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Buried Pleasures Available for Pre-Order

 

 

 With Blindsided just hot off the presses, I can’t tell you how excited I am to inform you that Buried Pleasures, book three of Medusa’s Consortium, is now available for pre-order.

 

 

Guarantee you’ll get the first read when Buried Pleasure continues the story of Magda and her gang in Vegas. And wow, the woman has one helluva gang in Sin City. It’s a good thing, because she’s going to need all the help she can get, and so is Samantha ‘Sam’ Black, the last siren.

 

 

Buried Pleasures Blurb:

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

The shadowy Magda Gardener will do anything to keep Sam from cashing in that chip. She knows that Buried Pleasures is the gate to Hades and cashing in the chip is a one-way ticket across the River Styx, which runs beneath the storm tunnels of Vegas.

 

 

Coming 9th January 2018 – available for pre-order now!

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
iBooks US
Kobo
Smashwords

 

A Different Kind of Magic — Buried Pleasures Excerpt:

She opened the piano and ran her fingers carefully over the cool ivory. The buzz of the long familiar, and yet ever mysterious, magic climbed her spine with the effervescing tingle that was always there in the presence of potential music. Jon, who had returned to her side, pulled the padded bench out for her, and she slipped onto it letting both hands arch delicately against the keys, barely making contact. The cloak she’d nearly forgotten she wore, slid down her arms to cover the backs of her hands, but before she could shrug it back, Jon moved behind her and undid the clasp at her throat, easing it off her shoulders to pool on the bench around her.

His touch was a different kind of magic. It sent a cascade of goose flesh over her clavicle down the tops of her breasts, and the tight gasp that escaped her lips was almost, but not quite a sob. Above the keys she flexed her fingers. Behind her, heat radiated off Jon’s body. His breath was warm against her nape. Then he leaned down and spoke close to her ear. “Sing for me, Samantha. I need you to sing for me.”

She withdrew her hands as though the keys were suddenly on fire and clenched them tightly in her lap. “I can’t. You saw what I did to those men, and when I sing I see things, things I shouldn’t know, things I don’t want to know. I … I invade peoples’
private space. I don’t mean to,” she added quickly, “but it happens, and I can’t help it, and the music takes over and I can’t stop until it’s finished no matter how badly I want to, and … I don’t want to do that to you.”

He stepped closer until the tense muscles of his thighs warmed her back, until the shape of him pressed against her almost as it had in his bed. But she was so much more conscious of it now, so much more conscious of the depth of what he desired from her, of her own desire to give it to him, to give him what she’d never been able to give anyone.

He slid strong fingers down across her neck, over her pulse point, which hammered and jerked beneath his touch. Then he cupped her cheek with a rough palm and pressed her back against his belly.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she managed around a struggle to breathe. “I never wanted to hurt anyone. When it’s good, it’s the most amazing thing ever. Believe me, I would gladly share that with you, but when it all goes wrong …” Her eyes misted at the thought of all that she’d had to keep hidden to protect the people around her.

He leaned over her and took her clenched hands into his. “You won’t hurt me, and it will be good, I promise.” Then he brought her fists to his lips and kissed her knuckles, easing her fingers open one by one as he did so. “You’re a siren, Samantha. That’s why you can do what you can do. Your music is your power and you can control it.”

 

 

If you haven’t yet read In The Flesh, Book One of Medusa’s Consortium, nows your chance to get it FREE!

 

 

The lovely Victoria DeLuis has invited an amazing bunch of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy authors in for this wonderful giveaway. She was kind enough to include yours truly. She has invited us to take iveaway for the whole month of October. I’ve included In The Flesh, book one of my Mesdusa’s Consortium series.

Follow the link below and you’ll find over SEVENTY fabulous FREE reads, featuring novels, novellas, and previews. So if you love UF and PNR as much as I do, browse through the covers, and then click to download the book from Amazon, InstaFreebie or BookFunnel

 

It’s like trick-or-treat candy for lovers of UF/PNR. So go ahead, indulge! Better than chocolate and calorie free!

 

Here is the page link: http://victoriadeluis.com/promo/


 

 

 

The Challenge – A Hot New Reverse Harem Series by Lily Harlem

 

 

What’s reverse harem? Basically it’s having your cake and eating it, one girl, however many hot guys she can handle, no jealousy. Think of it as a tasty little nibble here and there, a few big delicious bites when the mood arises and a whole lot of flirty, steamy fun.

