Coming Friday, March 28 - a hefty dose of love in an elevator, with a touch of magic, from Changeling Press (click on the link in the title above).
The fashion industry isn't kind to aging models. That's why Lanie Stevens, at the ripe old age of 34, needs help. A skewed self-image has kept her celibate way too long. Her only sexual thrill comes from ogling a handsome tech exec with whom she rides the elevator after her therapy sessions. Richard Sauter is great food for fantasy, but he looks right through her. Besides, he seems to be dating another woman.
The whole sorry situation changes one day when a stunning, long-haired man boards the elevator with the two regular riders. The car mysteriously stalls between floors. Soon, Lanie will have no reason to doubt her allure, Richard will never look through her again . . . and both will believe in magic.
* The following excerpt is PG-13 *
Lanie Stevens walked out of the ninth meeting of her Fear of Fucking group no less fearful than when she first joined it. Par for the course. She knew she’d still have a third-degree anxiety attack if she let a man touch her, especially if she were fully undressed. Hell, she nearly had one every time she took a shower.
Of course, "Fear of Fucking" wasn’t the therapy group’s official name. It was "Image and Essence" or some damned thing, and the group had been formed to help people with mild BDD or body dysmorphic disorder straighten out their skewed view of themselves. The group was supposed to help them achieve self-acceptance, take pride in their appearance, even revel in their physicality.
As far as Lanie was concerned, "fear of fucking" was what the whole thorny issue came down to. She’d been miserably celibate for months, and the situation didn’t seem likely to reverse itself anytime soon. The only solution she’d been able to come up with was both temporary and a little absurd. But so what? It had no impact on anybody but her.
First checking her watch, Lanie followed the same route she always followed when leaving the thirty-third floor of the Paquette Building in Chicago. It was much farther than she had to go to find an elevator -- there was a bank of four only twenty steps from the therapist’s office -- but she had three reasons for making this trek to the northwest corner of the high-rise. First, she felt she could use the exercise. Second, engaging in small-talk with the other group members only taxed her patience. Third, and most important, she was in search of her favorite food for fantasy.
That meal came in the eye-friendly form of a man named Richard Sauter, who invariably rode this particular elevator down to street level at this time of day. He was usually accompanied by a petite and very professional looking woman named Marla, who was probably his business partner, colleague or assistant. In any case, it was clear they had a much more personal relationship outside the office.
Lanie figured if she couldn’t have sex in real life, she could at least have it in her boundless imagination. All manner of magic was possible there. She’d again be the premier runway model she was ten years ago. Or maybe not. In either case, Richard would look at her, not through her, and Marla could be eliminated as easily as an ex-boyfriend’s face is snipped out of a favorite photograph.
Recently, Lanie sometimes put a gorgeous man in Marla’s place. That was a scenario so ripe with delicious possibilities she was taking her time with it, envisioning its progress step by tantalizing step. Just thinking of this fantasy -- even here, in the gleaming granite and marble corridors of the stately Paquette Building -- made her wet and squirmy.
~ Copyright (c) K. Z. Snow
Coming Friday, March 28 - a hefty dose of love in an elevator, with a touch of magic, from Changeling Press (click on the link in the title above).
Crimson Promise can be found at Phaze.
Victor, an undead vampire, has fled to another planet in the future to survive, for Earth is now poison to his kind.
Na'lesa has been alive for eons, the last of her race--drastically changed--now she lives a life as a living vampire.
One night they both run into each other over some prey. Two lonely people: they find love, sex, and blood, and not necessarily in that order.
Excerpt below is PG-13, but the e-Book is more explicit and must be read by one 18 & older:
Victor noticed in the reflection of a window in one of the buildings he passed how the alabaster light from the twin moons above illuminated his blanched features, bringing up shadows in every contour. The only color on him came from his lips and eyes; both a blood-red hue.
He grinned, running his tongue over large, sharp canines, then slipped down the town's only street, really a dirt road. Darting in and out of alleys, he kept to the darkness, as he wanted to make sure no one saw him. Fortunately, there was no one out tonight; it was too cold for that. If he was alive and breathing, he could have seen his breath in the freezing air. But he wasn't alive or dead. Instead he was in-between: undead.
He melded with the deepening shadows of the alley, where he waited as the door to the bar nearby slid open. A lock of hair as black as a raven's wing fell over his brow as he stared at the glaring light spilling from the doorway. Without a hint of arrogance, he knew that if someone did come out and catch sight of him, he would think an extremely pale, but good-looking man stood there.
