Beneath the Broken Moon: Season One
Carmela struggles to choose between the alpha werewolf she's destined for and the vampire she's enchanted by, but the wrong decision could lead to deadly consequences…
Werewolf relationships are all about influence and offspring, especially as the species is becoming extinct. Carmela Santiago resents that type of life. She dreams of falling in love and being happy, not following the dismal example her parents have set.
When sensual vampire Derek Ashmore rescues her from dangerous hunters, she tumbles head over heels for him. Not a wise decision since werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies.
Meeting her caring mate-to-be Brendan Kelly has her further questioning the future. Regardless, her life has forever changed now that she's met not one, but two men who pull at her heartstrings…
Bullets peppered the big screen of the Teatro de la Noche. Screams rang out around me, and I dropped to the floor, pulling my cousin Chandra down with me. Tension ached in my shoulders, and my heart pounded in my chest like a trapped animal, desperate to escape.
Gunpowder stung my sensitive nose, but through the overpowering scent, I caught a whiff of a hunter heading our way. “Chandra, we have to move.”
If Chandra and I didn’t get out of here we’d end up dead—or worse, test subjects for the Cazador—human hunters ordered to scour the land of nocturnes by the plutocratic government.READ MORE
“How? They’re all around us.” Chandra peeked over the seats before dropping back down beside me. “A few of them are chasing down those who ran from the first assault, but two more are heading straight for us.” She ran a manicured hand through her honey-brown hair, which was only a shade darker than my own. “Come on. I have a plan. Let’s try to sneak out the side door.” She crawled in the opposite direction, down the row of seats.
The sight of my cousin’s butt cheeks hanging out of her short skirt filled my vision; some things were better left unseen. I lowered my gaze, particularly since Chandra had forgone panties. She almost always held herself with an air of power and purpose. Perhaps that’s what it took to get attention from other werewolves. Chandra got it in heaps, but her lower social status stopped a lot of relationships.
While it was a horrible time to second-guess my modest fashion sense, I couldn’t help wonder if I should take a lesson from my cousin. My own blouse and dark blue jeans had much less pizzazz. But I doubted my father would allow me to dress like Chandra; we had a privileged image to uphold.
I bit my lip, struggling to turn my thoughts back to the problem at hand. This was all too much. How could we get out of here unscathed when the roar of gunfire continued to close in?
We reached the end of the aisle. Chandra moved to glance over the seat, when a shout came from the opposite end, startling us both.
“Run, Chandra!” I barely kept my voice to a whisper.
She sprinted toward the bright red exit sign at the front of the theater, and I chased after her, trying to keep my pace natural though her long legs made it challenging. Maybe if they suspected we weren’t nocturnes, they’d leave us alone.
The stomping of heavy boots on the theater’s plush carpets said otherwise. Then again, they weren’t opposed to taking their fellow humans down too. The very rich in power thrived on oppressing those less fortunate. What better way to keep the populace down than to have their thugs strike whenever possible.
“We should split up.” Chandra shoved a heavy trashcan in front of the door, but that wouldn’t be much of an obstacle to the pseudo-military bastards.
“What?” I couldn’t believe my ears. “No way. If we do that, we’ll—” The trashcan scraped the cement as the hunters tried to open the door. Maybe she was right. If we were together, there was a better chance of them catching us both. Alone, we might survive the night.
I nodded to her, and we took off in opposite directions down the alleyway behind the Teatro. The door slammed open, smacking the wall hard, as I turned the corner and headed toward the main street. I had to find somewhere to hide out before the hunters spotted me again.
In front of me, another group of Cazador chased a few werewolves down the main road. I slowed to keep my distance from them, but if I didn’t get somewhere fast, they were going to catch me. Ugh. As much as I loved getting out of the house and going to the movies, I wished I’d listened to my instincts tonight and stayed home.
Two sets of feet pounded the sidewalk behind me. Perhaps they’d spotted me before I reached the corner.
I picked up speed a little, pumping my arms as I struggled to keep to a human speed while staying out of range. The temptation to race through the streets nearly drove me to action, but I glanced back, seeing my pursuers for the first time.
One of the men had greying hair and a rounded belly, which explained the slower, heavier footfalls, while the other guy appeared younger and super-athletic. No wonder I was having trouble getting away. If he hadn’t been so scary, he might’ve been attractive. Pure masculine aggression raged through him, tensing his shoulders as his gaze focused solely on me, his prize. Each man carried a large-caliber handgun. I was just glad they were too busy running to try to shoot me...for now, at least.
My sandal hit an uneven patch of concrete in the sidewalk. My body lurched forward, but I caught myself before I could go down. I should’ve been paying more attention to the street. Up ahead on the opposite side of the road, I spotted a dark alleyway running alongside a row house. If I cut through, I could safely turn up the speed without exposing myself, and lose them.
The older hunter slowed; his breathing had become increasingly labored. He cocked his revolver’s hammer, and I darted across the empty road, making a beeline for the alley. The last thing I wanted tonight was to see Dr. Matthews. Just a little bit farther. A bullet smacked the ground at my feet, hitting me with fragments of pavement. I bit back a yelp, not wanting to give them the satisfaction of knowing my fear.
“I got this one, old kook,” the younger hunter grumbled, and his footsteps slowed too.
Another gunshot pierced the hazy night air. White-hot pain rocked my shoulder, nearly toppling me to the ground. I screamed, unable to hold it in, and picked up speed, no longer caring if I appeared human or not. The faint creak of a door barely registered before a pair of arms wrapped around my waist, jerking me inside the dark row house.
My rescuer softly shut the door, careful not to make a sound, and shoved a hand over my mouth. “Sshhh,” he whispered. “I won’t hurt you. You’re safe.” His voice was deep, with an English accent. He pulled me away from the door and hunched down in the darkened room, holding me close, waiting and listening.COLLAPSE
The Leopard Who Claimed A Wolf
When a wolf loves a leopard…
He’s her protector...
Caitlyn Fraser, a wereleopard who has always hated cruel werewolves, is the former prisoner turned mate of Dougal Sterling, Alpha of the Scottish pack. She’s courting jeopardy with her determination to attend the funeral of her brother’s father, since the Pack blames her for Alistair’s death. But still Dougal protects her from his wolves.
Short of allies, Dougal struggles to balance loyalty and attention between the Pack and Caitlyn. When the Pack’s stability crumbles, he’s faced with the return of his older brother, the rightful Alpha, who shirked his duty after their father’s death. However, Ewan’s challenge will be a battle to the death. Sheltering Caitlyn can only lose Dougal more friends, but he knows she’s the mate he’s longed for.
But survival takes two...
Menace lurks in every corner of the Highlands; Alistair and Ewan’s supporters and haters of shapeshifters abound. Caitlyn and Dougal must stick together, pushing back fiercely when they are attacked. Even if that puts them in mortal danger…
The driveway leading up to the Scottish Pack’s massive headquarters stretched almost half a mile. I rested my chin on my arms and stared out of the Alpha’s window on the second story, overlooking the circular section of the drive. The Pack’s castle came complete with its very own dungeon, but at least they weren’t keeping me in there anymore. Alistair’s craggy face loomed over me every time I closed my eyes, his fists hammering against my face, ribs, and stomach.
Tension radiated through my shoulders, and I balled my hands into fists. No, Alistair—Colin’s father—was dead. Dougal had protected me, and my brother, from that monster when I didn’t have the strength to fight back.
Not that it mattered.READ MORE
Two days had passed since my brother’s sudden departure. Now Colin was on his own, without anyone to watch his back. How could he leave without saying anything to me? I flexed my fists again, welcoming the anger as it bubbled up in my chest and replaced my sadness.
The heavy weight of a man’s hand descended on my back. I twisted around, my knuckles connecting with a solid jaw lined with dark, coarse stubble. A familiar jaw. Shite.
