SOULMATE #FirstChapter #Excerpt!

It’s that time again: if you’re not sure you want to try something, you read a sample first, right? So here is a first chapter excerpt for my bestselling new release, SOULMATE!

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Gay Romance, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Suspense, May/Dec
Word Count: 53,500
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

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Guy Keaton doesn’t want a hookup or a soulmate or anything in between. When he lost his wife to cancer, he knew he’d be alone for the rest of his life. He has a grown son, and his woodshop, and in a world where those born with powerful gifts are few and far between, that’s all that really matters.

Theo Fraser’s empathic gift is rare and strong. He isn’t looking for love, but when he meets Guy, everything changes, because he knows that when you find your soulmate, you hold on tight and don’t let go. The only problem is that Guy thinks he’s straight, and Theo doesn’t know if he can convince a man already set in his ways to change his mind.

Will Guy be able to give up his grief and accept Theo’s love? And what happens when a terrible betrayal forces them to fight to keep each other alive?

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First Chapter Excerpt:

“It’s been three years since Mom died, Dad,” Guy Keaton’s son said.His voicesounded smaller over the phone than in real life, but his exasperation came through loud and clear. “You need to get out there again. Maybe go on a date or two. You know people like us live longer than ordinary humans. You may be forty-five, but for a WoodCrafter, you’re still young. I’m a Healer, and I can tell that you’re as healthy as a horse.”

Guy frowned, feeling the beginning of a headache creep up from his spine as he paced his shop. The afternoon sunlight lit the bench where he’d just placed his latest creation: an acoustic guitar. It still needed a lot of work. He stared at it while he tried to figure out what to say to his son. The swirls of the flame maple front picked up the light quite nicely, and he sighed, wishing he wasn’t having this conversation again. “Jonathan, I’m fine just the way things are. Seriously. I don’t know why you keep nagging me about dating. I’m good with my woodworking and hanging out with you once a week or so. I don’t need to start dating. I loved your mother, and I have no intention of replacing her with anyone.”

“Mom made me promise I wouldn’t let you hibernate alone forever,” Jonathan said impatiently. “She also told me you’d be impossible over this, and she was right.” He let out a gusty sigh, then continued. “I know it sucked, the cancer. Her dying so young. Believe me, I get it. She was my mom, and I couldn’t save her. I miss her, too, but, Dad, you hardly leave the house. It’s not healthy. I’m not sure having your woodshop attached to where you live is a good thing.” He paused a moment, then continued. “And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a soulmate out there.”

I don’t want a soulmate,I want my wife back, Guy thought as a familiar surge of grief welled up and lodged in his esophagus, nearly choking him. For a moment he couldn’t talk. He remembered Pamela’s dark red hair. Her startling blue eyes. He’d loved teasing her about how much time she spent fooling with her makeup when the truth was, she didn’t need any at all. She was beautiful to him even after the cancer had robbed her of everything: her hair, her sparkle. Even her skin lost its glow, but she was still his wife. His high school sweetheart. He’d loved her for her kindness and her intelligence, not because of how she’d looked. She wasn’t his fated soulmate, and she didn’t have any Craft power, but it didn’t matter. How many people found their perfect match, anyway? It happened so rarely it was almost mythical. He’d fallen for Pamela in middle school, and had never bothered wishing after some impossible soulmate that only one percent of the already rare Crafted population ever found. He loved Pamela. They were supposed to live happily ever after together, not happily for half of a life.

“Dad? You there?”

Guy cleared his throat. “Yeah, I’m here.” He heard the hoarseness in his voice and knew he had to do better. “Look, I’m about to head out. Are we still getting together for pizza on Friday night?”

“You’re trying to get out of this conversation,” his son said.

Guilty as charged,Guy thought, but he couldn’t let his son think that he didn’t want to talk to him. “No, really. I’m going—” He thought frantically for a split second, trying to figure out what he could tell his son that wouldn’t be a lie. His gaze landed on his shop’s bulletin board where he let customers and friends post advertisements and business cards. A flyer for a local outdoor trail caught his eye. “—hiking,” he said, seizing on the idea. He could use a break from his latest project. The surface of the guitar’s neck had cracked when he’d tried to screw in the pegs, and now he had to take it apart and re-varnish the entire piece. He could use a bit of cardio to work off his frustration. “I was about to head out to the Blue Mountain trails when you called.”

“Hiking? Hmm.” His son sounded suspicious.

“I used to go hiking all the time,” Guy pointed out, praying his son would buy the excuse.

“You haven’t gone since…” Jonathan trailed off.

Guy smiled grimly. He hadn’t gone since Jonathan’s mother had died, true. She hadn’t liked hiking, so it had been one of the few things they didn’t do together, but he’d been going out to the woods since he was a teenager. Glancing at the flyer again, he realized he missed being in the forest. It made sense. As one of the few people born with a Craft talent, he’d been blessed with an affinity to wood. He was a WoodCrafter. He probably shouldn’t have cut himself off from living trees for so long. “It’s just a quick hike. I miss going out into nature. And I need to work off some energy today because I messed up the varnish on my latest guitar.”

“Well. That’s good, I guess,” Jonathan said slowly, obviously working through what Guy had told him. “You shouldn’t be obsessing over cracked varnish, anyway. You’re a WoodCrafter. You could just smooth over the problem spot with a little bit of energy.” His son sounded cheerier. “You have more than enough Crafting skill to fix something like that, and you should keep in practice, anyway. Not many of us have the ability to actually use what we’re born with, you know.”

“And you know I don’t like to do that. Feels like cheating,” Guy replied, bemused. His son was repeating his own lessons back at him. He shook his head. He didn’t know why he’d been born with the ability to handle woods, but it wasn’t something he’d chosen. No one did. Not everyone was born with the capability to manipulate natural materials, and of those who were, only some had enough power to actually use the ability. Most people with Craft could sense the energy, but didn’t have the capacity to do anything with it, and no one knew why.

“Look, it’s not like this talent is particularly useful in the modern world. There isn’t that much of a demand for Crafted wooden objects,” Guy told his son.

“Are you kidding?” Jonathan asked incredulously. “You could be creating soulmate rings and pulling in money hand over fist. I’m not sure anyone is making them anymore.”

“Only bonded WoodCrafters can make those rings, and I don’t have a soulmate. I know I’ve explained that to you that before.” Guy scowled. “So, no. I can’t. And it’s not like there are a lot of soulmated pairs to sell them to, anyway.” The thought of making soulmate rings when his own wife had died… Ugh. Not now, and probably not ever, he thought, recoiling from the very idea of it. He’d never be able to handle the pain of meeting and dealing with soulmate couples. He didn’t care if there was a shortage of the rings. He deserved to live out the rest of his life in peace, if not happily, and he had no desire to date or meet his so-called perfect match. The love of his life was gone, and she was never coming back.

“What good is having power if you don’t use it?” his son asked, clearly sensing his father’s disquiet. “Your Craft power is cool. Sometimes I wish I’d inherited your abilities.”

Guy exhaled slowly. They’d been over this before. “I like to work with wood the old-fashioned way. I know I have both an affinity and the power for WoodCraft, but I like working with my hands. And you have your own power, Jonathan. Not everyone can sense illness the way you do. You’re a fantastic veterinarian. A Healer. That’s rare, too.”

His son made an unintelligible sound. “Fine, fine. I can tell you don’t want to talk about it anymore. So, about hiking. Maybe we could go together sometime. Next weekend?”

Guy nodded, happy to get off the topic of soulmates and power and most especially dating. “Yes, that would be great.” He and his son used to go hiking all the time. When had they stopped? He thought a moment. When Pamela first got sick. Has it really been five years since we’ve been out in the woods together? Wow,he thought, dismayed. His son deserved more of his time. Jonathan was the only family he had left.

“I can do next Sunday afternoon, maybe around four,” Jonathan said, sounding distracted. “Hang on, let me put it on my calendar.”

“That would be nice. I’d really love to get out with you. I miss it,” Guy said. There, that wasn’t a lie at all. He smiled to himself. Maybe Jonathan was right. He didneed to get out, but he certainly didn’t need to try dating. Doing some hiking with his son and getting in a little extra exercise wouldn’t hurt. He was in great shape thanks to his woodworking. The bigger pieces he put together, like tables and cabinets, often needed a lot of muscle, but more active pursuits wouldn’t be bad for him. Might help me be more creative, too. Exercise is good for the mind and the body, everyone says,he mused.

“Hey, Dad, I have to go. They’re bringing in an injured dog, and they need my Craft. I’ll see you Friday, okay?”

Guy nodded, even though he knew his son couldn’t see him. “Yeah, Friday for pizza, and then next Sunday. Four o’clock.”

“Yup, great. Bye, Dad. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” Guy replied, but then he realized the connection was already dead. He smiled wryly. His son was a busy man. Most of the people born as Healers were human doctors, so a veterinarian with that particular power was in high demand. People loved their pets. He rolled his shoulders, wincing as his spine cracked. He wasn’t getting any younger. People with Craft lived a little longer than regular humans, and people who found their soulmates lived even longer than that, but he was no longer sure an extended lifespan was all it was cracked up to be. He’d much rather have Pamela back than go on through the next sixty or so years alone.

“Stop it,” he said aloud, standing up and stretching. “You’re only forty-five, and you have a son, and a successful business.” He hated self-pity, and he’d been falling into the habit too often in the past few years. He grimaced as he racked his tools and set the guitar aside, out of the sunlight. Maybe he’d trail run instead of hike. If nothing else, working his body to exhaustion would help him sleep tonight.

