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.”

 

Buy In the Flesh Here for 99c/p:

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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

 

Blindsided Launch Day!

 

It’s launch day for Blindsided! I could have never imagined, six years ago when I wrote the short story, Stones, for the wonderful anthology, Seducing the Myth edited by Lucy Felthouse that I would fall so completely and totally in love with Medusa. Nor could I have known just what an exciting, convoluted epic of a tale she would whisper in my ear. While the Magda Gardener in the Medusa’s Consortium novels and stories is quite different from the original character in that first short story, she and the members of her consortium, as well as the monsters they’re up against are endlessly fascinating.

 

One of the things I discovered about Magda early on is that she prefers I showcase her consortium members in my stories rather that the lady herself. So far, I’ve complied, but as you’ll see when you read Blindsided, it’s getting harder and harder for her to stay out of the limelight. I’m not the only one who wants more of her. Her team needs her, and while she may not be willing to admit it, she need them too. They’re her family. Oh, and the enemy wants her big time!

 

Magda is a female Nick Fury and the Consortium is her deliciously monstrous, paranormal, sexy, scary version of the Avengers. They get the job done in a chilling, thrilling sexy way.

 

And there’s more!

 

With Blindsided launching today, you’ll be happy to know that if you haven’t yet read In The Flesh, book one of Medusa’s Consortium, now is the time. It’s available at all outlets for 99c/p.

 

And to help celebrate, I’m offering the prequel Consortium novella, Landscapes, for FREE. Just follow the link. So you can now officially binge read the first two novels.

 

Blindsided Blurb:

In New York City, away from those she loves, living with the enigmatic vampire, Desiree Fielding, Susan Innes struggles to come to terms with life as a vampire whose body serves as the prison for a deadly demon.

When Reese Chambers arrives unexpectedly from England, desperate for her help, she discovers that Alonso Darlington, his lover and her maker, has been taken captive and Reese has been warned to tell no one but her. Before the two can make a plan, Susan receives her own message from a man calling himself just Cyrus. He not only holds her maker prisoner, but also her lover, the angel Michael. If she wishes to see either of them alive, she’ll come to him and not tell Magda Gardener, the woman they all work for and fear.

With no help coming from Magda or her Consortium, Susan and Reese must turn to the Guardian – the terrifying demon now imprisoned in her body. He alone can help them, but how can she possibly trust him after all he’s done?

 

An Inside Takeover — Blindsided Excerpt:

As Susan remembered the stories from Greek mythology of sirens luring sailors onto the rocks to their deaths, she wondered what else the woman was capable of. She was just about to text Magda Gardener when another presence captured her full attention. This presence she hadn’t heard from since he was first imprisoned inside her and had made it clear that while this demon, the Guardian, as they called him, might be captive inside the body of a fledgling vampire, he would not live in darkness. He was no more subtle now than he had been that morning at High View in the English Lake District. His essence exploded behind her ribcage with such power that she nearly dropped her phone.

“Susan, we need to leave now.

Before the shock of the Guardian’s surprise visit could wear off enough for her to respond, another voice spoke next to her ear, so softly that it disturbed no one but her, and it disturbed her deeply. “A vampire with something extra, if I’m not mistaken.” A cool hand came to rest on her shoulder and gave it a gentle knead.

“Susan, we need to leave now,” the voice inside her repeated, and the pressure in her chest made her feel like she might be about to have an Alien moment.

Ignoring the voice of the demon hammering on the inside of her ribcage, she turned to find herself face to face with a dark-haired man who could have passed for either a hero in a cheap billionaire novel or a prince from a fairytale. While the man might possibly be wealthy, he was no prince. She was certain from the way his touch made her skin crawl, and the way the Guardian inside her felt like he was taking a sledgehammer to her sternum, that he was no man either. “A great deal of something extra it would seem,” he said, a purr of a chuckle raising the hairs on the back of her neck. “A vampire and a scribe. Such an intriguing combination. I had no idea such a thing existed in all the world, but then the world is a very big place, isn’t it, my darling?”

“Susan! Now! I mean it!” The demon’s voice was loud enough to drown out the gorgeous sound of Flame still wafting from the stage, where the siren kept herself well and truly disguised behind the piano.

