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The Lady with the Hair & the Sunglasses. What the Hell does She Want from Me?

As you know by now, encounters with Magda Gardener, though never invited and quite often disturbing, have been a part of my life for the past five years now. I work for her. Whether I like to admit it or not, I’m as much a part of her collection as Alonso Darlington and Jack Graves. The role I play, however, is not nearly so dangerous, but it’s every bit as demanding. The thing is with Magda Gardener, I never know when she’s going to show up and check in on me. But whenever she does, she always leaves me a little wrong-footed and with a story to tell.

 

With the release of Buried Pleasures, the third Medusa’s Consortium novel, and the first set in Vegas, I’m reminded again of an encounter I had with her awhile ago while on holiday in the Lake District with my husband.

 

 

Somehow I suspect that the situation isn’t normal. I suspect that I’m either dreaming or having some sort of weird out of body experience, but for the life of me, I don’t know how, or when I decided to take this brief holiday from the flesh, or even if that’s what it really is.

 

But I go on about my business like everything is normal, nothing out of the ordinary. And in truth, I’ve often gone to the Twa Dogs Pub in Keswick and ordered a pint. But this time I’ve come alone, which is something I’ve never done before, and I know when I see her sitting at a table in the back of the snooker room that she’s waiting for me. It’s late afternoon, an overcast day, typical Lakeland weather, and yet she’s still wearing sunglasses. But then she was wearing sunglasses that night in Vegas, even in the tunnels.

 

I sit down across from her and she looks me up and down. Though I can’t see her eyes, I can certainly feel her gaze, like she’s looking right through me, like I’m sitting there naked. I resist the urge to fold my arms across my chest, and she gives a little smirk as though she knows exactly what’s going on in my mind.

 

My throat’s desert-dry, and I take a good solid sip of my Sneck Lifter and wonder at the wisdom of alcohol on an empty stomach. ‘What do you want from me?’ I ask.

 

I can see a golden eyebrow raise above the edge of the glasses. ‘I should have thought that would be obvious. You’re a writer, aren’t you?’

 

‘So? I reply.

 

 

But before I can say anything else, I catch a flash of bright eyes over the edge of the glasses and feel as though I’m suddenly glued to the chair unable to move. ‘You’re a storyteller, that’s what you do. You get into peoples’ heads and tell their secrets.’

 

‘It’s fiction. I make it up,’ I manage. My throat is no longer just dry, but it feels as though it’s constricting, closing, strangling me as I speak.

 

‘I’m sure that’s what you tell yourself,’ she says. My pulse ratchets up in panic, and I feel like my body is closing in on me, turning into a solid prison from which there is no escape. And just when I think I’ll hyperventilate, she offers me a quirk of a smile, and lowers her eyes to her own drink – whiskey, I observe. ‘Where do you think those stories come from?’ she asks.

 

‘I make them up, they come from my imagination, like they do with all writers.’

 

This time she throws back her head and laughs out loud, and I’m stunned by the bell-like sound of it. I’m even more stunned that no one notices. The pub’s not crowded, but it’s not empty either. How could anyone not notice her sitting there. She’s exquisite in a scary sort of way, and yet no one seems to be aware that we’re even there. I remind myself that it’s still quite likely I’m only dreaming.

 

Then she leans across the table and takes my hand in hers, and as frightened as I was only a moment ago, I suddenly find myself wanting to kiss her. Another indication that none of this is real, I tell myself.

 

‘Who do you think gives you those stories, Ms. Grace?’ Her breath is sweet against my face, like an open field with just a hint of the single malt whiskey she’s been sipping. ‘Oh, I have so many stories I want you to tell, and you’re perfect for the job, darling, because you are so open to going where I want you to go.’ And then she stands, leans over the table and kisses me.

 

For a split second I have sense enough to worry about what the rest of the people in the pub will think of the girl-girl lip-lock in which I find myself. A split second more and I realize no one even notices. ‘You,’ she whispers against my mouth, ‘have been writing stories for me for a long time.’ She pulls away just enough to look at me over the top of her glasses, and I suddenly feel as though my very heart is freezing solid in my chest. ‘‘I figure it’s time you know what I expect of you. Things are about to get complicated Ms. Grace, and you are about to become a very, very busy woman.’

 

 

 

 

She kisses me again, and I feel like the floor to the pub has just caved in beneath me. Behind my closed eyes, I see familiar flashes of a ritual in a mirrored room, couples having sex all around me, candles on an altar, a mirror that contains a monster, a ghost who has been hung for a murder she didn’t commit, a succubus devouring thought and ego and giving it back in exchange for the blood of a vampire. Death walking in Vegas, enthralled by a siren, whose voice can calm or kill. I see, in strobe-like flashes of light, an exquisite woman in a ruined garden walking among statues, statues that look so lifelike and so disturbing in their poses that I feel goose flesh climb my spine. That same woman walking the endless halls of a library filled from ceiling to floor with books bound in the flesh of the stories they contain, shelf after shelf of books, stories I’ve written, written at this woman’s command. And as she touches each of those books in turn, I realize the stories I’ve written give her power over the people in those pages, and she, in turn, gives me power to write the next story, and the next and the next.

