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       Calm Before the Storm Kobo, p.1

           Larissa Ione
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Calm Before the Storm Kobo


  Calm Before the Storm

  By Larissa Ione

  Rising Storm

  Episode 5

  Story created by Julie Kenner and Dee Davis

  Calm Before the Storm, Episode 5

  Rising Storm

  Copyright 2015 Julie Kenner and Dee Davis Oberwetter

  ISBN: 978-1-942299-05-9

  Published by Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or establishments is solely coincidental.

  Book Description

  Calm Before the Storm

  By Larissa Ione

  Rising Storm Episode 5

  Secrets, Sex and Scandals …

  Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy… Get ready. The storm is coming.

  Marcus Alvarez fled Storm when his father’s drinking drove him over the edge. With his mother and sisters in crisis, Marcus is forced to return to the town he thought he’d left behind. But it is his attraction to a very grown up Brittany Rush that just might be enough to guarantee that he stays.

  About Larissa Ione

  Air Force veteran Larissa Ione traded in a career as a meteorologist to pursue her passion of writing. She has since published dozens of books, hit several bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today, and has been nominated for a RITA award. She now spends her days in pajamas with her computer, strong coffee, and fictional worlds. She believes in celebrating everything, and would never be caught without a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge…just in case. After a dozen moves all over the country with her now-retired U.S. Coast Guard spouse, she is now settled in Wisconsin with her husband, her teenage son, a rescue cat named Vegas, and her very own hellhound, a King Shepherd named Hexe.

  For more information about Larissa, visit www.larissaione.com.

  Also From Larissa Ione

  For more information visit http://larissaione.com/blog/books/

  ~ DEMONICA/LORDS OF DELIVERANCE SERIES ~

  Pleasure Unbound (Book 1)

  Desire Unchained (Book 2)

  Passion Unleashed (Book 3)

  Ecstasy Unveiled (Book 4)

  Eternity Embraced ebook (Book 4.5) (NOVELLA)

  Sin Undone August (Book 5)

  Eternal Rider (Book 6)

  Supernatural Anthology (Book 6.5) (NOVELLA)

  Immortal Rider (Book 7)

  Lethal Rider (Book 8)

  Rogue Rider (Book 9)

  Reaver (Book 10)

  Azagoth (Book 10.5)

  Revenant (Book 11)

  Hades (Book 11.5)

  ~ MOONBOUND CLAN VAMPIRES SERIES ~

  Bound By Night (book 1)

  Chained By Night (book 2)

  Writing as SYDNEY CROFT

  Riding The Storm

  Unleashing The Storm

  Seduced By The Storm

  Taming the Fire

  Tempting The Fire

  Taken By Fire

  Three The Hard Way

  Acknowledgments from the Author

  I am so excited about this amazing project, and I want to send out a huge thank you to Julie Kenner and Dee Davis for inviting me to be a part of it. And big hugs to the incredible team from 1,001 Dark Nights for all the hard work they’ve put into it, not to mention the excitement they always bring to the table. I love you guys!

  Foreword

  Dear reader –

  We have wanted to do a project together for over a decade, but nothing really jelled until we started to toy with a kernel of an idea that sprouted way back in 2012 … and ultimately grew into Rising Storm.

  We are both excited about and proud of this project—not only of the story itself, but also the incredible authors who have helped bring the world and characters we created to life.

  We hope you enjoy visiting Storm, Texas. Settle in and stay a while!

  Happy reading!

  Julie Kenner & Dee Davis

  Sign up for the Rising Storm/1001 Dark Nights Newsletter

  and be entered to win an exclusive lightning bolt necklace specially designed for Rising Storm by Janet Cadsawan of Cadsawan.com.

  Click here to subscribe.

  As a bonus, all subscribers will receive a free

  Rising Storm story

  Storm Season: Ginny & Jacob – the Prequel

  by Dee Davis

  Table of Contents

  Book Description

  About Jennifer Probst

  Also from Jennifer Probst

  Author Acknowledgments

  Foreword

  Family Trees

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Rising Storm

  Teaser for Calm Before the Storm: Rising Storm Episode 5 by Larissa Ione

  1001 Dark Nights

  Special Thanks

  Family Trees

  Allen Family

  Alvarez Family

  Douglas Family

  Grossman Family

  Johnson Family

  Moreno Family

  Murphy Family

  Prager Family

  Rush Family

  Salt Family

  Chapter One

  Funny thing, coming home to a small town after six years. Everything felt familiar, and yet, there was a strangeness, a disconnect that made Marcus Alvarez feel as if he no longer belonged.

  Of course, it didn’t help that he’d only been in town for five minutes, and he’d already gotten into a fight and nearly arrested by his best friend’s sheriff brother.

  So, as Marcus stood in the darkness outside Murphy’s Pub, surrounded by people he hadn’t seen since he’d left, his gut churned with a complicated mix of emotions. The kind of emotions that had run him out of town in the first place.

