Monday, December 30, 2013

MAZE by Ursula Sinclair

MAZE by Ursula Sinclair

The conclusion of the story of Ivy and Maze from The Ballerina and The Fighter


There are times in life when you have to make decisions that others will neither understand nor forgive. When that happens, then you make damn sure they never find out.

But no matter what, you will do anything to protect those you love. Even if it means you forfeit your soul.


He’s keeping something from me. And I’m not sure I want to know because it will forever change us.

Have you ever killed anyone?

My breathing remained steady, my heart rate even, but the chemical rush from the adrenaline had blood rushing to my head. The sound of our blades gliding off each other was not a silent one, but the thunder and lightning ensured no one would hear or be inclined to venture out into the downpour this night. We were hemmed in on both sides by the brick walls of the buildings, with just enough room to maneuver. The filthy alleyway only wide enough for a dump truck was made even worse by the torrent of water washing over the soiled ground. Nothing could clear the stench of death creeping around us.

I’d deliberately chosen the time and this place for the confrontation. This was a blind alleyway only one way in and one way out. Barely visible from the street and there were no windows on the sides of the buildings. Just one door from the back of the restaurant near the dumpster. On a night like this, the weather also helped, we would be uninterrupted. No one would step out for a smoke. But at the end of the night, the trash at the restaurant still had to go out.

Huge fat drops of rain poured down from the heavens beating at me, soaking through the clothes I wore. Trying to drive me away from the course I’d set. I ignored it. My body was ready, waiting, my mind bent on one course. It was too late for any other.
The iron door opened to the right of the dumpster I hid beside, and my breath paused for a moment—only one person could be behind it.

I moved silently out from the shadows. As soon as he saw me, he dropped the trash bags he carried and pulled a knife from his boot. He knew damn well why I was there. I stepped toward him, compensating for the slippery ground with my treaded boots but also my balance. I’d trained on many different terrains so the flat alleyway posed no issue for me, but I couldn’t say the same about my opponent. He’d already revealed his weakness to me by his crouching stance. His balance would be off if he lunged on such a slick surface.

My body ran cold at what I was about to do. I raised my own blade and beckoned him forward. The glow from the outdoor lighting reflected in his dark hate-filled eyes. We were about the same height and build and our goals were the same. But from there we differed. Jai fought better than he ever had or ever would again because he knew this time he battled for his life. As did I. But as my knife parried and slashed opening flesh, I also fought to protect the one I loved.

So have I ever killed anyone?

I walked away from the alley with that thought in my head, my heart still beat, my blood still ran steadily within my veins. With each step the water turned redder on the ground in front of me. Up until that moment my answer would have been no, I’d never killed anyone. I knew I was capable of it. I’d been trained in the different ways to take a life with my body and weapons since the age of three. I also knew how to put someone down without serious injury. That’s what I’d always done. But that was my past. Tonight I’d taken a life to protect those I loved but also out of vengeance. Oh yes, there’s hate in my heart, but there’s blood on my hands now too. While the rain might have washed the blade of blood, no amount of rainwater would ever wash me clean. Not even the tears I shed could cleanse my soul.


Sunday, December 22, 2013



The Fighters of Absinthe, 2
There's fighting, and then there's bare-knuckle, hold nothing back fighting...
Sunny McGrieve has lived around fighters her whole life. With her dad training ruthless men who excel in MMA and fight in the underground circuit, she is no stranger to violence. But her father has warned her about that breed of male, and that means the man she wants, London Stein, is out of the question.
London enjoys women like he does his fights: hard and fast, and with no regrets. Then there is Sunny, the girl he wants but can't have. When he finally has her, London knows that he has no intention of letting her go. But her dad and Mack, the big Russian that sees her as a little sister, aren't his only problem, not when he has been challenged by a no rules fighter, "The Lion".


Having her so close, and in his car had his deflated arousal rearing up again. His dick became hard from zero to sixty in three seconds flat. He couldn’t get to his place fast enough, especially not when she reached over, pulled his cock free, and proceeded to give him road-head. Hell, his normally timid little Sunny was taking the reins.

“Sunny—” Her name came from him on a strangled groan, but was cut off as she hollowed out her cheeks and took him in deep. “Shit, baby,” he breathed out roughly, not able to think clearly let alone say what he wanted to.

She pulled away from long enough to say, “I’ve never done this before. Am I doing it okay?”

“Yeah, baby. You’re really fucking good at it.” She smiled and went back to moving her mouth up and down on his dick, and he tightened his hands so hard on the steering wheel that his knuckles turned white. How in the hell was he supposed to drive? “Sunny, baby.”

His words were cut off when she took as much of him as she could. The tip of his cock hit the back of her throat, and she fucking swallowed around him. The sound of her gagging shouldn’t have turned him on, but fucking holy fuck hell did it ever. Oh, Christ. It was so damn good. Her soft moans vibrated along his length, and he rested his head on the back of the seat. She bobbed up and down, and it got to the point that he had to pull over or he’d wreck the fucking car. Sunny pulled away from him, the sound of her wet mouth coming free from his shaft resounding in the car.

They stared at each other for a long moment, and then in a flurry of movement he was reaching for her. Their mouths crashed together, and he went for the button of her jeans. She pushed his hands away and undid them herself. It took some maneuvering on her part, but once she had her pants and panties down her thighs and off one leg she went positioned herself on top of him. He reached for her top, pulled the hem down, and freed her glorious breasts. They bounced from the movement, her nipples rock hard and his mouth watering. “Have you always used condoms?” Her words confused him at first, and only when he pulled his eyes off her breasts and looked in her face did they finally register.

“Yeah, baby, always. Why?” She licked her lips, and his gaze was once again trained on the sight.

“I’m on the pill. To regulate my period.” It clicked on why she asked him that and why she was now telling him about being on birth control. Swallowing roughly, he let her words sink in. His cock jerked between his thighs at what she was implying.

“Are you sure, Sunny?” She didn’t answer, just moved until she now rested right on his cock. He hadn’t penetrated her yet, but the hot, wet feel of her was enough to have pre-cum spilling from the tip of his dick. The fit was tight, but he liked it that way, liked the way her body molded to his. She reached between them, and his eyes rolled back in his head when her hand wrapped around his cock. She rose up enough that she could place the head of his erection at her entrance. “You’re so fucking wet, baby. So. Fucking. Wet.”


Alien Experiment, 2
Grath and his twin brother, Zlade, have tackled many obstacles to obtain passage to Earth to find their mate. When they finally arrive, they don't find one man but identical twins. With the same tempting blood, they know they must keep both.
James and Adam are at the end of their rope when they discover an alien craft deep in the woods outside their camping ground. When they're abducted by two of the sexiest men they've ever seen, they aren't sure what to expect. The offer presented to them is tempting, especially when the alien men try to prove themselves through sexual favors. Should they be afraid or aroused?
Can the foursome learn to love each other or is a potential relationship destined for failure?


“We’re not like humans in every way,” he explained. “Our bodies are stronger and our senses more refined. For example, I can smell your heat as we speak.” He looked down below James’ belt and saw the evidence of his arousal pressed tightly against the material of his slacks. The human followed his gaze and swallowed hard without speaking.

“There’s no shame in wanting either of us,” said Grath. “If we’re correct, you’re both our fated mates. Any attraction is completely natural and expected.”

Adam spoke up. “But we’re males. Do you realize we’re males?”

Zlade smirked and came close enough to Adam that less than a foot separated them. “Take off your pants.”

The human’s mouth fell agape, but surprisingly, the quieter human did as asked. He unbuttoned his pants and slid down the zipper. This time his brother didn’t protest on his behalf.

“Very good, Adam.” Zlade had dreamt of finding his mate for countless nights. Years of abstinence had made him an irritable Mandor. Now he had his personal fantasy ready and willing. It would be his ultimate pleasure to show these males what they’d be missing if they refused to return to Mythios.

He bent down and tugged Adam’s pants down past his erection. His cock was impressive for such a small species. It was hard, pointing up like a virile rod.

“It seems you’re just as aroused as your brother. Do you fantasize about having my cock in your ass, little human? Or do you crave my mouth sucking you?”

