Go on, lick it.Cupcake queen Jules Rockwell has sworn off men. All men. Because heartbreak is a bitch. But when sexy chef Cal McKenzie shows up in town – with a soft as butter Scottish accent and abs you could lick frosting off – she wonders if maybe a no-strings fling is exactly what she needs.
Then she finds out the truth: he’s opening up his own rival bakery, right down the street from her store. Her sexy fling is now her #1 competition – and Jules never backs down from a fight.
Cal McKenzie doesn’t play by the rules. His sex appeal and chocolate eclairs are a deadly combination, and he’s got his eye on worldwide pastry domination – but he didn’t reckon on Jules. Full of wit and spice, she’s more than just a sexy hook-up. But as their chemistry heats up, so does their rivalry. With her heart and her career on the line, Jules isn’t sure she can risk it all again.
She’s been burned before. Will this fling satisfy both of their cravings?
Our love is imperfect in the most perfect way. It is love done our way. Raw. Unconventional. Sexy as hell. Most importantly, it is honest to the core, or so I think. One little, white lie shouldn’t do so much damage. Yet, it changes me forever.
The worst part is that Declan whispered that sweet nothing out of protection. My safety is on the forefront of his mind, especially since there are others who’d hurt me simply to get at him. I never think that he would be the one to cut me so deeply. And it all starts with that first prick—the night he saved my life.
His perilous stare deepened as his grip fastened around my waist. The maniacal thoughts passing over his eyes confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who wanted all the space between us eliminated.
could hardly breathe when his gaze fell to my lips. It left me speechless. It was the very way a passing glance could leave you without words. But Declan didn’t just take a glimpse. No, he unapologetically looked me over. He
me, but didn’t say them in so many words. Yet, I heard them all the same. I heard them with each moan that echoed in the air. I felt them as he held me gently in his arms. Even if I didn’t feel the desire radiating off of him in a fury of passion, he bore that intensity in his gaze. The world around us melted away until there was on me and
About the series:
About the series “Once Wicked”
@unconventionaldamsels who rock piercings, refuse to conform to society’s rules, and aren’t obsessed with labels, check out the “Once Wicked” Series. Happily Ever After doesn’t dfine the misunderstood evil villains we love to hate, Their story is so much deeper than their fairy princess counterparts, yet were never told. That’s a damn shame. They aren’t alwasy as wicked as they are made out to be. Well, not all of them. So until the clock strikes midnight and the (other) glass shoe drops, enjoy these not-so-Prince-Charming book boyfriends in the modern series, #OnceWicked
Absolutely wicked! Alluring, tantalizing, haunting, twisted, dark…and the list goes on and on! There are not many books that leave me speechless after the prologue, during the story, AND the ending. But wow! Sarah J Pepper did it! So here I sit trying to figure out how to tell you that you HAVE TO READ THIS without giving anything away. Well, there you go. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!
This is the story of Rumplestiltskin (goes by Stilts) who finds his love but only to make her the monster that he is. It’s not the fairytale we grew up with, but so much more. It is set to present day but we encounter many different fairytale characters that have been updated…a bit to say the least. Stilts is a demon and when he turns his love, Piper, into a demon like himself he finds that he is trying to preserve her innocence. He doesn’t want her to regret this decision by turning into a killer. In doing this he puts her into hiding and tells a teeny white lie to spare her the guilt. She is being protectd by Hans and El, brother and sister witches, who are also one of Stilts’ enemies. Naturally they all hate each other but a connection comes about in an unusual way. Not like a friendship but more of an understanding. Piper ultimately finds out about the lie but what happens next is nothing like what you’d expect. The connection that Stilts and Piper have is INTENSE (like the rest of the story). It’s a continual struggle of love and hate, right and wrong. Questionable motives and manipulation opens this story to all types of interpretations. Who is really the villain???
“So the idea of Prince Charming rescuing me from my jacked-up life was hysterical . But that was exactly what had happened; except my Prince Charming was a bad boy with a demonic complexion. Declan Stilts— alias Declan Rumpelstiltskin— was the kind of guy prissy girls had nightmares about.”
“The ugly stepchild of hate was love. That four-letter word had this incredibly unique way of luring a person in, getting them to put their guard down , and striking when they were most vulnerable. Love was what lowered my defenses. Love smacked me with the stupid stick. Love made me weak. Love got me killed. Love turned me into a killer. I didn’t know what love had in store for me, but I didn’t want to find out.”
“F***ing fairy tales were written about do-gooders who had made simplistic, popular choices. Those of us who had made choices at great costs were labeled as villains .”
