Authors: Lori King
|The Surrender Series |
Warning: For Mature Adult Audiences.
Contains language and actions some may deem
M/F/M/M, graphic language,
consensual BDSM, spanking, HEA.
'No' touching or titillation between siblings.
In book two of the Surrender Trilogy: The strength
of a man is in the way he embraces his flaws, instead of denying them.
Zoey Carson has worked nonstop to graduate with
her Masters degree, after managing to survive parents who neglected her in
favor of their own addictions.
future of helping children overcome their childhood is within her grasp until she
is knocked down by a surprise visit from her mother.
She finds herself at a crossroads when her
longtime crush, Tanner Keegan, comes to her rescue, along with his brothers,
Dalton and Clint.
Letting them go might help
her avoid getting hurt, but the outcome
would continue to live a lonely, empty life.
The Keegan brothers finally come together after
spreading themselves across the globe for more than a decade.
Each fighting his own personal battle with the
past and future, but there is no question that Zoey turns them all on.
Who will risk the pain of baring their soul
for the promise of a happy future, and who will succumb to their weaknesses?
Return to Stone River, Texas, where the Keegan
brothers work together to win the heart of the woman made for them.
Enjoy the journey as Zoey decides if she can
be their…Flawless Surrender.
The Surrender Trilogy
by Lori King
© Copyright December 2013 JK Publishing, Inc.
ISBN # 9781310386626
All cover art and logo © Copyright December 2013 by JK Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Edited by Caroline Kirby
Artwork by Jess Buffett
Published by JK Publishing, Inc.
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com, and purchase your own copy.
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales are entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author and publishing company.
Please always be aware of where you are purchasing your electronic books and from whom. Only purchase from reputable, licensed individuals such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes,
If ever in doubt, let the author know of a suspected site illegally selling their works—remember to include a link to the site where you have found a book you suspect of being pirated. It only takes a moment of your time, but you will forever have the gratitude of an author.
About the eBook Purchased
Your purchase of this eBook allows you to only ONE LEGAL copy for your own personal reading on your own personal computer or device. You do not have resale or distribution rights without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this eBook. This eBook cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer-to-peer program, free or for a fee, or as a prize in any contest. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. Distribution of this eBook, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden. If you do not want this eBook anymore, you must delete it from your computer.
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
If you find any e-books being sold or shared illegally, please contact the author or the publishing company.
Email: [email protected]
JK Publishing bookstore: www.shop.jkpublishingbooks.com
For my children: I hope you will always remember to embrace your flaws, for that is what makes you uniquely beautiful.
For my husband: You have always accepted and loved me for who I am and I love your perfect imperfections.
I hope to always live, laugh, and love like today is my only chance. –Lori
Thank you to
Nicole Plummer who helped me name Dalton Keegan, and flesh him out.
Thank you to
Kerri Good, Tracey Reid,
and Stacey Price who all
shared their creativity with me when I was fantasizing about cowboys.
Thank you to the JK Publishing family for supporting me and encouraging me in weak moments.
Table of Contents
The strength of a man is in the way he embraces his flaws instead of denying them.
Zoey Carson’s life was over.
A couple of months ago she received her master’s degree, and now she would be starting her dream job. In three short weeks, she would be a social worker for the Stone River Junior High School. She would have the opportunity to have an impact on children’s lives, and perhaps encourage them to reach beyond their circumstances. So how in the world was it possible that everything else in her life fell apart just when she thought she was on the right track?
An hour ago she received the news from her landlord the tiny triplex she had occupied for nearly six years had been sold to a developer and was going to be demolished in thirty days. She lived in Stone River. A tiny two-bit town in bum-fuck Texas where there was a ridiculous shortage of apartments and rental homes for a single woman who didn't have the money to buy a house. So now she was going to be homeless and if the arrival of her mother was any indication, she was going to be broke as well.
Her bone thin, strung out mother stood in front of her with a small backpack flung over her shoulder and a cigarette in her twitchy fingers. Eve Carson only searched her daughter out when she was out of money, or when her latest boyfriend realized what a junkie she really was. Exactly like her ex-husband, Zoey’s lame ass father, Andy. They were both worthless, and she counted herself lucky that she hadn’t seen her father since she was twelve. She only knew he was still alive because her mother occasionally still hooked up with him to score her next hit. Two adults who never grew up and with no intention of doing so, they had come together in a blaze of passion and ended up with a daughter they didn’t know how to take care of and didn’t want. Zoey had always been the adult of the family, even as a little girl.
Eve smiled at her as if she was genuinely happy to see her, but Zoey was under no false hopes of a loving reunion. Instead, she had to bite her own tongue to avoid saying something too vicious in greeting.
Propping her hip on the doorjamb, she blocked her mother’s entrance into her apartment and crossed her arms over her chest. "Mom? What are you doing here?"
Eve’s lips curved up into a tiny smile and Zoey could barely see the faint outline of a bruise marring her jawline.
. That meant she was coming off another bad break up and she was looking for solace.
She was a serial dater, and the men she usually kept company with were terrible for her. There had been junkies, drug dealers, abusers, ex-cons, and even a pimp a few years back. It seemed like Eve just knew how to pick the shittiest guys around and fall madly in love with them.
