Where There's Smoke: A Kelly Family Novel
Author Lashell Collins
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Coming May 30, 2014
The Kelly Family is back, and this time, they've got a score to settle!
After years of dealing with his cheating ex-girlfriend's betrayal, Detective Levi Hawks has found love again with Marina Kelly, something he never truly believed would happen for him. And when an unexpected foe rises from the past and begins to threaten her entire family, Levi will do anything to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what happens when his own past comes calling? Will Levi hold tight to the woman who picked up the pieces and brought joy back into his life, or will he make the mistake of going back to the woman who broke his heart to begin with? Get to know the family a little better in this first full-length Kelly Family novel!
When the dog finished his breakfast, Levi let him outside into the small fenced-in yard. Then he ran up the stairs and into the bathroom. He could hear the water running even before he walked in, and he wasted no time pulling off his briefs and stepping into the shower.
“You can’t get away from me now,” he smiled, wrapping his arms around Marina’s wet body and kissing her shoulder.
“What took you so long?” she asked as she turned around.
“I was feeding your dog,” he said, smiling at her.
He kissed her lips, letting his tongue stroke hers slowly as he tightened his arms around her. He loved this. Waking up with her, laughing with her. Making love to her. She had been like a breath of fresh air when she stepped into his life, bringing the blue skies and sunshine back into his sad, gray existence. She had brought him out of the self-imposed solitary confinement he’d placed himself in after being betrayed for the hundredth time. And she was so smart and funny and sexy. He loved talking to her, no matter what the topic, whether they were discussing serious issues or something completely silly and off the wall. She made him laugh in a way that he hadn’t done in a long, long time. She made him remember not to take life so seriously all the time, and he loved that about her. He loved everything about being with her. Marina made it all so easy, and Levi had never experienced that in his past relationships. Especially not the last one. She was his angel, and he had simply never been in love like this before.
Lifting her in his arms, he kissed her passionately as her legs closed around him. He turned and wedged her between his body and the wall of the shower as his mouth left hers and moved over the soft skin of her jaw, and down over her neck. He kissed her lips again as he entered her slowly, the warm water cascading over them as he began to move.
His pace was languid and unhurried as he took great pleasure in feeling her warm, succulent depths draw him in with each deep plunge.
Marina squeezed him tighter with her legs, pulling him in deeper with every slow, delicious thrust, and her fingers ran through his dark, wet hair as she moaned.
She felt her body beginning to soar as he moved in and out of her with long, slow strokes, quickening his pace ever so slightly as he gently pounded her into the cold tile wall behind her. And Marina screamed as her orgasm ripped through her like a wildfire, consuming everything in its path.
Hearing her scream triggered Levi’s own orgasm, and he groaned loudly as he felt himself detonate deep inside her. They struggled to breathe, the steam impeding their endeavors as they clung to each other beneath the steady stream of water. And when he finally released her, he gave her a long, tender kiss, full of passion and desire.
“I love you, Marina,” he whispered.
It wasn’t the first time he had said those words to her, but for some reason they felt so different this morning … so real. And Levi felt a sliver of fear slide along his spine as he stared down into her eyes. He meant those words. He knew that he meant them. He loved her completely, and it scared the shit out of him.
Marina stared up at him, and the look in his eyes took her breath away. She smiled slowly at him. “I love you too, Levi.”
She kissed his lips before turning to wash up quickly. And a second later when she left the shower, Levi stood under the flow telling himself that this wouldn’t be like the last time. That he wouldn’t end up a broken man again. He had finally gotten over all the betrayal, hadn’t he? He was finally ready to move on with his life, and he wanted to move on with Marina. And he knew in his heart that she would never hurt him the way he had been hurt in the past.
He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he picked up the shower gel and began to lather up. He needed to purge his mind of the memories of that betrayal. He had to. All it was doing was anchoring him to the past, and he needed to just lay it down and walk away from it for good, so that he could give Marina his full attention and his whole heart. He wanted that, and he knew that she deserved that.