Dougal stumbled back half a step, but then he planted his feet like a tree with strong roots, not budging any further. Sharp power flared outward from him before he squelched it, stretching the muscles in his jaw. A frown tugged at his lips, and the corners of his eyes creased, either in pain or displeasure.
“Dougal! I’m so sorry.” The sudden movement of punching him had shot a searing ache through my battered ribs again. The pain stole my breath away, but I tried to force it down. How could I have been so careless? If he’d been anyone else in the Pack, I would’ve caused World War III.
“Dinnae fash. The punch bloody well hurt, though. I didn’t realize you were so strong.” Dougal’s frown melted away as he pulled me closer and pressed a kiss to my forehead. “Seems like you’re recovering your strength.” His gaze drifted past me to the long gravel driveway of the estate. “How are you doing, love?”
The emotions I’d been stomping down now came bubbling up to the surface again. “I cannae believe Colin left me. He left before I even regained consciousness. How could he?” With anyone else, I wouldn’t show weakness, but I rested my forehead against Dougal’s chest, needing his touch and savoring his warmth. “I barely got a chance to talk with him, and when I did, it wasn’t a good time to ask how he was doing after the months he’d spent in that bloody research facility—or even to ask where he was going to go to heal…”
Tears welled in my eyes, but I held them back, refusing to cry. “I gave up so much—my job, my flat, my life—while trying to track him down and bring him home. What if my sacrifices were all for naught?”
“Nae, they weren’t for naught, love.” Dougal kissed the top of my head. “I know you’re hurting. You have plenty of reasons to be, but the man who came back wasn’t the same one who left for the United States.” He lifted my chin, forcing me to see the sincerity in his clear blue eyes. “Whatever those scientists did affected him in ways neither of us will likely ever know. Waiting at the window won’t make him return any sooner.” He wrapped his arms around me and gently pulled me against his chest again. “Let me draw you a bath. Remember, I’m here if you need to talk.”
He was right, even if I didn’t want to admit it. Waiting at the window for Colin’s return wouldn’t help, but what else could I do? “I know, but that doesn’t make this any easier for me. He’s my younger brother. I feel helpless that I cannae be there for him…again.” A heavy ached settled on my heart, and I pulled away hating the awkward emotions crushing me. “Sorry.”
Dougal turned away from me and stared out of the window again. His jaw clenched and unclenched, as if he were trying hard to hold in his words. A lot was going on in his life too, and yet he was making a strong effort to support me through my problems. Things had become increasingly strained between him and his Pack since my arrival and Duncan and Alistair’s subsequent deaths. He didn’t talk about what he faced, and I didn’t want to pressure him.
After a few moments of silence, he released a sigh and turned back toward me. “You’ve done what you could for him, lass.” The ghost of a grin spread across his lips. “Would you still like the bath?”
I couldn’t help but nod. When I’d awakened from unconsciousness, Dougal had been there for me. We’d made love, and he brought me to new heights of pleasure. We also became intimately acquainted with the fancy Jacuzzi bathtub that could likely fit three or four humans…or one big, scary werewolf. The perks of being mated to the Alpha of the Scottish Pack.
“Aye, a bath sounds delish.” I wrapped my arms around his waist, bringing him back to me and drawing in his musky lupine scent. “Thanks for the talk. I really wish I could’ve spoken with him before he left. It would’ve made me feel better about him going.”
“Love, I talked with him before he left.” He trailed his fingertips over my back in light, soothing strokes. “If I wasn’t confident that he presented no danger to others, I wouldn’t have let him go. He would’ve stayed here whether he favored the idea or not.” The muscles in his lower back tensed beneath my touch, and his hand paused over my spine.
Something didn’t feel right. I lifted my gaze to meet Dougal’s. Was he not telling me something? We hadn’t known each other for long, but my sharp, feline instincts knew when someone told an untruth. He wasn’t outright lying to me, but he was holding something back. What could it be?
I bit my lower lip, instantly regretting it as my teeth sank into one of the nearly healed spots where Alistair had punched me in the face. Instead of confronting Dougal, I turned my attention toward the window. “You would tell me if he was dangerous to himself, wouldn’t you?”
“Aye, I would.” His tone of voice wasn’t as convincing as I’d wanted. He leaned away, putting me at arm’s length. “Enough of that, I suppose. I’ll draw the bath for you.” Without another word, he strode to the en-suite bathroom. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides all the way. The door snapped shut behind him, and he started the water running a few moments later.
Nausea churned inside me, and I held my stomach. Should I actually believe Dougal? Something about his words didn’t feel right. The Jacuzzi tub would take a few minutes to fill, and I needed to get out of this bloody bedroom and away from him. The strain of standing there and trying to keep myself calm was becoming too much.
My stomach growled, and I glanced up at the round wrought-iron clock on the wall. It was almost one o’clock in the afternoon.
Many of the werewolves didn’t like that their Alpha was mating with a wereleopard, so I usually skipped the mealtime rushes in an attempt to keep my distance. It wasn’t easy, because several of the wolves lived here in this honest-to-God castle full time. Apparently, that was how many Packs operated. The thought boggled my mind. How did they stand to be around one another all the time? How would I survive being the sole feline in this house full of wolves?
Every urge for solitude within me roared to run as fast and as far away from this place as I could. Too much held me here, though. Besides, if Colin returned from his trip, I wanted to be around to greet him. Maybe throttle him, too, but it’d be a greeting nonetheless…
I slid my leather jacket on over the white tank top, not wanting to reveal too much bruised skin, then headed for the kitchen to grab some leftovers. Dougal had tried to convince me to eat with him and everyone else. He wanted me to get to know the wolves and socialize. Getting friendly with the Pack might be a nice idea, but I couldn’t do it. Not with how his Pack watched me when they thought I wasn’t looking. Even Dougal’s second-in-command wasn’t a fan of mine. The sentiment was mutual, really. For as long as I could remember, I’d hated werewolves. One of my main reasons would soon be resting six feet underground. Their hatred of me for Alistair’s death just added to my reluctance to get to know them.
Shaking away those thoughts, I turned the corner to enter the kitchen. If my sharp feline reflexes hadn’t kicked in, I would’ve run straight into a towering werewolf. I leapt back at the last minute to prevent Kerr from spilling his plate of food. The already agonizing ache in my side intensified from moving so quickly, but I kept my arms at my sides and my face neutral.
“Afternoon, lass. Ye look like yer recoverin’ well.” Kerr nodded, looking more than a little curiously at me.
“Thanks, Kerr. I’m trying.” I flashed him an uncomfortable smile, then edged past the broad, barrel-chested man into the kitchen. Maybe he wasn’t as bad as the others, but I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling that he strongly disagreed with Dougal’s decision to mate with me.
Kerr placed a heavy hand on my shoulder. My spine stiffened, and I tightly gripped the sleeves of my jacket to keep from swinging on him too. “Keep tryin’, then.” His deep voice rumbled through the kitchen. I glanced pointedly at his hand, but he didn’t move it. “Sooner or later ye need to overcome yer fear, hatred, or whatever it is ye feel toward my kind. If ye cannae, ye won’t last long here, lass.” With that, he walked toward the massive grand hall down the corridor, where the wolves held their meetings and ate.
My shoulders slumped. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so hungry, but my leopard still needed to be fed. We couldn’t skip any more meals. It hindered our healing process and weakened us too much. Right now, I couldn’t afford weakness, not while I was amongst a pack of wolves.
If only I didn’t have to be constantly looking over my shoulder with the Pack but such was life for now.
Shite. I didn’t have much time before Dougal noticed I was gone.
The leftovers were neatly arranged on the clean counter top. There wasn’t much food left, but I grabbed a bag of crisps and one of the last club sandwiches. One of the female wolves—Mairi, I think—ran a catering company, so she always brought by food to keep the Pack well fed. She was one of the nicer wolves.
Instead of following Kerr toward the dining room, where I was sure to find the rowdy werewolves laughing and talking, I remained in the kitchen. I sat on the counter farthest away from the entrance, hidden from anyone who might walk by.
