STAND YOUR GROUND ANTHOLOGY
with Nia Farrell, Ree L. Diehl, Patient Lee, Jack Crosby, James Hartley, JA Lafrance, and Christine Monroe.
Release Date June 7, 2019
No matter what walk of life you are from, we are all perfectly imperfect beings of ourselves. We don’t need to be someone else’s image, we only need to be who we are.
Remember, you are the only person who can disappoint yourself. Others will try, but having the will and the want to stop the bullying where it starts is how you can beat a bully or end the violence.
The best way to stop violence and bullying is to think smarter and act brighter.
Proceeds from this anthology will go to National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Stand Your Ground includes
Independence Day by Nia Farrell and Damage Control by Ree L. Diehl.
by Nia Farrell
(historical novella that addresses domestic violence)
Length 23,077 words.
Fearing for her life, Becca West escaped her abusive husband and has been living under an assumed name. When the new sheriff comes to town, he knows that she’s not really Molly Malone. Truly widowed, Becca vows to never again be at a man’s mercy. Sheriff Donovan insists that marrying him is her best—possibly her only—chance of keeping custody of her boy when Billy’s rich, ruthless grandfather discovers where they are. What will a mother do to protect her son?
Independence Day is an erotic romance set in 1868 California. The heroine was inspired by the gut-wrenching true-life story of Anna Glud, who served as a drummer boy under General Grant. The fictional story includes post-rape PTSD and adult themes and may contain triggers. Written for Ages 18+.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 1
As apprehensive as Molly had been when Sheriff Donovan first arrived, she was soon thanking her stars that he had come to Walnut Creek. He was firm but fair, enforcing statutes that the last sheriff had been lax on and making improvements to their community. Billy adored him. The sheriff had quickly, disturbingly grown on her as well.
So far, she had done her best to ignore it.
At night was the hardest. When her father was dying and insisted on seeing her safely settled before he met his end, she had honored his wishes and wed the man he picked for her. At fifteen years of age, she felt that she had no choice.
Grayson was kind in the beginning. Her wedding night was more than she could have hoped for, given his true nature, with a gentle deflowering and hours of passionate lovemaking. Despite the brutality that Grayson had descended into once her father was gone, she could remember when their marital bed harbored more than forced entries and sleepless nights.
Her body yearned for that again.
She ached for Matthew Donovan.
She could not let him know how he affected her. She longed to touch the shadow of his beard-stippled face at the end of the day and sooth the tension from his brow. The worst was remembering what he looked like naked. Two weeks after he came, he’d failed to lock the bathing room door. She had gone in to clean it…only to find him climbing out of the tub, water clinging to the mat of crisp curls that spanned his chest, thinned below it, and narrowed to a tempting trail that led to his manhood.
His body had stirred at the sight of her, while she watched, mesmerized. He had snatched the towel and covered himself, breaking the spell and sending her flying out the door, her cheeks as red as chili peppers and the heart of her womanhood pulsing with new awareness. It was as if a fire had been sparked inside her. Unable to extinguish it, she now struggled to keep it banked. If she allowed it to flare to life, she feared that it would consume her.
But there was no help for it. Marriage would reduce her to the status of chattel. She refused to put herself at a man’s mercy ever again, and no affair was worth the risk. She would lose her reputation, her livelihood, her home, and possibly her son. Should she be judged an unfit mother, the court would take Billy away.
She was doomed to live each day with the knowledge of what Matthew Donovan looked like naked, and a keen awareness that he shared that most intimate memory.
Things had been awkward between them ever since.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 2
His hazel eyes were as serious as she’d ever seen them. “We can have a second ceremony in the Church when things settle, but we’re making it legal now. As soon as supper’s done, we’re paying the justice of the peace a visit. The only way to ensure that Francis West won’t get custody of Billy is for you to take a husband who can pass close inspection. I’m not perfect, Becca, but my reputation is as good as any man’s and better than most. Mr. West can look for dirt in Indiana or Kansas or California, but he won’t find anything on me. I’ve kept my nose clean and chosen my friends well. Being a lawman, you live a life of risk. Under other circumstances, I’d give you plenty of time to think about that. Once we’re married in the Church, that’s it for either of us. There’ll be no backing out. No divorce. I’ll go off to work each day, and you’ll be here, not knowing if I’m coming home in my boots or in a box.”
