Dawn (Stronghold 3) #FirstChapter

Want to see how Saige and Isaac’s story begins? Here’s a sneak peek of the beginning of DAWN!

buy links: EvernightAmazon — BookStrand — Smashwords — KoboBarnes & NobleiBooks

Erotic Romance (MF), May/Dec, New Adult, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Suspense
Word Count: 51,850

Saige Ellis can spot a liar from a hundred yards away, and she knows her history professor is bad news. She hates the way he hides behind his stupid sunglasses and beard. She hates the way his ridiculously perfect body makes her feel. When he asks her to stay after class, she asks him what he’s trying to prove.

Isaac Dawn hates having to hide his identity, but it’s the only way he can get close to Saige without tipping everyone off about his identity as a Sentry. He knows she’s his perfect match, but she’s skittish and angry, and for good reason—her abusive father has been stalking her for years. When he asks her to give him a chance, Saige demands the truth, and he blows it.

However, when murderous aliens are real, and a mysterious shadow follows Saige home, is her demand for honesty worth her life? Can she accept Isaac’s help without losing herself?

 

First Chapter Excerpt:

“‘…in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.’” Professor Wilson placed on his desk the dog-eared book he was reading to the class.

Saige frowned at him from her spot halfway down the middle row. She didn’t like her history professor. His tendency to pace across the front of the classroom drove her mad—the energy of his movements contradicted his nerdy exterior. Shaded glasses disguised his eye color, and his messy beard concealed most of his face, but it was the hideous sport jacket that really irked her. She knew the other girls in the class thought he was cute, with his hipster mannerisms and self-deprecatory jokes, but no guy who filled out an ugly jacket that well could be a real nerd.

“Winston Churchill said those words on June 6, 1944. He was referring to the physical conditions of the invasion, but I think his sentiments are equally valid when studying the controversy of alliance.” Arms crossed, the professor leaned back against his desk and surveyed the classroom from behind his glasses. The slouchy hat he wore most days had slipped slightly sideways, lending him a faintly disreputable air. Most women would love his boyish appearance. Not Saige.

He tilted his head, and she swore he was looking at her, but of course there was no way to know with those stupid lenses on his face. His eyes just looked dark and mysterious. She stared him down anyway. No bogus professor is going to get the best of me, she thought, annoyed. After a moment, he stood up and went to the whiteboard, where he scrawled a date across the surface in red ink. “So, when the Allies hit the beach in Normandy…”

Saige barely heard the words. She knew the class material. She’d done the reading. Instead of listening, she focused on his hands. He gripped the white board marker lightly, as if used to wrestling much more complicated tools. And his handwriting was a mess, anyway. She rarely bothered to look at it. Instead, Saige glanced at the girl sitting to her right. The silly twit stared at the prof with her chin in her hands and stars in her eyes. Saige knew better. Most men were assholes at heart. Her father had certainly proven that to her enough times over the years with his drugs and booze.

“Saige? Can you tell me why?” Professor Wilson looked right at her, one eyebrow raised.

Asshole. Saige frowned harder, not caring if he could tell she didn’t like him. She didn’t need to like him to get an A in this class. She didn’t need him to like her. “Because there were a number of different leaks in the days before they actually landed in France,” she said. She knew he knew she wasn’t paying attention to his lecture. She could see it in the way he cocked his head as he listened to her answer. Screw you, Professor, she thought irritably. I know my history. This class is bullshit. Pity it was one of her general education requirements and she couldn’t avoid taking it if she wanted to graduate at the end of the semester.

“That is correct,” he said finally, turning and scrawling more dates on the board as if she hadn’t just flipped him off in her mind.

Saige sighed, not sure why her general dislike of men seemed to focus on him so intensely. It wasn’t fair of her to fixate on him. She didn’t know the guy, and she didn’t care to. He’s an oddity as a , but it doesn’t matter. You’ve got other problems to worry about, she reminded herself. Like where was she going to get the money to pay this month’s rent? She was eighty bucks short. She couldn’t move again, not with the semester only half over, and besides, there weren’t any cheaper shit hole apartments to stay in, anyway. She’d already hit rock bottom when it came to housing possibilities.

Professor Wilson erased the white board. Saige absently stared at his hands again while her mind spiraled in a completely different direction. At least dear old dad hasn’t found me again. Yet. Her classmates started gathering up their stuff, and with a start, Saige realized that the interminable class had finally ended. She slipped her notebook into her bag and slid her chair back, wincing as her back protested the movement. Thank God. I’m going to lose my mind if I have to stay in here for a minute longer. She’d was in the midst of mentally going over what she had to get done in the next few hours when the professor interrupted her exit from the classroom.

“Saige, could you hang on for a sec? I’d like to talk to you,” Professor Wilson said, unexpectedly. His eyes, hidden behind his stupid colored lenses, looked at her steadily. The expression on his face was that of a man who wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

Saige’s heart gave a hard thump against her ribs before she wrestled her response to him back down into a mild dislike instead of her usual flight-or-fight instinct. No, she did not want to talk to this guy. No, she did not have time. Her gaze strayed to his hands again. He had really nice hands. She frowned, angry with herself, and yanked her gaze back up to his face. He was leaning back against the desk at the front of the small classroom again. His pants pulled taut, showing the strong lines of his thighs.

He looks ridiculously strong, she thought, chewing on the inside of her cheek. Like he knows his way around a shit storm. She couldn’t imagine what kind of disaster this guy had ever faced in his life. She snorted to herself softly.

“?” he prompted, voice raised slightly.

“Actually, I’ve got another class,” she lied, slinging the strap from her worn canvas bag over her shoulder. “Can you just send me an email?”

He shook his head. “No.”

Saige stopped in the middle of turning to head down the center aisle. “No?”

“No, I can’t send you an email,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. The movement highlighted the thick muscles hidden beneath the ugly jacket. Not an ounce of fat swelled anywhere on his body.

Saige narrowed her gaze as she fought her body’s knee-jerk bolt of attraction to the show of muscle. She had no time to crush on a guy she disliked. “I’m not flunking,” she told him. The classroom had emptied while she stood there, wrestling with her useless attraction. The heavy door thunked against the jamb as the spring in the hinge latched it shut. Saige fought to keep from hunching her shoulders. She didn’t like being shut in like this. Her eyes flicked to the row of windows along the left side of the room. They would serve as a suitable exit if she needed to leave in a hurry. The room was on the first floor, thank God.

“I know,” Professor Wilson said, frowning. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he added.

Saige huffed. Get a grip, girl. You’re safe here. Your father is far away, and this guy has never shown even the slightest hint of aggression towards you. And besides, you’re not a little girl anymore. You don’t have to deal with anyone hitting you ever again. She slid the strap to her bag off her shoulder and wound it around her hand. “Fine. What do you want?” She did not move closer to the front of the room. If he wanted to talk to her, he’d have to come to her. And if he tried anything … well. He wouldn’t be the first guy she’d left with a broken knee. For some reason—her short dark hair, her eyes, she had no fucking clue—she seemed to attract men whether she wanted to or not. And never the good ones. She wished she’d had time to wash her hair this morning, but she’d woken up late after yet another nightmare in the middle of the night. She hadn’t even put any makeup on. Her hazel eyes probably looked bloodshot to hell and back, not that it mattered.

He sighed. “I would like to know what I’ve done to piss you off. And I’d like to apologize for it. I don’t know what I did, but I’d like to start over with you.”

