About Lola White

Delve into the emotions, dive into the erotic. An extensive traveler who loves to incorporate various legends from around the world into her tales, best-selling author Lola White likes to twist reality at its edges in her stories. She likes delving into the emotions of her characters, finding their strengths and weaknesses, and seeing (and showing) how they get themselves out of whatever trouble has found them—if they can.

Sophia Shade – A Curse of Fire


A magical calling card, a murderous secret, and an ancient, dangerous realm.

The Fae have been hunting Imogen’s mother for nearly eighteen years. She has something they want: her daughter. Now they’ve caught up with her, and Imogen’s faced with a choice: attend their fae college by choice…or by force.

That should’ve been enough warning that Callador, school for the fae, is a manipulative and dangerous place. But it’s not until the school is under attack and the students are facing death by curse that Imogen realizes Callador’s darkest secret isn’t how they get their students to attend.

You won’t want to fall behind on the series readers are calling a “brilliant, magical new world.”


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I feel the same calming feeling wash over me I felt earlier. Is Erick using magic on me? I don’t think so. I don’t see any of the sparks around him I usually see when he uses magic. He just has a calming presence, I suppose. Some people are like that. I often felt something similar from Mom. She could comfort me or calm me with just a touch. That’s all he’s doing, comforting a friend in her time of need.

Ella bursts into the room, Caleb right behind her, and I pull my hand away from Erick. Caleb doesn’t even seem to notice.

“I have it!” Ella says excitedly.


Sophia Shade is the enchanting author of the Fae Academy world. She lives beyond the Shadow Veil with the students, teachers, and creatures who attend Callador: Academy of the Aos Sí. When not writing, she spends her time battling darkness to save her newfound friends and family from the mysterious force that wants to drain all magic from Faerie once and for all.


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A Sense of Community

I’m writing this a day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. My country remembers this great man as a Civil Rights leader, a compassionate man, a minister, an agitator who became the face of a movement we still need today. We remember him with a holiday, celebrating his birthday with community events and community service, outreach to make our corner of the world just a little better.

Very fitting. Community outreach was the very thing we love Dr. King for, and yet it’s not exactly the reason we remember him.

Community…a seemingly elusive concept that grows more distant every year. We can chat with perfect strangers on Facebook, but we don’t even know our neighbor’s names. We can tell you all about our ‘Facebook friends’ and their kids, what they’ve done, their accomplishments, vacations, parties…but we don’t know if the elderly people down the road have heat this winter or if the new mother two houses away gets enough food.

We don’t care that our school systems are broken, we don’t care that states now have the wherewithal to pronounce healthcare as unnecessary because it ‘doesn’t prevent enough illness’, we only just feel bad for those people swept up in hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, fires and mudslides, and we don’t care that homeless men, women and children may be freezing to death on the streets or that some are starving to death in Puerto Rico.

Except, we do. On a deep and profound level, we absolutely care, and it’s just awful. These things that are happening are just awful…But it’s overwhelming, and what can we do? That’s what we have governments for…

But we see where that got us. We need to start helping ourselves, too. We need to stop relying on some outside force that obviously stopped caring about its people a long time ago and start caring for ourselves…and our neighbors.

So this year, let’s honor the memories of all the great men and women who have gone before, who have managed to make their corner of the world just a little better—whether they be celebrated or humble, whether we know of their accomplishments or if they just touched a handful of people—let us celebrate them by bring back a sense of community.

There are things you can do that don’t take much time or money. Help somebody with their bags, shovel the snow off their sidewalk, mow their grass. Give to food banks and homeless shelters. Donate pens and pencils to schools.

Be nice to others.

Part of our problem here, in this country, is that there is always someone ‘different’. Different is code for ‘not my kind of person’ right?

I used to live in Africa, where there is a very strong sense of community. That’s not my point, though. Having lived overseas for a number of years, I’d reached a place where I could Spot The Americans. I knew them right off—because they moved a certain way, owned whatever space they currently occupied a certain way. There was some innate arrogance/confidence/aggression in their very demeanor—and I don’t mean that in a bad way. They weren’t necessarily rude, just…different from everyone else.

Americans are encouraged to say they’re Canadians when they travel overseas. I don’t know why, but I can tell you it doesn’t work. You do something like that, and whoever you’re talking to will just think you’re a liar. Even if they go along with it. You’re American, and it’s telling in every breath you take.

I wish I could hold up a mirror and show my countrymen how very similar we are. We are unlike everyone else, and yet we descend from everyone else. We’re so busy trying to define our differences that we keep overlooking our similarities, and that prevents us from developing our sense of community into the greatness that so many are clamoring for.

We are one nation. A nation is a people. We are one people. One community.

Let’s start acting like it.

Annora Wilson – Incrusted Release Day!

To save myself, I must kill my own heartbeat…

I was that unique breed, the ‘werepire’ a rare and powerful one that was made from a deadly and impossible combination of a Vampire and a Werewolf.

But I am no more than a sin to them. I am desperately trying to seek some answers, whilst my unknown enemies are on the prowl to destroy me, if I want to survive them, I need to know myself first.

 

Join Ingrid in her exciting game of life and death and see how she plays with her own fate…

I had always felt like a stranger to the world etched in charcoal. The absence of the vibrant hues of color gave me a strangling feeling; a feeling that was unexplainable, a feeling that made my whole body shudder with an unbearable pain. The blindness, the fear of the unknown and the wretched memories attached to it, pinched several holes into my defenseless soul.

My soul-shattering agony wasn’t unknown to him either, in fact, I even had the delusion that he understood my pain in a way that no one else could ever fathom. But, it didn’t take him a blink of an eye to throw me right into the arms of darkness!

And now I was running in the middle of an unknown forest, from a bunch of enemies whom I never saw before. My enemies were as unknown to me as this ruffling forest, that was covered in an ominous veil of darkness. As the strong fragrance of blood and rotten flesh numbed my nostrils, all I knew was that I was running amidst an endless row of giant pine trees.

“Don’t look back!” I whispered to myself. My weak voice got overshadowed by the thunder like sounds of my panicked breaths. My heart had forgotten its sense of rhythmic breaths and was now pounding like crazy. Fulfilling the demand of the adrenaline rush in my body I ran, I ran with my full speed, yet I couldn’t escape them. Even my full strength was falling short in front of those night beasts. My aunt always taught me to trust my own strength, she told me that my belief in myself was far stronger than any force in this whole universe. Everything was gone, forget confidence, I wasn’t even sure if I knew myself anymore!

The hungry howls of those baying night creatures froze my senses. They were getting closer with each passing second, I had no idea how much more pressure my bruised feet could handle. I knew that I was fighting a lost battle, they were the shadows of the devil, it wouldn’t take them a minute to kill me. But something inside me refused to accept defeat.

“I don’t want to die like this” I cried with my broken voice, aiming for the sky. Though I knew that there was no one listening to me, I knew my prayers would bounce back from the sky, then also I prayed, I prayed with the little ray of hope, that told me that this wasn’t the end for me. My feet gave up, the pain was unbearable, it felt like the white blankets of snow were made up of thousands of sharp pointed needles. The once green pine tree that now looked like it was showered in the snow, offered me its branch to lean on.

I rested my back against that giant pine tree to calm down my heaving chest. The cold bark was hard on my back, yet it soothed me somehow.

And for a moment, it felt like the world stood still, the silence was comforting yet horrifying at the same time. I had no idea what the next moment could bring.

After taking some deep breaths when I dared to look back, my hazy vision could detect some red footprints stained against the white snowy carpet. The slight hint of moonlight on the dove gray sky was making the white snow shine like glitter. My eyes got widened in alarm, Great! now it wouldn’t even take them a minute to find me, I thought while banging my head against the rough bark of the pine tree. The distant sound of howling had now turned into an aggressive and urgent grunting. I needed no more directions to detect that the bunch of werewolves had found me and were ready to rip my heart apart from my exhausted body.

I had no idea how many miles I had run, but all the muscles of my body were worn out and I had no once of strength left in me. When I tried to move, my feet slipped, I lost my balance and fell down. My face crashed into the icy ground, the dripping blood from my mouth, colored the white snow into saffron color. Before I could realize anything else, the shadow of a tall figure blinded my eyes. I knew who it was and what he wanted, I had reached the dead end and now there was no escaping.

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About the Author

Thank you for stopping by to read about me. My name is Annora, I was a studious girl in my high school, I always loved to read and write stuff. I used to write stories when I was in school. Now, when I look back, they seem quite amusing to me :):). When I got into college, I pursued my passion for writing, I really loved it as a hobby. Then Twilight came out. I absolutely loved the series. I finally found the genre that I loved. Somehow these vampire, werewolves and paranormal genre, in general, intrigued me so much.
I love to see how human relations work, I have always been fascinated with the human psychology. When I write my characters, I get to know them much better. I get to know how they feel, how they perceive. This helps me a lot to understand myself and people around me. So my writing is like an Emotion Lab for me believe me, It has taught me so much!