But even the Guardian’s voice couldn’t drown out the soft whisper of Prince Scary-ass, all but making love to her ear. “Tonight I’m here for the entertainment.” He nodded to the stage. “Sadly business before pleasure, but there’ll be another time.” He folded a card into her hand, his fingers lingering in a near caress.

She wasn’t certain if he meant there would be another time to listen to Flame or another time to talk to her.

Before she could contemplate further, before she could think what to do, she found herself jerked from the chair, stumbling and twitching toward the door like a marionette with a drunken puppeteer.

“What are you doing? What the hell are you doing?” It might have begun as a silent conversation, but it became quite vocal in a wave of panic as she recalled the last time the demon had used her this way. She elicited several glares from the punters closest to her, and the bartender gave her the evil eye. “What the bloody hell are you doing?” She hissed a whisper between gritted teeth. “You told me you couldn’t control me. You told me that you were mine to command. Stop it! You’re drawing attention to us.”

“You are the one drawing attention to us, Susan,” the voice inside her spoke again. “Just do as I tell you and all will be made clear once we’re safe.”

That got her full attention.

“Now then, that’s better. Listen very carefully. Walk to the subway and get on the train. Then get off at the next stop.”

As she calmed enough to relax the tiniest bit, she found herself once again in control of her arms and legs.

“That’s better, isn’t it?” the Guardian said. “That man in there, the one who sat down next to us, Darian Fox, I believe his card says.

“That’s right,” she replied, forgetting that she didn’t need to speak out loud. It didn’t matter, though. This was New York City. No one really paid too much attention when someone talked to themselves. People just assumed they either had a Bluetooth earpiece or were a little loopy. That was all right too, as long as they kept their loopiness to themselves.

“Do you know who he is?” This time she spoke only in her head.

“I know he means us no good, and I fear he would mean our siren even less good, if he knew of her existence. Fortunately his main interest, as with most males of your species, is for the beautiful singer and what she can do for his cock. As long as he looks to serve his libido, and our little siren continues to keep a low profile, she should be all right. You, however, or should I say us—he was more than a little intrigued by us. We don’t need that kind of attention. He could hurt us. He could hurt the people we love.”

 

 

 

Fab Deal! Caris Roane’s September $.99 Flame Series, Plus Giveaway!

 

 

 

BLOOD FLAME and AMETHYST FLAME

The Flame Series, Books #1 and #2

 

Caris is giving away A Red Wire-Wrapped PNR Bracelet (International Winner Receives Gift Card) and A $25 Amazon Gift Card to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 

The “Wow” Prize:

 

 

 

Just leave a comment for a chance to win!

 

Caris Roane here and I’m so glad you’re touring with me. As a bonus, I’m giving away a Reader Care Package to one lucky winner just for leaving a comment on any or all of the blogs on my tour. What’s in the Reader Care Package: Truffles, Ghiradelli Chocolate, print copy of GATES OF RAPTURE, scented lotion and soap, a journal and other goodies! Be sure to visit as many blogs on my tour as you can. The more blogs you comment on, the greater your chances of winning. The Reader Care Package is US only, but an international winner will receive a gift card. How I choose the winner: I will choose the winning blog then choose the winning comment sometime after midnight, October 5th, Arizona time. I will use Random dot org to make the selection. Good luck!

 

 

About the Books:

 

 

 

BLOOD FLAME, Book #1 of the Flame Series:

 

Vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for the powerful witch, Iris Meldeere.
Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her? When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions. But as they battle together to stay alive, and love begins to consume them both, will the witch be able to forgive the dark secrets of his past …

Amazon US / iBooks //B&N / Kobo/ Google Play / Amazon CA / Amazon UK / Amazon AU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMETHYST FLAME, Book #2 of the Flame Series

 

Hunky Nathan Vaughn, six-six, and one muscled vampire warrior, has had a lot of trouble in his life and needs a good woman to help even things out. Vaughn and Emma met once in the past, the night they rescued three teenage girls from a kidnapping ring. But a vampire and a witch can’t have a relationship in Five Bridges. So, they parted, determined never to see each other again. Emma was desolate, then the phone rang. Vaughn called and kept calling and she kept answering. But the rescue they shared turned out to piss off one very bad wizard who decided they both needed to die. Now they’re in it, fighting to stay alive and working oh-so-hard NOT to fall in love. Will they survive when so much is against them?