As I finished up my sandwich, footsteps in the hall became louder as someone approached the kitchen. The sound of soft sniffing tensed every muscle in my body, then Dougal stepped into the room. His gaze slid over me, and desire darkened his blue eyes.
“Your bath is ready. If I’d known you were hungry, I would’ve brought something earlier when I ate.”
I shrugged a shoulder. “It’s all right. I’m eating now.”
“Aye, so you are.” He looked down the hallway as if checking to make sure no one else was near. When he turned back to me, he wore a frown that creased the corners of his lips and eyes. “You shouldn’t be in here all alone, love. Things are tense right now within the Pack. Let’s go back to the bedroom.”
I tilted my chin up, not in the mood to be bossed around again. “I’m not alone. You’re here.” I opened the bag of crisps and munched on one.
His nostrils flared, and he crossed his arms over his broad chest. The move might’ve been scary as hell if it wasn’t him doing it. “That’s not the point. Come on.”
Bloody hell. First I’d been his prisoner in the cage, and now I’d become a prisoner in his bedroom. Not in a fun way, either. Why was this happening?
I clenched my fists, crushing a few of my crisps as tears burned in my eyes, but I refused to let them show. The flood of emotions I’d experienced over the past week was becoming too much to all push down at once. As soon as I dealt with certain fears or emotions, others popped up to take their place, like some horrible version of whack-a-mole.
Life just wasn’t fair. All I’d wanted to do was return to Scotland to be here for my brother. In that time, I’d been reintroduced to a childhood nightmare, imprisoned in a dungeon, and now I was the prisoner/mate of a werewolf Alpha. When would the roller coaster end?
Dougal crossed the space between us in a few long strides. He pulled me from the counter into his arms.
A feline hiss ripped from my throat, sounding every bit as feral as I felt. Once again, anger rescued me from my moodiness. “Set me down this minute!”COLLAPSE
The Thief’s Gambit
A thief working for a local mob boss gambles everything...all for the chance to love his boss’s daughter.
Timothy Sands is an experienced thief with an old gambling debt. Working for the local mob brings him face to face with a supernatural threat unlike anything he's ever experienced. It’ll take all of his skills to complete his assignment and keep his loved ones safe. But his greatest danger will be meeting the mob boss's daughter.
Letizia Prosdocimi is the only daughter of an influential crime boss. Her life forever changes when her father acquires a long-lost family heirloom. Not all is well since sinister events surround the amulet and her family. After being saved by the mysterious thief, she finds herself falling for him, but those who get too close to her usually wind up dead.
A shadowy entity threatens to tear apart everything Letizia and Timothy hold dear by feeding on the living and turning allies against them. Who can they trust? Only by working together will they have a chance to beat the odds…and let their love grow.
Vibrations on the nightstand shattered the last few moments of my sleep. The dark night peered from the curtains. I cursed under my breath. There was little point in fighting to reunite with sleep’s warm embrace. London didn’t sleep, and neither did those who required my services.
I picked up my mobile phone and cleared my throat before answering, despite the fact it would do little to hide my grogginess from the caller. An unknown number popped up on the screen, but only a handful of people would ring me at this ungodly hour. A grimace spread across my lips as I answered the call.READ MORE
“Good evening, Timothy. We have another assignment for you, one that requires your immediate attention. If you take this, we might be willing to overlook your lack of payment last week.” The man’s dry, lackluster voice had a crisp accent. He’d never given me his name, never shared many details about my assignments either. He merely brought them to my attention and made sure I paid my debt.
Hallmarks of the city’s darker elements were all too obvious, but what could I do? I owed the local mob boss more than I cared to admit. My old gambling habit had my back pressed tight against the wall, and I still paid for my wild and reckless youth.
“I’ll do it,” I replied, and the unnamed man on the other end of the line hung up.
Now I’d log into various websites and search for public postings in the adult and other less savory sections. Missed connections were very popular with my clients, but risky assignments were something my clientele didn’t want to be associated with. Probably had something to do with recent notices about various three-letter agencies cracking down on this type of communication, driving everyone back to using older, tried and true methods.
I grabbed a cup of coffee before firing up my laptop. When the computer finished loading, I opened the browser and set off to find details on my newest job. It didn’t take long to locate the assignment.
An old lady wanted the company of a young man who had previously helped her in a museum. Apparently, she had been quite taken by the gentleman’s knowledge of the exhibit, especially the old Italian necklace that had been on display.
I chuckled to myself, still shaking the last vestiges of sleep from my mind. So, this ‘old lady’ wanted ‘help’ with the necklace, huh? Not very subtle, but if it made my clients feel more at ease that I’d understand the job… However, I hoped the person who created the listing would be less cheesy next time.
I flagged the posting as fraud and logged out.
My client would get an email notice about being flagged, the sign I had taken the job. No one would be the wiser. No face-to-face meetings to discuss things beforehand, strict anonymity, and, most importantly, full deniability.
A generalized search on the museums in the area revealed only one matching entry based on the item’s description, the Royal Museum of Art. Good. At least there would be no confusion about what the client wanted. Nothing frustrated me more than stealing the wrong item. A mistake I tried my hardest not to make ever again.
On second thought, I rang my brother Sam. It nearly went to voicemail when he answered with his typical gruff tone. “What is it?”
A slight sting of jealousy tightened my chest. He’d been up enjoying his Saturday night, but I no longer had that luxury.
“Hey, Sam. I just wanted to let you know I got another job. My client wants an Italian artifact appraised as soon as possible. Seems he can’t wait until tomorrow. It looks like I won’t be making it to breakfast. Can I catch up with you another time?” I hoped he’d buy into my bullshit about the job. He respected what he thought I did. If he only knew…
Missing our weekly get-together bothered me. Our time to catch up on one another’s lives had stuck when I’d moved out on my own.
“Seriously, mate? You’re always hunting for one piece of art or another. Some things are better left buried.” He sighed in my ear. “But you’ve got a job to do. Just be careful. That major explosion wasn’t long ago, and I’m afraid for our country. The MI6 agent still hasn’t been found. He’s most likely dead, or maybe terrorists abducted him. If it can happen to someone like that…” Sam cleared his throat. “Anyway, you can pick up the check next week.” His dry humor almost managed to hide his disappointment, but I knew him too well.
“Fair, I’ll pay for breakfast next time.” I ran a hand through my sleep-tousled hair. “Don’t worry about me. I might not be MI6, but I know how to take care of myself.” My skills had kept me alive while dealing with the mob, but my brother didn’t need to know that. “As for my job, I’ll slow down when I can. I promise.”
“Right. Text me if things change.” He let out a loud yawn.
Unfortunately, I doubted they would. “Get some sleep.” I ended the call and set my mobile on the desk.
Sam didn’t know about my nightly excursions. The less he knew about the darker side of our world, the better. Our parents had died when we were young. Night terrors and mental issues plagued Sam ever since. If he knew I was working on the other side of the law, he’d lose it.
The explosion that took place a few weeks ago returned to my mind.
While driving home after lunch, a building ahead of us had exploded into flames. I barely had a chance to slam on the brakes. Debris plastered the windshield, putting several cracks in it. Sam went white with shock, shaking uncontrollably and refusing to speak with anyone for the rest of the day. It had broken me to see him like that.
I couldn’t let him suffer again, but if I didn’t do my job, the mob might come after him. They knew he was my one weakness. I shelved the uncomfortable thoughts and packed a few supplies into my backpack.
My old, reliable Toyota sputtered as the engine came to life. Most of my neighbors were used to my odd hours, so this departure would be ignored as another student partying late into the night. Sometimes I was glad to live near a university.
The motorway was empty at this time of night, but a dense fog rolling through the area forced me to slow down. An annoyance maybe, but I embraced its presence. It reminded me just how much we didn’t see of the real world.
I pulled into an unlit corner of the museum’s parking lot. The street lamps did nothing to penetrate the fog, which would help me make a clean escape. The museum grounds had a few exhibits tied to the Italian Renaissance, including a collection of marble statues. They were obviously replicas, but their finely sculpted silhouettes managed to portray an air of authenticity.
