Eye for the Prize – an excerpt

Eye for the Prize

(#contemporary #MM #gayromance #mystery #paranormal #detective)

eyefortheprize_cover_medDetective Larke Ava doesn’t believe in magic or the paranormal. And he joined the Seattle PD in order to uncover and expose the unscrupulous, those like his mother and his brothers. Larke has few cherished memories of growing up on Vashon Island, except for the time he spent with his best friend, Roan Dwellen. But Roan, the adventurer, with a belief in the magical running deep in his veins, left the island when he was eighteen on a mission for his family—his Roma tribe—leaving Larke behind.

Now a part of Seattle’s newly-organized precinct, Larke has been assigned to discover the secrets behind a recovered stolen artifact named the Eye of Anu. Little does Larke realize the unique artifact is about to change his life. Not only will it reunite him with the boyhood friend he has never forgotten, but it also draws the attention of dangerous foes, including his own family, who will stop at nothing to acquire it.

Soon, caught between the family he’s always tried to love but couldn’t, and the best friend he could not stop loving but doesn’t necessarily trust, and all the while tempered by his duty to the city he serves, Larke’s next move could mean live or death—especially his own.

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JQ5TCDL

EXCERPT

“The damned thing won’t bite you, Ava.”

Larke glanced at his sergeant. Keep an open mind, Ava. “No, I don’t expect it will,” he responded. Gingerly, he reached for the object, and suddenly the oyster shell popped opened to reveal a fucking reptilian eyeball inside. Larke jerked his arm back. Spring latch of some sort? Must be. Some kind of motion sensor built into it? Possibly.

“And that is why this case has been shipped down here,” Sergeant Carver said.

Larke had seen this object before. Not physically, but it was reminiscent of a picture he’d seen when he was a kid. Like the domino effect, one memory toppled into another, faster and faster, all the walls tumbling down around that particular memory.

Roan.

“You say you found it on a homeless guy?” Larke ask his sergeant as he stared at the gleaming yellow eyeball in the oyster shell casing. The steady, fixed gaze of the eye locked on Larke, like the bead of a sniper’s rifle. The sergeant reached forward and snapped the case shut, cutting off the eerie sensation that had gripped Larke by the throat. He blinked and turned his attention to the sergeant.

“And you called me in here why?” Larke asked. He didn’t want this case. Something about the thing set him on edge. He glanced at the luminescent shell, closed now, looking more like some fancy jewel case. Nothing scary on the surface. But he still didn’t want the assignment.

“Your case now, Ava,” the sergeant said as though he could read Larke’s mind. Larke probably shouldn’t have been surprised. The 0-13 was that sort of precinct. They got all the odd ones, that’s why it had been formed. A specialized unit. And in Seattle there were a fucking lot of odd, unexplainable cases. And it was only guys like Larke who got assigned to them.

Handpicked by some government hack in the chief’s office. An array of oddballs, the ones who didn’t like following the rules, didn’t really fit anywhere else. With an array of backgrounds that make them uniquely qualified to man the “oddball unit,” as they were lovingly referred to by the other precincts.

Larke guessed you could say that description fit him pretty well. And his background hadn’t helped either. Gypsy blood. The type of guy who supposedly understood what couldn’t be seen. Hell, he grew up with that sort of thing in the house out on Maury Island where his mom read tarot for some of the most influential men in Seattle, and hand built an illicit empire through information she gleaned from her elite clientele to quietly amass a fortune. Living circumspectly on an island that was a step back in time suited her quite well.

But it wasn’t in his own boyhood home Larke saw the picture. It was something Roan had brought to their summer fort project when they were kids. A drawing really. Roan had sneaked it out of his grandfather’s chest in the basement of his family’s farmhouse. Larke had brought the Snickers bars, and Roan had brought the treasure for them to examine. He’d called it a prize because he’d managed to sneak it out of his house without getting caught. Larke had been a bit disappointed. He’d hoped Roan was bringing one of his uncle’s smuggled Cuban cigars.

“This,” Roan said as he had pointed to the weird looking object, like an oyster shell and an eyeball smack in the center, “is what I’m going to hunt for when I get older. It’s my mission, Uncle Apollo says so. He says I have an eye for the prize. He says I’m a natural. A talented finder of lost treasures.”

“Nah, you’re not,” Larke had said. “It ain’t real. You’ve just been lucky at finding things.” Even back then Larke hadn’t allowed himself to believe in all the supernatural crap his mother had touted. He’d known then where his talent would lie. And it wasn’t tracking down supernatural artifacts. It was rooted in facts and figures. And his gift had always been in filtering out the bullshit.

Roan had squashed up the paper and stuffed it back into the pocket of his windbreaker. It had begun to rain and water dripped through the slats in the temporary roof of branches and leaves they’d strung together. Larke had handed Roan a prized Snickers. They’d opened the wrappers at the same time and bitten into the bars. Now those were prizes worth hunting for.

“Gotta go,” Larke had said, once he’d finished his candy bar. He hadn’t liked believing in all that magic stuff. He stuffed the wrapper in his pocket. They never left garbage hanging around.

“You’re wrong about this,” Roan said as he tapped his jacket pocket.

Larke had stood. “Whatever,” he said. He had stared out at the water, yearning for a sight of the city. He spent a lot of time down on the West Seattle ferry docks just staring off at the outline of Seattle. But not that particular day. It had been too foggy that day to see much of anything beyond a hand in front of your face. But it hadn’t mattered because that’s where he was going one day. Feet firmly planted to the ground, focused on facts, on ferreting out the truth.

