Wednesday, November 30, 2011



If you've ever wanted to retain more of your royalties or try publishing e-books but didn't know where to start, this book is for you!

Recently e-books have exploded onto the publishing scene, making it easier than ever for writers to break into the market. But many people who read e-books aren't familiar with how to create them. What formats should you offer? Where do you sell them? What do you use for a cover? And, most important, how do you go from a Word document to an EPUB, MOBI, or PDF file?

Best-selling, multi-published author J.M. Snyder has written this no-nonsense, hands-on guide. She takes the mystery out of e-publishing while making the process of creating an e-book simple, cheap, and easy.

Using Microsoft Word (or an equivalent word processing program) along with inexpensive or free software readily available online, you will learn how to create the nine most common e-book formats. You will be walked through cover art design, interior book layout, and e-book creation, as well as given many of the tips J.M. has learned along the way. Also included is a brief guide to online bookstores where you can sell your finished e-book.

Let J.M. Snyder help you discover how easy it is to publish yourself!




When someone learns I publish e-books, one of the first questions I’m asked is simply, “How?” I’ve given advice on the subject to many authors seeking to self-publish their stories in electronic format, but my general replies never seemed to be enough. People want in-depth explanations, from start to finish, on how to format their stories into e-books: how to lay out the books so others can access them, how to convert the books into a variety of e-book formats, and where to sell the finished product.

After one too many e-mails soliciting advice, I realized what seemed second-nature to me wasn’t necessarily as intuitive to others, so I decided to write this book. Be warned -- it isn’t the end-all, be-all of publishing guides. It isn’t going to make you millions overnight so you can quit your day job and write full-time. Hell, it may not even tell you anything you don’t already know. But it will explain to you in no-nonsense detail how I personally create an e-book from beginning to end, how I format a book into nine of the most common electronic formats, and where I publish my stories online. Following the instructions in this book, you will be able to create and sell e-books, too.

Sure, there are other publishing guides out there, but many of them are overpriced and don’t offer any real assistance. I’ve never understood why someone who spent little or nothing creating an e-book thinks they should make $15 or more per copy. The beauty of an e-book is that there are few, if any, overhead costs, and 100% of what you earn, you keep. Many distributors have no set-up fees, conversion software can be found online for little or no cost, and the techno-savvy person can generate an e-book without spending much beyond what they’ve already paid setting up their home computer. So why spend an arm and a leg to learn how to do it?

You may think my sharing the process with you is tantamount to giving away trade secrets, but I don’t see it that way. There are always going to be writers who want to work with publishers -- people who don’t want to bother with the creation and marketing of books, who don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing directly with multiple distributors, who don’t want to muck about with cover art and interior design and whatnot. People who only want to write and will leave the messy and sometimes complicated business of getting their words into print to someone else.

This book isn’t for those writers.

Instead, it’s for people like myself who enjoy controlling every aspect of writing, from a story’s inception through to seeing it published. People who want to learn how to format their own stories, who want to track their own sales, who want a more hands-on approach than what is offered through traditional publishing venues. People who have already self-published a book in print but now want to explore the budding world of e-publishing. People who want to keep more of their profits.

People who believe in their own stories and are going to get their books out there for readers regardless of whether or not a publisher decides to take them on.

This book is for you.




Leaving gay-friendly San Francisco behind, Rick and John move into their first home together in Madison, Wisconsin.

As they begin their new life, everything seems perfect, their love never stronger.

Then they discover the “welcome wagon” isn't quite as welcoming as they’d hoped. The Houstons seem like a friendly couple at first, but the crust of the pie they bring over hides a sour aftertaste, and just below the veneer of good will lies a festering intolerance that ticks like a time bomb.

Soon Rick and John realize their idyllic, Norman Rockwell vision of the all American dream includes a darker side they didn’t expect.


Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.

There was awkward silence. Rick began to feel uncomfortable, as though Vic was looking at him with an air of condescension.

“I’ve got a son, you know,” he said, his expression even more grim now. He opened his hand and squeezed the hoe with a vice-like grip.

“I know,” Rick said, nodding. “How is he?”

“Fine, but make sure that if he crosses the hedge you tell him his daddy will whip him. He is to stay in his own yard.”

Rick flinched at the word “whip.” It sounded like parenting from some bygone era, like discipline that bordered on abuse.

Rick said nothing at first, his eyebrows raised as he looked at Vic. “Okay,” he replied, his voice devoid of conviction. “I’ll remind him. He’s a good kid. I only saw him in our yard once. He was playing with our cat one afternoon. Aunt Mabel’s kind of old, but he still likes to play.”

Rick had expected at least a weak smile from Vic after he said this, but he was as poker-faced as ever.

Vic lifted the blade as if to inspect it, turning it different angles.

“This is a man’s friend in the fields,” he said. “This baby can cut deep.”

Rick nodded, weary of Vic’s overwrought enthusiasm.

“It’s the symbol of harvest,” Vic continued,” and Lord knows this world needs its weeds removed to reap a good harvest.”

Now Rick was lost; the man had progressed from sounding like a boy admiring his first baseball bat to some ancient prophet who’d stepped out of the pages of the Old Testament.

“Can I ask you a favor?” Vic continued, looking at Rick with eyes of such dark intensity he nearly winced.

“Zeke is seven. Try to ... you know ... respect that. And cover if you can ...”

Rick blinked back at him, confounded. “Cover what?”

Vic grimaced and motioned toward Rick’s skimpy trunks. “This is a nice neighborhood. We’re not like the condo owners or the downtown folks. Nothing personal, but you know the saying: ‘children are watching.’ And, uh ... so are their parents.”

“Oh?” Rick replied. “We don’t mind that. We have nothing to hide. Do you?”

Vic glared at Rick with an expression of undisguised loathing.


DANNY'S DAD by Drew Hunt

DANNY'S DAD by Drew Hunt

Gary Levinson is in love with his best friend’s dad. It’s as simple as that.

Danny doesn’t think it’s simple. He’s okay with his best friend being gay. He can cope with the idea -- in theory -- that his dad is gay. But Gary and his dad being gay together ...?

Neil “Raw” Rawlings doesn’t think it’s simple at all. He’s a well-known rugby league player and Gary is too young, too immature, and too star-struck. Besides, he could do better than an aging sportsman close to retirement.

Finally giving in to Gary’s pleas, Raw agrees to sleep with Gary on his eighteenth birthday. But what happens next? Is this a once-only birthday present, or a gift that keeps on giving?


Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.

He jogged round the table, through the living room and into the hall. As he took the stairs two at a time he could hardly believe what was about to happen. Finally, after years of suggesting, cajoling, and downright begging, Danny’s dad was going to make love to him.

It was the morning of Gary’s eighteenth birthday and the only gift he wanted was behind the closed door at the end of the landing. Reaching the top step he paused, suddenly nervous. He tried to calm his racing heart and slow his breathing. His stomach also felt funny, like a flock of doves -- or were they lovebirds -- flying around in there. Gary didn’t want Raw to see him like this, so he stepped into the bathroom. After washing his face and drying it on Raw’s towel -- taking a big sniff of the man’s unique scent -- Gary tried to do something with his unruly tangle of red hair. Frowning at the blackhead that was starting to sprout on his freckled, too-big-for-his-face nose, Gary thought about squeezing the zit, but that’d only make it look worse. He knew he was too thin, too gangly and uncoordinated, nothing like the strong, powerfully-muscled god who was waiting for him.

“Fuck!” he said under his breath, his hands nervously picking at the pockets of his jeans. He’d agonised that morning about what to wear. What did you put on when you were going to be made love to by the man of your dreams?

He’d quickly rejected one of the Leopards’ rugby shirts. Gary had narrow, rounded shoulders; the shirts just looked stupid on him, although that didn’t stop him from getting the replica kits -- both home and away -- each season. And of course they had Rawlings as well as 13 on the backs.

Eventually Gary had decided on his best -- and tightest -- pair of Wranglers and the white T-shirt with the broad blue horizontal stripe across the chest that Raw had gotten him the previous Christmas.

Realising he was wasting time, time he should be spending with Raw, Gary looked at the unopened box of Tums in the medicine chest, decided he could do without, and turned for the landing.

“For what I’m about to receive,” Gary mumbled, “may the Lord know I’m truly thankful.”

Crossing the landing, wincing at the creek of every floorboard, Gary knocked on the door to Raw’s bedroom, a room he’d only glimpsed the interior of once before.

“Come in.”

This is it, Gary thought, turning the handle. Taking a deep breath he pushed the door open. “Sorry I’m earlier than I said I’d ...” His mouth fell open at the vision standing in the centre of the room. “Oh, God.” He felt his knees weakening. Goddamn it, he’d wanted to prove to Raw he wasn’t the infatuated fanboy he suspected Raw saw him as. And what did he do the second he laid eyes on the man? “Fuck!” he added under his breath.

