Thursday, March 31, 2011

KISSED FROM BEYOND by Stacey Kennedy

KISSED FROM BEYOND - An Erotic Paranormal Anthology with stories from Stacey Kennedy, Elise Hepner, Amber Scott, and Keta Diablo

Ethan Thomas has spent years alone - forever trapped between worlds. Once a soldier in the Civil War, he's now a ghost bound to a chaise lounge that once belonged to him. He's spent centuries lingering in Savannah, Georgia, waiting to be saved...

Cassandra Cole is an interior designer hired to restore an old Victorian home. As she begins to furnish the house, strange happenings erupt around her. She suspects the house is haunted. Determined to find out, Cassie sets out to discover who the ghost is, why she feels a connection to him, and what she has to do to free him. The answers will surprise her in ways she never imagined.

Want to know more about Stacey’s books? Go here.

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ONE RUB MORE by Elise Hepner

Flynn has been cursed for over a century for a social slight he never committed. A voodoo priestess hexed him and forced him into a teapot where he could be summoned by the rub of a woman's palm. Once free, he grants these women three sexual favors - and cuts off his own emotions in the process. Unable to break free from an invisible cage of lust and sex to fall in love again he's resigned to being a sex object and nothing more.

Helena has been house sitting far, far away from her complicated past in England -  including her former childhood sweetheart, who wasn't satisfied when Helena didn't want to be barefoot and pregnant. She's resigned to leave behind the complications of men and sex. She hopes logic will win out over her unreliable emotions - but she's put to the test when she accidentally summons Flynn from his teapot prison.
More about Elise’s Books here.

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A LOVE SOUL DEEP by Amber Scott

If only Sara had known no man would ever make her feel like Crew did, she would have let him love her. A regret that can never be undone. His death haunts her dreams, and her wishful thinking only reminds her of everything she has lost.

Years later, a visit to an antique store in sultry Savannah changes everything and makes her deepest wish come true. Her beloved returns to her. Her every fantasy gets the chance to be fulfilled. But she wants more than one night. She wants a lifetime and wonders what magic will let her keep A Love Soul Deep.

Want to know more about Amber Scott's books? Visit her here. 

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With visions of battle still fresh in his mind, Roane Bradfield returns home to find the woman he loves betrothed to another. He corners Kendrick Moreland at Dowager Huggins' Grand Ball and whisks her into the secluded library. One way or the other, he will know the reason the duplicitous beauty cut him from her life when she promised to wait forever.

Kendrick can't believe her eyes when Roane suddenly appears at the ball. Has he truly risen from the dead? Amid wagging tongues and hushed murmurs, the fantasy of her every dream whisks her from the ballroom. And the expression on his face is anything but loving. Revenge, danger and powerful love collide in the Cradle of Dreams.

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'TILL WE MEET AGAIN by Stacey Kennedy
Chapter One

For so many years, isolated days and nights, Ethan had been stuck in purgatory. He’d been shuffled from home to home, living among people who were at first strangers, but became constant companions over time. For close to ten years now he’d called Twilight Antiques in Savannah, Georgia, his home.

The shopkeeper, Mrs. Higgins, finished her Sunday morning routine of putting the new antiques out she obtained at auction. He’d never grown attached to her, because she had no connection to him. In her seventies, wrinkles canvassed her skin and Ethan had watched them grow deeper throughout the years. Beneath the sign of her age, soft pale blue eyes still held the beauty of a warm woman. Her silver hair, cut prim and proper, sat in tight curls atop her head, like women of her age nowadays. She might be elderly, however, she still took pride in her appearance.

The antiques held monetary value. To Mrs. Higgins, they were much more than that—a piece of history to be cherished.

Like him.

Not an emotional attachment, a physical one. He couldn’t quite explain the reason his soul never crossed over after he died in the Civil War. Instead, he became bound to a chaise lounge he’d favored in the years he walked the earth. Without anyone to ask how or why, his life―or death―had become timeless.

He’d grown bored of watching decades ago.

The front door to the store chimed, drawing Ethan away from his thoughts as he lingered on the chaise. He sighed. Another customer to walk through the store and not give a second look at the chair he once loved, and still did.

“Hello there,” Mrs. Higgins said, greeting the woman.

“Hi,” a small, sweet voice responded in a tone Ethan found charming.

In all his time at the shop, he’d yet to see anyone walk through those doors who caught his eye. On the rare occasions a younger woman came into the store, none though, appealed to him on a physical level.

If he stood, he’d tower over her delicate frame. Her long, chocolate brown hair stood out against her pale skin, except for the pinkish tinge on her cheeks and baby blue eyes that held a note of sweetness.

He might be a ghost, nevertheless, a man still resided in his soul, and she, a woman to behold. Her beauty mesmerized him.

“How can I help you, my dear?” Mrs. Higgins asked in a rich southern accent.

“Have you heard of the Landsby home?” the woman asked.

Ethan could tell her heritage didn’t come from Savannah. She sounded American, yet not from around these parts.

“Yes, dear, are you the new owner?”

The woman shook her head. “No, Mrs. Nash is the owner. I’m the interior designer she hired.”

“Oh, so you’re here to furnish the house?”

The woman nodded. “I’m not from around here—”

“Where are you from, dear?” Mrs. Higgins interrupted.

“New York.” The woman smiled. “And the name is Cassandra Cole―Cassie.”

Ethan studied Cassie. All the dear comments seemed to displease her. What bothered her so? She fascinated him and he hadn’t been interested in anything or anyone for some time. How intriguing.

“Well, Miss Cassie,” Mrs. Higgins went on. “What can I help you with today?”

Cassie glanced around the store before meeting Mrs. Higgins gaze again. “Mrs. Nash decided the theme for the Landsby house should reflect its history. She wants to restore the home to its original condition.”

“A wise decision,” Mrs. Higgins agreed.

“So. . . .” Cassie looked around at the store. “I have some shopping to do.” She glanced back to Mrs. Higgins. “Do you have―or know of―a rental truck for hire to deliver what I purchase here today?”

“Mr. Pitts does deliveries for me. I’ll call him now and see he comes by with the truck soon to help you.”

Cassie smiled. “Thank you.”

She strode around the store, looking at the items spread out, and Ethan stayed with her. In fact, he drew in close and stood mere inches from Cassie watching a deep shudder run through her. “You’ve got a draft in here,” she called out to Mrs. Higgins.

Busy talking on the phone, Mrs. Higgins didn’t respond.

Ethan leaned away from Cassie to let the warmth wash over her body again, yet continued to study her. She appeared so focused, so determined, and so adorable.

His cold soul lit up with a heat he’d long yearned for.

* * *

A month passed since Cassie left her home in New York City to accept the job to build her design portfolio. A complete restoration of a Victorian home, not something she could’ve passed on. Besides, Mrs. Nash had offered her a ridiculous amount of money. Too many goods came from the job.

She missed home, though. Staying in a house under renovations didn’t appeal to her, but the contractors she’d hired finished today and she’d have the peace she sought. The physical renovations she could do without. Walls re-plastered, paint applied, all the wood in the home, including the hardwood floors, refinished. Now, onto the part she lived for, the reason she got into interior design. Giving a home personality with furniture and accents gave her a high like nothing else.

Mrs. Higgins seemed sweet enough, but if she called her dear once more, she’d blow a gasket. Such endearments weren’t for her. Granted, she looked younger than her twenty-five years, calling her such things though made her feel like a child. She’d worked hard to get here, put in long hours to prove herself capable. Hell, she’d moved into the empty house to renovate it while Mrs. Nash stayed in South Carolina. Being treated like an equal was not something she wanted, but demanded.

Mrs. Higgins, approached her. “Mr. Pitts will be along soon with the truck.” “Wonderful,” she said, happy she wouldn’t have to lug all the furniture to the house herself. She scanned the antique shop, pleased with what she saw. “You have some wonderful pieces here.” An aged distressed dresser caught her eye, perfect for the vintage theme.

“Ahh, a beautiful piece I obtained not long ago,” Mrs. Higgins said. “Does the dresser interest you?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Mrs. Higgins spun on her heels. “I’ll grab a piece of paper and we’ll write down what you want so Mr. Pitts and his crew can load them up.” The woman hurried off and Cassie chuckled to herself. Clearly, the store made small sales and Mrs. Higgins’ eagerness to sell off some of the larger pieces showed in her fast pace. Moments later, the woman returned, clipboard in hand.

Cassie strode around the store to find treasures of all kinds. Her imagination ran wild with the design. “I’ll take these two wing back chairs.” Not looking back at Mrs. Higgins, she heard the pen moving against the paper.

“You do realize they don’t match?”

“Victoria-themes don’t require matching furniture. In fact, the design works better if they don’t.”

“If you say so, dear. I love the era, however, don’t know much about design,” Mrs. Higgins replied with a shake of her head.

Cassie continued on, choosing items to fill the home. Tables, throws, a couch, pillows, any item she thought would add to the home’s beauty. Last week, she’d bought a four-poster bed from a furniture store on the other side of town. A near impossible find at an antique shop, along with the outrageous price. Sticking to a modern piece of furniture fit her budget. She needed a place to sleep while staying at the house, so finding a bed had been her top priority the moment she arrived.

Not fifteen minutes later, Cassie stopped at a gorgeous chaise lounge. Fitted with crimson velvet, the fabric looked rich against the dark wood edging.

“Ahh, a real treasure,” Mrs. Higgins admired.

Cassie wanted to agree, although her mouth wouldn’t function. A cold wave washed over her, freezing her in place. Not a draft, but something made her stop.

