Tag Archives for " paranormal romance "
Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
Check out an excerpt from Shana Norris’ YA paranormal romance, Surfacing, the first in her Swans Landing series.
Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.
But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.
As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.
A loud crack to my left made me jump at least a foot. The hairs all along my arms and all the way up my spine were certainly standing on end. I turned my cell phone in that direction, extending a frozen and trembling arm to try to make the light reach farther into the darkness.
“Anyone there?” My voice was low and shaking, barely above a whisper. I cleared my throat and tried again. “If you’re out there, come here or I’ll find you and kick your ass for scaring me.”
My eyes searched the darkness, but no one came forward despite the definite feeling that unseen eyes hid within the trees. I listened again for several moments, but there were no sounds other than the usual woodsy ones.
If I survived this night in one piece with my sanity still somewhat intact, I would never come back into these trees again.
And then I heard it.
I spun around, trying to determine what direction it came from, but it was impossible. The song seemed to be coming from everywhere all at once.
It started as a low hum at first, soft and sighing, but gradually it grew in volume and intensity. The sounds vibrated through me and I suddenly craved saltwater more than ever. My body cried out for it and every bone in me ached and popped and itched. For what, I didn’t know. My only thought was that I wanted to go toward the sound, even though I still couldn’t determine where exactly it came from, and so I started forward, stumbling over a tree root.
A hand closed around mine, stopping me. My head whipped around to find Josh’s face peering at me in the dim glow of my phone.
“What—” I started to say, but he shook his head. His expression was tight, his lips a thin straight line. He closed his eyes, swaying slightly, and a look of pain washed over his face.
“What’s going—” The words died in my throat. A movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.
When I turned in that direction, I saw a figure slip between the trees, into the darkness.
I stared hard at the area where she’d disappeared, searching the shadows. She was there, I knew she was even though at the same time I knew this was impossible. Mom was dead and her body was buried in a little cemetery in Tennessee. My mom was not wandering around Pirate’s Cove in Swans Landing.
And yet I smelled her perfume. She whispered my name and then laughed. She was there.
“Mom!” I called.
But Josh clasped his free hand over my mouth, his eyes still closed and his face contorted in pain. I struggled against him, trying to break free. Mom was there in the woods and I needed to find her. But the more I struggled, the more Josh pulled me against him, his arm wrapped around my ribcage and crushing me to his chest.
I fought against him, kicking and hitting. My teeth clamped down on his hand.
“Ow!” he cried, letting me go.
With my newfound freedom, I lurched forward, stumbling over roots. I ran through the trees, narrowly missing hitting my head on a low branch. “Mom!” I shouted. My eyes scanned the darkness of the forest, desperate to find her.
Josh caught up to me and grabbed me again. I tried to break free, struggling against the violent craving for salt water that wracked my body in order to keep my wits about me. But maybe I had long ago lost my sense of reality. I didn’t know what was really true anymore.
Josh’s fingers dug into my wrist. “Mara, no!”
“I have to find her,” I told him, my voice high-pitched and wild even to my own ears.
He wrenched me toward him. I raised my fists to push away, but Josh’s arms enveloped me, pressing me close.
And then his lips met mine and the world I barely had any remaining grip on slipped away completely.
Today I’m featuring the fifth book in Dale Mayer’s Family Blood Ties series, Vampire in Defiance.
This was it. For Tessa. For Cody. For Jared. Her family. Her Friends.
Moltere’s Mountain is collapsing. With Tessa, her friends and family still inside. Tessa won’t go down without a fight…and she won’t leave the others behind. But as she races to save everyone, time runs out.
Cody glanced around to find Tessa standing behind him. Tessa. I’m fine. Or I will be. Are you okay?
She nodded. My leg is damaged, but I’m alive. That’s what counts.
Pride and joy surged through him as she stood, injured herself but worried about him. She was such a warrior. You are so right. I’m going to be fine. Although I won’t be taking you for a flight around town any time soon.
She laughed, the sound bouncing through his mind and making him smile. Using his hands to push himself up, he slowly straightened. Once back on his feet, he took a deep breath and gazed around at the devastation. Rocks, dirt, and clouds of dust everywhere. Hearing a sound on his left, he turned to watch David, Ian, and Jewel approach.
“About time you woke up. All you’re doing is sleeping on the job.” Ian reached out to hit him, realized his fist was aimed at his injured shoulder, and swerved away at the last moment.