“You just gonna stand there?” Raw’s question was delivered in his usual deep -- and to Gary -- sexy timbre, but the man was smiling, the dimple in his chin in full ... dimple. This did nothing for the floppy feeling in Gary’s belly, but judging by the painful tightness a little further down, his dick was far from floppy. “Come in, if you’re staying.”

“Uh, yeah, sorry.” Gary stepped inside and closed the door.

Raw’s room was awesome. All glass and chrome with dark wood flooring. In the far corner was the Nautilus machine Gary had advised Raw to buy a couple of seasons earlier to help the man stay in peak shape. A huge bed was against another wall, the sheets were black and to Gary’s untrained eye, satin. Gary swallowed, his mouth had gone dry. But what dominated the room, kept drawing his gaze, was Raw himself. Raw was decked out in the Littleborough Leopard’s 2008 black away strip with its classic two V’s -- one above the other -- in thin white piping across the chest. Although Raw looked awesome in whatever strip the team chose ... the black and white was Gary’s absolute favourite. He’d wanked off in his own copy several times, but that was a secret only known to him and the washing machine. It was around 2008 that he’d insisted to his mother he do his own laundry.

“God,” Gary said again. He remained rooted to the spot, just inside the room.

Raw smiled and held out his arms. “Not exactly, but I knew you liked this kit. I’m surprised I managed to fit into it.”

Gary shook his head. “You’re still the same size you were three years ago.”

Raw had remained a steady one hundred and ten kilograms for the past three seasons, and probably before that, too. Gary knew this because he’d built and still maintained Raw’s website which contained every possible statistic about Littleborough’s loose forward and goal kicker. Gary could quote every one of those statistics when asked, and tried hard not to when he wasn’t.

Raw tilted his head to one side and regarded Gary quizzically. “You’re quiet.”

Swallowing yet again -- maybe he should have had one of those Tums after all -- Gary said, “You’re ... you’re ...” He wanted to say ‘You’re a god, but for once he was shy. So he shut his mouth.

“Gar?” Raw approached the newly-minted eighteen-year-old and put a huge hand on his shoulder. “You okay? We don’t have to do this if you don’t --”

“Kiss me!” Now and again Gary had sneaked a kiss to Raw’s cheek, but Raw would never reciprocate, not even on birthdays or at Christmas, saying it wasn’t appropriate.

Raw smiled, showing off his dimple again. As soon as he cupped Gary’s face, Gary stopped breathing. When their faces grew to within centimetres of each other Gary found himself closing his eyes, even though he wanted to keep a visual record of every second of the encounter.

A waft of warm minty breath was almost immediately followed by soft but firm lips touching his. The kiss only lasted a second, but it was the most wonderful second of Gary’s short life.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011



Ride 'Em Hard Book Three

Angel Garner is a young, spoiled cowgirl used to getting her own way. When Clay Roberts wins the stallion she covets at an auction, she's determined to make him sell the horse back. The only problem is the cowboy has no plans of humoring her.

Landon Wilder has had a crush on his friend's sister since before he can remember. He tries to help her get back her horse, but soon learns a trick or two from the man she claims to hate. Their sexual games soon inspire real emotion, complicating their ménage a trois. For them to have a lasting future together, it'll take two determined cowboys to properly break the stubborn, blonde filly.



“If you both care about me so much, you should consider my needs.”

“What needs, baby-doll? Name it and it’s yours,” said Clay.

She bit her lower lip, letting it slowly slide out of her bite. “My body’s all hot and tingly. You can’t expect me to have two gorgeous cowboys in the room and not get aroused.”

Landon smirked. “You think I’m gorgeous?”

She swatted him. He’d always be her best friend, but now she’d have the best of both worlds. “Clay’s been torturing me, walking around half-naked, doing push-ups by the fire while all I can do is watch.”

Clay found amusement in her words now, too. He sat on the coffee table close to the sofa. “I was afraid to hurt you. That wasn’t a little fall.” He leaned forward and ran the pad of this thumb over her moist lips. “Tell me what you want.” Angel closed her eyes and savored his touch.

“I want you both to make love to me, to stop treating me like an invalid.”

“You’ve got a broken wrist,” said Landon. “We could hurt you.”

She would not lose this battle. Their reluctance to hop in the sack with her only made her pussy pulse stronger. Big, strong cowboys with raging libidos refusing her because they loved her more than satisfying their urges? It was unheard of. But she wanted them all the more because of it. “Don’t you dare refuse me, Landon. You’ve been gone for over a week without a word.”

“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt if I ate your pussy. You could just lie still with your legs open.”

Her folds were soaked, her skin crawling with need. “Yes,” she managed to say. It was a start, and she knew they wouldn’t deny her once things began heating up.

“I just washed her myself,” said Clay. “Her little pussy is sparkling clean.”

“No matter, I’d eat her anyways.” Landon got to his feet and shrugged off his padded jacket, and then pulled the quilt off her body. She was only wearing her panties and one of Clay’s old T-shirts. “Good Lord, look at the size of that bruise!”

Her hip and upper leg were nearly black, but in honesty looked worse than they felt. She’d taken the brunt of the fall on her side, but it was her wrist that broke. “I’m fine.” Angel parted her legs to pull his attention to her swollen cunt. Her panties were nearly soaked through from arousal.

Landon carefully slipped her panties down her legs and pushed her T-shirt up past her breasts. He growled as his eyes roamed over her nudity. She turned to look at Clay. He was already unbuckling his belt, watching intently.

“What happens if her blood pressure rises too high?” asked Landon as he caressed her inner thighs.

Clay shrugged. “Guess we’ll find out.”

“It’s a mild fracture in my wrist. It has nothing to do with my pussy.” She reached between her legs and touched her clit. Just the contact made her gasp. What would Landon’s warm tongue feel like? She was afire with anticipation.

“Give her a lick and see what happens.” Clay massaged behind his neck, all those toned muscles moving and shifting deliciously.

Landon didn’t disagree. He spread her thighs tenderly and lowered his blond head between her legs. He did just as Clay suggested—one long, firm swipe of his flattened tongue up the length of her folds. “How’s that?” he asked.

“More.” She’d gotten a taste and was desperate to come, to feel that blinding rush of power explode from within her. Angel was too damn pent up, and it was getting uncomfortable.

“Yes, ma’am.” Landon stripped off his shirt and settled in comfortably. His skin against hers sizzled. She felt his hot breath first. When his mouth lowered over her clit, so warm and moist, she felt a calming effect flood her veins. She sank into the sofa cushions and closed her eyes. This was heaven, and exactly what she’d been missing.

He was so skilled with his tongue, using just the right amount of speed and pressure to bring her quickly to a peak without making her feel too overwhelmed. She savored his suckling, the way his tongue delved in her cunt and teeth gently nipped her labia. With all her needs put on hold, she came to a precipice within minutes, the rush of energy traveling at lightning speed through her body until all that heat collected in her pussy. “Landon! Oh my God,” she chanted. It was there on the cusp. She wanted to jump over the edge as much as she wanted to savor the ecstasy of that preorgasmic zone.

He didn’t give her a choice. Landon picked up the speed, and it only took a few more tugs from his lips to pull her orgasm free. She called out, a deep throaty sound. He continued to clamp his mouth over her as she rode out her contractions. Her hips were off the sofa, his arms curled around her thighs. When the rush settled, she grabbed a lock of Landon’s hair and pulled up. “No more,” she panted.

“You’re still alive,” said Clay. “Now we know you won’t break.” His words were a mix of warning and teasing. What plan was he hatching behind those dark, wicked eyes?


Sunday, November 27, 2011

SUCK AND BLOW by Lexxie Couper

SUCK AND BLOW by  Lexxie Couper

Party Games, Book 1

Let the games begin...

Talent agent Frankie Winchester is a hellion. Her motto is all a girl needs is a fun time, a fast car and an awesome masseur on speed dial. There's only one person who could beat her at anything. Alec. Bane of her high-school existence, a kid whose parents were as working class and loving as hers were rich and distant.

When celebrity landscape architect Alec Harris spots Frankie at an exclusive Sydney house party, everything comes rushing back. The memory of being the "cheap-money" kid, trying and failing to prove himself - and impress his dream girl, Frankie Winchester.

Unexpectedly partnered in a wildly sexy game, the delicious friction ignites a scorching sexual tension. But there's more than a playing card trapped between them. Frankie refuses to admit that kiss shook her to the core. Alec wants nothing less than her full surrender.

Game on!