Amazon US / iBooks / B&N / Google Play / Kobo / Amazon CA / Amazon UK / Amazon AU

 

 

Books in the Flame Series:

 

Book 1: Blood Flame

Book 2: Amethyst Flame

Book 3: Dark Flame

Book 4: Amber Flame

Book 5: A Touch of Flame

Holiday Novella: Christmas Flame

 

Excerpt from AMETHYST FLAME:

From Chapter One ~ Vaughn and Emma have found three dead teenage girls in the dangerous ‘Graveyard’ of Five Bridges. Emma is helping them to make the transition into the afterlife, but she and Vaughn are caught in a dangerous situation.

From the rim of the ditch above, one of the officers made a crack about ‘bloodsuckers’, the slur aimed at Vaughn.

She glanced up, surprised to see seven officers now, standing side-by-side and watching them. “Bastards. All those men are on the take.”

“Just ignore them.” He sounded angry.

She met his gaze once more. “I’m going to fight Loghry on his own terms. There’s no other way to do this. So, please don’t interfere.”

“And there’s nothing I can say?”

“I’m afraid not.”

For a moment, though, time slowed as she looked at Vaughn. She’d wanted to see him again so badly after she’d been with him the night of the rescue.

He was an incredibly handsome man, rugged looking with his thick black hair cropped close on the sides and tattoos showing through on his skin. He had straight black brows, drawn tight together in concern and gray eyes that melted her into a puddle. His cheeks were strong and angled to a firm jaw. His lips were full and sensual and had stolen her last reservation when he’d kissed her outside the bar.

Having sex with him had been an incredible, healing experience.

Yet now she was here.

She gave herself a mental shake and turned back to the girls. She didn’t wait for Vaughn to say anything else. Instead, she extended her arms slightly and held her hands palms up.

As she’d never done before, she opened herself up to her spellcaster power. She focused her energy and thoughts on the core of her being, on all that she was as an alter witch.

A sensation like electricity whipped through her, awakening her latent abilities. To her surprise, she found the seat of her power with no trouble at all. And contrary to all expectation, everything about the moment felt sacred and good, not corrupt like she’d feared.

After that, two things happened simultaneously. Odd snapshots started floating though her mind, images of the Graveyard, the ditch, the dead girls and Vaughn. She knew she was looking at pieces of the immediate future. Because the pictures held a serious warning, they were an equal pull on her attention. But the girls needed her help desperately. If they were unable to leave their bodies, they could get stuck forever right here in the Graveyard.

She turned her attention to them and directed her whirling witch energy toward the triplets. Power flowed and swirled above the girls until she could feel each one, their fears and sadness, even their confusion. Mentally, she began to coax them to let go of their time on earth and to leave their bodies. It wasn’t long before the air in the ditch began to shimmer and shortly afterward the ghosts rose into the air.

They appeared dazed at first. They looked at one another then Emma and finally at Vaughn. Each tried to talk, but couldn’t.

Emma stood amazed by how they appeared. She’d seen ghosts before, but only as fleeting wisps of smoky air.

Not this time. Each was fully formed as though possessing a body, yet not quite a body. It almost seemed as though the girls were working on taking shape. She wondered if Vaughn could see them, but one glance told her he didn’t.

They seemed to be communicating with each other and a moment later bits of clothing appeared, though more like smoke than real fabric. Colors as well. The center girl, who had the strongest personality, now wore a red tank top, blue jeans and running shoes. The one to the right donned red shorts, a dark blue crop top and navy sandals with flowers at the top of the t-strap. While the third wore a red plaid short dress, dark stockings and black Mary-Jane shoes. The girls seemed to like red.

They were lovely, each with long, curly, light brown hair and large, blue eyes…

I hope you found yourself caught up in this excerpt from Chapter One of AMETHYST FLAME. To Read More and For Buy Links…

 

 

About Caris:

 

Caris Roane is the NY Times Bestselling author of Paranormal Romance. She began her career with Kensington Publishing and for eighteen years wrote Regency Romance as Valerie King. In 2005, Romantic Times Magazine honored her with a career achievement award for her Regency Romance work. To-date, she has published eighty-nine books. Thirty-nine of those are paranormal romances. Most of her paranormal stories are self-published while several in the early days were penned for St. Martin’s Press.