 

Then suddenly I’m back in the Twa Dogs with her voice a soft vibration low in my chest. ‘You work for me, K D. You always have. You just didn’t know it,’ she whispers against my ear. Then she inspects me with another brief glance over the top of her dark glasses and brushes my icy cheek with her warm palm. ‘I thought it was time you knew the truth. That knowledge could serve you well in the near future.’

 

And when she removes her hand, when I can no longer glimpse the bright glint of her eyes behind her glasses, I fall with a jerk back into my chair, like I’ve had one of those falling dreams. I open my eyes to find my husband staring at me across the table. ‘You alright?’ He asks.

 

I nod, for a moment unable to place where I am.

 

‘You want another pint of Sneck Lifter?’ He nods at my empty glass. ‘You sucked that one back in nothing flat.’

 

A crack of a cue against a ball on the snooker table and a half-laughed curse in a soft Cumbrian lilt and the world comes back into focus. I am indeed in the Twa Dogs, and my husband and I have come to the Lake District on a holiday. As he heads to the bar for another pint, I rub my eyes and breathe deeply while the world around me comes back into focus.

 

‘I think you dozed off there for a minute, Sweetie,’ he says when he settles back across from me, raising his pint in salute. ‘Were you dreaming?’

 

I nod and gulp back a hefty drink from my pint. ‘Must have been.’

 

‘You look a little pale. Her again?’ he asks.

 

I only nod my response, my eyes locked on the half empty shot glass sitting on the table next to ours, rimmed in icy pink lipstick. ‘She says I work for her.’

 

‘Yeah? Did she give her name,’ he asks.

 

‘No.’ It surprises me to find how relieved I am that she didn’t, and yet, as I sip my beer and stare over at the whiskey glass, I’m sure I already know her name. I’ve known it for a long time. I just never expected to meet her in person. And I certainly never expected to work for her.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget In The Flesh, book 1 of Medusa’s Consortium

is on sale through January for 99c/p

 

January Sales and Kindle Unlimited

January is such a dreary month here in the UK, but one good thing about it is the January sales. Are you surprised? You know me well enough by now to know what a hermit and a curmudgeon I am. I’d rather have my eyebrows shaved and my kneecaps sanded rather than go shopping in a crowd. It’s all wasted on me. Well … almost all of it. I am in absolute heaven when January sales come around and those sales happen to involve books. Oh the ecstasy! And what better to spend a dreary January day than curled up with a hot cup of your fave and a good book.

 

Yup, January sales can result in escapism at its finest. If I can’t be in the warm sunshine somewhere, at least I can read about someone else who is. And even if the characters in my book of choice are not in the warm sunshine, I can still partake of their adventures vicariously from the safety of a comfy recliner. I’m convinced books are the last truly great escape. Whether I’m writing one or reading one, what happens between me and a book is an intimate thing, and it’s different for every person who reads that book. Books are the original interactive experience, just the book, the reader and her imagination. Absolute heaven. So here’s some news to brighten your January.

 

In The Flesh is only 99 p/c through the end of January

 

 

 

 

Of course I have ulterior motives. I want to seduce all of you Medusa’s Consortium virgins and get you hooked on the series. Book three, Buried Pleasures, is just now out and takes the tale of Magda Gardener and her Consortium on to Vegas. So of course I want to get you there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Flesh is now available on Kindle Unlimited

 

 

 

What’s that I hear? You don’t want to pay 99 p/c when you can get books from the Kindle Unlimited library to read for FREE? Well you’re in luck then, because In The Flesh is now available on Kindle Unlimited for your reading pleasure.

 

 

 

 

In The Flesh: Book one in the Medusa’s Consortium series 

 

(Click Here for Book Two | Book Three)

 

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.

 

 

 

 

So cheer up this January! Read and be happy. And to tease and titillate you just a little bit, here is an all-new excerpt from In The Flesh. Enjoy.

 

 

In The Flesh Excerpt – Orgy of Death & the Capture of a Demon:

 

And we did. We slept, or at least I thought I slept. I thought I dreamed. I thought surely it must be Talia’s doing. I drifted for a long time, aware of the foreign presence inside me, aware that it was only Magda’s talisman that kept just enough of me safe and focused. Without it I would be easily taken over by that presence.