Good-looking as an undead, he had been even more so as a mortal. The face of a dark angel—that's what women had said over three hundred years ago, in Germany. Then one night at a debutante ball, he met an attractive woman with russet curls that flowed over her shoulders and down her back. He was bored with all the mincing virgins simpering around him, and when he saw the newcomer he became fascinated. Her white face lacked innocence and her eyes seemed worldly beyond what he thought at the time was her young years. She convinced him to leave the ball with her, and took him to her home where she enticed him into her bed.
In the throes of passion, just as he was about to cum, her eyes glowed blood-red and sharp fangs burst from her mouth. She sunk them into his neck, draining him almost to the point of death. She hadn't, though, and forced him to drink some of her blood, making him a Nosferatu like her. After that, he stayed with her, until a vampire hunter staked her in the heart, ending her undead existence.
He grimaced at the memories. Now, his bad boy looks fit his eternal life in a more meaningful way.
Sounds of revelry erupted from the bar, so loud it seemed as if the walls of the place couldn't contain it at all. Drunken yelling from the miners, women's laughter, and screeches of a badly played piano filled the area like fingernails on a chalkboard, stretching out disjointed fingers toward him. He hated the noise just as he hated the dirty, threadbare town of the humans. In fact, Victor hated everything about this alien world.
Every night, he wondered why he had come to this misbegotten hellhole on the other end of the universe.
Images of a ravaged Earth would come into his mind in answer, and he resigned himself to his new world, hunting in its darkness for the blood he craved. He was alone—the last vampire left in the universe.
That was the real reason he couldn't stand this world—the loneliness. Even if vampires weren't the most social of creatures, at least males and females came together once in a while to fuck, to feast off the ambrosia of one another's vampiric blood, heightened by the frenzy of sex. The tantalizing odor of blood, sprinkled with alcohol, wafted toward his nostrils. Flaring them wide, he took in the scent and appreciated the heady flavor of the lifeblood, though not the cheap beer that laced it. It came from two figures that stumbled out of the bar and almost passed the alley in which he hid. One halted, and his vampire hearing took in the sound of liquid hitting the side of the building. The stench of piss drifted his way and he wrinkled his nose in distaste. Unfortunately, he couldn't be choosy for a meal, and quickly he flew from there, leaping upon his intended victims.
Suddenly, another shadow darted across his path and ripped the neck of one man, while clasping the other tightly against its front. Neither had time to cry out, the other creature had been that quick. The man with the torn throat fell to the ground, precious blood spilling and seeping into the dirt, turning it to mud.
Starved for blood for a long time now, Victor fell to his knees in the wetness and fastened his mouth over the opening, sucking out what remained of the red liquid in the body that had gone cold with death. He ignored the other sucking sounds above him. Ordinarily, he would have taken the body away and hid to feed upon it, as he would have been wary of whatever kind of creature feasted on the other victim. Nothing of it felt undead to him, just some strange alien essence. But, it had been a long time since he last fed, and the hunger forced him to finish off every last, precious drop.
With the body now drained, he rose to his feet and licked the few splashes of blood from the corners of his mouth. Then he straightened his clothing, tried to knocked off as much of the bloodied mud caking the knees of his pants, and looked over to see what kind of being had fed with him. The sight of soft, heather-purple eyes staring into his slammed into his gut, as he saw they belonged to a vision of beauty so alien, that caused his body to harden in places he thought long dead. He would have caught a breath—if he had a breath to catch. But he did it anyway, from force of habit.
By all that was unholy, alien or not, she was something that men fought to catch glimpses of.
Undeniable Magnetism is now available at Loose Id.
From Lisabea's blog: "a sweet little read. No trapezes, no tree sex, no mystery or guns and mucking about with crazed killers: just two guys and their love story."
When Simon walks into Jay’s bar for a drink, he never expects to find himself having an afternoon quickie in the back room. Although he’s very attracted to the blond, blue-eyed bartender, he’s never experienced a real relationship with another man and isn’t ready for the commitment that entails.
Jay is ready for Mr. Right, and when he meets hot, hunky Simon, he believes he’s found his match. But convincing the reserved man that their brief encounter could evolve into something more will take all his considerable persuasive skills.
Jay is blue collar, Irish. Simon is an African American from a society family. Can two men from such different backgrounds find common ground? Undeniable magnetism draws them to one another, but only love can keep them together.
On her way out Jane nearly ran into the most devastatingly handsome man she’d ever seen. He was at least six foot three with shoulder length hair so dark it looked almost blue beneath the dim lights. His skin reminded her of porcelain, but this man looked anything but fragile. The night was cool and his long black coat reached to just below his knees. He was wearing black leather pants which left little to the imagination and a button up black shirt. The stranger smiled down at her and Jane looked up into eyes of the deepest blue she’d ever seen.