****

“Stupid,” Guy muttered, wiping the sweat off his face. He’d run two miles, and then pooped out. “I am an idiot.” The sun glittered down through the trees and the birds were singing, but to him, the sounds of the late spring day felt like taunts. He’d let himself get way too out of shape for running, but now he was in the middle of the trail loop and there was no way out but forward. “One step at a time,” he said, snorting. He’d at least managed not to get a blister, but it had been a close thing. He’d already taken his trail runners off twice to cool a hot spot on his heel. He kept walking, watching for roots and rocks as his overheated body cooled. At the back of his mind, he sensed the trees murmuring to each other with his Craft, and he had to smile. He’d missed this. Working with wood helped, but living, breathing trees had a language all their own. Why had he stayed away from the woods for so long?

“Sir, please wait a moment,” a man said, startling him as he headed around a sharp curve.

Guy looked up just before he walked into a black-clad man standing in the middle of the trail. “What?”

“Delegate Fraser is almost done filming,” the man replied, blocking his way. “You can pass in a moment.”

Delegate? What is a Craft Councilmember doing out in the woods?Guy frowned, looking past the black-clad man. Just beyond them stood a younger man talking to a camera. A woman held a microphone boom next to the cameraman, and another woman stood to the side. She watched, occasionally tapping at her tablet computer. Two more black-clad men stood on the other side of the trail, blocking access from that direction. “What’s going on?” Guy asked, confused. Sure, this was a popular public trail, but it wasn’t like there were so many Council Delegates that it was easy to stumble over one in the middle of the woods. The Council mostly mediated disputes between Crafters and handled public relations with the larger non-gifted population.

“Sir, please stand back,” the man said, not answering Guy’s question.

The woman with the tablet looked over, then made her way around the camera. “Delegate Fraser is recording a public service announcement promoting outdoor activity,” she said, smiling. She nodded to the man in black, and he backed up a bit, turning to watch the trail. She held out her hand. “Hello, I’m Rose Tremaine, Delegate Fraser’s assistant. Do you come here often?”

That guy looks like a bodyguard. Strange. I’ve never heard of a Council Delegate needing protection, except maybe the Council Head.Guy absently shook the woman’s hand, noting her short dark hair and brown eyes. Her light brown skin looked smooth as butter, and he wondered what was wrong with him that he felt not even the slightest bit of attraction to her. Even when he’d been married he’d noticed beautiful women, but lately he hadn’t felt anything. “Guy Keaton. And no, I don’t come here often anymore, but I used to. It’s been a few years.” He looked past her. Something about the Delegate still talking to the camera intrigued him. “He’s a bit young for a Delegate, isn’t he?”

Rose smiled. “He’s thirty, so, yeah. He’s young, but not that young.” She glanced over her shoulder at the Delegate. “And he’s the smartest guy I’ve ever met.”

Guy raised an eyebrow, sensing that she meant more than she was saying out loud. “Is he gifted, then?” He felt himself flush. Of course the man had Craft power. He couldn’t serve on the Council if he didn’t. “I meant, does he have a Craft specialty?” Only the strongest of them specialized in something. His WoodCrafting and his son’s Healing abilities were unusually strong, but then, the power did tend to run in families.

Her mouth twisted slightly, and Guy knew she was amused by his stumbling. “He’s an Empath, and he has a lot of Craft power, yes, if that’s what you mean.” She lifted a shoulder. “But he’s gifted in other ways, too. He truly believes in serving his constituents. You know how rare that is.”

Guy nodded. Historically, people who were born with empathy as their Craft sometimes went into politics, but not many could handle the burden of being around people all the time. The Empaths who’d served on the Council in the past were always bonded with a soulmate, and their partner helped them handle the pressure of their situation. Empathy was both a gift and a curse, so much so that he hadn’t heard of anyone with that particular gift becoming a Delegate for at least fifty years. He didn’t envy the guy.

“Theo’s a good guy,” Rose said, turning back to look at her boss.

“Interesting,” Guy murmured, feeling the trees around him hush as the man spoke. Guy’s Craft power tingled, sending surges of energy down his spine. He inhaled, then let out his breath slowly. He hadn’t had to wrestle with his power in ages. Down, boy,he told himself, amused when his cock twitched. Something about the Delegate and being in the woods was getting his energy all riled up.

“Are you gifted?” Rose asked him, tilting her head.

He nodded. “Wood.” He gestured to the trees. He could tell she didn’t have even a spark of Craft, but she seemed naturally intuitive.

She smiled. “Interesting, Mr. Taciturn.”

He laughed, enjoying her poke at his cryptic statement. “Not that interesting,” he said wryly.

“There aren’t a lot of WoodCrafters,” she said, dark eyes speculating. “Do you create soulmate rings?”

Guy went still. “No. I’m not bonded,” he said, suddenly angry. Everyone knew only a soulmated Crafter could make the rings. And why did so many people assume he wanted a soulmate? He’d had a wife, and he’d loved her deeply even though she wasn’t his soulmate, and then he’d lost her, and now his life was shit.

“I’m sorry,” she said, stepping back. “Crafting with wood is so rare, and there’s the shortage of rings…” She trailed off apologetically.

Guy shook his head, then scrubbed at his face. “No, no. You did nothing wrong. I’m just—” He cut himself off before he said anything more.

“What’s wrong? Rose?”

Guy looked up, then froze. The Delegate had come over while he was having his little internal freak out. He stared at the man as everything went strangely silent in the forest. He felt as if the ground had suddenly dropped out from under his feet. Theo Fraser was around the same height as Guy, and muscular, but he carried himself like a man used to delicate negotiations. Guy wanted to touch him to see if he was real, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that wasn’t proper. He needed to wait … for what? He shook his head against the vertigo, and looked down at his trail runners for a moment, hoping the familiar sight would help settle the weirdness. He jammed his right foot against the root poking up through the dirt and let the wood’s quiet strength seep into him. What the fuck was wrong with him? With his power? When he looked up again, the Delegate stared at him, dark eyes unwavering.

“Theo? Theo, are you okay?” Rose was asking. She put a hand on the Delegate’s arm.

Theo blinked. “I’m fine, Rose.” He held out his hand to Guy. “Hello, I’m Theo Fraser.”

Guy couldn’t move. The man’s brown eyes seemed lit with some kind of knowledge Guy didn’t share. Slowly, as though he had to push through molasses, he raised his hand. Theo grasped it, and Guy sucked in a startled breath when static jumped over his skin. “That’s some power you have there,” he managed to say.

Theo let go, looking just as startled. “It’s not my power. It’s yours.” He flexed his fingers. “You zapped me.”

Guy frowned, not sure what to say. His Craft power wasn’t anything nearly so dramatic as that. Talent with wood was a quiet skill. No one would even know he had any abilities at all unless he told them. Rose’s intuition about his Crafting was an anomaly.

“Did you finish filming the segment?” Rose asked, interrupting Guy’s thoughts.

Theo turned to her, looking confused. “No. I felt something … odd. I thought you were upset. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Rose pursed her lips. “I’m fine.” She glanced at Guy. “Theo, this is Guy Keaton. He said he used to use these trails a lot.”

“Hello, Guy,” Theo said, and then he smiled.

Guy almost stepped back, because it felt like he’d been punched in the chest. He sucked in a breath as his gaze met Theo’s. He’d swear the Delegate was peering right into Guy’s soul. He forced himself to look away, but his attention didn’t wander far, and his gaze landed on Theo’s hair. It was long for a politician: it just brushed his shoulders in soft waves. I bet it feels as soft as it looks,Guy thought, strangely fascinated.

“So, you used to hike here often?” Theo asked. “Have you been going somewhere else lately?”

Guy wrenched his attention back to the Delegate’s words. “No.” He cleared his throat. “I mean, I used to hike and run here all the time, and then, well…” He trailed off again. He had no idea how to tell people his wife was dead. He’d never been able to figure out how to explain the dramatic disaster of his life, and how Pamela’s death had changed everything for him. He doubted he’d everfeel comfortable explaining.

Theo’s expression softened as if he knew exactly what was going on in Guy’s head. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pry.”

Is this what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an Empath?Guy drew in a deep breath and decided to just get it over with. “I used to come hiking here all the time before my wife passed away three years ago.” He shrugged. “Cancer.”

Theo nodded as if he’d already expected that explanation. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” He glanced back at the cameraman for a moment. “I need to finish up the segment we’re filming, but I’d like it if you stuck around. I want to hike the rest of the trail, and it’d be nice to have company.”

Guy saw Rose’s eyebrows lift, but her surprise barely registered. The thought of hiking withsomeone intrigued him. “Yeah, that would be cool,” he found himself saying before he could question his sudden desire to hang out with a complete stranger. He hadn’t really wanted to hang out with anyonein years.

What the hell is wrong with me?he thought, running a hand over the back of his neck. His skin prickled, as if static was still running just under the surface.

“Great. I’ll be done in a few minutes,” Theo said, and then he loped back towards the camera.

“I have no idea what just happened,” Guy murmured, mostly to himself.

Rose laughed. “You met Delegate Fraser. He has that kind of effect on some people.”

Guy made a face. “I’m not some people. I’m just a guy. I’m ordinary.”

Rose gave him a speculative look. “Hmm.”

“Hmm? What does that mean?” Guy shifted his weight. His cock hung heavy and half-hard against his thigh. He wasn’t used to it. He wasn’t used to feeling much of anything, lately, except grief.

Rose just shook her head. “Nothing. You’ll see.”

Guy stared past her. The Delegate gestured to the woman holding the microphone, and the cameraman grinned. Theo began talking, but this time, Guy could tell there was something more there. Some sort of energy the Delegate hadn’t had before.

“He’s a good guy,” Rose murmured, watching with a half-smile on her face. “You could do worse.”