The piece of furniture held power, compelling her to purchase the chaise. The reaction stunned her. She’d never been fond of chaises. Fine for reading, nothing more. “Do you know the history of the chair?”

“Oh, I’ve had it now for well over ten years.”

Surprise widened Cassie’s eyes. The well-worn piece didn’t look at all comfortable. Why would she hold onto it for so long? “Why not get rid of it?”

A slow smile spread across Mrs. Higgins’ face causing her wrinkles to hide her eyes. “All the pieces here have a history, my dear. To trash them, a grave travesty. I couldn’t throw away something once beloved.” She shook her head and clucked. “No, not an option to me.”

Cassie glanced back to the chaise and approached it again. She trailed a hand down the wood lining the sides and the cold air swirled around her again. Yet, a warm glow touched her soul. A sign she’d discovered a real treasure, however the chair would be more of an accent piece than a focal point.

She sat down on the uncomfortable lounge. The coldness in the air increased the longer she sat, still though, the warm glow of excitement stayed with her. In fact, it grew.

Whether it suited the home or not, the piece belonged to her. Might be a strange choice, but Cassie didn’t doubt herself. Her instincts never failed her. Something special lived in the chaise even if she couldn’t put her finger on it.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MARAUDER by Robin Leigh Miller

MARAUDER by Robin Leigh Miller

Nothing mattered in Evan Duvall's life as much as his sexy, timid Priscilla. Her touch could destroy and resurrect with one feathery stroke. Pleasure was all they could give each other - and Priscilla gave freely. Her presumed death annihilated Evan and brought to life Strafe, the notorious road pirate.

After years of loneliness, Strafe finds Priscilla alive - and changed. She's feisty, independent and sensual as hell. She may be wary of the new Strafe but her body responds with a hungry need he finds impossible to ignore. Waiting for her capitulation becomes torture, so he begins a series of inventive, erotic teasing sessions that keep her in a constant state of arousal.

But to properly care for Priscilla, as well as those who've come to depend on him, the pirate must strike again.


By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.

An Excerpt From: MARAUDER

Copyright © ROBIN LEIGH MILLER, 2011

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

Priscilla stood in the tiny, dimly lit room, anxious and already prepared for her lover Evan Duvall to arrive. Every chance they got they came to this isolated two-room cabin in the woods to steal a little privacy. Traveling the weathered, beaten, barely there path could be dangerous and not because of animals. No, even the animals relocated deeper, farther up into the mountains to avoid the new level of savagery man had reached.

Even now, as she stood seemingly safe and secure so far away from civilization, Priscilla knew fierce unrest could reach out and smack her down. Not so many years ago—twelve perhaps, she couldn’t be sure anymore—life was good. A living could be made, a family could exist, eat and purchase clothing, have a house of their own and even take trips abroad. The only limitations were your imagination and the amount of money you could make.

Moving to the dingy mattress sitting on the floor, Priscilla removed a soft blanket she carried in her shabby backpack and smoothed it out, covering the unsanitary piece of furniture so she and Evan could lay together. A memory flickered inside her head. She’d once had a bed, a nice, clean, soft bed with a frame and flowered sheets. A fluffy comforter spread out on top that she would snuggle under on cold nights.

Pushing the memory away, because it did no good to wallow in the past, Priscilla stood and tugged her faded green shirt up and over her head. Beneath she wore a black lacy bra she’d found scavenging through an abandoned house. Evan loved the flimsy material, always remarking how sexy it looked against her fair, creamy skin. Priscilla took extra care of the tiny treasure, only wearing it for Evan on these special nights. Who knew if she’d ever find another?

Wiggling her hips, she shucked her faded jeans down her legs and carefully folded them. Her panties were nothing to rave about. Simple, pink cotton bikinis she’d acquired from a local girl trading for some fruit.

At one time her mother had spoiled her with silly, frivolous gifts on her birthday, again a memory that shouldn’t be thought about too much. Priscilla had learned early pining away for the past got you nothing but heartache. Strolling toward the cracked window, she leaned against the frame and stared out into the night, watching for her lover, praying he made it through the woods without being spotted.

Since the civil war had broken out, groups had formed to rebel against the government. Not exactly a bad idea since the government had gone the way of being ruled by only the most wealthy and powerful. Over-taxing, stealing land in the name of security and basically taking anything they could had become a way of life. The rich got richer and the poor existed only if they were willing to take the meager wages the wealthy handed out.

So groups formed to rise up against the dictatorship that masqueraded behind democracy. Only without real leaders, the groups began to fight each other instead of the real enemy and when their numbers dropped they began the so-called drafting stage. Priscilla closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She’d seen a few young men get drafted. They were stolen from their bed, dragged out into the night and beaten in front of their families until they swore their allegiance. Those who still refused watched in horror as another member of their family was beaten, tortured or—for the lucky ones—shot once in the head.

Now living outside city limits unprotected by the government was as dangerous as working for the fat, greedy rulers. She’d heard horror stories about what they did to their workers and it made her blood run cold. Girls disappearing, some forever, others returning maimed, scarred both mentally and physically. No, she’d take her chances out here, thank you very much.

It seemed time had turned backward somehow. The country divided into kingdoms with supreme rulers. Trading went on with other cities to gain the supplies they needed. Those supplies were trucked on the highways by only the most trusted and well-paid drivers. How much longer could this country exist like this before an outside force decided to claim her for their own?

“You look cold.”

Evan’s gentle, soothing voice drifted through the dim light and wrapped around her like a heavy, comforting blanket. Immediately her blood heated as it raced through her body. Turning, she gazed at her lover with a hunger so consuming her body quivered from it. Liquid lust pooled between her legs, her breasts swelled with an almost painful ache and her nipples pebbled against the sheer lace. Only Evan could instill such feelings inside her.

In the dim, flickering candlelight he looked almost like a dream. His shoulder-length, jet-black hair waving around his face, his deep blue eyes framed by thick, long lashes and his square jaw all gave him the appearance of a mystical man instead of her Evan, her lover, her soul.

“I love it when you look at me like that,” he whispered softly.

His lean, muscled arms and chest bunched beneath his thin blue T-shirt. His jeans hugged his thighs and when her gaze drifted to the bulge pressing against the zipper, her heart fluttered, making her head spin. The scuffed boots he wore finished his rugged look and she loved every inch of him.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

REMOTE CONTROL by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

REMOTE CONTROL by Cheryl Kaye Tardiff

In this dark, suspenseful and somewhat comical look at one man's desires, Remote Control by bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif delivers a strong message: Be careful what you wish for!

Meet Harold Fielding, plumber by part of the day, slacker/tv addict the rest of the day and night. Harry believes that fame and fortune will come to him if he wishes hard enough. God forbid if he should actually work for it.

Beatrice Fielding is Harry's hardworking wife. She holds down multiple jobs so her husband can laze about on his recliner, eating popcorn and drinking cola while watching his favorite shows. She has many wishes--some aren't so nice.

***2008 Textnovel contest finalist***



“Be careful what you wish for,” they say, but for forty-four-year-old Harold Fielding, who unfortunately isn’t one to listen to such good advice, those words will come back to haunt him.

Harold―Harry―always rebels against the norm. In fact, he says, “Wishes are like saying grace―something to be said before every meal.” So he wishes at least five times a day, while growing exceedingly fat.

However, good ole Harry has an excuse.

“If I wish hard enough,” he tells his wife Beatrice, “my wishes will eventually come true.”

Harry’s a TV fanatic and, surprisingly, fairly intelligent. He spends about ten hours a day parked in front of his ten-year-old Sanyo television with the remote control in hand, while watching shows on just about everything. The next day, he can tell you all about it; his recall is nearly perfect.

He never once contemplates actually working a forty-hour week and earning money. He’s already maxed out the VISA and MasterCard, plus a small bank loan that Beatrice knows nothing about. And now he’s waiting for his fortune to fall in his lap. Sadly, there’s no room there, so whatever good luck finds him usually ends up in a puddle on the floor.

Harry’s good with puddles. He’s a plumber by trade, when he bothers to do a job. The truth is, he’s been having trouble maneuvering under kitchen sinks; his stomach keeps getting in the way. Six months ago, he was depressed, which made him eat more. He’d almost lost faith that there is something better for him…somewhere…out there, and then fate stepped in.

After a chance run-in with an old classmate (Harry nearly knocked him down a flight of stairs when they passed on a landing), who happens to be very wealthy and who recommends one book, Harry’s life changes forever.

The Secret sits on the shelf behind the toilet. Harry reads it while relieving himself of the pounds of food he’s eaten each day. Since he’s always there a while, he can usually get through five or six pages a visit.

“I’ve read it now from beginning to end at least five times,” he boasts to his friends.

Of course, he hasn’t quite figured out that one must work towards receiving the good things in life, whether by deed or thought. He just figures that if he wishes for something, he’ll attract it. Eventually.

Be careful what you wish for, Harry.

* * *

On this fateful Friday night, Harry is sitting in his favorite recliner, the one with the sagging springs and torn leather footrest. He scowls at the television and balances a bowl of popcorn on his gargantuan stomach. Not an easy task.

“I wish to be rich and famous,” he says, just as he does at least twice a day. A handful of greasy popcorn follows and his stomach rumbles in rebellion.

Harry wants everything out of life―recognition, an inexhaustible supply of money and the perfect family to share it with.