Stalking through the mists was invigorating, and I relished the moment. The fog would help conceal my shape from any cameras and guards on the property, but it was better to be safe. I slid into my gear and donned a gray and white leather mask. It was old school, but at least I didn’t need to worry about it falling off if I had to sprint through the trees to my car.
Sweeping trails of light shone across the yard from me. Instead of illuminating anything, the cone of light likely made it impossible for the guards to see anything in the fog.
Typical. Guess that’s why I’m the thief.
Along the side of the building, I located a set of utility boxes high on the wall. They might have been difficult to reach without a ladder, and impossible for an ordinary thief to exploit. That was why my employers enjoyed my services. I was far from common.COLLAPSE
The Assassin’s Mark
An assassin becomes a protector as he enters a magical world…all for the woman of his dreams.
Brigit Ó Ruaidh is the sole heir to the Kingdom of Freehaven. While journeying to visit a lord, she learns her royal parents have been murdered...and she’s next. With assassins after her, she tries to prevent her kingdom from falling into anarchy. As she sets her eyes on the throne, her world gets turned upside down when she’s rescued by a dangerous man.
Edward Emerson is an assassin. His job is to kill those who bring death and suffering to his world. When he finds himself in another world protecting a princess he’s seen in his dreams, he vows to move heaven and earth to keep her safe. In return, he hopes to find his way back home.
Another claimant to the throne blocks their way, and he will risk everything to make his mark on Freehaven and carve out power of his own. If Brigit and Edward don’t work together, they won’t live long enough to see her reclaim her destiny...or for their love to blossom.
A gentle fog rolled over the lands making the afternoon sun’s glow slightly hazy. The light played off the towering mountains with its jagged white peaks dominating the truly majestic scenery. Despite the warmth radiating from my surroundings, I still couldn’t relax. Something had been bothering me for the past few hours, but my guards and my maid seemed at ease. If I said anything, they might report to my parents that I was trying to shirk my diplomatic duties again. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I kept my mouth shut.
The wind carried the unmistakable scent of the region’s revitalized forest. It did little to soothe my nerves now. The small group of royal bodyguards mingled around me as we let the horses rest. They’d brought us far into the countryside, and I refused to make the precious animals suffer because a lord was impatiently waiting for his princess to arrive.READ MORE
Lord Flemming was my cousin thrice removed. Father had convinced me to visit him since Lord Flemming was the only noble with strong fortifications on this side of the vast Alean Swamp in the Kingdom of Freehaven. The swamp had been a massive river once. Now it stood as a testament for the wrath and arrogance of past rulers before my ancestors claimed the land as their own.
History wasn’t my strongest subject, but my mind kept returning to those dark ages. Tales of mad kings and queens that bathed in the blood of their servants had been a curiosity of mine growing up. The Alean Swamp was the only thing that remained from those days. It was a natural habitat and protected by the king. Criminals and outcasts called it their home, but many didn’t last more than a few years in there.
My guards broke out into laughter, and I glanced in their direction, trying to catch what was so funny. Truthfully, I didn’t care. I just wanted this trip to be over with so I could return to my parents and enjoy the remaining time I had with them. They were grooming me to find a husband of my own, but I wasn’t ready for that next step in my life. They had been patient, but I wanted something like they had. Something true and passionate. How could I get that from an arranged marriage?
My stomach clenched, and a wave of nausea rose up within me. Could that be the true reason why I was visiting my cousin? Had they decided who I would spend the rest of my life with without telling me first? Would I be the last to know?
Tabitha hurried to my side, always eager to help. “Are you okay, Your Highness?”
I nodded, placing my hands over my abdomen as the sickening sensations continued. The last thing I wanted was attention on me. “Please, you don’t have to be that formal out here.” It didn’t matter what I said. She always erred on the side of formality. “I’m fine.”
She opened her mouth to say more, but I drew my eyebrows together and scowled at her.
“How much longer, Sir Alan?” I asked the stocky knight and my former teacher who had become my right-hand man during my journey across Freehaven.
Sir Alan normally donned heavy plate armor and wielded a mighty broadsword, but he wore chain mail and carried a short sword now. He looked so different and out of his element, but he projected a strength that would make any bandit think twice before attacking us. “The horses will be rested in half an hour, Your Highness.” He bowed his head to me. “The soft land here isn’t kind to the horses. We can’t push them nearly as hard as when we are on solid ground,” he said, his baritone voice carrying easily in the fresh air.
“I understand. Thank you.” I walked away from the group with my maid trailing after me. I was tired of being looked after like some precious jewel. At home, I enjoyed my suite of rooms and spent much time reading and learning about my people. When the day finally came for me to take over, I wanted to be the leader this kingdom needed.
In the distance, the Alean Swamp stretched out before us. It had an air of darkness and mystery. The commoners told of witches who had abandoned their ways and preyed on the villages at the swamp’s edge. Even my royal bodyguards seemed more on edge and stuck closer to the horses whenever we took breaks. The landscape made this journey quite slow.
My advisors had recommended taking the popular route across the mainland bridges, but that would have taken weeks. The constant buzz of mosquitoes was an annoyance, but it was better than dealing with the pomp and socializing I’d have to do on the normal road. I’d insisted on the less traveled shortcut that would take a mere seven days. None of the group had been pleased with my decision. Sir Alan’s face had gone bright red, and I’d thought he might pass out for a moment. He did his best to talk me out of my decision, but I remained steadfast. If I needed to visit my cousin, we would take as little time as possible doing it.
Still, I wasn’t stupid. I knew the quiet route guaranteed anonymity, but it brought its own share of danger. However, I wanted to be myself and not just Freehaven’s princess. The outdoors gave me a glimpse of freedom, and like the fresh breeze, it was utterly welcome. I didn’t even mind that I had to wear a heavy cloak to mask my identity and “ensure my safety.” How crazy was that?
No one had threatened the nobility for decades. The general mood of the middle and lower classes was contented. Outside of our realm, we had no political opponents that I was aware of. All of our neighbors had a long-lasting peace with us. The only thing this cloak protected me from was the barrage of insects. Not that I minded. I swatted one away as it buzzed near my ear.
The distant sound of beating hoofs drew my attention toward the direction we’d come. Tabitha gingerly led me back to the bodyguards who were staring at the now visible newcomer. The man and his horse both bore the royal colors. My knees shook, and I held on tighter to Tabitha than normal.
“Looks like a messenger from the royal court, Your Highness.” Sir Alan’s voice sounded grim even to my own ears. “Perhaps there’s news from home.”
I didn’t trust myself to speak. I could only nod. The knot in my stomach balled up that much tighter, and I focused on breathing in the crisp, fresh air. My parents rarely sent word to me while I was traveling. The few times they had, there had been problems. If they were doing so now, it couldn’t be good. Why had I let them talk me into traveling again?
“Don’t look so concerned, princess. I’m sure all is well.” Sir Alan strode away from the rest of us toward the incoming horseman. Before he could make it far, the messenger cried out in a loud voice, “They’re dead. The king and queen are dead.”
The words punched me in the gut, and my legs gave out. Before I knew what was happening, the ground hurtled toward me, but Tabitha’s firm grip lessened the impact.
When my vision cleared, I blinked my eyes open to see Tabitha and Sir Alan hovering over me. “Wh-what happened? Why am I on the ground?”
Tears trailed down Tabitha’s face, and I swore I saw moisture in Sir Alan’s eyes. Dread washed over me. It was true then. I hadn’t imagined the messenger’s news. His voice still rang out in my ears, and I pushed into a sitting position to see him talking with the knights near the horses.
“Maybe you should rest for a moment, Your Highness.” Sir Alan exchanged a glance with Tabitha who was trying to keep me on the ground. “You just received terrible news. Your blessed parents…” Tabitha leaned her head forward and brushed the tears from her cheeks.