 

So, with that cleared up here’s a little about erotic romance series THE CHALLENGE by Lily Harlem. It’s a new on-going contemporary reverse harem best-read-in-order series that sizzles from the page. The first book CASTAWAYS is available for pre-order at just 99c and will release on 15th October (grab your copy now while it’s cheap!), and book two TEARAWAYS is also available for pre-order, release date 26th October.

 

*Please note, the entire series will be available on Kindle Unlimited*

 

 

CASTAWAYS Blurb:

 

Olivia Bailey is up for The Challenge. Why the heck wouldn’t she be? With mariner qualifications piled high, engineering experience to rival someone twice her age, she’s ready to take on the mighty Pacific Ocean and win.

But what about her fellow crew? Five guys, four nationalities. A billionaire’s heir who likes to take charge in every aspect of life, an outback expert with a heart-stopping smile, a Spanish chef with mouthwatering moves and sexy twins who reveal themselves slowly, until it matters, then they act fast.

An adventure was what Olivia wanted, it’s certainly what she gets. Because things at sea happen in a heartbeat, friendships grow, tempers heat and desire flares. But what about when it all upends? When the unexpected happens? Will they pull together, or will fear drag the crew of The Temptress apart?

 

PRE-ORDER NOW – http://myBook.to/Castaways

 

 

TEARAWAYS Blurb:

 

Having survived The Challenge, Olivia is now hitting the road with her five sexy men. Seeing them all dressed in tight leathers, with big, growling Harleys between their legs, is enough to have her pulse racing and her mouth watering. So naturally, before long bonds strengthen, love blooms and they’re all enjoying the ride of their lives.

But with little more than bikes and the clothes on their backs, how will they survive a long, arduous journey? Having a billionaire’s heir in their midst is no help when Dante Vidal is insisting on them being cashless and having to work for their supper.

Amongst all of that, Olivia finds herself performing a complex juggling act. Having Alpha males sparring, sparks flying and tempers flaring needs a strong woman to take charge. Is she up for the challenge of keeping her men happy, connected and most of all satisfied? One thing is for sure, it’s a task she’s willing to throw herself into heart, body and soul.

 

 

PRE-ORDER NOW – http://myBook.to/Tearaways

 

Excerpt from CASTAWAYS:

 

“How is my galley?” Raul asked, pulling on a t-shirt, then settling back in his seat.

“All tidy.”

“You are too good to me, mi niña hermosa.”

“I try.”

Mason appeared on deck. “I suggest, Captain, that we shift a degree west, it will put us in line with a tiny crop of islands. Uninhabited, but it might be nice to see land on day three.”

“Good plan.” Harry nodded and looked down at the compass. He then turned the helm a fraction. “Can’t believe we’ll be on our third day tomorrow. We’ve made good progress.”

“Yeah, I agree,” Evan said, plucking a pack of cards from the pocket of his shorts. “Who’s up for poker?”

Si.” Raul rubbed his hands together and grinned.

“I’m game,” Mason said, sitting next to him. “What are we playing for?”

“Let’s make it strip poker.” Evan twitched his eyebrows at Olivia.

“I think not.” She laughed. “That would leave me at a definite disadvantage.”

“You call having five blokes admiring your body a disadvantage?” Evan chuckled. The sun had given his cheeks a faint pink hue and his lips were shiny, as if he’d slicked on balm.

Damn it, the guy could be an advert for healthy, outdoor living.

“Knowing you lot, you’d club together and fix it so I lost.” She narrowed her eyes at him.

“I wouldn’t.” Lucas shook his head.

It was the first time he’d spoken in front of everyone, but Olivia decided not to make a thing about that. “Okay, not Lucas, but the rest of you would.”

“I think it’s sad,” Raul said. “That you have so low opinion of us.”

“It’s not that.” She shrugged. “You’re just guys, with lots of testosterone and you like…” She glanced at her chest. “Boobs.”

“Boobs!” Evan burst out laughing. “Yeah, we like boobs.”

“What are boobs?” Raul asked.

“These.” She pointed at her breasts.

“Ah, boobs!” Raul grinned. “I learn another new English word.”

