even lost some followers on twitter. At the time, it hurt because I was just a fledgling myself, and this story meant and still means a lot to me, for many different reasons. But it was one of the first lessons I learned. You need to develop a thick skin in this business and in a hurry. (I still haven't achieved it though). :) But you can't please everyone, all the time. Although, you'd truly like to.
At this time, I have no plans to re-release this story or self-publish it. But I will never say never. Because I have toyed with the idea of telling Brent Hollinger's story. I mean let's face it, the poor guy deserves an HEA, after being cheated on by his wife and his own brother. Right?
Another little known fact, I started to write the entire novel again, in Mike's POV. But some other stories elbowed their way in and took over my time, in the form of Always Cambridge and The Devil Take You and Mikey took a backseat.
So here's the blurb and a the first tease on the last call run for my beloved SWAP...
♥I love you, Mikey and Hails!♥
When I was eighteen I thought my boyfriend, Brent, was the best-looking guy around. That was until he introduced me to his older brother Mike. From that moment on I had the biggest crush on him, and he was the star of most of my teenage fantasies. At the time he was twenty-five and newly married, but that didn’t stop my overactive imagination. I was so shy back then, and every conversation with the man left me a blushing, tongue-tied mess.
Even now, sometimes he could still make my poor cheeks suffuse with crimson. I was twenty-six, had been married to Brent for three years, had a great career in journalism and I was sketching outlines for my first novel.
Brent and I both had great jobs, although he travelled a lot. We owned a nice house. We enjoyed life and each other. Everything was supposed to be perfect—except that my infatuation with my brother-in-law had never completely gone away. A crush, by nature and definition, is something that’s supposed to be short-lived and should diminish over time. But, unfortunately, mine hadn’t, and it was beginning to fuck with what I thought should be perfection.
Mike and his wife of eight-plus years now, Cheryl, lived nearby. They seemed fairly happy too, until you looked a little deeper, which I often did. With Brent away so much, I spent a fair amount of time with Mike and Cheryl. I spent time with my friends too, but Mike and I had a lot in common, and not only interests-wise—we were both creative. I had writing and he had this passion for photography that I thought I’d finally convinced him to pursue. He worked in construction and I knew he hated it, especially now that he was getting older and his back and his knees had started to protest his constant activity. I mean, thirty-three wasn’t old by any means, but it wasn’t just his body that it was taking a toll on. He wasn’t happy, and I knew from my own experience what a rush it was to have an article published or some kind of recognition for a job well done. Mike’s work was really good and I knew in my heart that he could make a go of it, if he would just give himself the chance.
And how did I know all this? Well, even though we did a lot of things together as couples—when Brent was home, which wasn’t often—lately, it had just been Mike and me.
We found ourselves spending more and more time together. Cheryl was often busy with her newest get-rich-quick scheme. To her, life was all about money and other people’s perceptions of her. She liked people to think that she and Mike lived a whole lot more comfortably than they did. Brent, when he wasn’t away on business, had a passion of his own. And it wasn’t me. Currently, she was housed in the garage under a car cover. She was sleek, shiny and black—four hundred and six cubic inches of raw power that I couldn’t compete with.
I walked out onto the back deck where my friend from college, Kate, and my sister-in-law Cheryl sat comfortably in my new puffy deckchairs. Katie passed me a vodka cooler as I threw myself into the overstuffed cushion.
“I don’t know what to get Brent for his birthday. Any suggestions, ladies?” I asked, hoping for some burst of inspiration.
“Get him a new chamois for his hot rod,” Kate suggested cheekily, knowing full well how I felt about the third wheel, so to speak, in our relationship. I’d complained to her on more than one occasion that he spent more time with the shiny machine in the garage than with me. “God knows he’s probably worn the one he’s got out by now.”
“Mmm.” I gave Kate a black look. “Lucky girl gets rubbed down more than I do.”
“Oh, don’t be so hard on him. At least he’s at home, Hailey. He’s not off running around. And he thinks you’re just as hot,” Cheryl said, pointing the neck of her cooler at me. “The first thing he’ll do when he walks through those doors is grab your ass and plant a big sloppy one on you. We’ve all seen how he gropes you. It was fine when you two were teenagers but geez, now it’s just gross.”
