NEW RELEASE: Dream Gate by Mikala Ash #steampunk #SciFiRomance @ash_mikala

Dreams are magical. They make anything possible-passion, alternate worlds, even the death of empires.

Can love bloom where deadly danger rules?

After the attack on her home and family, Faerie witch Lady Carlyle is taken in by the gallant Captain Justin Quin. Together they investigate the sacrificial murder of a scientist connected to the defense of the British empire.

With the assistance of Dr. Keane, demon witch, Lady Julia Molyneux furthers her bloody attempts at redemption, while Lord Lucian Carlyle continues his obsessive quest to visit alternate worlds. At risk is the centre of empire, the teeming metropolis of London itself, where the innocent will pay with their souls the price of unbridled ambition.

Now Available at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Mikala Ash

Lady Julia Molyneux’s Diary

The border between pleasure and pain, it has been said, is hair thin, and one woman’s titillation is another man’s torment.

The man in question lay naked on the vast mahogany desk and whimpered in a most piteous manner. Like a wounded animal his nostrils flared with each fearful breath, though I believe his reaction to be premature, his ordeal had not yet begun. Spittle and white flecks of foam coated the gag that stretched across his jaw, and glistening tears leaked from his sad grey eyes. His struggles against the ropes that bound his hands and feet to the desk’s stout legs had weakened, but not before breaking the skin at his wrists and ankles. Crimson globules trickled rhythmically to the carpet keeping time with the fellow’s accelerated pulse. The metallic stench tickled my nostrils and tingled at the back of my throat. I licked my lips in perverted anticipation, tasting his fear.

The man, Dr. Ramsay Warren of Harley Street, catered to the highest echelons of society including the Queen herself. I easily understood why, for he was a fine specimen of masculinity. Clearly a sportsman, trim and muscled, his clean-shaven face tanned, his calves and thighs strong and well defined, his hips narrow and his stomach banded by muscle. Had I been so inclined, and if circumstances had been different, he might have proved an interesting bed partner. Unfortunately his current predicament did not allow him the opportunity to display his manly attributes to their best advantage. Indeed, the pink head of his manhood, terrified into timidity, peeked shyly from the thick thatch of black curly hair. Out of curiosity I stroked the wrinkled worm, and in response it retracted even further into itself, and all but disappeared.

I tut-tutted with disappointment and Dr. Warren’s pathetic whine became a hopeless drawn-out moan. Gone now was his arrogant challenge when first we entered his laboratory, the bluster of his deep imperial voice now a distant memory. Beside me, Dr. Ernest Neale, my partner in this appalling deed, recited the litany of the man’s crimes in a voice pitched unnaturally high betraying his own elevated state of arousal. This was his first sacrifice, and the zealous manner in which he embraced the ritual surprised me exceedingly. His usual demeanour, when fulfilling his role as alienist attending to the mental hurts of his patients, was one of calm and seemingly infinite patience, yet now the bulging eyes, the tight set of the jaw, and the saliva collecting at the corner of his mouth as he addressed our victim suggested a passion I’d not hitherto suspected.

“You bring deep and irredeemable shame to our profession,” he continued, his voice bordering on the hysterical. “You sir, are a venal swine!”

“Calm yourself, Ernest,” I whispered in his ear. His Christian name sounded unnatural. For months he had been wise Dr. Neale, the font of self-knowledge, who had provided me a measure of solace I’d not thought possible. Our recent intimacy had created a certain awkwardness in my mind.

He glanced at me and held my gaze for a long moment before giving me a slight embarrassed nod. He took a deep breath and shifted his eyes to look at Dr. Warren again as he continued in a more measured and slightly less feverish voice. “You willingly used your authority to commit six sane women to mental asylums so their husbands could access their fortunes. These women subsequently died after years of unspeakable degradation and neglect.”

Despicable indeed. Though to be honest I did not care about the man’s crimes. I had needed someone of importance in this world to sacrifice to my demon goddess. Tana was displeased with me, and I strove to mollify her. I’d meddled in the machinations of Sir Myles Stafford whose harassment of Lady Carlyle and her family had drawn in my dear Justin. I could not suffer him being hurt, so I’d asserted myself on her behalf. Tana, an ancient and single-minded demon, demanded her witches to deliver unto her souls sweetened by pain and fear. It was at Dr. Neale’s urgings, and my need to take a half-step in the direction of redemption, that I now offer up evil people rather than the innocents I’d sacrificed in the past.

Ernest’s recitation continued. Dr. Ramsay Warren, a relation by marriage as well as close friend of the Foreign Secretary, continued to wriggle uselessly within his bindings. At this point I’d have preferred him drugged and comatose, but Dr. Neale, Ernest, had insisted on him understanding why he was to die. It was a pointless exercise; the knowledge would serve no purpose. In the shadows at the corner of my vision Tana herself lurked, a huge warlike wraith. She’d responded to my summoning spell and waited impatiently to breathe in the man’s soul as it left his quivering body at the moment of mortal climax.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

NEW RELEASE: The Devil’s Wings by Alexa Piper #PNR #DarkFantasy #LGBTQ @prowlingpiper

Lionel is in love with the Devil. It has taken the necromancer and police consultant a while to acknowledge it, and the impatient and overeager Lucifer didn’t always make it easy for Lionel to come to terms with his emotions, but Lionel is finally in a place where he wants to open up to his boyfriend.

After some well-deserved vacation time, Lionel finds himself back at work, and he is welcomed by a potential murder case that quickly turns into a mystery he is determined to solve. Lucifer has been having his own thoughts on intimacy and sharing things, and there are small details about himself he has yet to tell his necromancer.

In-between an unusual case of corpses at the beach, Lucifer reveals his secret to the man he loves. As a result, the Devil will have to learn that a secret once revealed cannot be unmade by any deal. And Lionel will have to find a way to make his peace with the fact that loving a god and letting that god love him is just not as easy as he thought.

Available at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Lionel

The Devil on top of me, filling my mouth with his woodfire and spices scent while he kissed me senseless — that was not something I’d thought I’d get used to. And yet here I was, Lionel Hawkes, professional necromancer and newly minted demigod, on my back in Lucifer’s bed, and somehow pleasantly used to what he was doing do me. Craving it, even. His bedroom was warm although the January light filtering in through the curtains, half covering the floor-to-ceiling windows, was bleary and cool, and of course, so close to him, there was no chance of me getting cold.