Ethan: A Kelly Family Novella
Author Lashell Collins
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Officer Ethan Kelly is a nice guy. That’s what all the girls say, right before they toss him aside for one of those bad boys. But when he meets rookie officer, Heather Moss, Ethan is determined to show her that a nice guy knows how to treat a real woman.
But Heather isn’t interested. Or at least, she doesn’t want to be. She swore off men a long time ago, and focusing on her career leaves zero room for romance. Even with someone as sweet and sexy as Ethan. But when she saves his life on a robbery call, Heather realizes that he might just be the man to save her from herself.
“What the heck was that all about?” she asked.
He hesitated, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, a clear indicator that he hated this topic of discussion.
“What? You mean you have been at this job for two whole months already and you haven’t heard that Mike Kelly’s boys couldn’t be more different?” he asked sarcastically. “Storm is tall and blonde, good-looking, military smarts, athletic build. The spitting image of his father, the much beloved and revered Michael Kelly. Ethan, on the other hand, is about three inches shorter in stature, average looks, average police skills. He’s never gonna be half the cop that their father was. Storm is the city’s last best hope. Didn’t you know any of that?”
Heather couldn’t help her incessant giggle as she listened to his snide, self-deprecating diatribe. “No. I was not aware,” she laughed. “I’m sorry.”
“Well … now you’ve been schooled,” he told her, smiling at her giggle as he looked her over. She really was a pretty girl. In fact, Ethan would go so far as to say that she was gorgeous. And he couldn’t help but take note of her figure in the regular clothes. He thought she looked hot in the uniform, but now he could clearly tell that she had a great body, and he was having trouble trying to keep this friendly drink platonic. Her hair fell in blonde waves that bounced around her shoulders as she laughed, and all he really wanted to do was kiss her.
“Well, having just met you both properly tonight, I can say with some authority that whoever labeled Ethan Kelly as just average in the looks department had to be … I don’t know … blind,” she offered.
“Oh, yeah?” he asked, suddenly looking at her in surprise as he wondered if she had picked up on his vibe. Was she flirting with him?
Heather shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah,” she answered with a small smile. And she could feel the color spreading over her face. Why had she said that?
They stared at one another for a long moment, and neither one of them could ignore the electric charge suddenly dancing in the air between them. There was a definite heat pulsing on the current all around them, and neither one of them wanted to discount it.
Heather felt a stirring inside her that she hadn’t felt for a long, long time, and as much as the sensation scared her, she found herself craving it. Wanting it to linger and stay awhile. Finally, she gave an embarrassed smile and looked away, breaking their intense eye contact.
“Um, so … you and your brother … you seem to get along okay,” she said.
Ethan smiled at her obvious avoidance tactic. “Yeah. Most of the time,” he replied. “That wasn’t always the case when we were younger, but … we’ve both grown up a little bit. Now it’s only idiots like Shane who try and pit us against each other. That’s not to say that fights don’t happen at all, because they do sometimes,” he admitted. “Usually about stupid shit. What about you? You mentioned a younger sister.”
“Yeah. Hillary,” she answered. “We are polar opposites. I love her, but we usually fight like cats and dogs.”
“Yeah? Lots of hair pulling and scratching going on?” he teased.
“Well, one of us carries a gun now, so … not much hair pulling going on anymore,” she smiled, and he laughed.
“Hey, listen … I know it’s late, but … you want to go grab a bite somewhere?” he asked. “The menu here is limited to wings, and I could really go for a slice of pizza.”
Heather smiled at him, suddenly eager to get out of the bar and go anywhere with him. Her no carbs rule be damned. “Pizza sounds good.”
They stood and left the bar together, each of them wondering where this friendship, and the night, might be headed. They took his car, and they ended up about a block away at Martoni’s, which just happened to have the best pizza in town. It was also one of the only pizza joints in the area that stayed open late and sold pies by the slice, and as Ethan and Heather ate their late dinner, they talked about the job and shared a few more laughs.
Heather found herself feeling completely at ease with him, something that didn’t happen too often with men anymore since her rape. But something about Ethan was different. He was smart and funny, and his kindness was genuine. And Heather found that to be incredibly attractive.