Cody glared at him. “Yeah. Thanks for missing me.”
Jewel kissed him gently on the cheek. “I’m so happy to see you alive and well.”
“Almost well.” Cody straightened and shrugged gently, barely holding back the grimace of pain. “With any luck, I’ll be fine in a few hours.”
“And that brings us to the next item of business. We need food and rest. A place to stay in until you two heal and we can recharge. Doesn’t have to be too long, but we have to make sure it’s enough that we can fight our way out of here,” David said with a pointed look at Cody’s wing.
Cody nodded. “Damn good idea.”
“Tessa can’t move without help,” Serus pointed out. “Goran, can you carry her back to the tunnel opening? We’ll scout ahead and see what we can find.”
Goran nodded. “Give me a minute to move the two of them over.”
Cody snorted. “I can get over there on my own. Go get Tessa.”
With an assessing glance at his son, Goran lifted up and headed toward Tessa.
He grinned at Tessa’s voice in his head as he made his way slowly back to the tunnel. Maybe. But I can walk. You can’t.
True. Her disgruntled tone made him chuckle. He caught their friends looking at him strangely. He dropped his smile and shrugged at them sheepishly. “Sorry. Inside joke.”
“You really can talk to her, can’t you?” Jewel asked?
He nodded. “It’s weird. And fun.”
“Sounds like it,” Jewel said.
Serus stepped up and said, “Talk when we’re back at the tunnel.”
Cody straightened, hating the damage his body had sustained. It had been a tough week. As long as he wasn’t floating ash, he was good with it. But that tunnel appeared to be a long way away.
In a quiet voice, Jewel asked, “Are you okay? Do you want a hand?”
He hid his grin as he gazed down at the tiniest vampire he knew. “I’ll be fine. But thanks.”
David smirked at him. “I could toss you over there.”
“You and whose army?” Cody scoffed. “You can barely drag your sorry ass around without trying to lift mine.”
The gentle wrangling continued as they made their way to the tunnel entrance. The whole way, Cody had tried to talk to Tessa, but she’d closed a door between them. Up ahead he watched his father land and stand almost protectively in front of her.
Was she more badly injured than they’d thought?
His breath wooshed out. You disappeared. I wasn’t sure what happened.
You were worried? Her smile rippled through his mind. No need.
Then why did you leave. It’s like you shut me out.
Why? He asked cautiously. But inside, frustration built. Why would she do that? And how did she do that? He had no idea how to leave her mind at all.
Because the pain was so bad I didn’t want you to hear me screaming.
Oh shit. Are you that badly hurt?
My leg. It might be healing, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Yeah, it must suck to be human. He couldn’t imagine a leg taking six weeks to heal. A bad break could take a vampire six hours, but normally a couple of hours would put one back to good health. In Tessa’s case, he had no idea. And you didn’t need to hide your feelings from me. I wouldn’t have thought less of you if I heard you scream, you know.
She smiled again, so faint it was like a whisper, something he felt more than saw. How weird was that?
I hated hearing your pain.
Oh shit. Yeah, that changed things. He thought she’d been worried about what he’d hear, and instead she’d been protecting him from being upset at her suffering. Somehow, he felt like he’d failed a test.
No! No tests here.
Maybe, but I didn’t understand, and I feel like I should have.
She laughed. We haven’t had time enough to know how the other one thinks or reacts for that.
I know. But you’re right. I hadn’t considered what hearing you scream would do to me. And you thought of it before I did.
So? It’s not a contest. Quit your complaining and get over here.
But her words were warm and tinged with humor, making him once again aware of how mature she was.
Yeah, life is like that.
No, I mean it. You understand people like no one else. Except… He thought about it. Your mother, maybe?
Then that’s easy, I learned it from her.
No. I think you learned because of the challenges you’re faced. You might have gotten your big heart from her, but you use it differently. Look at Jewel and how you handled her. Look at Xana and how sorry you were that I’d been forced to kill her. She needed killing, but you were worried about the effect of doing so on me. See, that’s all you. It comes from your heart.
Silence. He was almost close enough to see her face now. Her face was lowered. He wasn’t sure, but it looked like she was hiding it.
Are you okay? He asked in alarm.
She lifted her face and he could see the shy smile and bright pink cheeks.