Is this guy for real? Saige thought, abruptly confused. This was a new tactic. Most men didn’t start off hitting on her with an apology. When she didn’t answer, he took off his eyeglass and rubbed his eyes tiredly.

“You’re not serious,” she finally blurted out. He looked up at her without his glasses on, and she froze, staring at the insane green of his eyes. Green shot through with silver. Before she could react, he’d put the gray lenses back on. The fuck? she thought, shocked. He has the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. And he hides them. Anger swelled up in her, at war with yet another spike of arousal. He’s fucking hiding something.

“Look, Saige—” he began.

She cut him off. “I don’t like you.”

He blinked. “I know.” He laughed shortly. “That much is blindingly obvious.”

Saige didn’t care what he thought of her. “I don’t have to like you to do well in your class, and you don’t have to like me in order to teach.” She squeezed the strap of her bag until the rough canvas burned her palm. “I’m quiet. I don’t talk back, and I know the material. I don’t see the problem here.”

“How old are you?” he asked, completely out of nowhere.

“What? I don’t see what business that is—” she began angrily, but he interrupted her this time.

“How old?” He stared at her.

She scowled. “I just turned twenty-one. So what?”

He shook his head. “Christ. You’re a child.” He seemed suddenly tired.

Saige shoved down a pang of regret for being so unfriendly. She’d been burned in the past. But maybe I can meet him halfway. He hasn’t done anything wrong. “Look, I can tell you’re hiding something. I don’t react well to men who do that.” She waited, wondering how he would take her mentioning his bullshit disguise so baldly.

He stared at her, then scratched at his beard. “I’m a professor. Students aren’t entitled to know everything about my personal life.”

Saige rolled her eyes. “That is a reciprocal arrangement, Dr. Wilson.”

“You’re saying I have no right to question you?”

She nodded. “Exactly.” She watched as his face tightened with irritation, then smoothed out again. She had to hand it to him: the guy has seriously excellent control of his emotions. That was yet another thing about him that was different, in her experience. That and the fact that she could not stop obsessing over his hands, not to mention the ripped body he took such pains to hide. She didn’t need to get involved with anyone, like, ever, and certainly not with a freaking professor.

“Perhaps we can call a truce,” he said softly, snagging her attention from where it’d locked onto the breadth of his chest and transferring it to his mouth.

Saige scowled. His lips looked too damn perfect, even with the disaster of his beard obscuring his jawline. She resented feeling so drawn to him. She’d planned on never having a boyfriend, and yet here she was, at the mercy of her hormones. Traitor, she thought to her body.

“What do you say?” he pushed, when she didn’t respond.

She sighed, loudly. “I don’t know what you want me to do. I have never been anything except polite in this classroom.”

He pushed off from the desk and headed down the aisle. The closer he got, the more anxious she felt. When he stopped in front of her, she tipped her head up to look at him. Since she mostly sat in the middle of the classroom, she hadn’t realized how flipping tall he was. Jesus, she thought, mouth going dry. Maybe I dislike him not because he’s hiding something, but because he’s exactly my type, she thought, face flushing at the direction of her thoughts. Talk about inappropriate. You do not have a crush on your teacher, Saige. No. A thousand times no.

“I’ll go first,” he said, then unexpectedly took off his glasses. “No, I don’t need glasses. I wear these to hide my eye color. It tends to distract people.” He looked at her, obviously waiting for her to speak.

Saige could feel her cheeks burning. “What is this, truth or dare?” she asked, looking everywhere except into his ridiculously green eyes. He was right. She was distracted. Dammit.

He laughed. “Sure. If that’s how you want to approach this.”

Saige tried to edge backwards, but her leg hit the side of a desk. “Fine.” She lifted her shoulders. “I don’t like guys who hide things because my abusive father did that, and it got my mom and sister killed.” She wondered how he’d handle having that conversational bomb dropped on him. “He was high, and he insisted he was okay to drive them to the grocery store. The tree he hit won the argument. They died. He didn’t. End of story.”

Dr. Wilson’s smile dropped from his face. “Wow, I’m sorry,” he said, voice going soft again. “That’s terrible.”

Huh. Not bad. Compassion is rare these days, she thought, unwillingly impressed with his honest reply. “Yeah, it is.” Even so, she was still not happy to be trapped here talking about uncomfortable things. All she wanted to do was get the hell out of this damned classroom so she could have a peaceful hour’s rest before she had to go to work. Maybe he’d let her go, now that she’d answered him. She eyed his face and saw resolve in his expression. The professor wasn’t backing down. She added a few more details. “He liked drugs too much to care that he was hurting his family. He hid that shit from us for years.”

Dr. Wilson sighed, correctly interpreting her suggestive comment. “I’m not hiding a drug habit. And I assure you, I have no intention of hurting you or anyone else in this classroom. In fact, I wear these in order to protect everyone.” He lifted his glasses, then placed them on the desk. His eyes were shadowed, although the tiny silver shards that punctuated his green irises almost seemed to glow.

“That makes no sense. You said you wore them so you wouldn’t distract people,” Saige said, then clamped her mouth shut. She didn’t care. She didn’t want any more explanations. The less she knew the better, and frankly, the idea that wearing glasses would protect anyone around him was absurd. She unwound her bag’s strap from her hand and put the whole thing on the desk’s chair, then massaged her palm. If this guy moved on her, a soft bag would be no protection. He was too big. She’d have to rely on her fists. And I hope I don’t hesitate just because he has a pretty face.

Dr. Wilson lifted a shoulder. “I’ll tell you more, if you tell me more.” As if sensing her wariness, he backed off a little, then sat in one of the student chairs. “I would never hurt you,” he repeated.

Shit. He seems sincere. Saige hated that her instincts kept telling her to trust him, even as they screamed that he was hiding a lot more than just his eye color. “Fine,” she said stiffly. Unwillingly. “What do you want to know?”

He studied her. “Why do you hate men?”

Of all the questions to ask… She glared at him. “I don’t hate all men.” She looked away from his penetrating gaze. “Just … most of them.”

“I asked you why, not to tell me I was wrong,” he said, as if she hadn’t already answered his question.

She twisted her hands together. “I don’t like men because of my father. I already told you that.” Saige felt a headache coming on.

He shifted his weight, then leaned forward and clasped his hands together loosely. “Yes, I understand that, but I’m not your father. Neither is anyone else.”

Saige huffed out a breath, frustrated. “Every guy I’ve ever met just wants in my pants. Most can’t even be bothered to have a conversation with me. It’s disgusting. Not even chopping off my hair seems to deter them.” She motioned to her messy, pixie haircut.

He tilted his head. “I’m having a conversation with you right now.” He smiled and leaned back. “Sure, it’s not a fun conversation, but we’re definitely sharing words.”

And he’s not staring at your boobs, a small voice at the back of her head pointed out. “It’s not the norm,” she said, unconvinced.

His eyes raked down her body, then back up again and steadied on her face. “Most men are idiots. They see a pretty face and hair and curves and think that’s what’s important.”

“And you don’t?” she shot back. No way was she going to believe he didn’t care about those things. Saige glared at him.

“I like beauty just as much as the next man, but I value brains a hell of a lot more,” he replied seriously.

Well, shit. Saige believed him. He said the words with too much conviction to be lying. “Who are you?” She didn’t understand him. He didn’t fit in with what she’d experienced.

He chuckled. “A teacher.”