“What happened to them? Sir Alan? You have to let me know.”
He frowned at me, keeping his gaze averted. “As Tabitha mentioned, there’s news of your parents. They…” He paused for a moment and let out a breath. “They’ve been murdered. Goddess rest their souls.”
At his words, I ceased my struggling to climb to my feet. It didn’t feel worth it anymore. Nothing did. Numbness settled into my chest, and I turned my gaze skyward. How could the goddess betray us like this? My parents were devout and loyal followers, always mindful to follow her ways and provide a good example to the kingdom. If they were murdered…what good was it to try to appease her if bad things happened regardless of my parents’ fair actions?
“Y-your Highness?” Tabitha placed a tentative hand on my arm and shook me a little as if I’d fallen asleep. No, I was very much aware of what had been said.
“Leave me for a moment.” If I was going to deal with people, I needed to collect myself. If I’d learned anything, it was to always show strength as a royal leader. People looked for signs of weakness. “Once I’m ready, we will set off for my cousin’s stronghold at once.”
Tabitha opened her mouth as if to question my order, but she quickly stood and walked a few paces away.
Sir Alan, on the other hand, leveled a stare at me as he rose to his feet. “Stay strong, princess. Your kingdom relies on you now. We will find out who killed them, but you must remember that sometimes life takes us in unexpected directions.” He shook his head. “Perhaps this is yours. It’s up to you to decide what you to do with it.”
I clenched my hands into fists at my sides beneath the heavy cloak. “Perhaps.”
“I’ll ready the horses then. We can’t push them too heavily, but they’ll have to bear it for now.” He started to turn away, then glanced back at me. “You’re already making wise decisions. It’s better that we ride for your cousin than returning home until we’ve assessed the situation. Your cousin has enough troops and a sturdy castle more than capable of protecting you.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t plan on staying with Lord Flemming for long. I will return home to reap vengeance on the person or persons responsible for the deaths of Freehaven’s king and queen.” Since it didn’t seem like I’d be getting the moment to myself, I pushed to my feet. He’d viewed my plans of seeing my cousin as more strategically than I had meant them to be. My desires had been the comfort of court and the information found within. Regardless, we were sitting ducks here, ripe for killing. My knees still shook, but I pushed my shoulders back and lifted my chin trying to think of how my mother would’ve acted in this situation.
Sir Alan merely bowed his head before turning away and returning to the group of knights and our horses. The other guards were staring in my direction as they spoke in low voices. That made it all even worse. They were either trying to protect my feelings or talk about me without me hearing their words. Regardless, I didn’t care what they thought now.
I’d have enough of people talking about me in front of my face when I reached my cousin. I faced away from the group as if looking out over the majestic mountains and merely focused on breathing until Sir Alan called out to the group about our imminent departure. The only thing I could do was carry on as my parents had taught me. They had ruled the land long before I was born. With their training, I knew what to do. Now I just needed to act.COLLAPSE
Pam Louis on Amazon wrote:
If this is any indication of what the Skeleton Key collection has to offer, I feel a new addiction coming. I have been a fan of Sarah Makela for some time and this certainly did not disappoint.
WOW this was an awesome read! I loved the mystery and adventure in this story with great characters. So much fun to read.
The Selkie Who Loved A Wolf
Love heals even the deepest wounds…
The wounded werewolf…
After being held in captivity by scientists for months, Colin Fraser needs rest and recuperation. The Scottish Highlands offer him the perfect place to get much-needed distance from the world and repair the bond with his inner beast.
The selkie’s search…
Unna Mikkelsen is being urged to mate with a selkie man she doesn’t care for. But she’ll never forget how, as a young girl, she saw her mother taken by a fisherman. Knowing she must make her peace with the world above the waves, she leaves the deep for dry land—even though this means she’s putting herself into danger.
The power of immortal love…
When Colin notices Unna in the pub, he realizes there’s more to her than meets the eye. But he fights his feelings for her—how can a wolf as broken as he is have a relationship? Little does he know Unna will need him when her pelt is stolen by a fisherman, causing her to relive her childhood trauma. Or how much he’ll need her too, because only her love can heal his wounds…
Almost a week had passed since the Southeastern Pack had rescued me from that bloody research facility. Memories of being locked in a cage and prodded with needles like some science experiment still haunted me. As much as I tried, my thoughts continually returned to the horror I’d gone through. Chad Fitzroy had been generous to let me leave even though his father, the Pack’s Alpha, wanted all available werewolves on guard in case they faced retaliation from whoever was behind that hellhole. From what I’d heard, no one was certain whether the government had led the project or if it had been a group of mad scientists. When I’d been there, they hadn’t said much within my hearing. I hadn’t really cared who was in charge because I was sure I wouldn’t live long enough for it to matter.READ MORE
My hands trembled as I took another swig of Scotch ale, despite it being seven o’clock in the morning. I’d hoped getting away from the world would make my problems easier to cope with, but I was at my breaking point. Alcohol dulled my pain and lessened my worries. It didn’t stop them, though. Every time I closed my eyes, I relived the terror of being locked up in that damned cage. None of this—the alcohol, the stress, the nightmares—helped the incredibly shaky control I had over my wolf. If I didn’t regain my composure soon, I feared I would become more beast than man. The scariest part was I’d seen a Pack member go rogue before. The Scottish Pack had killed the wolf to protect our secret, and also to let the beast finally have solace. I pushed those thoughts aside, not wanting to dwell on what could happen if I didn’t get my act together.
Silence weighed on the cottage like a thick blanket. My ears perked at each soft sound. The idyllic daydream I’d had of renewing the bond with my beast seemed to drift farther and farther away. How could I relax when it was hard enough to just breathe? For months on end, I’d stayed alert and on edge, always watching and waiting for some bastard in a lab coat to hurt me. Regardless of the distance, I didn’t feel much different now. Being away from civilization—for the most part—in the peaceful Scottish Highlands seemed surreal. I wondered if the quiet and calm were worse for my nerves than the bustle of Edinburgh had been.
The cottage I’d rented was a fair bit from the nearest village’s sparse population. I’d planned this trip to give me a good shot at taming my beast without too many bystanders. The last thing I needed was to be the reason werewolves were revealed to the world at large. If anyone found out what I was, I’d have to kill them, and if I did, I greatly feared for my humanity. Would my wolf finally take over? Would the Pack…
Leaning back in the kitchen chair, I pressed the cool, dark-brown bottle of ale to my forehead, trying to get myself under control. Deep breaths… I took a few calming breaths, then gulped down some more ale. My racing heart rate steadied. I placed the bottle back on the table, but I didn’t take my hand away from the comfort of its presence.
Coming home to Scotland had been bittersweet. My intention was to spend time reconnecting with my wereleopard half-sister, Caitlyn, as I regained my composure and sanity. But my late father, whom I’d always been told was a good man—and dead—had ruined my plans. Bloody monster. That had pushed me over the edge, but I gained a new respect for my sister, knowing the pain she’d been through as a wee lass at his hands. She’d put on a brave face to protect me, but I couldn’t help feeling a little betrayed. Either she or our mother should’ve been honest with me. Instead, they’d let me spend most of my life loving some woman-abusing arsehole. My hand trembled around the bottle.
Leaving Caitlyn in her weakened condition was brutal, but if I’d stayed, I would have put the Scottish Pack—and most importantly, her—at risk. I didn’t like feeling as if I would snap at any given moment. My fragile control over my beast left me vulnerable, especially with all that had happened recently. When I was in Edinburgh, my focus had been solely on keeping my sister safe. I refused to let her see how torn apart I was now. Dougal’s passionate glances told me he’d try to protect her, but the lass had no idea what she’d gotten herself into by falling for the Alpha.
I clenched my hands into fists, and the bottle of Scotch ale shattered. Pain bit my palm as alcohol seeped into the wounds. Opening my fist, I frowned at the large shard of brown glass protruding from my skin. Shite, what a waste of perfectly good ale.