Product Warnings: C'mon, the book's called Suck and Blow. What more warning do you need?


Copyright © 2011 Lexxie Couper
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Oh God.

Her heart leapt away from her, the soft pressure of his fingers at her waist making her head swim. Or was it the fact she was holding her breath? Holding her breath with the goddamn ten of hearts stuck to her lips?

Do something, woman!

She didn’t have to. Alec did it for her. With a gentle push and pull on her hips, he turned her around to face him, his blue, blue eyes holding hers, his dimples flashing as the sides of his mouth curled. “So, who’s going to win this one, Frankie?”

The question was asked on a low chuckle, each word making her sex constrict.

She stared at him. Watched him lower his head to hers. Watched him draw closer. Closer. Her lungs burned. Her head swam. The room fell silent.

And her breath ran out just like that, the card slipping from her lips at the loss of suction a mere second before Alec’s mouth pressed to hers.

Explosive heat shot through Frankie, like she’d suddenly and inexplicably grabbed a live wire on an electrical fence. Except it wasn’t electricity charging through her, singeing her nerve-endings and making her nipples pinch hard but arousal. Instant and undeniable. A wicked ribbon of warm tension unfurled through her belly and into the junction of her thighs, and before she could stop it, a low groan vibrated deep in her throat.

His lips were warm, soft. They melded to hers with perfection, slightly parted, his intake of breath drawing her exhalation into his mouth.

He’d expected to feel the playing card pressed to his lips now, of that she had little doubt, but instead of pulling away as she thought he would, his lips lingered on hers. Slanting over them as his fingers on her hips curled a little more firmly against her body, tugging her closer to his body with an insistence that made her head swim just as much as her earlier oxygen deprivation.

She stiffened, for the first time in her wild, uncontrolled life she was utterly and completely bamboozled as to what she should do next. Her feet stumbled over each other, her lurching forward momentum halted by Alec’s hard form.

And he was hard. Very hard. All of him. Hard and big and impressive.

His stomach pressed against hers like a sculpted plane of marble. His chest was hard and smooth under her palms.

Her palms? Frankie’s already rapid heartbeat kicked up a notch, thumping against her breastbone like a bloody sledgehammer. When had she put her hands to his chest?

Who cares? The brazen thought whispered through her head at the very moment Alec’s lips parted against hers and his tongue dipped into her mouth.


He tasted of sinful paradise. Pineapple and coconut and rum. It was intoxicating. She wanted more.

Snaking her hands up over his shoulders, she tangled her fingers in his messy crop of blond hair, opening her mouth wider to his kiss and stroking her tongue against his. She rose onto tip-toe, the elevation aligning her hips to his, the hard heat of him nudging at her groin.

Oh. The single word was nothing but a soft sigh in her mind—a mind furiously trying to remind her just who in the bloody hell she was kissing. Alec Harris. Alley Cat, Francesca, you’re kissing Alley Cat.

And he was kissing her back. And doing a superb job of it.


Saturday, November 26, 2011



A 1NightStand Story

Madame Eve's 1NightStand service has brought together Blake and Taryn on a cold Christmas Eve at the Castillo Lodge. The two will set out on an adventure of pain and pleasure surrounded by Alaskan snow-capped mountains and nestled in a warm country lodge.

But as the night develops, Taryn discovers it's not Christmas presents that will surprise her but instead the very man who mastered her through a night of intense BDSM.



He strode toward his bag on the floor by the stone fireplace and took out his flogger. She tensed as he flicked his hand to allow her to hear the sound of the tails whooshing through the air. “Do you have a safe word, my pet?”


He positioned himself behind her and trailed the flogger over her backside. “Explain why that word holds significance?” He smacked her ass with a hard hit to test her limits.

“I’m a U.S. Marshal in Texas.” She groaned. “Supervisory Deputy to be exact.”

He ran the flogger over her bottom again to tease her. “Is that why the submissive role appeals to you, because of the job you hold?”

“It feels wonderful to give up the control I carry in my day-to-day life.” She moaned as he issued another hit. “And I enjoy being punished.”

He’d already known she enjoyed pain play. Madame Eve had sent him an extensive list of her limits, but he preferred learning for himself where those limits were drawn. “How long have you lived the BDSM lifestyle?”

“Five years.” She squeaked as he delivered a hard hit on her back then let the tails of the flogger tickle down the sweet cheeks of her ass.

“But you haven’t had a lifestyle Dom?”

“I—” She paused. “I’d prefer not to discuss it.”

Unacceptable. He hit hard twice. She bowed her head and cringed. “I didn’t ask what you preferred. Answer the question.”

She breathed deep as he hit lightly along her thighs. “I did have someone, but not anymore.”

“Would he be jealous that I’m your Dom tonight?”

“I’d imagine he would be.” She gasped when he flogged her on the shoulders and continued down her back.

“I suppose then, I’ll need to leave my mark on you for all to see, so they’re well aware who you belong to now.”


Friday, November 25, 2011

GRAFFITI by Terry O'Reilly

GRAFFITI by Terry O'Reilly

Before the advent of the Internet, men looking to make sexual contact with other men would cruise rest stops, shopping malls, and parks. There they often left messages on the walls of restrooms hoping to meet someone of like interest.

Alan Daniels, a young Vietnam veteran, has recently been questioning his sexuality. He takes a chance and writes a note in the john of his local municipal park.

Handsome, sensual Tom Clarkson, a college student going to school mainly to avoid the draft, is intrigued by a new message he finds in the park bathroom.

Is Tom destined to spend another night indulging in meaningless sex, or could the note lead to something more? Only one way to find out ...


Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.

He was just about to leave the restroom when another message next to the mirror caught his attention.

Hey guy from the overlook yesterday. Can you meet me here tonight? 7:30?

Tom stared at the note and then read it again.


* * * *

Sitting atop his usual table in the park, Tom was frustrated. Ten to eight, he fumed in his mind. Fuck, I rearrange my whole fuckin’ day for this guy and he doesn’t show.

Tom had met John that morning. The man had been horny and hot to trot. They had gone back to the motel. Even though John had sucked Tom’s pecs, usually a big turn on, Tom had been totally distracted by the prospect of seeing the overlook guy again. He knew he hadn’t showed John the best time but hadn’t given a shit. He’d perfunctorily took care of business, giving John a quick fuck and getting him off with a half-hearted blow job. Tom knew John was pissed at him, but Tom knew he wouldn’t see him again anyway so it didn’t matter. Once was Tom’s usual M.O., twice was pretty damn rare and a third round was unheard of.

Tom had called his boss at the bakery and told him he had a cold. That was a sure-fire way to get out of work. The old guy was really paranoid about getting germs on his precious buns and loaves of bread. He told Tom to take good care of himself and not to come back to work until it was completely cleared up. Tom couldn’t afford to miss too much work so he’d tell the old man he had allergies and it had turned out not to be a cold after all.

Tom had probably failed his political science test. What the hell was it about this guy? he’d asked himself, that he could upset Tom Clarkson’s plans. When sexy Professor Barry had said time was up, Tom hadn’t even finished the last question as he found himself staring out the window thinking about the overlook guy’s sweet smile and tight, sensual ass.

Tom checked his watch again. I even pass up two hot tricks here tonight for the bastard. Two very handsome hunks had approached Tom and suggested they’d really be up for including him in a three-way. God damn! Why did I pass that up?

“Screw this,” Tom said, getting up. Maybe I can find those two guys and get in on that action so the day won’t be a total bust.

As he turned to head for the path into the woods, Tom saw a red Mustang pull slowly into the parking lot. He waited. If this was overlook guy he’d let him know that you didn’t fool around with Tom Clarkson if you want to get it on with him. The car door opened and the man he’d been waiting for tentatively emerged. Tom stood with his hands on his hips getting ready to give the guy a piece of his mind.

The man approached. “Hi. I’m really sorry I’m late. I had to work overtime and ...”

Tom opened his mouth to let him have it, but what came out surprised him. “That’s okay. You’re here now and that’s all that matters.”

Who the fuck said that? Tom thought as he looked into the soft warm brown eyes staring into his. He felt his dick twitch and some other sensation that he hadn’t allowed himself to feel in a long time stole over him.

“I’m Alan Daniels,” the man said and offered his hand.

“My name’s Tom,” Tom said and then realized he had, for the first time in a long while, given his name to someone with whom he planned to have sex. But somehow that didn’t seem to matter. He took Alan’s hand and enjoyed the feelings the first physical contact engendered.

“Let’s go,” he said, still holding onto Alan’s hand and turning to head for the path into the woods.




Submission: it’s a thin line between punishment and pleasure.