“Oh, come on,” Saige said, disgusted. After all that, he expected her to believe he was just a teacher? Yeah, right. A teacher with secrets.

“Am I not teaching History 301?” he replied, opening his arms. The hint of a smirk on his face annoyed her. “And I’m good at it. You have to admit that.”

Saige picked up her bag and slung the strap over her shoulder. “Yeah, whatever. I’m out of here.” She headed down the aisle. This time he didn’t stop her.

“This isn’t over, Saige,” he called out.

She waved a hand at him without looking back. “Whatever you say, Professor,” she muttered under her breath. She pushed out of the classroom and hurried down the hall. When she finally stepped outside, the late afternoon sunlight hit her like a brick in the face. The students around her were laughing and joking. Greenery lined the sidewalks, and ponderosa pines dotted the city view. “Ugh. Welcome to high altitude happy town.” Sometimes she really hated living in Flagstaff.

 

Get the other two books in the series!

Stronghold 1 — Dark

Stronghold 2 — Dusk

DAWN (Stronghold 3) excerpt!

Releasing June 9, 2017!

Erotic Romance (MF), May/Dec, New Adult, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Suspense

Saige Ellis can spot a liar from a hundred yards away, and she knows her history professor is bad news. She hates the way he hides behind his stupid sunglasses and beard. She hates the way his ridiculously perfect body makes her feel. When he asks her to stay after class, she asks him what he’s trying to prove.

Isaac Dawn hates having to hide his identity, but it’s the only way he can get close to Saige without tipping everyone off about his identity as a Sentry. He knows she’s his perfect match, but she’s skittish and angry, and for good reason—her abusive father has been stalking her for years. When he asks her to give him a chance, Saige demands the truth, and he blows it.

However, when murderous aliens are real, and a mysterious shadow follows Saige home, is her demand for honesty worth her life? Can she accept Isaac’s help without losing herself?

 

Story Excerpt:

“Jesus, I hate these stupid glasses you wear,” she said unexpectedly, reaching up and pulling them off. She tossed the useless lenses onto her bed next to her cell phone. “You make me crazy.” She punctuated her words with a finger poking his chest. “Why are you being so nice to me?” She ended up with her palm pressed against him. “I’m not a good person.”

“You’re not a bad person, Saige.” Isaac said, almost holding his breath. This close up she couldn’t fail to see the silver shards in his green irises, but would she put the clues together? Right now, she had no idea who he really was. A voice at the back of his head told him that she’d figure it out soon. Saige wasn’t a stupid girl.

No, she isn’t a stupid woman, he corrected himself. The female looking up at him had too much life experience and determination to be anything other than a fully grown adult. “Saige,” he said, voice going low. “What are you doing?” His cock hardened as her warmth seeped through his clothes, and he shifted slightly so she wouldn’t feel it. God help him, he wanted her with a desperation bordering on insanity. Her emotions skittered over his senses, and he almost stopped breathing when he sensed her arousal suddenly spike.

“Shut up, Isaac.” She slid her arms around his neck and pulled his head down. “I’m going to regret this,” she muttered, and then she put her lips against his.

She smelled like mint. Isaac shuddered, and then he pulled her tight against his body, seizing control of the kiss. He coaxed her lips open, dipping inside when she gasped.

“Holy moly,” Saige said, voice breathy.

“You have no idea what you do to me,” Isaac said, hands splayed across her shoulder blades. “You’re playing with fire.” She felt so tiny against him, but her energy put the lie to her physical appearance. Her small frame held enough spirit for someone three times her size. He kissed her again, cock throbbing against her hip.

“God, you drive me nuts,” she said when he came up for air. She pushed his jacket off his shoulders. “Look at you. You have muscles on top of your muscles. And you hide them and pretend like you’re some nerdy academic.”

Isaac shrugged the jacket to the floor, wanting to feel her soft curves closer to his skin. “What are you talking about? I like this jacket. It’s comfortable, not nerdy.”

“It totally is nerdy,” she retorted, and then she kissed him again, clearly determined to steal every last shred of control that he had left.

Isaac slid his hands into her hair and nibbled her lower lip. “Fuck.” He couldn’t get enough of her. Energy flickered through his body like lightning on a hot summer day. “Are you sure about this? You were just flipping out over your father.” He hated having to remind her about the phone call, but he didn’t want her to want him for the wrong reasons.

“Yeah, I’m sure. And I know this is so stupid,” Saige said, panting as she leaned into him, wiggling her breasts against his chest. “You’re my professor. This is not a good idea.”

Isaac groaned and picked her up. She squeaked, but then she wrapped her legs around his hips, canting her body just right to rub against his erection. “Fuck, Saige. We have to stop.”

“Ha. Too late. I’ve made up my mind.” Saige had her hands in his hair. “Oh, I hate your beard, too, by the way.”

That surprised a laugh out of him. “I don’t normally wear it this scraggly.” He staggered to the door, then pressed her against it. Her softness felt like heaven against his torso.

“Of course you don’t. Another pointless disguise,” she said, eyes bright with desire.

“Shit. Be sure, Saige. I’m losing the ability to care whether this is stupid.” Isaac slid his hands under her ass, squeezing until she trembled. She’s on some kind of emotional rebound, and this probably won’t help her, his mind reasoned, but his body had other ideas. His hips jammed up into her, grinding against her core.

“I’m sure we should stop, but I’m not going to.” She licked her lips, eyes fastened on his mouth. “You should shave that thing.”

“Fuck.” Isaac kissed her again, effectively shutting her up. I’ll trim it tonight, he vowed, like an idiot. She clung to him as he rolled his hips. Her arousal pushed his higher, and before he could figure out what was happening, he was on the edge of orgasm. “Jesus,” he said, voice shaking. “I’m so fucking close. You make me crazy, Saige.” With a supreme effort of will, he lurched away from the door and managed to stagger across the room. He dropped her on her mattress, going to his knees as he did so. As he’d suspected, her skin and eyes looked almost incandescent against the green of her bedding. “Beautiful,” he breathed, kneeling between her legs.

“Off,” she said, fighting with the snap on his jeans.

He put his hands over hers. “Saige.” He licked suddenly dry lips. He had a feeling that if they did this, nothing would be the same. Her emotions were all over the place: arousal, need, fear, frustration. It made him want to protect her even more. Is this how Greyson felt when he met Eva? he wondered.

“What?” She sounded cranky.

He smiled, amused by her belligerence. “I’m going to ask you one more time: are you sure you want to do this? There’s no going back if we do. This isn’t a hookup.”

“No going back where? It’s not like we’re getting married, Isaac,” she retorted impatiently. Her fingers yanked on his pants.

Shit. She has no idea. He exhaled as his empathy picked up on her uncertainty, despite her words. “This won’t be a one-time thing for me, Saige. I’m not a hookup kind of guy. And you’re the one who was freaking out because I’m your history professor. Be sure.” He leaned down and kissed her softly. God, he wanted to devour her. To make her scream. “I want you, but if we do this, I don’t want you to regret what you discover about me.”

Her Dangerous Mistake #FirstChapter PEEK!

buy links: Evernight — Amazon — BookStrand — Smashwords — Barnes & NobleiBooks

   

Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Shifters, May-Dec, Rubenesque, Suspense
Word Count: 52,000

Moira is on the run—her apartment has been trashed, her bank account hacked, and someone is stalking her. Only one man is dangerous enough to keep her safe … that is, if she can convince him to help her. Neil Deven used to be her father’s best friend until betrayal turned him violent. Neil disappeared, and finding him might be the biggest mistake of her life, but Moira won’t survive alone.