He glances over his shoulder at his wife. Beatrice is ironing his work shirt for tomorrow, a pinched expression on her face. He studies her for a moment. She’s wearing her regular work outfit―a skirt and jacket in dove gray. It would look great, he thinks, if she was twenty years younger. Beatrice is thirty-nine. And why won’t that woman do something with her hair? Beatrice has grown out all the blond hair color he likes. It’s now a rusty gray, which she twists into a lump at the back of her head and fastens with one of those clamp thingies.

“You finished work early,” she says without looking at him.

“It was an easy job.”

Harry lets out a resounding belch in b-minor. The ominous sound is followed by a crescendo of sour pepperoni breath. It reminds him that there’s still a half bag of mini pepperoni in the fridge.

Beatrice looks up. “Why not take on a few jobs a week, Harry? We could use the money.”

She’s holding her breath. He knows this because when she says money, it sounds like buddy.

“You’re making enough for us to get by on, Bea,” he says. “’Sides, I’m waiting for my lucky streak to kick in.” He doesn’t want her to ask why he’s been taking a hundred dollars out every week. “You have faith in me, dontcha?”

Beatrice returns to her ironing with a loud sniff. She’s annoyed. He can tell.

“It’s gonna happen soon,” he says, more to himself. “I can feel it. My luck’s gonna change, and when it does, you’ll be sorry for doubting me.” He laughs. “And I’ll say, ‘I told you so.’”

He pushes the nearly empty popcorn bowl onto the end table beside his recliner and leans forward, grunting and shifting, trying to right the recliner. Finally, the footrest kicks into place. Then, with a deep breath, he grasps the arms of the recliner and throws his body forward and upward, and―ta-da!―we have lift off. Harold Fielding is standing.

With huffing breaths, he lumbers toward Beatrice.

* * *

“He’s one step from the grave,” her mother had told her just last week. And Beatrice has to agree.

She hears his heavy breathing moving closer but doesn’t want to look at him. She doesn’t want to see her reflection in his eyes, to know that her dull brown eyes rested in emaciated pits of shadowed skin, caverns that bespoke of countless sleepless nights.

It’s Harry’s fault. He snores loud enough to wake the dead. Sometimes he stops breathing for so long that she holds her own breath so she can listen. Is he dead? And every time, she jerks when a gasping, strangled choke rises from the depths of Harry.

She lifts her chin and finally looks at him. Her husband. The man she married over twenty years ago. ‘Til death do us part.’ She scowls. Well, how long is that going to take? And as quickly, she takes it back.

Harry wasn’t always like this. When she had married him, he had a bright future ahead of him and plenty of plans. They were going to build their own home, have three children and live in style. None of these dreams have come to fruition. The house they started building collapsed into a sinkhole when it was nearly completed. They had one daughter who moved out the day she turned eighteen and is now backpacking across Europe with a known drug dealer named Felipe. And as for living in style…?

She glances around the sad looking room. The sunflower wallpaper―circa 1970s―is peeling in long banana peel strips from the walls in the kitchen area. The dinette set is something they found on, purchased from a couple who were moving to Toronto. Harry has already broken two of the four chairs.

In the living room, the matching couch and armchair in pastel periwinkle sink so low to the ground that it looks as if they will get sucked into the floor and earth below. Another sinkhole perhaps? A wayward spring sometimes jabs Beatrice in the thigh when she sits in the armchair, and the cushion is as flat as a pancake. Harry’s girth has taken care of that.

As her husband approaches, his massive belly flops over his pants and appears below the hem of his t-shirt. The waistband of his dirty track pants disappears beneath the drooping mass of dough-like flesh that hangs below his crotch. Oh, and there’s his bellybutton. You could hide a bar of soap in that.

Harry’s limbs are short and thick, tapering at the wrists and ankles, then flaring out into misshapen hands and feet that are always swollen and red. He scuffles and shuffles rather than walks, stopping to catch his breath every so often. Think of a gigantic Galapagos tortoise moving across the sand and you’ll get the picture.

“Our savings is nearly gone,” she says softly.

* * *

The only sound in the room is a ripping fart that Harry forces out as he passes her. He’s been into the mini pepperoni sticks again, with a platter of eggs, it seems―by the noxious potpourri that simmers in the air.

“Maybe you can teach some extra classes at the college,” he replies.

Beatrice bites her tongue. She already works full time teaching at an elementary school, plus she teaches the occasional adult class at Grant MacEwan. The college is already booked for courses for the next six months.

“I really think it’s time you find more work,” she persists.

“I wish you’d stop saying that.”

He moves to the fridge, grabs another beer and waddles back to his recliner. He wipes his perspiring brow with the back of a chubby hand. His fingers look like sausages ready to explode from their casings. Then he reaches into the bowl of popcorn, flops back into his chair and picks up the remote control, thereby completing his exercise regime.

Beatrice clamps her mouth shut.

When is the last time I saw him without that godforsaken remote control in hand?

She remembers. Last spring, they’d taken a plane trip to New Brunswick to visit Harry’s ailing mother. It wasn’t a cheap trip either; they had to pay for three seats―two for Harry.

And how long has it been since we’ve gone to a movie?

The last time, poor Harry wedged himself into the theatre chair so tightly that it took Beatrice, three attendants and some of that fake butter topping to dislodge him. On the drive home, she saw him wipe his fingers over his greasy jeans and lick each plump digit. It was obscene.

She misses the old Harry. The slimmer one.

When’s the last time he kissed me or told me he loves me? How long’s it been since we made love?

She shakes her head. Sex is completely out of the question. The last time they tried, she ended up with a dislocated hip and two fractured ribs, not to mention acid reflux symptoms that lingered for days afterward. They even tried to be adventurous, with her on top, but that only made things difficult to locate, and the last thing Beatrice wanted to do was go digging around under the sweaty layers of stomach and between Harry’s cellulite-dimpled, thunderous thighs. Plus Harry can’t lie on his back for long anyway. He might pass out.

So why does she stay with him? After all, their daughter is grown and has flown the coop, leaving behind a tired old hen and an obese rooster who has no more “cock-a” in his “doodle-do”.

She watches him now, a longing in her heart, wishing so desperately that he would return to the Harry she once admired and loved. Can it be that that man is gone permanently?

* * *

Beatrice recalls the day they were married.

The wedding was simple and sweet, and it took place a few months after college. Harry, decked out in a three-piece Armani suit that he’d borrowed from his brother, looked like the popular football jock that he was; Beatrice, wearing an elegant white dress cut low in the back, was the class valedictorian. She’d been so happy back then…and so in love. And Harry? Why, he’d literally swept her off her feet in a short five months.

Now he can barely lift his own feet.

They’d had such innocent dreams for their future together. She was going to teach wonderful, sweet children to read and write, maybe even homeschool their three equally wonderful and sweet offspring. Harry would own a plumbing company, hiring at least ten contractors, and they’d specialize in new homes. They’d target all the local builders and coax them with special deals. They’d all make a fortune.

But instead, reality had given her a classroom of unruly, spoiled children, a hectic schedule and one child of her own whom she’d had no time to homeschool. Harry’s company lost customers daily because of his poor work ethic and the three contractors he’d hired last fall had all quit. Better pay elsewhere, they’d all said.

Beatrice catches sight of her reflection in the mirror above the dinette table. What happened to me?

Her thin lips are pursed in discontent as she flicks a look over her shoulder and stares at the protuberance in the recliner. Things have got to change around here, she thinks.

She hangs Harry’s shirt over a wooden chair. “Goodnight, Harry.” She pauses in the doorway.

In answer, her husband of twenty years points the remote at the television and switches channels.

Beatrice can’t take much more of this.

She turns away. I wish that things would change.

Be careful what you wish for, Beatrice.

* * *

On this night―the night that ‘IT’ happens―the weather takes on the frightening quality of an orchestra gone awry. A merciless, miasmic symphony of heat and humidity is brewing, churning the heavens into a hazy, hellish hue of burnt amber. Bitter black clouds as dense as tar pits clash overhead. Hot rain is spat out, a trumpeting torrent that splatters and spreads into running rivers, flooding the grass and streets. Jagged lightning spears are thrown down to earth, landing with precision in a field of sleeping cattle, then on a power line, causing the lights in Harry’s rented abode to flicker. Thunder booms through the tiny two-bedroom house and an enraged wind drums on the doors, windows and the stove vent.

A pile of long overdue bills that Beatrice has left on the coffee table flutters to the ground, caught in a fluted draft that seeps under the front door and across the living room, and Harry shivers. The electricity in the air makes the hairs on his arms stand at attention.

“Goddamn storm,” he mutters.

He knows that Beatrice is probably tossing and turning in the bedroom down the hall, but he isn’t finished keeping his ever-vigilant watch of the small screen before him. There’s fifteen minutes left of the hockey game and he’s got a vested interest in the score. He’s wagered a thousand dollars he took in increments of one hundred from their savings. One thousand dollars for the home team to win.

And he has a feeling…

The doorbell rings. His pizza is here.

He pays the delivery guy, who yawns sleepily and hands him the two-for-one box.

“Keep the change,” Harry says, handing the guy a twenty.

The man gives him a scowl. “Thanks, buddy. I may be able to pay for the gas with that…uh,” he looks at the receipt, “forty-eight cents.”

Harry closes the door and waddles back to his chair, clutching the pizza box like an excited child holding a Christmas present. He opens the box, inhales about a thousand calories in one breath and downs a pizza in record time. He’s starting on the second one when something crackles.

Harry jumps. “What the―?”

The lights wink again. Off, on.

“There’d better not be a power failure,” he yells at the television.

The game is in the final minute.