Zlade didn’t receive an answer. He could hear Adam’s heavy breathing, and he watched a drop of clear pre-cum slip from the tip of his dick. He petted the silky shaft, admiring the color and shape of the human penis. He wondered if James’ would be exactly the same, or had unique traits.

“You asked if we were looking for a male. Well, there are no females on Mythios. We have no desire or need for them.” Zlade knelt on one knee and licked the head of Adam’s cock. The human let out a groan followed by a shaky breath. “Don’t fight it. If you like it, tell me so.”

“I like it.”

“What?” James shouted.

Zlade gave Adam what he wanted. He swallowed the full length of his warm cock, pressing it between his tongue and pallet as he sucked with just the right amount of pressure to drive the human wild. He got the desired reaction. Adam let out his breath, his body slumping as he threaded his hands into Zlade’s hair. He was well aware James and Grath watched the intimate show, and he hoped it aroused James enough to want to join in.

He savored the tart taste of the human dick, sucking long and hard, determined to bring Adam to a desperate precipice. There was no way these men would agree to travel to Mythios with strangers if there was nothing in it for them. Sex could come first, and love could develop with time. For Grath and Zlade, their fates were already sealed. As soon as they bit their mates, the bond would forever connect them to the humans. Nothing would come between them.

“Oh my God,” Adam cried out. It was the warning he needed. Zlade pulled back, not allowing the human to finish. He stood up and waited for a reaction.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

UNTANGLE ME by S.J. Maylee

Ivy’s revenge on the people behind her family’s downward spiral is simple and it’s working. There’s no need to long for help from the wealthy business owners who turned their backs on her father. Ivy may be worn out, but she’s finding herself again after joining the local BDSM club.
 Seth has it all. He has homes around the world and the little red speedster he dreamed of as a little boy, but none of the things he can buy satisfy him, not the socialites hanging on his arm or the submissives falling at his feet. Then, he hires Ivy to plan his next event.
Seth and Ivy enjoy each other’s company in and out of the planning stages for Seth’s charity event. Their playful bets lead them to a first date. When their secret kinks are revealed, the pair fall deep, but it’s not meant to last. Past hurts come back to haunt Ivy. Now, it’s time for Seth to use all he’s learned, regardless if he can win back the girl.


Where was Seth?

Once in the center of the dance floor she turned in a circle, looking every direction.


From the center seat at the bar, Seth’s direct stare held her captive. A new song excited the crowd and cheers surrounded them, but neither of them paid it any attention.

His jacket and tie were gone, giving her a closer look at his all-male body. The top button on his white shirt was undone. She wanted to undo the rest and get a glimpse at what lay underneath. Round shoulders tapered to his waist. She bit her lip as she imagined his length.

He made no move to come to her, his elbow still rested on the bar. He was a man waiting for the world to come to him.

Not the world. Her.

The comfortable confidence and the heat shining in his eyes turned her on. She swayed her hips to the hypnotic beat. Her hands felt their way up her thighs, around her hips, and an inch past her waist, he got up and walked towards her.

In no time, his feet stepped in between hers and together they rocked to the music. The drums and base from the band pushed a rhythm into her body, driving her desire. Their fingers interlaced. She snuggled closer and breathed in his clean musky scent.

She wanted to touch him, but he kept a hold on her hands. He pushed them both behind her, causing her back to arch and her breasts to press deliciously into his hard body. Heat rolled through her. She let her head fall back, exposing her neck.

His lips brushed across her collarbone. They continued to rock back and forth, their hips swaying and rubbing together. He took her wrists in one hand and his other stroked down her neck, over her shoulder, caressed the side of her breast, and around her waist to land on her butt. He squeezed her ass and pressed her into the hard ridge of his cock. She lowered her chin and moaned as she took in his expression filled with raw desire. A slow devilish smile lit his features and sent a tremble through her.

The song ended and another began while they continued their dance. He let go of her hands and she wrapped them around his neck. Both of his hands molded her ass. She nuzzled his neck, taking a nibble and a few kisses as she breathed him in. She wanted more.

Lots more.

She made her way closer to his mouth. Before she stole a kiss, she looked into his eyes. His brown eyes had darkened to the color of night, matching his hair. She sucked on her lower lip.

“You know what you’re doing, right?” he asked.

“I know I want you.”

“The Masters work the back rooms on club nights. But we can stay on the dance floor all night, if you want.”

“You’re talking about the one on one rooms?” She sucked in a breath.

“I don’t think this crowd is prepared to see what I want to do to you.”

“Can we go back there? I want to go back there.” She looked directly into his eyes.


RESCUE ME by Teri Fowler

Shades of Love, 2
Part-time firefighter and full-time rancher Seth Coulter will do anything to save the family ranch. He applies to take part in a TV reality show featuring emergency service personnel in the hopes of winning the grand prize.
TV producer Maya Franklin is so jaded by years of living in LA that she can't quite believe Seth is as decent as he seems during his audition, so she rejects his application. The insane sexual chemistry between them leads her to his hotel room that night but a call from the studio, telling her they want Seth for the show, forces her to leave before anything can happen.
Seth and Maya are reunited on location and, this time, she's his boss. Despite her intention to keep him at arm's length, she underestimates Seth's determination to get what he wants, and what he wants is her!


"Get these off," she groaned against his mouth, tugging at the belt she was having trouble with.

The confidence in her touch both turned him on and taunted him. So, Maya thought she was gonna be the boss in the bedroom the same way she was at the studio? Well, it was time he disabused her of that idea. Seth chuckled against her mouth and pulled away.

"So the thought of me standing here in nothing but my hat and a smile makes you hot, is that it?"

Maya looked stunned at his question, but then she smiled and cocked a suggestive eyebrow. "You say that like it's a bad thing."

"There's not a damned thing wrong with that idea. And I'm happy to oblige, but—", Seth grinned at Maya's puzzled look, and he hooked his finger into the waistband of her slacks to flip open the button. "You gotta get naked first."

A flash of irritation, a glimmer of nerves, and then a spark of heat passed through her gaze in the following seconds, and Seth knew which one she'd settled for when she took another step back and tore down her zipper. His cock throbbed in response to the sight of her taut abdomen and a scrap of black lace peeking through her fly. Maya slid her hands over her outer thighs, pushing the linen pants down her endless, toned legs and kicking them off. Seth sent up a prayer of silent thanks when she picked up her discarded slacks and turned to place them on the bed. The urge to get his hands on her peach shaped ass almost drove him crazy as she kept her back to him and wriggled out of her T-shirt. Finally she turned, and Seth was pretty sure he groaned aloud.

"Your turn," she said, hands on hips, dragging his attention away from her body.

Seth laughed. Or at least he tried to. He was having trouble forcing the sound through his constricted throat. "Uh-uh … you ain't naked yet."

"This is as far as I'm going on my own, Cowboy." She walked towards him, but, just when he expected her to wrap her arms around his neck, she placed her palms against his chest and shoved him up against the wall. His hat fell off, but neither of them seemed to care about it anymore. Seth held his hands at his sides, his palms itching with the urge to touch her but his brain telling him to hold still until she got his pants open. This time, she tugged on the belt so hard, his body jerked away from the wall. Maya groaned as the belt gave way, and her gaze flew up to meet his as she thrust her hands into his jeans and grabbed his cock without hesitation. Her nails scratched his torso as she dragged his T-shirt up to his neck, and her hot mouth latched on to his nipple, sending another searing pulse of arousal through him.

She'd turned the tables on him again.

Friday, December 20, 2013

THE WOLF'S MATE by Marie Medina

The Year of Stars, 1
Hatori’s life changed forever when he discovered that his real father was a lycan, as his frequent illnesses suddenly made sense. After achieving his first shift into wolf form, he hoped the last remaining clan of lycans could offer him some relief after a lifetime of suffering.
Yet nothing goes as planned when he travels east to meet with this clan. Since his first full shift, Hatori’s sensitivity to—and craving for—vampire blood has been a great burden. Surrounded by very tempting vampires and confused by what the lycans have to tell him, Hatori doesn’t know what his next move should be. But when one of the vampires tastes Hatori’s blood, it becomes obvious the fates wanted Hatori to travel east for a very different reason.


