Blue Brennan is jaded and bitter despite her pinup girl looks and quick wit. Night after night, she scours the Seattle club scene looking for someone or something to fill the emptiness inside.
When she meets the mysterious Kasey, her world stops… literally. He claims she has the ability to control time and stuns her even further when he reveals his own gifts.
Blue is inexplicably drawn to Kasey and reluctantly enters his world filled with a new breed of humanity. They’re misfits like her, blessed or cursed with powerful abilities, struggling to hide their differences from the rest of society.
Then the group discovers a nameless, faceless sociopath with nightmarish powers; and he’s coming for Blue. She’s left reeling when they discover her gifts are the key to defeating his terrible evil and saving them all.
Now she must race against the clock to harness her own powers and save her new friends. Can she be more than a renegade? Can she be a hero too?
Clearly the time had come for the two of us to have it out. “I may have thought you were hot when we first met, and you got to listen to the nasty thoughts in my head, but every time we meet I find it harder to like you. In fact, every time you open your mouth, you get uglier and uglier. I don’t know if Val was right, and you really are jealous, but let me make this crystal clear for you. There is no part of me that wants you.”
His eyes narrowed for a moment, and then, before I could do anything, his hands shot out and grabbed my shoulders again. He yanked me close to him and I the heat from his chest burned through my t-shirt. His face was so close to mine I could feel his hot breath blazing against my cheek when he spoke. “You’re a little liar,” he hissed. “There is a part of you that likes this,” he shook me a little and I flushed with rage… and something else. “And goddamn me, there’s a part of me that likes it too.” He hovered with his face still close to mine and for a moment I thought he was going to kiss me. My head fell back slightly and my lips parted involuntarily as I anticipated his invasion.
Then he released me, almost flinging me away from him. I pressed my back against the wall as I watched him and tried to catch my breath as my traitorous heart beat so hard I thought it might burst out of my chest.
“Let me make this crystal clear for you,” he mimicked. “Kasey is like a brother to me and if you hurt him, you’ll wish you never met me.”
“I already do,” I whispered with sincerity.
Rose Shababy and her family reside in eastern Washington State. Rose grew up in the Northwest but swears she’s going to move to warmer climates someday. She’s claimed this for over 20 years, however, and has yet to move more than 75 miles away from her mother.
Rose has a deep love of all things Star Trek and yearns to travel the heavens, as well as an intense desire to be bitten by a radioactive spider.
Unfortunately she sucks at science and math so she hasn’t been able bring her dreams to life, instead living vicariously through books, comics, television and film. She hopes to someday make a million dollars so she can afford to buy her way to the international space station, but she’d settle for being able to fly around the world and leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Rose also loves to cook and worked for years in a gourmet Italian grocery and deli where she learned to hone her skills. She prepares culinary masterpieces for her family, but fervently wishes the dishes would wash themselves. Especially now that her dishwashers/children are nearly grown and only one still lives at home.
Rose likes to use her free time wisely. For instance, she likes to daydream, will often read for hours until she falls asleep on the couch with an electric blanket and a warm tabby cat curled up on her hip, as well as spending cozy weekend days watching Syfy movies like Sharknado and Mega Piranha with her husband.
If Rose were a cartoon animal, she’d prefer to be a wise old owl or a sleek and sexy jaguar, but in reality she’d probably be a myopic mole with coke-bottle glasses.
When her father died, Lucy Mae Estmond inherited the family business. She has known all of her life that she would be in line to watch over the souls of the recently passed, keeping them safe from the Reapers.
The soul eating Reapers have been a plague upon the Earth, stealing souls and leaving the Keepers as the only thing that stands between Heaven and Hell. The factions despise each other and have warred for generations.
Then Lucy discovers an ancient legend predicting the arrival of the Chosen One, destined to bring forth an end to the Reapers. The surprises continue when she realizes she is that person. For Lucy, being the Chosen One doesn’t change much. Fighting Reapers is just another day in the life of a Keeper.
When she meets Jack Walker, they both realize they have an insane, mutual attraction. Too bad that he’s been sent to prevent the prophecy from coming true.
His only mission: to kill the Chosen One.
Inch by painstaking inch, the casket sank lower into the freshly churned earth.
The scent of lilacs floated on the breeze, along with the heavy stench of perfume and cologne, reminding Lucy of the fragrance aisle in a department store.
Lucy stood beside the grave, dressed in a modest royal blue sundress. She had chosen it specifically because her father always said the color looked the best against her hair, which was a mix of reddish brown that shone burgundy in the sunlight.
Tilting her head up, Lucy looked through the canopy of the aging oak trees that were scattered throughout the cemetery. The breeze shifted the branches, causing a few of the leaves to pull free and flutter off into the wind. There were almost no clouds in sky, allowing the sun to shine down over the funeral.
Her brothers and sisters surrounded the open grave opposite of her. All six of them also wore something fitting for a funeral, but nothing depressing enough to send their father into a rage in his afterlife.
Smiling, Lucy remembered the argument she and her father had during his last moments. “Lucy!” he had shouted at her. “Don’t you dare let them bury me in a suit. I am not going to spend eternity in a stuffy ass business suit. Make sure I’m wearing my khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt because I’m going on the vacation of a lifetime.”
That was toward the end, when the cancer was so bad that her dad spent most of his time in bed, moaning about how he should be up and about doing something. They both knew that the end was near, but Lucy had cried only in private. Her father wanted her to be happy he was moving on to the next life, but she couldn’t understand in what way, shape or form, his dying was a good thing.
So she shed her tears alone in her room until there were no more left to cry.