“Excuse me,” she said breathlessly.
As she walked past him she never broke eye contact with the compelling stranger. Honestly, she didn’t want to turn her back on him. Something in his eyes called to her and made her heart jump so hard that it hurt. He just continued to smile until Jane was forced to turn around. She heard the bell ring above the door and gave a sigh of relief. He was in the store and she was almost to her car.
She tried to grip her keys again so that her house key was between her fingers in case she had to punch someone. But they slipped through her fingers when she walked past the gas pump. Jane was trembling, and as she turned around she found herself staring into those same blue eyes.
“Allow me,” he said, and as he bent down to retrieve her keys Jane caught a whiff of his cologne.
Something stirred within her and she gasped involuntarily. “It’s lust, pure and simple,” she tried to tell herself. She had never been so afraid and so aroused at the same time in her life. Although he looked more than capable of taking care of himself, she wasn’t afraid of him physically. She was more afraid of her reaction to him. Jane was no stranger to desire, but she had never experienced anything like this before. Who was this man?
He stood, slowly straightening to his full height.
“My name is Luis,” he said with a smile, “and I am not a mugger.”
His voice was deep and sultry with traces of a French accent.
“Then what are you?” Jane thought.
Rather than handing her the keys Luis took her hand and placed them in her open palm. The hairs on her arm rose when his bare skin touched her and Jane decided it was time to find out who this man was. She opened her mind to him, reaching out psychically toward the stranger. It was like hitting a brick wall. She had never been so thoroughly blocked in her life and nearly stumbled backward.
“Such turmoil in one so young,” he sighed, caressing the back of her hand before he released her.
Jane took a step back and nearly tripped when her butt touched the car door. She had no idea what he meant by that comment and Luis didn’t elaborate. He was a decadent and deadly poison, and if Jane had known who he was she might have ran from him. But with that smile … maybe not.
She couldn’t think of anything to say and something about him gave her chills in both a pleasurable and frightening way. He continued to wow her with that amazingly sensual smile while Jane got in her car and watched him in the rearview mirror until he was out of sight.
You can find out more about me and my books at http://www.traceyhkitts.com/
Inarii tossed her long, auburn hair over her shoulder and lifted her chin. “Well, if you insist on working for me, then there’s something you should know. I don’t tolerate insolence of any kind. Contrary to what my father thinks, I need my privacy, and I won’t have you following me around everywhere I go.”
Convincing Cate by Jamie HillVince Mason is sure the perfect woman doesn't exist. When he meets elusive Cate Reynolds and finds she's nearly as close to perfect as he can imagine, he doesn't want her to slip away.
Cate is attracted to Vince, but she sees one major problem—he's almost ten years younger, an age span she refuses to live with.
It's going to take one carefully crafted plan, a few well-meaning relatives, and maybe even a shot from Cupid's arrow before Vince is through convincing Cate.
Erotic fiction that's "Simply Irresistible"
Visit my website: www.jamiehill.biz
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and Authors Who Dare
All the Way Home
ISBN 978 14199 14898
Maggie Dean and Sam Callahan grew up in the same town, knew each other in school, admired each other from afar, but never dated. She was just a little too straight and narrow for this bad boy. Now they’re all grown up and back in their hometown - she to deal with a family crisis, he to prove that he’s changed his ways.
After enduring her parents’ loveless marriage and coming home to help her sister pick up the pieces of her broken one, Maggie isn’t interested in relationships. Sam Callahan is not only still gorgeous, but he’s still available. Neither Maggie nor Sam can deny their attraction but they’re still at odds. Maggie’s down on family life – can Sam be the one to convince her to settle down?
Praise for HERE TO STAY
Gripping intrigue and likable characters make HERE TO STAY a fine debut from author, Jenyfer Matthews.
Praise for ONE CRAZY SUMMER
This is a wonderful read with lots of laughter and amazing romance. I look forward to reading many more books by this author.
Coffee Time Romance
“Melanie! Where are you?” Maggie called as she stormed into the kitchen, letting the screen door slam behind her. Even the scent of freshly baked blueberry muffins didn’t soothe her temper.
“I’m here, hang on,” Melanie answered as she came down the stairs. “Where were you? I made breakfast for us.”
“I took the dog to the vet. By the way, did you know that Sam Callahan — Sam Callahan from high school — was the vet?” Maggie demanded.