“I bet she could teach you some more.” Evan winked at her and dropped the deck of cards into his hand.

“Probably. But I won’t.”

Lucas took over the helm and Harry sat at the table, his elbows propped on it and leaning forward. “We play for who gets to take Olivia out on a date in Sydney.”

“Fine by me,” Mason said.

“But what if I don’t want to go on a date…with any of you.”

“Ah, you will.” Evan expertly shuffled the pack.

She frowned. “And what if I win? What do I get?”

“To choose who takes you out on a date.” Harry grinned. It was a cocky grin, as though he presumed it would be him she picked.

“What if I don’t want to go out with any of you?” How could she not? She looked around the table. Four guys, very different both physically and in personality, but each gorgeous, intelligent, witty and very eligible. Throw in sweet, sensitive Lucas who was also a lean, strong guy in the prime of his life and just waiting to be discovered, and most girls would be salivating at the thought of being able to take a pick. “No scrap that,” she said. “What if I can’t choose?”

“What because we’re all so hot it’s an impossible decision?” Harry asked.

“Well, I guess I’d have to go by personality, and thinking you’re hot might not be the best trait.”

“Hey.” He held up his hands. “I’m only saying what the gossip mags and my one million Twitter followers tell me.”

“One million Twitter followers?” Mason said. “Jeez, you really got that much to say?”

“No.” Harry shrugged and picked up his deal of cards. “But what can I do? They follow me, I don’t follow them.”

“I bet you get loads of girls desperate for you to notice them,” Olivia said. “All hoping to bag themselves a billionaire.”

“For the record, I’m not a billionaire, my father is.”

“And you’ll inherit it some day,” Mason pointed out.

“Some of it. I’ve got a sister remember. It’ll get halved.”

“But still be in the billions?” Evan said.

“I guess.” Harry looked away, a slight crease between his eyebrows.

For the first time Olivia wondered if he’d like to have grown up in a normal family, with a normal childhood. His must have been one of privilege and indulgence. How had that molded him into the man he was today? Did he regret not blending in with the crowd, or did it suit him to harness attention wherever he went?

She made a sudden decision to never treat him differently from the other crew, okay he was the captain, but other than that, he was just a guy whose father happened to be stinking rich.

And damn it, he was cute with it.

“Everyone know the rules?” Evan asked, turning his hand over.

“Aye,” Mason nodded.

Si. Very well.” Raul grinned as he looked at his cards.

Olivia looked at hers. Not great, but it would be a start.

They played for an hour and a half. There was much laughter, quite a few insults and possibly some cheating on Raul’s behalf.

Mason took a turn at the helm so Lucas could join in and he won his hand quickly.

“Last game,” Harry said. “It’s getting late.” He glanced at his watch.

“Ah, but I want to play all night,” Raul said. “I love to play poker. Better with rum but this is what it is.”

“Nah, last one.” Harry shrugged.

Olivia pulled her fleece up around her neck. It was getting chilly, she’d be glad to get to bed.

Her last deal of the pack was a great one, and within a minute she’d won.

“Bravo,” Mason said.

“Are you sure you’re not a hustler?” Evan asked.

“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” She grinned.

“You must have a prize,” Raul said.

“Okay.” She paused. “Kind as it is of you all to offer yourselves up for dates in Sydney, what I’d really like is…”

All five men looked at her. Lucas seemed to have held his breath, and Evan tugged on his bottom lip as if a whole bunch of wicked thoughts were going through his mind. Harry raised his eyebrows and Mason leaned closer.

“Tell us,” Raul said. “Anything we have, it is yours.”

“Did I see some hot chocolate in the galley?” she asked.

Si.” Raul nodded.

“That’s what I’d like as my prize. Then to bed….alone.”

All five men seemed to sag a little as they sat back. Lucas returned his attention to the helm.

“I will do it for you. I will get your prize.” Raul stood.

“Thank you.” She passed her cards to Evan who was stacking the pack together again.

Had any of the guys really thought she’d pick one of them as her prize? Was it so obvious she fancied them all?

Oh God.

I do. I really do.

And I’d never be able to choose between them.