He’d embarrassed her. I tell you the truth and you get shy and hide away. He shook his head in bemusement. You’re going to have to get used to it. I’m not going to hold back when I see something fantastic. Honestly, you’re something very different for me, and I’m learning a lot about myself through you.
He could feel a hesitation in his mind. He rushed to add, Different in a good way. You’re warmer, more caring than other females I’ve known. You’re almost… and he held the words back.
But she said them herself. Almost human?
Today I’m excited to feature the dystopian science fiction series, The ELE Series.
His hair is so dark that it nearly looks black on most days. Today, when I look at it just the right way I can see the deep brown and chestnut colors that stand out underneath the light. I also notice that his eyebrows furrow in and his eyes squint ever so slightly when he’s concentrating. It’s endearing.
I inch myself closer so I can see more of his eyes. The deep emerald green that he once had is now completely replaced with the most unique shade of navy blue that I’ve ever seen. It starts out dark, almost black around the outer part of his eye and then fades into a lighter, yet still navy shade of blue as it leads into his pupils. Both of his eyes are completely changed and I wonder why only one of mine has changed.
“What are you doing?” I know I’m blushing and it’s possible that I should feel self-conscious, but nothing about Alec’s stare makes me feel unsure of myself. If anything the look that he’s giving me makes me feel beautiful and more confident.
“I figured if you got to study me for an uninterrupted five minutes then I should get to do the same to you.” He smiles.
“Oh, you saw that?” I push some of my hair behind my ear.
He nods his head but continues to appraise me.
My body feels warm and flush and the butterflies are dancing around again in my stomach. The silence is killing me so I decide to break it. “So, what exactly are you studying?”
“Hmm, an exquisite specimen really.” He says in his best official scientific voice.
Why do I write paranormal? Great question!
I’m sure we’ve all have influences in our lives that tugged at us, pulling us in a single direction without letting go. That’s exactly what happened with me and the paranormal.
As a kid, I grew up on RL Stine and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books by Alvin Schwartz. Honest to God, those freaked me out so badly! They’re marketed as kids books, but… geez! I also watched horror movies on TV with my mom. My favorites were ones with witches, werewolves, and vampires.
Growing up, I moved a little away from books that scared me. In my young teenaged years, I mostly read historical romance (especially Scottish/Celtic ones with pixies, fairies, etc.), but I still loved the supernatural. However, I’d rather daydream about being a supernatural being or having a relationship with one. I adored the music video Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) by the Backstreet Boys because they were all dressed up like paranormal creatures.
While I enjoyed historical romance, I found out about paranormal romance and urban fantasy and delved deep in those genres. My favorite authors were Laurell K. Hamilton and Christine Feehan. Urban fantasy wasn’t known as urban fantasy yet. I had to get the books in the horror section, and the genre hadn’t exploded to what it is today.
I loved reading the paranormal romance books because of the romance and paranormal aspect, and okay, I was still a teenager, so yes, I skipped ahead sometimes to the “fun” scenes. But I really liked the Anita Blakes series by Laurell K. Hamilton because I was able to follow her character while she explored this hidden paranormal world and I could come back for more on a regular basis. I didn’t have to move on to new characters in new books.
I love the New Adult Paranormal Romance genre. Being able to hang out with the characters for more than one book and really tell their story is amazing. I also enjoy getting inside the heads of different characters in the series because I’m not confined to only hanging out with one or two characters. The possibilities are endless for great supernatural reads.
Thanks for having me here today, Tara!
Enter to win a copy of Sarah’s The Witch Who Cried Wolf and some other great swag!
Celina Bayberry never thought a part-time job could change her life, until she meets the hot and untouchable Aaron Jamison. Strangely enough, she can’t shake the feeling that he’s stalking her. And when a yellow-eyed stranger takes interest in her too, Celina discovers a dangerous secret: Her co-workers are Miew Demos–creatures linked to Bastet, the feline goddess of Egypt and members of a clan called Miews, shifters who can transform from human to feline in an instant.
They, and she, are being hunted by a wolf clan, the Iew Keftey, who will not rest until every last one of the Miews is annihilated. Celina’s life unravels as she is thrust into this age-old battle of brother against brother. Meanwhile, she’s losing her heart to Aaron who may or may not have lost his to her. And her own Bayberry family history is hiding something… something that will forever link her destiny with that of the Miews.