  This was a little different, though. Different because most of the feelings he had about Murphy’s were good ones. He’d practically grown up here, had spent countless hours hanging out in the back with his best friend, Logan Murphy.

  Then, inevitably, his dad would show up and one of two things would happen. He’d either drag Marcus out and send him home because, “Dammit, boy, someone needs to keep an eye on your mom or she’ll get lazy and slack off with the chores.”

  Or, more rarely, Hector would already be three sheets to the wind when he stumbled through the pub door. He’d fling his arm around Marcus and start bragging about his virility and about what being a man meant. Loudly.

  Marcus would never forget how he’d shrivel inside every time some customer looked at him with pity. Nor would he forget how grateful he was whenever Logan’s dad or grandpa got him out of the mess with a friendly but crafty, “Hey, buddy, Logan could use your help in the stock room if you got a minute.”

  Hector would clap Marcus on the back like a proud dad. “Go on, son. We’ll toss a ball or something later.”

  It was as humiliating as it was bullshit. Hector wasn’t proud, and they’d never tossed a damned ball.

  Marcus could picture Hector standing there in the pub’s doorway like it was yesterda
y, his eyes glazed with an alcohol buzz as Marcus shuffled toward home, embarrassed as hell. Now, years later, here he was, thinking how messed up it was that he’d left town because of Hector…and he’d come back because of him, too.

  “Marcus?” Logan’s voice broke him out of the past. Thank God. “You wanna come inside for a beer?”

  “Hell, yeah. After twenty-three hours of driving, I could use one.”

  “You just got into town?” Logan glanced over at Dillon, who was shoving the drunk Marcus had fought with into the backseat of his sheriff’s car. “And you still know how to make an entrance.”

  Marcus had never been one for subtlety. “D, you need me for anything?”

  Dillon slammed the car door shut. “Nah. If no one is going to press charges, I’ll just give him a ride home. You going to be staying at your mom’s place?”

  “For now.”

  Dillon nodded. “Then I’ll find you if I need to. Good to see you.”

  “You too.” Marcus turned back to Logan, but before he could say anything, Ginny Moreno wrapped her arms around him in a brief hug.

  As she pulled away, Marcus couldn’t help but think how great she looked. Tired, maybe, but who wouldn’t be, after all she’d been through? A car accident that killed her boyfriend was bad enough, but to then learn she was pregnant while in the hospital recovering from injuries? She was one tough woman.

  “Marcus, your mom and sisters are going to be so happy to see you.” Ginny gestured to the woman next to her. “You remember Brittany Rush?”

  “I remember.” He gave her an appreciative once-over, from her jeweled gold sandals to the long mane of wavy blonde hair she’d pulled into a loose ponytail. “What I don’t remember is you being so tall.” Or curvy. Gone was the cute, skinny teen in a cheerleading uniform, and in her place was a woman who perfectly filled out her designer jeans and lacy tank top.

  A slow blush spread over her face. “I sort of had a growth spurt.”

  Ginny rolled her big brown eyes, so different from Brit’s baby blues. “She used to whine about being short. Now she complains that she can’t wear high heels or she’s taller than most guys.”

  He could see that. She was probably around five nine, but he had a good five, maybe six inches on her. “Not me.” He shot Brittany a wink. “Feel free to wear your heels. I promise to be taller than you.”

  For some reason, she blushed more. “I’ll remember that.”

  Ginny grabbed her friend’s hand. “Come on. If I don’t get back to the Salt’s place soon Celeste will worry.”

  Logan frowned. “You’re leaving already?”

  “Ginny, wait.” Brit laid her hand on Ginny’s arm. “Maybe we could stay for just a few minutes? I mean, Marcus just got here. It would be rude to leave so suddenly.”

  “Yeah,” Marcus said. “Stick around. I can catch up with everyone.”

  Ginny eyed her friend, and Marcus got the feeling the two of them were communicating in some nonverbal female way he couldn’t understand. Especially when she gave Brit a tiny, secretive smile and nodded.

  “Let me give Celeste a call.” Ginny glanced at Marcus and Logan. “We’ll meet you guys inside.”

  Marcus watched the girls walk over to Brittany’s sporty little black BMW, where she’d apparently left her purse and phone, and then he followed Logan inside. Instantly, the familiar scents of old wood, whiskey, and popcorn from the machine in the corner made him feel at home.

  Made him wonder if he’d feel as at home inside his actual home.

  Logan’s dad, Aiden, and his other brother Patrick, who shared the siblings’ black hair and blue eyes, came from out of the kitchen, and when they saw Marcus, he found himself smothered by more hugs. After the “Welcome backs” and “Good to see yous” were over, Patrick and Aiden disappeared into the kitchen again, but not without telling him he was welcome at the pub anytime, whether they were officially open or not.

  As Logan went behind the bar to draw himself a pint of Guinness, he looked up at Marcus, an impish glint in his blue eyes that, in contrast with his dark hair and lashes, had driven the girls crazy in high school.

  “Lemme guess,” Logan drawled. “You still drink swill. Sorry, buddy, but we don’t serve piss here.”

