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Cover Reveal—Fluffy by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor)

Release date:  April 30, 2019

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Fluffy

Description:

An all-new STANDALONE from New York Times bestselling author Julia Kent

It all started with the wrong Help Wanted ad. Of course it did.

I’m a professional fluffer. It’s NOT what you think. I stage homes for a living. Real estate agents love me, and my work stands on its own merits.

Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait.

See? That’s the problem. My career has used the term “fluffer” for decades. I didn’t even know there was a more… lascivious definition of the term.

Until it was too late.

The ad for a “professional fluffer” on Craigslist seemed like divine intervention. My last unemployment check was in the bank. I was desperate. Rent was due. The ad said cash paid at the end of the day.

The perfect job!

Staging homes means showing your best angle. The same principle applies in making a certain kind of movie. Turns out a “fluffer” doesn’t arrange decorative pillows on a couch.

They arrange other soft, round-ish objects.

The job isn’t hard. Er, I mean, it is — it’s about being hard. Or, well… helping other people to be hard.

Oh, man…

And that’s the other problem. A man. No, not one of the stars on the movie set. Will Lotham – my high school crush. The owner of the house where we’re filming. Illegally. In a vacation rental.

By the time the cops show up, what I thought was just a great house staging gig turned into a nightmare involving pictures of me with an undressed naked star, Will rescuing me from an arrest, and a humiliating lesson in my own naivete.

My job turned out to be so much harder than I expected. But you know what’s easier than I ever imagined?

Having all my dreams come true.

Pre-order:

AmazonUS: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZus

AmazonUK: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZuk

AmazonCA: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZca

AmazonAU: smarturl.it/fluffyAMZau

Nook/BN: smarturl.it/fluffyBN

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2RmE159

Kobo: smarturl.it/fluffyKobo

Google Play: smarturl.it/fluffyGP

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2TjDjqS

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2ThoLrZ

*****

Excerpt:

“It is time to DANCE! Find a partner and hold each other’s hands, facing one another.”

Five women start walking toward Will.

“Mal?” Shyness infuses his question, sending chills up and down my arms and legs. They settle at the base of my neck, riding shotgun next to the arousal centers of my nervous system. He’s adorable, one hand out to me, eyebrows slightly up, blue-green eyes asking to dance with me but hinting at more.

Or… am I inventing that part?

“Sure,” I say, instantly regretting my answer. Does it sound grudging? He doesn’t seem to think so as I take his hand and stand before him, tall in my high heels but he’s even taller. Looking at him from this height makes him even more human, more masculine, more real.

My heart skips a beat.

But the music sure doesn’t.

“Now, the ‘man,’” Philippe starts, using finger quotes because there are several female-only couples in the class, “puts one hand on the woman’s waist. The right hand.”

Will complies.

It’s like sticking my finger in a light socket and orgasming at the same time.

His left hand takes my right hand and he holds it, strong and firm, smiling at me with a boyish grin that makes me feel instant remorse for hurting him today.

“I’m sorry I bashed your head in,” I whisper, moving near his ear, our mouths inches apart.

There is a gap between us. My lungs live there, in that space. They breathe. I don’t make a move. My autonomic nervous system works without intention. If it didn’t, I’d die.

Because I would hold my breath forever in Will’s arms.

Philippe is moving from couple to couple, adjusting positions, commenting and correcting.

“Closer,” Philippe says right behind me, the press of his firm palm against my lower back a shock as he pushes me into Will, closing that gap.

My autonomic nervous system gives up entirely.

“Look into each other’s eyes,” Philippe commands, his accent making this even sexier. “When you dance, you show your love with your hips, your eyes, your languid grace. You are making love in public with your bodies, fully clothed.”

Is Will holding his breath, too?

“Your hand goes here, Mallory,” the teacher says, taking my left hand and putting it on Will’s shoulder. My breasts brush against his chest, our breathing ragged. I try to look away, but we’re too close. All I can do is look at his eyes or his mouth, and right now, both are so, so dangerous.

