Darker Water

Once and Forever

Book 1
Off the Hook Publishing
8

Some fairytales begin with a kiss...

 

 

Laney

 

I finally get it. And to think, it only took my heart being pried out of my chest and stomped on five separate times by men who claimed they loved me. That's got to be a record, right?

 

Let me put it as simply as I can: 

 

Fairy tales aren't real. Love is a lie. And, at least in my experience, sex never comes with a happy ending.

 

Fortunately, I still have B.O.B, and he'll never fall out of love with me. I won't walk in on him in bed with another woman either. Nope. As long as I keep supplying him with fresh batteries, B.O.B's only purpose in life is to make me happy.

 

And, damn it, I deserve to be happy. I'm a nice person. I work hard. And, most importantly, I've learned my lesson:

 

I will never, ever let a man near my heart again. 

 

 

Carson

 

My secret to happiness is to be completely upfront with what I want and, trust me, it has nothing to do with Laney's heart. Her lips? Hell yeah. A few other parts of her body? You better f*cking believe it. But her heart? Nope. Not even a little. 

 

Until it does...a lot.

 

Forget I said that. I don't have feelings for anyone. They were all ripped out of me when I was a kid.

 

This thing between Laney and me could be great. But we have to follow certain rules. We have a good time--no dates, no sleepovers, no expectations. When one of us is ready for something new or if she starts getting too attached, we move on with no hard feelings. Win-win, and everybody's happy. 

 

I came into this thinking it would be the same thing as it had always been and that she was like any other beautiful woman. 

 

It isn't. She isn't.  

 

But how do I tell her she deserves someone better, someone who can love her, someone who's not broken, if I can't seem to let her go? 

 

 

 

***standalone contemporary romance/romantic comedy without a cliffhanger or cheating***

 

Now Available

Virtually Impossible (Once and Forever #2)

Deeper Water (Once and Forever #3) Carson and Laney's after happily-ever-after

 

 

Darker Water is a friends-with-benefits story inspired by The Frog Prince, and this is how Carson and Laney's fairy tale begins: 

 

Once upon a time there was a young woman who lived in a tall glass tower in the middle of a city. She wasn't incredibly beautiful but she was attractive, probably somewhere around the eighty-fifth percentile. She was smart, kind, honest, and good with animals.

 

But the most beautiful thing about her was her heart, for it was made of the purest of golds. Unfortunately, she wasn't very good at taking care of it, and over the years, it lost its shine. Because every time she met a prince, she believed him to be perfect--strong but gentle, brave, and caring. So, she would show him her heart and give it to him to hold, thinking he would take care of it.

 

What she hadn't yet realized was that there was a curse put on her...at some time...by someone. And the curse was this: The moment the woman gave her heart away and kissed the prince--believing it to be true love--the prince would begin to change. Sometimes slowly, other times quickly. But he always turned into a frog. And although the frog would give her heart back to her, each time it was a little more worn, a little less brilliant.

 

But the woman didn't give up trying to find a prince who would remain a prince, knowing that somewhere out there was someone who could heal her heart and break the curse by remaining a prince after she kissed him.

 

Then one day, she finally understood the curse's power. No one could heal her, she would never find a prince, and the curse would never be broken.

 

And so, clutching what was left of her heart, she gave up her search.

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About the author

Lauren Stewart grew up reading Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, James Clavell, Piers Anthony, and Agatha Christie, which explains why she can't seem to stick to one genre at a time. She loves emoticons and hates when people speak in the third person, so...

I got to the more romantic stuff pretty late, but paranormal romance was what changed me from an obsessed reader into an obsessed reader AND writer. I think my writing style comes from a mash-up of all my early favorites and my new ones, women like JR Ward, Karen Marie Moning, Nalini Singh, Charlaine Harris, and Janet Evanovich. Wow, how much would you pay to be invited to that dinner party?

I want to make people think, cry, and giggle, not necessarily all at the same time (although it's great when it happens). In every one of my books, you'll find elements of other genres - fantasy, mystery, romance, paranormal, suspense, YA, women's literature, all with a touch of humor because what doesn't kill us should make us laugh.


To find me on the web, please visit:


Website: www.ReadLaurenS.com

Twitter: @ReadLaurenS

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LaurenStewartAuthor

Also, if you join my newsletter, you can get a free book. Just sayin'.

http://eepurl.com/bhGofH

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Additional Information

Publisher
Off the Hook Publishing
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Published on
Oct 3, 2014
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Pages
327
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ISBN
9780990334019
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Romance / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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See entire series

Can you call it an office romance if we've never actually met?