Guy frowned at her. “What?”

She just shook her head. “You’ll see,” she repeated.

I’ll see what?Guy wondered, but then the cameraman unshouldered his equipment, and Theo turned back down the trail. His dark eyes gleamed, even in the bright afternoon light. Guy nearly took a step back when their gazes caught and held. There’s nothing to fear,he told himself, as Theo started walking toward him. He’s just a man. A good man.Somehow, repeating those words in his head didn’t make him feel any better.

The Fixer – First Chapter Fun!!!

Want to know what you’re getting when you 1-Click on THE FIXER? Scroll down for a First Chapter excerpt!

buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand –  SmashwordsKoboiBookstore

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an excerpt.

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

First Chapter Excerpt:

Some big motherfucker was sitting on Zeke Graham’s chest, and he didn’t like it one bit. He opened his strangely groggy eyes, about to use his considerable strength to shove the fucker onto the floor, when he realized that he couldn’t move his arms. Or breathe on his own. A horrible tube stretched from his lips down into his throat, hurting his esophagus. He couldn’t swallow. Beeping sounds from his left pierced his skull, setting off a headache worse than any he’d ever had before.

“Zero? Can you hear me? Try and relax. You’re in the hospital, and you’re on a ventilator. Don’t fight it. You’re waking up from surgery,” a female voice said. Something cool touched his arm.

Zeke, known to most everyone as Zero, struggled to order his thoughts, but everything seemed to float away from him before he could make sense of it. He tried to turn his head, but the room he was in was dim and blurry, and he couldn’t see much. He tried again to lift his arms, but he couldn’t move at all. His limbs felt like they’d been squashed underwater, and the sound of the machine breathing for him freaked him the fuck out, not that he’d show it. He counted to ten in his head. In his experience, counting slowly did more to calm him down than any fancy meditation exercise. And given his shit luck for most of his life, he needed something to keep himself from flying off the handle every other day.

“Okay, try and cough as we pull out the tubing. On three,” the voice said.

Zero counted silently as the woman counted aloud.

“One, two, and three.” She smoothly pulled the tube out of his throat.

Zero choked, then gasped as a searing pain in his chest made his headache seem like a joke. “God,” he croaked, but no sound came out.

“Easy. Your throat is still trying to figure out how to work,” the woman said, easing an ice chip between his teeth.

Nausea swept through Zero, and he frowned, clenching his teeth. The ice chip cracked in half, then melted. “Sick,” he managed to whisper.

“It’s from the anesthesia. Hang on, and we’ll get you something for that. We don’t want you vomiting with that chest wound,” the nurse said.

Zero concentrated on lying perfectly still. He must have dozed or something, because when he opened his eyes again, something burned in his arm.

“That’s the Zofran. It should help with the nausea,” a male voice said. “As soon as it kicks in, you’ll feel better.”

Somehow, Zero knew that he should be more worried about what was going on, but he couldn’t seem to focus. He closed his eyes, and drifted off. A long time later, he woke up again. The pain in his throat was better, and he could see clearly. He was in a hospital bed, in a room with a window on his right. A row of what looked like cloth cells stretched down the left-hand side of the antiseptic space and around the perimeter of the room.

“Hello there.” A male nurse bustled into his room, pushing back the curtain. “I see you’re awake. Can you tell me your name?”

Zero licked dry lips. “Zero. Zeke to my dead mother.”

“Excellent.” The man nodded, eyes on the monitor above his bed. “You’re awake, and your vitals are stable, so we’ll be taking you to your room, now.” The man turned to Zero and smiled. “How are you feeling?”

“Like a truck sat on me.” Zero tried to lift his arms, and was happy to find that they worked. Sort of. He hadn’t liked being so drugged that he couldn’t control his body. Nearly all his life, he’d had no one to depend on but himself, and he hadn’t been this vulnerable since he was a kid. He needed to be able to defend himself if necessary. “Like shit.” He tried clearing his throat, but the pain in his chest put a quick end to that action. He concentrated on breathing, counting in his head until he felt a bit calmer.

The nurse nodded. “I know you feel like crap right now, but believe me, you came through major surgery better than I’ve seen most people.” His gaze flicked down Zero’s body. “It’s a good thing you’re in excellent shape.”

Zero wanted to snort, but he had a feeling it would hurt like hell. “What did they do?” He hadn’t expected to feel so bad after surgery. He’d thought the bullet had simply slipped through his body, no biggie. He knew he had an exit wound on his back.

“You had your lung reinflated, and a fragment of a bullet removed. Apparently, a tiny piece had lodged up against one of your ribs. You’re a very lucky man.” The nurse began to unpeel the stickers and leads stuck to Zero’s “Your heart is strong though, so there’s that.”

“How long?” Zero struggled to make his mouth work. He really needed a drink, but he had a feeling that was off the table for a while.

“How long what? How long were you under? Several hours.” The nurse bundled up the EKG wires and shoved them into the cabinet under the machine.

“No.” Zeke clenched his teeth in frustration, then tried again. “How long before I can get out of here?”

“It’ll be a few days.” The nurse smiled. “Depends on how quickly you can be up and walking around. As soon as you can use the toilet by yourself, you’ll be good to go.” He undid the blood pressure cuff. “They took the catheter out while you were still under, so that’s good. As soon as you start to feel like you have to use the toilet, just let your nurse know and they’ll help you get there.”

“You’re not my nurse?” Zero swallowed again, wincing at the soreness in his throat.

“No, I work on the recovery ward. I’ll be helping you down to your room, and that’s it.”

Zero nodded, and let his eyes close again. Where the hell is Felix? And Ariana? he wondered. He’d been helping his friend out, protecting Jenna, the sister of Felix’s boyfriend, Nick, and then all hell had broken loose. That little prick Quincy Edwards had busted into Zero’s warehouse bunker, probably with the help of both intel and men from his mobster uncle. Zero had taken a shot to the chest, and Jenna had died. He grimaced. The girl had been a sweet thing, and she certainly didn’t deserve to lose her life like that. He might’ve died, too, if Felix and Nick hadn’t shown up in time to call Ariana, his doctor on call. She was another one of his favors. He’d helped her out with a problem years ago, and she owed him a house call. She’d shown up, no questions asked, thank God. He’d been in the service with her husband, too, so the connections with her family were tight. He grimaced. He didn’t like to call in the favor, but it was a good thing he knew her.

“Ok, there, Mr. Zero, hang on and we’ll wheel you down.”

“Please, it’s just Zero,” he said as he opened his eyes to find out that a hospital aide and a new nurse had appeared out of nowhere. A frisson of fear shot through him as he took in their unfamiliar faces. Hell. I’m really out of it. I’m going to bite it if I don’t get my shit together. He couldn’t afford to be drifting in and out of life like this. He had enemies. He had a business to run. Contracts to place, and goods to sell. He wasn’t used to being so weak. It wasn’t safe.

“So, what do you do for a living?” the nurse asked. Her cheerful demeanor told Zero she didn’t mean anything by her question. She unlocked the wheels on the bed and nodded to the aide. The man pushed gently, and the bed began to roll toward the double doors at the end of the ward. “Are you a cop?”

A cop? Amusement rushed through Zero. She’s just making small talk, he told himself so his mind wouldn’t go zooming off into what-ifs. He had no capacity to plan for an exit right now, so he needed to make do with the situation as it was. “Not a cop. What would you say if I told you I was a fence?” he asked, smiling slightly. He flexed his fingers and toes, gratified to feel the weird, groggy tingling recede. The more awake he became, the better he felt about his situation. He could think again, which was what had bothered him more than anything else. Pain he could handle. Not having his brain work was a disaster he couldn’t bear to contemplate.

“You like to tell tales, don’t you?” The woman laughed, and her braids bobbed as she smiled down at him. “Since you’re not a policeman, I thought you’d say you were a bouncer. You look like you could bench press a horse.” She guided the bed down the hall. “Next you’ll be telling me that you’re a world-famous assassin, or a spy, like James Bond.”

No, being a contract killer is my best friend Felix’s job. Zero smiled wider, despite the pain starting to bleed through the fading anesthesia. “I did work as a bouncer once, my dear.” If he’d been feeling better, he’d flirt a little. The ladies enjoyed it, and somehow, they always knew he didn’t mean anything serious with it. “And I can mix a delightful martini.”

“You’re a sweet talker, aren’t you?” The nurse grinned as she punched the button for the elevator. Her dark skin gleamed even in the harsh hospital light, and Zero suddenly wished he had his camera. He liked taking pictures of people.

Everyone should have a hobby, he mused, thinking about how he’d light her face. Of course, the handsome male aide silently pushing the bed from behind was more his type, but Zero wasn’t one to discriminate when it came to art.

“I’m Jacinda. You just lie back and enjoy the ride,” the nurse said.

Zero nodded, frowning when the last remnants of the anesthesia made him dizzy. “Will I have a private room?” he asked as they wheeled him into the empty elevator.

Jacinda looked at him in surprise. “Of course. Doctor Amon arranged everything for you. I thought you knew. They told me you were conscious when you came in for treatment.” The elevator binged, and the doors opened. They pushed his bed out.

“I am still waking up,” Zero said, wondering if Ariana would make an appearance at his bedside. It would probably be better for her if she didn’t. He made a mental note to call her and make sure she stayed far away. If Felix had completed matters like he’d expected, that disgusting twit Quincy would be dead by now, and his uncle, Robert Edwards, would be out for blood. Zero didn’t want Ariana getting caught in the crossfire when he eliminated the man. He wasn’t keen on anyone breaking into his home. Not only was it bad for business, he also had a reputation to maintain.

