An Excerpt from Cruel Memories

Cruel Memories

(#erotic romance #gothic #MF #contemporary)

cruelmemories_cover_smTwo men…one her attacker…the other her savior…

Gavin Killian was evil right to the core. His half brother, Devon Masters, was the complete opposite. Ten years ago, it was Gavin who practically destroyed Haley Lancaster when she was seventeen, and Devon who healed and protected her. But in saving Haley, he had sacrificed himself. The cruel memories are what keep them separated, while a marriage in name only binds them together.

Now, Gavin is gone, his violent life followed by a violent death. Haley returns to Falcon Hill one last time, hoping to finally put to rest the past that haunts her. And this time it will be Haley doing the saving because she’s determined to make her marriage real.

But will the dark secrets of Falcon Hill continue to keep Haley and Devon apart? What will Haley do when the truth is finally revealed?

EXCERPT

Haley walked to the fireplace. She knelt and laid a fire from the logs and kindling resting next to it. It was a common, routine occurrence in her own home in Ohio. She felt Dev’s gaze burn through her, yet she didn’t turn around to look at him.

Slowly, she picked up one of the long matches and touched it to the kindling. It took several attempts, but finally the fire roared to life, helping to dispel some of the chill and gloom from the library. Then she rose and turned around to face Dev.

“You have to get out of those wet clothes. You’ll catch pneumonia if you stay like that.”

He didn’t look at her, just stared into the fire and took a long swallow from the glass.

She shifted to stand in his direct line of vision. Slowly his gaze lifted to her face.

“Why did you come back?” he said in a rough, hoarse voice.

“I think you know why.”

“I’m not worth it, Haley. Is Nikki with you?”

Haley shook her head. “No, she’s staying with a friend back in Cincinnati. I thought it best.”

After a long moment he nodded. “Yes, you’re right. She shouldn’t be touched by this place. Anyone who comes to this damned house is cursed.”

“Does that include me, Dev? Do you think I’m cursed?”

He leaned forward, and then reached out to stroke a hand over the curve of her hip, trailed his fingers down her silk-clad thigh. It was only now she realized the dampness of the black sheath had the dress clinging to every curve. Even with the chill, she felt the heat of the man. Haley began to shiver, but she couldn’t be certain if it was the aftermath of the dank weather or the closeness of the man.

Like a sleek black panther he unfolded to his feet, their bodies touching as she refused to step back. Thigh against thigh, his hand still clamped to her hip, his fingers stroking over the damp cloth of her dress. He towered over her, his whiskey scented, hot breath feathered across her cheek. She met him stare for stare. Her nipples pebbled, and this time she knew it wasn’t because she was chilled.

He trailed the back of his fingers down the side of her face, across her shoulder and the trembling was not because she was cold. A fire started to build in her belly, crawling down into her vagina, dripping from between her labia lips to drench her panties.

Could Dev really ignore what was between them?

She tilted her head, her lips parted. He lowered his head. She could almost feel the brush of his lips. She inhaled his male scent. Her eyelids fluttered closed.

And she waited. Long moments passed. His hot breath feathered across her skin. Time stopped. It was almost as though she felt the heat of the summer sun on her flesh, like that day on the covered bridge so long ago. She was seventeen once again and she felt new and alive and in love. With this man.

“Leave, Haley. Leave now, before it’s too late.” And then he was gone. Leaving her standing there by herself.

She opened her eyes and turned her head. The only thing she saw was the library door closing. And she was alone.

But she wasn’t seventeen. And she wasn’t going to let him shut her out.

Not this time.

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Nightingale – an excerpt

Nightingale

(#darkfantasy, #angels, #MM, #eroticromance)

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…

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EXCERPT

Annatoly’s blood tasted rich and Fabienne sucked deeply, until Annatoly gently pulled his arm away. Fabienne licked his lips. His emotions evened out.

“Not too much,” Annatoly said.

Fabienne looked up at Annatoly. “Haven’t I paid enough penance for my thirst for vengeance?”

“First we need Geraint’s composition to complete the demands of the cycle. You must face and accept that which has been your vulnerability. You need his music.”

Fabienne rose from the table and cupped Annatoly’s cool cheek. “Summon him to us then. Perhaps it’s only here that he’ll be able to complete his composition. I want this over.”