In some ways he and Roan had been the same, but in a lot of ways they were very different. He wasn’t going to work on the ferries, like his father had done, and his grandfather before him. Larke wasn’t going do like his dad had done, get so drunk he’d lost his footing and fell overboard when he’d been out fishing with Larke’s uncle, and drowned. That wasn’t going to be him. He didn’t drink like that, or do really stupid stuff, and he sure as hell didn’t believe in no magic crap that would save the day.

Larke forced himself back to the present. He’d told the captain that very thing back when he was advised about his reassignment to the newly established 0-13th.

“Don’t matter,” the captain had said. “It’s either that, or find a new profession. Orders from above. I hear they’re looking for security guards up at the Needle though, if you have a preference for that.” No choice. So here he fucking stayed. He guessed one could say he’d landed pretty much where he started. Right back in the lap of magic. He fucking hated it.

Sergeant Carver leaned back in his chair.

“I want this handled quietly. That homeless John Doe is in the psych ward over at Northwest for evaluation. Involuntary detention. Everything’s in the file. He’s talking gibberish. Can’t even figure what language he’s talking. It all seemed too weird to the investigating officer so he made the call to take the guy into protective custody. Now we have to find the owner of this thing and figure out if our John Doe stole it, or if it was someone else. Let alone figure out who the fuck he is. And you’re next up on the roster. So this baby is yours.”

Larke stared down at the closed shell. Fuck. Larke didn’t have a clue where to begin. “Fine. I’ll get on it,” he said.

“Ava, for someone with your background, you should be putting more muscle into this. I know damned well you’ve got connections. This should be a piece of cake for you.”

Larke expected it should have, but since he tended to keep his family contact to a minimum, for damned good reason, whatever connections he used to have weren’t all that great. Larke hated what he was going to have to do next. But if he wanted to keep his job Larke was going to have to suck it up on this one.

He gingerly scooped up the oyster shell and stuffed it into the small blue velvet pouch that had been lying next to it on the sergeant’s desk. “I’ll get this down to evidence, then I’ll follow-up. You got the file?”

The sergeant slid a folder across the desk. “All yours, Ava. Fingerprints have already been run on your John Doe, nothing’s come up in the system, no criminal record. No DNA matches, nothing. He’s a zero out there. “

Fucking great. Larke exited the sergeant’s office with the file and the oyster shell.

Because of the nature of the investigations at the 0-13th, the whole unit was housed in a brick building down near the waterfront, in the heart of where the majority of cases had sprung up in recent years. Having housed a bank at one time, the vault in the basement was a perfect place to keep odd and curious evidence. Paranormal crap has to be locked away for the good of the city, whether it was real or not. The last organization that the building had housed was an investment firm, but that had gone belly-up during the last economic meltdown. So the evidence locker was downstairs in the vault, and empty safe deposit boxes now served as evidence lock-ups. Larke signed the oyster shell in and then went back to his desk to review the file.

Nothing too odd. An old homeless man walking the dock down by Pike’s Market early in the A.M. acting crazy, saying he had to ride the carousel, and banging on the glass causing a couple of early-arriving workers to call for assistance. The object was recognized as one of the “oddball shit,” better handled by the 0-13th when it snapped open and the officer got a gander at the eyeball inside. Most of these type cases turned out to be just normal stuff, nothing charmed about it except in the eye of the guy who snatched it. But sometimes, like maybe now, there might be something to it. Something eerie, something strange, although Larke wasn’t ready to admit that just yet.

Larke had taken a picture of the thing with his phone, and he turned to the computer terminal on his desk. He spent the next few hours searching for something—for anything. And it took a while, but he was a man of patience if not unusual tenaciousness when it came to getting the job done. He stared at the image on the screen. Checked the photo. Yup, that was it.

Apparently it was called Anu’s Eye. Anu being a powerful sky god of Babylonian mythology. Anu and his first consort, Antu, supposedly produced the demon gods of the underworld. In the wrong hands the Eye could wreak havoc on unsuspecting humans. The wrong hands being anyone of common birth, or not of a descendent of the tribe of Anu, so to speak. In the right hands it was an instrument of great knowledge and could give the possessor a glimpse into the past and into the future, offering the chance at untold wealth…and wisdom of the ages. Larke peered closer at the photo on the website. His heart did a little jiggle. It couldn’t be.

He zoomed in. It surely was. Last known owner of Anu’s Eye was Roan Dwellen. Roan, Larke’s boyhood friend, his first crush, who’d left Vashon Island when he was eighteen to set out on his adventure, to pursue his so-called destiny. A man Larke hadn’t seen in fifteen years. If the Eye was here, did that mean Roan was as well? Or had he sold it to someone else?

Larke turned away from the computer screen and pocketed his cell phone. His stomach churned. This was going to lead him down a very uncomfortable memory road. Memories were something he tried not to contend with on even a good day. He kept himself always looking ahead, not behind. And memories of Roan, particularly raw, had been locked away from the moment Larke’s best friend stepped foot on that Port Defiance ferry and never looked back.

An eye for the prize.

Apparently, Roan had found exactly what he’d set out to find. This was not something Larke wanted to revisit. But he knew he wasn’t going to get a choice.