Lorali, an independent woman and sexual therapist, believes she has everything she could ever want – except love. After being abused for much of her childhood, she closes herself off from the rest of the world.

Now, on her thirtieth birthday, she has to face her fears, let go of her control and perhaps fall for the man of her dreams. But there’s a catch, to have a future with Cade Caruso she’ll have to become his submissive.



Her mother’s screams for mercy filled Lorali’s room. Her father was always a mean drunk. There was no doubt about that.

“Shut up you little, cunt-sucking bitch!” Her dad raged as she heard the heavy thwack of flesh hitting flesh. There was no question her father was doing the hitting. Tonight’s fight had been the worst Lorali had ever experienced. Pushing her burnt sienna-colored hair behind her ear, she sniffed back more tears.

She learned at a young age, if she didn’t want to get beat, she stayed away from her father. Her mother on the other hand, wasn’t afforded the same luxury. If dinner hadn’t been on the table as he walked through the door, her mother had been beaten until it was placed before him. It was the same for the laundry and daily cleaning of the house. Why Lorali thought it would ever change she had no clue.

Maybe it was sheer stupidity or a crazy notion she’d gotten in her head, but, hell, she figured if her mother was being hurt by someone else, her father would care.

Obviously not.

Earlier that evening, her mother had invited another woman and her husband over while her dad worked the late shift at Henderson’s Automotive. Lorali had made the mistake of walking in on them at an inopportune moment. Her mother was knelt between the woman’s legs and the man behind her. Shocked and confused, she covered her eyes and backed out of the room. Freaking out, Lorali called her father at work. She mistakenly thought her mother was being hurt. Or at the very least, forced into some sick act.

She was only trying to protect her mom.

Soon the yelling ceased and her mother’s sobs were quiet. She heard her father tell her mother to go fuck her whore and her prick. She wasn’t allowed in his house any longer. Lorali didn’t know what to do. Did she run out of her room? Did she stay where she was and hope her father didn’t come after her next? In her mind she had done the right thing. In his mind, Lorali would be just as responsible as her mother.

It was sick, twisted even, but she knew the rules. The only way for her to stay safe tonight was to not move or make a sound.

“Lorali, I love you sweetheart,” her mother choked back a sob. “Honey, I don’t blame you. You didn’t know what you saw. I’m sorry baby, I really am.” Lorali could hear her father coming down the stairs, and her mother began to speak faster. “One day I’ll come back for you. Then I will explain everything to you. I promise.”

“You’ll be teaching her nothing of the sort, you ungrateful bitch. She will grow up being a proper lady with proper values. You will never see her again, Diane. Never!”

Lorali lay there, tears streaming down her cheeks, as her father slammed the door. She tried to wipe them away as they fell so if her father came in he wouldn’t see them. It was a weakness he could prey on with her. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of knowing he frightened her anymore.

The door to her heart and soul slammed shut. Lorali’s body went numb from all the pain and anguish. Never again would she put herself in the predicament she was in.

Staring up at the ceiling, a steely resolve filled her. Her only way out now was to get a scholarship to a school far away from her father. She would find her mother and beg her for forgiveness. Then if she had the money, Lorali would help her as much as she could. Because, deep in her soul she understood that she’d just ruined everything for both of them.

Chapter One

Present Day

“I don’t know doc. I have tried everything including, you know--” He leaned toward Lorali. “Self gratification. It still doesn’t help or work. I can’t come,” he whispered. He sighed and sagged against the back of the couch. His already messy hair was sticking out at odd angles as he ran his shaky fingers through it.

Lorali had been seeing Malcolm for almost six months. In his mid-thirties, he acted as if he were in his seventies. His gray eyes were dulled with depression and the premature wrinkle of his skin had Lorali worried for him. Every time she gave him an exercise to try, he came back the next week to denounce its effectiveness. She was beginning to believe he just didn’t have the ‘want’ to fix his sexual problems.

Scribbling down a little note to talk with his wife, she cleared her throat and looked up at him. “Malcolm, I believe part of the problem you’re having is the inability to let go. You want to be in control so much you have made yourself climax constipated. The moment you let go of your control, will be the moment you will come so hard you’ll wonder if you will ever walk straight again.”

Malcolm looked at her skeptically. “What’s to say I lose control and I still don’t come? What then?”

Lorali took a deep breath, closed her eyes and counted to ten before she spoke. “How about you bring your wife in with you next week. We will explore this a little bit more. In the mean time, I want you to try what I suggested.”

Malcolm seemed to think about it before he spoke. “All right.” He picked up the prostate massager and put it in its bag. “We’ll give it a try tonight, and I will work on the control thing.” He looked down at her with a sly smile and winked. “If this works, I won’t be back next week with my wife.”

Lorali nodded, not even acknowledging the sly smile or the wink. “Sounds like a plan, Malcolm. I will cross my fingers for you and hope all goes well.” With that said, she stood and ushered him out of her office. He was her last client for the day and she was in a hurry to meet with her mom.

She was plucking her purse from the bottom drawer of her desk when the memory of the last night she’d been in her father’s house assaulted her.

* * * * *

Tip toeing through the house quietly even though her father was at work, she made her way to the kitchen. Grabbing what she could to eat, Lorali headed into the living room to do her homework. She savored every bite of her cheese sandwich and stale chips. Food was a rarity anymore. Some days she felt like a squirrel trying to get a nut in the dead of winter. Lorali had been reduced to raiding her father’s wallet twice a week just so she could buy food.

His belief was his money was better spent on alcohol.

As she ate the bit of food she’d scrounged up, she watched a little TV and studied for her test the next day. The sound of metal trash cans crashing together and a stray cat’s wail of surprise startled her. It was her father’s slurred, “go fuck yourself”, muffled by the back door that had her cowering in fear. Lorali knew he was in a foul mood.

Her biology book sat open to human sexuality and reproductive organs when he finally stumbled into the room. His eyes were blood shot and weepy from one too many scotch on the rocks. He loomed over her, his rancid breath filled her nose, causing her to gag. “You little whore!” He slurred. “What are you reading and why?” Her father backhanded her off the couch and sent her flying into the coffee table. “You cock–sucking, white–trash, good–for-nothing!” His words were punctuated with open handed smacks against her side, back and legs. “I tried to raise you to be a proper lady and this is the thanks I get? You bringing smut into my house.”

Lorali couldn’t think straight. Her father’s breath reeked of liquor and made her nauseous. It was only a biology book, nothing more. She opened her mouth to speak, but was backhanded again. The room swam. Black dots clouded her vision, and she could feel herself falling. In the distance she heard a scream.

Later she found out it was the neighbor. Mrs. Crasck heard her father yelling and, fed up with his abusive ways, came for Lorali

She didn’t remember anything else from that night. Lorali woke up three days later in the hospital. Her mother was by her side along with the husband and wife whom she’d seen a year ago. Her mother explained she was going to live with them. They would protect her no matter what, and her father would never find her again.

Lorali had cried and begged her mother and her friends for forgiveness, but they wouldn’t take her pleas. They said it was they who were at fault. They should have known better, but she blamed herself.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

DARK SEDUCTION by Dakota Trace

DARK SEDUCTION by Dakota Trace

She's supposed to be the enemy - too bad the voices in his head claim otherwise.

Kennet Baghadur, the oldest living son of Camulos - the God of War and a minor Serenity Faerie, hides his pain behind his laughter. Cursed by an angry demoness, the two parts of him, the faerie and God, are split. The result - the inside of his head is a constant battleground. To protect himself and those around him, he shows the world his Faerie side all the while hiding the dark passions he's inherited from his mighty father, never wanting to cause a woman to go through what his own mother went through.

Now a grown man, Kennet is called upon by his father's TrueMate to protect a person he considers the enemy: Bilés youngest daughter. If it had been anyone other than Cayleigh asking, he'd have told them to take a flying leap. But it wasn't, so girding himself to babysit a young demoness, he's in no way prepared when Jasmyn walks into his life and turns it upside down. Nor could he anticipate the fact that for once the two bickering voices in his head have actually agreed upon something: Jasmyn is their TrueMate and both of them plan on claiming her.



“Mate me!” The red-headed woman writhing under Kennet Baghadur raked her fingernails down his damp back. Gritting his teeth against the onset of pain, he ground his cock between her splayed legs. The vague memory of drinking too much ambrosia-laced wine at Autumn Festival had dulled his recollection of how he’d exactly ended up in an unfamiliar room with a demoness under him. But hey you only live once, Baghadur, far be it for you to refuse what she’s so willingly offering. Nipping at her neck, he grinned at the salty taste. Damned if the Lord of the Underworld doesn’t have the most delightful creations.