No one else in the room exists. The light that bounces off the polished floors is ours. The murmurs and giggles in the background are ours. The way he breathes my air and I inhale him is ours, too. We’re touching, my thigh against his, and every warm part of Will Lotham’s front half that is decent to display in public is rubbing against me.

Except his lips.

“Now, take one step forward,” Philippe says. “Together.”

Will steps on my foot. Hard.

I make a very unfeminine sound and start to pitch backwards. Tightening his grip on my waist, his hand sliding, open and splayed, across the small of my back, he saves me from a complete wipeout.

But that save has its costs.

In an instant, all traces of that teenage girl in me are gone, disintegrating, turned to stardust that sweeps off me like a fine spring breeze. I am all woman now, mature and wanting.

All I want is this. Now. The man before me, his arms warm and assured, grasp confident and bold.

And very much wanting me back.

*****

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

 

Cover reveal organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Out Now—False Start (Book 3, The False Series) by Meli Raine (@meliraineauthor)

Release date:  January 15, 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Book Blurb:

This isn’t how my life is supposed to end.

Then again, a case of mistaken identity got me here. No one is ever who we think they are. Especially my kidnapper, a man whose entire life is designed to deceive.

Powerful people want my rescuer to die. I’m just a lure. A pawn. An object.

But objects hold meaning. Emotions attach themselves without logic.

Like love.

I now know that Duff will do everything to protect me.

If he gets here in time. And if I can hold on long enough.

Because my body can only handle so much. Pushed to the limits, it’s finally giving out. Giving way.

Giving up.

I know Duff, though.

He never will.

Blink.

Read the stunning conclusion to USA Today bestselling author Meli Raine’s False series, told from both Lily and Duff’s points of view.

FALSE START (Book 3)

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-start/id1421999168?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42088271-false-start

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-start-by-meli-raine

 

FALSE MEMORY (Book 1)

Now Available

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-memory/id1387687477?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40405827-false-memory

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-memory-by-meli-raine

 

FALSE HOPE (Book 2)

Now Avaialble

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-hope/id1421994196?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42088265-false-hope

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-hope-by-meli-raine

 

Author Bio:

Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them. Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://meliraine.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/meliraine

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/meliraineauthor

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/meli-raine

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13536295.Meli_Raine

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/beV0gf

*****

Excerpt:

I’ve had bullets rip through my flesh.

I’ve been beaten with a piece of firewood, my skull bashed in by men who killed my mother and father, men who kidnapped my brother.

I’ve had shrapnel rip through my face and been so dehydrated, I saw goddesses I didn’t know existed.

I’ve killed, I’ve maimed, I’ve driven through fire, I’ve parachuted into active gunfire.

No pain I’ve ever felt before measures up to this.

She’s in bed, so peaceful, the machines communicating for her. There’s no ventilator. This is all about Lily’s mind and heart finding their way back to some semblance of wholeness. The machines can tell us what’s wrong. But they cannot aid her.

Machines are useless now. It’s Lily’s very human body that needs to do the work to bring her back.

Me, too.

I cannot be a robot. A robot is a machine.

I need to be a very real, very raw human.

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Ordinary Moments, Extraordinary Memories

As February begins I am constantly reminded that my dear sister, Nancy, was to have spent the lion share of this month with me, as she did last year. We were already well into dreaming and scheming her visit when she passed away. As this archived post will reveal, though I miss her terribly, my life is filled to the brim with wonderful memories — most involving adventures and lots of laughter. Strangely, or maybe not so strangely at all, it’s the random memories that stand out for me, the moments that were extraordinary in their ordinariness. This walk we shared several years ago in the dry canyon behind her house is a classic example of sisterhood for us.

While I miss her dreadfully, I find, to my quiet surprise, that she has left me with a wellspring of joy and love to large and deep for me not to want to share stories of our times together. If there was one thing Nancy Thomas understood it was that the empty holes caused by loss and sorrow can only be truly filled with love and laughter and celebration amidst the tears. I hope you enjoy Two Sisters Walking. And thank you for allowing me to indulge in those joyful memories.