Hatori stood behind Kyo as he stared at the back of the man standing in the library. The tall blond stood before a table, one book open in his hands and dozens more open all over the table.

Kyo gave Hatori yet another apologetic look and then spoke. “What’s so interesting, Ryu?”

“I’m preparing for tomorrow. I’m going over lycan folklore again and looking at medical texts on vampires. There aren’t that many, you know, since the Dissolution is the only disease vampires can contract. Most of them go on and on about how vampire blood affects other beings.” Ryu finally turned.

Hatori couldn’t help but stare at his amazing golden eyes. He’d never seen a vampire’s eyes turn gold before. Ryu’s smile faded as he looked from his brother to Hatori. He seemed to realize what he’d done. “Oh no.”

“Today, Ryu. Not tomorrow.” Kyo shook his head. “By the gods, you are a thoughtless man! I’ve never known anyone so self-involved!”

Ryo dropped the book in his hands and moved to stand before his brother. “Kyo, I’m so sorry. I got mixed up.”

Kyo glared at him. “I told you last night to be ready at noon. I waited and waited, but no one could find you.”

“I was out riding.”

“We’ve been over this. You always need to tell a servant about every move you make. That way we can find you if you forget something.” He sighed. “I am very embarrassed by your behavior, but that is not why I’m so angry. This time, your thoughtlessness affected others. You owe Hatori an apology. Now.”

Hatori didn’t like seeing someone, especially one of his superiors, reprimanded on his account. Though he kept his voice low and even, Kyo’s tone and manner were so authoritative that Hatori found him very intimidating. He could see why he was so well liked and respected as a leader. His kindness and compassion obviously tempered this more domineering and decisive side. Now Hatori could see why the demon threat hadn’t caused more people to flee the area. A leader like Kyo could inspire confidence in almost anyone. Hatori’s eyes turned back to Ryu as he came closer.

“Hatori, I’m so sorry. I am … forgetful.” He looked back at his brother for a moment, and then he smiled sadly. “I am everything my brother says, and I have all the flaws he does not.” He took Hatori’s hand. “But from this moment on, I’ll be close whenever you need me. I swear. He can throw me in the dungeon if I let you down.”

Kyo laughed, but he also shook his head. “I don’t think I’ll have to do that.” He touched the younger vampire on the shoulder affectionately. “You see why I can’t stay angry with him, Hatori? You’ll get used to him soon enough.”

“It’s really fine. I’m not upset or offended.”

Ryu squeezed his hand. “I’m glad, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was in the wrong.”

“I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.” Kyo bowed to Hatori and then touched his arm gently. “Don’t hesitate to ask for anything.”

Hatori bowed and then watched Kyo walk away. He liked the vampire very much. Turning back to Ryu, he smiled. “Everyone is being so kind.”

“Except for me, of course.” Ryu sighed, blinking as he seemed to consider his next words.

“I have never seen a vampire’s eyes turn gold before.” Hatori didn’t want Ryu to continue apologizing, so he made himself take the first step in changing the subject.

“I’m unique in that way, actually. My eyes are always gold, even when I feed.”

Hatori couldn’t hide his surprise. “They are? They’re beautiful.”

Ryu smiled and moved closer. “So are yours. Such a lovely blue.” He caressed Hatori’s dark hair, pushing it behind his ear. “Do you need my blood, Hatori? No one will disturb us.”

Ryu’s touch made him feel hot all over. “I will need it if you keep touching me.” He swallowed. “Your brother did explain, didn’t he?”

“Yes, he did. You’ll have to forgive my forwardness. You’re very handsome.”

Hatori thought Ryu was handsome as well, but his blood was what was truly turning Hatori on. Ryu caressed Hatori’s face and then pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. Another kiss followed, this one more insistent, and a swipe of Ryu’s tongue made Hatori yield. The kiss remained gentle, however, and Hatori returned it in kind. Their lips and tongues tangled for a long time, and Ryu looked very aroused when they parted. Hatori felt aroused as well, but he also felt confused. He wanted nothing more than Ryu’s blood in that moment, but he’d never taken blood from a vampire this way before.


NEW YEAR'S WISH by Veronica Tower

 NEW YEAR'S WISH by Veronica Tower

As the year comes to a close, Mary has taken stock of her life—and she doesn’t like what she sees. She’s too shy, too complacent, and she’s done letting life pass her by. Ready to make a new start, Mary attends her friend’s New Year’s Eve party, determined to grab some fun, embrace her sexy and usher in the New Year properly.

Handsome and flirty, Reid seems like the perfect man to aid in Mary’s reinvention. Every touch, every kiss, encourages her to toss aside her shy reservations and embrace the woman she wants to be. As the heady mix of alcohol, Reid’s delicious mouth and the holiday spirit strip away Mary’s insecurities, she’s sure of just one thing—there’s no way she’s going to be satisfied with just a kiss to ring in the New Year.


Chapter One

“So sorry,” the woman slurred as she stumbled into Mary, spilling her drink onto the front of Mary’s New Year’s Eve dress and causing Mary’s Long Island iced tea to slosh out of her cup and over her fingers. Mary jumped back to try to avoid the spill but the crowd was so thick in Lizzie’s living room that there was nowhere for her to go.

“Hey, watch it!” a woman hissed and shoved her back with a hand between her shoulder blades, causing more Long Island iced tea to slop out of her cup and onto her hand.

Mary turned apologetically. “Sorry, some drunk just dumped her drink on me.”

“And you almost made me spill mine,” the woman snarled before turning her back on Mary as if she weren’t worth the time it would take to argue. Not that Mary wanted to fight, but really, did the woman have to be so dismissive? Her natural instinct was to shrink away, but she hesitated. She’d come to this New Year’s Eve party determined to break with her past and become the new, bold, assertive, fun woman she’d always wanted to be. She wanted to be someone who was comfortable in crowds—the natural life of the party. Would that person let this woman dismiss her out of hand like this?

Mary reluctantly decided she would. The new her might be willing to get into fights, but she wasn’t looking for one. She decided to give the woman a pass even as she worried that it was a sign she wasn’t really blossoming into her new self. Oh, well, baby steps, right? There will be plenty of other opportunities tonight to practice coming out of my shell and shining.

She looked around for the woman who had started this mess but the drunk hadn’t stopped to help clean up. Heck, she hadn’t even really looked at Mary either, not even as she was spilling her drink on her. Nobody had. Was she invisible? Why was nobody talking to her? Maybe she should just give up and go home—put off her New Year’s resolution for another year. Despite her best intentions, this wasn’t looking like the night to let down her hair, make some new friends and maybe have fun with some guy without having to envision walking down the aisle with him.

She tried to assess the damage to her new dress. Fortunately, she’d bought the black, fairly conservative one and not the slinky silver party dress with all the glitter. The silver one fit the new image she wanted to craft for herself but she just hadn’t been able to picture herself actually wearing it. It left too little to the imagination about the curve of her ass and just how much cleavage she could sport. At the time she’d worried she was letting herself down by not buying it, but in hindsight with some drunk’s drink in her lap, it was clear she’d made the better decision after all. Black would hide a stain a lot better than silver.

She bent over to get a better look at the damage. It was hard to tell for certain with people jostling her on all sides, but honestly, the stain didn’t look too bad—just a bit of a splash over her right thigh. She tried to bolster her confidence. With the people pressed as close together as they were, it probably wasn’t even noticeable. Maybe if she got a little soda water from the bar it would come right out when it dried.

She sighed. Cleaning a stain off her dress was something she did too often. The old her got overlooked all the time. She was supposed to stand out in the crowd now, be the life of the party, maybe groove to the music and get people dancing, find a guy and have some fun with him instead of simply staring from the sidelines as she always did. So why wasn’t she doing any of that?

