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Were you a fan of the Kasadya Hellhound Series by Karen Swart? Raven got her got her own series! It’s action packed like the previous series but hotter, steamier and more adult. Pre-order your copy now.
Have you pre-ordered your copy? Coming this Thursday, Karen Swart’s Archangel’s Desire will be releasing! #PNR #Romance
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Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/530031
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/…/show/22395727-archangel-s-desire
Genre: Paranormal Contemporary Romance
Change your destiny.
It was time for a change and I wanted to be set free.
What would it take to claim my independence and be a new, improved woman?
Jacob grunts at me. I know he hates to talk about himself and I’m making him answer this interview for The Horror Times, a periodical that highlights mystery, suspense, and all things horrific in writing. As his personal assistant, I make it my mission to keep him on track. It’s what he hired me for at first, but now, things are different.
Jacob, sitting at his desk: Why do I have to do this again? (He swivels back and forth in his chair as I pace in front of the large desk, holding my ipad in one hand and type with the other).
Pam: It’s good publicity. Your novels are doing well and with the upcoming movie, people are curious about you.
Jacob, letting his head fall back: Fine, Lilac. Ask away.
I have to smile when he calls me by my nickname. He gave it to me, and he uses it when he wants something from me. I wasn’t ready to give him what he wanted at the moment. We have work to do.
Pam: First question, can you tell me who or what inspired you to write?
Jacob: Stephen King.
Exasperated, I sigh: Not your standard answer. Something more truthful. More you.
His dark hair falls over his forehead and my hand twitches to brush it back. I can’t touch him yet, or this interview won’t get done.
Jacob, blowing out a breath: Fine. My father inspired me. Not that he was a positive force, or supportive, but because he was a less than encouraging parent who ruled by the fist. Monsters were a daily reality for me.
I stopped pacing. He was more honest than I expected. I blinked at him before I asked another question, but he was looking at the high ceiling of his study. We were back in Michigan for this interview after a long weekend in New York visiting his niece, Ella, and her boyfriend, Ethan Scott.
Pam: Anything or anybody else inspire you?
Jacob leaned forward, the chair stilled and he rested his elbows on his knees.
Softly, Jacob replied: My brother. (His head was bent forward and I crossed around the desk to stand near him. He still held a lot of guilt from what his brother had done in the past and we’d talked about how it wasn’t his fault).
My tone warned him: Jacob.
He looked up at me, shaking his head: Don’t psycho-analyze me, Pam? (When he used my name in that tone, I knew he was getting upset. He was moody, and some days I had to just roll with it. Other days, I fought back.
Pam: I’m not psycho-analyzing you. I’m just reminding you it’s not your fault.
He warned me again, this time with my nickname: Lilac, please. I’m not one of your students. Just ask the questions.
My life had changed because of Jacob. One of those things was a return to school to become a high school counselor. While Jacob loved that I was doing what I wanted, he didn’t like it when I turned my new skills on him. Unfortunately, I believed if someone had used those strategies when he was young, he might not hold all this guilt inside. He also might not be the brilliant writer that he is, either.
Moving on. Pam: Your characters are deep and labelled demented at times. How could you come up with such evil?
Jacob, as he leans back in his chair: Drugs. Alcohol. Evil family members. It wasn’t hard.
It was my turn to sigh. Drugs and alcohol was how I met Jacob. He’d been in an accident and I was the EMT to respond. It was one of many jobs I held. For some reason, he called to me, figuratively, and I did something I’d never done before, I followed up on a patient. That night began the two year relationship of my working for Jacob. Now things were different.
Pam: Can’t tell kids to take drugs and alcohol, Mr. Vincent. That wouldn’t be responsible.
Jacob reached for me as I stood at the edge of his desk and pulled me towards him. I wobbled a bit before I settled to stand between his knees. His hands were on the back of my thighs.
Jacob: When have you ever known me to be responsible? (He tried to use a sinister voice, but it didn’t work. I laughed.)
Pam: Many times. With Ella. With Jacob. With me. With us. (My voice quieted on the last words).
Jacob smiled slowly: Us. (He kissed my stomach and then his hands traveled up to my hips. He stood and lifted me to sit on the leather pad in the middle of his desk. He now stood between my knees).
I continued my interview, even though his hands were smoothing up and down my thighs. A burning sensation trailed behind his touch and I was ready to give in, but not yet.
Pam: It’s often said you are a recluse. What do you have to say to that?
Jacob: I’m a private man. (He leans forward and runs his nose under my jaw. Moaning softly, he whispers.) You smell delicious.
My head tilts to allow him better access and then I cough a little to remind him we need to finish.
Pam: That doesn’t exactly answer the question.
Jacob, pulling back to look me in the eyes: If you want me to mention Ella and how I brought her here to protect her, I’m not going to comment.