Though her stories conjure up hunky PNR warriors, like vampires and wolf-shifters, the romance is everything, including a satisfying Happily Ever After. Her hope is that the reader will come away engrossed in the lives of her tortured heroes and her worthy women as they wage war, as they make love, and as they face the tough issues of life and relationships!

Caris lives in the Phoenix area, in a growing town called Buckeye. When not writing, she’s a real homebody. She loves gardening, sewing, and cooking. She also enjoys creating jewelry and offers her handcrafted, PNR bracelet giveaways to her newsletter and blog subscribers. Her motto? Live the fang!

If you want to know more about Caris, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

 

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST

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Diantha Jones, Writing as A. Star, Reveals Cover for Alphas And Aggression

 

Alphas And Aggression

Wesley Werewolves Series Book #1

By A. Star

 

BLURB:

A millennium ago, an Igbo god fathered three sons–a jackal, a coyote…and a wolf.

 

 

As the new alpha of his wolf pack, Xavier Wesley wants nothing more than to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and make his elders, and the great guardian, proud. But his family and a rival alpha seem to have other plans for him, as does the werewolf king who informs Xavier that their kingdom is under attack by the Lion Head–a sinister, ethereal creature controlled by the one who summoned it. And he has put Xavier in charge of saving their kind.

 

But the Lion Head is just the agent of a darker evil, one that will do anything to escape the Lightless Realm and reclaim the lycan throne. Knowing he stands no chance of defeating them alone, Xavier seeks help from the wolves he trusts the most and Karis Mickelson, a beautiful human who has no business existing in his world. After a visit with the pack dibia points them toward the only Igbo treasure that can bind the sinister entity to Earth, they set out to claim it before it is discovered by the dangerous ancestor who desires to claim it first. But Xavier’s growing connection to Karis not only threatens to derail their mission, but upend his entire life. If he can’t manage to take control of his feelings and honor his true purpose, then the darkness just might win.

 

And everyone will die.

 

 

Cover Models: Zusi AirhiavbereSesoo, IgbazuaKofi, HandonMarcus Johns

Photographer:Doug Bolst of Libertine

Photography: http://www.libertinephotography.com/

 

 

About Diantha:

Diantha Jones loves writing fantasy books filled with adventure, romance, and magic. She’s the author of the Oracle of Delphi series, the Mythos series, and the Djinn Order series (as A. Star). When she isn’t writing or working, she is reading or being hypnotized by Netflix. She is a serious night-owl and while everyone else is grinning in the warmth and sunlight, she’s hoping for gloominess and rain. Yeah, she’s weird like that.

 

 

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Goodreads (A. Star) | Amazon | Pinterest | DJ’s Book Corner

 

Flesh & Bone & Dreams of Sex

I’m on my way home from Snowdonia while you lovely lot are reading this blog. My first foray into paranormal and urban fantasy was my four booked Lakeland Witches Series. I’ve chosen to share a little excerpt with you today, since at  the moment with the launch of Blindsided only five days away, I really am thinking thoughts of ghosts, demons, succubae and all sorts of things that go bump in the night.

 

Perhaps one of the most powerful questions that paranormal and urban fantasy allows both reader and writer to explore is a very big one — just who are the real monsters? Though that question is asked over and over again in literature of all kinds, it is never more evident than in urban fantasy and paranormal, a perfect place to explore the making of a monster and the making of a hero. That being the case, I think it’s no wonder I’ve enjoyed writing both the Witches series and now the Medusa’s Consortium series.

 

The excerpt below has always been one of my favourite passages from the second Lakeland novel, Riding the Ether. Anderson is a favourite of the characters I’ve created, and for him to finally have met his match was a delight for me to write. If the lines between relationships were skewed in the Elemental Coven of the Lakeland witches, they are even more so in Medusa’s Consortium, but not quite as congenially. The battle to live and work and love with the monsters is never an easy one, but oh what a delight it is for both writer and reader.