Melanie didn’t bother to suppress a smile. “I did actually, yes.”
Maggie gaped at her. “Then why didn’t you tell me, for god’s sake? You could have at least warned me.”
“I thought it would be more fun this way,” Melanie answered. When she saw Maggie’s scowl, she laughed. “Oh my god, you don’t still have a crush on him do you?”
Maggie stared. “What are you talking about? I never had a crush on Sam.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I was just surprised to see him. So surprised that I couldn’t remember how to speak properly and made a fool of myself,” she complained.
“Maggie at a loss for words, now there’s a first. You do still have a crush on him,” Melanie said as she got down two coffee mugs from the cupboard.
“I do not! And why are you saying ‘still’? Who said I ever did?” Maggie asked as she paced.
“Oh, come on, Maggie. I read your diary. Why else were you writing ‘Mrs. Maggie Callahan’ over and over and over?”
Maggie felt like she’d been hit in the head with a brick for the second time that morning. “You read my diary? My private and personal diary? How could you?”
Melanie shrugged. “Isn’t that what little sisters are for?”
Maggie was so angry couldn’t speak. She left the kitchen and let the screen door slam behind her, stalking across the driveway back to her room over the garage.
Melanie followed her. “Come on, Maggie, it was years and years ago. Don’t be mad.”
“It may have been years ago, but I only just found out that all of my private thoughts weren’t so private after all. So, did you have fun? Did you share them with all your friends?” Maggie fumed.
Melanie bit her lip. That told Maggie all she needed to know.
“Try to understand what it was like for me, Maggie. I was the little sister always two steps behind you. I just wanted to see what it was like to be grown up. I’m sorry if you feel like I invaded your privacy. I didn’t do it to hurt you.”
Maggie harrumphed. “Well, I guess it’s no good denying I had a crush on Sam. But ‘had’ is the operative word. As in past tense.”
Melanie held up her hands. “Okay, whatever you say. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you about him. I never thought you would get so worked up about it. He’s still pretty hot, huh?”
Maggie only glared at her in reply.
Melanie moved toward the boxes that were still stacked up near the small bookshelf. “Hey, you didn’t unpack your books yet. Need some help?”
“What? Oh, no, thanks. I’ll do it later on sometime. I’m not really in the mood to read that stuff right now anyway.”
Melanie sat down in the reading chair. “Okay, now I know something is wrong. You don’t want to work? What gives?”
Maggie sighed and sank down on her bed. She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “I guess I’m just burned out at the moment. I’ve been working so hard to finish
up my degree and have been focused so long on writing and then defending my dissertation that I just don’t even want to think about any of that stuff for a little while.”
“Are you saying that you don’t want to be a professor anymore?” Melanie asked incredulously. “It’s all you’ve been working for all these years.”
“What do you care? You always thought what I was doing was boring anyway,” Maggie replied.
“That’s not the point,” Melanie answered. “I can’t deny I couldn’t see the appeal of studying all those long dead artists and all the dull and dry history that went along with it —“
“Thanks a lot.”
“Let me finish. You obviously saw something in all that stuff that I didn’t. So why are you just tossing all that aside now? Do you want to just quit?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying,” Maggie answered. She fell back and lay on the bed. “At least I don’t think that’s what I’m saying. Hell, I’m tired. I don’t know what I want to do anymore. But what I do not want to do is read those books. Not now anyway.”
“I have an idea.”
“This ought to be good,” Maggie muttered.
“Smart ass. I should just let you lie there and wallow,” Melanie said, preparing to leave.
Maggie sat up. “Okay, I’m sorry. What’s your idea?”
“Why don’t you paint? You were so good at it, and it’s what got you interested in studying art in the first place. Why not get your hands dirty again? It might be just what you need to get over this rough spot.”
Maggie smiled. “You know, you’re pretty smart for a bratty little sister. Thanks.”
“Now that your problem is solved, it’s my turn. I need a favor,” Melanie said, suddenly looking a little pensive.
“What is it?”
“I’ve been reading those books you brought me and I was hoping, that is, I wanted to ask you… if you’ll be my labor coach,” Melanie said in a rush. “I won’t have to start birthing classes for a while yet, but you’re supposed to have a coach to help you practice your breathing exercises and to help you during delivery. So? Will you be my coach, Maggie?”
“But, but — what about Adam?” Maggie asked. “I’m not sure I —“
Melanie nodded. “I know how squeamish you are, but I really need you there, Maggie. As for Adam, at this point, I don’t know where he is, how can I count on him being back in time for the baby’s birth? What do you say? Will you do it?”