She looked around for an opportunity to assert the new her. The party was rocking with the Black Eyed Peas blasting from the speakers and people all around her smiling, drinking and having a good time. Why couldn’t she relax enough to join in? She pictured herself catching the beat, moving with the music until her rhythm caught the attention of the room. She lifted her arms and tried to find her stride. It wasn’t easy. Even though she’d just worried that she was invisible, she now feared that every eye in the room was watching her.
But wasn’t that what she wanted?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

MIND YOUR GODDESS by Flossie Benton Rogers

MIND YOUR GODDESS by Flossie Benton Rogers

Wytchfae 3

Razzle dazzle -- cool jazz and hot kisses

The Goddess Epona is breathless over a lover’s tryst with Eshigel, the dark Guardian of the Between. Before she can meet him, she must hear the pleas of her Dark of the Moon supplicants. Strange requests originate from a captive little girl and a succubus seeking revenge. Then, Epona is attacked and abducted.

Epona awakens stranded in the human realm in the Roaring 20’s. With her powers nullified, she assumes the guise of a flapper in a speakeasy. Knowing the little girl is nearby, Epona seeks to save her.

Eshigel rushes to find his missing Goddess. To gain information he undergoes a dangerous rite involving a half woman and half serpent Lamia. After locating Epona, he vows to protect his flapper Goddess from the demons set on her destruction. Can a Goddess and her dark Guardian overcome misfortune and reclaim their love?


Story Excerpt

“Lady?” A hand tapped her shoulder and she forced herself to open her eyes. A man with slick black hair who was dressed to the nines in a dapper lightweight suit of a long ago style, knelt beside her. 

Relieved that the innate fae power of understanding languages had not deserted her, she whispered, “Who are you?”

“I’m Benny.”

“Where am I?”

“This is sunshiny Florida.

“What year is it, Benny?”

“1925. Say, are you in trouble? Do you need a sawbones, or did you jump overboard?” His tone held a note of jocularity that made her wince. Still, if he could get her out of this blaring sun until she had the strength to heal her weakened condition, she could withstand his cheerfulness.

She bit down hard on her lip. Not only had her abductors catapulted her down to the human dimension, they had pitched her back in time. “Please, help me up.” The wispy quality of her voice shocked her.

Instead of assisting her to rise as she expected, the man snapped his fingers twice, and a younger, brawny man trotted over. “Yes sir?”

“Be a gentleman and help the lady. Put her in one of the cabins—Margie’s.”

Epona didn’t like the sound of that but figured once inside and away from the blinding sunlight her head would stop hammering with such violence and she could check on her Goddess crystal. Using considerable effort, she assisted the beefy young man as he got an arm under her and raised her to a standing position. 

Although her legs seemed to be made of jelly, with his support she was able to untwist the sodden gown from her legs. Patting her salt stiffened hair, she murmured, “I must look a fright.”

“Not at all, cupcake.”

The hell with it. Her appearance was the least of her worries. When her wobbly legs buckled, and before she could utter a protest, her rescuer scooped her up into muscled arms and plodded through the white sand toward a bright yellow building set back from the beach. He continued around to the back where a row of neat cottages stood. 

The black haired man followed and when they came to a door, he knocked in a rhythmic rat a tat tat. Some kind of secret code, she thought. The door swung open to reveal two other stocky men. “Oh, it’s you, Benny.”

“Of course it’s me. Didn’t I give the knock, moron? Break’s over. Quit your yammering and open the bedroom door.”

A few moments later, after more chattering and remonstrations from Benny, Epona reclined on a narrow cot with no headboard. Propped up atop scrawny pillows and covered with a thin blanket, she took stock of her rescuers, while Benny eyed her from just inside the doorway. The other men peered over his shoulder. “What’s your name?”

She didn’t answer him.

“Muddled melon, huh? Well, never mind, we’ll call you Angel for now. You kinda look like one in that getup, or a bride. There’s not a hot-headed groom on the warpath behind you, is there?” 

Her fae ability with languages apparently wasn’t working at full throttle after all. Although she didn’t fully comprehend what he meant, she responded to his questioning look with a fervent shake of her head. 

“Good. You either need to dry off or dry out. Which is it?”

Romance Excerpt:

Slipping out the side door a few minutes later, Epona removed her shoes and plodded through the fine grained sand, away from the business lights and into one of the gazebos. She didn’t see Eshigel anywhere. Leaning over the railing, she stared out at the night. A crescent moon hung low in the sky, a silver slipper, and stars sparkled red, blue, and silver on the horizon. If she could just reach far enough, she could pluck one right out of the inky darkness. 

A footfall sounded on the wooden steps behind her. Gasping, she turned around toward the large, dark form, ready to scratch out the eyes of a stalker if it turned out to be necessary. Moonlight glinted on the long dark hair of the Guardian of the Between. 

With a sigh of relief, she reached out to him.

Without a word, Eshigel closed the distance between them, enclosing her within his arms and pulling her up against his warm, comforting body. They stood like that for a long moment. 

His breath tantalized her temple, evoking lightheadedness, and a shuddering moan slipped from between her lips. Her hands slid in slow motion up his chest, reveling in their hard contours. 

A finger lifted her chin, and his mouth claimed hers, seeking, probing, and then plundering. 

She opened to him, and with fervor, returned his kiss. Her electric response was proof positive of the hold he had over her and the wild, insatiable flame that burned between them. His hair cascaded over her cheek, and she entwined her fingers in its silky luxury. She melted against him, needing to have this man, be one with him, and blot out the rest of the thirteen worlds. 

The effect of his touch made her heart race and her breath come short. Eshigel’s mere presence took the oxygen from any room, and even at the seaside, with its abundant moist, salty air, there seemed not enough to go around. 

He cupped her breast, and through her clothing, caressed it with a tenderness that caused her to tremble. His hand shook a little, and she became aware of the effect she had on him. A ripple of pleasure trickled up her spine. 

“Eppie, I feared I had lost you.” His low, husky voice was velvety rough against her skin. 

She kissed the apex of his throat, swirling her tongue and catching the hot flesh between her teeth. 

He groaned. “I want you, Goddess.” 

At his words, she took a shuddering breath and gazed up at him. “Let’s slip down to the beach before someone comes looking for me.”

She hurried him toward a secluded copse of palm trees and seagrass she’d found on her first day of exploration. “Let’s sit here on this sand bar.”

He kissed her fingers, and then turned her hand over and pressed his mouth against her palm. His lips brushed feather kisses up her forearm.

As tingles rippled over her skin, she shivered in delight. Caressing the rough stubble on his chin with gentle fingers, she leaned back against his shoulder and lifted her face to his.

He captured her mouth, and she responded with fervent heat, seeking his tongue and fingering locks of his silky hair. It was impossible to be close enough to him, and she burned for him to possess her. Everything else receded until only Eshigel was real. Inflamed, she worked to unbutton his shirt, impatient for more of him to touch.

The night air caressed her skin as he removed her clothing, and then his. He took her in his arms once more, his aura spiraling around her, cocooning the two of them in tendrils of delicious heat. His low voice and words drugged her senses. “You are my Goddess, and you always will be.”

“Darling Eshigel.”

He kissed the soft area of her navel, and it was clear he paid loving care to the possibility of tenderness there as he continued to bring her body to life in the exquisite tropical night. 

She reveled in his solicitous attention but needed more from him and urged him on with inflamed movements and urgent strokes of her tongue. 

“I must have you, Eppie.” His voice sounded as hoarse as if no words had ever passed his lips before.

“Oh, yes, Eshigel. Please.”

“Fly with me, Goddess.”


Wednesday, December 18, 2013



The Wind River Pack 2 

New York Officer Katherine "Kati" Mathews took a bullet in the line of duty and is now hiding out in a small town in Tennessee to recover. The head of a drug cartel wants her dead for killing his son and he has planted a spy in the area watching over her.

Synia Wind River and Kinnith Kowana were adopted into the Wind River Pack when they were young boys. Despite the fact one of them is a wolf, and one a falcon, they’re mates. When their alpha asks them to protect Kati, as a favor to a friend, they’re shocked, and pleased to discover she’s also their mate.

Things are going smoothly until Kati’s brother is kidnapped to lure her out. Will she discover out who she can trust before it’s too late to save his life?