Ethan was captivated by her. Especially now that he knew her background and what she had gone through. He admired the fact that she had picked herself up and done something positive with her life after such a tragedy, instead of letting that one moment define who she was and what her future was going to be. And he had never felt such an instant connection with another girl before. The chemistry between them hadn’t diminished one bit since they had left the bar, and he was determined to explore it.
“You’ve uh … you got some sauce …” his voice trailed off as he gestured to the corner of her mouth. And when he reached out with his thumb to clear away the remnant of pizza sauce on her face, his eyes lingered on her lips as he brought his thumb to his own mouth and sucked the sauce from it. He couldn’t stand it anymore. He leaned in and kissed her.
Heather was surprised by the unexpected sensation of his mouth on hers, but not upset by it in the least. His lips were soft and his tongue was insistent. She reached up and allowed her fingers to run through his soft brown hair as they kissed. And long moments later, after that one kiss had become a full-blown make-out session, she pulled away and looked at him.
“We should probably take this somewhere less public,” she panted.
“I like the way you think,” he breathed.
Storm: A Kelly Family Novella
Author Lashell Collins
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Bad boy cop Storm Kelly is on the prowl for some action. And the way he’s feeling, he doesn’t much care if it comes in the form of a bar fight or a smart, sassy woman. So when he gets off his Harley and walks into a biker bar, he’s in his element when he finds both … barroom brawl, check. Rescue the damsel in distress, check. And with any luck, that sexy damsel might just turn out to be the perfect sub he’s been searching for.
Nina Fitz is in a world of trouble when the sexy stranger comes to her rescue. Never one to resist a hot guy on a motorcycle, she quickly decides to invite this one home. And when the jerk from the bar decides he’s not through with her, Officer Storm Kelly becomes her protector. But after one night of passion with Storm, Nina is left wondering if she can handle his dark dominant side.
Storm took the girl by the hand and walked out of the room. He led her back down the hallway and out through the crowded bar, keeping his eyes peeled the entire way. He noticed a few glances in their direction as they made their way out, and he wondered who this chick was and what exactly he had just stepped into the middle of. Did she belong to one of these guys here? Was he about to be jumped for trying to help her leave?
Once they were safely outside he turned to look at her as he kept a firm grip on her hand and led her toward his bike.
“Thanks for your help,” she said, her voice sounding slightly haughty as she pulled her hand from his grasp.
“You’re welcome,” he answered. He looked at her as he swung his leg over his bike and sat down. Back there in the thick of things he’d been a little too preoccupied to notice, but now that he had a minute to process, he started at her feet and went all the way up. Black spiked ankle boots, blue jeans that looked painted onto her form, a blue denim halter top that revealed a flat stomach, ample tits and a body peppered with tattoos. There was a small, very realistic looking ladybug on the right side of her neck, and Storm could see part of what looked like swirls or waves of some kind running down the left side of her abdomen. There were also words on her right forearm and a small tattoo of flowers around her left wrist, like a bracelet. She had long silky hair the color of copper and the biggest blue eyes he’d ever seen. She was sexy as hell, and Storm suddenly wanted nothing more than to peel her out of those tight clothes and bend her over his bike.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
She looked at him with a surprised, blank stare for a moment, and then gave him a slight smile. “Look, sugar, I appreciate the assist with the Neanderthal back there. Truly, I do. But this is not winner take all, okay? I’m not your prize. You won’t be taking me home as your trophy.”
Storm smiled at her as he released the kickstand of the bike. “First of all … don’t flatter yourself, sweetheart. I mean, you’re hot. But that doesn’t mean I’m dying to bag you,” he lied, loving the soft blush that crept over her cheeks. “And second, I just thought it’d be nice to know your name before I give you a ride home, that’s all.”
“Who said you’re giving me a ride home?” she asked.
“Oh, my bad,” he shrugged. “I just assumed that when no one in that place bothered to lift a finger to help when you were screaming, or cared enough to see if you were alright as you left, meant that they weren’t exactly your friends.”
