Sunday, July 16, 2017

Free ebooks

Hi everybody,
If you can’t afford to buy my books, for whatever reason, please email me at and I will send you a free ebook.
All my best,
Alice Bello

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Bit of Brad Pitt--Snippet, Hope Breaks


Chapter 1


HE TICKLED MY FOOT: one big, strong hand holding onto the ball of my foot, the other hand’s forefinger running languidly down the curve of my instep.  

I squirmed and tried to pull my foot free of his grip.  He scowled at me and gave me one of those roguish, stunning smiles of his.  No wonder women—and quite a few men—had been in love with him for the last two decades.  It was more than the fact that he literally got better looking every damn year.  It was more than the amazing shape he kept his body in.

It was even more than the restless leviathan between his muscular legs that was now discreetly covered by my Hello Kitty pink and white sheets.

Brad Pitt was just the sexiest man to ever live…and—tabloid rumors aside—he was a great guy… a humanitarian.  Heck, he’d done more than FEMA for New Orleans.

“I’m not done yet,” he admonished, his voice deep with want.

“Well, stop with the tickling, then, and get to it,” I said, pressing my free foot into his hard, hairless chest.  Good god, his flesh was soft and warm… and he smelled delicious.   

He raised an eyebrow and smirked.  “Yes, ma’am.”

As Brad reached over to the bedside table, his thick fingers caught hold of the nail polish applicator, and then he set to work once more on painting my toenails.  A subtle pink called Unabashed. 

I can only imagine he does the same thing for Angelina…

And isn’t it nice that she lets him come here too.  Those two really love their fans…

Brad looked up and frowned, and I realized a phone was ringing somewhere. 

“The machine will get it,” I said, wiggling my toes at him.  He smiled and dipped his head to resume my pedicure.

I heard the machine click on, and then a beep.  And then my boss’s voice shrilled into the room, as if the damn machine was right by my head—which was ridiculous, since I kept my answering machine on my desk in the studio.

“Hope!  I know you’re there… where else would you be!” Janine groused.  “You never leave the house.”

That made me mad.  I was not some hermit.  I went out all the time: to Wal-Mart, to the fruit and vegetable market, to…

Well, I wasn’t much for painting the town red, but I was not some pathetic shut in… I just wasn’t!

“Hope…this is a code red emergency!  I haven’t gotten any new cover shots from you, and Olivia is getting nervous.”

I groaned and looked up at the ceiling.  This was bad… very bad.

“This is bad… very bad!” Janine echoed.

Brad looked to me confused, and I could only shrug my shoulders.  Bye, bye Brad… hello reality.

I woke from my daydream sitting at the desk in my studio, my mouth dry as cotton balls, my body feeling hot and sweaty all over.

“Pick up, pick up, pick up!” Janine brayed.

My heart leapt and I lunged for the telephone.  “I’m here,” I said breathlessly.  My daydreams featuring Brad always took it out of me, even if we’d never gone any further than a naked foot massage, or his washing my hair… also naked, in the shower…

“Thank god!” Janine bellowed with relief.  “You’ve got to fix this.”

I had to fix it.  Me?  Why didn’t that thought fill me with confidence?

“Hope… are you still there?”  Janine called from my phone.  She was the owner, CEO, and Senior Editor of Branded Publishing, and she was the busiest woman I’d ever met: organized like a general or an accountant… and quite possibly the most annoying human being on the planet.

I covered the phone’s receiver and took a deep breath, held it for a ten count, and reminded myself—again—that it was the copious amount of work I was getting from Janine and her ever expanding e-publishing house that insured I was caught up on my mortgage and not working shifts at Wal-Mart or Denny’s. 

“I’m here… just had to load some images onto my laptop.”  Which wasn’t exactly true.

I already had all my recent photos loaded on my laptop… and as I clicked them open they were coming up… lacking.  Really lacking.  I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong with them.

The young man I’d shot was handsome and very well built, and the girl was what they’d call rockin’ in the body department.