That wasn’t what I intended, nor did I think the interviewer wanted that answer. Jacob would never reveal publicly that he thought it best to hide his niece in my small home town in order to help her heal from the horrors of her senior year. I adored Ella and I wouldn’t want to share her situation either.
Interrupting my thoughts, Jacob kissed the other side of my neck: Let’s talk about you.
I giggle as removes the ipad from my hands, then rubs his hands around my neck and under my hair.
Pam: The interviews not about me.
Jacob: Well, the interview is about me, and you are a part of me now. (He kisses me tenderly before making it more aggressive. We can go from zero to one-hundred in minutes and I knew we had to stop or we’d be reenacting a scene from our past on this desk again.)
Pushing Jacob back: What about me, then?
Jacob: What made you fall in love with me? (He was serious but his tone was playful.)
Pam: That won’t be in the interview.
Jacob: Humor me.
Pam: I felt like you were a lost soul. Despite being highly attracted to you…
Jacob interrupting: Highly attracted?
Pam: Yes. (I squeak as Jacob pulls me to the edge of the desk. He’s lined us up even though we aren’t touching. Yet.) I felt like you had secrets deep inside.
Jacob: Deep inside? (He narrows his eyes at me. It’s a trait often reserved for when he wants to make something known he’s serious.)
I sighed: And then when you took care of me. When I was sick. I learned that you were really sweet despite the moodiness.
Jacob, pulling back a bit as he nudged his hips forward: You think I’m moody?
Pam: You know I do. (I laughed.)
Jacob: Let’s go back to those other words. Highly. Deep. Inside. (He leans forward and he knows he’s tempting me. I’m so attracted to Jacob it scares me, but he’s just as drawn to me. He was constantly touching me before anything happened, and now it’s endless.)
Pam: I’d rather hear other words. Love, perhaps? (Jacob’s hands return to my hips and he kisses me on the shoulder).
Jacob: I love you, Lilac. Is that what you want to hear?
Pam: That will do, Mr. Vincent.
Jacob: You know it’s still kind-of hot that you call me that even though you don’t have to anymore. Actually you never had to be so formal with me.
I did have to be that formal, though. It was a way to protect myself. I had to keep our relationship professional. Jacob was too much of a temptation for me in the past and I was tired of being tempted and disappointed by men.
Jacob: When do I get to call you Mrs. Vincent?
I sigh and turn my head to look out the floor to ceiling glass window that holds the most glorious view of Lake Michigan, but he uses his fingers to force me to look at him.
Pam: Soon. We have Jess and Emily’s wedding first.
His fingers intertwine with mine and he glances down at my hand. He raises it to kiss my knuckles, then set our hands back on my thigh.
Jacob: I’m a very patient man.
I laugh hard: You are not.
His caramel colored eyes darken and his mouth crooks up on one side: I’ve been known to take my time. (His eyes narrow to emphasize his point. He has learned to take things slow, but he knows I wouldn’t complain if it’s fast either).
Jacob: I think it’s time to end this interview?
Jacob had a way of asking a question that was more a suggestion. He was kissing me again.
Still touching his lips: Want me to set you free, huh?
Jacob: I want to set you free. Free of these clothes.
He was a jokester when things got too serious for him and the interview had been more serious than he cared to share.
Pam: Alright, Mr. Vincent. You’re free.
Jacob: Not yet. (And I heard the clink of his belt unbuckle and the unzip of his jeans). I want to set you free, too, Lilac. (His mouth was against mine again, his tone more serious).
Pam: You already do, Jacob. You already do.
Teenager Marjorie Emery eluded death. As she struggles to get her life back on track, she believes her efforts are paying off. Yet, when a black dressing, unfriendly, and incredibly handsome hottie walks into her classroom, she’s forced into a tailspin. Marjorie has no idea how much his presence is going to shatter what little tranquility she’s achieved.
Kyran Rousseau’s gloomy nature has a name, one that is potentially fatal under the right circumstances. His family harbors secrets and does everything to protect Kyran. While, he does’t want to ruin Marjorie’s normal life, love has a way of changing his plans.
Falling for Kyran is the least of Marjorie’s worries. With a faceless threat hunting her and a boyfriend who’s as dangerous as he is good looking—how can Marjorie and Kyran keep all hell from breaking loose before it’s too late?
After several numbers, Kyran led me back to our table and offered to bring me a bottle of water. As he walked away, I couldn’t help but stare at his tall form. Kyran was stunning. I never got tired of complimenting him, even if I never actually said it aloud. As he made his way toward the
counter, women turned to ogle him. Women with dates still stopped to stare at him, much to the disapproval of the men standing beside them. For a fleeting moment, I couldn’t help but feel pleased having him as my date. He was quite possibly the most handsome guy in the entire café.
As I continued to wait for Kyran to return, I fanned my face with one hand, trying to cool myself down. It was incredibly hot inside the crowded room and I was beginning to sweat. I’d danced so much I had become tired and my feet started hurting. Oddly enough, Kyran hadn’t so much as broken a sweat.
