Tag Archives for " paranormal "
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.
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?
Download The YA Fantasy Book Club Guide today for $0.99!
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
MockingJay – Suzanne Collins
Divergent – Veronica Roth
Insurgent – Veronica Roth
Incarnate – Jodi Meadows
For Darkness Shows the Stars – Diana Peterfreund
Legend – Marie Lu
Prodigy – Marie Lu
Graceling – Kristin Cashore
Fire – Kristin Cashore
Initiate – Tara Maya
Taboo – Tara Maya
Sacrifice – by Tara Maya
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
Falling Kingdoms – Morgan Rhodes
Poison Study – Maria V. Snyder
Magic Study – Maria V. Snyder
Fire Study – Maria V. Snyder
Twilight – Stephenie Meyer
New Moon – Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer
Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer
Team Human – Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan
City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
City of Ashes – Cassandra Clare
City of Glass – Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels – Cassandra Clare
The Iron King – Julie Kagawa
The Iron Daughter – Julie Kagawa
The Iron Queen – Julie Kagawa
The Iron Knight – Julie Kagawa
Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Darkness – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Chaos – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Redemption – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Pivot Point – Kasie West
15 Minutes – Jill Cooper
Mind Games – Kierstan White
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century – Rachel Harris
Waterfall – Lisa Bergen
The Emperor’s Edge – Lindsay Buroker
Dark Currents – Lindsay Buroker
Deadly Games – Lindsay Buroker
Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Princess – Cassandra Clare
The Girl in the Steel Corset – Kady Cross
Lady of Devices – Shelley Adina
Soulless – Gail Carriger
Check out this young adult fantasy novel from Katie O’Sullivan, Son of a Mermaid. The sequel is coming this May!
Shea MacNamara’s life just got complicated.
After a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, the fifteen-year-old orphan is whisked away to Cape Cod. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he’s trying hard to deal with feelings of abandonment… and the emotions stirred by a girl he meets along the shore.
Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders. The daughter of royal servants, she knows the planned marriage of her Princess to the foreign King should put an end to the war between the clans. But two things stand in the way of lasting peace: the ambitions of the foreign King’s regent, and rumors of the Princess’s bastard child.
Sparks fly when she meets Shea, but could the cute drylander really be the Son of a Mermaid?
The blue-green coolness swirled around him as his body tumbled down through the water, arms and legs flailing as he struggled to hold his breath. Millions of tiny bubbles of precious air traced the path of his descent, escaping from his clothing and through his nose.
Eyes wide even as the water rushed past, he watched a huge school of shimmering minnows part down the middle as they swam around him, surrounding him like a silvery box. Turning his face upward to the surface, he could see the blue sky receding further and further as he sank deeper into the water’s depths.
His throat and lungs burned from the effort of holding his breath. Darkness pressed hard against his eyes, and swirls of strange colors danced in front of him as his whole body strained against the lack of oxygen.
I need to breathe, he thought wildly, his whole body feeling like it was on fire. I can’t hold out much longer. His feet finally hit the mucky bottom with a thud, coming to a stop as the mud swirled around his legs.
There, hovering before him in the water, swam a beautiful woman with flowing golden hair…and a green fish tail that sparkled with golden flecks among the scales.
Her big green eyes looked so familiar, like the ones he saw in the mirror every morning. She smiled at him, reaching out to take his hand. His head pounded as searing pain ripped through his throat, as if his entire body would tear apart any second from the effort of holding his breath.
The mermaid squeezed his hand and nodded. The pain receded as Shea stared into her eyes, lost in their green depths. As she nodded to him again, he opened his mouth to exhale the stale air that pounded like a jackhammer in his lungs. Large bubbles rushed to the surface as he struggled to breathe, but there was no air to be had. Only salty ocean water rushing in to fill his mouth, his lungs, his body…
Shea woke with a start, clawing at the sheets and disoriented for a full minute before remembering where he was. At the Hansen’s house. Because his own home – the farm where he’d lived and worked all his life – was gone, swept away and crushed by the freak tornado.
Today I’m excited to share an excerpt from Shadow Blues, the first novelette in The Darkling Chronicles from Tricia Zoeller.
At the age of four, Patrick Benjamin Solomon becomes Anka Rehmling’s human charge. By eight, he can SEE her. At thirteen, he breaks her heart, and by eighteen, she finds herself fighting for his life.
As a darkling shadowcaster, Anka casts shadows in the human world, harnessing some of the earth’s UV light to bring back to Montenai—a world full of darklings, nymphs, satyrs, phantoms, and dragon lords. Her job is crucial to preserving the vitality and balance in her town of Shadowland. However, Anka has trouble following the strict rules set by the Shadowland Council, a ruling body comprised of three dragon lords.