The fog of the memory lifted from Lucy’s mind and she looked across the grave at her brothers and sisters. The entire brood of Estmond siblings were born with the same color hair as Lucy had been blessed with. Each of them, as well as Lucy and Ethan, held a white rose in one hand. Later, before the grave was sealed, they would each take a turn throwing one down onto the casket, as a symbol of their wish for their father’s peaceful journey into the afterlife.
Just behind her brothers and sisters stood the mourners who came to pay their last respects. Most of them were town’s people whom they had grown up with, except for one group who stood close together, most of them around her father’s age. These were the Keepers whom her family had been closest to over the years. She could see Gloria and Edward White, the Keepers from one of the Napa Valley graveyards standing solemnly beside Ellen and Stanly Evans, who worked in the hospital in Santa Rosa. There were several other Keepers surrounding them who she recognized and made a note to speak to them later.
Beyond them, further out into the trees, the spirits began to show themselves. They appeared in the form of their human bodies, a bit transparent, but solid for the most part. It was harder to see in the daylight, but their misty blue auras swirled around them, helping form the solidity of their bodies.
The spirits were fascinated by funerals. When Lucy was little she used to think that they wanted to say goodbye to someone, but really it was because there wasn’t much else to do in a graveyard except talk to each other and attend burials.
Pastor Brown spoke solemnly, saying kind words and telling her father’s life story. Inwardly, Lucy cursed her father for choosing Pastor Brown, a man who had not known her father and she was sure didn’t give a flying fuck about him either. Her father hadn’t set foot in church since he was a child. Not because he didn’t believe in God, he just didn’t believe in organized religion.
Sensing her tension, Ethan squeezed her hand reassuringly. Turning to her left she looked up and met her best friend’s eyes through the tint of his sunglasses. Even through the dark lenses she could see the sorrow in his eyes. He had loved her father too, just as much as any one of the Estmond clan. In response, she squeezed his hand back and then turned back to stare at the grave again.
“And now, Lucy Mae, Gregory’s youngest child, will say a few words about her father.” The preacher cleared his throat, signaling to Lucy that it was time.
Lucy had no tears staining her face. She had cried all those tears long before the day of the funeral. Again, Ethan gave her hand a gentle squeeze and then released her so that she could reach down and withdraw the folded piece of yellow legal paper out of her miniscule handbag.
As Lucy unfolded the paper she felt like it was taking an eternity.
This day is never going to end.
Finally, the paper was open in front of her and she began.
“I know that this speech is going to sound like the speeches given for so many others who have passed on. But, when someone we love dies, we all feel pretty much the same way … so here it goes. My father, Gregory Estmond, was the best person I’ve ever known. Today, we stand here, not to mourn him, but to celebrate him. He didn’t want any one of us to be sad that he was gone. Because … he isn’t gone. He will always be with us. For those of us who spent each day with him, his teachings and his love will always be with us. He taught us love, he taught us respect, he taught us of our family heritage, and he taught us how to live.
“For those who are acquaintances of my father, you may have met him only once and you are here because he impacted you in some way.”
A few nods came from the crowd.
Lucy continued. “He had that effect on people because he had a genuine love and respect for human life. Which is not something all of us can say we have. He treated everyone the same, with kindness.
“Because my father had cancer, he knew that this day was coming and he had time to prepare for it. We had many discussions and the one thing he consistently told me was to embrace life. He didn’t say this because he was dying, it was his mantra. This man lived every day of his life like it may be his last. He didn’t wait until he was dying to find the beauty in this world or the people in it. He was always this way.
“Remember my father, not with sadness, but with the memories he left behind. Remember him with love, with laughter and knowing that he is exactly where he wants to be.”
Lucy stepped back, reaching out for Ethan to grasp her hand once again. She eyed her siblings, none of them were crying either. Daniel, the second oldest son, reached into his gray trench coat and pulled out a silver flask. Lucy sighed and watched as her brother didn’t even try to hide it and took a long pull of the whiskey she knew was inside.
Sadly, as inappropriate as her brother was being, she couldn’t help but wish she could take a giant swig off that flask too.
It’s almost over.
“Would anyone else like to say a few words?” Pastor Brown offered.
Sherriff Davis stepped forward, he had his Stetson clutched in one hand and hitched up his gun belt with the other. As always he was wearing his uniform. The Sheriff and her father had been pretty close … well, as close as a Keeper can get to someone without that someone thinking that they are out of their mind.
“I’d like to, if that’s all right.” The Sheriff looked down into the grave before his eyes swept across the crowd of mourners. Finally his eyes met Lucy’s and she flashed him a smile meant to encourage him to proceed.
“Greg was my friend … and an old grump like me doesn’t have many friends. Greg knew a lot of people in this town, but I feel damn sorry for anyone who lives here and never had the chance to meet him. No one, aside from my own wife, Darcy, could make me laugh like Greg could. He was loyal and respectful, even if he was a bull shitter. Good grief that man liked to tell stories. Also, any man who can raise a brood of children by himself and manage to keep them all out of jail is a good man in my book.”
Lucy could have sworn that she heard Principal Robertson blow air between his lips like he was blowing a raspberry. A few people looked his way and then back at Sheriff Davis.
“That is all I got.” Sheriff Davis stepped back into the crowd.
Evelynn Andrews, the librarian at the Summer Hollow library, raised her hand slightly. She was about seventy years old, but didn’t look a day over fifty five. Lucy hoped she would age that well as the years progressed.
Evelynn pushed her glasses up her nose and closed her eyes for a moment before she began to speak. “I don’t think I can say much more about how wonderful Gregory was, but I wanted to make sure to pay my respects by voicing them. I’ve known the Estmond family all the way back to when Kathleen was still alive, as far back as when she and Greg were high school sweethearts. No one, could have been a better father to these children. Sure, they have caused a fair amount of ruckus over the years, but he did it all on his own and they are educated, mostly well behaved.”