“Come on! Get the goddamn puck, you assholes. Now, shoot it!”

He holds his breath, watching as the tiny puck on the screen glides across the ice toward the net.



Monday, March 28, 2011


PSYCHE'S PROPHECY Transformation Series Book One by Ann Gimpel

What if your psychotherapist could really see into your soul? Picture all those secrets lying hidden, perhaps squirming a bit, just out of view. Would you invite your analyst to take a peek behind that gossamer curtain? Read your aura? Scry your future?

Classically trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Doctor Lara McInnis has a special gift that helps her with her patients. Born with "the sight" she can read auras, while flirting with a somewhat elusive ability to foretell the future. Lara becomes alarmed when several of her patients - and a student or two - tell her about the same cataclysmic dream.

When she reaches out to the Institute for answers, Lara's paranormal ability sounds a sharp warning and she runs up hard against a dead end. Her search for assistance leads her to a Sidhe, and ancient Celtic rituals blaze their way into her life. Complicating the picture are: a deranged patient who's been hell-bent on destroying Lara ever since she tried to help his abused wife; a boyfriend with a long-buried secret and a society that's crumbling to dust, as shortages of everything from electricity to food escalate.


Chapter One

Lara McInnis fidgeted in the ginger-colored overstuffed chair taking up most of one corner of her cozy psychotherapy office. Schooling her face to neutrality, she tried to gin up some energy to support her quarreling clients. Bethany Beauchamp wasn’t saying all that much, though; and her husband was cataloging her faults, clicking them off one by one on his fat fingers. Wonder why they really wanted to come here? Lara asked herself, searching for an opportunity to intervene. Aha, there it was.

“Mister Beauchamp,” she murmured, voice pitched purposefully low so he’d have to stop talking in order to hear her.

“Yes, what?” He sounded irritated, voice scratchy from too many cigarettes. “You interrupted me.”

“Yes, I know. But I was interested in what you were saying and I didn’t quite catch that last part before I, um, interrupted. Might you be so kind as to repeat it for me?” Oh-oh. Watch the sarcasm.

Ken Beauchamp straightened self-importantly in his chair, carefully slicking back a couple of mouse-brown hairs that had fallen out of place in his too-careful comb over. Uncrossing short, chubby legs encased in expensive suiting, he turned so he could look right at her with close-set blue eyes. Broken blood vessels along the sides of his nose suggested a far-too-intimate relationship with alcoholic beverages.

“We pay you quite well. The least you could do is be attentive,” he complained, an unpleasant whiny note in his voice.

She nodded, offering a silent invitation to speak to her rather than to his wife who looked exhausted. Bethany’s eight-month pregnancy dragged at her tall, slender frame and dark smudges under her hazel eyes detracted from her showgirl beauty. Light auburn hair fell in limp curls to her shoulders. Though only in her early thirties, today she looked ten years older.

After an imperceptible pause Ken took the bait and, rather than repeating his last statement as requested, he started in on Lara. “Well, Doctor, you’ve been late for our appointments twice out of the ten we’ve scheduled. None of the things you’ve suggested work and our marriage isn’t any better than it was the day we walked in here.” He sat back in his chair, a smug smile on his florid face.

“Which things have you tried?” It was difficult to keep her features pleasant. She was coming to detest Ken Beauchamp and suspected his wife felt much the same. Stealing a glance at her other patient, Lara noticed Bethany seemed to be trying not to cry. Reaching over, Lara handed her the box of Kleenex she always kept next to her chair. “Mister Beauchamp?” she urged. “What things have you tried? I need to know so I can work with you to figure out what might be more effective.” Or, so I can find an excuse to refer you to another therapist.

Ken’s face reddened even more. “I’m sure we’ve tried some of them,” he said defensively. Shifting his bulky body around in his chair, he shot his uncomfortable wife an intimidating look. “Beth, the good doctor here is asking what we’ve tried.”

Withering under her husband’s knife-like stare, Bethany burst into tears, choking on the word, “N-nothing,” as she buried her face in her hands. Outside of her soft sobbing, the corner office, morning sun streaming through leaded-glass window panes, was absolutely silent.

Lara leaned forward, her dark luminous eyes moving from Ken to Bethany. “It’s like I told both of you when you first came here, I can’t fix your marriage. Only you can do that. But, for there to be any improvement, you have to be willing to listen to one another. We’re nearly at the end of today’s hour, but frankly there’s not much reason for you to spend your money coming here week after week just so I can listen to you argue and try to referee. Go home and have an honest discussion this morning while everything’s still fresh. Figure out if you really want to continue seeing me. If the answer is ‘yes’, call me and come on back next week. If the answer is ‘no’, well . . .” She let her last words hang in the air, realizing she was hoping to never have to see Mister Beauchamp again.

“Uh, here.” Ken rustled around in an inner jacket pocket coming up with a well-creased piece of paper. “Sign this.”

Taking the paper from him, she flipped it open. Damn the man. He’d been court-ordered to attend marriage counseling and he hadn’t told her. In fact, neither of them had. Fuming, she hastily checked the box verifying attendance at ten sessions, signed the document and handed it back to him. “You should have told me, Mister Beauchamp. We might have done things a bit differently.” We sure would have, since I never accept court-referred clients. He just looked at her as he snatched up the paper, a feral smile adding a malevolent note to his already-unattractive face.

“Thank you, Doctor McInnis.” Bethany’s voice was still clotted with tears as she planted her feet beneath her ample belly, then struggled to her feet. Standing, Lara held out her hand and Bethany latched onto it like a lifeline. The two women looked down at Ken who hadn’t made the slightest effort to leave his chair. He was chewing on his lower lip, his face the color of a boiled lobster.

Acting on impulse, Lara let go of Bethany’s hand and gestured to her. “I’ll just walk your wife down to the ladies’ room, Mister Beauchamp, so she can put some cold water on her face. She’ll meet you at the car.”

Pulling the office door open, she exchanged a meaningful glance with her receptionist. “Arabel, could you please see Mister Beauchamp out?”

Without waiting for a reply, she took Bethany’s elbow, pushing her out into the hallway. As soon as they were safely out of the office, Lara turned to Bethany. “He hurts you, doesn’t he?” Her voice was the barest of whispers as she remembered the little she’d been able to drag out of Ken about his obscenely violent childhood.

A single tear leaked from one of Bethany’s eyes as she mumbled, “I, uh, can’t, um, shouldn’t . . .” They had reached the bathroom and were both inside the tiny enclosure. Lara waited, regarding her patient intently with well-honed inner senses. But Bethany maintained an edgy silence, the ragged, darkened edges of her aura radiating a gloomy melancholy. Probing with her psychic side, Lara suddenly knew much of what the woman was unwilling to divulge. And then—as was often the case when she used her gift—she wished she’d left well enough alone.

Reaching into a pocket of her plaid wool skirt, Lara pulled out a pen and one of her cards, scribbling a number on the back. “If things get bad, make an excuse, any excuse. Tell him you’re going out for a walk. Bring your cell phone and call this number. They help women like you.”

Bethany’s hand snaked out and she took the card; then a frantic look washed over her. “But what if he finds the number?” she whimpered.

“It doesn’t matter. They won’t talk to him.” Lara laid a hand on Bethany’s arm. “You probably need to get down to your car. Maybe you could come in and talk to me by yourself.”

“He’d never let me.” Dull voice matching her dead eyes, Bethany let herself out into the corridor and began walking, with the awkward gait of the very-pregnant, towards the stairs.

Back in her office, Lara stopped at Arabel’s desk. “Who else do I have today?”

Hooking her thumb out the door, Arabel asked, “What’s up with them? The mister, he seemed pretty put out. For a minute there I didn’t think I was gonna git him out of the office.”

“You know I can’t discuss patients with you, dear. Or, at least we have to pretend we don’t talk about them.” Lara smiled fondly at the elderly Black woman who had been her sole office help for over twenty years. Arabel was dressed in her usual white blouse, navy gabardine skirt and black flats. An ancient maroon sweater hung over the back of her secretarial chair. Hair in a modified mostly-gray afro, she had a piquant sense of humor and a quick temper that was sparking from her nearly-black eyes.

“Hmmmmph . . .” Arabel bristled, mouth twisted into a frown. “You know I got nobody I’d be tellin’ anything to. Never have.”

“Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to your feelings.” Lara held out a conciliatory hand. “Truce?”

Arabel cocked her head to one side, the corners of her mouth twitching as she reached up to shake hands. “Truce. Never could stay mad at you. Not for long, anyways.” Turning back to the computer, she brought up the day’s schedule on the monitor. “David Roth cancelled, so you’re free till one thirty. Then you got folk packed in here till close to eight.”

Lara walked around the desk so she could look at the screen. Groaning audibly, she glanced at her watch. “Okay, I’m going to swing by the gym and then grab some lunch. Call me if anything comes up.”

“You got it.” Arabel’s voice followed Lara into her office where she grabbed her purse and her BlackBerry, locked her client file drawers and let herself out the back door.

Lara’s office was in an old, pale blue Victorian on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. She’d bought the building for a song about ten years before because someone had thought there were problems with the foundation. There had been some structural deficiencies, but they’d proven relatively trivial to fix. Split into four offices, her building was home to an architect and a CPA on the first floor, and herself and a psychiatrist on the second. Walking through a carpet of leaves that had fallen off the Madrona trees thickly lining East Avenue, Lara hit the clicker and heard the answering chirp from her nearby BMW.

