Thursday, May 29, 2014



Her gift of second sight has enabled her to successfully aid the Phoenix Police Department in a number of investigations. Why wasn’t she warned of her own future? Now she’s facing danger on all sides . . . not least of which is her growing desire for the man who has sworn to protect her.

Lexia Torrance is a young woman with the gift of second sight. Her ability allows the local police department to solve crimes based on the gift of touch. Her latest case leads her to the body of a local man left with the killer's calling card: an emblem burned on the victim's chest in the shape of a sun. She then senses the man's attackers: five men searching for the necklace with the same emblem…and they’re also searching for her.

Skinwalker guard Galen Cortes is intent on keeping Lexia out of harm's way. Like Lexia, he is stuck between two worlds as he shares both Skinwalker and Sith faerie blood. Soon the time draws near for Lexia to learn her family history and claim the throne of Skinwalker Chieftess to keep the Southwest Skinwalker community alive.

A prophecy within the Skinwalker tribe deems that only royals within the tribe families marry to continue ruling the community. As their training heats up, so does the star-crossed passion between the Chieftess and her guard. Soon Lexia must choose between saving a community and sacrificing her heart, or risking it all for her own desires.



Lexia stepped out of her clothes and into the warm shower. She couldn’t remember a moment of pure bliss before now. Steam rose around her body like a calming sauna. She could already smell the soft, woodsy scent around the green soap before picking it up. A generic brand of shampoo and conditioner sat on the shower basin.

Lexia ran a hand through her hair as she eyed the bottles. She forgot her blow dryer and flat iron in her rush for more important saves, like her life. She already felt like a mess with all she had been through earlier that morning. Something told her she wouldn’t really have time in the coming days to primp and fuss over herself. Might as well indulge while she had the time. She lathered up and inhaled deeply as she felt her muscles relax.

After her shower, Lexia hummed softly as she sat deep in thought. She squeezed her damp hair—now becoming wavy curls—and reached over to grab an extra towel to dry it before it soaked the towel around her chest. She barely noticed the dark figure flash out of the corner of her eye, passing by the cracked open door.

Sensing a presence closing in, she let out a sharp gasp and nearly felt her insides jump out of her skin. Her hand gripped the large towel wrapped around her chest, thankful that it held and didn’t add to her already embarrassing situation.

“I didn’t mean to startle you.” Galen’s green eyes sparkled as he looked at her. She caught sight of the tiny dimples forming at the sides of his mouth as he broke into a small smile. “I just wanted to make sure you have everything.”

Lexia knew if she wasn’t careful, she could get lost in those intense shades of green eyes and that boyish smile. Perhaps she had to build her own defenses from that alone. Trying to refocus her attention on the present, she raised a thumb over her shoulder and gestured toward the bathroom. “Yeah, it’s all yours.”

Galen caught the hint and nodded as he passed her and entered the bathroom. His gaze locked on hers as he gently closed the door until it clicked.

Lexia exhaled, releasing a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding until now. Right at that very moment, she realized he was unbuttoning his jeans and pulling down the zipper. Her body tensed at the shot of pleasure igniting like fire within her. The sound of the shower starting echoed in her ears. Steam clouded her nose as if she were still under the running water.

With it came another scent.

Male, animal and purely instinctual.

Something inside her fired to life as if it had been dormant for so long. She sensed him as if his very essence were invading her entire body. All rational thought told her to step away from the door and leave the man in peace. Instead, her body was working all on its own.

Lex grabbed the doorknob and gently pushed it open before she realized what she was doing. Drawn to him, as if something stronger than her conscious mind, drove her to him. This wasn’t just desire closing the gap. This, she realized, was pure animal instinct between them. The scent mixed in with the steam and soap within the shower, but his aroma was most powerful of all.


The towels fell from her hands—the one she used to dry her hair and finally the one covering her body. She walked to the shower stall and pulled the curtain open with one quick movement.

Galen wiped the water from his eyes. His sandy blond hair was slicked back, darkened by the water. Droplets fell over his face and down the hard lines of his body.

“H—How did you know I was here?” she asked softly.

His lips lifted in a slight smile. “The door.” His gaze traveled down her body, slowly taking it all in as his chest rose and fell with deep breaths. “And I can sense you. The rise of your heartbeat, the desire emanating off your skin. It gets stronger the closer you are to me.”

They both were quiet as she stepped in to join him. Lexia was thankful for the comforting silence between them for once. Their gazes locked. She peered up at him as he brushed his hand across her cheek. Heat rose from his body, enticing her with the purely male scent of him.

“Something’s happening,” she breathed. “I don’t know what it is, but I need you.” Before he could speak, she reached up and crushed her lips against his.

Her hard nipples brushed against his smooth bare chest. His hands roamed her body, moving down her back, bottom and thighs to lock her leg around his hip. Pressing her hip forward, Lexia found him already hard for her. The tip of his rigid shaft brushed the swollen bud between her legs. She wasn’t in her right mind. She could only think about claiming him, to consume and devour him in heated passion. The primal need to mate coursed through her blood and the only one to satiate her was Galen. She needed him and could feel that he needed her just as much.

“Galen,” she breathed.

He kissed her shoulder and arched his head to brush against the concave of her neck then finally against her ear. “We can’t do this,” he whispered, his voice husky.

She pressed against him and threaded her fingers within his damp strands. “I know. This is wrong.”

“Yes,” he breathed.

“But why does it feel so right?”

“I can’t, Lex. My scent will be on you once we mate. And you are not mine to have.”

“So use your magic faerie dust and make it go away,” she said softly.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

HOT AT LAST by Cheryl Dragon

HOT AT LAST by Cheryl Dragon

All Male Nudes! Series, Book Five

For two decades, Ken and Avery have worked together at the Big D. Dishing out zingers and sparking each other over and over. Their past relationship blew up and replaced with a cautious friendship because neither could or would leave.

When Ken takes a fall off the stage and needs some help, Avery takes him in. There’s no avoiding the chemistry, attraction, and unfinished business now. Sorting through their dirty laundry and ancient history, neither wants to face heartbreak again but friends-with-benefits simply won’t work.

With these two, it’s true love or leave the Big D forever.



“Ken is going all out,” Bev said as she pointed to the stage.

Avery turned his head, and indeed, Ken was in rare form. Normally, he hung in the back with a big group performance. He kept an eye on the other men and whipped them into shape at the next rehearsal if they’d been sloppy on stage.

Still, Ken had cut down his solo dances to one a night. All of his actions lately signaled he saw the writing on the wall. Avery silently scolded himself for nagging Ken today. Pushing his buttons only made him rebel. But silence riled up Ken as well.

“Just when I thought he was figuring out he’s not a kid anymore.” Avery took a bite of his piece of cake.

“He’s a dreamer. He’ll slow down, but it’s a shame his prince never showed up.” Bev smiled innocently.

Avery shot her a look. “He’s an adult. We all are. And this is America. If he wants a prince, he should’ve moved to Europe years ago.”

“So literal. We are who we are. I’m a business woman. Always have been. You got into stripping for the money. You never loved it the way he does. He lives for the attention and validation.” Bev shrugged.

“I know. He’s more than looks, though.” Avery had spent a year being the adult in their relationship. Adoring Ken and dealing with his need for more. He’d stroked that ego day-after-day.

“We both know that. He doesn’t understand his value off-stage because no one applauds when he does other things. He’ll never see his real value. It’s a shame.” Bev watched the show.

“He still has plenty of admirers.” Avery wanted to pour himself a stiff drink when he watched a big bear in leather shove a tip in Ken’s glittering briefs. The bulky fan leaned way over and rubbed Ken’s thigh.

Avery had buried his jealousy long ago. Drunken customers were a daily trial, but the splash of beer from the fan’s bottle caught the bartender’s eye. “We need to clean up that stage.”

“Let them finish. I’m sure Ken saw it,” Bev said.

Ken leaned over to give the bear a kiss on the cheek and slipped on the liquid. He didn’t fall on the stage but off it, hitting the side as he went.

“Shit!” Avery muttered.

He and Bev watched, expecting Ken to pop back up and take a bow. The waiting was agony. When Ken didn’t turn up and instead a couple experienced dancers hopped of the stage then waved for a bouncer, Avery knew it wasn’t good. The DJ announced a quick break to clean things up and invited the patrons to enjoy lap dances and refill their drinks.

“Go check on him,” Bev said.

“Me?” Avery asked. “He’ll listen to you.”

Bev shook her head. “I’ll cover the bar. Go check on him.”

Avery headed backstage and found Ken pacing and cursing. “That idiot!”

“Relax, it’s not the first time someone spilled or fell on stage.” Avery noticed Ken cradling his right arm. Everything else seemed just fine on him, but his shoulder looked weird.

“Off. I fell off the stage,” Ken informed Avery. “I’m okay.”

“Except for that arm. I think it’s dislocated,” a bouncer said.