She paused to glance at Daniel who had decided that moment would be appropriate for another pull from his flask. “And above all, Greg gave these children a sense of loyalty. Anyone who knows these kids knows that if you mess with one, you get the whole bunch of them.”
A few people giggled, even Lucy, knowing how true that statement really was.
“This may not seem like a good thing in retrospect, but a family who stays together so closely is a rare thing these days. It is to be cherished. Greg gave them this sense of family and that is something to be proud of.” As she finished, she closed her eyes again looked Pastor Brown.
“Would anyone else like to speak?” Pastor Brown addressed the crowd of mourners.
Unexpectedly, Ethan released Lucy’s hand and raised it up a little bit. “I need to say something.”
Pastor Brown nodded and held his hand out beside him. Ethan moved over to the other side of Lucy beside the pastor. “There are very few people here who don’t know who I am.” Ethan began. “Gregory Estmond took me under his wing a long time ago, when Lucy and I were both very little. My parents, who have moved away now…”
He paused and took a breath, pondering if he should let out the deep dark family secrets. Well, secrets that the whole town knew anyway. That was how small towns worked.
“They were, drug addicts and alcoholics who barely took care of me. Greg came by the house one day to see my parents for some reason and what he found was a little boy locked in his room with no food or water and his parents passed out in their bedroom surrounded by drugs and trash. The story is a long one, a long sad story. But it ended with Greg and the rest of the Estmonds making sure I always had a place to go, that I always had food. Greg even went so far as to pay me for making good grades, just to give me incentive to do well in school.”
Lucy grimaced as he told the story, hating Ethan’s parents for what they did to him. Ethan had conveniently left out the part about how her father had beat the ever living snot out of Ethan’s dad that day he found him locked up in his room half starved. It was hard to believe Ethan’s parents came from a Keeper line, but sadly, not all Keepers were immune to addiction. Keepers were human, just like everyone else.
Ethan scanned the crowd through his glasses. “No one, except for maybe the Estmond kids, owes more, or loves that man, more than I do. He saved me and I will never forget that. I hope that none of you ever forget that either.”
Ethan lowered his head and hurried back to Lucy. She immediately took his hand again, knowing how hard it must have been for him to say all that in front of everyone. He never spoke about his parents. They moved away when he was fourteen and left him alone in the house. After that he came to live with the Estmonds for good. She and Ethan were friends long before the incident at Ethan’s house, but after he came to live with them, they were inseparable.
Pastor Brown closed up the ceremony with a prayer and then the bagpipes started on Amazing Grace. Lucy stepped forward with Ethan’s hand firmly in her grasp and looked down into the dark, deep hole where her father’s body would spend eternity. Luckily, she knew better than most that his soul would not remain in that body.
She held the white rose firmly over the grave. “I wish you peaceful passage.” She released the rose and it drifted down into the depths of the hole. “I love you, Daddy.”
Ethan mimicked her actions, familiar with the meaning of the ceremony from the many deaths of Keepers past. Her siblings had moved into a line directly behind her and Ethan, tossing their roses in as well.
The other mourners milled about, giving Lucy and the family some time before they headed over to her house for the wake. She caught sight of Gloria and Ellen chatting beside the giant wreath of flowers with her father’s picture inside. She wandered over to say hello. “Gloria, Ellen, it’s been so long since I’ve seen you.”
Gloria smiled, as did Ellen. “Yes dear,” Gloria greeted her. “It has been some time. I’m sorry we couldn’t make it sooner.”
“Or under better circumstances.” Ellen added.
Lucy nodded. “Well, I’m just glad that you could make it here now. I’m sure my father would be happy that you are here now.”
Gloria and Ellen nodded, they made a bit more small talk and then Ethan appeared beside her. “I think we had better get over to the house now.” He whispered just loudly enough for the older ladies to hear.
“Oh,” Lucy checked her watch deliberately. “You are absolutely right. I’m sorry ladies, I need to get some things ready over at the house.”
Gloria smiled again, a loving gentle smile of someone she had known her entire life. “You go on dear, we will see you over there.”
With a quick ‘see you later,’ Lucy backed away and then turned to join hands with Ethan again. “Thanks for saving me. I didn’t really want to talk to them, but I had to make sure to say hello to them.”
“You doing all right?” Ethan asked, rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb.
Lucy nodded. “I’m fine.” She turned her head to try and see his eyes through the dark tint of his glasses. “How bout you. Are you all right?”
He twisted his lip up a little and she knew he was giving slight eye roll. “I’ll survive. I just miss him and all this,” he gestured to the crowd, “actually makes it harder.”
She nodded again. “I know what you mean. I feel the same way.” Her gaze strayed from the grave and focused on her house. Their home sat on the edge of the cemetery, separated from the dead by a white picket fence and about thirty yards of grass. The yellow farmhouse had been in their family for several generations, and now it was hers, as was the family business.
“Let’s head over.”
She nodded. Of course they had to get to the house. But, it wouldn’t be for relaxing. There was food to get out and serve. People would come up to her and tell her how sorry they were for her loss, or how much her father meant to them, or some awesome memory they had of him. It was going to be a very long afternoon.
Almost over, she told herself again. Almost over.
Details for the Keeper vs. Reaper pre-order giveaway
-Entries will be accepted until September 1st.
– Winner will be chosen on Sept 5th.
-To qualify for the B&B stay you must live in the United States.
-You must be 21 years of age to enter and winner must be able to verify their age.
– Date of B&B stay is February 2015. The actual date will set by Jack and Lucy who will discuss it with the winner to see which days would be best for them.
– The custom wine and chocolate will be waiting for the lucky winner at the B&B
– The only items covered in this win are the cost of ONE night stay in the bed & breakfast, the wine and the chocolate, which will be waiting for the winner at the B&B when they arrive. Winner is responsible for getting to the location, spending money, meals, ect.