Alpha Remus cleared his throat and waited for the members of his pack to settle down. He was tired and just wanted to go home and cuddle with his mate. “Everyone, settle down. We’ve got some more business to discuss.”

“What’s going on, Remus?” asked Latan. “This is sort of a strange group you’ve put together.” Latan was Remus’s youngest brother and always considered the serious one of the family.

“Be patient, brother. I’ll explain everything in a minute.” Remus waited for the pack’s visitor to join him at the front of the room. At six and a half feet tall, he was almost as intimidating in his human form as he was as a bear. “For those of you who missed the pack meeting, this is Zander Temple. He’s the head enforcer for the National Council.” Remus stepped toward his mate. “You’ve met my mate, Maddie. These are my brothers, Latan and Ethan and their mate Kitania. Over there is their son, Synia, and another member of my pack, Kinnith. And last, this is Koril, the head of security for the pack.”

Latan stood up. “You’re here investigating the disappearance of the pack children in the area, aren’t you?”

“Sit down, Latan,” Remus ordered. Alpha Cardston, from a Canadian pack, had reported four pups disappearing without a trace from their pack lands. It had brought the total missing pups in Canada to twenty-one—eleven females and ten males. “That was his main purpose here, but now he wants to ask a favor of us.”

“Yes, Alpha Remus is correct. I’m on a fact-finding mission in regards to the disappearances, but what I want to talk to you about now is more personal in nature.”

Remus looked around the room. “He’s already explained what he needs and I’ve decided to grant his request, so listen up as he explains.”

Zander relaxed, resting one hand on his hip. “My boss is the head of the Council, Robert Mavers. He asked me to find someone to travel to Tennessee to provide some protection and some detective work for a close friend of his.”

“Who’s the friend?” asked Koril.

“Lieutenant Franklin Matthews of the New York City police department.”

Koril’s eyebrows rose. “Human?”

Zander nodded. “Lieutenant Matthews has a daughter. For the past year and a half she’s been living in White Bluff. Before that, she was an undercover officer in New York working in narcotics. Approximately two years ago her cover was blown, and in the resulting firestorm, she killed the eldest son of the head of the local cartel and took a bullet to her upper thigh. She had a hard six-month recovery and promptly left New York for the smaller town.”

Synia sighed. “As fascinating as all this is, what does it have to do with Wind River?”

Remus growled. “Maybe if you’d keep your mouth shut, Zander could continue.”

Synia swallowed hard and bared his throat. “My apologies, Alpha.”

Remus narrowed his eyes and then motioned for Zander to continue.

“Apparently she lost her nerve and didn’t want to continue with the stress of working in New York, and she wanted a quiet place to recuperate. Her father says she bought a small cabin back in the woods and has pretty much secluded herself.”

“Okay,” Koril said. “I’m assuming she’s the one that needs protection, but protection from what?”

“Miss Matthews has a brother, Detective Raymond Matthews, also with the New York police department. He recently got word from an informant that the Lawrence family is now ready for a little payback, and apparently they’ve discovered the young lady’s location.”

Maddie stood and moved close to Remus. “Forgive my ignorance, but I’m having a little trouble following all this. Who are the Lawrences?”

“Maurice Lawrence is the head of the largest drug cartel in New York. They’ve been trying to put him away for a very long time. He had two sons, and Katherine Matthews’ assignment was to get close to the oldest boy and look for evidence to bring the father down. It’s my understanding she got romantically involved with Eduardo Lawrence and then had to kill him when he discovered who she was. According to Raymond’s snitch, the old man is sending his younger son, Antonio, to take revenge for his brother’s death.”

Remus moved to stand next to Zander. “That all sounds pretty straight forward. You look for the son, take him out, and everybody’s safe and happy. Where does the detective work come in?”

“The snitch said the old man wants the girl to pay, and he thinks killing her outright is too fast and not payment enough for taking out his oldest son. He’s got a mole somewhere down in Tennessee that’s supposed to play with her for a while. He’s going to terrorize her and make her wish she’d never left New York. Then, when they don’t think she can take anymore, the younger son gets the honor of being the one that ends her life.” Zander grimaced. “He’s been told to do it in a way that will make her a good example to anyone else considering going against their family.”

“Why doesn’t your boss send a couple of the Council’s enforcers down to take care of this?” asked Koril.

Zander shrugged. “We’re stretched too thin. We’ve got a few teams investigating the pups’ disappearance. We’ve assigned two guards at each of the Council’s homes for children, and we’re putting forth a concentrated effort to find Kaugh’s hidden Canadian lab.” Dr. Vincent Kaugh was a brilliant scientist. Unfortunately, he was also certifiable. He’d been connected to Dr. Richard Constantine, another brilliant scientist, who kept the Alpha’s mate confined for years in an attempt to study their race. Kaugh had continued Constantine’s work after the pack killed him. His unsanctioned research revolved around combining human and shifter DNA. He was apprehended in time to keep him from having Kitania killed.”

Koril snorted. “Why the hell are you looking for that old goat’s lab? Is he even still alive?”


Monday, December 16, 2013



Two lonely souls get a chance to make their Christmas wish come true.

When Tom Harris won back his freedom after a bitter divorce, he looked forward to getting a fresh start in life. What he didn’t realize was that his former wife had taken their mutual friends as part of the settlement.

He feared that he’d be alone forever until he met Jessica Mays, who was recovering from the loss of her one true love.

Can these two broken souls find some common ground to make a relationship work? Will Tom discover that there really is life after divorce?



Tom entered Boston Stoker a little before 3:30 the following afternoon and looked around. Jessica wasn’t there yet so he eased himself into a booth to wait for her. I didn’t think to get her phone number last night. I hope she shows.

A few minutes later the door opened and Jessica stepped in. She spied Tom and approached. He stood and smiled, looking her over. She had on a pair of cream-colored slacks and a lime green shirt with the hospital logo embroidered on the left side. She surprised Tom by giving him a hug before she sat.

Tom resumed his seat. “How was work?”

Jessica groaned and rolled her eyes. “Not worth talking about. I had to work the geriatric ward today and those old folks were cranky.”

A server came by to take their orders. When she departed, Jessica continued. “What have you been doing today?”

“Not much. I found an old movie on TV I hadn’t seen in a long time.”

“Which one?”

“The Big Sleep. Ever seen that one?”

“Is that the one with Bogart and Bacall?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Surprised you weren’t watching football.”

“I’d rather watch a movie. I’m not a real big sports fan.”

Their coffee and biscotti arrived. Jessica took a sip, then picked up one of the biscuits.

“I don’t meet many men who aren’t into sports.”

Tom took a drink. “Disappointed?”

“No, not really. I’m not much into it, either, except for NASCAR.”

Tom raised his eyebrows. “That’s interesting. What about NASCAR fascinates you?”

“The skill of the drivers. What really hooked me was the first time they flashed a close-up of Dale Earnhardt.”

Tom laughed. “Is that the type you go for, the bad boy?”

She giggled. “Not necessarily.” She sipped her coffee. “What about you?”

“What about me?”

“What type do you go for?”

“You’ve got me stumped. I’ve never really thought about it.”

“Then let’s make it easy. How do you feel about busty bleached blondes?”

“I could take ‘em or leave ‘em.”

Her eyebrows arched. “That’s a first. What about tall women who could look you in the eye?”

“As long as they aren’t looking into my soul, they’re okay.”

“You’re turning into more of a puzzle than I figured.” She paused. “What about redheads?”

Tom grinned. “At the risk of getting slapped, I’ve always heard that red hair is indicative of intense passion. Is that true?”

A teasing smile played across her lips. “Maybe.”

“You aren’t going to make this easy for me, are you?”

She patted his hand on the table. “Down, boy.”

Tom sipped his coffee. I’m thoroughly enjoying her company. She’s so easy to talk with. “What made you decide to go into nursing?”

“I helped take care of my grandmother before she died and when I saw how the nurses took such good care of her, I decided it was what I wanted to do.”

“That’s interesting.”

“Why did you choose the finance industry?”