I have so many quotes that I can keep adding. There is something for everyone in this story. INTENSE, INTENSE, INTENSE! Everyone has their story to tell and this is about Rumplestiltskin and the Pied Piper. Reader beware: The ending will grab your heart and twist it. The cliffhanger is dangerous! Love this new series!!!
“Every fairy tale has a happy ending, but I was no Prince Charming. However, sometimes the bad guys have the greatest romance to tell.” Absolutely true!!!!!!
Amazon US ✦ http://bit.ly/ussoullessoncewicked
Amazon UK ✦ http://bit.ly/uksoullessoncewicked
Amazon CA ✦ http://bit.ly/casoullessoncewicked
Amazon AU ✦ http://bit.ly/ausoullessoncewicked
B&N ✦ http://bit.ly/soullessoncewickedbn
iBooks ✦ http://bit.ly/soullessoncewickedapple
Kobo ✦ http://bit.ly/soullessoncewickedkobo
Sarah J. Pepper specializes in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn’t only filled with hugs, kisses, bunnies, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn’t always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn’t mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit? Get a glimpse inside her head at www.sarahjpepper.com
Includes: Fate Love, Falling Into Place, Breaking Free, Mending Scars, and Labor of Love: http://amzn.to/1CX1Q7R
– ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Brandy L Rivers is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her two main series are Others of Edenton and Others of Seattle. She has also written a couple contemporary stories. An avid reader, Brandy has always loved writing. She became serious about it as a stay-at-home-mother. Her secret lair, guarded by a pint-sized pound puppy who imagines himself a hellhound, contains a file full of manuscripts she plans to edit and put out with new creations she is constantly dreaming up. Living in rainy Western Washington with her husband and three kids, Brandy is already working on future stories in each of the series, and several other projects.
My name is Ace and I’m the Ace of Spades.
I’m not nice and I misbehave.
I will be your nightmare.
I will be your dream.
I will have you begging for more of me with each scream.The truth is in my lyrics.
I bleed many things one being Rock & Roll.
I don’t date or make love, I fuck real hard.
Did you know the ace of spades is considered the death card?
Love doesn’t exist in my world, it never did.
Love won’t exist in my world, it’s something I forbid.
My name is Ace and I’m the ace of spades.
Proceed with caution, because I’m sharp like a blade.
The Band of Brothers novels are full length and will follow each brother in the band.
They can be read together or separately.
Blue and green lights flashed over the stage then washed across the crowd. When we made eye contact again, her tongue traced the outside of her plump bottom lip and at that moment I knew she was DTF. Her being down to fuck made this so much easier but then again, being the lead singer of the Band of Brothers made panties magically melt. I’d be her fantasy for the night. I’m sure there would be many more one night stands considering each show from Florida to New York, all the way to California was sold out.
The drums beat on as I screamed out the next few lyrics. “I won’t let the world decide. I’ll die before that happens.”
The drums stopped and the distortion was cut leaving a melodic strum of Nikolas’s guitar.
The lights faded when walked off stage leaving the crowd screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs. Jex, Nic, and Rex had huge smiles covering their faces as they chugged the water the technicians handed us. This would never get old. Moments like this were the ones we lived and worked for. Once the chanting and clapping rose to the maximum volume, the four of us walked back onstage and gave the fans what they wanted, an encore.
Green and yellow lights flashed over the crowd and smoke hovered at the bottom of the stage. We played three more songs. People sang and swayed to the lyrics and music. Some jumped up and down, feeling the full beat of the drums while others banged their heads. The feeling of having thousands of people chanting my words would never become real. More often than not, I felt like I was in a dream, one that I never wanted to wake from.
During the last song, I pointed to the blonde. By the way she was dressed in a tight pink shirt and a skirt that showed the bottom of her ass cheeks, I knew she wanted to be seen. She could have possibly had this night planned from the beginning. Randomly, I chose a few others from the crowd to join us, to dance in front of our audience, to feel the temporary power. It was something I did every show, every tour. It was a habit of sorts.
Security helped the girls climb on the stage and they lifted their arms and shook their asses. Before the song ended, the technicians led the girls’ side stage as cannons of small fireworks shot from the floor. After the final song, my brothers and played the crowd and threw drumsticks and guitar picks. The yelling didn’t stop for minutes and the audience realized we weren’t coming back out. I walked side stage where girls anxiously waited us. I smiled, popping an eyebrow at my chosen woman for the night, and she instantly came to me. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and hers hung on my waist. My brothers stopped in the green room with the other girls, but Blondie and I walked to the bus.
“I’m Lindsey,” she whispered in my ear before we reached the end of the hallway. I smiled at her and pushed open the exit door. Groupies and fans waited near the bus and as soon as we walked up they rushed it.