 

It was the champagne bubble effervescence coursing over my entire body that roused me from deep sleep to the place almost of waking, but not quite. The feel of a feather touch raised the fine hairs on my forearms, up my spine, on the back of my neck, goose fleshing the tops of my breasts and tightening my nipples to points.

 

“I’m here now, my darling girl. Don’t be afraid. It will hurt but a little, and then you will feel nothing but pleasure.”

 

I felt myself being lifted, cradled like a child in strong, hard arms. Then I inhaled the cold wild scent of the high fells and below it earth, solid and warmed by moss and fallen leaves, and I could have wept with relief, even as fear shot along all my nerve endings.

 

“Scribe, why is the vampire here with us?” The Guardian’s voice was more curious than upset.

 

“We’re dreaming,” I mumbled. “A dream brought on by our self-pleasure, no doubt.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Perhaps you don’t crave the flesh of a vampire, but I assure you, we mortals do.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because vampires have what we don’t—eternal life.”

 

“But they are dead,” He said.

 

“We mortals don’t see them that way. To us they’re powerful, beautiful, because they symbolize lust and virility, and we fantasize about being taken by them.”

 

There was a soft chuckle next to my ear and cool fingers against my bare nape, pushing my hair aside. “I did not know,” the Guardian said. “It seems very real.”

 

“Powerful dreams always do. Sometimes when we’re in them, it’s very difficult to tell if they’re real or not.”

 

 

“Then how do you know that this dream is not real?”

 

“A vampire would have no more use for you than you do for him,” I replied. “And it was he who sent me here, remember?”

 

“Of course.” The Guardian didn’t question my logic further, for which I was grateful.

 

“We shall begin now, my darling girl,” came the voice next to my ear. “You have only to let me take you, and when I am finished, when I have emptied you completely and hold your life force within me, then I shall give it back to you, only changed.”

 

“Is this not the vampire from High View, scribe—the one who grovels before Magda Gardener?”

 

I felt a vibration against my neck that might have been a growl, might have been a purr. “It is, yes.”

 

“And you find him attractive?”

 

“It’s a dream,” I said. “Go back to sleep.”

 

“Careful, my darling girl, you’ll hurt my feelings.”

 

“I suppose he’s comely enough,” The Guardian observed. “A pity his flesh is not living. I might enjoy inhabiting such a fine, strong body.”

 

“Good heavens, He is irritating, isn’t He?” Alonso’s voice was soft against my ear and with a start, I realized the Guardian couldn’t hear what Alonso said to me.

 

“He’s dreaming, Susan. You, however, are not. You must tell me now if you do not wish me to continue, for once I have tasted you, especially in your lust and your vulnerability, there will be no turning back, and I do not wish for you to despise me for what I have done.”

 

With an effort that seemed colossal, I slid my arm around his neck, amazed at how soft and dark his hair was. As I pulled him to me, he stayed my efforts, but only for a moment. He kissed my cheek then held my gaze, only for a second longer, and his eyes were darker than midnight. Then he lowered his mouth to my nape, to the vein pulsing like a driving drum beat. His lips were deliciously warm, and it came as a surprise when he ran the flat of his tongue along the length of the vein, pressing, lapping like a cat tasting milk, then pressing again with the tip as though he were probing for just the right spot.

 

The intake of his breath was like the sigh of a summer breeze. He kissed me once, on the spot where my pulse beat the strongest, and then again.

 

My hand in his hair tightened to a fist. I caught my breath and held it, waiting in his embrace. It was a sharp pain, precise and doubled—just two pinpoints of pain, like a surgeon’s twin incision against the side of my throat. I had barely time to notice it before blinding pain took my breath away. The world flashed white hot around me and I panicked and began to struggle, but he held me tightly.

 

As the skin gave beneath his bite, as I felt my blood flooding to his lips, I heard his voice inside my head. “That is the worst of it done, my darling girl. Now you need only relax and let me take you.”

 

 

“Ouch!” came the other voice in my head, reminding me I wasn’t alone with Alonso and surprising me how badly I suddenly wanted to be. “That was not pleasant. Susan, are dreams usually so physical?”

 

“Talia, can you not silence him?” Alonso spoke inside my head again and, for the first time, I noticed the succubus sat at my feet, gently stroking my ankle.

 

She said nothing, but the Guardian gave a soft moan of contentment, or rather I did, but I knew it was His. And for the first time since He had deceived His way into my life, I was relieved that He was silent, that He couldn’t touch me, even though I felt the fullness of Him pressing gently against the inside of my chest. I needed Him to sleep and to leave me alone for a little while longer. It was with that thought I realized I was clinging to Alonso’s strong, well muscled frame and I wanted him like I had never wanted before. Christ! I wanted him to devour me, to take me completely into himself. I had never imagined it would be like this. Somehow I’d thought it would be more macabre, more solemn.