Avery saw the pain Ken was hiding. He’d had plenty of dancing injuries. Twisted ankles, knees and a thrown-out back. When they’d dated, Avery hadn’t minded nursing him. This time, Ken was in real pain.

“I’ll be fine. Probably badly bruised and sprained, that’s all.” Ken tried to downplay it. “Go on! Get back out there! Do your jobs. We’re not all injured.”

The bouncer and other dancers ran back out front. Ken’s hissy fits were second only to Bev’s. If Bev yelled, everyone worried. Avery knew that’s why she’d sent him. She’d be yelling at Ken, and things would spin in a bad direction.

As soon as they were alone, Ken’s calm face cracked. “Fuck this hurts!”

“Let’s go to the ER.” Avery grabbed Ken’s duffle and pulled out his jeans.

“No, I’m not going. It’ll be fine. Just twisted.” Ken shook his head.

Avery put his finger into Ken’s limp right hand. “Squeeze my finger.”

“It’s a pinched nerve or swollen joint. It’ll go down with some icing overnight,” Ken argued.

“We’re going. Want me to get Bev in here? File it as workman’s comp?” Avery threatened as he held Ken’s pants open.

“You’re such a jerk sometimes.” Ken stepped into the jeans.

Avery pulled them up and closed the fly. It’d been a long time since he’d been this close to Ken. The smell of his old lover, the perfect muscles and the good memories flooded Avery’s mind. No one else made him feel this way, but they didn’t need to reignite anything. It’d taken so long to find balance and friendship.

“Want to try a shirt?” Avery asked.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014



The Chatsfield #1 mini-series


When the Sheikh comes to town...

Sheikh Sayed of Zeena Sarha and his harem of beautiful women are staying at the exclusive, opulent Chatsfield Hotel, London, for the last stop on his worldwide tour before his wedding. But when his engagement is unceremoniously broken, Sayed sets his sights on his sexy chambermaid!

Liyah Amari only took the position as chambermaid to find the truth about her birth father. But her search ends in heartache, leaving Liyah vulnerable to this powerful sheikh’s desires. Now their one night of passion could result in a scandalous consequence for the proud Sheikh!

Welcome to The Chatsfield, London!



Not easily impressed, Liyah Amari very nearly stopped to gawp upon entering the Chatsfield London for the first time.

Flagship of the Chatsfield family's hotel empire, the lodging preferred by Europe's elite was magnificent.

San Francisco's property where her mother had worked since before Liyah's birth was beautiful, but nothing compared to the opulence of this hotel. From the liveried doormen to the grandeur of the ballroom-size lobby, she felt as if she'd stepped into a bygone era of luxury.

A decidedly frenetic air of anticipation and preparation was at odds with the elegant surroundings, though. One maid rushed through the lobby—which Liyah was certain was anything but a normal occurrence—while another polished the walnut banisters of the grand staircase.

It looked like an impromptu but serious meeting was happening near the concierge desk. The desk reception staff were busy with the phone and computer, respectively, checking in an attractive elderly couple.

"Welcome to the Chatsfield London, Mr. and Mrs. Michaels. Here is your room key," the young man said, "and here is your complimentary hospitality pack. We very much hope that you enjoy your stay."

Both staff were too busy to pay attention to who might be entering the hotel. Behind reception, Liyah saw a row of photographs depicting the Chatsfield London's staff. Something in her chest tightened as she caught the image of Lucilla Chatsfield staring back at her from within a frame.

One of the Chatsfield siblings Liyah admired and wished she could get to know, Lucilla was too far up the hotel's ranks for that to ever be likely.

A noise from behind her dragged her attention to where maintenance was replacing a bulb in the giant chandelier that cast the saffron walls with an elegant glow. Ecru moldings and columns added a tasteful but subtly lavish touch and the faint but lingering smell of fresh paint indicated they'd had a recent tidying up.

Liyah's sensible shoes made no noise as she crossed the black-and-white marble-tiled floor, heading directly for the elevator as she'd been instructed to do.

A man stepped in front of her. "May I help you find someone?"

His tone and expression were polite, but it had to be obvious to him that Liyah in her well-fitting but conservative black gabardine suit was not a guest at the Chatsfield.

"I have an appointment with Mrs. Miller." As was her usual habit, Liyah was fifteen minutes early for her meeting with the senior housekeeper.

The man's eyes lit up. "Oh, you must be the maid from Zeena Sahra."

No. That had been her mother. "I am familiar with Zeena Sahran culture, but I was born in America."

Liyah had been hired as a floor supervising chambermaid on the presidential level with special concierge services, just below the hotel's penthouse suites. With hospitality as well as housekeeping duties, she would be working in tandem with the concierge team in a new initiative designed to increase customer satisfaction.

It would be a much more satisfying job for Liyah than the one her mother had held for almost three decades and Hena would have approved wholeheartedly.

"Yes, of course. The elevator is right this way." The man started walking. "I will have to key your access to the basement level."

"Thank you."

Liyah was still a few minutes early when she knocked on the senior housekeeper's office door. "Enter," came from within.

Mrs. Miller was a tall, thin woman who wore a more severe version of Liyah's suit with a starched white blouse buttoned all the way up.

"I'm pleased you are here, Miss Amari, but I hope you've come prepared to begin work immediately," she said after the pleasantries were out of the way.

"Yes, of course."

"Good. Your concierge floor has been booked for the sheikh's harem." Mrs. Miller gave a disdainful sniff with the word harem.

"Excuse me? A sheikh from Zeena Sahra is coming to stay?" And he needed an entire floor for his harem?

No wonder they'd wanted to transfer her mother from the Chatsfield San Francisco.

"Yes, Sheikh bin Falah will be staying with us for two weeks. His fiancée will be joining him for the second one."

Liyah schooled the shock from her features. "Sheikh al Zeena, or Sheikh bin Falah al Zeena, but he would not be referred to as Sheikh bin Falah. To do so would cause offence."

Liyah wasn't sure about correcting her boss, but she assumed this sort of knowledge was why she'd been hired.

At least now she understood the need for her expertise. Not just a tribal sheikh but the crown prince of Zeena Sahra was coming to stay at the Chatsfield London.

Probably the single most gorgeous man alive, he could easily be an international playboy with a string of supermodels hanging on his arm. However, he had a reputation for being buttoned-down and focused entirely on his duties as emir of Zeena Sahra.

"I see. I'll make a note of it. I presume addressing him as Your Highness is acceptable."

"It is, though from what I have read, since Zeena Sahra is an emirate, he prefers the title of emir!''

Mrs. Miller's mouth pursed. "Why didn't we know this?"

"It's a small thing, really.'

"No," Mrs. Miller said sharply. "There's nothing small about this visit from the sheikh. Every detail must be seen to with absolute attention. If not, mistakes happen. Only last week someone wanted to send silk napkins to the Chatsfield Preitalle with the inscription 'Princess Mad-die.' Can you believe it? For a royal wedding? This is why each detail must be perfect."

"I will do my best."

"Yes. In addition to your usual duties, for the duration of the sheikh's visit, you will also personally oversee the housekeeping staff for his suite and the adjoining rooms for his security people."

Nothing like being thrown in at the deep end, but Liyah didn't mind. She thrived on a challenge.

Nevertheless, it was a good thing Liyah had gotten her degree in hospitality management. It didn't hurt either that she'd cleaned rooms at the Chatsfield San Francisco every summer break through high school and college, not that her mother had encouraged Liyah to make her career there.

Quite the opposite, Hena had been adamant that her daughter not work for the Chatsfield. And now that she knew what she did, maybe Liyah understood that better.

After a somewhat harried orientation, during which staff members she met asked as many questions of Liyah about Zeena Sahra as she asked them about the Chatsfield London, she returned to her newly rented bedsit.

About the size of a college dorm room with an efficiency kitchen and miniscule bath tacked on, it was a far cry from the two-bedroom apartment with a balcony she'd shared with her mother in San Francisco. An apartment she'd been only too happy to move out of when she got the floor supervisory position with the Chatsfield London.

The job offer was a brilliant coincidence that Liyah's mother would have called destiny. But then Hena Amari had had a romantic streak her daughter did not share.

Although her outlook on life was decidedly more pragmatic, once Liyah had seen the contents of her mother's safety-deposit box and read Hena's final letter, she'd known she had to come to England.

The new job had allowed her to do so without dipping too deeply into what was left from the proceeds of her mother's life insurance policy. The money had been welcome if entirely unexpected. The policy had been one of the many profound shocks Liyah had found in that safety-deposit box.

Shocks that had ultimately ended with her working for the Chatsfield London.

The hotel had been looking specifically for someone with knowledge of Zeena Sahran culture and hospitality norms. Ironically, they had contacted the San Francisco property's senior housekeeper, Stephanie Carter, in hopes of transferring Hena Amari.

With Hena's sudden death, Stephanie, knowing about Liyah, had suggested her instead. Even though Liyah had not worked for the Chatsfield San Francisco since the summer before her last year of university, her education and experience had made her uniquely eligible for a newly created position.