Neil remembers Moira as a sweet little girl caught in the middle of her father’s criminal life. The gorgeous woman who shows up at his door is anything but a child, but he’s already got problems. Dragon shifters are a dying race with no way to change form, yet Neil’s powers keep growing. And Moira stirs long lost instincts—he can’t deny her need. He must protect the woman who will be his mate, or die trying.

What are people saying about Her Dangerous Mistake?

Reader review from Facebook:

“I like your use of Prohibition Era passages. And that teleportation thing? Unexpected, but even more so was your description of how she felt afterwards. Your attention to detail in that moment was amazing. … how did you convey her transformation and her emotions so beautifully??? OMG, it was like I was in her head, her heart.”
Chapter One Excerpt:

This is a mistake. Moira pressed a fist to her chest, but it didn’t help at all. Her heart still hammered against her ribs. She took a slow, deep breath, knowing that she couldn’t stay on this street for long, but she needed to calm down in order to figure out what to do next. And I haven’t been calm since last Tuesday. God. I need help. She stared forward, not really focusing on anything. Just beyond the bus shelter sat a long stretch of busy road. Cars zoomed by, indifferent to the poor suckers waiting to catch their daily ride to work. The rain drained the life out of everything, turning the world gray and damp.

“Miss? You dropped this.” A woman nudged Moira’s arm.

Moira startled, then turned. An older lady held out a frayed scrap of paper, folded into a small square.

Oh God, if I’d lost that… Her thoughts trailed off as she took the paper, pressing the corners into her palm until it hurt. “Thanks,” she murmured, shoving it into her jeans pocket. The edges were wet, and she hoped the water hadn’t smudged the ink.

The woman shrugged, shifting her bulging bag. She readjusted the strap automatically, not seeming to notice the weight. “No problem.” She shuffled past, then eased her overweight body onto the shelter bench and heaved out a sigh, effectively ignoring Moira.

Sensing the old woman’s exhaustion, Moira looked away. Everyone has problems. No one cares about you and your stupid life. She took another deep breath, and then made the decision she’d been putting off for the last three days. She really didn’t have any other choice. They’d trashed her apartment. Hacked into her bank account and shut off access. She didn’t own a car. Her phone had turned into a brick yesterday. She had a hundred bucks in cash, and a small backpack with a single change of clothes. You’re going to die if you don’t do this. They’ll catch you and kill you, whoever they are.

She chewed the inside of her cheek. She hadn’t set eyes on Neil Deven in fifteen years. She could hardly remember his face, and he was certain to look completely different now, anyway. She’d been only six, after all, when her father had fucked up his last good friendship with his drinking and violent rages and idiocy. Neil had been her dad’s best friend, though he had clearly been an ominous influence. What kind of man was Neil now? She had no idea, except she knew he wasn’t a safe option. Even as a girl, she’d felt something … odd about him. Something dark. Something dangerous. But isn’t that what I need? Someone who knows how to survive? Someone scary?

Shuddering, Moira shoved a hand into her pocket, fingering the edges of the paper. She’d found the address of the bar Neil owned using a computer at the library. The next thing to do was get on the bus and hope like hell he remembered the kid he used to bounce on his knee. She remembered him laughing a lot, but she also remembered him beating her dad unconscious. This is the last idea I’ve got, she reminded herself when the bus pulled up.

As she got on, the rain washed away the tears she couldn’t seem to control.

****

Neil stared at the spreadsheet, frowning. Something wasn’t adding up, but he didn’t have the time or the patience to track it down this morning. He closed the document and clicked his laptop into lockdown. Maybe he’d go over it again it later. Maybe not. He fucking hated doing the books, though he was always careful to keep a close eye on things.

“Boss, someone at the front is asking for you.”

Neil looked up. His bartender, Andy, stood in the doorway, hands full of a stack of clean bar towels.

“Who is it?” Neil leaned back in his chair and massaged the kinks out of his neck. Staring at a computer screen always gave him a headache.

“Didn’t say. It’s an older man. Distinguished looking.” Andy shrugged. “He’s wearing a pricy Italian suit.”

A hot flare of anger rippled through Neil. There was only one person he knew who wore clothes like that and would dare to come knocking on his door in the middle of the morning, when Dracona was closed. He took a deep breath, controlling his rage. Weird things had started happening around him lately when he let his self-control slip. “Thanks. Please let him know I’ll be out in a minute.”

Andy gave him a look that told Neil he knew something was up. Neil wasn’t about to enlighten his friend. He didn’t want Andy mixed up in this, whatever this turned out to be. His father wouldn’t show up unannounced on a whim. Neil sighed, rubbing his temples. His headache had increased about a thousand percent since his bartender had knocked on his door. “I’m fine, Andy. Just let him know.”

Andy grimaced, but he backed out of the office. “Sure thing, Boss.” He headed into the club’s open area, ostensibly to put away the towels and let the man know Neil was coming.

Neil stood up and walked to the front of his desk, then closed his eyes and centered himself. The last thing he needed to do was lose his temper, especially if it was his father out there. He took three deep breaths, and then he took three more. He calmed his mind. When he opened his eyes, his father was standing in the door of his office, face twisted into a mask of disapproval. He wore a grey suit, impeccably tailored, like everything else about him. The color clashed with his dark eyes, but no one would dare mention it. Neil far preferred his own battered jeans and comfortable sweater to his father’s more cosmopolitan style. Arrogance never goes out of style, he reminded himself. And dear old Dad’s got it in spades.

“Your lackey told me you would be right out, and I assumed you were busy, but here you are, doing absolutely nothing. Your lack of respect never falters, does it?” The older man stepped into the room and shut the door behind him as if he owned the place.

Neil gritted his teeth. All the work he’d done to calm himself disappeared in an instant. “Hello to you, too, Dad.” He narrowed his eyes. “Show yourself in, why don’t you? Have a seat.” His father had already lowered himself into Neil’s desk chair.

“This … establishment is beneath you,” his father replied, sweeping an arm out contemptuously. He made sure to pause on the word establishment, as if Neil gave a shit what his father thought, though the note of derision in his voice did grate on his nerves. “It is beneath the Deven legacy,” his father added.

“Dracona is a very successful business.” Neil leaned against his desk. He’d be damned if he’d sit in the frigging visitor’s chair in his own office.

“You mock your heritage,” his father growled, eyes flinty. “You named a filthy bar after our people.”

Neil sighed. His father’s opinion never changed. “Why are you here? Because if it’s to berate me about actually earning an income instead of living off some random trust fund…” he trailed off sarcastically. “Oh, yeah, that’s right. I don’t have a trust fund, do I? Because you already spent all the money my grandfather left to me. How could I have forgotten about that?” Neil raised an eyebrow, positive it would drive his father wild. Even if he never shows it. Neil smiled internally as he saw anger flash in his father’s eyes. I love pissing the old bastard off.

His father straightened his tie fastidiously, fingers a bit stiffer than they should be.

Ha. Got under your skin, didn’t I? Neil thought, pleased.

“Your mother and I have decided that it’s time for you to take your place as a Council guard,” his father said, putting his hands flat on Neil’s desk. “It’s time to stop this foolishness.”