I hope you like my work, Please feel free to contact me, I am always open to chats and discussions

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Kira Archer – The Billionaire’s Unexpected Baby

One minute, pregnant Leah Andrews is throwing up over the side of a yacht and the next, she’s married to party boy Brooks. It’s an arrangement born of sheer desperation to save her job, but now the tabloids are all over them, their friends are running a pool betting on whether they’ll actually stay married until Baby Day, and worst of all, she and her new husband might just be falling for one another. But they belong in opposite worlds. It’ll never work.

Billionaire app developer Brooks Larson lives his life on the light side. Until he tries to play hero and claims to be Leah’s husband. Now he’s up to his ears in Lamaze classes, baby powder…and unexpected marital bliss. But he’d make a rotten husband and horrible father. Leah and the baby deserve so much better. Add in major baby daddy drama and the whole situation is the worst idea EVER. But sometimes those bad ideas might just be the best ones.

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Kira Archer resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kiddos, and far too many animals in the house. She tends to laugh at inappropriate moments and break all the rules she gives her kids (but only when they aren’t looking), and would rather be reading a book than doing almost anything else. Most of her non-writing hours are spent hanging with her family and running her kids around because they are busy and she’s the taxi driver. She loves her romances a little playful, a lot sexy, and always with a happily ever after. She also writes historical romances as Michelle McLean.

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TL Reeve & Michele Ryan – Kalkin


Keeley Blueriver is not doing a very good job hiding out. After being viciously attacked, she and her sister Danielle pack up and move across the country to Window Rock, Arizona. But Simon found them before, and he’ll do it again. How and when are the only questions.

 

Kalkin Raferty, Alpha of the Raferty pack, has spent his life protecting his family and pack from outside threats. He believes his time for finding a mate has passed. Who would want an old Alpha wolf?

 

A chance meeting puts Kalkin face to face with his destiny and now he can’t get the blonde-haired, hazel-eyed woman out of his mind. His wolf is poised to claim her, but with danger lurking around every corner, is he willing to risk everything to have her?

“Where the fuck is the baby?” He kept his voice controlled, knowing the pup was safe and sound with Danielle—for now. Kal tried in vain to keep his voice down so their neighbors couldn’t overhear their conversation. As it stood, he still wasn’t sure how he felt about Keeley. Well, he did, but acknowledging the mating and participating in it were two totally different things. Right now, they didn’t need any extra headaches. However, he had a sneaky suspicion he was in over his head and he was too stupid, or ignorant, to admit it.
“He’s with Danielle.” Caden shrugged, moving around his brother. “The boy was in his pup form when I got him. I couldn’t take him to a hospital and you know if I took him to a vet—which there isn’t one in a twenty-mile radius—they would have freaked out if he spontaneously shifted. So, I brought him back here.”
“You don’t think the girl will freak the fuck out when he spontaneously shifts, Caden?” Kal couldn’t believe what his brother said.
“No,” he answered plainly.
“No?” Kalkin snorted. “I have got to hear this explanation. Come on, lay it on me. Tell me, ‘oh smart one,’ why she won’t freak the fuck out when the baby shifts.”
“She’s not normal either.” A slow small crossed his brother’s lips. “She got this…thing. I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone about it, but bro. She’s special.”
“Great. Fan-fucking-tastic. So, she could have a serious case of gas, but she’s special.” Wow, he knew his brother could be stupid sometimes, but this was a colossal fuck up. It ranked right up there with the time they were sixteen and Caden decided he was going to pull the tail of a cat shifter. The asshole ended up in bed for a week with tiger claw slashes to his side.
“I’m being serious, asshole,” Caden snapped, going nose to nose with his brother. “She helped the pup more in five minutes than a hospital could in two fucking weeks. I promised her I wouldn’t say what it was, but I felt her. She did something to him and he was a different pup when he woke up.”
Kalkin blinked, taking in everything his brother said. A part of him wanted to believe his brother and another part of him wanted to continue to chew his ass. He also realized he should be more concerned with the pup. Kal blew out a breath and scrubbed his hand across his brow. “How bad?”
“Two broken legs and some bites. Danielle thinks he’ll be fine. She wrapped the wounds and set his back legs.” He chuckled a bit. “Aiden ate up the attention when I checked on them after Mrs. Martin hooked me up with some breast milk for the boy.” Caden turned serious for a moment. “I don’t know why Tiffany had fucking pups. She couldn’t even take care of herself when we were younger. Then she goes off and gets fucking pregnant. The bitch tried to kill him!” Kalkin watched his brother pace. “Aiden is now parentless. Why? Because she doesn’t have enough fucking sense to bring all the pups to her Alpha.”
Wait. “There are more?” He couldn’t believe Caden would take one and leave the others. “Why did you leave them?”
“Aiden is the only one who survived.”
“Fuck.” He’d have to deal with this sooner rather than later. “Do we know the father?”
Caden snorted. “If I had to guess? Someone in the Quincy pack. The kid smelled of piss and shit, though, so I couldn’t be sure.”
“Shit. Not what we need right now, but because you went off half-cocked, you brought shit down on our new neighbors.” Kalkin couldn’t even be angry anymore. He understood Caden’s need to protect the baby. However, it couldn’t be at the expense of two women who’d been through their own shit. “What are you going to do when Aiden shifts and is a baby?”
“Well, I had been thinking about it when you pulled up to house like Billy Bad Ass. I’m going to tell her what we are.”
What? “Are you fucking kidding me?” He couldn’t believe what his brother was saying. “Why?”
“Tell me you aren’t planning to do the same.” Caden’s blue eyes swirled with intent. “Tell me you weren’t going to have Keeley run with you during the full moon.” His brother had him. He had been contemplating revealing himself during the first day of the summer festival.
“Shit,” he said, blowing out a frustrated breath. “This is all FUBAR.” Fucked up beyond all recognition.
“Tell me about it.”
“You’re part of the reason, asshole.” He turned away from his brother and caught his neighbor staring at him. “Great.”
“What?” His brother stepped over to where he was standing. “Ah, shit.” There, peeking out of their window, stood Keeley, Danielle, and a very happy little boy. Shit, maybe his brother had been right.
“Yeah, great fucking work, asshole. I’m betting they saw and heard everything. So much for having to explain it to them.”
“Hold on. You’re assuming they heard anything. They’re completely human. They couldn’t hear a flea fart.”
“I thought you said Danielle is special.” Kal cocked a brow. “Or were you blowing smoke up my ass about her?”
“She is. I can assure you what I experienced when she started working with Aiden,” Caden paused. “Shit, bro. It was amazing.”
“Are you sure she was touching the pup?” he quipped.
“Yes, dickhead. It wasn’t sexual at all, but it had been amazing nonetheless.” Caden’s blue gaze locked with Kal’s and his demeanor turned serious. “She’s my mate.”
Of all the fucking things he expected his brother to say, finding his mate hadn’t been one of them. “Shit. Are you sure?”
“Oh yeah.”

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TL Reeve: TL Reeve, a best-selling, multi-published author, was born out of a love of family and a bond that became unbreakable. Living in Alabama, TL misses Los Angeles, and will one day return to the beaches of Southern California. When not writing something hot and sexy, TL can be found curled up with a good book, or working on homework with a cute little pixie.

Michele Ryan: Michele Ryan is an author with Decadent and After Glows Publishing. She embraced her creative passion and co-authored several books with fellow author TL Reeve. Michele has also published two solo novellas. Michele is a lifelong resident of the state of New Jersey, along with her husband and three children, whom she refers to as her hobbits. When Michele is not plotting or writing, she can be found either volunteering at her children’s school or reading.

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Dakota Willink – Heart of Stone

Bound by need. Entwined in secrets.

Krystina Cole was a girl on a mission. She had big dreams and aspirations, none of which included a man by her side. She knew better than that – at least until she met Alexander Stone, the New York billionaire real estate tycoon. She saw the way he looked at her, and the dark promises in his eyes. She was curious about his world and all it entailed. But the shadows of her past haunted her, making her afraid to explore the possibilities she could never before have imagined.

Alexander Stone was a man who knew how to get what he wanted. He understood the value of finesse, and the importance of patience and diligence to achieve the desired result. He was successful and wealthy, relying on his naturally sharp instincts to guide him through life. But a chance run in with Krystina Cole quickly turned his world upside down. Her quick wit and firecracker attitude was the complete opposite of what he wanted in a woman, and his instincts failed him at every turn.

However, both Krystina and Alexander are clinging to the secrets in their past, and neither of them are willing to compromise. Krystina’s hardened heart makes emotional surrender a hard limit. But for Alexander, revealing his past could have devastating results.

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Dakota Willink is a contemporary romance writer and editor, and the author of The Stone Series. She is an associate member of Romance Writers of America and a two time Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards winner.

Dakota has always had a passion for reading and writing. From the time she was an adolescent, she enjoyed curling up with a good paperback, reading genres that ranged from thriller and fantasy, to mystery and romance. She always dreamed of one day writing her own book, but had put her aspirations on hold to focus on her family and a career that would pay the bills. However, her heart continued to be with fictional characters – whether they belonged to a favorite author or if they were just stories that she made up in her own head.

