Kylie Tate is highly successful and focused on her future. No one sees the fear that consumes her, ravaged by demons from a past that left her distrustful of love.
Alex Stone is rarely denied. Not by business associates, and certainly not the women he dates and forgets. Romance is never an option. That is until beautiful, sexy, too damned independent Kylie comes into his life and frustrates the hell out of him. She sparks a desire in him to protect her from the one demon that haunts her - and threatens to destroy them both.
Pushed to her limit and unwilling to be a victim any longer, Kylie takes control of her life.
But a madman’s quest for revenge not only threatens to destroy the love she has finally found – but also her life.
Read an Excerpt
Of Demons & Stones
A Tri-Stone Trilogy, Book One
By Anne L. Parks, Helen Hardt
Fireside Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Anne L. Parks
All rights reserved.
Someone's watching me.
A cold shiver sweeps through me, even in the early-summer morning humidity. My skin prickles. The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand on end. A few people scurry around the marina. I glance at the faces as I pass. No one I know.
More importantly, not him.
I cross over the bridge and head away from town. Hopefully, I can escape the eerie sensation and focus on the additional mile I've added to my five-mile run. Old Mill's Road is lined with tall trees that lead the way to the coast and not heavily traveled. In fact, the only people who use it are the multimillionaires who own massive estates spread throughout the semiprivate enclave.
A car sits along the curb with the driver's door open. I cross to the opposite side of the street to pass and keep my eyes on the man standing next to the vehicle. His posture is rigid, and his jaw clenched, as he pushes buttons on his cell phone. I tug on one of the earbuds and let it fall to my shoulder. My self-defense instructor's admonition rings in my head. Look, listen, and be aware of your surroundings.
I make a quick assessment of the man as I pass by — about six feet tall, broad shoulders, chiseled jaw. The deep creases in his forehead evidence his experience in life, and only enhance his looks. He runs his hands through his light brown hair, cursing about the amount of money he wastes on a phone that dies as soon as an emergency arises.
I smile. I feel your pain, buddy.
Glancing up at me, he manages a frustrated smile and returns to muttering under his breath. About ten steps past him, I turn around and pull my phone out of the armband. What the hell am I doing? I have this route perfectly timed to get me home, in the shower, and to work on schedule.
"Do you need a cell phone?" My heavy breathing breaks up the words.
His brilliant blue eyes narrow, his gaze moves up and down my body, before he focuses on my face. Where do I know you from?
"Yes, thank you." His deep voice is controlled and kind of sexy. "Mine's not working."
I pull up the number pad and hand over my phone.
"Car not working either?" I peer around him to get a glimpse of his steel-gray Maserati Quattroporte. The body style is different than the ones I've seen, so I'm guessing he has an early release of next year's model.
"No, hence me standing on the side of the road."
I raise my eyebrows and suppress my laughter. Hence? "What happened?"
"It stopped running while I was driving it."
I want to laugh. Despite his cool demeanor, his faces scrunches up and releases, and his speech is stilted.
"Did any lights flash or go off before it died?" I ask.
"I didn't notice." His voice is flat, but the thick vein in his neck is pulsing.
"Make a noise or lurch suddenly?"
Mr. Rich Pants squints at me as I move toward his car.
"Not that I noticed." He lets out a small sigh.
"Are you typically this unobservant when you drive?" I suppress a smile. It's time to have some fun with Mr. Rich Pants and his haughty, dismissive attitude.
I'm used to men assuming that, because I'm a woman, I have no clue about cars and how they run. In fact, the opposite is true. Growing up poor, I was forced to make an old clunker run on wire hangers and duct tape, and I learned a lot about the internal workings of vehicles. I was also fascinated with the cars I hoped to drive someday — like Mr. Rich Pants's Maserati.
"Have you noticed a significant reduction in engine power while driving it?"
I squint my eyes. "Are you sure you didn't just run out of gas?"
"Yes, actually, I am," he says, his voice terse. "If that were the problem, I'd still get lights on the dashboard. As it stands, nothing happens when I attempt to start it."
I rub my hands together and smile. "Now, we're getting somewhere. Pop the hood, and let me take a look."
Mr. Rich Pants stands his ground, and I lift my head to see if he didn't hear me or has suddenly lost his grasp of the English language. Nope, he's pissed. Damn, he's sexy when he's mad, though.
I sweetly smile at him, enjoying this almost too much. "Pop the hood ... please?"
Mr. Rich Pants grudgingly gets behind the wheel and releases the hood. I glide my hand under it until I feel the latch and lift. The engine is fairly clean, and there are no apparent leaks or loose hoses. That's a good sign.