 

Sara has a kick-ass life. She has loyal friends, works from home, and sets her own hours as a virtual assistant. 

 

Perfect...

 

Except that Sara doesn't actually exist. 

 

She's just a borrowed name I use when I'm hiding behind my computer screen. But pretending to be someone else is the only way I can earn enough to make up for the mistake I made and the lives I ruined. 

 

If I hadn't typed my new boss' name into that search engine, none of this would be happening. I wouldn't want to know anything about his personal life, and I would do a quick change of the subject if he ever asked about mine. I could do my job without worrying if all those outside-of-normal-business-hours texts and chats seem like two sarcastic people talking or like two sarcastic people flirting. 

 

I would've kept imagining Hayden looked the same way I pictured all my other clients--late fifties/early sixties, a little soft around the middle, and a lot more forehead than hair. I couldn't have been more wrong. Seriously, how many VPs look like they go model underwear after leaving the office? 

 

Damn it, if I'd never found out what an amazing man Hayden is, I wouldn't want to cry every time he calls me Sara. 

 

But hey, that's life, right? And nobody's life is perfect.

 

 

Actually...

 

 

My life is pretty damn perfect. I'm married to a beautiful woman, live in a luxury apartment, and am prepped to take over the multi-billion-dollar company my father built. 

 

Perfect...

 

Except that all of it is a lie.

 

My wife is madly in love with someone else, my career is meaningless, and I forgot how to live, let alone be happy. 

 

But when I hired a new assistant online, it finally occurred to me that life wasn't meant to be endured. It was meant to be lived. Without Sara, I never would've known what it feels like to be happy or to want someone this badly.

 

It's unimaginably stupid to fall for someone at work, but I can't seem to stop it from happening. Sara's the best assistant I've ever had, the most interesting person I've ever spoken with, and the most beautiful woman I've ever known.

 

I'd give up everything I have to be with her, and I still have no idea what she looks like. That has to change. I've never felt like this about anyone, and I'm out of patience. I need to be in a room with her, to touch her to see if she's real. 

 

Unfortunately, the only way to get what I want is for a lot of good people to lose everything they have.

 

 

***There is no cheating in this novel. Hayden is far too noble a man to hurt and disrespect a woman like that. Trust me, you'll understand when you read the book.***

 

***standalone contemporary romance/romantic comedy (no cliffhanger)***

 

Now Available...

Deeper Water (Once and Forever #3) - Get a look into Carson and Laney's after happily-ever-after and be there for Hayden and Andi's island wedding!

 

Virtually Impossible is Hayden and Andi's story, and this is how their fairytale begins:

 

Once upon a time there was a woman who made the mistake of trusting the wrong man. And that mistake led to another. And another and another, each more damaging than the last. But the woman was as ignorant of her mistakes as she was of the damage they caused. Until she was punished for them.

 

Around the same time, but in a totally separate part of the city, lived a noble man and his beautiful wife. Though their castle was the envy of all, its empty halls echoed of loneliness and regret. For the man had lived his entire life asleep, and both of them remained silent of who they truly were and what they truly wanted.

 

And then one day, the woman entered the man's life and forced him to awaken...


***This novel is intended for adults only. It includes lots of cursing, descriptive sex, biting sarcasm, and dark themes. HYDE was inspired by Stevenson's novella but is not a retelling, in part because he and this author have very different definitions of 'bad boy'.

Honesty is impossible when you don't know the truth to begin with.

Mitchell Turner is everything women want most in a man--he's charismatic, successful, and undeniably gorgeous. But he's not a man--he's a monster. By venting his rage 24/7, Mitch keeps people out of the danger zone that surrounds him. But, after the most incredible night of his life, he realizes that might not be possible. Except the woman he wakes up with claims she doesn't remember any of it. And that kind of thing can make a guy insecure.

Eden Colfax is kind, loyal, honest to a fault, and cavity-inducing sweet. To rid herself of the monsters that haunted her broken childhood, Eden doesn't lie, doesn't curse, and definitely never wakes up naked in strangers' beds...until the day she does. Then the flashbacks start--places she's never been, people she's never met, blood she's never spilled. And the only person with any answers is a man she never wants to see again.