Fuck!

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Don’t for get to check out, Run To Ground, and learn more about the history of Anu and how the myth forged a shapeshifting tribe.

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Pandemonia: Combustible – an excerpt

Pandemonia: Combustible

(#MM, #futuristic, #dystopian, #menage #erotic romance, #BDSM)

combustible_medEarth of 4035 is a wasteland populated with sectors of penal colonies, seeded through the generations by its life-long inhabitants of criminals, lunatics, political prisoners, and DNA-spliced mutants, all ruled by a powerful conglomerate of scientific researchers called the Nucleate.

One such sector, Pandemonia, is situated on the former European continent in the vicinity of Paris, now a hunting ground of a world gone horribly awry.

Drayce Eth, of dragogen-spliced DNA creation, rules one quandrant of Old Paris with a strong hand. He has never mated, never taken a long-term lover, and has always denied the instincts of his dragogen-spliced DNA. But then he encounters an attractive disciple and slave of his arch-enemy, Dr. Francois Beljon, and a simple game of poke-the-bear to relieve his ennui may just result in more than Drayce ever expected. It may also be exactly what he needs when his mating instincts are aroused by this least likely of potential mates.

Crispen Wills is a product of the mean streets. He’s a survivor—a dancer, a liar, a scavenger, and whatever else will serve to keep him alive. But when he becomes a desirable pawn in a treacherous game, it could easily cost him his life. What Crispen never expects is to fall in love with the powerful dragogen that his master has sent him to destroy.

Passions mix with danger in a highly flammable game devoid of rules and safe words, where all’s fair in love, lust…and death. Only a fool would dare to risk everything for a fleeting chance at love, especially when that lover could easily barbecue you should you make one false step.

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079674H85

 

EXCERPT

“Have Ion send the boy to me after his performance tonight. Let’s see if we can squeeze any more information out of him than he’s deigned to share thus far. Any tidbit we can discern about the running of the cathedral gives us ammunition for future consideration.”

“I can have Taylor beat it out of him,” Zadrian suggested.

Ever since the loss of his lover, Zadrian had become even more bloodthirsty in his tactics. Sometimes he took some reining in. His canine nature was beginning to consume his humazoid side. It had been over a year since he’d lost Jazz to the Nucleate. He had to repair himself. He needed a new focus.

“Zadrian, reel it in. I said not yet. Just send the whelp to me.”

Zadrian saluted. “As you command, boss.”

“Fuck you,” Drayce responded.

Zadrian grinned, exposing his sharp teeth, but the amusement never entered his eyes. It never did these days. “Hell, you want him, you might as well take him. That is what you want, isn’t it? You want to fuck him. That’s why you’re dragging your spikes on this one. Shall I tell Ion to deliver him with a bottle of barbecue sauce?”

Drayce ignored the last taunt. Sometimes Zadrian overstepped. But then the captain had been around a long time. There was no point in lying. Zadrian would see right through that and think less of him for doing it.

“What I want and what I’ll take are two different things entirely. You know that. The whelp is here for one reason.”

“Do you really think Beljon will barter for his return? Beljon has no concern for human life. He’ll just replace this one with another. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he’ll just kill or use it for experimentation. And then destroy it when it goes bad.”

Drayce glared at Zadrian. “Jazz again.”

And now there was emotion in Zadrian’s eyes. Pain flared and Drayce heard the low rumbling growl in his throat.

“We almost lost you as well, if you’ll recall, when they went after him to get to you. That’s all that was about—getting to you. They would have killed him anyway. He was never strong enough to survive here. Even with you protecting him.”

“Fine. But you should remember as well. The weak ones don’t survive long. The whelp is a pretty little thing, but he can’t last long. Use him up, entertain yourself, but I wouldn’t recommend getting attached. He won’t survive either.”

If he was truly weak as he pretended to be, Drayce would agree. But Drayce had watched Crispen these last nights, and Crispen was far from weak. In fact, there was an undercurrent about him that told Drayce above all else, he was a survivor. A devious sort of survivor. Not at all what he appeared. And only a strong, steady hand could bring him to heel. But Drayce didn’t have the time to take on a pet. And Zadrian was right about one thing. In their world, pets didn’t really survive very long. There were traitors in every sector, and the Rouge was no exception. And it was the weak ones on whom they preyed.

Zadrian stared back at him, neither man relenting, nor looking away. In another man, Drayce would have considered it a challenge to be met and the upper hand forced. But then, as though knowing he had to be first, Zadrian looked away. He nodded. “All right, Drayce. Have it your way. But we can’t wait forever. We’ll only look weak. We’re going to have to do something. Toy with it and then finish this thing.”

“I’m not felinogen in that respect. Just remember that. I don’t toy without a purpose. You just be careful it’s not strictly revenge you’re after, and you lose your head and your life because of it.”

Zadrian stared at him with a bleak look. “I lost my life a year ago, Drayce. There really isn’t much left for me to lose. Beljon made his point very clearly.” He spun about and stalked out the door.

Drayce felt for the man. He’d lost his mate, and the DNA in Zadrian’s blood probably wouldn’t let him accept another, at least not easily. It was the way the caninogens were marked. One life, one mate. Dragogens, on the other hand, had no problem keeping a herd full of amusements. Like felinogens in some ways, they were fond of dominating multiple partners. Maybe he was too much like Beljon, and that was a truly distasteful thought. Or maybe Beljon had a bit of dragogen DNA in his make-up. Yeah, that was a much more palatable thought.

