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Kathleen Rowland Launches One Night in Havana with a Great Giveaway

 

One Night in Havana

#34 in the City Nights Series from Tirgearr Publishing

by Kathleen Rowland

 

Kathleen will be awarding 3 lucky winners a $10 Amazon Gift Certiticate. Winners will be chosen randomly with Rafflecopter. 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.

 

About the Book:

A desperate competition and sizzling attraction leads to dangerous desire.

 

New York Marine biologist Veronica “Roni” Keane is attending the Havana Bay Conference in Cuba. Tomorrow only one grant will be awarded which will provide the winner with professional recognition, resources for a project, and living expenses for two years. She hopes to continue her deceased father’s work, but smooth operator, Carlos Montoya, has won many grants in the past.

 

Carlos, a freelancer for the Havana Port Authority, works to help protect Havana’s reputation as a bastion of safety. As international travelers flock to the island, attracted by its 1950’s time-warp and colonial architecture, the drug business is running rampant, particularly on Roni’s cruise ship. Something’s not right, and when her scuba tanks are tampered with, Carlos brings in the military police to investigate. For her safety, he keeps her close, but he craves her body.

 

Their attraction leads to a fun night with a bit of kink. But Roni finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for when the criminals blame her for alerting the military police and come looking for her. Can Roni trust Carlos to protect her? Will she stay in Havana if Carlos wins the coveted grant, or kiss her lover goodbye?

 

An erotic romance with mystery.

 

Amazon Buy Link

 

 

Excerpt:

 

Chapter One

“Why, Veronica Keane.” A voice heavy with a Spanish accent drawled from behind her. “A dive bar?” A taunting tsk. “What do we have? A slumming New Yorker?”

She stiffened and closed her eyes. She knew that voice and its owner, Dr. Carlos Montoya, a finalist like her, competing for the same damn grant at the biggest Cephalopoda conference of the decade. Her heart pitter-pattered against her ribs. To turn toward him would intimate distress, or worse yet, weakness. She wouldn’t fail to win this grant, not when she was a final contender. “I like this funky little place.” Sia Macario Café, smack in the center of Havana, allowed her to observe locals and their daily lives.

“You need to eat with all the mojitos you’ve downed.” The big tease wasn’t counting. This was her first drink, but his rumbling, sexy timbre hinted at all kinds of dark, hot promises. She’d rubbed shoulders with the Cuban scientist all week. This splendid specimen of Latin male brought on a physical ache that punched low.

A flare-up stirred fear. For her own good, she needed to resist. “I ordered camarones enchiladas.” By now she knew the menu on the chalkboard by heart. She tipped her head back to whiff grilled shrimp soon to arrive in sofrito sauce with fried sweet plantains.

“The flan is good. Just like my abuela makes.”

“I bet. Your grandmother would be happy to hear that,” she said, knowing he brought out the best in most people. Two days ago he’d invited her and a handful of others scuba diving. The chance to ogle him had been one of the perks. He’d worn nothing but swim trunks, his bare chest on display. Every glistening muscle was finely etched. Not a drop of fat on him. Since he’d not given her the time of day, she’d checked him out without him noticing.

The hard-bodied host had led the way toward habitats of soft-bodied creatures. To find where invertebrates lived was never an easy task. Octopuses squeezed into narrow passages of coral for protection and gave females a place to keep their eggs. She’d discovered the remains of a few meals nearby.Octopuses scattered rocks and shells to help them hide.

This grant meant so much to her and no doubt to him as well. Veronica mindlessly toyed with the gold necklace around her neck, but anxiety crackled through her brain. Unlike this man of action, she lacked the flamboyant personality necessary to talk people into things. Carlos had that ability. He’d made friends with judges on board while she’d conversed with an older woman about a box of scones made with Cuban vanilla cream.

That day the wind had picked up to a gale force, and this woman named Bela with Lucille Ball red hair needed help walking to her home. The half mile down the seaside promenade, The Malecón, had provided her with time to practice her Spanish. Turned out Bela was Carlos’s grandmother. She’d worked as a maid when the Castro government came to power. When private homes were nationalized, titles were handed over to the dwelling occupants. Bela owned a crumbling home in the respected Verdado district and rented out rooms.