 

I would have writhed if I could have. I would have pulled him closer, but I was lost, drowning in the swift flowing river of my blood that he drew into his mouth in deep, thirsty gulps. That I couldn’t move, that my body was completely held in thrall to the flow of my own blood into his mouth mattered less than the fact that he fed from me, an act so powerful, so incredibly intimate, that I felt shy, awkward.

 

“It is all right that you feel this way, my darling Susan, for so we all feel at our making.” He spoke as though he’d read my thoughts, though in truth what I experienced was far too primal to actually be thoughts. “There is no act more intimate, no connection deeper than the taking and giving of blood. What I take now is meant to give me life, to give me your life, but only so I may give you back my own. In this act, we shall both find pleasure, and you will be more than my familiar. You will be the child of my own heart’s blood.”

 

There was a sudden thrashing behind my breastbone. Though I knew it wasn’t physical, it was no less real.

 

“Susan, you have deceived me. I shall punish you very severely for this duplicity. Do you really think a dead creature can keep me from what is mine?”

 

The Guardian’s voice was not raised, but in it was an edge of disquiet I’d not heard before. “For your impertinence, vampire, I shall take your succubus and use her long and hard, even if she does reek of your death.”

 

“You can try.” The voice that responded was different, and in my groggy, giddy state, a blurred apparition of Magda Gardener pushed aside the makeshift curtain that separated the mattress from the rest of the area. Even with her glasses still in place, her hair seemed to writhe and dance around her face, as though it lived and breathed anger and fury. “I won’t hesitate to turn the scribe and the vampire if that’s what it takes, and well you know this.”

 

I felt as though my whole body jerked and struggled around the still point at which Alonso’s mouth pressed against my vein, but in truth I had not physically moved. I was incapable of movement, completely enthralled by the ebb and flow of my blood and the kiss and bite of the vampire at my throat.

 

“That won’t be necessary, Magda,” Talia said, still caressing my ankle and my calf. “We’ve got this.”

 

“You shall all suffer for this deception!” The words came from Talia’s throat, but the Guardian spoke them from inside my body.

 

“Oh, I doubt it,” the succubus managed in the next breath, her grip secure on my leg.

 

 

Buried Pleasures: Meeting the Villain

 

 

In my last post, I introduced you to Samantha Black and Jon, the heroine and hero of Buried Pleasures. The recurring theme of Medusa’s Consortium is that sometimes the monsters are the good guys. Sometimes it’s not so obvious who the bad guys really are, and sometimes … it’s very obvious. Adrian Fox is a villain who is both terrifying and sexy, and there’s little chance of surviving that fatal attraction to him. Here is a little excerpt. Enjoy.

 

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 in his disturbing plans.

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. Jon is really Jack Graves, owner of Buried Pleasures, and Graves is really the god of death, himself, and if things aren’t already confusing enough, he and Magda know what Sam doesn’t. Sam is the last siren. That her song can kill is only the beginning of her story. Jon wants her safe on his side of the River, protected from Fox’s hideous magic. But even Death fears Magda Gardener, who is none other than Medusa, and the gorgon has her own agenda. If Sam is to understand her heritage and win the battle against Darian Fox, not only will she have to trust her heart to Death, but they’ll both have to work for the gorgon, whose connection with Sam runs deeper than any of them could imagine.

 

Buried Pleasures Excerpt in which We Meet Darian Fox

 

 

With a soft clink, he dropped the key in a small ceramic bowl on the dresser, not bothering to lock the door behind him. There was no need now.

He heard the rustle of bedding and a soft female moan before his eyes fully adjusted to the gloom. Then he saw the shape of her, duvet thrown back in spite of the chill, the pale silk of the negligee rising and falling with her anxious breathing. He always asked that they be clothed in white silk. Occasionally there was blood, and the red of blood against white silk made the experience more formal somehow, and it always felt like such an occasion should be formal.

As he became used to the gloom, he could see that she had been well-groomed for the occasion, fully made-up and hair freshly coifed, just as he had requested. It was a condition that wasn’t strictly necessary, but made the whole experience seem a little more ceremonial, a little more festive. After all, presentation was a key ingredient in every good restaurant, wasn’t it? Why should his situation be any different?

“Gabriella, you look exquisite tonight, my darling. I can’t tell you how much I’ve anticipated being with you, having you here in my bed.” He removed his jacket and hung it carefully over a cedar hanger on the back of the door. “Did I not promise you that the time would come when I would invite you into my own home, into my own bed?”

Of course it wasn’t his own bed. He never took them to his bed. He had several other rooms in several other places where he took from them what he needed, though this one was special. This one was for feasting. He carefully undressed by the side of the bed where she would be able to admire his every move. She moaned softly and writhed, not taking her eyes off him, needing him almost as much as he needed her. Almost.