But the pictures of them together just seemed so… flat… lifeless…

Maybe he was too buff?  Maybe the shine on her recently capped teeth and spanking new breasts was causing havoc with the lighting?

Whatever it was, none of my new batch of images was going to even make it to my next round of cuts.  And I needed a cover for the new Olivia Lovelace novel by next week.

“You know we need to get the advance copies out to the reviewers by next week, don’t you?” Janine queried. 

“Yes,” I sighed, clicking rapidly through my new collection of mediocre shots, hoping that speed might make one of them look more appealing.  “Believe me, I know.”

“Hope, nothing says cheap and rushed to romance bloggers more than sending out ARC copies with no covers.”

“I know, I know… and I promise I’ll have something gorgeous for you in plenty of time.”  I just had no idea how.  It was the middle of summer, and the bevy of hot young men and pretty girls who usually signed up to model were away, back home—wherever the hell that was—since college was over until fall.

“Olivia’s our hottest burning star, so we need to keep her happy. She’s only contracted for one more novel and she’s already let it slip that Doubleday and Penguin have made offers.”

Oh… now it all made sense.  The unprecedented hype and publicity for the new Olivia Lovelace novel, and why Janine was so hell bent on getting the cover done.

Olivia had already rejected my first cover, saying it looked too much like some of the other covers I’d done before.  That’s why I hadn’t even looked at my stock photos and had plunged right into securing new images with fresh faces.

I stared at a picture that was almost good, almost passionate…and absolutely gratingly generic.

Maybe my ego was bruised?  I mean, after having my first effort brushed aside with such a prickly rebuke, I could just be looking at my new crop of stills with an injured ego.

I clicked on the “almost right” picture and threw it to Photoshop and played around with colors and contrasts.

Still no good.

“Don’t worry, Janine.  I’ve got it all under control.  I promise.”

Janine sighed on the other end of the connection.  “I know you do, babe.  I know you do.  It’s just that Olivia’s ebooks account for over half our sales this quarter.  I can’t afford to lose her to a… Legacy Publishing House.”  She said those last words with real venom in her voice.

Janine had started out in the traditional publishing world, working for Harlequin and then St. Martin’s.  But then ebooks went viral, and the print publishing industry started cutting authors and whole publishing lines.

Janine had been one of those cut at the editorial level.  It had devastated her, and she’d been teetering on the edge of becoming a statistic in the Print/eBook war when she ran into a fellow “downsized” editor named Greta from a rival publisher, and her stinking rich ex-boyfriend who owned half of downtown Dallas and three sports teams.

In her usual browbeating manner, she pulled both her ex and the other editor into her wake, and pitched them an idea off the top of her head.  A new kind of publishing house where only ebooks were put out and the prices for them could rival even those of self-published ebooks.

She’d been right, of course.  And she and her fellow downsized editor put out no less than twelve top ten Amazon romance novels in the first year.

But this year she’d ratcheted up the tension with two a month publications.  And two months ago she’d added two new lines: Hot Branded and Night Branded.  Erotica and Paranormal romance lines.

Just thinking about it made me exhausted.  I couldn’t imagine putting out so many books.  Nevertheless, I was making the covers, and it was turning out to be more and more hectic.

I had to.  That or she’d find a new photographer.

And that would be bad.

“I’ve got it under control,” I told Janine, and then told her I’d call her in a couple days.

When I hung up I called Vincent Call, my contact at the modeling agency. 

“Need a model, call Vincent Call!” the man cooed into the phone.

I rolled my eyes.  Good god, he was tacky.

“It’s Hope Jones.  I need two more models, and I need them quick.”

“Sorry, toots,” the little shitweasel said, sounding anything but sorry.  “But we don’t have anyone we can send you until next month.”

I huffed out my held breath and fumed. “How about one of your competitors?” I cringed the second the words left my mouth.

I heard him hiss out the breath he’d taken.  “I don’t have any competition down here.  This is San Antonio, Texas, for crying out loud, not Manhattan!”  And he hung up.