She paled at his words and the bleak picture that he’d painted with them.
He shoved five fingers into his hair and sadly shook his head. “Unfortunately, that will be our reality,” he said. “I’ve always hesitated to saddle someone with it. I wouldn’t now, but it can’t be helped. It’s the only sure way to keep you and Billy safe. But if we do this, I want us to be clear. I plan to be your husband, in every way.”
She felt her cheeks warm. A marriage had to be consummated to be legal. If they married, they would share a bed.
His brow knit with worry when she said nothing. “Some women who’ve survived what you did would rather die than be touched by a man. I’m hoping that you’re not one of them.”
She remembered him naked and felt her whole body go flush. “I don’t think so,” she whispered, blood thrumming in her veins to pool in her loins. “How can I know?”
“Well,” he said, “why don’t we start with a kiss and see if you can stand me when it’s done?”
“All right,” she croaked, already wondering what he would taste like.
“Let’s get your chair turned.” Taking hold of the seat from behind, he pulled her away from the table and turned her ninety degrees, so that she sat beside it. He put an empty chair next to hers but in the opposite direction, forming a makeshift courting bench. Folding his long body, he sat down, facing her, with their right hips nearly flush.
He inhaled deeply and exhaled, forcing himself to relax. His hazel gaze snagged hers with the look of a man facing a challenge that he was hopeful he would win.
The sheriff grinned crookedly. “It’s been a while for me, too,” he confessed, “but I think I remember how it’s done.”
Raising his right arm, he held her face in his hand, brushing her cheek with the pad of his thumb, letting her become accustomed to his touch. After a long minute, he reached to cup her head. Leaning forward, he gently pulled her to him.
They met in the middle.
He angled his head for perfect alignment and brushed his lips against hers. His breath smelled of whiskey and lemon, from one of the hard candies that he bought at the mercantile and kept for a treat. When she didn’t shy away, he grew bolder, pressing his lips fully to hers and holding them there, inhaling her breaths and letting her inhale his.
He pulled back his head and looked at her. Keeping her hands clasped tightly against her waist, she met his gaze, unflinching.
“Whiskey eyes,” he murmured. “I could drown in them, you know.”
Certain that they revealed the maelstrom that was wreaking havoc inside her, she was tempted to close them. It was all she could do to sit, trembling at his touch, bathed in the fire of his breath that threatened immolation.
She wondered, would she burn or rise like a phoenix from the ashes?
“Becca,” he whispered hoarsely. “I’m going to really kiss you now.”
Taking her head in both of his hands, he kissed her like a starving man. He consumed her, covering her mouth with his and feasting on it. His tongue came out, capricious at first, then deliberate, seeking her essence to claim for his own. After thoroughly tasting her lips, he urged them apart and delved inside.
She moaned from the feel of it, of him. Her curious fingers touched the faint shadow of his beard, delighting in their differences. Hard and soft. Masculine and feminine. Leashed power and burgeoning passion.
Sensing it, he groaned and pulled away. They stared at each other, motionless save for the rise and fall of their chests with each rapid breath. When the sheriff spoke, his voice was a delicious baritone rumble that echoed in her core.
“Well?” he managed. “What do you think?”
That she was mad to want him. Mad to marry him. She had vowed to never be at the mercy of a man.
She wished that he would kiss her again.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 3
“I’m afraid that you’ll have to tell me what to do. Matthew, how do you want me? Where do you want me?”
He swallowed hard, his throat muscles working. Focused on him, she watched his Adam’s apple move above his cravat. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Tearing his gaze away from her lips, he looked towards her bed.
“Stand up and take off your dress for me.”
He offered his large, strong hands to help her off the floor. Staying close, she unbuttoned her cuffs and bodice, bent to catch the hem of her skirt, and pulled her dress over her head. Turning it right side out, she shook it straight and hung it back in her wardrobe.
Acutely aware of his gaze on her, watching, she untied the waist of her hoops and dropped them. They collapsed at her feet. Her two petticoats and corset cover were next to go, leaving her standing in her corset, shift, pantaloons, stockings, and shoes.
“Sit on the bed,” he rumbled, pushing himself to a stand. She watched, mesmerized, as he pulled off his frock coat and removed his vest. He reached for his belt buckle. She felt herself pale, remembering the bite of leather into her flesh. Noting her reaction, he tossed it aside. When he turned back, his lips were pressed tightly together and his brow was creased with concern.