“I’ll be out in a bit,” I said, smiling at them with pearly whites. “My brothers are coming out that door over there. Really soon.”
I hated to out their exit strategy, but I wanted to take my time burying my dick deep inside Misty or Christy or whatever the fuck her name was. It didn’t matter. Names never did.
Lyra Parish loves to write, glamp, and sing obnoxiously loud at the top of her lungs in the shower. Sweet love stories (along with the dirty ones) make her gush. She is a firm believer that a person can never have too many cups of coffee, cats, or happily ever afters. When she isn’t busy writing, she can be found sipping various beverages from her non-alcoholic drink buffet, pimp slapping excel spreadsheets, or riding her bike. Lyra lives in Texas with her glassblowing, guitar-playing hubby and black cat named Nibbler.
Born with a gift, Melinda Harris can see visions of the future.
Nathan Cole is the man who wants to possess her and her power.
A member of the elite Corde Noire Society, Nathan introduces Melinda to his dark world of pleasure and pain. At first, Melinda likes what Nathan teaches her, but then her visions begin warning her to the terrible secret her handsome Dom is hiding.
Nathan has plans for her beyond his bedtime adventure. He wants her to make her his … completely.
Nathan gently removed a stray strand of hair from her face and placed it behind her ear. As he stared into her green eyes, the images of the two of them came blazing back to life, even more powerful than before.
“You’re doing that on purpose!” she shouted, and slammed her flute down on the bar.
“What?” Nathan seemed astonished by her reaction.
She backed away from him. “You’re thinking those thoughts.”
Melinda searched his eyes while he inched closer.
Nathan’s mouth pressed into a thin line, adding to the tension in the air. “I think I should go. You’ve had a long day. We can talk again tomorrow after you get settled in. We will need to go over my agenda.”
What’s wrong with me?Get a grip.
Running her fingertips over her forehead, she tried to clear her mind. “What agenda?”
Nathan picked up his glass of champagne and downed the contents. “I have meetings scheduled this week and next about that property development we spoke of the other day.” He turned his eyes to her. “There’s a formal cocktail party at the home of a New Orleans socialite next weekend. She’s interested in my plans for that property and wants to talk to me about funding the project. You’re to accompany me to the party and all my meetings, then you can tell me what you feel about these people.” His eyes traveled over her T-shirt and torn jeans. “You’ll need to dress professionally for the meetings, and you’ll need a formal gown for the party. I’ll have Bob take you to Canal Place for some new clothes.”
“I can’t afford new clothes, Nathan.”
He raised his brown eyes to her. “I’ll take care of that, not to worry.”
“You’ve given me this apartment, furniture, a new television. I can’t have you buying me clothes, too.”
“Melinda, you’re my assistant now. I can’t have you escorting me places dressed like that.” He motioned to her clothes. “You need to look the part.”
Melinda wanted to argue with him, but she thought better of it. He wanted to buy her some new outfits, what of it? After all, this is what she had always wanted, to be taken care of.
“Yes, Nathan.” She gave him a weak smile.
“Good girl.” He abruptly headed for the door. “I’ll come by tomorrow evening and we can go over my itinerary in detail. I have a new cell phone coming for you tomorrow, as well as a credit card. Use the card to buy your clothes and anything you may need for your job.”
“A credit card? Are you sure you want to trust me with that?”
Nathan smirked with amusement. “Just make sure you don’t go too crazy. I still have to justify it all to my accountant at the end of the month as a business expense.”
“Is that why you’re telling everyone I’m your assistant?”
He frowned at her. “What do you mean?”
“If you tell people I’m your assistant, even though you already have a secretary, don’t you think that will look funny?”
He squinted his eyes, appearing interested in her reasoning. “Funny, in what way?”
“Perhaps everyone thinks I’m not here as an assistant, but as something else.”
“What else?” he questioned with a glimmer of mischief in his eyes.
“You know what else, Nathan.” She turned away, but he held her arm.
“What else, Melinda?”
Melinda gazed into his dark eyes and then she knew. The images she had seen earlier of them together were his. She could feel it as sure as she could feel the warmth of his hand.
Nathan let her go. “I hired you to be my psychic, that’s all. If others read more into the relationship than that, it’s their problem.”
Despite what he told her, Melinda knew Nathan wanted her, but something was holding him back, something she could not see. In her mind’s eye, she searched for an answer, but only foggy images came through.
“I’m very happy you’re here,” he said, and then he leaned forward and kissed her cheek.
Melinda almost grabbed for the doorframe to keep from falling to her knees. The unexpected wave of electricity from the caress of his lips was catastrophic.