At his leisure, he took in the curves that were still luscious enough to be tempting—the rise of nipples, the dilation of pupils, the rhythmic shifting of hips, all of which he could now make out. Ripe fruit, he thought. She was ripe fruit. The experience was always most ecstatic, always most satisfying, when his chosen had not yet passed her peak, when he had not used her so much that her looks had suffered, nor her hunger for him weakened. He needed her hunger as much as he needed her beauty. The two always went hand-in-hand. He needed her hunger to be her driving force, driving her to him over and over again, until all strength was gone. Most often he controlled his hunger, careful not to allow himself more than what was necessary to survive and thrive.

Tonight, however, he was drained and starving from effort and exhaustion, but from excitement as well, from the knowing that Samantha Black was capable of so much more than even he had anticipated. Tonight he would take deeply from the ripest fruit, take as though it were the first and the last fullness of summer, and Gabriella was just at that point of fullness.

“I’m going to make love to you, darling.” He didn’t even try to disguise his hunger. Anxious anticipation was as much a part of the ritual as savoring the moment, and he wanted her to know how much he hungered for her, how much he needed her. “I’m going to make you come as you have never come before, my sweetheart.” He slid onto the bed next to her, his left hand stroking her soft, dark hair, his right cupping himself, making himself ready. “Would you like that, Gabriella? I know you would, I know how impatient you’ve been.”

There was a soft whimper, and the woman shifted her hips and threw back her head with a little gasp as he slid a thumb across her heavy bottom lip. He was hard, always hard when he hungered. It was a part of the ritual, a part of the consuming, a part of fulfilling his need.

Carefully he slipped down the straps of the negligee so that he could admire the fullness of her breasts. Yes, presentation was so important—ripe cherry nipples against silken white fabric, so succulent, so ready. Her skin was the color of expensive mocha, and for a moment, he took in the feast for the eyes waiting for him. Then he cupped her sex, and she arched up, her eyelids fluttering beneath lush, dark lashes so perfectly made up, so perfectly prepared to meet her lover.

La petite mort,” he said. “It’s what we all long for, isn’t it, my sweetheart? Over and over and over again, we long for it. It’s what we dream about in the darkest hours of the night. It’s what we wake up longing for, goosefleshed, slick and heavy with need from those elusive dreams of perfect love, perfect union, perfect dissolving of the self into the other. Oh, my beauty,” he slid a hand between her thighs, and her tongue flicked over her lip in concentration, in anticipation, “I’ve kept you waiting too long. I do apologize. La petite mort is a small gift for a long wait. So tonight, my dearest girl, I shall give you something far grander than the little death. And our joining, our perfect dissolving into one another, will be beyond anything you could ever imagine.”

He positioned himself above her and she opened to him, rising up to meet him in gasps and groans and whimpers that neared desperation. Oh yes, he would give her so much more than la petite mort, and then, in the instant when her body dissolved in pleasure, he would take it all back, all of it and so much more.

There was breath and then there was blood, and there was the life force coursing through the beautiful Gabriella. That life force entered his body through sex, through making love. And truly he did make love, for the gift that the beautiful creature writhing beneath him, no longer strong enough to keep her legs grasped around his waist, was giving him was worthy of lovemaking. The taking of the life force in such a way was sex raised above and beyond ecstasy. He seldom partook to the end. He usually made it last for months, sometimes even years, depending on how powerful the life force was.

But Gabriella had no particular power, nothing but her exquisite beauty to linger on. He saw such as her as fast food, really, a needed energy boost in desperate times, and this was one of those times. Her sacrifice would ensure that he was focused and ready for whatever obstacles Graves could throw in his way where Samantha Black was concerned, because he would have her. He had to have her.

The woman beneath him shuddered with release, and he took her mouth more fully, swallowing back the harshness of her breath to blend with his own, teasing him to join in her ecstasy. She would climax over and over, and that would be her final memory. She would come to her death in rapturous pleasure, and she would not even feel that moment when all of her breath, all of her life force, all of her power, passed to him, and the darkness took her.

Her eyelids fluttered again and again, for now she truly had not the energy left for more than the flutter of eyelids above huge, dark eyes. Even the quiver low in her loins had transferred itself to him, and he felt her orgasms as though they were his own, as though through the breath, through the coupling, he had become her and she him. He had taken her into himself as she had him into her, so open, so inviting, so willing.

“You see,” he whispered against the seashell hollow of her unhearing ear, “I have given you so much more than la petite mort, just as I promised, darling. So much more for both of us.”

The sharp burning in his side came before he could fully disengage, and his focus had been such that he would hardly have noticed if the penthouse had collapsed around his ears. At this vulnerable time he depended upon the well-trained guards who watched outside his door. He was unable to defend himself, for at least those last powerful moments, and he never took risks where his person was concerned. It had to be such for his needs to be accomplished.