“I’ll switch to suspenders,” he promised. “I never thought—”
“No!” she whispered. “Please. I need to get used to it, is all. I’ve managed with other things. I can do it with your belt, too, but it takes time. Just be patient with me, please.”
“You have my word, Becca. I’m a patient man. And in case you didn’t notice that day you came into the bathing room, I can control myself. Otherwise, I’d have pinned you against the door and taken you then and there.”
The husky timbre of his voice echoed in her core, triggering a primal response that left her swollen, wet, and aching with an emptiness that he would soon fill.
“You wanted me?”
He nodded slowly, his expression earnest. “I’ve wanted you since I first laid eyes on you again. Back in Jeffersonville, you were always a pretty thing, but you were young. Way too young. Next thing I knew, you were married. All I could do was watch from a distance and hope for the best. But when I walked into Harrell House and saw you again, all grown up…”
He pulled out his stickpin and untied his cravat. “I thought you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I still do.”
She knew that she was passably pretty. The way he looked at her almost made her believe that she was more than merely easy on the eyes.
His hands went to the front of his pants. His nimble fingers worked the buttons to open his fly. Beneath the fabric of his shirt and drawers, she could see the bulge of his erect manhood, rising straight against his belly.
She was no authority, but to her eyes, he seemed very well-endowed. Very. He was large enough, he would have to prepare her to receive him.
The prospect was both tantalizing and terrifying.
The sheriff’s very life depended on being observant. Tonight, with all of his attention focused on her, he saw everything. The rapid lift and fall of her chest with every corset-constrained breath. The night breeze that lifted the curtain and sent gooseflesh rippling across her skin. The uncertainty on her face when she wondered just how large he was and thought of his possession.
“I’ll go slow,” he said. Dropping his gaze to her secrets, he looked determined to uncover them all. “We’ll fit. You’ll see.”
by Ree L. Diehl
Length 18, 365 words. A BBW/billionaire workplace romance (a contemporary novella with workplace bullying and body shaming).
Curvy Isabella DeLorean knows what it’s like to be the butt of jokes but she has brains, talent, beauty, an irrepressible sense of humor, and a plus-size body that matches her big heart. Tough as steel and built for comfort, this DeLorean would love nothing more than to take her new boss for a ride.
Nicholas Wentworth III is CEO of the Wentworth’s department store chain. His newest sales clerk is so popular with customers, Bella wins Employee of the Month and all the perks that come with it—a sizeable bonus, a premium parking space, and dinner with CEO. Bella’s hot Italian-American blood thinks that a boss with benefits might just be what she needs. She’s already dealing with vicious coworkers, a shady manager, and office gossip. Accepting the award from Nick puts an even bigger target on her back. Someone’s aware of their mutual attraction. Someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep her and Nick apart. With Bella’s life in peril, can Nick find her stalker before it’s too late?
Damage Control is Ree L. Diehl’s first novella, her first BBW, and first romantic mystery. It’s a sizzling addition to the Stand Your Ground anti-bullying anthology.
DAMAGE CONTROL Excerpt:
Bella put the credit card printout with the cash register receipt and handed them to Lola.
The bride-to-be tucked them in her billfold. “I’ll give these to Vito when I get home. Thanks for all your help, doll. You’re the best.”
“Thank you, Lola. I wish you and Vito every joy.”
Glancing over, Bella saw Maria carrying Justinian on her hip. The way that he was gnawing on a finger, she wondered if a tooth was coming in.
She was so focused on her nephew that she didn’t see Ms. Cohen coming from the back with a spray bottle of perfume in her hand. “There,” she said, misting away. “Much better!”
For Ms. Cohen maybe, but not for Bella. One whiff and she felt her throat start to close. She stumbled to the chair just outside the lingerie display room, gasping for air.
“Someone get a doctor!” Maria yelled. Justinian burst into tears, wailing like a banshee. Lola called 911. “Bella, can you hear me? Do you have one of those shot things for allergies?”
Bella shook her head weakly. She had an inhaler if she started to wheeze. A runny nose and sinus headache were the norm. She’d never had a reaction this bad, with a fat tongue and dangerously constricted airways. Dear God, what if her throat swelled shut before help came? Not being able to breathe was the most frightening thing she’d ever experienced.
