Book Blitz ~ Stacey Kennedy

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Bryanna is far from the perfect witch. Shunned by her coven and her boyfriend for her unruly magic, she seeks a new life for herself in a new town—Charmstone.

When Bryanna arrives in Charmstone, Zeke, a demon gone good, is burning with fire over her. Not only has she set his world ablaze, but he’s found one soul he can save. He’s determined to free her from the insecurities that have damaged her soul.

Together they experience lava-hot passion as they weave their way through a tornado of emotions. But when Bryanna’s ex returns for her, Zeke will need to take a stand and hope that their lust leads to a forever love.

Publisher’s Note: This story was previously published elsewhere under the title Whatnots & Doodads in 2011, and has been revised and expanded for Ellora’s Cave.

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Excerpt Some Like It Wicked

Copyright © STACEY KENNEDY, 2013

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

A thump, followed by a ga-jug, echoed within the Volkswagen Rabbit, then the car rolled to a halt on the side of the gravel road.

“Oh Blessed Be, this cannot be happening.” Bryanna turned the ignition key and it clicked. She tried again, but she didn’t hear a spark of the engine igniting or a purr from the muffler, she only heard silence.

Dropping her head against her hands resting on the steering wheel, she shrieked in frustration and her throat tightened. But when tears filled her eyes, she straightened up. “No, you will not cry.” Cursing the now-dead piece of junk, she opened the car door, grabbed her handbag from the passenger seat and kicked the car’s silver door shut behind her.

Before the dash-unit GPS crapped out on her, it had indicated she had arrived in the West Feliciana Parish of Louisiana. Now she stood atop a narrow ridge overlooking a river below with blue sky and white clouds above.

The beautiful sight didn’t match her wretched mood. She should enjoy the rich, earthy scents around her, feel rejuvenated to have left the busy city of Shreveport behind and bask in the gloriousness of the nature around her. That was, if she was a good Earth Witch, which sadly, she wasn’t. In fact, her magical abilities were embarrassing at best. But those kinds of chastising thoughts weren’t important anymore. Nothing mattered. Least of all what she could or couldn’t do with her magic.

She strode forward and her long black satin skirt dragged along the ground, making her grumble. The gravel road was slightly damp and the big clouds meant a storm had recently blown through, which only added to the strong scents around her. Rich moss thrived on the forest floors to her right. Birds chirped in welcome, but she didn’t know to where.

Not as if that mattered either. The only thing that did concern her was never turning back and always moving forward. Her life needed to change, which included getting her ex-boyfriend, Layton Brimley, completely out of it.

A man built of romantic dreams—beautiful on the outside, blue-eyed, blond-haired and sexy as sin. But the pretty packaging was deceptive; his soul was tainted with darkness. He was the reason she’d been on the road for four hours now and why she’d never go back to the Shreveport coven.

Above her, a bird squawked and Bryanna raised her hand to protect her eyes, watching the hawk soaring on a thermal. She sighed. If only she was that hawk and Layton was a little mouse she could rip to pieces. It’d be the sweetest revenge.

She focused back on the road and increased her speed. On her third step, her boot caught a stone, causing her to stumble forward. With a yelp, she nosedived toward a puddle and scraped her hands against the rough stones. The dirty water soaked her clothing, plastering her skirt to her skin.

“Oh for the love of magic.” She pushed herself up, wiped her injured hands on her wet skirt and took a cautious step forward, but wobbled. When she glanced down, she noticed the heel of her boot had broken off.

Drat!

Things that had been bad so far were only getting worse with each passing hour. She’d need four sets of hands to count all the mishaps she’d encountered along the way. Limping forward, she continued on, determined to get to…well, she hadn’t figured that out yet.

As the hawk above her squawked again, she also heard a car approaching from behind and drawing closer with each limp she took. Refusing to look back at the car in fear of embarrassing herself further, she stared at the gravel road when a thump caught her attention. The car’s tire had clearly hit another hole in the road, since when she turned, a splash came barreling toward her.

If she were a normal Earth Witch, she could conjure magic to stop the dirty water from hitting her. Sadly, she was anything but normal. Instead, she braced herself, shut her eyes and waited for the deluge.

Only a second later, the frigid water hit her dead center, as expected.

When she opened her eyes, she discovered her violet-streaked long black hair dripping around her. Looking down at her black corset, she found it completely soaked and dirt particles marred her flesh. “That’s it!” she shrieked to the sky above. “I’ve had enough!”

“You can either get in or stay wet. Your choice.”