Crap.  Not only didn’t I have any models coming in for my much needed shoot, but I’d inadvertently pissed off my supplier.  I’d have to send him some booze, or a strip-o-gram.

First I needed to find some models.

I checked the phone book—zilch: turned out that Vincent the shitweasel really was the only game in town. 

I googled modeling agencies in Houston, Dallas, and then for all of Texas.  None, it turned out, were running any actual models this time of year. 

Models were out of season.

I shook my head and then rested it on my kitchen table.

Maybe if I looked far enough back in my stock photos I’d find something I’d forgotten about, something that was fresh and new looking.

Problem was that before I started shooting racy covers for romance novels, I pretty much shot weddings, birthdays, and graduation pictures…

I cringed just remembering some of the dead eyed, pimply teenagers with too much eyeliner, too much hairspray, and way too much cologne and perfume on.  Thank god, you can’t smell that crap through a picture.

If I didn’t find a way to keep my position at Branded Publishing, then I might end up doing portraits at Wal-Mart, if not stocking the shelves there as well.

I lifted my head and there it was… a headache from hell—pounding, throbbing, sharp pains around my eyes, and a heavy weight squeezing my frontal lobe.

I staggered over to the cabinet in my kitchen where I kept my mini-pharmacy: band-aids, salves, balms, first aid kit, ice packs, and painkillers.

I picked up my bottle of Tylenol and found it empty.  When had I used the last ones? 

I sighed deeply and reached for my car keys.  Prophetic or not, I was going to have to go to Wal-Mart before I could go any further with my model hunt.

Read more of Hope Breaks free here! or anywhere you get your ebooks.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hate Him Snippet.

That moment when the man who broke your heart and rejected your virginity suddenly shows up again.

The Hate Him Trilogy

From the corner of the restaurant I heard a laugh: male, hoarse, yet with a metallic ring.  Touchable, as if it were caressing your skin.

And familiar…

The sound pulled my spine up straight as if by a steel chord.

Lance’s eyes went wide when he looked at me.  “What’s wrong?”

I didn’t really know.  My mind hadn’t caught up with the rest of my nervous system yet… but my heart had.  It thumped painfully hard in my chest.

Just then a waiter appeared at my side and set a stemmed martini glass beside me.

I gulped looking at the chilled glass and the ring of salt on the rim.

A margarita in a martini glass—my flesh warmed as anger ignited in my chest, making my thudding heart burn.

“Compliments of the gentleman,” the waiter said, pointing to the corner of the dining room with an elegant gesture.

My gaze followed where he pointed and lit on a table of men in expensive suits.  Dead in the center I caught sight of him, and my heart skipped a beat—the traitor…

Jackson Burk.

I turned back around and closed my eyes, feeling myself slipping into an emotional rollercoaster.

Anger spiked with joy, shame mingled with cold fear, and a long lost feeling of love coated in black, sticky hate.

I'd never wanted to see Jackson again…

Yet here he was, just when my career and personal life were on precarious ground, looking…

Well, I’d only stolen a glance before I turned back around and closed my eyes, but he looked…

Like a fucking wet dream?

Thank you, so very helpful.

I gritted my teeth and pushed the shit-storm inside me back to the dark little corner of my mind where I’d long ago banished it.

I would not melt into a puddle of sniffling, tear soaked hurt.

No, this wasn’t college, and I wasn’t the dewy eyed girl I had been.

The memory of his walking out of my dorm room flickered through my mind, and the scorching feelings of hurt, shame, and confusion that moment had caused.

And now, sitting there in that restaurant, I saw for the first time that that moment, that feeling, had been reverberating inside me all along.

I swear that when I opened my eyes again everything was red.

I blinked a few times and it went away.

I stood, grabbing my clutch purse and the martini glass clad margarita, and headed towards Jackson’s table.

Jackson’s eyes were blue-green, like arctic ice, and they bore into me as I walked toward him.  I strutted around the table until I was standing right next to him. He didn’t stand up.  Simply sat there, staring at me with those damned eyes of his, a slight grin on his handsome face.