She rolled her eyes as she listened to him and glanced back at the bar. He had a point. Who else was she going to ask for a ride? And it wasn’t like she had her cell phone with her. And she certainly didn’t want to go back in there to call a cab.
“Does one of these bikes belong to you?” he asked.
She looked back at him, and she could see the amusement in his eyes. They were an incredible shade of blue. The palest she’d ever seen, and with his blonde hair and those rugged features, he looked good enough to eat. Especially sitting on that bike in all that leather. Oh, yeah. Maybe she did want to be nice to this guy.
“No, they don’t,” she said, answering his question. “My name is Nina. Nina Fitz.”
“Storm Kelly,” he said, smirking at her. Then he started up the bike. “Hop on, Nina. Where do you live?”
She sighed as she imagined his annoyance. “I live in Eastwood. On Hawthorn Street.”
Storm’s snorted softly. “Eastwood, huh?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry,” she said. “I know that’s probably a little out of your way.”
“Actually, it’s not. I live in Eastwood.”
He nodded his head as he stared at her, wondering how he had never run across her before. She was someone he would definitely have remembered meeting.
“Small world,” she smiled, staring into his eyes.
“So they say,” he replied.
He waited as she climbed onto the back of his Harley, and then he reached to the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a pair of aviator sunglasses.
“Put those on,” he said. Then he pulled out his own riding glasses and slipped them on. “Ready?”
She nodded at him and wrapped her arms around his waist, snuggling slightly closer to him than was necessary.
Storm smiled as he glanced back at her over his shoulder. “Something tells me you’ve done this before,” he said.
Nina shrugged a shoulder at him. “I like bikes and the hot guys who ride them. Is that a crime?”
“No. Not at all,” he answered, revving the engine a couple of times. Then he pulled slowly out of the parking lot and onto the street.
Frankie: A Kelly Family Novella
Author Lashell Collins
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Frankie Kelly has fought her whole life to prove that she is just as capable as all the men in her testosterone-driven family. And now her hard work and dedication to the police K-9 program is finally beginning to pay off. But when her secret, sexy romance with her sergeant culminates in a marriage proposal, Frankie is thrown for a loop wondering if she’s ready to go public with their clandestine relationship.
John Myles is sure of two things in life - one, that he is dedicated to the K-9 program he leads at the police department. And two, that he loves Frankie Kelly more than life itself. But when she hesitates to accept his proposal, John is rattled. Especially when the job gets in the way, forcing him to send her and her K-9 partner out into the dark night in search of a dangerous murder suspect.
It was true that the sneaking around did make all the sex that much hotter. Especially when they got busy at the station in the women’s locker room. She asked him once why there, and he told her that there was a lot less traffic in the woman’s locker room since there weren’t nearly as many females on the Eastwood PD as there were men – which did make sense. But what Frankie Kelly really wanted was to be able to let the world know how she felt about John Myles. As much as she had tried to fight it in the beginning, she was completely and hopelessly in love with him. And she wanted the world to know it.
Most of all, she wanted to be able to let her father know. And really, how she had managed to keep it from him for this long was a total mystery to her, because Lord knew that her siblings usually couldn’t be counted on to keep anything under wraps for too long – though, the four of them had gotten really good at presenting a united front against their tyrannical father over the years.
She hated thinking of him in that way. Tyrannical. Her father had always been her hero, and in many ways, he still was. But as she got older, Frankie slowly came to understand why her brothers, Storm and Ethan, always seemed to have such animosity toward him, and she understood that their father was often the cause of the friction between the two young men. More importantly, Storm and Ethan had begun to understand that too, and their relationship had improved by leaps and bounds once they figured it out. But as young boys, they had competed constantly for their father’s approval, and Mike Kelly sometimes appeared to take delight in pitting his sons against one another in the contest for his attention.
When they were growing up, Francine – as Mike insisted on calling his oldest daughter – was devoutly, and unapologetically, daddy’s little girl. Even after her younger sister Marina came along and stole the spotlight. Back then, Frankie didn’t realize that her dad was emotionally unavailable, or that he was a master at withholding his affection. She just knew that her daddy was big and strong and that he protected people. That was his job. Like superman. He even had a cool superhero uniform and everything. And she knew at a very young age that when she grew up, she wanted to wear that superhero uniform and be just like him. Only it never dawned on her that her father wouldn’t be proud to have her wear that uniform too.