An impatient appeal comes from the driver's side. "Really, I can just call a tow truck."
"Oh, don't get your knickers in a knot," I mutter, checking the battery cables. "Do you have any juice at all?"
I chuckle and walk around to the driver's side. "If you try to start it, do any of the dashboard lights come on?"
He pushes the start button while I lean in to verify if anything lights up. I inhale his scent--spicy and earthy — and sparks a flame in me. I'm suddenly aware that I've already run about three miles, so I'm not exactly smelling like roses.
The dashboard stays dark.
I stand and lean against the car. "I suspect you have an issue with the knock sensor. Maseratis have been known to have start failures due to issues with moisture getting into the sensor." I turn to him, my gaze meeting his. "But I'm sure you know that already?"
And there it is. He gapes. His eyes are wide, and he stares at me. I continue to lean lazily against the car, but inside, I'm high-fiving myself and squealing like a madwoman.
Mr. Rich Pants sits there, in his light-gray suit pants, starched white dress shirt, and blue tie. He probably has no idea where to put gas in this exquisite piece of machinery.
Breathing deeply, I try to pull my eyes away from him. "Would you like to call for a tow truck, or shall I call my guy for you?"
Mr. Rich Pants hands my phone over. "By all means, call your guy."
A bemused smile slides across his face, wags his head from side-to-side, and I'm not sure whether I want to slap him or kiss that beautiful mouth. I quickly find the number of my trusted mechanic in my contacts list and place the call.
Mr. Rich Pants stands in front of me. His thumb rubs along his bottom lip. I'm drawn to the slow movement, and a sudden smolder warms me in long-forgotten places. I swallow hard and pass my cell phone back to him.
"That's your phone," he says with a sly smile.
"Just thought you might like to call someone to pick you up — unless you plan on walking to town?"
Mr. Rich Pants accepts my phone, and quirks up the corner of his mouth. After a brief discussion with whomever he calls, he turns his attention back to me, and his gaze holds mine once more.
"Let me guess," he says, a renewed smugness in his voice. "You learned everything you know about cars while growing up in your father's garage?"
I cross my arms over my chest, shake my head, and clench my jaw. "No. Self-taught. My father didn't know anything about cars, so I learned." I look down the road. Relief flows through me when I see Ray's tow truck approaching.
"Really?" Mr. Rich Pants says. "That's impressive."
I glance sideways at him, more than a bit miffed at his condescension. Mr. Rich Pants is rubbing his thumb across his lower lip again. It's distracting.
While Ray and Mr. Rich Pants talk, a black Mercedes SUV with darkened windows pulls up behind us and idles. No doubt another in the rich bastard's luxury vehicle fleet.
Mr. Rich Pants comes up beside me as the tow truck pulls away, the sports coupe sitting on the flatbed.
"Thank you." He reaches out to shake my hand, which is covered in dirt and grime from working under the hood. Retracting, he slides his hand into his pocket, pulls out a handkerchief, and offers it to me.
The block letter monogram in navy thread reads AS. I smirk and wipe my hands.
"Something funny?" he asks.
I look back at the monogram before meeting his eyes and handing the handkerchief back to him. "No middle initial. Just wondering if that's because it also starts with an 'S'?"
A low laugh escapes his lips, and his eyebrows rise. "Keep it. I have a drawer full of them at home."
We stand there for another minute, and I'm unable to look away.
He takes a deep breath and looks down the street. "Can I give you a ride?"
"No, I think I'll finish my run. Thanks. Besides, you haven't had much luck with vehicles. You might not actually make it into town with this one either."
A lusty laugh breaks free from his chest, and he shakes his head. "Precisely. I may need your exceptional powers of observation again."
I bite my bottom lip, unwittingly drawn to him. He erases some of the distance between us, and I breathe in his intoxicating scent once more. It's seriously making me light-headed. His eyes darken and he stares at my bottom lip. He licks his lips, sending fingers of intense heat throughout my body. Finally, he looks away and steps back.
He retrieves a wad of cash from his pocket and offers me a hundred dollar bill. "Here. For your trouble."
In an instant, my good mood is replaced with disappointment. "No pockets," I say, my voice flat. "Keep it. This is my pay-it-forward moment. Now it's your turn."
Mr. Rich Pants thrusts the bills back into his pocket and pulls the sunglasses perched on his head down over his eyes. "Can I do anything for you?"
"Yeah. Can I have my phone back?"
He drops it into my outstretched hand, and I return it to the armband. Ensuring the earbuds are snug, I turn and take off running again, leaving Mr. Rich Pants on the side of the road.