Drayce hadn’t built a herd of his own. That sort of thing made a man vulnerable in a place like this. Instead, with running an establishment like the Rouge, he had a plentiful supply of dancers who came and went in his bed when he felt a particular itch, flitting in and out as he wanted. Which is why he couldn’t figure out why he was so fixated on this whelp. He didn’t need him, but damned if he didn’t want him. Far more than he should.

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Tracking Backstory for My Soul He Seeks

Tracking Backstory for My Soul He Seeks

MySoulHeSeeks_smBrainstorming for this story started with word association. No, back up, it didn’t start there. It began with the image of a man. Hispanic, gypsy. What did he do? What’s in his soul? And so I dug deeper. Music is in his soul. What kind of music? There was no other answer. Flamenco. In researching, one line resonated with me, and with Ravol. Flamenco is at the very heart of the gitano culture with strong roots in Andalusia. And thus Ravol Nova was born.

Ravol possesses a dark and mysterious history. Rumors about his relationship, and the murder of his lover, Francesco, haunt him unceasingly. For me, this past came to life through a video on Youtube. Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=Y6slgaVCSxM. A duel of guitars in a sense. But for my story the duel started between a young Flamenco guitarist and a Flamenco dancer. What better inspiration could I find for the dancer than this Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXBctPuGIfU. Joaquim Cortes. Wow. Perfect. I had the passion and the pain of my backstory.

The foundation of Ravol’s dark haunting, is the murder of his passionate lover, Francesco, that has colored his life so deeply. But there was more, a lot more, because as I got into writing the story, I realized Ravol actually was a descendant of a lost gypsy tribe, the Zhalazti, which has its roots in Babylonian origins. (My story, “Run to Ground”, provides the foundation for the Zhalazti in more detail.)  And thus there is magic– a special magic he must harness and use in an effort to bring peace to his life. And he will use any means to find that peace. To that end, he acquires a special musical instrument. Enter, the young, auction house researcher, Byron Shepley, who has a very dark and somewhat disturbing history with the mansion Ravol now lives in. And it is on a dark and stormy night these two men will finally meet.

These fictional facts represent the foundation of “My Soul He Seeks,” as both Ravol and Byron, in seeking resolution to their past histories, may discover a light of love shining through the darkness shading each of their souls, even though there is nothing remotely simple about the attraction they soon share.

“My Soul He Seeks” is a story of redemption and resolution in many ways. It is also about sacrifice and revenge.

One last little tidbit about this story. I needed to name my town…something special. Ternekill wasn’t just something I pulled from my black hat and pasted into the story. I starting researching names. I thought about the town and the story and the people.  The word “terne” I discovered is a Delaware Native American word for…wolf. What better name could I choose? Especially with Ravol’s history as descending from the werewolf clan, the Zhalazti? Having grown up in central New York near the Catskills, I finished off the name of the town with the word, “kill.” Two meanings, one the obvious–to murder, or kill. The other goes back to the roots of the area, and the early settlers of New York – the Dutch. Kill refers to a river or a creek. Kille, meaning riverbed or channel. Thus, the town’s name of Ternekill. There is reference in the story to a dark spot in Ternekill history regarding the Ternekill Creek.

Did I mention I love creating backstory?

Read the excerpt I posted last month for “My Soul He Seeks.”  Discover where this all leads in the sequel, “My Fate, My Destiny,” releasing June 26, and currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

 

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My Soul He Seeks – EXCERPT

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Blurb:

#gay #erotic romance #contemporary #paranormal #gothic

Tonight two men are fated to meet, Ravol Nova, a Spanish flamenco guitarist, and Byron Shepley, an auction house researcher. On a dark and stormy night, at Terne House, one man may trade his soul for passion and surrender; and another man, with a dark and secretive past, may find the redemption he’s been seeking for so very long. What dangers may they greet when these two men finally come together, as they both come face to face with destiny?

EXCERPT:

There are always times when a choice can be made, and then there comes a time when the window is closed and the choice is taken out of your hands. At this moment as I sat there across from Ravol, I knew I had an opportunity to leave and instead I chose to let circumstances carry me along. As I watched he placed a hand on the curved top of the guitar case.
“You’re not interested in checking to be certain the guitar is what you expected? That it’s undamaged?” I asked. I found it hard to believe that a man would pay $50,000 for a guitar and yet be so uneager to look at it.
He stroked the top of the case with his long, elegant fingers. So pale, almost white. Nails manicured perfectly. I remembered his grip as he held my hand for longer than necessary. I found myself wanting to feel his hand upon mine once again. Perhaps I had moved to free myself a little too quickly. Or maybe not quickly enough.
“Heinrich and I have known each other a long time. He is an honest man. I assume he’s a fair employer as well.”
I nodded. Sometimes a little ruthless, he wasn’t a man to accept less than perfection, but I couldn’t say he wasn’t fair. “Yes, he’s a fair man.”
Heinrich was Heinrich Morgan, the owner of the auction house where I worked. At some level I was surprised that the two men would be on a first name basis. Is that what had brought Ravol to Ternekill?
Ravol stroked the dark case’s stitching with a rhythmic motion. Hypnotic for me. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off his hand. The look of it almost drew me up and across the room, a magnetic force I’d never encountered before. I have to admit it left me breathless. Breathless and horny.
“How long have you worked for Heinrich? I understand from my conversation with him on the phone, you’re fairly new at the auction house.”
I nodded again, finding it difficult to focus on the question. His hand curled around the curve of the case and he stroked it with his fingertips. Slow, so riveting. I began to sweat. It was getting damned hot in here all of a sudden. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. Was he taunting me to see how far he could push me? The fire in the fireplace seemed to roar and crackle, burning brighter and hotter than before.
I knew, without being told, that I was out of my depth with this man. He was no crony, no college friend, that I could flirt with playfully, and walk away unscathed from a night of steamy down-and-dirty sex. I was way out of my league.
Finally, I tore my attention away from his hand, from the way he flexed his fingers, the smooth look of his skin. Of the thought of him stroking my cock, gripping my balls. Away from the thought of those long, long fingers sliding into my ass. I couldn’t help wonder exactly how far his fingers could reach inside me.
I brushed a palm across my forehead. So damned hot in here I could barely stand it. I wiped my hand on my pant leg, rubbing back and forth.
“I think I should be going. That rain, you know.”
“Soon. Ramon will be bringing you something to eat. And some coffee to warm you before you leave.”
“I think I’m warm enough. By the way, thanks for the use of the dry clothes.”
He nodded rather regally. “It is nothing. Ramon is very resourceful. He leaves no detail unattended.”
“He seems very…thorough.”
“He is that.”
“Has he been with you a long time?” I asked, wondering if they were lovers.
“Yes. A long time.” Had he been with Ramon before his lover had been killed?
I turned to look at the stained glass walls. They glowed as brightly from this side of the glass as they did from the hallway. On this side of the panels the red glass seemed to shine far more intensely than the other colors. And those lofty, powerful angels with their black eyes, appeared to glare down at me.
“Ramon says these panels came from your home in Spain.”
“Yes, they did. I had them shipped here. Heinrich put me in touch with someone who could restore them to their former beauty. He did an excellent job. I was very pleased.”
I couldn’t help myself, perhaps it was the historian in me, or just that I needed to distance myself from Ravol. The man’s personality was strong enough to make anyone’s head spin. I stood and walked over to one of the panels, staring up at the black-winged angel with the glowing sword. I reached out to trace the silvered lead, zigzagging my index finger along the channel. “Beautiful work,” I murmured. “Sixteenth century?”
“Fourteenth,” he said from right behind me. I never heard him cross the room. “I understand you were a history major in college.”
“Yes,” was about all I could manage. I wanted to turn around, but I didn’t dare. I knew if I did, I’d do something I shouldn’t.
“And you were on soccer scholarship.”
“Yes. Until I busted up my knee.” Just then said knee began to throb. “I-I—”
“Tell me,” he said softly. “It must have been a great disappointment to you to lose the scholarship. Things like that change us. We set a path for our life and then suddenly everything alters. Just that quickly.”
Then slowly I did turn to face him. He was a tall man. And he was a beautifully dangerous man with a strange, sad and bloody history.
“You’ve faced loss,” I said. “A lot worse than my knee injury. But we recover, don’t we?”
His expression told me little. I stared at his mouth, his sculpted lips. They looked too perfect. His eyes kept me mesmerized. Kept me from moving away. I saw the flash of pain come into his expression. It flitted quickly and then the look of anguish was gone as fast as it had appeared.
“Yes, I have known loss.”
“I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything,” I said.
“It was a long time ago,” he murmured, even as he lifted a hand to cup my jaw. His thumb, long and shapely, caressed my bottom lip. I caught my breath and tried to steady myself. The man was intoxicating. Was he really making love to me? We’d only just met and yet—and yet, his touch seemed familiar to me. I welcomed it. And I didn’t want to leave.
Someone cleared his throat. The realization that someone else had entered the room broke the trance. Ravol dropped his hand away and stepped back. The shock of sudden disconnection had me reeling just for a moment. The ghostly sensation of his touch still warmed my jaw as I watched him turn to Ramon.
He didn’t seem embarrassed by being caught flirting with me. Maybe they weren’t lovers after all. Maybe they were just a man and his servant. I found myself hoping that was the case.
“What is it, Ramon?”
“The river has taken the bridge out. I just heard it on the news. And they say the power has gone out in town. There’s some concern about flooding and they’ve put the town on alert to evacuate. Mr. Shepley won’t be able to leave tonight.”

Blood Bounty – an Excerpt

A vampire with a raging thirst for human blood and erotic pleasure; a man with a secret mission to find and destroy the undead. But lusty midnight passions defy logic, while boundaries and duty hold no sway on the decks of the Night Stalker. Captain Dontè Lucienne is the vampire captain of the Night Stalker. His crew is human, men who serve the vampires of Noctra, providing sustenance, as well as loyalty. They are fighters as well as lovers, and devoted to their vampire masters. They would destroy any who tried to kill their captain. Skye Templeton is a man on a dangerous mission. Plucked from the swelling seas by the crew of the Night Stalker, he’s exactly where he needs to be. Will he come out alive, or end up as fodder to the lust of the vampirate captain? His duty is clear, at least until he comes to know this licentious crew and their magnetic leader…until he comes under the supernatural, relentless spell of the Night Stalker.

EXCERPT

“Why?” he asked Skye, pointing to the blood and hair-encrusted axe.