The irony that a job with the hotel would make it possible for her daughter to fulfill Hena's final wish was not lost on Liyah.

Liyah did not resent her mother's silence on any front, but only superb emotional control had allowed her to take one stunning revelation after another without cracking.

On the outside.

The most stunning revelation of all had been that the extremely wealthy English hotelier Gene Chatsfield was Liyah's biological father.

After years of seeing the exploits of his legitimate children in the tabloid press, Liyah found it nearly impossible to believe his blood ran through her veins. What did she, a woman who had worked hard for everything she had, have in common with this notorious, spoiled family?

She had an almost morbid curiosity to discover what kind of man raised his children to be so profligate while sending the most meager of stipends to Hena on Liyah's behalf.

The answer might lie in the very fact of Liyah's existence, the result of Gene's indulgence in numerous affairs with his hotel maids. Affairs that did not make it into the press.

Hena hadn't known about the hotelier's wife, much less his propensity for seducing the chambermaids, until after he left San Francisco and a pregnant Hena behind. It had all been in the final letter Hena had left Liyah.

She'd never told another soul the identity of Liyah's father. Hena's shame in the fact he'd been a married man colored the rest of her life and yet she'd written in her letter that Liyah needed to forgive him.

Hena had claimed that Gene Chatsfield was not a villain, not a demon, not even a very bad man. But he had been a man going through a very bad time. Her final request had been for Liyah to come to London and make herself known to her father.

Liyah would respect her mother's last wishes, but she was happy to have the opportunity to observe the man incognito—as an employee, not the daughter he'd never acknowledged.

Her uniform crisp, her long black hair caught in an impeccable bun, Liyah stood tucked away in a nook near the grand staircase. She'd been in London two weeks and working at the Chatsfield ten hectic days, but had yet to catch a glimpse of her father.

Word had come down that the Honorable Sheikh Sayed bin Falah al Zeena was arriving today, though. Liyah had no doubts her father would be on hand to greet the sheikh personally.

One thing that had become patently obvious in the past ten days: the sheikh's stay was incredibly important to the hotel, and even more significant to the Chatsfield's proprietor.

Apparently, in another ironic twist of fate, Gene Chatsfield currently resided in the Chatsfield New York, leaving his new and highly acclaimed CEO, Christos Giatrakos, alone to handle operations from London. However, Gene Chatsfield's arrival in London to personally oversee the emir's visit said it all.

Knowing how key this high-profile guest's stay was to her father, Liyah was determined to do her job well. When she made herself known to Gene, there would be nothing to disappoint him in her work ethic.

Her floor was in impeccable order, each of the rooms to be occupied garnished with a crystal bowl of fruit and a vase of fragrant jasmine. She'd arranged for a screen to be placed at the elevator bank on her floor, as well, effectively blocking the harem quarters from curious looks.

She'd made sure the sheikh's suite was similarly taken care of. There was nothing to offend and a great deal to appreciate in her setup of his rooms and the floor below.

Thoughts of her work faded as an older man walked with supreme confidence across the lobby. His air that of a man who owned all he surveyed, he acknowledged the numerous greetings by his employees with a regal tip of his head. Her father.

Stopping in front of the reception desk, he was clearly prepared to welcome the sheikh upon arrival.

Gray hair shot with silver, his blue eyes were still clear, his six-foot-one frame just slightly stooped. Garbed in a perfectly tailored Pierre Cardin suit, his shoes no doubt handmade, he looked like a man who would fit right in with the fabulously wealthy people his hotel catered to.

Gene smiled and said something to the head of desk reception. And all the air expelled from Liyah's lungs in a single whoosh.

She'd seen that smile in the mirror her whole life. His lips were thinner, but the wide smile above a slightly pointed chin? That was so familiar it made her heart ache.

His eyes were blue, hers were green—but their shape was the same. That hadn't been obvious in the publicity shots she'd seen of him.

She'd gotten her mother's honey-colored skin, oval face, small nose and arched brows, not to mention Hena's black hair and five-foot-five stature. Their mother-daughter connection had been obvious to anyone who saw them together.

Liyah had never considered she might also share physical traits with her father.

The resemblance wasn't overly noticeable by any means, but that smile? Undeniably like hers.

This man was her father.

Hit with the profundity of the moment, Liyah's knees went to jelly and she had to put her hand against the wall for stability.

Unaware of her father's moderate financial support and way too aware of the Amari rejection of any connection, Liyah had spent her life knowing of only one person in her family.

Hena Amari.

Her mom was the only Amari who had ever recognized Liyah as a member of that family. A family who had cast her out for her disgrace.

And since her mom's death, Liyah had been alone. In that moment, she realized that if this man accepted her— even into the periphery of his life—she wouldn't be alone any longer.

Her father's face changed, the smile shifting to something a lot tenser than the expression he'd worn only seconds before. He stood a little straighter, his entire demeanor more alert.

Liyah's gaze followed his, and for the second time in as many minutes she went weak in the knees.

Surrounded by an impressive entourage and dressed in the traditional garb of a Zeena Sahran sheikh stood the most beautiful man Liyah had ever seen. Known for his macho pursuits and outlook, despite his supreme political diplomacy, the emir wouldn't appreciate the description, she was sure.

But regardless of. .or maybe because of his over-six-foot height, square jaw and neatly trimmed, close-cropped facial hair, the sheikh's masculine looks carried a beauty she'd never before encountered.

No picture she'd ever seen did him justice. Two-dimensional imagery could never catch the reality of Sheikh Sayed bin Falah al Zeena's presence. Not his gorgeous looks or the leashed power that crackled in the air around him like electricity.

Nothing about the unadorned black abaya worn over Armani, burgundy keffiyeh on his head and black triple-stranded egal holding it in place expressed anything but conservative control. The Zeena Sahran color of royalty of the keffiyeh and three strands of the egal, rather than the usual two, subtly indicated his status as emir.

Wearing the traditional robe over a tailored designer suit with the head scarf implied supreme civilization. And yet, to her at least, it was obvious the blood of desert warriors ran in his veins.

The first melech of Zeena Sahra had won independence for his tribe—which later became the founding people of the emirate of Zeena Sahra—through bloody battles western history books often glossed over.

Inexplicably and undeniably drawn to the powerful man, Liyah's feet carried her forward without her conscious thought or volition. It was only when she stood mere feet from the royal sheikh that Liyah came to an abrupt, embarrassed stop.

It was too late, though.

Monday, May 19, 2014

ON THE TRAIL by Zenobia Renquist

ON THE TRAIL by Zenobia Renquist 

Guardian's Tales 3

He's a dog with a bone and she knows just where to bury it.

Tracy has a stalker who is dredging up a past best left forgotten so he can torment her with it. She hires Kaiser, a dog-shifter, to track the culprit and mete out justice.

While a guard dog seems like a good idea, Tracy finds out Kaiser also makes an excellent lap dog. She knows she cannot keep him, but that is no reason not to enjoy him until he leaves.



Tracy turned her face up to the showerhead, enjoying the simulated rain in the privacy of her own bathroom. She didn't care if some of the water seeped into the edges of her tight bun. She planned to see her beautician about a touch-up for her relaxed, mid-back length, black hair over the weekend. Two days of wearing a scarf as a headband would hide the kinky roots resulting from her indulgence.

The soothing hot water trailing over her mattered most, removing all the tension from her workday. Meetings on top of meetings on top of even more meetings. Whoever said it was good to be the king -- or the boss in this case -- never had to put up with as much paperwork as her.

The cooling water signaled the end. She debated turning the knob toward hotter to prolong her stay but it was already at the farthest point. She'd run out the hot water heater, which meant she had to get out.

She spun the knob to the off position and then pushed back the shower curtain. The rack where her towel should be was empty. Likewise the stack of folded, clean towels that should be sitting on the low shelf next to the tub in case of situations like this was also empty.


The large German shepherd poked his head into the bathroom door with her towel hanging from his mouth and a doggy grin on his face.

Tracy held out her hand. "Give it."

He backed up a step.

"Now, Kaiser."

He tossed his head, waving the towel at her.

"I'm not playing. I'm tired. Just bring it here. I don't want to drip water on the floor."

Kaiser left the doorway.

"Damn it, Kaiser!" Tracy brushed off as much of the water as she could before stepping onto the bath rug. She preferred drying off while standing in the tub. Kaiser knew that. "Come back here."

The cool air pumping from the vents raised goose bumps along her arms when she entered her bedroom. So much for her relaxing shower. Now she was shivering and pissed.

"Kaiser." She looked around but the dog was nowhere to be seen. "Give me back my towel before I have you fixed." She walked around the bed, expecting to find his wagging tail sticking out from under the bed skirt, giving away his location. If he got dust bunnies on her clean towel...

He wasn't there.

Tracy sucked her teeth as she looked around again. He had to be here somewhere. He wouldn't leave the bedroom. That was taking the game too far and he knew that. The only other place he could be was the walk-in closet.