-Winner is responsible for any damages or incurred costs during their stay at the B&B.
How to Enter
To make this super easy, we are just going to do a rafflecopter, so click the link to enter. Again, I am going to state that you must be 21 years of age to enter and winner must be able to verify their age.
There are several ways to enter, however one is to pre order or purchase (after release on Aug 12th) Keeper vs. Reaper. Unfortunately, there is no pre-order for Amazon, but the iTunes / iBooks app and the Nook app are free to download. These apps can be used on devices like tablets, phones, and computers.
About the Author:
Jennifer Malone Wright is best known for her short story series, The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter. Other works include the follow up to The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter series called The Arcadia Falls Chronicles and her vampire novel called The Birth of Jaiden. Jennifer also co-authors a series called Once Upon A Zombie Apocalypse.
She resides in the beautiful mountains of northern Idaho with her husband and five children where she practices preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Just kidding!
But seriously, between the craziness of taking care of her children, Jennifer has little time left for herself. The time she does have left, usually leading far into the night, is spent working on her beloved fiction or chatting with her equally crazy friends.
Jennifer also loves coffee, has a passionate affair with red bull, wishes the sushi were better where she lives and dances while she cleans.
Sleight Of Hand
Dragomir Starkov poses as an illusionist, a showman performing tricks, his Romanian accent and dark good looks all just a part of the drama. That’s how Rose Carlisle first sees him. She’s a respectable girl—she wouldn’t accept witchy birthday gifts from a demon.
But the hustle and bustle of 1912 New York City offers plenty of ways to slip around the strict old rules of propriety. A good thing, too, because once Rose meets Drago, she no longer cares about being respectable.
But the only illusion in Drago’s act is that his magic is smoke and mirrors. Every word of power he speaks is as real as Rose before him, in thrall to his lust and adoration. Drago knows about Rose’s curse, that she will die on her next birthday.
But the shadowy threat that stalks her hasn’t won her yet. If she can trust him, perhaps he can save her too…
New York City
A torrential downpour bounced off the sloping roof of the Sunshine Theater. Inside the auditorium, an eager audience sat riveted by Dragomir Starkov’s onstage presence.
Dressed in black, he moved with confidence. With his hair slicked back from a widow’s peak and his eyes drawing the crowd into his mirage, he spoke in a heavy, Romanian accent. “Ladies and gentlemen, I will now attempt something few magicians dare. I will bring a creature back to life.”
Turning to the rear of the stage, he hid his hands from view. When he faced the audience again, he presented the body of what appeared to be a dead kitten. The small animal hung limply across his open palm. Murmuring a low chant, he waved it from one side of the stage to the other. Then, with a flick of his white-gloved fingers, he urged the kitten back to life.
The small cat sat up erect and blinked in astonishment. As it let out a satisfied “meow,” it sprang to the floor.
The audience clapped wildly. In turn, Drago stepped forward. That’s when he spotted the woman he had willed to come to tonight’s show.
With an abundance of flaxen hair that swayed from a ponytail like wheat in a summer breeze, and a flawless complexion that glowed against the stage’s low-lying gaslights, the young woman’s beauty imprisoned Drago like a padlock. In the sparkle of her violet eyes he saw something amazing—a unique essence of goodness that compelled him as he often compelled
She’s even more beautiful than she was in my vision.
The girl flashed him a smile—and when it illuminated his world of darkness like a bright spotlight, the need to protect and possess her rose within him. But it didn’t matter how he felt. He was here to banish a cruel curse cast upon her when she was a baby. And if he wanted to weave his unique spell around her, he needed to hypnotize her now.
A hush fell over the theater. Clasping his hands behind his back, Drago paced the stage like a caged animal. “For my next trick, I need a female volunteer from the audience.”
Numerous hands went up. He ignored them. Once he unlaced his dark cape, he threw it into the wings. “I need a very special participant for this mystifying trick.”
Pressing his forefinger to his temple, he pretended to use his powers of telepathy. Just then, the beautiful blond girl left her seat, accompanied by her dark-haired friend. They scurried to the theater’s center aisle, apparently adverse to the thought of being called on to volunteer.
“You there!” Drago thundered.
The duo froze in their tracks and wheeled around.
Pulling on her thick, blond ponytail, Rose—her name popped into Drago’s head suddenly—blushed.
“You, my dear.” He galloped halfway down the staircase at the side of the stage and extended his hand.
“Go on, Rose!” her friend encouraged. Drago was right about her name.
Rose smoothed her gingham dress. She joined him on the shadowed staircase, then took his hand. As Drago grasped it, an alarming chill raced up his spine. And when her pink lips spread into another shy smile, he found himself completely enchanted.
Leading her to center stage he said, “Please tell the audience your name, Miss.”
“It’s Rose Carlisle.”
“Have we ever met before, Rose?”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell the spectators how old you are.”
“I don’t know how you could guess that, but very well,” she replied in a sweet, clear voice.
He cleared his throat. “Today is your birthday, and you are twenty years old.” The number surfaced in his mind as surely as he knew his own birthday.
Rose’s jaw dropped open. She nodded vigorously. “How did you know?” Her friend, who had returned to her seat in the front row, mirrored her stunned expression.
Drago felt his affinity for the doe-eyed beauty grow. Yet he urged himself to be careful—and to make her feel as comfortable with him as possible.
“It doesn’t take a magician to see that you’ve attended this show without your parents’ permission,” he said. “Is that right, Miss Carlisle?”
The crowd chuckled lightly at the joke. Rose looked stunned. “I haven’t seen my parents since I was a baby. But my adoptive parents don’t know I’m here.”
“I see,” Drago remarked lightheartedly. But when he saw Rose clutching her hands together nervously, he sensed her pain ran deep.