“I’ve always been good at math and thought a business degree would ensure me a solid career. Nothing glamorous about it.”

“At least you’re honest. A lot of people wouldn’t admit that they only got into something for the money.” She took a drink. “So what’s the story behind your newfound bachelorhood?”

Tom looked at her for a moment. “Do you really want to talk about that?”

“Mm-hmm. I’d just like to know what pitfalls to watch out for.”

He laughed. “Okay, I’ll give you the Cliffnotes version. Things were going okay until one day I did the unthinkable.”

Jessica held up her hand. “Don’t tell me—you forgot your wedding anniversary or your ex-wife’s birthday.”

“Close. I remembered her birthday, I just forgot to take out a second mortgage to get the gift she expected.”

“You said expected.”

“That’s right. Why?”

“You didn’t say wanted. That tells a lot about a person’s character.”


Thursday, December 12, 2013



1Night Stand Series

 Lauren is in trouble. Only the adoption agency lady knows the heartbreaking decision she’s making. But every baby deserves a father and Lauren’s ex isn’t stepping up to the plate. Without a dad for her child, Lauren doesn’t feel she can give her baby what he or she deserves. When her mother sends her to the Castillo resort in Castle, Alaska to help with a holiday celebration, Lauren jumps at the chance to forget her worries.

Jorell’s career is soaring. In charge of development for the Castillo Resorts Caribbean region, the only thing on his mind is pursuing a vice presidency. Not romance. But a forced transfer to the frozen north throws him—and his prospects off-kilter.

Zachary lives near Castle, Alaska, but the fishing guide has had little success finding a social life and fears his interest in both men and women may be too wild for the wilderness.

Two men and one pregnant woman…in charge of the holiday activities at the Christmas Extravaganza at Castle Lodge. Friendship and intense attraction blooms between them. But Madame Eve has her work cut out for her…will Jorell and Zach provide enough reasons for Lauren to change her mind?


Your aunt and uncle love you very much and, as a special Christmas gift, they’ve allowed me to arrange a unique evening for you. Your date will meet you at the large cabin behind the lodge, for a night you will never forget.

Madame Eve

Perfect. Might as well get it over with—although it would have been simpler to give the guy the slip in the coffee shop or another public area. Kathryn and Nick met through Madame Eve and shared a world-class romance, even now that they were married and parents. Sweet looks, private jokes, stolen kisses…everything any girl could want. She stuffed the paper into her bodice with a sigh.

But she’d already set her course and, if it weren’t for her previous poor judgment and the fact that she’d already fallen hard for two men who had eyes only for each other, it could indeed be a night to remember. Instead, she cut through the gleaming kitchen, smiling at the late night staffers, and out the back door. A light beamed from the front window of the cabin where, according to Andie, she’d spent her first night with her true loves. For just a second an image flashed through her mind—of Jorell and Zach, their nude white and mocha bodies in a four-poster bed, arms outstretched to her in invitation.

But the single tear froze on her cheek along with her dreams as she plodded up the path to the cabin and lifted her hand to the door.

It jerked open, and she gasped. Christmas music poured out on a gust of warm, pine-scented air. A tall spruce decked for the holidays glittered in a corner. Low laughter from somewhere near the flickering flames of the fireplace did not come from the auburn-bearded man who greeted her in the open doorway. It came from Jorell.

And Zach’s hand was the one that tugged her inside, when her feet became one with the doorstep. Lauren’s heart thudded so loud in her ears, it drowned out the Carol of the Bells. Her hopes rose to the high rafters then crashed down when she realized….

“I’m so sorry to interrupt your evening. I must be at the wrong cabin.” And she’d be going back to her room after that, date be darned.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013



Red Velvet Christmas

When Leonardo Delgado fell in love with a woman who was already engaged, he resigned himself to loving her from afar. But when her fiancé ran off with another woman, he knew exactly what he wanted to make his Christmas merry!

Amanda-Lyn doesn't believe in love anymore. She takes a job as an elf at the local mall, and starts to rebuild her life. A nice one-night stand without all that romantic nonsense is all she wants this holiday season. It might have worked, too, except for her sinfully handsome boss and a jolly old matchmaking man in a red suit and cap.


Ribbons and Lace (Red Velvet Christmas)
Anne Kane
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2013 Anne Kane

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

Even his name sounded deliciously sexy. Leonardo Delgado. Amanda-Lyn let it roll off her tongue. With a name like that, the man had a head start on every other guy in the city. And yet, she'd actually seen him. Talked to him, and landed a job as an elf at the local mall.

The sexiest man she'd come across in years just happened to be her new boss. It had been almost a year since her disastrous engagement had ended. Time to make a fresh start, and Mr. Leonardo Delgado looked fresh enough to send curls of heat flooding through every inch of her body. Although he didn't know it yet, he would soon be her lover, a nice Christmas present to herself.

She studied her reflection in the mirror with a critical eye. It was damn cold at the North Pole. Who in their right mind believed that elves ran around in costumes like this?

Soft red velvet, the skirt barely covered her ass, and the matching jacket was low-cut and tight enough that it felt like her breasts were going to pop right out. Match those with a pair of fuck-me boots and Amanda-Lyn felt worse than naked. A great outfit to help her seduce the boss, but she didn't need to traumatize the kids coming to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. She needed to tread a careful line between those two goals.

After a thorough perusal of her closet, she added a pair of candy cane striped tights to make sure she didn't expose her ass to all the good little boys and girls. she donned a nice lace shirt with a red ribbon threaded around the neck, leaving the jacket partially unzipped to soften the effect.

Ribbons and lace. Her grandmother always told her that ribbons and lace could fix up any outfit, and Amanda-Lyn actually believed they might have rescued this one. Still sexy as hell if the boss happened to put in an appearance, but her boobs weren't in imminent danger of exposure.

By the time she got to the mall, she couldn't believe the fluttering the damn butterflies in her stomach were doing. Today might be her first day, but this wasn't a career move after all. Minimum wage, with a definite end date chiseled in stone, the only perk this job had besides making rent was the mouth-watering boss.

Unfortunately, the delectable Mr. Delgado was nowhere in sight. People from tiny tots to aging grandparents bustled around in a frenzy. The noise level was already giving her a headache. She would have turned around and walked right back out the door except for the tiny problem of wages. Money. She needed it, and she didn't have any. So, for now at least, she'd better pretend to love the job.

"Ho, Ho, Ho." A man in the typical red Santa suit wandered up the ramp to the plaster and plastic Ice Palace and plunked himself down heavily in Santa's chair. His cap of white curls and the flowing beard looked to be natural. "You must be this year's elf. What's your name, little lady?" The corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled at her. Definitely a Merry Christmas smile.

"Amanda-Lyn." She couldn't help smiling back. "But if you were really Santa you'd know that, wouldn't you?"

Santa shook his head, a merry twinkle in his eyes. "Don't tell anyone, but I'm getting on in years. I haven't been able to recognize all the children on the Earth on sight in more decades than you've been alive." He lowered his voice, leaning toward her. "And we never joke about whether or not Santa is the real Santa when we're on the job. Wouldn't do to ruin some child's Christmas."

Amanda shook her head. "Oh heavens, no. I promise I'll be more careful."

Santa nodded solemnly. "It's okay. Once you get into the swing of things here at the mall it will come naturally to you."

"So this isn't your first Christmas?"

"No, I've been coming back every year since the mall opened." He paused for a minute. "I do believe I've lost count of how many that would be, every one a delight. Mr. Delgado is such a pleasure to work with."

Amanda-Lyn felt a deliciously warm sensation low in her belly at the thought of Mr. Delgado. "You know the manager well?"

"I would say so, known him since he was just a tiny bundle of joy. He was a charming little boy, and he's grown up into a charming man." He cocked a fluffy white eyebrow at her. "Do I detect an interest in little Leonardo?"

She could feel the heat staining her cheeks. Somehow, discussing the man she planned to seduce with Santa Claus seemed a bit awkward. "Umm. Well, he is kind of cute. I suppose he's married?"

Santa shook his head. "No, and never has been, either. A very astute man, Mr. Delgado. He's waiting for his true love, and I have a feeling he won't have much longer to wait."