In this position of vulnerability, of ecstatic consumption of the last of Gabriella’s beautiful life force, he had not noticed the door quietly open, nor had he noticed Evie’s silent entrance. He would have noticed nothing until the burning in his side, and the warm flow of blood that was his own brought him back to himself, as Evie raised the knife a second time and plunged it with a wild, animal growl. “Get off her, you bastard! Get off!”

And he did as she asked, cupping his hand against his wounded side, the pain still far off, kept at bay by the ecstatic remains of his feasting. As the knife came down a second time, instinctually he grabbed her wrist, surprised at her strength considering how he had taken from her earlier, but then, it really didn’t matter, did it? No strength would be enough, not now.

He pulled her to him, the knife dropping silently onto the white carpet, his blood falling like rose petals at his feet. “Oh, Evie,” he whispered against her ear, his head still buzzing from the golden life force he’d taken, his cock still hard with the lust for the power enveloped in flesh, his limbs still tingling with the flow of it through his veins, even as it drained away through the vicious wound, “my dearest girl, I very much wish you hadn’t done that. It’s such a waste of a very delicious life.”

 

 

Buried Pleasures Launch Day

 

It’s launch day for Buried Pleasures, book three of Medusa’s Consortium. Buried Pleasures takes us away from the Big Apple and sets is smack dab in Sin City, or should I say underneath Sin City. Magda Gardener’s network is expansive and worldwide, and not all of the members of her consortium are monsters. Some of them come from seriously powerful families, and the head of the Las Vegas consortium is none other than the God of Death himself.

As I have mentioned before, while the events in Blindside are unfolding in NYC, Las Vegas is seeing some scary-assed action of its own. Same time, different city, same gorgon in charge. Today’s post and the next one will introduce you to the hero, the heroin and then the villain of this first novel in the Las Vegas timeline. When siren, Samantha Black, meets Death up close and personal, it’s not at all what she expected.

Enjoy the excerpt and follow the links to the book page and it’s buy links.

Buried Pleasures Blurb:

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 in his disturbing plans.

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. Jon is really Jack Graves, owner of Buried Pleasures, and Graves is really the god of death, himself, and if things aren’t already confusing enough, he and Magda know what Sam doesn’t. Sam is the last siren. That her song can kill is only the beginning of her story. Jon wants her safe on his side of the River, protected from Fox’s hideous magic. But even Death fears Magda Gardener, who is none other than Medusa, and the gorgon has her own agenda. If Sam is to understand her heritage and win the battle against Darian Fox, not only will she have to trust her heart to Death, but they’ll both have to work for the gorgon, whose connection with Sam runs deeper than any of them could imagine.

Buried Pleasures Excerpt: The Hero and the Heroine

“I always heard that when you die, you’re supposed to go toward the light, not away from it,” Sam said as they entered the gloom of the storm tunnel. “Does this mean I’m going to the bad place?”

“You don’t believe in all that rubbish, do you?” the man asked in a soft voice.

“I don’t know. I guess I figured you die and that’s the end. You know, all your bits get broken down into smaller bits and you get recycled. I never really thought about it much. I wasn’t planning on dying any time soon, though.” But she was dead. There was no doubt. Had to be. She was looking down on her body from near the ceiling, and frankly, it wasn’t a pretty sight—lots of blood and trauma and stuff that would probably make her throw up if she wasn’t dead. But she followed along, feeling no pain and no stress, looking down on the dog and the man, as he carried her into the tunnel, beyond the light, beyond the outside world.

Though she was talking quite conversationally, her mouth wasn’t moving. She figured that was a sure symptom of being dead. She wasn’t moving at all actually. There was no heartbeat, no breath. She didn’t know how she knew that, but she did. Strange, but now that the initial anger, the initial shock, was over, she felt pretty indifferent about the whole thing.

Dead or not, the man heard her and replied. Perhaps he saw dead people, like that kid in the movie. “You don’t need to worry. This is just the storm tunnel,” he said. “You’re not going to a bad place. You’re going to a very good place, Samantha.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” she replied. “I mean, I don’t mind being recycled. I’ve never liked waste, but I’m not too keen on being tortured for eternity. I think that’s rather unfair, actually. I mean, I’m not that bad, am I?”

“I’d say your balance tips considerably toward the good side.”

She took note of a man in baggy shorts and a T-shirt. On the concrete walls, he was delicately painting a particularly rude, if rather well executed, enormous cock, complete with hairy balls. The artist in residence tipped his baseball cap and the headlamp strapped to it made the tunnel dance in light and shadow. “Jon, Gus. Delivering this one personally, are you?” He nodded to her body. “She must be pretty important.”