“Get some rest,” he told her. “We have a big week ahead, and you have your work cut out for you.”
Confused, Melinda watched him make his way back to his penthouse. Perhaps he didn’t send those images to her.
Was it me?
Melinda quickly shut the door and threw her body against it. “Oh, I’m in trouble.”
Right after Melinda spoke the words, a wave of fear enveloped her. She turned to her living room, and as quickly as it had come, the feeling departed. She gazed about the room, reaching out with her mind to whatever entity had called to her, but nothing came.
Shaking it off, Melinda picked up a box and carried it to her bedroom. When she stepped into the hall, the doorway to the storage room was wide open and the light inside was on. Setting the box on the floor, she went to the room and looked around. Nothing appeared to her, and there were no moans or rattling of chains. But as she stood in the stark square room, the hairs on her arms stood up. In her mouth, the acrid taste of dread. Melinda fought her instinct to flee, and instead opened her mind.
“I feel your fear,” she pronounced.
Then a woman’s soft voice whispered in her ear, “Run.”
Melinda’s eyes flew open. She backed out of the room, flipped off the lights, and shut the door. She stood in the hall staring at the handle on the door as her trepidation faded. There was no lock on the door, no way to secure it. She had a sudden urge to make sure this door stayed closed, because what was inside of that room scared her.
From New Orleans, Alexandrea Weis was raised in the motion picture industry and began writing stories at the age of eight. In college she studied nursing and went on to teach at a local university. After several years in the medical field, she decided to pick up the pen once again and began her first novel, To My Senses. Since that time she has published many novels. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning books, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable. Her work has been critically acclaimed and has been continually growing in popularity. Alexandrea Weis is also a certified/permitted wildlife rehabber with the La. Wildlife and Fisheries. When she is not writing, she rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She is married; they live in New Orleans.
They’ve done all kinds of work, from private investigations to highly classified governmental operations. Former military, their tight-knit brotherhood is now Atrox Security. These men fear nothing, they are unwavering, unafraid, and unrelenting. They are the Undaunted Men.
He doesn’t want to take the job, but he has no choice. He owes a debt to the Moretti mob, and last he checked, they don’t take no for an answer.
He takes a moment to soak in the information. A pregnant mafia princess, wanted for murder, and he’s supposed to track her down.
The professed father is a childhood friend, yet he’s considered a potential enemy of the family. This could get very interesting.
What starts out as a simple task, one that could easily take him one day to execute, has turned into so much more than he bargained for.
They’re each fighting their own personal demons, and it’s more than just a chase at hand. They both have secrets, hearts are on the line, and he resolves himself to go above and beyond the call of duty for reasons he can’t understand.
The last thing he ever intends on finding is an angel.
Join Quinn and Alexis as their unique story unfolds in two full-length novels released three weeks apart. You will fall in love with Kimber, a lovable retired military working dog who becomes an integral part of the storyline.
There is adventure, passion, and suspense in this contemporary erotic romance. Along with J.C. Cliff’s trademark steamy, hot sex scenes that will keep you turning the pages from beginning to end.
You know you have a love/hate relationship with a good cliffhanger in a book, but if you’ve read my previous books, you are no stranger to this simple fact. I – LOVE – CLIFFHANGERS. I have to live up to my name, after all.
Warning: **Mature Audiences Only** This book is intended for adults of mature age only (18+). This book contains themes that could be considered offensive.
“I fell in love with Quinn in the Blyss Trilogy and I’ve been dying to get my grabby hands on Quinn since then, but this book far exceeded my expectations!!!” -5 Star Review #Minxes Love Books
“So sweet and funny and just an all round perfect book boyfriend.”– 5 Star Review Kolleen Book Obessions
“Like all of her reads, this will keep you on your toes from cover to cover.”– 5 Star Goodreads Reviewer
Her ample-sized breasts catch my attention. They rise and fall as she tries to catch her breath. I fist my hands into the ground as I remind myself she is a job, only a job. I can’t make this personal, but I’m mysteriously drawn to her, and I want to kiss her again. I’ve never allowed myself to spend time with a female outside of the bedroom, but I can’t help but enjoy being around her. None of the women I’ve ever been with are anything like Lexi. Maybe subconsciously, I’ve avoided her type all along. It’s easy to push the shallower females out the door the next morning. I’m lost in her brown, flecked eyes when her hands come to rest on my pectorals, pulling me from my thoughts. “What are you thinking about?” she softly whispers. The air between us changes, turning into something more. “Where’d you go?” What do I say? I’ve only known you for a couple days, and I don’t think you’re a killer? I want to kiss you like I did that first morning, even though you’re pregnant with somebody else’s baby. How fucked up is that? “I’m thinking of that kiss we shared our first morning,” I huskily whisper the half-truth over her lips. “Oh,” she breathes out, instantly sobering from her joviality. When she bites her lower lip, I reach down and gently disengage it with my thumb. “Define your ‘oh’,” I challenge, and watch as her breathing pattern changes. “Yeah, it was nice,” she exhales. “Just nice?” I counter. “Maybe I didn’t do it right then,” I rasp in a deep undertone, wanting a second chance at those lips.