"Kaiser, come out." Tracy pushed the door open and reached for the light switch bedside the frame. She flipped it up but the light stayed dark. "Oh, come on." She flipped it up and down a few times before giving up. The light bulb was blown or Kaiser had sabotaged it.

She was done playing hide-and-seek. She was almost dry and getting dressed would speed along the process. "Stupid dog. I should take you right back."

A strong arm grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into the rack of hanging shirts. She squeaked but didn't fight as a hot, naked chest pressed against her back.

Kaiser asked in a low rumble close to her ear, "Now, why would you want to take me back?"

"You're a pain in my ass." And he was ruining her plans for the evening, though she kept that last part to herself.

"Not yet, I'm not." He rubbed his free hand over her ass. "But I can be if you want."

"Let go." Tracy tried to pull away but Kaiser's hold was firm, like always. She was no match for his strength.

"You sure that's what you want?" Kaiser hugged her closer, sandwiching his erection between them.

Tracy swallowed as her libido overrode her fatigue. "Why did you take my towels?"

"I wanted you wet." He slid his hand between her legs and tickled the tips of his fingers against her damp pussy lips. "And you are."

"That's from my shower."

"I don't think it is." His breath fanned over her ear a second before he licked it. "I smell your desire. Why do you always deny it?"

"Why are you always horny?" Tracy's voice hitched when Kaiser nudged her clit.

"I'm a dog. What's your excuse?"

"I --" Her clipped moan of pleasure at Kaiser delving a single finger into her channel cut off her words. Tracy shifted, stirring herself around it.

It wasn't fair how quickly Kaiser could make her forget everything except the pleasure he could give her. She needed to tell him no and to back off. Instead she inched her feet apart while rolling her ass over his dick and dropping her head to his shoulder.

"Mmmmm, nice and wet now. Good girl. Good, good girl."

"Stop it," she snapped, hating when he used doggy speak. She hated more how her nipples tightened and her inner muscles clenched when he did it.

He nipped at her earlobe as he pumped his finger faster. "Somebody is grumpy. What's the matter, girl? Want a treat? Hm? Does my good girl want a treat?"

"Shut up."

"Now, now. Be a good girl. You want your treat, don't you?" He paused long enough to add a second finger and then buried them inside her with a speed that had her juices squishing. "You're drooling already. Soaking my hand and squirming. If you aren't good, I'll make you beg for it."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

WHEELS by Michelle L. Levigne

WHEELS by Michelle L. Levigne 

Tabor Heights Year Two

Natalie was the little girl across the street who adored Tommy and planned to marry him when they grew up. In the wake of Tommy's broken back and the disintegration of his family, Natalie's family left town.

She never thought she would see him again, until she was assigned to cover the Mission's handicap awareness campaign -- led by Tommy. He didn't seem to recognize her, and she didn't want to embarrass him by bringing up the past, but she had to warn him before the past found Tommy in the shape of his estranged father.

Just when was the right time, in the middle of the campaign and threats from petty criminals who were blackmailing one of Tommy's friends?



"And you are?" Tommy leaned forward. His eyebrows rose a little when she just stared into his big, chocolate eyes. "Sorry, but nobody told me a reporter was coming. I don't know who you are."

"Oh." She wished she had taken him up on that drink -- she could have splashed it on her face, and maybe generated enough steam to hide behind. "Sorry. Natalie Schaeffer."

"Right!" He leaned back, twisting sideways in his chair so he hooked his right arm over and behind the push-handle.

"You know who I am?"

"Gee, you look so young." He snorted when she shook her head, completely lost. "Natalie Schaffer. She played Mrs. Howell on 'Gilligan's Island.'"

"You are the only person in the whole world who would remember something like that. But it is a different spelling, I must point out."

"Picky, picky. There was this girl I knew when I was a kid. She made the same argument. I used to call her 'Lovey,' and sing the bars about the millionaire and his wife, and she would run away in terror. Gee, give a guy a complex. I was just a dumb kid -- how could I tell her I was passionately in love with her? It just wasn't cool for guys my age." Tommy chuckled. "That's off the record, right?"

"Oh, absolutely. Why would I want to mortally embarrass you in front of half the country?" Natalie bent her head over her notepad, thankful she had written down a list of questions she wanted to ask him. Please, please, please, don't let him recognize me now, after he said all that.

A warm glow shot through her. Tommy had been in love with her, all those years ago? She had been pleased and mortified when he teased her about her name. Maybe if she hadn't run away, she might have known? Then again, what good would it have done either of them, after her father took them to a new church, a new town, and a new state?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

BROKEN by Zena Wynn

BROKEN by Zena Wynn

The exciting conclusion to Beyond the Breaking Point...

Max Desalvo is a broken man. Two years ago he gave his heart, soul and body to another man’s wife, Cassidy Brannon. And, he’d thought, his child. They’d made promises, vows. One year. One year for Cassidy to secure her freedom, so they could be together. Unable to be in the same city with Cassidy and not see her, hear her voice, or touch her, Max left. While gone he waited, waited, and waited for the call that never came.

Now he’s returned to Philly, his home. Running into Cassidy was inevitable, but she isn’t the woman he remembers. If he’s broken, she’s shattered. Phillip, her husband, is dead. Why hadn’t Cassidy contacted him once she was free? And why does she gaze at him with eyes full of hurt and mistrust, as though he were the one to break her heart?

Max has a choice. Discover the truth of what happened and reclaim the love he’s lost or forever remain…broken.

BUY THE eBOOK   ***   KINDLE   ***   ARe   ***   NOOK   ***   READ THE EXCERPT


Maximillan Desalvo stood in front of the floor-to-ceiling glass wall, looking out over the glittering cityscape that was downtown Philadelphia at night, cradling a glass of bourbon on the rocks. Behind him came the murmur of conversation as the cream of Philly society mixed and mingled in their sophisticated finery. They’d congregated together to donate outrageous sums of money to this event’s charity. Women in jewel toned cocktail dresses and black evening gowns conversed with gentlemen in their finest suits or, like Max, personally owned tuxedos. He was here but somehow removed from it all.

At last he’d come home. Home to heal from the devastating heartbreak he’d incurred in this city of brotherly love when the love of his life, the woman he’d given his everything to, had cast him aside in favor of her low-life, cheating husband—his former best friend. Cassidy Brannon had destroyed him.

Max grimaced at his image in the darkened window. In the last two years he’d lost weight. His face was leaner, harder, his gaze cynical. He took another sip of the bourbon he’d come to depend on a little too heavily in the last year and a half. It was time to pull himself together.

Still, as he looked out over the metropolis, he couldn’t help but wonder. Was Cassidy out there? Was she even now lying in the arms of her husband? Making love to him? Giving Phillip the words of love she’d once given him? Were they once more the happy little family?

How long before the bastard cheated on her again? How long before Cassidy realized she’d made a mistake and thrown away the best thing that ever happened to her—him? Last time, it had taken two years for Phillip’s true nature to show. Would it take less or more this time? Whatever the case, Cassidy had made her choice. Now she’d have to live with it.

Max knew his family, particularly his mother, worried about him. Momma wanted him to forget the past, settle down with a nice Catholic girl—preferably Italian—and make babies. His father wanted him to return practicing the law he’d abandoned or join the family’s restaurant business. All of them wanted him to lay off the booze. 

He wished to hell he could.

How could he forget the woman who, for a time, made him feel more of a man than he’d ever felt in his life? Who’d completed and complemented him the way no other had or ever would? The answer was he couldn’t.

He’d tried to in the bottom of liquor bottles and between the thighs of sexy, beautiful women. With his financial status, he had unlimited access to both. Women lined up to spread their legs in exchange for his wealth, hoping to acquire his temporary favor. Cassidy was the only woman who hadn’t been interested in his bank account.

Scowling at his inability to keep her out of his head, even after all of this time, Max took a big gulp of his drink and swung around suddenly with the intent to go get another double. He crashed into someone, and the remaining contents of his glass sloshed over the side and onto the woman’s chest. 

She gasped as the cold liquid and ice hit her.

“Shit! I’m sorry. I didn’t see you,” Max apologized, grabbing the woman’s arm to keep her from falling.
“It’s okay. I didn’t see you standing there in the cor—” She looked up from swiping at her neckline and her words trailed off. “Max?”

“Cassidy?” Automatically his hold tightened as he stared. 

For a brief second, the shock on her face transformed into one of pure pleasure. Then, as though a switch were thrown, blanked to nothingness. Max couldn’t stop his gaze from eating her up. The long hair he’d loved to wrap around his wrist as he made love to her was gone. She’d cut it so that it barely brushed her shoulders. The arm he held felt fragile, as though the bone would break if he gripped it too tightly. Her normally slim figure appeared gaunt beneath the loose flowing outfit she wore. Even her oval face was thinner, the long line of her slender neck more delicate. But she was still beautiful, even with those black shadows under her eyes and the sickly yellow undertone to her stunning golden-brown complexion.

“I thought you’d left the country?” Cassidy said, now looking like she wanted to be anywhere but with him. She subtly withdrew but Max held firm, his hand ignoring his mental command to release her. 

