Check out these great prizes:
Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway
Nov 15- Dec 15
1 Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch or equivalent value Amazon Gift Card
3 Bewitching Prize Packs full of books and book swag goodies- open to US Shipping- prize packs may contain print copies of The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, Would Be Witch by Kimberly Frost and Earth Angel by E Van Lowe, Paranormal Pleasures by Roxanne Rhoads, Tasty Christmas Treats by Roxanne Rhoads- books will be distributed among the 3 prize packs
1 e-book set of the first three books in the Seven Seals Series by Traci Douglass
1 Release, book 3 of The Angler series by Annie Nicholas
1 ebook copy Murder on Mars A New Orleans Mystery by MM Shelley
1 Ebook giveaway Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea
1 Ebook copy of Tigress by JE Taylor
1 ebook copy of In Flames by Jessica Jayne
1 copy of River Road by Suzanne Johnson
1 ebook copy of Visionary- Unleashed by N Dunham
1 copy of each Bleeding Hearts and Blood Rush by Ash Krafton
1 ebook copy of Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book 1) by AD Starrling
1 ebook copy of Blaze Ignites by JL Madore
1 e-book copy of Operation Earth by Maria Hammarblad
1 Earth’s Requiem by Ann Gimpel. Print if in the U.S., an e-copy otherwise.
1 ebook copy Silent Oath (Book 2 of the Locked Within Trilogy) by Paul Anthony Shortt
1 Ebook: Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy from the Season of Seduction Carina Press erotic holiday anthology
1 eBook: An Unexpected Bride (The Bride Series, Book 1) by Shadonna Richards
1 eCopy of Divine Destiny by Joanna Grace
1 Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences
1 Ebook giveaway. “Beautiful Stranger” by Katalina Leon
1 ebook copy of Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak
1 ebook copy of Cleaning Up by Jophrael L Avario
1 One e-book copy of Haven by Celia Breslin
1 one e-book copy of Dragon Fire by Dina Von Lowenkraft
1 ebook copy of Hex and the Single Witch by Roxanne Rhoads
1 one kindle copy of Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden
1 One ecopy of Cursed Ever After by AC James
1 copy of The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone
1 ecopy of Catwalk:Messiah by Nick Kelly
1 ecopy of Wucaii by Pembroke Sinclair
1 ecopy of The Bottom Line by Shelley Munro
1 Ebook copy of Dangerous Pursuit by Margaret Daly
Click HERE for the Rafflecopter giveaway
Is it strange to have the unemployment office on speed dial? Not for twenty-four-year-old college dropout Rylie Keyes. However, her current job at a small retirement home is worlds more important than all her past gigs. Fact is, if she loses this job, she’ll fail to stop the forced sale of her grandfather’s home, a modest lakeside bungalow that has been in the family for ages. But to keep her job she needs to figure out the truth behind the death of a senior citizen found murdered in her care.
The victim was thought to be a penniless man with a silly grudge against Rylie. However, his enemies will do whatever it takes to keep their part in his murder secret.
Forced to dust off the PI training she must keep hidden from her ex-detective grandfather, Rylie has to juggle the attentions of two very sexy, very different cops who both arouse and fluster her at the same time. And as she trudges through the case, she has no idea that along the way she just might win, or lose, a little piece of her heart.
I managed to look down. Froze. Zach’s jacket had somehow twisted to the front, leaving my butt out in the open. I started to tug it back into place, spied a huge pool of blood nearby, and keeled over. Splat.
“Isn’t that somethin’, you’re wearing a pink thong.” Cokey Bill’s voice sounded distant. “Doris won’t wear one, on account of her incontinence.”
Dizzily, I struggled to my knees, staggered a little, then righted with a hand to one of the orange boxes for support. “Mr. Oley—we need to get—help. Doris needs—help.”
“Ah, that’s the sweetest thing, you moving over like that. I got a nice view now.”
I lapsed into a moment of stillness, hand to my heart. I had a strong feeling nothing could be done for Doris, so I wanted to give Cokey Bill a moment with his wife.
“Rare and beautiful thing, a nice ass,” he said.
Omigod! “Are you kidding me? You pervert. You’re looking at my butt!”
“I’m a simple man,” he said.
“You should be ashamed—” I broke off when his eyes went glassy. “Mr. Oley, are you all right?”
He sunk lower in his seat, grinned, and sagged against the steering wheel, making the horn blare with his pointy nose.