“Babe, turn on your stomach,” he said, barely even breaking the kiss as he caged me in with his arms, with his body.

“I need to get up and get to work,” I said. “The Holiday break is over.” And it had been a long one, because Christine, my boss, had either been bribed by Lucifer or she’d wanted to be rid of me for a little while. The outcome had been the same: Lucifer, capitalizing heavily on my time and attention from around mid-December to New Year’s just a few days ago. And me, secretly loving it. A lot.

Lucifer grumbled. “It’s still early, and you won’t be late. You are also not leaving this bed before I’ve had you. So, on your stomach.”

I shivered at his words, but I knew this was not a discussion I was likely to win, and so I slowly turned. Of course, with him being all over me, I felt his hard cock brush up against my own, and that made me give him a small, needy noise that I couldn’t quite contain. Which I just knew he’d love.

“Mmh, you’re so hot, babe,” he said and commenced kissing and nipping at my neck when I was finally where he wanted me.

I dug my fingers into the sheets, idly wondering when I’d gotten used to his large, circular bed and the high-thread-count gray sheets, but when he was starting to rub his cock in my crack, all idle thoughts went overboard.

“Babe, I’m doing magic to you,” he said. “Still your own.”

“You do not need to tell me every fucking time, Lucy,” I said, but he just growled and bit my newly pierced earlobe, pulling the stud with his teeth so hard I gasped… with the pure pleasure the pain brought me.

“Yes, I do,” he said. “Now still your magic, while I make you slick for me.”

Well, okay, maybe he did. But honestly, I’d not been able to use my demigod magic since that one time on Midwinter where we’d had a run in with Michael, who’d just been an angel dick all over again. I was beginning to think that my Awesome Demigod Sled Dog Magic ™ was more of a hit or miss kind of deal than anything I’d ever really get the hang of. Not that that was bad. I’d always been a necromancer, and while I didn’t care for the smell of decay, I wasn’t skittish, and I loved the work.

As Lucifer’s magic touched me, I couldn’t quite smother the gasp that escaped me. His sex magic was just so incredibly intimate, more intimate than every single time he’d lubed me up with his skilled and teasing fingers. I could feel him clean me and leave me slick — much slicker than I needed to be, but I’d come to learn he liked it that way, and when the Devil liked something, there was very little I could do to change that, even less to keep him from getting it.

Since he was still rubbing his cock between my cheeks, he was very soon spreading that slickness, and pretty soon after that, I was squirming under him, just trying to get some friction of my own.

Lucifer chuckled. “Ah, babe. Do you want me?”

“Yes. Or do you need a written invitation?” I said, knowing perfectly well that this would get me — something. I just didn’t know what.

“Mmh. So mouthy again. You were far tamer when I had you tied up and fed you my cock back in Scotland.”

“Well, I didn’t have to be anywhere when you did that, did I? I have to go to the station at some point this year.” I wanted to add I had another necromancer to train, but that would really get Lucifer angry. He definitely did not appreciate me talking about other men while I was in his bed, and if I did, he might not let me come. And I wanted to come. Sometime this year.

“Ah, sweet. How you test me. I have to remember to do something about that mouth of yours in the mornings.”

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!

Wolf Schooled by Emily Carrington is now in paperback! #LGBTQ #PNR #shifters

Three werewolf couples face their demons — and their futures – together at Searchlight Academy.

Midnight Sons: Amaruq, a transgender Inupiat werewolf, is confident in his own body. Still, he runs up against challenges living and loving in a small town college. Nootaikok, a former tracker, finds solace in Amaruq’s peaceful nature, but when they’re threatened by terrorists, Nootaikok must reclaim his past, despite his demons.                

Tainted Son: David’s history doesn’t stop him from lusting after Liam, but biting is central to werewolf society. When he falls for Liam, a wolf who longs to bite him, David must overcome his past or spend the rest of his life alone.

Outcast Son: Cast out of his pack because of his psychic abilities, lone wolf Seiji yearns for love. Will Nicholas’ capacity for loving kindness help Seiji find himself and what his heart desires most?

Get the Paperback at Amazon

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING…

Praise for Wolf Schooled (Box Set)

“I’ve always enjoyed Emily Carrington’s writing. And this series, The Wolf Schooled, was also enjoyable as her other stories. My favorite from this box set is Tainted Son. I love David and Liam.” — 5 Stars from Jamie Rake, Booksprout Review

Praise for Tainted Son (Wolf Schooled 2)

“Liam is crafty, brave, strong and loyal to a fault.  I liked how he is gentle and understanding as well. David has a lot of issues to get through and Liam is very patient and loving with him. There is a ton of action and love in this book and I cannot wait for more. There is a ton of action and love in this book and I cannot wait for more.” — 5 Shooting Stars from Redz, Redz World Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Carrington is a multipublished author of male/male and transgender erotica. Seeking a world made of equality, she created SearchLight to live out her dreams. But even SearchLight has its problems, and Emily is looking forward to working all of these out with a host of characters from dragons and genies to psychic vampires.

Fantasy creatures not your thing? Emily has also created a contemporary romance world, called Sticks and Stones, where she explores being “different” in a small town.

Invisible Love by AJ Graham #DarkFantasy #PNR @changelingpress

Gregory tried to become immortal, but his spell went wrong and transformed him into a bodiless spirit. For five hundred years, he’s roamed the world trapped between life and death, cut off from all human contact — until he meets Linda, a young psychic who can feel his presence.

Shy, lonely Linda hasn’t felt a man’s touch for a long time. Then one night, a gorgeous man appears to her in a vivid, erotic dream…and the next day, she hears his voice in her mind. At first, Linda thinks she’s going crazy, but she can’t ignore the man’s desperation, his hunger for human contact. When he asks her to open her mind to him, she can’t refuse.

By inhabiting Linda’s body, Gregory discovers, he is able to feel again. After five hundred years without pleasure, he is overwhelmed by the sensations. Linda, meanwhile, discovers that having Gregory’s spirit inside her is surprisingly erotic. Though she can’t see him, she can sense his essence moving through her, even feel his hands on her body. Before long, she finds herself falling in love with this strange, lonely, passionate man. As her feelings grow, Linda vows to help Gregory escape the empty half-life of a wandering soul and become human again…but to save him, she must make a terrible sacrifice.