 

 

PRE-ORDER NOW – http://myBook.to/Castaways

 

 

PRE-ORDER NOW – http://myBook.to/Tearaways

 

 

 

 

About Lily Harlem

 

Lily Harlem lives in the UK and is an award winning, bestselling author of sexy romance. After giving up a busy career in nursing she now spends her time enjoying her army of rescued pets and penning steamy stories. She writes for publishers on both sides of the Atlantic including, HarperCollins, Evernight, and Stormy Night Publications. She also self-publishes novels that range from emotionally charged erotic romance, to steamy ménage a trois.

 

One thing you can be sure of, whatever book you pick up by Ms Harlem, in whichever pairing or genre takes your fancy, is it will be wildly romantic and down-and-dirty sexy so make sure you hang on tight for the ride! Subscribe to her newsletter to get a FREE ebook.

 

Website – http://www.lilyharlem.com

FREE eBook – https://www.instafreebie.com/free/Mms5U

 

THE CHALLENGE on Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/lilyharlem/the-challenge-reverse-harem-series/

THE CHALLENGE on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TheChallengeReverseHaremSeries/

 

Series Lover’s Paradise!

 

 

Happy October, everyone! I’m just back from a lovely, if soggy, walking holiday in Snowdonia. For my lovely readers who are not from the UK and don’t know, Snowdonia is a lovely national park in the mountains of North Wales. During the long rainy nights with no Wifi, Mr. Grace and I both curled up with a good binge read. For us, that means it’s series time.

 

Nobody loves a good series more than I do. In my humble opinion, the only thing better than a good doorstop novel is a series. If an author can engage me in a world, in a series of events, in the trials and tribulations of her characters, I am SO there!

 

And that’s why I’m so excited about this giveaway event. If you like the never-ending story a good series offers, here’s the perfect giveaway for you.  

 

Author Cross Promotion Start-a-Series Giveaway:

This is an awesome way to make sure you’re well-supplied with some serious binge reading material. Here is your opportunity to win up to 45 eBooks and help us celebrate that best ever binge-reads, the series.

 

This giveaway runs until October 9. All you have to do is follow the link for your chance to win. https://AuthorsXP.com/giveaway

 

As a writer of series as well as a fan, I’m especially excited about this giveaway because In The Flesh, the first novel in my Medusa’s Consortium sizzling, chilling urban fantasy series, is included. I’m especially excited because it’s just in time for the release of Blindsided, the second novel in the series, now out for your reading pleasure.

 

 

Book I – In The Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

The Gazillionaire and the Virgin Now Available in Audio

 

Lisabet Sarai’s BDSM novella, The Gazillionaire and the Virgin, which turns the billionaire and virgin story on its ear is now available on audio!

 

Trust can’t be bought—it has to be earned.

 

The Bazillionare and the Virgin Blurb:

 

When Silicon Valley entrepreneur Rachel Zelinsky meets reclusive genius Theo Moore, she finds him strangely compelling. Theo is both arrogant and socially awkward, but he has an aura of power that speaks to Rachel’s carefully-hidden submissive side. Disturbed and aroused, she tries to focus on her original objective—a deal to incorporate his Artificial Intelligence software into her company’s popular virtual world. Rachel’s not a woman who lets pleasure interfere with business, but for some reason, she can’t resist Theo’s geeky appeal.

 

Theo Moore can’t be bought. His past battles with poverty make him deeply suspicious of the billionaire CEO. Still, with her voluptuous curves and brilliant mind, Rachel embodies his ultimate sexual fantasy. Too bad his knowledge about sex derives from extensive research and a stash of kinky porn rather than real-world experience.

 

That doesn’t bother Rachel, however. In his bed—in his arms—in his bonds—she discovers the bliss of total surrender. Rachel may be Theo’s first lover, but Theo is Rachel’s first true Master—and the first man to truly touch her heart. It seems that love may harmonize their differing goals and values, until Rachel’s unwitting violation of Theo’s trust threatens to tear them apart forever.

 

 

The Bazillionaire and the Virgin Excerpt:

 

The firmness molding my back and butt suggests I’m stretched out on the bed. Have I been asleep? I don’t recall lying down, indeed, don’t remember anything for the space of several breaths. Then it all comes crashing back, a tsunami of embarrassment, fear and regret. The fund raiser. Rachel. Oh, my God!

 

“Theo? Are you awake?”