I couldn’t move, couldn’t blink. This wasn’t happening.
Solo popped his head inside the open passenger door. “Holy crap!”
“Where have you been?” I managed.
“Watching some bunnies in the bushes.” He looked from Cokey Bill to Doris and back to me. “What did you do, whisper them to death?”
“No!” I said, gulping air. “Check his pulse.” Then I closed my eyes to the blood and straddled Doris to do my best with CPR. It didn’t matter that I thought it was useless, I couldn’t give up on her or Cokey Bill. A minute later, I eyed Solo. “How’s he doing?”
He shook his head, shoulders slumped. “Dead.”
The blood left my face, I felt it go, drip by bloody drip. “You sure?”
He nodded. “Pretty darn.”
I dragged my eyes off Cokey Bill and went back to work on Doris. The shock and effort made me woozier. My panting and the footsteps outside sounded as one. When the truck’s rear doors flew open, my heart skipped a beat.
“Holy Mother Mary!” Zach said.
Fish and guts streamed out in a silver wave. Zach leaped back. I grabbed for something, anything, but my hands were slimy. The truck’s sharp angle made it worse. I missed a hand strap, but fisted some of Doris’s shirt. She wasn’t moving, probably caught on something. I heard a ripping noise. Ack! She was on the loose.
A jaunty slippery-slide over the rear bumper whipped me higher than a bucking horse. We bounced onto the pavement, bounced again. It turned out Doris was kind of springy. Even so, we went splat, a bouncy splat that whipped me onto my back, my knees heavenward, and my arms above my head. I opened one eye, peered up at Zach; his eyes were steely.
“I can explain.”
About the Author:
I love making people laugh. True, I should probably spend time on an analyst’s couch, but I’d rather spill loads of fun into my books. I’m rarely at a loss for words, which is wicked cool for a writer. And it would be poppycock to say I didn’t laze away my wonder years dreaming of far-off places.
Over the years, I’ve traversed the insanely fun back roads of Australia and New Zealand, trekked the wildly exotic landscapes of Asia and Africa, soaked up the blistering Caribbean sun, survived bitter Arctic cold to witness the Northern Lights, and lost a wee bit of my heart to the awesomeness of Europe.
My goals in life are simple: do more good than harm and someday master the do-not-mess-with-me look. I roost in Washington State with my husband and our two children.
Jenifer Taylor is content with her life, dull and boring as it is. Being absent from the dating scene means she doesn’t have to deal with the major trust issues she has with men that stem from a controlling and aggressive ex-boyfriend and an absentee father. She’s happy being alone, sharing her life with her friends and family.
When Jeni starts a typical day in the big city of Mornington Vale, California, it turns from bad to worse when she’s involved in a chain collision on her way to work.
Her world changes forever that day because she meets Aiden O’Connell, the billionaire son of Alistair O’Connell, who owns Mornington Vale’s largest financial corporation. Aiden is an up-and-coming young businessman who’s ready to take on the vice presidency of his father’s company. He is the good son, and it’s imperative to Alistair that Aiden succeed and follow in his footsteps. Life for Aiden involves working hard and not much else.
After the accident, however, Aiden’s world changes as well. He finds Jeni irresistible and instantly pursues her. With some coaxing, she eventually agrees to a date, and the attraction is mutual.
Jeni finds love quickly with Aiden, but trusting him is another issue. When to trust is tested in many different ways but comes to a head when Aiden is investigated for a serious crime. As her trust issues spark, she is forced to go through a journey of self-discovery.
She must decide once and for all whether she trusts the man she loves when she’s asked the ultimate question: “Do you trust me?”
This is book one in a series of three. Book two “Love Me?” is coming soon.
I turn to face him; he puts his other arm around me. We are in the same position as before when the last kiss attempt failed. My arms are tight around his neck, his arms around my waist. I look down. He lifts up my chin so I’m lost in his gaze. His hand goes back to my waist. He swallows; I think he’s as nervous as I am. He tilts his head and leans in … I back away quickly.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, looking hurt.
“Oh, no, it’s not you. I think … I might have garlic breath.”
He laughs and pulls me back to him. “So do I.” He pulls me in tighter, and before I know what’s happening, his lips are on mine. I give in and surrender to him completely.