“I’m back,” he said flatly, wondering how she’d known. Had Cassidy checked up on him? 

Before he could ask, a server stooped down and lifted something. “Ma’am, is this your cane?”

Cassidy reached out and grasped the fancy walking stick with her free hand. “Yes, thank you for getting it for me.” To Max she said, “Welcome home. I’m sure your family is happy to have you back. I need to—”
“Max, there you are. I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Why are you hiding over here in the corner?” 
Gianna, his date for the night, came up and clutched him by the arm, leaning her voluptuous body against his left side. 

If he hadn’t been watching Cassidy so intently, he’d have missed the flash of pain that crossed her features before she looked away. Tugging insistently, she said stiffly, “Excuse me. I need to take care of this before it stains.”

Max didn’t want to let her go. It had been too long since he’d seen her. To remind his stubborn heart Cassidy was off limits, Max asked brusquely, “Where’s your husband?”

Some indefinable emotion flashed in her expressive brown eyes. “He’s dead.”

Friday, May 16, 2014

NOBODY'S HERO by Kallypso Masters

NOBODY'S HERO by Kallypso Masters

Rescue Me Book 2

NOBODY'S HERO is the continuing romantic journey of Adam and Karla, which began in MASTERS AT ARMS and NOBODY'S ANGEL.

Retired Marine Master Sergeant Adam Montague has battled through four combat zones, but now finds himself retreating from Karla Paxton, who has declared war on his heart. With a significant age difference, he feels he should be her guardian and protector, not her lover. But Karla's knack for turning up in his bed at inopportune times is killing his resolve to do the right thing. Karla isn't the young girl he rescued nine years earlier—something his body reminds him of every chance it gets.

Their age difference is only part of the problem. Fifty-year-old Adam has been a collector of lost and vulnerable souls most of his life, but a secret he has run from for more than three decades has kept him emotionally unable to admit love for anyone. Will Karla be able to break through the defenses around his heart and help him put the ghosts from his past to rest? In her all-out war to get Adam to surrender his heart, will the strong-willed Goth singer offer herself as his submissive and, if so, at what cost to herself?

ABOUT THE RESCUE ME SAGA: The books in the ongoing Rescue Me Saga are not stand-alone stories and should be read in order. Characters will recur in later books to deal with further issues in their lives as the saga continues and each book builds upon all previous ones. Sometimes main characters even need another book to help resolve major issues affecting their relationships.

BONUS MATERIAL in this version: Kallypso Masters has added the PLAYLIST of music that inspired her as she wrote about the first three couples mentioned in this combined volume, as well as a GLOSSARY OF TERMS and a CAST OF CHARACTERS in these books in the saga.



"What the fuck are you doing in my bed?”

Karla Paxton smiled. Adam Montague had always been so careful not to drop the f-bomb around her before—although she’d certainly heard him say it enough times to everyone else, when he didn’t think she could hear. Were his walls coming down enough for him to see her as an adult for the first time since they’d met?

“I needed to be close to you. Do you remember what happened?”

As if just coming to his senses, he glanced up at the IV pole and took in his surroundings. “Where am I?”

“At the medical center in Denver. You were attacked by a cougar.”

Realization dawned and he cupped her cheek, searching her face. “Are you okay? It didn’t hurt you? You’ve got circles under your eyes. God, you’ve lost so much weight.”

Adam, Adam, Adam. Always thinking about everyone else.

She didn’t want to think how awful she must look. If she’d known he would wake up today, she’d have at least put on a little makeup and brushed her hair. She needed to reassure him before he became any more agitated. “I’m fine, Adam. You got the cougar to chase after you and…” Her throat constricted as she pictured Adam lying on the ground with the large cat ripping at his neck and back. She closed her eyes and laid her forehead on his chest, but the image was seared into her memory. “I was so scared, Adam,” she whispered.

He stroked the back of her head and she wished they could stay like this forever. Intimate. Sharing. Close. But the walls wouldn’t stay down forever. She pressed her face against him, comforted by his heart beating against her cheek and the rising and falling of his chest.

His hand brushed a tendril of hair away from her face. “Thank God you weren’t hurt, Karla.”

“You saved my life. Again.” She stroked his neck, her head nestled in the crook of his shoulder, feeling as if she’d come home at last. Her hand traced a path down one of his pecs, which she’d ached to touch for so many years. She let her fingertip circle the hard nip.

Adam’s hand caught and stilled hers, his body tensing.

He pushed her away.

“You need to get out of this bed, Karla. Now.”

* * *

What the fuck was he doing touching Karla like that? When her body had stretched out against him, before the cobwebs had cleared, he’d thought perhaps he’d done something unforgivable—like taken advantage of an innocent girl. But wouldn’t he remember doing something like that?

His head pounded. Okay, one head pounded—the other throbbed, just as it had been doing whenever he was around Karla since the July day in his office when she’d come back into his life after almost nine years. Only now she was all grown up. If she didn’t get out of this bed soon, he was going to do something they’d both regret. His resistance had been lowered, but damn it, she felt so good lying against him.



“I have to tell you something.”

Oh, fuck. The last time she’d said that, she was sixteen and had declared her love to his forty-one year old self. Not ready for another such declaration, Adam tried to move her off his chest, but she wouldn’t budge and he didn’t have the strength to lift her. He hated being physically compromised. “Look, Karla…”

She giggled. His dick grew stiff. What was it about a woman’s giggle that turned him on?

“Don’t worry. It’s nothing like what I said on my parents’ front porch.”

He relaxed and she grinned.

“What is it, hon?” Don’t call her “hon.” She may get the wrong idea—again. Why didn’t she do as he’d told her and get out of this tiny fucking bed? Don’t mention fucking and bed while you’re holding Karla in your arms.

Her hand stroked his chest almost absently, although she certainly had his undivided attention. Her touch was tentative, gentle. He hadn’t let a woman get this close since Joni. Even with Grant, his friend-with-benefits partner at the Masters at Arms Club he co-owned, sex had been rough, hard, and sometimes even brutal. A physical release for them both, nothing more. Neither had ever wanted anything more.

But Karla was more fragile both physically and emotionally. She’d just lost her brother, who had meant the world to her. That grief was what had brought her to his club in the first place. Adam had cared about her since he’d rescued her nine years earlier in the Chicago bus station, not that he’d shown her much support these past few months. Hell, no. He’d been too busy running in the opposite direction. Adam didn’t know what it was that scared him the most—their age difference of twenty-five years, the thought of his corrupting her any more than he’d already done by bringing her onto the payroll at his kink club last July, or that she might get under his skin and expect more from him than he could give.

Hell, he’d lay odds she was still a virgin, or damned close to being one. She didn’t have any interest in BDSM and had no place in a club where she had to witness so many things that obviously freaked her out. He’d seen her cringe as she watched Damián Orlando, one of the club’s co-owners, wield the whip or heard one of Grant’s subs screaming at the center post as the female Marine delivered a public and painful punishment.

“When I saw you lying there on the ground…” Karla cleared her throat. “The cougar was so big. You were bleeding. So much blood. I thought you’d been killed.”

He pulled her close to him. Just this once. He needed to reassure her that he was going to be fine. “I’m pretty ornery. No cat is going to get the best of me.”

“Well, I’ll give you ornery.”

He chuckled. “Ah, glad my secret’s out. Keeping up appearances can be exhausting.” She felt so good lying in his arms, even though he was too weak to keep his arms around her much longer. His biceps were feeling the strain. Damn, he was getting old.

“Worst-kept secret around. You’ve been very ornery lately.” She paused, stroking his chest. He wished she’d get the fuck out of this bed. His dick was throbbing to the point of pain. Having her in his arms was totally wrong.

“I’m sorry about whatever I did to upset you…” Her voice broke, along with his resolve.

Oh, shit. He’d made her cry. “Hon, you didn’t do anything.” Except look so fucking sexy you drive me insane. “I just have some shit going on in my head. I never meant to make you feel bad.” So why are you about to make her feel worse? “But I think it might be good for you to think about moving back to Chicago. You don’t belong in a kink club.”

She pushed herself up and looked him in the face, her blue eyes steely as she glared at him.

“Adam, you will not send me away—not until you’re better, at least. I know you’re too stubborn to see it, but you need me. I’m going to take care of you, just like you took care of me when I first got here. This is all my fault. If you hadn’t distracted that cougar…”

He pressed a finger over her lips and then pulled back. He didn’t need to be thinking about touching her sexy pink lips at the moment. The dark circles under her eyes and her thin, pale face worried him. But if she’d been attacked…

“If I hadn’t distracted that cougar, you’d be the one hooked to the IV. Or worse.” He stroked her cheek, unable to help himself. The thought of that dangerous cat marring any part of her beautiful body tore at his gut worse than the animal’s claws had torn up his back. She wouldn’t have survived. He shuddered. “I did what anyone would do. Besides, my hide’s tougher than yours. Damned cat didn’t stand a chance.” He grinned. When she reciprocated, he stared at her lips for the longest time, wondering what it would be like to kiss them.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

“Get out of this bed, Karla. Now.”

