Title: A STEEL TOWN
Series: A Gateway to Love, #3
Author: Chloe T. Barlow
Genre: New Adult, Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: January 11, 2016
How do you protect the woman you love, when you fear you are the very person who could destroy her? Claudia McCoy has been told what she can't do enough for one lifetime. After a near-fatal childhood battle with juvenile diabetes and having to accept that her dreams of serving in the military would never come true, she's thrilled to begin a life on her own terms. Yet, when she finally starts her career in the FBI, Claudia is furious that her condition and overbearing big brother, Wyatt, have both once again interfered with her ability to have the life she truly wants. Now derailed from her high-profile aspirations of a position in the FBI's D.C. headquarters, she is instead planted far away from the real action, and practically right in her brother's Pittsburgh backyard. Trey Adler is known for fixing things, but he's broken just as many — leaving him with regrets that never go away. He'd be the first to agree he should stay away from a nice girl like Claudia, but he can't deny his friend Jenna Sutherland's request when she asks him to use his position as a temporary FBI consultant to keep Claudia safe — especially as it's clear this little firecracker needs protecting. Far away from all the action she so craves, Claudia is more determined than ever to prove herself in her first major investigation at whatever cost — and those costs are proving to be dangerously high. Their battle of wills turns quickly into a powerful need for one other, making them both rethink everything they ever wanted. Will Trey be able to keep her alive long enough to give them an opportunity at something real together — a future that can survive the danger in their present, as well as the darkness of his past?
ExcerptLooking up into his sharp gray eyes, Claudia licked her lips and asked, "Why don't you have a tattoo here, Trey? You have them all over your chest, but not here where your heart beats." "I'll answer your question about the bare spot over my heart, but you have to answer one for me. It's been bothering me ever since I met you." "Okay, shoot." "Are you sure? You won't like it, but you'll still have to tell me the truth." Trey's fingers were slipping back and forth against her thighs, caressing her lightly. "What?" she sputtered out. "Of co-ourse. It's a waste of time for me not to tell the truth. I suck at lying." "Being bad at lying and being honest are two very different things." "Fine. I promise to be honest," she answered, her throat drying with each persistent press of his hands, punctuated by the gentle circular motion of his thumbs against her inner thighs. "Good. Then this will be an easy way for you to get what you want." "Um, okay. What do you want to know?" "Are you a virgin?" "That's your question?" "Yes," he answered, letting his hands squeeze the sides of her legs, hard, sending a new set of shocks and tingles along her nerve endings. "Last night you ordered me to deal with you. Well, then I deserve to know what I am dealing with." She swallowed roughly, trying to use her prior irritation to pull herself back to reason. "It's a ludicrous thing to ask. Plus, it's such a dumb male thing to care about or think you have the right to know." "Uh-uh, little one. You're not answering my question. If you want to start making rules, then you have to be able to play by them, too." "What do you think is the answer? I'm twenty-three..." she said, her breaths coming out in short puffs of air. Claudia pressed her palms on the table, trying to get up. Trey slammed his hands over hers and met her eyes with a blazing fury that made his gray irises look like swirling, melted steel. "You're doing it again, Claudia. I've got all the time in the world, nowhere to be...and no desire to answer your question. If you want to back out so I don't have to tell the truth, then so be it." She moved her face to avoid his eyes, "You're ridiculous." Trey leaned in closer to her, using his nose against her cheek to force her face back toward his. He slid it across the length of her face, pausing to briefly brush his lips over her skin and suck on her earlobe, making her gasp out loud. When his teeth bit down on the flesh gently, Claudia couldn't help but release an embarrassing moan. His warm breath tingled against her moistened skin, when he asked again, this time with a whisper, "Are...you...a...virgin?" "No," she breathed out roughly. Trey moved so he was facing her, staring squarely in the eyes as he challenged her, "No — you've had mind-blowing sex that turned off that crazy, intense mind of yours and made you stop trying to control everything? Or you've had a dick in you?" "You-you dirty piece of —" "Eh, eh, eh. Answer the question." "Fine. I had sex when I was twenty." Trey's hands clenched a bit over hers, but his stare didn't waver from hers. When he stayed silent, she added, "He was my best friend. His name is Trevor. I felt it was important to get it out of the way and he was comfortable with my viewpoint, I guess. Are you happy now?" Claudia barely moved an inch, but Trey made it clear she wasn't going anywhere until he let her. "Yup, just like I thought. For all intents and purposes, you're a virgin, little one. And since we're being honest with each other, I would like nothing more than to be your real first... It could be the only way I ever get you to listen to me." Claudia swallowed a gasp until the air turned into an awkward bubble in her throat. The thrill in her chest dissipated quickly as Trey's face fell, and he added, "The thing is, your answer confirms you're a nice girl. The problem is — I'm not a nice boy. And that's something we both have to deal with." His words simultaneously frustrated and saddened her. She took a deep breath and muttered, "Your turn." Trey leaned away from her, and rubbed the left side of his chest a bit, looking away from her. He turned his eyes back to hers. There was no wicked gleam in his eyes, or smirk to lighten the mood. All that remained was dejection, and something even darker — almost ominous, though she couldn't quite place it. "I don't have any tattoos there because I felt it was important to leave the area around my heart bare. It doesn't deserve anything...it's my weakest organ." He moved away from her, but she didn't stop him this time.