This feels like one of my fantasies, only way, way better. He holds me tight as one hand moves from my waist to caress my cheek, kissing me softly but sensually. My hands move to the back of his head, and I grab a lock of hair in each hand. He moves our bodies so that I’m against the railing at the edge of the deck. He moves his hand from my waist to hold the rail as I still grasp his hair. The kissing becomes feverishly passionate; his tongue against mine as they intertwine with each other. Our breathing becomes faster and erratic. Our kissing becomes more intimate. We are in perfect sync with each other. I pull him closer to me, our whole bodies touching. My heart is pounding fast and hard. His hand moves from my face to the back of my head, pulling me tight. He moves my hair from the side of my neck, breaks our kiss and kisses my neck slowly and seductively. I sigh and breathe in a stuttering motion. I open my eyes to see the waitress standing there, gawking at us. I stiffen as I see her. He pulls back and looks at me. With my eyes, I gesture toward the waitress. He turns, looks, and lets out a little huff. He leans in towards me.
“Now that’s a first kiss,” he whispers as he grabs my hand and leads me over to the table. I can’t help but smile.
K E Osborn was born in September 1984 and raised in Adelaide South Australia. She had a love of writing throughout High School but went down a different path to Design instead. It wasn’t until she had a vivid dream about a three car pile up that the characters of her first book came to life.
Aiden and Jeni are the amazing couple from the Trust me? Trilogy and they were born into the world through the imagination of K E Osborn in 2012.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/vTn0_15T2iY
Socially awkward geneticist Quinn Strickland has willingly forgone the pleasures in life to reach her career objectives. Alone and approaching thirty, she uses her independence to mitigate any risk of a broken heart. Her strategy works until the day a handsome stranger bursts into her lab and her orderly plans shoot straight to Hades. He claims to be her personal divine protector, a powerful, ancient warrior sent to defend a prophetic time bomb existing within her own genetic code.
The Scion’s alpha-geek Wyck is offered the opportunity of his immortal lifetime as head of his own covert operation. He arrives at a Colorado lab expecting starched white coats and sterile surroundings—not a redheaded spitfire in charge of both his project and his libido. His skills have carried him from the battlefields of ancient England to the pits of Hell and he has no plans to be felled by one woman, regardless of her shag-worthy charms. Divine duty requires him to protect the apocalyptic Seal encrypted within Quinn’s DNA, but his heart has other ideas. When his personal feelings interfere with his age-old vendetta, he’s forced to decide between desire and retribution.
For the band of adopted heavenly brothers known collectively as the Scion, covert ops generally fell into two categories, crashing bore or glorious adventure. And after more than nine hundred years of divine missions, Wyck could tell the difference before the first volley fired.
He double-checked to make sure his ID badge was prominently displayed. Divinity had finally given him a second chance as mission leader and he intended to make sure this operation fell squarely into the epically awesome range despite his less than glamorous surroundings. This time, he vowed, there’d be no messy diversions to waylay his goals, no damsel in questionable distress to shred his heart to smithereens. Nope. This time he was fully prepared and would see his mission through to a successful end.
Wyck trudged up the sidewalk toward the imposing glass and steel Eugenicorp Labs building, craning his neck to see the top of the six-story structure. He was so engrossed in his perusal he nearly squashed a bedraggled squirrel limping across the pavement in front of him. Wyck glanced down and spotted a half-cracked acorn near the toe of his boot. Poor bugger must’ve dropped it in his hasty retreat.
His first inclination was to reach down and retrieve it, maybe place the nut near the roots of the giant tree where the squirrel now hid. But now wasn’t the time to get sidetracked. As his commander, Xander, had already warned him, such kindness had only added to his past failures.
He kicked the nut, watching as it hurtled through the open grassy area surrounding the complex, then strode through the automatic doors and into the cavernous lobby. Empty. Sterile. Utilitarian, covered in gleaming metal and glass. The décor – neutral grays and bland beiges – screamed restraint.
Okay, he amended. Maybe epic and awesome were pushing the envelope for this mission. Best to start with solidly successful. He blinked several times in the early morning sunshine and spotted the pinched, schoolmarm expression of a receptionist across the expanse.
In his experience, mulish females appeared to be the rule in academia. Just one more reason he steered clear of the smart ones and stuck to his technology. Emotional evisceration was another, but he refused to dwell on that now. Gadgets and science had always been his safe refuge. They trustworthy.