The lords’ decree states all shadowcasters will abide by the rules or face the penalty of harsh punishment, banishment, or death. Torn between her world and his, Anka must choose to defy the Council or turn her back on love.
Nana stopped the cart by the side of the Wishing Tree. A nonshadowcaster stood as a door attendant in front of the double doors. He wore a uniform of dark pants, boots, and a red jacket with the dragon lords’ symbol on the pocket.
The same symbol hung above the two doors. The gold shield showed a dragon looking down at his shadow. Pops said it reminded us that we were a team, dragon lords and shadowcasters. We’d been a team for a hundred years.
The attendant opened the doors to the Wishing Tree, and Bianca gasped as a black cloud of bats launched into the air from the upper branches, making a chorus of chirpy squeaks. She leaned against the darkling, as if she wanted him to save her. He held Bianca’s shoulder to steady her.
His face changed then. “This one is strong.”
Nana nodded to him before shooing us through the doorway.
Bianca slipped her sweaty hand into mine and squeezed. Nana walked behind us, a hand at each of our backs.
My shoes pinched my toes. A smell I remembered from when I was four hit me suddenly. The dragon lords smelled like…cedar, pine, cinnamon, burnt apple cider, and smoke.
It was hard to see, at first. Fancy lights hung on the walls, but still it was so much darker than the bright, sunny day outside.
We heard deep voices coming closer. Then eyes glowed in the air, gold, blue, and green from the dark tunnel below. Nana clutched the back of our dresses. I didn’t dare tell her she’d pinched some of my skin.
Lord Akton appeared before us. “I told you. Not in the Rotunda. We’ll talk to them in the Council Room.”
Bianca and I stood with our heads tilted back and our mouths wide open. I felt like screaming.
“Coooool,” Bianca said. Then, “Yipe.” I was pretty sure Nana had pinched her.
One golden eye stared at us. Where there should have been another eye, Lord Akton instead had several wrinkled lines through darkling skin mixed with red scales.
My heart beat so fast, I thought I might just die.
“Hello, Rehmlings. Thank you for bringing them here, Violet.”
“Of course, Lord Akton.”
Inside the Council Room, they told us to sit at a large marble table. I remembered tracing the squiggles in the marble of the Rotunda floor when I was four. Now, I did not want to touch the marble. I wanted to disappear from the room, play invisible girl.
Nana sat next to the youngest dragon lord across from Bianca and me. We faced the doorway where Lord Akton stood on one side and Leasith on the other. Were they guarding the door?
Bianca kept staring at the red-scaled lord across the room. Nana kept whispering for her to stop. I couldn’t take my eyes off Lord Bulosk. His blue scales were the prettiest color I’d ever seen. I’d never seen that kind of blue in my life.
“Hello, little shadowcasters. I’m Bulosk. I’ll be your tour guide for today.”
Bianca giggled. Nana hushed her.
“What? He’s funny,” Bianca said.
Lord Akton growled. It vibrated my chair and tickled my whole body. Lord Bulosk rolled his green eyes up into his head, like, “don’t mind my grumpy brother.”
My breathing got faster, and, suddenly, I hiccupped loudly. Nana’s lips mashed together, and she gave me her mean look.
“Sorry,” I whispered.
The Lord opened a leather case and pulled out some paper. He set a piece in front of Nana, Bianca, and me. “You are all aware of shadowcaster rules. I’m placing them in front of you in a contractual form. This is standard procedure when a human discovers you as an Imaginary Friend. Please review.”
I followed along as he read aloud. I understood most of the words:
By Decree of the Shadowland Council: Lords Akton, Leasith, & Bulosk
Each shadowcaster under the dominion of the Council will abide by the following rules as they pertain to the human world or face the penalty of harsh punishment, banishment, or death.
1. Always cast true to form.
2. Never talk to the human.
3. Never give the human your name.
4. Never touch the human other than to use him/her as a portal.
Exceptions and Addendums as it pertains to Imaginary Friendships
1. If a human child shall see you as an imaginary friend, you may play with him/her, but never converse. Please do not encourage the child. Touching is allowed as it pertains to playing games, but keep affection to a minimum.
2. Imaginary friendship shall be terminated by the age of thirteen. This is the maximum age and is extended as a courtesy to shadowcasters who may have charges who have special needs or are terminally ill. There are no exceptions to this age limit.
When he finished, he tapped a claw on the paper. He hadn’t had a claw out before. “Now, we just need your blood bond there on the “X” then my handsome brother will give you a short history lesson and you can be on your way.”