 

Two Sisters Walking

‘Look how all that water’s soaked in since the rain,’ I point out to my sister as we
descend into the Dry Canyon that runs through her town in Central Oregon’s High Desert. Yesterday the rock bed of the shallow spillway looked like a small lake. Now the puddle is reduced to a birdbath for the scrub jays.

‘The rocks are porous,’ she says. ‘Volcanic. Even with a day and a night of heavy rain, it all soaks right in.’ Along the side of the paved path, the soil looks as dry and dusty as it always does, but looking out at the vegetation that’s usually varying shades of kaki and tan and burnt umber everything now has a shining patina of green, and the tiny purple flowers of the low bronze plants, which neither of us can name, carpet the desert floor with color.

A rock chuck gives a sharp high-pitched chirp from somewhere nearby and a scrub jay calls from the juniper tree above us. I catch a flash of iridescent blue in the branches and a flutter of wings. I love this canyon. It’s truly one of the treasures of Redmond Oregon, and some of my fondest memories and best ideas are associated with walks in this
canyon on my annual visit with my sister. The canyon, which was formed by ancient volcanoes, used to be the city dump a long time ago. Now it has a paved walking path the entire 3 ½ mileas well a dog park, a playground and several sets of steep steps into it from street level. It’s wide enough in spots that you can completely forget you’re surrounded 2015-05-03 10.28.11
by a town on both sides at cliff-top level, and there’s now a bridge spanning the canyon in graceful concrete arches. I love that you see the occasional deer in the canyon and even occasionally there are mountain lion sightings. I love that the canyon feels like a wild place in the middle of a town of 27,000. But I also love that there are still a few places along the rocky edges where you can find the rusted-out corpses of cars and baling wire and other twisted metal heaps, now mangled beyond recognition, but certainly an inspiration to my imagination. I love that the canyon and the cliff tops that surround it are an incredible blend of wild high desert and human detritus from as long as people have lived on the cliffs above.

As we head into the canyon, a runner passes us, ears muffed in headphones. ‘That’s a tall drink of water,’ my sister says.

‘Where, I say,’ looking around for a large bottle of water, maybe strapped to the man’s hip.’

‘The guy. He’s tall.’ She nods in his direction. My sister has a way with words.

I laugh and watch him as he trots down the walking path, his miniscule running shorts flapping in the breeze. ‘You don’t even want to know where my thoughts go with that,’ I say.

She sniggers, ‘Probably not.’

I’ve already tried out my ideas for my recent mountain lion in the canyon story that I posted last week on my blog, so 2015-05-13 16.14.04she’s not at all sure how her ‘tall drink of water’ may inspire me.

We walk in silence until we get to the bridge. From there on the canyon widens out until there are places where the trees and rocks hide the housing developments that line the cliffs above on both sides. We’re looking for a crow’s nest I spotted a couple of days ago when I was walking the canyon by myself. The sun was at the wrong angle for me to see inside the hodgepodge of dried sticks stowed into a crevice in the rocks, but the two attentive adults squawking and flapping on the ledge suggested there was a family. Today with this side of the canyon wall in shadow and us armed with a pair of binoculars, we can see that, indeed, there are at least five crow chicks, who look only days away from fledging. We watch in delight the caws and chirrups and furious exercising of young wings until one of the adults notices we might just be paying too much attention to the kiddos and hovers threateningly above us making loud threatening calls. We both decide, observing the poop-spattered side of the cliff below the nest, that it’s best to move on before mummy or daddy drops the bomb.

‘I’ve never seen a nest of crow-babies,’ I say, looking back over my shoulder as we continue on toward the stairs. The part of the canyon walk we do is the wilder end. It takes about two hours round trip and involves the ascent and decent of two sets of stairs – one about sixty steps, the other 109. Good for the old thigh muscles. We walk to the end and turn
back along the canyon wall on an unpaved path that undulates and weaves in and out of the rocks and trees. This is my favorite part. I could be in the woods for all I know, especially with the twitter and chirp of birds around us. Three California Quail cross in front of us with their top knots bouncing jauntily. A golden mantle ground squirrel scurries into the rocks. There’s just enough water in the little brook that passes beneath the trail to trickle softly.