Dirty blond hair, cut short, the build of a college football star, and the sun kissed skin of a native California boy—he was the very definition of masculine beauty.

I smiled at him and his expression faltered.

Worried about what I’ll do?

I looked down at the martini glass in my hand.

“Liz,” he said, and then he sighed and tilted his head as he looked at me.  “You’re not really going to—”

I threw the drink in his face.

Jackson wiped the margarita from his eyes with one hand, and then looked at me with irritation.

I leaned down and he jerked back an inch or two.  I leaned in further, my smiling face so very close to his, and then ran my index finger down the line of his square jaw.

He watched, his mouth slack, as I put my finger to my lips and gently tasted what I’d taken from his flesh.

I moaned as if tasting something delicious. 

I looked back to him and he was biting his lip.

“I forgot how much I enjoy those.  Thanks for the reminder.”

I turned and started walking toward the front doors.  Lance and Churchill were still standing at our table and I waved goodbye.

I needed out of there.  I needed away from Jackson Burk, as far away from him as possible.

“Liz!”  Jackson called after me, but I was already at the front doors, pushing past the doorman.

Once outside I gulped the city’s air as if I hadn’t breathed in years: desperate, halting breaths.

I glance around.  No cabs in sight.

I needed to get away, so I started to run.

I was in four inch heels, so I wasn’t setting any land speed records.

I heard his steps as he caught up with me, and I felt it when he grabbed hold of my arm.

His hand was on fire.  That heat seeped through my skin and made my blood boil on contact.  I had forgotten how his touch made me feel.  It was some scary chemical reaction… or magic.

No… I won’t do this, not ever again!

I swung around in his grasp and slapped him as hard as I could.

He winced, but didn’t let me go.

I went to hit him again, but he reached up and caught my hand in mid-air.

He was so strong; I had forgotten.

I was trapped in his grasp.

“Let go of me!” My voice dripped venom.

“You need to listen to me.” His eyes bore into me, and my traitorous heart skipped a beat again.

Click here to read more on iBooks!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Love that iBooks Merchandiser