In 2013, Dakota gathered enough courage to turn her dreams into a reality. In between playing chauffeur to two very busy children and working her job during the day, Dakota began to put words on paper. Eventually, she began to describe her life as a book. Everything she saw or heard throughout the day, intertwined with her imagination for the creation of future writings. By 2014, with the support of her husband and two children, she gave up the security of a steady paycheck and began working on her first novel full time.

Her first novel, Heart of Stone, was published in December of 2015. Less than a year after its release, the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards recognized Heart of Stone as the 2016 Bronze Medalist in the romance category. In September of 2017, Readers’ Favorite announced Stepping Stone as the Gold Medal winner in the Contemporary Romance category.

Dakota resides in the Western New York area, where she enjoys spending time with family, her two Labrador Retrievers, and her spoiled rotten cat. During the summer months, she can often be found soaking up the sun on the Great Lakes with her family.

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KD Grace – Buried Pleasures

Out Now!

Buried Pleasures (Medusa’s Consortium series book 3)

by K D Grace

When Samantha Black shares her sandwich with a dog, his owner, Jon—a homeless man living in the Las Vegas storm tunnels—gives her a poker chip worth a fortune from the exclusive casino, Buried Pleasures. All Sam has to do is cash it in. Sam is in Vegas for one reason only—to get her friend, Evie Holt, away from sinister magician, Darian Fox, who holds her prisoner in an effort to force Sam to perform at his club, Illusions. A neon circus tent of strange and mystical acts, Illusions is one of the biggest draws in Vegas, and he’s hell-bent on including Sam in his disturbing plans.

The shadowy Magda Gardener will do anything to keep Sam from cashing in that chip. She knows that Buried Pleasures is the gate to Hades and cashing in the chip is a one-way ticket across the River Styx, which runs beneath the storm tunnels of Vegas. Jon is really Jack Graves, owner of Buried Pleasures, and Graves is really the god of death, himself, and if things aren’t already confusing enough, he and Magda know what Sam doesn’t. Sam is the last siren. That her song can kill is only the beginning of her story. Jon wants her safe on his side of the River, protected from Fox’s hideous magic. But even Death fears Magda Gardener, who is none other than Medusa, and the gorgon has her own agenda. If Sam is to understand her heritage and win the battle against Darian Fox, not only will she have to trust her heart to Death, but they’ll both have to work for the gorgon, whose connection with Sam runs deeper than any of them could imagine.

With a soft clink, Fox dropped the key in a small ceramic bowl on the dresser, not bothering to lock the door behind him. There was no need now.

He heard the rustle of bedding and a soft female moan before his eyes fully adjusted to the gloom. Then he saw the shape of her, duvet thrown back in spite of the chill, the pale silk of the negligee rising and falling with her anxious breathing. He always asked that they be clothed in white silk. Occasionally there was blood, and the red of blood against white silk made the experience more formal somehow, and it always felt like such an occasion should be formal.

As he became used to the gloom, he could see that she had been well-groomed for the occasion, fully made-up and hair freshly coifed, just as he had requested. It was a condition that wasn’t strictly necessary, but made the whole experience seem a little more ceremonial, a little more festive. After all, presentation was a key ingredient in every good restaurant, wasn’t it? Why should his situation be any different?

“Gabriella, you look exquisite tonight, my darling. I can’t tell you how much I’ve anticipated being with you, having you here in my bed.” He removed his jacket and hung it carefully over a cedar hanger on the back of the door. “Did I not promise you that the time would come when I would invite you into my own home, into my own bed?”

Of course it wasn’t his own bed. He never took them to his bed. He had several other rooms in several other places where he took from them what he needed, though this one was special. This one was for feasting. He carefully undressed by the side of the bed where she would be able to admire his every move. She moaned softly and writhed, not taking her eyes off him, needing him almost as much as he needed her. Almost.

At his leisure, he took in the curves that were still luscious enough to be tempting—the rise of nipples, the dilation of pupils, the rhythmic shifting of hips, all of which he could now make out. Ripe fruit, he thought. She was ripe fruit. The experience was always most ecstatic, always most satisfying, when his chosen had not yet passed her peak, when he had not used her so much that her looks had suffered, nor her hunger for him weakened. He needed her hunger as much as he needed her beauty. The two always went hand in hand. He needed her hunger to be her driving force, driving her to him over and over again, until all strength was gone. Most often he controlled his hunger, careful not to allow himself more than what was necessary to survive and thrive.

Tonight, however, he was drained and starving from effort and exhaustion, but from excitement as well, from the knowing that Samantha Black was capable of so much more than even he had anticipated. Tonight he would take deeply from the ripest fruit, take as though it were the first and the last fullness of summer, and Gabriella was just at that point of fullness.

“I’m going to make love to you, darling.” He didn’t even try to disguise his hunger. Anxious anticipation was as much a part of the ritual as savoring the moment, and he wanted her to know how much he hungered for her, how much he needed her. “I’m going to make you come as you have never come before, my sweetheart.” He slid onto the bed next to her, his left hand stroking her soft, dark hair, his right cupping himself, making himself ready. “Would you like that, Gabriella? I know you would, I know how impatient you’ve been.”

There was a soft whimper, and the woman shifted her hips and threw back her head with a little gasp as he slid a thumb across her heavy bottom lip. He was hard, always hard when he hungered. It was a part of the ritual, a part of the consuming, a part of fulfilling his need.

Carefully he slipped down the straps of the negligee so that he could admire the fullness of her breasts. Yes, presentation was so important — ripe cherry nipples against silken white fabric, so succulent, so ready. Her skin was the color of expensive mocha, and for a moment, he took in the feast for the eyes waiting for him. Then he cupped her sex, and she arched up, her eyelids fluttering beneath lush, dark lashes so perfectly made up, so perfectly prepared to meet her lover.

La petite mort,” he said. “It’s what we all long for, isn’t it, my sweetheart, over and over and over again, we long for it. It’s what we dream about in the darkest hours of the night. It’s what we wake up longing for, goose fleshed, slick and heavy with need from those elusive dreams of perfect love, perfect union, perfect dissolving of the self into the other. Oh, my beauty,” he slid a hand between her thighs, and her tongue flicked over her lip in concentration, in anticipation, “I’ve kept you waiting too long. I do apologize. La petite mort is a small gift for a long wait. So tonight, my dearest girl, I shall give you something far grander than the little death. And our joining, our perfect dissolving into one another, will be beyond anything you could ever imagine.”

He positioned himself above her and she opened to him, rising up to meet him in gasps and groans and whimpers that neared desperation. Oh yes, he would give her so much more than la petite mort, and then, in the instant when her body dissolved in pleasure, he would take it all back, all of it and so much more.

There was breath and then there was blood, and there was the life force coursing through the beautiful Gabriella. That life force entered his body through sex, through making love. And truly he did make love, for the gift that the lovely creature writhing beneath him, no longer strong enough to keep her legs grasped around his waist, was giving him was worthy of lovemaking. The taking of the life force in such a way was sex raised above and beyond ecstasy. He seldom partook to the end. He usually made it last for months, sometimes even years, depending on how powerful the life force was.

But Gabriella had no particular power, nothing but her exquisite beauty to linger on. He saw such as her as fast food, really, a needed energy boost in desperate times, and this was one of those times. Her sacrifice would ensure that he was focused and ready for whatever obstacles Graves could throw in his way where Samantha Black was concerned, because he would have her. He had to have her.

The woman beneath him shuddered with release, and he took her mouth more fully, swallowing back the harshness of her breath to blend with his own, teasing him to join in her ecstasy. She would climax over and over, and that would be her final memory. She would come to her death in rapturous pleasure, and she would not even feel that moment when all of her breath, all of her life force, all of her power, passed to him, and the darkness took her.

Her eyelids fluttered again and again, for now she truly had not the energy left for more than the flutter of eyelids above huge, dark eyes. Even the quiver low in her loins had transferred itself to him, and he felt her orgasms as though they were his own, as though through the breath, through the coupling, he had become her and she him. He had taken her into himself as she had him into her, so open, so inviting, so willing.

“You see,” he whispered against the seashell hollow of her unhearing ear, “I have given you so much more than la petite mort, just as I promised, darling. So much more for both of us.”

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Voted ETO Best Erotic Author of 2014, K D Grace believes Freud was right. It really IS all about sex—sex and love—and that is an absolute writer’s playground.

When she’s not writing, K D is veg gardening or walking. Her creativity is directly proportional to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She loves mythology, which inspires many of her stories. She enjoys time in the gym, where she’s having a mad affair with a pair of kettle bells. Her first love is writing, but she loves reading and watching birds. She adores anything that gets her outdoors.

K D’s novels and other works are published by Totally Bound, SourceBooks, Accent Press, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, and others. She also writes romance under the name Grace Marshall.

 

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Websites: http://kdgrace.co.uk/

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Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KDGraceAuthor

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Not so bad after all…

So I was absolutely convinced that 2018 would be better than 2017. Convinced. Nothing seemed to go right in 2017 and the New Year was going to turn the page, start fresh, clean slate…

But I didn’t win the Powerball. That really sucks because my furnace went up…and my pipes were frozen and last night I was in a minor accident that makes me want to call out of work every time inclement weather comes to town… Except, I didn’t win the Powerball and those $5 royalty checks from Amazon won’t pay my bills.