As she drove, Lara thought about the Beauchamps. She’d spent an unusually long time—at least the first five sessions—gathering a history from them. One problem had been Ken’s reticence to disclose much of anything. Persistence and caginess had paid off, though, and he’d told her far more than he’d meant to about the French-Irish gang-affiliated father who’d turned him out as a child prostitute at the age of eight. His mother had abandoned the family when he was so young he had no memories of her at all, just oodles of anger Lara suspected he generalized to all women . . . including her. By contrast, Bethany’s meager life story had tumbled out with very little prodding. Not that hers read much better than her husband’s.

Fears for Bethany nagged at her. “What if they want to come back?” she asked herself softly. “Should I see them?” Pulling into the parking lot for her fitness center, Lara knew she’d turn that question over in her mind as she moved through her workout. Once she lost her objectivity—and any empathy she’d tried to develop for Ken had long since evaporated—it became progressively more difficult to work with clients. She’d learned some hard lessons over the years, including that it was usually better to cut the cord sooner rather than later.

“Hi Tony!” Dropping her membership card onto the glass countertop, she snagged the proffered key and towel from the tall well-sculpted front desk attendant and headed down the lushly carpeted stairs.

“Have a good workout, Doc! Power’s on today so all the machines are available,” Tony’s throaty voice trailed after her.

Pulling her longish coppery hair into a snug ponytail, she was just pocketing her locker key when she heard her phone trilling its Bach Etude. Wrinkling her forehead in irritation, she stuffed the key back into its hole, retrieved the phone and barked, “Doctor McInnis,” without bothering to look at the screen.

“Hey there, Lara. It’s me.” The clipped British accent of Trevor, her long time, live-in lover, came through the tinny cellular system. “Sorry to bother you, love, but the power’s off again . . . at least on Queen Anne Hill.” He paused. “Thought you’d want to know.”

She found she was gripping the plastic of her BlackBerry. “Again? But that’s the third time since, let’s see, last Wednesday. How long did they say this time? Or did they? Or did you even call? What about the food in the freezer?” She stopped abruptly, realizing her voice had become unnecessarily shrill. “Sorry,” she muttered. “I’m just worried, that’s all.”

“I know, I know. That’s why I called you.” There was a hesitation. “Guess I’m worried too, and I just wanted someone to talk to.”

She closed her eyes, summoning an image of him with his Nordic features and summer-blue eyes. He was a flight attendant for KLM airlines, which meant he only worked about fifteen days each month. She’d met him ages ago on a return flight from Europe where she’d been completing the last leg of her analytic training at the Jung Institute in Zurich. Exhausted from a grueling six weeks of seeing patients, she’d been half-asleep in her narrow airline seat and he’d solicitously brought her tea and cookies. Lara wasn’t quite sure how it had happened, but he’d come home with her that night and they’d been together ever since. Those first few years had been more than a bit rocky. In fact, she’d run screaming from their home a time or two, so she wouldn’t kill him on the spot. But something indefinable—in fact she still didn’t truly understand what it was—had always drawn her back.

Sinking into one of the wicker chairs in a corner of the locker room, she felt a less-than-vague sense of unease tugging at her. “What do you think it means? Have you any idea?” There was a very long silence, so long she finally said, “Trev, you still there?”

“Yes, Lara, I am.” His accent was more pronounced, so she knew he was debating whether or not to give voice to his thoughts. Finally, he blurted, “I think we’re really running out of oil this time. Not like all those other times when the government stock-piled it and then released it after the price sky-rocketed. You wouldn’t know about this, since you’re such a news-phobe and I gas up the cars, but it was really hard to find petrol last month. Damned near impossible, actually.

“If what I suspect is true, everything that takes oil to run will eventually go tits-up.” He paused to draw what sounded like a frazzled breath before adding, “We might have been all right here in the northwest with all our hydroelectric power, except the rest of the country’s been draining power off our grid to compensate for their shortages. That’s been in all the papers since our state lawmakers have been kicking up a fuss in D.C. Anyway,” his voice was brusque, “I’m cooking up what I can from the freezer. We can talk more about this when you come home. If you get any breaks today, think about how you’d feel if we had to leave the city. Whoops, my cell’s ringing. See you tonight.”

Slipping her phone back into her locker, Lara walked towards the aerobics room and jumped on one of the elliptical trainers. She wanted to come to some decision about Bethany and her husband, but the conversation with Trevor kept intruding. Damn it, she thought irritably. He hung up before I could even react to that whole doomsday scenario he laid out. Hmmmmph! Probably didn’t want to give me a chance to talk him out of it. Meantime, I’m supposed to think about leaving the city? Where the hell would we go?

Mopping at sweat that was trickling down her face, Lara glanced at her reflection in the mirrors covering almost every wall. Staring back at her was a tall, too-thin redhead with freckles covering every inch of exposed skin. Her angular face, with its prominent nose and chin, glistened in the reflected light. Moving to the treadmill, she set it for six-and-a-half miles an hour and ran hard for ten minutes. Gasping, she slowly backed off on the speed, while increasing the angle. Ten minutes after that, she sucked down what felt like a quart of water from the drinking fountain and stopped by the squat rack to do three sets. Finishing with twenty pull-ups, she headed for the locker room and the showers.

Briskly toweling off, she felt animated and dynamic, the problems with power outages and the Ken Beauchamps of the world temporarily pushed to a back burner. Nothing like a few endorphins, she told herself, inhaling deeply. Making plans to get a smoothie-to-go with extra protein powder from the small on-site restaurant, she contemplated the afternoon’s lineup of patients.

Out of the six scheduled, there was one analytic client, two angry teenagers: a cutter and a bulimic, another couple and two lonely, middle-aged women, one depressed, the other anxious. Too bad it’s unethical to introduce patients to one another . . . outside of a therapy group that is. Lara chuckled softly to herself. She loved doing analytic work, but there weren’t many who really wanted to delve that deeply into themselves. Not to mention the cost. For analysis to be truly effective, patients needed to come three, or even four, times a week. “Magic theater, not for everyone,” she mumbled as she picked up her smoothie, a tofu bar and some green tea before heading for her car. The sun, an elusive phenomenon in Seattle, was nowhere in sight and it was raining lightly. While not cold, the day held some of the crispness typical of mid-October. Her phone chimed again but she ignored it, figuring she’d be back at her office in less than five minutes.

* * *

“Can you tell me what goes on inside you before you start cutting?” Lara took in the overweight seventeen-year-old, sitting catty-corner from her, arms and legs covered with a network of fine white scars from years of self-mutilation. Caren would have been attractive, with her silky black hair and porcelain skin, were it not for the miasma of absolute misery emanating outwards from her like a spider’s web set to trap the unwary. The girl had been coming to therapy for a month, but had been steadfastly unwilling to divulge anything.

“I suppose I could tell you, but I don’t really want to,” the teenager spat. “You don’t care about me. You see me because my stepmother pays you. This is nothing but a fucking waste of time.” Folding her arms across her chest, she stared defiantly at Lara.

Lara watched her patient intently. Caren squirmed in her chair, eyes glued to the floor. “Caren, would you look at me, please?”

“Why?” The girl sounded sullen.

“Because I want you to see I’m telling you the truth when I say I do care about you. You’ve had a perfectly rotten life and you have every right not to trust anybody.”

Caren risked a sidelong glance at her. “How do you know anything about my life? I haven’t told you very much.”

Lara was silent for several seconds. Even without her ability to read auras, she’d have been able to figure out a likely script for Caren’s early life: molested, physically abused and emotionally neglected. “What we really need to talk about is a plan so you have something to do besides carving on yourself when you feel bad. Once we can come up with that, we can talk about anything you’d like.”

“Can I take a bathroom break?”

Lara nodded. “Second door on the left outside of my office.” Watching the teenager leave, she wondered if she’d made a mistake. What if she has razors with her and cuts herself in my bathroom? How do I explain that to her parents? Making a conscientious effort to breathe, Lara glanced at her watch deciding to give Caren five minutes before going after her. Trying to summon her elusive ability to predict future events, she came up dry while wishing fervently there was a shaman somewhere who could teach her about her psychic abilities. “Yes, but first you have to be willing to tell people you can do those things,” she muttered. “You’ve always been afraid they’d cart you off to the loony bin.”

With just ten seconds to spare, Caren sidled back through the door. She had a mulish look on her face and Lara knew her young patient would bolt if given the slightest excuse.

“Thanks for coming back,” Lara offered, attempting to soothe the alienated girl.

“Thanks for trusting me to leave.” Caren resettled herself in one of the comfortable chairs across from Lara. The barest of smiles ghosted across her face and she took a deep breath. “This is really hard to talk about . . .”

“Yes, I know. But nothing you say leaves here.”

“That’s almost not the point,” the teenager mumbled, twisting in her chair. “Talking makes it hurt more.”

Lara nodded and, as she looked at Caren, scenes flashed quickly, one after the other: a woman holding a small screaming girl down then doing unspeakable things, brutal beatings, cigarettes pressed into tender flesh. Lara closed her eyes, sucking down a surreptitious ragged breath. “Yes, it does hurt to talk about it,” she agreed. “But that’s the only way out. If you keep everything bottled up inside, you’ll just keep cutting . . . The first part is always hardest. After that it won’t be quite so bad.”

“How can you know that?” Caren risked a sideways glance at her.

“’Cause I’ve done this for a long time.” Lara paused. “And I’ve got no reason to lie to you.”