For a long time we don’t talk. We just walk and take it all in. When we’re together, we usually talk a lot. We make up for lost time, but the canyon is a place where we’re silent as often as not because it’s such a great place to hear our thoughts, to listen for inspiration, to feel glad that we chose to walk instead of stay put in the house. I’m thinking about a story that the walk has inspired. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but when we do talk, we’re approaching the end of the walk, up behind the trailer parks, back out on the rim of the canyon. The place is sort of a no-man’s-land. I suspect that if expansion in Central Oregon continues, it may easily be turned into a housing development, but for now, it’s just there. There’s a huge mound of earth, maybe eight feet high, with a shovel thrust down in the top of it. I know for a fact that it’s a place where the kids 2015-05-14 15.17.26from the trailer park play, but in my mind the shovel is there to bury a body. My sister looks at me askance as though she might be worried just a little bit about the twists and turns of my imagination as I take pictures of it and tell her my story idea.

‘There’s a dead skunk over here,’ she says, motioning me over. Her mind has it’s own strange twists and turns. ‘Stunk to high heaven last fall.’

‘It doesn’t smell so bad now,’ I say, looking at the desiccated heap of flattened skin and bones that I would have missed completely if she hadn’t pointed it out. ‘I want some pictures.’

She steps back and watch as I take pictures of the delicate skull and teeth, visible above the dusty remains of the pelt.

As we step back onto the dead-end lane that leads out of the canyon and back home, there’s an old pickup truck that’s been sitting there, my sister tells me, for months. The back of it’s loaded with a fascinating array of junk. ‘It looks like 2015-05-13 16.49.46
someone was moving and then just deserted everything,’ I say.

‘It’s been ticketed by the police for being left, and then the ticket blew away and it’s still sitting here,’ my sister tells me.

I start taking pictures again. ‘Maybe the owner is buried beneath that mound of dirt back there,’ I say. ‘Maybe there’s foul play involved.’

‘That looks like a rodeo dummy in there,’ she says peering into the bed. And look, there’s a bottle of some kind of prescription drugs in that stir-fry pan.’

I look around to make sure no one is looking and start taking pictures while I tell her my story idea. ‘I think the guy will be running from someone and this is as far as he gets before he gets caught.’

‘But why would he have a rocking chair in the back and all that cooking stuff?’ She asks.

2015-05-13 16.45.52‘I don’t know, I’ll think of something. Maybe he was a rodeo clown, maybe he had gambling debts?’ I keep snapping pictures feeling slightly guilty for doing it, but not that guilty.

‘There was actually a pair of lacy women’s underwear laying behind the truck at one time. Bright pink.’ She remembers.

‘Seriously?’

‘Yup. That sounds like something that might interest you.’

‘The plot thickens.’ I say. Someone with a couple of dogs comes up out of the canyon behind us, so I, quick like a bunny, stuff my iPhone back in my pocket and we head on.2015-05-13 16.20.55

‘You want coffee?’ she says, as we stomp the dust off our feet on her sidewalk. ‘I want coffee.’

‘Me too.’ I follow her into the house, taking off my boots and pounding them over the rail of the porch to rid them of
dust.

‘I’m dying of thirst,’ she says.

‘Better get you a tall drink of water,’ I reply.

She gives me a dirty look and starts the coffee pot.

 

New Release – Duty Bound, Contemporary Reverse Harem Romances! #reverseharem #whychoose

Duty BoundFeaturing stories from Felicity Brandon, Katie Douglas, Lily Harlem and Lucy Felthouse.

Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

Blurb:

When their uniforms come off…

Bossy, dedicated, overprotective, super complicated. A woman needs a man like that in her life like she needs a temporal lobe headache, right? Think again, because when the uniforms come off and the temperature skyrockets, it’s time to forget Hell and take a trip straight to Heaven.

