4.5 out of 5 stars…This was an awesome read, and I mean awesome! Lola gives you a great plot that flows really well. She grabs your attention from the start and never lets it go. The ending of the book leaves me thinking about it for awhile because I loved how it ended. Talk about steamy, and I’m not talking need a drink of water steamy, I’m talking cold shower with the A/C cranked up steamy. – Heather P., Sexyways of Reading Book Blog
Here’s a little taste…
The day was bright but the impression of dark shadows coasting around the tall, narrow house pierced through Meggie’s mental barriers until the sunshine was nearly blotted out. She studied the structure, gritting her teeth against choking doubt. The house itself was not alarming. It was three stories of old stone, worn from decades of sun, snow and rain, soaring above her head and snuggling up hard against its two, run-down neighbors.
The street was too quiet, though. All the narrow buildings on either side were in various stages of renovation, from plastic coverings on gaping window holes to yellow tape surrounding newly poured concrete steps. None but the one she faced showed life. Meggie adjusted the heavy bag on her shoulder and stepped onto the stoop.
She forced herself to knock on the front door.
She’d weighed her options through half the night but, in the end, followed the path being laid out for her, brick by brick. Getting involved might prove to be a horrible decision but the alternative could be even more devastating. And she couldn’t live knowing darkness surrounded her.
She had agreed to meet Jim and his roommates at the scene of the crime, so to speak. Now that she had arrived, she was having second thoughts and it took all her courage not to turn and run. Though distance had eased the attraction Jim’s energy so easily manipulated within her, Meggie was learning just how hard it was to ignore the swirl of emotions when combined with her curiosity and Nina’s careless assurance that this banishment would be a snap.
Not that it mattered. There were so few other options, anyway. So there she was. For better or worse, come high water or Hell. Literally.
Kyle answered the door, giving Meggie the opportunity to study him without Jim overwhelming her. Energy skittered over her skin, tightening her muscles hard enough to bring tears to her eyes. Blinking back the well of moisture, she saw Kyle vaguely haloed in a gentle silver radiance. A cold color, yet exuding such warmth the knot in Meggie’s chest loosened, allowing her to catch her breath. The impression of a gentle rain on a balmy, moonlit summer night took root in her mind. A feeling of comfort wrapped around her.
Though oddly similar to Jim, Kyle’s differences were easily appreciated. She noticed a wicked hint of laughter sparkling in his hazel eyes and a ready smile tugging his lips. He had a relaxed attitude that made it easy to be near him and an open expression that spoke of integrity.
Kyle’s face softened into a relieved expression. “You really came. I had kind of expected you to turn tail on us.”
“Yeah, well, the thought definitely crossed my mind, but Fate has brought me to your door. So, here I am.” Meggie fidgeted on the step.
“Come on in.”
She shook her head, gesturing toward the neighboring houses. “What’s going on with this street? Your block looks deserted.”
“It used to be a row of run-down, abandoned buildings filled with vagrants and crack heads. We bought this place, rehabbed it, and have been buying the others, one by one, over the years.”
“You guys are the only ones that live here?”
“Yeah.” He waved a hand to indicate the construction next door. “We don’t want to start selling them until we finish all the houses. We’ll get a better price for them, then.”
“I guess that makes sense. It’s just a little strange that you guys are the only ones in your neighborhood.”
Amusement filled his eyes, making the hazel nearly glow. “Did you think the block was haunted?”
She flashed him an uneasy grin. “You’d be surprised at how often that happens, according to Nina. But it’s just, well, convenient.”
“No one’s close enough to hear you scream, Kyle.”
“Hmm, wasn’t really an issue ‘til last month.” He beckoned her with a crook of his finger. “Come on through, Meggie.”
Panic seized her and she shook her head, denying both it and Kyle. Her thoughts spun, looking for a way to put off the inevitable. “Just a minute. Tell me about Jim.”
Kyle’s honey-colored eyes immediately darkened with suspicious. “Why don’t you just ask him? He’s inside.”
“I’m not demanding state secrets.” Her brows pulled together over her nose. “I have my own opinion of him, but I want to know how yours is different. I mean, why stick this out? Why would you and Peter stay here, knowing that something is hurting you?”
He leaned against the jamb, folding his arms over his chest. His eyes left hers to focus on the dirty exterior of the house across the street. “Jim isn’t one of those guys that goes out of his way to make friends, but he’ll die for the friends he does have. Have you ever met someone like that?”
Nina’s face immediately popped into Meggie’s mind. “Yeah.”
“We met in the fourth grade, and that was it. No sad school stories about fighting bullies or playing sports together. I’ve never gone after one of his girls and he’s never gone after one of mine. He’s dependable, always there when you need him and ready to bend over backwards to give a guy a hand.”
“Has the situation you’re in now changed any of that?” Meggie watched him closely, but he only looked mildly surprised.
“No, not really. He’s tired and distracted, but we’ve been working long hours lately, taking advantage of the warm weather to get a lot of work done around here.”
Meggie glanced at the freshly poured steps of the house next door and understood what he meant. “People are attracted to Jim, aren’t they? His energy is very charismatic, and people like that tend to be black holes. They suck others into their sphere pretty easily.”
“I don’t know.” Kyle shrugged. “Maybe, but it takes a minute to get to know him. Jim doesn’t have a lot of friends, but the ones he’s got are for the long haul.”
