Inspiration for Made Man Dante – A Mafia Romance

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Made Man Dante paperback by Liliana Rhodes

The paperback of Made Man Dante (the boxed set of my Made Man trilogy) is now available. The ebook is available everywhere.

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Made Man Dante
(e-book and paperback)
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The other day I was on Facebook when I noticed an invitation for some kind of reunion in my hometown in NJ. I clicked on it just to see if I recognized any of the names going, and instead had my attention pulled to the location. The reunion was taking place at Gambino’s Inn.

Made Man Dante boxed set Liliana RhodesIf you’ve read my Made Man trilogy (Soldier, Capo, and Boss, or the boxed set Made Man Dante), you’re probably familiar with the family name Gambino…and of course you might be familiar with it for other reasons too. I’ve had several people say “I can’t believe you used the name Gambino” and they always lower their voice when they speak that name which I find pretty funny.

I used the name because when I was growing up, the Gambino name was everywhere. My family were friends with Gambinos, as were many other families in the community. Everyone knew each other. There were obviously rumors and stories, but nothing *ahem* concrete. So when I decided to write my own Mafia story, I felt I needed to use that name as a wink to the area I grew up in.

I’ve always loved Mafia stories, both fact and fiction, and one of my favorite movies is The Godfather. In the back of my mind I always had this desire to dip a toe into that world and create my own stories. Dante had been living in my head for a while, brooding like he does, but it took me a while to find the right woman for him. I mean really, who falls in love with a killer?

It seems crazy to me that its been so long, but about a year ago I was listening to Classic Rewind on SiriusXM (which I listen to all the time) and the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young” came on. The song is full of Catholic imagery which I can relate to, having been raised Catholic, but what it’s really about (in my opinion) is this guy trying to get into Virginia’s pants (“sooner or later it comes down to fate, I might as well be the one…only the good die young”).

Anyway, as I was singing along, I started thinking about the lyrics and my time in Catholic school when the next thing I knew, Gianna Carlisi, or Gia was born. (FYI–if you’ve read Made Man Dante or Capo, you might remember Ron and I can definitely see him singing that song to Gia.)

If you’re not familiar with the song, or if you just want to listen to a good, upbeat song here’s Billy Joel singing it years ago at one of his concerts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJBoHa3GArA

So that in a nutshell, is how Made Man Dante came about. If you haven’t read it yet, the links are at the top of this page. If you want to dip your toe in, grab the first part of Made Man Dante for FREE in Soldier – A Mafia Romance (Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, ARe).

Made Man Sonny by Liliana RhodesAnd keep a look out at the end of this month for Made Man Sonny. I can’t wait for you to read the love story between Sonny and Harper! Sonny is dark, damaged, and passionate. I love him!

Sonny: I killed her fiancé, but I’ll do anything to make her fall in love with me.
Harper: He’s the last person I should be thinking about, but why can’t I get him out of my mind?

This coming year I’ll be writing novels for most of the Gambino family. After Made Man Sonny, will be Made Man Toni (available Spring 2015) where we’ll see how Vic Capuzzo comes back into the Gambinos’ lives and makes it his mission to win over Toni Gambino.

Hope you had a great weekend! If you want more up to date information on what I’m up to, visit my website or Facebook page. If you want to get even closer to me and hear the inside scoop behind my books and early excerpts, join my Facebook reader group.

Take care! ❤

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The Billionaire’s Whim Bonus Chapter (His Every Whim series)

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The Billionaire's Whim, His Every Whim boxed set by Liliana Rhodes

Almost a year and a half ago I finished my billionaire romance serial His Every Whim and released the boxed set, The Billionaire’s Whim. I included a bonus chapter at the end of The Billionaire’s Whim and I made it available to all of my readers so they didn’t have to buy the boxed set if they wanted the new chapter.

Recently, I had the full His Every Whim series re-edited and when I did that, I added the bonus chapter to His True Fortune. I’m sure there are readers out there who missed it when I’ve posted the password protected bonus chapter or offered it through my newsletter, but I wanted to make sure anyone who wanted to read it had the chance.

If you would like to read the bonus chapter on your ereader, I will once again make that download available only to my newsletter subscribers. Sign up for my newsletter here and I will send a special newsletter soon for you to download The Billionaire’s Whim bonus chapter. 🙂

***SPOILER ALERT!!!*** If you have not read His True Fortune, then do not read this bonus chapter. The bonus chapter is a continuation of the ending.

Don’t read further if you don’t want to know the ending!!!