But Fate teases me because everything is bad, but not anywhere close to as bad as it could have been. One week later, and the furnace issue would have resulted in a life-or-death struggle for my grandmother, if not me. Temperatures around here hit 1 degree. ONE. Yes. We’re not used to that. Even with the new furnace, we were layered up and still cold (drafty old house) and the hot water pipes froze to the bathroom. But again—not so bad, considering we still had water and between pipes breaking in other people’s houses and the water mains exploding all over town, we were very lucky. And we still had hot water in the kitchen.

That’s how so much seems to be, though. Especially lately. Do you read horoscopes? I’m a Libra…wasn’t I supposed to have some sort of Emerald/Jubilee year where everything went well and my life and career finally took off in an overly blessed way?

I’d hate to see what would have happened if the Heavens weren’t smiling down me.

But, seriously… It’s been hard and I’ve done a lot of complaining about that. It’s also been ‘not as bad as it could have been’ but sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough.

Today, it is enough. Today, the accident I had resulted in a small dent, and there were three cars involved on an extremely icy street. One small dent. That’s pretty good. Also, my house is toasty warm and my hot water is back so I can take a boiling hot shower, the sun is shining outside and the temperature is crawling toward the upper Thirties.

And my optimism rises again. Maybe 2018 will be just fine, after all…

Annora Wilson – Incrusted: Hiding the Demon Within

Preorder Today!

To save myself, I must kill my own heartbeat….

My bewildered eyes flickered with an orange glow as something inside me craved for another drop of blood. The red liquid’s rusty and salty taste was nothing less than heaven to me…wait..what heaven? there wasn’t any heaven for someone like me…

Yes I was that unique breed, the ‘werepire’ a rare and powerful one that was made from a deadly and impossible combination. My powers could destroy all the night creatures of this world. I was nothing more than a sin to them.

My life was at peace when I was just an innocent college going girl; soon things turned upside down when a handsome vampire saw a side of me that no one could ever fathom. His sexy charms took my breath away. I fell for him hard and fast, without having the slightest idea that he was only designed to kill.

At the other end was another night creature, the successor of the werewolf clan, he too had his eyes on me. His raw, rugged look and caring persona made me feel safe…but how could I be sure that he wasn’t an enemy?

I am desperately trying to seek some answers, whilst my unknown enemies are on the prowl to destroy me, if I want to survive them, I need to know myself first.

~~

Join Ingrid in her exciting game of life and death and see how she plays with her own fate…

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About Annora Wilson

Thank you for stopping by to read about me. My name is Annora, I was a studious girl in my high school, I always loved to read and write stuff. I used to write stories when I was in school. Now, when I look back, they seem quite amusing to me :):). When I got into college, I pursued my passion for writing, I really loved it as a hobby. Then Twilight came out. I absolutely loved the series. I finally found the genre that I loved. Somehow these vampire, werewolves and paranormal genre, in general, intrigued me so much.
I love to see how human relations work, I have always been fascinated with the human psychology. When I write my characters, I get to know them much better. I get to know how they feel, how they perceive. This helps me a lot to understand myself and people around me. So my writing is like an Emotion Lab for me believe me, It has taught me so much!

I hope you like my work, Please feel free to contact me, I am always open to chats and discussions

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Baltimore

Baltimore.

Back in the 90s, when I was a teenager, it was called The City that Bleeds. A rip on the ‘City that Reads’ slogan we used to boast, and an indicator of the level of violence back in those days.

Today, Yahoo had a story on Baltimore, and though I knew better than to read the comments, I did read a few. And I got angry, of course. Too many people that can’t even find my city on a map have opinions on the liberal government, calling the people here entitled, blaming black leadership when this problem began under white leadership and has carried over from centuries of economic inequality.

I’ll tell you now, the problem isn’t specifically racial. Most people in Baltimore will tell you the same thing, and I even saw several try to tell the national news media when they were here for our ‘riots’ only to be shut down because it didn’t fit the narrative people were trying to tell. Or sell, as the case may be.

I hate when you start talking about my city without knowing a thing about it. I hate when you develop a misinformed opinion based on what you think you know. Just because you watched The Wire doesn’t mean you know anything about this city. You’ve got to live here to understand.

I’ll give a run-down, though. Just to help a little.

  1. We’re way more diverse than the media would have you believe. We’re also way more integrated in most neighborhoods…except the very poorest where the majority of residents are people of color and brown immigrants. That’s a problem that’s echoed in every city in this nation. So…if you live in a city, you’re sitting on a ticking time bomb thanks to the lack of opportunities for the poorest people.
  2. We haven’t had youth programs in this city since the early 90s, when the Police Athletic League was done away with. BTW, that was not done under black leadership, either. When you deprive the youth of safe entertainment and socialization outlets, they will create their own or fall into alternative opportunities that may result in high crimes and/or death. Spend some money on youth programs and I guarantee the crime rates will fall. Idle hands, and whatnot—you know that saying?
  3. There is no future, no community investment, no opportunities for growth and mobility. That leaves limited options. If you’re trying to support your family, where will you go for money? Gangs, when there are no legitimate means. And that goes back to youth programs because gangs recruit early and they foster a sense of loyalty and family the government and your grandma can’t compete with. Oh, and we’re currently working on the second or third generation of this, so kids learned what their parents learned…
  4. Food deserts exist in cities. We have Arabers who carry food into the communities, but we need more. We need more smaller groceries and farmer’s markets, more local produce options and community gardens. Neighborhoods don’t always have good access to markets and grocery stores because space is limited. You won’t find a Walmart close by and lots of people have to buy only what they can carry on the bus, so no savings on bulk like the suburbanites and their wholesale clubs. It’s a problem for nutrition and health, energy and output and has educational ramifications, as well. Kids don’t have enough food to concentrate on daily studies, so we need to be feeding them better in school. Don’t tell me how your kid hated the healthy food Michelle Obama chose for the education system. Don’t tell me how they threw it away and don’t be smug about it when there are legitimate cases of severe malnourishment in poor neighborhoods.
  5. The education is for shit here. They restructured thanks to George W. Bush’s (not liberal, BTW) No Child Left Behind policy, which may have had good intentions, but resulted in children being pushed through the system no matter if they could read or not. America’s literacy rate has fallen, and continues to fall, drastically, dramatically and alarmingly. Wake up, people. Start wondering what your own kids are being taught, and start questioning what the school system may have hidden from you. In my city and the surrounding counties, we are now learning some terrible truths and if you start digging, I’ll bet you’ll find some too.
  6. Entrepreneurship was turned into a dirty word, or just made impossible. Unless you want to open a liquor store, of course. How about spending some money on grants for small businesses? How about broadly advertising SBA programs and workshops to help budding businessmen and women learn about their options and what’s needed to open a business. Get more small boutiques, stores and services into every community to help lift everyone, to create a stable micro-economy that feeds into the larger city revenues. Focus on small and work up, because trickle down really, really doesn’t work.
  7. Which brings me to the politicians. It’s human nature to be greedy and grasping—and don’t try to sputter a defense of yourself, we all have those moments. Unfortunately, too many in power are allowed to have those moments too frequently, and it doesn’t matter if they’re liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, black or white. They are people, so things universal to human nature hold true regardless of whatever box you’d like to shove them into. Yes they get reelected—what do you expect of a population that has a lowering literacy rate? What do you expect of a population that is told repeatedly that they are worthless and their voice doesn’t matter?

 

And, BTW, why are any elected officials allowed to vote themselves a raise? (Revenue from the speed cameras, I suppose?) A public servant’s pay increase should be a matter of public referendum. How dare you believe you deserve more money for a job well done when we can bury the dead in all the potholes and your own detectives are being killed on the job? How dare you think you should get more money when our kids are graduating with zero proficiency in their school subjects? You think you’re doing well? Let’s take a vote. If we agree, you get your raise, if not, you don’t. It’s called accountability…or theft, the way you do it.

 

Jesus preserve us, for the second time in as many weeks I find myself repeating the words of an evil madman who doesn’t deserve the fame the world afforded him. People are reflections of the society around them. They are what we made them.

You don’t want violence in your cities? Invest in the people. Don’t give them things, teach them things. Provide opportunities and you won’t have to give them hand-outs. They’re not entitled, they’re appeased in the most negligent way the white patriarchy could come up with. And yes, I blame white patriarchy in particular even though many white people are caught in the same system with the same limitations because—from the outset—our system was set up to  accommodate the rich.

Most poor people are white, but most black people are poor.

Think about that.

Honestly, at the end of the day, this is all classist, not specifically racist, but we are appeased by racist thinking because then we of the lower 50% turn on each other rather than put our considerably energy and talents toward rectifying the true problem. The hoarding of resources.

So, the next time you want to form an opinion on a place you’ve never been based on something you saw in the media, but you’ve never heard a single truth from someone who lives there…just bite your tongue and, instead, start thinking about all the ways we could improve the lives of the clearly downtrodden.