What they don't know is that someone is manipulating them, determined to find out exactly what they're capable of. And when the truth leaves them nothing to hold onto, they will be forced into a partnership neither expected. Or wanted.

But in life, who you trust is as important as who you are. And when you can't even trust yourself, sometimes the only person you can rely on is the last person on earth you should be falling for.


The other novels in this trilogy are now available:
Jekyll, an Urban Fantasy (Hyde Book II)
Strange Case, an Urban Fantasy (Hyde Book III)

--For lovers of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Karen Marie Moning's Fever series—
Can you call it an office romance if we've never actually met?


 

Sara has a kick-ass life. She has loyal friends, works from home, and sets her own hours as a virtual assistant. 

 

Perfect...

 

Except that Sara doesn't actually exist. 

 

She's just a borrowed name I use when I'm hiding behind my computer screen. But pretending to be someone else is the only way I can earn enough to make up for the mistake I made and the lives I ruined. 

 

If I hadn't typed my new boss' name into that search engine, none of this would be happening. I wouldn't want to know anything about his personal life, and I would do a quick change of the subject if he ever asked about mine. I could do my job without worrying if all those outside-of-normal-business-hours texts and chats seem like two sarcastic people talking or like two sarcastic people flirting. 

 

I would've kept imagining Hayden looked the same way I pictured all my other clients--late fifties/early sixties, a little soft around the middle, and a lot more forehead than hair. I couldn't have been more wrong. Seriously, how many VPs look like they go model underwear after leaving the office? 

 

Damn it, if I'd never found out what an amazing man Hayden is, I wouldn't want to cry every time he calls me Sara. 

 

But hey, that's life, right? And nobody's life is perfect.

 

 

Actually...

 

 

My life is pretty damn perfect. I'm married to a beautiful woman, live in a luxury apartment, and am prepped to take over the multi-billion-dollar company my father built. 

 

Perfect...

 

Except that all of it is a lie.

 

My wife is madly in love with someone else, my career is meaningless, and I forgot how to live, let alone be happy. 

 

But when I hired a new assistant online, it finally occurred to me that life wasn't meant to be endured. It was meant to be lived. Without Sara, I never would've known what it feels like to be happy or to want someone this badly.

 

It's unimaginably stupid to fall for someone at work, but I can't seem to stop it from happening. Sara's the best assistant I've ever had, the most interesting person I've ever spoken with, and the most beautiful woman I've ever known.

 

I'd give up everything I have to be with her, and I still have no idea what she looks like. That has to change. I've never felt like this about anyone, and I'm out of patience. I need to be in a room with her, to touch her to see if she's real. 

 

Unfortunately, the only way to get what I want is for a lot of good people to lose everything they have.

 

 

***There is no cheating in this novel. Hayden is far too noble a man to hurt and disrespect a woman like that. Trust me, you'll understand when you read the book.***

 

***standalone contemporary romance/romantic comedy (no cliffhanger)***

 

Now Available...

Deeper Water (Once and Forever #3) - Get a look into Carson and Laney's after happily-ever-after and be there for Hayden and Andi's island wedding!

 

Virtually Impossible is Hayden and Andi's story, and this is how their fairytale begins:

 

Once upon a time there was a woman who made the mistake of trusting the wrong man. And that mistake led to another. And another and another, each more damaging than the last. But the woman was as ignorant of her mistakes as she was of the damage they caused. Until she was punished for them.

 

Around the same time, but in a totally separate part of the city, lived a noble man and his beautiful wife. Though their castle was the envy of all, its empty halls echoed of loneliness and regret. For the man had lived his entire life asleep, and both of them remained silent of who they truly were and what they truly wanted.

 

And then one day, the woman entered the man's life and forced him to awaken...


 “What would you give up for freedom?” 

“Everything.” 

“Even if it wasn’t yours?” 


For three years, Keira lived in hell on earth, kept and tortured by a psychopath. He should’ve killed her. Because now she’s looking for payback, to see his face when she shoves a stake into his chest, to feel his dust under her boot. Then she’ll finally be free…of everything but the memories, scars, and nightmares. Unfortunately, when a demon starts hunting the same prey, Keira’s life becomes less about getting revenge and more about fighting temptation. 

For three tours above the earth’s crust, Davyn has been as close to heaven as a demon can be. In a few weeks, he’ll go home to be reforged, stripped of all the humanity he’s accumulated and reminded of exactly what he is. Of course, in the depths of hell, nobody “finds themselves” through group therapy and happy pills. It’s not all bad news though—before he goes, at least he gets to kill a vampire. Maybe a human too, if that stubborn little hunter keeps getting in his way. After all, a nice ass can only buy so much of Davyn’s patience. 