Maggie closed her eyes. She couldn’t stand the sight of blood or other… stuff. She even waxed her legs so she wouldn’t have to worry about nicking herself shaving. She didn’t know how she was ever going to get through childbirth herself. But she’d made Melanie a promise and she intended to keep it.
“Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll be your labor coach,” Maggie agreed.
“Okay, great. Thank you,” Melanie answered with a relieved smile. “Now let’s go eat, I’m starved. After breakfast, we’ll go to the library and get you a couple of big juicy romance novels. That should clear the cobwebs out,” Melanie said, wiggling her eyebrows.
“Sure,” Maggie said half-heartedly. But she didn’t think she’d get any romance novels. That was the last thing she on her mind right now.
Available now from Cerridwen Press
The following is an unedited excerpt from The Dread Moon by Tracey H. Kitts. The Dread Moon is book three in the Lilith Mercury: Werewolf Hunter Series from New Concepts Publishing.
“He looked like he’d stepped off the pages of an erotic novel. He wore one of those wonderful white shirts with ruffles around wrists which hung over the tops of his knuckles. The front of the shirt had laces between the ruffles, but they were not tied, leaving the shirt open to reveal a portion of his beautiful body. The hood cast a shadow over half of his face, leaving only his full pink lips visible. But I knew somewhere in the darkness lay those piercing emerald eyes, and it made me shiver.”
“I watched as he removed the long cloak and tossed it across the bed. My heart hammered in my chest painfully as Luther slid the white shirt with its many ruffles from Dracula’s body. He looked even better without the shirt. He wasn’t overly muscular, but beautifully toned and undeniably masculine. Every part that should be curved was curved, and everywhere there needed to be a ridge, that’s what I found as my eyes roamed over him. His emerald eyes no longer held magic when I gazed into them, but there was a fire within that never completely died.”
“I looked up as he walked through the door and my breath caught. He was every bit the dream I had held so dear. His naked body glistened in the candlelight, and strands of dark wet hair clung to his throat. He was formed of a devastating and heartrending beauty, making him almost painful to look upon. But pain and pleasure are sometimes separated by only a thin line.”
The Dread Moon is book three in my Lilith Mercury Werewolf Hunter Series, coming soon from New Concepts Publishing.
Books one and two are available now at http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/.
Book One – Red - www.newconceptspublishing.com/red.htm
Book Two Object of My Affection - http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/objectofmyaffection.htm
TraceyThe Dread Moon – “The beast inside of her craved some sort of satisfaction and Lilith knew just where to find it.”
Yesterday, I found out that my Cerridwen Press romantic suspense novel, What's in a Name? is a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contest.
Here's an excerpt from the book.
What’s in a Name?
By Terry Odell
The thud from the front porch was definitely a knock.
Kelli Carpenter jumped, clutching the plastic shower curtain to keep from slipping. “Just a minute,” she called as she reached across the cascading spray to twist the taps off. So much for the hot, steamy shower she’d been dreaming about while she lay, freezing her butt off, in a stinking mud puddle waiting for the perfect shot. She squirmed back into her grimy jeans.
From the road, she heard the distinctive roar of Harley engines. The knock repeated, growing more insistent.
“Take it easy,” she muttered. Without bothering to towel off, she slipped her sweatshirt over her head, working her damp arms into muddy sleeves while she headed for the door, her mind racing through the possibilities of who would be there. Only park rangers ever came by. But they wouldn’t pound unless something was wrong. And if they did, they’d call her name. The familiar fear gnawed at her. Had someone found her?
Shit. She’d forgotten her contacts and although she doubted any of the rangers would notice—or care—she hadn’t survived as Kelli Carpenter this long by neglecting the details. She hurried back to the bathroom and inserted the lenses, turning her pale gray eyes into a nondescript brown and grabbed her oversize tortoiseshell-framed glasses. “Coming!” She hurried through the living room and peered through the window.
Her stomach flipped at the sight of a total stranger on her porch. Hardly anybody knew about this field station, tucked away in the
Calm down. He’s lost and wants directions. Tell him what he needs and he’ll be gone.
“Yes?” she called through the door, trying to remember if she’d locked it.
“I’m looking for Kelli Carpenter,” a deep male voice said.
Kelli. Not Casey. Okay. She inched the door open. Swallowed. Twice. A man waited on her porch, wearing jeans and a windbreaker over a black turtleneck, holding an olive-green duffel bag. He stood at least six-two, with black hair that hung almost to his shoulders. Even the fact that his face and a razor hadn’t kept company in several days didn’t detract from his raw good looks.
