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.

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.

iBOOKS I BARNES & NOBLE I AMAZON US I AMAZON UK

KOBO I GOOGLEPLAY

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

Trickling down takes a certain gravity

Drip, drip, drip…does it ever become a flood?

What do the people who think they’re in charge mean by trickle-down economics? They mean that they pass laws that benefit the wealthiest pocketbooks and, in return, the money trickles down…to them. They get money to pass more laws to benefit the wealthiest and the money trickles down again…to them.

We’ll call this the Money Wheel. No, the Economic Cycle… Ooh, no, The Price is Right.

My education focused on social and political developmental issues, things like education (and a rant on that is coming soon) the need for safe roads and youth programs, and also free elections and a multiple party electoral system where no one ideology can gain the majority and those who are supposed to be representing the people are no longer able to represent their own economic interests instead.

We have entered a truly capitalist age in the United States. Currently, we are seeing a massive expansion of corporate interests and protections, but this comes at the cost of resources our country has long valued. These economic changes come at the cost of blessings that we have taken for granted…

Clean drinking water, for example. Silt, oil and god-only-knows-what-else can pollute the ground water to the point that our water treatment facilities are unable to adequately clean it. If they shut down, we’ll have to hope the microscopic organisms don’t kill us first. (Ask around any area flooded after a hurricane, they’ll tell you how nightmarish ‘no water’ can be.) That means, we’ll either poison ourselves with chemical agents trying to disinfect the water, or we’ll get used to the taste of petroleum. Either way, it’s a remarkable change from what we have now, with enough clean water access that we can dig massive holes, fill them up with water that won’t kill us via some awful flesh-eating bacteria, and play in it.

For comparison: I used to live in Africa. If I wanted to play in water, I had to take my chances next to the sharp-toothed wildlife. To drink the water, I walked a half-kilometer, pumped the water into a bucket I then carried home on my head, boiled it and put it through a filter. There are some families over there who must designate one member to nearly exclusive water duty, and it takes hours to get enough to supply the family for the day. Would you like to switch over to that system? Because that might be coming…

The majority of us value our resources and understand that our society is not just capitalist. If so, we’d all be registered as corporations. We wouldn’t care about education, healthcare, food or water. We’d be in the ring every day, fighting for own survival…

A society has other concerns than money, and those concerns must be met. Just look at Maslow’s Hierarchy (and consider where we might be on this scale):

We must balance the things we need to survive into the future with the economic interests of today. Clear air, so we can breathe, clean water, so we can live. The bees are already in danger because of human actions, and they are extremely important to the environment and the way life lives. If you’re not concerned, if you’re skeptical of a need to protect the environment, then you don’t understand the consequences.

Side note: if you’re a Christian arguing against things like climate change and the importance of forest preservation and species conservation, I suggest you take a look back at Genesis, where God creates Adam to be a caretaker of the earth and all things in it. Are you doing your part? When you stand before the Creator on judgment day, neither ignorance nor disbelief will be a proper defense for the way you, personally, probably treated the environment around you.

All right, all right. I’ll put that particular soap box away and come to my point. Trickle down economics is a myth. They’ve been trying to rationalize this lie for decades now, and it still doesn’t pan out. Do you really think that the richest people who have stockpiles of money don’t have enough to hire more people for their corporations? They can invest in everything but people, we’ve got computers and robots and advanced research & development happening every single day, and you think they can’t afford to pay somebody $10 an hour to…what are you going to do for them, anyway? Sweep the floor? They got a Roomba.

It’s a pyramid scheme, and you’ve been taken. Quite frankly, we’ve all been taken—hostage, that is. There is no trickle down, and no, there is no real trickle up, either. There is a small benefit to giving more money to poor people, because they will actually spend the money in their local economies, unlike rich people, who only buy designer brands and fly to foreign countries for handmade specialty items.

We need a radiate out program, instead. (Historically, people in charge don’t like that idea.) Pump the money into the middle class and you suddenly create upward mobility. They will both spend in their local economies and invest in large corporations. We need entrepreneurial programs to help ordinary folks with a vision open their own businesses. We really do need a return to Main Street, and I can see this country clamoring for it.

I saw a comment on a forum the other day about the death of Mom & Pop stores, and how they’ll never come back. But that’s not true. The comment focused on bigger businesses, like Walmart and Target, and the importation of cheaper, foreign-made objects. That has their place, and it’s a valuable one to our society. Everyone should have the right to affordable soap and underwear, right?

