Title: Ash To Steele
Author: Karen-Ann Stewart
Genre: New Adult/Suspense
Release Date: February 13, 2014
Who I am and all I believe is marred with just one glance into angry, steel blue eyes. He seems to control my air, my ability to breathe. He makes me crave everything I know is a sin. Pure becomes tainted and lines are blurred. It's my fault; I'm the one who isn't strong enough. I've been damaged...broken. Breck's words haunt me...'There's a consequence for every choice you make.'
I've had so many women I can't even remember over half of their names, but none of them are mine; I make damn sure of that. I take what I desire and never look back. I don't need or want anyone, ever...not until I met Emma. Those eyes bore into what's left of my soul and her touch sears me, weakens me. I want to hate her for that. She is my ruin...my sweetest hell.
Disclaimer: Intended for readers 18+ due to strong language, mature scenes, and some violence.
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ExcerptJess has dismissed last night as some major hormonal time of the month ordeal and waves it off without talking about it while she pours me a drink. She’s getting the beers ready to take to the grunge band that’s playing tonight when a couple of guys start shoving and yelling at the bar. Jess jerks her head towards Jason, who slides over the counter and steps in between the two just in time to catch a fist full of knuckles. “Shit!” Jess leaves the tray on the bar and tries to demand the men to knock it off, but a beer bottle is thrown, smashing a few inches away from me at the bar, the dark liquid and glass splashing me. The fight quickly spreads into an affray of arms, fists, and bodies being thrust left and right. Jess heads towards the door to get Gavin from outside. I’ve seen a couple of fights between some of Justin’s jock friends who had too much to drink at parties back home, but this is insane. The crowded space in front of the bar has turned into a wrestling and boxing match, and I scoot back to avoid more shattered glass when I slam into a sharp elbow sending me stumbling forward. Panic ensues as I hit the ground and am knocked back and forth, keeping me from scrambling to my feet. A pair of large, strong hands wrap around my waist, sweeping me off the ground and landing me on top of the counter. “Get behind the bar and stay there,” Breck demands gruffly, directly before grabbing the tattooed fist of a shaved headed man whose intent was to send his fist into the crew cut military looking Goliath. Breck twists the man’s arm behind his back, slamming his face against the bar. No gratitude is bestowed by Goliath as he throws a punch at Breck, who ducks, landing his elbow against the man’s ribs, then administering a sharp jab and an upward thrust of his forearm into Goliath’s nose. Blood streams as he falls backwards. The scene in front of me passes in a minute but it seems like it’s playing in slow motion as I watch Breck single handedly defusing a large part of the melee, dodging fists and elbows as he lands perfectly precise blows too many times for me to keep count. I’m in a state of stunned awe, horrified, mesmerized, and more than a little ashamed at how I’m completely turned on watching Breck’s toned body twist and turn, his shirt pressing tight against the outline of his chiseled muscles when he takes down man after man. Gavin reaches the bar and flashes an exuberant grin as he joins in the brawl. The difference between the two is staggering. Gavin seems to be thoroughly enjoying the violent chaos, while Breck’s eyes are hard and calculated as he seems to find no amusement in the serious damage he’s causing. Jess climbs over the top of the bar with me and grabs my arm, pulling me flush with her to the opposite counter. Her eyes bounce between Jason, Gavin, and Breck, not fazed in the least. She grabs a pitcher of water and throws the whole thing at a long-haired, pierced broad shouldered man who is gaining the upper hand on Jason. A few more faces are bloodied before the fight is contained. Breck’s chest rises and falls from his exertion. His brow has a sheen of sweat and the veins on his neck are pulsating. I watch how eerily calm he is as he glances around the room, his fists still tightly coiled and ready to strike. Jess hauls herself on the bar, pushing to her feet, “If you are still in one piece, then count yourself as one lucky sonofabitch and have a beer on the house, but if you’re one of the bleeding assholes, get the hell out of my bar and don’t even think about dragging your ass back until you sleep it off, or you won’t be able to walk out of here next time.” Gavin slaps the back of Breck’s shoulder, absolutely beaming, “Oh hell, yeah. Now, that’s what I call a good night.” Seemingly satisfied that all the potential threats have been neutralized, Breck’s gaze lands on mine, and I’m amazed that he went through all of what I just had a front row seat to untouched. I check out the small cut above Gavin’s eye, just shy of his temple, before cringing when I see Jason. His eye and nose are busted and bleeding. Breck shows no signs of what happened, other than looking as if he finished a heavy workout. Jess grabs Jason’s chin, inspecting his bloodied face before pushing her thumb against the side of his nose. “Damn, Jess, cut it out,” he snaps, knocking her hand away. She laughs, “Not broken this time.” Jason must see the residual shock registered on my face because he clicks his chin up when he looks at me, “You alright, Em?” Jess slides back over the bar top, plopping down in front of me and wrapping my arm in hers, grinning, “This is her first party; she’ll be just fine, won’t you?” Shaking it off, I scan the crowd that is now back to normal, drinking and talking like what just happened is a perfectly normal occurrence. “This happen a lot? Broken noses, bloody floors, and all that?” Breck’s gaze turns hard again as he barks, “Oh, that’s right. You’re of the philosophy of turning the other cheek.” Indignation rises, tinting my cheeks at his scoffing tone, “No. I – um- I mean-” not sure what I’m trying to say, I shut up, trying to match his admonishing stare but it comes out more like a twisted awed curiosity, “how did you do that?” Gavin’s hand soundly slaps Breck’s back again, “Our boy here can kick some serious ass, go all the way to the pros, if he’d just embrace what he’s got.” Breck shrugs Gavin’s hand away as Jess’ glare to shut up seems to mute Gavin. With one quick glimpse, Breck inspects me, “Were you hurt?” The words are gruff but there’s the tiniest flash of concern in his eyes. “No – sorry,” I state hurriedly, realizing that I didn’t thank him for getting me out of the stampede before I did get hurt, “thank you for moving me.” That strong, lightly specked jaw is still wound tight when he gives a sharp nod, “Don’t be late tomorrow.” Wanting to be a smartass, I refrain from saluting at his order and let it go as he turns to leave. “You just got here,” Gavin blurts, “throw him a beer, Jess.” “Not tonight,” he mumbles before walking away. I watch how the crowd thins, moving out of Breck’s way as he walks by. His reputation seems to include more than just being a god and Casanova; apparently, he’s also feared.
About The Author
Author of New Adult Romance who doesn't shy away from writing about sensitive issues and hot heroes.
Karen-Anne Stewart has always adored reading and has now fallen in love with writing. Her written works are The Rain Trilogy: Saving Rain, Healing Rain, and After the Rain, and the newly released stand alone novel, Ash to Steele. Her debut novel, Saving Rain: The First Novel in The Rain Trilogy, was a nominee for the Book Junkie’s Choice Awards, and Saving Rain and After the Rain were nominees for the 2014 RONE Awards.
When Karen-Anne isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, and visiting new places. She fuels her addiction of creating new stories by her only other addiction, caffeine, and listening to a myriad of musical genres. Tucked away near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Karen-Anne lives with her husband, daughter, three dogs, and their cat. She plans on writing new adult romance as long as her fingers maintain dexterity.
Karen-Anne loves to connect with readers!
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