 

She keeps her voice low, as though she understands the pain bouncing around in the hollows of my skull. Memory flutters back in bits and pieces. A dizzy, endless journey. Struggling not to vomit on Rachel’s upholstery. I crack open my eyelids, squinting into the welcome dimness.

 

“Rachel?” I rasp, my mouth dry as the Santa Anas. All I can see is the featureless ceiling. “What happened?”

 

When I raise my head, seeking her, the room spins and my stomach objects strenuously. She’s there, though, leaning toward me, seated on one of my dining room chairs, which she’s dragged to the side of the bed. Her curls have come loose from the glittering clips she used to tame them, and her make-up is smudged. She’s unspeakably gorgeous.

 

Despite my sorry state, the headache and the cotton mouth and the dizziness, my cock stirs inside the monkey suit I’m apparently still wearing. Ah, the tenaciousness of lust!

 

 

Buy Links:

 

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/The-Gazillionaire-and-the-Virgin/dp/B075WZS3TN/

 

Audible:

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Gazillionaire-and-the-Virgin-Audiobook/B075X1XN87/

 

Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36315580-the-gazillionaire-and-the-virgin

 

Also available in ebook and print!

 

 

About Lisabet

 

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

 

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

 

Review Quotes

 

“…sweet and romantic but steamy and sexy at the same time. …. I adored it!”

~ Crazie Bettie, Amazon US

 

“This book is one of the top five hottest books I have read. These were two of my most favorite lovers. I was wrung out when I finished it but what a delight!” ~ Sheila, Amazon US

 

“I was completely drawn into this relationship, and the relationship IS the story. The connection Rachel and Theo build between them is vividly portrayed, beautiful and well-written, poignant in some ways and hot enough to melt the pages in others. Which is exactly what I want in erotic novels.” ~ Lola White, Goodreads

 

“Do I recommend this one? Oh hell yeah. Realistic D/s with hot as hell kinky sex? Yes, please!” ~ Kayla Lords, http://kaylalords.com/2016/02/the-gazillionaire-and-the-virgin-lisabetsarai/

 

 

 

 

Tempting and Teasing You with the Entire First Chapter of In The Flesh

 

 

We’re still in the post-launch after-glow here at Grace Manor with Blindsided, book 2 of the Medusa’s Consortium series, just out the door and me planning and scheming the next novel before empty nest syndrome can set in.

 

As the celebration continues, I just want to remind those of you who haven’t yet started the Medusa Consortium series, but want to, now is the time. In The Flesh, book 1 of the Medusa’s Consortium series, is still only 99 p/c for a couple more days. So go ahead and indulge!

 

To tempt and teas you, I’m including the entire first chapter for your reading pleasure, so pour yourself another cuppa or glassa, settle back and enjoy.

 

In the Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

In the Flesh — Chapter One

“Susan, this is going to sound completely barking, but I think he might be God.”

What the hell do you say to that? ‘My boyfriend might be God’? I mean it’s not exactly common convo for a girls’ night out. Okay, so neither of us was famous for our successful love lives. Mine was basically non-existent, but Annie Rivers was notorious for her bad choices—usually married men or narcissistic twats with a wide range of addictions. But as far as bad choices went, this was a doozy. Aside from the fact that it was totally mad to think Lover Boy was God, even I had to admit it was right up Annie’s alley. Let’s face it, God—any of the gods for that matter—is not known for being faithful or particularly nice.

Annie hadn’t mentioned that she was seeing anyone, but I knew she had a lot on her mind with her heavy load at the estate agency and the renovation of what she was now affectionately calling Chapel House. Under the circumstances, I was surprised when she invited me up to Manchester for a long weekend, but she said she needed some girl-time, and we were long overdue for a good catch-up. Since I had no deadlines pressing and found myself with a bit of free time, I jumped at the chance to escape my claustrophobic flat in Brixton and spend some quality time with my friend. The last time we’d been together, she had just made an offer on the deconsecrated church.

“It happens all the time,” Annie told me when I went with her to view the place. “No one’s religious any more, so small churches are deconsecrated when they’re no longer in use, and they’re sold as boutiques, office buildings, houses and even pubs. But this one is about to become my home.”