But raise your hand if you’d rather shop for something special at a local boutique. Raise your hand if you’d like to buy a handmade piece of jewelry that no one else has—all for a good price from a local artist. Raise your hand if you have a favorite independent coffee shop that suits your personality exactly. How about fresh bread, yummy pastries? Tell me why Farmer’s Markets do so well if Mom & Pop’s have gone the way of the dodo.

This country isn’t all about big business, that’s just what the baby boomers focused on. And, to be brutally honest, I’m getting tired of them deciding our future, when they won’t have to pay the consequences for their bad decisions and tunnel vision.

We are a people. A tribe, a nation. In spite of our differences, we’re all supposed to be on the same side, one team. That’s a functioning society, where we all contribute, are allowed to contribute and respect each other’s differences and opinions and unique perspectives. But, for too long, we’ve been treated like a corporation, with clear favoritism, cut-throat hiring practices and little opportunity for advancement. Now, they’re turning us into cage-match fighters, looking for survival.

So, take a minute to think… Let’s pretend rich people and corporations really do hire more people when they get a kick back from the government. Do you think they’ll hire you? Are you close enough to get a job with them? Are you qualified for a job with them? How do you think the current economic plan that’s making its way through the Senate and the House will benefit you? You, personally. If your answer has a ‘but’ in there, it doesn’t. It won’t help you at all.

Our society needs to balance the economy with other interests. How about healthcare, education, saving our national treasures and reducing crime. All the things we have issues with today are a direct result of poor and/or nefarious financial decisions. We need to stop walking party lines in this country and start remembering that we’re all in the same boat. And the people we trusted with our oars are steering us toward a waterfall.

~~~

That’s my bone to pick…

You won’t always agree, and that’s okay. I’d still love to hear your comments, so long as you can manage to keep yourself respectful, because we all deserve a little dignity. Be human, you know?

Jenna Jacob – Seeking my Destiny

Synopsis

By day, I’m Sasha Evans, successful business owner and entrepreneur.
By night, I’m Destiny, Club Genesis’ masochistic bottom who craves pain and won’t kneel to just any Top.
The subs around me are all pairing up with the Doms of their dreams. I can’t even find someone to whip away my stress and grant me peace. It’s driving me mad!
But you know the old saying, Never tempt fate…
Falling into bed with my tall, ruggedly handsome business associate, Lawson Pratt, isn’t the smartest move I’ve ever made, but he certainly melted me with pleasure.
And when compelling Sadist Parker Cane offered me a contract, promising to make all my most agonizing fantasies come true, I was torn.
How’s a girl supposed to choose between tingling passion and sweet torment?
What if I can have both men work their magic on me?
It sounds great—in theory. And it’s feeling that way too—until a menacing madman from the past returns to steal not only my bliss…but my life.

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USA Today Bestselling Author Jenna Jacob’s erotic romance comes from the heart of submission. With over twenty years’ experience in the dynamics of the BDSM lifestyle, Jenna strives to portray Dominance and submission with a passionate and comprehensive voice. Her stories will make you laugh, cry, and may leave you with a better understanding of the fulfillment found in the BDSM power exchange.

A married mom of four grown children, Jenna and her husband lives in Kansas. Her passions include her family, reading, camping, cooking, music, and riding Harleys. She loves to make people laugh with her outgoing and warped sense of humor. If you’re looking for hot romance with a kinky twist, pick up one of Jenna’s books.

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Just Breathe, Anxiety 5-4-3-2-1

So, I’ve been sick. I’ve been sick for a long time, and it’s actually pretty difficult to deal with because I look fine. Maybe a little tired. Everyone looks at me and thinks everything is okay, they see me moving, lots of energy…except I hurt all the time and I’m pushing for energy when I really want to sit down and my immune system is compromised. But that’s not something people see either.

I get a lot of side-eyed glares and “You’re sick again?” My family and friends call me a hypochondriac. The people I work with sigh and tell me, “It’s always something, isn’t it?”

Yes, it is. There is something wrong. I can feel it and all the testing my doctors have done have come back different, every time. My thyroid’s out of whack…no, it’s normal…well, it’s borderline…ah, it’s fine! Maybe my gallbladder needs to come out. Maybe I have pancreatitis. Or a vitamin deficiency. Or an overactive stress reaction. Maybe I just need counseling.

What I think is that my hormones are totally off for whatever reason. Thyroid, estrogen dominance, stress…maybe this is how I become a shaman. I don’t know, but I’ve heard a lot of theories.

I’ve developed anxiety. I tend not to go out very often, not just because I’m an introvert, but because of these new anxiety attacks I get sometimes.

Last night, I got one. It was fairly bad, too. I was hot, restless, sick to my stomach. I don’t necessarily get a sense of impending doom, my brain focuses on one horrible thing that I’m just sure will happen. (It never does).

I took slow, deep breaths. I tried to be rational and talk myself out of the crazed fears my brain tossed out. I pictured the worst case scenario and figured out how I’d deal with it. I clawed my palms, which seemed to help because it provided a distraction when all the nerves in my body suddenly told me I was in pain, I was sick and I needed to excuse myself right away. But I was in a situation where I couldn’t excuse myself, and neither did I want to.

I saw a meme about anxiety on Facebook not too long ago, and so I whipped it out, except I couldn’t really remember it. All I remembered was 5-4-3-2-1, and I knew it had something to do with the senses. So I made up the rest. I looked for five things I could see, four things I could hear, three things I could smell…skipped the sense of taste and found four more things I could touch with different textures.

And it worked. The knot in my stomach immediately loosened, my spine relaxed and my lungs felt freer. I was still more jittery than I wanted, but I felt worlds better than I had.

When I go someplace and I’m comfortable, it’s usually because I feel like I can control my surroundings. (Although, sometimes I go someplace I’m not comfortable and the anxiety never kicks in, and sometimes I go to a very familiar place and can’t breathe). Strange, because I’m literally trained to deal with chaos and crises—but, then again, maybe that’s why I prefer control. My job is to take chaos and bring it under control, and I’m good at my job. Even in my writing, I control what happens, and though sometimes my characters surprise me, it’s not the same as real-world events, is it?

Anxiety is one of the drawbacks of whatever so-far-undiagnosed thing is going on with me. And maybe that means it is a stress-related issue and not hormonal. I’ve gotten a lot of what went wrong with me under control through an overhaul in what I eat. I’ve seen nutrition perform miracles, so I’ve applied that idea to my own life, and I’m having pretty good success with it. But nutrition only goes so far with a stress reaction when you’re out for the night.

I’m very happy that the 5-4-3-2-1 thing worked, even if I made up what to do about. I was surprised it worked and relieved it did, so I wanted to share the experience. If any of my readers suffer from anxiety and want to know more about this technique, I did a little research on it to write this post and found this short and to-the-point article about it.

P.S. In case you wondered, I’ve just about given up on doctors with this whole thing, too. If something major happens, of course I’ll seek medical advice, but they’re all playing the same guessing game that I am right now, so I’m going holistic. Good nutrition, meditation, long, boiling hot baths and lots of creative outlets have really helped my health. I’ve moved away from relationships that were painful, I’ve gotten into the sunlight more often and I watch birds and squirrels while I let my brain go quiet. I pet my cat. I still have a ways to go, but I’m feeling so much better than last year, when my body was shutting down.

Flight or fight… If you can’t run from something, you might as well fight it however you can.

 

Lucy Felthouse – Finally Found

Natalia has been in love with her best friend Ashleigh for years, ever since they were housemates at university. Unfortunately, circumstances, and then Natalia’s unwillingness to jeopardise their friendship, mean that she has never confessed her feelings, choosing instead to be grateful for the close relationship they do have. However, on a weekend away together, a bottle or two of wine and an erotic book place the girls in a highly charged sexual situation. Will Natalia make a move, or is she too afraid to rock the boat and risk losing Ashleigh altogether?

Please note: This story was previously published as part of the Lover Unexpected: Sappho Edition anthology.

~Excerpt~

Natalia smiled as she caught sight of the familiar redhead sitting at a table in the hotel bar. Thankful for the thick carpet masking her footsteps, she walked up behind her friend, ensuring she wouldn’t be seen. Then she slipped her hands over her eyes. “Guess who?”

An excitable squeak, then, “Oh, I don’t know. Is it Scarlett Johansson?”

“Hmm, close, but not quite. Guess again.”

“Oh, shut up you silly cow, and come here.” With that, the redhead stood and turned, throwing her arms around Natalia and pulling her into a tight hug. “Hey, gorgeous. I missed you! How are you?”

“I missed you too, Ashleigh. I’m good, thanks. How about you? You look great.”

Disentangling from their embrace, Ashleigh looked down at her clingy black top and skinny jeans and shrugged. “Thanks. I’m okay, I guess. All the better for seeing you. It’s been forever. Come on, sit down. Let’s get a drink.”

They sat down, and a waiter appeared. Natalia suspected he’d been waiting at a safe distance until they’d finished their enthusiastic greeting.

He smiled. “What can I get you ladies?”

Natalia looked at her watch. “You know what, it’s Saturday and it’s after twelve. I’ll have a glass of white wine, please. Something mid-range and not too dry.”

Ashleigh piped up. “Make it a bottle. Thanks.”

The waiter nodded, gave a little bow and walked away.

“So,” Natalia said, settling back into the plush armchair, “how was your journey? I always find getting into London a total nightmare, but it’s not so bad once you’re here. The Tube may be sweaty and crowded, but at least it’s fast.”

Ashleigh nodded. “It was all right, actually. The train into the city was on time and not very busy, and, like you say, the Tube is quick and easy. It was pretty stress-free. You?”

“Much the same. I’m just glad we’re finally here. I can’t believe it’s been a year since we’ve seen each other. It’s so easy to forget that when we talk almost every day.”

“I know. I’m sorry. It’s just life gets in the way, doesn’t it? Especially as we live so far apart. And then there was all that stuff with Kayla…” Ashleigh lapsed into silence and dropped her gaze to the table.

Natalia didn’t know how to respond to that, so she just nodded sagely. Kayla had been Ashleigh’s live-in girlfriend, until the discovery of some text messages and emails tipped Ashleigh off that she was being cheated on. Despite all of Kayla’s pleas and declarations of true and undying love, Ashleigh had no intention of being a doormat, so she’d thrown Kayla out, and that was the end of it.

Of course, Natalia had known that Kayla was going to be thrown out before Kayla did. As soon as Ashleigh had found the incriminating missives, she’d gotten straight on the phone to Natalia for advice. And as much as Natalia wanted to tell her friend to get the hell rid of the cheating bitch, she also wanted her to be happy, so instead she’d asked Ashleigh if she thought she was being too hasty.

“Fuck no,” Ashleigh had replied, “as far as I’m concerned, she’s destroyed my trust. Once that happens things are never the same, so it’s not worth it. And if I meant that much to her, she wouldn’t have done it, would she?”

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~~~

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 and Hiding in Plain Sight. 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

 

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Lisabet Sarai – Miranda’s Masks

Shy and serious by day—insatiable by night.

Taboo contemporary erotic romance

Betrayed and abandoned by her first lover, shy and studious Miranda Cahill freezes in response to any sexual attention from someone she knows and likes.

During the day, she works diligently on her doctoral thesis. At night, she finds herself drawn into increasingly extreme sexual encounters with strangers. Public coupling, multiple partners, age play, spankings, bondage, lesbian lust—each experience reveals new dimensions of her depravity. Her anonymous secret life begins to take over when she discovers that the masked seducer she meets in a sex club and the charismatic young professor courting her are the same man.

Dickens scholar Mark Anderson seems like an affable, uncomplicated Midwesterner, but he has hidden depths, myriad talents, and an unlimited appetite for erotic variety. With Mark as her guide,  Miranda gradually comes to understand and accept the intricacy of her own desires, as well as to trust her heart.

Note: This novel was previously published under the title Incognito. It has been expanded, revised and reformatted for this release.

~~~

“Truly a buffet of pleasures, with something for everyone. There’s the enjoyment of piecing together the mirroring, multi-layered narratives. Historical and literary echoes provide extra spice for the careful reader—in particular Shakespeare fans might enjoy the parallels to Miranda in The Tempest—all sweetened with abundant humor and clever feminist twists. Always you’ll find masterful prose in sizzling erotic scenes that offer flavors to please any palate. And last but not least, the novel will change your view of the world in surprising ways.”  Donna George Story, Erotica Readers and Writers Association.

~~~

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A Journey to Pleasure and Love

I’m here to share a bit about my newest release, Miranda’s Masks. This novel chronicles the experiences of a young woman learning to trust her own sexuality. Scarred by the cruelty of her first lover, Miranda Cahill takes refuge in her studies. Though she tries to deny her needs, her attempts to suppress her libido ultimately fail. She finds herself engaging in increasingly extreme sexual scenarios with strangers who have no notion who she is. Her body demands satisfaction, but Miranda’s not willing to risk her heart—not until her equally adventurous colleague Mark Anderson wins her confidence and her heart. She comes to realize that Mark is not only her soul mate, but also her companion in the quest for erotic pleasure, and that far from being opposites, lust and love a mutually reinforcing.

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Every one of her nine novels includes some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website, along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance, she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.

Women

I’m going to keep going for another week on the female angle. Mostly because the pond is still rippling with more and more allegations, more women speaking up, more women supporting other women and more men coming to a realization of what women might be putting up with on a daily basis.

First, let me just say that a line has been drawn. It’s about damned time, too. Women are tired and have been tired and sometime in the past year or so, we’ve had all our powerlessness thrown back into our faces, salt rubbed into the wound a few times too many… And we’re beginning to remember that the world turns on us. We are the glue, we are the backbone and we are the future of every generation that’s ever lived.

Sorry if that hurt your feelings, guys, but it’s the way nature intended the world to work, and ancient men decided they weren’t confident enough in the roles they’d been assigned to allow others to lead. (Take a look around and tell me how the last few millennia have worked out for everyone.)

Men are starting to realize that all women have faced harassment solely because they are women many, many times in their lives. You’ve done it too—and the things you’ve said to a woman will have been said to your mother, aunts, wife, and will be said to your daughters and granddaughters. And they were all told to shut up and take it. Don’t make waves, men will be men, boys will just run their mouths…Women have to be strong, you know.

Strong without taking credit. Strong enough to lend face to their menfolk so their delicate feelings don’t get hurt.

Really?

I’m writing an angry rant today because I’ve seen so many bullshit comments over the past few weeks, primarily written by men but also some of the hordes of brainwashed women, too. I’ve seen things about feminazis, liars who waited to come forward…and I’ve read comments about bringing up all the stuff the Clintons and the Kennedys had been accused of.

Well they’re dead, so let’s take them out of the political equation, ‘mm-kay? Also, blah, blah, Bill Clinton. Yup, he should be held to the same standards too. But why not back then? Because American women hadn’t had to wake up to the blatantly offensive things we wake up to today, and a different generation had still believed that keeping quiet was the best tactic for survival.

And maybe it was, but it’s not working anymore. Honestly, it never has worked, it was only a temporary fix, because we might be surviving today, but we’re not letting our daughters or our sons live in their future. We’re evolving, right now, very visibly. The upcoming generations will be so much different than anything we’ve seen in current history, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Sleazebags come in all shapes, sizes, colors and political affiliations. Some of these accusations hurt—I get it. It’s disappointing that human beings are not all good or all evil, that they don’t make it so convenient for the rest of us to judge. Pain is on both sides of the aisle now. But we’ve got to face it, we’ve got to uncover the festering wound because that’s the only way we can clean and heal it.

This is an issue of respect. Ask a man how he’d feel if another man went down the street catcalling him, groping him, pressuring him for sexual favors, threatening his career just because he didn’t give out blowjobs any time he was ordered to. How would he feel knowing that there might possibly be someone waiting for him in the dark, near his parked car or somewhere in his house, in any shadowed place, really, and that he wouldn’t just get beaten and robbed by someone stronger, but held down and raped, possibly by multiple men, just because they could do so.

Oh, and when they got raped, maybe they got pregnant too. No matter what health issues are at stake, no matter how old they might be…No matter that they may or may not even have access to adequate medical care for themselves, let alone a baby.

And men are surprised by our reactions. They’ve made jokes forever about how women on blind dates are scared they’ve been matched up with some serial killer. Well, yeah, because the guy in question might be a serial killer! Bad things happen to females who are alone. It’s partly why we pee together.

But we’re at a turning point. Turning points hurt, I know. But every day is a chance to start fresh, atone for the sins of the past, deal with the repercussions that you know you’ve probably earned and move forward with a new perspective and a new dedication to respecting others.

Respect. Seriously.

To finish this angry little rant about the rights of women and the responsibilities of men as human beings who occupy space alongside women, I’d like to share some observations I made while I lived in Africa. (Because women in America are standing up demanding respect, and because many places in Africa are undergoing its own changes concerning respect, too.)

The women (I knew) there are truly amazing.

Pare down all the first and second world bullshit, and you’ll see what women had always been meant to be and do. They lead, they laugh and they love. Unfortunately, most are still under the very oppressive thumb of patriarchy in some manner or another, but these women are the epitome of strength, grace and generosity. Without them, I wouldn’t have done half as well over there as I did.

They break their backs every day. They care for their families and take care of their families, and still have time to care for you, too. They point out what’s wrong with their corner of society, they hold their neighbors to standards of decency that anyone would agree with while simultaneously encouraging a bit of freedom in thought, word and deed. They love their children and their husbands fiercely, they forgive easily, but they also stand as guardians of progress and what’s right versus what’s wrong.

They’re not perfect, their cultures can be very different from anything you’ve ever known, but their humanity is rock-solid, and the same as nearly all other woman worldwide, regardless of ethnicity, nationality or education level. There are simply some morals that are universal.

Women are the keepers of those morals and societal standards, but we forgot that and once we forgot, we had a hard time passing it on to our children. Now we’re living in a time when respect is a rare commodity, internet trolls draw blood on the daily and leading political figures figuratively spit on common folk for no good reason other than greed and egotism.

That’s our line in the sand. There’s a lot of you on the opposite side of that line too, so y’all better hold on to your hats because the erosion of the shit that’s piled up over previous, silent generations has already started.

Sierra Cartwright – Double Trouble

One love. One obsession. Double the trouble.

This time, he won’t take no for an answer.

For three years, Daniel Armstrong has wanted the beautiful, fiery Bridget Kelly. But when he sees her at Houston’s premier BDSM club and realizes she has an interest in submission, his determination reignites. A charity auction provides a means for him to possess her and do good at the same time. Who could resist? Focused solely on Bridget and the decadent delights he intends for her, he outbids everyone to claim her.

Helpless, trapped by the glare of a spotlight at an auction she never agreed to participate in, Bridget is stunned when bidding for a weekend with her goes higher and higher.

She’s frantic when she realizes the gorgeous, successful Daniel Armstrong has won her. For years, she’s been attracted to the renowned heartbreaker, but she’s kept him at a distance to protect herself.

Then one night, she sees him at a BDSM club, and there’s no doubt he recognizes her submissive tendencies. Now that the devastating Dom knows her naughty desires, she’s doubly determined to avoid him.

When he claims her, she believes things can’t get worse. Then he introduces her to his identical twin, Jacob. Suddenly, she’s faced with not one, but two men determined to make her every fantasy come true and take her to the heights of submission.

Series Note: Although linked by a common theme, the stories in this series may be read in any order Revenge can be sexy and sweet. Dom Daniel Armstrong has waited twenty years for the chance to possess the beautiful and fiery I Heart TC waitress Bridget Kelley. She broke his heart and crushed his ego, twice, and he’s never gotten over her. This time, he won’t take no for an answer. Seeing her in an oh-so short skirt at a BDSM club has reignited his determination, and a charity auction provides a means for him to possess her and do good at the same time. Who could resist? When she realizes the always-persistent Daniel has won her, Bridget is frantic. She desperately tries to back out of the deal to spend an entire weekend at his family’s secluded James River plantation. This is a man she’s scorned, and worse, a Dom who knows her naughty desires. She’s seen him control a woman before, and the idea of submitting to him both thrills and frightens her. And just when she thinks things can’t get worse, he introduces her to his twin, David. Suddenly, she’s faced with not one, but two, determined Doms…

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: anal play/intercourse, BDSM theme and content, menage (m/f/m), spanking.

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USA Today Best-Selling Author, Winner of the 2015 Best BDSM Book of the year (Bind), 2015 Reader’s Choice Best Erotic Romance (Bind), 2015 Golden Flogger (Crave), 2014 LASR Book of the Year award (In The Den), 2013 Best BDSM Book of the Year award (Over The Line), Golden Flogger Award 2015 nominee for her books Command, Bind, and Brand, Sierra was born in Manchester, England where she spent her early years traipsing through castles. After living in Denver for a number of years, the internationally acclaimed author now resides in Galveston, Texas. She loves the way history blends with Southern manners (being called “sugar” is an experience unto itself).

She invites you to join her on a sensual journey where the limits are explored and expanded.