I’m full of overwrought tension, and my fingers curl into a fist against his chest. “Please, don’t let me go,” I whimper, wishing he had a shirt on so I could twist it in my hands. I don’t know what to do with all this nervous, displaced energy. “Shh, baby, I’m not going anywhere,” he softly assures me. He takes my fidgety hand in his and holds it tightly against the center of his chest, stilling my movements. “I’m right here. Everything is going to be all right now.” The assurance and warmth of his voice washes over me, and the way his strength surrounds me, I begin to settle down. Being wrapped in his arms this way, he feels like a familiar lover, I don’t perceive him to be the stranger he actually is.
The one thing JC works most hard at is steering clear of the typical romance templates. JC Cliff likes her plots to be unique, one of a kind, and never read before storylines. JC Cliff is an independent author who enjoys creating page turning novels from the moment you pick up the book until the last page is read. She loves a good book full of mystery, intrigue, scorching hot romance, and all the elements of suspense. She’s a die hard 80’s rock’n roll fan, and loves a good concert! JC wears many hats. They include being a wife of 24 years, 4 children, a small business owner, writer, reader, and what ever else is required of her. She loves taboo stories with twists and turns, and full of suspense. She likes to spend her time with her family and friends. Her pastimes include: offshore fishing, learning anything new, sewing, spending time at the beach, or the mountains. If you’re interested in getting your hands on an advanced release copy of her upcoming books, sneak peek teasers, or information on her upcoming personal appearances, and sales, you can join her newsletter list and get those details delivered right to your inbox!
They’ve done all kinds of work, from private investigations to highly classified governmental operations. Former military, their tight-knit brotherhood is now Atrox Security. These men fear nothing, they are unwavering, unafraid, and unrelenting. They are the Undaunted Men.
He never wanted to take the job, but he had no choice. He owed a debt to the Moretti mob, and last he checked, they didn’t take no for an answer.
Lexi has no phone, no camping experience, and there’s no way to get her back except to track her down. He’s put it all on the line…his heart, that is, and she’s run away with it.
He will do anything to protect what is his, and when Lexi blurs the lines between trust and betrayal, she turns his life upside down. He is left to wonder if she ever truly was his angel.
Neither Quinn nor Alexis will ever be the same after surfacing from those mountain trails. They survived the wild, but can they survive each other?
How do you share the love of your life with the world?
Alexandria Moore’s fantasy became her reality when she married movie star Andrew Hughes. As she and Andrew fight their way through the minefield of a celebrity marriage.
Will they finally reach their happily ever after or will the pressures of Hollywood tear them apart.
“Why didn’t you discuss this with me?” I asked Andrew.
“I signed on for this movie last year, Andria.”
“Not that Andrew, the sex scenes.”
“I’ve done sex scenes before.”
“When you were single.”
He thought about that for a moment. “True. I just really didn’t think much about it.”
“You wouldn’t.” I crawled out of bed.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Why would you think about how it would make me feel?”
“Andria, I wasn’t purposely keeping this from you. I didn’t think about it. Look, I haven’t had to discuss this before.”
I turned around to look at him. “True. I really never thought about your work and that.”
He got out of bed and wrapped his arm around me. “It has always been work for me, baby.”
“The only thing, Andrew, is that you have dated several of your ‘work.'”
Heavily he sighed out. “Yes, I did.”
“How do you turn the passion on and off just like that?”
“It’s called acting.”
“Just how much of that is really acting?” I paused, then turned around and snarled at him. “So you’re telling me that when you’re kissing another woman or dry humping her, your body feels nothing?”
Z.N. Willett is the girl who has seen more than she has ever wanted; yet decided to add to that world by writing Hollywood romances. A northern girl, but a southerner at heart, loving anything and everything about love and romance. So much that once upon a time she had a career as a wedding and events coordinator. When Z.N. decided to do something she was passionate about, she added her love for travel to the mix. An avid shoeaholic, deep down she’s a sappy romantic who happens to believe that love can truly conquer all.
Book Title: The Midnight Sea (The Fourth Element) Author: Kat Ross Genre: Fantasy Release Date: May 24, 2016 Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
They are the light against the darkness.