“Ah, it looks like you have visitors already,” Jacinda said, pushing him into a room. She arranged the bed near a bank of monitors on the wall, then locked the wheels. The aide helping her wandered out, and Jacinda busied herself with letting down the side rail of the bed nearest the bathroom. “Whenever you feel up to it, just push this button and I’ll help you to the bathroom.”

“Of course,” Zero said, and she patted his arm before heading out of the room. He turned his attention to the two men waiting by the window. “How interesting. I thought the two of you would be too busy to come check up on me.” His voice still had a hint of rasp to it, but he made an effort to speak clearly. He didn’t want anyone to know how weak he felt, even his friends. Felix scowled at his words, and Nick frowned. Zero sensed their exhaustion, even through his own post-surgical weariness.

“We’ve completed our business,” Felix said, not elaborating.

Judging from the shadows under Nick’s eyes, Zero knew precisely what that business had been. Quincy Edwards was dead. “Heading west, then?” He thought briefly about apologizing, but the two men already knew how deeply regretful he felt about Jenna’s death. Nick looked like a man floundering on the edge of drowning, and didn’t need to rehash the circumstances of his sister’s death.

“Yes. I don’t really want to stick around,” Nick said, rubbing his eyes. “Especially since Felix won’t let me go after Quincy’s uncle.”

“Felix knows that villain is my problem to solve,” Zero said softly.

“Even though he helped his nephew kill my sister?” Nick demanded angrily. He took a step forward, but then stopped when Felix put a hand on his arm.

Zero sighed, and the pain in his chest reminded him that he wasn’t up to hunting anyone at the moment, damn it all to hell. Patience, he told himself. “Even so. He invaded my home. He is my responsibility. I don’t take kindly to men breaking into my sanctuary. Clearly, he wanted me dead because I would not work for him. Vindictive bastard.”

Felix nodded. “We understand.”

Zero knew his friend Felix truly did get it. He wasn’t so certain about his friend’s new boyfriend. “I promise that he will not enjoy my justice, dear Nick.”

Nick glared at him, then shrugged off Felix’s arm. “I don’t have the resources to do what needs to be done, despite my skills. I’d need your help anyway. I’m a thief, not a killer.” He started pacing at the foot of the bed.

Zero watched him for a moment, feeling the exhaustion from his surgery dragging at his limbs. “You need rest, and to grieve. I will properly dispose of the criminal, and we will all live happily ever after, yes?” He hoped Nick took the hint. The only thing Zero wanted right now was to sleep some more, and maybe take a piss.

Felix, inscrutable as always, leaned back against the windowsill. “Nick. Let it go. Zero will do what he said.”

“Fuck, Felix—” Nick began, but Zero cut him off.

“It is regrettable, what happened to your sister. I will tie up all the loose ends as soon as I am on my feet. Do not fret over it. You know my word is good, and that is precisely why I will handle the situation. My reputation is my business.” Zero pushed the button on the side rail, elevating the bed a bit more. He needed to face Nick properly, so the man could see his intention on his face. “We’ve worked well together for several years, haven’t we? We have made a great deal of money.”

Nick stopped pacing and stood in the center of the room, hands clenched into fists. “Yes.”

“Then trust that I will take care of it,” Zero said. He glanced at Felix. “You’ve explained to him how we met, correct?” He still remembered that day vividly. He’d been barely fourteen, an early freshman in his new high school. The bleachers had stretched above his head like prison bars. The boys holding him down thought it would be funny to rape a “fucking faggot”, as they liked to call him. Felix, a senior at the same school, had discovered the boys assaulting Zero, and used his fists to convince them that it was a very bad idea. Since then, Zero’s loyalty to Felix for saving him from a brutal had never wavered, and he wasn’t about to let the man down now, despite the recent debacle.

Felix nodded.

“Good. Then you understand that I keep my word.”

Nick shoved his hands into his pockets. “You didn’t keep Jenna safe, though, did you?”

Zero would have liked to shake some sense into Nick, but he didn’t have the energy for it right now. And, too, the man was clearly grieving deeply. “You know what happened, and you know how deeply I am sorry for her loss,” he merely said. He couldn’t have predicted that fucking Robert Edwards would give his nephew the manpower to break into Zero’s warehouse, especially not when the older Edwards wanted his nephew dead. He cocked his head, thinking about the situation. “I believe that Edwards was simply trying to ensure his nephew’s death, above and beyond the contract that he took out on the boy. What better way to do that than to break into my home? Though very few people know where I lived, everyone knows how I feel about threats against me and mine. He would know that I’d retaliate swiftly. Even better if I died during the process. The elder Edwards has never liked my independence, and I would never work for him directly.”

“Edwards didn’t pay up yet, I noticed,” Felix murmured.

Zero nearly smiled at his old friend’s single-minded thought process, but held back when he looked at Nick again. The poor man was doing his best to hold it together, but he had a way to go before his grief over his sister’s loss ran its course. “I will check into the situation tomorrow,” Zero merely said.

“You still expect him to pay for the contract he put out on his nephew’s head, after all that happened?” Nick asked.

“But of course,” Zero said, surprised that such an experienced thief would need an explanation. “Business is business. The circumstances of the kill do not invalidate the matter of Quincy’s death. Felix is owed his money for the job. If Edwards does not pay, the contract will be declared void, and Edwards’ ability to do business will be damaged. He dare not risk it.” Zero reached up and rubbed his face. He was beginning to feel a lot more pain. He glanced at the nurse’s button, then decided against calling her. Pain never killed anyone. Spiraling down into a hole of opioid medication could very well mean his end. He had no intention of becoming addicted to any substance. He would endure, and he would heal, as he had so many other times in his life.

“You act as though Edwards will be able to continue doing business at all. Dead men don’t get to fucking do business, Zero,” Nick bit out.

At that, Zero had to let his smile out. He knew he didn’t look healthy, or happy, and that the smile was more of a baring of teeth than anything else. “I want him to suffer before he dies, Nick.” He looked at his old friend, Felix, and saw understanding in his expression. “And for him to suffer, he needs to not quite understand what is coming for him.”

Day (Stronghold 4) #FirstChapter Excerpt!

This is how Bruno and Amy’s story begins….

Bruno Day knows the moment he sets eyes on Amy that he won’t be able to stay away from her, but he doesn’t want to drag her into his dangerous life—his duty is to save humanity. She may help them survive if he makes her his mate, but what if the price is her death?

Amy Roderick never expects Bruno Day to show up at her house and ask for her help. She’s just an ordinary person, and he’s the larger-than-life leader of the Sentries. What could she possibly do to help? And why are her instincts telling her they’re meant for each other?

Power and determination have kept them safe for years, but now Bruno and his brothers must face the ultimate battle: an alien swarm that could devour the entire planet. Everything depends on the decision of one young woman: will Amy follow her heart or sacrifice her life for duty?

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First Chapter Excerpt:

Bruno Day stood at the window of his penthouse in midtown Manhattan. The thunderstorm rolling up the East River threw lightning at the horizon like a vengeful child while ominous clouds billowed over the Statue of Liberty in the distance. He couldn’t help but think of the storm as a portent of doom.

The silver shield ring he held chilled his palm, so he closed his fingers around it to warm the special alloy. He didn’t usually have time to stand around idle, but today he’d somehow managed to squeeze out thirty minutes of blank space in the midst of his insanely busy day. He wished he hadn’t. Nothing good ever came of giving himself time to brood. When the elevator doors to his floor opened on the far wall, he turned in relief. His mind had been circling the same problem with no solution for days now.

“Bruno? I have the briefing on your next appointment ready,” his assistant, Eileen Parker, said as she stepped out of the lift. As usual, she wore her hair scraped back into a tight ponytail. Her suit jacket and slacks were immaculately pressed. If he didn’t know better, he’d almost think she was an automaton, but the photos of her daughter and husband on her office desk two floors down belied her professional exterior. He’d seen her with her family, and his empathic gift gave him more intimate details of the people he met than they realized. He knew Eileen’s emotions well. He knew her kindness and loyalty. He counted on them. And her efficiency continued to impress him.

“Thank you,” Bruno said, walking toward her. They met in the middle of the vast space, near the Stronghold pillar that dominated the center of the room.

She unclipped a paper from her clipboard and handed it to him. “This should be a fairly routine meeting. Fifteen minutes tops,” she said.

Bruno nodded and scanned the information. “The President sent his favorite hacker to interrogate me? For what?”

“Because he can.” Eileen laughed. “If that’s what you want to call his cyber-security chief.”

Bruno sighed softly. “I hope they don’t still think that the Stronghold net has somehow compromised the government’s networks.”

“They long for something damaging that will force the Sentries under their control. Something that will force you, as the most visible Sentry, to answer to them.” Eileen reshuffled the rest of the papers on her board, then tucked it between her arm and torso. “Human nature and all that.”

“I know, but that will never happen. They couldn’t force us to do their bidding if they tried. My brothers and I must remain outside and above human governments,” Bruno said, rescanning the brief. As he did so, he absently rolled his shield ring around his palm. He glanced up to find Eileen frowning at him, and closed the ring inside his fist. “What?”

“When are you going to see her?” She looked pointedly at his closed hand.

Bruno stared at his assistant. He knew better than to assume Eileen didn’t know what was happening. He knew she’d spoken to his brother Greyson’s wife, Eva, just yesterday. If Eileen was asking this question, that meant all of his brothers and their paired mates knew everything. “You spoke with Eva?” he asked, stalling for time.

“Of course.”

Bruno exhaled. “There’s no rush to go see Saige’s friend.”