Crimson blood mixed with ale and dripped onto the floor. If I didn’t take care of the mess, the cottage’s owner might think to ask questions about my stay. This needed to be cleaned straight away. My hand didn’t worry me all that much. It’d be fine. With my supernatural healing, I’d survived a hell of a lot worse.
If only that healing helped my mind...
I cupped my wounded hand to my chest palm-up to try to slow the bleeding, then stepped over the broken glass in my now-damp socks to reach the kitchen sink. The window’s distant seaside view, with its jagged cliffs and sweeping waves, struck pride in my heart, and I remembered again just why I’d come back to my homeland. Caitlyn and I had visited a place not far from here for some time as kids. It’d been one of my favorite memories as a young lad. Our mother kept us on the move growing up, never settling down for long. Now I knew why.
The ache in my hand tugged me back to the present. Yanking the large piece of glass from my palm wouldn’t be fun, but it needed to be done. The skin around the wound was already trying to heal. If I didn’t get the glass out soon, it would hurt much more than it did now. The shard was buried deep, nearly penetrating all the way through to the other side. If I were human, I’d have needed immediate medical attention.
I firmly pinched the glass with the hem of my shirt, between my thumb and index finger. My grip on the sharp shard slipped the first time, but on the second try, I jerked the fragment out of my hand, leaving a long gash behind. A new rush of agony ripped at my palm. Blood poured from the wound, no longer held back by the glass. I held my hand over the sink, letting the drain drink the thick red liquid as I searched the nearby cupboards for a first-aid kit. The kit was rather dusty, but it contained plenty of gauze to wrap the wound.
The chunk of glass had come out fairly smoothly, so I wasn’t worried about any fragments getting left behind in my hand. My lycanthropy would likely push the foreign object from my body anyway, as it had done with a bullet once. I’d been a stupid teenager who thought more about impressing a female werewolf than keeping an eye out for an old farmer protecting his livestock. I learned my lesson. Particularly since, as punishment, I’d been locked for a full month and a half in the same cage where Caitlyn had been held.
I turned on the faucet, rinsing the open wound before I patted it dry with a formerly white towel that hung on a hook by the sink. I’d do what I could to clean it up, but I wasn’t very domesticated. Tasks like that were a bit outside my area of expertise. Maybe the towel would just ‘go missing.’ I’d rather that than have the owner see it stained.
Once I’d wrapped the wound with a respectable amount of gauze, I opened the cupboard below the sink to inspect what cleaning agents the owner provided her tenants. I needed something that could clean up the blood and ale that had spilled all over the floor. I grabbed the bleach and set it on the counter. The scent hit my nostrils like a boxer’s right hook, my mind flashing back to the overwhelming scent I’d endured at the laboratory. Panic rose within me like a massive wave. I stumbled away from the counter, slipped on the blood and booze, and fell on my arse.
The world faded away.
LOVE IT!!! This all howls "READ ME NOW" and is only made PAWSSIBLE, only works together because of one reason - Sarah Makela is one FURRIFICALLY talented author!!
Woodland Creek Series.
30 Authors. 30 Shifter Stories.
One Epic Release Day.
After faced with crippling loss, a heartbroken raven must find her wings again...
Treasure hunters are trained to find things, but all Morgana has known is loss. When someone she loves dies because she can’t protect them, she shies away from the world, too afraid to let anyone else get close. That won’t last long because ravens aren’t ones to pass up on shiny things.
Cody has never really felt accepted. He’s a coyote shifter of Native American heritage, but he gets his looks from his Scandinavian mother, unlike his siblings and the rest of his people. That makes him all the more dedicated when what seemed like a freak tornado becomes something much scarier.
When Cody realizes that his family’s powerful talisman has slips into the wrong hands, he desperately needs help. But he never imagined he’d be fall head over heels for the beautiful, if not, mysterious treasure hunter. Morgana will need to let go of being hurt again if they have any hope of saving not only each other, but also the small town that they both love from disaster.
Wind caressed my midnight black feathers as I sailed through the early evening sky. Flying had always been a welcome reprieve, an escape from the everyday life of walking on two legs. Most people in the world only dreamed of this gift I'd been granted, but it didn't give me that much freedom from life’s sorrows. Perhaps that was just as well.
My line of work demanded more from me than the average human’s physique could handle. That was why my peers regarded me as the best of the best.
As a treasure hunter, people expected me to explore mystical ruins and dodge huge boulders, but my main task was to always be on the lookout for stunning riches that might interest my wealthy clients. What set me apart from the rest was being a Raven shifter. That gave me the ability to get in and out of ancient, mythical locales more quickly and safely than most.READ MORE
Clients came to me with all sorts of requests. Due to my popularity, I could choose the jobs I wanted and who I wanted to work for, something the few fellow treasure hunters I'd met could only dream of. When we got together, they always asked for my secrets—either to my face or behind my back—but I wasn't willing to share the knowledge of my abilities with them.
Only one person, aside from my parents, had ever gotten close enough to see the true me, and he'd died because I couldn't save him when he needed me the most.
How could I truly be happy with a life spent forever alone, regardless of the mystery and adventure my career afforded me?
Loneliness ached like a gaping hole in my chest. Whatever life I’d known before had dimmed the light, and I merely trudged through the shades of grey with my bruised heart.
Ezra Phillips had been the last person I'd allowed to get close to me. He'd crept past the walls I'd erected around my heart after my parents died and left me all alone in the world. I regretted his death every single day. Life with him had been an exciting journey. We were hunting a rare gem with supposed magical properties together, and I'd tried to convince him that I should go alone since he was only human. The job was dangerous, even for me. He had a way with words and convinced me to let him come along. I mistakenly believed we were indestructible together. Neither of us had been to South America before, and now I never wanted to go back.
I was all alone again. Whoever said it was better to have loved and lost had obviously never felt this kind of gut-wrenching pain.
If anything had come from my relationship with Ezra, it was a determination to harden my heart that much more. Never again would I let someone in. More pain and loss would be too much to bear. Besides, I had a career in shambles that needed to be rebuilt.
Shaking away my destructive thoughts, I swept my gaze over my surroundings, dragging myself back to the here and now. Breathtaking oranges, reds, and yellows spread out beneath me, helping me remember why I'd chosen Woodland Creek, Indiana as my new home. I'd never been a small-town girl, but that didn't matter much. After Ezra's death, I drew more into myself, and the solitude suited me now.
Above the treetops, the air carried the clean scent of ozone mixed with pine. The strong pull from the ley-lines had called me here like a mystical artery pumping with magic, very much alive with raw, untapped energy churning below the ground. For wizards, it made spellcasting easier, but for the shifters I knew of, it acted like a beacon, calling us together.
Through the thick canopy, I caught sight of something shiny on the forest floor below. I'd flown this path many times on my way home, and rarely had I seen any hikers in this area. Could this object be something valuable? The raven in me wanted to investigate—she liked shiny things—but my human side prepared for disappointment.
Maybe I'd become more jaded than I'd realized, if not downright pessimistic.
Swooping toward the ground, we splayed our wings wide and slowed our descent to get a better look. Just an average section of Running Deer National Forest. It’s only distinguishing feature was a large ring boulders. No one was around, and the area was clear of camping gear and human supplies.
I perched on a sturdy tree limb, and it groaned a little under our weight. While most ravens were about three pounds, I was closer to thirty, approximately the size of a cinereous vulture. Not conspicuous at all, right? But most people didn’t look too hard at me. They keep their eyes at ground level, not paying much attention to what goes on above their heads.
The shiny object below beckoned my raven closer, but I couldn't be sure this wasn't some kind of trap. Call me paranoid, but that was the sort of thinking that kept me alive. I didn't see anyone else nearby, though: people, animals, or those in-between. The longer I sat there, the more I felt a heaviness in the air, as if someone had recently thrown a lot of magic around. The sensation nearly made me decide to fly away, but my raven krawed at me. She thought I was acting like a coward, and that was definitely not me. The thought of the glimmer had entered into her mind, and once she was set on something, there was only one way to satisfy her curiosity.COLLAPSE
A gentlewoman will do whatever it takes to rescue her captive werewolf betrothed.
