It was another day at the ranch, training horses and working fifteen hour days. And then the last person I ever expected showed up. Lake McCain: a Marine, tall, ripped—and the best friend of my dead fiancé. Cal died to save Lake, and now Lake claims that he carries a debt to me that he can never repay.
I wanted to brush him off. But then my mom, the manager of the ranch, went and hired him. We spend hours working together with the horses. Lake doesn’t say much. He’s layered and dark and he tries to seem shallow and simple. But he isn’t. There are things under his surface that matter. He works, quiet and strong, and never once lets me down.
Until he confesses that he may be falling in love with me. I can’t deny that there is something between us. But a relationship? I just can’t. I’ve used up all my chances at love. My past relationships have ended in death or disaster, and now I have to live with all of that.
I’m Riley James, and there are depths to Lake—depths to myself—that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.
The McCain Saga
EVER AFTER DRAKE
MOMENTS OF JULIAN
DEPTHS OF LAKE
PLAYING IT KALE (January 20, 2014)
“Lake?” I call quietly. No reply.
I push the door open a bit more and step inside. I look back toward the bedroom. As far as I can see, it’s empty. And the door to the bathroom is open and the light off.
“Lake?” I call once more.
A soft snore pulls my eyes to the couch, and there I find him.
He’s changed into a pair of dry jeans, but that’s all he’s wearing. A thickly muscled arm is lying across his eyes, his other arm hanging down toward the floor. Bare feet hang over the arm of the couch.
His perfectly sculpted chest bears seven stars tattooed over his left breast.
His brows are furrowed, his expression concerned.
He’s a soldier who’s engaged in combat and he’s seen some horrible things. He saw Cal blown to pieces. I can only imagine the hell he must be seeing behind those lids right now.
I’m torn. I want to wake him from whatever nightmare I know he’s having. But I also know about PTSD and how dangerous it can to be to wake a soldier in this state.
His left shoulder twitches violently. His face winces.
“Lake,” I say, soft and gentle.
He gives a little twitch, like me calling his name entered his dream, but he doesn’t wake.
“Lake,” I say, this time louder. I keep my distance, standing by the door.
He jerks up from the couch, half sitting up. His right hand reaches for his hip, as if he’s searching for a sidearm. His eyes sweep the room and fix on me. They’re bloodshot and wide.
“It’s okay,” I say, keeping my tone even and calm. “It’s just me.”
His breathing is hard and fast and it takes a minute for him to calm down and realize he isn’t out on the battlefield, in the middle of a warzone.
“What do you want?” he asks. His voice is hard and flat.
Soldiers don’t like admitting when they’re dealing with post-field issues. I’ve caught him in a moment of trauma, and he doesn’t like it.
“Mom’s just about got dinner ready and asked me to come get you,” I say. I’m not offended by his hard tone. I understand. “I’m sorry to wake you, but you looked like you were in a place you needed extraction from.”
He looks at me for another really long minute. Lake has the most impassive eyes. I can’t tell what’s going on behind them. Is he angry? Is he embarrassed? Indifferent? It’s impossible to tell.
“Yeah,” he finally replies. He climbs off the couch and walks to the bedroom. He looks over his shoulder at me just before he disappears behind the door. My eyes drop away from him, embarrassed to realize he’s just caught me staring and embarrassed for the fact that I was.
But who couldn’t admire a body like that?
Tell us a little bit about The McCain Saga.
This is a family saga about three brothers and one sister. The McCains all have big personalities and crazy love stories. And they always have each others backs. Each book is told from a different woman’s point of view, Kaylee Ray, Sage McCain, Riley James, and Whitney Ford.
Describe DEPTHS OF LAKE in five words.
Each of the McCain books is told from a different characters point of view. Which of them to you relate to the most?
There’s certainly a little piece of me in each and every one of them. I’d say I have Kaylee’s positive outlook on life, Sage’s ambition, Riley’s independence, and Whitney’s creativity. But the one I relate to the MOST is probably Sage. We both have a bit too much pride and are always reaching for something more.
Writing adult contemporary romance is a new thing for you. What made you decide to make the jump to that genre?
I was actually working on a YA paranormal when I started feeling a bit overwhelmed and burned out. I’d just finished my sci-fi series in one year, and I needed something different. I needed something that was just FUN to write. So I sat down and started on MOMENTS OF JULIAN. It wrote it exactly how I wanted to write it with no readers in mind. It was therapy for me. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about her brothers. And that’s how The McCain Saga came to be!
So, what else have you written?
I have my most popular series, a NA paranormal romance: the Fall of Angels trilogy (BRANDED, FORSAKEN, VINDICATED, and novelette, AFTERLIFE). And then my NA post-apocalyptic romance: The Eden Trilogy (THE BANE, THE HUMAN, THE EVE, shorts THE RAID and THE ASHES). And then I have a YA contemporary standalone, WHAT I DIDN’T SAY.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Riley James is a country girl through and through. Both for the fact that she runs a ranch and trains horses, and she’s the daughter of a career Marine. She loves America, and was engaged to a Marine. And then he died. So when Lake, another soldier, comes into her life, she’s a bit broken. But she’s one of the strongest women you’ll meet.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?