Skye shrugged. “It seemed the thing to do at the time.”

“Do you know what they are? What they were?”

This time when Skye looked at Donté, the vampire captain saw confusion swirling within the blueness of his pupils. “No. I-I thought–”

VON1_BloodBounty_smAh, revelation swept through Donté. “The axe was for me, wasn’t it?”

Skye looked him square in the eye. “I thought you meant to kill all those people. You’re a vampire, what else was I supposed to think?”

“My reputation. They all think the vampires of Noctra sail the seas in search of victims to gorge our thirst. Isn’t that right?” Skye’s hands tightened around the axe handle.

“What else are we supposed to think? Vampires trail a heavy reputation of killing in order to appease their hunger.”
Donté started at him for a long time. His instincts told him Skye had been sent here to kill him. So why did he hesitate to have done with Templeton right this minute?

He nodded to the axe. “Well, here you are. And here I am. So why don’t you finish the deed you’ve come here to do?”

“How do you know I was sent to kill you?”

Donté shrugged. “You wouldn’t be the first.”

“What happened to the others?”

Donté looked back across to the other ship. “A few are now part of my crew. The others,” he looked down at the water. “A few have found everlasting peace or hell, depending on your perspective.”

“You’re a vampire. You have everlasting life.”

Donté watched as Skye swung the axe from his shoulder and dropped it to the deck. Donté looked down at the discarded weapon and almost felt a twinge of regret. What he wouldn’t give to have all of this done and over with. There was so little he found pleasure in any more. So many lovers dead, so many of his crew sacrificed. He felt the first heat of dawn’s fingers against his neck. All he had to do was remain on deck and it would be over with once and for all. He looked at Skye.

“You could have killed me tonight. My focus was on the undead on the ship. My men might have thought it an accident in the surge of bloodlust and they would have let you go.”

“Yes. That’s true.”

“So, why didn’t you?” He was curious to know the young man’s answer. There was something that intrigued him about Skye Templeton. This was a strong, intelligent man, rather unlike the rest of his crew. Most of them had spent their lives following the orders of others. But not this one. He definitely felt a strong attraction for the man–and it was more than his blood. Yet, his attention was drawn to the purple vein pulsing in Skye’s neck.

“I won’t become part of your food stores, Captain.”

Donté’s attention refocused on Skye’s face. “Do you think I need another?” He swept an arm in a semi-circle. “I have a crew of men more than eager to quench my thirst. Willingly. Do you think I need you?”

There was something indefinable in Skye’s expression. Donté’s attention turned to his mouth. Templeton meant to hold himself apart from the rest of his crew. But there was an element of desire and yet defiance in the way he held himself. A flagrant challenge to the vampire captain to force the young man’s submission.

“You will yield to me. Eventually.”

Those beautiful lips curved into a smile. A tongue slipped out to wet the elegant fullness. Suddenly, Donté swooped forward and possessed them, curling a hand tightly into the long blond locks. Taking what he wanted, tasting the sweetness of strong defiance in the young merchant’s kiss.

Skye pressed forward, off-balancing the vampire, pressing advantage, forcing Donté against the rail, as he took control of the passionate kiss. He thrust his tongue between Donté’s lips; his determined hands cupped the vampire’s cheeks, facing down the danger of such a predatory master.

If Donté had a heart that beat, it would have drum rolled a fast and furious pace as desire roared for Skye Templeton. He pulled free from Skye’s lips and stumbled away. He put the weakness that consumed him down to weariness from the night’s battle.

Donté slid his tongue over his lower, engorged lip and felt a trickle of blood and wiped it away.

“You challenge what you have no understanding of,” he said. He fought the desire to have this human in his bed right this minute. Bound to it, supping from him at his leisure. Or hanging on his wall, the bite of metal binding him in Donté’s presence. There was something in Skye Templeton, something so different and so desirable. So forbidden.

“I’ll give you what you need, my captain, all in good time.”

“Your blood?”

Skye smiled. But it was a strange look of mastery to the expression. “Your marks will never mar my flesh, Donté Lucienne. But perhaps my marks will decorate yours.”

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Nightingale – an excerpt

From the Journals of the Viadine…

They Walk the Earth Among Mortal Men…

The Fallen, having descended to earth, vulnerable to all manner of earthly pleasure and sin, were barred forevermore from Heaven. Easily seduced by the beauty of humankind, henceforth they divided, light and dark, order and chaos, lovers and destroyers of mankind. Being now branded as the Phratry, or Brotherhood, of the Fallen—henceforth eternally earthbound, divided and marked as Viadine and Diadune. Thus fashioned from the ashes of desolation a choir of men, offering a measure of serenity and renewal for those who seek order and light—henceforth known as the Gios of the Nightingale—men gifted with the voices of angels, poignant reminder of an existence now lost forever to the Phratry of the Fallen…
— Rahuael, First Chronicler, Viadine Secretorum

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An earthly balance is at stake. Nothing happens by chance. And fate, here on Earth, will demand its bloody tribute no matter how high the cost…

The thirst for deliverance and absolution are transformed into explosive flames of forbidden passion when a mysteriously charismatic masked man encounters a brilliant and handsome composer. Their lives are intertwined with those of two others, and only the ultimate sacrifice will satisfy the greedy appetite of fate…

Retribution is his only desire…Fabienne Brunetto, a 17th-Century castrato of amazing vocal talent, is brutally attacked by a twisted enemy. But agonizing death is not his destiny. He is saved by Annatoly Constantine, the immortal hand of a brotherhood of fallen angels devoted to protection, balance, and order on Earth. But Fabienne bears the scars of his terrible encounter, and his song has been extinguished forever—at least until a rite of redemption can come to culmination. He must wait two hundred years before his hunger for deliverance can fully be sated.