He proceeded across the pristine white-tile floor and when the receptionist steadfastly ignored him, Wyck coughed and summoned his most charming smile. “Hi, I’m Orson Parrot, the new bloke.”
The woman glanced up from her computer screen and ran a disdainful eye over him, her glare burning a hole through his extended hand. Her scowl increased as she snatched a clipboard from the desk’s immaculate surface and skimmed a bony digit down the list. She tapped her finger twice beside one line and stared back at him, her demeanor cold enough to freeze hydrogen, then pointed toward a pair of glass doors across the lobby. “Through there.”
He leaned forward to thank her only to be confronted by a strip of red fabric. Dangling from the receptionist’s hand, it swung in crazy, lopsided circles to tap him squarely on the chest. “You’ll need this,” she said, her tone a perfect match for the Queen’s after a distasteful tabloid scandal.
Wyck caught the twirling lanyard, with its attached security keycard, and placed it around his neck. He couldn’t resist giving the woman a wink and a grin on his way out, and was delighted when she stiffened like rawhide. A fellow had to have some fun.
He headed toward the double doors across the atrium, his mind ticking with details. This rare shot at redemption, plus the added potential for delivering a digital smackdown to his longtime enemies, the Nephilim, had him jumping at the chance to infiltrate the Eugenicorp’s computer system. Getting back in the field again would prove more enjoyable than his usual long hours of tedious research for his brother’s quests. Not to mention turning down an assignment from Divinity wasn’t really an option. She’d given the Scion many blessings, but freewill over their assignments wasn’t one of them.
If his hunches were correct, his new logic bomb would blow the fucking cork right off the half-breeds’ schemes for a new world order. By utilizing their legitimate business arm in the human realm, Tolbert International, the Nephilim had been quietly amassing huge quantities of money for centuries, branching out into everything from pharmaceuticals to produce. The Internet had been buzzing for months with rumors of an eminent Tolbert takeover of a genetics research facility and Divinity had sent him to Eugenicorp to make sure those takeover plans didn’t include the Seal currently hosted by one head scientist or the top-secret project she commandeered.
He used his new keycard to enter a glass-lined walkway and caught sight of his reflection. Christ Almighty. He’d done a wicked job of turning his normal hipster persona into Orson Parrott—Super Brain Extraordinaire.
Attired in a scholarly turtleneck and khakis, he couldn’t have been further from his normal choice of t-shirt and jeans. Between his helmet hair and the tatty, empty briefcase he carried, there was little sign of the tousled charmer who’d enticed a cute barista to bed during his last reconnaissance mission here a few months earlier.
Goodbye quick tumbles. Hello brainy celibate.
Wyck passed from the atrium into another adjoining lobby and glanced at the office number scribbled across his palm in blue ballpoint ink. 5324. He pushed the button for the next arriving elevator, whistling while he waited.
Sure, he’d performed a teensy bit of cyber-fraud by uploading his own credentials and employee demographics into the Eugenicorp HR files and he’d picked out a nice cushy office with a window, close to his target and close to the vending machines. Perfect.
Speaking of his target, the buttoned-down woman wasn’t one he looked forward to meeting. From everything he’d read about the third Seal’s unwitting host, she was smarter than sin and as enticing as a good bout of bubonic plague. No thank you.
A determined clack of heels echoed against the tile behind him and he swiveled toward the noise, just in time to see a flash of bright red hair barge through the gathering crowd and into the elevator. People stepped back, some headed for the stairs, as if the woman now occupying the compartment might spontaneously combust at any moment.
Traci is the author of paranormal romance/urban fantasy and contemporary romances featuring a sly, urban edge, including her current Seven Seals series. Her stories feature sizzling alpha-male heroes full of dark humor, quick wits and major attitudes; smart, independent heroines who always give as good as they get; and scrumptiously evil villains who are—more often than not—bent on world destruction. She enjoys weaving ancient curses and mythology, modern science and old religion, and great dialogue together to build red-hot, sizzling chemistry between her main characters.
She is an active member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Indiana Romance Writers of America (IRWA) and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Writers (FF&P) and is pursing a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction through Seton Hill University. Her stories have made the final rounds in several RWA chapter contests, including the 2012 Duel on the Delta, the 2012 Molly Awards, and the 2012 Catherine Awards. An earlier draft of the first book in the Seven Seals Series, Seal of Destiny, won the paranormal category of the 2012 Marlene Awards sponsored by the Washington Romance Writers.