Available Today at Changeling Press
or Preorder for June 17 at online booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 AJGraham

Gregory floated above New York City. He stared through the patchy clouds, at the tiny skyscrapers and high rises below. At night, the city glowed with a thousand points of light, like a mirror image of the starry sky. Cars crawled through the maze of streets like ants through tunnels. How faraway, how unimportant everything seemed from this distance.

Wind howled around him. A few fat snowflakes spiraled down from the sky. Gregory felt no cold. He had felt nothing for hundreds of years. He wondered — for the thousandth, the millionth time — if he would ever escape this empty, gray half-life, or if he was doomed to wander the Earth as a spirit for all eternity, unseen, unheard. Alone.

He drifted down toward the city, like a feather on the wind. His feet touched the ground. He walked down the sidewalk. People hurried past, talking loudly, cell phones glued to their ears.

It was that time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the whole of America seemed caught in a frenzy of commerce. People clutched brightly colored shopping bags filled with toys and the latest electronic gadgets. Store windows glowed with warm light. Signs boasted low, low prices to entice consumers. Passersby walked through Gregory’s dim, translucent form as though passing through a cloud of smoke. Their thoughts and memories swirled through his mind, like leaves on the wind. He took no notice. The thoughts of the living were dull and repetitive, centered around the details of their hectic careers and their confused love lives.

He stopped outside an apartment building and looked up.

On the third floor, a window glowed with lamplight. He stared at the window, wondering why it held his attention. He felt a peculiar tug in the core of his being. Something drew him toward that square of warm, yellow light. He floated off the ground, hovered outside the window, and peered in.

A young woman sat upright in bed, legs tucked beneath her, an open book in her lap. Long, wavy hair spilled over her slim, pale shoulders, hair so dark a brown it was almost black. It shone with a soft luster in the lamplight as she twined a lock around two fingers. Her full lips were parted, relaxed, as her eyes moved over the lines on the page. She wore only a sleeveless, white cotton nightshirt and a pair of white panties.

Gregory stared. An ache of longing pierced his soul, so deep and sharp it was almost pain. How long had it been since he had touched a woman? How long since he had tasted soft lips, or felt his cock sink into a warm, welcoming body? The sight of this woman — so delicate, yet so lush, like a tropical flower — made him hunger for things he could never feel again. The hunger roared inside him like a caged tiger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AJ Graham has a passion for cold weather, unusual beers, and anything otherworldly.  Dragons, demons, shapeshifters and psychics have always populated their imagination, but sometimes the real world can be just as fascinating and mysterious.  And no matter the genre, AJ has always loved stories about soulmates connecting.  Whether it’s instant, explosive passion or a slow burn, the power of two (or more) minds and bodies coming together to form a greater whole is always a story worth telling.  AJ lives in the Chicago suburbs with their husband.

SPOTLIGHT: Bentley (Summon a Bad Boy) by Megan Slayer #sportsromance #PNR @MeganSlayer

I call on the fates to bring my love to me. As I will it, so mote it be

Natalie Harvey wants a guy who not only understands baseball, but supports her love of the game. When she meets bad-boy first baseman for the Cougars, Bentley Turner, she can’t help but fall for him. He’s sexy, strong, athletic and irresistible. He’s her perfect man, but what if he’s not interested? The spark is there, and she decides to invoke the spell. Why not?

She’s ready to summon her very own bad boy and try her luck with love.

Available Today at Changeling Press
or Preorder for June 17 at online booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Megan Slayer

“I’d like someone to take me to the ballpark and not expect me to pay to get them in or get them up close to the team. Just to watch a game with me,” Natalie Harvey said. “I thought I’d find someone by now.” She glared at her friend Sarah. Sarah could be loyal and sweet, unless Sarah wanted something.

“I can’t help it that you’re hard to please.” Sarah fiddled with her watch. “You’re too picky.”

“I am?” She scoffed. “I don’t want to be used.”

“Well… don’t have a job that entitles you to special treatment and think men won’t try to get in on said special treatment,” Sarah said. “And I don’t want to go to yet another baseball game. I mean, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But right now, I’m testing something.”

“You’re…” Sometimes she wondered why she even tried. Sarah could be rather self-centered at times. “I happen to like baseball.” She liked all different sports.

“You’re the only one.”

“I doubt that.” The minor-league games attracted quite a few fans, because the games were just as exciting as the major league ones. Every player was hungry to show his skills, and every play mattered because it could prove the player’s worth to the next level teams. If the front offices or coaches saw potential, the player would ascend to the next level. Plus, the games were entertaining. Spectators were close to the field, the food was inexpensive as were the tickets, and the food was better than some restaurants.

“You have to pay attention to the various scores, players, transitions and all that for your work. Why would you want to go to a baseball game on your day off?” Sarah asked

“You mean transactions,” Natalie said. “Because I like baseball.” Yes, she worked weekends on the sports team for Channel 7, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t like sports outside of work. She’d scored tickets to the game and should be pumped to go — except she didn’t want to go alone.

“Transactions, transitions… they’re moving back and forth.” Sarah waved her hand. “You knew what I meant.”

“I did.” She watched Sarah tap her phone. “By the way, what are you testing? The spell? It works. Karey got it to work and so did Mandy. It’s not a fluke.” Why didn’t Sarah see that?

“We haven’t gotten it to work in three months,” Sarah snapped. “There’s something wrong.”

“Yeah. Us.” She hated to be blunt, but Sarah needed the truth. “We keep picking up guys we know are shit. I didn’t try too hard with Dwayne and ta-da! He didn’t work. Nikki didn’t really like Callum, and that’s why that didn’t pan out. We’ve simply tried to keep you happy and have used the spell, but we’re not exactly finding our Prince Charmings because we’re not looking hard enough.”

Sarah’s glare could’ve cut through Natalie. “Excuse me?”

She’d gone this far and might as well finish. Sarah wouldn’t get the hint until someone spoke straight with her. “You’re so busy trying to get us hooked up, but you’re ignoring the choice for you. Why can’t we let this happen more organically?” Natalie asked. “Or give us the time and freedom to find our guy?”

“We have had success and will again, but I’m concerned it’s taking too long,” Sarah said and shook her head. “But there is no good choice for me.”