“Soon enough,” Annatoly answered softly.

Fabienne walked to the window and stared out across the darkened raw volcanic landscape, a gray dawn hovered at the fringes of night. Fabienne recalled how the world had been ready to fall at his feet. At nineteen, his first legitimate appearance on stage using the name Fabienne Brunetto, he had performed at the request of a cardinal of Rome. The night had been perfect. Coin in his pocket, discussion of an engagement in Rome, and a powerful man ready to give Fabienne anything he wanted. Strutting back to the conservatorio after the dinner party, the world his, was when Carlo and his bravos had accosted Fabienne. And his destiny was brutally ripped from him. The last thing he recalled hearing was the echo of ducats spilling from the pockets of his fine blue velvet coat onto the empty streets. But long-awaited vindication would soon be his.

Fabienne removed the hood from the nightingale perched in the golden cage next to the window. “Sing for me, Lodo, sing. Remind me of my youth when I could mimic so well the nocturnal trills of your song. How I envy the perfect instrument of your voice.” The nightingale peered up at Fabienne and then the notes lifted into the silvery sky. So beautiful it brought tears to his eyes. Both the haunting memories and the music.

He felt Annatoly move closer and they watched as the sky grew lighter.

“It’s only through Geraint’s music and your voice combined that this curse binding you both will be broken.” Fate tied them together. Fabienne could have immortality, he could belong to the gios. But in order to heal completely he needed Geraint and that damned composition.

“Damn him and his whole accursed line,” Fabienne said, a guttural cry of deep bitterness.

“Geraint has taken a lover by the name of Dandrae Edmund,” Annatoly said at last.

“And?” Apparently another complication.

Annatoly pressed a kiss to the side of Fabienne’s neck. “It’s believed he’s attached to the Accademia degli Incogniti and that the Incogniti now align themselves with the Diadune. Zabrael thinks that since they can’t kill Geraint, they’ll somehow attempt to influence the music and in that way nullify the ceremony. They know that without the balance—his composition and your words, the exchange cannot be effected successfully.”

“I thought the Incogniti had all died out, especially after the inquisition, not much was heard of them.” The Accademia degli Incogniti, or Academy of the Unknowns, had consisted of prominent citizens of Venice, including historians, poets and librettists who follow Aristotalian teachings toward a disbelief in the immortal soul, grounded instead only in the pleasures of the moment.

“It seems some members have resurfaced. They aren’t as visible as they once were. Zabrael thinks Smopheus has instigated this resurgence. He’ll attempt to use them for his own purposes. Nevertheless, on my visit to Venice to complete the preparations, I’ll see what I can discover about Smopheus’s actions and any resurgence of the Incogniti.”

“You shouldn’t go. It’s too dangerous. Send someone else,” Fabienne said. “Let me accompany you.”

“I must go, and you are safer here surrounded by the Viadine sentries. We can’t trust anyone to deliver this package. The blood of Geraint’s ancestors could never be replaced and all would be lost. I must be certain matters are handled correctly in Venice.”

“I think there’s more that draws you to Venice than the preparations. Ever since Paris I’ve known you were attracted to the composer. Are you in love with him, Annatoly? Have you become infatuated with my enemy?”

 

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Read another excerpt

Come Into My Parlor – an excerpt

Come Into My Parlor

( #erotica #darkromance #mystery #contemporary #MF)

Murder. Will he solve the crime or succumb to the widow’s seduction?

The murder victim had been discovered naked and handcuffed to a bed. Pandora Edwina Willmington was Detective Alex Johnson’s prime suspect. He was certain she was guilty as sin. Coming face to face with the beautiful, sensual suspect fueled far different thoughts than escorting the young, wealthy widow to jail.

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EXCERPT

He mounted the steps and rang the bell. As he waited for someone to answer the door, he turned around to survey the well-manicured grounds. Neatly trimmed shrubs bordered the circular drive; the fountain at the heart of the lush green lawn with the naked statue of Pan spouted a steady stream of clear, bubbling liquid. It was peaceful, serene even, but Alex sensed something about the place – an undercurrent of some sort. A click sounded behind him and he swiveled back toward the entrance.

He hid his surprise as the door was opened by a young, dusky-skinned man neatly dressed in tight black pants, black silk shirt, and shining leather boots. He was a head shorter than Alex’s six-foot frame and his dark eyes surveyed Alex with curiosity.