Other current projects include upcoming books in the Seven Seals series, a new contemporary novella series due out in early 2014, and a new futuristic suspense series with hints of the paranormal and plenty of romance.
Website and blog: http://www.tracidouglass.net
FB Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/TraciDouglassAuthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tracidouglass
Here we are, a week into NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for those of us who’re veterans of the insanity. There may be a few of you out there asking NaNoWHATMo? After spending two years as my area’s Municipal Liaison (local official representative), I’ve heard this a lot. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month, but the name is a little misleading in that it’s not limited to the US or to any one country, it’s a world wide challenge. To do exactly what the name says, write a novel in a month. Sound crazy? Sound impossible? While it is a little crazy, I assure you, it’s entirely possible.
In setting up the system the creators had to come up with a definition of a novel, what they ended up with was 50,000 words. That will give you about 200 pages a standard mass marketed paperback size book. Not too bad huh? My personal best is just under 70,000 words in November, but I’ve seen people who’ve done over 100,000. Another question I’ve been asked is ‘Is it a contest, and how/what do you win?’ Well, it’s not really a contest, it’s a challenge. The only person you are competing with is yourself. All you have to do to ‘win’ is achieve 50,000 words. As for what you win, mainly it’s bragging rights. The ability to say you did it! (You also get that first draft, and let me tell you, that is priceless! If you stick with it, revise it and edit it, it could be gold!)
So, once again, here we are, a week into NaNo, how are you doing? Are you ahead? Behind? Thrown in the towel? Even if you have, I know from experience, it’s not to late to pick it back up and keep going. My first NaNo was in 2009. I’d never written much more than for communication, or to vent frustrations and feelings but I jumped in with both feet and started writing. I only had a vague idea of what I was doing, but that didn’t stop me. I wrote and wrote and wrote and still had no where near the 50k word count. I gave up, but a few days later an idea occurred to me and I went back and started writing again. I managed to (barely) win that year! The important part was that I did it.
After that I rewrote, revised, edited and rewrote again, then started submitting my manuscript to publishers. I received back rejection after rejection, but finally one of them came back with a comment, one that has really helped the way I write. You see, I’d written that first book in First person, present tense. I’d done it on purpose, but what I didn’t know at the time is that first person, present tense is very hard to do well (especially for a beginning writer) and is even harder to sell. By this time I had another manuscript from NaNo 2010 and I was hard at work on revising/finishing that one. I knew I could save that first book, but it would take an extensive rewrite and changing the entire book from present tense to past tense. It wasn’t something I felt up to at the time. I continued what I was doing and in the end I opted to self-publish in lieu of hunting down a publishing house to take control, and a huge chunk of the income. (Yeah, I admit, I have control issues.) I did NaNo in 2011, and won. (Note to self, I really need to go back and look at that, I have very little memory of what I wrote that year, it may be another book that needs a little polishing and can be published.)
In January 2012 I published Change, it’s the first book in my Kitsune series and my NaNo 2010 project. In the time since I’ve published four more books, the most recent, Robin’s Nest, was my first project, that one I wrote in 2009. I finally sat down and took the time to rewrite it, to fix the problems and the tense. It’s not the same as most of my books but it’s good, I’ve had some people tell me it’s their favorite of all my books.
My point is, even if you think it’s too late to start, it isn’t. Jump in, get your feet wet and start writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good, you just have to get the ideas and thoughts down. You can fix crappy, you can’t fix non-existent.
Now, go get open your book and write on!
The Grimoire Saga
S. M. Boyce
Publisher: Caffeinated Books Publishing
Date of Publication: November 5th, 2013
Number of pages: 260 print pages
Word Count: 83,000
Cover Artist: Heidi Sutherlin of My Creative Pursuits
Heritage is the third novel in the epic Grimoire Saga.
Kara Magari isn’t normal, even by Ourea’s standards—and in a world of shape-shifters and soul stealers, that’s saying something. To the royalty, she’s a loose cannon. To the masses, she’s a failure. But Kara’s arrival in Ourea started a war, and she’s going to end it.
An ancient isen named Stone takes an interest in Kara’s training, and it turns out he has more answers than he originally led her to believe. In an effort to unearth a secret that might end the bloodshed, Kara instead discovers an ugly truth about her family—and how much she has in common with an infamous mass-murderer.