She arched up against him, pitting her strength against his own. With ease he pressed her back into the soft mattress. “Patience, my sweet, we’ll get there.” He trailed his mouth along her exposed collarbone. A sudden flare of pain at the nape of his neck made him jerk back with a hiss. Cursing under his breath, he reached back and untangled her talons from his hair.

“What is your issue?” He tried to focus on the features of the woman despite the blurriness caused by the alcohol rushing through his veins.

“Mine! You will TrueMate me, lover! I will give you much pleasure.” Her eyes glowed as dark horns appeared at her temples before a forked tongue darted out to flick at him.

“What the hell?” He scrambled away from her, his cock deflating. Even in his debilitated state, he knew there was something not right with the woman.

Crouched on all fours, she stalked him across the rumpled surface of the bed much like a lioness intent on her prey.

“I’m horny and I want you to fuck me, Flannery Baghadur. With our union, Bilé’s head will be mine.”

Confusion swamped him. Bilé’s head…what do I…? Realization struck him. She thinks I’m Flannery and I have access to Bilé. Stupid bitch doesn’t even realize she’s got the wrong brother. A drunken chuckle escaped him. “Sorry, can’t help you there, Lydia…Laura, whatever your name is…”

She hissed and swiped at him with her claws. “You will help me or I will shred your precious manhood next.”

A new sharper pain radiated from his stomach. Glancing, he tried to focus on the furrows gracing his stomach, which were now slowly seeping blood. Grabbing his discarded shirt off the floor, he clumsily dabbed at the wounds, a grunt of pain escaping him at the feel of the rough cloth. “Like hell. Even if I wanted to help you, you got the wrong brother, you crazy ass bitch. I don’t need this shit. I’m outta here.”

Beyond angry that he wasn’t going to get laid tonight, he tossed the shirt away intent on leaving the demoness behind. Perhaps if I get back to the hall, I can find another demoness. He was just at the door when the demoness latched onto his back, her talons digging, seeking purchase.

“You will not walk away from me, Flannery!” The screech echoed inside the chamber and nearly shattered his eardrums.

Roaring out his anger, he rolled his shoulders trying to dislodge her, but like a tick she hung on. Finally in desperation, he spun around and slammed her between his body and the door.

Clinging to him, he heard the sounds of demon-ish and winced as her chanting grew louder. Not that it worried him. As the son of a God he was normally immune to most maladies that brought down others. He winced when she sank her teeth deep into the muscle running over his shoulder. The agonizing sting of her fangs caused him to stumble forward. With his flesh burning, he reached behind him, grabbing blindly. Finally finding a limb, he jerked hard, trying to break her hold, when dizziness swept over him. Falling to his knees, he tried to stay conscious but failed. The last thing he saw when he turned his head to ask, “why”, were the vindictive burning eyes of the demoness.

* * * * *

“That’s enough, Lenora.” Bilé, the God of the Underworld, grabbed the feeding demoness by the nape, ripping her away from Kennet’s body. Immediately the blood began to seep from the wound. He’d been on his way to his private chambers with his protective guard when he’d heard a commotion coming from one the alcoves off the main hall. Pure rage consumed him when he found Kennet, one of the God of War’s sons, being used by Lenora, the daughter of one of his staunchest rivals, as a food source. The girl glared at him even as she bared blood- coated fangs.

“Put pressure on it,” he told Flannery, the head of his protective guard and Kennet’s twin. “I’m going to deal with this...” he gave Lenora a rough shake, “...greedy little bitch.” Not waiting to see if the younger man did as he asked, he strode from the room, holding the struggling demoness with ease. “I really ought to kill you, Lenora.”

Hissing at him, she squirmed viciously against his hold. “You wouldn’t dare! It would cause a war such as the Underworld has never seen.”

Slowly smiling at her, he leaned in closer. “And play right into your father’s hands—I don’t think so. I have a more fitting demise for you than death.”

She paled. “You can’t kill me! If you do, the godling will never recover!”

Bilé stopped in mid-stride and gave her a rough shake. “What did you do, Lenora?”

Licking her lips, he watched as she tried for what he assumed was a haughty stare but wasn’t surprised when she failed spectacularly. “I used the Origin’s spell on him. As long as I live, he shall too. If I die, he dies!” A sneer crossed her face. “How are you going to explain that to his father, Almighty One?”

If he’d thought he was angry before, he was wrong. Now he was enraged! “The Origin’s spell is dangerous! Do you know why it’s so rarely used, Lenora?”

She trembled under his fierce gaze. He was sure the brimstone and flames of the Underworld were showing in his eyes.

“When you attempted to bind Kennet’s life source to yours, you didn’t bother to find out if he was a half-breed!” It was taking all of Bilé’s considerable self-control to keep from striking her down. Wrapping his hand around her throat, he lifted her off the ground.

“But, he’s Camulos’s son….” Tears began to form in her eyes.

“And his mother is a faerie!” His fingers tightened around her neck. “Not only is it illegal to use such a spell on a God, by using it on Kennet you just split Kennet’s origins in half. His father’s bloodseed will tear apart his mother’s faerie side.” He ignored the pain her clawing fingers inflicted as she tried to free herself.

“You fool! You idiot!” Giving her a shake, he tossed her to the ground. “Go home to your father. If I ever catch even a glimpse of you, you’ll wish I’d killed you because I’ll give you to Camulos. Hell will have no fury like the God of War’s when he finds out what you did to his son.”

Cowering before him, she whimpered, her eyes wide with fear.

“Now, GO!” His order echoed through the halls. She nodded and scrambled away. Raking his hand through his hair, he turned to see Flannery standing in the open doorway, his expression torn. “He’s gone.”

Bilé forced a smile. “He’s not gone until I say he’s gone.” He pressed by Flannery and entered the room. Dropping to his knees next to the lad, he placed his hands over the wound. He froze as something inside him stirred to life, making him realize how important it was to save the boy. Damnation, he’s Jasmyn’s. I can’t let my daughter’s mate die. Drawing deep within himself, Bilé invoked a powerful but seldom used incantation.

“What was once torn asunder, mend again, take two halves which are independent and make whole.” Heat burned his palms as he forced the mending power into Kennet’s still body. As the heat slowly faded, he slumped over the boy. The things I do in the name of love. Keep my power safe, young Kennet, until my daughter is old enough to replace it with her own. He lifted his eyes to meet Flannery’s. “It’s done. He’ll survive by my power until he mates.”

“He’s gonna be okay? Are you sure? He’s still not breathing.” Anguish racked Flannery as he dropped to his knees next to Kennet.

“I did the best I could.” Bilé slowly rose as Kennet opened his eyes.

“Oh dear God, the voices…someone stop the voices!” Kennet shook as his hands flew to his head.

Flannery gave him a beseeching expression. “What’s wrong with him?”

Bilé sighed. “I couldn’t undo the Origins spell, but I was able to mutate it enough that each part – both godly bloodseed and faerie spirit could survive.”

Flannery was horrified. “What the hell does that mean?”

“He now has two separate voices in his head, trying to tell him what to do.”

“Son of bitch!” He grabbed at Bilé’s shirt and tried to shake him.

Pulling the distraught man closer, he tried to comfort him. “It was either that or death. Kennet is strong, he’ll adjust. I have greater plans for him.” He rubbed his hand over Flannery’s back.


BLACK WOLF'S ULTIMATUM by Belladonna Bordeaux

BLACK WOLF'S ULTIMATUM by Belladonna Bordeaux

His ultimatum is a sexual eye-opener for her.

Wendy Williams was groomed from birth to be the perfect daughter and eventually become a trophy wife. Her parents' grand plan for her took a detour when Wendy met the man of her dreams, Elijah Dickens. He's hot and she's hot for another go across the mattress with him.

Elijah Dickens, born from werewolves, is about to make his life mate realize he's the only wolf for her. With the help of his two friends, he leads her into the racy and erotic world of BDSM.

The only issue left to be resolved is whether or not Wendy will agree.


Chapter One

“Come on. Get over your funk, girl,” Wendy Williams whispered. “Valentine’s Day sucks.” This year a lot more than others.

Her gaze roamed over her living room. Nadda, zip, zilch that even remotely related to being in a long-term relationship met her gaze. There wasn’t a picture of Elijah hung on her wall or taking up space on her mantel. She picked up the pillar candle she’d bought at a fancy boutique and breathed deeply of the heady sandalwood scent.

The memory of buying the hand made candle came forward. She’d been out with her mom, shopping for Christmas presents when they stumbled across the boutique. Her mom was on the hunt for something very pricey for her uncle, while Wendy was trying hard not to bitch about how bad her feet hurt. She’d ignored most of the kitschy knickknacks when she’d caught a whiff of a scent that was so close to Elijah’s she couldn’t resist purchasing it.