When her betrothed, Joe Taylor, is taken captive by a group of men looking for werewolf laborers, it’s up to Charlotte, a genteel frontier lady with no training, to track him down and win him back—even if that means putting her own life in danger.
Charlotte stretched up on tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his lips. “I look forward to it.” A soft creak of the hallway’s wooden floor reached her ears. She hurriedly pulled on her dressing gown, then sat in front of her vanity and picked up her brush. She’d be able to fabricate a tale for Betsy if she needed to.
Joe opened the window and jumped out. Only the faint sound of his boots hitting the ground gave him away. They didn’t have much to worry about since her window faced a rarely used alley.
The soft footsteps stopped outside her door. Charlotte ran the brush through her brown hair, pulling at a few tangles. She hoped Betsy would go back to sleep and not disturb her. After a brief pause and another squeak, the footsteps retreated again.READ MORE
Charlotte sighed in relief, but she waited a moment more. When she was sure it was safe, she dashed across the room and closed the window. She glanced out to see Joe heading toward the main street. His gaze turned to meet hers as if he knew she was there. He smiled and tilted his hat.
From the shadows, a group of four men rushed at Joe. Her eyes widened, and she placed her palms against the windowpane. Desperation punched her in the gut.
* * *
Joe frowned at the sudden change of expression on Charlotte’s beautiful face. What had caused... The rapid sound of boots hitting dirt next to him penetrated his thoughts. He’d been so focused on his lover. Damn it.
Twisting around, he faced the four men, wondering what they wanted. More importantly, he wished he knew if they’d seen him come from Charlotte’s window. He didn’t want her to be looked down upon by anyone because of what they’d shared that night. Her father would never let Joe near his daughter again if he knew.
The men closed in on him, standing much closer than Joe felt comfortable with. He watched them in turn, keeping an eye on each, while his wolf’s instincts raged and warned him of danger.
He’d never met these men and had no idea what they wanted. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, especially with Charlotte was watching. If he showed his true nature, he’d alienate himself from town. He couldn’t do that, not when he had so much to lose. “What do you all want?”
One of the men, a guy with graying hair who looked to be their leader, stepped forward. “We have a job opportunity for you.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but I already have work. Thanks for the offer.” Joe stepped aside to move around them, but the whistle of metal near his head caused him to stop. He turned to see one of the men holding a gun. He grabbed the barrel of the pistol as the man’s blue eyes widened with surprise.
Pain filled Joe’s head, and his legs collapsed under him. He cursed himself for being so distracted.
The older man stared down at him as Joe’s world darkened. “That wasn’t the answer I was looking for.” As the man’s image faded, Joe barely heard his command, “Load ’em up, boys.”COLLAPSE
Well written and very entertaining to read this self-contained story.
Saved by Moonlight
A werewolf reveals what he is to save the love of his life.
When Sylvi comes home to find someone lurking in the apartment she shares with her boyfriend, she realizes her life is in danger. Lukas arrives in time to defend her from the intruder, but she's shocked to learn Lukas is really a werewolf! Can their love survive his revelation?
Sylvi Monroe rubbed her eyes as she unlocked the door to the apartment she shared with her boyfriend. She tossed her keys in a basket on the side table and then shut the door behind her. Taking a deep breath, she leaned back against the door.
"Home at last," she murmured.
Her wet blazer clung to her skin, and she peeled it off before hanging it on the coat rack. A shiver ripped through her as cool air from the air conditioning touched her skin.
Traffic had been horrible, and then it'd been almost impossible to find a good parking spot. She'd had to run the couple of blocks in torrential rain. Her landlord needed to think about assigned parking, but what could she do? Nothing, really.READ MORE
Sylvi walked to the bathroom, stripping off layer after layer of clothing as she went. She sighed and leaned over the sink, staring at herself in the mirror. Her dark hair was plastered to her head, and mascara trailed down her cheeks. She looked like a drowned rat. A nice hot shower was just what she needed after the day she'd had. If only Lukas were here, he'd know just the thing to say to make her feel better.
A frown curved her lips.
His job forced him to travel a lot, and she hated it. Nothing she could do about it though. He enjoyed his work, which was more than she could say about her own employment. Most days she wanted to throw the pillow over her head and scream at the alarm clock.
Shaking the thoughts away, she grabbed a towel from the linen closet, then stepped into the shower and cranked on the hot water. The feeling of warmth and heat pushed deep into her bones, helping to eradicate the chill within her.
A smile spread across her lips. This was the best moment she'd had all day. Maybe she had been too pessimistic. Her crappy day at the office didn't really matter, nor did the lack of parking her apartment building provided.
After her shower, she'd change into a nice set of pajamas, curl up in bed, and try to call Lukas. And if she couldn't get in contact with him, she'd cozy up with one of the romance novels she'd picked up yesterday. There, that was a good plan.
Sylvi turned off the shower and dried herself. She wrapped the large bath towel around her then set off to grab the cordless phone from the living room. There weren't any flashing lights on the phone to indicate that Lukas had called. Disappointment fluttered in her chest before she shoved it away.
He probably had a busy schedule filled with meetings and schmoozing galore.
She headed for the bedroom and paused in the hallway, staring at the closed door. Had she closed it this morning? Lukas couldn't be here since he would have come out to greet her. However, he wouldn't close the bedroom door either. They had no reason to.
She chewed on her lower lip and looked down at the phone. Her thumb hovered over the number nine. Should she call the police? What if no one was there? What if she'd had a strange memory lapse? She'd look like an idiot.
Stop acting like a child, she scolded herself.
Taking a deep breath, she jerked the door open and flipped on the light. Her gaze raked the room. It was decorated in delicate shades of blue and white. She and Lukas had done this together, as a team. The memory brought a smile to her face. Until she saw him...
Demetrius stood by the window overlooking the street, staring into the rainy night. She knew it was him by his overwhelmingly muscular build and shoulder-length brown hair. How had he found her after all these years? They'd experienced a short, wild rendezvous before she'd come to Florida, but it was so over!
"What are you doing here?" Her voice shook slightly. He turned to face her, and she stepped back toward the door.
Tension rose and filled the air.
"Hello to you, too." He stalked over to the bed. His hands splayed over the blue velvet comforter. "Mmm... Soft. You certainly do have superb taste." The bed groaned under his weight as he crawled onto the mattress and stared at her.
"What do you want?" Sylvi shivered and pressed herself against the doorframe. She had to get out of here. There was no telling what he'd do, especially with her being so vulnerable.
Demetrius licked his lips and ran his gaze over her as if willing her towel away. "You."COLLAPSE
Vera’s Christmas Elf
Christmas Romance Box Set
Ring in the holidays with two steamy Christmas books about finding love in the least expected places...
Her Christmas Elf (Book 1)
Lost in a forest, Vera finds an elf who gives her a Christmas to remember.
Traveling alone in Finland around Christmas is not really what Vera Hayes had imagined she’d be doing. When her longtime boyfriend dumps her before the trip at the last minute, she decides to go anyway. However, she gets lost in a forest in Lapland and starts to panic until she runs into a magical man who looks suspiciously like an elf without the pointy ears. Pekka, one of Santa’s elves, soothes away her worry and helps her find her way back to her cabin, giving her a Christmas Eve to remember.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Vera's Christmas Wish (Book 2)
Vera’s back in Finland looking to find some Yuletide love with a sexy elf.
Vera Hayes had the most amazing Christmas ever a year ago. Now she’s back in Finland hoping to find Pekka, her sexy Finnish elf, in hopes of creating new and delightful holiday memories. Not having any luck, she goes back to her cabin where a deranged goat man storms inside demanding food and drink.
On the run from the goat man, she stumbles across Pekka overseeing a massive herd of reindeer. He’s glad to see her, even if he’s more than a little amused at the trouble she always finds herself in.