Braeden Drakonin has slowly rebuilt his life after the betrayal that tore it apart. His father wants him dead, and frankly, his so-called allies wouldn’t mind that either. Private alliances are formed. Secrets are sold. Tension is driving the armies apart. A single battle will end this war, and it’s coming. Braeden may be a prince, but it will take more than that to survive. He must take the fight to his father’s door—and win.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE
A FRESH START
A hand reached around Kara’s waist and tugged her closer. Her body shifted over cotton sheets. The hem of her nightshirt caught and inched upward along her back. Hot breath sailed down her neck, setting her nerves on fire. She snuggled into a bare shoulder, her nose brushing against bumps of muscle as she itched to get ever closer to whomever held her.
Warm skin burned her cheek. A second, thick hand brushed hair from her face. Her blond locks fell over her shoulder like a sheet of silk.
Kara opened her eyes. A haze clouded the corners of her vision—the edges of a dream. She frowned. There was no fun in knowing none of this was real. It just meant she wouldn’t be able to enjoy it as much.
Braeden smiled down at her. A few dark hairs fell across his olive face, blocking her view of those black eyes that glittered with mischief. He pulled her a little closer with his rough hands, even though no space remained between them. Her frown dissolved. Every bit of her crackled with energy. He ran his fingers along the hem of her shirt, pulling it higher.
She poked his side. “I miss you.”
He ran a hand through her hair. “Come see me, then.”
“You know I can’t. Not yet.”
He grinned. “Liar.”
She faltered and glanced down at the mattress. Of course she couldn’t leave. Not even a month ago, she discovered she was an isen—a creature that could steal souls. Though she hadn’t even known what an isen was before she discovered the crazy world of Ourea, she had apparently always belonged to the hidden realm of monsters and magic. Her mother passed the isen gene to her, and their bloodline had a terrible curse: power and magic came easily to them. It sounded great at first, sure, but the power came too easily. Kara couldn’t control herself. She could kill with barely any effort.
Every day, her control dwindled a little more. If she used the air to turn a page in a book, she ripped out the sheet instead. If she tried to hit a target with her favorite attack—red sparks that danced through her fingers like lightning—she blasted the target to bits. She refused to spar with anyone for fear of what she might accidentally do to her opponent.
After she discovered she was an isen, she’d spent every second of free time with her mentor, Stone. They traveled to a safe place to train: her village, the one she inherited from the ancient ghost who had given her the Grimoire.
Kara hadn’t left the village yet only because she couldn’t do anything without destroying something.
As if Braeden read her thoughts, he wrapped her in a hug. “It’ll be all right.”
“I’m just so lost, Braeden. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I don’t know how to stop.”
He pulled away and held her face in his hands. “You don’t have to do it alone, you know.”
“You’re right, I guess.” She smiled and slipped her arms around him in return, burrowing her face into his torso. Her fingers tightened around his waist.
Something shifted in her palms. A sharp crack cut through the dream. The crash of breaking glass rocked her. Braeden tensed in her arms.
Kara pulled away, trying to figure out what was going on. Braeden studied her, his smile gone. A fissure inched along his face as if he were porcelain and she’d dropped him. It splintered, dividing his handsome features into pieces. His eyebrows shifted upward, likely to question what was going on—or worse, what she was doing to him.
Kara gasped. Oh, Bloods! have I hurt him, too?
She reached for him, unable to form words. Fragments of his shirt broke away like ice in her hands. The cracks in his face widened.
His voice shook. “You’re not alone.”
“Braeden!” she screamed.
Kara bolted upright in bed, her scream lingering in her chest.
White light swam in her vision, blinding her. Something crashed again, as if on replay from her nightmare. Glass tinkled. The wall vibrated with the thump of a heavy object ramming it with great force.
A breeze ruffled her hair. Chills raced down her back. She shivered. Salt stung her nose, as did the sweet tang of honeysuckle. Her fingers tensed, grabbing handfuls of the cotton bedspread as her vision blurred.
She rubbed her eyes.
Bit by bit, her familiar bedroom in the Vagabond’s village shifted into focus. White walls. Wooden bed posts. Silk blue canopy over her bed. White comforter. Cotton sheets. Two mahogany bedside tables. A stack of paper on a desk in the corner. The pages shifted in the breeze, and a couple drifted to the floor.