* * *

Eleven days later, Karla waited in the hallway outside Adam’s bedroom, pacing. When she heard the door, she turned and watched Marc D’Alessio come out, carrying his first-aid bag. Adam had been home nine days and seemed to be healing, but he was still recovering, first from the infection and then the deep injuries to his muscles. She hated watching him suffer in pain every day. He’d always been such a vital force.

Adam would take the antibiotics from her, but sometimes refused his pain pills and absolutely refused to let her see his back. Marc had stopped by twice a day since Adam had come home to change the dressings and apply analgesics to try to keep Adam comfortable. Karla was secretly glad Marc didn’t mind re-dressing his wounds, because he—having served as a corpsman with Adam’s Marine unit in Iraq—certainly had more expertise in the area than she did.

She didn’t want to fail Adam now.

“Whatever you’re doing, Karla, keep it up. I can see a huge improvement from one day to the next. Now he’s getting cantankerous, too. Should be back to his old self again in no time.”

Some of the tension left her body. “Thank you.” The words were barely spoken above a whisper. Exhausted, she wondered how she managed to remain upright anymore. Word that Adam was doing better overloaded her with emotion and her upper lip began to quiver. Marc held his arms out and she walked into his embrace. Really needing a hug right now, she let him bear her weight for a moment. If only it were Adam holding her.

“Where the stitches were removed, there’s no sign of re-injury. We just need to try and keep him from overdoing it when he gets up and about more. He’s chomping at the bit to get out of bed. I gave him one of the pain pills, though, after I treated the wounds and bandaged him up again. He’ll sleep for a while. Come down and have lunch. Angelina’s cooking up something good, I’m sure. Cassie’s downstairs, too.”

“No, I…”

He placed his hands on her upper arms and pushed her away from him, waiting until she looked up into his eyes. “Apparently, you misunderstood me, Karla. You are coming downstairs to have lunch with us. Now.” Without waiting for her to respond, he took her elbow in his firm grip and steered her toward the stairs. “You know you aren’t going to do him any good if you don’t take care of yourself. You need to remember to eat and sleep, too.”

He was right, but the guilt that plagued her every waking moment wouldn’t release its hold. Adam had been injured trying to save her when the cougar threatened her, and he had suffered terribly in her place.

They reached the bottom of the stairs and he motioned for her to precede him down the narrow hallway and into the kitchen. Cassie sat at the table with her sketchpad, lost in her drawing.

Angie turned around, left the stove, and came toward her. “Oh, sweetie, you look exhausted. Didn’t get any sleep last night either?”

“Not much. It’s hard to sleep in a chair.” And I don’t want to miss it if Adam needs me during the night.

Angie wrapped her arms around her and Karla’s already shaky rein on her emotions evaporated. She held on for dear life, too exhausted to fight the tears off anymore. God, she despised being so powerless. She imagined Adam must feel equally frustrated, though, and shouldn’t complain.

“I hate seeing him lying there. He’s always been so strong. Invincible. I know he’s getting stronger, but he still has so far to go…”

Angie stroked her hair. “He’ll get there, thanks to how well you’re taking care of him. You just let me know what you need. I’m here for you, day or night.”

Karla was so glad she’d met this woman, despite the circumstances. When the man who had brought Angie to the Masters at Arms Club in late August had become abusive toward her in one of the club’s theme rooms, Marc rescued her. When he’d had to go back to his duties at the club, Adam gave Karla the rest of the night off from singing so she could watch over Angie.

Karla had dropped her off at her home about three hours away the next morning, battered and disheartened. Karla had never expected to see her anywhere near the club again. But Angie and Marc had somehow reconnected in her hometown a month later. Out of the blue, Karla had gotten a call from Angie saying she was on her way back to the club with Marc and his SAR partner, Luke. There were some tense moments, but thank goodness Marc and Angie worked things out. They’d been together since the night before Adam had been attacked on the mountain.

Since Angie returned to Denver, she and Karla had become good friends in a short time, removing some of the loneliness Karla had experienced since arriving at the club in July reeling from Ian’s death.

Karla glanced over at the table. Cassie López, whom she’d known since college, looked up from her sketch and smiled sadly.

“Kitty, let me sit with him tonight so you can get some sleep. I feel like a fifth wheel around here.”

Karla had rarely left Adam’s side since he was in the hospital. After he’d come home, Cassie stayed on to support her friend, helping with meals, laundry, and watching over Adam while Karla showered or napped.

“Just having you here has helped me so much, Cassie.”

Cassie stood and came across the room. Her exotic Peruvian heritage, with her lustrous long dark hair and beautiful olive complexion, was something fair-skinned Karla envied. Her best friend wrapped her in a big hug, the scent of freesia surrounding her. Karla wished her friend hadn’t gotten caught up in all this drama. She avoided drama almost as much as she avoided men.

She remembered how they’d all come to be together that fateful night that had almost taken Adam away from her. Karla picked Cassie up at her remote mountain cabin home during the first week of October to go on the annual overnight camping trip she and Cassie had been taking since Cassie moved out here. The campout always included some kind of cathartic ritual ceremony and Karla needed that more than ever this year. They’d invited Angie to join them, because she needed to release some painful shit, too.

But soon after they’d arrived at their camping spot, all hell broke loose. Karla shuddered. She didn’t want to think about how close Angie had come to being hurt even worse by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Because of that bastard, Adam, Marc, Luke, and Damián had wound up on the mountain that night. Tears pricked her eyes. When Karla had been threatened by a cougar, Adam enticed the big cat away from her only to be attacked by it himself. Karla cringed, forcing herself to block out the image of the animal clawing and biting Adam.

Since the cougar attack, Cassie had stayed here with Karla until she could get a ride home. Angie was staying at Marc’s house—well, when they weren’t here, too, helping out. Marc was one of the co-owners of the club, along with Damián. They both were like family to Adam.

The kitchen door opened and in walked Marc’s partner, Luke. “Something smelled good all the way out on the porch.” He walked over to Angie, placed a hand on her back, and started to kiss her on the cheek, then halted and turned to Marc. “Permission to kiss the cook.” Marc’s gaze homed in on Luke’s hand on Angie and the newest Dom at the club removed his hand as if burned.

“Granted—but only on the cheek.”

The two Doms exchanged an amicable grin and Karla relaxed. She had to wonder if there hadn’t been something between Luke and Angie at some point. These days, however, the woman clearly had no interest in anyone but Marc. “I think I might need to do a better job of explaining some protocols to you, Baby Dom—like teaching you to ask before you touch—not just before you kiss—another Dom’s sub.”

“Oh, behave, you two,” Angie said, walking over to the refrigerator. “Too much testosterone in here. Besides, we’re not in the club right now, so protocols don’t apply.”

Angie had told Karla she and Marc were strictly Dom/sub in the bedroom and while playing at the club. Since Karla had gotten the job singing at the club, Karla had been surprised to learn about the range of commitment available to people in the BDSM lifestyle—everything from a single night to a lifetime commitment.

There was still so much she didn’t understand about this stuff.

Marc watched as Angie placed the salad dressing on the counter. “Some protocols always apply, cara, such as respecting another Dom’s property. Maybe we need to renegotiate our agreement.”

“But you promised…” Karla saw a flash of uncertainty cross Angie’s eyes and Marc chuckled.

“I’m not saying I want less Dom/sub time, cara, but maybe more.” When he held his arms open, she smiled and walked into his embrace.

Karla looked away, tears stinging her eyes again. She was happy for them, but wished she and Adam could have a relationship like theirs. Hell, she’d be happy to have any kind of relationship with Adam. Period.

Luke turned his attention to her. “Karla, how are you doing, darlin’?”

She shrugged. “Hanging in there.”

“Hope you don’t mind my dropping by.” Adam and his friends pretty much had run of the building, which included the club and now even Adam’s private living quarters. She’d become used to people dropping by whenever they wanted.

“Marc promised food.” Luke placed his hand against his stomach. “I can’t cook worth shit.”

“Join the club. Angie’s tried to teach me, but…well…”

“Don’t worry, Karla,” Angie chimed in. “We’ll get back to lessons when things settle down again. You were coming along great.”

Karla couldn’t believe a local restaurant hadn’t snatched up Angie with her amazing culinary skills. Angie wanted her financial independence, which Karla understood. Singing at the club part-time didn’t pay a lot, but Karla hadn’t been sure she’d be staying here, so she hadn’t looked for anything to supplement her income. Adam provided for so many of her personal needs—room, board, clothing. It made her feel guilty. She’d been independent while working at the Goth club in New York City for a couple of years, until she’d gotten fired a couple months after Ian had been killed.

And, while she’d never admit this to her liberated mother or friends, she liked the way Adam took care of those physical needs at least. If that was the only role Adam wanted to play in her life, then she’d be content.

Or try to be, at least.