The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.
And they use demons to hunt demons….
Nazafareen lives only for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they bind wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.
Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions—and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.
As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…
On my seventeenth birthday, the magus summoned me to his study.
I sat down and waited while he shuffled through a stack of papers. Finally, he looked up.
“I’ve found you a daēva,” he said.
I sat very still, hardly breathing.
“His name is Darius. He was raised by the magi in Karnopolis. By all accounts, obedient and devout. And powerful.” The magus held my eyes. “Very powerful. The strongest in generations, if his keepers are to be believed. You were chosen because your gift is so great.” He sighed. “And because I can’t leave either of you unbonded much longer. You’re nearing the time when your mind will become too rigid to accept him, Nazafareen. And so that is my present to you. Are you happy?”
“Yes, magus. Very happy.” I was happy. I was also nervous.
“Do you wish to meet him?”
My heart lurched. “He’s here?”
“In the yard, waiting for us. Oh yes, and his curse is a withered left arm. I thought the fact that you are left-handed would be a nice complement.”
I let out a long breath as we walked outside. Bonding my daēva meant I could hunt Druj. Go on patrol with Ilyas and the others. I’d been waiting for this moment for three years. And yet part of me still wanted to run in the other direction as fast as I could.
We came around the corner of the barracks and there he was. A boy still, although not for much longer. I took in the close-cropped brown hair and pale, serious face. His sky-blue tunic matched his eyes, which were not particularly warm. More along the lines of one of the glacial lakes I’d bathed in as a child.
I walked right up to him, refusing to be cowed. It seemed prudent to let him know who was in charge immediately.
“I’m Nazafareen,” I said.
Darius nodded. His face was perfectly impassive, but did I see a spark in those eyes? Of fear? Contempt? It came and went too fast to tell.
I had no idea what to say next, so we just stood there in awkward silence for what felt like an eternity. Finally, the magus spoke.
“Come. Satrap Jaagos and the other Water Dogs are waiting.”
The bonding ceremony took place in the audience chamber of the satrap. It was a cavernous room, with vaulted ceilings of gilded tile and three marble pillars. The walls were carved with bas-reliefs of horses, their arched necks and braided manes rendered in exquisite detail.
Jaagos sat on his throne, his Water Dogs arrayed to either side. Half of them wore tunics of sky blue, the other half of a deep, bloody red.
I’d seen Jaagos from afar a few times, but this was the closest I’d ever been to him. In the moment before I prostrated myself, I saw a chubby man dressed in a rich gown of silver thread. He was bald as an egg, with thick lips and sloping shoulders. A housecat among lions.
I pressed my forehead to the stone. To my right, Darius did the same.
I was keenly aware of the eyes of the Water Dogs on me. They were the ones I wanted to impress, especially Ilyas. I didn’t give a fig about the satrap, except that I knew I didn’t want to make him angry. His authority was absolute, the hand of the King in Tel Khalujah, and if he wanted me dead, he had only to make the slightest gesture and it would be done.
“Get on with it,” Jaagos said after an appropriate amount of time had passed for the obeisance.
The magus stepped forward. “You are Water Dogs, the holiest of all dogs,” he said. “Without water there is no life, yet water has the power to destroy as well as to create. May your impurities be washed away.” The magus slowly poured the contents of a silver bowl over our heads.
“May the Holy Father keep you and guide your actions,” he intoned. “May the bond bestowed this day be true and pure. May you always serve the cause of light and shun the darkness.”
He set the bowl aside and pulled on a pair of leather gloves. Then he took out a gold cuff, thick and worked with snarling lions. Had he touched it with his bare hands, he would have bonded Darius himself instantly.
The magus’s face swam in my vision as he knelt before us. Darius had gone a deathly pale, but he looked at the cuff—the twin of one already encircling his right arm—without wavering. I resolved not to show him how afraid I was. Not to give him that victory.
“You will fight as one, live as one,” the magus said. “You will carry out the will of the Holy Father, as directed by your King and satrap. Good words, good thoughts, good deeds. By the Prophet and the Holy Father are you bonded.”
Then he snapped the cuff around my wrist and locked it with a tiny golden key. I may have cried out. I probably did. Because I wasn’t alone anymore. Floodgates opened in my mind, releasing a torrent of alien emotions. Next to me, Darius drew a sharp breath as the same thing happened to him, although I barely heard it.
Panic surged through me, followed by an aching loss so deep it tore a hole in my heart. I didn’t know if it was mine or his, or both feeding off the other. And I felt his power, a deep, churning pool of it, held tight in my fist.