Sunlight streamed through the windows on her left, catching on the jagged edges of a broken window. Wind rattled the drapes, shuffling them aside as it whipped through the room. Shards of glass littered the floor, glinting.
A red brick lay on the carpet in the middle of the pool of broken glass, a white piece of parchment tied around it with a string.
Kara jumped out of bed and tiptoed across the remnants of her broken window, though it didn’t matter if she cut herself. She knew plenty of charms to heal a cut well enough to leave no scars.
She picked up the brick and yanked the note from the baked clay. A few words covered the other side of the small square of paper, written in tight handwriting.
We’re done with the basics. Your real training starts today. Meet me in the clearing in the forest behind the kitchens. You have much to learn.
Kara cursed under her breath. Her mentor threw a brick through her window to wake her up. That dramatic son of a—
“Couldn’t he just knock?” she muttered.
Her pulse settled. Adrenaline dissolved in her veins. She took a deep breath to clear her head, and the cold air swirled in her chest. Her worry hadn’t been anything more than the panic of being woken from a dream.
She sighed. And until the interruption, it had been a wonderful dream.
Something squeaked by her bed. Her tiny pet Flick stretched from his place on the pillow beside hers, his bushy tail straight up in the air. His ears—still too big for his head, even though he was mostly grown—twitched as he shook himself awake. No bigger than a squirrel, the furry red creature hopped along the folds in the blanket, battling the valleys of fabric on his way to her.
“Morning, munchkin,” she said.
He burped in answer. Charming thing.
Kara focused her attention on the broken window. She hadn’t fixed a window before, but she could manipulate the air and start a fire with the magic coursing through her. Since the glass just needed to be fused back into place, fixing a window couldn’t be too terribly difficult.
She reached her fingers toward the shards. With a deep breath, she borrowed the breeze dancing through her room. Tension pulled on her hands, dragging her knuckles downward. She resisted, pulling back to lift the fragments of glass. The pieces hovered. Her palms warmed.
The shards slid through the air, and Kara directed traffic as best she could. When bits of the glass pushed into their neighbors, she focused the full weight of her gaze on the seam, fusing the pieces on contact.
In a matter of seconds, her window was once more whole. A little worse for wear, perhaps—she hadn’t quite gotten rid of some of the cracks in the pane—but solid nonetheless. She smirked with satisfaction.
A dull pain throbbed in her wrist. She scratched at it, her nails catching on leather. She sighed and resisted the impulse to rip off the wrist guard on her right arm. The ornate leather band on her right wrist covered spikes that dug into her skin, helping keep her uncontrollable magic at bay. Her arm ached when she wore the thing, but even her grandfather, Agneon, had worn the band at one point to restrain his magic.
After Stone awoke her isen nature, he told her to never take off the wrist band for fear she would lose her last ounce of self-restraint. So far, she had obeyed.
She headed for her closet to change. However good Stone’s intentions may have been, he’d forced her into the life of an isen. She hadn’t wanted any of this. Since he turned her, Stone was her master and could control her. He could make her hit herself in the face if he wanted, but she listened to him out of respect. He’d lived for centuries.
Still, despite his vast knowledge and experience, she would give him a piece of her mind when she found him.
S.M. Boyce is a fantasy and paranormal fiction novelist who also dabbles in contemporary fiction and comedy. Her B.A. in Creative Writing also qualifies her to serve you french fries. She updates her blog (smboyce.com) a few times each week so that you have something to wake you up in the morning.
Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:
Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy
Naughty Nicks by Christine d’Abo
Ménage on 34th Street by Elise Logan and Emily Ryan-Davis
Matzoh and Mistletoe by Jodie Griffin
What’s on your wish list?
After indulging in twelve naughty nights in Mexico, a woman experiences an erotic epiphany. An adventurous elf has her eye on one very sexy Santa. A married couple hopes to find a very special marine under the mistletoe. And a holiday mitzvah leads a woman to submit to a man in uniform on Christmas Day. No matter your fantasies, this collection of four shorts will add spice and sizzle to cold winter nights.
Stories also available for purchase separately.
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her fantasy BDSM romance, Petals and Thorns, originally published under the pen name Jennifer Paris, has won several reader awards. Sapphire, the first book in Facets of Passion has placed first in multiple romance contests and the follow-up, Platinum, is climbing the charts. Her most recent works include three fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns, the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and the post-apocalyptic vampire erotica of the Blood Currency.
Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com or every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog.
She is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.