“I’m Kelli.” She forced herself to meet his eyes. Dark chocolate brown, they grabbed and wouldn’t let go. He stared, a little longer than necessary and she crossed her arms over her chest, suddenly all too aware her bra lay on the bathroom floor.
She took a step backward into the dimmer light of the living room. “Is something wrong?”
“No, nothing.” His startled expression dissolved into neutrality. “I…um…I suppose I’d expected a man.” He took half a step forward.
Avoiding his eyes, she took a deep breath and managed a quick smile. “Can I help you with something?”
He dropped his duffel and extended a hand. “Sorry. I’m Blake Windsor. I’m here to repair a dormitory cabin. If you’ll point me to my room, I can put my stuff away and take a look before it gets dark.”
She ignored the offer of a handshake and suppressed a shudder at the thought of a stranger invading her home. “I’m afraid there must be some mistake. There’s no room for you to stay here.”
He raised an eyebrow and looked beyond her. “I can take the couch. No problem. Jack Stockbridge said you’d be expecting me.”
Her mind whirled. Knowing her boss’s name didn’t mean he was legit.
“I haven’t heard from Jack Stockbridge and I’m sure he’d have told me if someone was coming.” Don’t antagonize him. She kept her tone civil. “I’m very sorry, Mr. Windsor, but I suggest you start down the mountain. These roads can be tough to navigate in the dark.”
The shrill ring of the telephone interrupted. She twisted her head toward the kitchen. Should she answer the call there, where she could keep an eye on this stranger? Or take it in her office, where it was private? But that would leave this man free in her space. She waited for the answering machine.
Jack Stockbridge’s voice floated across the room. “Kelli? Jack. Are you back? If you’re there, Kiddo, pick up.”
Kelli dashed to the kitchen and picked up the receiver on the red wall phone. Its old-fashioned rotary dial stared at her like a multi-eyed alien.
“I’m here, Jack.” She cocked her head at her visitor and raised her eyebrows. With a nod of understanding, he backed out the door.
“I’ve been trying to reach you all day. You ever answer the phone? Or check your messages?”
“Hey, I’ve been out, doing what you pay me for. You know how hard it is to get decent bird pictures?” She paused, waiting for him to say the inevitable, hoping she was wrong.
“You love it and you know it.” He cleared his throat. “There’s been a change in plans.
“Labor Day? That’s not even two weeks from now. What happened to spring? You know our deal. I do the environmental studies—alone—and then you send in the labor crews.”
“Kiddo, I know, but there’s no way to finish on time without help. If we lose the funding, it’s all over. I can’t replace you at this late date and the dorm cabin has to be repaired, pronto. I’ve sent a handyman to take care of it. I’m sure you’ll manage.”
She glanced at the front door. “Six-two, long hair?”
“Yep. Blake Windsor.”
A lead ball filled her stomach. “He’s here.”
After her father abandons her for the gold fields of California, Abby must find a husband to keep her safe from the bully who owns the small Texas town where she lives, and who wants to own her at any cost. But any prospective husband will have to let her go when her brother comes to take her back East, where she might find safety and her dreams of education fulfilled.
She's always been told her boldness will get her into trouble one day and it just might when, in desperation, she turns to Miguel for help. She has long admired him from afar, but worries he will not agree to her proposal. But he is honor-bound to keep her safe, and determined to keep his promises to her, come hell or high water. He will protect her from the man of her nightmares, and from the raging passion her innocent curiosity awakens in both of them.
As Abby and Miguel work together to strengthen their temporary marriage and to battle the forces conspiring to bring them down, Abby finds herself looking forward to leaving less and less. Will the temporary bride be bold enough to make it permanent?
“Mierda.” Miguel swore as a painful beat pulsed hot in his thumb. With a shake of his injured hand, he turned around to glare at whoever had tapped him on the shoulder. They’d caused him to smash his thumb with the hammer.
“Hello. “ The pretty golden-haired woman waved toward his bruised finger with a cringe. “Sorry about that. I called out, but…”
His glare faltered at seeing Abigail Sutton standing in his barn. Their gazes met and lingered a little too long. He had spent many afternoons daydreaming about Abigail with her schoolteacher properness, Eastern accent, and big breasts. He’d never seen her hair down, but it seemed to gleam in the harsh Texas sunshine like a halo.
He shifted, putting her on his right side. Dammit. He couldn’t hear anything on his left, so he hadn’t heard her approach. Looking past her, he glanced outside to look for his old hound. Until that moment, Rosa had never failed to alert him to visitors. Of course, Abigail always took the time to scratch the old dog’s ears and rub her belly when Rosa accompanied him. She’d bribed his dog for her silence.