Ok, here it goes…

Bonus Chapter
Samantha and Drake’s Wedding Day

Ashley

As usual, I was running late. I could start getting ready hours before we were supposed to be somewhere and without a doubt, Xander would enter our bedroom ready to leave and find me sitting in my underwear drying my hair or putting on make-up. It was a fact of life.

This time though, I was ready. Of course it was still later than I planned, but Xander hadn’t checked in to see how late I was running so as far as he knew, I was on time. Wearing a pale blue maxi dress and a pair of flat white sandals with small leather flowers on the simple straps, I was ready to go. I felt underdressed for a wedding, but I knew better than to go against the bride’s wishes.

Samantha begged everyone to not make a big deal out of her and Drake getting married. She planned a simple, intimate wedding, and the only thing she requested was that the guests wear blue for her something blue.

As I smoothed my hair with my hands, trying to control the frizz and wondering if I should put it up instead of letting it hang at my shoulders, I heard Jacob wake up. On time as always, he napped for two solid hours and I happily ran into his room to find him batting at the octopus arms of his crib toy.

“Hey there, big guy,” I cooed as I picked him up. “Let’s get you changed and ready. It’s a big day for you today, your first wedding and your first trip to the beach!”

Wide-eyed and happy, Jacob hooted. I dressed him in a blue plaid madras short-all, then brushed his small patch of dark hair.

“Mommy wishes she could get dressed as fast as you do and look half as cute,” I said to him as I picked him up.

Carrying Jacob into the hall, I heard Xander’s voice booming out of his office. I was too far to make out the words, but it was obvious he was angry. Surprised he would take a business call so close to heading out, I stood outside his doorway to hear what was going on.

“I’m tired of this, Mother,” he said, sounding exasperated. “I don’t know what you expect. You ignored us during the entire pregnancy. Now you suddenly want to play grandmother?”

“Play grandmother? I am his grandmother!” Her voice crackled over the speakerphone. “You have no right to keep him from me.”

“Mother, you can’t just decide when you get something. The world doesn’t work like that. Plus Ashley and I are very upset with how you’ve been–”

“With how I’ve been?” She shrieked. “That wife of yours has never made me feel welcome. And I’ve done nothing but treat her like a daughter.”

“Really? So you would ignore your daughter’s pregnancy?” Xander growled at the phone. “I was probably more excited than anyone that Ashley and I were having a baby. I wanted to share this with you. You were never there. You didn’t give a damn when I shared the ultrasound images with you. You acted like it wasn’t happening until a few weeks before Ashley’s due date. And you still didn’t speak to Ashley! The entire time she was pregnant, you never once spoke to her. Is that how you’d treat your daughter?” He paused for a moment before continuing. “And what about Mother’s Day?”

“What about Mother’s Day? I told you, I didn’t send any cards.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it.”

“Fine, you want the truth?” she said, her voice growing more frantic. “I didn’t want to send Ashley a card to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. I didn’t send her or anyone else a card because I refused to send one to your wife.”

“Now that you’re telling the truth, it’s a good thing you don’t have a daughter,” he grunted at the phone as he paced the room.

“It’s her fault! She said I couldn’t come over. She made me feel unwelcome.”

“No, Mother. I said you couldn’t come over. That wasn’t her. You are disrespectful and rude, and not just to Ashley. You only think about yourself and how you can manipulate people to get your own way. Ashley didn’t make you feel unwelcome, you did that yourself.”

“But Jacob! I’m his grandmother…”

“Then you should’ve thought about how you treated his mother if you wanted to get to know him. I won’t tolerate your selfishness. And I definitely will protect my son from it if I have to.”

“But I’m your mother,” she pleaded.

“And Ashley’s my wife. I know my priorities, Mother. Maybe you need to figure out yours.”

Still standing on the other side of the doorway, shock filled me as I realized how difficult that had to be for Xander to stand up to his mother for me. When I heard his footsteps approaching, I quickly turned around as I tried to pretend I just entered the hall.

“How much did you hear?” he asked.

“Hear? What do you mean?” I said, trying my best to look innocent.

He laughed. “Your cheeks give you away. They’re beet red. You’d be awful at poker.”

Wrapping his arms around me, he bent down and kissed my forehead, the soft whiskers of his trimmed beard brushing against my skin, sending the same electric warmth I felt the day we met at the gallery.  He smiled as he looked at Jacob nestled in my arms.

“We should get going, I really don’t want to be late,” I said as I looked at Xander, suddenly aware he wasn’t in a suit. “What’s going on here?”