"Do I need a reason to visit my beautiful daughter? I came to say hello and visit with you."
Zoey felt her eyebrow lift nearly to her hairline. "Really? Since when do you randomly drop by Stone River to say hello?"
"Since today, damn it. Now are you going to let your mother in or not?"
Zoey wanted to say no, but she couldn't. Much to her own dismay, she never could deny either one of her parents. Instead, she stepped back and held the door open to her little studio apartment.
Once upon a time, her mother was a beautiful woman, but now her constant battle with alcohol and drugs had taken its toll on her body. She looked emaciated and sick, with a yellowish pallor to her skin. Zoey knew there was a good chance her mother was stoned out of her mind right now, but she gestured to a seat on the couch anyway.
"So, how have you been, Mom?"
"Good, I’ve been traveling. Leo took me to see Dallas and then San Antonio for a bit. Leo is a great guy. I can’t wait for you to meet him. We met down by Galveston when I was looking for work. We had a little spat yesterday, so we’re taking a break. Giving each other some space. Since I had nothing else going on right now, I decided it was time for me to come visit my Zoey."
Zoey fought the urge to sigh dramatically. It was just what she expected. "So are you planning on staying for a while?"
Eve’s sunken blue eyes widened in a fake act of surprise, "Only if it's not an inconvenience, baby. I wouldn't want to be in your way. I'm sure you have a lot going on right now..."
The words hung there, heavy in the air. Just out of reach. Zoey knew she couldn't say no, so she nodded, "Of course you can stay here. I'm in the middle of looking for a new place to live though."
"Oh? Is this place not good enough for a college graduate anymore?"
Eve stubbed her cigarette out in the houseplant that sat next to the sofa and Zoey had to bite her tongue. “No, Mom. My landlord sold the building. I have a couple of weeks to figure out where I’m going to move.
“I see, well I won’t concern myself with the details. I’m sure you will work it all out. What else have you been up to, baby? It’s been months since we sat down and chatted. Do you have a man yet? I met Leo at a bar. He was singing in a local band, and one look was all it took. We’ve been wandering around the state of Texas together, a little like nomads, but you know I enjoy traveling. Do you have anything to eat? I skipped breakfast this morning, and I’m starving now.”
Zoey bit her tongue to keep from responding to Eve’s rush of words. This was the way she was. It was Eve’s world and Zoey felt like she was caught up in a hurricane when she was around, flung about without a handhold. Walking into the kitchen, she tugged the fridge door open and began pulling out the things she would need to throw together a quick sandwich for her mom. Within moments, Eve had two sandwiches and a bag of chips in front of her, happily chattering away about Leo and their misadventures all over the Lone Star state.
“I’m sorry, baby, I’ve been yapping away at you and I haven’t even given you a chance to talk! Now that you’re done with school, what do you plan to do?
Zoey hesitated to be sure the Eve-storm was over before she responded. “I got a job with the local school district. I start in a couple of weeks.”
“Really? I guess nowadays with all of the school shootings and stuff it makes sense they would want head doctors in the schools.” The solemn look on Eve’s face had Zoey shaking her head.
“I’m not a head doctor, Mom. I’m a licensed social worker.”
Eve shrugged. “Same diff. I mean really, you listen to crazy self-centered folks all day long and make them feel better about themselves, right?”
Zoey took a deep breath to calm her nerves and pinched the bridge of her nose as she fought back a snarky reply. “Mom, I’ve got to go out for a bit. Will you be okay here by yourself?”
“Oh sure! I think I’ll indulge in a nice long shower and then maybe take a nap. I haven’t slept much either lately.”
Her mom pulled another cigarette from her purse and reached for her lighter.
“Please, Mom, not in here. You know I can’t stomach the smell.”
Eve rolled her eyes and her lip curled up in a half smile-half cringe. “Yeah, you always were sensitive about things like that. I’ll take a quick walk downstairs and be back in a flash.”
While her mom was gone, Zoey cleaned up the mess left behind in the kitchen, and slid her feet into a pair of sandals. She had her purse over her shoulder and her keys in hand as she crossed paths with Eve going to her car. She had a feeling she was going to be spending a lot more time out of her home rather than trapped inside with her mom.
After a quick text to her best friend, Rachel, as she was starting her beat up four-door sedan, she was on the road with all four windows down and the stifling summer heat of Texas blasting through her dark hair. Oddly enough, even the heavy humid air didn’t stop her from inhaling deeply and sending up a prayer of thanks for the distance she had come since her parents split. She was a grown ass woman with ambitions and goals and her mother was not going to get in her way. Being homeless however, might pose a problem.
Kasey Musgraves new song “Blowing Smoke” echoed over her stereo as she rounded the long dirt drive up to Rachel’s home. Brooks Pastures was one of the most prominent ranches around Stone River and the four Brooks brothers had made up the majority of the towns hottest bachelors list until last summer.