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Do you believe in magic?

Today, I’m getting my kitchen witch on.

Okay, over the past week, I’ve been getting my kitchen witch on. I believe in magic, but, as much as I’d love to believe in magic wands, flying broomsticks and that scene in Practical Magic where Sandra Bullock blows on the candle to light it, that’s not what I think it’s all about.

Ironically, I believe in practical magic, just not the movie. Like a few weeks ago when I was searching for a non-specific ring, and something told me to look in my grandmother’s junk drawer…keep digging…farther. I had no idea what was in there or what I was even looking for, but not only did I pull out a fox pin (see my post on how I keep finding foxes everywhere) but also exactly what I needed for the project I was working on.

Practical, right? (BTW, now I can’t stop finding rings. They’re everywhere—in my sink (!!) on the street, on the floor, in boxes…And I’ve never seen any of them before.)

So I’m currently quite taken with the idea of a kitchen witch. My (Welsh-descendant side) family has a long and vivid oral history of who saw ghosts, who knew what in an uncanny manner, who had dreams… We were once witches most likely, and to this day carry a heavy emphasis on the female, the matriarch. Things happen with my family members, strange occurrences are the norm for us and certain concepts don’t really faze me.

This past year, as many of you know, I got really sick. It required me to change my entire diet in order to have a functioning system again. So I’ve gotten into nutrition. Also, years ago, I lived in Africa and I was very into nutrition then (forced to be, really) and started learning a lot about natural medicines (again, forced to by circumstances) and was privileged enough to have seen some extremely intelligent, compassionate and even magical women working in their roles as traditional healers.

 

In case you doubt my emphasis on the strength of women, and the ancient roles of women that I believe should be and are being reinstated in the present era, see my post about the feminine divine.

 

 

Anyway, this past year, I’ve gotten back into nutrition in a big way. My grandmother was always the one with the green thumb, but I’m about to try my hand with some kitchen herbs, and considering the fact that I don’t particularly care about growing things, this is especially surprising. But the need is there. To have some greenery around me, to have the aromatic scent of fresh herbs, to know that I’m growing something that is beneficial to the things I’m cooking and therefore my family’s health, is really making me happy.

Also, my cat’s been poisoning himself with a new houseplant, so I’ve got to replace it with a better, healthier distraction for him.

I’ve been cooking alot. For months now, I’ve cooked nearly every day. I’ve focused on fresh vegetables, and have nearly done away with meat. Not because I’m a vegetarian and not because I have some moral objection to it, but my body doesn’t do well with meat anymore. It makes me literally sick, to the point where my system starts shutting down again until it’s fully digested, which takes weeks, with the way my system is sluggish, especially after consuming meat. A cycle of horrors (and pain, illness, etc.)

Because of my health, I’m getting organized. I’ve rearranged rooms, furniture, logistical systems. I’m moving things around in my kitchen to institute some sort of organization and I’ve created a pantry out of things I already had in my house. I both hate it, and love it. Maybe one day I can do a real renovation, but that would require a lot more people buying my books!

Speaking of… I’ve been meaning to get a recipe book, then I realized I have an old day planner that I fell in love with years ago. It’s a binder, so the pages are easily removed or added, yet it’s leather-bound with a closure and plenty of slots for (business cards) little things I want to keep. Since I’m not using it as a planner anymore, I thought about doing a recipe book in this, scrapbook style, with cutesy things, pictures, quotes…

So of course I looked that up. And saw the kitchen witch thing. And it feels right. It fits.

It seems that’s what I am becoming, or maybe that’s what I always was. I’m a caretaker, always have been. Maybe the magic that runs through my family finally found its natural place inside me. Not that I didn’t have any (I could tell some stories!) but maybe it’s more fully realized in this endeavor than it has been in any other. I’m continually drawn toward caring for people (addicts, the sick, the elderly and children to date) and healing in some way (in Africa I served a role in community health and have worked in hospital settings and clinics in the US). I love the idea that nature has provided us a foundation, even though I fully believe there are things science does much better.

But taking care of my family, infusing health and love into all the things I’m doing around my home and growing ever more excited by the way one project leads toward another is surprising, and inspiring. It’s so much work, but I’m excited to do it.

I’m not Wiccan. I always say ‘Wiccan-ish’ knowing that I believed in and felt something, but also knowing it wasn’t what other people believed and knew. I was raised in the Lutheran church, anyway, and yet feel there is truth in every religion. That makes me an Omnist, I think.

So I’m embracing this kitchen witch concept whole-heartedly, because it’s not about religion. It’s not about what you believe or the dogma you adhere to. Anyone can do this, all that’s required is faith. Faith in yourself and your ability to provide a good meal and a happy home for your family, the love you have for them, the need to take care of others that you pour into every dish and enforce every time you mop.

This is magic at its most practical, and at its most profound. It’s the magic of love.