Better schools, business loan programs, good nutrition and a focus on the youth to teach them how to be productive citizens. That kind of knowledge doesn’t result on its own, you know. Someone taught you how to tie your shoes, right? Hands-on approach rather than through observation.

Also, you with your opinions, what are doing to make your own community better?

 

That’s my bone to pick…

Lucy Felthouse – Hiding in Plain Sight

Hiding in Plain Sight, Sexy Spy Thriller by Lucy Felthouse

Enjoy over five hours of thrilling storytelling by Poppy Jay Fox in this sexy spy thriller by Lucy Felthouse.

Mallory Scott is a British espionage operative—and a damn good one, at that. Her current assignment to bring down a group of diamond thieves and scammers should be a piece of cake. She plans to get her claws into one of the gang, infiltrate the group, and uncover the information she needs to catch and prosecute them. Luck is on her side, and within twenty-four hours she’s lunching with Baxter Collinson, the youngest—and most handsome—diamond thief. What she’s not expecting, however, is to get on with him quite so well. Attraction bubbles between them—and for once, on Mallory’s part, it isn’t an act. For the first time in her career, Mallory struggles with what she must do. Can she ignore her heart for the sake of the mission?

Audio links:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Audible UK
Audible US
iTunes UK
iTunes US

eBook and print versions available at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/hiding-in-plain-sight/

Praise for Hiding in Plain Sight:

“…a cute little romp, & of course Felthouse delivers her usual flawless delivery. Fast-paced, fun, sexy, & with a twisty HEA that I think you’ll like.” 5 out of 5, Manic Readers

“A super romantic suspense from Lucy Felthouse. The characters are realistic and I easily identified with their emotions – I particularly loved the banter and the scenes between the main couple. It’s also got plenty of smexy and sizzling scenes which the author excels at. Recommended for readers of romantic suspense who enjoy a read which contains some sexy and explicit scenes.” 5 out of 5, A Readers Review

“One of the things I love about this author is her ability to write descriptions that make you see the scenes in cinema-scope. I especially loved her descriptions of Amsterdam. It made me feel as if I was there on an adventure with the characters. This is certainly a sexy story that fuses espionage, suspense and erotica very well.” 4 out of 5, Love Bites and Silk Ties

“…the test of any erotic thriller is whether it would work without the sex scenes, and in the case of Hiding In Plain sight, the answer is yes. There’s enough technical jargon to make the work of the agency seem believable, without weighing down the plot, and an edge of tension to remind you how much is at stake for Mallory and her team… a fun read that leaves you hoping for more adventures featuring this sexy spycatcher.” Elizabeth Coldwell

*****

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and Mia’s Men (The Heiress’s Harem Book 1). Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 160 publications to her name. She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter and get a free eBook: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

Shayla Black – Devoted to Wicked

A one-night stand…or something more? Karis isn’t sure until a thief strands her in Mexico, leaving her in need of a passport photo—and a hero—and giving Cage a second chance to win her love.

This book is a cross-over between both the Wicked Lovers and Devoted Lovers series.

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Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty novels. For nearly twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her teenage daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

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New Year, Fresh Start

It’s snowing outside, and we don’t have heat. Nearly two weeks ago, our furnace almost burned the house down. It was a terrifying thing for me, especially considering how scared I’ve always been of fire and starting fires and having them get out of control. Maybe in a past life I was burned at the stake or something.

Over the past month, I’ve cracked my tooth on pumpkin seeds, severed a portion of my thumb and almost had my house burn down. I’m currently dressed in layers, wrapped in a blanket watching it snow beyond my window and alternating between typing this and stuffing my hands under my cat’s belly to warm them back up.

It feels like it’s been a hard year (or decade). There have been a lot of medical issues in my family, I’ve had break ups that sort of broke my heart, I’ve become more isolated and I can’t write. Well, I can, but then I feel unmotivated and uninspired and even when I try to read, all I want to do is watch a movie.

It’s been so hard, and I’ve cried more than I ever have before…and yet I feel like I’m overreacting. I feel like it hasn’t been that bad and I’ve been blessed with a family who, no matter how often they’re the ones making me cry, still love me. And they’ve all survived thus far, though who knows what the remainder of this year will bring.

I can only hope, and let go.

I’m excited about the new year. I’m also scared, because over the past few years, I’ve faced failure in a way I’d never done before. In someone else’s POV, maybe I’ve had success. I’ve certainly expanded my horizons, and I’ve evolved as a person…Just not as much as I’d wanted or expected.

And writing…being an author. Well, it’s the first time I ever failed to reach my goals in my entire life. I’m the first-born overachiever of the white equivalent of a Tiger Mom, and so this has been a really painful experience for me.

I try to remember the positives. I wrote a book. I wrote a few, actually. And I think they’re decent. Pretty good, at least. I learned some graphic design, how to set up a website and how to create a newsletter. I’ve done things I never thought I’d be able to. I’ve learned just a smidge about marketing, and if I wasn’t such a spectacular failure at tooting my own horn, maybe I’d have actually sold some books, too.

But, you see, that’s my problem and my fear. There have been few occasions in my life where I’ve stood tall in the spotlight. Living overseas was one of them, because I had no choice. That’s probably why so much of my heart was left in Africa, and why I continue to bore everyone around me with anecdotes of my time there. I once said I was more ‘me’ there than anywhere else.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. What makes me ‘me’? I didn’t have to fit in anyone’s box over there. They accepted my eccentricities completely because I was foreign and they thought I didn’t know better. They were tolerant of my oddities. My family and my friends are not.

They want me to be successful, but they don’t want me to outshine them. I’ve felt that strange pressure my whole life. When I do really well, they aren’t that happy. When I moderate myself to be at the top of the middle, they’re all so proud.

I’ve spent my life being what others wanted me to be, trying to live up to their expectations. I was supposed to do well in school, and I did. I was supposed to be adventurous, but I was more so than they wanted. They meant go away to college…and I meant run away to foreign lands. I was supposed to have a job and support myself and then support them in their old age. I was supposed get married and have kids and take care of the parents and grandparents just like a thousand other women on the verge of breakdowns…but I don’t do things right.

I’m not married and I’ve never had a relationship that was so serious that I would have considered such a thing. I don’t think I’m all that lovable, but that could just be the lesson my family has drilled into my head. I don’t have kids because I don’t want to fuck them up like so many other people have. Like I was, like my friends’ kids are. I don’t want to become a hypocrite like so many around me have become and I don’t want to be screamed at for taking care of others the wrong way.

But I do want to take care of them. They think I’m controlling, and I am, but they made me that way. I’ve been the caretaker since I was thirteen years old. My mother was sick, my brothers were little and my dad worked. I cooked, cleaned and watched the children. You can’t mold me into that person, then tell me I shouldn’t be that.

God help us all, but Charles Manson said one right thing in his life.  “I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you…” That’s true for everyone, but it took a madman to point it out.

There’s a laundry list of Lola’s faults. I’m controlling. I’m reckless. I’m not married, I don’t have kids and I don’t believe in the right religion. I’m unprepared for the future, I can’t possibly be successful at operating a bookstore and in spite of my extremely high credit rating, I’m not trustworthy enough for my parents to co-sign a loan I, personally, have no collateral for…

But I am what they made me. I am free-thinking, dedicated to learning the truth, to living the most decent life I can and taking care of others. The negatives are just perception, the flip side of the coin, and easier for me to believe and speak of, than the positives.

In a half-joking manner, I’ve been blaming astrology for the past decade’s hardships. Saturn… or maybe Pluto. But maybe it’s just my turn to grow up. To really grow up and face the hardships of being your own person among the people who love you, but may never understand how you could have turned out so differently. Maybe it’s my turn to create m y own reflection of myself, to stop being what others expect and start living out my own truth fearlessly. Maybe that’s the artist’s place in the grand scheme of things. To see differently, think differently, to aggravate and provoke, perhaps.

Maybe 2018 will somehow be better than the past decade. Maybe this new growth into a true adulthood, as painful as it’s been, will have equipped me for whatever is coming. And it does feel like something is coming. There’s a funny frequency in the world around me. I’m brimming with ideas and I’m excited to try my hand at entrepreneurship. I look forward to creating a place the community can gather and re-meet each other.

I just have to find a way to do it on my own, in my own way because some of us are destined to carve our own path…

And that’s what I’ll be doing in the new year.

Is it human nature to isolate?

Is it human nature to isolate? To put yourself into a box, to put all others into a box, to create many boxes and make someone fit somewhere?

Us versus them.

I understand the importance of this concept evolutionarily speaking. Your tribe might have been in direct competition with another tribe for various resources… And we all know we’ve got to take care of our own first, right?

But human society has evolved faster than human brains have. Humans are still hardwired toward selfishness because that greed could have meant the difference between survival and a horrendous death. Those with resources hoarded them in case they ever faced a time when those resources were scarce.

Fuck everybody else.

But we’ve come so far. As a society, as a technologically advancing series of societies, as a global tribe with a greater understanding of each other every day…we’ve come so far. Do you really want to be great? Then you have to lift everyone to greatness.