The band began to play their last song for the night when I felt Kyran lightly touch my arm. I looked up to see him offering me an ice-cold bottle of water. Relieved, I took the bottle and opened it. The water felt good as it traveled down my throat, and I nearly swallowed half the bottle in one gulp. Embarrassed, I glanced over at Kyran. He didn’t appear to notice, since he was watching the band. He sat so close I could feel the warmth emanating from his body.
Wasn’t he hot? He was wearing a jacket and I wasn’t. I was hot and sweaty, but he wasn’t. Not only were Kyran’s mood swings completely unpredictable but so, apparently, were the sudden changes in his body temperature. It all seemed so strange to me, but I kept all comments and questions to myself.
Kyran’s gaze turned from the band back to me and I smiled as he glanced my way. My heart leapt inside my chest when he removed a stray lock of hair from my face and tucked it behind my ear. His hand caressed my cheek, leaving an imprint wherever it touched. I leaned against his hand as it moved up and down my face, drowning in the feel of it. The music was still going, the room was still dark, but none of that mattered as Kyran and I felt like the only two people in the otherwise filled café. When Kyran leaned forward and pressed his lips to mine, I felt a sudden bolt of energy run right through me. It was the most unbelievably pleasant experience I’d ever had by far. His lips sought mine and I returned the caress. My ears became deaf to anything but the loud pounding of my heart.
Kyran’s hand shifted from my cheek to the back of my head, bringing my face closer to his, and therefore having a better angle to kiss me. I didn’t resist; if anything I returned his kiss with as much hunger as he was kissing me. I found myself bunching my fists in his shirt and bringing him down toward me. It was a sweet and passionate kiss, far better than I had imagined. My body buzzed all over and my hands itched to touch and explore him. The kiss ended abruptly when we heard the music die down and many people started to cheer for the amazing band. Embarrassingly, up to that point I hadn’t even bothered to ask what the band’s name was. Self-consciously, we glanced around to see if anyone had noticed our brief lapse, but apparently no one had. Not a single person was paying any attention to us.
….immortality is a curse….release is an impossibility…and love is the one thing I cannot have.
Forbidden or not, I am determined to save my only ray of hope, regardless of what it’ll cost me.
The moment I met Marjorie I knew she was the one thing I couldn’t have, but that didn’t stop us from bonding. The problem is I’m as much of a threat to her as the alpha hunting her down.
Now that I’m fighting against the clock to save her from an invading pack, I realize the only way to protect her from danger—including myself—is by letting her go. But will my sacrifice be in vain? Can I let her go knowing she’s the only one that can save me?
I inch closer to her until our shoulders touch, wishing that my proximity will calm her nerves somewhat. I’m in need of closeness between us too and I secretly hope she feels the same way. Our faces come within inches of each other’s and I’m suddenly tempted to move in and kiss her. I know I shouldn’t. Not after showing symptoms of yet another relapse, but I’ve never been able to resist Marjorie.
She has been my one true weakness since day one. I tried to stay away. I tried to fight off the attraction, but that didn’t work out so well. I don’t want to anymore anyway.
In some cases, giving in is so much easier than fighting back.
“Marquis called a few family members and longtime friends. Lone wolves mostly,” I explain, but I’m not even a hundred percent sure I’m making any sense. My eyes have zeroed in on Marjorie’s lips and I think I might just kiss her. I want to. And I know she wants it too.
I can hear the blood rushing through her body. I can see the rapid pulse of the vein in her neck, which indicates a physical response to whatever is going through her head.
“You know…we rarely have these moments alone. We should really take advantage of them when they do present themselves.”
I smile. Her logic is irrefutable and hard to argue with, but she doesn’t know what happened a little while ago. She has no idea how severe this relapse was. Even I don’t know if I’ll take a one eighty turn any second now.
“We’re not really alone.” I should move away, but I don’t because she’s right. We don’t have that many moments to be together without a third party keeping watch. And in the next few days, we may not have any alone moments at all.
With this in mind, I move closer until a space of about an inch keeps our lips from making contact. “Gage is outside in the hall,” I inform her.
Marjorie’s hand releases mine and moves up my arm to my shoulder before moving up to the side of my face where it rests on my cheek. She’s smiling, and her smile is sweet and at the same time, timid.
“I figured that, but he’s not in the room with us.” She wiggles her eyebrows suggestively.
I lose all sense of self-control when her smile turns wicked. She wants to be kissed and I aim to oblige.
Hidden lies…hidden demons…hidden battles…All leading to the ultimate sacrifice….
She knows what really brought me here.
She knows the ulterior motives that lead to our friendship.
She doubts what’s in my heart.
What she doesn’t know…all I’m willing to sacrifice in order to ensure eternity for her.