"Giving away all my secrets again, Santa?"

Amanda-Lyn jumped at the sound of Leonardo's deep voice, a deliciously sensual thrill dancing up her spine.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

EXIT by Shane Filer

EXIT by Shane Filer

When your mind is your best friend, and your own worst enemy...

"Did you know I spent the whole of my fifteenth year in my room?"

Briar’s impromptu, mid-afternoon confession stirs up distant memories of the lonely time she spent trapped in her home; suffering agoraphobia — fear of open spaces.

Now it’s six years later.

She’s free, but the year's isolation has left serious personality disorders; disorders which will resurface as she relates her own story, and that of those in her orbit; Melodie, a pretty valley girl who Briar desires to be, Justine, her oldest friend, who has her own dark secret, and Dermot, a man who thinks he's the reincarnation of Robin Hood — stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

Slowly Dermot begins to draw Briar into his ever-so-exciting world, but who is leading whom on their slow descent into crime? Duel periods of Briar’s life intertwine like a rope around her neck as her lost year begins to overtake the present. It leads her to the answer to one very simple question:

“Is it what I always feared — am I losing my mind?”



G i r l T a l k

“Did you know I spent the whole of my fifteenth year in my room?”

I sit in the trashed corner booth of an empty Indianapolis diner sipping Coke through a red and white striped straw and watch the reaction from my two friends.

We’ve been here, Melodie, Justine and I, talking, eating, and drinking for hours and we’re all in advanced stages of serious twenty-something afternoon collapse. It’s reached the time where you run out of trivial, conversational-type things to talk about, so you say something deep and personal instead.

Melodie lifts her head from the table and flicks ash haphazardly from her cigarette in the direction of an overflowing ashtray. “You’re kidding?” she asks.

“No, she isn’t,” Justine says. We’ve been friends since school, and she knows me very well.

Elbows all over the table I cup my palms around my chin and explain. “I suffered from agoraphobia. That’s what my doctors said. It sounds awful, but all it means is that I had an irrational fear of being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult in the event of a panic attack. So I avoided those situations. During my Dark Ages I left my bedroom only to eat and go to the bathroom.

“Basically I was worried about death. Abandonment. My health. My mother’s safety. The house catching fire. Food poisoning. Earthquakes. The environment. That kind of stuff.”

I tell Melodie and Justine all these things, and when I open my mouth the words just flood out, like I’ve been wanting desperately to speak them for so long. They sit and listen, perhaps too tired or too hot and bothered to do anything else. I tell them about the first time it happened… the first time I had a panic attack. When I was thirteen. One Saturday in a mall. I can remember the smell of doughnuts and ice-cream, and ferns. I remember ferns. And the sound of a radio playing that dumb Spandau Ballet song — “True” — boy do I hate that song!

“I was standing around, just hanging out with a bunch of my girlfriends, and this boy from my class, who I had, like, this incredible crush on, came up to me and said “Hi!”

“Those girls pushed me forward. I could hear them giggling behind me, saying ‘Briar’s in love’ and all that junk, and my body froze like a statue. I felt hot and sweaty. My heart was racing. I felt this numbness in my hands and this tightness in my chest like I couldn’t breathe. I had this need to breathe in more air, this need to escape. I just ran out.”

“Shit!” Melodie says.

“Shit,” I agree. “My doctor said later that this overwhelming sensation of terror is similar to the fight or flight response inherent in all animals, including humans. Genetic factors can predispose someone to panic attacks and there are a lot of tell-tale signs that I had right from an early age. I always used to cling to my mother’s leg. I was afraid of Santa Claus.”

“Oh yeah,” Melodie says. “I always hated that old, fat, red, pervert too.”

“I suffered a lot of phobias back then,” I explain further. “I would become possessed by a desire to clean the bathroom. The bathroom and I would literally be covered in Comet cleanser. But then I stopped.”

“Why?” Melodie asks. “Did your cleaning phobia go away?”

“Not exactly. I ran out of Comet.”

Sunlight is pouring in through the diner’s windows and Justine keeps glancing anxiously out there to the street. Am I boring her, I wonder? Anything’s possible — she has heard this one before.

It’s only then that I suddenly notice the sunglasses she wears at a lopsided angle on her face hide a large bruise around her left eye. It’s a horrible purple thing that’s yellowing at the edges like rotten fruit.

“Oh there’s Addison,” she says suddenly. “I’d better go. I’d better not keep him waiting.”

Following her gaze, I see her boyfriend climb from his red Chrysler LeBaron convertible. Addison Healy has tanned skin and swept-back dark hair, and I’ve never liked him. He’s far too handsome — one of those people who’ve never known what it’s like to be alone — because there’s always someone new throwing themselves shamelessly at him. Someone who’s never had to appreciate the smallest signs of affection.

Justine scoops up her purse, quickly excuses herself, and rushes out to meet him. Leaving a three-quarter full Coke bottle sitting behind on the table, she’s gone almost before I can register it. She’s gone.

I watch them get into the car. She’s talking. Explaining herself. Addison seems agitated; gesturing wildly and I read his lips: “What fucking time do you call this? I told you to be home at three!”

Eventually he throws up his arms in frustration and drives away. I turn back to Melodie.

“Why does she stay with that asshole?” she asks after a long pause. “He hits her, don’t you know?”


“How do you think she got that bruise on her face?”

“She said she fell against the… Fuck!” I hadn’t noticed… well, come to think of it, I have seen signs, but I’ve never put two and two together. Sometimes I wonder if I am so wrapped up in my own problems that I fail to see the suffering of others around me?

“So what happened with you, Briar?” Melodie asks, toying playfully with the straw in her bottle.

“With me? Oh, after my first panic attack I returned to school and everyone laughed and talked about me, so I stopped going. Slowly I found it harder and harder to leave the house. After a while I gave up entirely.”

“When I did eventually emerge from my room, a week shy of my sixteenth birthday, it wasn’t like a beautiful butterfly emerging triumphantly from her chrysalis, but instead a tired gray moth treading cautiously into the light.”

“My doctor once speculated that my year’s hibernation was due to an irrational fear of growing up, but that’s not right! If I really didn’t want to grow up there are much more reliable methods: sleeping pills, guns, razorblades…”

“God, so how did you, like, get out of it?”

“My brother. My brother helped me. Helped me help myself, I guess.”

“Is this Jeff — twenty-seven and still living at home?”

“No, it’s Paul — twenty and away at college. You haven’t met… oh shit!”

And I suddenly remember: Paul’s arriving home today and I said I’d go with Mom to meet him at the airport. As the afternoon dissolved I’ve lost track of time.

“Is he cute?” Melodie asks as we slip from the diner out onto the pavement.

I can only nod yes.

“Can I come too?”

“No! I’ll see you later!” Melodie is super beautiful. When I first saw her, I wanted to see her again. I hardly ever see really beautiful females. I see pretty ones, hot ones, but hardly ever see a woman that just makes me turn my head and think ‘wow she is stunning.’ I think that people who are attractive just want the world to see something other than their looks. They want other aspects of their personality to shine through. I hate boring people. I hate boring guys. I feel like sometimes if I just be really quirky it will compensate for my lack of looks. Of course this never works.

On the way home I take a shortcut through an empty lot.

Once it contained a drive-in cinema, but with the rise of multiplexes it went out of business and was abandoned years ago. It’s been gone for as long as I can remember. Now in its place there’s just this: an empty wasteland. The picture screen has been torn down. Cracked concrete slabs, grass sprouting from the ruins, and at intervals, bent, misshapen poles sticking from the ground like blighted seedlings. Only a few reminders linger like pleasant childhood memories.

I love these places, even now. There’s something about them. Often I’ll come here, just sit in the lot and wonder what it must have been like. I guess they’re something I missed out on. I can imagine all the kids who must have come here to watch those simple B-movies, or make out in the back of their parent’s cars. Did they ever know what they had before it was gone? The drive-in is passing from our vocabulary. I think I have a really bad habit of romanticizing the past — to the point where the world in my mind is far more interesting that the world in real life. I often wish someone would protect me and put a “do not step on the grass” sign on me, except it would say Briar instead of grass.