“Have you ever been a magician’s assistant?”
“No,” Rose replied. “In fact, this is my first magic show.”
“We’ll have to make it one you’ll never forget.”
When he reached for her small, velvet hand, it trembled inside his at the suggestion.
“Promise me you won’t be anxious,” he said. “I would never allow harm to come to you.”
She slid a glance his way—and they locked eyes for what felt like an eternity.
“I’ll try not to be nervous,” she finally promised. “What do I have to do?”
“Absolutely nothing. Just close your lovely eyes and remain in one spot.”
Rose did as she was told. Drago took the opportunity to study her high cheekbones, dainty mouth, and hourglass figure. Though she was tall, her demeanor lent her a fragile air. She seemed to him a delicate, porcelain doll which could be broken easily if handled improperly.
Frowning, he tried to concentrate on performing his illusion. While Rose kept her eyes closed, he massaged the air in front of him with his fingertips. As he murmured something inaudible, he willed Rose’s feet to rise slowly off the ground.
It appeared as if someone was pulling her legs out from under her. Eventually, her torso, limbs, and head reached a plane parallel to the stage and she was levitating in space.
The crowd gasped as Drago reached for a large silver hoop. He proceeded to pass the circle back and forth over Rose’s stiff body. When he twisted and turned it in every direction, the audience gasped. The trick, which had been performed only one time before, proved it had the power to intrigue.
“Are you doing all right, Rose?” Drago asked in a gentle voice.
She nodded. Her ponytail swung toward the wooden floor.
“Excellent.” Drago passed the silver hoop to his brunette assistant, Katherine. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make. The second half of this trick is new even to me. However, it’s something I feel bold enough to try with Miss Carlisle’s help.”
Drago’s assistant cast him an angry look. He continued on anyway. “Katherine, would
you hand me that red silk drape?” he asked.
Clearly irritated, Katherine moved to the tiny prop table in the corner. Once she passed a large cloth to Drago, he unfolded it and draped it over the length of Rose’s levitating body.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said in a low tone. “Making a woman levitate in midair is one thing. But what if I made her …disappear?”
He whipped off the red drape and exposed nothing but air. Men in pinstriped suits leapt to their feet and women touched their hats in astonishment.
When the audience’s enthusiastic clapping subsided, Drago removed his gloves. “Now
I’ll make our lovely Rose reappear. Just… like… that.”
Snapping his fingers loudly, he moved to a cabinet in the middle of the stage. He opened the cabinet’s door with an exaggerated gesture and there stood a pale-faced Rose. Grinning, Drago took her hand and helped her out. Together they walked to the front of the stage and were greeted with thunderous applause.
As he took one step away from Rose, Drago bowed to her as well. Her cheeks regained their color—and she looked at him as if he were the most wonderful man in the world.
Although leaving her was the last thing he desired to do, he had no choice. Drago came closer to her and pressed something into her hand. Then he mouthed the haunting words, “Wear this and come back to me.”
Rose’s hand closed around the item the handsome magician had placed in her palm. The curtain closed with a dramatic whoosh—and as she stumbled up the aisle, she unfurled her hand and stared at the object. It was a beautiful amulet that bore a silver chain and mysterious Egyptian engravings.
About the Author:
Marina Myles’s love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale. During her college days, she received degrees in English Literature and Communications—and enjoyed the unique experience of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.
Now that she lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she hasn’t left her glamorous life behind completely. After all, she gets to divide her time between her loving family, her loyal Maltese, and worlds filled with fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs.
Visit her at www.marinamyles.com
Working for Lucifer is the best job in the universe, until the day it’s not. Then you’re on your own, with Hell at your heels.
Ava, Sin of Greed, has had a rough week. The angel she planned to make a life with left her with nothing but a Dear Jane letter. Even worse, Lucifer believes she spilled Hell’s secrets to her ex, and her boss’s temper is notoriously apocalyptic.
For centuries, Dante kept his feelings for Ava under lock-and-key. The one time he pursued something more, he nearly lost her for good. Lesson learned. However, when he hears of her planned elopement, all bets are off. Not having Ava was a reality he could accept. Losing her to an angel is something else entirely.
Now, Ava, once Hell’s golden child, is fleeing for her life. When her old friend Dante shows up, her first instinct is to send him packing. But Dante is more than a friend—he’s the only other man who tempted her, and his fierce loyalty challenges everything she thought she knew about him. As Ava prepares to battle the devil himself, she can’t keep from getting closer to Dante…though she doubts her heart can survive another break.
Someone thumped her on the shoulder and sent her spiraling out of her thoughts. A jolt rushed through her body and everything went on autopilot. Ava jumped to her feet, formed a fist, and landed a blind punch in less than three seconds. It took another ten seconds for her scattered mind to piece together what had just occurred, and by then she was staring into an all-too familiar pair of crystal blue eyes.
Ava blinked. Hard. “Dante?”
“Fucking hell,” he cursed, cradling his nose and scowling at her. “What’d you do that for?”
“What the hell were you sneaking up on me for?”
“I didn’t sneak!”
Ava looked around, then waved a hand. “This is a graveyard, Dante. In the middle of the night in Nowheresville. You don’t just…I dunno, touch someone. You let someone know you’re there.”
“And here I thought getting your attention would do that just fine.”
“Not like that!”
“Next time I’ll read the fucking rule book.” Dante dropped his hands and sniffed. A small fleck of blood colored the space between his nose and lips, but other than looking a little swollen, he seemed otherwise undamaged. “If this is the way you greet your friends, it’s no small wonder the whole of Hades is after your sorry ass.”
Ava’s shoulders dropped and she rolled her head back, a long groan riding off her lips. “You know about that?”