Xander stepped back so I could get a better look. He wore a light blue pair of slacks with matching blazer that made his eyes stand out even more. Underneath the blazer was a darker blue buttoned shirt that reminded me of the ocean. It wasn’t much different than his usual suit, but much more casual, especially since he wasn’t wearing a tie.

“Drake said no suits. I didn’t want to bother you so I asked my old assistant to order some clothing.”

“Your assistant?” I asked, suddenly jealous.

“Yes, you remember Lisette Medina. The temp who gave you the cemetery address. She’s a permanent employee now, but she’s no longer my assistant,” he said as he wrapped his arm around my waist as we went downstairs. “I could be wrong, but I believe Lisette has caught Simon’s eye.”

“The new financier you’ve been working with?”

“Yes, you should see how he looks at her. I’m sure it’s the same look I get whenever I look at you,” he said as his hand slid over my butt.

“Stop!” I jumped. “Ugh, it’s so big. And it’s gotten even bigger.”

“Ashley, please.” He turned me to face him and lifted my chin as his ice-blue eyes looked deep into mine. “You’re gorgeous. Stunning. I wish you saw yourself the way I see you. You get more beautiful everyday. Besides,” he said as his hand slipped down my back again, “I like having something to squeeze.”

My cheeks burned as I giggled. Xander had a way of making me feel like the most gorgeous woman in the world. He didn’t give me grief because I couldn’t lose weight. Instead, he tried convincing me I was perfect. I wondered how I ever got so lucky.

***

The drive through the canyon to the beach was always one of my favorites. As Xander steered his newest toy, a Masarati Quattroporte in a deep plum that he chose because I loved the color, I looked out at the passing landscape. The wildflowers and greenery on the nearby sloping hills were beautiful. In the distance, the mountains looked purple against the bright sky.

My ringing cell phone brought me back and I quickly pulled it out of my purse, hoping the sudden noise didn’t wake Jacob, who was peacefully sleeping in his car seat.

“Hello?” I said as I answered the phone.

“Hey gorgeous, it’s Joshua.”

“Yeah right, you’re such a kiss ass! You must want something,” I teased. “I’m glad you called, I’ve been wanting to ask you a favor. A friend of mine is graduating with her degree in fashion design. I was wondering if you could help her out.”

“Of course, any friend of yours is a friend of mine. Plus I could use an assistant. Why don’t you bring her by the shop so I can meet her?”

“Hmm. Well, I was planning to surprise her at her graduation next week. Maybe we can come by afterwards.”

“Fabulous! I have a couple of things I want you to try on while you’re here. See you then, darling!”

As I hung up, I saw the ocean peeking out between the houses as we drove down Beach Boulevard. Samantha didn’t want a big wedding or anything elaborate so she decided to get married at their home on the beach.

“Is Drake planning on buying a new place after the baby comes?” I asked Xander.

“He hasn’t mentioned anything. You know how he is. He loves that beach house. You’d never know he was a billionaire by the looks of the place though.”

“It doesn’t surprise me. And it is big enough for the three of them. I think you sometimes forget how much these places right on the beach cost. Us normal people can only dream of living in a place like that.”

“You, my love, could never be normal. You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.”

I looked down at my hands on my lap and couldn’t help but smile. Xander always made me feel special, even when I felt like I wasn’t. He placed his warm hand over mine as he parked the car in Drake’s driveway, and my heart skipped a beat. Every day with Xander was like living a dream.

Walking through a tall rust-colored iron gate at the side of the house, we followed the flower-lined walkway towards the beach. The weather was perfect with a cloudless sky. Drake greeted everyone as he stood on the flagstone patio.

He looked happier than I’d ever seen him. With his dark blond hair swept back from his face, his unbleached linen pants and matching untucked button-down shirt, Drake was the embodiment of beach casual. Between him and the ocean was a floral canopy with long chains of white orchids dangling down and swaying in the ocean breeze.

“Oh, there’s Jackie,” I said to Xander as I spotted my old friend slipping into the house through the oversized sliding glass door. “I’m going to catch up with her. I told you she’s the maid of honor, right?”

“Yes, you did. It’s surprising what a small world we live in. You go ahead, and I’ll take Jacob to say hello to his Uncle Drake,” he said before gently kissing my lips.

The living room had been transformed into the bride’s waiting area. Layers of sheer fabric covered the wall of glass that separated the home from the beach, giving the room a dreamy feel.

Samantha sat on the sectional with her bare feet elevated. She looked beautiful and relaxed. Gone was the angry confused girl I met before, replaced by a mellow, serene woman who absolutely radiated happiness.