“It is done,” the magus said.
My knees trembled as I stood. Darius offered me his hand but I was afraid to touch him so Ilyas took charge of me, leading me from the audience chamber to the fire temple. We knelt there together. I tried to pray, but my teeth were chattering.
“It gets easier with time,” Ilyas said in a soothing tone, as if he was talking to a small child. “You’ll learn to tell the difference between your own feelings and his. To separate them. To hold onto yourself.”
I nodded but I didn’t believe him. I just wanted to tear the cuff from my wrist. To get Darius and his bottomless despair out of my head. But that was impossible. It was locked in place.
“Look into the flames,” Ilyas said. “Imagine them burning your fear away. Scouring your mind clean of thought. Feed it all to the holy fire. You have the gift, Nazafareen. Now you must learn to control it, or it will destroy you.”
I tried to do as he instructed. For a moment, I felt as though I’d broken the surface, that the torrent was easing a little, but then it came back stronger than ever.
I jumped to my feet and just made it to the courtyard before I threw up.
They let me go to my bed after that for the rest of the day. Everyone left me alone. They understood that I couldn’t bear to be near even a single other person. I had enough of them in my head already.
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.
Gwen wanted to believe that her real first name – Guinevere – was nothing more than the byproduct of a father’s obsession with the legends of Merlin, an obsession that had cost him his job and ultimately ruined both their lives.
Yet, when she encounters a monster in a dark alley bent on killing her and meets Lance, her movie-star gorgeous rescuer who explains the truth about them and who he is – Lancelot, from King Arthur’s court – there’s no way she can believe that he’s just some insane man who claims to still be answering King Arthur’s battle cry after fifteen hundred years, especially when she meets the other knights and discovers she is being targeted by beasts sent to hunt them long ago by the evil witch, Morgan Le Fey.
Gwen is pulled into a battle for her life. But as the pieces in a complex plan put together by Merlin himself fall in place and Gwen with the knights pursues the source of Morgan’s evil, she is soon afraid for much more than her life, for Lance wins her affection, and soon her heart. Is it a true love?Will Lancelot still fight for Guinevere? Will he pick up his sword as he did for hundreds of years, or will he realize that despite his vow, he didn’t really love Gwen but a medieval queen that had been dead for over a thousand years?
“Knight Defenders by Victoria Sue is a fun read, with humor, the unbelievable, one woman with sass and attitude, as well as a heart as big Texas and one brave knight who just may be falling for the right woman at the right time. Enjoy the magic, the action and the mystery of King Arthur’s men. Fun reading! Fast reading! The author, Victoria Sue has done a stand up job of blending myth, magic and mirth in a magnetic page turner!” ~ 5 Star Goodreads Review (Diane)
Knight Defenders – Excerpt
What the hell am I doing?
Gwen leaned her back on the door for a brief second as it clicked shut with such finality. Okay, so if she’d just let a serial rapist or murderer into her apartment, she’d be really annoyed. She swallowed her laughter, smiling at the irony.
She studied Lance silently for a few more seconds as he went straight to the window near the kitchenette. Of course, it gave a clear view of his car, so he would know she had been watching him. Gwen knew this whole thing was stupid and irresponsible, but right now she didn’t care. She’d been responsible far too long, and she knew she hadn’t just imagined what had attacked her in the alley. He owed her a big ass explanation.
Lance turned and studied her, equally silent. Gwen flushed a little at his calm, unhurried gaze. His eyes travelled from her cheap sneakers, up her too-fat, too-short legs, seemed to stop when they arrived at her breasts — stop a really long time, actually.
She tugged at her lemon shirt, trying to hide the coffee stains. He was probably wondering why she was such a mess. She couldn’t really explain how she helped Mr. Jennings hold his cup when the shakes got too bad, and there was always some spilt.
She wanted to fidget. She really should move, say something — say anything — but the gray eyes that had studied her so closely had now arrived at her face. Pinned her still. She’d always wondered where the stupid saying about deer and headlights came from. Now she knew; because she felt like she was about to get run over by a truck.
“Biscuits?” She cringed inwardly. God, could she never think of anything intelligent, even mildly entertaining to say? Here she was with this guy who looked like some Greek God, all six-feet-whatever of him, and instead of rushing over to wildly run her fingers through his gorgeous hair, she was blathering on about food.
Lance raised one imperial-looking eyebrow, and she felt the action in her knees as they wobbled.
“Biscuits?” He looked amused. “Not cookies?”
“Well, I think, umm no, actually I haven’t got any cookies. Watching my—” God, she nearly told him she was on a diet. As if he wasn’t already aware of her shape, she had to go and point it out.