She had chatted away enthusiastically about the lounge that would be where the altar was, how the whole nave would be open-plan living at its best, kitchen with an Aga, study in what had been the small choir loft, and the perfect master suite that she’d always dreamed of. What good was money if you couldn’t spend it?

This time, however, when I arrived, she was otherwise occupied.

“You’re early.” Breathing heavily, Annie peeked from behind the door she had opened only a crack.

I wasn’t early, but I wasn’t stupid either. Her hair was mussed, and the flush in her cheeks was a testament to my bad timing.

“Shall I come back in an hour? Two?”

She threw a quick glance over her shoulder, and from inside I caught the strong scent of jasmine, Annie’s favorite flower. “Thanks, Susan. You’re a dear.”

“Okay, you lucky cow, but when I come back, I’ll expect details.” I barely managed a kiss on her cheek before the door slammed in my face.

After what I felt was an appropriate amount of time at a nearby Starbucks, I returned with a nice bottle of chardonnay and my best ‘tell me all about him’ smile. I knocked; then I knocked again.

I was just beginning to think she was having such an orgy that she’d forgotten about me when the door opened and she squinted out into the fading evening light.

“Susan?”

She was wearing her robe, but the glow was gone, and there were dark circles under her eyes. She forced a smile. “I must have fallen asleep.” Her anemic embrace alerted me to sharp angles and jutting bones that had been cushioned by shapely curves when I saw her three months ago.

“Honey, you’re thin. Must be too much shagging and not enough chocolate. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with the—”

She flipped on the switch behind her, and it was evident in the harsh light of a bare bulb that, for all practical purposes, she had done nothing with the place.

She looked around and color rose to her cheeks. “I’ve been busy.”

“Things wild at work?”

“I’ve taken some time off,” came the curt reply.

In spite of all her big plans, Chapel House was still a church, complete with dusty pews and an altar covered in plastic drop cloths.

“I see the previous owner hasn’t moved out yet.”

She ignored my comment. “I’ll show you around.”

“No need. You showed me around last time. Just find some glasses and fill me in on all your news.” I followed her down a narrow hallway into a more recent addition to the building, added on to a small lady chapel no longer in use. It had become a kitchen and a couple of rooms for classes and meetings, now all divided off by hanging drop cloths, just as they had been when she’d shown me the place three months ago.

“You can sleep there.” On the floor behind one partition was a mattress with a duvet thrown over it. There was a dusty wardrobe in one corner and a backless chair for a makeshift night table. “Bathroom’s down the hall.” She gave a listless nod in that direction.

“Annie?” I took her in my arms. “What’s going on? What did you and Shag Boy get up to anyway that left you this exhausted?”

“Don’t call him that.” She pushed me away with an effort that seemed uncharacteristically fragile for the woman who had been her company’s best agent three years running. “I’m just tired, that’s all.”

I took her hand and led her into the kitchen. “A glass of wine and a nice Chinese will set you right. You should have told me he’d be here. I could have come some other time, or he can stay. I mean I have earplugs, you know. And anyway, when do I get to meet him?”

She offered a shrug and shoved limp blond hair behind her ear. “It’s complicated.”

Isn’t it always?

I ended up drinking most of the bottle of chardonnay, and a lovely takeaway was wasted as Annie picked at her Mongolian beef and practically fell asleep at the table.

“Come on.” I took the glass from her hand and pulled her to her feet. “You’re exhausted, and I’m not sympathetic, but you can’t tell me juicy gossip when you’re falling asleep in your rice. Now which of these lovely rooms is the master suite?”

 

 

“I sleep there.” She shot a glance back down the hall toward the nave. “I like the way the moonlight comes through the big windows in the apse above the altar,” she added quickly.

“Are you the sacrifice?” I took her arm, surprised at her strength as she jerked away.

“I told you, I just like the light.” In spite of her protests, I walked her up through the nave, trying to ignore the disquiet clawing at my stomach as she shuffled up the aisle between the pews, past the transept and the chancel, to a pallet of blankets and pillows on the floor at the foot of the altar. The air was redolent with the scent of jasmine, but there were no flowers that I could see. A chill fingered its way up my spine.

“Annie, I’ve always known you were a little weird, but this is just creepy.”

