COVER REVEAL & EXCERPT: Bullets & Bonfires by Autumn Jones Lake
The one man she’s always wanted is now the sexy sheriff of their hometown.
Battered but not broken, grad student Brianna Avery returns to the childhood home she abandoned four years ago. With her abusive ex behind bars, Bree needs the summer to relax and recover before returning to school. But her overprotective brother decides she needs someone to babysit her in his absence, and he picks the one person guaranteed to drive her nuts.
She’s the one woman he can’t have.
Telling Bree no has never been easy. Four years ago, Liam Hollister did it to preserve his friendship with his best friend—Brianna’s brother. Now, no matter how she tempts him, he’s determined to do the right thing. As deputy sheriff of their rural area, Liam is torn between protecting Brianna and wanting her for himself.
Take a risk or lose the chance.
Spending so much time alone together challenges them both. Old feelings and hurts resurface immediately. With each hot, sweaty day it’s harder to deny their attraction.
It’s going to be a long, hot summer.
📆 17th July
Rage boils inside me at the sight of the once-vibrant girl in my arms. Big, bug-eyed sunglasses or not, I caught another glimpse of the bruises on her face before she buried her head against my chest.
“Tell me what happened, Bree. Who did this to you?”
Her muffled whimper makes me regret questioning her so soon. But I have to know who did this so I can plan how to kill them.
My hands curl into fists and I struggle to straighten them out and keep running them over Bree’s back. If I could carry her pain, I’d do it. No question.
She flinches, and I hesitate. Where else is she hurt? An unfamiliar, out-of-control sensation threatens to blow the top of my head off as I consider the possibilities.
Nothing in my professional training prepared me for this. Maybe that makes me a shitty cop. I don’t know. I’ve dealt with DV victims before. Locked up plenty of husbands who were too quick with their fists.
It made me angry every single time.
But nothing like this.
“Honey,” I say gently, trying to keep my voice calm and professional. “Is Chad the one who hurt you?”
It’ll take everything in me not to hunt Chad down and beat the living fuck out of him if he did this to my little Bree. I need to know every single detail so I can fix this for her.
One more sniffle from Bree threatens to shatter me, and I wrap my arms around her tighter.
Against my body, she seems fragile and tiny. What kind of “man” hurts a woman?
Slowly, she unwraps her arms from around my waist before I’m ready to let her go.
Shoving the sunglasses up and settling them on top of her head, she brushes a few stray tears off her cheeks. One look at the full extent of the bruising sends me back into murderous-rage territory.
She must sense my fury, because she quickly tugs the sunglasses back down. “It looks worse than it feels. I’m okay, really.”
I was in enough fights as a teenager to know she’s lying. Her bright blue eyes may have temporarily lost the sparkle I remember, but her courage reassures me.
“Thank you for being here, Liam.”
“I’m always here for you.” Sure wish I’d been there to prevent this.
Our eyes lock and I nod, hoping to encourage her to tell me what happened. “Tell me the truth. Did Chad do this?” I ask again.
She nods slowly and I suck in a deep breath, willing myself to stay calm. “Where is he now?”
“Empire County Jail,” she whispers.
My eyes take more of her in. I haven’t seen her in at least two years. Bree isn’t a little girl anymore. She’s grown into a stunning woman.
A woman who just got knocked around by her boyfriend, dickhead.
“Don’t what, Bree?”
“Get involved. He’s in jail and the judge denied bail. I’ll be fine. I’m okay,” she says, but
I’m not sure if she’s trying convince herself or convince me.
Okay my ass.
Unwanted memories of her high school graduation flood my brain. Sweet little Bree had curled herself around my body, stared up into my face, and informed me she wasn’t a kid any more before asking me to be her first. Like an idiot, I’d given in and kissed her. Wanted to do a hell of a lot more.
Vince catching his best friend making out with his sister behind their house had not gone over well.
In the academy, I’d been tasered, tear-gassed, and pepper-sprayed, but pushing Bree away to save my friendship with her brother remains the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Because I really, really wanted to be her first.
How would things have turned out if I’d followed my instincts? Told my best friend to fuck off, mind his own business. Explained that I was crazy about his sister and he better suck it up?
But she was barely out of high school. About to leave for college when I had no plans to leave our small town. She was off limits in so many ways.
Now, she’s home to recover from something horrible. Not to be manhandled. No matter how much I want to keep my arms around her, I have to let her go. It’s the right thing to do.
She’s not only Vince’s little sister, she’s my friend. And I want—no, I need—to do everything possible to help her through this.
Coming on to her is not helpful. It’s not what a good friend would do.
“I don’t have a key anymore, so I guess that’s why Vince called you?”
I’m struggling here. Unsure of which role to slip into. Detached cop consoling a victim?
Definitely not the last one.
Meet The Author: Autumn Jones Lake
Autumn believes true love stories never end. She’s easily amused, a procrastinator and loves romances with true alpha heroes who cherish the sassy women they fall in love with. Her past lives include baking cookies, slinging shoes, and practicing law. Playing with her imaginary friends is her favorite job so far. Autumn prefers to write her romances on the classy side of dirty, and she’s a sucker for a filthy-talking, demanding alpha male hero. The bigger the better.