I caught up to Jackie, who wore a blue and white silk ombré handkerchief dress as she brought a glass of ice water to Samantha.

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. I never saw that coming,” she joked. “Do either of you have any idea what it’s like to watch your two closest friends get married when I can’t even get a date?”

“I don’t know, Jackie. You want us to think you’re joking around, but you know what they say–there’s truth in jest,” I said as I teased her.

“Come on you guys, there has to be someone you can set me up with. I’m really okay with it if he’s only a millionaire,” she said before finally cracking up and laughing.

“You think I didn’t think about that already?” Samantha asked as she grinned. “Give me some credit. Have you met the best man yet?”

“Really? Just for me? It’s about time!”

Jackie laughed as she sat next to Samantha, who wore a simple white sleeveless, empire waist cotton sundress with hand-stitched embroidery that draped around her pregnant belly. Her red curls hung loosely under a crown of flowers.

“I’m so glad you could make it, Ashley. If it wasn’t for your wedding, Drake and I would’ve never reconnected after all those years. Sometimes I can’t believe it. I mean he was my schoolgirl crush, and now we’re getting married,” Samantha said.

“You have to excuse my daughter,” Samantha’s mother said as she left the kitchen. “I think all those pregnancy hormones have affected her brain,” she said with a sly grin. “I’m Krista, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Krista was the spitting image of Samantha, except for a large swatch of grey hair that framed her face. They even had the same sense of humor. As Krista walked behind Samantha, Sam stuck her tongue out at her. Krista laughed then gently patted her daughter’s shoulder and kissed her cheek. Sam held her hand on her shoulder and looked up at her, smiling. For a brief moment, I thought about my own mother and how I never had those moments.

“Don’t tell me you’re crying!” Samantha said to me as her face slowly crumbled. “You’re going to make me cry.”

“Oh no, I’m so sorry. I’m not crying. I just…I got something in my eye. You know the beach, and the sand…” I forced a smile at everyone but knew they didn’t believe me.

“Please don’t cry. You’ll make me think, and I’ll realize I’m a seven-month pregnant woman getting married! How ridiculous is that? I look like a giant beach ball! I’m as big as a house!”

“Oh no! You look beautiful. Seriously, you’re glowing. You look so happy and Drake, geez, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him happier.”

“Really? You saw him?”

“Yes, when we got here. He’s greeting everyone.”

“I wish I could talk to him. I just…you know the old superstition, I can’t see him,” Samantha said.

“You can’t see him, but you can talk to him. Give me two minutes. I have an idea,” I said as I got up and made my way outside.

A few more people had arrived, making it more difficult for me to find Drake. There were about fifty of their closest family and friends, all dressed in different shades of blue. Through the crowd, I caught a glimpse of a light sand material and knew it had to be him.

“Ashley!” Drake greeted me with a warm smile before kissing my cheek and hugging me tightly. “You look lovely as usual.”

“Come with me,” I said as I grabbed his hand. “Your fiancée misses you.”

“But she doesn’t want to see me. I was given strict orders–”

“You won’t see her, trust me.”

Steering Drake towards his house, I brought him to the kitchen door, which also faced the beach but was further away from the drawn curtains that covered the large sliding doors of the living room. I grabbed a folding chair and set it to the side of the door, with its back against the wall, then grabbed another one and did the same thing inside. The chairs were back to back with the wall separating them.

“Sit here and whatever you do, do not turn around,” I instructed.

Once he was seated outside the kitchen, I went back to the living room where Sam was beginning to look a little nervous.

“Come with me, I have Drake,” I said.

“But I can’t. We can’t see each other, it’s bad luck.”

Without a word, I grabbed her hand and helped her up. She followed me into the kitchen and stopped when she saw the back of Drake’s shoulder peeking through the doorway. She sat in the chair behind his and their hands seemed to find each other through the open doorway like magnets.

I desperately wanted to give them their privacy. I left the kitchen but couldn’t help myself, I was dying to know why Samantha was suddenly nervous. Was it just cold feet? Or something more? I had to listen.

“You’re having second thoughts again, aren’t you?” Drake asked.

She sighed. “You know I love you with all my heart. It’s just that getting married like this, while I’m pregnant, isn’t ideal.”

“But it was your idea. You wanted to get married before the baby came.”

“I know,” she said softly. “And I still want that, I just…I don’t know. I’m so confused, Drake. I mean everything is perfect, it’s just like I planned, but it’s not.”

“Do you still want to get married? Has something changed?” I could hear fear in his voice as he spoke to her.