Neil laughed derisively. Never. Not in a million years will I play servant boy to a long-dead race of arrogant has-beens. He took a careful breath, making sure that his control never wavered. “No.”

His father glared at him. “This demeaning insistence on playing human—”

“We are human. None of us have any power anymore, and you know it.” Neil stood up straight, unable to keep his pose of relaxed indifference. “None of us has shifted to dragon form in a hundred years. You and the rest of the Council are delusional.”

His father stood, eyes flashing gold. Neil snorted, unimpressed. His father had one trick: the ability to manipulate others with his mind. But not my mind. You’ve never been able to force me to obey you, and you never will, you perverse fuck. Neil glared right back at him.

“You will come home and take your place, and then we will see about a mate for you. You will continue the Deven line.” His father folded his arms across his chest as his eyes glowed brighter.

Neil stared at his father, and then laughed again, genuinely amused. “Your parlor tricks don’t work on me, remember?” He knew that if he looked in a mirror, his dark eyes would be as golden as his father’s right now. Ignoring his father’s persuasion took little effort, but it still tended to trigger the last, surviving vestige of his heritage. Or almost the last… He banished the thought to the back of his mind. Focus. “I’m immune to your voice and your eyes, as you well know.” He glanced at the clock on the wall. “Go home, Dad. I have a lot to do before the dinner rush.” He stepped back and opened the door, holding out his free arm to indicate the meeting was over. “Tell Mother I said hi.” He paused, smirking. “Oh, wait, you can’t, because you don’t even live in the same house anymore, do you? You probably had to set up a meeting with her to discuss me.”

His father growled. “You have a responsibility to your race.” He walked over to Neil, doing his best to loom over him. It didn’t work. Neil stood several inches taller than his old man. “If you continue to follow this path, you will be cast out.”

What a hardship. Not. Neil snorted. “Uh-huh. As if that means a damn thing to me.” He deliberately rolled his eyes, just to provoke his father further. “Or to anyone, for that matter. Our people are a dead species. None of us can shift, like the dragons of old. All you can do is force a bunch of poor humans and some of your own people into obeying you. No thank you. That’s not my idea of a fun time.” He jerked his head at the exit. “Goodbye. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

“You will regret this.” His father strode through the door with his arrogance wrapped around him like a suit of armor.

“Unlikely,” Neil muttered to himself as he watched his father weave through the dark wood tables. When he finally stepped out of the bar, Neil slumped against the frame of his office door. Dealing with his father both exhausted and annoyed him. And no way am I going to let myself get roped into a loveless marriage like my parents. I’d rather be single until my death, even if it means being alone for a thousand years.

“Who was that?” Andy asked, edging closer. The towels he’d been holding were gone, but he had three bottles of merlot stacked along his right arm. “He looked like a mobster.” Andy made a face. “A creepy mobster, with a sort of plantation owner vibe going on. All smug and shit. Not cool.”

“Not cool” is the understatement of the year. Neil grinned, his mood lightening. He had better friends than he deserved. “That was my father, though ‘mobster’ isn’t a bad description for him.”

Andy stared at him. “You have a father? I thought you’d sprung full grown from an egg or something. Like one of those raptors from Jurassic Park. You’re always so calm and interested looking, right up until you strike.” The twinkle in his eyes told Neil he was teasing. He certainly didn’t know about Neil’s dragon blood. No one knew of Neil’s true heritage, because it meant nothing. For all intents and purposes, he was human.

Neil laughed, letting the tension from his father’s visit slide out of him. “Sorry to disappoint you. My arrival here on Earth was much more mundane than cracking open a human-baby-sized egg, though I’m sure my mother would argue otherwise.”

Andy smiled. “Now I’m trying to imagine you breaking out of an egg. Yuck.” He pretended to gag. “That’s not a pretty image. Gunk everywhere.” He waved his free arm.

“Like from a horror movie, right?” Neil egged him on. “All claws and teeth.”

“Exactly,” Andy said, grinning. “Screaming humans, alien invasion, yeah… Gross.”

Neil laughed. “Sadly, my birth was entirely normal, except for the part where my mother handed me off to a nanny as soon as I popped out.” Neil tried not to let his bitterness seep into his voice, but from the look on Andy’s face, he doubted he’d succeeded.

“I had no idea your parents were even alive. You never mention them,” Andy said, his smile slipping away. He unloaded the wine bottles onto a nearby table.

“That’s because there’s nothing to say about them.” Neil lifted a shoulder as he wrestled his emotions back under control. The last thing he needed was for his power to manifest and freak his friend out. “My parents are assholes. I try to never speak to them if I can help it. I don’t go home. I don’t invite them here. We’re all better off that way.”

Andy lifted an eyebrow. “So, what was your father doing here? He didn’t look happy about it.”

“He wants me to come back home and marry someone suitable.” Neil shook his head. “No, thank you.”

“Wait, an arranged marriage? I thought that shit went out of style, oh, a couple hundred years ago.” Andy lined up a series of wine glasses on his arm. “That’s totally medieval, man.”

“Yeah, well, my family is weird.” Neil didn’t bother to explain any further. “So, you got the last of the bar stocked and ready?”

“Yup. Just gotta put these away.” Andy grabbed the three bottles of wine with his free hand and headed to the bar, carefully balancing a truly ridiculous amount of glass on his arms.

With something close to amazement, Neil watched him successfully navigate the tables and offload the glasses. If he tried that, he’d probably drop everything in under thirty seconds. “Excellent. You’re a good bartender, Andy, and a better friend.”

Andy tossed him a grin and a salute.

Neil smiled, then glanced around Dracona. The dark wood tables gleamed with polish, the elaborate iron chandeliers were lit and sparkling dimly, and judging from the delicious scents wafting from the kitchen, Chef Joreen had everything under control in the food department.

“Maybe you should take today off,” Andy said unexpectedly, wiping at a nonexistent stain on the bar. “You never give yourself a break. Joreen and I can handle things for one night.”

“I don’t need a break.” I need my parents and the rest of the Council to leave me the hell alone.

Andy snorted. “Yes, you do.” He hung up the damp towel and lined cut fruit up at the end of the polished wood bar. The automatic lights clicked on, reflecting muted blues and yellows on Andy’s bald skull.

Neil grimaced. “Enough with the armchair therapy, Andy. I’m fine.” Ignoring his bartender’s eye roll, Neil headed down the hall behind his office toward the rear back door just beyond the restrooms. He hoped some fresh air would clear his mind. He ignored the emergency exit sign and pushed the heavy metal door open. A cool breeze wafted past his face as he looked out over the gravel parking lot that terraced around the building. A small stream lay at the bottom of his property, and he could just make out the sound of the water bubbling over rocks. He half-smiled as he leaned on the door.

Okay, yeah. This works. He breathed deeply, letting the sounds of nature settle his nerves. When shots echoed through the natural gully, instead of flinching, his first reaction was to punch something. He never got a fucking break. He curled his fingers into fists as his instincts shifted into high alert.

Hunters? Here? It wasn’t uncommon to hear shots in this part of Pennsylvania, but it was early October, and his bar wasn’t that far from Main Street. It’s too early for deer. And those shots are too close to be hunters. The closest shooting range lay five miles south of Dracona. State game lands lay fifteen miles north. Those shots didn’t belong here, not now. Not ever. His dragon, already stirring from his father’s unwelcome visit, woke up in the back of his mind, dark and dangerous and pissed off about the threat to his territory. Neil gripped the edge of the door, taking deep breaths. Now was not a good time for his shifter blood to wake up. Things tended to catch fire around him when that happened.