Kyle pushed away from the jamb in a rush. “Come on. The guys are in the kitchen. If you’re still up to it.”
“I’m here, right?”
Steeling herself, Meggie stepped through the doorway, stopping just inside the building to let her senses adjust. Any small comfort she felt on the sun-warmed doorstep was immediately destroyed. The cool air was a dramatic difference from the outdoors. There was an eager, breath-stealing quality to the atmosphere that let her know the temperature wasn’t due to a great air conditioning system.
In spite of the eerie, leaden coolness, the house was bright and spacious. The windows let in sunlight from both the front and the back but Meggie was discomforted, wriggling her shoulders as she scanned the room. It should have been a welcoming space, but the brightness added to the sense of doom, as if she were being lured into a false sense of security while the danger crept closer, out of sight.
The downstairs layout was two rooms and open concept. The living room flowed into the kitchen with only a breakfast bar to help give each of the two spaces definition. Hardwood was laid lengthwise, helping the flow and making the house look bigger than its square footage would suggest. Cozy, masculine furniture was arranged on pale area rugs, clearly the design of a professional.
Without warning, pain streaked through her skull. Her muscles contracted against her bones, her joints seized. Meggie’s vision blurred before sharpening beyond her normal perception. The world snapped into focus, more defined than she’d ever seen it.
Vitality sparkled on every surface like streamers spun of precious metals. Meggie could see both Jim and Kyle had put their souls into the house. Gold and silver threads of energy were woven into the very walls. This home had been a happy place for them, a welcoming place, a labor of love. The two men were intertwined with the structure. They filled it, made it complete.
It was a house that was meant to be warm and inviting. Instead, apprehension shivered through the atmosphere. She had the eerie feeling something had just stirred, taking note of her arrival. Instincts urged her back, out into the street, even as her senses drew her farther in. She had a need, an overwhelming desire, to come in and stay. A compulsion her instinct couldn’t hope to fight.
She tried to anyway. She took a deep breath but her lungs worked shallowly, as if she were trying to breathe underwater. She squeezed her eyes closed, blue spots pulsing behind her lids in tandem with the ache at their corners. Her hands fisted until her nails dug deep crescents into her palms.
Shadowy wings brushed the edges of her awareness. A cold, feathery touch danced across her skin. Vague emotions slipped through Meggie’s head but she couldn’t define them, even though they pulled at her curiosity and burrowed into the deepest levels of her mind. She suddenly knew how a fish must feel, eyeing a tempting lure, knowing it was dangerous. She understood how the appeal could outweigh commonsense.
The entity was pleased she was there, and its pleasure was transmitted to her.
She was caught by it. The air became weighted, the supernatural presence dragging it down, slowing its circulation. Electricity sparked faintly against her skin with an icy zing.
Her thoughts narrowed. Her skin became too sensitized, the gentle wafting of air causing small bumps to rise along the lines of her arms, sending chills winging over her nerve endings. Darkness crowded close, tunneling her vision down to flashes of silver and gold, threaded with deep midnight shadows.
She jerked as frigid fingers ran down her spine. She fell forward, wrists groaning with a dull pain as her hands managed to find the wall. She leaned heavily against the structure, locking her knees against the sudden weakness threatening to take her to the floor.
Her stomach wrapped around her spine and her mind was a whirling mass of fear. Deep in the dark corners of her brain, screams echoed. She pushed and struggled, but panic continued to smother her, drawing her down into places she wasn’t ready to explore.
Shadows swept in, blocking her sight. Instinct had her snarling into the face of a dark beast, twisted and grotesque, as the hazy form overrode the vision of swirling metallic energy. It didn’t hurt her. Much worse, a cold, wet nose pressed against her throat and cool fingers smoothed over her hips before dipping between her legs.
Need and desire exploded in her belly. Meggie began to fall to the unwanted sensual assault, but it became, instead, the catalyst her spirit required to funnel her willpower deep into her soul. The vicious battle took endless moments but, little by little, she forced the darkness back.
She was panting by the time her vision cleared. Sweat dotted her brow and her legs trembled with effort. She was cold, iced to her bones, and only her elbow, trapped in Kyle’s hot hand, had escaped the frigidity of the shadow.
Amused laughter whispered past her ear, lifting the hair on the nape of her neck. A formless mist swept around her, giving her body a final stroke before disappearing up the stairwell.
Kyle’s hand tightened on her, drawing her attention. He was looking up the stairs with wide, glassy eyes. “What the hell was that?”
It took her two tries before she could make her throat work. “The demon.”
“Demon? Jesus. What did it do to you?”
He waited a moment before prodding. “Meggie?”
“I’m okay.” She pulled a long breath in through her nose. “You saw it?”
“Yeah,” he hesitated, “like mist. It was all around you.”
Meggie leaned her head back against the wall and turned her eyes to the ceiling, rather than the dim stairwell. Reaction was setting in. She took a minute to calm herself, to stop the shivers coursing through her, to stifle the sluggish flow of desire heating her body.
“Come on, honey.” Kyle tugged her arm. “I’ll get you a cup of coffee. Your skin is freezing.”
Meggie reluctantly let her gaze move toward the stairwell. Two reflective eyes peered back at her from the very top. In the shadows, she thought she saw the flash of teeth as the sound of laughter floated down.
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