“No?” Natalie could think of at least one good guy. “Kurt means nothing to you? He’d give his right arm, leg and nutsack for you.”

“Right,” Sarah said. “He’s an annoyance, and he’s not that invested.”

“I suppose you’re right. He does have a girlfriend now,” Natalie said, intentionally annoying Sarah. “I saw them together two nights ago.” He’d been out with his sister, but Natalie wasn’t about to tell Sarah that.

“What?” Sarah paled. After a moment, she regained her color and smiled. “Good. He should move on.”

“Uh-huh.” Sarah still loved him, but her pride prevented her from giving him another chance. One day Natalie would ask what Kurt had done to make Sarah turn on him, but that day wasn’t today.

“This isn’t about me. It’s about you and Nikki. How about instead of going to the game, you come to the bar with us?” Sarah asked.

“I already have tickets, and I’m not wasting them.” At least not wasting one of them.

Sarah rolled her eyes. “You get tickets for free because of your job.”

“So?” That didn’t mean she should waste the chance to go. “I do have to keep tabs on the players.”

“Would you happen to be looking to hook up with one of those players?” Sarah folded her arms. “Some of those soccer players are pretty hot.”

“Baseball players are, too.” She shouldn’t have said that. “But they’re like other guys. They find out I’m a sportscaster and want things from me that I can’t give them. I don’t seem to find any decent guys. I meet athletes who want to get noticed and drunks who spill things and also want to get noticed.” She’d been kissed three times because she’d been caught on the kiss camera. Why did the person running the camera insist on putting her on the spot? The guys who’d kissed her weren’t attractive and none had her permission.

“I need to find someone for you for the spell,” Sarah said. “There has to be someone.”

She hadn’t heard a word Natalie had said.

“I need to go. Nikki’s waiting on me.” Sarah left the table and strode away.

“Thanks.” Natalie sighed. She’d been left at the table and with the bill… again. Next time, she’d tell Sarah to shove it instead of meeting her for lunch.

Natalie waved down the waiter who returned a moment later with the bill. She paid, then finished her tea. Fine. She’d go to the game by herself. It wasn’t like she’d never done it before. Most of the time, she tried to get in on the spectator play afterward. She’d played softball, soccer, basketball and run track in high school, then run track and played softball in college. She knew what she was doing on the sports field.

She walked out of the bistro, and her thoughts turned to Sarah’s dismissal. The spell. Sarah swore she’d hook up every member of their friend circle with their perfect guy because of the magic. The spell worked for two of the women, but they weren’t going to find high-class men by hanging out at a bar.

She shook her head as she started her car then drove across town to the baseball stadium. Of the many things she liked about having a minor league team so close was the ample parking. She never had to walk more than a few hundred yards, and the lot was well-lit. She locked her car and hustled up to the ticket window. Once she showed her credentials and ticket, she gained entrance to the facility.

Natalie strode over to the first-base side and located her seat. When she was on the clock, she liked to sit right at the edge of the field to better take in the action. Since she wasn’t working, she’d sit four rows up and simply enjoy the game.

She loved the atmosphere of a ballgame. The sounds of the crowd, the smell of the food, the excitement in the air. The Cougars scored quickly in the second inning, and she made a few notes on her phone. The sensation at second base, Dalton Cohn, had made three great catches and even managed two double plays with the first baseman, Bentley Turner.

Natalie watched Bentley Turner in action and couldn’t help but sigh. He had a temper at times, looked like he’d stepped out of a bar, and could swear a blue streak, but he moved with grace and had skills on the field. If he hadn’t injured his shoulder defending first base last season, he’d still be in the majors and probably racking up good stats. Instead, he’d been relegated to the minor leagues to rehab. She’d spoken to him a few times and loved the deep blue of his eyes and his easy smile. He could be cocky and pushy. Rumor had it he’d bedded women in every city and left a string of broken hearts in his wake. It could all be rumors, but…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on various e-tailer sites.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

SPOTLIGHT: Clandestine by J. Hali Steele #DarkFantasy #Gay #PNR @jhalisteele

Joshua’s spending more and more time at club Sub Rosa. It’s time he emerges from the shadows to take a more active role. Pursuit of the aloof nightclub owner obsessed with voyeurism carries him over the edge. The stranger’s scent awakens a desire Joshua has not felt in centuries. He vows to have the man. If it means bleeding dry everyone close to either of them, so be it.

Mason Kildare, owner of Sub Rosa, doesn’t play in his own backyard. Instead he frequents other night spots in search of fulfillment. A reserved disposition coupled with gray hair keeps most of the young men he finds attractive at arm’s length, but not Joshua. Joshua storms Mason’s defenses, breaking them down one by one. By the time he discovers Joshua’s bloody secret, Mason has lost more than his body — he’s given away his soul.

Available Today at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 J. Hali Steele

Two groups of patrons had already been discouraged from reaching the corner table, but from previous visits, Joshua knew the spot would soon be occupied. His quarry was later than usual, so he keep his long legs stretched across the aisle. Used to wearing button down shirts, tonight his collar strangled him. He tugged at the neck before undoing another button.

Three youthful revelers snatched attention as they noisily closed in on the table. “Excuse us, dude.” Guy didn’t even look twenty-one.

“You’re excused.”

Largest of the gathering took control. “We want that table. Move your legs. We can get by.”

“Please find another table.” Instinct told Joshua this would get messy. “You passed two.” All this effort to crawl in bed with a man for one night. Sensation sliding down his spine belied that thought. One night my ass. Normally dead calm, Joshua’s annoyance toughened his words. “Stand against the wall for all I care.”

When the one closest to the big man stepped near and bumped his legs, Joshua stood. At least two inches taller, he leaned in and quietly warned, “Touch me once more, and I’ll break every finger on both of your hands. Then how will you play with your tiny dick?”

Stepping back, one of the followers informed his friend, “I don’t mind another table.”

“I mind, and since you’re up, we’ll slip by.”

Spying the man he came to see enter and stroll to the end of the long bar, Joshua decided not to waste more time. He grasped the man’s hand and bent it at the wrist, intending to cause a sprain. “Take. Another. Table.”

“Jesus Christ! You son of a bitch!”