Two people from opposite sides of a war will discover the price of freedom and what they’re willing to pay for it. But in the Heights, nothing is ever fair. For something they both want, one of them will pay with their eternity. 


The Heights not only protects the secrecy of vampires, shifters, demons, angels, and other supernaturals, it protects the humans unaware of the world hidden within their own. 



* UNEARTHED is the second book in this series and may prove confusing for those who haven't read the first. So I suggest you start with UNSEEN, Vol 1. Thank you, and happy reading!

Job security isn’t something Addison is all that concerned with. 
Death, however? Yeah, death is a major concern. 

After Addison finds a nearly-dusted vampire in the garbage outside her building, her ability to stay off the paranormal world's radar is deader than the vamp. Almost as dead as she’ll be if anyone thinks she put him there. So even though she’s practically shoving a stake into her own chest, she has no other choice but to get him indoors before he dusts in front of a human. And just when she thinks life couldn’t possibly get any worse, she finds out who he is. 

As vampire king and Prime to all races of supernatural beings in this zone, Rhyse gets what he wants when he wants it. But after being ambushed, he wakes up chained to a bed and with a hole in his chest. Unfortunately, he needs help to discover who tried to kill him. His only ally is his captor, someone unaware she has the power to bring down their entire world. 

While a prophesied war brews in the Heights, Addison and Rhyse must decide which carries more risk — trusting someone who could destroy you or trusting someone who could love you? 

* * * 
The Heights not only protects the secrecy of vampires, shifters, demons, angels, and other supernaturals, it protects humans unaware of the world hidden within our own. 

Unseen is the first book in a new paranormal series that is a mixture of urban fantasy and paranormal romance with multiple interlocking stories and characters and plot lines as well as different races of supernatural beings, each with their own cultures, hierarchy, and attributes. It's not a series about only two people, or three, or even four. This is a world in which everyone will have to pick a side. 

Each book centers around a different couple as the two sides intersect and individuals collide. Here’s a general overview of which character is the primary focus of each book. 

Unseen: Addison & Rhyse, the most unlikely of allies 
Unearthed: Davyn, a demon 
Unwanted: Noah, a seer-turned-werewolf 
Unforgiven: Micah, an angel 
Unchained: Logan, a seer 
Unturned: Graham, a vampire 
Unknown: Kaia, a mage 

How many more there will be after this depends on how long it takes to tell the story of this world. In between the novels will be novellas about a few other interesting creatures, like ghosts, mermaids, banshees, etc. If you decide to come along for the ride - which I hope you will - make sure to hold on tight...and be ready to laugh a lot along the way. 

*Titles and character names may change at any point up until release day.
***This novel is intended for adults only. It includes lots of cursing, descriptive sex, biting sarcasm, and dark themes. HYDE was inspired by Stevenson's novella but is not a retelling, in part because he and this author have very different definitions of 'bad boy'.

Honesty is impossible when you don't know the truth to begin with.

Mitchell Turner is everything women want most in a man--he's charismatic, successful, and undeniably gorgeous. But he's not a man--he's a monster. By venting his rage 24/7, Mitch keeps people out of the danger zone that surrounds him. But, after the most incredible night of his life, he realizes that might not be possible. Except the woman he wakes up with claims she doesn't remember any of it. And that kind of thing can make a guy insecure.

Eden Colfax is kind, loyal, honest to a fault, and cavity-inducing sweet. To rid herself of the monsters that haunted her broken childhood, Eden doesn't lie, doesn't curse, and definitely never wakes up naked in strangers' beds...until the day she does. Then the flashbacks start--places she's never been, people she's never met, blood she's never spilled. And the only person with any answers is a man she never wants to see again.

What they don't know is that someone is manipulating them, determined to find out exactly what they're capable of. And when the truth leaves them nothing to hold onto, they will be forced into a partnership neither expected. Or wanted.

But in life, who you trust is as important as who you are. And when you can't even trust yourself, sometimes the only person you can rely on is the last person on earth you should be falling for.


The other novels in this trilogy are now available:
Jekyll, an Urban Fantasy (Hyde Book II)
Strange Case, an Urban Fantasy (Hyde Book III)

--For lovers of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Karen Marie Moning's Fever series—
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