Celina and the clan need each other, but is either strong enough to face what is to come?
Twenty-year-old Julia Wade, a young woman tragically widowed, is in the middle of a bizarre bid between two mythical species who are vying for the unique properties she offers; her blood. The vampires need her to balance the food load of the human species and give them their coveted “Lightwalkers.” The Were wish to be moonless changers; a Rare One can make that a reality.
Julia wants to belong to herself.
Can she free herself and begin a new life?
The vampire moved as a unit, talons extended, fangs sprung free of their houses of flesh.
They came to where the delectable smell of fresh blood was released. A quality without compare. It was as if a thousand year old bottle of wine lay breathing.
On a cold stone floor mere paces away from consumption.
William leaped in front of the Julia just as the first vampire would have been upon her.
Julia looked up and saw a monster, fangs the size of her pinky fingers, dripping a clear fluid tinged with red, talons as long as her forearms standing at deadly attention.
And then like small swords they began to slice whoever drew near.
Their motion in a blur of darkness, too fast for her to follow, Julia became aware of moisture falling on her bare skin like rain.
She opened her eyes and a head fell beside her shoulder with a meaty thump. The dead eyes, once gray, turned into a collapsing wall of flesh and bone. As she looked on in horror, it began to disintegrate into a mass of ash.
It was the eyes she’d never forget.
Or the creature William had become, fighting the vampires that would have killed her.
They came, one after another, as blood drenched her gown and she lay helplessly at his feet.
William slashed and stabbed as injuries were rained down on him and then five overcame him. Julia whimpered, having never envisioned herself dying this way.
At that moment, Julia realized she wanted to live.
Had always wanted to live.
Her eyes met Williams, pleading.
She knew she didn’t deserve his help.
But she was sorry. In that moment she didn’t want this life, this existence.
Nevertheless, he was dying to defend her.
William was overcome. He had dispatched fifteen, losing all hope of the guards helping him through the crowd of rabid vampire overrun with blood lust.
The higher functioning of their cerebral cortex was gone.
When the five overcame him, he saw Julia torn from beneath his feet by two fanged brethren, one held her as the other prepared to strike, losing his grip twice, her body slick with the blood of the massacred.
She was weak as a kitten, any fool could see, her wound not closing up. The blood clotting properties of the vampire saliva was not working.
Of course, Edna would have not used hers willingly. Julia was bleeding out.
William struggled against the vampire, beyond reason and rationale when he heard her soft whimper like a plea.
Her eyes met his again, the blood bond reverberating in his body, pressing him to take action beyond his capabilities.
William did, smashing two of the vampires’ heads together hard enough for their brains to splatter against the inside of their skulls and leak out their ears. He threw himself on his feet and launched to Julia’s side in a fluid gymnastic movement, his fist punching out as he did.
The vampire who had fangs a millimeter away from her throat, lost them from the impact of William’s fist even as his talons swung to take the head of the one that restrained her.
Julia saw William come. A shaky exhale escaped as she lay in the arms of one vampire while the other prepared to chew her throat out.
The one that held her dumped her head on the floor so hard she saw lights twinkle above her.
And then William was there.
Their heads fell on either side of her body and heat suffused her. Julia knew she would pass out and had but moments to express herself.
William crouched above her protectively and she raised her arm, weakly. She clutched onto his clothing.
He glanced at her then away, prepared for the next onslaught.
She tugged again.
“Julia, lay still. You have lost much blood.”
“Thank you,” she whispered on her final breath. Her vision dimmed to a pinpoint.
The last coherent image was William.
A face she didn’t hate anymore.
His mouth moved but she couldn’t hear him, an enveloping softness encased her as she floated away.
Like dandelion seed on the wind.
Julia slept in a pool of her own blood.
And that of others.
Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Death prophecy to hang over your head? Double check. Seventeen year old Emma Hutchinson struggles to find her place in the world she has been born to as she tries to decide whether she should be with Michael, the boy she has been dreaming about since she was three or if she belongs with Dominic, her betrothed.
Download Bella Notte from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iTunes. Print editions are available on Amazon and CreateSpace. Bella Notte is available in the box set that has the first three books in the series with their accompanying short stories as an Amazon exclusive.
The sky was growing dark crimson over the clearing in the forest behind our house as I drifted across the glen toward the edge of the trees. I walked as if I knew exactly what it was I was looking for, and where I was going to find it as well.