Caren raised crystalline-blue eyes and Lara saw a scared little girl, living behind teenaged bravado, desperately wanting to trust someone . . . anyone, but frightened half out of her mind at taking that first small step. After a very long time, Caren began hesitantly, in a voice so low Lara had to strain to hear her. “It feels like I have to cut or something terrible will happen. I try to fight it, but I always lose . . .”

“What do the voices that live in your head tell you?”

“How do you know about them?” Caren sounded rattled. Fear flitted across her face; and she folded her arms protectively across her chest. “I didn’t tell you . . .”

“Because everybody who cuts has voices that tell them things, before they tell them to cut. It’s okay to talk to me about them. The voices don’t mean you’re crazy.”

Caren’s eyes closed. Her head dropped back against the chair. As Lara watched, one tear escaped, rolling down the girl’s pale face. Time passed. Lara knew it was impossible to force anyone to reveal their secrets. Clients had to come to an inner juncture where they believed the pain of disclosure would be worth the risk. Fleetingly, she thought about how lonely and isolated the teenager must be. Just like I was . . .

“Doctor McInnis?” Caren’s voice was thready, almost not there at all.

“Yes, dear.”

“You said everybody who cuts has voices telling them things. Have you helped other people like me?”

Lara nodded, then realized Caren couldn’t see her because her eyes were still closed. “Yes,” she said simply. “I have.”

“Did they stop cutting?”

“Some of them did.”

The girl seemed to consider this. She opened her eyes, shiny with unshed tears, and looked pleadingly at Lara. “You must be telling me the truth,” she said in a choked voice.

“How can you tell?” Lara smiled gently and, she hoped, encouragingly.

“Otherwise you would have told me all your other stupid, fucked-up cutter patients got well.”

“You’re not stupid, or fucked-up.”

“Yes, I am. And fat and ugly too.” Caren was struggling not to cry.

“That’s what the voices tell you, isn’t it?”

Caren nodded miserably, giving in to a flood of emotion.

“It’s all right,” Lara murmured. “Cry. This is a good place for your tears. Here’s more Kleenex. I think you’re courageous. Maybe we can re-program those voices to say good things.”

Caren shook her head vehemently. “Nothing good . . . never.” The words choked out between sobs.

“I want you to take a few deep breaths,” Lara urged, waiting for the girl’s emotional storm to subside. “Now I want you to listen, just listen. None of what happened to you was your fault. And it doesn’t matter how I know.” Lara held up a hand to still Caren’s protests. “You were a child. None of those things happened because you were fat or ugly or stupid. They happened because your caregivers were sadly damaged . . .”


Sunday, March 27, 2011

ENDLESS LUST by Lexxie Couper

ENDLESS LUST - Seven Deadly Daemons, Book Two by Lexxie Couper

Cate Sinclair is ruled by lust. Day and night, awake and dreaming, an unseen force plies her with pleasure to the point of pain. Each orgasm wrenched from her exhausted body stealing her energy, her very essence, until insanity seems a sweet relief.

When Eamon enters her life, Cate's uncertain if the gorgeous, enigmatic man is her salvation...or the cause of her worst nightmares.

Reader Advisory: Our heroine endures endless amounts of forced seduction. But how do you fight advances from an enemy you can't see?


By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.

An Excerpt From: ENDLESS LUST

Copyright © LEXXIE COUPER, 2011

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

“Going to fuck you.”

The whispered voice growled in her ear a second before she was pushed backward. Not a gentle shove, but a violent punch to her chest that sent her flying across the room. She slammed into the wall, the textured surface scraping her back as she dropped to the floor, her teeth clicking together in a painful jolt.

“What the fu—”

Something wet plunged into her mouth. Hard. Demanding. Hands ripped at her flesh. Fingers shoved into her sex, wriggling deep inside her, seeking the innermost heat of her body. She writhed, dark ribbons of unwanted pleasure spearing through her.

This can’t…what…what…!

Unseen teeth bit at her bottom lip. More fingers scratched at her nipple. Pinched it. Twisted it. She cried out, the sound muffled by a mouth that wasn’t there. Hands mauled her breasts. A heavy weight pressed down on her, something large and solid shoving between her already-splayed legs to push them wider apart.

Heat blasted the side of her face, like a hot breath panting in her ear, against her throat. The weight pushing down on her hips grew heavier, something rock-hard and oh so hot sliding upward…

Her earlier arousal vanished, replaced with terror. She lashed out, her arms connecting with nothing.


Nothing’s there, Cate. Nothing is—

It stopped. Everything.

Cate lay on the floor, staring around her empty bedroom, her breath tearing from her in rapid gasps.

The air was still, the room silent.

She swallowed, her mouth dry, and let out a strangled whimper when the sour taste of garlic and bad breath slid over her taste buds.

No, you’re imagining it. You have to be.

Her heart thumped, forcing blood through her veins and making her chilled limbs tingle with heat.

That didn’t happen, Cate. Get up. Get to work. Now.

She scrambled to her feet, unwilling to blink. Unwilling to close her eyes for even a second to a room mocking her with its emptiness.

And it was empty. As empty as the bathroom had been. As empty as it had been when she’d fallen asleep the previous night.

There’s no one here. You know what that means, don’t you?

She drew in a slow breath, raising a hand to her mouth to wipe at her lips. Her dry lips.

Nothing happened to you, Catey.

So why did her body ache? Why were her breasts swollen with an unspeakable, disturbing desire? Why were the insides of her upper thighs damp with an orgasm her body told her she’d had?

She turned and looked at herself in the mirrored door of her cupboard. Not a mark marred her skin. Not even the love bite.

A tight knot rolled in her stomach.

“It didn’t happen,” she growled to her reflection. “Go to work. Get your promotion and then make a doctor’s appointment, a cat-scan, an MRI.”

Her stomach clenched again but she ignored it. What other option did she have? Either admit she was crazy and check herself into the nearest booby hatch, or go to work.

With a determined glare, she jerked open her cupboard and snatched out a pair of jeans, followed by an old Astro-Boy T-shirt. Her hands shook, her muscles seeming to resist her brain’s commands. With a muttered curse, she yanked on her jeans, her still-damp skin making them cling to her legs. She didn’t care. Nor did she care she’d completely neglected to put on underwear first.

Fuck it. She didn’t need underpants. She needed to get to work. That’s what she needed to do.

At least put on a bra.

A slight movement flashed in the corner of her eye and she snapped her head around, staring into her bathroom through the open door across the hall. The glass bird hanging in the closed window spun slowly on its line, its wings spread, its beak open in a perpetual cry.

Silence stretched through the bedroom, sliding over Cate where she stood half-dressed. She swallowed, staring hard at the bird.

Its slow rotations ceased; its movement stilling until it hung motionless again.

Without removing her stare from the glass ornament, Cate quickly donned a bra, her heart beating faster as she hurried to dress…

And felt the featherlight caress of something soft—a paintbrush?—stroking against her belly as she fought with the armholes of her T-shirt.

She screamed, staggering backward, blinded by the garment. Her heel snagged on the bedroom rug and she fell, her raised arms still tangled in her T-shirt. Her hip smashed into one solid post of her bed frame, the oak column punching into her bone as she toppled sideways onto the bed.

Agonizing pain shot through her, spearing down her leg. She cried out, her arms inexplicably bound by a shirt that now felt like strong, coarse rope, and still the brushwork continued on her belly. Stroking higher, following the line of her rib cage, her breasts, and she couldn’t do anything about it. Then the brushstrokes were replaced with tongue strokes…

She was in full-blown panic mode. Flailing wildly in a petrified attempt to free her arms, to understand what was happening. Thrashing on her bed as her hip screamed in pain and a tongue lapped at her breasts and nipples through the lace of her bra. She recognized the panic. Knew she should fight for calm.

But she couldn’t. All she could do was flail on the bed, choking on wild sobs, as another orgasm began to build.

All she could do was gasp and whimper and arch her back as the tongue laving her breasts became a mouth sucking on her nipples. Sucking hard.

And when she came once more, her climax as brutal as the mouth on her breasts, she swore she felt the brushstrokes again. Soft and delicate and purposeful. Painting her body. Creating her even as her orgasm destroyed her. Sucked the energy from her.

Cate sobbed in fear, in rage. “This isn’t happening! This isn’t happ—”

A tongue plunged into her mouth, swiped at her lips…

And then she was alone.

Alone. And freaking the fuck out.


Thursday, March 24, 2011


EMERALD DUNGEON - A story in the 1-800-DOM-help series by Kathy Kulig

Dana's summer job as a musician in an Irish castle takes an adventurous turn after she witnesses a BDSM scene in the dungeon, and her submissive side awakens. Jack is a sexy Dominant who recognizes the sub smoldering beneath her demure exterior. His skillful commands take Dana beyond her darkest erotic fantasies.

Whips, restraints and increasing levels of pain heighten her passion, but complete surrender and ecstasy are out of her reach. Secrets and strange events around the castle only add to the couple's troubles. Will a summer affair be enough to find what they both need? The appearance of a mysterious business card may help guide them. If Dana can accept Jack with complete trust and surrender, then ultimate pleasure and true love are possible.


By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.


Copyright © KATHY KULIG, 2011

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

After working in a security company for thirteen years, force of habit had her scanning the castle walls for security cameras or spotlights. No cameras, minimal lighting, no motion sensors. She hoped the park had a better system in place inside, considering the castle was supposed to have fifteenth- and sixteenth-century furnishings.

Why did the castle have to be closed today? Just her luck. She walked up the drawbridge and tried the door and sure enough it was locked. Crap. Maybe it wasn’t so easy to break into a castle.