Damn, I'm going to be late for court.CHAPTER 2
I step off the elevator at the Law Offices of Daniels & Roberts, LLC on the seventh floor affectionately known as the penthouse. The partners and exceptional attorneys reside here, and the support staff is all female and all very young. Most could adorn the centerfold pages of men's magazines. The penthouse is proof that misogyny is alive and well.
"Hey, Kylie. How did Mr. Turner's hearing go?" Sarah, the receptionist, asks.
"Deferred sentence." I hand her my files.
The past two days have been filled with running from one courtroom to another, attempting to clear up issues on smaller cases before my first-degree murder trial begins. Soon, my life will revolve exclusively around that case.
I lean on the white marble receptionist desk that welcomes clients into the stark, sterile, contemporary penthouse.
"Awesome," she mutters, her hand nearly missing the files.
Blonde, skinny, and bubbly, twenty-one-year-old Sarah is everything the middle-aged male associates, partners, and clients in the penthouse want greeting them three to four times a day. Despite her persona, I like her. She's just the right amount of enthusiastic without going overboard, and she knows how to rein in her flighty, flirtatious facade when addressing the other females in the office. She's also excellent at her job, which was a happy surprise when I transitioned upstairs from the fourth floor. I'd pretty much tagged her as inept and what my father would've termed "a dingbat."
"Alex Stone," she whispers, leaning over the desk toward me. "He's here, meeting with Jack." With each revelation, the elevation of pitch in her voice is slight but discernible.
I give her credit. She's not squealing and jumping up and down with glee.
"This is the first time I've ever seen him here. He never comes into our office. He always insists on meetings at his headquarters." Sarah darts her gaze around. "I'm not sure what they're meeting about, but it must be really important for Mr. Stone to leave his ivory tower and mingle with us mere mortals."
Alex Stone is a forty-five-year-old multi-billionaire businessman extraordinaire, and the most eligible bachelor worldwide. The local boy who made it big employs many people in the area and is responsible for much of the economic prosperity in town. He's purportedly very good at what he does, if his outrageous wealth is any indication. However, he's extremely ruthless and unfeeling in his business dealings.
He also has a reputation as a playboy and dates only excessively beautiful young women. Not many of the penthouse attorneys like him, claiming he's an arrogant, severe asshole. He refuses to allow them to negotiate on his behalf and insists they merely draft contracts to his specifications, relegating them to secretarial status. I can't help but wonder if they're just bitter because he doesn't cater to their own enormous egos. Whatever the case, his large retainer and the immensely high hourly fee the firm charges has provided more than a few of those attorneys with the ability to purchase vacation homes in the Caribbean.
Sarah checks her makeup and hair in the small compact she discreetly pulled from her desk drawer. Stone will be passing by her as he heads to the elevator to leave, and Sarah will have a small window of opportunity to capture his attention, his heart, and his pocketbook.
I sigh, turn on my heel, and head to my office. I have too much to do to waste time on a guy who probably wouldn't look at me, let alone speak. Not that I care. Alex Stone is exactly the type of man I don't need complicating my life.
Three months ago, I moved from my small office on the fourth floor with a not-so-great view of the alley and dumpsters to my radically larger office, which provides a spectacular view of the downtown area with a decent glimpse of the bay. The male associates in the penthouse — who mounted a protest when it was announced that a female attorney would be moving into a suite — apparently nearly revolted when I snagged a corner office. Every time I enter it, I feel like I'm giving them the proverbial finger while my subconscious screams at them to fuck off.
A knock on my door drags my attention from the response brief I'm working on. I glance up as my boss makes his way into my office.
Jack Daniels — no shit, his actual name — crosses to one of the two chairs opposite my desk. He's in his early seventies, and as I understand it, has no inclination to retire. He's still handsome — salt-and-pepper hair and kind blue eyes — until he's pissed off.
He's been my biggest supporter at the firm and lobbied for me to move up to the penthouse when others sought to keep a males-only attorney pool.
"Kylie, I'd like you to meet our client, Alex Stone."
I hadn't noticed him until he strolled to the vacant chair next to Jack, and I nearly choke on my recognition. Alex Stone is the arrogant, smarmy Mr. Rich Pants from my morning run two days earlier.
"Alex has been a client of this firm for — what? — fifteen or sixteen years now? He utilizes many different areaswithin the firm for his various business ventures." Jack takes a seat.