On the brink of putting a face to our enemy, I may have screwed up myself even more. As it turns out, now I’m battling not only an alpha with an uncanny ability to hide where no one can find him, but my own inner demons as well. Physically challenged, my only chance is to rely on two things: my brother and my love for her.
In the end, will Marjorie comprehend the depth of my sacrifice? Or will her pride get in the way of understanding…and her life?
She stands and takes a hasty step away from the table. “You lied to me.”
“Let me explain.” I stand after her. She looks like she’s about to bolt and I intend to stop her. The last thing I want is to keep her here against her will but I can’t risk her being out there less protected and more vulnerable. “There’s more to it than that.”
“No. There’s not. You lied to me. You all did.” In a fraction of a second, she turns and glowers at Alexis. “How could you? Why didn’t you think I could handle all this? What kind of inept person do you people think I am?”
Alexis scampers to his feet. “Marjorie our motives were purely—”
“Don’t. I suspected from the beginning you were all hiding…I just can’t fathom. I should have kept my distance when I suspected you of lying, but I stupidly thought you didn’t want to hurt me.” Marjorie struggles to hold back tears. “I was wrong all along.”
She retreats without another word, limping out of the
kitchen and to the sunroom. I have no clue where she intends to go since she can’t drive and
her house is at least a ten minute drive from ours, but I am compelled to follow her anyway.
Grabbing her arm, I whirl her around to face me as I pin her to the opposite wall—out of view of my family in the next room.
“Marjorie, you can’t leave.” I inch closer until our lips are a scarcely a couple of inches apart. “We don’t want to hold you against your will, but we are trying to protect you.”
“You can’t keep me here.” Her voice clearly conveys her level of anger.
I don’t want to be in this position but I have no choice. For her own safety, I can’t let her leave. She’s more at risk out there than she is in here.
“I will if I have to.”
Kristy Centeno is an author of paranormal romance, young adult, new adult, horror, and contemporary romance.
She has always had a passion for books and after years of being an avid reader, she decided to transform her desire to write into a reality and thus, her first novel was born. In her journey to create memorable reads, she has delved into several genres, creating fictional characters meant to entice readers and captivate the mind.
She is currently working on finishing off the Keeper Witches series among other projects, which include sequels to her published work. When she’s not busy taking care of her five children or holding down the fort, she finds time to sit and do what she loves the most: writing.
Lily Coltrane’s to-do list for starting university life is pretty simple:
1. Make friends
2. Meet a cute guy
3. Survive her first year in Modern History
In the little English town of Piketon this seems more than achievable, so much so that Lily even joins The Illustrious Minds Literary Society, an extra-curricular club that promises a truly unique social experience. What Lily doesn’t bank on are the society’s monthly visits to the mysterious Theatre Imaginique at the edge of town, a dark venue that houses the most obscure cavalcade of carnival performers she has ever laid eyes on.
Stranger still is the emergence of the theatre’s enigmatic proprietor Lemarick Novel, a stupendous showman with a frosty wit who never seems to smile, and who raises a plethora of questions in Lily’s fearful mind. How does he levitate with no sign of wires or mirrors? Why do the lightning bolts that shoot from his hands look so real? And why, of all the people in the theatre, do his pale eyes keep locking on hers?
The answers to this and more lie buried in heritage and blood. The Book of Shade is opening, and Lily Coltrane will read it, whether she wants to or not.
“Ladies and gentlemen, your raucous applause, if you please, for the sensational Monsieur Novel!”
The audience obeyed the MC’s command, but when Baptiste had vacated the spotlight, nobody came to the stage. It wasn’t until the last clap died, some moments later, that Lily heard footsteps clicking along the old theatre boards. The illusionist stepped from total blackness into the shadow at the edge of the stage, and even craning her head only afforded Lily the frame of a man in a long Victorian coat. The tense air in the dated theatre was thick enough to be sliceable, and every spectator breathed in their portion of that heavy air, in anticipation of the moment when the odd Monsieur would step into the spotlight.
Novel did not disappoint them. A shock of lightning appeared from nowhere at all and in the split-second that it flashed he appeared for the waiting patrons to see. It seemed as though the contents of the theatre gasped as a single being, even those who must have seen him before were transfixed in shock. His eyes were cast into black, shadowy sockets by the bright white spotlight pouring down from above. Skin pale as a spectre’s was exaggerated by the darkly drawn eyebrows arching into points above those gloomy hollows. His lips too were black as coal, a superb effort in stage makeup that reminded Lily of a haunting cross between a French mime and a black-and-white movie serial killer. She didn’t know which to be more afraid of.
Perhaps more astonishing still was Monsieur Novel’s hair. It was long enough to be combed behind his ears, though it did not grace his neck, and in the dusty spotlight it appeared to be totally white. It was a strange whiteness, for even through his make-up, Lily thought that the gentlemen couldn’t be more than ten years her senior. The illusionist’s black mouth stretched into a serious sneer as he surveyed the awestruck crowd. He held out one pale hand with a slow and deliberate grace. Tiny blue sparks grew in his palm as he swept the hand from left to right in welcome.