“Hey, boss, you okay?” Andy asked, putting a hand on Neil’s arm.

Neil turned on him, teeth bared. “Close the door and lock it behind me.”

Andy frowned. “Neil, your eyes…” He trailed off, taking a step back.

Fuck. So much for not burdening Andy with my shit. Neil had a feeling he’d be busy later tonight trying to explain away the glow in his gaze. Right now though, he couldn’t care less. He turned back toward the woods. “I heard shots. It’s not safe out here.”

“Doesn’t that mean you should come inside?” Andy asked carefully.

Persistent guy. Probably why we’re friends, though now isn’t the time to be stubborn. Neil let go of the doorframe and let his gaze roam the lot. Someone was out there. Someone who didn’t belong. “Go inside, Andy,” he said again, more harshly this time. A long moment later, the door clicked shut behind him. He exhaled, concentrating on keeping the energy that curled at the base of his spine under control. When he didn’t keep his focus, the energy spiraled out, searching for something to burn, and the most flammable thing around was Dracona. He didn’t need his bar going up in flames over a few stray shots that might not mean anything.

Branches snapped. Neil walked down to the second terrace lot, ignoring the gravel crunching underfoot as he searched the tree line. His dragon rumbled in the back of his head, huge and impossible. Neil gritted his teeth. He had to keep his cool. He didn’t want to set fire to the cars that were parked at the edge of the lot any more than he wanted to burn down his building. Or the trees. Or the birds… His thoughts trailed off when he caught sight of a woman crouched near the big oak at the north end of his property. Her head was turned away, so he couldn’t see her expression, but her body told him that she was running from something. Her silhouette spoke of both coiled energy and skittishness.

Someone’s after her. Neil took another step forward, not trying to be quiet. He wanted her to hear him coming.

The woman whipped her head around. Fear chased over her face, and then her brilliant blue eyes met his and Neil lost control of everything. His dragon roared silently. Blue flames licked along the gravel, almost invisible.

The woman didn’t notice. She stared at him as if he were her worst nightmare, or possibly her wildest dream—he couldn’t tell which. Neil couldn’t look away either, because he knew her. He never forgot a face, and this one in particular had haunted him for over a decade. He took a deep breath, and then let it out as he called the flames back to himself.

“Moira.”

First kiss snippet for Her Dangerous Mistake!

Releasing Friday, April 7th!

  

Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Shifters, May-Dec, Rubenesque, Suspense
Word Count: 52,000
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Moira is on the run—her apartment has been trashed, her bank account hacked, and someone is stalking her. Only one man is dangerous enough to keep her safe … that is, if she can convince him to help her. Neil Deven used to be her father’s best friend until betrayal turned him violent. Neil disappeared, and finding him might be the biggest mistake of her life, but Moira won’t survive alone.

Neil remembers Moira as a sweet little girl caught in the middle of her father’s criminal life. The gorgeous woman who shows up at his door is anything but a child, but he’s already got problems. Dragon shifters are a dying race with no way to change form, yet Neil’s powers keep growing. And Moira stirs long lost instincts—he can’t deny her need. He must protect the woman who will be his mate, or die trying.

First Kiss SNIPPET–>

Moira halted. “You think I’m pretty?”

The doubt in her voice broke his heart, and unexpectedly, Neil’s dragon roared back to life. Subtle flames licked the ceiling, but he was tired of suppressing his power and he let them dance, hoping she wouldn’t look up.

“Oh, you have no idea,” he said, hearing the arousal in his voice. He couldn’t help it. He stared at her eyes, and then his gaze dropped to her lips. He wanted her with an urgency he couldn’t explain. “You’re beautiful.” He gave in to his instincts and cupped her face with his palms. Somewhere in the back of his mind his conscience yelled about their age difference, but Neil’s dragon growled that part of him into submission. She was his. No one else would have her.

Moira dropped the light as he bent towards her.

****

Oh my God, he’s going to kiss me, was Moira’s last coherent thought, and then Neil’s mouth descended on hers. She gasped, and he took it as an invitation, nibbling on her lower lip. “Neil,” she said, voice breaking. “What are you doing?”

“I think that should be obvious,” he murmured, before kissing her again. He crowded her up against the stone wall, hands tilting her head.

Moira trembled. He tasted like spice and smoke and something else she couldn’t describe. His lips coaxed hers into opening, and then his tongue dipped inside. She gripped his arms, certain if she didn’t hold on she’d fall down. His muscles felt like stone. No, stronger than stone, and hot, like a brick oven that’s been going all day long. When he growled, deep in his throat, the sound shot through her like a bolt of lightning. The ache between her thighs pushed out of her in a groan. She couldn’t stand this. She needed more. She shoved closer, wishing they were naked and not … here. Not in a stone tunnel minutes away from discovery. This is crazy. This is not what I expected.

“Yeah, that’s it. Open up for me, Moira,” he murmured as his kiss turned demanding. He slotted a leg between hers, pushing the thick hardness of his erection into her hip.

“Neil,” she forced out, gripping his hair. “We have to stop.”

“No.” He nipped her lips again. “You’re mine.”

Moira froze as everything inside her agreed with him. “We can’t.”

He snarled.

God, he’s overwhelming. And amazing, but this is crazy. We have to get out of here. Gathering her courage, Moira put her hands on his face to get his attention. The roughness of his stubble caught against her palms, and she drew in a shuddering breath. How could a single kiss destroy her so thoroughly? Neil’s eyes glowed gold in the darkness.

Her Dangerous Mistake is an Editor’s Pick! #excerpt #coverreveal

Releasing April 7, 2017!

Dragons and fire and fated mates…. He can’t deny her need.

Scroll down for an excerpt!

  

Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Shifters, May-Dec, Rubenesque, Suspense
Word Count: 52,000
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

 

Moira is on the run—her apartment has been trashed, her bank account hacked, and someone is stalking her. Only one man is dangerous enough to keep her safe … that is, if she can convince him to help her. Neil Deven used to be her father’s best friend until betrayal turned him violent. Neil disappeared, and finding him might be the biggest mistake of her life, but Moira won’t survive alone.

Neil remembers Moira as a sweet little girl caught in the middle of her father’s criminal life. The gorgeous woman who shows up at his door is anything but a child, but he’s already got problems. Dragon shifters are a dying race with no way to change form, yet Neil’s powers keep growing. And Moira stirs long lost instincts—he can’t deny her need. He must protect the woman who will be his mate, or die trying.

Story Excerpt:

Neil unbuttoned his jeans and eased them down, letting out a breath when his erection finally sprang free of its prison. He kicked the fabric away, then palmed his cock. Pre-cum wet the tip. He thumbed over the sensitive skin, shuddering. He glanced at Moira, sleeping on his sofa. His erection swelled even more, as if he needed the reminder that this arousal was all for her. “Fuck,” he muttered, walking back to the bed. He’d never be able to function if this didn’t subside. He wanted Moira more than he’d ever wanted another woman. Thoughts of his father, the Council, and the men chasing after Moira shredded down to nothing in the face of his need.

“Neil?” Moira mumbled, rolling over.

He froze before he could sit down, hand full of hard-on. “Yeah?” his voice cracked. He cleared his throat and tried again. “You okay?” He deliberately ignored the jeans on the floor. Hell, he wanted her to see him like this. He couldn’t deny it.