What Veronica detested about Carlos was his abnormal level of talent for schmoozing. Not that he wasn’t charismatic; he drew her like a powerful magnet with emotions hard to untangle. Why was a self-assured woman who ran her own life thinking about a man who commanded everyone around him?

She inhaled a breath and turned around on the barstool, caught fast by a gut punch of Carlos Montoya in the flesh. She sighed and surrendered to the tendrils of want sliding up between her thighs.

Tall and muscular, his lush dark hair curled to his collar giving him a wild, roguish appearance. His face was lean and chiseled. His mouth full and tempting. His eyes the smoky-gray of a grass fire and fringed with black lashes as dense as paintbrushes. He smiled. A faint hint of mockery curved his mouth, a sensual mouth she imagined to be either inviting or cruel. Or both at the same time when he leaned over a woman with a diamond-hard gleam in his dark eyes while she drowned with pleasure. She fought a fierce desire to run her hand across his broad chest, tip her face upward, and…

His breath tickled her face.

Not going there. She blinked and forced her mind to focus. Carlos Montoya was not the kind of man you lost focus around. But that image of putting her mouth full on his and peeling away his shirt once introduced in her mind was impossible to expunge. Pointless even to try.

He was an intimidating blend of intellect and sexy danger. Both qualities had her leaning back against the bar’s edge. If it weren’t for him, she’d have a chance at winning the grant.

His lips twitched. “You’re staying on one of the cruise ships, am I right?” He rolled up the sleeves of his linen jacket to reveal a dusting of manly hair.

”Yes.” Her cabin served as her hotel room while attending the January meetings with perfect high-seventies temperatures. His eyes locked with hers. She willed herself to move and yet she remained seated, clutching heat between her legs, a wetness so intense that her breath stalled in her chest while her heart hammered faster. Soon she’d return to freezing New York City.

“So, Bonita, give.” He slid onto the bar stool next to her. “What brings you down from a lofty ship to grace us lowly Cubans with your presence?”

Bonita. Pretty lady was not an endearment coming from the mouth curved in a taunting smile, but not a slight either. Not with his deep, melodic voice speaking words as if he knew secrets about her. What secrets did he know? Would he pry into her personal life? She doubted this bad-boy college professor acknowledged boundaries.

“Just drinks and dinner.” She scrambled for composure. “Aren’t we attending a world-class conference? I find the local population to be friendly and kind. That’s not slumming.”

The bartender set down a saoco. “Hope you like it, senorita.”

“Gracias,” she said. “Very nice, served in a coconut.”

“Ah, the saoco,” Carlos said. “Rum, lime juice, sugar, and ice. The saoco,” he repeated, disbelief heavy in his words. “Um. Wow. Once used as a tonic for prisoners of the revolution.”

“Medicinal?” She couldn’t help it. She chuckled and sounded as if a rusty spoon had scraped her throat raw, but it was genuine. The warm glow in its wake was welcome and needed. .

He leaned an elbow on the bar, his beer bottle with the green-and-red Cristal label dangling between his fingers. “Be careful with that one.” He dipped his head toward the front door as if he needed to go somewhere soon.

That fast, the glow snuffed out. She cleared her throat and gripped the fuzzy surface of the coconut container.

He placed a five-peso coin with a brass plug on the counter and whirled it. The spinning motion mirrored a dizzying attraction going on in low parts of her belly.

She cleared her wayward mind and nodded toward artwork on the opposite wall. “I plan to buy a painting tonight.”

“Don’t buy anything unless the seller gives you a certificate. You’ll need one to take art from Cuba. Artists deal in euros in case you don’t have pesos.”

She’d come prepared but said, “Thanks for the info.”

His coal-black eyes widened as he gazed from her head down to the tiny straps around her ankles as if she wore high heels and nothing else. “You give off a Barbie doll image,” he replied and stood up.

“Huh?”

“Where’s Ken, anyway? Kenneth Morton. He came with you to the talks in Antarctica. Five years ago.” He grinned, and the mortification in her belly gave way to a longing which she had no business feeling toward her competitor.

“Ken and I broke up.” She hesitated for a moment. “You have a gift for remembering names. Like a salesman.”

“A person’s name is, to that person, the most important and sweetest sound. Back then I introduced myself to Ken in the men’s room.”