Love that iBooks Merchandiser 


Kim and Lena clinked their wine glasses with mine.
I took a deep drink.
Chablis… my favorite.
“I just can’t believe he thought I wouldn’t find out!” Lena said.
Kim laughed. “He should’ve made sure to erase his browser history.”
I smiled. Lena had just found out her boyfriend, Brian, was having a cyber affair with a data analyst in California. A data analyst he’d met on Facebook three months ago.
Physical or emotional, cheating’s cheating.
And Lena had kicked him to the curb in less than a day.
She was my hero.
But I knew a little of what Brian had been feeling.
Feeling love and longing for someone…
Someone not there?
Kim had moved from her spot on the couch and was leaning in to whisper in my ear.
“Penny for your thoughts…”
Oh, my thoughts were worth far more than that.
“Come on, Alice…” Kim said, “You’ve been a million miles away all night.”
“Yeah, spill.” Lena cooed, pointing her finger at me accusingly.
I looked at my two best friends in the world.
Should I tell them?
I adored them both. I loved no others more than these two ladies.
I slid to the edge of my seat, holding my wine glass tensely. I was so nervous.
“I met someone.”
Lena’s brows shot up her forehead.
Kim’s jaw dropped.
Was it really that shocking?
Well, I am a romance author, and I spend my time typing away in worlds I want to live in…
Instead of living in the world I’m in.
“Oh, my God!” Lena howled as Kim clapped her hands, fell back into the couch and giggled.
I pushed on, not wanting to lose my nerve.
“I met him at the book fair in Houston last month.”   
 I remember that moment, seeing him for the first time from across the crowded room.
“He’s book-boyfriend gorgeous and so smart and kind… but he can be naughty too.”
Lord have mercy… if they knew.
I’d wanted to walk up to him that very moment and lay the kiss of all kisses on him.
“He’s an iBooks merchandiser,” I confessed.
I felt so relieved to finally tell them. They were like sisters to me.
“So, what’s his name?” Lena asked.
Name? “I don’t know his name.”
“What?” my friends said in chorus.
I got up and headed toward the kitchen. My wine glass was empty.
“Alice!” Lena said, chasing after me. “You don’t know his name?”
I opened my refrigerator and started refilling my glass.
“Well, I didn’t get close enough to talk to him.”
Kim burst into the kitchen and stood beside Lena. “What do you mean you didn’t talk to him?”
“Well, he’s an iBooks merchandiser. He was surrounded by like a hundred authors trying to… well, I don’t know what they were trying to do, but when our eyes met, for that one, brilliant moment… I knew I’d found my soul mate.”
I put the bottle of wine back in the fridge.
When I turned back to Lena and Kim they were staring at me with twin expressions—as if I’d grown a second head.
They glanced at each other, and then Lena looked at me.
“So, you talked to him later?”
I frowned. “No. I had to see the Paranormal Romance Writers panel. It was absolutely loaded with—”
“You got his email or something,” Kim asked, “And you’ve been texting?”
I shook my head. “Not exactly.”
I started to walk toward the living room again, but Lena got in my way. “Alice, what’s going on?”
I stood there, holding my wine, looking from Kim to Lena.
“He sends me emails… every day.”
They both scowled.
“Emails?” said Kim.
“But you said you didn’t get his email?”
My mouth was dry, so I took another drink of the Chablis. “He knew who I was.”
They just stared at me.
“From my author profile picture.”
They looked at each other again.
Why didn’t they get it? Why didn’t they understand?
“He loves books, maybe even more than I do… and he recognized me from my author photo.”
“So this guy—”
I cut Kim off. “The iBooks merchandiser.”
She looked at me opened mouthed for a moment. “So he… displayed in some way that he recognized you?”
“Yes,” I exclaimed. “Of course he did. It’s not like I’m crazy or something.”
Lena stepped closer and touched my arm. “But you don’t know his name.”
“I don’t need to know his name… not yet.” I walked past them and headed back into the living room. “He’ll tell me when it’s time.”
“Honey,” Lena said, trying to catch up. “What’s the name on the emails he sends you?”
I had to smile. He had been so clever.
“They’re all from iBooks.”
“The emails are promotions from iBooks?” Kim asked, looking from me to Lena.
Why did they look so nervous?
Sure, it had been a long time since I’d been on a date.
That’s why my heroines are always… well, in some way like me.
Hope Jones hasn’t been on a date in years. But then she finds her true love—that has been in love with her for years—fixing cars at Walmart.
Liz Hamilton lost her orgasm in the delivery room witnessing her best friend give birth to her baby. But she finally got it back when Jackson Burk—the man who rejected her virginity in college—showed up in her life again and just wouldn’t leave her alone.
Mmmm… That one’s ending is going to be awesome.
What can I say? Love can make you do the whacky.
Lena and Kim were staring at me again.
“I’m not crazy,” I said.
Their eyes widened and their mouths fell open again.
“He works at iBooks, where he reads like EVERYTHING. So he’s read my books—there’s on iBooks! So he knows me.”
How could they have known me for all these years and not get this?