“Can I help you?” he asked with a hint of Latin shrouding the edges of his question.

Alex whipped out his badge and displayed it to him. He waited patiently while the man studied it, attempting to size him up, figure out his position in the household. He didn’t look like the typical butler for a place like this. A creature from an old monster movie would have fit in here perfectly. This guy, no. He belonged on a movie set, or maybe in a bull ring down in Spain. But he sure didn’t belong in this setting.

But then neither did Pandora Willmington, by his estimation, from all he’d heard about her.

He handed the badge back to Alex and stepped back from the door.

“Was Mrs. Willmington expecting you?” he asked as Alex stepped past him into the marble-floored foyer.

Damn, talk about opulent. He shifted around to face the young man who looked about half his age -maybe nineteen or twenty. “No, she’s not expecting me, but I have a few questions I’d like to ask her if she has time.” He whipped out his notebook and a pen. “By the way, what=s your name and who are you?”

“His name is Arturo and he’s my personal assistant, Detective,” a husky, sensual voice that reeked fuck-me, its effect floating downward landing somewhere in the vicinity of his groin, informed him.

If he’d been anyone else he probably would have swallowed his tongue and someone would have had to call for emergency assistance when he turned to look at the owner of that voice. He should have been prepared. He felt like he=d slammed into a brick wall, and his cock rose hard and fast to attention. Nothing could have prepared him for this hot number. Nothing on this planet.

This had to be the infamous Pandora Willmington. He smoothed his expression, attempted to gain control of his misplaced lust. Mine. It was something that shouldn’t have crossed through his mind. He might want her, more than he=d ever wanted anything in his life -but he couldn’t have her. Too bad if he could taste the want, the need to feel his cock burrowing deep into her cunt. He was here to do a job.

He couldn’t help stroking her with his eyes, and his thoughts. Blonde hair clung to the silk of a satin black robe with oriental markings that draped open revealing pale flesh only superficially hidden beneath a black lace camisole. Long legs, bare, creamy, and smooth, culminated in shapely feet encased in black satin four-inch stilettos. Crimson lips, wet, pouty, sensual, kissable, a half smile of invitation, and bedroom eyes the color of expensive whiskey. Way out of his league. He licked his lips, anticipating the taste of her on his tongue.

One slender hand rested at the curve of the banister where she hovered about mid-way up the sloping staircase. Once she was sure she had his full attention she floated down the remaining steps. Arturo hurried to the foot of the stairs and waited. He clasped her hand when she reached the last few steps and gallantly guided her down to the main floor. She stopped next to him, and Alex could see the nipples of her upthrust breasts vividly outlined, pressing against the silk. His cock throbbed painfully at the front of his pants.

She turned to Arturo and brushed against his side like a female cat in heat. One of her hands drifted around to curl possessively over the hard curve of his ass and Alex saw the muscles tighten beneath the thin black material. Arturo’s eyes smoldered and Alex could almost smell the smoke rising between the two of them. He felt like a voyeur witnessing the lustful exchange – and wanted to join in. Arturo raised her hand to his lips and placed a passionate kiss on her palm. Evidence of his arousal was more than prominently displayed against the front of his tight trousers.

Pandora raised a hand to stroke the side of his face. “Thank you, Arturo. You’re superb,” she purred. She turned to gaze at Alex through slitted eyes. “I’ll handle our guest from here.”

Alex was certain he saw a flicker of something in the young man=s eyes as he released her hand. “As you wish, Mrs. Willmington. If you need me, just ring.” He pivoted around, piercing Alex with a burning, hate-filled looked before he strode from the room.

Alex struggled to remember what he was here for and turned back to study the lethal woman that dripped sex. It was a surprise to him after all this time that his previously benumbed senses allowed him to respond so strongly. His ex-wife had done quite a number on him and he=d had a hard time evincing the least glimmer of interest in pursuing another relationship. Until today.

What role did Arturo really play in her life? Had he possibly resented the appearance of Korvanti? Had he been the one to kill him in a jealous rage? That young man harbored a lot of intense emotion below the surface. Or had he followed an order from the mistress of the house by disposing of a problem she wanted gone?

Something to think about. He filed it away.

 

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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.

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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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