Shivering, Vera Hayes watched the soft snow falling around her. The landscape was so pretty and so dangerous at this chilling temperature, especially considering she had no clue where she was. She'd gone on a walk when the sun had been up, but now darkness rapidly descended on the forest.
This trip had been nothing but trouble, and she'd been stupid to actually take it. Her ex-boyfriend Steve had wanted this, not her. She'd gone ahead with it thinking it would help free her somehow, but this was far from freeing.
Vera stomped her feet and huddled deeper into her coat, which was starting to feel a little too thin for the current weather. She leaned against a birch tree and hunched her shoulders, beyond frustrated with her current predicament.
Snow dusted her, and she scanned the forest again. Hope failed her, and she set off walking again. Damn, damn, damn.READ MORE
Faint rumbling sounded in the distance behind her and she stopped. The noise grew louder until she could identify it.
Hooves. Lots and lots of hooves. Adrenaline flooded her veins, but her body froze in place from fear.
In the distance, she spotted a herd of reindeer running in her direction. A quick look around her showed no trees with low-hanging branches. So much for easy climbing. She reached for the closest birch, its bark broken by the frost. She wrapped her hands around it and began to climb.
Behind her, the noise grew louder. Among the trees, a herd of reindeer led by a massive gray bull trampled its way through the forest. Snow and frost caved beneath their hooves with almost no resistance.
The glance startled her, and her feet slipped down the birch. Panic struck her chest as she dropped to the ground.
To her left, she saw a small clearing among the trees. She tried to sprint through the almost knee-deep snow, but her progress was too slow. With the herd not far behind, she screamed. When would this nightmare end?
Just as she reached the clearing, a man grabbed her by the arm. He pulled her toward him then and shoved her against a tree, his firm body nestled against her back.
Her breath came out in pants, and not only from her running. "Let me go," she yelled, fear audible in her voice.
"Hush. The herd will ignore you." The man's low, accented voice calmed her a little.
For a moment, Vera considered kicking him and racing away, but his grip tightened on her. He pressed her tighter to the tree. His body molded to hers as if they were puzzle pieces. She only had a second to ponder that as the herd of reindeer stampeded through the clearing.
The large reindeer bull slowed to a stop beside them. Intelligence gleamed in its black, glaring eyes as it waited for the rest of the herd to pass.
"She won't hunt your kin, Old One. I'll look after her," the man said. The reindeer turned its gaze to the man and snorted, shaking its head.
Vera trembled. The cold and numbness she'd been fighting against was draining away her energy. She barely made out the man saying something she couldn't catch. Her attention now focused on the huge bull that stood close enough for her to reach out her hand and touch. The other reindeer were easily her height from hoof to head, but this one made them look small in comparison.
The reindeer stared at her then blew a cloud of steam from its nostrils, obviously not impressed, before galloping after the rest of the herd.
She watched it go until it was barely in sight, then the man grabbed her shoulders. He spun her around, and his gaze dipped to take her in. His expression soured, and he returned his gaze to hers. "What are you doing out here dressed like that?"
Surprise at his audacity had her pulling away from him. His clothing didn't exactly inspire confidence in his sense of fashion either. From what she could tell, his clothing looked to be made of animal pelt. She placed her glove-covered hand against his chest and marveled at the sleek fur.
He snagged her wrist yet didn't move her hand. "There's a storm coming. You shouldn't be out here. You'll die." His gaze whipped over her again, and he grimaced. "Where are you staying?" His words held a melodic lilt that was so pleasant.
"At the cabins." Her teeth chattered a bit more, and she huddled in on herself.
He gave her a quizzical stare then cursed an almost lyrical string of sound. "You're far from safety. What are you doing way out here?"
What did he mean? She hadn't been walking for that long. Or maybe it just hadn't seemed so.
He scooped her into his arms, and she considered falling asleep in the warmth of his grip. But she didn't know anything about him, and after what had just happened with the reindeer...COLLAPSE
Chrissy on Romance Junkies wrote:
...steamy read that will warm you up even on the coldest winter day. There is some great chemistry between Vera and Pekka that practically sizzles off the page.
...incorporates the magic and wonder of the holiday for a sinfully delightful read. Vera and Pekka’s romance is quick and intense yet still fun and whimsical.
Passions sizzle even between a feline and a wolf...
Angelique had no idea her black panther tattoo would force her to abandon the love of her life—Connor O’Reilly—but she’s determined to keep him safe no matter how much it hurts. Her tattoo doubles as her feline familiar: loving, protective, dangerous, and with a life of its own. It’s also her deepest secret and draws enemies who desire its power for themselves.
Connor has no idea why Angelique left him, but he’s determined to win her back. As a werewolf, he has secrets of his own. Now his alpha is ready to force him to pair with an ex-girlfriend he can’t stand unless he can find Angelique and claim her as his mate. But even as their secrets threaten to keep them apart, hidden enemies seek to destroy their chance at love forever.
Angelique wrapped her arms around his neck, sinking into the warm sensation that being around Connor stirred inside her. She froze, knowing this might not be what was best for her, but with him being here—so close, and apparently so ready too—she didn’t know if she had it in her to turn him away.
Connor pulled back a little, concern darkening his eyes. “Tell me if you don’t want this.”
She opened her mouth to refuse him, to distance herself, but the words wouldn’t come. What was the problem with giving in? She leaned forward, pushing her fingers into his dark blond hair. Her lips met his, and he groaned.
He gripped her hips, tugging her forward on the counter, pressing her close to him. Close enough to feel his hard cock hiding beneath his suit pants. They’d never gone this far before in their relationship. She hadn’t let him get close because of Kira, but Kira wasn’t a problem right now.READ MORE
Angelique smiled against his lips and pushed off Connor’s suit jacket, letting it fall to the kitchen floor. He stepped back a little, grabbing for her jacket. She let him unzip it and toss it to the floor next to his. His hands brushed over her torso from just under her breasts, over her stomach, and down to the hem of her undershirt. She sucked in a breath as his warm hands met her skin.
He slowly slid the top up and watched her face. She should stop him, but she didn’t want to. Sharing this with him, regardless of what came after, would be a delicious birthday present.
She lifted her arms, and he slipped the shirt over her head, revealing her bare chest. She’d been at home for the night and hadn’t worn a bra.
His eyes burned with lust, and she noticed a tick in his jaw as if he were struggling to control himself. He didn’t need to think she was made of glass. This wasn’t her first time.
She tugged his shirt out of his pants and worked the buttons from the holes. Underneath the silk was a finely chiseled chest. His workout regime must be relentless.
Connor chuckled, and she glanced up at him, cocking an eyebrow. “What?”
“That look on your face. You’re almost drooling.” He smirked. “I like that.”
“I am not.” Angelique shoved against his chest, but he didn’t budge an inch. His muscular pecs beckoned her. She slid her hands over that hot expanse of skin toward his belt. Her lips pressed against his chest, and she trailed kisses over it.
Connor’s chuckle faded and turned into a groan. He planted his hands on the counter beside her knees, staying there and not moving away from her lips. “I want you, Angel.” His husky voice was a near whisper.COLLAPSE
BK on immortylcafe.com wrote:
The story is edgy thrilling and has some very interesting elements that arouse curiosity and ensure that the reader wants to know more. While it is a short tease, it is a fascinating introduction to the Feral Ink series that never has a dull moment and I can’t wait to read more Angel and Connor and find out what happens next.
on Crazy Four Books:
The book started off with a bang, jumping right into the action and keeping you wanting to know more.
Emily on Musings from an Addicted Reader wrote:
The plot had animal aggression, secrets, action, romance, and a psycho ex to top it all off.
Heather on Books Books and More Books wrote:
Captivating story that was filled with twists that had me wondering how it would end... Perfect beginning for a new series.
The author did an excellent job of making her series stand out in a very crowded genre by twisting together just the right combination of mythology... Hopefully, this entertaining and sexy series will see many future installments.