She opened her eyes sleepily. When she caught sight of him standing nude, she gasped.

Neil swallowed as the look on her face enflamed him even more, and then he mentally gave up the fight to keep away. His hand stroked down and then up his shaft as he returned her gaze, letting his desire show on his face. He knew his eyes would be gold in this light. He wondered if that would scare her.

“What are you doing?” Her voice trembled. She put a hand to her mouth as if to hide her bewilderment, but he saw how her gaze flicked down to his groin, then back up again. Her delicate skin took on a pink hue.

He smiled tightly, even as his fist squeezed his erection. “I’m trying to be a gentleman.” Maybe with her watching he could climax and this ridiculous attraction to her would subside. He stroked himself again. “And I’m failing.” He slid his other hand down and cupped his balls. The jolt of pleasure that shot through him made him suck in a harsh breath.

“I’ll just go—” She stumbled off the sofa, almost falling onto the glass coffee table.

Neil was at her side keeping her from falling before he could consciously make the decision to move. He put his hands on her shoulders. “Careful.” His voice had gone low and soft. His dragon half roared in his head as Moira lifted her face to him. “You don’t want to break the glass.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, but didn’t seem any more able to walk away from him than he could from her.

“Jesus Christ,” Neil muttered as his palms felt her warmth. She smelled like lavender and mint. Like everything he ever wanted. The soft blush on her face made him want to kiss her gently. Her full lips made him want to bite her. “Don’t be sorry. I’m the one who’s sorry,” he rasped as his instincts pushed at him again. Blue flames licked the ceiling of the apartment as his self-control wavered, but Neil no longer cared. Even if the building burned around him, he had to have her.

Moira frowned. “For what?” She kept her eyes firmly above his shoulders. She didn’t seem to notice the fire.

“For this.” He leaned in and kissed her, nibbling at her lips until she opened her mouth. He wrapped his arms around her as he licked inside, groaning when his cock brushed her hip. Her clothes scraped the sensitive head of his erection, but the pain felt good. He sank his hands into her hair, holding her head exactly where he wanted it. She was so soft and small he knew he could break her without even trying. Guilt scraped at him, but not enough to make him stop.

“Oh my God, Neil,” she said, voice breaking when he finally released her mouth to kiss down her jaw. “What are you doing?” She shuddered. “You’re naked.”

“I’ve got to have you,” he said, hands busy at her shirt. He lifted it up and over her head with one swift movement. “Please, Moira.”

She shivered, hands covering her breasts, but Neil already had her bra unfastened. He drew it forward and down her arms, then off entirely, mouth watering. Her skin was so delicate he worried he’d mark her with his desperation, and then he decided he wanted to mark her.

Mine, he thought, bending down to bite at the juncture of her neck and shoulder. His hands went to her breasts, pushing her fingers out of the way. “You’re gorgeous,” he said against her skin, more enamored with her courage than he was with her body. He sat on the coffee table and drew her in between his legs. “So strong.” He kissed down to her breast and took the tip in his mouth, suckling soft at first, and then hard enough to make her cry out. How could a woman tough enough to run away from everything she’d ever known be so fragile? He sucked his way across to her other breast, inhaling her essence as he trapped her between his thighs. His erection oozed pre-cum as it brushed against her legs.

“This is impossible,” she cried, threading her fingers into his hair and squeezing. She clearly didn’t want him to stop. He bit her nipple a little harder, encouraged when she moaned.

“You don’t want me.” Her grip tightened. “I’m overweight and too young. And weak.”

“Don’t want you?” Neil tipped his head back into her palms, stung. “Yes, I do. More than anything.” He cupped both her breasts and flicked his thumbs over her nipples until they puckered tightly. “And weak isn’t the word I’d use for you, Moira. You’re beautiful, and courageous.”

She trembled.

Neil grinned fiercely. “Believe me, I know what I want. I know that I shouldn’t want you, but I’m tired of fighting myself. You’re mine, Moira. You’re perfect.”

“You’re crazy,” she whispered, staring at him, lips red from his teeth. “We barely know each other.”

“Not true.” He leaned up and kissed her again, smiling against her mouth when she moaned. “Say yes, Moira. Let me make love to you.”

A Warlock’s Best Friend #excerpt

Releasing October 31!

Gay Romance, Paranormal, Humor
Word Count: 15,300
Published By: Evernight Publishing

 

Dakota thought moving to a new town for his new job would be easy. He gets to live with his best friend Leo, far from the machinations of his mother and the witches who want his genes. Unfortunately, his new boss keeps hitting on him. Is there nowhere a nice guy can hide from women who want his body?

Leo thinks pretending to be his best friend’s lover will be hilarious. He loves a good joke, and he’s delighted that Dakota finally lives close enough for them to hang out again like they did as kids. So what if they’re not gay? It’s all for a good cause: keep Dakota out of the clutches of a crazy woman.

Neither of them expects their charade to feel so real. How were they supposed to know that one kiss would lead to sex, or that true power comes from love?

Story Excerpt:

“We should practice kissing.” Leo watched Dak’s face carefully. One hint of revulsion and he’d back down. He didn’t want to alienate his best friend. He wanted to help.

Dakota let out a breath. “That was not what I was expecting you to say.”

“What were you expecting?” Leo surreptitiously wiped his hands on his jeans.

“That we should get promise rings or something completely ridiculous.” Dakota flexed his fingers. “Or buy matching pink shirts.” He cocked his head. “Oh, wait. I forgot. You already own a pink shirt.”

Leo scowled. “Pink is a completely functional color.”

“On a construction company boss?”

“No one’s ever said anything to me about it.” Leo defended himself. He liked that particular button-down shirt. He looked good in it.

Dakota snorted. “That’s because even when you wear a pink shirt, you look like you could snap spines in half without breaking a sweat.”

“So what? I work out. Are you going to consider my idea, or not?” Leo asked, trying to head off further talk about his wardrobe. Talking about a pink shirt with his best friend was gay, not owning one.

Dakota sat up. “You were serious?”

Leo nodded. “Of course.” His gaze dropped to his friend’s mouth. He tried to tell himself he was examining Dakota’s lips clinically, for information purposes, but his skin tingled when he considered what it might be like to put his mouth there. “I mean, I’ve never kissed a dude. I have no idea what it’s like.”

Dakota stared at him. “You’re actually serious about this.”

“Have you kissed a guy?” Leo asked, swallowing past an unexpected lump in his throat. If Dakota had kissed a man, he decided he would be pissed because his best friend had never told him about it.

Yeah. That’s totally why.

“No.” Dakota looked away.

“No, you won’t kiss me, or no, you’ve never kissed a dude?” Leo shifted closer. He could smell the last vestiges of Dakota’s cologne, mostly worn off after a day of teaching.

Dakota reached for his water bottle and uncapped it. He took a long swig, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Leo stared. How in the hell did Dak make that move look so suggestive? His lips were puffy now.

“No, I’ve never kissed a guy,” Dakota said clearly, putting the bottle back down. His blue eyes were almost black in the low light. The sun had set an hour ago, and neither of them had bothered to turn on more than the single lamp near the sofa.

Leo took a deep breath, feeling weirdly wired. The inside of his skull buzzed with static. He couldn’t form a coherent thought right now if someone paid him good money. “Okay, then.”

Dakota quirked an eyebrow. “Okay.” He had a half-smile going on his face.