At the low, velvety voice, Bryanna jerked her head toward the car, looking at back door of the black Dodge Challenger, which was open. Get in the car with a stranger? Or stay in these soaked clothes, with a broken heel on my boot?

The right decision was glaringly obvious.

With her continuing limp, Bryanna approached the car, then settled into the backseat. “Thank you for stopping.” As she leaned against the back of the seat, she noticed she was dripping dirty water along the expensive black leather. “Perhaps this was a bad idea. I’m ruining your seat.”

“It’s only a car,” the driver stated.

Glancing up from her soaked clothes, Bryanna examined her savior. He stared out the front windshield, but then looked at her in the rearview mirror, and she sucked in a harsh breath. It wasn’t his appearance that worried her. His short dark-brown hair, the broad set of his shoulders and even his nicely defined arms filling his pale-blue T-shirt looked incredibly nice. But it was what lay in the depths of his coal-black eyes that terrified her.

A demon.

“The name is Zeke.” He flashed a grin that, if she hadn’t been frightened, might have been sexy. At her silence, he chuckled, put the car in gear and then drove down the road. “Surprised to see a demon?”

She gulped, stunned speechless.

Demons were underworld creatures, stealers of souls and spawns of Satan. What kind of trouble had she landed herself in?

“Stop the car!” she shouted, blindly grasping for the door handle that seemed to have disappeared. She might have looked down to assist in her much needed escape, but that meant she would have to take her eyes off the demon, which she wouldn’t dare do. “Let me out. Don’t eat my soul.”

Zeke barked a shout of laughter. “I might be a demon by right, but I have chosen a different life for myself. I won’t eat you.” His chuckling faded. “And I’ll even send a tow to get your car later. What’s your name?”

His reply knocked her off her axis and made her pause. Was what he suggested even possible? Could a demon deny his heritage? “Bryanna.” She managed to look away from him and noticed they approached a town. “Where are you taking me?”

“Charmstone.”

Once he passed through the metal gates at the entrance, Bryanna spotted an old wooden sign that hung on a wrought iron stand. Charmstone was carved into the wood with Established in 1839 written below.

As the car traveled down the curvy paved road, shops of all kinds appeared. First, Duncan’s Dungeons, then Scaredy Cat Café and even Little Shop of Potions. The town had a historical feel, with aged stores that only built more character. It didn’t look decrepit, but had an incredible charm. One of those places so memorable that if she left, she’d definitely return.

After Zeke rounded a corner, he brought the car to a stop. Dragging her gaze from the eclectic shops and the few shifters who walked along the street, she exited the car and stared down the street to her right. She then looked to her left, totally mesmerized.

The shops were all huddled together with no sense of organization. They were nothing like she’d seen in Shreveport. It even smelled different here, almost like gingersnap cookies. Every shop appeared to be a little house and each had a different style that somehow made each one special.

“What a charming little town.” She glanced over her shoulder at Zeke and her mouth instantly went dry.

At some point, he had joined her and he was dark, dangerous, but gorgeous. He towered over her, staring down at her in a way that should have sent her running. Instead, she found herself captivated. Her breath caught in her throat as he gave a smile that was as devilish as his evil roots.

He regarded her a moment, giving her a once-over before curiosity filled his dark eyes. “If you’re a witch, why haven’t you,” he waved his hand over her, “changed your clothing?”

At the reminder of her magical flaws, her cheeks warmed. The spell he suggested was, in fact, the simplest of magic. She considered lying to save herself from the embarrassment, but why bother? A demon had no right to judge her. “Because I’m a terrible witch.”

One sleek eyebrow lifted. “How so?”

A breeze filled the air, causing leaves to flutter down from the tree above, making her slightly chilled in her wet clothes. “My powers are on the fritz. I can command the earth element, but when I do, something horrible happens.”

His eyes twinkled. “Show me.”

“That’s not a good idea.” She scanned the area and while only a couple of warlocks stood by the café and a few werewolves across the street, this seemed dangerous. Turning back to Zeke, she admitted, “It’s best I don’t use my magic.”

He closed the distance between them, studying her from head to toe. “But you are a witch.”

To call her a witch was akin to calling a black cat white. “Yeah, that’s the problem. I’m only a half-witch.”

He snorted, folding his arms over a thick chest. “There’s no such thing as a half-witch.”

“Wanna bet?” she countered.

The side of his mouth curved. “Go on.” He leaned against the wrought iron lamppost and waved her on, which flexed the muscles in his biceps. “I’m not worried. Show me.”