“No really, look.” With a feline stretch, she lay back in a pool of moonlight and I caught my breath at the effect. It was as though she were lying under a luminous waterfall. In the monochrome tones of growing night, she appeared startlingly transparent. As the robe that she wore fell open, her nipples peaked, and the woman who had always been a little bit shy about her body tugged and shoved aside the robe until she lay naked atop the blankets, her pale hair spread across the pillow like a reaching halo. The moonlight exaggerated the arch and curve of rib bones way too visible for the woman I knew.

Goose flesh rippled over her rice paper skin, and for a moment, in her writhing and stretching, in the soft moan that filled her throat, if I hadn’t been standing there watching, I’d have thought her to be making love with someone. In spite of what my eyes told me, I gave a quick glance around the room to be certain we were alone, and even then, I wasn’t sure.

Annie was usually the take-charge chick, but action seemed better than letting myself be freaked out by what was probably, what was hopefully, nothing.

I sat down next to her and pulled the mound of tangled blankets up around her chilled body, tucking her in. Before she could protest, I laid a hand against her forehead. “Annie, tell me what’s wrong. Have you seen a doctor? Are you ill?” My insides knotted at all the horrible things loss of weight and constant tiredness might herald.

“No! No, Susan, nothing like that, I promise you.” She sat up and threw her arms around me in the most enthusiastic show of affection I’d had since my arrival. “Oh, Susan, I want so much to tell you everything. I can hardly contain myself, but I just get so tired. You’d understand better if you knew him.”

“Does he at least have a name?”

She squeezed my hand and lay back on the pile of pillows.

Outside, somewhere close by, someone was burning garden trash. I looked around to close the window, but none of the arched windows in the nave were open. Judging from the way my eyes burned, it must have been quite a bonfire.

Annie coughed and cleared her throat. “Please, Susan, if you’re my best friend, don’t ask any questions. Just let me tell you in my own time, in my own way.”

“All right. I’m listening.” A flutter of a breeze curled around the altar and rustled the plastic ever so slightly.

For a long time she didn’t speak. Her lips were the only things about her that were still full and shapely, but even they seemed pale and colorless in the moonlight. She smoothed the blanket carefully over her thighs. “I knew he was watching me even while Todd and I were still together.”

“Todd? You mean the married bloke?”

She nodded. “So many times I felt like someone was near me, looking out for me. I really didn’t realize who was pursuing me until after I broke up with Todd, about the time I moved in here.”

She lay silently for a few seconds, still smoothing the blanket unnecessarily. “I realized I no longer wanted to live without him. That was the first time our relationship became… physical.”

“Became physical,” I chuckled. “Right.”

She ignored my sarcasm. The bow of her mouth, the way she curled a lock of hair around her finger, made her seem childlike, innocent. “Oh, Susan, you’d understand if you knew him.”

I’d call the police if I knew him, I thought, all the while wishing the neighbors would stop with the damned burning already.

“I know you must be thinking I’m crazy.”

 

 

“Hon.” I squeezed her hand. “I’ve always thought you were crazy, so what else is new?”

She forced a jagged little laugh and continued, “He was so angry when I invited you.”

The disquiet I felt escalated into something a little more tetchy. “Jesus, Annie, he controls who your friends are? That’s really sick.”

“No, it’s not that. He’s been wanting to meet you for ages. He was angry that I waited so long to do it. He finally forced the issue. He felt I didn’t want you to know about us, that I was ashamed of him. I wasn’t,” she added quickly, “I could never be. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. In the end, he convinced me that you were someone who would understand.”

That I had somehow gotten this bloke’s attention made me feel slightly queasy. “What else does he know about me?”

“He knows everything, Susan. He knows what we’re saying now, what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling.”

“What the fuck is he, a mind reader?”

In the growing gloom, she seemed as insubstantial as the plastic on the altar. She pulled the blanket close around her with tightly fisted hands, knuckles chalk pale. “Susan.” Her voice was a thin whisper that I might not have heard in a place less silent. “This is going to sound completely barking, but I think he might be God.”

 

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“No one writes paranormal fiction like KD Grace. In penning her tales of myths and magic, she plumbs psychological and spiritual depths that most authors don’t even realize exist. Ms. Grace ignores tropes and conventions, following the trail of her stories down the rabbit hole of her own fertile imagination. The truths she unearths amaze, arouse, terrify and delight.” Lisabet Sarai

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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