“What other reason would I have to be… Where the fuck are we?”
Dante offered a dramatic sigh, though something in his eyes told her he’d only asked for show. Even at his drunkest, he wasn’t the sort to forget what state he was in.
“Mississippi,” he muttered. “So that’s what that smell is.”
On the other hand… Ava straightened her spine and arched an eyebrow at him. “So…what? You come out here to make fun of the locals?”
“No,” he replied coolly, wiping the stray speck of blood off his otherwise pale, pristine skin. “I came here for you.”
Everything in her stilled. Though she’d heard him the first time, the words had a way of really sinking in upon repetition. As though it took a time delay for her to realize there was no reason aside from her current problem that Dante should be out here with her—or here at all. He wasn’t the sort of guy to crash in antebellum tourist traps.
“You came here for me,” she echoed. “Why?”
He shrugged a shoulder, his face blanking the way it did when he wanted to appear blasé. “Why not?”
“Thought you could use a friend.”
Ava stared at him a moment longer, then sighed heavily and tore her gaze to the ground. Yeah, she supposed she could use a friend. Or a whole army of them. And though Dante wasn’t the first person she would have called, she couldn’t deny she was happy to see him.
Not that his presence answered her questions. If anything, he added to the pile.
“I take it Merle gave you the message,” she murmured. “About…”
“The angel?” One perfect eyebrow arched. Actually, there wasn’t much about Dante that wasn’t perfect. Physically, at least. One of his most annoying qualities also happened to be his most prized. There was nothing worse than a man who knew just how damn good he looked.
Truly, Dante had always seemed a bit too perfect when it came to the male form. He was only a few inches taller than she and had a body built for debauchery, complete with strong arms and a marble-carved chest. Tonight, he was wrapped in a snug pair of jeans and a form-fitting long-sleeved navy tee, which made his pale skin seem paler. His hair was coal black and his eyes sparkled blue. Ava had always loved his eyes.
And thinking about his perfect eyes right now on the cusp of a broken heart while all of Hell nipped her heels was probably the last in a very long line of bad ideas. At once she felt overtly vulnerable, exposed. Standing in a strange town under strange circumstances with him, her oldest friend, seeming one part savior and one part…pissed.
Nothing in her world made sense right now. Dante had just muddied things up even more.
“Yeah,” she said when she remembered to speak. “The angel. Merle told you.”
Dante nodded solemnly. “That was the plan, right?”
Ava released a shaky breath, her mind spinning so fast it was a small wonder she remained standing. Looking at Dante now with everything that had happened in the past week still heavy on her heart, with the uncertainty of her future, took her suddenly oddly-shaped world and turned it on its head. She felt like she was living in the funhouse mirror version of her reality. Sebastian, then the Binsfeld Six, and now her vampire.
At some point she had to wake up.
“What are you doing here?” she asked again. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“Not much,” he admitted, stepping forward.
There was something guarded in his gaze, and so help her if she started analyzing every little look from Dante, she would lose her mind. Trying to figure out what he was doing here was work enough.
He nodded. “Just that you were out here. And you could use a friend.”
This admission did little to answer her questions. Her friendship with Dante was not a secret, by any means, yet she couldn’t speculate as to why anyone right now would decide to throw her a lifeline. Being alone certainly hadn’t done much for her…yet there was a good reason she hadn’t gone to Dante in the first place.
Dante was the kind of friend who was there for the good times and gone for the bad. At least in her experience. If he had any idea what was really going on, he’d make tracks. The large, cartoonish kind.
But Dante didn’t know. Hell, he didn’t even know what she was. His knowledge beyond his own kind was rather limited, and while his experience with others of Lilith’s children left him with a relatively grounded understanding of how the world worked, certain things—like Hell and all its residents—remained more or less relegated to the realm of other. He was aware Hell existed, sure, and had figured her for a demon early in their relationship, but otherwise boasted little knowledge of Lucifer or the pit beyond what was assumed through myth.
Seven centuries and he had no idea she was part of that myth. She’d never mentioned it, and he likely hadn’t thought to ask. His perception of her role had been established on the legs of their meeting, which, as it was, had been entirely accidental. It just so happened she didn’t like watching anyone, demon or otherwise, suffer at the hands of holy men, and in saving Dante’s life all those years ago, she’d earned a permanent ally.
Well, until now. Her own brand of permanence was about to run out, and of course Dante wouldn’t know why. If she explained the significance of what had occurred with Sebastian, and how limited her future was, he would be gone. She wouldn’t know to miss him.
Still, she owed him explanations. Dante was the one loose end she had—the only one who wouldn’t know why she was gone when Lucifer finally came to collect her life. Her siblings knew what was coming. Dante was the last person to whom to pay her regards.
Perhaps that was why someone had sent him to her. So she could do right by her one earthly friend and say goodbye.
“I could,” Ava admitted softly. “Use a friend. I’m glad you’re here.”
A shadow crossed Dante’s face. “That’s not good.”
She frowned. “What? That I’m glad you’re here?”
“Yeah. You’re never glad I’m near these days.” He laughed shortly. “You must really be into some deep shit.”
“You have no idea.”
“All this over an angel.”
The corner of Ava’s mouth pulled into a grin, and for a moment she felt somewhat like her old self. “More or less.”
“An angel, Ava. For fuck’s sake, what happened to your dignity?”
“Where were you three weeks ago?”
“I dunno, but if I’d known you were gonna be falling for one of those winged assholes, you’d better believe I’d have dropped everything to beat some sense into you.”
She snickered. “Like you could take me.”
“You never give me the chance to try,” he retorted, his eyes gleaming.
“Your ego is too fragile to handle getting your ass handed to you by a girl.”
“So you’ve told me. And told me. And told me. You know what they say about words and actions, don’t you, love?”