“I remember now. Didn’t you give a talk on a specialized pigment in the octopus?”

“Ahh, si.” He splayed his fingers over his chest. “A pigment in their blood is—”

“—called hemocyanin. Turns their blood blue and helps them survive subfreezing temperatures. Were you awarded something?”

“The antifreeze protein grant? No. It went to a deep-diving photographer. He wasn’t chicken about getting lost or trapped under the ice.”

She slid from her stool and strutted around, jutting her chin in and out like a chicken. “Bock, bock, bock, bock, bock, begowwwwk.”

He chuckled. “Cute chicken dance. Very cute in that skimpy black dress.”

Her cheeks heated, and she clutched her necklace. He’d seen plenty of women in body-fitting attire. In Cuba, women wore dresses to meetings. If she’d harnessed sexier mojo, she’d have livened up presentations. Her presentations with an abundance of dull data went south. She slid back against her stool and clutched her purse to her stomach as if the small satin bag could calm the nerves playing deep down kickball. She belonged in her tidy New York office filled with computers, modems, and research manuals. Not in this softly lit café where passion oozed from a man’s pores, and artists displayed their canvases. Here was where Havana’s trendsetters congregated, and Ernest Hemingway wrote about desire.

“Good luck with your purchases, Veronica Keane.”

Okay, so they weren’t going to pretend they were going head to head for the grant.

As if he had more to say, he grinned at her, his perfect white teeth flashing.. “Do you find us different, like apples and oranges?”

“What am I, an apple or an orange?”

“Hmm. You’re an apple.” He was doing that sexy voice thing which made her brain shut down. Heady.

It started with an unexpected spark, an instant attraction, the jolting jab of oh-I’m-feeling-something. Something like a flashfire in her belly, but now they were talking. “Am I the apple of desire? Want to take a bite out of me?” She pulled in a breath. Had she really said that?

Bonita, do I ever.”

 

“Tomorrow is the final ceremony.” Would she watch him walk to the podium to accept the grant?

 

About the Author:

Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with an erotic love story sure to melt their hearts. Her latest release is One Night in Havana, #34 in the City Nights series.

 

Kathleen also has a steamy romantic suspense series with Tirgearr Publishing, Deadly Alliance is followed by Unholy Alliance. Keep an icy drink handy while reading these sizzling stories.

 

Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.   She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.

 

Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write.

 

If you’d enjoy news, sign up for Kathleen’s newsletter at http://www.kathleenrowland.com/

Tirgearr Publishing – Leading The Pack

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/786656.Kathleen_Rowland

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https://twitter.com/rowlandkathleen

https://kathleenrowland.wordpress.com/

http://www.kathleenrowland.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/romanticsuspense.kathleenrowland/

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

New Release: Dancing with Myself: Stories of Self-Love Erotica

 

 

Edited by Jillian Boyd

Nine sizzling, sexy stories of self-love and self-discovery, edited by (and with a story from) Jillian Boyd, featuring Dena Hankins, T.C. Mill, Jordan Monroe, Leandra Vane, LN Bey, Jones, Hollis Queens and Rachel Woe.

 

In this sensually spellbinding collection, nine authors explore just a couple of the ways one can get themselves off – stories that don’t just hone in on the how, but explore the why, and the “oh… oh my” Dancing with Myself delves into the heads and between the sheets of a long-distance submissive and her dominant, a cam girl reminiscing, an artist entranced with her unusual subjects and many more.

 

Dancing with Myself Buy Links Here: 

books2read.com/dancing

 

 

Table of contents

Obey – Dena Hankins

The pose didn’t strain her body. It just made her feel so damn vulnerable. Maddie wished she’d thought this through more. The pictures she’d studied hadn’t given her a clue how the poses would make her feel.

 

The Solution – TC Mill

I wondered if Dom had ever worried about me, all the nights I’d been out late. Maybe he’d been glad to have his space, just as I was glad to have mine on those evenings he claimed to have meetings or buddies waiting for him at some bar. Once I figured out where he’d really been going, I claimed more than space. I took pleasure, I took control. That was what it felt like at the time, at least.

 

Investigation – Jordan Monroe

As Tara answered him, she sat still with her hands in her lap. She was struck by the intimacy of this interview. They were perfect strangers, and yet he was asking her questions that would not be asked on a date. It was rather revealing, and she was surprised that she found herself enjoying the process.