“No?” Eileen tilted her head. “Saige is a good person. I’m glad Isaac found her.” She narrowed her eyes. “But she isn’t in Flagstaff anymore. Isaac took her out to Alpha Centauri in one of the starships, remember? If her friend Amy needs protection, shouldn’t you give that ring to her?” She nodded at his fist.

“Amy Roderick is safe. She has Isaac’s ring.” Bruno didn’t elaborate. He didn’t have to. Eileen understood enough to know he was being uncharacteristically reluctant with her.

“But the ring Amy has is meant for Saige, right? It’s for Isaac’s wife, not for her best friend to carry around,” Eileen pointed out.

Bruno sensed her honest concern, and suppressed his frustration. He’d foreseen this exact moment in a dream over two hundred years ago, and one would think that having that much time to chew over an event was long enough to get used to the idea of meeting one’s mate. It wasn’t. He had no desire to put an innocent young woman’s life at risk, even if it meant he’d finally have someone to share his life with. “I need you to clear my schedule for the next few weeks,” he heard himself say, as if from a great distance.

Eileen’s eyes widened with surprise. “Weeks? Are you serious?”

Bruno nodded, understanding her shock. He never took time off, and certainly never that long a stretch at a time. “I’m sorry. I know what a mess that will cause.” But I can’t run from my fate any longer. The world’s survival depends on me. And on Amy, though she doesn’t know it yet.

“I’ll do my best,” Eileen said as worry seeped into her expression. “What’s happening?”

Bruno shook his head. “Nothing is happening right now. No incursions or swarms, so you can rest easy, Eileen. I am merely taking your advice.” He showed her the ring he still held. “I may not be gone for that long. I may be able to resolve things sooner.” He lifted a shoulder. “But I can’t promise it.” He squeezed his fingers around the silver ring so tightly that it hurt his joints.

Eileen stared at him for a long moment, and then her expression eased. “Bruno, if you want a rest, you should take all the time you need. You have never taken even one day off since I first started working for you twenty years ago.”

“Sentries do not take time off.” Bruno knew the words sounded pompous the moment they left his mouth, but they were true, nonetheless. He smiled wryly as he caught Eileen’s smirk.

“Tell that to Greyson. He hid in his woods for what? Decades?” Eileen smiled. “That’s a lot of time off.”

Bruno folded the briefing notes in half and then in half again. “My brother had good reason to hide away. And he has different duties to fulfill.”

Eileen raised an eyebrow at him.

Bruno pursed his lips, and then decided to tell her a secret that she surely suspected after working with him so long. “You know that Sentries have certain abilities, yes?” he asked, watching her for the merest hint of confusion. “Beyond the technology we use to safeguard Earth from the Spiders.”

She nodded. “Yes. I figured that out in the first year I worked for you.” Eileen glanced at the pillar in the center of the room. “And you have some impressive technology, but that’s not what you mean, is it?”

“The abilities I refer to are biological tech. Long ago, a group of benevolent aliens tampered with our DNA,” he explained.

“Everyone knows that,” Eileen said, frowning. “But the Others have been gone for a long time, right?”

If only she knew, Bruno thought, remembering the alien he’d fought with his brother, Isaac, just a few short weeks ago. “Yes. They are extinct,” he said, not wishing to explain the situation that had led to a single, surviving, rogue Other attacking his brother and his paired mate. The creature was dead now, anyway. “What no one knows is that we have a heightened sense of empathy,” he continued, watching her closely for signs of disbelief. There were none.

Eileen waited a moment, then nodded when he didn’t elaborate. “Well, I assumed you had some sort of enhanced intuition, given the way you interact with politicians and the like. I know that you are gifted. No one else could keep all these crazy leaders from blowing each other up.”

“Humans can be very trying.” Bruno grimaced. “What I have is more than simple intuition. It’s an energy-based ability to read and sometimes influence the emotions of other people.”

Eileen blinked. “You can literally sense my emotions?”

“Yes.” Bruno smiled. “Right now, you are feeling surprise, but also satisfaction. I have confirmed something you suspected but did not know how to articulate.” He exhaled. “I’m relieved that you’re not afraid.”

“I’ve known you too long to fear you,” she said slowly. “However, what does this have to do with Greyson and his short temper? And why he hid himself away in a forest for so long?”

Bruno swept out a hand. “Imagine being able to sense the emotions of everyone around you. Then imagine being in the midst of one of the largest concentrations of sentient beings on the planet.” He looked out of the windows at the storm drenching the city. “Imagine feeling all of Manhattan inside your brain.”

Eileen blanched. “Oh.” She followed his gaze, then put a hand to her throat. “Dear God.” She glanced back at him. “How do you function? I assume you can feel … everyone.”

“I can, and it’s often quite uncomfortable.” He ran two fingers along the crease in the paper he still held. “I have developed some coping mechanisms after so long among so many humans, but Greyson’s work requires him to remain more open. He requires solitude.”

“Open? Open to what?” Eileen asked, then visibly gathered her wits. “Wait. He’s an engineer. He creates a lot of your tech, and he uses this ability to help him do that,” she reasoned.

Bruno didn’t interrupt her musing. His assistant was a highly intelligent woman, and she’d already gotten to the point he didn’t have to explain aloud.

“And that leaves his mind exposed, since he’s manipulating energy, right? He’s grumpy because he feels too much.”

“Precisely,” Bruno said, not surprised that she’d put it together so quickly.

Eileen frowned. “And you all have this ability?”

Bruno sighed. “To a certain extent, yes. We can all heal a little bit, and use our energy against the Spiders, but our abilities are most focused where our interests lie.” He waved a hand at his home in the middle of one of the biggest cities on the planet. “I am good with people.” He had other gifts, but they weren’t something he felt comfortable sharing. Even his younger brothers didn’t know everything about him. They’d all inherited their abilities from their parents, but his father had tinkered with him when he’d been born, boosting his personal energy beyond natural levels. When he fully bonded with his paired mate, her power would match his. It was another reason he’d been so reluctant to claim Amy: he didn’t want her to have to deal with such a difficult responsibility.

Eileen raised her eyebrows, obviously recalling numerous incidents over the years when his private anger had bled through his extremely composed exterior. He didn’t bother to explain. He’d done nothing more than stalk around in private, even at his most angered. No politician had ever seen him less than composed. One thing he prided himself on was his self-discipline. A man in his position could not afford to lose control. Ever. He continued his explanation. “And when we pair, our mates gain the ability, too, because their DNA is irrevocably changed during the process.”

Eileen went still for a moment, and then she tilted her head. “You feel more than Greyson, don’t you?”

Bruno stared at her. She deserves at least some of the truth. “No one knows this.”

“I’ve known you for almost my entire adult life, Bruno. You’re over two hundred years old.” Eileen ran a hand over her face. “Jesus. I thought living forever was a curse. This is worse.”

He laughed shortly. “It is also a gift.”

She shook her head. “No. Now I definitely know you need time off.” She flapped her hands at him. “Go. I’ll take care of all your meetings.”

“Thank you,” Bruno glanced outside. He’d go tomorrow. Perhaps startling the girl on a Saturday would be less stressful for both of them. And she’d likely be home, not at work.

“Do you need a driver?” Eileen asked.

“No. I don’t think showing up with an entourage would endear me to her,” he replied.

“Oh, I don’t know. If the most powerful man in the world showed up at my door with all of his minions, I’d probably be pretty damn impressed,” Eileen retorted, eyes twinkling. “I might even swoon on my doorstep.”

Oh, hell no. Never. Bruno made a face. “I did show up at your door one day. Your daughter vomited all over my shoes. I had to throw them out. I had no idea that human bile could destroy leather.”

“That’s because you insisted on coming to see if we were all right. I told you to stay away that day. We all had the plague.” She rolled her eyes. “And anyway, that was years ago. Many years ago. Martha’s all grown up and off at college. She knows how to throw up in a toilet now.”

Bruno smiled, pleased that Eileen wasn’t treating him any differently after the past few minutes’ disclosures. What she didn’t know was that he’d used his healing abilities on her and her family that day, so long ago. When he’d shown up at her house, he’d wanted to make sure that they hadn’t contracted a particularly virulent form of ‘flu, and a bit of discreet healing had assured him that they would be okay. He didn’t regret the vomit, not that he’d admit that to her. He had to maintain his stern image, after all. “If Amy is still in Arizona, I’ll use a starship. If she’s back on the east coast, I’ll take my motorcycle,” he said instead of elaborating on that particular visit.

“The Harley?” Eileen laughed. “Oh, Amy’s mother is going to love you.”

Bruno narrowed his eyes. At that moment, a loud roll of thunder echoed across the room as rain started pelting the floor-to-ceiling windows when the wind changed direction.

Eileen shook her head, still smiling. “Enjoy the briefing, if you can. And then enjoy your time off. You deserve it.” She checked her watch. “I’m heading out for the day, but if you need anything—”

“I know how to text, Eileen. You forced me to learn how several years ago, remember?” He walked her to the elevator.

“Yes, yes. But still. I know you. If you need anything, I’m only a phone call away.”

“It’s a good thing your husband trusts you,” Bruno muttered.

“He’s met you, remember? I think he told me that you would never be so crass as to steal another man’s woman,” Eileen said, stepping on the elevator. She grinned at him.

Bruno refrained from yet another sigh. He didn’t mean to come off so stuffy. He simply had a great deal of responsibility, and never enough time to handle most of the problems that fell across his desk. He’d considered hiring more assistants, but almost immediately dismissed the thought because more people close to him would only weaken the security of the Stronghold net he and his brothers maintained. They had to remain vigilant, as the non-sentient Spiders continued to send swarms down to the surface of the planet every so often. He slid the shield ring into his pocket. No, he’d manage. He always did. And he didn’t want a crowd of folks following him around all day, every day. It was bad enough living in the middle of one of the largest cities on the planet.

