Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genres/Themes: Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Gay, Murder Mystery, Shapeshifters, Suspense, Action Adventure
Rob’s current goal in life? Do not eat people. That’s easier said than done when you’re a kelpie in the service industry. While Rob pursues his goals from behind the bar, a stranger walks in, and Rob catches the man’s scent. Yet, patrons are not for eating, and it should have ended there… except when Rob smells that delicious scent again, the beautiful stranger needs help.
Bertrand wants to fit in, but because he’s part Fae, part Elf, and grew up human, he’s not really at home in either human or supernatural society. Still, he likes being a reporter and following a story all the way to its conclusion. The story he’s pursuing when he walks into Rob’s bar one night is one of supernaturals going missing, and Bertrand seems to be the only one who cares.
Meeting Bertrand might just shift Rob’s life goals. Coming face-to-face with a kelpie stallion might be enough to help Bertrand see where he fits in perfectly. Except Bertrand doesn’t really know what to make of Rob, and also, Bertrand’s missing persons story is bigger than even he envisioned. It’s turning into a case of abduction and trafficking he needs to unravel before he can even think about Rob’s advances. The story will lead Bertrand to some dark places before the year is out.
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Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper
The daytime drinkers with the incipient beer bellies were getting louder. Rob was just about to get back to gutting his lime in order to suppress thoughts of gutting those three when the door opened once more.
The icy air tickled Rob’s nose with the smell of the season turning, of snowdrops shaking off the weight of frozen water to sing of longer days and sun returning to the world.
But the man walking into the Ragdoll wasn’t a sprite. He was — glamoured.
Rob, who knew how to use a glamour even if he turned into a carnivorous horse who could break hearts without prettying himself up with magic, could tell. The glamour wasn’t exceedingly strong on this man.
Out of the corner of his eye, Rob saw the mage look up briefly, noticing the same thing, but then dismissing it. She’d have been able to see through it easily enough, and since she didn’t react further, Rob could be sure the man who smelled of snowdrops didn’t have any openly nefarious intentions.
But the man… Rob’s mouth was watering, and he watched as the new patron pulled his fur-trimmed hood back from his golden locks and pried his snug gloves off his long fingers. He had to be part Fae. Rob was pretty sure just from his looks, but with a glamour that hid what he was, Rob couldn’t tell precisely.
The man looked shifty, though. Rob had misspent his youth lingering in pools, ponds, and really any body of water that didn’t have a kappa infestation. He’d done it in order to lure humans and whoever wanted to be lured, so he knew what shifty looked like quite intimately.
The glamoured patron wasn’t the let’s-drown-them-and-eat-their liver type of person, not that Rob would ever admit to anyone that he himself had ever been that person. The man wore glasses. They misted up in the warmth of the Ragdoll, and he had to pull them off, revealing a set of hazel eyes that brimmed with intelligence. Without the glasses, he wasn’t too blind to find one of the quiet corner tables, where he deposited his large frame in a chair that looked flimsy under him.
Because yes, the man looked like the kind of person Western directors with a bottomless budget would cast for the role of a Greek hero or an intergalactic hero. Rob liked a man who could hold his own in a fight, and he shivered at the thought of this one’s thighs pressing into Rob’s sides when he was in his horse form. He shivered at the thought of this man riding him.
Kyle grabbed a menu and made his way to the man while Rob watched.
The new patron was interested in the soon-to-be beer-bellied. He glanced past Kyle and seemed too distracted to properly examine the menu, but Kyle nodded and scribbled something on his notepad.
“Hey, boss.” Carla, Rob’s strawberry blonde half-succubus bartender, had snuck up on him and was clapping him on the shoulder.
“Please don’t startle me,” he told her. “And also, hello. You are early.”
“Well, I figured you might need the extra pair of hands,” she said and gave his still unharmed lime a pointed look.
“I was getting to that,” he told her, frowning.
Carla sighed. “Can I say something?”
“Can I stop you?”
She crossed her arms in front of her beautiful succubus chest. “What do you think?”
“Well, let’s have it.”
“You, boss, need to get laid. It might be, I don’t know, a shifter thing. I swear it’s like you guys molt or something.”
Rob sliced the lime in half neatly and let it bleed its acidic last on his cutting board. “Carla, dear. I turn into a horse. I do not molt.”
She raised her finger to forestall a lecture. “Changes nothing. You need to bang someone.” She tapped her nose with a finger, the nail painted fire-engine red. “I can tell.”
“I’m stressed because I’m tending bar when I shouldn’t be tending bar,” Rob said.
She waved that off. “Pfft. You’re happy for Ilya, admit it. Maybe ask that witch if he has a brother?” she asked and wiggled her eyebrows.
“He’s the sole Fey heir, and you know that as well as I do,” Rob said. “Also, I do not need to urgently bang a witch.” Rob kept his voice down, because he was not easily shaken, certainly not by the suggestion that he was in need of sex. Rob was accomplished. He had the occasional one-night stand, because (just like Ilya) he looked good behind the bar, almost as good as he did as a horse with his hooves in a lake, his mane dangling in the water, and the moon hitting his shiny coat just so.
Yes, if Rob wanted to find a warm body to put his cock in, he could do just that, but the succubus was overreacting. It was a thing with ‘cubi, assuming that one needed to have sex all the time or else one’s health — mental or otherwise — was in danger.
“Did you just daydream about fucking Aaron?” Carla asked.
Rob made quick work of the lime. “I did not, and I reject the idea.” Although the witch was a big strong man under that coat he wore all the time. But no. Going there was no good — even if from the looks of it, Aaron had very nice shoulders.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter or TikTok, and subscribe to her newsletter!