Walking around the building, she ran her hand along the rough stone. Five hundred years old. What would it have been like to live here centuries ago? What was it going to be like to entertain here? She hadn’t practiced in over two weeks since she’d shipped her harp. Even though the audiences for the dinner shows would be small, her stomach knotted up as if she was about to perform at a huge symphony hall.

She was three-quarters around the building when she discovered a small alcove and a wooden service door at the end of the narrow walkway. Dana tried this door and it opened. She shook her head. Very poor security. She should mention this to Jack and make some recommendations while she was here.

A narrow curved stairway led up. The castle was huge and she preferred to know the layout of the place since the first show would be in a couple of days. One flight up opened onto a great hall. A few tapestries hung on the walls between giant windows and heavy dark chairs and one table took up one wall. They’d need more tables to seat guests. There must be another room.

Dana crossed the hall to another doorway that led to a different stairway and was about to climb, when she saw a flickering glow from the darkness below. Fire? Could the castle be on fire? Wiring or the furnishings could be. She trotted down the circular stone stairs.

Darkness crept in around her except for the golden, flickering light from the basement. Walking through another doorway, she thought she heard voices but she wasn’t sure. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up.

As she rounded a stone partition, the room brightened. Flames flickered within a half dozen wrought iron sconces, a fire burned in a small stone fireplace. The room smelled of sweet burning wood and damp stone. At the far wall two people hovered in shadows. Dana remained in her circle of darkness at the bottom of the stairs, unable to take her eyes away from the sight.

The woman was naked, her wrists and ankles bound with straps that hung from the ceiling. Her arms and legs were spread wide in a V shape. As Dana took a closer look, she saw the woman was cradled in a narrow hammock rigging that supported her back and bottom. Her pussy and anus lay open wide and metal clamps were attached to her nipples. Dana winced at the distended tips protruding from the tight clamps. The woman was also wearing a blindfold. The other person, wearing a hooded robe, was male. She could tell by his bare legs and feet. His back was facing Dana.

A rush of heat, then cold crept through her. Wrapping her arms around her waist, her first instinct was to escape and call for help. Then she stepped back and searched for a weapon, planning to do some damage to the guy if the woman needed help. Instead, Dana froze at the bottom of the stairs. Attacking this man was not a good idea if the woman was a willing participant. She would watch long enough to make sure the woman was okay.

There were people who got into this kinky stuff. Why this woman would allow this man to do these things, Dana couldn’t fathom. “More, slave?” the man in the robe asked the woman.

The woman nodded. “Yes, Master, if it pleases you.” His fingers stroked the narrow thatch of dark hair between her legs, avoiding the glistening folds of her pussy. The woman squirmed and tried lifting her hips.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FINAL RETRIBUTION by Marion Webb-De Sisto

FINAL RETRIBUTION: Book Three of the Angelic Chronicles by Marion Webb-De Sisto

Life as the powerful ruler of Abbadon is becoming intolerable for Samael. The exiled archangel is lonely, embittered and bored. He has lost Malkura's love and even Seriel, his loyal brother, is gone from his side. Now, only fallen angels, demons and tormented humans are his constant companions. Yet into this hellish existence comes the beautiful and compassionate Angel Manah. Will she deny the increasing love she feels for this condemned soul, or can he persuade her to join him in endless damnation?

This final book of the Fantasy trilogy explores the ultimate retribution of the archangel, who fell from grace and became the Devil. Is he, like Seriel, restored to his former glory or ruined for all of eternity?



Samael’s hand moved up to her hair and removed the comb. As her long tresses draped around her shoulders, he informed, “I have no desire to further discuss the Source. Instead, let me show you how pleased I am to have you back here with me.” He tilted her chin, brought his face close to hers and thought-whispered, “Do you know how to kiss, Angel Manah?”

Now, pure panic took hold of Manah. Angels had told her about the different ways in which humans expressed affection, and she had seen Toa and Belu kiss. Therefore, she knew it was an intimate action. The seraph squirmed away from the archangel, pushing against his arms and wings, trying desperately to get off his lap. “Let me go, Lord Samael! I know how humans kiss and I do not want you to do that to me.”

He kept a tight hold on her with one hand while he cradled her head with the other. As his face drew close, Samael declared, “But I wish to kiss you, my little angel.” He slightly tilted his head and his lips touched hers. At first she could barely feel any contact, and then suddenly there was probing pressure. Manah wanted to fight against this unfamiliar intimacy, but as it continued she became a part of it. She pressed her mouth against his and was consumed by waves of unleashed emotion. Her lips parted, as did his, and she felt his tongue exploring the contours of her mouth. The angel’s consciousness screamed at her to stop, but she had never before felt so blissful. Manah was trapped by the closeness they were sharing.

The ardent kiss continued on until the archangel finally lifted his mouth from hers and, looking steadily into her eyes, he remarked, “That was even more pleasurable than I could have imagined. I believe I have awakened a passion within you, little angel. We are well-suited to be companions.”

Suddenly, a full realization of what had just happened filled Manah’s thoughts. She had revealed her inner desire for this evil archangel. He now knew she felt drawn to him and it could prove disastrous. She must try to convince him that what she had offered was not genuine, but was instead a result of some form of sorcery by him. Manah almost thought-screamed, “Let me go! You have beguiled me with your archangelic magic. I cannot imagine anything more repulsive than kissing such an evil being. You must have cast an enchantment upon me.”

The first archangel appeared shocked. He opened his wings and released his hold on her. As she jumped up, he declared, “I have practiced no sorcery on you. My kiss was a true reflection of my feelings for you and I thought you were responding in kind. I did not know you think of me as repulsive. On both occasions, when you have visited me, I have attempted to show how much I care about you. I know I have perpetrated much wickedness, but my interest in you is real and has no hidden motivation.”

Samael’s thought-words seemed honest and she wanted to apologize for her harshness. Yet she feared he would wish to hold her, again, if she did. Manah snatched her comb from his open lap, pulled back her long tresses and secured them with the hair adornment. She sat back down on the chair and replied, “I cannot accept what you have stated as truth. You are devious and deceitful so why should I believe you? If you try, again, to behave so intimately with me, I shall immediately end this visit, my lord.”

Apparently having recovered from her surprising outburst, the archangel suggested, “Perhaps you were unaware of your feelings toward me before I kissed you? As I stated, I was not captivating you with any form of magic, therefore, your passionate response must have been sincere. Yet if you wish to deny it, I can understand your reasoning. I am an outcast who should be shunned. Surely that is what the Source told you?”

“No, my lord, our parent referred to you as being precious. I am certain it holds great love for you.”
“Nevertheless, it has exiled me to this vile domain.” He twisted the emerald ring round and round on his index finger, obviously deep in thought. Eventually, he brought his attention back to Manah and asked, “How shall we keep you occupied while you are here, little angel?”

“I do not know, Lord Samael. I certainly have no desire to explore Abbadon and, if you consider it to be vile, why do you remain here? You could enter Lord Michael’s level and become redeemed.”

“Is that what you would have me do, little Manah? For you I might just contemplate a return to the inner levels. Would you give yourself to me if I undertake such a venture?”

Was he jesting with her? He was a powerful archangel and she was just an angel. For once, she had no reply to give to him.

“You have no stinging retort for me, my little angel? Well, let my question remain in your thoughts.”


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A BREATH OF HEATHER by Barbara Clark

Book: Sons of Earth and Wind, Book II; A BREATH OF HEATHER by Barbara Clark

In the second book of her contemporary paranormal romance series, Barbara Clark tells us more about Heather Carter who was introduced in Book I, Tears of the Hawk .

Heather Carter, a gentle psychic with a painful secret, struggles against danger and her attraction to the former covert agent, Quinn Archer.

Quinn, betrayed in the past by a woman with secrets, is stunned by his desire for Heather, a desire he fights. But as he takes on the self-appointed task to protect her, will he learn too late that loving Heather will free him from the chains of the past?


...He drew her right hand to his lips and kissed each fingertip, watching her eyes grow darker. As he touched his tongue to the tender skin between her fingers, she trembled.

“Quinn.” Her breathing quickened, and she laid her fingers on his chest. “This isn’t a good idea.”

“On the contrary. It’s a very good idea,” he said in a low voice, pressing his lips to her palm.

Closing her hand as if to treasure the kiss, she whispered his name.

He stroked his fingers down her arms, and held her. The warm silkiness of her skin, her sweet scent of roses and woman sent the blood pounding through his veins. “I want to taste you again.”

Wordlessly, she lifted her face to him.

Bending his head, he feathered kisses across her forehead to her temples where the blood pulsed under delicate skin. There, he lingered, tasting, savoring the sweetness and the hint of salt.

Overhead, the evening sky was clear and dotted with stars.

The prevailing breeze whirled around them, carrying the scents of fresh grass and flowers.

Brianna’s wind chimes played a mystical sounding melody.

Shifting his hold on Heather, he cradled her head in one hand. Her shimmering hair took on a life of its own, as strands drifted around his wrist. He spread his fingers across the middle of her slender back, holding his eagerness in check. She needed tenderness tonight, not speed.

“I can’t get enough of you,” he muttered, and traced the soft fullness of her lips with the tip of his tongue.

Murmuring his name, she wrapped her arms around his waist, melting and flowing against him.

Her surrender intoxicated him. The blood roared in his ears. A hot wave swept through him, and he struggled to contain the primitive urge to take her right there on the grass.

Then he felt her lips on his throat, and his control snapped. His mouth captured hers in a blaze of passion, his tongue slipping past her teeth to the softness beyond. Her tongue touched and mated with his. She moaned and her fingers dug into his back through the thin barrier of his shirt.