All titles in the Gateway to Love series are only $0.99 during the A Steel Town release week!
Three Rivers (Gateway to Love, #1)How do you start over when you gave everything to one life, one plan, and lost it all? Althea refuses to allow herself to love again. Imprisoned in grief at twenty-four after her husband’s sudden death, she’s convinced her heart died along with him. She spends her days honoring his memory by clinging to the legal career he helped her to build and to the remaining pieces linking them together. Griffen’s been running from his past. Despite success as an author and investigative journalist, he’s been traveling through life on autopilot. For a decade, he’s chosen perilous adventures and meaningless sex over the danger of any attachments. When he finally returns home to Pittsburgh, he’s slammed by the awakened memories and regret he’s spent years trying to escape. A chance encounter brings them together. Their instant desire for each other – and the bond they discover between them – shocks them both. Despite her best efforts, Althea can’t resist Griffen’s charm or his intriguing proposition – if she agrees to a no-strings affair with him for the two weeks he’s in town, he swears he’ll walk away when their time is up. Assured she can test the waters of a new life while keeping her vow never to betray her husband’s memory by opening her heart to another, Althea throws herself into the escape Griffen provides her. Their perfect plans go awry when the intensity of their connection overwhelms them. Will they risk it all on the chance of something great together…or will the power of their secrets and guilt tear them apart?
City of Champions (Gateway to Love, #2)How do you find the will to try, when you’ve spent all of your life playing on a field strewn with shattered lives and broken rules? Tragedy and betrayal taught Jenna Sutherland early on that her safest bet was to fiercely avoid any risk, whether it is in work, life, or love. Now a respected orthopedic surgical resident on the cusp of finally breaking through in her career, she’s more guarded than ever. When injured NFL quarterback Wyatt McCoy bulldozes into her life there’s no denying he’s cocky, selfish, and downright dangerous — everything Jenna’s sworn she doesn’t want. Suddenly the levelheaded doctor finds herself facing down her greatest fear, and she’s tempted to gamble all she’s fought so hard to build. The two embark on an intense holiday love affair that quickly teeters on obsession, and tempts them both to think they could go all-in on a real future together. Yet Wyatt’s desperation to stay on the field — and out of the operating room — lures him to take dangerous risks with Jenna’s trust. Will they win at love or lose everything —including their fragile chance at happiness?
Shanghai Wind (A Gateway to Love, #2.5)How far would you be willing to go for your first love? Colin has broken every promise he's ever made, but what hurts him the most is the harsh memory of the way in which he abandoned the only girl for which he'd ever truly cared. After a summer romance in Shanghai with his host family's daughter, Feng Huang, he begged her to join him in America, only to fail her when she finally sacrificed everything for their future together. Shanghai-born Feng Huang has spent the last six years trying to get over Colin. Now beloved by the world as a famous pop star, she's moved on with a wealthy Chinese-American entrepreneur. When Colin appears in front of her at her boyfriend's gala celebrating her return to Shanghai, she is overcome by both the pain and love, which still linger inside her at the mere sight of him. Yet, nothing is as it seems, and when the sinister elements which have thrust them back into each other's orbit reveal themselves and threaten more than just their precious second opportunity at love. Will their stolen night together bring them the future of which they had always dreamed, or will Colin betray her love yet again?
Chloe is a contemporary romance novelist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and their sweet puppy. Chloe has always loved writing and cherishes the opportunity to craft her fictional novels and share them with the world. When Chloe isn’t writing, she spends her time exploring Pittsburgh with her husband and friends. She also enjoys yoga, jogging, and all Pittsburgh sports. She is an avid reader and wrote her debut novel Three Rivers in her spare time. She loves to research every last detail relating to her books. For example, in an effort to bring authenticity to Three River’s treatment of grief and loss, she consulted with a psychologist and grief counselor during its preparation.
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