Rachel managed to land all four brothers in one fell swoop, shocking the town and making history. Zoey had braced for some flare-ups about the new polyamorous relationship but oddly, the whole town seemed to embrace the happy family and congratulate them as one. The fact they had just had a beautiful bouncing baby girl might have helped that a little.
Juliet was the sweetest little cherub Zoey had ever seen, and every time she was near the little girl, it was as if her womb clenched. She wanted a baby of her own desperately, but at the moment, the lack of male companionship posed a serious problem. She had been so focused on her career goals that she had put every other need aside, and besides the occasional hot and sweaty hookup that left her wanting, she hadn’t really had a serious relationship. She craved cuddling, and the intimacy and affection that went with a serious relationship. Someday she wanted just one man to look at her and want her from the top of her dark hair to the bottom of her ridiculously oversized feet.
Rachel was waiting on the front porch with a tall glass of sweet tea and a chocolate candy bar when Zoey parked and jumped out. It was just the sort of thing that Zoey needed and she hurried up the steps into her best friend’s arms.
“I’m so glad you’re not back to work yet,” she mumbled into Rachel’s shoulder.
“Me too. It sounded like an urgent situation. What the hell is your mom doing back in Stone River?” Zoey took a step back and accepted the sweet treat from Rachel before following her into the house.
“She’s here to crash at my place because she ran out of money and her newest man, Leo, wouldn’t take care of her anymore. I can’t tell if she’s strung out yet, but she’s sporting a fading bruise on her jaw that she didn’t give to herself.”
“Who has a bruise?” Parker Brooks stepped into the living room just as they were settling onto the sofa.
“My mom. She showed up at my place after another bad break up. I’m stuck with her until she gets bored of Stone River again.” Zoey let out a dejected sigh as she took a big bite of chocolate and let it melt on her tongue. It was amazing how much chocolate could do for a girl in need.
“Why don’t you just tell her to get her own place?” Parker asked, bending and pressing a quick kiss to Rachel’s lips before he sat down in a chair nearby. His jeans and button down shirt were covered in dust, and there was a streak of grime on his cheek making him look like the consummate cowboy.
“Because she has no money. She never has any money, mostly because she spends it all on alcohol or cocaine,” Zoey’s sarcastic comment didn’t cover up the hurt in her tone, and she looked down into her glass of sweet tea, blinking rapidly to keep tears back.
“The guys don’t know about your mom, Zoey, I didn’t think it was my place to tell them.” Rachel was looking at her with pity, and if there was anything Zoey despised, it was pity.
Too many adults looked at her with pity over the years, supposedly sympathizing with her plight, while standing by and allowing it to continue. Her parents never hit her, or physically abused her in a way that would be punishable by law, but they sure were good at neglecting her.
She could remember countless mornings waking up shivering in a house with no heat in the dead of winter, or taking a bath in the creek behind her house because the water had been shut off. The kids at school didn’t know the extent of her situation, but they knew she wore grimy clothes that didn’t fit right. So she became an outcast. Finding Rachel in the second grade was the only good thing that had happened to Zoey in her whole childhood. Rachel’s parents had just split up, and her father had run off to another state with his secretary leaving his family behind. The gossip and chatter put Rachel on the outcast list too, and they connected.
“My mom wasn’t a good mom, and for that matter, my dad was pretty shitty too. It’s not a big deal.”
Rachel and Parker exchanged a look, and for one brief moment Zoey was afraid Rachel would say more, but Parker seemed to shut her down with one of his “don’t mess with me” looks. Instead, Rachel turned and asked her, “So what is this about a developer?”
“Oh yes, that’s the other big news. Langley gave me notice this morning that he sold the house to that developer who just moved here. I don’t remember her name, but she is planning on tearing the place down and building a small sub-division. Apparently the folks in the city like the idea of small town living—as long as they get to keep their suburban housing. So I will be out of a place to live in four weeks, no matter what.”
Zoey let her head fall back on the sofa and closed her eyes. Saying it out loud made it all the more real.
“Shi-oot.” Rachel corrected herself before she cursed in front of Parker, and Zoey looked up just in time to catch the heated look the two lovers shared. “You can always stay here, girl. Now that the remodeling is done on the Master Suite we have a guest bedroom.”
“Um, only one? Didn’t this house have four bedrooms before?” Zoey asked with a raised eyebrow.
Parker chuckled and Rachel snorted before explaining. “I have four husbands, but there is only one of me. So two guys per night can share the bed. That means the other two are on their own, and Juliet has her own room. That leaves one guest bedroom.”
Zoey was instantly sorry she asked as images of her best friend and her four scorching hot husbands sharing a bed and other activities filled her brain. “God, I’m sorry. That was insanely rude of me to ask.”
Parker just laughed while Rachel waved it off. “No biggie. No reason to lie about it. Besides, these guys are taking their lives into their own hands every time they sleep next to me. I kick like a donkey.”
“That ain’t no shit,” Parker muttered under his breath and then grimaced when Rachel cleared her throat. “Sorry, it slipped out. You know Zoey, Tanner Keegan has a room open right now. In fact, he was just saying the other night at Robin’s that he was going to be looking for a renter soon. It’s the room over the garage I believe. Like an apartment type thing. You should call him.”