Wounded and shamed…Annatoly Constantine, whom centuries before was also a man, is the protector of the Gios of Nightingales, a choir of immortal voices created to soothe and heal the world. Annatoly has always been destined to lose what he loves, never able to fully offer himself to a lover. Until Carne Giraint, a gifted composer, appears in his life, making him yearn for something more, something exquisitely forbidden.

A composer marked by the cursed blood of his ancestors…Carne Giraint is a mortal of extraordinary talent, tapped by the brotherhood of angels to accept his destiny as composer to the gios. Carne’s greatest passion has never been ignited until he encounters a masked man known to him only as Maître. One night of fiery desire leaves him ravenous for the touch of Maître, a man he cannot forget.

A greedy man willing to give his soul for power and money…Dandrae, a slave to the dark beings who seek to alter the course of Fabienne’s and Carne’s destinies, is tasked with quashing Carne’s mystical gift for composition.

An earthly balance is at stake. Nothing happens by chance. And fate, here on Earth, will demand its bloody tribute no matter how high the cost…

EXCERPT

Carne removed the mask and tossed it toward Maître, who deftly caught it, caressed it, and then gently set it aside. Carne stood poised in the firelight, completely vulnerable, his cock thick with arousal, the sheen of pre-come glazing the tip, his balls heavy.

Maître walked to Carne. He circled slowly, minutely inspecting Carne. Carne’s nerves stretched taut as his desire mounted. Would he find Carne lacking? Maître completed his inspection and returned to face Carne. With his gloved hand he cupped Carne’s testicles, weighing them, stroking them.

“Lovely,” he murmured.

He slid his hand up Carne’s erect shaft, brushed over the engorged knob of his prick. “Precious. A set of manly jewels to be prized by any lover. I wonder, have you the fortitude of a well-hung young stallion as well?” The hue of Carne’s cock deepened, the flesh stretched and hardened, his balls already drawing up close to his body at Maître’s handling and obvious appreciation. With his fingers curled around Carne’s erection, Maître drew him forward. Carne could feel the unyielding presence of the mask against his cheek.

“You like being ordered, don’t you? You like men.” His voice was a steamy intimate whisper against Carne’s ear. “My touching you is arousing. How many men have you been with, Geraint? And women? Have you a patron among them?”

There would be no prevarication. This man, in some supernatural way, would peel Carne’s secrets from his soul. And Carne couldn’t stop it from happening, he could do none other than yield himself. “I-I think you know my preference, Maître. I think you know it well enough.”

His mother had thought it was the music tutor who had ruined him. She blamed herself for Carne’s eccentricities. But Carne had known from an early age, when he’d secretly watched the actors changing backstage, when it had been the men who he fantasized about, not the women. He had understood his predilection for men before his mother’s latest lover had seduced him. But he never told her the truth before she died of consumptionNightingale_sm in the poor house. He never absolved her of her false guilt.

“But the women give you fine jewels, don’t they? Little gifts because you please them so very much. They yearn for you to spend time in their bed, they are eager for you to sleep with them, to show them even more of your secret magic. To ply your command of… instrument in a much more personal and intimate fashion.”

“Yes, but I don’t give them what they want. I’ll sire no bastards. Ever.” He was never going to subject a child to what he had suffered. And since he had no plans to marry, nor a desire to lie with women, he offered them no encouragement to pursue him.

“So maybe they want me more because of it. But the men. They can be even more generous than the women.” Perhaps so generous because they sought to assuage their guilt for wanting him instead of the beautiful actresses for whom he composed his arias to make their voices shine.

“They can also be more brutal. Is that what you like about them?”

Carne didn’t respond right away. It was that, but there was more as well. “Not all of them are brutal,” Carne finally responded.

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An Excerpt from Run To Ground

Run To Ground

(#darkfantasy, #MM, #shapeshifter, #werewolves, #eroticromance, #secondchance #kindleunlimited)

Blurb:

RunToGround_medA savage and passionate breed of mythic wuv. Two men—alpha and mate, fight for their clan, and their lives, and to reclaim the passion one threw away when he left. Loyalty might be earned, but could trust be regained? There are no half-measures in the world of the Zhalazti. One will rule; one will submit. A new pack will arise. It is the law of their species and all will obey. Submit or die.

Tallin Undine, human-made savage wolfish creature. He was once human, now wuv-beast—a creature ruled by the moon—made through moon-madness and savagery, his human family slaughtered. It is a continual struggle to hold on to some bit of his humanity. Scarred by his former lover, a Zhalazti Luminarian of noble and ancient heritage, during a rite of passage, who then abandoned him, Tallin has clawed his way to some measure of standing. But now the vaida, his Zhalazti clan chief, his accepted alpha, has been killed, and the security of his adoptive nation is at risk. His mission—to bring back the man who must battle to claim his position as rightful chief against a Negraluna cursed usurper to the position. One problem – Emmanuel Grimshaw is the very man Tallin does not want to see again. It was Emmanuel who mated him so long ago, and then left Tallin to pick up the pieces of what was left of his life. But Tallin has little choice.

