Author: Eden Butler
Series: Thin Love #2
Release Date: August 31, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Purchase: Amazon UK
He doesn’t ask their names.
He doesn’t deserve to know them.
Ransom Riley Hale's friends think his life is charmed: first string as a freshman on a championship-winning college football team. A father with two Super Bowl rings. A mother with platinum albums and multiple Grammies under her belt. But that brilliant shine on the surface hides the darkness beneath; it's all Ransom has ever known.
Despite the shadows he walked in, once there was a blinding light fracturing the darkness. It brought the promise of hope and happiness. He’d been careless, filled with pride and stupidity and lost that light. Ripped it from the world.
Now, the shadows are dimming again. Aly King surges into his life threatening to pull him from the darkness. She is everything Ransom can never be again. Her light feels too warm, promises him that there is more waiting for him beyond the shadows.
But the shadows are relentless, resurfacing when he thinks he is safe, and Ransom knows he must keep Aly from them too before he pulls her down into the darkness with him.
Title: Thick Love (Thin Love, #2)
Author: Eden Butler
Genre: NA | Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2015
February, 2014 New Orleans
Everything I owned had fit into a twenty year old avocado green suitcase with a pink and white striped ribbon along the front. Six bucks at the thrift store on Camp Street, and I had something that would take me from my father’s tiny cottage in Tremé to the loft above the dance studio where I worked part time.
I carried two pictures in that small suitcase, slipped in between a manila folder and the few twenty dollar bills I had to my name. One of them was of my mother when she was eighteen, beautiful and full of the belief that her love for my father would silence any argument her family had about “taking up with the wrong kind of man.” She had died six months after that picture was taken.
The other was a Polaroid of me at six sitting on my grann’s lap at Café Du Monde. There was powdered sugar on my Tweety Bird tank top and my hair was held tight in pigtail braids. Grann died two years later, leaving me alone with a father who blamed me for both their deaths.
In my heart, those two women had been the only family I’d ever need. The photographs had been stashed in the kitchen junk drawer; my father would not miss them.
Seventeen and scared that my father had plans to marry me off, I’d done the only thing I could think of—I up and left without telling him. Rather than living with my high school friends in the Quarter—he would have expected that—I paid nightly for a dirty room at the Motel 6 on Old Gentilly Road and ate Dollar General brand Fruit Loops at night because they were cheap. But my boss could read the lies that lurked behind my excuses, and the tears that seemed to come so easily. When she figured out I had left home, she offered me the vacant loft above the dance studio. For now.
So there I was, with my pathetic green suitcase, looking around the loft, wondering if I’d be able to sweet talk my boss’s son, Tristian, into taking me du mpster diving to find a sofa, when a car horn sounded outside. At the familiar sound of it, the small inkling of ease I’d felt for the three days I’d been free from him started to die. That horn turned my insides cold.
Two more loud shrieks on that horn and I stepped out onto the landing, staring down the stairs at my father in his refinery work shirt. He stood next to the ’79 Chevy truck with peeling blue paint and rust on the underside of the bed. When I didn’t move, when his silent finger pointing at the empty space next to him in the parking lot went ignored, he laid on that horn again.
“Me zanmi, Papa! Enough,” I said, coming down the stairs. “They’ll call the police.” The area wasn’t residential, but there were small, upscale offices that kept late hours and a few of the accountants the next lot over had complained about the music and teenage girls’ squeals from the studio just a few weeks before.
“Dous, cheri, you come with me. I have no dinner, two days now.”
“Don’t you ‘sweet’ me, Papa.”
My father’s lip curled and he made a loud noise in the back of his throat that sounded like a grunt. “Petit se pa manti non!”
I didn’t care if he wasn’t lying. I only knew that I had left his home and there was no way in hell I would ever go back.
“Learn to feed yourself. I’m staying.”
My father was not a large man. But his slight stature hid the muscle beneath ill-fitting clothes. I knew the arm he flexed as he stepped toward me was corded and strong. I knew the grip of his hand, how tight he could hold on to someone when he was angry—and he was always angry.
Yet Papa wouldn’t touch me, I knew. He’d never needed a slap or punch to keep me afraid of him. He had never so much as spanked me. The fear I always felt in his presence came from that low, burning glare in his eyes and the tight, disgusted twist on his lips. His words were worse than any slap, and left deeper marks.
Now he approached me, frowning, angry, his expression lethal and threatening. “Ou ban m manti,” he said, stepping so close that I could just make out the heavy bags under his eyes, as though he had not slept in days. His complexion wasn’t its normal light brown, but flushed and splotchy.
He was right. I had lied to him. Telling him I had a dance retreat for work was the only way to keep him from following me when I left. “Yes, I did, Papa. And I don’t feel bad about it.”
And then, for the first time I could remember, my father reached out and grabbed ahold of me. The tight clamp of his long fingers on my bicep hurt. “Ungrateful, disrespectful…”
“Is there a problem?” A voice came from behind me and I cursed under my breath as Ransom approached, glancing between my father’s hold on my arm and his stubborn, suspicious expression. “You need to let her go,” he said, still with the same smile he’d worn when I met him earlier today.
No, that was wrong, it wasn’t the same smile. This smile wasn’t happy. There was nothing welcoming in it. This smile was a threat, one that my father seemed to understand. He dropped my arm, but didn’t step back from me.