When Luke’s attention homed in on Cassie, focused on her sketchpad again, Karla wished her friend would at least give him a chance. His shy, self-deprecating grin and that Texan drawl were endearing. In the hospital waiting room almost two weeks ago, Karla had first realized there might be some cosmic connection between Cassie and Luke. Something definitely had brought them together, based on the sketch Cassie made of Luke’s dead wife and baby. Needless to say, Luke had been understandably moved by the haunting image, but Cassie retreated into her internal world again.

Karla would like to help her friend find love and happiness, even if those emotions weren’t possible for Karla—at least not with the man she wanted to enjoy them with.

Karla walked closer to the table. “Cassie, I know you probably need to get back home soon. There must be any number of artist commissions you need to be working on.”

Right on cue, Luke offered, “If you need a ride, Cassie, I’d be happy to run you home.”

Cassie’s pencil stilled and her hand hovered over the sketchpad. Okay, it was too soon for that. Karla went over and stroked her friend’s back. With her history, of course Cassie wouldn’t be comfortable alone with him, even if he didn’t pose an actual threat to her, by Karla’s estimation.

Luckily, Angie came to her rescue. “Cassie, I need to go back to my house in a few days and pack up some more things. I could take you home then.” Cassie was only about thirty minutes from Aspen Corners.

Cassie’s face relaxed. Gentle Luke wouldn’t hurt a soul, though, nor would any of the Doms at the Masters at Arms. She wished her friend wasn’t afraid of all men, but certainly understood why. Perhaps if Cassie wasn’t alone so much, she could become more comfortable around men.

“Thanks, Angie. I’d like that, but only when Kitty’s ready to kick me out.”

Thinking about anything other than Adam right now was more than Karla could manage, but knowing Cassie had a way back to her cabin was a relief for her, if his recovery stretched out too long. There were plenty of people around to help, even though she’d miss Cassie.

Marc came over and stroked Karla’s arm. “You’re going to take a nap after lunch while one of us sits with Adam.”

Karla pulled away and wiped her suddenly damp eyes with the sleeves of her black t-shirt. Time to change the subject before she started sobbing and embarrassed herself—again.

Looking at the stove, Karla asked, “What smells so good?”

“I’ve got penne pasta with roasted red peppers and garlic in the oven.”

“God, Angie, you make cooking seem so simple. Will I ever…” Oh, what was the use learning how to cook for Adam now? Karla wouldn’t be here long enough to make anything for him. Once he was stronger, he’d be sending her home to Chicago. Her eyes burned again and she blinked rapidly. “What can I do to help?”

“Nothing,” Marc said, taking her elbow and steering her to a chair. “Table’s all set. Come, sit down.”

He pulled out Adam’s chair at the head of the table. Seeing it empty reminded her that Adam wasn’t able to join them. A lump lodged in Karla’s throat, and she took the one beside it instead. Angie carried a baking dish to the table and Marc went over to the counter to retrieve the bread, wine, and salad dressing. Seeing them so in sync together just made her feel even sadder, which, in turn, made her feel more guilt. Why begrudge them happiness, just because she could never have it herself?

Luke sat beside Karla, with Cassie on his other side at the end of the table. Oh, dear. She probably should have sat closer to her friend. Marc and Angelina sat close to each other across from Karla and Luke. The meal began in silence with them eating their salads, and then Angie dished out the main course and passed a plate to each of them.

Karla’s eyes were drawn to her as Angie reached out and touched Marc’s hand. Even a simple gesture like that was more than she could have with Adam, more than Adam would let her have, anyway.

Angie held onto his hand and squeezed. “Marc, the sheriff’s office called. Allen’s bail request was denied. Looks like we won’t have to worry about him getting out for a while. Apparently, they take kidnapping a whole lot more seriously than battery.”

A look of pain flickered in Marc’s eyes. Angie had suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, Allen Martin. Karla had seen the fear on Marc’s face that evening on Mount Evans when they’d gone to rescue Angie, no doubt thinking the worst had happened. He cared a lot about Angie.

Karla’s hand began to tremble and she rested it on the table so no one else would see the fork shaking in her fingers. Too late. Luke reached out and squeezed her hand until the shaking stopped. When she looked over at him, he smiled.

“Adam would want you to eat more than that.”

“I know. I just…”

He picked up the fork and stabbed a couple pieces of pasta holding them up to her mouth until she parted her lips and accepted the offering. Everyone was taking such good care of her, so she could take care of their friend, Adam. This rag-tag family Adam had brought together would be lost without him.

Visions of the blood pooling beside Adam’s neck as he lay motionless curdled her stomach. Karla couldn’t block the horrific images from her mind. Everything had happened so quickly. Adam running toward her to try and calm her fears. His distracting the cougar, which chased and attacked him. She’d tried to wrestle the cat off him, until Marc had pulled her away so Damián could shoot the beast.

The graphic memories led to a roiling stomach and, after a couple more forkfuls, Karla took the utensil from Luke, fearing she’d get sick if she ate another bite. But she smiled at him, appreciating his support.

“Just remember, cara, he’s still strong or he wouldn’t be here,” Marc said, using one of his native Italian endearments. “You just wait. He’ll be back to his old self again, ordering everyone around and running his tight ship, same as always.”

Yes, but without me.

Karla was pleased when Luke took advantage of the lull in the table talk and struck up a conversation with Cassie, trying to draw her out of her silence. His knowledge on the subject of fine art surprised Karla. He worked as a carpenter and woodworker. Of course, he’d shown a knack for designing some of the unique pieces of equipment used in the club.

Cassie seemed equally surprised. “How do you know so much about art?”

“Art major in college.” When Cassie’s eyes opened wider, he explained. “The University of Texas, where I went on a football scholarship, didn’t have the industrial arts major I wanted. But I’m really glad I chose studio art instead. It’s helped me a lot with my work.”

Cassie gave him a hesitant smile, then her brow furrowed and she retreated again, focusing on her food. Well, it was a start. At least the two of them had found common ground to build on.

Karla’s eyelids burned. She wished she and Adam could find common ground. Karla laid her fork on the table, no longer able to eat for the anxious churning in her stomach.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

DREAM DICE by Julia Talbot

DREAM DICE by by Julia Talbot

When Thayer buys a new set of gaming dice at Comic-Con, he has no idea they come with magic attached to them, or that they’ll transport him to a land where he’s a healer of the sexual kind.

Barbarian Erlich needs just that kind of magick to pass some important trials, so he turns to Thayer for help. Magick never comes without a price, though.

Can Thayer and Erlich pay what they owe and survive?



“Those are your dream dice, and you know it.” The guy behind the table looked like a pirate: plumed hat, half cape, high boots. Thayer looked from him to the amazing bag of dice he held. They came in a black velvet bag, simple and unadorned, but of good quality. The dice needed no fancy packaging. They glowed under the harsh lights of the convention center, all turquoise and lapis, chrysoprase and malachite. The colors spoke of real semi-precious stones, not acrylic, the numbers etched in gold. There were four D10, or ten-sided dice, two D6, which looked like regular craps dice, and once each of a four-sided die and a twelve-sided one.

“They are lovely.” Thayer needed more dice like he needed a hole in the head. Still, while they might not qualify as dream dice, the set called to him, making him want to touch them where they spread across the felt rolling board. “How much?”

“One-fifty.” When Thayer turned away, the pirate guy caught his arm. “But for a serious collector like you I’ll go eighty.”

“Eighty?” That was a good deal. The last gem set he’d seen with the kind of rocks here had retailed for one thirty five.

“Yes. Just for you. Show special.”

“Do you take cards?” He had enough cash, but he really wanted to have enough for the food vendors.

“I do.” The guy whipped out a phone with a card reader attached.

“I’ll take them.” He pulled out his wallet, not at all sure why he thought this was a good idea. The vendor wasn’t even hard-selling. He didn’t need dice. These tugged at him, though, deep in his gut, making him want them.

He took the bag when the card went through, putting it in his pocket so he could feel the weight of them, the way they warmed from being close to his skin. He waved at the pirate dude and wandered on, but the rest of the booths didn’t interest him. The more costumed and corseted cosplayers he saw, the more he simply wanted to take his new dice home and roll up a character. That was the true test of new dice, what kind of cool cleric they would come up with.

Thayer did stop by the food booths and get a couple of deep-fried goodies: a corn dog, curly fries and a Snickers bar dipped in batter and cooked golden brown. After inhaling those, he headed home, ready to settle in for the night. He could always go back to the con tomorrow. He’d bought a weekend pass.

“Kenji?” His roommate should be out for the evening, but it never hurt to check. Kenji the Horndog had guys over all day and all night sometimes. Too bad Thayer didn’t have that kind of luck with men. Helped that Kenji looked like an anime character, he guessed.

No one answered, but Thayer checked Kenji’s room, anyway. The only thing he saw was an explosive mess of clothes and tangled sheets. No lean, tanned surfer, no big muscled jocks of the type said surfer liked to bring home.