“More than anything. Nothing’s changed. I want to be with you forever. I guess this just isn’t exactly what I dreamed about when I was younger. I know it’s silly.”

“No, it’s not silly. You deserve to get everything you ever dreamed of,” he said before becoming quiet for a minute. “You know, this doesn’t have to be our only wedding. We can do this again after Elsa’s born. We can get married as many times as you’d like. I’ll do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true.”

“Oh, I’d love that! That’s a great idea,” she said.

I peeked over at them and saw Sam smiling and relaxed once again. Just as I re-entered the kitchen, Drake spoke again.

“Sam, turn away from the doorway and close your eyes.”

“Okay…” she said hesitantly as she turned towards me.

Drake turned, eyes closed but still holding her hand, and kissed her palm then the inside of her wrist before standing up.

“I love you, Samantha Mayfair. And I can’t wait to call you my wife.”

As he left, Sam opened her eyes as her skin flushed and she bit her lip, smiling.

“Thank you, Ashley. Everything’s going to be perfect.”

As she stood up, Jackie entered the kitchen with a large bouquet of red and yellow Gerbera daisies she handed to Sam.

“It’s time,” Jackie said before hugging Sam and quickly fixing her red hair so she looked perfect.

Slipping out the kitchen door, I found Xander bouncing Jacob to sleep in his arms, an empty bottle on the table beside him. We joined everyone at the white wooden chairs set up in front of the orchid canopy.

Drake stood in the sand, in front of the canopy with his best man–a strikingly handsome man with the same dirty blond hair and warm brown eyes. He looked a lot like Drake. Even their strong jawline was similar, except the man looked younger and had a chin dimple. There was also something in his look Drake didn’t have, a mischievousness I was curious about. I leaned into Xander, and he somehow read my mind like he so often did.

“That’s Brent Winslow, Drake’s younger brother,” he whispered to me.

I immediately remembered Jackie’s joking comment and Samantha’s response and wondered if she really was trying to set our friend up. I hoped so, for Jackie’s sake. She used to tell me she didn’t have time for a boyfriend, but I thought deep down there was more there than she cared to admit.

A trio of violins began playing Here Comes The Bride, and everyone stood. Looking at Drake, I watched the biggest smile spread across his face. I followed his gaze to Samantha as she began walking down the aisle. Her green eyes sparkled, and it was obvious she and Drake were in their own little world.

My eyes filled with tears again, but they were tears of happiness and joy this time. Xander wrapped his arm around my waist and held me against his strong body as Samantha made her way to Drake.

“Are you okay?” he whispered softly in my ear.

I nodded, at first a little overcome with emotion before I looked up into his loving ice-blue eyes and touched the soft chubby cheek of our son.

As Samantha reached the canopy, she and Drake held hands once again. The preacher smiled at them both before looking out at the small crowd.

“We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Drake and Samantha.”

The sun began setting into the ocean behind the canopy. The sky had streaks of blue and orange, and that reminded me of the sunrise I watched that morning with my family. It was a picture-perfect moment made all the better by watching our friends declare their love for each other.

The End

Thanks so much for reading and for visiting my blog! For more up to date news “like” my Facebook Page or visit my website. ❤ 

New Release! WOLF AT HER DOOR plus more on sale!

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Wolf at Her Door by Liliana RhodesMy new book Wolf at Her Door is now available! 

I’m really excited to share Wolf at Her Door with you. I’ve had this idea in my head for a really long time so it’s pretty crazy to me to think that it’s actually come to life.

You see, years ago I saw the movie Highlander starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. In it, Lambert’s character is immortal but falls in love with a human. Well of course she dies and it’s simply the saddest thing with the help of a wonderful song by Queen (Who Wants to Live Forever…click that link to see clips from Highlander with grrrr Sean Connery and listen to the song). But what I always thought was if he was immortal, then why couldn’t she come back to life?

Because I love Highlander so much, when I decided to write Wolf at Her Door I had to make it start in the Highlands. Plus…I have to admit it…I really wanted an excuse to think about Sean Connery’s sexy voice A LOT! So I started with the story of Bran and Ainsley. But I didn’t want Bran to just be any old immortal, in my mind he had to be a wolf shifter.

The Highlander’s Mate, which was exclusively in the Highland Shifters boxed set, The Highlander's Mate by Liliana Rhodesintroduced the curse of the MacCulloch clan and Bran and Ainsley. Wolf at Her Door is the continuation of The Highlander’s Mate and introduces Callen and Heather. Callen is an immortal wolf shifter who falls in love with Heather, a human. The catch is that after she dies Callen knows she will come back to life. He waits decades for her to come to life again, but each time she does she has no memory of him; Callen has to make her fall in love with him over and over again.