A small thrill raced down her spine, her insides igniting with heat and a rush of good old-fashioned nostalgia. “Wanna grab a beer?” she asked. “Or, you know, a burger? I don’t think I’ve eaten in a week.” She paused, then waved at him. “You can consider it the last meal of a condemned man.”
“‘Cause you’re gonna kick my ass, right?”
“That’s the plan.”
Dante grinned ear-to-ear. “Thought you’d never ask.”
Continue Lance & Lisa’s Turbulent Passion, in Book Two of the Flyboy Trilogy
Captain Lance Miller has finally discovered and captured the Goddess of his dreams. Life is everything he ever dreamt it could be and more. He is a Captain with International Air, Owner of an Italian Winery, and Master to his beautiful Miss Lisa Price. But, life can never be this good for very long, right?
Lance brought down his walls and shared his heart. He threw away his manwhore tendencies. He’s been faithful. Lance’s life should be fabulous and it is until he watches all of his dreams crash and burn in front of his horrified eyes.
Flight Attendant Lisa Price has found her Prince Charming; granted he is nothing like she imagined he would be. He is an egotistical playboy who is controlling, demanding, hypnotic, charming, plus downright desirable, gorgeous, and steamy hot! Who could ask for more?
Lisa’s Flyboy has introduced her to her wild, uninhibited side; a side that is eager to discover new adventures inside and outside the bedroom. Lisa’s life is unfolding in front of her beautifully, until she discovers a secret. A secret she desperately needs to share with Lance, but will fate allow her to reveal her secret to the only man who has ever truly owned her heart?
G.L. Ross is a proud, sixth generation, native Texan. As a true Southern Belle, G.L. has always dreamt of the “happily ever after,” the prince riding in on the white horse sweeping her off her feet. She hasn’t found “Prince Charming” – yet (always an optimist) – but finds him every time she writes about her characters’ “happily ever after” endings.
Her motto in life is to “always find the good” in every person and situation. Whether through laughter, prayer, or a glass of wine or vodka, G.L. finds the good in life and shares her sense of humor, love, and adventure in her stories. Take flight with Lance & Lisa in Turbulent Passion, and continue their turbulent journey in Burning Desire, book two in the Flyboy Trilogy
The wedding is four months away, and Ethan has promised to train Sam to handle a planned honeymoon activity. He’s calculated the math to figure out her goals each week. When she reaches the weekly target she gets a massage and lots of fun orgasms. But if she doesn’t, it’s the stainless steel cane.
All this along with navigating her clients’ drama, planning a wedding, dealing with her mother while planning the wedding, and having lots and lots of wild and kinky sex.
And we haven’t even mentioned the bachelorette party.
Warning: This title contains graphic language, consensual BDSM some may find objectionable, anal sex, bondage, and the use of toys including crops, clips, clamps, plugs, and gags.
Sam looked at the ring on her finger and her knees went weak. Again.
She wasn’t worried about marrying Ethan so much as freaking out about how ideal her life seemed to be. Did anyone get their idea of a perfect life for long before something came along to screw with it?
As a divorce attorney, she’d seen enough ‘happily ever after’ stories go horribly wrong to know there were no guarantees she and Ethan would live out their lives in blissful harmony. But she knew marriages survived — her parents and Ethan’s parents were proof.
Panicking never solved anything, nor did focusing on the negative, so she took a deep breath and reminded herself they were starting better than most couples, and had a really good chance of making it work. They both communicated when there were issues, and both were willing to compromise when needed. As long as they kept up the communication, they should be fine. Theoretically.
“What’s going through your head? You’re supposed to look happy when you stare at the ring on your finger.”
Her gaze flew to Ethan’s and she smiled. “I’m just thinking. You know I’m happy, right? I wouldn’t have said yes if I didn’t think we could make it work. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, I’m just…”
Ethan let the silence weigh heavily for several long moments, as if he were seeing if she’d finish. He finally said, “I think the worst choice of career for a fiancée has to be divorce attorney. If someone had told me a year ago I’d be engaged to one I’d have told them they were crazy.” He shook his head and added, “But you aren’t the average divorce attorney. You aren’t the average anything, and it’s part of why I love you so much.” He brushed a loose strand of hair away from her face. “Still, it has to be hard, watching the end of relationships that likely started out with such promise.”
“Yes,” Sam nodded, relieved he understood without getting his feelings hurt, “but I think it’s also given me a window into the type of people who are bad marriage material, and you don’t fit the bill,” she said as she poked his chest with her pointer finger. “You’re honest, you’re a good communicator, you hold yourself responsible for your actions, and you’re considerate of other’s feelings. We’ve only known each other five months, but…” She shook her head. “You know what? I don’t want to talk about that right now. I want to hear more about your plans for, ummm, preparing me for our honeymoon.”
Ethan eyed her a moment before saying, “Five months and three weeks, which rounds up to six months. As for your training, I’d planned to give you the basic outline tonight. I’ve ordered a few things that should be here Thursday or Friday, so we’ll begin the training Friday evening. I intended to email you some things to read before I explain the process, but we can talk it over instead, if you’d like.”
“Yeah. I’d like.” Sam rolled her eyes. “That’s why said I wanted to hear it.”
Her insides warmed and her stomach threatened to flip-flop as Ethan’s eyebrows rose, but they weren’t in a scene at the moment so he couldn’t punish her for being a smart-ass. Thank goodness.
He relaxed his eyebrows as he flashed a quick smirk — he knew his look had affected her, but didn’t comment and easily carried on with their conversation. “You’re an athlete with good flexibility and probably already know most of what I’m about to tell you, but I’m going to detail it anyway to be sure you correlate what you know about flexibility with anal training.”
She put it together in her head, talking as she thought. “Yeah, the rectum is a strong muscle, so stretching should be like….Oh.”