Her mother had clucked her tongue and said something to the extent of, “evergreen or cranberry is more festive.” Of course her mom had sent her an askance glare when Wendy didn’t immediately put the candle back and purchase one of the scents suggested.

Groomed. That’s what her friends called her and she supposed that was what she was. Groomed to be the epitome of trophy wife. Groomed to be the perfect hostess. Groomed to not have her own mind.

She swallowed hard against the knot of emotion forming in her throat. In a few short years she was expected to lie down and marry whichever man promoted her Congressman father’s career. Her happiness be damned.

In the past she always laughed off her friends comments, but her reality was much more hurtful. She wasn’t just groomed—hell no—from birth she’d been put in a gilded cage and informed in cold terms she would sing beautiful songs on demand and look fantastic or there would be hell to pay.

“I didn’t ask for this.” Yes, and I didn’t ask to meet the man of my dreams when I was in a traffic accident either. A small smile lifted the corners of her lips. Elijah had had his hands full with consoling the sixteen-year-old girl who’d reared-ended her while trying to take her statement. It was when he flashed a smile during a candid moment that she found herself really entranced by the tall, dark skinned policeman.

He became the focus of her private fantasies for the next few months. Then, by chance, she’d bumped into him at a bar, and voila, they were seeing each other.

Compared to most of her other relationships, theirs wasn’t half-bad as long as discretion was maintained. In the year she’d seen Elijah Dickens, she’d seen him at his best and worst. He was kind, caring, and considerate. Everything she wanted in a boyfriend. She couldn’t even bitch about their sex life except that maybe he was insatiable. But, then again, she figured most twenty-seven-year-old guys were geared for banging.

The big problem standing between them was her parents, specifically her father.

She was white.

Elijah was mulatto.

Unlike Wendy’s affluent parents, Elijah’s mama was a boisterous Latina with a quick smile and the temperament of a grizzly bear protecting her cubs should someone insult one of her six kids. His dad could trace his roots back to the slave markets of Charleston. He’d put himself through college and didn’t find anything wrong with his job as a community organizer. There was so much unconditional love in Elijah’s family that for a while Wendy was jealous of the Dickens brood.

She set the candle down on its plate and strode for her living room windows. In a sick way, she was cheating Elijah out of what a real relationship was supposed to be. By trying to have the best of both worlds while not rocking her family’s conservative ideology, she was cheating herself.

She knew it, and so did he.

And, finally two weeks ago he’d given her the ultimate ultimatum. Either she was all in or they were done. Personally, she didn’t blame him for reaching the limit of his patience with her and her folks. She was pretty sick of sneaking around too.

“On Valentine’s Day, you have to give me your answer,” he’d said to her before walking out her backdoor the last time he’d stopped in for a good fuck. “Believe me, Wendy, I love you, but I have had it with all these covert maneuvers. Think about it, and on Valentine’s Day I want an answer.”

She still didn’t have one. There were too many tangents to consider. Too many things to weigh. She just didn’t know whether or not the risk was worth the effort.

Sighing, she pulled the lace curtains back to stare at the full moon hanging heavy in the sky. A few wispy clouds worked their way across the inky backdrop and shrouded the glowing satellite from time to time. This is a night made for lovers.

She also recognized Elijah was breaking with his freaky tradition of staying away from her when the full moon rose. Even if he wasn’t on patrol, he’d call her but wouldn’t set foot in her apartment. A tingle of passion curled in the pit of her belly. The man certainly knew how to get her hot over the phone. He’d pushed her into thinking outside the missionary position to fantasize about hot sex. Toys. A little bondage. Yes, she’d gone there with his avid prompting.

It was weird, his departure from her life for one night a month, and she wanted to joke with him about it. How many times have I wanted to ask him if he is a werewolf or something like that? Too many. She’d almost actually gone through with her teasing on a few occasions, but with their relationship being clandestine by her request, she figured he was allowed his own idiosyncrasy.

What to do? What to do?

Two friends she trusted above reproach called her silly and stupid for even debating sticking with a good man. She’d made a decision after taking their advice to heart, to damn her family if they didn’t approve or accept Elijah. Yet, the moment her mother called to ask her if she was going to some fundraiser, the doubts filtered back in.

Not in her wildest dreams could she picture Elijah at a GOP fundraiser.

God, please tell me what to do.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THE BETRAYAL by Tamsin L. Silver

THE BETRAYAL by Tamsin L. Silver

A Living Dead Girl Novel

The line between good and evil is sometimes blurred.

Atlanta Hart learns that she's an Air Witch, the first discovered for centuries. Suddenly she and her friends find themselves immersed in a world of magick and magickal creatures, not all of which uphold their birthright to protect the human race.

This new world is on the brink of war, propelling Atlanta to embark on a journey to understand her powers in order to fight for her life and the lives of those she loves. With the help of legendary vampire hunter turned vampire, Sean Cameron, will she discover the truth of her past in time to save her future?



Out in the Middle of Nowhere in the Quebec Province of Canada

Early September


Valencia stood in the center of the circular outdoor chamber and tilted her head, lifting her face to the night sky. Her long, wavy red hair cascaded across her bare shoulders, catching the moonlight as it tumbled down her back and over the laces of the black corset. She closed her eyes, raising her arms into the night air and called to the wind. As a vampire the night caressed her, but as a witch, the wind spoke to her. It warned her that dawn approached; her time was running short.

“Ladies, are we ready?” Valencia asked her three witch sisters who had accompanied her to the chamber to conduct the experiment. Each wielded a different discipline. Where Valencia was gifted with Air, they were Fire, Water, and Earth.

“Yes, Mistress,” They answered in unison.

With a crash, the large oak and cast iron door that led from the fortress into the chamber burst open, slamming into the wall. Lowering her arms, the wind subsided as Jonathan, her lover and second in command, kicked a prisoner through the door. He then walked in after, graceful as a cat, the last of the wind tossing his long white-blond hair about.

Seeing the prisoner she’d hoped for stumble towards her, Valencia grinned. “You found him, how splendid! Glad you could join us Mr. Cameron.”

“The pleasure is all yours, I’m sure,” Sean responded, coldly. “Mind telling me what the fuck I’m doing out here? You know how I hate to leave the dungeon. Besides, it’s Bingo night.”

His cocky grin and sarcasm threatened to ruin her mood. “I am your Mistress and you serve me when I see fit,” she snapped. Goddess, his presence irritated her! Seeing him reminded her of all of her men he mercilessly killed before she’d captured him.

“Oh goody. You know I live to serve,” he said, his voice flat with sarcasm. He pulled against Jonathan’s grasp on his arm. “Let go of me you bastard! I’m shackled, where the hell would I go?” With one last yank, he escaped from Jonathan’s grasp.

Valencia fought a grin. Even withholding blood from Sean for the past few days, he was strong enough to pull away. Yes, her decision to use him in this experiment was the right call.

She may have been delighted with this, however Jonathan was not. He grasped Sean again. “Leave him be,” she scolded, “He’s right. Besides, it is time. Ladies? Attach him to the platform.”

The witches grasped Sean and laid him on the wooden square on the ground, quickly undoing the middle joint on each shackle that had bound foot to foot, and wrist to wrist. They reattached them to the platform, a limb at each corner, splaying him like a large X. Valencia slid the altar between Sean’s legs while the witches lit the candles that surrounded the platform.

Movement at the door drew her attention. Lifting her gaze, she recognized the head of The Superior Order’s army. The General lumbered into the space with a scowl on his face. “General McMasters, thank you for coming.”

“What’s this all about Mistress Valencia?” His gruff voice demanded. “Pulling me out of my bed at an ungodly hour? Bah! You best have a good explanation.”

“I do. Don’t I always?” She purred, her hand caressing Jonathan’s arm. She squeezed his hand lightly, “Lover, will you please go fetch Sean’s gift?”

“As you wish.”

Valencia addressed the group. Jonathan crossed toward the door, where the General still stood. “You all have been gathered here to witness how I plan take control of those self righteous peons who call themselves The Great Order.”

“This again?” the General mumbled.

Jonathan’s arm whipped out so fast it was a blur. Grabbing the General’s arm roughly he snarled, “Show some respect for your Mistress,” through clenched teeth. Holding on long enough to make his point, he let go and exited through the door, leaving it open.

Valencia sighed dramatically. She was sick to death of the General’s disbelief in her powers. If lucky, that would change here and now. Pulling out a silver ring from the pocket of her velvet cape, she held it up so the moonlight glinted off it. “This is the key. This creation of mine will ruin them.”

“Ooh, a ring,” Sean mocked sarcastically. “Nifty. Now can we tell me why the fuck I’m here?”

