I don’t pre-order books very often, because I sometimes forget and end up with ten books hitting my e-reader at the same time (and my bank account LOL). But there are some of the books up for pre-order right now that I’m looking forward to reading when they release! I read a lot of different romance genres, so there’s a mix of scifi, paranormal, contemporary, and historical.
Just click the cover to be taken to the book’s Amazon page. I believe all of these releases are in August or September 2018.
Is there a book up for pre-order that you’re dying to read? Are there authors you just have to have their books the minute they’re available and then binge read them all day or night?
What are some of the things you love most about summer? Vacations? Time to read? Not having to get the kids off to school early in the morning? As a writer, I work year-round and don’t really take vacations. I know, I should… but every time I go somewhere, my laptop goes with me, and I end up writing in the hotel at the end of the day.
But this summer, I haven’t gone anywhere overnight, and I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading. I thought I’d share some books that I’ve enjoyed so far this summer and some that I haven’t had a chance to read yet, even though they’re ready and waiting on my Kindle.
These are in no particular order… and in no way include every book I’ve read this summer (that would be a REALLY long list).
Fire in His Spirit by Ruby Dixon (love me some dragons!)
Rockaway Bride by Pippa Grant
Feeling Hot by Elle Kennedy
Playing House by Amy Andrews
Assassin Next Door by Eve Langlais
The Bad Girl and the Baby by Nina Croft
Staking His Claim by Tessa Bailey
Officer Off Limits by Tessa Bailey
Protecting What’s His by Tessa Bailey
Creed (VLG series) by Laurann Dohner
Aveoth (VLG series) by Laurann Dohner
Beauty and the Geek by Sidney Bristol
Rescuing Emily by Susan Stoker
Playing Dirty by Amy Andrews
Werebear’s Baby Girl by TS Ryder
Taken by the Beast by Conner Kressley & Rebecca Hamilton
A Demon Stole My Kitty by Eve Langlais
Werebear’s Nanny by TS Ryder
Mustang by S. Cook
And whatever else catches my attention between now and when school starts in August… Have you read something this summer that you just couldn’t put down? Maybe a sizzling romance, or an achingly sweet story? I’d love to hear about your favorite summer read!
I also have a book that is available today at online retailers, written as Harley Wylde. Ryker is part of the multi-author Roosters series at Changeling Press. The Roosters books are all contemporary erotic romances, with arrogant alpha male heroes. My contribution, Ryker, is also an MC romance. While some of my Dixie Reapers characters make an appearance, this is not a Dixie Reapers book.
Ryker — After 20 years in the military, I find myself doing my dad’s dirty work. But as the “prince” of the Hades Abyss MC, it’s expected of me. Doing a little recon in a small Alabama town should have been boring as shit, until the hot little minx I met at a bar turned my life upside down. Women always fall at my feet, but this one was different. If I’d known she was a virgin, I might have backed away, but now that I’ve had a taste I just want to keep coming back for more. Little did I realize that I’d just fucked the sister of a Dixie Reaper, and my life was about to become all kinds of complicated. I had to wonder… had she fucked me because she wanted me? Or was it all some kind of setup?
Laken — My big brother Flicker is always ruining my fun, keeping the guys away from me, so when I finally get a chance for a hot guy to get rid of my V-card, I’m all for it. Ryker’s hot and has that alpha vibe, and the fact he’s ex-military just made me wetter. It never occurred to me that he was a biker, or that I might have just screwed up a big deal for the Dixie Reapers. It seems my sexy Ryker isn’t just some hot military guy. No, he’s the son of the President of the Hades Abyss MC. So I hide like big brother asks me to. Just one problem… Ryker doesn’t leave, and now I’m late. How am I supposed to tell Ryker that I’m carrying his child? When life fucks me over, it does it royally.
Series: Dixie Reapers MC #1
Publisher: Changeling Press
Release Date: February 2
I might live in a mansion in South Florida, but my daddy was a biker, and I was definitely Daddy’s girl. When I found out my mom and stepdad had something horrible planned for me, I ran. Straight to the Dixie Reapers, the only place I’d ever thought of as home, but it wasn’t my daddy’s arms I ended up in. Venom is dark and seductive, the type of man who doesn’t take shit from anyone. Despite his hard exterior, being with him makes me feel safe, and his kisses make me ache for so much more. I’ve never been with a man before, but even as inexperienced as I am, I know that being with Venom will ruin me for anyone else, and I don’t care. I want him — all of him — and damn the consequences.