The Highlander’s Mate is included in Wolf at Her Door. Wolf at Her Door is on sale for 99 cents until Monday.

If you’ve read my series, The Crane Curse, you’re familiar with Leeds Point. Wolf at her Door takes place there and we see some characters you’ll recognize like Pinky, Faith, and Hannah.

If you haven’t read that series, now is the time! Each part of The Crane Curse trilogy is now on sale. Charming the Alpha, Resisting the Alpha, and Needing the Alpha are each only 99 cents through Monday!

I hope you’re having a great weekend! 🙂

Wolf at Her Door
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Charming the Alpha, Crane Curse #1
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Resisting the Alpha, Crane Curse #2
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Needing the Alpha, Crane Curse #3
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The Crane Curse trilogy by Liliana Rhodes

Read the first chapter from The Highlander’s Mate available only in the Highland Shifters 12-Author boxed set

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shifter romance by Liliana RhodesHighland Shifters 3D Liliana Rhodes

The Highland Shifters is now on sale for only 99 cents!
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Check out the Highland Shifters giveaway!

The Highland Shifters boxed set is made up of almost entirely never before released stories, including mine! My story is The Highlander’s Mate and it is a prequel to Wolf at Her Door.

Wolf at Her Door will be released on October 17th and is available for PREORDER now for only 99 cents at
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About The Highlander’s Mate – A Prequel to Wolf at Her Door
The Highlander’s Mate by Liliana Rhodes: Centuries after an ancient curse on his clan tore werewolf Bran MacCulloch away from his mate Ainsley Drummond, he catches her scent on the breeze. But how can it be her?

Continue reading for the first chapter of The Highlander’s Mate

The Highlander's Mate by Liliana Rhodes

Prologue

Ainsley

I remembered everything as if it just happened yesterday. Only it wasn’t so recent, it was a long time ago. Time didn’t change how I felt or the pain that coursed through my chest whenever I thought of him…Bran. He was the love of my life, the one who made me feel things I never thought possible, but I had to leave him. It was the hardest decision I had ever made, one I might not have chosen if I realized how long forever would feel without him.

Chapter One

Bran

Where the hell was I? Turning off the road, I noticed a sign that said Leeds Point. I was in New Jersey, a state I had been to a couple of times before and had never thought I would return to again.

This time was different though. I caught her scent and I had to follow it. I didn’t have a choice. I would follow that scent wherever it led me. It had been over four hundred years since I first caught her scent. How could she still be alive?

The road was dark with only a few street lamps guiding me. I didn’t know where I was headed, but in the distance I saw a green neon sign for a bar called Night Shift. Did people accept shifters in this strange town? Or was that name just a coincidence?

As I steered the car towards the rickety old wooden building, I knew the answer–the air was filled with shifters. Breathing in deeply, I tried to catch her scent, but it wasn’t there. If I were patient, it would come back to me. It had to.

Everything around the building looked worn down and deserted. Why would any shifter or even human come here? I knew the bar was a dive before I even stepped out of my car. But for some unexplainable reason, I felt that was where I needed to be.

Wearing jeans and a polo shirt, I knew I would fit in with the crowd. It was a habit I cultivated a long time ago. Someone like me didn’t want to stand out in the crowd. Blending in was safer. Not that I was afraid of anything, I just didn’t want to attract attention to myself.

Walking past the large man at the door, I sensed he was a manatee shifter. I always recognized what each shifter was. I had been around for too long to not recognize the subtleties. The place only had a few tables in one corner by the bar. There were some shifters shooting pool, another looking through the selections at the jukebox, an alpha grizzly behind the bar, and a wolf by a pinball machine talking to a brunette human and her friend. They were wearing skirts that were too short for their own good. He was going to cause trouble before the night was through.

I stepped up to the bar and stood between two stools. No point in getting too comfortable yet, I thought. The bear nodded at me as he walked over. He was a tanned, muscular man with kind eyes and the scent of a human on him. A couple of women at the end of the bar were talking about him. I closed my eyes briefly to listen.

“Rafael is so hot,” a woman with blonde highlights said to her friend. “I don’t know what he sees in that weirdo Pinky Smythe.”

“Come on sweetie, I promise I’ll bring you back to your friend later. Let’s go for a ride,” the wolf by the pinball machine said.

“My name isn’t sweetie, it’s Suzy,” the human he was talking to said.