She cleared her throat, a little stuck on the sight of his flexing muscles, before she gave herself hell for looking at a demon that way. Focusing off him, as well as realizing he wouldn’t relent until he saw her flaws for himself, she focused inward. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

He winked. “Little witch, you couldn’t hurt me if you tried.” Pointing toward himself, he tilted his head. “Demon, remember?”

There was that.

Besides, even if she had perfect magic, she still couldn’t injure him; exactly why witches feared demons. Although this demon wasn’t typical, was he? With that thought on her mind, and not wanting to prolong the moment, she shut her eyes. Years had passed since she called to her element and she wasn’t confident earth would respond.

Perhaps some of her agreement had been because it almost felt like the final act of defiance. Her magic had been wonky since birth and her ex, Layton, had been right—her spells only caused trouble. Now she was free of him and could conjure magic whenever she wanted. That was, when alone and not for anyone to witness her mishaps.

Warmth began to fill her veins, instantly reminding her of how intimately her magic touched her, bringing forth a world of guilt. Abandoning her element had been the hardest thing she’d ever done. But what else was she to do?

As a heat wave rushed over her body and settled into her chest, happiness spread through her equally as powerful. The earth element appeared as elated as she was to reconnect. When the breeze picked up and turned into a stronger wind, fluttering her hair, she concentrated on her clothes. She pictured each article of clothing in her mind and switched that piece of clothing with something new.

With a skirt and corset strong in her mind, the blast of heat in her veins burned wicked hot until it vanished and the wind returned to a gentle breeze.

Only a second passed before Zeke burst out laughing.

She snapped open her eyes, caught sight of him staring at the ground and then she followed his gaze. The moment she spotted the tiny round glass jar, she groaned. “See.”

“I do see.” He picked up the container, pulled out the cork and lowered his nose to the glass. “It smells like vanilla with a hint of almonds.” After he closed the jar again, he smiled at her. “Is it skin cream?”

“Sure is.” She lifted her chin, forcing herself to remember he was a demon and had no business judging her. “As I told you, my magic never comes out right and always gives me these thingamajigs.”

“Thingamajigs?”

She gave a firm nod. “Yup, all kinds of weird whatnots.”

“Well, Bryanna.” He offered her the container with gentleness in his gaze that made no sense coming from a demon. “Must be incredible skin cream since your skin is beautiful.”

With burning cheeks, she accepted the jar, unsure if she should thank him or ignore him. She chose the latter, considering he was a demon, after all. Sure, a sexy demon with a wickedly charming smile, but nonetheless, a demon.

She deposited the cream in the garbage bin beside the lamppost and when the glass container clanged against the bottom of the metal garbage bin, she finally looked at Zeke. He stared at her intently and she became trapped in those same confusing eyes; so dangerous, yet tender.

When he chuckled, her attention drifted down to his curved lips, making her wonder what it’d be like to kiss a demon. Would he be gentle? Or would he be a devil between the sheets?

The second she realized it hadn’t been a passing thought, but intense curiosity, she gave her head a hard shake for even going there.

What was wrong with her?

“There’s a store close by that should suit you.” Zeke’s voice had deepened, his eyes glinting dangerously. “I’ll buy you whatever you need to replace your clothing.”

She bit back a curse, seeing he wasn’t blind to her regard of him. Her most private thoughts always showed on her face. She had to work on not being such an open book. “I don’t need your money. That’s one thing I do have.”

In fact, money was the only thing she had, not that she’d tell a demon that. What she didn’t have—what she longed for—was everything that truly mattered: love, acceptance and perfect magic.

She had lived without the important stuff for twenty-five years and she couldn’t do it any longer. Those desires made her leave everything she knew behind in Shreveport in search of a new life.

And now here she was, in Charmstone with a demon.

 

About the Author:

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Stacey Kennedy writes romance that sometimes gets very naughty. She’s an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband who gave her a happily ever after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read mommy’s books. If she’s not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy and Games of Thrones.

Website – http://www.staceykennedy.com/

Blog – http://www.staceykennedy.com/blog

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/AuthorStaceyKennedy

Facebook Fan Page – www.facebook.com/StaceyKennedyFanPage

Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/Stacey_Kennedy

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3473046.Stacey_Kennedy

Amazon Author Page –

http://www.amazon.com/Stacey-Kennedy/e/B004G9KR9A/


Book Blitz ~ Selah Janel

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Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill has signed on to work in a logging camp to earn a fast paycheck to start his life. Unfortunately his role model is Big John, the camp’s golden boy known for blowing his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and the lives of so many. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows, something that badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door or does someone have their own plans for his future?