“Sounds like you’re jealous to me, Cheryl,” Katie shot back in my defence.
“Jealous? Me? Of them?”
I couldn’t help but be pissed off at the slur that maybe we were not worthy of being envied. I narrowed my eyes at her in a silent question, and she scrambled to explain. “What I meant was, you two are still practically newlyweds. Wait until you’re married as long as Mike and I—then you’ll have plenty to bitch about.”
From where I stood, she had nothing to bitch about. Mike was awesome. I mean, I realise you always think the grass is greener…but I could pick out more faults in Cheryl, not only in her character but also as a cause of the problems within her marriage, than I could in Mike.
Physically, the brothers resembled each other quite a lot. Both tall, six foot two-ish, blond, blue-eyed, muscularly built—Mike because of his work, Brent because he worked at it in the gym. You knew right off that they were related, but that was pretty much where the similarities ended. Brent was outgoing, boisterous and opinionated. He needed to be on the move, he always needed something to do to occupy his time. A new project, whether it was home improvement or restoring his newest four-wheeled obsession. He couldn’t just relax and have a few beers or watch a movie. Mike, on the other hand, was quiet and intense. Introspective. Like me, he was a homebody—which Cheryl couldn’t stand. She wanted to be out and about, being seen and heard by whoever would give her some attention.
Cheryl and Brent had always butted heads. Cheryl didn’t care for Brent and Brent didn’t care for Cheryl. Sometimes I wondered if that carried over to me. I often thought she only tolerated me because she had to, rather than actually liked me.
Right now, I wasn’t about to argue with her. I wasn’t the confrontational type. I simmered in my own head or went off on Brent, but I certainly wouldn’t tell her I thought she was insane to her face. Besides, even though I could write a thought-provoking article that sometimes created a firestorm of controversy, verbally I was no match for the sharp-tongued woman sitting across from me. I did my best work on paper, where I could write and edit again and again until it was perfect. But in person I was an awkward, stuttering mess, especially when provoked or upset.
“Any ideas then, Cheryl?” I asked, bringing the conversation back around to Brent’s birthday.
“Why don’t you go to one of those car shows with him that he loves to go to? Maybe one of those big ones out of state. I’m sure that would please him. When was the last time you did that?”
I looked over at Katie. What did Cheryl mean by that? When was the last time I’d accompanied Brent to a car show? Or when was the last time I’d pleased him? I decided on the first one—we had no complaints in the pleasure department. Well, that wasn’t completely true, either. He was away far too much for us to do too much of that. But we sure made up for it when he was home.
I shrugged. “You’ve seen one car show, you’ve seen ‘em all.”
“Oh, just give him some of your precious time. You used to go to those things all the time, as I recall, when you two were just dating, before you got married. You used to follow him everywhere. Now that you’ve got him you don’t make the effort to support any of his interests.”
I couldn’t believe she was saying that to me. That was the pot and the kettle right there. I could have said the exact same thing to her about Mike. I was hurt by her words and I retorted before I thought better of it. “Oh? And how’s Mike’s photography going, Cheryl?”
Her brown eyes flashed to mine. “Well, you would know more about that than I would, since you’re the one pushing him to do such a crazy thing. He talks to you about that. Not me.”
“So I should support my husband, but you can’t see your way clear to do the same for yours?”
“What does he need my support for? You’re all over that. In fact, you’re just feeding into his crazy idea that he could actually make a living just taking pictures.”
“He can. He’s very talented.”
Cheryl stood up, none too steadily. She’d consumed a few more drinks than Kate and I had.
“Okay, ladies,” Kate interjected. “In-law jousting is over. We came here to relax, not air out family BS.”
“I’m ready to leave anyway.”
I sighed, feeling bad now. I wasn’t sure why—I knew she didn’t.
“Let me call Mike and get him to come pick you up,” I suggested.
“Don’t bother.” We all jumped at the deep voice coming from the patio door. “I can take her,” Brent said.