“Good evening,” he purred in the darkest of tones.
And this time the lightning came straight from his palm when it exploded into life.
The dumbstruck crowd suddenly applauded in a blast of appreciation, but Lily’s hands remained still, clutching the sides of her chair. Novel stalked the very edge of the stage like a patient predator, the invisible orchestra striking up as the beams of lightning shot about the cavernous space in time to the music. He appeared to be controlling them, but his thin frame and well-fitted suit left no space in which to hide any apparatus on his body. Occasionally, he seemed to lose control of the larger forks of electricity which shot out towards the audience in frighteningly loud snaps. The patrons flinched as the whip of energy crackled above them.
All the while Monsieur Novel’s expression remained dark and thoughtful. Not once did his lips rise into a smile. They simply sneered continually at the power he was controlling, parting for him to suck in precisely choreographed breaths when he turned in his display of perfect grace, avoiding every spot the forks could hit. A few patrons in the front row, perhaps those who had never seen him before, were starting to panic at the multitude of power growing rapidly on the stage before them, with no reasonable explanation in sight. It looked like a major fire hazard for sure. One of them tried to get up.
“I would kindly recommend you stay in your seat for this performance, good sir,” Novel said loudly over the buzz of the lightning strikes. “It could be rather nasty for you, if you don’t.”
There was something foreign lurking in the shadows of his accent. Perhaps he had been living in England a long time, but he definitely wasn’t from around these parts. His voice had an amused kind of youth in it that didn’t suit his skeletal pre-modern look, and though he gazed upon the terrified patron as he sat back down in his chair, he still didn’t let the mirth in his warning show on his face.
All at once the lightning stopped. Novel stood in the dead centre of the stage, looking down at his feet with his shadowed eyes. Lily caught her breath as the flicker of hot white energy grew beneath his feet, sparking and growing into a ball of buzzing power. He thrust out his pale hands, raising them upwards as he slowly began to levitate into the air. Lily could see no wires to hoist him, and his clothes didn’t move as though they were under any strain. He simply rose up in a slow, straight line as the lightning ball grew larger and larger in the space where he’d been standing. In his ascent, his face was lit from under his chin and Lily finally saw a pair of pale blue eyes glowing out of the black sockets on his face.
And they glowed directly at her.
She started in her seat, shocked to find his gaze so blatantly fixed. She would have sworn the floating man had raised one of his black eyebrows at her, but a moment later the lightning ball exploded with a deafening crack that made the entire contents of the theatre sink down into their seats and clutch their heads in wild panic. When Lily looked up again, Monsieur Novel was gone. Someone behind Lily broke the shocked silence of the audience by starting to applaud. Gasps erupted as some of them looked beyond her to the source of the clap, then suddenly everyone was giving an ovation.
Lily craned her head around, almost jumping out of her skin when she realised it was Monsieur Novel sitting in the seat directly behind her. He had started his own applause. He sat with a casual grace, an elegant hand accepting the praise as he slowly got back to his feet and straightened out his beautiful clothes. Once more his frosty blue eyes snapped to Lily. She wanted to look away, but it just didn’t happen. Novel inclined his head to the rapt audience without breaking his stare, then swiftly retreated up the theatre aisle, his long coat billowing in another invisible gust of air.
Shadeborn: Volume Two provides a unique insight into the past of some of your favourite Book Of Shade characters, through two spine-tingling novellas:
The Bloodshade Encounters shows readers where present and past collide, as they learn the dark history of how the charming and enigmatic Baptiste Du Nord came to know Lemarick Novel. Prepare for vampires on the streets of revolutionary Paris, and the day when Novel first laid eyes on the Theatre Imaginique. Amidst all this, a dark secret about Novel is unearthed, one which may threaten his relationship with Lily in the future.
The Songspinner begins with the present-day Salem Cross, now weak and powerless, as the old shade looks back on his life, and the dirty deals he made to try to make a success of himself. Witch-trials loom in Salem’s murky past, and werewolves roam the streets of Victorian London, not to mention a certain dark lady who would one day become the mother of the heroic Novel. Can Salem face the demons of his past, or bear the thought of a future with no magic? Or will he decide that the end of his time has come?
When humans break a mirror, the idea of seven years of bad luck is little more than superstition. But, when it happens to a magical being like a shade, that quaint old saying takes on a terrifying new reality. As Lily Coltrane looks down at the smashed remains of Lemarick Novel’s mirror, she can already feel that her luck is about to run dry, even though her illusionist boyfriend is certain that he can protect her. With a suicidal Salem Cross on red alert and newly-disabled best friend Jazzy to look after, Lily’s not so sure that Novel is right.