 

5A – Jillian Boyd

It took me a moment to adjust to the sudden flash of brightness in the lobby, the motion lights having switched themselves on after I opened the main doorway to my block of flats. But after I’d blinked my eyes back to normal, I became very, very aware of the little pink sticky note stuck to my mailbox. Pink note, red ink, message that left me with a red-hot, full body blush in a matter of seconds.

 

Half the Story – Leandra Vane

He held himself firm and it felt like returning home. The weight of his world vanished and he could just be himself. Desire was Nick’s biggest secret and he always kept it on lock down.

Nick started pumping himself into his fist with sure, steady strokes. He imagined Lauren was on top of him, straddling him on the chair, her jeans tight over her thighs and her pussy kept from him by a thin but unfortunate layer of denim. That didn’t stop her from grinding into him and shoving her tits in his face. They bounced to the rhythm Nick was stroking himself, faster and faster. He looked down the front of her shirt, his imagination straining to catch a glimpse of the darkened areolas around her pebbled nipples. But the tiny tank top held everything in despite Nick’s most desperate yearnings.

 

Girl B – LN Bey

All week she woke up picturing herself as the new girl, kneeling beside Angie, naked and awaiting Trey’s orders as he towered above them. Lying in bed on her back, her fingers would grasp her own hips as she lay there; begin to edge inward.

No.

She ran, farther and faster each day, and did nothing in the shower but scrub the grime and sweat from her skin.

 

Fawna – Jones

In the dreams, there are so many more flowers. Hundreds of them all over her. Their green touch creeping up her body and wrapping around her legs, holding her down so that the flowers can explore her more deeply, rub themselves against her sex and past her lips, petals folding neatly over her clit. Orchids, like small mirrors held up to her open vulva, embrace her. Clots of frothing white snapdragon blossoms press against her like a thousand little mouths over her ass and hips, and breasts. Tight white knots of lilies slid against her cunt, almost penetrating, leaving their dust on her thighs and lips.

And now here they are, alive, in her hands, under her fingers.

 

Reconnection – Hollis Queens

Laura Linx’s email is waiting for her when she’s finished with the dicks. They had met on a community chat board when Laura had first gotten into the business. Bleu had taken the new member under her wing and taught her how to deal with rude customers, how to check token statistics to see who was worth spending energy on and even how to set up her camming business as an LLC. In a way, Bleu still does social work. Only instead of making a crap salary, she’s pulling over five times what the state job had offered her after she graduated. She tries to share this information with as many women as she can, but not all of them listen. Some are only in it for the quick cash. Some can’t take the grueling schedule, lack of days off and the consistent rudeness which wears cam girls down over time. The online community of cammers acts as a safe haven, protection again the dangers and loneliness that come with participating in such exposed yet reclusive work.

 

Unconventional Methods – Rachel Woe

Figs. Oysters. Chili peppers. Of all the alleged aphrodisiacs, nothing makes me want to slide my hand between my thighs more than good old-fashioned anticipation.

 

I check the clock again. 10:55 pm, the equivalent of 3:55 am London-time. Daniel’s time. He likes to joke that he’s Merry Olde England, and I’m new—as in New England. American. Peanut butter and Twinkies to his Marmite and spotted dick.

 

Being a food blogger has a way of seeping into other corners of my life. To be fair, I am hungry. Ravenous, in fact. But not for cakes or condiments. My body reacts to the ping of the chat notification like a dog to a dinner bell. My mouth literally waters. I listen for the glide of my mother’s legs across the sheets in the next room, the restless flipping of covers. The prolonged silence tells me she’s fallen into the stupor offered by her sleeping pills. I plant myself in front of my laptop, wireless earbuds firmly in place.

 

There’s only one word in the chat box: Ready?

 

Arousal blooms low in my belly, soft petals unfurling. I type, Yes, Sir, and hit enter.

 

About Jillian Boyd

Jillian Boyd is a writer and anthology editor, based in London. She has previously edited anthologies about the Roaring Twenties, spies and oral sex, which are just some of her many interests in life.

 

 

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37854540-dancing-with-myself

 

Our Love is Here to Stay: Launch & Giveaway from Madison Michael

 

 

 

Madison has some fabulous giveaways for this tour. Remember you may visit the other tour stops to increase your chances of winning. You may find those locations here.