“No,” he added, “I meant, you call them biscuits, not cookies.”
“Oh, I see.” She came to another stop. His lips were curling just a little. She could almost see the start of a smile. His head tilted slightly, questioning. Had he asked her something? God, focus. “My dad was English. Some of his words kinda stuck.”
“I’ve visited England. Lived there for a while,” Lance said casually.
“You must have lived there quite a while. You haven’t really got much of a New York accent.”
“Neither have you,” Lance countered.
“True. We’ve lived most everywhere. My dad moved extensively for work.” Yeah. Chasing the dream, or the next job anyway.
She gazed at his gray eyes again. He’d been moving all the time she’d been speaking and was suddenly very close. Too close. She couldn’t take a step back without hitting the door. Nerves fluttered in her belly. Nerves, and something else.
“We need to talk.”
God, it sounded like he was breaking up with her. What had they shared? A few sips of tea and almost a biscuit. Oh. Memory flooded in. She pushed her way from the door and sat on the small couch — the lumpy one that doubled as her bed when she pulled it out every night.
He turned and stalked back to the window. Gwen smiled. Stalked. Such a prissy word. Impossible to attribute to a Greek God. She eyed him warily again, glad he had his back to her, so she could stare, admire the thick hair that curled on his nape temptingly and take her fill of the wide, powerful shoulders encased in the leather coat he’d pulled her into earlier. It had smelled of musk. Smelled of him.
“So tell me, why do you go around fighting monsters in alleyways?”
He turned, and tilted his lips again. “I don’t just fight them in alleyways.”
Gwen sighed and rubbed her forehead. She could feel the headache starting. “I mean—”
“I know what you mean.” He looked at her, worry clouding his eyes. Hesitant.
“Can we just get this over with? I’m sure no explanation could be worse than me thinking I’m actually certifiable.”
“It’s a long story.”
Gwen looked at him and absently patted the couch. His eyebrows rose again. She grinned. Lance came towards the couch and very gingerly lowered himself. She didn’t blame him really; all the squeaking it made didn’t inspire confidence that it wasn’t going to collapse.
“So, you want to start at the beginning?”
Has loved books for as long as she can remember. Books were always what pocket money went on and what usually Father Christmas brought. When she ran out of her kids’ adventure stories, she would go raid her mom’s. By the age of eight she was devouring classics like Little Women, and fell in love with love stories.She’s still in love with them. Any size, any shape, any creature – love is love, no matter what it says on the box.In fact if they don’t fit very neatly into any box she loves them even more!She has a very patient husband and three wonderful children. In 2010 in search of adventure they all moved from the UK to the US and are happily settled in Florida. Finally, after reading love stories for so long, she decided to write her own.
Lincoln Stallworth, bass player for Black Ice, has quietly watched each of his band mates fall in love and has accepted the fact he’ll probably never find the same for himself. He doesn’t really believe in true love, couldn’t fully understand the absurdity of it, or the notion there could be just one perfect person for everyone. A debilitating health issue began to shadow Lincoln in the middle of their last tour. As his physical symptoms worsen, Lincoln has to fight the urge to hide from the world and himself inside his estate.Aaron Baylor enters Lincoln’s life at his lowest point. Lincoln feels broken, damaged beyond repair, and he’s ready to give-up. Aaron’s patience and unwavering support slowly begin to pull Lincoln back to being present in his own life and gives him hope for a future and for love. Will Aaron be the glue that holds the broken pieces of Lincoln’s life together? Can Lincoln fight his way back to good health and take a chance at love? Or will the task be too great for Lincoln to handle?
Beyond The Music is Book 7 in The Rock Gods series. This is the final story in the series, but also the launch of a new M/M spin-off series, Guarding the Gods, which will have many cameo appearances from The Rock Gods characters in each story. If you enjoyed The Rock Gods, I hope you’ll give Guarding the Gods a try!
Ann Lister is a native New Englander currently living on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband. She has pulled details from her years living in the New England area and uses many local settings and landmarks in her novels.
After graduating art school, marrying, and raising two daughters, she established her own video production company. Her nearly two decades working in video production included work within the music industry and won her a coveted Telly Award. Her ‘behind-the-scenes’ exposure to the music world and her love of rock music is the inspiration for her erotic rock star romances.
Her rock star romance, “Fall For Me”, Book One in The Rock Gods series, was a Finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Award and Book Three, Make You Mine, established her as an Amazon #1 Bestselling Author. Each book in The Rock Gods series brings her two favorite elements together: musicians and the love between two men. These stories focus on what it truly means to love; love unconditionally, love without restrictions or labels, love without fear or judgment – to just simply love.