Shifting his stance, he pressed his arousal against the feminine heat between her thighs.

Her low, sensuous sound of approval sent his blood racing in an explosion of need.

He wanted, had to have her now, and to hell with anyone or anything...


Monday, March 21, 2011

THE BUNDLE by Tm Smith

THE BUNDLE - A Vic Fallon Mystery by Tim Smith

Vic Fallon had little use for the rich and famous when he was a police detective and his attitude hasn't changed since he was forced to turn in his badge. When pop singer Kimberly Daniels returns to her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio to promote her latest album, Vic reluctantly agrees to be her bodyguard as a favor for a friend. He isn't told that she has a death threat hanging over her head, with no shortage of suspects.

The set-up takes a bizarre twist when her stalker shows up and Vic uncovers a family secret Kimberly would like to keep hidden. Things get more complex when they develop a strong attraction for each other, in spite of their different lifestyles. Can Vic ensure Kimberly's safety until she returns to LA? Will Kimberly decide to ditch her glitzy celebrity life and stay with the rugged ex-cop she's fallen for?



Vic took off his coat, tossed it on the bed in his assigned bedroom then loosened his collar, removed his tie and contemptuously flung it onto the dresser. He slipped off his shoulder holster, hung it on the back of the chair at the desk and checked the safety on the Smith & Wesson .45. He took out the bottle of Passport scotch he’d brought with him, pouring some into a glass, followed by two ice cubes from the bucket.

He eased himself into the padded club chair at the small cocktail table, stretched his legs in front of him and exhaled a deep breath. He had returned to the suite at nine after grabbing dinner at John Q’s Steakhouse across the street, followed by a long walk around Playhouse Square to view the city after dark. He hadn’t seen Kimberly or Pasta when he returned, but heard the sound of her voice behind the closed door of the master bedroom. He had performed another cursory check of the suite before retiring to his quarters to unwind. A day of mingling with the fast and beautiful set left him wishing the job was over so he could return to his comfort zone.

He became aware of a presence and looked at the open doorway. Kimberly stood there, dressed in a pink velour jogging suit with her initials embroidered in red sequins on the left breast. She wore no shoes or socks. Her hair carelessly outlined her face, adding a degree of sexiness. Vic noted that the zipper on her top was halfway down, and she wasn’t wearing a bra. She offered a tentative smile that still retained a hint of shyness.

“Do you always drink alone or would you mind some company?” she asked in a soft, husky voice.

Vic set another glass on the table and pushed the bottle toward her. She settled into the chair across from him, poured some Scotch into her glass and added ice. She took a long swallow then set the glass on the table.

“Won’t Pasta object to you drinking with the hired help?” Vic asked.

“Right about now, Pasta’s cruising the bars, looking for a cock to wrap his lips around. Won’t see him until morning.”

Vic laughed softly. “That answers one question I had.”

Kimberly gave him a look of surprise. “You thought Pasta and I were…?”


She laughed at the notion. “I wouldn’t pass the physical, but you’d better be careful.”

“I’ll sleep with my gun under my pillow.”

Kimberly took another sip and looked at Vic with a sultry glow. “You’re not what I expected. When Evan said he retained an ex-cop to look after me I thought you’d be older, with a pot belly and no hair.”

“Sorry to disappoint you.”

“I’m not disappointed.” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, held it for a moment then slowly exhaled. “It feels good to be back home.”

Vic sipped his drink then cradled his glass while looking at her, appreciating her beauty. He mentally compared what he now viewed in person to what he’d seen in the press and on the occasional TV show. The cameras didn’t lie. Kimberly Daniels was a beautiful woman. He recalled a sexy lingerie spread she’d done in a men’s magazine the year before and wondered if those photos were accurate as well.

“Are you really the sentimental type or was this trip a publicity stunt?”

Kimberly opened her eyes and laughed softly. “I could tell you weren’t too enthused about accepting this job.”

“Why would you say that?”

“I can read people pretty well.” She laughed again. “But I loved the way you stood your ground with Pasta. He’s not used to people talking back to him.”

“I’ll apologize to him over breakfast. Just what is his function?”

Kimberly downed the last of her drink and poured another. “He’s my personal assistant. I’d be lost without him.” She took a small sip. “So what’s my celebrity ass worth these days, bodyguard-wise?”

Vic eyed her for a moment. “Does it really matter?”

She shrugged. “Guess not, as long as you’re not complaining.”

“If I have any complaints I’ll let you know.” Vic refreshed his drink and changed the subject to something more pleasant. “I used to watch you on a local TV show when you still used your real name. You sang a few of the classic love songs and put me in mind of Sarah Vaughn. I really got hooked on the way you sang It Had to Be You. That’s always been one of my favorites and you nailed it.”

Kimberly smiled warmly at him. “Thank you. I love those songs. I grew up listening to them and memorized all the words.”

“Why not cut an album of standards instead of pop?”

“I wanted to with this new one, but my handlers wouldn’t let me. They all said the same thing. Give the public what they’ve come to expect. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe we’ll do that project next year.” She smirked. “I hate being handled.”

“Why put up with it?”

“It’s part of the game and you have to play by the rules. Don’t you have rules to play by?”

“Only the ones I make up. Why did you change your name when you got out of here?”

“The TV producer in L.A. who discovered me thought Callie Buchovic was too ethnic and suggested I change it to something sexier. Probably afraid people would expect me to play an accordion and sing Who Stole the Kishka?” She tucked a leg under her on the chair and appeared comfortable. “So tell me about yourself.”

“There isn’t much to tell. I used to be a detective with the Sandusky P.D., got shot in the line of duty a few years ago, still have trouble with my leg because of it and I take the occasional job to keep from getting bored. Other than that, I live on the lake in Sandusky, fish, drink too much and generally do whatever the hell pleases me. End of story.”

Kimberly laughed. “I know that isn’t the whole story. Evan told me all about you.”

Vic took a drink. Note to self: go to L.A. and kill the little bastard. “What did I leave out?”

“That you live in one of his vacation homes he uses as a tax write-off, you used to be married but it didn’t work out and you two roomed together in college. Before you got shot saving your partner’s life you were being investigated for beating the shit out of someone you arrested. Evan came to your rescue when they wanted to press charges.”

Addendum to the note: book the flight tomorrow. “Guess we all live in a fishbowl. How did you go from being Callie Buchovic, local singer, to Kimberly Daniels, big time recording star and reputed diva?”

She arched her eyebrows. “Reputed? I’d better talk to my publicist. Let’s see…after I was on that local show you mentioned I got a call from a network scout for the reality show So You Think You Can Sing? I won the national competition and was contacted by a record producer, then I had to get an agent, then an entourage and then my life snowballed into something I lost control of.”

Vic picked up on the indifferent tone in her voice. He was actually relieved to discover that the whole tabloid enfant terrible thing was all hype. “You don’t sound too happy about it.”

She looked into her glass and slowly swirled the contents before answering. “To be honest, there are times when I wish I was still a blue collar girl from Parma, Ohio. Do you ever get to Los Angeles?”

“Not if I can help it.”

“Why not?”

“Too many people moving too fast. I like my life a little more low-key. Hell, this is the first time I’ve been to downtown Cleveland in a couple of years.”

She smiled wistfully. “Sometimes I miss being here. Life was simpler then. Not so many people trying to grab a piece of me.”

Vic looked at her again but in a different light. Beneath the surface this wasn’t some grande dame commanding attention, but an angelfish navigating in a sea of sharks. “I don’t really keep up with these things, but wasn’t there something serious going between you and that actor, Justin Truax?”

Kimberly laughed. “Only in his publicist’s imagination.” She took another drink. “He escorted me to a music awards show and suddenly we were an item. There’s a lesson for you: in Hollywood, be careful who you’re seen having dinner with. The press will have you married off or pregnant by the early edition.” She smiled slyly at Vic. “Were you asking about my availability for a reason?”

“Nothing more than idle curiosity.”

“Sure,” she skeptically replied. She drank the last of her Scotch and poured another slug. “Ever have any regrets in your life?”

“A few.”

“Such as?”

“Not hanging onto the gal who got away, picking the wrong lotto numbers, making the career choice I did. That’s about it.”

After taking another sip, Kimberly set her glass on the table. She looked at Vic with a silly expression on her face, leading him to believe she had probably had a few too many. She reached over, took hold of his hand and turned his palm upward. She looked into his eyes with a sultry gaze and lightly ran her fingertip along his palm.

“Ever regret never having made love to a famous singer?” she asked.

“What makes you think I haven’t?” he countered.

“Touché.” She released his hand, sucked down the last of her drink and suppressed a hiccup. “So tell me something, Vic: why should Pasta have all the fun tonight?”

Vic set his glass on the table and stood up. “Maybe we should discuss this when you’re not so… tired.”

Kimberly gave a wicked chuckle. “Wow, a gentleman. Don’t meet many of those where I live.”

Vic placed his hand on her elbow and gently prompted her to her feet. “Yeah, I get all Sir Galahad when I see a lady in distress. Come on.”

He escorted her to her room down the hall. When they arrived Kimberly abruptly turned, took his face in her hands and kissed him. Vic put his hands on her shoulders out of reflex, enjoying the kiss. He got a whiff of her perfume, but couldn’t place it. Whatever it was, it mixed perfectly with her body chemistry.

Kimberly looked up at him and smiled. “See you in the morning?”

“I’ll be here.”

He walked back to his room. Note to self: lock the door!



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