 

Enjoy this excerpt of Anderson and Cassandra’s first meeting in the flesh. And remember, book one of Medusa’s Consortium, In the Flesh is now on sale at 99 c/p, and you can now pre-order Blindsided, book two of Medusa’s Consortium.

 

 

Blurb for Riding the Ether:

Cassandra Larkin keeps her ravenous and dangerous sexual appetite secret until she seduces Anderson in the mysterious void of the Ether.  Anderson is the sexy, insatiable ghost who can give her exactly what she needs.

 

But sex is dangerous in a place like the Ether…

 

When the treacherous demon, Deacon, discovers the truth about the origin of Cassandra’s powerful lust, he plots to use her sex magic for revenge on Tara Stone and the Elemental Coven, who practice their own brand of sex magic.

 

Cassandra must embrace the lust and sexuality she fears and learn to use its power. Will she stand with Anderson, Tara, and the Elemental Coven against Deacon’s wrath or suffer the loss of friendship, magic and love?

 

 

 

Excerpt for Riding the Ether:

Marie Warren felt a chill crawl up her spine from where she stood over the sink doing the washing up, and she knew she wasn’t alone. But the ghost was upon her before she could fully register her presence. Thinking that it was Lisette, she was about to chide her for sneaking up on her when she turned to find Serina Ravenmoor standing almost on top of her.

 

Marie jumped back hitting her hip against the edge of the counter. ‘What the hell are you doing here?’

 

‘I’m sorry,’ the ghost stepped back. ‘I’m not a very good judge of distances anymore, but I need you to come with me. Where’s Mr Anderson? He has to come too.’

 

‘Now why would I want to go with you? And who do you think you are waltzing right into my kitchen like you own the place and –’

 

‘I know where Cassandra Larkin is, and if you don’t come quickly she’ll die.’

 

The ghost barley got the words out before Anderson materialized out of nowhere. He ignored Marie and focused on Serina. ‘I felt her leave the Ether just as we were preparing to enter. Do you know where she is?’

 

She nodded. Please hurry,’ Serina’s eyes welled. ‘I don’t know what happened, but I’m afraid she’ll die.’

 

‘Then take me to her at once.’

 

He turned his attention to Marie. ‘I shall send Miss Ravenmoor back with instructions to where we are as soon as I am with Cassandra.’ He didn’t wait for a reply, but vanished and rematerialized next to Serina Ravenmoor in a small dark space, curtained off, barely big enough for the mattress on the floor. Books stacked in avalanches against the wall overflowed into what little space remained. And there beneath a tangled duvet, looking so much like the dead that it twisted his heart, was Cassandra Larkin.

 

‘This is not how I would have wished our first meeting in the flesh, my darling.’ He spoke softly, sinking onto the mattress next to her. Serina watched him as he took her pulse, which was barely there. ‘Has she spoken at all since her return?’

 

‘Only that she lost Deacon in her nightmare.’

 

‘My clever darling,’ he brushed the hair away from her pale cheek. ‘Clever and ever so reckless.’

 

Even without flesh, Serina Ravenmoor trembled with impatience. ‘She’s dying, and you’re the only one who can save her now.’

 

He would have offered a sharp retort, but the look in the woman’s eyes stopped him.

 

‘You still don’t know what she is, do you, Mr Anderson, or what she needs.’

 

Irritation at Serina Ravenmoor rose like fire in his chest. ‘Tell me if you know what she needs, Madame, and do not waste precious time.’

She took a step closer, still holding his gaze. ‘She’s been kind to me. She doesn’t deserve this.’

 

‘I can tolerate little more, Miss Ravenmoor. I beg of you, speak plainly!’

 

‘She’s a succubus. And if you want to save her then she’ll need your energy.’ She nodded to the front of his trousers and the seat of his manhood.

 

‘A succubus?’ He would have laughed at the utter absurdity of such an idea had the circumstances been different, had Miss Ravenmoor’s countenance not been deadly serious. He felt as though the woman had kicked him in the vitals, had ridiculed him in some cruel way by so slandering his beautiful Cassandra. ‘Surely I have not understood your meaning, Madame.’

 

‘You understand me. Perfectly.’ The little ghost reassured him. ‘And if I weren’t dead, she’d kill me for telling you.’