A small crackling noise caused me to stop halfway across the field. I turned to look in the direction the sound came from- that’s when I saw him.
Those dark green eyes and his dark auburn spikes were so familiar after seeing them for the past fourteen years, that it was always a relief to see him.
He walked towards me, and stopped at my side. The dry winter grass beneath our feet was barely audible as we took a step forward, lacing our fingers together.
The sky was no longer crimson, but had transformed into a deep indigo and a slight breeze had picked up. The hairs on my arms rose as the chill in the air assaulted my body. I moved closer to him out of instinct. His body temperature seemed to be so much higher than mine that just being near him kept me warm, strangely from the inside out. The moon had risen. The color was a frightening shade of blood red and the wind strewn clouds blew across the face of the cratered orb. He held suddenly, very still, as the breeze brought scents from across the clearing. With his eyes closed, he breathed in deeply. Those dark emeralds popped back into view and carried the fear that the grimace on his face displayed.
That’s when we heard it- the howl. The sound was terrifying, like a large wolf. Somehow, inside, I knew it wasn’t a wolf, at least not in the conventional sense, and that scared me more than anything. My body froze and my mind blanked with fear. I watched his grimace change to a visible snarl and those beautiful green eyes flash a dangerous shade of ruby. The next thing I knew he was pushing me out of the field and into the cover of the trees.
I wanted to plead to him, but no words would form with my dry tongue sticking to every ridge in my mouth. He grabbed hold of me and whispered “run” very softly into my ear- then he was gone. It took me a minute to get over the shock, but then my feet moved as quickly as possible.
I could not escape the sound of his scream as the forest closed its arms around me.
I knew it was a dream, not any dream but the dream. The dream I’ve had since I was a little girl. Every scene was memorized from beginning to end, and I again knew the sting of the silent tears that cascaded down my hot, flushed cheeks.
Daniella Madison’s existence teeters on a wobbly tightrope, and at any moment the wire could snap. Each time she travels to The Basement, she knows she’s risking her life, but the reward is worth it, to be a slayer in the purest sense. With the help of her partner, Eli, she is on a mission to find her next target, but Daniella’s efforts come to a startling halt, when the darkness of underground finds its way into the sun.
When Alec, the only other day-walker she’s ever met, walks into her high school, Dani feels as though the rope was cut beneath her feet, and she’ll quickly plummet to her death. Alec claims he wants to protect her from the highest order of their kind, but Dani is not so sure and questions his intentions, trying to understand his sudden presence in her human life. Against all logic Dani finds herself inexplicably drawn into his alluring gaze, but she knows he can’t be trusted and struggles to keep her secrets safe. Dani leads a double life that was never meant to intertwine. The real question is, can she trust herself to stay strong as her two worlds collide, spinning her life out of control, and the lives of the people she cares for most, completely out of her hands.
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A few silent minutes later, we pulled into the school parking lot, and Alec hopped out, running around to open Kate’s door. I was so surprised, I sat there stupidly for a minute, and he managed to get my door too, before I could object. I stepped, out eyeing him suspiciously, and wondering what his game was today.
“Thank you, Alec. It’s so nice to finally have a gentleman at our school.” Kate praised him, swooning at his little gesture, and I clenched my jaw, not pleased by how easily he was accepted into our group. At least, Evan was still on my side. She waved goodbye and said she’d see me in AP History, as she ran off to her class on the other side of campus.
“What was that about? If you even think about working your so-called charms on my best friend as some sort of twisted play to get into my head, I swear I will snap your neck when you least expect it,” I threatened, stepping into him, and pushing an accusatory finger into his chest. He tilted his head down until his smoldering eyes locked onto mine, not at all intimidated by my words. He grabbed my hand from his chest and wrapped it behind his neck, picking me up until we were eye-to-eye, in one startling swoop.
“Who says Kate is the one I’m trying to so-call charm?” He asked with a hint of a smile as he spun us in a slow circle, with my feet dangling off the ground. As we turned, his eyes became even more torrid with something. I didn’t get it. I’d swear he was trying to Trance me with a Gifted form of hypnosis that somehow affected vampires, but all I could see were the students who stopped walking into school in order to stare at us before pulling out their phones. I shook my head in annoyance that this little show would soon be on record, and wiggled out of his embrace to land my feet on the ground.