“I’m struggling not to break your hand.” Joshua opted for wrapping his fingers around the cretin’s thick neck. Allowing one fingernail to puncture skin, he effortlessly lifted the idiot an inch off the floor — not enough for customers to notice, but sufficient for the bastard to know he was out matched. “I asked nicely, but you had to take the Lord’s name in vain.”

His friends shuffled backward. “They’re deserting you.” Letting the man’s feet touch the floor, Joshua smiled before licking blood from his finger. “Ah, it’s your lover’s birthday. Fucking him later should make keeping your balls attached a prime concern. Turn and move on.”

“Holy shit, you’re nuts!” The man’s eyes popped wide in their sockets.

“I know.”

That rattle him more.

“Hopefully he never discovers you’re screwing his best friend.”

“I… how… Hold on a minute.”

The waiter picked that moment to make rounds. “Can I get you anything else?” The waiter noticed the intruder and shoved a napkin into his hand. “You’re bleeding.”

“I — I’m good.” He rubbed his neck. “Sorry.”

“I’ll have a lager.” Joshua sat back in his chair. “Send a bottle of your best champagne to this young man’s table.” His boyfriend deserved a decent night out. The blood Joshua had accessed allowed him to deliver a mental prod. Go.

“Uh, thanks, man.”

“Enjoy your partner’s birthday.”

“That was severe.” Sten Majković, Joshua’s best friend, the vampire king, and a royal pain in the ass, sat across the table.

Joshua swiveled in his seat to face Sten. “Who invited you?”

He’d die for this man. Damn near had on two or three occasions. But Sten picked the worst of times to surface. More disturbing was the fact Joshua hadn’t sensed his presence. Not a single drop of his blood pulsed in alert. Joshua was one of less than a handful of vampires who had the pleasure of Sten’s lifeforce, so his manifestation without prior warning should have been impossible, and elicited concern. Scrutinizing his guest, Joshua realized Stan was fingering a coin Joshua had bequeathed him. That provided some explanation. The talisman gave his king insight into Joshua’s life that no one else experienced.

The handsome man Joshua had in his crosshairs was wearing an impeccable navy suit. He strode toward the table Joshua had taken such pains to keep available. His heralding scent and the way his lean body moved had undoubtedly helped distract Joshua, enabling Sten to gain residence at his table unnoticed.

His leader’s intense brown eyes wouldn’t miss Joshua’s interest.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, she can’t do those things but she wishes she could!

Multi-published and Amazon bestselling author of Romance in Paranormal, Fantasy, and Contemporary worlds which include ReligErotica and LGBTQ stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels collide-they collide a lot! When J. Hali’s not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap, and a cup of coffee.

Growl and roar — it’s okay to let the beast out. — J. Hali Steele

Witch Wolf (Elvenswood Tales) by Alexa Piper #RomCom #DarkFantasy #Gay #LGBTQ @powlingpiper

Will is a witch wolf, a werewolf who can do magic, but his life so far has been anything but magical. He was sold by his own pack and for four years, Will suffered as a slave to his captors — who used him any way they wanted. Now, after a leap of courage has brought him to Colin’s doorstep, Will’s past should be just that, his past.             

Colin can see the new apprentice he’s supposed to teach magic has been hurt. Colin wants to comfort the young werewolf who takes to magic much more easily than he takes to human contact. Their attraction seems mutual, but how can Colin be certain Will even knows what he wants?

As slow affection grows between Colin and Will, Will’s magic does as well, and he allows himself a sliver of happiness. Except the dark past Will thought he escaped from is not quite done with him, and now, it’s not just Will’s life on the line, but also Colin’s, the witch Will’s heart is beating for.

WARNING: Witch Wolf contains references to past sexual assault (with none of it happening on the page), which may be triggering for some readers.

Available TODAY at Changeling Press
or Preorder for June 10th at online booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Will

Once upon a time, Will had sent wishes to the full moon with his howls, but what had come true for him were the slick slaps of skin against skin, stinking breath against his face, the taste of his own blood and other, unspeakable things. Will, instead of meeting a prince under the full moon, had been sold to beasts.

Will carefully turned away from the large form next to him in the bed. Everything seemed so loud in the darkness, the other man’s deep breathing, Will’s own, panicked heartbeat which had not slowed while he had waited for the small hours of the morning, refusing sleep. Will moved, inch by inch, away from the other man. Will refused to think what the other man — Ed — would do if he found Will sneaking out. What Ed had done was already more than Will wanted to think about.

Will had considered packing a small bag, but that would have been too dangerous. All he had dared was leave clothes under the bed, in such a way it looked incidental, forgotten laundry.

The floor was cold against Will’s naked feet. Carefully, he stood. He could say he’d just wanted to go to the bathroom if Ed woke now, but Ed was still sleeping, and so Will got his clothes, slowly pulling them up and onto his arms. He could not make too much noise. He had to get this right.

Will didn’t dare put the clothes on in the bedroom — loup-garou hearing was sensitive. He walked through the dark house and to the kitchen, grabbing his shoes on the way. There were shards of a glass on the floor. Ed had thrown it in fury when Will had been too slow in getting Ed his beer. Will walked around the broken thing and quickly cleaned himself with a wipe. He gave one last look to the dirty dishes in the sink, then pulled on his clothes, more concerned with doing it as quietly as he could than about doing it neatly.

Before he turned the knob, he listened to the house, but it was quiet. Ed was still sleeping, and so was his pack of three, all of them loup-garous, all of them vicious. They might still hear the door, but if Will was ever going to run, then this was it.

He opened the door and crossed the threshold. Now, if they found him, they would know without a doubt that he had tried to run, and they would punish him.

Will closed the door as carefully as he could, but the mechanism made a small sound. Behind the house, the alley was dirty. Trash bags rustled in the wind, soda cans rusted and collected dirt. Will had to watch where he stepped so he didn’t make any more noise. His heart was thundering in his chest.

Out on the street, Will quickly broke into a run. He knew he had to put as much distance between himself and them, because they could shift and just hunt him down, and he couldn’t without the moon being full.

Winchester Boulevard, on foot, was quite a walk. It took Will an hour, and he ran most of the time, so when he finally got there, he was sweaty from running and trembling with the cold whenever he slowed down to catch his breath. The house he wanted had a large planter by the front door with a red and white plastic windmill in it. Ella had said the windmill would be there. It was such a silly thing, and there wasn’t even any wind to move its spokes, but Will nearly broke out in sobs with relief.