I hadn’t risen to the rank of VP of the Dixie Reapers MC without getting my hands dirty. I’d been deep in blood and dirty money for over twenty years, could have any pussy I wanted whenever I wanted and how the fuck ever I wanted. But when an angel I hadn’t seen in fourteen years came back into my life, all it took was one look in her eyes, and I was a goner. As a kid, Ridley had been this little blonde cherub who lit up the place. Now she’s older, has curves in all the right fucking places, and damn if I don’t want her. The fact she was the nineteen-year-old daughter of a patched member meant I needed to keep my hands to myself, and I might have, if she hadn’t begged me so sweetly. Now she’s mine, and I’ll do anything to keep her safe, even if it means starting a war.
By the time I’d reached the Dixie Reapers compound, I ached from head to toe and felt near to collapsing. I’d been on the road for about ten hours, and the sky was already starting to lighten. My bike came to a stop outside the gates, and a Prospect sauntered forward.
“You lost, sweet thing?” he asked, flashing crooked teeth through the beginnings of a beard.
The man rocked back on his heels. “Bull’s busy.”
“He’s not too busy to see me.”
“Sure.” He chuckled. “The man’s balls deep in pussy, but I’m sure he’ll just run right out here to see you.”
I turned off the engine on the bike, swung my leg over the seat, and stalked forward, poking the asshole in the chest and giving him the fiercest look I could muster. My shoulders were thrown back, and I hoped I looked more intimidating than I was. “Look here, you piece of shit. You get Bull, and you fucking get him now.”
The man grabbed my hand and twisted so that I went down on my knee, my arm behind me at an odd angle.
“I don’t care who the fuck you think you are, bitch. You don’t fucking touch me unless you’re going to wrap your lips around my cock.”
Booted steps drew near. “Is there a problem, Pete?”
“Just some fucking whore who insists on seeing Bull,” the man said, twisting my arm a little more and making me cry out. “Fucking poked my chest and bowed up at me like she’s fucking someone.”
The man in the shadows chuckled. “Is that so?”
The boots came closer, and a dark head of hair appeared. The eyes that fastened on mine nearly took my breath away. I’d recognize those green eyes anywhere.
“Venom,” I said softly.
His gaze narrowed. “Just who the fuck are you, sweetheart? Because I sure as hell don’t remember you.”
“I’m Ridley Johnson,” I said, my voice almost a whisper as dots swam in front of my vision. If the Prospect turned my arm any more, it would break.
Surprise flashed in Venom’s eyes, and he shot up to his full height. The crack of a fist filled the silence, and I was suddenly released. As I tumbled the rest of the way to the ground, strong arms wrapped around me.
“I’ve got you, baby girl,” Venom murmured. “No one’s going to fucking touch you again.”
Harley Wylde is the “wilder” side of award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith. You can find more books by Harley at harleywylde.com. If aliens and shifters are more your thing, you can find Jessica’s books here.
Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Harley’s first book, Grease Monkey (A Bad Boy Romance #1).
Once Lance has a taste of Gwen’s passion, he knows he’s never going to let her go.
I have three books marked down to $0.99 for this event! The first two are erotic romances for ages 18+, but the third is a Young Adult romance. Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a wonderful New Year!
Overweight and dateless, Sienna Blake has had a crush on Logan Drake for the longest time—the man of her dreams!
Tired of the skinny, non-eating dates he takes to his various gigs, Logan is ready for someone more in personality and taste. When Fate throws Sienna into his path, he’s more than willing to try a new approach.
The sparks begin to fly and one naughty thought leads to another. Will the ember of passion burn bright enough to cause a flame, or will their quick fix fizzle out?
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: JCS Books
One touch. One look from Morgan’s hypnotic eyes and Skye can’t deny the magnetic pull.
High school senior, Morgan Raines was used to change, whether it was transferring to a new school or shifting into a were-jaguar under the full moon. Starting over didn’t bother him, but finding his mate pinned to her locker by her loser ex-boyfriend does.
Will turning furry during the full moon send her running scared or into his arms?
Dirty cop, Travis Malloy, has kept psychic, Bliss Dougan, under his thumb for a year. But as his jealousy rages out of control, she finally finds the break she’s been waiting for. Escaping into the night after an epic fight that’s left her scared and bruised, she does the only thing she can—she hides. When the ghost of a recently deceased woman appears, imploring her for help, Bliss knows that Malloy’s dirty dealings are much worse than she’d feared, and she’ll stop at nothing to take him down.