“Hey, baby,” I greeted him. “I didn’t hear your truck drive up.”
“Obviously,” he said, opening the door and coming out. I wondered how much he’d heard. He slipped his hand around my back, then, trailing it down, he cupped my ass and kissed me. Apparently, he’d heard it all because he made an exaggerated show of groping me.
“Just as advertised,” Cheryl quipped snidely.
“Oh, sour grapes, Cheryl,” Kate shot back. “Brent and Hailey will still be groping each other when they’re seventy. That’s just the way they are—they’ve always been that way. You married the uptight one. Get over it. Go home and grab his ass. I’m sure he’d love it.”
Cheryl gave Kate a glare and continued on into the house.
“I’ll call you tomorrow?” I called after her.
“Don’t bother,” her muffled voice responded.
“What’s her problem?” Brent asked me, snugging his hardness against me, unashamed that Kate could clearly see what he was doing.
“She’s not getting any, apparently.” Kate giggled.
I ignored that. I honestly didn’t want to think about their sex life at all. “Oh, you know, the usual. Mike’s not perfect.”
“Oh, shit, I coulda told her that and saved her the trouble.” Brent grinned, giving me one last squeeze and a peck on the cheek. “I’m the perfect one. I’ll take her home to Mr Not So Perfect and when I get back I’ll remind you why I am.” He winked at me. “Night, Kate.”
“Night, Brent.” She laughed.
I smiled and shook my head. He was so easy-going. I wished I could be more like that.
Kate and I followed them into the house just in time to hear Cheryl say, “Can’t we take your car, Brent? It’s been so long since you last took me for a ride.”
I narrowed my eyes as I looked at Kate. We heard the garage door open and the roar of Brent’s pride and joy fill the silence. I placed my hand on my hip.
“What the fuck was that?”
“Who knows? Don’t try to figure her out. I’ve always hated her, y’know.”
“I know. You remind me every time we’re all together. In-law jousting, Katie, really? Sounds like the newest reality show.”
She shrugged. “Let’s face it, Hailey, if she wasn’t your sister-in-law, there’s no way the two of you would be friends.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“But is it that you actually don’t like her? Or is the truth more like you’re just jealous because she gets to do it with your dream lover whenever she wants, and you just do it with him in your own head?” She smiled at me cheekily.
“I think we both know the answer to that.”
Her smile widened to a smug grin. “That was weird, though. You and Mike have been spending a lot of time together lately, just the two of you. Do you think she might be a little bit on the jealous side?”
I snorted. “Cheryl? No. Mike says she doesn’t have a jealous bone in her body.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that. You’re smarter than her, prettier than her, you make more money than her… You’re younger than her. Maybe it’s finally dawning on her that you and Mike have more in common than she thought. It’s always been that way, even back when you couldn’t even talk to him without committing verbal suicide. I’ll never forget when Mike and Brent came to see you graduate. You were so funny. Anyone with eyes could have seen how gaga you were over Mike. You got up on stage and gave the valedictorian speech, moving people to tears, like you’d been public speaking your whole life… Then you got off the stage, your boyfriend’s brother gave you a hug and offered congratulations, and you spat and sputtered…”
“That’s enough. Do we have to relive that every time we talk about Mike?”
“No, it’s just so funny. Your words are your living and you couldn’t even string together a simple ‘Thank you’. And your face—oh, my God, it was the colour of my scarlet lipstick. And let’s face it, you’re gorgeous and she pales in comparison. She might not be jealous, but she’s not blind, and neither is he. I’ve seen the way he looks at you when he thinks no one is paying attention.”
I folded my arms over my chest.
“Okay, I’ll stop. Come on, I’ve got a date tomorrow. Can I raid your closet?”
“Sure.” I followed her into the bedroom and flopped onto the bed as she went through my stuff. She pulled out this and that, and I gave my opinions.
“Oh! What’s this? And this?” She pulled out some black and red lacy lingerie that I hadn’t ever worn.
“Ya can’t borrow those, Katie, that’d just be weird.”
“Eww. I don’t want to borrow anything Brent’s slobbered all over.”