Lily’s suspicions will be confirmed in this, her second year of university, as the quiet English town of Piketon is flooded with a new array of supernatural beings, including Jeronomie Parnell, a gifted potioneer who seems to have solutions for Salem and Jazzy’s conditions. Suspicion fills the air at the old Theatre Imaginique, as Lily uncovers yet more secrets about the people she thought she knew. The question of who to really trust will bombard Lily’s mind, especially after she is introduced to the horror that is the House of Novel, and is forced to question the bloodline that her new true love comes from.
It seems like having a soul mate isn’t quite the ideal that Lily dreamed it would be, and she can only hope that The Book Of Shade will give her the power to get through the trials that she’s about to face. And as for the even greater darkness, slowly rising in the depths of that ruined mirror? Well, that’s quite another story for Lily to unfold.
K. C. Finn was born and raised in Cardiff, South Wales, where her love for storytelling grew at a precociously young age. After developing the medical condition M.E. / C.F.S., Kim turned to writing to escape the pressures of disabled living, only to become hooked on the incredible world of publishing.
As an author for Clean Teen Publishing and Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Press, Kim spends most of her time locked in the writing cave with an obscenely large mug of tea. When not writing, she can be found studying for her MA in Linguistics, watching classic British comedy, or concocting evil schemes in the secret laboratory in her attic.
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Dakota Madison and Sierra Avalon team up to bring readers a new breed of antiheroes…THE NINES.
Vengeance is mine not the Lord’s. It’s what I breathe for. It’s what I’m still living for. I live for the moment when I will literally have his eye for mine. It’s been two years. Two long and difficult years, but my plan is nearly complete. When I’m not in a hospital having doctors try to repair my ravaged body I spend my time on the computer, doing hacking jobs for large corporations and governments who don’t want to get their hands dirty or be associated with a job if things go sideways. But they don’t have any reason to worry. I’m meticulous, so I’ll never get caught. Just one thing stands in my way: The mysterious young woman without a past who desperately wants to be part of my future. I just need to figure out why…
THE NINES is an ongoing romantic suspense series. Each book can be read as a STAND ALONE NOVEL or as PART OF THE SERIES.
Vengeance is mine not the Lord’s. It’s what I breathe for. It’s what I’m still living for. I live for the moment when I will literally have his eye for mine. It’s been two years. Two long and difficult years, but my plan is nearly complete. When I’m not in a hospital having doctors try to repair my ravaged body I spend my time on the computer, doing hacking jobs for large corporations and governments who don’t want to get their hands dirty, or be associated with a job if things go sideways. But they don’t have any reason to worry. I’m meticulous, so I’ll never get caught.
I have the one thing that most people don’t.
After I was burned it was difficult for people to look at me and when they did, it was with pity or disgust, often both.
Even my own mother.
I don’t want anyone’s pity. And I have enough disgust towards myself to last five lifetimes.
So I left everything I’ve ever known and started over on my own.
Now I spend my days and nights in the small home I inherited from my aunt when she died. I would never have chosen to live next door to a large state university. It’s often loud and there are young people everywhere. It’s a constant reminder of everything I lost. I don’t feel young anymore. I feel like an old man trapped in a twenty-year-old body. If wisdom is the gift of tragedy I’d rather be ignorant.
I rarely leave home. It’s amazing what you can have delivered to your door these days. When I do need to go outside, it’s always at night and I always wear a mask. Not like the ones kids wear on Halloween. It’s more like the one that the Phantom of the Opera wore, but my mask is black and was specially designed to cover the burn scars on the left side of my face.
My latest job is for an Eastern European mob family. Modern day computer espionage has given a whole new meaning to the term “mob hit.” There’s no blood, no violence, just five million dollars vanished from several off-shore accounts in the blink of an eye. And I get fifteen percent. Not bad for a few weeks’ work.
Is it wrong to steal from criminals? I call it karmic justice. I don’t take jobs that could hurt innocent people. I only wrong people who have wronged others.
I have the luxury of a hefty bank account and very few needs. I don’t need to work another day my entire life and I wouldn’t want for a thing. But I need to keep my mind occupied. So I take hacking jobs that interest me and I take university classes online.
Having online discussions with my virtual classmates gives me the illusion of having friends and a social life. I realize it’s a poor substitute, but it’s the best I can do given my situation.
I try not to dwell on the past. The person I was, Mr. Popularity, the Class President, the Homecoming King, died the day my body burned like a barbeque on the Fourth of July.
My life now is in the shadows. Living with the fringe dwellers on the edge of humanity. I often feel like a man whose body has died, but his mind hasn’t caught up to that fact yet.
When my computer roars I know I have an incoming message. It’s from one of my contacts in China. I get a lot of work from the Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese and don’t have the patience to learn, so I use an intermediary to broker the deals. He gets fifteen percent of every deal he mediates.
