~ Five brothers, one family tragedy, untold heartache. ~
A stray bullet ended my Army career, forcing me to follow in my father’s prison guard footsteps.
My sister’s disappearance ten years ago annihilated my family, forcing each of us to find a way to cope.
But I’ve survived. Adapted.
At least until Genevieve Stone showed up, digging into the truth in the name of journalism and finding her way deep under my skin. I’m determined to do whatever it takes to find my sister, but when the case is blown wide open by the sexy reporter, I’m left with the ultimate question . . . can I trust her?
I’m a soldier, heart and soul.
I don’t do love.
War and death and pain are my church.
My name is Asher Creed.
I am the Executioner.
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***Reader note: This is the first of a 6-part emotional family saga series. Each story is 100% male first-person point-of-view, and while each full-length novel is guaranteed to have a complete HEA romance, their family mystery remains unsolved until the end of the series.
***Due to profanity, mild violence and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18. Also, please note the title. The hero is, in fact, an executioner on death row. While there is no intent to make any social or political statements, please do not read if this will be offensive to you.
Catch the rest of the Creed boys (and girl) very, very soon!
The Dove (Novella)
“Are you part of the execution team?”
I swallowed, the thought of lying to her heavy in my throat. There was a reason we never divulged who was on the team. The stigma and attacks on our humanity would come from all angles, and in the end, it would change nothing. I am an executioner. It’s a job. Someone has to step up and do it. I was simply one of the few who were willing to swallow the emotional baggage that comes with putting another human being to death. I’m willing because maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally be able to bury the beast in me that snarls and snaps, thrashes and rages, thirsty for vengeance against the unknown monster that took my sister away.
“You know I can’t talk about that, Genevieve. I’m sorry.”
Her gold-green eyes sparked. “I thought so.”
I frowned, not answering.
“Okay. Let’s try this . . . hypothetically speaking, if someone were a part of the execution team at the prison, would they take part in every execution?”
“Theoretically, barring some certain circumstances, yes. Most likely. The warden has assembled a team he trusts and that rarely changes.”
She nodded and forked up a bite of meat. “How do you think those people feel? About killing another human being?” Her gaze was direct and unwavering.
I set my fork down and thought carefully about my reply. “I think they don’t think about it like that.”
“Does it make you sad?”
A beat passed heavily between us. Two. “No.”
She said nothing, returning to her meal, and I followed suit. Eventually, the cloud that filled the room seemed to dissipate as she digested my answers. “Tell me about your brothers. I’m dying to know about them.”
She shrugged one shoulder and sipped her wine. “I just am. Are they like you? Big and sexy and moody?”
“I’m not moody.”
She laughed. “Not denying the big and sexy, huh?”
I fought the grin that wanted to bust loose and forked my salad. “We’re all big and sexy, I won’t lie.”
“I’m sure. What else?”
I thought of my brothers and our time together yesterday. Even as distant and strained as we’d become, I knew we all still loved each other fiercely. “Well, I’m the oldest. Levi is next. He’s a businessman in Austin, divorced, no kids. Jamison is a SWAT sniper in Dallas, goofy and single. Joshua works as a criminal profiler for the FBI in Virginia. He’s brainy and quiet and single, as far as I know anyway. And the baby is Silas. He’s an up and coming MMA fighter and he lives in Houston.”
“So none of you have girlfriends or wives? Really?”
I shrugged. It sounded weird when you put it that way. “Other than Levi, we’ve all managed to avoid it.”
One brow lifted in challenge. “Avoid it?”
“Yeah.” I scooped up the last of my food.
“Are any of you gay?”
I nearly choked. “No.” I grabbed my water and sipped. “Why would you ask that?”
“Well, no women. Maybe there are men.”
“No. Only careers.” And grief, but I didn’t admit that out loud.
Her foot suddenly found my leg under the table. “I’m glad to hear it.”
I ran a hand under her jeans and up her calf. “Interested in my brothers?”
“Glad to hear it.” I caressed down her leg and massaged her instep.
Her eyes fluttered closed as I continued rubbing her foot. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the need to taste her again. “Are we done here?” My voice was gruff, even to my own ears.
Her eyes slid open and met mine. “I’m not sure.”
“I am.” Keeping our gazes locked, I stood and rounded the table to stand beside her. “Get up.”
Why didn’t you tell me about your sister?” she countered, somehow sassy and serious at the same time.
Heat balled in my chest like a lava rock, burning me from the inside out. Though Claire was never far from my thoughts, she wasn’t something I talked about. Ever.
“Did more research, huh?” My voice was thin and brittle, emotional.
“It wasn’t like that, Asher.” She sounded apologetic. “When I let my senior editor read my story over to see if the new angle was okay, he recognized your name and showed me an old article about your sister’s disappearance. I can’t believe you didn’t mention it.”
“One has nothing to do with the other.”
“Maybe you’re right, but it’s a huge part of who you are.”
“I wasn’t your story.”
Silence hung on the line so long, I would’ve thought she’d hung up except for the gentle rhythm of her breathing. Her voice quavered when she finally spoke. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t do so good at keeping my personal and professional feelings separate.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“It means I have feelings for you, Asher. Big, sexy feelings with a nice helping of like.”
I smiled. I couldn’t help it. “You like me?”
“Are you laughing at me?”
“Uh huh. Well, yes, I like you.”
“Huh. I’m curious, do you just like me, or do you like, like me?”
“You’re a jerk, you know that?”
“A big, sexy jerk.”
“A big, sexy jerk with a great ass.”
Shauna grew up an only child with two open and loving parents in Central Texas. She’s married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother to three awesome kids, including one she just sent off to the Air Force. She is the award-winning author of the Cupid Chronicles series, the new Jack ‘Em Up series, and the upcoming Family Creed series. Shauna also writes emotional Contemporary YA novels as SC Montgomery and works as a freelance editor. She loves all things sexy, sassy, and Gerard Butler.
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