 

Romance and TimeTravel Prize Package #1: Includes Books: Outlander, Time Traveler’s Wife and Beyond the Highland Mist and DVDs: Somewhere in Time, The Lake House, the eBook Our Love Is Here To Stay.

 

Romance and TimeTravel Prize Package #2: One of the books above and 1 of the DVDs plus the eBook for Our Love Is Here To Stay.

 

Romance and TimeTravel Prize Package #3: One of the books above or one DVD plus the eBooks Our Love Is Here To Stay.

 

 

 

 

Can Love Transcend Time?

 

 

 

 

Thirty-year old Matthew Herrington is weary of solo nights in strange cities. He is ready for a change. And that is exactly what he gets when he steps into Swing Night at The Green Mill and is instantly immersed in the sights and sounds of another era. Intrigued by the club’s authenticity, Matthew is enchanted when he meets Patty, a mixture of sexy and sweet who steals his heart.

 

Patty Dennison has never met a man like Matthew in all her twenty-one years. A sophisticated man, he stands out from the usual Swing Night crowd. He is self-assured, smart, charming, and handsome as hell, even if he is a lousy dancer. Once he takes her in his arms, Patty is more than willing to give him a few dance lessons along with her heart.

 

Repeated missed dates and unanswered phone calls strain the relationship and frustrate the pair. But unraveling their mystery exposes an impossible scenario, one that will torment their sanity and test their love.

 

How can they make their fairytale last? Can love transcend time?

 

Buy Links:

Amazon | All other formats

 

 

 

Our Love is Here to Stay Excerpt:

A waitress came to take it off his hands. “Another?” she queried and he nodded agreement, placing a crumpled dollar on her tray. “Too much,” she told him shaking her head no. Matthew was surprised by her response but the tray was covered with loose change so he removed his bill and left the equivalent in quarters. Everything was so inexpensive but the server still needed to make a decent living.

She gave him a grateful smile and turned to move to her next customer, carefully balancing her tray above the heads of the young people around her. In the process, she nudged Matthew slightly causing him to lose his footing and fall gently against another body. Turning to apologize he found himself staring into the clearest, lightest blue eyes he had ever seen. He couldn’t look away.

“Sorry,” he mumbled when he finally regained his composure.

“That’s okay,” she replied with a quick, bright smile. She was lovely, in a wholesome girl next door way. She had her blond hair pulled into a ponytail that curled like a hair product ad, clear-skinned cheeks that were pink with warmth and perhaps exertion, and a curvy body displayed under a bright red sweater and a flared plaid skirt.

Matthew felt his mouth go dry and his palms get sweaty. She did something to him, this fresh faced woman that he found incredibly sexy. Her red lipstick was a slash of bright color mimicking the red of the sweater. Until this moment, bright red lipstick screamed “tough broad, stay away” to Matthew but on this girl it whispered “come hither.”

“Matthew,” he squeaked out, extending his hand to shake hers. Thinking twice about it, he retracted his arm, running his palm against his pants swiftly, and hopefully surreptitiously, before he extended his hand again.

“Patty,” she responded, placing her soft fingers in his large palm. She shook like a girl. After all the bone-breaking handshakes Matthew had endured across the globe, this limp, fingers-only shake surprised him. She looked athletic, not tough but toned, and not sickly pale like most Chicagoans in winter. The handshake didn’t match the image and normally would have bothered him. Nothing about Patty bothered him. Everything about her bothered him.

 

 

 

 

 

About Madison:

 

 

 

Madison Michael traded 28 years in Fortune 500 tech and management positions for a chance to spend her days with sassy heroines, sexy, rich heroes and nothing but happy endings. Growing up the daughter of a librarian, she learned to love books, especially classics and romances, and spent winters cuddled under blankets losing herself in books.

 

Madison is the author of three novels in the Beguiling Bachelor series, as well as several short stories. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.

 

After living in the northeast, southeast and the west, Maddy returned to her Midwest roots. She lives in Evanston, IL with two feline editorial assistants and great views of Chicago’s famous skyline.

 

 

Contact Madison Here:

Website | Madison’s Blog | Maddy’s Romance Madness | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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?

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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