A rising tide floats all boats.

I don’t believe communism is the answer. I think it’s a terrible system, in fact, because humans are hardwired to be selfish hoarders. Why would I do the work when I’ll get what I need anyway? And if you’re not doing the work and you’re still getting what I’m getting, why would I continue to do the work? Society breaks down.

We definitely need a merit system. But we need a system where we are all accountable to each other, invested in each other and our communities. We need our governments to be accountable too, because that is the purpose of being a tribe. A tribe has to have accountable leaders who care about their people, or at least cares about a people’s revolution enough to work in the community’s interests rather than their own.

This holiday season, let’s try to look at things from a different perspective. Let’s find some compassion, some understanding. Stop the isolationism, work together and break out of those boxes…and maybe then we truly can be great.

Characteristics of a Cult

I’ll just leave this here…

  • Zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader or its ‘Truth’
  • The leader is above the law
  • Leaders dictate how members should think, act and feel
  • Doubt and dissent have harsh consequences
  • The ends justify the means
  • Submission/subservience is demanded
  • Guilt and shame or fear and intimidation are used to influence

 

  • The group is somehow better than all others and only those who are special enough may join
  • Us versus Them mentality
  • Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group
  • True believers feel there is no life outside the group
  • Gender roles are strictly defined and adhered to by the group
  • Group-think (due to harsh consequences of dissent)

There is a great list and breakdown of various characteristics on Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (Matt Slick)

And here’s an interesting (partial list) created in 2009 The Guardian (Rick Ross) I only used the points directly concerned with the leader, rather than points concerning the group and/or its members

Warning signs of a potential cult leader:

  • Absolute power with no accountability
  • No tolerance for questions or criticism
  • No meaningful financial disclosure
  • Feeling/Instilling feelings of persecution from the outside world

 

There have been many organizations considered to be cults that later evolved into society-recognized religions/movements/what-have-you. So, where is the fine line that separates a ‘real’ religion/movement/etc. from a drinking-the-juice-aid/only-the-crazies-do-it cult? What do you think?

 

 

Sneak Peek at Jericho, next in The Garguiem series by Lola White

Jericho

Chapter 1

 

Isaac had a mind like a steel trap. Unfortunately. Stuffed into his car, surrounded by empty coffee cups and not-so-official paperwork, he tried to utilize his gift to make sense of the chaos creeping ever closer. His head was beginning to ache.

“I know you’re connected,” he told the two papers he held—one in each hand. Glaring between the reports, he dragged a particular priest’s face from the depths of his memory. “There’s a clear link between these cases. But what else are you hiding, Father Martin Rice?”

A couple of months prior, Isaac’s cousin Levi had been assigned to investigate what turned out to be a demon in disguise in Waterview. One of the involved clergymen had confessed to questionable activity upstate and so, a few weeks ago, his other cousin, Levi’s sister, Liah, had unofficially poked her nose into a gathering of priests in Red Leaf City.

She’d uncovered an orgy, and possibly a dangerous plot making its way up the Church hierarchy. She’d also been taken hostage, along with a number of kidnapped women, and put on display at a secret Satanic Mass, led by an imposter in cardinal’s robes. During Liah’s rescue, Isaac had caught a glimpse of a familiar face.

Father Martin Rice.

The priest had stood by a hidden exit, waving the pretend cardinal and his demonic whore to safety. Isaac had only seen a portion of the man’s profile as he took off his mask, and the bastard was across the room, the torchlight dancing dramatically over his cheekbones…

But Isaac never forgot. He never forgot a single thing, which was both his gift and his curse. He remembered the man’s image, as well as a labor-intensive pencil sketch matched to Vatican records he’d pulled up on his computer. He remembered…

Jericho.

“God damn.” Isaac let one sheet of paper drop to the car’s seat so he could rub at the pain centered in his chest. Looking up, scanning his surroundings through the windshield didn’t ease the tightness, either. The sidewalks were cracked, the gutters filled with trash and a few cars lining the curb were either without tires or spray painted with graffiti. “What the hell are you doing here?”

The question was not directed at himself. Jericho—his pain and salvation, both—had looked into Father Martin Rice more than a year ago. She hadn’t gotten far. Soon after picking up the trail, she’d been pulled into a different investigation concerning a demonic minister who’d developed a cult following and a habit of human sacrifice.

And that’s when life had fallen apart.

Isaac couldn’t afford to think about it just then. Determined to hold onto his courage, he organized his papers as quickly as he could and stuffed them back into their folders. With a deep breath, he grabbed a knife from his glove compartment because the neighborhood was alarming, and focused on the task at hand.

“Just knock. That’s all. Knock and ask. The bossman’s gonna need validation before he puts resources on this thing and you’re the only one with any sort of notes on this dude.” He practiced his speech for the hundredth time. “We need what you’ve got, that’s all. Whatever you had managed to find, because I never got a chance to talk to you about it before…”

Isaac faltered. Words always seemed to get stuck in throat at that point, so he still didn’t know what he would say after that. With a shrug, he decided to wing it.

His cell phone rang before he could open his car door. Putting off the inevitable with injudicious relief, he didn’t even check the screen before he answered. “What’s up?”

“Where are you?”

Isaac’s eyes widened and he sat up in a rush—not that he had far to go. The steering wheel punched into his sternum, stealing his breath long enough that he managed to find an response to the question. “Uh, hey, Bossman. I’m in my car. Why?”

Enoch wasn’t technically family, a cousin by marriage only, but he’d been put in charge of their branch of Garguiem operations nonetheless. That had caused friction and a fair amount of distrust, which wasn’t aided by his gift for uncovering truths. The man was persuasive, charismatic, and had a way of making people want to confess their secrets to him. Almost hypnotizing, to Isaac’s way of thinking—and definitely dangerous for the secret mission he and his cousins had undertaken.

“Where is your car, Isaac?”

“Car’s on the street, bossman, just where cars belong.”

Enoch must have known something was going on—after all, half the family agents in his employ had bailed on Christmas dinner and Isaac hadn’t been to the office in over a week. He didn’t want to get into hypnotizing range. Liah would skin him alive if he revealed the truth about her new boyfriend, and Enoch would roast him over actual coals if he was caught in a lie.

“Which street?” Each word came slowly, clearly, and greatly emphasized.

Isaac cleared his throat, unwilling to divulge such sensitive information. “What’s going on? Is something wrong?”

“Yeah, the people supposedly working for my branch of Garguiem operations are all currently AWOL.”

The man’s voice was too smooth, too calm. In-law or not, Isaac didn’t fully trust him, and especially not with so much going on. “Not all of us are missing.”

“Liah’s off the roster pending her appeal, Levi took off for parts unknown with Marcella and you’re not behind your desk, where I expected you to be over an hour ago.”

“That’s not all of us, Enoch. I mean, come on, there’s still—”

“I know my team, thank you. The people I want to see, however, aren’t here. I have a problem with this, Isaac. A big problem that’s making me rethink what, exactly, could be capturing the attention of my best operatives.”

“Like you said, people are taking some time off for important life moments, bossman.”

“Including you?”

Isaac started to sweat. “I’m looking into something.”

“Oh?” Enoch’s tone turned sugary. “You’re looking into the file I just put on your desk, perhaps? The one ordering a full evaluation of Archbishop Hallie?”

Hallie was the man who had kicked off the entire investigation. The man that had opened the rabbit hole Isaac and his cousins were currently falling down. He was a recovering alcoholic and had mentored a man serving a sentence for murder after a demon’s possession. Hallie had gotten suspicious and called an old friend for some help—a friend who happened to be connected to the Garguiem.

“Why do you need an eval for the archbishop?” Isaac asked.

“Levi emailed me his report on the happenings at both Waterview and in Red Leaf City. I must confess, he’s a better Garguiem agent than anyone had previously given him credit for.”

“Of course he’s good. He’s family, ain’t he?”

Isaac could almost picture Enoch rolling his eyes as his snort came through the phone’s speaker. “We all know he’s a loose cannon, never the greatest agent, though he’s a lucky son of bitch. He’s been hanging on by frayed threads since Gideon fell.”

“And?” Isaac held his breath, wondering where his supervisor was going with his observations.

“And I know I saw him at your aunt’s house during the Week of Wisdom, but he still had time to travel upstate and investigate a group of priests who only meet once a month?”

“Well, he’s got great timing. Lucky, like you said.”

“And he’s got a brand new friendship with a potentially corrupt archbishop.”

Isaac stilled. “You’ve got evidence?”

“No,” Enoch replied. “You’re going to get the evidence. Hallie’s alcohol addiction comes too damned close to corruption for my liking. I want you to compile a dossier on him—”

“I’ve already got one started.”

The sudden anger sweeping through him gave his words a snap he normally wouldn’t direct at his superior. Despite Levi’s assurances that Hallie was an upstanding member of the Church, and even disregarding Liah’s respect for the man, Isaac knew his job. Any time a new clergyman was given a glimpse into Garguiem operations a file was created.