I watched Nana’s mouth fall into a frown, and her eyebrows drew together. She pushed back from the table and turned on the biggest lord. “Standard procedure, you say? I’ve never heard of this.”
Lord Akton left the wall. “I assure you, it is required of certain shadowcasters, if they’ve broken rules.”
“She is just a baby.”
“Well, if you don’t have them sign the decree, we can think of other ways for them to make amends for little Anka’s mistakes.”
Nana gasped. “Don’t work your hocus-pocus on me.” She spun around and sat back down at the table. She sat with her body so rigid, I thought she’d get a spasm. Her blond hair flowed in the air a bit. It only did that when she was angry.
“It will be okay.” Lord Bulosk smiled at Nana then us. He stood up and went to Bianca’s side. Suddenly, I saw a flash of all the claws on his right hand.
My assignment tonight is cuter than most. He’s asleep at his desk, his cheek stuck to the open page of a textbook. Strands of sun-bleached hair lie across his forehead, and his lips—which I may or may not have been admiring for the past half hour—are parted.
I slide off the window seat and creep across the room. It’s bigger than I first thought, and with couches and a television arranged to form a separate sitting area, it’s more like a hotel suite than a regular bedroom.
Great. More places for things to hide.
I shrink into a shadowed corner and wait. For what, exactly, I’m not sure—the Seers never See more than a glimpse of what may happen. The boy’s steady breathing fills the room. A breeze lifts the curtain, and I catch the flicker of a streetlight on Draven Avenue.
There she is! With a hiss, the serpent woman streaks across the room, lamplight reflecting off her scaly skin. I stretch my arms into position and feel the prickly warmth of the bow and arrow as they materialize in my hands. I pull back and let go. The arrow flies across the room in a shower of orange-gold sparks, finding its mark in the reptiscilla’s shoulder.
She cries out, stumbles, and twists in my direction. Her black eyes bore into mine. “It’s happening already,” she whispers.
She rips the arrow from her shoulder—a move that must have really hurt—and lunges for the boy. I toss my bow aside and dive toward him too, knocking his sleeping form to the floor. He’s awake now, which isn’t ideal, but at least he can’t see us.
I roll off him and spring to my feet, just in time for the reptiscilla to throw herself at me. We’re on the floor. She buries her fangs in my arm, but I barely register the stinging pain. I hear Tora’s voice in my head: Bend your knees, arch your back, thrust your opponent right off.
I hurl my body over and pin the reptiscilla down by her throat, my free hand already reaching into the air for another arrow. I bring it down swiftly, straight toward her heart.
But she’s gone.
Thankfully. I hate it when I have to kill them. With a heavy breath I collapse against the nearest wall, still gripping the arrow. The cord that held my hair back has come undone, and tangles of purple and black fall in my face. I push them away, and begin to feel the tingling ache of the reptiscilla’s bite.
“What . . . the hell . . . was that?”
I raise my eyes. The boy is looking at me.
In the Kingdom of Destiny, King Chance decreed any female be she high or low born may earn a place at court by winning an archery competition known as the Tournament of Chance. Although no commoner has ever won before, this is Heather’s year. To prevent her from winning the tournament, however, King Chance will stop at nothing. The king does not yet realize Heather of the Jagged Peaks will be the spark that ignites a revolution — in time.
A muscle in Dane’s jaw rippled. “We must move faster. The longer she’s alone, the more likely it is she’ll encounter something dangerous.”
“She’s done well enough so far, no thanks to you,” Joe muttered.
Dane peered at Joe with narrowed eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’ve shown your distaste for Heather upon more than one occasion.”
“I would never let my personal feelings interfere with my duty to protect the child,” Dane exploded.
“Really? Then why is she lost?”
Dane hands formed fists at his side. As the two men squared off, Shimmer stepped in between. “Jovander, I’ve known Dane much longer than you have. You accuse him unjustly.”
“That is so,” Manny concurred.
“No, no. Don’t bother to defend me. It won’t make a difference. Jovander Chance has a deep seated resentment toward the royal class and doesn’t believe we could ever act unselfishly,” Dane scoffed.
“Forgive me for saying so, but this whole quest is selfish!” Joe yelled. “If it succeeds, you Ormvalders resume ruling the kingdom. Heather gets nothing except for a pat on the back. She’s the only one of us here who has acted in an unselfish manner.”
“You’ve acted unselfishly too, Joe,” Manny said.
Dane smirked. “No, he hasn’t. Haven’t you noticed? Young Joe is quite taken with the lass.”
Joe flushed bright red. “Don’t act so smug, Your Highness. I’ve seen the way you look at her.”