Only at Abigail’s lingering gaze on his chest did he remember his state of undress. Quickly, he placed the hammer on the worktable and picked up his worn shirt. Fingers trembling, he buttoned the front up his chest as fast as he could.
“Hm.” She waved again. “You’ve missed a button.”
Ignoring the obvious truth, he shoved the uneven shirttails into his pants. “Senorita Sutton.” He swallowed as she continued to appraise him. Odd, but this must be what it was like to be his prized bull when prospective breeders came to look at the animal. If she kept her brown eyes on him in such a manner, his cock would soon rival the beast’s. “What business can I help you with?”
She licked her lips.
Miguel removed his hat to rake a hand through his hair. Instead of replacing his hat, he used it in an attempt to hide the swelling in his britches. He’d lusted after her since their first meeting. This closeness, this first moment of privacy with her, only added to his arousal. The muscles in his lower back tensed. His mouth went dry.
“Call me Abby, please.”
He nodded in hopes she’d get on to discussing the work she needed done. While he was kept plenty busy, people didn’t usually stop by his place to socialize. And never had a single female visited. Besides, the women who normally visited shed tears when they put in an appearance. Requesting a pine box moved many souls to weep.
“Well…may I call you Miguel?”
Again, he nodded. Her nervousness intrigued him as much as the lust she stirred. Once at a barn raising, he’d watched her reluctantly dance with Newton Smith. If only it had been him. Lust for her attention had stirred that day. Watching her from a distance had been the only reason he’d lingered among the townspeople.
Now she stood alone with him in his barn. Soon he’d be unable to think past the arousal she never failed to cause.
“I have a business proposition for you…”
Still, she hesitated.
“Ah.” Oftentimes, people couldn’t afford to pay for his services. Perhaps that concerned her. “Don’t worry.” He shifted his stance. “People in the area pay me with whatever they’ve got. Cash isn’t necessary.” Though coins sure were a nice surprise.
“Oh, no, let me explain. I’ve come to speak to you about a business arrangement, more so than a business proposition.”
Business arrangement. Business proposition. Not much difference between the two from where he stood. “I accept payments.”
A flush spread up her high cheekbones to soften her appearance. In that moment, she went from pretty to lovely. Sí. Something turned him on about the blush she displayed. “Yes, I’ll get to payments in a moment.”
His cock stiffened. “Would you like to see some of my goods?”
The flush covering her face turned a brighter shade as her gaze slowly slid down his body to rest below his waist. “Ah, well, I’m sure your goods…uh, well, work fine.”
It was his turn to experience a slow heat spread up his neck. Surely, the senorita couldn’t have meant what he’d thought. Surely, he’d misunderstood. With his deafness in the one ear, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d mistaken someone’s speech.
Giving up trying to hide his arousal, he placed his hat back on his head and folded his arms. “Senorita.” He’d given his work away before, and for Abigail Sutton, the loss of material wouldn’t be a hardship. “It will be all right. Tell me what you need, and I’ll see --”
“Abby.” She smiled, cutting him off. His balls tingled in response as he recalled the first time she’d smiled at him. Last winter at the general store. He’d nearly plowed her over in his haste. She’d been so soft and funny about his clumsiness.
“Miguel, did you hear me?”
Pushing his hat back, he focused on her lips. Dammit. She’d been talking. He had to pay attention.
“I’d like for you to be my husband.”
He tugged on his good ear. No, he damned well hadn’t heard her right. “Say again?’
“I’d like you to be my husband.”
He stared at the loco woman. Dios. Her husband? Did she realize the trouble he could get into?
“You see, I’ve calculated my situation, and I feel you’re my best option.”
Option? He stared hard at her mouth to make sure he didn’t miss anything she said.
“You’re prosperous.” She waved her hand. “Attractive. Respected. No one would challenge our marriage.”
Abby’s eyes widened. “It’s true. I’ve paid attention to the leaders of the community who speak of you. A-and,” she stuttered, “watched you.”
He wasn’t about to argue with her. But, he knew right where he stood in the town’s eyes, even if she didn’t see it that way. There was no denying he was as much a Mexican as he was a white man. His yellow hair didn’t hide his accent or his black eyes. He made damn sure everyone knew who his mother had been. The townspeople simply had no other place to go for carpentry work.
Being her husband could get him bullwhipped or, worse, lynched.
On the other hand, Abigail had never treated him like so many others had. She’d always seemed genuine in her responses to him. He’d never lusted after another woman the way he had Abby. There’d been a few times he’d allowed himself to weave daydreams…
“You also live outside of town. That’s a good thing.”