I stand, offer my hand to Stone, and kick myself for not recognizing him on the side of the road. His face is blank, and I'm sure he doesn't recognize me. I remember him — and those gorgeous eyes. It's as if the gods pulled water from the Aegean Sea, with all its beauty and sparkle, and poured it straight into Alex Stone's irises.
Stone releases my hand, and I'm vaguely aware of Jack singing my praises.
My brain finally engages with my mouth, and I manage to get out, "Very nice to meet you, Mr. Stone," as I sit back in my chair.
"Likewise, Miss ..." His words are as smooth as silk.
"Tate. Kylie Tate." My heart pounds in my chest and echoes in my ears.
He nods and sits in the chair next to Jack, and I decide he hasn't made the connection between the sweaty car expert from the other morning and the woman in the business suit in front of him.
"Kylie, Alex informed me of a sensitive issue he needs to discuss with you. It involves his nephew, and the family would like to keep it out of the press at this time."
This introduction is something more than a simple "meet-the-newest-penthouse-associate-and-she's-a-woman ... aren't-we-progressive?" introduction that I've been subjected to since my move upstairs. Apparently, Stone's underage nephew, Joshua Banks, was caught drinking alcohol at a party. He also had a joint in his pocket when the cops frisked him.
I turn my attention back to Stone. "Do you know the name of the prosecutor assigned to his case?"
He blinks several times, and his posture stiffens slightly.
"No, but I can find out." He thumbs through his BlackBerry, presses a button, and speaks to someone on the other end.
I smile, remembering his inability to use the phone two mornings ago which prompted me to stop and help him.
His gaze is locked on my mouth, and I bite my lower lip. He looks away and shifts in his seat. "Amy, look in Josh's file and tell me the name of the prosecutor in his case," he asks whoever is on the other end of his call.
"Do you have the charging documents? Or the initial citation he received when he was arrested?" I ask Stone while he's still on the phone.
"Send a copy of the file to Miss Tate," he says to Amy. He looks at me. "Your email?"
I give him the address, pull a yellow legal pad from my desk drawer, and start running through more questions I want to ask.
"You should have all the documents shortly, Miss Tate," Stone says, and slides the BlackBerry back into his pocket.
Excerpted from Of Demons & Stones by Anne L. Parks, Helen Hardt. Copyright © 2017 Anne L. Parks. Excerpted by permission of Fireside Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the kind of read that lets me know I have issues, but it isn't my fault. There are those author's out there that can write a story and they are good. Their characters touch you and make you want to read more and yada yada. This author is one that takes it a step further. You not only want her characters to succeed and get their hea but you also get so tangled up in their chaos that you want to forget about your own twisted crap going on. Then you want to take it a step further and talk to them because of course they can hear you thru the book. Yeah I know it doesn't work out at all. Anyway with all of that you have two people that are fighting their norm to be together each experiencing first in many aspects of their relationship many not healthy at all but what can I do they just wont listen when I tell them not to do something. This author weaves so many webs for us to dance through to get the entire story and then. . . yup it's a cliff hanger. But hey we were warned and I am good with it, because I need these details and I need the issues and I need to stop writing this review so I can get on to book 2 cos it's on sale and I bought it. This book is awesome and 25% in I was spreading the word on just how good it was.
Of Demons & Stones by Anne L. Parks is book one in this continuing story of Kylie Tate and Alex Stone....so beware that there is a cliffhanger. I will honestly say that I loved this book and truly wanted their story to keep going. This is a lot of things going on in their story so it will be one you won't want to put down...so beware of that too. I just so happy to have found this author and can't wait for more of her books! Kylie has been moving up in her company at a top criminal lawyer...but Kylie has to work still with her abusive ex boyfriend who almost killed her. Kylie kept it a secret from the firm due to threats from the ex boyfriend and the shame of his abuse attached with the story. Kylie has avoided all romantic encounters until she happens to meet Alex. Kylie is very much attracted to Alex but thinks that he wouldn't really give her a second look. But Alex it seems has started to notice her and asking her out. Kylie then thinks maybe he is staying with his one night affair reputation and that he might be the one to get her out into the dating world again. Kylie thinks this because she assumes this really wouldn't be very serious relationship for Alex. Kylie finds soon enough that Alex is wanting more than just a few dates and she does too. But the ex boyfriend too has started to notice that she is seeing Alex and starts to be more confrontational that he has been since they dated. This story has a lot of drama, love, hero trying to protect 'his women' and also it would seem a possible secret that Alex has told Kylie about. "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
Wasn't expecting it to end that way. Your killing me. Amazing book. This author hooked me from the first page. Not for those who don't like to wait to find out the rest of the story but for those don't mind it's an amazing read