 

‘But I had not thought such beings to be more than legend,’ he whispered, feeling his heart race at the thought of the magnificent woman who had bedded him, a creature whose power was even more sexual than his own and far more dangerous. She was a being completely unlike that which the legends and myths had spawned in his imagination.

 

‘She doesn’t exactly advertise,’ Serina said. ‘I’ve never seen anyone so full of self-loathing.’

 

Anderson’s heart twisted still further at the very thought that one so exquisite should loath herself. ‘Now that you have said it, I certainly do see how she could be such. When we were together, I would have happily stayed with her, derelict in all other pressing duties, stayed with her and let her take me until I was completely empty of myself.’

 

‘She would never have let you do that.’ Serina Ravenmoor seemed horrified at the very thought.

 

Anderson shook his head. ‘No. She would not.’ He laid a hand on the clammy cool of her forehead. ‘Then it is my … It is my seed that she needs to be healed.’ He spoke softly to the Ravenmoor woman.

 

The ghost shook her head. ‘It’s more than that. Much more. It’s your lust she needs. Your essence. She won’t take from anyone but you, and she may not even take from you now that you’re not in the Ether. It was only there that she felt she could safely control her lust and not do you harm.’

 

‘She told you this?’

 

She looked into his eyes, and shook her head. ‘She doesn’t know how much I know, but I often stayed with her when she didn’t realize I was here, watched what she studied, read over her shoulder.’ She shivered and chafed her arms. ‘You know, to pass the time. I doubt you can persuade her to take from you all she’ll need.’

 

‘Do not you worry, Miss Ravenmoor. I shall persuade her.’ He turned his attention back to the woman lying helplessly on the mattress, and the pull in his heart was nearly unbearable.

‘Go and tell the others where I am. It may be that I have need of them, for I have every intention of giving Cassandra Larkin all that she needs to heal.’

 

Serina did as he asked, and he was alone with the exquisite woman that, in spite of their intimacy, had hid far more from him that he would have imagined possible. He removed his clothing and slid under the duvet next to her cool flesh, pulling her to him gently, offering her his warmth. And even in her weakened state, the touch of her flesh vibrated over his body so deliciously that the power of his own lust surprised him under the circumstances.

 

As he gathered her to him, in spite of being reassured by Miss Ravenmoor of what she needed, he feared that even the first brush of a kiss against her lips would be more than she could bear. And yet even in that briefest of contact, the cool of her lips warmed to his touch, and her chest rose with a shudder. For the tiniest of seconds he feared that he had injured her still further, and it was he who could not breathe for the weight of such fear. And then she spoke, and he thought his heart would burst with the relief of it.

 

‘I’m not dead?’ There was surprise in her voice. And pain.

 

‘You are most definitely not dead, my darling, nor shall I allow you to pass when I have not yet known the pleasure of your exquisite flesh.’

 

Her lids fluttered and with what seemed a tremendous effort, her dark eyes opened to gaze upon him, and she forced the slightest of smiles onto parched lips. ‘Anderson, if I’m dreaming, don’t wake me.’

 

‘It is no dream, my darling. I promise you it is not.’

 

‘I’m home?’ she forced the words up through the tight muscles of her throat, words that sounded abraded and raw.

 

He nodded. ‘In the flesh.’

 

‘And you’re here.’

 

‘Also in the flesh.’

 

Her eyes widened and her pulse raced, and in spite of her weakened condition, she tried to rise from the bed. ‘Deacon, is –’

 

Anderson covered her mouth with his stopping her words, and settled her back on the bed, then he spoke. ‘Deacon is not here in the flesh, thanks to you, my darling.’

 

She could not hold back the tears of relief, but there was no strength to wipe them away. Anderson did that for her. ‘Sh! my darling, Shshsh. He is not here, and you are safe with me now.’ Perhaps it was the press of his ill-mannered member against her thigh that suddenly brought to her attention the fact that he lay next to her naked and fully aroused. As he feared, it was not a thing that pleased her.

 

She thrashed weakly. ‘Anderson, you have to go. You can’t be with me here like this. You have to go. Please! You can’t stay. You mustn’t.’