Officer Justice Wild has always believed in the oath he took when he donned the badge, and he’s always been a sucker for a woman in need. Bliss tugs at his heart strings, even if he does think she’s completely crazy. When her insane ramblings about ghosts and Officer Malloy start making sense, he wonders if he’s lost his mind, or if he’s ready to believe in the supernatural. Justice might have been prepared to do anything to put Malloy behind bars, but he hadn’t counted on falling for the sassy psychic who won’t leave his side.
Pain exploded across her cheek and through her eye as her head snapped to the side. Bliss staggered back a step, bracing her hand on the wall. With narrowed eyes, she faced her soon to be ex-boyfriend. She’d taken a lot of crap from him over the past year, but hitting was one thing she wouldn’t tolerate.
“I told you there isn’t anyone else,” she said in a near hiss. “I took myself out for lunch and a shopping trip. I needed to get out of the house.”
“You haven’t fucked me in months. If you aren’t giving it to me, you must be giving it away somewhere else.” Travis’s face contorted with rage, his skin turning an ugly shade of red. She watched a vein tick in his forehead and wondered what it would take to make it explode.
“That’s the problem, Travis. Maybe I want more than a fuck. I want it to mean something, and whatever emotions were once between us are long gone. Ever since you moved to the midnight shift, things have turned to shit between us. I can’t stand that you’re home all day every day. I need space!”
“You mean you need time to whore around.”
Grinding her teeth together, she balled up her fist and took a swing at him. He caught her hand easily enough and jerked her off balance, causing her to teeter a moment before stumbling into his chest. He gripped her hair and wrenched her head back, leaving her throat and shoulders exposed to him.
Bliss fought like a wild cat, refusing to give up or give in. Her nails raked down the side of his face, and he let out a roar before shoving her to the floor. She scrambled backward toward the safety of the next room, but he wrapped his hand around her ankle and pulled her back. Bliss kicked out at him, hitting him in the thigh. She saw the madness lurking in his eyes and knew she had to get away before it was too late. She’d waited too long to escape, and now she’d pay the price. All the signs had been there, but she’d ignored them.
She twisted and pulled herself onto her hands and knees, but he jerked her flat again, her chest against the floor, his heavy body coming down over hers. Bliss felt trapped as the oxygen was pressed from her body, leaving her gasping and praying for a way out. He placed his lips by her ear and a shiver raked her spine at his softly uttered words.
“I treated you like a princess, gave you everything. You want to fuck around like a whore? Is that what you want?” His hand worked its way between her breast and the hard floor, giving the soft mound a painful squeeze. “Want to spread those thighs for another man, sweetheart? I bet my buddies would pay good money to fuck you.”
She screamed in outrage, slamming her head back into his face. She heard a satisfying crunch and hoped like hell she’d broken his nose. For a moment, she thought she might escape, but long fingers wrapped around her neck, digging into her sensitive flesh. Her eyes widened, and she gasped as he cut off her air supply. Not one to go down without a fight, she bucked and struggled, finally managing to turn herself over.
Her hands batted at his face as she fought for breath, the world turning hazy. Reaching blindly for him, she dug her thumbs into his eyes. Travis screamed out and scrambled off her. As she sucked in much-needed air, she staggered to her feet and fled. She heard his booted steps hot on her heels and ducked into the first room with a door—the spare bedroom—and slammed it shut, twisting the lock.
Travis beat on the door. “Come out of there you fucking bitch!”
“No way in hell,” she croaked.
He beat on the door another few minutes before wandering off. Muscles strained and tensed, she listened for any signs that he remained in the house. A glance at the bedside clock told her that he would have to leave for work soon, or call in sick. She hoped like hell he went to work. It would be her only chance to escape.
When midnight rolled around, she heard the front door slam shut and breathed a sigh of relief. The bastard was gone. She waited another half hour, just to make sure he didn’t double back. He’d been known to leave and return unannounced. When Bliss thought it was safe, she unlocked the door and crept out into the hall.
Her heart still pounded in her chest as she checked the house room by room. The first thing she noticed was her missing keys. Asshole had probably taken them, thinking it would keep her home. Keys or no keys, her ass wouldn’t be here when he returned.
“He’s coming back.”
Bliss whirled, her heart leaping into her throat at the unknown voice. “Now?”
The apparition nodded. “He has plans for you. The same plans he had for me.”