“Sweetie,” Kim took me by the arm and sat me down on the couch beside her. “What the hell’s going on? You’re saying you’re having an imaginary affair with some guy you never even talked to.”
She still wasn’t getting it.
“He knows me.” I reached over and grabbed my iPhone from the coffee table. I pulled up my emails and accessed the folder that held all his emails. “Look, he keeps sending me recommendations for books he knows I’ll love.”
I showed them the list so far. Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, JR Ward, Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, Rachel Caine…
“Alice, look at me.”
I turned and looked at Lena.
“These are just computer generated recommendations based on the books you’ve already bought from iBooks, and the books you’ve browsed on their app.”
I shook my head. This didn’t make any sense at all.
Where they insane?
I pulled up yesterday’s email. “He recommended Wallbanger yesterday.”
“Good book,” Lena said, “but what does that have to do with anything?”
I scrolled to the bottom of the email to show them.
There in small, plain type it read, <Tomorrow night, at eight.>
There had been a little message at the bottom of every “iBooks” email I’d received since that day in Houston.
<This one was written for you.>
<You’ll die laughing.>
<What do you like to eat for dessert?>
And I had never signed up for an iBooks mailing list before. They just started showing up in my inbox.
Lena looked up at me.
Kim laughed and looked up at me too.
We all looked over to the lovely IKEA Cinderella wall clock hanging on my wall.
Two minutes till eight.
My phone chimed, making Lena and Kim Flinch.
I clicked back to my inbox and saw the familiar iBooks email. I clicked it and read the message.
I smiled, set my wine down and showed my friends the screen of my phone.
<I’m waiting at your door. Plain cheesecake with whipped cream, right?>
Their eyes bugged out as I stood and announced, “I’m sorry, ladies, but I’ll need the place to myself tonight.” My smile was so wide. “So scram.”
Lena and Kim both jumped to their feet, grabbing their purses and chugging the rest of their Chablis—waste not, want not.
They followed me to the door, whispering questions like, “What if he’s a serial killer?” “What if he’s a Republican?” “What if he’s ugly?” “What if he’s a she?”
I held up my hands to silence them.
“I love you both, but I’m opening that door to let him in, and to let you out. So wish me luck.”
Lena pulled out her cell phone. “I’m taking a picture of this guy, just in case he kidnaps you and we need to identify him to the FBI.”
“He’s probably a nymphomaniac,” added Kim.
“Don’t tell her that!” Lena scolded. “You’ve read her books. That’ll just make him more attractive to her!”
“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow…” I said. “Maybe.
There was a knock at the door.
The girls squealed.
Now or never…
I ran my hands over my hair, stood up straight and took a deep, calming breath.
Open the fucking door!
The knob was cool in my hand, the door opened without a sound.
And there he stood—tall, dark haired, blue eyed, devastatingly handsome.
And the wickedest dimples God ever gave to a man.
“Hi, I’m Cal.” His voice was deep and a little raspy.
“You’re right,” Kim said, peering over my shoulder. “He’s Book-Boyfriend gorgeous.”
Cal held out a box with Panari’s scrolled on it. They made the BEST cheesecake. On top of that was a small bag of Dove milk chocolate minis.
I said he knew me.
“I’m Alice.”
“I know.” His eyes practically glowed. Was he a shifter? A vampire? A freaking Norse god come to life?!?!
“Who are your friends?” he asked, but his eyes remained homed on me.
I heard Lena take a breath, but I cut her off.
“They’re leaving.” I slid a glance at each of them.
“We’re leaving,” They agreed in perfect unison, hustling around Cal and out my door, their eyes practically undressing him as they did so.
“Goodnight, girls,” I said, shutting the door in their amazed faces.
When I turned around, Cal had set the box of goodies on my coffee table and was walking back over to me.
“I like your name,” I said.
“So did my mama.” His Texas accent peeked through when he said mama.
Oh, my…
He adverted his eyes when he said, “I hope you don’t think I’m just some perverted stalker or something. It’s just… when I saw you at the book fair I knew I had to meet you.”
He had seen me there.
His blue, blue eyes bored right into me, making me warm all over.
“But you disappeared before I could approach you.”
I took a step closer, close enough I could smell the clean scent of Dial soap on his skin.
I reached out and touched the crisp white cotton of his dress shirt.
“You’ve read my books,” I said, staring up into his drowning deep eyes. “I like perverts and stalkers.”
He moved that one last step closer, closing in on me until I could feel the heat rolling off his body.  He dipped his head until his lips were almost to mine. “You do?”
I felt breathless for a moment.
This kind of thing didn’t happen to me.
And especially not with a handsome, sexy iBooks merchandiser.
“No,” I whispered, “I don’t like it.”
I popped up on my toes. “I love it.” And I kissed him.
I kiss, kiss, kiss, kissed him.
What can I say, I love my iBooks merchandiser.
*The End*

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