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Excerpt:

For a moment, Bill thought he was imagining things or was having a particularly bad reaction to the rot gut. Blinking a few times refocused his tired gaze and proved there was, indeed, a moving pile of…something at a table close to the other end of the bar.

Nancy shuffled back towards the bar, casting a wary look over her shoulder. “Red, he’s back,” she breathed as she scooped up another tray and fled to the other side of the room. Upon closer inspection, the youth realized it wasn’t a pile of something, but a figure draped in a patchwork of skins then cloaked with half-torn, moldy furs. Most who passed his way quickly avoided him, though whether it was because of his odd looks or his smell, it was hard to say.

Red hissed through his teeth and ran a sweating hand through his thick mane. “Tom Haskins,” he mumbled under his breath for the benefit of those crowded round him.

“I thought he lived on the edge of town,” Jack replied as he glared down the length of the bar.

“He tried to start a dry goods store, and it didn’t go over too well. He had it in his mind he could make up his loss with fur, though he ain’t no trapper. He moved out to the woods weeks ago and comes into town every so often to hang round and get his fix. Just when I think he’s finally died out there, he comes round again.” Not once did the saloon proprietor take his eyes off the body hunched over a table. Every breath made Tom’s ragtag cloak shudder, and every moldy hair on him quivered.

“You want me to kick him out?” Jack offered, already shifting his weight across the room.

“Nah, let him warm up at least. He doesn’t do much; just pesters everyone for drink now that he can’t afford it for himself. Give him time, and he’ll be up to his tricks.”

Bill couldn’t stop looking away. The pile of sloughed animals slumped as the man’s head rose. His skin was a cold grey and stretched taught across his face and hands. His hair had all but fallen out, but what was still left of it hung in clumps of long, ragtag strands that were paler than dried straw. His thin-lipped mouth was open and he sucked in air in painful, erratic pants.

“Look at ‘im! Actin’ like a piglet pulled away from its ma’s teat!” Big John sneered. “I bet his clothes are fulla maggots!”

“It’s too cold for maggots,” Ben snorted. “His clothes are thin. Wonder how the hell he stands bein’ out in the woods in weather like this.” “We do it,” Bill muttered. The recluse’s head jerked at the sound of his voice; the young man immediately snapped his mouth shut.

“Yeah, but we’re used to it! And younger’n he ever was!” John’s voice was purposefully loud and carried the haughty tone that won him admiration from the other loggers. “He’s durn crazy, that’s why he don’t notice.” He cocked his head Tom’s way with a sneer. “All that time on your own turn you yaps, man?”

Tom’s head very slowly shifted towards them, and Bill shuddered. There were days he’d survived the logging camp and the extreme conditions by will power and prayer alone, all the while wondering in the back of his head what it would be like if he didn’t have even that. Looking at the vagrant, he knew.

Ben was cursing behind them. “I saw him not more than a month ago and he didn’t look like that. Solitary life don’t turn a man in that short a’ time! Maybe he’s got rabies or fever n’ ague.”

Tom’s eyes sat so far back in his skull, it was impossible to tell what color they were, though they harbored a steady, unsettling gleam. They roved over the huddled group, searching hungrily for an easy mark. Bill’s heart plummeted to his boots when the hollow glitter locked onto him. He was suddenly as cold as he was when a seventh-year blizzard hit. All the frustrations and hell he’d endured since joining the logging team, all his good intentions and reasons, all he was trying to move forward to, swelled and jumbled together in a brief, howling wind of thought. The two distant stars in Tom’s eyes were the only thing that pegged him as a stable man in his otherwise rotting and dozy appearance.

All around the little group, the saloon’s weekend life went on. The distant sound of swearing and dice clattering across the floor mixed with discordant harmonies and a half-hearted mouth organ. But in the area by the bar, all was muffled and still. It was like the snows had come without warning over the forest, smothering everything in their path with chilled silence. Bill shuddered, and out of the corner of his eye, noticed Red do the same.

“You want I should knock his ears down, Red?” John’s bravado was the sudden yell that knocked the snow from the treetops, for better or ill. He had the relaxed look of a man who’d been in his cup just enough to throw caution to the wind. “I’ll toss him out and give ‘im a pat on the lip he won’t forget!”

“Leave be, John,” the barkeep muttered. His hand never stopped wiping down the bar. Though his head was tilted down towards his task, his eyes were set on their target across the room.

“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that that thing, that man, had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy, and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.

“Pardon?”

“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word. Otherwise, it was hard to even say how he’d made it into the saloon; he looked more than a little dim.

 

About the author:

Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.

She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the upcoming novel ‘In the Red’. Her work has also been included in ‘The MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.