“Enoch, I started putting together a report at my cousin’s request, when the mission in Waterview was passed on to him. By suggesting proper protocol wasn’t followed, you’re implying that I’m either stupid, or corrupt myself.”

“I don’t doubt any of my people.” A sigh came through the phone, reminding Isaac that Enoch had earned the respect of his colleagues for a good reason. His diplomacy skills were second to none. “I haven’t seen any reports and people are asking questions. While the rest of you get to deal with nothing more taxing than demons and asshole priests, I have to handle politics and the Vatican.”

“Someone’s riding you?”

Enoch gave the appearance of complete unflappability, as if he couldn’t care less what sort of orders came down the line. He had his own way of doing things and he’d make sure everything turned out all right—and make his agents look good at the same time. The man’s cousin, much to Isaac’s heartache, used to have the same quality about her.

“Cardinal Murphy wants to know how deep his old friend dug the hole, before he managed to pry himself loose. They’d fallen out of touch around the time Hallie got lost in a bottle and he only contacted him again when shit went sour in Waterview.”

Isaac rubbed his eyes. Cardinal Murphy was their liaison to the Vatican—soon to be their branch’s only one, as the other was set to retire. The man was incorruptible, chosen for his resistance to temptation, a real hard-ass. He and the archbishop had a history, and if he was suspicious, perhaps there was something to it.

“Yeah, okay, I’ll look into Hallie. If there’s something weird about the guy, I’ll find it.”

“I know you will. Where are you now?”

Tricky, tricky. Isaac smiled. “I’ll see you when I see you, Enoch.”

With that, Isaac ended the call and got out of the car before he second-guessed himself again. Leaving his phone behind, he crossed the street, gritting his teeth at the thought of people he loved living in such a run-down, dangerous neighborhood. He supposed that was part of the appeal, however. Plus, she would have a strict budget that would make the multi-family tenement and the wafting stench of garbage a necessary evil.

Necessary because she’d run and never come home.

Isaac clenched his jaw harder. The entrance was locked—hallelujah and praise God for small miracles. Double-checking the address and taking a deep breath to calm his nerves he scanned the identification markers on the call box he was surprised to see anchored next to the front door. Most slots were devoid of names. One had a crude, rounded square etched into the metal.

He pushed that button.

Acid bubbled and clawed its way up his esophagus. There was no answer but he knew the apartment was occupied—oh, yes, he absolutely knew, because if there was one thing in the world he knew it was her, everything about her, her habits, beliefs and idiosyncrasies. And Isaac never forgot.

He lay on the button. Finally, a response came. “Antioch. Did you lose your damn key again?”

“Jericho.” His throat closed, making him unable to go on. Heart pounding, Isaac could not breathe.

He’d chosen correctly, and the full-body tingle setting his spine on fire carried a strange mix of terror and relief. His ears delighted in the harsh, screechy tone that had streamed through the speaker, though his soul remembered when that voice was as sweet as spring’s first flower. Spots danced before his eyes and he had to lean against the wall to make sure he didn’t tumble down the steps as his legs gave out.

The silence finally penetrated his madness. He pressed the button again. “Jericho? Please…I need your help.”

“Isaac. Go. Go away.”

Her voice was strained, stuttering. Suddenly scared that she would walk away and stop responding at all, he rushed on, “Please, listen to me! Father Martin Rice, remember him? I know you have a box full of paperwork, Jericho. I remember, you know I do. I know you’ve got some information on Rice and I need it.”

“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“We need what you’ve got, that’s all, Jericho. Whatever you managed to find, baby, because I never got a chance to talk to you about it but Liah was in trouble and I saw him and—”

“I’m sorry. I don’t have what you need.”

“Your files—”

“I don’t know where they are.”

“Please! I remember you telling me you’d found something, but then you had to go because…” Desperation ravaged Isaac’s senses, his throat swelled and tongue dried out. He forced the words, “Because you and Gideon were sent into that fucking church…” Memories swamped him and hijacked his speech. “And the bomb and the explosion and the sulfur igniting and…and he…then you…”

Isaac couldn’t breathe at all. He was sure his lungs had collapsed, as had he. Leaning against the wall, he let his tears flow and drip from his chin as he sobbed. He shuddered as fresh pain ripped him apart again.

“Please, Jericho. I need your help.” He needed her—to see her, to speak to her, to hold her once more. But he had to focus on what was possible to achieve.

“No…I…can’t.” Then harsher, “Why should I?”

“Because Rice is involved in something really big and really bad.” Isaac fought to make the garbled sounds coming from his throat seem more like actual words. “And because…because you’re my wife, my other half, and I need you. I need you.”

“No.”

“Jericho! Jericho!”

But she was gone. Isaac knew. The speaker remained silent and, eventually, he gave up.

For the moment.

 

Chapter 2

 

From the outside, the former girl’s academy looked like any other building. The city was full of moderately charming brick structures that had been converted into new usage without much remodeling. There was nothing special about the old school except the air of antiquated dignity clinging to the rain-washed bricks. Even the gargoyles decorating the roofline blended into the architecture of the bank next door and, with a bodega pressed to the building’s other wall, there were no grounds to maintain and no signage to advertise what was inside.

Most would never see beyond the darkly tinted front window. Even if they entered the building, they’d only reach the foyer, where they’d be stopped by Ruth, the epitome of grotesques and gargoyles, who guarded this lair of Garguiem with nothing more than a fingernail file and a take-no-prisoners attitude.

Isaac shuddered—and not just from the cold rain sliding beneath the collar of his jacket. In fact, Ruth was the reason he’d decided to enter through the grimy window in the alley, rather than the front door.

The window was a tricky piece of work. Every potential entrance of the Garguiem headquarters was triple protected by a variety of modern security alarms and archaic prayers. Disabling the contemporary technology was easy. Since he was in charge of organizing every bit of information that came through their particular region, Isaac had all the codes, and his memory was infallible.

The prayers were a bit harder. He lifted his hand. “I don’t fucking feel like saying this in Latin, O Lord. Open sesame won’t work and please isn’t always the magic word.”

He winced at his own twisted sense of humor, knowing it had skewed darker in recent months. There wasn’t much left to laugh at, though.

With a sigh, Isaac got serious. “In the likeness of Michael the Archangel, protector of men and leader of God’s Army, I beg entrance for no nefarious purpose, but seek truth in a matter close to my heart and necessary for the survival of the ones I love.”

The embellishments didn’t appear to hurt his cause. The dirty glass beneath his fingertips rippled with yellow light and, though soft, it was bright enough on that dreary day that Isaac took a quick look around to make certain he was alone. A muted click told him the window had unlocked.

He tumbled across the smallest opening he could get his broad shoulders through. Inside, the hallways were cool and quiet, echoing a bit much for Isaac’s peace of mind on the best of days—and today was not the best of days. The building seemed hushed and tense, the sound of his breathing bouncing off the walls. Isaac sluiced the rainwater from his hair, pushed the window back into place and wriggled his shoulders until he was certain he wouldn’t drip all the way down the hall.

Then he held his breath and crept toward his office.

Power pulsed around Isaac’s senses. He may not be a warrior like his cousins, he may not have Jericho’s intuition,  Liah’s empathy or Levi’s nose, but there was no mistaking the aura of the Garguiem. His people were descended from angels—banished to the earth after refusing to pick a side in the heavenly war. Made mortal and charged with the task of protecting the world from evil and corruption. Gifted with talents regular humans would never believe.

Isaac never forgot. Some fucking talent, he thought.

He tried not to be bitter about being left behind, relegated to desk duty simply because he could remember various bits of information—including the workarounds to the ever-changing, highly sophisticated firewalls the Vatican employed on their computer networks. His ancestor Gargouille may have been recruited by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, but that didn’t mean his followers believed in the dogma or belonged to the traditions. The Garguiem policed the clerical hierarchy up to and including the Pope in order to prevent demons from infiltrating and conquering the organization. Isaac reminded himself that he used weapons of a different sort—no less cutting, and every bit as important as the swords the warriors he worked with wielded.

Making his way through the halls, Isaac finally reached his final test. The silence had given way to a murmured, one-sided argument occasionally interspersed with a loud curse word or two. He paused, then risked a glance around the corner. A quick peek told him Enoch was in his office. Isaac had to find a way past.

He supposed he could simply stroll by, casually raise a hand and toss out a careless ‘Hey, Bossman,’ as he normally would, but he didn’t want to take a chance of being stopped. And, with so many others having gone AWOL, Isaac knew he’d be stopped. Questioned. Especially after the last conversation he’d had with his supervisor, just days ago.

Even now, he was afraid that his commander would somehow sense the way his heart raced, maybe feel the temperature difference as Isaac hid and waited, swallowing down the worst of his panic as his temples beaded with sweat. Enoch’s gift seemed unnaturally persuasive sometimes—not just getting the truth out of someone, but compelling it. Seriously, the man was downright eerie. And with Levi and Liah avoiding their superior, Isaac had gotten caught in the crosshairs.

“Shit,” he whispered soundlessly. “Why me?”

