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Friday, August 26, 2016

Early Review: Dirty Little Lies by Lora Leigh

A Men of Summer Novel

THE HEART HAS ITS SECRETS. 

Zack Richards knows he’s asking for trouble. Trying to protect a member of the notorious Maddox family could get a man killed—even a battle-scarred, muscle-ripped alpha like Zack. But the woman who has captured his wildest fantasies is nothing like the rest of her power-hungry clan. She’s innocent, beautiful, and has quickly become the one shining light in his dark, desperate world. The only woman worth fighting for…and dying for…

BUT PASSION NEVER LIES.

Her name is Grace Maddox—and everybody knows that she is a marked woman. Targeted for her family’s sins and hunted like a wild animal, Grace has no choice but to accept Zack’s protection. In his arms, she finally feels safe. In his eyes, she sees an insatiable desire that mirrors her own. But the truth is dangerous—and could end up tearing them apart. Will surrendering to Zack end up being the biggest mistake of Grace’s life?

I gave this book a 

  
Dirty Little Lies is another steamy keeper!  Leigh brings Zack and Grace together as more secrets and passion unfold in the Men of Summer saga.  Strong passionate men enveloped in intrigue is one of Leigh's specialties.  Dirty Little Lies will deliver exactly the type of "hot and bothered" you've come to love in the Men of Summer.  A great sizzling magnetic read.  



Available for purchase at:

                      




 Excerpt

Chapter 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Annapolis, Maryland
Brigham Estate


Damn, he didn’t want to be here.


Pulling into the circular drive of the Brigham Estate, home of the Brigham Security Agency, Zack Richards fought back the coil of rage and betrayal that tensed in his gut every time he was ordered to show up.


The Brighams liked to call themselves his family; he liked to call them a pain in the ass. He would gladly have kept well away from them if only that were possible. Unfortunately, his uncle, the head of the Brigham family, had found a way to get Zack back to D.C. periodically.


Alexander Brigham hadn’t found a way to make him like it, though, and Zack made certain his uncle knew how very much he despised each visit. A bit childish, perhaps, but it kept Zack from hitting a man whose health was said to be suffering.


Zack hopped out of the mud-spattered pickup he’d driven in from Tennessee and strode across the drive to the imposing two-story brick colonial and up to the wide, wooden front doors, wishing he’d get a chance to pound on the wood and expend a little of his irritation. Instead, as usual, just as he set foot on the porch, the panels were opened smoothly by one of the young agents Brigham employed.


“Mr. Zack, Mr. Brigham’s assistant will show you to the office.” The younger man nodded to the aging assistant, Peters, who waited at the end of the huge foyer.


Nodding, Zack strode past the agent and over to his uncle’s assistant, scowling at the other man. “He ordered this little visit … and now he’s not available?” Zack sneered as the assistant turned and led the way down a wide hall. “Why am I not surprised?”


Not that the assistant deigned to comment. Or to speak at all until they reached the office. “Mr. Alex will be right in, Mr. Zackary,” Peters stated, his precise lack of inflection raking Zack’s nerves more than normal.


John Peters still stood tall and stiff, his shoulders militarily straight, his expression—well, he was rather devoid of any particular emotional look. For as long as Zack had known the man, he’d never seen a single emotion, opinion, flash of sympathy, compassion, like, or dislike on his long, now aging face. His gray hair was still marine short, though now it was silver gray rather than the nondescript brown of his youth.


Zack went straight to the bar, lifted the decanter of Alexander Brigham’s finest aged Irish whiskey, and poured a short glass half full before tossing half of it back with a grimace of pleasure. Refilling the glass, he tried to convince himself that this meeting wasn’t going to piss him the hell off within five minutes of Mr. Alex’s entering the room.


He knew better, though. Getting ticked off was just a given.


He turned back to Peters with a slow, mocking tilt of his brow. “Sure, Peters,” he drawled. “Tell him to take his time. I’m in no hurry.”


The assistant inclined his head with a measured move before turning on his heel to retreat from the office, closing the door silently behind him.


Zack gave his head a little shake. The man never failed to amaze him—and maybe even intimidate him just the slightest bit.


While moving around the office, Zack stared up at the mahogany shelves filled with books from floor to ceiling. He noted the cherry hardwood floors, a heavy mahogany desk the size of a bed, the comfortable leather chair behind it. A Victorian settee and matching chairs were placed in front of the fireplace on a centuries-old tapestry rug, while the walls on the opposite side of the room held portraits of four generations of Brigham patriarchs.


Bastards.


Taking another sip of Ireland’s finest, Zack continued to pace around the room. He shifted priceless figurines from their various places, turning them, sliding them forward or back.


Childish, he admitted again with a sneer, but it did so irritate Old Man Brigham. His uncle’s irritation would increase with each object he had to reset and place just so.


Zack walked behind the enormous desk. Once he took a seat in the heavy, far-too-comfortable leather chair, he shifted picture frames and, not for the first time, removed the silver frame of a laughing red-haired young woman, her gray eyes filled with life and love. He slid open a bottom drawer of the desk and placed the picture there, facedown.


It wouldn’t take Brigham long to find the portrait, but his uncle would get the message loud and clear. Closing the drawer, Zack turned his attention to the files stacked on the desk, intent on pulling pages from inside the folders and distributing them haphazardly throughout the pile.


One file label caught his attention, causing his jaw to clench and suspicion to tear through him. He opened the folder and scanned the pages carefully, white hot fury rearing inside him.


A weekend meeting in D.C.? It was no more than a ruse. He just hadn’t imagined the depths of the deception involved.


Zack quickly closed the folder and shoved it under his jacket, holding it in place beneath his bicep. As he stalked to the door, it pushed open and Old Man Brigham himself stepped inside the office.


“Zackary?” A frown flitted across his heavily lined face, disapproval glinting in his gray eyes. “You needn’t come looking for me—”


Zack grunted at the admonishment. “I was just on my way out.”


“The hell you say!” The protest was rife with arrogance.


“The hell I did say.” Zack stepped around him, barely glancing at his uncle as he entered the hallway.


When he neared the wood-encased steel entry doors, the agent stationed there opened the panels with a smooth flourish, his expression as bland as Peters’s when Zack strode past him.


Come to think of it, the entire household, family and help alike, showed little if any emotion. Ice water ran in their veins; he was certain of it. Pure, coldhearted logic and a touch of the psychotic.


Stepping into his pickup, Zack tossed the file to the seat beside him before starting the motor and putting his foot heavily to the gas. He probably left a few skid marks on the old bastard’s brick driveway.


At least, he hoped he had.


Any other time, he’d have felt a measure of pride over that. If he wasn’t already so damned pissed. If he didn’t want to leave the skid marks on that son of a bitch’s head instead.


Driving through the iron gates with inches to spare as the electronic release eased them open, Zack headed back to Loudon, praying he was in time. Whatever had made him believe that the Brigham family would keep their damned noses out of the mess that had arisen in the mountains of Tennessee at the beginning of summer?


He should have known better. They’d sent a traitor home in a casket with no judge, no jury to order the execution. Why imagine they’d give the Maddox family so much as a warning before executing a possible threat, and without a shred of evidence other than the traitor’s word for it?


Forget “innocent before guilty.” The Brighams believed it was innocence that had to be proved, rather than guilt.


Glancing at the file that lay on the seat beside him, Zack could feel that core of rage, normally carefully hidden, rising inside him once again. And not for the first time, he thanked God he was never part of the family his mother had fought so hard to be free of.


And he never would be part of it, no matter their seeming desperation or their threats or their games. He wouldn’t have a moment’s hesitation over foiling their plans—and this time, he might even be looking forward to it.


The strident pulse of his cell phone in the pocket of his jacket drew his attention. Hitting the Bluetooth control on the steering wheel, he answered with a terse “Hello?”


“You alone?” asked Jazz, his foster brother.


“As can be,” he answered, clenching his hands on the steering wheel, filled with a heavy foreboding at the other man’s far-too-serious tone. “We have a problem?”


Jazz’s fiancée, Kenni, was the long-lost Maddox princess. For eight years, she’d been the target of a traitor determined to kill her. The Maddox family suspected that the traitor wasn’t working alone.


“Kenni, Slade, and Jesse are fine,” Jazz assured him. “But we have a big problem. Grace Maddox was attacked yesterday evening, at the Maddox farm. Her assailant escaped. Her uncle Vinny’s not letting anyone in or out—even Kenni. That Rottweiler you gave her last year managed to catch him off guard, but one of the farmhands sent a message to me that the dog was hurt pretty bad. I haven’t been able to find out more.”


Vince wouldn’t dare refuse to allow Zack to see Grace. It would be the one time Zack would use the power the Brigham name gave him. And Alex Brigham would back him up, no matter the problems he and Zack had. No matter the plans the bastard might have to take Grace in for interrogation. He’d still back Zack.


All Jazz could tell him about Grace now though was that she was alive. Son of a bitch.


Tiny, delicate, as sweet-natured as anyone he knew, that was Grace. Fighting off an assassin would be impossible for her.


“Put our men on alert,” Zack told him, the rasp of rage in his tone clear now. “I’m just leaving the estate—”


“Slade has a plane waiting at a private airfield about twenty minutes out of D.C. You remember Chaz McDougal?” his brother asked. “His plane is hangered there.”


Tall, red-haired, Scottish to the core, and detested by the Brigham family, that was Chaz McDougal.


“I’ll be there in five,” Zack assured him. “I’ll have the pilot notify you once we’re airborne.”


“No need, Chaz is flying you in himself and knows to contact us at lift-off,” Jazz informed him. “Get here fast, Zack. They’re not letting any of us in, Kenni’s sick with worry, and we have a report that Mad Max and Beau-Remi are heading in from NOLA. Things could be getting ready to get bad.”


Kenni Maddox and her cousin Grace had worked together for two years to try to uncover the traitor threatening Kenni’s life. Neither woman had suspected how close that threat had been, though.


Maxwell Maddox and Beauregard Remington, Grace’s half brothers, were a whole other set of problems.


Big problems. The kind neither Zack nor the Maddox family needed right now.


“As quick as Chaz can get me there,” he promised. “I’ll call as soon as we land.”


Disconnecting, Zack hoped—for Alex Brigham’s sake—that the Brigham family hadn’t ordered that attempt. If they had, the war brewing in the Tennessee mountains would end up boiling over, and that was something none of them wanted.


Except, perhaps, whoever had been working with the traitor who nearly murdered Kenni Maddox more than once. They still hadn’t identified the accomplice, but he knew it couldn’t possibly be Grace Maddox.


* * *


The file was gone, just as Alexander had suspected it would be. Staring down at the disarranged papers on his desk, he blew out a relieved sigh and shook his head.


Behind him, Peters was carefully resetting the figurines to their proper positions. Books were out of order; the framed picture of Zack’s mother was missing once again. No doubt stored in the bottom desk drawer Alexander kept unlocked for Zack to hide it in.


The boy delighted in upsetting the office, but even more, he seemed to enjoy hiding the picture of Alex’s baby sister—Zack’s mother, Nicole—to show his disregard for the family. There was no changing his mind, and Zack refused to hear why his mother had run away to the mountains of Tennessee or what had been the cause of her and her husband’s murders.


The boy was nosy as hell, too, hence the reason Alex had left the file for him. Making a move against anyone in Zack’s hometown—Maddox, the Kin, or otherwise—would ensure his nephew’s complete hatred, especially where that girl Grace was concerned. At least this way, he could say he’d given Zack a chance to save her. If she was innocent, then his sister’s son would delight in thinking he was rubbing it in Alexander’s face.


The sound of Peters’s cell phone ringing and the assistant’s quick response drew Alexander’s attention. The other man listened attentively for long seconds, the corners of his eyes tightening in concern at whatever the other party was saying before disconnecting the call.


“Sir, there’s a development in the Loudon situation.” Peters stepped closer, his brown eyes showing a glimmer of concern. “It would seem Grace Maddox was attacked at her uncle’s home last night. She’s been wounded, and the pet Mr. Zack gave her last year is reported to be seriously injured. News of the attack has also reached her half brothers in NOLA. Should we send a team in?”


NOLA? Mad Max and Beau-Remi? Have mercy!


God help them all if those two became involved.


“Her condition?” Alex rasped, the fingers of one hand curling into a fist as frustration began to rise inside him.


Dammit, this wasn’t supposed to happen. Word of her mother’s confessions shouldn’t have leaked, not yet.


“Her family has all access to her limited to her uncle and his three sons,” Peters reported. “There’s no report on her condition or the extent of her injuries.”


The other man worked on the electronic pad he held, his fingers quick as he began searching for information.


“Send Victoria in alone,” Alex ordered, knowing his daughter would gain access to the family before anyone else from the house or the agency could. “She and Grace are friends, and the family seems to like her. They shouldn’t refuse to allow her to see the girl. Have a team on standby, just in case the situation deteriorates. Whoever our enemy is, they’re moving to start a war between the Kin and the agency. We can’t allow that to happen.”


He’d seen it coming for years. It was the reason his sister, her husband, and Grace’s father, Benjamin Maddox, had been targeted to die over two decades before.


He waited as Peters typed, his assistant’s fingers moving quickly over the tablet despite his age.


“The team will be ready to head out by nightfall, but Miss Alexandra demands to speak with you first. I’ve already sent orders to our pilot to expect her.”


Alexander nodded at his assistant’s quick response.


“And it would appear Mr. Zackary has stopped at the McDougal property. Our contact within his estate reports Mr. Chaz is flying him to Loudon himself.”


Alexander grimaced at that piece of information. “Figures,” he grunted. “Damned Scots bastard. I should have known Zack was friends with him. Loyalty to the family isn’t exactly in his vocabulary, is it?”


There were days he wished his father were still alive just so he could prove how wrong the old man had been all those years ago.


“I believe Mr. Zack merely likes to poke at you however possible,” Peters defended the boy yet again. “Mr. Chaz isn’t a bad sort, though, as you’ve stated yourself. He’s not exactly his father.”


“Yet,” Alex snorted before giving a heavy sigh and gazing around the office once again.


He tried to remind himself that his nephew, the son of his beloved baby sister, just didn’t understand the past. He feared Zack, like his parents, would never allow himself to hear the truth either. Not that any of them were blameless, but neither were any of them monsters.


It was a lesson young Grace Maddox would be learning soon as well.


Copyright © 2016 by Lora Leigh


OFFICIAL SITES 

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Sale 

WICKED LIES - On sale for just $2.99 from 8/1-9/5!
A mountain-bred ex-Navy SEAL with rugged dark looks and gorgeous blue eyes, Jazz Lancing can have any woman he wants in the state of Tennessee. Except Annie Mayes. The beautiful, innocent teacher refuses to fall for Jazz because she's hiding a secret more powerful than her own temptation. Little does he know that Annie has been craving his kiss for years, dreaming that Jazz would take her in his arms and save her from her demons. But telling Jazz the truth could put both of them in peril. In this deadly game of danger, deceit, and darkness, is desire worth the risk of losing...everything?



Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub Date: August 20, 2016

This Title was Accepted via
NetGalley 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Release Day Blitz: Risk by Dannika Dark




If you're a fan of Dannika's Dark Mageri Series, you may have fallen for Simon! 
A cheeky, sexy and mysterious Mage that can make almost anything into a sexual innuendo! 
In RISK, the highly anticipated novel , we finally get to discover more about Simon!

Dive in the series filled with great characters, brilliant stories and a breath of fresh air in the PNR genre that is the Mageri World! 



Risk
(A Mageri World Novel)
By Dannika Dark

Blurb:
Simon Hunt is a masterful Mage when it comes to knives, solving puzzles, and women. But when a Mageri Councilman asks for a personal favor, his skills are put to the test. He reluctantly accepts the impossible job of training a young Learner who is beyond anyone’s help. She’s beautiful, cunning, and disabled. If he succeeds, he’ll receive a hefty paycheck. But if he fails, more is at stake than merely his reputation.

A compelling tale about two lost souls with dark secrets and the unique connection they share. Simon is her last hope… and perhaps she is his.

What happens when a game of chance becomes a fight for survival?


Available for purchase at

     

           



Snippet:

She removed her hand and petted his stomach as if he were a docile panther. Simon discovered restraint he never knew he had.

Ella’s fingers moved down and fondled a tiny bulge in his pocket. “What’s this?”

Simon carried a miniature chess piece in his pocket—a queen to be exact. “Love, that’s not the piece I want you to stroke.”

She looked up at him, her lips pursing together. “Shhh.”

Women never took control of Simon this way, and just the thought of it made him so weak with lust that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to hold out for the actual act.

Ella went down on her knees and pressed her lips against the stretched leather covering his erection. He nearly lost it. Images flooded his mind of sliding somewhere warm and wet. Suddenly his throat went dry. He flattened his palms against the wall behind him, intoxicated by her unpredictable nature. There was no sense in taking over and trying to dominate her in the bedroom; her needs were nonnegotiable.


Check out this fabulous Audio Clip! 





About the Author



Dannika Dark is the USA Today Bestselling Author of Urban Fantasy Romance and Paranormal Romance. Her books have sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, and she is a 2016 Audie Awards finalist. 

Dannika was born on a military base in the U.S. and spent her youth traveling abroad. She developed an interest writing poetry and song lyrics early on, eventually gravitating toward a job that involved writing procedural training documentation. In her spare time, she wrote novels before she decided to pursue a career in publishing.

In addition to writing about supernatural worlds, Dannika is passionate about graphic design and creates all her own covers and series art. When not writing, she enjoys indie music, movies, reading, Tex-Mex, strawberry daiquiris, heaps of chocolate, and unleashing her dark side.

All of her published books to date are written in the same universe and contain material suitable for adults only.

"For me, writing is all about blending genres to break out of the confines of predictability, but it's what I love to do."

Danni


You can find Dannika at 

              

To receive exclusive content and be the first to know about upcoming releases, please sign up to receive her newsletter. 




Presented by


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blog Tour: Fated and Forbidden Box Set





Fated and Forbidden Box Set
by 
Danielle Annett, Dina Given, E.J. Whitmer, Siana Wineland, Tom Shutt, Amy Stearman, M.S. Dobing, A.L. Kessler, Frances Pauli, Rebecca N Caudill

Blurb:

Ten heroes and heroines are up against unknown forces of darkness—good thing they all have supernatural skills and abilities—it's just too bad that not all of them are sure what to do with them yet. Powerful allies are hard to come by and lines are blurred when it becomes difficult to tell friend from foe. Delve in to ten unique worlds full of vampires, witches, mages, dream-stalkers, fallen deities, monsters and even super heroes! Supernatural skills may be enough to save them... but only if they can figure out how to wield them in time.

All stories are first in a series! 
  1. Cursed by Fire by Danielle Annett: Vampires and shifters vie for control of Spokane, Washington, and Aria Naveed is right in the middle of the fire. 
  2. Message Bearer by M.S. Dobing: Seb is a fledging mage, able to manipulate reality, and he alone carries the message that could change the course of the conflict forever 
  3. Unhidden by Dina Given: It’s not always easy to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys, especially when your heroine is a trained killer and she may be falling in love with her evil hunter… 
  4. No More Black Magic by A.L. Kessler: Explosions, bodies and black magic are just part of a typical day at this agency. 
  5. Power Surge by E.J. Whitmer: From ordinary to extraordinary in just one week. It's a good thing she looks great in spandex. 
  6. Brooding City by Tom Shutt: A police detective is confronted with his own past crimes as a dream-stalker even as he takes on a greater evil. 
  7. Altered by Amy Steaman: A pretty law student's life is changed forever by a mysterious stranger when desire, possession, and treachery lead Sadie down a crooked path to redemption 
  8. Emergence by Siana Wineland: Valkyries invade the Pacific NW, in a contagion. What's a girl to do when she finds she's been infected and sprouting wings happens to be a side affect. 
  9. A Time Apart by Rebecca N. Caudill: A vampire and a woman who couldn't be more different, realize that destiny has brought them full circle. 
  10. Familiar by Frances Pauli: A beautiful small-town witch teams up with a sexy cop to take on a demon. 


Available to purchase at





Excerpts

Cursed by Fire by Danielle Annett
All I saw was blood. Blood soaked my hands and coated the walls. It stained the concrete flooring of the abandoned warehouse and dripped from fixtures that hung from the ceiling, trickling like a slow rain. My vision blurred as anguish filled me. How could this have happened? How could I have been too late?
I stared down at the lifeless body of a child. A boy. Kneeling in a pool of congealing blood, I ran my fingers through his chestnut hair, ignoring the now-cool moisture seeping into the denim of my pants. His face was unrecognizable. Gone was the child with the dimpled cheek and brilliant blue eyes. Left behind was a mass of flesh and bonea ruined body drained of its life force at such a young age.
Reality snapped like an elastic band, bringing me back to the present as I sat at my desk in Sanborn Place. Ripped from the haunted memories of finding Daniel’s body.
The world was a cruel place. It was a fact of life and even though I knew it was true, I still had a hard time coming to terms with the atrocities people committed. The cruelties that for some god-forsaken reason, people thought were okay. Staring down at the wallet-sized photo now crumpled in my hands, I was greeted by a crown of chestnut hair, bright blue eyes, a heart-shaped face, and a brilliant smile; a single dimple on his left cheek. The face of an innocent seven-year-old boy, cut down like he was little more than a calf brought to slaughter. I found myself struggling to link the image of this smiling boy to that of the ruined body I’d found less than forty-eight hours ago.

Unhidden by Dina Given
Cold marble pressed against my face, numbing my cheek. My stomach roiled from the spinning of the room, threatening to release my dinner. I took a deep, ragged breath and tried to keep the dizziness under control. A voice in my head screamed at me to get up and defend myself, but my body wouldn’t obey. With a herculean effort, I pulled my legs under me in an effort to rise.
I felt the vibration in the floor before I heard the heavy thud of footsteps. The bastard was back for more. It must be my lucky day. A vice clamped around my ankles, and I slid along the smooth stone floors of the mansion. Crystal chandeliers and Renaissance paintings streaked across my vision as I was pulled through an open doorway.
I twisted and flailed, scrabbling to clutch the doorframe to stop my relentless slide into the darkened room. I tried to make it a rule to never be forced into a room when I didn’t know what lay within.
I managed a weak handhold on the doorframe, but with a sharp tug, my captor caused me to easily lose my grip. He—because only a man could own hands that large and strong—“accidentally” slammed me into a coffee table before coming to a stop without releasing me.
The concussive grenade that was triggered when I had been finishing my sweep of the last room in the mansion had left my temples throbbing, preventing me from lifting my head to get a good look at my captor. I needed to pull myself together if I was going to fight my way out of here.
Swallowing hard, I took a silent inventory of my injuries: a few bruises, no broken bones, no bleeding. Sweet. This was going to be easier than I’d thought. 


Power Surge by E.J. Whitmer:
Blake sighed and pushed his empty plate away from him. “You called me last night at about 1: 30am. The only words I could make out were ‘jaeger’ ‘nipples’ and ‘spandex’. I hopped in my car and headed over here to find you standing in your kitchen wearing only your underwear and trying to stuff your entire face in a pint of ice cream. Apparently you were out of spoons.”

That explained why I had sticky eyebrows.

I held my head in my hands and groaned as he continued. “I told you to get some pajamas on. You wanted my shirt. You took it. Thankfully you turned around while you were putting it on. I made you drink a glass of water and tucked you into bed. I wasn’t sure how much you’d had to drink, so I checked in on you every couple of hours. I provided you with early morning eye candy. I made you delicious cheesy eggs. I think that’s about it.”

I opened one eye to look at him. “Did you see my boobs?”

His face split into a panty melting grin. “No. I was a gentleman. I only gawked at your ass.”

Emergence by Siana Wineland:
Shivering barefoot in the darkness, Jessica hid and watched the recovery team flip lights on in her house. Panic tried to set icy claws in her gut, but she pushed it away ruthlessly. The arrival of the recovery team confirmed her worst fear: she must have started the change.
She’d done her best to deny this possibility. But reality now walked through her home, leaving her in the cold and dark.
She took a deep breath. Fear of what was to come had to take a backseat.
A large, lean man with shoulder-length blond hair entered her bedroom. He moved with the grace of a predator, her eyes widened when he turned, allowing her to see the suede of his wings fall gracefully down his back like a dark cloak.
They’ve sent a Hunter! Her mind froze in panic. Why is there a Hunter here? Recovery teams only have unchanged people in them.
The Valkyrie stopped and sniffed the air, scenting her, before walking over to the window and examining it. He spread his wings, the large fan covering the glass to block the light from behind him. Fascinated, she stared, transfixed at the way the light shone through the membrane of his wings.
She felt her mind slowing again. Fruitlessly, she fought the lethargy that was her body’s natural response to the changes taking place within it.
It wasn’t long before the Hunter’s eyes found hers, their intensity boring into her, and he smiled a slow feral smile.


A Time Apart by Rebecca Norinne Caudill:
As Olivia moved out of William’s arms, he didn’t fight her but his hands lingered as she slid away, as if he was trying to hold onto something significant, and for the first time, Olivia could see quite clearly he was no ordinary man.
“What are you?” she asked, her voice barely audible above the logs crackling in the fire.
“You know me then,” was his anguished response.
How could she respond? Prior to the extensive research she’d conducted the night before, she would have sworn she had never seen him a day in her life. But that wasn’t entirely true, for she knew now that she had seen him while she dreamed. She had seen him lying beside her, touching the most private parts of her body. And just last night she’d fantasized about making mad, passionate love to him outside, under the stars. And now she realized it had all happened before, perhaps hundreds of times. She knew this man intimately … but not the nightmare version of him, the man who had killed her.
But more importantly, she realized, Olivia didn’t know herself – that woman from a time long forgotten. “Who ... what ... am I then?” Fear and trepidation laced her voice.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know much about who you are today.” His voice broke with emotion. “I only know who you were and when you were. In the year 1658, you were Ceara, my fierce beauty. You were my wife and I loved you more than you can know.” 
William paused, waiting for her to interrupt with more questions, but when she remained mute, he continued speaking. “If asked when I was still the man you remember, I would have said I’d give anything – my life, even – for you. Instead, I took it.” 
As his memories drifted back hundreds of years, his face became a mask of loathing. He remembered, in starkly vivid detail, the exact moment he had chased his beloved Ceara down, broke her neck, and then sucked her body dry.
While Olivia watched him struggle through his recollections, she wondered how he could have turned on her. What had she done to deserve that fate? And who – what – was he that he could force these terrible memories to the surface?
“If I was … am … Ceara, who are you?” she asked, not quite sure she was ready to hear his answer.
“My name is William Macauley and, as you might have guessed, I’m a vampire.”


Familiar by Frances Pauli:
She stared at the graffiti and centered, took a deep breath and imagined her roots reaching down, down into the earth. Her head spun a little. She reached for the door with her free hand and pressed her palm against fresh red paint.
Running through dark woods. A round moon overhead that set fear in her steps instead of awe. Why was she running again? Midnight, dogs barking behind her and the man. Her heart seized and she tripped over her own feet, sprawled forward toward hard roots and cold dirt. The man chasing her wanted blood tonight.
"Ms. Wallace?"
Deirdre blinked and saw blood, red dribbles against white.
"Ms. Wallace, are you alright?"
Paint. She lifted her hand and stared at it. Red paint on her skin. A voice called from behind her, but it was light out. There was no moon, no danger. She turned around and found cops on her steps. The short one, she knew. Officer Peg Stone had taken her call that morning, in fact, but Deirdre had never expected to actually see the woman. Still, there was the patrol car parked below, and behind Stone stood a policeman with dark eyes.
Deirdre's porch rippled like water. Her hand reached again, splatted against the nasty word but held her upright while the dizziness swirled around and around.


No More Black Magic by A.L. Kessler:
I’d never met the Alpha, but I knew this was him. His black hair was cut short and his brown gaze cut into me. He stood tall and demanded attention. Like Simon, he was dressed in older clothes, and I assumed it meant they wouldn’t care if they got ruined. The muscles of his arms were solid and his chest strained against the tight muscle shirt that he wore. Yeah, I wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight against this guy, even if he was human.
Simon bowed his head. “Alpha.”
“Simon, so this is her?” His eyes ran over my body and I raised a brow. I had dressed in my normal black clothes with boots. I had, as requested, left the gun in the car, but my blade was sheathed across my back, hidden by my jacket.
Simon put a hand on my back and urged me to step forward.
“I’m Abigail.” I offered my hand, but Greg grabbed my wrist and jerked me forward. I caught myself with a hand against his chest.
“You are a threat to my people, you offer me the back of your neck in submission.” He growled. “Do you understand that?”
I gritted my teeth and pulled my braid away from the back of my neck and bowed low enough that I offered it to him. My verbal answer wouldn’t have been good enough. He was trying to show off his strength, his power, and I was willing to bet other members of the pack were watching from the windows of the cabin. Arguing with him wouldn’t have done me any good.


Brooding City by Tom Shutt:
“So what exactly would I do as a Sleeper? I’ve heard only bad things, and that was when I still thought you were just a bedtime story. If even half of it is true—”
“We do what is necessary to protect this city,” Benjamin said tightly. “There are forces that are simply too powerful and mysterious to be handled by the police. We are the self-appointed protectors of the people.”
“That’s a great pitch, but I meant day-to-day, what will I be doing?”
Old Ben contemplated this question for a long moment before answering. “There is no right or wrong in this world, Jeremy. You must understand that in order to bring balance to others, we must first find balance within ourselves. This will not be an easy life, nor one filled with thanks from those you help—they will never even know you were there. You will make hard choices, decisions that will leave others bereft of their autonomy. But with my guiding hand, you will accomplish great deeds and protect countless innocents during your service.”
“That still doesn’t answer—”
“You will kill. You will maim. You will steal, lie, and deceive. Nobody will know who you are, or what you do, or when or where you will strike next. The people will never acknowledge your sacrifices, and they will continue to fear and despise the myth that you represent.”
There was a pregnant pause before Benjamin spoke again.
“Do you have what it takes?” he asked.