Ethan smiled. “All stretching will happen from Friday evening through Sunday. I’ll expect you to be able to handle the next size up on Sunday without difficulty, and then keep yourself accustomed to the new size throughout the week so you’ll be prepared to be stretched again Friday evening.”
“You aren’t expecting me to wear a plug at work, are you?”
“Of course not,” he said with a smile and a quick shake of his head. “During the week you’ll be required to insert the training tool four times a day for a total of forty-five minutes per day, at least two hours apart, with a minimum of five minutes per insertion. This means you can have it in for thirty minutes once, and five minutes three times. Or for twenty minutes once, five minutes once, and ten minutes the other two times.” He paused a beat before adding, “When necessary, you’ll have the option of reducing it to three times a day, though your total time will increase to one hour. You’ll need to clear it with me if you want to alter the schedule more than twice a week, though.”
Sam thought it through; she could do it in the morning before work, and then at around 5:30, 7:30, and 9:30 in the evenings. If she had to wear it for five minutes on a lunch break she probably could, to knock out one of the evening times. He’d said this was during the week, though. Her gaze rose to his eyes. “And on the weekend?”
His smile was maybe just a little too gleeful. “We’ll be together on the weekends, and you’ll be required to submit as often and as long as I say.”
Sam’s insides flared to life. He could set her on fire just by changing his tone of voice, but — remembering his smirk from earlier — she worked hard to keep her face and body relaxed as she said, “You just asked me to marry you yesterday, when did you order the… stuff?”
“Last night after you went to sleep, and I paid extra for expedited shipping.”
Neither of them said anything for a few seconds and he pulled an exam glove and a small bottle of lube from his pocket. “Strip and get on the bed; knees and shoulders, with your arms spread to the side.”
Her pulse jumped to life as his tone of voice changed and her body anticipated the promise of a scene.
Ethan stretched the glove over his large hand while she stripped. His deep voice kept a steady tone as he said, “I’ll be using gloves to finger you, and all the toys and tools will be smooth. I intend to prepare you for my size and length, but I don’t want you accustomed to friction. Nothing in the next four months will give the motion of having your ass fucked. You won’t feel my flesh in your ass, not even fingers, until our honeymoon.”
About the Author:
Candace Blevins is a southern girl who loves to travel the world.
She lives with her husband of 16 years and their two daughters. When not working or driving kids all over the place she can be found reading, writing, meditating, or swimming.
Candace writes romance books about strong women who happen to be submissive, and in some cases have some pretty extreme kinks. Relationships can be difficult enough without throwing power exchange into the mix, and her books show characters who care enough about each other to fight to make the relationship work.
You can visit her on the web at candaceblevins.com, and feel free to friend her on Facebook at facebook.com/candacesblevins, and Goodreads at goodreads.com/CandaceBlevins.
Since becoming oracle to the demivampire two years ago, advice columnist Sophie has battled werewolves and survived a vampire attack (or two). However, not only was she powerless to save her lover Marek when he slipped to the brink of evolution, she also witnessed his transformation into a falcon, the symbol of Horus United.
Sophie’s quest to save Marek is further complicated when rock star Dierk Adeluf – who also happens to be the king of the Werekind – invites her backstage after a concert. Just when it seems she will find respite from heartache, Sophie is bitten by a werewolf and Dierk decides she is destined to be his queen.
Sophie is caught between the demivamps she loves and the Were who commands her to love him. Throw in his jealous wanna-be girlfriend—a true bitch if ever there was one—and an ambush by witches, and there you have the big mess that Sophie calls her life. And, hello? Her soul mate is still a bird.
She’s supposed to be the girl with all the answers, but Sophie needs more than a little advice–she needs divine intervention.
About the Author:
Ash Krafton writes from the heart…of the Pennsylvania coal region, that is.
She is the author of the Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press).
BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1) is a six-time RWA finalist and was voted “Reviewer Top Pick” by Gravetells.com. Ash continues the story of Sophie and her Demivampires in her latest release BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2). She’s hard at work (when she isn’t watching Doctor Who) writing the third book, WOLF’S BANE.
Ash Krafton’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in several journals, including Niteblade, Bete Noire, Abandoned Towers, and Silver Blade. She’s a member of Pennwriters, RWA, and Maryland Writers Association. She lurks near her blog and contributes to the QueryTracker blog.
Ash lives with her family and their German Shepherd dog deep in the Pennsylvania wilds, awaiting the day the TARDIS appears in the driveway (the dog most likely keeps the Doctor away. What a beast.)
Until then, she writes.
Find Ash at:
1 Demimonde gift pack contains a print book, tote bag, note pad, pens, swag, and a gift card.
Winner can choose between any one of the three print books in the series.
Open to International Shipping
Teddie likes her country music and her old pick-up truck and she’s not sure how she let her best friend talk her into spending a semester abroad in Darjeeling India. Once she arrives, her innocence quickly collides with an underworld in which young women are bartered and sold. As she fights to understand a depravity that she never dreamed existed, Teddie finds that her own mind develops a unique ability for locating her friends and that an ancient group is willing to train her to use her innate skills for out of body experiences to save others.
It will require trust in ideas she barely believes, and more courage than has ever been expected of her. When it becomes clear that the alternative may be her friends’ deaths and the unchecked growth of an evil crime lord’s empire, Teddie accepts the challenge and shows those guilty of unspeakable crimes just how powerful a young woman can be.
Available at Amazon
Note: this is collection, not a series. The books can be read in any order.
About the Author:
Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer. She published her first science fiction short story long ago, and then waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.
The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to calm down and explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well-paying The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.
Apparently she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. “It’s about time,” were his exact words.
Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie’s head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She’s been wide awake ever since, and writing away.