“Samantha’s special,” Jon answered.

So, his name was Jon. At least now she knew what to call him. She tried to remember when she had told him her name. Surely she wouldn’t tell some stranger who she was without damn good reason, cool dog notwithstanding.

“Looks like she had the crap beat out of her,” the man observed.

That was not very polite, Sam thought. It was a bit like someone saying you look like shit without your makeup.

“You should see the other guys,” Jon replied.

“Good for her! If you’re gonna get beaten to death, might as well get in a few good licks on the way out, I say.”

“I broke my neck, actually,” she said matter of factly. “The rest is pretty superficial.”

The man looked her over, but didn’t respond.

“Nice work,” she called over her shoulder as they continued on down the tunnel. The guy’s comment was enough to get him back in her good graces. Sadly, she didn’t think he heard her. Then she turned her attention back to Jon. “I’m really glad to hear that. I mean, glad that I’m not going to the bad place. For a minute there I thought I’d have to stay in Vegas.”

The man chuckled and, in spite of the fact that she was very clearly floating above his head, she felt the rumble of his laughter against her cheek coming from deep in his chest like the comforting purr of a cat.

“Where are you taking me?” she asked.

“Home.”

“Good. I’ve been gone too long.” Then she added as an afterthought, “Are you an angel?”

“Hardly.” This time Jon laughed out loud and she felt the whoosh of his breath warm against her cheek, and the muscles of his belly tensed and relaxed against the body she was no longer in. “If you want to get technical, I suppose you could say the angels work for me.”

It was her turn to laugh. “You don’t look anything like I expected God to look, though I do love it that God has a dog.”

“Our perception of things often varies from their realities,” he said. “As for Gus, well I guess you could say he’s the angel. He doesn’t actually belong to me. We just work together.”

“An angel with a taste for peanut butter sandwiches. That’s nice.”

Gus offered a soft woof as though he understood every bit of the conversation. Of course, if he were an angel, he no doubt did.

“Oh, he’s not picky. The mutt’ll eat anything,” Jon said.

Sam recalled the ripping and tearing of flesh and the blood of her assailants outside, and she shivered.

The three fell into a comfortable silence, with the dog flanking Jon while she hovered above them. She didn’t know how long they walked. Time seemed a bit of a fuzzy concept. She supposed that had something to do with being dead. There was far more activity in the tunnel than she would have expected. She’d have figured Jon would want to keep a dead body secret if possible, but if the tunnels had a main street, he seemed to be walking right down the middle of it. And Sam had to admit, the place was fascinating. They moved through sections of the tunnel that could have passed as living rooms or kitchens in any above-ground house, other than the twilight gloom relieved only by camping lanterns, flashlights and candles—that and the furniture was set up on bricks and wooden pallets to keep it out of the endemic water. In some places it stood only in puddles, in other places it slicked the whole floor of the tunnel like a lake of glass that splashed and trickled beneath Jon’s heavy boots and reflected the strange world around them.

The smell of damp and mildew permeated the air and disappeared only as olfactory fatigue set in. Sam took note again that she could smell all the smells in spite of being dead, and a fair few of them she didn’t think she’d miss too much if she couldn’t.

There were spaces staked out along the walls with nothing more than a sleeping bag and a couple of black jumbo trashcan liners filled with belongings. There were paintings and family photos and banners for favorite football or baseball teams hung on the walls.

Above one rather Spartan space with an army cot and several plastic crates, a battered American flag hung upside down. Beaded curtains, pieces of plywood, even heavy rugs draped over strung rope, separated individual living areas.

Somewhere farther down the tunnel, the driving beat of hip hop echoed back on itself. Closer to them, Sam could make out the soft buzz and twitter of conversation among the residents. There were knickknacks and books tucked away in stacked plastic milk crates and on shelves of cinderblock and ply board.

One very attractive blond in a red satin dress perched in front of a vanity mirror, putting on makeup in the light of a Coalman lantern. She eyed Jon hungrily. He ignored her, but Gus growled a soft warning as they moved on. They passed a couple lounging on a bed that looked like it might have come straight from a hotel suite—right down to the wood-framed mirror above the headboard. They shared a bucket of KFC and passed a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke back and forth. Calling out greetings to Jon, they offered Gus an unidentifiable chunk of chicken, which he downed in a single gulp with a quick sweep of his tail in thanks.

Sam tried to imagine the place, which almost had the feel of an underground neighborhood, all washing away in heavy rains. Again and again. She knew it did periodically, but it all seemed so permanent at the moment.

As they moved away from Main Street and deeper into the unoccupied areas of the tunnels, she realized that she saw just fine even in the thick darkness. She supposed that was just a part of being dead. As far as she could tell, Jon carried no source of light. But then God would hardly need it, would he?