Sí. His isolated home would make it easier for those who’d want to hang him for touching a white woman. But then, his home would offer him and Abby some freedom away from any prying eyes.
His cock twitched.
Sí. They’d have plenty of privacy out here.
The woman had to be loco, though she looked sane enough. The worry in her eyes ignited something in his chest he didn’t understand. “Why?” He swallowed past the word.
“Oh, it’s a long story…but the marriage wouldn’t be for long. It’d be more of a pretend relationship.” She looked away for a moment. When she faced him once more, she looked as composed as he’d ever remembered seeing her. “You see, Miguel, my father has run off, and I need a husband. My brother should be here soon…and…things being what they are…”
The townspeople knew how Smith sought Abby’s attention. There was no reason to say more. With her father gone, he could see the other man pressuring the lovely senorita into something she wouldn’t want…something he couldn’t imagine any woman would willingly want.
“When is your brother due here?”
“From last word, I’d say within two weeks. Maybe sooner.” She sighed. “Father…well, he couldn’t wait any longer. You know how some men need to wander.”
Sí. He understood the need some men had to keep moving. Some men didn’t want roots. Not him. He preferred to stay put. “When your brother arrives, what will you do?”
“Oh, we’ll travel back home to Philadelphia.” She pursed her lips. “It’s where I belong, anyway.”
Of course she’d want to leave Texas with her father gone. It’d be a shame to see her leave, though. Her father had been one of the town founders.
After a calming breath, he asked the question that stood between them. “Why me, senorita?” There had to be more behind her seeking him out. He had a suspicion and wanted to be sure.
Singling him out put her in danger, as well. As much as he’d hungered for her…he doubted lust for him had anything to do with her choice.
The flush returned her face. She moistened her lips as she hesitated.
Again, she didn’t need to go on. He’d been picked because out of all the men in the area, he had no other prospects of marriage. No white woman would touch him. And the Mexicans, well, the fathers would shoot him before he’d be allowed to deflower a daughter.
“I have no other choice.” Her delicate throat worked, while he admitted it’d taken a lot for her to approach him. “I’ll make it as pleasurable for you as possible.” The flush reached her forehead. “Though I want to leave the marriage…pure…I’m sure there are other things we can do to keep you from the saloons on Saturday nights.”
His cock swelled thickly. Sí. There were other things to make it pleasurable for them both without him taking her virginity. His gaze sought her mouth.
“Miguel?” Their eyes met. “If you agree, I think it’d be best if we avoid kissing. It’s far too personal, I think.”
“Sí. I understand.” No fucking. And no kissing. He removed his hat and placed it over his heart.
Inhaling, he glanced over her shoulder out into the sunlight. He weighed the dangers a wedding vow would put him in.
If it were any other woman…
This could be his one shot at marriage. A short marriage, but still a union.
If it were any other woman…
But it wasn’t another woman asking. It was Abby, a woman he very much wanted. She needed his protection.
There was only one answer.
Lany of Melany Logen aka Mechele Armstrong
My contribution to Changeling Press's Snowbound collection is available now...
Snowbound: Saved by a Vampire by Silvia Violet
A young woman becomes stranded in a blizzard, and her only hope is a stranger with fangs.
Sandra huddled in the corner of the abandoned cabin, wrapping the moth eaten blankets even tighter around herself. Why the fuck hadn’t she believed her brother when he insisted it was going to snow? She knew how quickly a blizzard could come up around here, but she’d ignored his warnings.
Now she was lost and her only shelter was a rickety cabin that barely kept out the wind. Unless a miracle occurred, she wouldn’t live long enough for him to say “I told you so.”
Snow swirled through the chinks in the wall, forming a white blanket on the floor. Sandra’s eyes started to drift closed. She shook herself awake. If she went to sleep now, she would never wake up. She needed to get up, move around, stave off hypothermia as best she could.
As she forced her nearly frozen limbs to move, she heard something outside the door. Please God let it be a rescue party.
The door swung open. The flickering light of her flashlight allowed her to see the outline of a tall man. Her heart hammered.
He stepped further into the light, and her breath caught. Long, mocha-colored hair, flowed across his shoulder and down to the middle of his back. His eyes were deep brown, almost black, his skin nearly as pale as the snow that covered his tall black boots. His tight pants showed off powerful thighs and a trim waist. Suddenly she felt warmer than she had since the storm began.
He smiled, a wicked upturn of his lips. Then she saw them, Fangs.
Buy it here!