“Have a lovely weekend, Eileen.” He pushed the button to send the elevator down to her office level.

“You, too,” she said, as the doors closed.

Bruno ran a hand over his face, sensing her amusement fading as she descended, and then he checked the time again. He had approximately seven minutes until the briefing, just enough time to check in with Isaac. He went to the Stronghold pillar and put a hand on the smooth white surface. An interactive window opened, but he didn’t bother trying to establish a video connection. His brother and his new wife, Saige, were out on the edge of the solar system, heading for Alpha Centauri. The Sentry tech could send text over interstellar distances, but not video. He typed an inquiry into the interface as more thunder rolled across the room. The summer storm darkened the view of the city, and overhead lights clicked on automatically as he waited for his brother’s response. He didn’t have to wait long.

Isaac: Bruno. Hey, what’s up?

Bruno: I am going to exchange the shield rings tomorrow. Is she still in Flagstaff? He knew his brother would immediately know he was talking about Saige’s best friend, Amy, so he didn’t bother with explanations. He’d put off the exchange for long enough already.

Isaac: Nope. She’s back with her mom in New Jersey. She graduated, remember?

Bruno frowned, suspecting as much. He’d have to drive. New Jersey was too close to warrant taking a starship. Address?

Isaac: Dude. You’re not seriously going to her mother’s house, are you?

Bruno: Yes. And don’t call me “dude.”

Isaac: I can give you her phone number. This is Saige, here, btw.

Bruno took a breath. He had a feeling Saige was going to give him a hard time. I don’t want her number. I want her address.

Isaac: You have to give her time to prepare!

Prepare for what? Bruno wondered. He checked the time again. He had maybe a minute left before his meeting. No time to be nice to his new sister-in-law. Address.

Isaac: OMG she’s never going to forgive me if I give you her address.

Bruno hated to annoy her, but he had no choice. Saige would understand. Eventually. Put Isaac back on.

Isaac: !!! Fine. 985 Manito Lane, Oakland, NJ. Don’t tell Amy I told you her address or she’ll kill me.

That response startled a smile out of Bruno. He could almost sense her disgruntlement. She’ll know anyway.

Isaac: Shut up. You suck.

Bruno: Isaac has been a poor influence on you, my new sister.

Isaac: I can be irked at you all by myself, Sentry Day.

Bruno grinned. He liked Saige, not that he’d ever tell her that directly. He had a reputation to maintain, after all.

Isaac: Good luck, brother.

Bruno knew that last message was from Isaac. Saige still didn’t feel comfortable calling him “brother”. Thank you. Be safe, out in the universe.

Isaac: The stars are quiet. All is well.

At least there’s that, Bruno thought, relieved that Saige’s first jaunt into deep space was a noneventful one. They didn’t need any Spider incursions right now. Bruno touched the corner of his eye, even though he knew his brother couldn’t see the symbolic gesture. The connection dissolved, and the pillar returned to a seamless white sheen just as his elevator door opened once more. Men walked out, scanning the room for threats and who knew what else. Bruno put on his diplomat’s face, and turned to welcome his last appointment of the day even as rain chased the last of the light into darkness.

Lone Wolf Chapter One Freebie! #excerpt

Want to know what all the fuss is about? Here’s your chance to sample the story of Shane and his entirely unexpected hybrid mate, Tim! Scroll down to experience the first chapter of international bestseller LONE WOLF!

buy links: Evernight – Amazon – ARe – BookStrand – Smashwords – Barnes & Noble – Kobo – iTunes

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Gay Romance, Shifters, Paranormal, Erotic Romance
Word Count: 54,900
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Shane River is the last of the Bad Oak boys to feel the pull of his animal trying to get out. Problem is, once he shifts, the wolf wants nothing more than to run far away… alone. He’s an Alpha Lone Wolf, and that means he doesn’t need a pack.

Tim Cooper thought his father was human. He wasn’t. He thought his werewolf mother could survive anything. She didn’t. He thought he’d never be able to shift, but he thought wrong, and the truth is more disturbing than anything he could’ve imagined.

When Shane finds Tim’s mother dying in the desert, he vows to track down the vicious wolf-coyote hybrids responsible for the attack. He doesn’t expect her son Tim: a hybrid who has no idea what he is. He doesn’t expect Tim’s animal to call to his wolf. And he certainly doesn’t expect to mate with a creature ravaged by grief, but when instinct howls, the wolf must obey.

***MPREG***

Chapter One:

Distant screams and the faint scent of blood woke him from his nap. Shane River stood up and slowly shook out his fur, ignoring the sandy dust that clung to his paws. He glanced around, uneasy with the silence. He’d tucked himself into the corner of a jumble of rocks, hoping to get some sleep before he continued hunting, but something had disturbed his rest.

Was I dreaming? He stared into the distance, ears cocked forward. The stars shone brightly enough to completely illuminate the landscape, but he didn’t bother with more than a cursory look. His nose told him everything he needed to know: the desert stretched around him like a barren moonscape, unbroken except for the low scrub and occasional vole scurrying for a hard-dug hole. His scruff rose, nose twitching as he caught the weight of blood on the wind.

Shane clamped his jaws shut on the howl that wanted to get out and followed the scent instead, heading west. The North American Council’s leader, Bardulf Forst, had sent him out here to find the wolf-coyote hybrid who’d attacked Shane’s brother Silas six months ago, but he’d lost the trail last week. Silas’s mate, Wulfgang Marrok, had handled the brunt of the attack, not that it mattered. He wasn’t blood related to the guy, but Shane would be out here hunting down the monsters regardless. Wulfgang was family.

And family and pack are all that matters. Shane was an Alpha, though, and that presented a big problem. He couldn’t stay with Forst Pack, not and remain sane. The pack already had two Alphas, Bardulf and his mate, Shane’s cousin Ryan. Shane didn’t want the responsibility, anyway. Lone Wolf, someone called him once, and now he knew it for truth. He loved his brother and cousins, loved making music in a band with them, but in-between times he needed to get the hell away from everyone. Touring together as Bad Oak was one thing. Living on top of each other when not on the road? No, thank you.

He stopped, nose flaring as he caught the scent again. North of him was the old rancher’s shack where he’d stored his human gear. The old man hadn’t said a word when he’d showed up in a beat-up pickup truck and holding a short note from Bardulf. He’d just nodded and taken Shane’s stuff inside, like having a rock star appear on his stoop was an everyday thing.

Shane snorted, still amused by the week-old encounter. Old man probably doesn’t even know I’m part of Bad Oak. Hell, I’d be surprised if he had a working television in that place. No way he’d know who I am. Shane had stripped and headed out in wolf form, not worrying about the details. The sooner he could get away from the guy, the better. Just standing within five feet of another person these days made him want to bite something, and not in a fun way.

Course, I looked like a homeless drifter. Holes in my jeans. Screwed up hair. Not surprising no one recognizes me out here in the middle of nowhere. He flicked his tail and kept going, needing to find the source of the screams that had woken him up, but his thoughts kept circling, like vultures over a corpse. Hanging out in Vegas was a disaster, and so was Maine, even though I was able to give Silas a hand. Still, I shouldn’t have expected to anything would be different out here in the desert.

He’d been feeling like crap since the first time he’d shifted. Everyone irritated him. Hell, he irritated himself. He needed to get his shit together, because his family was depending on him. And there was no way he could perform with the inside of his head all screwed up like this. His claws dug into the hard ground as he ran. He couldn’t even play piano anymore, not with the mental weight of an audience pressing at him, and that had been his go-to instrument since childhood. This nervous breakdown shit is a disaster for a musician. I’m better off out here on my own until I figure out what the fuck is going on with me. Just as well Bardulf sent me to hunt down the hybrids. I like being alone better than anything else right now.

He lifted his nose and added more speed. The desert blurred as he ran, heading towards the blood.

****

Tim Cooper frowned at his overheating engine. “Fucking piece of shit.” He ground his teeth together and resisted the urge to slam into the truck with a tire iron. Beating the crap out of an inanimate hunk of junk wouldn’t help a damn thing. He needed to get to his mother. His gut told him something really fucking bad had happened to her, and standing around, glaring at a fucked up engine wasn’t doing his nerves any good. “Shit.” He ran a hand over his face. “Shit on a shit stick. This is stupid. What the hell do I think I’m going to do even if I find her?”

He stared at the steam billowing out from the radiator, then turned on his heel. To the east stretched miles of empty desert. To his west, the faint glow of Flagstaff barely lit the horizon. Most of the city had capped their lights to cut down on light pollution for the stargazing community, so the glow was pretty dim. Normally, he thought that was pretty cool, but right now he didn’t give a flying fuck. He’d acquiesced to his mother’s need to run in her shifter form earlier in the day and had driven her out onto the desert prairie before his shift at the car shop, but now he regretted it.

Something is very wrong, his instincts told him. He ground his teeth together and jogged off the road, away from his truck. Not for the first time he cursed the loser sperm donor who’d violently impregnated his mother twenty-four years ago. The bastard had shitty DNA: Tim was human. Now, of all times, he wished he could shift into wolf form, too, and go after his mother more quickly, but he couldn’t. He’d never been able to shift, though he’d inherited just enough of his mother’s werewolf genes to heighten his senses. And right now, he sensed trouble. He picked up the pace, knowing it was going to be a long night, but what else could he do? He had no one to call for help. He and his mom lived alone, and they always moved on after a few months. They’d been nomads for most of his life. Normally, it didn’t bother him much, but lately he’d been feeling frustrated. Like something was missing.