Ransom’s gaze was still directed at Papa, but he tilted his head toward me. “You alright, sweetheart?”
Before I could respond, Papa clicked his tongue to the roof of his mouth, disgusted once again. “Modi, tifi, this your man?” Papa looked Ransom over, seeming to find nothing to approve of in once glance. His mouth tightened further and then he shook his head. “He’s a boy.”
Ransom was a boy, only sixteen, but he still towered over my father. “He is not my man,” I told papa, wishing the earth would open up so I could jump inside it. From the moment I had met him that morning, I hadn’t been able to stop marveling at beautiful, massive Ransom. No, he wasn’t mine, but I kind of wished he was. Still, my papa didn’t need to know that. Oh, he wanted me to have a man—but one that he chose, one that was thirty-five years old and mean as the devil. That was the reason I left his home—the main one, at least. “Besides, it’s none of your business.”
“I will call the law,” Papa said, moving forward as though his words weren’t enough of a threat.
“Call them, I don’t care,” I flung back at him, and surged forward to match his threat, forcing Ransom to step between us. “They’re not going to make me go back with you. Besides, I’ll tell them where your weed is and then what will you do?”
Papa released a colorful list of foul words in Creole and tried moving around Ransom to get at me, but Ransom held him back with that massive palm pressed against my father’s chest. “You need to leave,” he told Papa. His smile had vanished. “Right now.”
“She’s my daughter,” my father spat out.
Ransom glanced at me over his shoulder. “You want him gone?” I nodded and he focused back on Papa. “She wants you gone. This is private property. You need to leave.”
The low Creole cursing continued and my father only backed away when Ransom stood fully in front of me. For a second everything froze, and despite the tension in the air I caught the rich, soothing hint of Ransom’s cologne and the spicy, delicious smell of his skin. It made me thirsty. It made me hungry.
Then, Ransom stumbled into me as Papa pushed him, but he recovered faster than I ever would have thought, grabbing my father’s arm, twisting the older man around to pin his wrist against his back and his chest cemented to the driver’s door of that old Chevy. I was amazed with how swiftly Ransom had moved—and how his protectiveness made a warmth work inside my chest. It was ridiculous to want someone you just met, but I could not deny what I was feeling.
Papa jerked away from Ransom’s hold, calling him names that would probably piss Ransom off if he knew their meaning, but he just stood there without moving, waiting until the older man finally calmed down. Then he jerked Papa back, opened the truck door and shoved my father inside the cab. One hand braced on the roof, he leaned in towards my glowering father and snarled, “Leave. Now. And don’t think of coming back. If I have to, I’ll give the cops a head’s up, give them your plate number, tell them you’re trolling around a place where little girls take dance class.”
Papa ignored Ransom and slammed the door shut, but I knew he wanted the last word. He always did. He looked past Ransom and fixed his furious eyes on me. “You’re a stupid little whore, tifi and will starve unless you spread your legs.”
Ransom grabbed his collar, pulling him nearly out of the open window. “That’s enough, asshole. I don’t care if you are her father. You don’t get to talk to her like that. Ever.”
We both stepped back as Papa spun out of the parking lot and I didn’t pull my hands away from my mouth until I saw his taillights disappear two stop signs away.
“Hey,” Ransom said, touching my shoulder. “You alright?”
“I…yeah. I, thank you. You didn’t have to do that.”
“I don’t like bullies,” he said, glancing down the road. “I especially don’t like bullies who try to shove their weight around defenseless women.” When I cocked my eyebrow at him, he laughed. Back again was that warm smile, the one he meant and the return of the sweet boy I’d met that morning. “Not that you probably couldn’t have held your own. I told you earlier, you’ve got that bad ass vibe. I meant that.”
Love isn’t supposed to be an addiction. It isn’t supposed to leave you bleeding.
Kona pushed, Keira pulled, and in their wake, they left behind destruction.
She sacrificed everything for him.
It wasn’t enough.
But the wounds of the past can never be completely forgotten and still the flame remains, slumbers between the pleasure of yesterday and the thought of what might have been.
Now, sixteen years later, Keira returns home to bury the mother who betrayed her, just as Kona tries to hold onto what remains of his NFL career with the New Orleans Steamers. Across the crowded bustle of a busy French Market, their paths collide, conjuring forgotten memories of a consuming touch, skin on skin, and the still smoldering fire that begs to be rekindled.
When Kona realizes the trifecta of betrayal—his, Keira’s and those lies told to keep them apart—his life is irrevocably changed and he once again takes Keira down with him into the fire that threatens to ignite them both.
Keira Riley was the girl Kona Hale loved first, the woman he wants to love last. They’ve battled addiction, forgiven betrayal and healed from heartache, coming through it all bruised but hopeful that their future will be limitless.
Kona Hale was a blinding flame that Keira Riley gladly burned inside—his touch, his kiss, his overwhelming love, all made her dizzy, desperate and desired, made her believe in a love worth bleeding for, a love that ignites the heart with an unquenchable flame. But when you fall in love with an NFL darling who can’t seem to let go of the spotlight, sometimes even that flame can be gutted by the buffeting winds of opportunity, can be lost behind the brilliant flash of fame.
As Keira and Kona get caught up in plans for an extravagant march down the aisle, the hard won sanctuary they’ve found in each other’s arms begins to erode. Will they be able to see through all the beckoning glitz and glamour to what they have worked so hard to build together, or will their love be lost in the spotlight?