But Isaac already knew the answer to that question. Enoch was his cousin by marriage, though that thought was too painful to dwell on some days. A few years ago, in a move nearly unprecedented in any Garguiem unit, and especially one with a host of eligible leaders like theirs had had, the powers-that-be decided their particular family group needed to be led by an outsider. Enoch was sent in and his reception was chilly, to say the least.

But he’d brought his beautiful cousin with him. And Isaac had taken one look at her and fallen deeply, madly, blindly in love. His entire body had tingled and his soul had grown wings. Jericho was undeniably his other half, his gift from God. The one person in the whole world that was meant for him. His salvation and his glory.

His eternal pain.

Their relationship had given Isaac just a little more leeway with Enoch than anyone else could claim. In Isaac’s opinion, it should have garnered a bit of sympathy too, especially after the past year and all that Jericho’s leaving had wrought, but the commander had ridden his IT tech harder than ever before. Enoch had kept him too busy for the misery that waited in the wings—Isaac knew, understood and some days even appreciated it. That didn’t help the current situation, however.

He took another peek. Enoch’s shadow moved restlessly against the wall and the sound of his breathing seemed to rush through the corridor. The man was irritated, agitated, not in a good mood. Isaac gritted his teeth and prayed his heart wouldn’t burst through his rib cage as he slipped a few inches closer.

“No, Cardinal,” Enoch growled. “She hasn’t gone back into the training program yet, but I will let you know the moment she—”

Isaac stopped, sucked in oxygen and pressed his spine to the wall. His superior was talking about Liah. She’d been ordered back into the Garguiem training program after one too many suspensions from duty. The Cardinal had to be Padraig Murphy. He was a stickler for the rules and he’d been riding Liah for a while.

“She just needs a break. I gave her some time off.”

Enoch was lying. After Liah had walked out of the Garguiem headquarters a few weeks ago, she’d gone to Red Leaf City. Isaac didn’t think investigating missing girls, stumbling over a group of corrupt, orgiastic priests and nearly being sacrificed in a Black Mass ritual would count as time off at all.

Liah had gone rogue without a single glance back, and she’d committed herself to a man who would be summarily murdered if Enoch even suspected his existence. And Isaac had to keep all of that secret from a man with a gift for uncovering the truth.

Biting his lip and sliding another inch toward the door, he contorted to peer beyond its edge. Enoch faced a false window. Stuck as they were between two other buildings, they’d installed square light panels in the walls and decorated them with curtains. Productivity had gone up. Just then, anyone would have believed the portal was real, judging by the way the bossman stood before it.

“I’m simply hoping time away from the stresses of this job will do her good. No, Cardinal, I haven’t spoken to her brother, either. Levi is also on vacation with his new fiancé. I thought they deserved some time—” Enoch’s shoulders straightened with a snap. “Of course I know where my people are.”

Holding his breath and wincing, Isaac threw himself across the open doorway. He froze, listening to Enoch argue a bit louder, his words rushed and short, biting. The Garguiem didn’t take orders from the Cardinals, but the liaisons they worked with demanded respect. Isaac and most of his cousins would have told the Holy See to get fucked eons ago, but maybe that was why they’d brought in an outsider to lead their unit. Enoch was keen on diplomacy.

Secure in the knowledge that his commander was too wrapped up in his own troubles to notice he’d had company, Isaac continued down the hallway toward his high tech office. The holiest of holies—or at least that’s what he called it. The inner workings of their operation lay beyond a thick steel door guarded by biometric locks designed to allow only him and Enoch access.

Isaac lifted his hand to a metal plate on the wall. The device grew warm beneath his palm as it scanned his prints. He stood still, with his face slightly elevated while twin lasers moved over his ear and gouged into his eye. Fingerprints, retinal scans and ear comparisons complete, he then stuck out his tongue and waited for the drop of holy water. A sharp pinch in his finger where it pressed against the metal plate was immediately followed by a soft chime that made him paranoid he’d be discovered, but the DNA analysis took nearly no time at all and soon the steel door whooshed open.

With a backward glance to make certain Enoch hadn’t heard his entry, Isaac stepped across the threshold into his own domain. A wall of computers waited for another round of fingerprint scans before they would turn on and spill their secrets, but he walked past them, uninterested just then. What he wanted wasn’t in the computers. The only listing associated with Father Martin Rice in the database read ‘Pending input by Garguiem Operative 23875’.

Jericho.

Isaac rubbed his chest and headed back into the stacks of hard-copy documents. Manuscripts and scrolls, medieval Illuminations and hand-written notes, evidence collected in boxes, all piled neatly on shelves stretching from floor to ceiling in three long aisles. He didn’t need to look anything up in there, however. He’d catalogued every single piece of data he’d inherited or gathered since he’d been assigned to the job and Isaac had never forgotten any of it.

At the very back of the large space, in a dim corner where no one ever thought to look, he sought a box without identification. There was no case number on the front, no description of what was inside. A band secured the lid. Coded with a specific, voice-activated password, even Enoch, when that bastard was at his most intrusive, wouldn’t be able to get the seal open without Isaac’s full cooperation.

He prayed while he opened the box. Still, the pain nearly took him to his knees when the dim lighting, high overhead, sparked off a simple piece of gold. Isaac picked it up and, for the first time in a year, put his wedding band back on.

His finger felt as if it had caught fire. Not his ring finger, but the one next to it. The middle finger that boasted the faint Mem, the small mark that told the world that Isaac was one of God’s lawmen too. The same rounded square he’d found etched into a call box in the middle of a ghetto.

He looked at the picture he’d left in the container. Jericho was beautiful, with dark curls and perfect skin, but that wasn’t why he’d fallen so hard for her. Her laugh and her smile, the spark of mischief in her chocolate eyes. The way she’d encouraged his sense of humor and made him feel like her equal even though he wasn’t half the warrior she was. Her kindness and compassion. Her scent. Her taste.

He stroked his finger over the image. “What do you expect me to do now, Jericho?”

Coming in 2018

Meanwhile on KDP…

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Nina Croft – The Bad Girl & The Baby

Captain Matt Peterson prides himself on being able to handle anything…until he winds up as the guardian of his baby niece, Lulu. Two years and six nannies later, his well-ordered existence is in chaos. Still, he’s all Lulu has. Except, well…there is an aunt…

Darcy Butler has spent the last three years in prison for beating up her abusive brother-in-law. Her only regret is that she didn’t hurt him worse and stop him from killing her sister in a drunken car crash six months later. But now, Darcy just wants to rebuild her life. Starting with finding her sister’s child.

But Matt doesn’t want an ex-con with a record for violence anywhere near Lulu. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to keep away from Darcy, himself. Despite their differences, their chemistry is combustible…and the sex is incredible! Still, it can’t possibly last. Can it?

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Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

Nina’s writing mixes romance with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

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Lisabet Sarai – Citadel of Women

Citadel of Women: Asian Adventures Book 2

Passion flares among the ruins of an ancient empire

When her lover severs their relationship just before a long-planned trip to Angkor Wat, Doa stubbornly decides to travel alone. The marvelous sights of the ancient Khmer empire do little to heal the rift in her heart. Che, the mercurial young tour guide, senses her loneliness and offers her comfort and passion. Their connection is far more than physical – but how can two people from such different worlds share a future?

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~~Excerpt~~

A soft knocking at the door jolted me back to reality. I clutched at the sheet, my heart slamming against my ribs. Maybe whoever it was would go away. The knock came again, more insistent.

“Doa? Are you awake?”

I didn’t have to answer it. If I didn’t answer, he’d have to leave. Wouldn’t he? But was that what I wanted?

I grabbed the batik sarong I’d bought in Bangkok, wrapped it around my body and tied it over my breasts. Liquid trickled down the inside of my thighs as I padded to the door. Musk hovered in the sticky air.

I opened the door. Che stood there, barefoot, clad in a T-shirt and boxer shorts. His hair was tousled.  His eyes burned.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he murmured. He stepped into the room. I closed the door behind him.

His arms snaked around me, pulling me to his chest. He was stronger than he looked. He nuzzled my neck, licked his way up to my ear lobe and flicked at it with his tongue. A bolt of pleasure shot through me, targeting my pussy. He silenced my moan with his mouth, capturing mine in a wet kiss. I tasted the beer we’d drunk, the chilies he’d eaten.

I let my arms clasp his slender body to my riper one, accepting what he offered. My rational self warned I’d regret this. When I grasped his rigid cock through the well-worn shorts, his groan drowned out the voice of caution.

As I stroked his hardness, he unknotted my sarong. His hands sought the weight of my breasts. He cradled them, kneading my ripe flesh and tracing voluptuous circles around my nipples. Warm honey flowed through my limbs. I pulled the threadbare boxers down over his lean hips so I could sample his nakedness. A musky funk rose from his privates. His cock was long like his fingers, slender and graceful as the rest of him, and harder than the stones of the ancient city. Wrapped in skin as soft and delicate as a baby’s, it pulsed in my hand, alive with need.

~~~

About Lisabet

Lisabet Sarai has been addicted to words all her life. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – nearly one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.  Sign up for her VIP email list here:  https://btn.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh