I live in the midwest, but “Will Write for Travel,” and believe everyone should follow their dreams, no matter how big or small. My favorite authors include Cindy Miles, S Walden, Suzanne Enoch, Tessa Dare (to name a few). I am a glutton for Historical, RomCom, Sports and MC romance.
One husband. Two daughters. Plenty of chaos.
Release Day Blitz: Sweet Venom by Gena Lutz
“Sweet Venom (A Venin Assassin Novel) By Gena D. Lutz
Boots invaded my line of sight. My gaze swept upward, past tight blue jeans, over a black t-shirt stretched taut across a hard chest, and settled on Jake’s handsome face. He was smiling at me, and I found it impossible not to smile back. With a watchful eye, his gaze moved over my shoulder toward Punch Drunk then immediately returned with the same magnetic, unwavering grin.
My pulsed ratcheted up several beats, and heat surged through me as I tampered down the urge to reach out and push the straggling tress of hair that was falling into his eye and brushing across his chiseled cheekbone back behind his ear with the rest of his thick black mane.
He continued to stare at me.
My fingers twitched at my side.
Finally, I said, “Are you following me or something?”
Not such a terrible scenario if I were to be honest. It’s just the timing was way off for a quick romp with a yummy wolf.
He gave me a curious look. “I’m pretty sure I mentioned I’d be swinging by here after my set.”
Oh yeah, he had mentioned something to that effect. I shrugged and stepped to the side, out of his way, and waved a hand sideways. “Then by all means, don’t let me hold you up.”
He didn’t move, which I found rude considering I’d been rather polite—not the normal look I went for. His smile broadened, showing the tips of his canines. Even in his human form they were sharp and pointy.
“Cassis, I’ve missed you,” Ice said, and immediately pulled the trigger.
My legs carried me sideways as the bullet sliced through the air, grazing my cheek. A line of blood crawled down my face, but I didn’t feel a thing.
Keri’s braid moved suddenly, shooting forward like a whip. It flew in a quick, fluid motion, extending to around six or seven feet long. With exquisite precision, the stinger hit its mark, sinking deep within Edge’s chest.
Edge’s shocked stare fell to the twisted braid protruding from his body. As he realized what had happened to him, I witnessed true fear blossom in his eyes.
He shook his head, and wheezed, “No.”
“The bigger they are…” Keri began.
It only took a couple of seconds for the scorpion venom to work its way through the blood stream, dropping the oversized hellhound like a sack of potatoes to the hardwood floor.
“The harder they fall,” she finished, sounding pleased with herself.
I jumped back to my feet. The fangs in my mouth elongating, I could taste the venom welling at the tips. Violence and mayhem infused the air around me, spurring my arachnid instincts on.
Ice’s stare widened. It was the first time I’d ever seen him sweat. Normally, he was all cock and crow. For me, this was a far better look on him.
The next gunshot startled me out of thought. The bullet lodged deep inside my shoulder—that time I felt the slow burn of pain as it sizzled down my arm.
Bitterness rose with the sting, and with it, a shiver of power coated my palms, bringing forth my web. I only had a moment to decide if I was going to kill the mutt, or just incapacitate him, before he could get off another shot.
Time passed slowly as I decided, and blood oozed from my wound, landing in abstract dots on the floor next to my boot. Then I realized, the answer was as obvious as a punch in the gut—death was the answer, it only seemed right.
enjoys reading, riding horses, and playing poker, and she looks forward to the day she can travel the world.
For All The Evers by Debra Anastasia Release Blitz
Fallen Billow should be in college like most of her friends, but instead she’s raising her brother and working as a housekeeper at a vintage local hotel. It’s back-breaking work, but not nearly as challenging as fending off unwanted advances from the hotel’s owner.Thomas McHugh is fighting for our country, across the globe and decades before Fallen Billow was even born. So there’s no way they’re soul mates. There’s no way he can be desperate to see her, hold her, kiss her. Except there is.
Is it a dream when he inks his name on her skin? Is it a delusion when she puts her hands on his face and says she loves him? Nothing has ever felt more real.
Fate has etched paths for Thomas and Fallen that even time cannot touch. A Purple Heart proclaims Thomas’ valor and bravery. And his death. But Fallen dares to dream of the impossible. She wants Thomas to stay. Just stay.
A tribute to all who have served our country, this novel honors the impossible beauty of love and the endless power of hope. Come open your heart and celebrate the many facets of bravery with Fallen and Thomas.
Debra Anastasia has created a
website for Thomas McHugh – the veteran the book is in honor of. (It is recommended readers look at this website after reading the book)
“How do you mean?” He kissed her forehead.
“I want to be impossible for you to forget, impossible for you to keep your hands off of.” She leaned up for a kiss.
“You’re my impossible then. Have no fear.” He tenderly reminded her he was her impossible, too, with his lips.
She put her hand against his stomach and snuggled in. “This is my spot. Right here. With you—it’s home.”
He swallowed before talking to the ceiling. “My heart was like a fist. Where I am? It’s not a place you plan to survive. I’ve been there for years, and it’s not about skill; it’s not even about luck. You get strapped into a machine, and fate’s driving. You can’t get out even if you want to. So you submit to it. You harden your soul. You get ready to die.”
He shifted, rolling on top of her. She sighed in contentment. Being beneath him made her feel safe and secure.
He kissed her lips, then the tip of her nose, before continuing. “But with you, it’s like my heart’s opening up, and I’m terrified to feel, after all this time. Yet I don’t have a choice. No matter where I am, I draw your face whenever I get a scrap of paper.”
He laughed a little. “We found a puppy, and I named it Fallen, just so I could say your name over and over. The guys think I’m crazy—such a strange name for a dog. But I don’t care. I’m gasping for you every moment I’m awake. And I’m making choices to keep me alive through the week.”
His eyes searched hers. “What if I’m not as tough as I was in the beginning? God, I hope no one is affected by my distraction with this. But in the end there’s you. Only you. Do what you have to to get back to me when you’re awake. You have to. I need you more than air, more than life right now. The softness of you, the tenderness in your eyes when you see me. I’m trying to force fate to throw me in your direction. To hurl me at you somehow. I don’t know if it will work. But I’m praying for it.”
You can find her at DebraAnastasia.com and on Twitter @Debra_Anastasia. But be prepared…
Fire and Midnight by Sandra Renee Appet
He hooked his thumb under her chin, challenging her to meet his gaze.
New Releases for 12/12-12/18
December 12th, 2016
Before He Covets By Blake Pierce #3 in MacKenzie White
His Indecent Proposal By Elizabeth Lennox #3 in Jamison Sisters
Nice Guys Bite By Jennifer Estep #15.5 in Elemental Assassin
One Life to Lose By Kris Ripper # 4 in Queers of La Vista
The Highlander Who Loved Me By Tara Kingston #1 in Highland Hearts
December 13, 2016
Ink Ever After by Carrie Ann Ryan #2 in Happy Ever After
Pamela by Shannon Mayer #3 in The Rylee Adamson Epilogues
A Harmless Little Plan by Meli Raine #3 in Harmless
A Mate for Christmas by Katie Reus #7 in Moon Shifter
Bearly in Control by Milly Taiden #1 in Shifter Undercover
Becoming a Legend by Sarah Robinson #3 in Kavanagh Legends
Beyond Surrender by Kit Rocha #9 in Beyond
Broken Angel by Cynthia Eden #4 in Bad Things
Finn by JoAnn Ross #7 in 7 Brides for 7 Brothers
Force of Temptation by Suzanne Wright #2 in Mercury Pack
The Spire by Kate Canterbary #6 in The Walshes
Wicked Impulse by Chelle Bliss #3 in Alfa PI
The Beckoning by Jill Sanders #2 in Entangled
The Longest Night by Jennifer Ashley #4 in Nvengaria
December 14, 2016
Ostrich and the ‘Roo by Eve Langlais #6 in Furry United Coalition
December 15, 2016
Devil’s Vengeance by Nina Levine #3 in Sydney Storm MC
The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman #3 in The Invisible Library
Cover Reveal: Volley Balls by Tara Lain
By Tara Lain
He noticed a deep stillness in the audience and also among his mates. Edge was absolutely motionless. Unusual for him. But the statue, the guy, was just that beautiful.
Gareth cocked his head. The model’s legs were not as big and muscular as the Michelangelo. This “statue” was a bit leaner and even more graceful. The pedestal kept turning. He squinted. Bloody hell, he’d seen that perfect ass before. He peered into the pool of light as the David rotated. He’d seen those amazing cheekbones.
It was the guy from the beach and the shop. Gareth rifled through his program for the name. David Underwood. The one who owned the gallery. The fag. Gareth shifted onto his hip, leaning away from Edge. Wouldn’t do to let his pouf-hating friend see his massive erection.
“Uh, sorry to tell you, but in the dictionary where it says ‘best friend,’ it says ‘guy who you tell all your secrets to.’”
“I know. But we’ve been friends since we were kids. He thinks he knows everything about me.”
“He’s missed a few sucked cocks, I gather.”
Gareth did that shrug thing. “A few.”
“So where do we go from here?”
He flashed a slightly saucy smile. “Where do you want to go, mate?”
“You’re the one lurking in doorways.”
Cover Reveal: Painted on my Heart by Kindle Alexander
Title: Painted On My Heart
Author: Kindle Alexander
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: Coming Soon
Artist Kellus Hardin let love and loyalty cloud his past decisions, a mistake he definitely won’t make again. Now, lost and alone, he’s left to pick up the shattered pieces of his broken heart while facing the truth of his reality.
Arik Layne exudes power, confidence, and determination. But when an encounter with the guarded artist shakes him to the core and alters all his future goals, he finds more than just his heart on the line.
For Kellus, opening himself to love isn’t an option.
All Arik wants is to make the artist his.
Can love create a masterpiece when it’s painted on your heart?
The shrill ring of his phone should have startled him awake, but Kellus Hardin was just too damn tired to do much more than roll in the direction of the irritating sound and throw a hand out to half-ass search around his mattress for the device. When he came up empty handed, he managed to turn the other way and do the same. By the time his exhausted sleep-hazed brain identified the phone wasn’t anywhere around him, he heard the chirp indicating a voice mail. He cracked an eyelid and lifted his head enough to look over at the alarm clock. Four thirty in the morning. Seriously? Nothing good could come from a call that time of night. He collapsed back to the bed with an annoyed groan. He’d been asleep less than an hour after working the fifteen before on the pieces he had due for the art gallery opening.
“Fuck,” he growled out, turning over again. He tucked a soft pillow into his side and decided he’d deal with that call in the morning. His exhausted state gave a solid thumbs-up on the plan, and he easily drifted back to sleep. What had to be a mere second later, the ringing started again. Stupid cell phone.
Kellus threw the covers away from his body and darted off the bed, angrier than he’d been in a very long time. He was fucking tired—tired of his fucked-up life and tired of this motherfucker who wouldn’t leave him the fuck alone.
With a vengeance, he zeroed in on the location of the noise. He marched to his laundry basket by the bedroom door and began tearing through the clothes to find the stupid phone, no doubt still inside his paint-spattered coveralls where he’d dropped it not fifty-three minutes ago before he’d finally managed to crawl into bed.
Palming the device, he glared at the caller ID. John. Of course. Who else would call in the middle of the fucking night?
“What?” he shouted as he connected the call.
“Come get him.” A deep masculine voice with a Spanish accent had him pulling the phone from his ear to look down at the screen in confusion.
Wait. Great. Even fucking better—John’s dealer.
“No,” he said firmly as he stood tall and fisted his free hand at his side. His chest bowed in defiance as if the guy on the other end of the phone were right there in his darkened bedroom. “You give him that shit, you deal with him.”
The harsh laugh on the other end of the line held what might have been genuine amusement. “I deal with him and it won’t end well.” The line went dead. Kellus shoved his fingers through his hair to help push the long strands out of his eyes.
“Fuck!” he bellowed to the empty room, spinning in a complete circle, gripping his phone in his hand and punching his fist through the air. Thank God he was alone, because if anybody had witnessed that little outburst he’d have been carted off to the nearest mental facility. He was just so fucking sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Breath heaving as anger and dread coursed through his veins, Kellus stood there, staring absently at his bed. The fatigue of the day settled heavy on his shoulders. He had responsibilities. He couldn’t take on more of John’s bullshit. He jammed the heels of his palms against his tired eyes and released an exhausted sigh. After so many hours holding a brush for the fine details of his painting, his hands cramped with the movement, and the muscles in his neck and back protested the long hours he’d put in today. He needed sleep. More than the fifty-three minutes he’d gotten.
“I’m not fucking doing this again. I warned him the last time. I made it clear. No more!” Kellus sliced the hand still holding his cell through the air with finality. With that decision made, he stalked across the room and tossed his phone on the nightstand. He climbed back in his bed, whipping the covers over his exhausted body.
He hadn’t heard from John in six days.
Six glorious, productive, happy days.
Staring up at the ceiling, unable to get his mind to shut off, he told himself he’d made the right decision. John needed to stay away. Kellus forced his eyelids closed. At this point, he’d still get a few good hours sleep before he had to start his day. The longer he lay there, the more guilt crept in.
It always did.
Images of his best friend came to mind. Happier times. Memories of his and John’s younger days and all the trouble they’d managed to get into. Those thoughts actually calmed his breathing. His mind drifted to the summer of their senior year. He hadn’t thought about that time in so long. He and John had gone to the lake with some friends. A healthy, glowing, handsome John had teased him unmercifully until he had finally agreed to skinny dip…
“Fuck!” Kellus whipped off the covers and rose, angry and worried.
He couldn’t leave John in that place.
Kellus stopped dead center in his bedroom, fuming; he was so pissed at himself, at his own indecision, at John. What the fuck was wrong with him? John had destroyed both their lives, shit on him over and over with absolutely no regard for his feelings whatsoever. He’d lost everything because of John. He swore he’d never do this again.
But he couldn’t leave John there.
Dejected, Kellus ran a frustrated hand over his face, sighed, then went for his closet to dress.
Topping out at max speed, Arik Layne flew down the Dallas North Tollway. Being the only one on the highway might have been the only benefit of flying home in the middle of the night from his Escape Del Mar property.
God, he was past exhausted.
Less than five minutes later, Arik parked and wearily made his way through the private entrance of his downtown Dallas high-rise, shrugging out of his hand-tailored suit jacket before he reached the elevator. At the elevator, he tossed the garment over his arm and entered his exclusive security code into the wall-mounted keypad, effectively locking the car for his personal use. The doors opened immediately. The technology didn’t require him to do anything more than step inside before the doors closed and the overhead floor-indicator light displayed each passing floor, a soft ding sounding repeatedly as he traveled non-stop up the forty or so floors to his penthouse. Arik rested against the back wall, forcing a finger into the knot of his necktie to loosen its tight hold. He then removed each cuff link at his wrist and absently dropped them into his slacks pockets. The more he removed now, the faster he could hit his perfect Vera Wang mattress and shut his tired eyes.
The entire building was quiet. Another benefit to relocating to this area. Well, sort of. Dallas as a whole was quieter than any place he’d ever lived. He walked the few steps to his front door, pulling out his wallet to wave in front of the security pad when the doors didn’t unlock at his arrival. Strangely, the key card inside his wallet didn’t trigger the lock to release. Arik let out a yawn as he entered his code into the attached keypad. He’d have to remember to check his card in the morning.
The overhead lights automatically lit as he entered his front door, and the motion sensors continued lighting his way the deeper he ventured inside his home. Arik absently tossed his suit jacket on a chair in the living room, never straying from the direct path to his bedroom. He pulled his shirttails from his slacks, his level of sheer exhaustion rising with each step he took. Honestly, that had to be the only reason he didn’t register the glow of lights coming from underneath the closed door until he’d already turned the handle.
“What the fuck?” His heart almost leaped out of his chest when he stepped inside his bedroom to find someone sprawled across his bed in what probably qualified as a seductive pose. Recognition took another second to seep in.
“Surprise!” A small pop sounded and confetti flew into the air, scattering across his bed.
Arik’s brows snapped together. Oh hell no. He loved that bed.
“What the hell are you doing?” Arik asked as he moved farther inside the room. He registered the slight look of indignation and the flip of that long, black, silky hair before Boy Toy’s face morphed again into a pleasant smile.
“I came to surprise you.” BT wiggled his sexy ass and gave a cheeky little smile.
Even as tired and annoyed as he was, Arik experienced a stir below his belt. He was human after all, and this particular BT was especially skilled. He stopped at his dresser, reached inside his front slacks pockets and casually tossed the contents on the small tray. He didn’t like surprises of any kind, and BT, short for boy toy number one hundred and—hell, he’d lost count of the willing men he’d bedded—had just shocked the hell out of him.
This one was way too pretty and so deliciously tempting that for a split second he almost gave in…almost.
No, he had to stay firm. This was utter bullshit. He couldn’t have random BTs breaking into his home, surprising him at every turn, desecrating his perfect bed with confetti.
“How did you get in here?” he asked, leaning against the dresser, casually crossing his arms over his chest.
“I’ve been planning this since you left me last week. I swiped your card from your wallet when you were in the shower.” Boy Toy lost the erotic pose, probably too much strain for his delicate body.
“I guess I need to keep a closer eye on my wallet in the future.” Arik shoved away from the dresser and headed toward his closet.
“I’m beginning to think you’re not happy that I’m here. You know I’d look good on your arm for the opening of Escape Dallas.” BT hopped up from the bed and trailed after him, following him into the closet.
“Are these your things?” he asked, nodding toward the garment bag hanging in his closet with luggage settled beneath. Arik’s things had been pushed aside and replaced with BT’s, as if the guy planned to stay awhile. First the bed, now the closet. He didn’t allow anyone to breach his private space. That crossed every line he had.
Fuck, he’d known when he first saw this guy he’d be trouble. The gorgeous ones always were. Arik shook his head.
“Yes, I put them next to yours. I arrived late and didn’t have time to unpack.”
Arik abandoned his silk tie on the built-in dresser and began to grab BT’s things. The level of pissed off coursing through him now superseded any desire he might have mustered.
“You can’t ever do this again. I told you from the beginning,” Arik said, shoving the garment bag toward BT as he went for the two suitcases, then he tossed the strap of one over his shoulder and grabbed the other by the handgrip. How long had he even planned to stay that he needed all this?
“Be careful with that. It’s got my mink inside!” BT carefully draped the bag over his arm, allowing Arik to take him by his other arm and forcefully guide him from the closet.
“Why in the hell would you bring a fur coat to Texas?” Arik kept his grip tight, even when BT tried to worm his way out.
“Why would I leave home without… What are you doing?” BT actually held on to the doorframe to keep Arik from removing him from the bedroom.
“You’re going to the guest room, BT. We’ll talk—”
A solid outraged screech cut him off.
“Stop calling me that! I hate that. I have a name.” The guy went into full-on diva mode right there in the middle of his hall.
“You’ve known the deal from the beginning. I don’t like these kinds of surprises. I was very clear,” Arik said. When he realized it might take two hands to deposit BT into the guest bedroom, he went for that door, pushed it open wide, and tossed the suitcase in his hand across the room. For a second there, he’d thought the guy planned to go back to Arik’s bedroom which would have turned things pretty shitty real quick. Luckily, BT came toward him with a very calm, patient look on his face.
“If you would just go with it, we could have a very special relationship,” BT said, placing a delicate hand on Arik’s dress shirt, letting his fingers trail down Arik’s chest as he took a step closer. “I’m good at attending events with you. I look good on your arm. Besides, I’m tired of modeling. It takes up so much of my time. And if we came to some sort of arrangement, with all my extra free time, I could take care of you any way you saw fit.”
“Not gonna happen.”
BT’s words couldn’t have been better deterrent for giving in and indulging in a quick hook-up. Arik preferred his fun with no strings attached. Not that he had anything against the whole finding Mr. Right concept. But the boy toy currently groping his ass was not anywhere close to his idea of relationship material. Arik stopped the hand at his waistband and shrugged the case off his shoulder, dumping it right inside the guest bedroom door. He left the gorgeous but clearly crazy man standing there as he headed back toward his bedroom.
“I need to leave here by eight in the morning. Be ready.’’
“Seriously? You’re just leaving? I stretched myself to be ready for you.”
Arik looked back to see BT stomp his foot for good measure, his now flaccid dick swinging in the process. BT was certainly beautifully put together, tall, lean, chiseled abs, a perfect body that Arik knew from past experience could bring a lot of pleasure.
No, Arik. That was how he’d gotten in this situation in the first place. Stop. No. Walk away.
“Goodnight, BT. Don’t come back to my room,” he said at the door.
“Stop calling me BT! I’m not just your boy toy! My name is Steffan.”
Steffan—yeah, he remembered that now. Steffan twirled around and stalked into the guest bedroom, that long hair floating out around him. The door slammed shut in his wake.
Arik closed his door and reached down to twist the lock when he heard something crashing against the guest room door. Arik chuckled at that one and quickly opened his door again.
“Be ready by eight in the morning. I won’t be happy if you make me late,” he yelled before closing and relocking the door.
He staggered to the bed. His bed. Even with taking the time to rid the bedspread of the confetti and change the pillowcases where that overly strong cologne lingered, he’d still, hopefully, get at least a couple hours’ sleep.
Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is an innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next!
I live in the suburbs of Dallas where it’s true, the only thing bigger than an over active imagination, may be women’s hair!
Usually, I try for funny. Humor is a major part of my life – I love to laugh, and it seems to be the thing I do in most situations – regardless of the situation, but jokes are a tricky deal… I don’t want to offend anyone and jokes tend to offend. So instead I’m going to tell you about Kindle.
I tragically lost my sixteen year old daughter to a drunk driver. She had just been at home, it was early in the night and I heard the accident happen. I’ll never forget that moment. The sirens were immediate and something inside me just knew. I left my house, drove straight to the accident on nothing more than instinct. I got to be there when my little girl died – weirdly, I consider that a true gift from above. She didn’t have to be alone.
That time in my life was terrible. It’s everything you think it would be times about a billion. I love that kid. I loved being her mother and I loved watching her grow into this incredibly beautiful person, both inside and out. She was such a gift to me. To have it all ripped away so suddenly broke me.
Her name was Kindle. Honest to goodness – it was her name and she died a few weeks before Amazon released their brand new Kindle ereader. She had no idea it was coming out and she would have finally gotten her name on something! Try finding a ruler with the name Kindle on it.. It never happened.
Through the course of that crippling event I was lucky enough to begin to write with a dear friend in the fan fiction world of Facebook. She got me through those dark days with her unwavering support and friendship. There wasn’t a time she wasn’t there for me. Sometimes together and sometimes by myself, we built a world where Kindle lives and stands for peace, love and harmony. It’s its own kind of support group. I know without question I wouldn’t be here today without her.
Find out more by visiting http://www.kindlealexander.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media Links:
Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/63e88e2222/
Review for Shunned No More by Christina McKnight
O.K. let me start out by saying I don’t think I have read a Historical Romance before. Maybe I did when I was younger but I don’t really think so. With that being said…I absolutely fell in love with this book!
So what did I love? I loved that is was like I was set in the 1800’s along with the characters in the book. I feel like I am going to the ton parties right along with them. I loved that we got good back story on the main character, Viola, without feeling like it was too much. I loved that we had a build up to the get together of the main characters with no instant love.
Viola was a girl in the 1800’s coming out into her first season. She was being looked at by different guys so that they may court her. Two of these gentlemen ended up in a dual and things go terribly wrong and Lady Vi ends up running away.
After years being gone someone comes to her Estate and purchases foals for his residence but who he is and what he wants are a mystery.
To know the rest you’ll just have to read it yourself. Believe me you will not be disappointed.
I gave this book 4.5 stars
Amazon US: Shunned No More
Nook: Shunned No More
Erin Kellison’s Reveler series
About The Author:
Erin Kellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Shadow series and Shadow Kissed series, which share the same world, where dark fantasy meets modern fairy tale. Delve into dreamscapes in her new Reveler series, releasing Summer 2014.
Follow Erin online at:
Website / Mailing List / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Amazon Author Page / GoodReads
Darkness Falls Excerpt
“It’s not my first time, man.” Interview over, Rook shrugged into his trim black wool coat. “I know what to do if I spot a likely target.” It’d been a few years, but what to look for hadn’t changed.
Innocent, unsuspecting fools.
Yeah, he knew how to find them. And once down the rabbit hole, there was no coming back again. Just a screaming fall into a darkness as infinite and clutching as a nightmare. No waking up, either.
God, why couldn’t he just wake up?
“Only, it’s been a while since you went hunting,” Coll observed, that level gaze assessing, always measuring, but giving away nothing. “Why the sudden change?”
Rook kept his reasons for going to himself; he didn’t owe Coll explanations. Not anymore. What did he know, anyway? Coll had an easy life working behind a desk, occasionally flying out somewhere, and getting himself a swank room from which to monitor at a distance. It was hard not to stare at the wall-to-wall view of the San Diego Bay—and the ocean beyond, vast and calm, restful. Rook wasn’t one to give in to envy, but a little peace would go a long way right now.
“It’s a big step backward from the work you’ve been doing,” Coll pressed.
Rook exchanged his wallet for the one waiting on the tray that Coll had provided—time to become, let’s see, Michael Reese; at least they’d kept his initials—and slid it in the back pocket of his jeans.
Of course, he could’ve explained to Coll that he’d been on the inside too long. That he had to get a taste of the virgin experience again to keep his edge. Any Chimera could relate.
But he was too far gone for easy lies.
Darkness lurked at the edges of his vision, crackling and dense with reproach—not that he could make out anything right now, or ever—but when he turned to confront it, the blind spot shifted, too. It was as if he had a fringe space in the back of his mind, one in which an intruder could hide, its presence hounding him like a constant uncertainty.
Rook had to go out or he’d lose his mind. He had to go out or Coll would have to put him down like a mad dog.
The alternate phone on the tray was a sleek little silver thing, the latest to hit the market, whereas his personal mobile was at least a year behind. Both were unnecessary. He had other ways of keeping current—other, more intimate ways to track his marks.
“You could shave, at least. Make yourself pretty.” Coll’s idea of a joke.
Since he’d decided to back off, Rook offered a dry one of his own. “Girls like me rough. Guys, too, actually.”
“Okay, but what if I show up to the party completely naked?” Jordan Lane hissed ahead to Maisie as they navigated down the dock to the water taxi that would take them out to the Envoi, their destination for the evening.
The naked thing had been a nightmare since childhood, most recently the night before her big sales pitch to get the Medea account. Account secured. Promotion pending. But the fear was alive and well. Thriving.
Maisie cocked her head over her shoulder. “Can you at least try to have fun?”
Fun was not crossing a picket line of vehement protesters for a simple girls’ night out. The rhythmic shouts—“Wake up to the truth!”—were audible this far down the pier. The protesters stayed behind the pylons, but Jordan carried their message with her nevertheless: Danger. And, um, what the hell are you doing?
And then there was the opposing throng, who’d come down to the docks in hopes of buying a ticket secondhand for ten times its value. Holy hell, she could really use that kind of money right now and would easily give up one night of girl bonding to get it.
But this wasn’t any old GNO. First, the girlfriend was her little sis (all grown up), and second, the activity was insane, hence the protesters and their waggling signs. But Maisie-Maze had to try everything, had to leap with all her heart into every new game that came along. Irresponsible was what her teachers and bosses called her. But really it was more like irrepressible. There was no stopping her, no reasoning with enthusiasm—what could a big sis do but go with her and make sure she came home all right?
Not that Jordan had any objection to Rêve in theory. She just didn’t want either of them to be part of the practice.
A gust of bitter coastal wind whipped at Jordan’s hair and clothes, and she wrapped her mini tuxedo jacket across her waist, folding her arms over it to keep the cold air off her skin. Didn’t help much; the bluster still stole up the skirt of her little black dress as she waited with the group on the pier, everybody outfitted for a night out and buzzing with excitement. Ages ranged from Maze’s bouncy twenty-one to—Jordan glanced at a wrinkled and shrunken little woman—what had to be close to a hundred. The age spread aligned with the cross-cutting demographics that characterized the Rêve enthusiasm overtaking the world.
Just ahead, Maze accepted the hand of some guy already inside the boat to help her navigate the big, awkward step into the taxi. He reached for Jordan next, and with equal parts reluctance and gratitude, she took his hand—strong, steady—to make sure she didn’t pitch herself ass-up into the ocean. The heels had been a mistake, too.
Who needed to be dressed up only to go to sleep?
“Thanks,” she breathed to him. No going back now.
Petrol-tinged air replaced the slightly funky smell of the water, with its ocean stew of salt, fish, and subtle rot. Taking the big step, she caught a flash of the guy’s dark eyes, dark hair. Strong jaw with a two-day shadow. Once in the boat, she discovered he was tall and built, too. Damn it.
Maze’s eyes were shining with glee, as if saying, See?
Little sis wanted to hook her up. Very sweet, but not happening. Timothy Oliphant from Justified was just fine for her—even if she did have to watch him through her TV screen.
But this guy?
Okay, Jordan argued silently back at her, but there are cute guys lotsa places. She didn’t need to go to such lengths to get a date.
“Nothing to worry about,” he said, noting her nerves.
Of course he had a good, low voice. Didn’t mean he wasn’t crazy. Rêve attracted all sorts. Cults were forming around it. Biggest thing since the Internet. Global phenomenon. Major paradigm shift. And all that.
The wind gusted again and Jordan shivered violently, but she didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to ask questions. She had about a thousand of them. “You’ve done this before, then?”
She’d scoured message boards online for info, but the reactions varied from ecstatic testimonials of transcendent experiences to claims of migraines, sleeplessness, fatigue, and impotence, all basically leading to an inability to return to normal life. Then there were the posts—both academic and hysterical—that warned people not to make gods of themselves. Heh. Too late.
The bottom line? Studies demonstrated conclusively that Rêve itself was safe; whatever side effects did manifest reflected an individual’s psychology. Basically, if a person had issues, maybe they should pass.
At the moment, she had a lot of issues.
“I’ve done it a few times.” The guy glanced between her and her little sister. “Better than drugs. Not as good as sex.”
Hmm. “Anyone ever get hurt?”
“Not that I know of.” Damn if he didn’t seem to settle his interest on her baby sister, his gaze lingering, little wheels of thought turning in his eyes.
Umm…no. He was too…rough for Maze, so he’d just better step back.
Jordan poked his shoulder. Hard. “Did you have side effects?”
He shot her a quick, weird look to the effect of, Would I be back if I did?
“Right.” Jordan ducked her chin out of the wind and headed for Maze, who’d seated herself on the long bench on the far side of the boat. Maze had ironed her hair into a glossy straight sheet that looked like stretched fuchsia taffy. She was a junior at the U, but dressed like a cartoon character from when they’d been kids. She attracted friendly attention everywhere. Here, too.
Jordan joined her on the bench and cut a look back at the man. “Stay away from that one.”
Maze lit up and sang under her breath, “Ooooh?”
No. Jordan wasn’t interested in him, but she couldn’t bring herself to argue with Maze while the swaying of the boat was making her sick. She did manage to reiterate, “If I end up naked in public, I swear I’ll kill you.”
Maze took her hand. “You need this. You need this so bad.”
Her sister referred to the life Jordan spent in the office; what Maze didn’t seem to understand was that her big sis liked her job. Shocking, yes, but true. So this wasn’t about her. It was all Maisie, major still undeclared.
“People have gotten along just fine without Rêve thus far,” Jordan said. “All the way back to the dawn of man.”
Maze’s baby blues opened wide. “Beg to differ, Jor. Theories abound that it is not unique to our time.”
God, baby sis had been drinking the Rêve punch.
“Theories, not facts.” While Jordan had volunteered to go along for the ride, she wasn’t going to get conned into the hype. One of them had to stay grounded.
Her sister smiled and repeated by rote, as she had a thousand times today, “It’s safe. It’s legal.”
Jordan gave a derisive laugh. “Then why are we about to taxi twelve nautical miles into international waters to get on a Finnish ship in order to try it?”
Lay Me Down Excerpt:
Steve Coll hit his left-turn signal and checked for traffic, but most of his attention was focused on the woman half sitting, half kneeling on the passenger seat beside him. She hadn’t yet decided if she was going to cooperate (the least likely), stage a getaway (her usual way of coping), or try to kill him (on direct orders from her boss).
Her predicament was the most fun he’d had in a long time, especially since it was the woman herself who was gnawing her thumbnail in suspense. Even she didn’t know what she was going to do.
What a way to live.
Maisie Louise Lane wasn’t just another Reveler whom Chimera wanted to recruit. She was the ultimate recruit, the critical talent. And it was Steve’s job to secure her cooperation and loyalty.
Which meant she was probably going to try to kill him.
At least he’d get a kick out of watching her work up to it. She might just pull it off, too. Maisie could do anything; it was potentially deadly to think otherwise.
“If we’re going to Vegas,” she said, “I need to pick up some things from my place.”
Steve checked his rearview mirror. Still clear. “Not an option. It was ransacked after you left. Nothing much remains but the scum waiting to grab you.”
“Well, I’ve got some clothes at my sister’s and my laptop is there, too.”
“Your associates have that place covered as well, and since your sister had to drown one of them so that she could get to safety, it’s not an option, either.”
Maisie was standing on the only bridge she hadn’t burned, an empty gallon of gas in one hand, lit match in the other.
He flicked a gaze her way for a quick assessment. Her magenta-dyed hair was showing blond roots. The black makeup around her big gray eyes was smudged. And yeah, she was wearing the same outfit—tight, dark-green jeans with a slouchy black tank on top—that she’d been wearing when she’d escaped his companionship on the UCSD campus yesterday. The several narrow leather bands around her wrist hid scars from wounds she’d inflicted herself.
She had her sister to thank for keeping her alive this long, but the company Maisie kept was now more dangerous. Big sis had done as much as she could. Time for someone who didn’t love Maisie to take over.
“Well, I have to shower and change. I stink,” she said.
Strangely, he really didn’t mind the sharp edge to her usual feminine scent. And at the moment, he wouldn’t put it past her to crawl out a bathroom window, dripping and naked, to escape him. So she could just wait.
“When we get settled, you can have first dibs on the shower.”
Another glance in the rearview. A black car edged into their lane, some five car-lengths behind them.
“You mean in Vegas? That’s like an eight-hour drive.”
“Five,” he corrected. “And new clothes will be waiting there as well.”
“I choose my own clothes, thanks.”
“This is torture,” she said.
The black car kept its distance, which Steve didn’t like. It should’ve pulled up a bit by now. Its front window reflected a bright glaring spot of the sun, whiting out the rest, so no driver was visible, even if Steve could make him out from this far away.
He debated letting the car continue its pursuit to find out for certain if it was deliberately tailing them. He’d been eluding her business associates for the past few days while attempting to win Maisie’s cooperation. That her sister Jordan had become a Chimera was helpful. That those same associates had gone after Jordan had forced a choice on Maisie: family, or wealth and power?
Family had won, which was how Maisie had come to be sitting next to him, regardless of her mood.
Steve cruised through a late yellow light; the black car ran the red that followed.
Damn. Better to lose them now than to chance an incident on the road before he and Maisie reached their destination.
He hated to do it while driving, but fine.
Steve let his vision blur slightly so that his darksight could sharpen, and he imposed a simple waking dream on the real world. He showed the occupants of the black car that his car was turning to the right, down an intersecting street, while in reality he continued straight ahead.
The black car turned down the street, following the dream.
Which meant that yes, the car had probably been following them, and the driver didn’t have the darksight to recognize a waking dream for the illusion it was.
Steve glanced at Maisie again, the other immediate threat to his life.
She was staring at him, unblinking and wary. “What was that?”
Maisie, however, did have darksight, though still undeveloped.
Chimera agents each had talents, most of which were awakened during lucid dreaming, the revolution taking over the world. Maisie, should she prove loyal enough to join them, could also cross between one dream and another effortlessly.
Steve gave her a friendly smile. It was the only answer she was going to get. He didn’t even share what he could do, what he really was, with people he trusted. They’d be afraid.
“Fine. Whatever.” She folded her arms and hunkered down in her seat. “Wake me when we get there.”
Steve had to stop himself from laughing out loud. The humor felt good, though, lodged in his throat and warm across his chest. As if he would let her escape him that way. Her associates could catch up to her Darkside, too.
No. Not happening. She had no idea whom she was dealing with.
Maisie Lane was about to be afflicted with an extreme case of insomnia.
He was keeping her high and dry until it suited him for her to sleep, yet another one of his abilities. She’d sleep when he did.
Beside him, she sighed and modulated her breathing so that it was deep and slow. Eyes closed, the tension dropped out of her. She went quiet, studiously so, as she sought refuge.
It was cute, really.
Steve banked onto the I-15 exit and climbed onto the freeway, heading north. Traffic mid-morning moved fast along the ten-lane stretch. If they made good time, maybe they could get there before rush hour.
A colorful billboard advertising a new Rêve—the term used for commercial shared dreams—rose above the graying buildings below. The billboard depicted a black door with a fanlight above and a knob in the middle. The number 221B gleamed in brass above a subtly ornate knocker. Doors led the way into Rêves, and this door led the dreamer to 221B Baker Street, Sherlock’s home. Stories and adventures were the rage, far exceeding the thrills a theme park could offer. Rêve was a fully immersive experience for which people would pay anything.
Of course, just as Rêves offered unlimited worlds to explore, they also offered innumerable ways to exploit and/or threaten dreamers. It was Chimera’s job to police Rêves and to venture (or track) beyond Rêve into the waters where natural dreaming occurred. A certain kind of talent was required, and it was Steve’s job to recruit the personnel who had it.
Like Maisie here, who’d been playing in illegal Rêves for at least a year now and had gotten in a little too deep with the criminal element.
The minutes ticked by. He changed to the far left lane and accelerated.
Any second now she’d realize she was trapped in the waking world.
She huffed a little. Squirmed.
He restrained a grin, but glanced her way to see if she’d figured it out yet.
He found her looking back at him, a bad mood wrinkling her forehead. Then her forehead smoothed as understanding dawned. A glimmer of horror darkened her eyes. She’s got it now. The realization finished with a steady glare of hate.
Steve looked at the road ahead. “Just as long as we understand each other.”
review for Darkness Falls
Wow when I got done with this I was at a loss for words! That doesn’t happen often at all! Darkness Falls is something like I’ve never read before.
I’ve never had a book where the person goes into a dream the way that Erin described in this book. There was intrigue, adventure, things that made you nervous and the ending, whoa!
I strongly recommend this wonderfully dark story and can’t mot wait for the next because I want to know more on Maisie!
I gave this book 5 Hoots
Interview with Kimberly Kincaid of the Pine Mountain series
First and foremost I want to take the time to thank Kimberly Kincaid for doing an awesome interview with myself and Amy. We are so glad that you joined us and we can’t wait for more Pine Mountain books!! Gimme Some Sugar was just released June 3rd
Out of the frying pan. . .and into the fire!
Desperate to escape the spotlight of her failed marriage to a fellow celebrity-chef, Carly di Matisse left New York City for a tiny town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The restaurant she’s running these days may not be chic, but in Pine Mountain she can pretend to be the tough cookie everybody knows and loves. Until she finds herself spending too much time with a way-too-hot contractor whose rugged good looks melt her like butter. . .
Jackson Carter wasn’t looking for love. But he’s not the kind of man to walk away from a worksite–or from a fiery beauty whose passionate nature provides some irresistible on-the-job benefits. . .
It’s the perfect temporary arrangement for two ravenous commitment-phobes–except that Jackson and Carly keep coming back for seconds. . .and thirds. . .and fourths. . .
When Kimberly’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to eclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. She resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.