Emmanuel Grimshaw, of the Zhalazti Natasia, a Luminarian, born of full-moon royal heritage, walked away from his clan, his mate, because of the savageness with which he claimed, and maimed, a man he loved, when he was too young to control his beast. He’d gone in search of his humanity, and a way to tame the wuv within. But when Tallin unexpectedly arrives, any peace he thought he’d found with his human companion, Niles, vanishes. And it isn’t long before Emmanuel’s beast within rises and in a savage mating, he reclaims Tallin—binding him, once again.

Zhalazti wuvs, like no other; a mysterious nomadic tribe—not the werewolf of loric myth. Descendants of a Sumarian god and his consort, who birthed the gods of the underworld, and evil demons. Emmanuel will do his duty, but not without the human stray, Tallin, at his side. A battle for survival and love is about to begin. Who will triumph?

EXCERPT:

All things were dead in the garden, curled up, brown, brittle. Except there was a certain beauty to it in the thin veneer of frost that covered everything. From wilted brittle vine to defeated rose. The crystalline sparkle made it seem as though one stood in a vastly different world than that of human.

Tallin had waited. Upon his arrival in Vienna he’d taken rooms at a hostelry on the outskirts, near a densely wooded area, allowing him freedom to run when his animal urged him to flee the confines of the city. Mostly it occurred in the twilight hours. But it was early morning now as he stood in the garden, behind the elm waiting for Emmanuel to emerge. Having watched him for the last three days, Tallin had discerned his routine.
A smoke in the morning in the garden, to the university for lectures until mid-afternoon. Home to fuck his pet and take tea, not leaving the house again until twilight, and then off to the opera or some social event. Home again at two or three in the morning to fuck his pet again, before turning in for a few hours of rest. Emmanuel rose early, his pet later, obviously exhausted by the long grueling schedule Emmanuel set for them each day. So this was the best time of day to catch him alone. Today Tallin would confront him and then he would know what his next move must be.

He pulled out his pocket watch, flipped it open to check the time, closed it and repocketed it. Any moment now and Emmanuel would step out into the briskness of the winter morn. Being Zhalazti, the chill would not affect him keenly as it did humans. Nor did it affect Tallin in quite the same way. In fact, their kind thrived in the colder climes.
He scented the smoke of the cigar before he actually saw Emmanuel emerge from the house. Dressed in dark trousers and a white shirt unbuttoned at the neck, black leather shoes polished to an unmarred shine. His shirt sleeves were rolled back to reveal his dark, densely pelted arms. He turned away from where Tallin stood at the corner of the garden and stared up at the lightening sky.

He took the cigar out of his mouth, released a line of smoke into the cold stillness. Still a fine fashion of a man as he stood astride. Broad shoulders stretching the white shirt to its limits, tapering to narrow hips, muscular buttocks and thighs—a measure of the beast that thrived in his Lunaria blood. This morning he looked…human. More so than he ever had back in France. He looked almost tamed, so refined. A gentleman. Perhaps even more charismatic and seductive than Tallin had ever seen him.

“I know you’re there,” Emmanuel suddenly said. “You might as well come out of hiding. I can smell you. One does not mistake the scent of wuv blood—even if it is diluted blood.” He spun around to face exactly where Tallin stood. Tallin stepped out from behind the tree. Emmanuel’s eyes flashed, his focus going immediately to the eye patch and the scars on his face. Tallin didn’t flinch.

Emmanuel nodded. “I thought it was you. Why are you here, Tallin? I’m not returning. I’ve found some balance here. Some peace.”

“With your jijo? I take it he serves you well.”

Emmanuel’s eyes flashed angrily, a growl erupted from his throat. “Leave Niles out of this. He’s human and he’s fragile.

Tallin stepped more fully into the garden. “I know exactly how fragile humans are. I do recall something of their humanity.”

Emmanuel lifted the cigar to his lips and studied Tallin silently for a long time. The tip of the cigar glowed orange as he sucked. Tallin recalled Emmanuel’s special skill at sucking.
“You still have a fondness for cigars.”

Emmanuel released a cloud of smoke to meld with the frigid air. He set the cigar on the edge of the table he stood next to. “You should know. You were the one who stole the first box from Shiri. Have you lost your fondness for savoring fine things?”

“I have tempered somewhat.”

“I heard you have been named a captain in Hirmes’ war pack. You have come far in a short time. Few possessed ever—”

“Survive as long as I have?” Tallin said mildly. He should have died in the rite of passage but he hadn’t. He’d lived and thus gained some measure of respect. Of course, he’d not survived without cost.

“I wasn’t going to say that. We both know the reason humans are made wuv. It’s no secret,” Emmanuel said.

“Exactly. I was trained for it, wasn’t I? Treated little less than a slave—humans—jijos—were treated better than I was. But rikos are the expendable ones, aren’t they?”

“I helped you train, Tallin. I wanted you to survive, you know that.”

Tallin smiled bitterly. “What you did was give with one hand and take with the other. I never really knew where I stood with you until the hunt. Then we both knew, didn’t we?”
Emmanuel spun away. “Why are you here? Everything you speak of is in the past. It serves no purpose in bringing it up now.”

Tallin tamped down the beast and the memories. His wounded eye itched, the scars on his face throbbed with the memory. “Hirmes is dead, Emmanuel…”

 

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