  Marcus laughed. “Don’t give me that shit. You drank whatever you could get your hands on way back when.”

  “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

  “Especially beggars who weren’t legal to drink.” He gestured to the tap. “Give me something local.”

  “You got it.” Logan poured a Saint Arnold Amber Ale and slid it down the bar. Marcus caught it, and they migrated to a nearby booth.

  “You’re closing kind of early for a Friday night,” Marcus said as he glanced around the place.

  Nothing had changed. Nothing but Logan, anyway. His friend had put on some muscle and some hard edges, but the biggest difference was in his eyes. Gone was the laid-back, cheerful glint that used to mean a prank or a joke was right around the corner, and in its place was a wariness that came from learning harsh lessons.

  Logan settled into the booth across from Marcus. “It’s dead tonight. Everyone is over at the county fair’s beer fest.” He gestured to the flyer someone had left on the table. “So what brings you back to Storm?”

  “Now, you mean?” Marcus shrugged. “A couple of things.” Like shame. “Mom didn’t say it, but I think she’s worried about finances. Dad screwed her over and left her in a lurch. You know he took off, right?” At Logan’s nod, he drained a quarter of his beer, but it wasn’t enough to get the bitter taste of his father’s actions out of his mouth. “And then there’s Dakota. Mom and Mal are worried she’s going off the rails.”

  “I’m sure it’ll help everyone to have you back.”

  He wasn’t so certain about that, and talking about it only served as a reminder that he’d run away in the first place, so he took another drink of his ale and kept his doubts to himself.

  Logan, who had always been good at reading him, changed the subject. “So, what have you been up to for the last few years?”

  Marcus felt the beer in his belly go sour. “I know I didn’t write as much as I should have.”

  “You had your own shit to deal with, man. So what happened? I left for basic training, and the next I hear, you’d skipped town. Didn’t hear a thing from you until I got that first letter with a Montana postmark a year later.”

  Ashamed to look his friend in the eye, Marcus focused on the condensation forming on his glass. He’d let so many people down by leaving the way he had. Didn’t matter that if he’d stayed, things could have been even worse. His relationship with his father had grown more strained and more combative with every passing year, and by the time Marcus graduated from high school, they’d reached a tipping point. Still, it had been his mother who had given him the final nudge over the edge when, after a violent incident in the backyard, she’d taken Hector’s side.

  That had hurt far more than any of Hector’s punches.

  “I had to go.” Marcus lowered his voice as Logan’s dad walked by on his way to clean the popcorn machine. “Things with my dad...they were bad.”

  “So you went to Montana?”

  Marcus snorted. “I didn’t plan it. I needed to get as far away from my dad as I could, so I just drove until I ran out of gas money. Saw a ranch with a help wanted sign, and I figured I’d work for a little while. Get my shit together, you know?” He took a swig of his beer. “Turned out to be the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”

  Logan’s dad brought over a bowl of leftover popcorn, and after he’d gone back to cleaning the machine, Logan said, “Sounds like your boss...what’s his name? Ian?” At Marcus’s nod, Logan continued. “Sounds like he’s a great guy.”

  Great? Holy shit, Ian Briggs was damned near a saint. For the first year Marcus had worked on the Briggs’ ranch, he’d been a mess. Oh, he’d been a fast learner and a good ranch hand, but in his off time, he’d always been looking for a fig
ht. Ian had smoothed shit out with local law enforcement half a dozen times, and even bailed him out of jail once. Okay, twice.

  “Ian’s a former Marine.” Marcus smiled fondly. “Tough as nails. He’s been through a lot. Had a boy who would have been about my age if he was still alive. I guess he saw some of his son in me and thought I was worth saving.”

  It had been a long, hard road, but Ian hadn’t given up on Marcus. Gradually, Ian had broken down Marcus’s walls and helped him understand his anger and fear, and he’d taught Marcus how to channel it with combat training. At first, it had seemed odd to Marcus that Ian was teaching him to fight properly, since it was fighting that had gotten him in trouble so many times. But it didn’t take long to realize that the more Marcus knew about handling himself, the more confident and less fearful he became when thrust into any situation.

  He’d learned that he didn’t need to use his fists to prove anything. Too bad his dad had never learned that lesson.

  Logan leaned back in his seat, the imitation leather squeaking as he settled in. “So...are you going back?”

  “That’s the plan.” Marcus plucked a piece of popcorn from the bowl. “He wants me to take over the ranch in a few years.”

  Logan cocked an eyebrow. “I never would have pegged you for ranch life.”

  “Ranch life?” Ginny slid into the booth next to Logan, and Marcus grinned as Brittany scooted in next to him. “I can’t imagine Marcus herding cows.”

  Brittany reached for the popcorn. “I can.” She shot him a playful grin that made his pulse pick up so furiously he had to remind himself he wasn’t back in Storm for a fling. If he had his way, he’d be gone by next month. “It’s milking them I couldn’t imagine.”

  He laughed. “I’ve never milked a cow in my life.”

 
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