How about multiplying that by three, four, or more? You get the picture? This set of panty-melting reverse harem stories will have you gasping, panting, squirming and sweating. Read late into the night with these steamy tales featuring priests, military men, S.W.A.T. officers, gardeners, waiters, and more.

For a limited time only, grab your own harem of hot men who are determined to be the best of the best, especially when it comes to adoring their woman.

Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

 

*****

Excerpt from Chasing the Chambermaid by Lucy Felthouse:

Prologue

Only the slop, slop, slopping sound of her painfully slow footsteps through the thick, sucking mud convinced Connie White she was actually making any progress. Her limbs and extremities had long since gone so numb that she couldn’t be sure otherwise.

Come on, Con, just a little bit further. That sign said something about an estate, and an estate means buildings. A bloody cowshed will do—anything for some respite from this infernal sodding weather.

She pushed on for several more minutes, then gasped with shock and relief when her next step met not with sloppy mud or waterlogged grass, but a track. A rough track, but a track nonetheless. And it had to lead somewhere, surely? It ran left to right across the line she’d been taking, so Connie had to make a decision. Which way would lead her to… something? She was already soaked to the skin and freezing cold, so a couple of seconds of rumination wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to her physical state. She really didn’t want to end up going in the wrong direction and heading further away from any semblance of civilisation.

She took a breath and remembered her gran’s—long since dead, bless her—nonsensical motto—or one of them, anyway: If in doubt, turn left.

Connie shrugged, and another of her gran’s daft phrases flitted into her brain. In for a penny, in for a pound.

She hoiked her backpack higher, hunched her shoulders against the relentless wind and rain, and turned left. Moments later, she was rewarded as the hulking shape of a building appeared from the sheets of wind-buffeted rain. Excitement gave her a burst of energy, spurring her on. Fifty feet. Forty. Twenty-five. God, what was this place? It looked so old and decrepit the Vikings could have left it behind. Doesn’t matter. If it provides even a modicum of shelter, it’s an improvement on where you slept last night. The wooden bench on the tiny village’s green hadn’t exactly been the warmest or most comfortable place to lay her head. And she shuddered to think about what would have happened if someone unsavoury had happened across her, alone and vulnerable. She’d been very glad to wake up and hurriedly continue on her journey that morning.

The last few feet went by in a blur of motion, her body still numb and not entirely under her control. At least the track was easier to walk on. It wasn’t particularly smooth, but at least it wasn’t trying to pull off her walking boots, like the sucking mud had been.

Finally, she burst through the building’s heavy door, only the adrenaline pumping in her veins making it possible to even shift the thing. Fuck, I’m exhausted.

The last thing she remembered was shucking off her backpack and slamming the door against the elements. Then silence.

Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Horse Power: Complete Free Read

 

Several years ago, I began collecting a series of short stories written and inspired by
my travels — not the places so much but as the disconnectedness, that being outside of time sense that’s always there when we cross oceans and timezones and find ourselves completely out of our own context. While the series is slow at coming together, I add a new story every now and again.

 

The original title I’d planned for the collection was Jet lagged and Lusting that because many of those stories came out of the fevered dream space that in which one finds oneself when trying to recover from a long journey. It’s a space where sleep is uncertain and fleeting and being awake feels completely surreal, almost as though our bodies aren’t quite connected to our minds.

 

I find that in those times, I’m very open to the Muse, and to strange thoughts and ideas that seem more real than not and that lead me to a different creative space inside myself. Horse Power is one of those tales. I wrote it and shared it several years ago and today felt like a good day to share a free read. I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

Horse Power

I didn’t think it strange when I first saw the horse running on the beach in the middle of the night. That in itself was strange … that I didn’t think it strange, I mean. It was a very high tide and the wind was just blowing out the tail end of a storm, which was not going out peacefully. I didn’t think it strange that the white horse, who looked almost silver in the moonlight, was alone, frolicking in the waves. I didn’t even think it strange when I glanced away long enough to pull on my bathrobe and looked up to find a man standing where the horse had been. That he was naked and that the horse was nowhere in sight I didn’t think was really all that strange either. I just figured as jet lagged as I’d been the past couple of days I was dreaming, and a disappearing white horse and a hunky naked man on a midnight beach well that was a helluva lot better than some of the jet lagged dreams I’d had.