Leo relaxed minutely when he saw Dakota’s familiar expression. He couldn’t remember how many times that look had dared him into trouble. “You’d better not punch me,” he muttered, reaching up to cup Dakota’s cheeks.

Dakota huffed. “You’d pound me if I tried.”

Leo didn’t answer. He was too busy trying to figure out how to put his mouth in the right spot. For some reason, his body wasn’t obeying him right now. Just get on with it, you idiot, he told himself. His cock had thickened, making his jeans moderately uncomfortable. What the fuck was wrong with him? This was practice, nothing more.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Dakota said, impatiently leaning closer. He kissed Leo on the mouth, light and fast.

His lips feel like pillows. Leo flinched, more at the absurd thought than from the taste of his best friend on his tongue. “Jesus.”

Dakota sat back. “There. Are you happy now? This was your idea.”

He doesn’t seem to have any trouble speaking, Leo thought irritably. “No. I’m not done.” He leaned in, this time grabbing Dak’s face. He kissed him, no fooling around this time. He nibbled on the side of Dakota’s mouth until he gasped, then slid his tongue inside. When Dakota moaned under his breath, Leo shuddered, sliding his hands down his friend’s chest. The bump of Dak’s nipple rings beneath his fingertips made his dick twitch.

“You taste like cinnamon,” he murmured, sucking on Dak’s lower lip. Leo wanted to do a hell of a lot more than suck. He wanted to bite. He sat back, sucking air. What the fuck just happened?

Dakota was staring at him, mouth open and wet.

“Christ.” Leo leaned in again, kissing him savagely. He hauled Dakota over until they fell back onto the couch. Dakota’s breath whooshed out when he fell along Leo’s body, legs on either side. They both froze as their erections brushed each other.

“Oh my freaking God,” Dakota said, shaking. His hands pressed into Leo’s shoulders.

“This isn’t funny. Don’t you dare fucking laugh,” Leo told him, low and vicious. “I can’t fucking think.” He’d never been so turned on in his entire life.

“Do I look like I’m laughing?” Dakota asked, hair a tangled mess. His eyes glittered. “You had your tongue down my throat.” His voice shook.

You look desperate. Leo didn’t say the words out loud, because he still couldn’t breathe. How could he talk when he couldn’t get enough air in his damned lungs? When Dakota’s hips twitched, Leo swallowed. Hard. Dakota’s dick dug into Leo’s hip like a fucking brand. Leo wanted more than a kiss, God help him.

Caged Killer excerpt!

CAGED KILLER coming in June!

Contemporary, Gay Erotic Romance (MM), Romantic Suspense, Dark Romance, Suspense
Word Count: 30,200
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Knox is a killer hired to catch a thief: what happens when the thief catches the assassin instead, and chains him up? Nothing good. Nothing … sane.

Knox Calvin has spent his life repressing his sexuality. When Mick Lannon picks at his carefully constructed mental cage with a knife, he isn’t prepared for the fallout. Unfortunately, Knox isn’t the kind of man who can be bound for long, and Mick has his own demons to wrestle into submission. When Mick’s vendetta against his aunt’s killer spirals into all out war, Knox escapes to watch the carnage from a distance.

Mick likes his sex casual, his partners breathing, and doesn’t much care about anything else. Knox wasn’t interested in sex at all until Mick shackled him to a wall. What happens when one moment’s slip into darkness wakes up the monster in both men?

Story Excerpt:

Mick suddenly climbed on the bed, straddling Knox.

“Oh, Jesus Christ.” The words fell out of Knox’s mouth before he could stop them. Mick’s weight pressed right onto his dick, hard and painful and fucking perfect.

Mick licked his lips. “Well, well. Clearly you didn’t see that coming.” He shimmied down a bit more, slotting Knox’s erection right between his legs. The fucker looked like he was getting off on this shit.

“Fuck you.” Knox refused to let his hips buck up into the bastard’s heat. He was not gay. He wasn’t anything at all. He wanted to twist Lannon around and crack his spine into pieces, but he didn’t have the leverage. Not anymore. Not with the bastard on top of me, but the moment he moves…

“That can definitely be arranged.”

Knox shuddered.

Mick ground down, sliding his knife up Knox’s arm like a deadly snake. “I like blood.” He pressed in with the tip, just enough to sting. Blood trickled down Knox’s arm, circling the tattoo inked into the crook of his elbow.

“What the hell are you doing?” Knox couldn’t seem to stop running off at the mouth. “What did you dose me with?” There had to be some reason his body was so hot to trot right now, after years of indifference to pretty much anything or anyone. Drugs were a likely culprit.

“BDSM baby.” Mick laughed. “I chained you up. That’s it.” He leaned down and kissed the blood on Knox’s skin. “And you like it. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. They call you Fort Knox, you know. ‘He’s stone cold,’ they said, when I got the file on you.” He kissed the edge of Knox’s biceps. “Such lies.” His lips tickled against Knox’s skin. “You’re not cold at all, are you?”

“Whatever you pumped into my veins is doing this.” Knox bit back a groan. The scent of chocolate swept over him. “Fucking get off me.”

Mick licked up his arm, ignoring his pleas. “You are an unexpected treasure, Knox Calvin.”

Knox pressed his lips together so tightly the skin went numb. “You’re a fucking cocksucker.”

Mick sat back up again, pushing Knox’s erection flat. It hurt like hell. “Sometimes, yeah.” He licked his lips. “And obviously,” he punctuated his words with a roll of his hips. “So are you.”

Knox growled, beyond pissed and heading straight into rage. “Motherfucker.”

“Mmm. Look at you.” Mick’s eyes traveled along Knox’s torso. “You had no idea you could feel this way, did you?” The thief grinned. “Oh, I’m going to enjoy this.”

“Fuck you.” Knox felt like there wasn’t enough air going into his lungs. Fucking drugs.

“You’re repeating yourself.” Mick slid his knife into the opening of Knox’s t-shirt, and with a swift, sure jerk, split the fabric right down the middle. “Well, would you look at that?” He put his palm dead center on Knox’s chest. The heat from his hand burned. “You have a picture of a cage inked into your skin, Mr. Calvin.”

That’s it. He’s fucking close enough. Knox twisted, lifting up and using his legs to trap Mick. Using his chains as leverage, he tenses his shoulders and flipped them both over, pinning the bastard underneath his body. The mattress squeaked like an old whore, but he ignored it, trusting the steel bedframe to keep them off the floor. He shoved an arm over Mick throat, metal rattling.

“Where’s the key?” Knox shifted the chains, digging the shackle’s cuff into Mick’s shoulder. I should just kill him and get it over with, he thought, but he didn’t press harder. Something about this guy made him want to let the situation play out. What would the thief do next? And it’s not like I have anything else to do right now.

Mick narrowed his eyes. “I have a knife at your jugular, Knox.” He leaned the tip into Knox’s skin.

“I don’t fucking care.” Knox pressed harder. The sting at his neck felt like hardly anything.

Mick’s gaze went flat. “I really don’t want to kill you.”

“The feeling’s mutual. This is business.” Knox frowned. “Give me the key.”

The blade at his throat sank in unexpectedly. This time the pain wasn’t small. Wasn’t good. Warmth blossomed over his shoulder, wet and strange. Knox blinked, trying to think, and then Mick flipped them back over. He threw his blade to the side and slapped a hand over Knox’s throat. “You stupid fuck.”

Vaguely, Knox realized that his hard-on had finally subsided.