 

‘Sh!, my darling, shshsh. I will not allow you to send me away.’ He held her until she stopped struggling, then he kissed her again, more insistently. ‘I know who you are, Cassandra,’ he whispered when he pulled away. ‘Why did you not tell me? You insult me to believe I would have thought less of you because of your gift.’ Fearing that her struggles would weaken her further, he wasted no time, but slid his hand down over her mound to ease open her womanhood, sliding a finger carefully down between the folds of her, and she gasped, pulling oxygen into her lungs as though she had only just remembered how to draw breathe. She was surprisingly warm and wet to his touch, and she responded by shifting her hips upward to his probing, only a little, only just, weakened as she was, but the response was there, and it was the response of arousal.

 

Ever so gently, he pushed back the duvet until her lovely breasts, nearly translucent in the pale light, were exposed, then he nursed at each of her bosoms until her nipples rose to greet his tongue and lips in a delicious caress of their own. With each press of his mouth on her flesh, with each probing of his finger into her wetness, she strengthened, and the feel of her against his body became more and more exquisite, kindling his arousal to a heightening flame, filling him with a sense of well-being and ecstasy that he had only ever felt in high magic. And yet even that paled in comparison to the feel of Cassandra Larkin, naked and needy in his arms.

 

It was only when he carefully pushed her legs apart and eased himself on top of her that she panicked. ‘You know what I am! Dear Goddess, Anderson,’ she croaked, shoving at him with all the strength she could muster in her still weakened state. ‘If you know what I am, then you know why we can’t do this here. We’re not in the Ether. It’s the only place you’re safe from me. Please.’ Her words became nearly incoherent in her tears, in her weakness. ‘Please don’t do this. I can’t live with the thought of hurting you. You don’t know what I’m capable of. You don’t know what a monster I am.’ She struggled beneath him, but she was too weak, and he held her, cradled her, careful that his weight was not on her

 

‘I will hear no more such talk, my darling. You are by no means a monster, and you can take nothing from me that I do not freely give.’ This time he kissed her hard and spoke between the thrustings of his tongue and the suckling of her lips. ‘I have already told you, Cassandra, you cannot harm me, and we will hear no more of this. I will not be denied. You will take what you need from me, all that you need from me until you are sated, until you are healed. I shall hear no argument.’

 

‘You’re not my boss.’ She tried to shove him with the flat of her hand against his chest. ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’

 

He held her hand to his chest and gripped it tightly. ‘Then when you are healed and once more yourself, you may punish me as you see fit for my transgressions, a thought which I relish.’

 

She wept against his neck, and though she yielded willing to him, she was still weeping when he entered her with the slightest shifting of his hips. It disturbed him deeply that his arousal was such when she was in anguish, but he knew how close she walked to the gateway of death, as only one who has already passed through it could know. And he would not allow her to make that journey no matter how she protested. And she was, indeed, ready for his penetration, slick and dilated with need, need that he understood was now far beyond the simple drive for sexual satisfaction. The satisfaction of such need would make the difference as to whether Cassandra Larkin crossed through that dreaded gateway or woke healthy and strong to breathe the blessed air of the living.’

 

With the first thrust, her back arched, she gasped for air and her whole body stiffened. For a terrifying second he feared he had hastened the very thing he sought to prevent. By the second thrust, however, Cassandra had the strength to wrap her legs around him. He pulled her to him with a sigh that was almost a sob. ‘Dear woman, do not ever, ever do such a thing to me again. I was desolate without you,’ he whispered against her throat. ‘It cannot be thus again. I could not bear it. Take from me what you need, my love, all that you need. It is the desire of my heart that you do so.’

 

‘I don’t want to hurt you.’ But even as she spoke she curled her fingers in his hair and pulled him to her. ‘You don’t know me. You don’t know what it’s like when I need. When I’m empty, my emptiness is bigger than the void. Oh goddess, Anderson, please don’t let me hurt you.’

 

‘You shall not harm me, my darling.’ He spoke around the rise of euphoria in his head and the feel that his manhood could never get enough, but this was only his desire for her, he told himself, and even if it were otherwise, even if all that he was she took from him, then it was an exquisite ending to a very long existence. But he would not let it be so for he could not bear the thought of her anguish at such an ending for himself.

 

It was desperate and deep, her need, like oxygen when it is most needed, like food when meals have been missed, like the filling up of an empty ocean. And she wept even in her passion, wept that she was reduced to such raw need, wept that it was offered to her so freely, wept that if felt so good.