“First you practically accuse me of doing her in, and now you accuse me of having designs on the woman?” Dane thundered. “Make up your mind.”
“First you call her a child, and now a woman?” Joe pointed out. “You should make up your own mind.”
A long, smoldering silence followed in which nobody spoke.
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!
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.
Seventeen year old Nikki and her twin brother, Nathan, move to the small town of Shore Lake to start over after their mother is brutally attacked. When a missing teenager washes up on shore during their first night at the cabin and there are whispers of vampires in Shore Lake, Nikki begins to realize that there are things roaming in the darkness that are far more sinister than what they left behind in the city.
A strange noise jolted me awake, and I looked towards the window, only to find myself alone.
Must have been dreaming…
Sighing with relief, I checked the time and noticed I’d been in the tub for a half hour. The water was too chilly to enjoy anymore so I decided to get out. I toweled myself dry, put my robe on, and unplugged the bathtub. I then padded into the bedroom where I stopped dead in my tracks. Ethan was on my balcony, leaning against the railing watching me. He reminded me of a predator studying its kill before striking.
Time seemed to stand still as the realization of what Ethan really was sunk in. Obviously, he’d made it up to my balcony all by himself, and yesterday, we’d soared through the night faster than what was humanly possible. There could only be one explanation now, and it chilled me to the bone.
We stared at each other for what seemed like forever and then he pointed to the door.
Swallowing hard, I stepped over and unlocked it.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” he asked softly.
My heart was hammering in my chest and I bit the side of my lip, trying to decide what to do.
“Well?” he asked, smiling devilishly. “I promise I won’t hurt you, Nikki. In fact, I imagine you’ll enjoy my company immensely.”
I let out a ragged sigh and nodded.
He stared at my mouth. “I’d like to hear you say it.”
“Come in, Ethan.”
Two Seattle 16-year-olds, Jatred and Jasmira, are not your typical star-crossed lovers. They are not even your typical Shape Shifters. Sure, they try to live an ordinary life. At least, as ordinary as the Prince and the Princess of the rivaling ancient Races–the Winter wolves and the Summer leopards–can live. But eventually they learn that not much about their existence can be normal. Especially when the Races’ two commanding Goddesses are involved.One of the Goddesses is on a quest to tilt the scale of power to her side. The other will never let it happen, even if it means kicking Jatred and Jasmira’s love to the curb. Nothing is off limits, including removing Jatred’s memories of Jasmira.
To complicate things even more, there are the Universe’s powers to consider. They are trapped in an ancient Amulet in order to protect the stability of the world. But the Universe has a mind of its own, and when the powers are unleashed, the forces of nature are disturbed; earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions shake the Earth. All Shifters of both Races are summoned by their respective Goddesses to fight in the name of, or against, the normalcy of the world.
“We are in the Summer Realm? How the hell did you get me here? I’m a Winter Shifter.” Jatred shot up to his feet.
“Relax. It’s only an illusion, remember? The Amulet did this.” Jasmira looked at him, dazed.
“No, no and no! This is not happening. Get me back to the Human World, J. Now! I’m serious. Get me out!” His eyes flicked around. “Get me out before Crystal finds out. Don’t you understand?” he shouted, frantic. His heart raced, and his blood pounded in his ears.
Jasmira felt like someone just dumped icy water over her. She was confused, but fought to stay focused. She had never seen Jatred panic before, and this sobered her. “Okay,” she whispered. Her mouth was trembling. “But I don’t know if I can. The Amulet… the Goddess.”
She squeezed her eyes. Her breath was shaky and shallow. Her body shimmered in and out, taking on an ethereal appearance then becoming physical again.
“J, what are you doing?” Jatred whispered, frightened. “Look.” His eyes slid to the Amulet dangling down from her fist. The blue stone shone, lit from the inside by a pulsing source of light.
Jatred gripped Jasmira’s hand. This time his fingers didn’t go through like they did before, when she appeared as an illusion. Her body was solid again. She held onto the chain halfway between the jewel and the clasp. The clasp flew open. One side of the chain encircled his wrist. The other part snaked around Jasmira’s wrist. Unexpectedly, it bound them in a vice-like grip. The metal felt as cold as a sheet of ice. They both yelled and tried to pull free, but it wouldn’t budge.
A spiraled script became visible on the jewel’s edge, the symbols shone like liquid gold. The teens frantically tried again to yank their hands away. The runes kept crawling around the gem, barely touching its surface.
“What’s going on? What is this?” Jatred growled. A sudden gust of wind tousled his hair.
“I don’t know. What does it say?” Jasmira shrieked. A storm broke around them. The wind became so strong, it made them stagger. They struggled to stay on their feet, turning their faces away from the wind to breathe.