Will was scared to knock, but at this point, it was this or wait for Ed and his pack to hunt him down. And Will knew they wouldn’t just kill him. If it had been that — if he’d known that would have been the worst he’d have to fear — he might have given up at any point over the past four years, might have just accepted death. Everything else the loup-garous would enjoy doing to him — that was what Will feared.

He was huffing when he stood in front of the door, but he didn’t hesitate to knock.

Will looked over his shoulder as he waited to be let in. This neighborhood was one of the nicer ones for New Elvenswood. The whole city tended to be largely clean and touristy, even if Will had never been allowed to see all that much of the place. The dilapidated house Ed and his pack had rented was the exception more than the rule as far as Will could tell.

Across the street, there was a light on in an upstairs room. Will imagined whoever was up was awake at this hour because of their own choosing. He imagined they were working late or maybe just reading. Just living their life. Will hadn’t lived in such a long time. All he’d been doing since he’d met Ed had been surviving.

The door opened, and Will flinched.

“Yes?” the vampire asked.

Will had known it would be a vampire, but still. This one, his sheer presence absolutely spoke to Will’s wolf nature, and the vampire’s demeanor made Will want to show his belly and submit. He was stunning to behold too, but in a sharp way: almost white-blond hair, icy eyes that had a hard darkness to them, a thin mouth set in a pale face.

With a last shallow breath, Will forced the words he’d prepared in his head out of his mouth. “Ella said you can help people in trouble. I… there’s a pack of loup-garous, and I need to get away from them. I can’t pay you, but I’ll do what you want. I’ll work for you.”

Will’s voice nearly gave out on the last part, because he started shaking violently. It occurred to Will that the vampire looked like a Viking, and his cold eyes were growing only more glacial in their regard. Will doubted the man had laughed for more than a minute in the last hundred years. And he wore nice clothes, really nice clothes. Will knew the vampire was a lawyer, but he felt silly now for asking for help. He expected the vampire to tell him to go and fuck off, just with nicer words.

“Come inside,” the vampire said instead and opened the door wider.

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!

NEW RELEASE: Angel Falls Vol 2 by Stephanie Burke #DarkFantasy #PNR @FlashyCat @changelingpress

Angel Falls is filled with geeks and weirdoes — the best geeks and weirdoes anyone has ever met.

My Protector: Being sheriff of a small town has lots of perks. Richard knows just about everyone by name, he gets free coffee at the café, and he gets to spend as much time as he wants with Amber Graves, the woman he desires above all others. Unfortunately he finds himself firmly friend-zoned, much to his and his shadow-wolf’s dismay.

When strange phone calls bring up memories of a dark past that rocks Amber’s soul, Richard knows he needs to protect her — even if he’d not so sure he can protect himself.

Rare as a Unicorn: Warrior Jova was once a unicorn, masterful and proud… Now he’s stranded in Angel Falls. People here are strange, and none more strange and desirable than the pair who rescues him one snowy morning.

Baylin and Torin, Angel Falls’ veterinarians, have a lot going for them — talent, exciting careers, the love of each other, and a strong relationship… but they’re not complete. They need a third to commit to being with them. The attraction is immediate, but how can they make this work?

Get it Today at Changeling Press

Get the Paperback at Amazon

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Stephanie Burke
Excerpt from My Protector

Richard watched as the angry, determined Amber Graves kind of sank in on herself. He hadn’t meant to blurt out his problems to her, but the tear in his soul was beginning to bleed all kinds of emotional pain and he was getting tired, so damn tired.

“I — I –“

“It’s not your fault.” He sighed, reaching up and gripping her hands in frustration. “None of this is your fault.”

“I never — I… Jesus, Richard. I don’t have issues; I have subscriptions and enough of those to sell at news stands.”

“You don’t have to make things up, Amber.” He snorted. “But I just wanted you to know how I really felt. And by your actions, I think I can guess where you stand.” The smile he offered to her was rueful and filled with the pain that was now slowly beginning to consume him, but it was the best he could do.

He was soul sick and hurting, his wolf had turned against him, and now he was beginning to think maybe it was right. Maybe he should have immediately taken the direct approach with her, told her how he felt from the beginning. He flirted with her because he flirted with everyone he knew. It was just part of his nature to be open and friendly. But maybe he should have told her it wasn’t just social niceties with her, that he was deathly serious when it came to her.

“My ex was an ass.”

Her words stopped him cold. He turned to look at her, to really look at her and froze. Her hands were fisted at her sides, her body trembling.

“Amber –“

“I’m not telling you because I think we need to trade dark pasts. I’m not telling you because I want your pity.” Her dark eyes met his and in them he read courage and determination. “I’m not telling you this because I want to trade who had the shittiest deal. I had enough therapy and I know who I am and what I’m capable of. I’m telling you because you need to know why I am the way I am.”

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.” He stepped closer, reaching out to cup her shoulders in his hands. “I understand –“

“He beat me, Richard. My ex, Todd Ritter, he beat me so badly sometimes I wanted to die.”

Richard froze as anger rolled over him in waves. “He beat you –“

“I met Todd when I was just a scared little girl playing at being an adult.” She smiled sadly and took a step back, taking a seat on the rock once more. “He was beautiful and kind and knew just how to look for women with low self esteem. He was really good at that, reading a crowd and reading people. He knew just what to do and what to say.”

Richard stepped closer to the boulder, closer to her.

“He separated me from my family, and I let him. He was white, you see, and they didn’t think much of that to begin with. They thought I was going to college and getting above myself. And he read that about them and used it to drive a wedge between my mom, my sister, and me. When he had me where he wanted me, with my family all but disowning me, he asked me to marry him.” She looked up at him and he saw something of the younger girl she had been. “I lapped it all up, every word he said. So I got married and I got pregnant and then I got the bright idea to help us out by dropping out of school to save money and taking small accounting jobs to bring in extra cash.”

She tilted her head as if lost in memories, before she blinked twice and turned her head to look at him.

“Those were some of the happiest memories I’ve ever had, Richard. He treated me like his queen. Then his parents died so we moved out of town to the house they left him. I didn’t even tell my family where I was going or give them my new last name so they could track me down. They didn’t support me so I wanted nothing to do with them. I didn’t know it was because they could see what kind of man Todd really was.”

“He betrayed your trust.”