 

For his part, he was surprised by it all when he had the wit to consider beyond the pleasure of her powerful lust. All the while she took from him, he held his seed, feeling the intense pleasure that one does when the weight of lust rests heavy and tight in ones loins, when every second longer that one may hold off one’s release, the pleasure becomes more exquisite. And it was long in the process of their pleasuring before he became aware that his strength was indeed waning.

 

She sat atop him head thrown back, pale hair falling wild and tangled around her face. Her lovely bosoms danced with her thrustings. Her dark eyes had grown pale in the rise of her magic, the colour of the sky over Blencathera when it thins to the palest blue before it darkens. The room was awash in the sound of racing water and wind in summer trees, and he could feel himself being pulled into the emptiness of her need, filling it with his very essence, with something far beyond the life force which he had given up long ago.

 

Her orgasms began as tiny ripples from a place of weakness and grew to ocean waves washing over both of them, cleansing away Deacon’s touch, imprinting upon her flesh Anderson’s lust, and it was at that moment Anderson feared that Cassandra could no longer release him no matter how badly she desired it, that she was beyond herself, and with each thrust that weakened him, she grew stronger. With a shudder of fear that he barely felt in the ecstasy of their sex, he knew that if he could not of his own accord pull back from her at the right moment, then he would, indeed be lost.

 

But the thought had barely entered the bleariness of his mind before his manhood convulsed mightily and he emptied himself into her, then she fell forward against him gasping for breath, and pressing her lips to his.

 

‘There now, you see, my darling. All is well,’ he whispered, easing her off of him and once again down into the white fluff of bedding, when to his great relief, he realized he still had consciousness and essence and being, and though he was barely able to hold it together, he still had flesh. ‘You have pleasured me deeply and healed from my pleasuring. Am I not twice blessed? ’ The words came from his throat feeling raw and tight with emotions he could not, in his present condition, contemplate as he desired, not the least of which was relief. ‘Rest now my love. Rest and heal, and when you are able, we shall take you back to Elemental Cottage where you shall be safe.’ She was already asleep before he had finished his sentence. And it was just as well. He did not want her to see him in his weakened condition. It would only distress her, and for no good reason.

 

He slipped from the bed and pulled the duvet snugly around Cassandra’s shoulders. Then with trembling hands, he wrapped himself in an afghan and stumbled from behind the heavy curtain that separated the sleeping area from the rest of the bothy to where he was surprised to find the entire coven and Serina Ravenmoor squeezed into the tiny space amid the avalanches of books and notebooks. Everyone was present except Tara. Sky caught him before he fell to his knees and settled him onto the make-shift bench next to the small table.

 

He forced a smile and with an effort cleared the growing fog from his head. ‘I am indebted to all of you for your help, indeed do not look so concerned. All is well.’

 

Sky laid an unnecessary hand on his forehead, as though he were still numbered among the living, and though superfluous, it felt soothing, indeed. ‘We didn’t do anything, Anderson. She released you of her own volition.’ She shook his head. ‘I wouldn’t have thought it possible in her condition, knowing what she is. But then until today, who knew that her kind even existed.’

 

Anderson looked around the room again, and it was Marie who spoke, as though she had read his thoughts. ‘Tara was here. She left when she knew you were alright. She’s pretty upset still, about what you did. About what we did.’ She squeezed Tim’s hand.

 

‘Don’t worry, she’ll get over it,’ Fiori said. Then she nodded to the make-shift bed chamber. ‘Is Cassandra alright?’

 

He forced a smile past the pain in his heart that he had so wounded Tara, but it was more than he was capable of considering at the moment. ‘My dear Fiori,’ he said. ‘I believe Cassandra Larkin, will not be journeying through the gates of death today. She is now resting peacefully. However,’ he breathed. ‘I am undone. Please do not make my condition known to her, as it will only trouble her unnecessarily, and I shall be well, only I shall be unable to manifest flesh for a brief time. But I am, indeed very well. Very well indeed.’ It was only as the last words passed from his throat that Anderson realized he was no longer in the flesh and that Sky sat on the bench holding only the afghan he had been wearing.

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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