She felt dizzy. She couldn’t get enough air, and she was losing consciousness. Her eyelids closed, too heavy to keep open any longer.
“Hang in there, sweetie. Help is on the way. Stay with me, Bella. Stay with me. Come on, sweetheart. Stay with me.”
Strange, but Maria’s voice had changed to Mr. Wentworth’s.
Try as she might, she couldn’t force open her eyes. Couldn’t see him and couldn’t stay with him, as much as she wanted to. How ironic was it, to win a date with the man of her dreams and die before dinner?
“I agree. It is ironic.”
Bella stopped breathing again, but this time it wasn’t a medical emergency. She felt the sting of an IV in the back of her hand and heard the blip of monitors even before she opened her eyes and saw Nicholas Wentworth sitting by her hospital bed.
He looked exhausted.
She was pretty sure that she looked worse.
“Hi,” she croaked. “What are you doing here?”
He conjured a tired smile. “Checking on my Employee of the Month. Your mother tells me that you’re a fighter. She swears that you’ll be out of here in time for the presentation tomorrow night.”
Good lord. She’d lost a day? A day’s pay. No, two days. Yesterday and today and maybe tomorrow, depending on how soon they would let her go.
Bella burst into tears. “I’m s-sorry,” she keened. “It’s just—I can’t afford to miss work.”
“Workmen’s Comp,” he said, waving a dismissive hand. “Everything’s covered. Your pay. Your stay. This is a result of an incident while you were on the clock. Trust me when I say that everything will be taken care of. All you need to do is relax and recover. Lingerie will be waiting for you when the doctor releases you. Ms. Cohen, however, will not.”
Bracing his elbows on the arms of his chair, he clasped his hands and leaned toward her. “After your review yesterday morning, I started checking, comparing department profits and sales commissions paid. The figures showed a disturbing pattern. When I called Ms. Cohen to discuss my findings, I was told that she was busy with a medical emergency. Yours.”
He rubbed a hand across his face and smiled grimly. “Miss Chin—Qua—found your phone on the counter, still recording. She had me listen to it. Ms. Cohen was ready to let your sales go through another register. But what she did next was worse. Ms. Cohen knew that you had fragrance allergies. That’s why we put you in lingerie, in a part of the store farthest from the makeup and perfume counters. Yet she deliberately sprayed perfume without your permission, without bothering to ask if you were allergic to that brand. It was an unconscionable act, and I fired her. The search is on for a new lingerie department manager. HR recommends the one from our Charleston, South Carolina, location. Ms. Jackson—Evalynne—has an excellent record but she’s not fond of hurricanes and is looking to relocate.”
“Same job, new boss. I can handle it.” Truthfully, she was relieved to have a job to come back to, especially if it meant that she could catch a glimpse of Nicholas Wentworth III from time to time.
He smiled softly. “I’m certain you can.”
“I’m a DeLorean,” she quipped. “Tough as steel and built for comfort.”
It was one of her standing jokes when someone pointed out her weight. Bella groaned when she heard what had flown out of her mouth. “Forget I said that. Jesus, take me now.”
Mr. Wentworth chuckled. “Sorry, he’ll have to wait until I’m done with you. We have a presentation tomorrow night, and there’s still your Employee of the Month dinner with me. Your mother is looking forward to the first, and I,” he said, “am looking forward to the second.”
She looked for the signs, but he wasn’t joking.
She needed to make a major fashion statement. In her mind, she saw a basic black mermaid wrap with an asymmetrical draped bodice, crossing to one side and fastening at her waist.
“Two weeks,” she said. If they were going to do this, she wanted enough time to make the perfect dress.
“Good,” he said. “Good. You’ll be out of here and back to work. Speaking of which, I’d better get going. I have a conference call in an hour. I’m glad to see that you’re doing better, Miss DeLorean.”
That sounded so formal when she was sitting here with her ass hanging out of a hospital gown. “My family and friends call me Bella, Mr. Wentworth.”
Standing, he smoothed the creases from his suit pants and draped his matching jacket over his arm. “And my family and friends call me Nick. I’ll see you soon, Bella. Get some rest.”
She didn’t want to rest. She wanted to watch that fine specimen of manhood leave her hospital room and memorize how his bubble butt looked in motion. She wanted to bite it. Lick it. She wanted to bend over the bed and let the CEO of Wentworth’s own her every orifice.
God, what she wouldn’t give to have her vibrator right now.