Turning to look over at the wolf, I could see him becoming more aggressive. He was pushing himself closer to her even though she was pulling away. Her hands were on his chest as she tried to keep him at a distance, but he didn’t realize any of it. He was too tuned into her humanness to notice the fear in her eyes. I knew men like that. It didn’t matter if they were human or shifter, they were always wrong.

“What can I get you?” Rafael asked.

“Whatever’s on tap,” I said without looking at him, feeling the amber glow of my eyes.

Pushing my dark, chin-length wavy hair back, I left the bar and walked towards the pinball machine. The fur was already beginning to sprout along my neck and arms, but I wouldn’t make a full shift to wolf. I only wanted its strength.

No one else in the bar could hear what was going on between the wolf and Suzy. These shifters weren’t like me or any of my clan. Most shifters weren’t like us. Focusing my attention on the wolf, I listened in again.

“Let’s go honey, I’m tired of this game you’re playing. I know you want it.”

The wolf grabbed Suzy by her arm and she tried to yank it away, but it was useless.

“Let her go!” her friend said as she pushed at the wolf.

With his free arm, he swatted the friend away like she was a bug, his eyes glowing amber. She stumbled onto a nearby table, which tipped over and landed on the floor. I had seen enough.

The wolf turned towards the door, dragging Suzy with him. Just as she screamed, I put my hand on his shoulder, turned him towards me, and let my fist meet his face. I never hit a man who didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t the way of a Highlander.

He let go of the human, and she ran to her friend as Rafael leapt over the bar and stood between the wolf and the women. The wolf threw a punch at me, but he was too slow and I easily stepped aside then grabbed him by the back of his neck as he lost his balance.

The manatee at the door entered the room. With one hand, I held the wolf shifter by the back of his neck and tossed him towards the door. If he wanted to act like trash, he deserved to be treated as such.

As I made my way back to the bar, the few people around stepped out of my way, their eyes wide. Whether human or shifter, I was used to that look from others whenever I displayed my strength.

Rafael brought Suzy and her friend to the bar and gave them a couple of drinks. Then he tilted a frozen mug under the tap as he filled it and placed it on the bar in front of me.

“That’s on the house,” he said.

“No, I’m a paying customer,” I said.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“What gave me away, lad?” I said jokingly.

“You’re not the only one with an accent, you know,” he said, letting his New Orleans roots shine through.

“Our voices will always tell our tale,” I said with a grin.

It didn’t matter how long I had been away from Scotland, it never left my voice.

Suzy slid over a few stools with her friend close behind and sat beside me. They were both tempting with full cherry-glossed lips, but I knew why that wolf chose Suzy over her friend.

While humans thought of Suzy as fat, shifters saw her as curvy and luscious. Her scent called to my own wolf spirit to play, but hers wasn’t the scent I longed for.

“Thank you for helping me,” she said with a shy smile. “I’m Suzy, and this is my friend Michelle. Wow, look at your eyes. Are they grey? You know, you’re my hero. Who knows what would’ve happened if you hadn’t come along.”

“I know what would have happened, Suzy,” I said. “You and your friend should know better than to come to a shifter bar at night. Just like humans, not every shifter is as honorable as they should be.”

She looked down, embarrassed, and I felt bad for talking to her like that. I couldn’t help but treat her like a child. She was a child. But in comparison to me, they all were.

***

After a couple of hours, the bar emptied. The bouncer came in and sat down with his feet up on a table, his chair leaning back unsteadily against the wall. Rafael took glasses out of the dishwasher under the bar and dried them with a rag. I continued to nurse my beer.

“If you don’t mind my asking,” Rafael said with a tilt of his head, “what are you? I’m sensing you’re a shifter, but there’s something else. I’m Rafael LeCroix by the way, grizzly alpha.”

I admired his courage and gave him a smile. Most men wouldn’t ask me a question like that. Most men didn’t speak to me.

“Nice to meet you, Rafael. I’m Bran MacCulloch. Aye, I am a shifter. A wolf shifter to be exact, just as the rest of my clan are. The something else, I can’t really explain. It doesn’t have a name, but I was born in the 1500s in Scotland.”

“You’re…immortal?” he asked, his eyes growing wider.

“Yes, all of Clan MacCulloch is, unfortunately. I’ve spent the last four hundred years wandering after losing my love, my mate. Every so often, I catch what I believe is her scent. That’s why I’m here now. I’m sure I’m going mad because she died a long time ago, but I had to follow it anyway.”

“You’re hoping you’re wrong and she’s still alive,” he said.

I smiled and rubbed my stubbly chin as I admired how perceptive he was.