He tossed a pizza in the oven because he was still hungry, grabbed his character sheets and his tablet, so he could write up his adventure, and lit some sage and pine candles. He liked candles, but compromised with Kenji on a more manly scent. Shit, why he did, he had no idea. Kenji could identify vanilla room spray from three different retailers, including Pier One and Bed Bath & Beyond. The man was such a queen, deep down. He was a good roommate, though, and had been a great surrogate for Thayer’s folks, lost three years ago to a boating accident.

Settling cross-legged in front of the coffee table, he got his pencils lined up, the regular graphite for fixed attributes, the colored pencils for anything he might experience up in. XP was vital to the kind of cleric he liked to play.

He gave the dice a couple of rolls across his velvet tablecloth. Yes. Those were some good numbers. Okay. A cleric. Not a Paladin this time. Thayer didn’t want to have to do that whole legal and righteous thing. Not a monk, either. That got boring. Ooh, maybe someone who healed with sex magick, since he was just running this one for himself. Dude, maybe he should write this up for the Nifty archive instead of trying to sell it to a gaming publisher.

For some reason, he ended up with physical characteristics very close to his own: black hair, gray eyes, five-nine-ish and not too buff. Okay, skinny. From there he let the dice give him exceptional charisma, dexterity and magical ability. He had good stamina, too, if no strength and not much wisdom. He never allowed himself less than average intelligence, though. Too many characters wound up dead from being beautiful but stupid.

When he had a complete character, one with major traits and minor psychoses, with attributes and skills aplenty, Thayer sat back and smiled, really pleased with how the dice performed. They had warmed to his hands, the numbers seeming to glow brighter every time he touched them. He reached out to stroke them, watching his fingers come in contact with each stone. “You just needed love, didn’t you?”

The gold imprints in the dice flashed bright, almost like lightning, the room starting to spin. Thayer gasped, his body shaking with the impact of the shock wave that seemed to come from the stones, and his eyes rolled back in his head. He got out one sharp cry before he slumped over to one side, the whole room going dark.

Monday, May 12, 2014



When fifteen year-old Hawke feels fed up with not being able to walk, he escapes in his mind to a misty island filled with moorlands, ancient forests, and monolithic stones: a place where he can move and run and accomplish heroic quests.

His life is turned upside down, though, when he's thrust into this dream world and finds it real! He becomes 'Star Catcher.' The job? Track and collect shooting stars or meteors sent from a more advanced civilization, which have powers that protect the island from approaching evil. He finds many helpers along the way: a serving girl who can communicate with animals and create light, an alluring mermaid, a savvy one-eyed crow, and an old farmer with a secret.

Hawke must also discover what's going on inside the imposing mansion called Moon House. Why do rooms change? Why do objects mysteriously shift? Who lives inside the old forest behind the place and why is the Star Catcher forbidden to enter it? And most importantly, who are Hawke and his stars really battling against? An evil genius? A pirate-like group called the Shrikers who have taken over the island? An Ancient Magic? Or, maybe an aspect of himself?


Hawke turned away from the Hedgerow Trail and found the rock path leading to the cove, the place where all of his adventures began. He scrambled down upon it, and after a few minutes, stood watching the waves, green and glassy, curling into the shore. The water looked clearer even than before, reminding Hawke of pictures he had seen of Caribbean waters, full of all the blues and greens that could be concocted on a painter’s palette. Hawke drew forward, peering down to the ocean’s bottom. He remembered the feel of warm saltiness, the healing properties of the water’s liquid massage. Kind of like the moving fingers of the nurses at home, except that this sea treatment worked. It had actually worked.

He carefully set his satchel into an alcove between rocks, and marked the spot with the fragment of an old gray scallop shell. Ripping off his Moon House clothes, he waded out a little way and then dove forward, splashing and kicking. ‘I am free,” he whispered the words aloud, feeling a need to define the moment.

Swimming a few more strokes, he decided that this cove was the only place he felt truly at peace, truly himself. Not at Moon House, not in Archenwood, certainly not at home in his hospital bed. A fish swam by and nibbled at his toes. A head with tangled copper locks surfaced in front of him. The mermaid!

“Aha! The Star Catcher returns. And no one is free,” she said. The mermaid drew closer, radiating a clarity and vividness. Did these qualities emanate from her specifically, or from the environment around her? Was her hair really such a pure copper hue? Her eyes, such a crystal blue-green color? She flaunted salt and sunlight on her face.

Looking into those eyes, Hawke lost his shyness and began to feel bold…even, reckless. “I am free,” he told her. “At least for now. And you. You are free.”

“Perhaps. At least for now,” she echoed in her taunting, musical voice.

All at once he wanted to kiss her. Was it a possible to kiss a mermaid, same as you did a human? As if reading his intentions, she drew back, treading water. “So how goes it, Star Catcher? Are your pockets overflowing with stars?” She gazed up and down his bare chest, half out of the water, and laughed out loud.

“I’ve caught one,” he replied, turning sheepish. “It’s hard work. Really. The stars don’t just fall like rain, you know. You have to plot and plan, and be just at the right place at the right time.”

“The plotting and planning must be dreadful.” She rolled her eyes, as if making fun of him. “The Red Star. They say it brings love and joy to those who touch it. I want to see the star, to hold it in my hands. I might let you kiss me, if you’d show it to me.”

Again, she’d read his mind. He glanced at the rocks where his clothes and satchel lay concealed, and turned back to her.

The mermaid’s eyes glowed as she twisted a wavy lock around one finger. She moved a tiny bit closer, and so did Hawke to her. “The kiss first,” he demanded.

“The star first.” Her eyes shone merry but uncompromising.

Friday, May 9, 2014

LUCKY'S BREAK by Jenn Nixon

LUCKY'S BREAK by Jenn Nixon 

Lucky Series Book Two

After almost losing her uncle Phen during the investigation of her mother's murder, Felicia "Lucky" Fascino cut all ties and ran away, hoping her family would move on and forget the promises they made. Putting the past behind her has never been easy, but Lucky knows working as an assassin is slowly destroying her already fractured psyche. Staying away, especially now that her family is in danger, is the only way to keep everyone safe.

Kenji Zinn, determined to locate his ex-lover, tracks Lucky to a small island with her family's help, and finds her in a miserable and self-destructive condition. Their connection is strained after months apart, but his feelings haven't changed, and he attempts to persuade her to come home, to protect her family and keep her promise. But only Phen is able to convince Lucky that the way to get closure is finding an elusive man named Quimby and take him out permanently.

While her family continues to track their target, Lucky returns to work for the network struggling through each job, aware that pushing her family away won't bring anyone the peace they deserve. As she repairs her shattered relationships, her true feelings for Kenji are tested when she almost loses him completely. Before it's too late, Lucky realizes he's her best ally to help her finish what she started and find Quimby before he strikes again.



Lucky tried to ignore how great Kenji looked. His hair went down to his shoulders, but he kept it tied back at the nape of his neck. He still hadn’t cut it since she mentioned it to him almost a year ago. The slight shadow on his dark jaw made his ice eyes pop on his face.

“What?” she said.

“I would like to talk to you, Felicia.” He was doing more than staring at her appearance. He studied every move she made.

“And I’d like to be lying on the beach in front of my rented villa, but we can’t always get what we want…can we?” She placed a hand on her hip.

“Perhaps after dinner,” he said.

“I’m back, there’s no need for you to stick around. You did your job, collect your money or whatever it is you wanted to get out of finding me and go.”

He lurched forward, keeping tight fists at his side. “You think I have done this for money? Why are you so…?”

“So what?” she taunted before taking another long drink.

“You have an hour to get your shit out of my room.” She didn’t wait for an answer. Lucky pushed by him, went into her room, and grabbed a towel. When she got to the
bathroom, she paused without turning around. “And you can tell Elizabeth I won’t be having dinner.”

Lucky shut and locked the door behind her. She sat down on the tub, cradled her head in her hands. The only thing she could do on the flight home to keep from screaming at everyone was to remain silent. Realizing she wouldn’t be able to ignore everyone indefinitely, she had to find some middle ground. If she kept Phen and Bet at bay
and just talked business, it may work again.

Long enough to see it through.

Only problem, she had to get rid of Kenji. If he stayed, he’d sidetrack her. She wouldn’t let that happen again. He couldn’t be part of the equation anymore. Her inability to focus while around him had one to many repercussions. Besides, bringing more people into her shitty life was unfair and dangerous.

He’d probably been at the compound since the day she left. Her house became his personal base of operations. That fried her tail. Still, she was more pissed off with Phen for allowing him to stay, and of all places, her room. Lord knows how much Kenji snooped or what he had found. The thought of him going through her photos, letters, or even her sporadically recorded journal sent shivers down her back. Thinking of him sleeping in her bed gave her hot flashes.


Lucky definitely had to stay away from Kenji. He’d try to fix her. Help her. Put the pieces back in order. She didn’t want any part of it. No more distractions. All she wanted was to do her job and leave with a clean slate.


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