 

I had rented a cottage on the beach near Lincoln City for a bit of holiday and some much-needed downtime from my hectic schedule. I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if I’d gone to the mountains instead. But hindsight is always better than foresight, and it’s better not to dwell on what I can’t change. I spent a lot of the first couple of days wandering the cottage in the middle of the night and sitting on the deck watching the ocean. That’s what I’d been doing when I saw the horse and then the man. As I watched, suddenly a wave high enough to cover a house swept over him, and I cried out, dropping the untied sash of my robe and pressing my face to the sliding glass door of the cottage. I had no idea what to do. No one could swim in that high sea. I didn’t even know who to call – 911, the Coast Guard, the police. As the wave scoured the beach, I stood nose pressed to the glass, heart racing. I had to do something. But what? And who would believe me? Surely anyone I did call would think that I was on something, or drunk, or … jet lagged. If there had been a man on the beach such a wave would have washed him far out to sea by the time anyone got there to check out my call. Still, I couldn’t just do nothing.

 

Straining my eyes to make out the darkened beach, I fumbled for my phone on the table next to me. I only glanced away for a split second to grab the device, but when I looked back, as the waves receded, the man was standing unmoved exactly where he had been. No, I think he was even closer. His back was to me, and he seemed to be looking up at the moon, his arms raised, his head thrown back. For a moment the thought flashed through my head that he might have been a marble sculpture standing there on the sand.

 

But then he turned, and honestly, I forgot all about my speculations. He was magnificent, unruly hair tossed around his head in the wind, water glistened and sheened off his arms and torso and dripped down the curves of his elbows and buttocks. He was muscle and sinew – not like a body builder, more like a dancer. But even a dancer couldn’t move like he did. He moved like the waves and the water. He flowed, muscles undulating beneath taut moonlit skin. I was so mesmerized by the look of him, the move of him that it took me a second to realize not only was he walking toward where I stood inside the cottage, gawping at him, robe wide open, but he was looking right at me.

 

I should have stepped back out of view. I should have pulled the curtains. I probably should have been terrified, but I just stood there staring. As he moved across the sand it was impossible not to notice his heavy cock becoming heavier with each step until he rested a protective hand against it, a hand that both protected and caressed, and the clench and tremble below my belly was a sign of just how aware of his cock I was. I was far more aware of my body warming and moistening and swelling to the sight of him than I was of the fact that a strange naked man on the beach was watching me with hunger in his eyes. By the time he reached the deck that led to the sliding doors of my room, the arousal I felt was liberally laced with fear, but when he vaulted the railing as easily as if it hadn’t even been there, I let out a shriek, dropped my cell phone on the floor in my efforts to jerk the curtains shut and fled into the bathroom. It was only after I locked the door behind me that I realized I had stupidly trapped myself. There was no window in the bathroom, no escape route if he did find a way in. Every horror film I’d ever seen rushed back to me along with every serial killer tale I’d ever heard. Abductions, tortures, kidnappings and white slavery all ran through my head for a split second. Be calm, Sadie! Be calm. It’s just your imagination.Surely it’s just your imagination, I told myself.

 

I woke in the morning stiff and sore and sprawled on the bathroom floor in my robe. There was nothing I could use for a weapon, and my watch read 9:00. The wind had died down, and if the forecast was right, the sun would be out and it would be a beautiful day. I cinched my bathrobe tight around my waist and, with fingers none too steady, unlocked the door, took a deep breath and poked my head out. The cottage was deserted, everything exactly as I’d left it, curtains hastily drawn, phone on the floor near the edge of the bed. After gathering enough courage to open the curtain and venture onto the deck, I discovered everything exactly as it had been the evening before. There were no footprints on the decking, no footprints on the sand beyond. There was no evidence of the naked man at all.