“He betrayed more than that.” She laughed, her wild tangle of curls bobbing around her face as a sharp wind blew through the trees, carrying the bitter sound away from them. “The first time he hit me he apologized and I forgave him. He had graduated but there weren’t many jobs for an actor in Maryland. His parents had died and left some bills that had to be paid off, so money was tight. He started working at a bar at night and was waiting tables during the day and… and I figured he snapped a little. I forgave him and he promised to never do it again. But he did and this time he told me it was my fault. I didn’t have the house clean. I was six months pregnant and…” She shook her head before lying back on the rock. She looked like a cute kitty basking in the sun.

“He hit me and I believed it was my fault. I wasn’t keeping the house clean and I needed to take more accounting jobs to help. Then he was drunk because his customers kept buying him drinks, and he took them because I was never there to talk to him like I used to do. And then it was because I was too busy for him. And after Lila was born, he stopped making excuses. He just wanted to hit. Everything in his life was out of control, and keeping me in control with his fists and his words made him feel more like a man.”

“Amber, I would never raise a hand to you in anger.”

“I know.” She rubbed her arms. “It was all him and only him. You just don’t have that in you. And by the time I realized I was in some very real trouble, Lila was almost one and he wasn’t even making up excuses. Believe it or not, that’s what got me out. He had me hemmed up in the living room when Lila began to cry. He was going for her and I realized that if I stayed there, he would he hitting her next. So I picked up my prized possession, my die cast metal figurine of the Planet Quest, and I bashed him over the head.”

She said it so matter of factly that Richard just gaped at her.

“Then I tied him up, went to the bank and took all the money out of the account. It was a joint account, and I put most of it in there, so I had a right. Then I went to the police station and reported the assault. I also told them that I tied him up so I could get away with my daughter. I told them that I feared for my life and while they were taking photos of my face and body, I contacted a social worker and got an emergency placement. He was picked up and brought in. I identified him and got a restraining order. I jumped from homeless shelter to homeless shelter until I could swing a legal separation. After a year of hard living with Lila, he didn’t show up for the divorce proceedings so it went through uncontested with special circumstances. I found my way here when Lila was about two and a half and was doing part-time work at Chloe’s Diner. She let me keep Lila in a back station and the other waitress spoiled her rotten. Chloe was a wonderful old lady, was great at manning the cafe, but was horrible at books. So I started helping her out and saved her a lot of money when I found some major mistakes her bookkeeper was making. She admired that and said my talents were wasted on tables and put me in the office. When she found out I was staying in a homeless shelter and why I hadn’t finished my degree, she gave me the apartment over the shop and insisted I finish my degree online. It was all brand new back then, and so exciting…”

She threw her hands over her head and arched her back, stretching a little, and Richard felt his mouth go dry.

“When she was ready for retirement, she let me buy the shop and I changed it into the Planet Quest Cafe.”

“So… so you’re not too fond of men…” Richard knew he couldn’t compete with ghosts from the past.

“Oh, God, man, I love men.” Amber laughed. He looked up to see amusement shining in her eyes. “I’m not a man-hating bitch, Richard. That’s not why I ran.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.

From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.

Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.

Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.

NEW RELEASE: Naughty Kitten by Wanda Violet O. #BDSM #DaddyDom #Erotica

Naughty Kitten (Billionaire Daddy Doms 3)
A Razor’s Edge Daddy Dom Erotica Short

Daddy always takes such good care of his Kitten. But something’s wrong. Daddy’s in a snit and I don’t know why. I’m the only one he doesn’t growl at. Whatever’s wrong, the only way to find out is to be a very naughty Kitten. And maybe — just maybe — that’s exactly what Daddy needs.

Warning: This is a Razor’s Edge Daddy Dom BDSM Erotica short story. Expect limited plot and character development, and lots of heat. If you’re looking for a lengthy plot driven erotic romance, this is not it!

Read it in #KindleUnlimited
Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Welcome to Wanda Violet O.’s world of bedtime fantasy, where you’ll find a variety of sexy creatures ready to drink their fill. Wanda specializes in extreme kink. Monsters, BDSM role play… she’s got it all. Come take a look for yourself!

Boundaries by AJ Graham #BDSM #DarkFantasy #PNR

Sacrifices of the body cannot compare with the ecstasy that comes from sacrifices of the heart.

Bound by Blood: For centuries, sacrificial offerings have kept peace between humans and the immortal Kin who feed on their blood. When his sister is chosen, Daniel offers himself in her place. Daniel has grown up believing the Kin to be heartless monsters. He never imagined the Kin lord’s touch would stir hiss body and heart, would make him crave the very thing he’d always feared: the sweet, sharp burn of fangs in his neck.

Bound by Desire: Keelie al’Trega marries Lord Kalen to secure peace between their two planets. Then she learns the terrible truth — becoming his mate will create an unbreakable psychic bond between them, a bond so intense and powerful that it can drive a person insane. Is Kalen worth the risk?

No Shame: Paul’s never told anyone about his fantasies of being spanked and flogged, until he meets Kade — a sensual, experienced man who offers to fulfill his every hidden desire. But Paul soon realizes that he might be in over his head…

Flesh and Spirit: Rose has always dreamed of serving Kalia, the goddess of healing and pleasure. But in order to become a priestess, she has to complete a ritual in which she casts aside all inhibitions and enters a trance of sexual ecstasy. Gabe and Rafe are more than happy to help her complete her Initiation. But can Rose handle what they have in mind?

Publisher’s Note: Boundaries (Box Set) contains the previously published novellas Bound by Blood, Bound by Desire, No Shame, and Flesh and Spirit.

Available Today at Changeling Press

Get the Paperback at Amazon

Praise for Bound by Blood

“A very enjoyable read.”

4.5 Diamonds — S. K. Fero, Got Erotic Romance! Reviews

“[the author] has created an amazing saga packed with social truths, emotions and spectacular lovemaking.”

5 Nymphs — Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs

Praise for Bound by Desire

“If you like classic romance plots and have been missing the virgin/arranged marriage stories in erotic novels, this book is definitely for you.”

— Elizabeth Charles, Just Erotic Romance Reviews

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 AJ Graham
Excerpt from
 Bound by Blood

Daniel sat upright in the saddle, wrists bound, as his horse plodded forward. The coarse ropes chafed his skin, and fear twisted his guts into knots, but he kept his face calm and expressionless. He would hold onto his dignity, he promised himself, no matter what happened. It was all he had left.