I hear the familiar buzz of SKYPE and when I click on the icon Xiang Yuan appears on the screen. He’s young, probably just a few years older than me, but much better dressed. He always wears five hundred dollar suits and I’ve never seen him wear the same one twice.
“I can get you eight hundred thousand,” he says.
I don’t reply right away. I like to play things cool.
He continues. “With your skills this job won’t take more than one week. Who else will pay close to a million for one week’s work?”
“The Russians immediately come to mind,” I reply.
“And they’ll slit your throat if you don’t deliver on time. We have much more patience than that.”
I give a hearty laugh. “You guys are saints. You’d never slit a hacker’s throat. Maybe I should tell that to Jenks. Oh, wait. I can’t. You killed him.”
“Jenks got sloppy. That’s one concern I never have with you. You’re too meticulous.”
I shake my head. “You’re just saying that because you need me to take the job.”
“You’re the best person for the job,” he corrects.
“I’m the only guy you’ve got left.”
“Nine hundred thousand. But that is the final offer. Do we have a deal?”
I nod. “We have a deal.”
“Good. Let me know when the job is completed.”
“Don’t I always?”
Xiang Yuan doesn’t bother with a reply. He simply disappears from the screen.
I don’t need the money, but it’s an easy job that will probably only take a few days’ work. They’re offering close to a million for it. It’s not something I can refuse.
I rise and take a stretch away from my laptop. Sometimes it starts to feel like an appendage and that’s when I know I need a little time away from it. I step into the kitchen and make a fresh pot of coffee. While it’s brewing I glance out my kitchen window. My aunt liked to garden and the backyard is like a small sanctuary. I like to look at the plants and flowers, but I can’t be bothered with the maintenance. I have a gardener who comes by once a week to trim and weed and do whatever else needs to be done to keep it looking nice. I’ve never actually met the man, but I leave a check in an envelope for him under a mat on the back porch.
From my kitchen window I also have a slightly obstructed view of the small street I live on. The fact that it’s Macedonia Boulevard and my name is Alexander is a coincidence that is not lost on me.
The house is one block removed from one of the major thoroughfares the students frequent, so it’s not as noisy as it could be for being so close to campus. I’m still just a few blocks away from some of the dorms and much of the off-campus housing.
I’m surprised to see a beautiful girl, carrying a backpack, stop right next to my house. I have no idea who she is, or why she’s stopped there, but she looks lost.
Her long, dark hair moves slightly in the breeze and when it finally blows away from her face I can see her magnificent brown eyes and perfect pink lips. If my wishes came true and I was finally dead I know I’d be looking at the face of an angel.
I shouldn’t be standing in front of my window in the daylight staring at her. If she turned at just the right angle she could see me, and that wouldn’t be pretty. It would probably traumatize her. I need to move away from the window, but I can’t. I’m completely mesmerized by her.
When she looks at the street sign then looks up and down the block again there’s little doubt in my mind that she’s lost. I want to tell her that she’s just a block from campus. She hasn’t wandered too far afield. But I can’t leave the house, especially not in the daylight. I know as soon as she took one good look at me she’d probably run away screaming before I even had a chance to utter a word.
As she heaves a large sigh my gaze is immediately drawn to her chest. She’s wearing a pale pink sundress that fits like a glove and accentuates all of the lovely curves of her petite body. For a few moments I think about what it would be like to have my hands on her body. To touch her in the most intimate of ways. To run my fingers along her perfect, unblemished skin.
Then I chide myself for even giving in to those thoughts. There’s no use in imagining what I can never have again. Access to a woman’s body is something I lost forever. No woman would ever consider being with someone as damaged and disfigured as I am.
I considered my life over the day that half of my flesh was burned off of my body. The doctors working on me didn’t think I would live. They called it a miracle that I didn’t die. I call it a life sentence with no chance of parole.
I realized pretty quickly that my life had irrevocably changed. What I didn’t really understand until much later was the impact my injuries would have on the other people in my life.
It wasn’t until my high school girlfriend, Sara, was finally allowed to visit me that reality punched me in the face and knocked my teeth out. Sara and I had been together for over a year when it happened. She would have been burned just like me if she didn’t have a doctor’s appointment that morning and arrived late to school.
Her allergy shots kept her from dying in the blaze, or even worse, surviving it like I did.
She told me that she loved me nearly every day we were together. She was supposed to be my soul mate. We were supposed to spend our lives together.
But when she saw me in the hospital for the first time after the school bombing it was like she didn’t know me. When she looked at me all the love vanished from her beautiful brown eyes. It was like she was looking at a complete stranger.
That was the moment I knew my life as I had known it was over. Sara never came back to visit me and I never saw her again.
I spent my senior year of high school being homeschooled because I was in and out of the hospital so much. I’m smart and was always a good student so I finished all of my work early and started taking college classes in January of what was supposed to be my senior year of high school.