 

I’m thinking about sex magic again. I think about sex magic a lot, actually. Certainly I’ve been thinking about it with the launch of Blindsided, as with every novel in the Medusa’s Consortium series. I’m always struggling to get my head around why sex is magic, why human sexuality defies the nature program /Animal Planet biological tagging that seems to work for other species that populate the planet. I don’t think I could write sex without magic, and even if I could I wouldn’t want to. I’m not talking about airy-fairy or woo-woo so much as the mystery that is sex. On a biological level we get it. We’ve gotten it for a long time. We know all about baby-making and the sharing of the genes and the next generation. It’s text book.

 

But it’s the ravenousness of the human animal that shocks us, surprises us, turns us on in ways that we didn’t see coming. It’s the nearly out of body experience we have when we are the deepest into our body we can possibly be. It’s the skin on skin intimacy with another human being in a world where more personal space is always in demand.

 

When we come together with another human being, for a brief moment, our worlds entwine in ways that defy
description. We do it for the intimacy of it, the pleasure of it, the naughtiness of it, the dark animal possessiveness of it. Sex is the barely acceptable disturbance in the regimented scrubbed-up proper world of a species that has evolved to have sex for reasons other than procreation. Is that magical? It certainly seems impractical. And yet we can’t get enough.

 

We touch each other because it feels good. We slip inside each other because it’s an intimate act that scratches an itch nothing else in the whole universe can scratch. During sex, we are ensconced in the mindless present, by the driving force of our individual needs, needs that we could easily satisfy alone, but it wouldn’t be the same. Add love to the mix, add a little bit of romance, add a little bit of chemistry and the magic soup thickens and heats up and gets complicated. I don’t think it’s any surprise at all that sex is a prime ingredient in story. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s any surprise that it is also an ingredient much avoided in some story.

 

Sex is a power centre of the human experience. It’s not stable. It’s not safe. It’s volatile. It exposes people, makes them vulnerable, reduces them to their lowest common denominator even as it raises them to the level of the divine. Is it any wonder the gods covet flesh? The powerful fragility of human flesh is the ability to interact with the world around us, the ability to interact with each other, the ability to penetrate and be penetrated.

 

So as I mull through it, trying for the zillionth time to get my head around it, I conclude – at least for the moment – that the true magic of sex is that it takes place in the flesh, and it elevates the flesh to something even the gods lust after. It’s a total in-the-body, in-the-moment experience, a celebration of the carnal, the ultimate penetrative act of intimacy of the human animal. I don’t know if that gives you goose bumps, but it certainly does me.

 

 

Excerpt Blindsided: Lusting for Flesh:

It was a dark place where she found him, with walls so high only a small patch of starlight was visible above, but she was a vampire now. She didn’t need the light, and he, well he had never needed the light, had he? He stood naked with his back to her. He was broad of shoulder. There were white scars like latticework across muscles stretched taut over his shoulder blades. At first she thought they were from a whip, but as she drew nearer, she saw that they were more geometric in form, as though perhaps they were some sort of ancient ceremonial writing. She traced the shapes of them with the tips of her fingers, and his muscles rippled with the sensation. With a start she realized she’d never seen his body before.

“That is because I have none,” came his reply. “Only in dreams can I wear the flesh of my choosing.”

“You’ve worn flesh often enough. I would have thought it was always of your choosing,” she said, making no effort to hide her bitterness.

“It was not my own, though. That pleasure, I have never known.”

“Only in dreams, you say. Then this is a dream.”

“You know that it is.” He didn’t turn to face her but leaned toward her, and she slipped her arms around him and rested her head on the flat of his back. His belly tensed at the touch of her hands, and he caught his breath in a soft moan. “Touch is what I longed for most,” he said. “I thought the lack of it would drive me insane while I languished in my previous prison. But here, with you, I’m closer to touch than I would have thought possible. I do not mind it, you know. It is no hardship to be nestled inside you, close to your heart.”

She released him and took in their surroundings once more. “This is the place I’ve created for you?”

He pulled her arms back around him and sighed with contentment as she laid her head against him once more. “This is how I have decorated. The place you created for me was only the shape of myself, both boundless and infinitesimal. Oh, it did not matter. I could see through your eyes, feel through your flesh, even though it no longer lived as it once did, even though you never spoke to me. I hoped that someday you would.”

“And when I refuse, you come uninvited into my dreams?”

“All dreams are uninvited, Susan, and perhaps this time it is you who have come uninvited into my dream.”

She thought about that for a moment. Was it even possible to visit the dreams of a demon? Did demons even have

dreams?

“Susan?”

“Yes?”

“If I had come to you more gently, if I had courted you and companioned you and been patient with you in the ways of your world, would you have loved me?”

“You never gave me that chance.”

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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