“Yes, I’m hoping to find her. Or even some news of her. Looking back, it was the hope that she might be alive that kept me going. Since the day I first caught her scent and saw her hair being whipped around by the wind, I knew she was the one for me.”

“You look like you’re in the mood to talk,” he said.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to anyone. I don’t usually bother, but there’s something about you, Rafael. Maybe it’s just having her scent in my lungs that’s making me do it, but I can’t help but reminisce.”

“Well, the bar is closed so you’ve got all night,” he said, smiling.

“I’ve wandered a lot these many years and I’ve learned how to change my language and appearance to fit in. I’ve never told anyone my story before, but for your benefit, I will tell it to you in your modern English.”

“Thank you,” he said, pulling up a stool and taking a seat. “I’d be honored to hear it.”

I gave him a nod, appreciating the respect of someone so young. It was something I didn’t often find these days.

“My story starts a very long time ago in a magical place, the Highlands, my home…”

Thanks for reading the excerpt for The Highlander’s Mate! I hope you enjoyed meeting Bran. Right now this story is only available in the Highland Shifters boxed set, but it will be included in Wolf at Her Door.

Visit my website at www.LilianaRhodes.com to see all my upcoming releases!

99 CENTS Highland Shifters 12-Author Boxed Set. Are you ready to peek under the plaid?

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Highland Shifters Liliana Rhodes

I’m so excited to tell you about Highland Shifters! It’s a 12 author set I’m part of. My story is The Highlander’s Mate, the prequel to Wolf at her Door. I’ll post the first chapter of The Highlander’s Mate tomorrow, but in the meantime check out Highland Shifters for only 99 cents!

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Highland Shifters 3D Liliana Rhodes

Find out what’s under that kilt in this collection of steamy shapeshifter romances! NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors such as Selena Kitt, Michelle Fox, Tabitha Conall, Adriana Hunter and Liliana Rhodes offer stories featuring hot alpha shifters in kilts. Most of the 12 stories in the collection are brand new!

Are you ready to peek under the plaid?
Her Scottish Alpha by Tabitha Conall: In the midst of trying to figure out their mating, Alpha werewolf Lachlan and dragon slayer Keira have to find Keira’s missing sister, fight a war and save Lachlan’s life.

Liulf by Victoria Danann: For two thousand years the Scotia werewolves have enjoyed the protection of the Fae Monarchy, but the world is changing and the tribe must adapt or face extinction. Or move.

Highland Wolf Pact by Selena Kitt: Englishwoman Sibyl Blackthorne escapes her arranged marriage to a cruel Scot only to find herself in the arms of something even more dangerous – and discovers only one wild heart can claim another.

Kiss the Dragon by Michelle Fox: A cursed dragon finds his maiden is already claimed by the future. If he can’t save her, she can’t save him.

By the Light of the Scottish Moon by Red Phoenix: Bryn, the pack leader, is so lost in his own pain he can’t see beyond it. Freya is dying & has come home to Scotland.to say goodbye. Her fate lies in his hands – but to save her he must kill her.

The Highlander’s Mate by Liliana Rhodes: Centuries after an ancient curse on his clan tore werewolf Bran MacCulloch away from his mate Ainsley Drummond, he catches her scent on the breeze. But how can it be her?

Highland Moon Rising by Sarah Makela: When wereleopard Caitlyn returns home to see her werewolf half-brother after he’s rescued from scientists, she’s imprisoned by the Pack. Will the Alpha who hungers for her be the protector she needs?

Knights of Stone by Lisa Carlisle: Gargoyles, tree witches, and shifters have divided their Scottish isle. When a witch breaches into another territory, she’s tempted by a forbidden attraction that may affect the future for all.

The Zrakon’s Curse by Linda Barlow: Sea dragon shifter Colin Malloch’s need for a mate draws a woman from another world into grave danger. How can he keep her safe when his own brother demands her life?

To Tame a Highlander by Adriana Hunter: Curvy nurse Aspyn Montgomery’s night takes a sudden turn when a patient she watched die suddenly turns up at her apartment desperately needing help. Can fated love triumph over the threat of war?

Roots and Fang by Skye Eagleday & Ripley Sage: When McKay takes a male Fae lover it triggers the deadly jealousy of the powerful Pooka shape-shifter the Fae abandoned. Can love conquer all when only one of you is human?

Midnight Hunt by Arial Burnz: As Broderick unravels the mystery of why Monika reminds him of his late wife, his quest for answers causes a chain of events, starting a witch hunt, dooming them both to the fiery stake of judgment.