“They’ve never been slobbered on. They’ve probably gathered dust, though.”
“You know, you poor, old, dried-up, dusty married ladies are not making us single ladies want to settle down. Between you and Cheryl, you’re giving married life a bad rap.”
“It’s not bad, it’s just different,” I said, turning over onto my back.
“You know what you need?” Kate sat on the edge of the bed.
“You need to take these babies out of retirement, or out for a test spin, as the case may be.”
“Oh, and you think he’ll see me past that thoroughbred he has in the garage?”
“I’m sure he gets off on his machine, but you can give him things she can’t. And you can go out in the winter,” she teased. “I have an idea.”
“Uh-oh!” I replied dramatically.
She ignored me. “Ever heard of boudoir photos?”
“Yeah. Isn’t that where you take dirty pictures of yourself in cheesy lingerie? Didn’t that stuff go out in the nineties?”
“Don’t scoff. This could be your answer. When you go to the car shows or you see the hot rod magazines, what is it that they have draped all over the hood to get the guys’ attention? Hot women, hot cars.”
“Jesus, Kate, he’d kill me if I sat on the hood—and God forbid one of those nasty snaps scratched the ten grand in paint and clear coat. I practically have to get naked to get into the goddamn thing as it is.”
“Come on, Hailey. I think he’d love to see you in one of these”—she shook the lace at me—“bent over the hood of his baby. His two favourite girls playing nice. A garage-à-trois, as it were.” She snorted at her own cleverness. I rolled my eyes. “I’ll bet it’s one of his fantasies.”
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable. Some stranger taking my picture in one of those? What kind of perv takes pictures like that?”
“So use the timer on your digital and take them yourself. Then, if you don’t like them or you’re too embarrassed, you can just delete them and no one will ever know.”
“Yeah, you know how coordinated I am with that. Do those things even have timers?”
She shook her head, exasperated. “Are you serious? For a smart girl, you are tech illiterate.”
“Okay, so I’ll take them.”
“No! Forget it. This is just not me. It’s not something I would ever do.
Remember how you had to get me drunk just to wear a bikini to that frat party?”
“Yeah, and remember how good that turned out?” She grinned.
“No, I don’t.”
“Yeah, you don’t. Isn’t it great?”
I rolled my eyes. I wasn’t sure what I’d done that night, but she’d been pretty impressed. That scared me, and Kate had kept it to herself all these years, too. I didn’t want to know. It was better this way.
“Come on, we could get all liquored up…”
“No! No, it’s just too weird.”
“You are such a prude. How are we friends?” She sighed. “Well, I better get going too, before Brent comes back to show off his Mr Perfect. God knows I don’t need to see that.”
I followed her to the door.
“Thanks for the clothes, Hail.”
“No prob, Katie. Maybe my clothes will have more fun than me.”
“I hope I’m not wearing them long.” We laughed as she gave me a hug.
“I think you should take the pics, Hail,” she said as she pulled away. “I think he would really love it.”
“I’ll think about it,” I said, but I didn’t mean it. Sex was not our problem—sleazy pictures wouldn’t do it for him or me.
She started down the driveway, throwing over her shoulder, “You know, you could always recruit that shutterbug brother-in-law.” She turned and smiled deviously. “Since you two are so supportive of one another, and he is so talented.”
All of a sudden I had a flash of me in the red lace, bending over the hood of the car, looking seductively over my shoulder at Mike behind the lens of his camera, and him looking back at me with smoky eyes. Certain body parts got heavy just thinking about the possibilities.
“Oh, you liked that one, didn’t you? Think of the possibilities. You could fulfil one or two of your own fantasies.” She grinned.
“Go home, you shit disturber.”
I closed the door on her laughter. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea and the hotter I got. I’d concocted a whole new fantasy in my head by the time Brent got home. I almost didn’t need his Mr Perfect, but I used what he was offering anyway. It wasn’t the first time I’d pretended with him.
For a limited time now, you can purchase Swap at the following distributors:
(this novel will no longer be available after the 30th of September)
Get it while you still can!
Get it while you still can!
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