 

 

I dressed hastily and walked out onto the beach behind the deck. There were no footprints of any kind up close to my cottage, just lots of strange odd-shaped indentions in the sand. In my muzzy-headed condition, it took me a few minutes to realize they were hoof prints. I just figured someone had been out for an early-morning ride, though I thought it was a bit cheeky for them to come this close to my cottage.

 

As I went through the day, a little shopping in Lincoln city, a drive up the coast, lunch at Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay, my thoughts about the naked man on the beach became less thoughts of the scary stalker kind and more thoughts of wondering what might have happened if I’d invited him in when we were both clearly aroused by the situation. After a long walk on the beach in the afternoon sun, the man constantly in my thoughts, I masturbated in a long steamy shower leaning up against the tiles pretending the spray was the rain and the waves, that it was his mouth making my nipples tingle and rise, that it was his fingers opening me, stroking me, finding all the places that made me grind and shift and buck like a mare waiting for a stallion, that it was his fingers spreading me and making me ready for his cock. Thoughts of his cock reminded me of the white horse on the beach, and that made me wonder at the enormity of my need thinking of him vaulting my deck railing, thinking of the horse frolicking in the waves, thinking of the ebb and flow, of the undulation of sex, of his body penetrating mine; thinking of the overwhelming wave of release I might have had if I’d simply opened the sliding door and let him in.

 

When the sun set, I became ridiculously bold – perhaps it was due to jet lag, but certainly a couple of glasses of good Oregon Pinot Noir didn’t hurt. I stripped out of my clothes and wrapped myself in a blanket, then I settled in the chaise lounge with my glass of wine and my Kindle. I always had several erotic novels pulled up for my reading pleasure. I had a lot of sexual energy and at that point in my life, I was my only outlet, so I read a lot of erotica and watched a bit of porn now and then, but the man on the beach was even better than porn, and he was my own fantasy story come to life And then I’d ran away from him! I couldn’t really believe he was real, and yet if he was a dream, it really pissed me off that I’d done something so stupid as to run away rather than to stay and let him properly fuck me. I didn’t place much stock in lucid dreaming. I figured you get what you get, and your unconscious has a vicious sense of humor when it comes to the dreams you get, but I really, really wanted to revisit the man on the stormy beach. Instead, I got the horse.

 

It was the soft whickering that woke me. The moon had risen in a bright disk painting the pale horse in a silver grey dance of light and shadow. He pranced and sidestepped just beyond the edge of the waves, tossing his main, tail flowing like a kite behind him as he frolicked. Then suddenly he stilled, as though he were aware of my wakefulness. Seeing that I was no threat, he moved forward toward me. I stood, pulling the blanket tightly around me and moved to the rail, then I remembered the bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. “I’ve got something for you, boy,” I said. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”

 

I was only gone a minute — just long enough to nab an apple, but when I returned, the horse wasn’t alone. The man from last night sat astride him, just as naked as he was the night before. But this time I wasn’t scared. This time I felt myself in control of the dream. He watched as I strode boldly down the steps onto the sand and offered the apple to the horse, feeling the soft velvet of his muzzle against my palm as he took my offering.

 

Then the horse gave me a gentle head butt and I lost my grip on the blanket. As it slid open, the man offered me his hand. It was a dream, I told myself. It had to be, so I lifted my hands to him letting the blanket fall away as he bent and scooped me one-armed onto the broad back of the horse and settled me in front of him. I gave a little gasp as, with the flat of his large hand low on my belly, he pulled me back against his hard naked chest.

 

And then we were like the wind racing down the beach dangerously close to the swell of the waves. The spray took my breath and stung my eyes and for a moment I saw nothing but a blur. He slid his hand up my belly to caress my breasts, and on upward to cup my throat and my jaw, drawing me around, and I twisted and arched toward him as he mantled me and took my mouth and I breathed in the fresh breath of the storm humid and wild on his kiss, a kiss that lingered and deepened as the rhythm of the horse drove me back against his body, back against the urgency of his cock pressed to the small of my back.