She sighed as she tried to push that thought from her mind and just concentrate on the incredibly decadent foot massage that John was giving her. She loved these quiet, sexy times with him when they could both just shut out the world and be together, with no crises brewing, no Eastwood Police Department business to take his attention, no disembodied dispatchers chirping at her over the radio. When they could turn off the world of bad guys and police work and just make love. She lived for these times, even if they did come at odd hours of the day. She always wished they could last forever.
“Mmm, I love you,” she murmured, running a wet hand through her dark blonde hair as she gazed up at him with hooded eyelids. This was heaven. It had to be. Seated in a tub full of bubbles and surrounded by candlelight with soft R&B playing on the radio in the background. As always, John knew how to set the perfect scene.
He smiled at her as he gently pressed his thumbs into the ball of her left foot. “You’re only saying that because I’m massaging your feet,” he said.
“And because you fed me an amazing breakfast,” she added.
“And the sex had nothing to do with it, I suppose?” he asked, still smiling at her.
Frankie shrugged her shoulders. “Oh, yeah. I guess the sex was okay too,” she answered playfully.
“Are you kidding me?” he said, lowering her foot and looking at her with a mock hurt expression. “Just okay? Come on now! That was some of my best work back there! You are not going to find moves like that anywhere else, let me tell you!”
Frankie giggled at his sales pitch and lifted her foot to his brown, chiseled chest, tapping him impatiently with her wet toes until he took up the massage again.
He took her wet foot in his hands and brought it to his lips, kissing her toes as he smiled at her. “I love you too,” he said, looking into her eyes as he resumed his massage. “You have no idea how much.”
His voice was soft, and his gaze was burning with sincerity and heat. And Frankie couldn’t stop herself. She pulled her foot away from him and moved forward, sloshing water around the tub as she went. She climbed into his lap, sitting astride him and bringing them face to face. Then she ran her wet fingers through his soft brown curls as she leaned in and kissed his full lips.
“Show me,” she whispered letting her own lips lightly brush against his between kisses. “Show me how much you love me.”
Marina: A Kelly Family Novella
Author Lashell Collins
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Marina Kelly is sick to death of cops! That’s all she’s known her entire life - her father is a cop, her uncle was a cop. All of her cousins are cops. Even her two brothers and her big sister … all cops. So Marina decided early on that her life would take a much different path, taking her as far away from that lifestyle as she could get. And dating a cop is totally out of the question!
Levi Hawks is well aware of Marina’s ‘no cops’ dating rule, so when a supposed chance meeting brings him face-to-face with the sexy shop owner, Levi is determined to hide the fact that he’s a police detective from her for as long as he possibly can. Or at least until he can get her to agree to go out with him!
Time to go to work, Bear,” she called out cheerfully, and the large, happy Bernese Mountain Dog came running.
Marina picked up the large box full of plastic containers that was waiting for her on the couch and somehow managed to maneuver it out to her car and load it into the back of her jeep. Then she opened up the driver’s side door and allowed Bear to hop into the passenger seat. She slid behind the wheel and started it up and then got underway.
Her store sat in a prime location right in the heart of Eastwood’s recently refurbished trendy downtown district, and it was perfect. In fact, Marina was convinced that the location itself had played a huge part in the store’s success. It was sandwiched between a popular gourmet health food store and a hip new coffee shop called Beans, and both places got a lot of foot traffic, which meant her store saw a lot of traffic too. And best of all, it wasn’t far at all from the cute little house she had been renting for the past three years. The drive took just ten minutes, perfect for a busy morning commute.
She pulled into the reserved space at the back of the store and parked. And when she got out of the car she waited for Bear to jump out after her. Juggling her purse and the large tote she used to carry her work things, she opened up the back of the jeep and lugged the large box of containers out of it. It was a delicate balancing act closing the hatch on the car while trying not to drop the box, but she did it. It’s not that the large box was particularly heavy. It was just incredibly awkward, and it obstructed her view as she walked, which was dangerous with Marina’s clumsiness. But somehow she got the thing all the way across the parking lot and onto the walkway. And that’s when she tripped over her bear of a dog.