An hour later, he staggered to a halt and bent over to catch his breath. He’d paced himself, but the longer he ran, the more his sense of doom screamed at him to hurry up. He lifted his face, wiping at the sweat on his forehead. The wind smelled wrong. The stars seemed dull. “Shit.” He took off again, skirting the edge of one of the many small canyons that cratered the dry prairie. It was half desert, half grassland, and a bitch and a half to run through with worry nagging at his gut.

The next time he paused, the stars had circled down lower, and his diaphragm hurt, but he sensed his mother just over the next bit of jumbled rock. He ran a little faster, ignoring the way his lungs screamed for mercy. He could breathe later. Right now he had to make sure she was okay. He stumbled around a low shrub, then halted, his mouth dry as sand. A naked man crouched over a still form on the ground, hands dark and wet.

Oh, God, no. “Get away from her!” Tim yelled as he sprinted the last few feet. His mother lay nude on the dirt, her stomach a mess of red meat. She blinked weakly, hands twitching. He lunged for the man, intent on choking the life out of him, but the guy backed off, hands raised.

“I didn’t do it,” he said quickly, and the note of despair in the guy’s voice sounded so weird that Tim involuntarily looked into his eyes. The moment their gazes met, thunder cracked through his body. He tripped, then turned his fall into an attack.

Tim, no, his mother whispered in his head.

What? But she’s gone, he thought, confused by the sound of her voice in his skull. And I’m losing my fucking mind. His hands closed on the guy’s shoulders. Dark eyes stared at him through shaggy blond hair. Tim’s palms skidded across the man’s collarbone, and then they were down on the ground. The man groaned as Tim’s knee caught him in the thigh.

“I didn’t hurt her,” he repeated. “I swear it. I found her on the ground like that. I was trying to help.”

Sudden pain choked off Tim’s voice before he could respond. His spine spasmed and he gasped, trying to shove his fingers around the man’s throat, but he couldn’t get them to work properly. To his shock, his mother let out a thin cry, like a bird that had fallen from the sky and couldn’t get up. The sound was so wrong he couldn’t help but freeze. He looked around, confused, then abandoned his anger when he saw her foot twitch. Now was not the time to kill a man who hadn’t even tried to defend himself. If his mother was alive, he needed to help her.

“Someone left her out here like that,” the man said, but Tim was already backing off.

“Mom.” He twisted and crawled across the dirt to her side. “Mom, Jesus. What happened?” His face was wet and he could hardly see. Everything looked blurry. He swallowed bile as he carefully cradled her cheeks.

“He didn’t do it.” Her lips moved, but no sound came out. It didn’t matter. Tim could understand her. “He helped me.” Her eyes rolled to the side, looking past him. “He’s yours.”

Tim touched her shoulder, ignoring the cramping in his gut. Gentle. Gotta be gentle. He smoothed back tangled hair. “What happened?”

“The coyotes caught up with me.” She grimaced, eyes going dim. “Don’t let them hurt you.”

Tim shook his head. “I’m good, Mom. I can take care of myself. You know that.” If only she’d let him take care of her. They should have moved two weeks ago. Every fucking time they found a nice place to settle, those fucking bastards caught up with them. What the hell did they want? He pressed his lips together. Now was not the time to bring that up again. She wouldn’t tell him, anyway. She’d kept the secret of their nomadic lifestyle for years.

She coughed, groaning as frothy bubbles welled up at her lips. “Shane found me. Offered me sanctuary.”

“Sanctuary?” What the hell did that mean? And who was Shane? “Mom—“

She shook her head, eyes focusing back on his face. “I love you, my perfect son. I’m glad you were born, even though it wasn’t my choice to have you.”

What? Tim’s scrubbed at his face. “Mom, don’t talk like that. I’m going to get you out of here. Just hang on.” He scrabbled in his pocket for his phone. Of course, when he pulled it out, there was no signal. They were in the middle of nowhere, after all. “Fuck!”

His mother didn’t seem to hear his frustration. She tilted her head, eyes darting around until they landed somewhere just past him.

“Mom, let me get you out of here.” He reached for her, intending to carry her out if he had to, but she shook her head. Her face was too damned pale. Too calm.

“Too late,” she whispered. Tim startled, then almost fell when the man he’d tackled a minute ago crouched down next to him. Rage welled up, but he shoved it away. His mother was staring at him again with that strange look she got sometimes.

“Mom, there’s no time,” he began to say, but she looked right through him.

“You still want it?” the guy asked.

Tim frowned.

His mother nodded.

“I need to take her hand,” the guy told him.

Tim clenched his teeth. Who was he to deny his mother what was obviously her last wish on this Earth? “Fine.” He pushed the word out, hard and fast, then watched as the man gently took his mother’s hand in his.

“Here we go,” the man said, almost under his breath. He closed his eyes and put his free hand on her wrist. His thumb moved over her pulse.

Tim gave him a sharp look, but the guy wasn’t paying any attention to him. His mother gasped, eyes going wide, and he almost shoved the man away, but then she smiled. He hadn’t seen such a look on her face in, well, ever.

“I can feel them,” she said as all the lines of pain in her expression abruptly eased away.

The man smiled faintly. “Yeah. Forst Pack is something else.” He adjusted his grip on her hand and took a deep breath. “Okay, here is the bond. You just have to reach out and grab it. I can’t do it for you because I’m not—” He broke off and took a deep breath. “I’m not bonded to them like that.”

Forst Pack? Bond? Tim narrowed his eyes. His mother was a wolf, but she had no pack, not anymore. Not for a long time. He ran his gaze over the man’s nude form: a large tattoo of a tree sprawled across his back, but there were no other identifying characteristics. He was fit, but not overly large. Muscles slid beneath his skin in a way that made Tim want to put his hands all over him. Hell. The guy’s body was almost too perfect. That meant only one thing. This man wasn’t human. Shifter. Probably a wolf, given his affinity with my mother. Which is just … shit. I can’t do a damned thing about it.

Shh. It’s okay. I’ve got you,” the man said, still as a statue.

His mother gasped, back arching. Tim grabbed her free arm, nearly falling down when energy tried to crackle through his fingers. It was like holding onto a live wire with three layers of rubber between him and the electricity. He could sense the wild flow, but it didn’t quite touch him. The man glanced at him, frowning, but then Tim’s mother sighed and he turned his attention back to her.

“Thank you,” she said to him, her fingers going limp.

The man sighed and put her hand down. “Rest easy now, and forevermore,” he murmured.

“Mom?” Tim shook her. “Mom? Hang on to me. Come on.” His heart gave a hard lurch when she looked at him, eyes fading.

“I love—” Her face went slack.

Tim stopped breathing. He tightened his grip on her wrist, but he could already feel her skin going cold. “Oh God.”

“I’m sorry.”

Tim swallowed, hard, trying to make sense of what just happened. “She’s gone. What the fuck?” Grief punched him in the gut. He clenched his fists so he wouldn’t hit the ground. “What the fuck?”

“She was dragged here. Tracks lead that way.” The man pointed.

Tim blinked, then looked east, towards more empty desert. “Fuck.” What the hell was he going to do now? He and his mom had been running since he was eight years old. He’d gone to a community college, worked a bunch of loser jobs, and still, they ran. Now he had no one.

“It’s not your fault.”

Tim flinched when the man touched his elbow. “Get the fuck away from me!”

The guy pressed his lips together, but he let his arm drop. “I think they were hunting her.”

No fucking kidding. They’ve been after her for the past several decades. Tim turned back to his mother’s body and ran his hand down her face, closing her eyes. She looked weird. Foreign. She didn’t look like his mother anymore. He’d have to bury her. He’d have to walk back to the truck and somehow get it towed. He’d have to quit his job and go somewhere else. Somewhere very far away so he didn’t do something he’d regret. Like chase down the fuckers who killed her and rip their intestines out with a pair of pliers.

“I’m going to track them.”

“What?” Tim whipped his head around. The man had a handful of dirt and was letting it trickle through his fingers. “Are you fucking crazy? They’ll kill you, too.”

The guy turned his head, and that same, weird, gut hurting thunder echoed through Tim again when their gazes met. “I’m here to find them. That’s what I was doing before I caught your mother’s scent. I don’t know how she got mixed up with them, but it doesn’t really matter. They’re going to regret messing with the Council.”

Council? Tim opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He had nothing to say. He took a deep breath and organized his thoughts. “Who the hell are you? And what did you do to my mother?”

The guy stood up. “I’m Shane. I’m a werewolf.” He cocked his head. “But you knew that.”

The rage Tim had forgotten about roared back into place. “You led them to her!”

Shane shook his head. “No. I was sleeping in wolf form when I caught the smell of blood on the wind. It led me here.” He kept his voice low and mild. “I had no idea what I’d find when the trail brought me to this place. I’m so sorry I was too late to help her.”

Tim forced himself to unclench his fists. “Why should I believe you?”

The guy shrugged. “I have no reason to lie.” His nostrils flared as the breeze picked up. “And you could smell it if I did, anyway, so I wouldn’t bother.”

Tim’s stomach hurt, but not so much that he didn’t know every word the guy said was true. He might not be a wolf like his mother, but his instincts were sharp. “Fuck.”

“Look. I need to track them, but you’re about to shift, and I have a feeling you don’t do it very often.” He lifted a shoulder. “I’ll stick around until I’m sure you’re okay.” He glanced at Tim’s mother. “I’m so sorry she’s gone. I really wish I could’ve got here faster.”

“I don’t shift. I’m not a wolf.” The pain in Tim’s stomach was spreading. He could barely get the words out.

Shane lifted an eyebrow. “Are you sure about that?”