Moonlight silvered the leaves of the forest as the procession rode single file down the narrow path. A guard rode behind him, and another in front to keep him from running away. They needn’t have worried. He did not intend to escape. If he did, his sister would suffer in his place.

He tried not to think of what awaited him at the end of the path. Instead, he thought of Sara safe and alive, baking bread with their mother, riding her favorite mare through the fields, picking wildflowers.

The procession stopped in a large, round clearing. Daniel’s two escorts dismounted. They were both men from the village, men he knew. They wouldn’t look him in the eye. Tom — the village baker — looked around, the whites of his eyes flashing like those of a frightened horse. His tongue darted out to wet his lips. “They’ll be here any minute,” he muttered.

“Aye,” replied Ben, the other escort. He glanced over his shoulder at Daniel, looked down, shook his head, and dropped his voice to a whisper. “I tell you, Tom, I hate this arrangement. It ain’t right, offering our young men and women to these blood-suckers. Sometimes I think it was better in the old days, when we hunted –“

“Shhh! You want them to hear you?”

“They can’t hear us,” he said, irritation creeping into his voice. “They aren’t here yet.”

“You don’t know that,” Tom shot back. “One of ’em could be standing right next to you, and you wouldn’t know it unless he spoke.” He glared at Ben. “None of us like this arrangement, but it’s the only way. In the old days, people died. The offerings keep things peaceful. Keeps the blood-suckers from our village. As for the offerings… well, it’s the price we pay. It’s not like they kill them.”

“No.” Ben lowered his voice even more, but Daniel could still make out the words. “But what they do to them is probably worse.”

“Hush!”

Daniel’s hands clenched, nails pressing into his palms. “It’s all right,” he said. Despite his efforts to keep his voice steady, it trembled. “I’m not afraid.” It was a lie, and they all knew it. Ben and Tom exchanged guilty glances.

They waited. Daniel’s ears caught the thump of approaching hoof beats. He tensed.

At the edge of the clearing, a black horse emerged from the shadows. It was huge, muscular; its coat sleek and glossy. The rider wore dark, close-fitting trousers, which showed off his long, lean legs, and his black cloak billowed in the wind. Beneath it was a tight shirt of black leather, molded to the contours of his body. He was slender but hard, all sculpted muscle, his abdomen flat and trim. His skin was white, as if it had never seen sunlight… and he was stunningly, unnervingly beautiful, as beautiful as a woman, though it was impossible to mistake him for one. A breeze ruffled his short hair, which gleamed a pale silver, like moonlight on water. And his eyes…

Daniel’s heartbeat quickened as he stared into those ruby eyes. He had never seen one of the Kin face to face. That pale face was as cold and expressionless as a statue’s. There was no trace of feeling in those blood-red eyes. They flicked over the two cowering escorts, then focused on Daniel.

“Is this the offering?” The Kin lord’s voice was deep and full. It seemed to reverberate in the pit of Daniel’s stomach, in the marrow of his bones.

Tom took a deep breath and straightened. “Yes, my lord.”

“I was told that the offering this year would be a young woman.”

Tom glanced at Daniel and cleared his throat. “Aye, that was the intent. But this young man — Daniel — volunteered to take the place of his sister.”

Silver brows lifted. He looked at Daniel. “Is this true?”

Daniel swallowed. “Yes.” His voice sounded very small.

“How old are you, Daniel?”

“Twenty.”

For a long moment, the Kin lord stared at him. That ruby gaze held him immobile. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. He felt as though those eyes could see straight into his head, as if they were examining every particle of his soul, weighing and measuring unseen qualities. At last, the man nodded. “Very well. Unbind his hands and let him dismount.”

With shaking hands, Tom unbound Daniel’s wrists. Daniel dismounted. His heart knocked like a fist against his chest as he walked toward the huge, black horse and the silver-haired man. He looked over his shoulder, but Tom and Ben would not meet his gaze.

“You two may go,” the silver-haired man said. “Take his horse with you. He won’t need it.”

Still avoiding Daniel’s gaze, they turned their horses and walked them out of the clearing. Daniel’s mare followed. He took a deep breath and approached the Kin lord.

Ruby eyes stared down at him. The man stretched out a hand. Daniel took it — the skin was smooth as marble — and the Kin lord pulled him onto the horse. Daniel gasped. There was no saddle. He gripped the horse with his thighs.

“Hold on to me,” said the Kin lord.

Daniel hesitated, then placed his hands gingerly on the man’s shoulders.

“Not like that.” There was a touch of gentle amusement in his voice. “Put your arms around my waist.”

Daniel bit his lower lip. Slowly, he wrapped his arms around that dagger-slim waist. His chest pressed against the man’s hard back. The Kin lord gave his mount a light tap with his heels. The horse snorted, tossed its head, and began to walk.

“My name is Vale, but you may address me as Master.”

“Yes, Master,” Daniel said quietly.

Vale looked over his shoulder. His crimson eyes reflected Daniel’s face. There were no discernable pupils, just two solid, ruby disks that seemed to burn with their own inner light. “You volunteered to take your sister’s place, didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Daniel hesitated. “She’s younger than me by four years. She’s in love with a man whom she’s planning to marry one day. And my parents adore her. The whole village adores her. So do I. She’s always treated me with more kindness than anyone else. When she was chosen as the offering, everyone was devastated. I could not bear to think of her being taken away from all those who love her.” He remembered the moment of sinking dread as a village elder had read Sara’s name from the scrap of paper he’d drawn, blindfolded, from a wooden box.

“And you? Will they not be devastated by your loss, as well?”

Self-conscious, Daniel dropped his gaze. “I…”

“Look at me.”

Daniel looked up and met those cool, expressionless eyes. “No, Master, they won’t miss me much.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AJ Graham has a passion for cold weather, unusual beers, and anything otherworldly.  Dragons, demons, shapeshifters and psychics have always populated their imagination, but sometimes the real world can be just as fascinating and mysterious.  And no matter the genre, AJ has always loved stories about soulmates connecting.  Whether it’s instant, explosive passion or a slow burn, the power of two (or more) minds and bodies coming together to form a greater whole is always a story worth telling.  AJ lives in the Chicago suburbs with their husband.