“The letters look almost Arabic, but that’s not it.” Jatred tugged on the chain once more, this time with both hands.
Jasmira momentarily lost her balance, but regained it quickly. She shouted over the storm, “Stop pulling. It’s not working. Concentrate on getting back to the Human World!”
“Just do it!” Her features twisted with horror. Sweat trickled down her back, and she shook with panic.
They tore their eyes from the lazily spiraling runes and looked at each other. Jatred saw the Summer Goddess in his peripheral vision and turned his head. But she wasn’t there. A cold fear crept on his sweat-covered skin. He swore and squeezed his eyes. His uncle’s smiling face came to his mind. Jatred whispered hastily, “Imagine someone from the Human World.”
Jasmira concentrated on Penelope’s features, and felt a rush of hot air over her face and body. She heard Jatred grunt in pain, and everything went still.
Crystal stood motionless, looking like a glittery ice statue. Her eyes rested on Jatred’s frozen form covered by mounds of snow. She was deep in thought, and her face mirrored the turmoil inside her. Two huge ravens—the first Royal couple, Freki and Geri—sat in one of the trees on the edge of the clearing. The Goddess turned her head to look at them. They made a series of clicking noises, then cawed loudly, and sailed down to circle above her head, still croaking. She made an impatient gesture. “You’re annoying.” Her voice sounded clear in the frosty air, although her mouth didn’t move.
The ravens plummeted toward the ground, shifting in mid-air into two huge wolves. The animals landed on their paws. A low growl rumbled in the back of their throats. They walked slowly around Jatred’s frozen shape, their lips curled back.
Crystal watched them in silence for a while. Finally, she said, “I should listen to you and simply eliminate him to remove the danger of the ten-thousand-year mark. The Shifters could choose a new King or a Queen, and the world would be safe again. At least for a while. But I’m getting soft in my old age. ”
One of the wolves, Geri, quietly growled and snapped his jaws dangerously close to Jatred. Freki snarled much louder. Her muzzle wrinkled as she exposed her sharp canines. The Goddess shook her head. Reluctantly, the two animals moved away from Jatred. They walked toward the woods and disappeared between the snow-covered trees.
The Goddess closed her eyes and raised her arms to the sides. Her palms were up, and there was a luminescent moon shape on each of them.
“Jatred, my child,” she said with her mind.
Something in him started to awaken, as if from a deep sleep. Various images began a sluggish parade through his mind.
“Rise.” Crystal moved her arms up.
She became completely visible, looking like a regular young woman—a stunning young woman. Her dark hair glistened in the sun. Small, almost heart-shaped lips stayed motionless. The Amulet around her neck reflected sunrays, sending hundreds of tiny blue specks to dance on her half-covered breasts, bare shoulders, and neck.
She wore a white, knee-length sleeveless cotton dress. The hem was embroidered with tiny, glittering snowflakes, reminiscent of those coming down from a cloudless sky. The top of her white boots’ shafts were turned out, revealing thick silver-white fur. The shafts were embellished with white decorative inlays and stitching.
A thick pillow of snow, covering Jatred’s body, cracked and large chunks started to slide off. Like an ancient warrior, he rose in a slow but determined motion, uncurling his arms and lifting his head. Taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes and looked at Crystal. Jatred tilted his head back and shook his hair, then knelt on one knee.
“My Goddess,” Jatred said in a raspy voice. “Did you summon me?”
Crystal smiled and touched the Amulet. “Do you know what this is?”
“It’s the Amulet.”
“Do you remember you are the one to keep and protect it with your own life?” Crystal continued her investigation.
Jatred’s brows drew together, forcing his smooth forehead to crease. “Yes, I remember. Our Race has it in their possession right now, before it must pass back to the Summer.”
“Do you remember fighting one of my Garhanans?” Crystal’s smile disappeared.
“A Garhanan?” Jatred said the name slowly, shocked. “No. Did I do something wrong?”
“Yes, my child. But you are forgiven.” She looked at him sharply. “Actually, I want you to forget that Garhanan for now.” She slowly moved her hand in front of his face.
Jatred felt as if something cold stabbed at his brain. He winced and squeezed his eyes, staggering to the side.
Crystal seized his wrist and touched her other hand to Jatred’s cheek, making his icy pain subside. She smiled and took his hand in hers. “Now I will send you back to the Human World.”
They walked together, not leaving any tracks in a deep undisturbed snow. From behind, next to the tall broad-shouldered Jatred, the Goddess looked like a slender teenage girl. Soon their bodies started to shimmer and dissolve in the cold, winter air.