She let out a yelp on the way down and she landed on her rump as the box went flying forward. Plastic containers bearing the store’s logo went flying everywhere.
She took a deep breath and pushed herself up onto her knees. This is what she got for trying to do everything herself all the time. She set about gathering the scattered containers as Bear stood by looking guilty.
“It’s okay, buddy,” she smiled at him.
“Here, let me help you with that.”
The voice was warm and masculine, and Marina looked up into the face of the hottest guy she had seen in a long time. He was tall and rugged with dark brown hair and very blue eyes, almost like the color of sapphire gemstones, and they took Marina’s breath away as he looked down at her. Without a word, he turned and began gathering up the spilled containers.
“Oh, thank you,” she said, trying not to stare at him as she turned her attention back to the task at hand. “That’s very kind of you.”
“Just trying to help a lady in distress, ma’am,” he smiled as he glanced back at her. He wasn’t about to tell her that he had been sitting in his car waiting for her shop to open so that he could catch a glimpse of her on his way to grab a cup of coffee from the shop next to hers.
That smile made Marina forget everything for a few moments. God, he was handsome! He had this wickedly sexy five o’clock shadow framing a set of full, kissable lips, and when he smiled Marina felt her insides turn to molten lava.
“Uh … thanks,” she sputtered, trying to pull her eyes away from him.
He crouched down to pick up a few more and then reached over to place them back into the box they had spilled from.
“Oh! Hello,” he said somewhat nervously as he suddenly found himself face to face with the large, fluffy dog. Bear sniffed at him and then licked his face.
Marina giggled. “I’m really sorry. He’s just being friendly. I swear he’s not preparing to eat you! This is Woolly Bear. He’s my partner in crime,” she smiled. “And I’m Marina Kelly.”
“Woolly Bear, huh?” he said, looking back at the dog staring him in his face. “Well, the name certainly suits you, Mr. Bear. Nice to meet you.” He held out his hand and then laughed in delight when the large dog placed his paw in it. “Oh, you know that one, do you? How about high five?” he asked, holding his palm up. The dog didn’t hesitate. He took a sitting position and lifted his paw to slap the man’s hand.
Marina joined the handsome stranger in his laughter. Whoever this gorgeous man was, he was being awfully nice to her dog, and that was ten huge points in his favor already. Marina was smitten.
“Um, Bear and I didn’t catch your name,” she smiled.
He looked at her with that sexy grin as he scratched the dog’s head. “My name is Levi,” he said. “Levi Hawks.”
“Well, thank you for your help, Mr. Hawks. Your good deed is greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten,” she said. “In fact, why don’t you let me get you a cup of coffee?” she asked, glancing to her shop. “There should already be a pot brewing in my store.”
His gaze held hers for a few seconds before his smile grew bigger. “I would love a cup of coffee.”
About the Author
Lashell Collins spent the last twenty years of her life working in Veterinary Hospitals and Garden Centers. But whether she was surrounded by the adorable puppies and kittens she helped care for, or by the beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs, she constantly pursued her favorite pastime – reading romance novels and imagining herself as the heroine in each and every one of them. She began writing as a way to work through her grief after the loss of a few people who were special to her, and she found it to be cathartic, so she kept at it. She self-published her first novel in 2013. Since then, Lashell has self-published ten titles across two series – the Pierced Trilogy (romantic suspense), and the Jagged Ivory Series (contemporary romance) – and is hard at work on another two series for this year. All of Lashell’s stories are full of heart and romance, with smart dialogue and spicy sex scenes.
When she’s not writing, Lashell enjoys reading, shopping, eating Chinese food, and riding on the back of her husband’s Harley-Davidson. She loves watching General Hospital and Grimm. She is a huge music fan and is completely obsessed with Slash. Lashell is a member of the Romance Writers of America. Drop her a line; she loves to hear from readers.