I traded in my high school prom and senior graduation parties for a life of worldwide hacking jobs and built my reputation as one of the best in the field of cyber espionage.
For a brief moment I panic because the girl standing outside my house turns to face me and for a second it’s almost like she can see inside of my house and she’s watching me.
But I know it’s not possible. If she really had caught a glimpse of me she would have already backed away in horror, wouldn’t she?
The girl just looks puzzled. Her head is cocked like she’s trying to figure something out. Then I see her walk towards the front of my house.
I hurry out of the kitchen and into the living room. I move the curtains on the front windows the slightest bit so that I can just make out what she’s doing. She’s standing right outside on the front walk way, staring at my front entrance.
What in the world could she possibly want with me?
Then it occurs to me. Maybe it’s not me she wants at all. Maybe she’s one of my aunt’s former students.
She looks down at a small piece of paper in her hands and then looks back up at the house. It’s almost as if she’s trying to decide whether or not she should walk up to the front door and knock.
I’m not sure what I’ll do if she does decide to knock on the door. It’s broad daylight. I only have deliveries come at night, when it’s difficult to see me, and I always leave the lights off, obscuring their view of me even further.
I hold my breath waiting to see what the girl will do. Just when I think she might make her way up to the door she takes off down the road instead.
I breathe a small sigh of relief that I don’t have to deal with her at the door. But in a small way I also feel a twinge of disappointment.
USA TODAY Bestselling author Dakota Madison is known for writing New Adult and contemporary romance with a little spice and lots of heart. She likes to explore current social issues in her work. Dakota is a winner of the prestigious RONE Award for Excellence in the Indie and Small Publishing Industry. When she’s not at her computer creating spicy stories Dakota likes to spend time with her husband and their bloodhounds at their home outside Phoenix, Arizona. Dakota also writes under the pen names SAVANNAH YOUNG, SIERRA AVALON and REN MONTERREY.
Series: Hashtag Series #4
This is not a standalone
Release date: May 18, 2015
Genre: New adult college romance
Author: Cambria Hebert
Format: Ebook and Paperback
It’s all about the #Selfie.
She was the one girl I never wanted.
Until I had her.
Something we both wanted to forget.
I got rid of the proof. The one piece of evidence that could remind us both.
At least, I thought I did.
When it shows up on the school Buzzfeed, rumors fly. Friendships are tested and the feels get real.
I don’t do relationships. I don’t open my heart.
Especially for a girl everyone knows I hate.
What happens during spring break, stays in spring break.
Until it follows you home.
By Christy Sloat
Published March 16, 2015
with anchor Group Publishing
Help us wish a happy release day to two amazing authors: Jon Messenger and Alicia Michaels. Both authors have exciting Crimson Tree Publishing novels that hit the shelves and e-readers today! Check out more information on each book below. Also, don’t forget to join the release party fun this Friday, March 13th during our TRIPLE THREAT RELEASE PARTY where we will not only celebrate the two books releasing today, but another book that’s releasing next Tuesday. Make sure to stop into the party to play games with the authors, win amazing prizes and more.
Science Fiction – Steam Punk – Paranormal
Magic is an abomination. It spread from the Rift, a great chasm hundreds of miles long that nearly split the southern continent in two. The Rift was a portal, a gateway between their world of science and the mythological world of magic.
On the northern continent of Ocker, King Godwin declared that no magical monstrosity would be allowed within their borders. The Royal Inquisitors were formed to investigate reports of mystical occurrences and, should they be found, to destroy them.
Inquisitor Simon Whitlock knows his responsibilities all too well. Along with the apothecary, Luthor Strong, they’ve spent two years inquiring into such reports of magical abominations, though they’ve discovered far more charlatans than true magical creatures. When assigned to investigate Haversham and its reports of werewolves, Simon remains unconvinced that the rumors are true. What he discovers in the frozen little hamlet is that the werewolves are far more real than he believed; yet they’re hardly the most dangerous monster in the city.
Science Fiction – New Adult – Dystopian – Action – Romance
All it takes is a spark…
Blythe Sol never would have thought she would become the face of the Restoration Resistance. Yet, that is just what has happened now that the battle lines have been drawn. With the movement sweeping the United States, the stakes are higher than ever as President Drummond continues to prove his dedication to the destruction of the Bionics and all who stand with them.
The flame has been ignited…
As anger and frustration among the American people reaches the boiling point, citizens begin to fight back, many showing their support for the Bionics… despite the personal costs to themselves. As protests turn violent, and people who once cowered in silence begin to fight back, the government continues its practices that fly in the face of the very principles the nation was founded upon.
The time has come to revolt …
Despite the many losses it has sustained, the Resistance stands strong, leading America into revolution and onward toward change. With an unlikely, ragtag family of misfits at its forefront, the Resistance stands, while a girl who lost everything continues to fight for a future that was once impossible, but may now be within her reach.