One of the witches, snapped, “Shut up and pay attention.”

Sean rolled his eyes but kept his mouth shut.

“This ring has the possibility to do amazing things, Sean. If this experiment works, I will have made it possible for vampires of my choosing to no longer be constricted to night travel only.” Valencia stared at the ring in her hand, entranced by her own work. “This ring is made of silver, sugilite, and clear crystal quartz. Sugilite is the most powerful protection stone there is. It aids in physical healing while silver aids circulation, strengthening the blood. Clear crystal quartz enhances a witch’s powers and thus the spell.”

“Blah blah blah—and?” Sean sassed.

She tilted the ring so Sean could see it. “Recognize this symbol? It’s a Celtic knot, called a Triquetra. Simply put, when combined with the correct spell this ring becomes a talisman of protection for the one who wears it.” Pulling her hand away she spun about once with a giddy cackle. “Protection from the sun.”

“Have you tested it out?” the General asked.


Sean taunted her. “Then how do you know that it works?”

“That is what you are for,” she told Sean, looking down on him. “I’ll leave you out in this sun chamber with this ring on. When the sun rises, we’ll see if it works.”

“You’re insane!” he said with a strained chuckle. “Then again, all of us here know that. Look, you can go find yourself someone else to try your toy on. I’m not gonna help you. I’d rather take it off and turn to a cinder.”

Valencia walked around the altar to lean her face down toward his, their noses almost touching. “Trust me Sean, you don’t have a choice.” She stood up and raised her voice, “Jonathan, you can bring her in!” The glee bubbling in her as she saw Jonathan re-enter the sun chamber with an unconscious, young girl slung over his shoulder, was almost enough to make her dance. He shut the door and locked it, proceeding toward Valencia. She bounced once and gestured grandly. “Lay her on him.”

With a nod, Jonathan draped the young girl over Sean, placing her neck near his face, in reach of his mouth.

"Now Sean, drink,” Valencia ordered. “You need to be strong for the spell."


Starved as he was, she knew it took everything he possessed to refuse. Though impressed she insisted, "You must feed!"

"I sure as hell will not!"

Valencia pulled out her black bladed ceremonial dagger, known as an athame, and stepped forward. Lifting the girl by her hair she smiled at Sean underneath, "You wanna bet?"

"Don’t do it," he pleaded.

She made a small slit in the girl's throat, letting the blood drip onto Sean's face, onto his lips. He shifted his face from the falling drops of blood. Valencia leaned over the body to study Sean, amazed at his will. She knew it wouldn’t last, seeing as the blood now dripped onto the side of his lips. "You cannot hold out forever. The bloodlust will win."

Sean’s natural instincts finally exceeded his will. His guttural yell exploded from him as Valencia witnessed his two canine teeth elongate. She smiled and took her cue, lowering the neck of the girl and pressing it to his mouth. Crying as he fed, Valencia gloated at his eventual loss of control. When he finished Sean let go of the young girl and screamed out again.

“Take it away,” she requested of Jonathan, who lifted her up and tossed her aside.

“You bastard!” Sean yelled. “She’s not dead. I didn’t kill her. You can’t just throw her around like garbage! She’s a human being!”

A cold smile spread across Jonathan’s face, making his white-blonde hair appear like pure ice in the moonlight. He stepped over to the girl, grabbed her by the neck, and snapped it. “Now she’s not.”

“Damn it!” Sean knocked the back of his head against the wood platform.

“Boys boys, can I have some focus here?” She interrupted in a calm tone, trying not to lose her temper. “We’re starting. Now get in place.”

Jonathan answered with a twitch of his eye and a nod, pulling the General back toward the wall so they would be out of the way.

Valencia pointed the knife at the sky. "I call on the Four Corners of the Earth to hear me!"

“North,” said the witch in green as she raised her blade into the sky.

"East," Valencia followed, raising her blade.

The witch in red brought up her blade. “South.”

Lastly, the witch in blue lifted hers. “West.”

"O Spirit of the North Stone, Ancient Ones of the Earth, I call you to attend this circle. Charge this by your powers, Old Ones!"

The next two women echoed the same words, acknowledging their corner, their element, requesting the attention of its vast power. They lowered their blades, and Valencia continued, "Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Elements of Astral birth, I call you now; attend to me! In the circle, rightly cast, safe from psychic curse or blast, from cave and desert, sea and hill, by wand, blade, cup, and pentacle, I call you now. Attend to me! This is my will, so mote it be!"

A moment of silence filled the air as Valencia stood still. She felt her connection to the three other ladies as they stood, hands raised up. Gazing down at her subject, she noticed Sean pulling frantically at his binds, causing his own blood to spill upon the platform.

"May the powers of The Ones, the source of all power—the goddess and Lady of the Moon, and the god—the Horned Hunter of the Sun bless this place and at this time. Know that I am with you and you are with me.”

Thunder crashed above and clouds began to roll over the night sky. Wind blew through the enclosed space, tossing the witches’ skirts and hair as Valencia held up the ring. "With this pentagram I lay Protection here both night and day. And the one who should not touch let his fingers burn and twitch. I now invoke the law of three. This is my will, so mote it be!"

Lightning scorched the sky, flashing like a slow strobe light while the air hummed of static. Sean and the ring became luminescent as the moon above, telling Valencia it was time. She moved from behind the altar to place the ring on Sean’s right ring finger. His skin felt warm, to almost a human temperature and with a flicker of hope that the spell was working she quickly finished it off.

"Horned Hunter of the Sun I call upon thee to see this man, this ring. I ask thou for the protection from the harm of your rays. May they be protected by your might, O gracious god, day and night."

As the three women chanted, “May they be protected by your might, O gracious god, day and night,” with Valencia, the air in the chamber became bright as day. Then, they all stopped and looked up, throwing their hands into the air. In doing so, the light surrounding them shot upwards. Like a bullet out of the chamber of a gun it hit the sky, spread out, dissipating the clouds and making everything clear once more.

"We must close,” Valencia instructed. “Daylight is approaching.” Standing in the East, she pierced the circle's wall with the blade at waist level. “Farewell Spirits of North, South, East, and West. We give thanks for your presence here. Go in power.” Moving clockwise around the circle, causing the power of it to dissolve, she let the outside world slowly regain its dominance.

Returning to East once more, Valencia set the athame on the altar, motioning to Jonathan to assist in cleaning up the supplies before stepping to lean over Sean. With a Cheshire grin, she put sunglasses on him. “So sorry to leave you, my pet, but we won’t be far.” She motioned to everyone else, “Time to go. Let us all retire to the viewing room. There’s still some time to kill until the sun reaches the floor of the chamber." She then walked out of the chamber without even so much as another glance at Sean.


BARELY HUMAN by Trace Riles

BARELY HUMAN by Trace Riles

Now you see her. Now you don't

Recently promoted, Jessie is struggling to get into the groove of things alongside her edgy and more experienced partner.

Lately she’s found it increasingly difficult to hide an ability she can’t control, and doesn’t understand. While investigating the murder of a local teen, she discovers the shocking truth about what she really is. Worse, she suspects the killer that continues to hunt teenage girls is closer to her than she could ever have guessed.

As she delves deeper into a world where demons, vampires, and werewolves not only exist, but are all around us, unlikely friendships blossom as a group of misfits band together to put a stop to a madman’s murderous rampage.


Chapter One

“Poke her, I dare you.”

“No way! I’m not doing it, you do it.”

“What if she’s dead?”

“Maybe we should take her wallet. If she’s dead she won’t need it anyway.”

“She doesn’t have a wallet. She’s only wearing a t-shirt. Where would it be?”

The fingers of sleep began to loosen their grasp on me. I’d read myself to sleep last night. The last time I’d looked at the clock, it was two, maybe three. I shivered. Must have left the window open. Normally I loved the crisp autumn air, but this was ridiculous.

Off in the distance, a couple of kids were arguing. Their voices had pulled me from my dream. Damn, why did they have to be so loud? They could have been in the same room with me. Excited about going back to school, I guessed. Yawning, I shifted my hips and felt my t-shirt snag on ...Rocks? Crap!

I listened while the boys continued to argue about which one should do the poking. “If either of you poke me, I’ll arrest you both,” I muttered after a moment.

The boys gasped at the sound of my voice. I squinted and looked up at the bright blue sky. Crooking my stiff neck, I checked out the kids, dressed in their new hoodies and jeans. They looked so warm. Lucky brats. I sighed. They get to leave the house dressed all warm and cozy, while I pop out in just any old thing.

“Lady, whatcha doing sleeping in the alley?” the tallest boy asked.

“Where’s your clothes? You trying to get yourself pneumonia?” asked the younger would-be assailant.