Tim nodded. “My mother was a wolf, but my father wasn’t.” He growled out the words. “And before you ask, the answer is no. I have no idea who he was. My mother never spoke about him.”

“You’ve never shifted?” Shane’s eyes sparked with some emotion Tim couldn’t place.

“Never. And I’m not going to now,” Tim said. His gut cramped again, almost doubling him over. “Aw, fuck. Just what I need.” He coughed, trying to ease the spasm. What the hell had he eaten for dinner? He couldn’t remember. Maybe it was the loss of his mother that was tearing at his insides. Because of his faulty, half-breed status, they’d never had the metaphysical connection she claimed pack members experienced with each other, but maybe there’d been something there. Something he couldn’t feel until she was gone.

“Oh, shit,” Shane said.

Tim looked at him. The wolf was staring at him like he’d just sprouted a second head. “What the fuck is wrong with you? I’m the one who’s sick.” Sick with grief, and anger, and a whole shitload of bitterness. If ever there was a time he wanted to go back and beat the shit out of his mother’s asshole family it was now. She was gone, and she’d died practically alone, and it was their fucking fault for kicking her out of her pack. So what if they didn’t approve of him? Didn’t approve of her for being raped? It wasn’t liked she’d consented, but that didn’t matter according to their fucking self-righteous fundamentalist morality, did it? He was a stunted half-breed who couldn’t shift, so her so-called family had kicked them to the curb. And after they’d left, the stalking had begun. And so they’d run, for years and years, trying to keep one step ahead of the mysterious weirdos who were obsessed with his mother. He’d have stopped running and confronted the men tormenting them ages ago if she’d hadn’t begged him to lay low. No longer, though. I’m a grown man, and I’ve got nothing to lose. If he ever got his hands on the guys who did this to her…

“I don’t believe this,” Shane muttered, backing away.

Tim groaned as his train of thought shattered. The pain was back, and it was worse. He dropped to the ground, curling over his abdomen. His skin hurt like he’d been set on fire. Jesus, please, let this stop.

His bones cracked. His vision went white, then came back sharper. Harder. Smells he couldn’t make sense of bombarded him, and he whined, then growled as his skin split open. His mind fractured, and he thought he might be going insane, but then a cool hand touched his soul, soothing the fire that boiled through his veins.

“Let go. Let it happen,” a voice said.

“Let what go?” Tim tried to ask, but the dirt under his spine hurt like a motherfucker and he couldn’t form the words.

“You’re shifting. It’s okay.” The mind touching his felt like fresh snow.

Tim latched onto it with all his strength. He sensed shock, and then acceptance, and abruptly, the pain faded. He took a deep breath. He felt … strange. He stood up, but his balance was off. He lifted his head, and a lonely sound drifted out into the wind. The moment he heard it he knew.

“Fuck.”

He was no longer human.

Sci-fi? Intense romance? An insanely sexy hero?

Many people probably don’t know that I’ve written a handful of books under another pen name: Marie E. Blossom. One of my very favorite books I’ve written is Devotion.

Why? The hero, Zefirino, is crazy sexy. And a ninja (sort of). Also, the heroine has super powers. And most of all, well, we can’t forget the knife-play scene, can we? Their love is forbidden… but you know how that goes in erotic romances. 😉

This is also one of the longest books I’ve written, coming in at 61k words. It’s available in paperback, too.

buy links: Evernight – Createspace – Print – Amazon – Amazon Paperback – BookStrand – ARe – Smashwords – Barnes & Noble – Kobo – iBookstore

   epeditorsesal1s

Erotic Sci-fi Romantic Suspense, MF

Word Count: 61, 270
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Click here to read an excerpt. Click here to read a book extra. Click here to read the first chapter!

Queen Ximena is devoted to her people and will gladly sacrifice herself for them, even if it means her death. Her bodyguard, Zefirino, is devoted to her and will gladly sacrifice himself to keep her alive.

When a terrible enemy suddenly attacks their planet, how will they protect those they love without losing each other? Together they survive an assassination attempt, invasion, and capture, but they both know that their duty may eventually tear them apart.

How can Ximena give her life for her people when she knows that Zefirino will die trying to save her? Who does she put first: her planet, or the lover she isn’t even supposed to have?

What are people saying about Devotion?

The Talent Cave Reviews

Rating: 5 stars! A recommended read! “The love story between the Queen and Zefirino is well done, and the sex sizzling.”

Evernight First Chapter feature–You Taste So Sweet #giveaway

I’m giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!!!

Read the first chapter of You Taste So Sweet at Evernight Publishing’s blog and leave a comment to win!

–>  CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway <–

Want to preview my zombie apocalypse new adult adventure extraordinaire? Hurry up and join in the fun!

buy links: Evernight – Amazon – ARe – BookStrand – Smashwords – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

  epeditorsesal1s

Menage (MMF), Erotic Romance, New Adult, May/December, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 36,720
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

 

When a meteor explodes over Atlanta, infecting the world with a virus that turns people into zombies, Lark knows survival will be difficult. Her roommate and best friend insists that her father and his best friend will come and save them, but Lark isn’t sure if she wants to put her life into the hands of strangers. Unfortunately, when the zombies come, she may have no choice. And when Ben and Dillon break into their dorm in the nick of time, Lark finds herself reevaluating her insistence on independence.

Tragedy brings them together. The fight to survive creates a bond stronger than blood in a few short days. What’s a girl to do when faced with the zombie apocalypse? Does she trust in the two men she knows will keep her alive, or does she strike out on her own?

Be warned: menage sex (MMF)

 

ARebestseller

Siren-BookStrand bestseller!

youtastesosweetbanner

 

What are people saying about You Taste So Sweet?

Cocktails and Books – 4 stars!

“I’m HIGHLY recommending “You Taste So Sweet”. It’s sexy. It’s a bit scary. It’s wild, and it’s FUN!”

The TBR Pile – 4 stars! Recommended Read!

“There’s a lot of sex, but Ms. Leaf does a great job at not letting the characters get into it too quickly. Lark, Ben, and Dillon don’t immediately act on their feelings. . . . If you like m/m, you’ll likely enjoy this.”

Evernight First Chapter feature–You Taste So Sweet

Want to preview my zombie apocalypse new adult adventure extraordinaire?

Yes?

You know you want to….

Evernight Publishing is featuring the first chapter of You Taste So Sweet! To read, CLICK HERE

buy links: Evernight – Amazon – ARe – BookStrand – Smashwords – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

  epeditorsesal1s

Menage (MMF), Erotic Romance, New Adult, May/December, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 36,720
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Click here to read an excerpt.

When a meteor explodes over Atlanta, infecting the world with a virus that turns people into zombies, Lark knows survival will be difficult. Her roommate and best friend insists that her father and his best friend will come and save them, but Lark isn’t sure if she wants to put her life into the hands of strangers. Unfortunately, when the zombies come, she may have no choice. And when Ben and Dillon break into their dorm in the nick of time, Lark finds herself reevaluating her insistence on independence.

Tragedy brings them together. The fight to survive creates a bond stronger than blood in a few short days. What’s a girl to do when faced with the zombie apocalypse? Does she trust in the two men she knows will keep her alive, or does she strike out on her own?

Be warned: menage sex (MMF)

 

ARebestseller

Siren-BookStrand bestseller!

youtastesosweetbanner

 

What are people saying about You Taste So Sweet?

Cocktails and Books

Rating: 4 stars!

I’m not shy about my love of a good M/M/F love story. However, I also love a good horror story too. When I saw “You Taste So Sweet”, I nearly had a heart attack because it had combined my two favorite things…M/M/F and the ZOMBACOLYPSE!! I could barely contain my joy.

Lark and her best friend, Olivia, are trapped in their dorm room after a meteor exploded and started turning people into flesh eating monsters. They’re holding onto the hope that Olivia’s father and his friend can get to them. Eventually, they get there, but is it too late? No more spoilers! The characters are great, very well fleshed out (hehe…flesh…zombies…hehe) even though it’s not a very long book. Their chemistry is nearly instant, but it was believable, because at the end of the world you either trust someone, or you don’t. Some of it is blind faith. The sex is hot…almost desperate. You can feel that they NEED each other. Underneath all of this is an excellent plot. There is action aplenty, and our heroes get to kick some zombie ass!

I really enjoyed this book. I’m giving Erin M. Leaf so many points for originality and creativity in a genre that tends to have the same theme every time, girl meets boys, falls in love with boys, boys protect girl in some way, then they get their HEA. Lark, Ben, and Dillon have to actually fight and claw their way to that, and I am tickled to have been a part of it. I’m HIGHLY recommending “You Taste So Sweet”. It’s sexy. It’s a bit scary. It’s wild, and it’s FUN!

Reviewer: Kenna

****

The TBR Pile

Rating: 4 stars! Recommended Read!

There’s a lot of sex, but Ms. Leaf does a great job at not letting the characters get into it too quickly. Lark, Ben, and Dillon don’t immediately act on their feelings. . . . If you like m/m, you’ll likely enjoy this.

Lark is a strong young woman and I respect her for not being willing to just accept what fate throws at her. She’s definitely a fighter as she proves not only in the beginning, but when she’s taken to what is supposed to be a safe camp, after she believes Ben & Dillon give their lives to let her escape.

Reviewer: Victoria

First chapter of Devotion by Marie E. Blossom

Over on my alter-ego’s page, I’ve got the first chapter of my new novel up. If you like the idea of a bodyguard and his queen and a little bit of knife-play in the bedroom (it’s hot, not bloody, I promise), head on over–>

First chapter of Devotion!

Did I mention this novel is an editor’s pick? And still on sale at Evernight Publishing? 😀