Altered by Amy Steaman:
The first snowflakes of the year rode their fat bodies lazily down to the empty sidewalk Sadie Pratt trudged along. If she looked up, the old fashioned streetlights would illuminate their glittery brethren. But she didn’t look up. A cold winter wind was demanding attention she didn’t care to give as she shifted her eyes toward her destination at the end of the street. As if irritated with her neglect, a particularly breathy gust reached out and freed her auburn waves from a loose bun. In response, she tucked her chin deeper into the plaid scarf wrapped around her neck and quickened her footfalls.
Sadie’s mood was as dark as the cloud-heavy sky hanging above her. Her boss, Harvey McDonnell, of McDonnell and Loeb Law Office had rung her out of a study-induced trance thirty minutes before.
“Sadie, I need you in the office in thirty,” like it was a common request. Like it wasn’t 9:30 on a Thursday night. Like she wasn’t drowning in the middle of finals!
She reached the pristine brick façade that stood with pride in the little college town of Weston’s historic business district and flung the door wide. The gratuitous cowbell hanging on the handle let out its hollow ring. Harvey was already there, so instead of turning on the lights and starting a pot of coffee as per her usual routine, Sadie dumped her heavy bag without ceremony at the receptionist’s desk and marched back to his office.
Harvey’s watery grey eyes rose over the edge of his half-rimmed glasses to meet her steely glare then traveled down her slim frame covered in an overly long flannel, black leggings and combat boots. He chuffed. “You look nice.”
“I’ll wear proper business attire during proper business hours,” she shot back, fists coming to rest on hips.


The Message Bearer by M.S. Dobing:
It didn’t so much as walk out of the dark - it oozed. Its form coalesced from the gloom, a slight shimmering in the air, a shifting of shadows, before condensing into something resembling a human that now stood, unmoving, just at the periphery of the streetlight.
Yet this was no human.
Unnaturally tall, easily touching seven feet, the thing wore a dark suit that hung loosely off a pencil-thin frame. Its head was dipped, its face hidden beneath a black fedora with a single silver band. As he watched, the creature’s head rose. Black eyes met his. Something cold trickled down his spine.
It began to move forwards, its movement jerky, as if it were animated by invisible string. Its mouth opened into a wide grin, jaw distending to almost impossible proportions, displaying a set of dagger-like incisors.
‘You see it, don’t you?’
He’d forgotten she was even there. He looked back at the woman, managing the barest of nods. She reached out to him, her hand shaking.
‘Come with me.’

About The Authors




Danielle Annett is a reader, writer, photographer, and the blogger behind Coffee and Characters. You can learn more about Danielle on her website at Danielle-Annett.com or follow her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDanielleAnnett  and on twitter @Danielle_Annett

M.S. Dobing lives in Preston, UK with his wife and twin daughters. His first novel, Message Bearer, is the first in his urban fantasy series, The Auran Chronicles, the sequel to which is due out in the first half of 2016. Follow him at https://www.facebook.com/AuranChronicles?hc_location=ufi 

Dina Given has been an avid fan of fantasy in all of its permutations since childhood. She is convinced that magic lives on in this world, and she is doing her part to bring a piece of it to readers. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/DinaGivenAuthor/ 

A.L. Kessler is a paranormal romance author residing in beautiful Colorado Springs, Co. Since she was a teenager she has loved spinning tales. She can easily be won over with gifts of coffee or chocolate. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/alkesslerauthor 

Tom Shutt writes paranormal suspense with generous helpings of humor and a sprig of mystery thrown in for good measure. Sometimes he dabbles in fantasy, but in all cases, he strives to push the boundaries of modern fiction in search of good answers to hard questions. 

E. J. Whitmer is the author of the Anna Jennings Super Novels, an avid reader, amateur karaoke rockstar and professional awkward turtle. Follow her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ejwhitmerauthor/ 

Amy Stearman is an avid reader and writer of stories, hailing from the Midwest. She lives in the liberal mecca of Kansas with her husband, young son, and ornery Sheltie. Find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyStearman/ 

Siana Wineland lives in the beautiful, but soggy, Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. She spends much of her time shepherding her young children, or the goats and sheep she raises. Sometimes it's hard to tell them apart on the farm, unless you hold out a vegetable. For updates on her writing please visit her website at www.sianawineland.com 

Rebecca N. Caudill writes contemporary & paranormal romance featuring smart, kickass females & the men who adore them. Learn more about her and her books at www.rebeccancaudill.com or follow her on twitter @rebecca_caudill 

Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction, usually with touches of humor or romance, which means, of course, that she has trouble choosing sides. She's always been a fan of things outside the box, odd, weird or unusual, and that trend follows through to her tales which feature aliens, fairies, and even, on occasion, an assortment of humans. More information on her work and upcoming releases can be found on her website: http://francespauli.com 


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