There was this program on TV last week all about these old educational films from the fifties — what to do on your first date… how to remain virginal… that sort of thing, and they were so stupid and corny and wonderful! Things seemed so restrictive then, but life was uncomplicated and safe.

It seems strange to feel aching nostalgia for an era that existed well before my birth.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

OH! HOALEY NIGHT! by Declan Sands

OH! HOALEY NIGHT! by Declan Sands

A Hoale Construction Mystery - Building Romance, One Flip at a Time...

Sometimes going home is clarifying. Sometimes it's just plain deadly!

Adam travels to Candlelight, Indiana to visit his parents for Christmas. When he arrives he discovers somebody has killed a man and dumped him in the manger of the living crèche at the local church. Unfortunately, all signs lead back to Adam’s father as the murderer.

A Sheriff with a grudge and a small town more interested in gossip than reality, convince Adam that it will be up to him and the gang to clear his father’s name.

Other books in the series:

A Hoale Lot of Trouble
Hoaley Ill-Manored
Hoaley Inexplicable


“That’s crazy talk, Ads. Visiting your family is not like being castrated with a rusty can opener.”

Adam grimaced and flung a third pair of jeans into his suitcase. “Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s worse.”

Dirk lifted a dark-blond eyebrow. “You know you’re only going to be there for two days, right?”

“Two days and three very long nights.” Adam threw him a suspicious look. “What’s your point?”

Dirk walked over and slid his arms around Adam’s waist, pulling him in for a hug. “I think three pairs of jeans and four shirts is overkill, babe.”

Adam leaned into him and sighed. “I need lots of clothes, in case I have to flee over the border.”

Laughing, Dirk placed his hands on Adam’s shoulders and started to rub. “What border is that? Kentucky or Illinois?”

“Har de har har, Dirk. You’ve met my family right? You know how stressful this is going to be. I’ll probably sweat through three of those shirts the first night.” He glanced worriedly toward the suitcase. “Maybe I should add another one.”

Dirk grabbed his arm as he turned toward the closet. “You’re compensating.”

Adam pulled free, heading for the dresser. “Uh, huh. Whatever that means.”

“It means you’re channeling your fears of interacting with your dad into the exterior representation of your personality.”

Adam turned from the dresser with several pairs of socks in his hands. “Exterior, huh…? What the hell are you talking about, Williams?”

Dirk fixed a piercing green gaze on Adam, looking down a strong, almost too large nose at his lover and pursing his cupid’s bow mouth with irritation. “The way you dress. Your hair…”

Adam flung the socks into the overburdened suitcase. “What about my hair?”

Dirk reached over and slipped his fingers through the newly shorn, dark-brown strands. “You look like a Marine.”
Adam grinned, dancing his eyebrows. “You wanna play army?”

“I think Marines are technically part of the Navy, babe.”

Adam expelled a breath. “Being a know-it-all is not one of your better qualities, Williams.”

Dirk stared at him for a long moment and then said. “You cut your hair because you’re trying to make your dad think you’re something you’re not. You’re fussing over your clothes because it’s the one thing in the upcoming situation you can control. And you’re fussing at me because you know I’ll still love you even after you piss me off.”

Adam zipped his suitcase up and lifted it to the floor. “You’ve been insufferable ever since you played that psychiatrist in Mindless Love.”

Dirk grinned. “I rocked that role.”

“Yeah. Well…” Adam rolled his suitcase toward Dirk. “Playing a psychiatrist in a movie doesn’t make you one.”

Dirk tucked his fingers into the waistline of Adam’s jeans and tugged him close. “And playing an asshole in real life doesn’t make you one.” Dirk frowned. “Though at the moment you’re really convincing in the role.”


Monday, December 2, 2013

A PORTAL IN TIME by Claire Fullerton

A PORTAL IN TIME by Claire Fullerton

When we are inexplicably drawn to love and a particular place, is it coincidence, or have we loved before? ...

Enigmatic and spirited Anna Lucera is gifted with an uncanny sixth-sense and is intrigued by all things mystical. When her green, cat-eyes and long, black hair capture the attention of a young lawyer named Kevin Townsend, a romance ensues which leads them to the hauntingly beautiful region of California's Carmel-By-The-Sea where Anna is intuitively drawn to the Madiera Hotel.

Everything about the hotel and Carmel-By-The-Sea heightens her senses and speaks to Anna as if she had been there before. As Anna's memory unravels the puzzle, she is drawn into a past that's eerily familiar and a life she just may have lived before.



September 23, 1907

Carmel, California

She walked down the lane, braced against the gusting wind twisting her skirt into tangles around her
ankles. Sweeping her hair to the left, she clasped it firmly in the same hand that held the top of her cloak.
Determinedly, she marched forward until the lane veered to a sharp right and headed straight down to the sea.

When she reached the place where the lane met the sand, she leaned over quickly and removed her lace-up shoes. Securing them tightly in her right hand, she walked onto the beach, barely breaking its surface.

The waves came forward in a mounting swell and with their forward progression, more of the beach
disappeared into the steel-gray of the Pacific Ocean. It was the end of the day, and the tide labored forcibly beneath the fading blue sky. She stood listening intently to the fury of the wind as it intermittently drowned out the pulsating rhythm of the sea. Gathering herself, she turned to the right, to the place in the water she had come to see.

Shielding her eyes from the setting sun, Valeria Sienna Kristiansen steadied her gaze and spoke into the wind as a chill began to creep up her spine. “This place will now be a portal in time.”


“Father?” Valeria stood at the drawing room door. “May I disturb you for a moment?” She entered the large, lavishly decorated room and closed the heavy mahogany double doors behind her. She turned again and walked softly, stopping a reverent distance before meeting his gaze.

Domenico Sienna, as he was known in the business world, put his cigar in the crystal ashtray that gleamed upon the cherry-wood side table and stood up slowly, as was his habit when a female entered the room. Tightening his favorite burgundy smoking jacket—the one sent to him by her uncle in northern Italy who owned his own cigar shop—he held out his hand to Valeria. “Of course. Please sit with me.”

Valeria perched lightly upon the serpentine-backed Sheraton sofa and crossed her legs at her ankles. She folded her hands in her lap for a moment but then immediately began to smooth the creases in her long white linen skirt.

“I’ve had a calling card just this day sent to me from a young man Mother and I met at the art gallery two days ago. I’d like to tell you about him.”

“The art gallery? You and your mother fraternized with a stranger at the art gallery?”

“Yes,” Valeria confirmed.

“And who is he, this young man with the calling card? An admirer of art? A curator perhaps, or is he simply a stranger in the crowd admiring your beauty?”

Valeria’s cheeks burned. “Mrs. Davenworth from Pacific Heights introduced him to Mother and me quite properly.”

“Mrs. Davenworth?” He nodded, looking at her with a steady gaze under raised eyebrows. “What more do you have to tell of him?”

“He is a painter himself, not long in San Francisco. His name is Mr. Anders Kristiansen.”

“And he sent his calling card?”


“And do you know where he is from? Who are his people? What about his connections, does he have any?”

“As I said, he is not from here.” She wished they could move quickly through this part of the conversation.

“Where then?” her father inquired.

“Norway.” Valeria fidgeted in her seat trying to sit up taller. “Where Mrs. Davenworth grew up. He knows her uncle, and I believe Mrs. Davenworth is his champion.”

“Norway,” her father repeated in a voice that implied there would be no further reason to pursue the subject. He picked up his cigar and walked across the drawing room to the cathedral doors that led out into the side garden. “I’ll open these now.”

The air blew into the room, shaping the white muslin window treatment into billows that floated just inches above the dark wooden floor. Throughout the room, rich area rugs of crimson, green, and gold covered the floor.

Valeria waited, knowing the next word was his.

“Norway,” he said again. “Not Italy, not even America.”

“No, Father,” she confessed, looking down at the floor below her feet.

“And he wants to call upon you,” he stated as he walked to his chair and sat down again.

“Yes, he does, and I would be happy to receive him…with your permission.”



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