“You work for the 7th Circle, so you should know the rules. And I thought we already talked about this flirty crap yesterday. Do you really think I’m that naïve?” This was getting offensive, as if his phony, flirtatious games could sway my opinion toward wanting him here. I began to walk away, but he caught my wrist, spinning me around to face him.
“Like you said, Dani. This isn’t The Basement; this is high school. So as far as I’m concerned, all the rules have changed. And if I recall, you seemed very inviting toward me yesterday at the dugout,” he mused, and I nodded in sarcastic agreement.
“Yeah, remind me again, was that before or after I kicked your ass?” I said with an inquisitive tilt of my head.
“That’s not exactly how I remember it. I think you’re just lashing out because I wasn’t stupid enough to fall for your anti-vamp blood,” he countered, and I stumbled back a few steps with my mouth hanging open in shock, and Alec kept his hold my wrist matching my steps to keep me from falling.
“Who are you?” I asked through a quiet breath.
“I told you, Dani, the sooner you trust me the better.” He leaned into my ear and his hand holding my wrist glided down until our fingers wove together.
“You don’t have to hide with me,” he whispered and strangely, our hands seemed to reluctantly untangle when he stepped past me and started moving through the parking lot. I stood there frozen, watching him walk into my school, right into my life, and my stomach clenched with uninvited butterflies. How could he know all my secrets?
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Loving Jean-Louis for eternity doesn’t mean that Maxie Gwenoch will let him turn her. Jean-Louis is a vampire, is gorgeous, is the second-in-command of the Kandesky Family of Hungarian vampires, and is her boss at SNAP, the multinational, multimedia celeb gossip empire where she is the VP for International Planning. She moves to Kiev to build a home with Jean-Louis and finds her future under a cloud from Leonid, a rival from the Huszar family, now living in a bolthole in the ruins of Chernobyl. Will Maxie find safety by giving up her days and joining Jean-Louis in the vampire nights?
Had I forgotten Leonid? Oh no, I’d never forget him.
He’d captured me, held me hostage for Jean-Louis, beat and raped me, let his toady Jules rape me. Much of the immediate horror of that time was pushed so far back in my mind that it took an effort of will to bring it out, but the fact that it happened never left me.
And I hadn’t forgotten that Leonid got away after the murder verdict and execution of Matthias, the head of the Huszar family.
“You said he couldn’t be found. You said there were only some tales of people and animals going missing in Romania and Belarus.”
His glimmer dimmed then flared back again, a sure sign he was going to try to convince me of something. “It’s true, we believed he was disappearing back in to the countryside. He had no contacts, no money and only a few followers. We didn’t think he’d try and head for Ukraine, but he did. He still had a small nucleus of followers here in Kiev.”
There was no oxygen in the room. I couldn’t breathe. My heart pounded. I knew Jean-Louis saw that. He may not have hunted and killed humans for food for more than 500 years, but his instincts were still there. I tried to keep myself calm around the Kandeskys, hoping they’d forget I was a regular. Fat chance.
On occasions like this, with blind panic and fear running along my nerves and affecting my circulatory system, the vampire’s internal hunting responses started to kick in.
He looked at me. “This is not something I wanted to tell you and I certainly didn’t want to tell you until we had a chance to decipher the information coming in. I had a very different ‘Welcome to Kiev’ planned.”
OK, I knew he’d explain things. But, wow, I didn’t even think that Leonid would be part of the explanation. He watched my eyes fill with remembered terror and reached over to hold me, but I pushed him away.
“And when were you planning to tell me this?”
He sighed. “Nik and I planned an evening with you. We’d tell you about Leonid then go over all that we knew and all that we’re planning to neutralize him. I, we, never want him coming within miles of you ever again.”
I flashed back to my first glimpse of him, standing on the steps of Nik’s mansion so coldly angry that the air around him looked crystalline. “I hope your anger wasn’t part of the plan.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “You ninny! Even teasing me, you do entertain. No, of course not. Now you’ll have to wait. Nik’s already gone up to his room.”
Rooms! Ah ha, an opening. “Speaking of rooms…”
He looked at me, gazed around the room and looked back. “What’s the matter, you don’t like the accommodations?”
I threw my reader at him and followed it up with a pillow. He was fast, batting the pillow back hard enough to knock a gasp out of me. I found a breath. “No, I wasn’t expecting to be put up in an economy hotel. And where’s the help?”
