Beneath the Scars

By: Cherise Sinclair

About Beneath the Scars


Masters of the Shadowlands: 13

Another great addition in one of my all time favorite series!! A scar can be left on the skin or on the soul from wounds inflicted. This story takes us on a journey of a man who bares his on the outside and a woman who wears hers on the inside.

~ SNS Reviews

Josie doesn’t need any help raising her son.

Pregnant at sixteen, Josie learned the hard way about men and their empty promises. She picked herself up and is raising her eleven-year-old son. By herself. And that’s the way she intends it to stay. Unfortunately, her impressionable boy becomes fascinated by the scruffy, intimidating biker who lives next door.

The scars on Holt’s face are only the most visible of his wounds.

Out of the hospital after being attacked in his own damn house, Holt is coming to terms with the fact that his scars frighten people. Like his now-ex-girlfriend who ran after one look at him. Like his redheaded neighbor who hauled her boy away as if Holt was a serial killer. Fine. He’ll give the pretty bartender all the space she wants.

The Shadowlands will bring them together…

When Josie starts bartending in the exclusive, private club, she discovers her neighbor is a member. And a Master—a skilled powerful Dom who can make her fantasies come true. Slowly, the firefighter breaks down the walls around her heart, teaching her how to trust. How to love…

But when her son’s choices lead to disaster, can their relationship survive?





Acknowledgments





So many hugs go to Bianca Sommerland, Monette Michaels, and Fiona Archer for being the best crit partners ever. Love you guys.

Thanks to Ruth Reid, Barb Jack, Lisa White, and Marian Shulman for beta reading the manuscript—and making me laugh at my bloopers and your comments. Y’all are amazing.

A big shout-out goes to Red Quill Editing’s editors for their meticulous work in making this book the best it can be.

My Shadowkittens—oh, what can I say? Thanks to you all for demanding Master Holt’s story and for all the inspiration, ideas, hot pictures, serious conversations, and laugh-out-loud fun. And hugs and kisses to Lisa Simo-Kinzer, the most tactful person I’ve ever met.

For Autumn: Master Z says thank you for the Cops ‘n’ Robbers theme.

A big hug—and much sympathy—to Leagh Christensen for trying to ride herd on a group of kittehs. You rock, girl!

Finally, if you’ve enjoyed the recent Shadowlands T-shirts, the credit goes to Niki Ellis for her brilliant designs. Muah!





Author’s Note





To my readers,

The books I write are fiction, not reality, and as in most romantic fiction, the romance is compressed into a very, very short time period.

You, my darlings, live in the real world, and I want you to take a little more time in your relationships. Good Doms don’t grow on trees, and there are some strange people out there. So while you’re looking for that special Dom, please, be careful.

When you find him, realize he can’t read your mind. Yes, frightening as it might be, you’re going to have to open up and talk to him. And you listen to him, in return. Share your hopes and fears, what you want from him, what scares you spitless. Okay, he may try to push your boundaries a little—he’s a Dom, after all—but you will have your safe word. You will have a safe word, am I clear? Use protection. Have a back-up person. Communicate.

Remember: safe, sane, and consensual.

Know that I’m hoping you find that special, loving person who will understand your needs and hold you close.

And while you’re looking or even if you have already found your dearheart, come and hang out with the Masters of the Shadowlands.

Love,

Cherise





Chapter One





Why was her kick-ass heroine drooling over the hero as if he was an ooey-gooey-chocolate chewy? Grumbling under her breath, Josephine Collier stepped out of her car. The half-written book was a teen fantasy—not a love story. Why couldn’t her heroine understand that romances rarely turned into happy endings? Honestly.

Then again, teens were naïve. Not to mention stubborn.

Her soon-to-be-a-teenager son jumped out of the car.

Definitely stubborn.

“Groceries, honey,” she reminded him as he turned toward the house, and his long-suffering sigh made her snicker. She ruffled his light brown hair. “My child, you sound as if Darth Vader has been torturing you with long needles.”

“Mo-om.”

Three years ago, he’d loved helping with each and every chore. Now…well, now he was eleven years old and ever so jaded with life.

Grinning, Josie picked up a sack and glanced next door at the one-story duplex where her great-aunt, Stella Avery, lived. Where would Josie and Carson be without the wonderful woman? In fact, she’d become so beloved that Josie and Carson called her Oma, German for grandmother.

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