 

Once he was certain I wouldn’t pull away from the dance of his tongue, his caress migrated downward again, thumbing my nipples until I squirmed and ached, stroking my belly in little kneading circles, each one lower than the one before, until he shivered his fingers down through my tight pubic curls. Even spread wide as I was mounted on the muscular back of the horse, unconsciously, I opened still wider as he teased and worried his way between my legs.

 

 

I pressed hard back against his body for leverage to get long thick fingers into places slick as seaweed and more heated than the laboring back of the horse. He intuited the depths of me where the hungry places begged and wept for release. With fingertips and the broad flat of his thumb, he explored the valleys and folds, the swells and undulations until I growled and arched and forgot how to be civilized. The salt spray that had misted us now rose above us in glorious curling waves, higher and higher until we road in the dark rise of their foamy shadows. The horse screamed and reared and I fell back against the man, who was now guiding the animal with only his knees, one hand teasing and making me ready, the other cupping my buttocks and lifting me until I could feel the insistent press of him pushing, prodding, opening me. Then with a loud, inhuman cry like a warrior at conquest, he plunged home deep and hard, forcing the breath from my lungs in a desperate cry for relief just as the horse turned headlong into the roll of the wave and took us down to the deep.

 

I came to myself in the semi-doze of the place where fantasy happens, naked breasts peeking to break the surface of the calm ocean undulating beneath me as I let the waves carry me in. It didn’t seem strange to me that I was naked and unafraid in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, nor did it seem strange when I realized I wasn’t in the middle at all, but gently riding the swells in toward the beach next to my rented cottage. It didn’t even seem strange that the sun was rising in the sky when my last memories had been of heated sex and full heavy night. What did seem strange, as I waded up the beach and wrapped myself in the discarded blanket that lay exactly where I’d left it, was that my cottage was swarming with police.

 

From my deck, two uniformed officers spotted me and the place went wild. Before I could speak, I was swarmed by EMTs trying to shove an oxygen mask in my face while one kept telling me just to relax and breathe deeply. When I was finally able to convince everyone that I was all right, a plain clothes detective named Dirk Snyder shooed the EMTs away and guided me the chaise lounge.

 

“What’s going on, detective? Why are all these cops in my cottage?”

 

He took a bottle of water a uniform handed him and gave it to me. When I’d drank most of it back in thirsty gulps, he settled onto his haunches next to me and held me in an earnest gaze. “Ms. Gibbons, you’ve been missing for three days.”

 

“What?” Suddenly the deck felt more like the deck of a ship as the memories of the wild ride on the beach came back to me. “How can that be?”

 

“The cleaner came Tuesday morning and found the place wide open. Several of the neighbors thought they saw you walking into the water. The tides were still high. They feared the worst.”

 

Since that night five years ago, I’ve read everything I can about the gods and goddesses and the spirits of the deep. I’ve read all the mythology and fairy tales I can find about water and water deities. I’ve read about water horses and mermaids and how sometimes they seduce people and take them down to the deep never to be released again. I guess I was lucky. But I’m more inclined to believe there was a reason for my survival. That reason is my daughter, conceived sometime during those three days I was supposedly missing. Every once in a while I have faint recollections, intimations of dreams of a place beneath the waves, of a man and a horse nearly interchangeable — always insatiable, and of me always ready and full of longing. The memories leave me aching with a desire I have no name for, and when I can stand no more and give myself relief beneath my sweat-drenched sheets or in a foamy bath or a steamy shower, I wish I could bring it all back to me – those three days.

The child who bears little resemblance to me but is a constant reminder of her father is the beautiful gift he left me, and yet I want more. Every day I want more, and yet I can’t bring myself to return to the sea because I’m afraid he’ll come for us, but I’m even more afraid that he won’t. Someday I’ll gather my courage and take the child he gave me back to that beach at Lincoln City and tell her about her father, and when the tide is high and the storm blows out on the heels of a full moon, we’ll wait for him together. Someday.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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