“We were going to hash all of this over with you until you forced a change of plans. You’re going to have to wait for this, too. I will say that we had other ideas about accommodations, but we’re having to use a fall-back position. And until yesterday, we didn’t have one.”
He was up, pacing, a movement I knew well. His mind worked more creatively and clearly when he was on the move. Then his pacing stopped as he threw himself down on the bed next to me, turned my face to his and kissed me, so hard, so long and so deep I melted from the heat that rose to engulf me.
“My love, my love.” He was murmuring into my hair. “I’m desolate without you. If you’re not around when I expect you to be, I panic. I know I react badly, in what looks like anger, but it’s fear…fear of losing you.”
His hands were stroking my hair and moving down my back, then he started pulling my shirt up.
“What do you have on? Where’s all your lingerie? Didn’t you pack it?”
I all but giggled. There were times when I even slept in one of his old shirts, so that I had his scent with me, but tonight I’d been too upset to want anything of him around. And sexy lingerie to sleep alone! No way.
“No thanks to you, but yes, Elise and I packed some things. Of course I don’t have anyone here to help me…”
I stopped. He was helping me. Sort of. He managed to pull the tee over my head, which trapped my arms, and began kissing and slowly licking my breasts, working his way down my body. The bed shifted and I heard sounds of clothing coming off, the soft snick of buttons and the hiss of a zipper. As tangled as I was in the tee, I hadn’t managed to get an arm free before I felt the length of his naked body against mine.
Now I truly melted and lived for the sensations he brought to me.
As I came back to consciousness, I was aware of movement in the room. I opened my eyes to the faintest glimmer of dawn and saw him silhouetted against the window as he pulled the heavy drapes shut.
He turned to me. “It’s six, true dawn is still half an hour away. I’m leaving now. We’re planning dinner and a long conversation tonight. No matter what, remember that I love you for eternity.”
I slept, my body remembering his touch and my mind drifting in an ocean of caring.
Without Elise to wake me, I jerked upright from a deep sleep, disoriented. Where was I? What time was it? The room was dark. I groped around on the bedside table, found a lamp and flipped it on. Memory came washing back. Last night, the wretched fight, Nik’s guest room, Jean-Louis…ah, Jean-Louis. I lay back on the pillows remembering the last look of him closing the curtains…oh, crap! What time was it? I was supposed to meet Jean-Louis and Nik for dinner and a discussion.
I rolled back over and checked. Four in the afternoon. Enough time to shower and get ready, even without help.
The tap on the door came as I was putting the final pins in a wrapped updo. He came in and I stood. I’d chosen a short, layered dress the colors of autumn leaves and strappy two-inch Via Spigas and felt confident enough to hear what the two had to say.
Jean-Louis looked me over and smiled. “I knew when we offered you the job that we’d chosen well. A woman who can overcome adversity, a few little bumps along the road, and still come up looking good enough to eat!”
This time I picked up a pot of blush to throw but decided I didn’t want to waste perfectly good Lazlo on him. He knew I hated those stupid vampire cracks, made them only to push my buttons. I gave him the evil eye as I sailed out the door.
Something was wrong. Something was missing. I looked around as Jean-Louis joined me and took my arm. Bam, that was it. No demons!
Even after the execution, I had demon guards outside the door to my suite in the Baron’s castle. Though the Huszars may have been scattered or co-opted, their centuries-old headquarters was only a few miles away and Stefan Kandesky and Jean-Louis didn’t believe in taking chances.
Here in Kiev it was pleasant being able to come and go without a trailing demon, as fond of them as I’d become.
Under the freedom of not having a guard, though, there was a twinge of nervousness.
Leonid was alive.
Hell hath no fury like a selkie separated from his true love.
The gate to the sea creature realm is finally open. Yara wants to bask in the glow of her budding relationship with Treygan and explore Medusa’s world, but as the new leader of Rathe her powers are needed to save a sea creature she’s never met.
Rownan assumes the worst is behind him when he returns home to be reunited with his wife, Vienna, only to discover she’s gone. She traveled to the evil realm of Harte to find another gateway to Earth and was never heard from again. Rownan claimed he would go through hell to be with her, and now he must prove it.
Rownan, Yara, and Treygan will put their lives and souls at risk by traveling to the most dangerous realm of all. Love is supposed to conquer all, but no one has ever conquered Harte.