The taller boy leaned over and held out his hand to help me up. I waved it away and slowly got to my feet, feeling my joints snap into place. Nothing like a night on the asphalt to make you feel your best. I groaned as my lower back protested its new position.

“My great aunt got pneumonia last year and she nearly died,” the smaller boy offered, obviously feeling the need to enlighten me.

“Shut up, Charlie! No one wants to hear about your stupid aunt. She got pneumonia ’cause she smokes those cheapy cigarettes.”

“Hey!” I snapped at him while brushing bits of gravel from the hem of my t-shirt, “I don’t like the way you’re talking to him. And what’s this business about taking my wallet?” I stared at them with my best tough cop glare.

I tried to swallow, but my tongue stuck to the roof of my pasty mouth. If my breath smelled anything like the inside of my mouth tasted, I felt sorry for these kids. I took a step away.

“L-lady? What’s wrong with your eyes?”

Crap, my contacts.

As an infant I’d been diagnosed with a condition called essential iris atrophy, or ICE Syndrome, a very rare and progressive disorder that causes distorted or misshapen pupils. Not the worst disorder to have, I suppose. However, it did tend to unnerve people, which was why I normally wore contacts. “I had a late night, that’s all,” I lied, flinging my hand to my forehead, pretending to shade my face from the bright morning light. “Stop trying to change the subject. You were about to take my wallet?”

The boys exchanged an uneasy glance. “W-we weren’t really going to take it—right, Sam?” Charlie looked to the taller boy.

“Right. Nope, we would never do that. We were just kiddin’ around to see if, you know, we could get your attention.” Pleased with himself for his quick thinking, he shot the smaller boy a grin.

“Yeah, well...” I paused and scanned the alley. It was, thankfully, just the three of us. I refocused my attention on the boys. “I better not catch you two sneaking around here again. Now get to school!”

The boys dipped their heads, muttered, “Yes, ma’am,” and sidled off, leaving me alone in the alley.

Now I had to figure out how to get up to my apartment without being seen. Explaining to the neighbors why I was outside in my underwear was a task I could live without.

This was the third time this week that I’d flickered while sleeping—at least, that’s what I called it. It had started when I was thirteen.

I’d gotten my first period, and that same night I awoke in the tub, with no recollection of walking there. For the next few years, every once in a while I’d wake up somewhere other than in my bed. My mother chalked it up to sleepwalking until she came into my room to say good night to me, and watched in astonishment as I vanished. One moment I’d been in bed and the next I was gone, no walking involved. I could still hear her, “You just sort of flickered.”

For the most part, it was harmless. I’d wake up in my closet or in the hall just outside my room. But one frosty night in the middle of January, I flickered into the attic. My mother, thinking my dad had driven me to school early, went to work without a second thought. The small access hatch to the loft above the second floor of the house had been latched; trapping me for the entire day in the frigid, dark space. By the time Mom returned home and heard me banging on the hatch, I had frostbite on most of my toes. Luckily, there was no permanent damage. After that, my mother removed the locks from everything—just in case.

Two years ago last month, my mother passed away from an aneurysm. I found myself alone with my secrets, which up until a couple of months ago had been relatively easy to conceal. Easy because I kept to myself and, other than work, very rarely interacted with anyone. But lately, the flickering was becoming more frequent, the distances greater. Until recently, I’d never flickered beyond my own apartment. Last week I’d awakened downstairs in Mr. Murphy’s living room. I narrowly made it out of that one. I still have the scratches from his homely, one-eyed cat to prove it. Monday I’d ended up in the basement laundry room. And I’m outside! In my underwear! I’m so screwed.

I climbed onto the dumpster and jumped up to grab the fire escape then hung, bare legs dangling, as a woman passed the alleyway. She looked up at me, expressionless, and kept going. Maybe climbing the fire escape in your underwear isn’t as unusual as one might think. The taste in my mouth was starting to make me feel seriously sick. What had I eaten last night?

I hauled myself up, then crawled under Mrs. Wang’s window, not up to hearing her lecture about the ticking clock. My clock wasn’t ticking, it was frozen in time. I like kids. Kids are okay. Truthfully, I’d not had much experience interacting with them, and they made me sort of nervous.

Children seemed much more intuitive than most adults. Whenever I was around them, I always felt as if they knew I had a secret. It’s not that I didn’t want children, but how could I, in good conscience, ever have a child without knowing what was wrong with me first? Besides, even if one day that changed, I’d have to find a man. Someone really, really understanding, who wouldn’t have a heart attack when his wife disappeared and reappeared like some freak straight out of a horror movie. Pfft, like that’s going to happen.

I climbed the short length of metal stairs to my kitchen window, and peered through the glass at the latch. I exhaled, relieved to find I had forgotten to lock it. I tried not to acknowledge the withering geranium in the flowerpot I moved off of the sill, but as I set it down on the landing it drooped to one side, sad and neglected.

Guilt surged. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d watered it, and I was pretty sure I should have taken it inside before the nights turned so cool. Like I’d ever be able to take care of a kid. I can’t even keep a plant alive. My chest clenched and I blinked against the prickle of tears. Then I resigned myself to my solitary existence and refocused on the task at hand.

A tacky decorative spike declaring that GARDENERS TEND TO SOIL THEIR PLANTS was the only thing still standing in the flowerpot—a gag gift from last year’s Secret Santa at work. It was stupid, but I’d kept it anyway—I didn’t get many gifts. I yanked it from the pot and forced the spiked end under the window as a lever. With a bit of effort, the pane lifted enough for me to squeeze my fingers in and push it up the rest of the way. A rush of warm air wafted over my chilled cheeks and I inhaled the familiar aroma of my apartment, a mixture of old plaster and Chantilly, my mother’s perfume. Occasionally, when I was feeling really lonesome, I’d spray some around the apartment. It always picked up my spirits.

I climbed awkwardly over the sill, knocking over a stack of my favorite self-help books. They didn’t seem to be helping me, but I couldn’t stop buying them. Maybe I could find a book to help me beat my book-buying addiction. I scooped them up, dumped them in a heap on the small kitchen table, and shut the window. A quick glance at the wall clock made me curse under my breath. It was going to be close. I started toward the bedroom but paused in mid-step and turned back to the window. I opened it a crack—just in case.

A long hot shower took the chill out of my bones and I was good to go. I left my apartment and entered the stairwell when my cell rang.

“Jess, where the hell are you? I’m your partner, not your mother, you know,” Ray chewed loudly on the other end of the line, completely devoid of any recognizable manners.

“I’m out the door. In the car, even. I’m practically there.” I jumped the last four steps to the lobby.

“Get a move on, will ya? Sarge’ll be handing out cases in twenty minutes and I don’t want to get stuck on bum clean-up again.”

I laughed. Ray was crude, and she never ceased to shock me. “Bums are people too, Ray.”

“Yeah, smelly people.” Without warning the line went dead. Typical Ray, no time for the usual niceties of civilized society.

I snapped my phone shut, stuffing it into my jacket pocket as I hurried out to the street where my Jeep was parked. I caught a break yesterday and garnered a space almost in front of my building. The driver’s side door screeched in protest as I yanked it open. The smell of moldy oranges smacked me square in the face.

Last week I’d picked up a fruit smoothie for Ray on my way into work, and had to stop a little too suddenly when some crazy woman cut me off. That had been the end of Ray’s fruit smoothie, and the beginning of the entity known as the Citrus Stinker. The juice and cream that soaked into my carpets had soured in the heat from the fall sun. I really had to take it in for a cleaning.

It was old and tired and I loved it—it had belonged to my dad. I knew it looked like it belonged in a junkyard, but I thought the wear and tear gave it character. I was usually the only one who thought so.

I’m on a parking streak, I thought as I slipped into a slot just vacated by an Explorer in front of Manny’s Deli. The prime spot meant Ray would be getting a full side view of my car, and I didn’t want to hear about it; my morning was already stressful enough. The familiar jingle from the bells hung on the deli door smoothed away some of my tension, though. My first steady partner—in or out of work, for that matter—was waiting inside. I had recently made detective and been assigned to work with Ray. Since I lived such a solitary life, I was really beginning to enjoy the closeness generated by spending large quantities of time with the same person.

“Gawd, can’t you even use a freakin’ alarm clock?” Ray blurted around a mouthful of bacon. She waved her empty coffee mug at the young waitress, making an obvious show of her impatience. The girl rolled her eyes on the way over. Ray was almost ten years my senior, but the way she acted you’d think it was closer to twenty—most of the time she was downright crotchety. She had made it abundantly clear to any cop who’d listen that she wasn’t too happy about being stuck with a greenhorn like me.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...