“Who are you?”
The woman smiled. “Cherise Carlton. I had a nice life once, like you. Until he and his friends snatched me off the street, drugged me, and sold me.”
“I’ll tell you about it while you walk. You have to get out of here now, or it will be too late. If he gets his hands on you, you’ll wish you were dead.” Cherise smiled sadly. “Trust me; this is an improvement.”
“Where?” Bliss rushed onto the front porch, looking down the street both ways. “I don’t have a car. Where am I supposed to go?”
High School senior Lily Rhodes has been in love with her brother’s best friend nearly all her life. When nineteen year old Jake joins the Marines and is shipped overseas, she worries she’ll never see him again, and wishes she’d been braver before he left. Lily vows that if Jake comes home, she’ll tell him how she feels. But when Jake is injured by an IED and is discharged from the Marines, he comes home changed, bitter and broken. Despite the fact he’s loved Lily for the past three years, he no longer feels worthy of someone like her. Not one to back down from a challenge, Lily knows the best things in life are worth fighting for.
Lily carried the food to the kitchen and got down a plate for her father. She knew if she just gave him the containers, the food would sit uneaten on his desk. Giving him a plate and fork seemed to make a difference though. Shrimp fried rice, orange chicken, and lo-mein covered the dish. She snagged a bottle of water out of the fridge and carried it down the hall to her father’s office. The door remained open from her previous intrusion, but he was clicking away again, hard at work.
She set the plate down on his desk along with the water. Her dad didn’t break stride with his writing, looking almost feverish with his obsession. The thunder boomed overhead, and the lights flickered for a moment. It was enough to make her father pause, at least long enough to hit the save button, and then he glanced her way.
“Sorry, Lily. I didn’t realize you were there.”
“It’s okay, Dad. I brought you some dinner. I decided to go to the store first so will eat mine when I get back. The clouds coming in are getting darker, and I want to get there and back before the worst of the storm hits.”
“I should go with you.”
She knew that wasn’t what he wanted to do. The quick darting of his eyes from her to his screen and back again was all the assurance she needed that he wanted to keep working on his book. Considering the drought he’d recently been through, where he barely wrote a few hundred words a day, she knew he needed to spend his time writing while the story was speaking to him.
“It’s fine, Dad. I’ll be there and back before you know it.”
“Be careful, Lily.”
“I will,” she promised before easing out of the office and closing the door.
Lily went to her room to retrieve her purse and keys, before slipping out through the garage door and walking over to her white, gently used Honda Civic. The car had been a present from Jake and her brother for her sixteenth birthday. It had been a one-owner car, with hardly any miles on it, despite the fact it was now nearly ten years old. Several of her friends at school had received brand new cars for their birthdays that year, but Lily had thought hers was far more special, just because Jake had helped pay for it. He’d been a junior, and she had wondered where he had gotten the money, and she’d probably never find out. She knew Riley had used part of his inheritance from their grandparents.
As she backed out of the garage, the sky seemed to open up, and the heavens rained down as the storm intensified. Her wipers worked overtime as she drove the narrow, twisting road into town. The parking lot at the grocery store was nearly empty, and she wasn’t really surprised. Aside from her, who in their right mind would go shopping in this weather?
She pulled into a parking space and reached into her floorboard for an umbrella, only to realize she had taken it inside the other day and never put it back. With a groan, she rested her forehead on the steering wheel and blew out a breath. She wasn’t looking forward to getting soaked. The sky lit up with a triple streak of lightning as thunder made the ground tremble under her car. Lily pulled her hood over her head before opening the door and dashing through the rain to the front of the store.
When she stepped inside, the cool air made her shiver as she pushed back her hood. Her clothes were drenched and sticking to her body as she got a shopping cart and started down the first aisle. She didn’t want to get too much since she’d have to load the car in the rain, but she wanted to make sure there was enough food, snacks, and drinks to last at least a day or two, in case the storm didn’t break.
She tried to stay away from sweets, except for the occasional pint of ice cream, but she threw in some Oreos and a half-gallon of milk, along with some seasoned turkey breasts, a sack of potatoes, and a can of carrots for dinner tomorrow. Thinking ahead, she also grabbed a frozen pizza for lunch the next day, and then stopped in the coffee aisle to feed her father’s addiction. A twelve-pack of grape soda rounded out her shopping spree, and she headed for the checkout.
The clerk looked bored as she scanned Lily’s items and sacked them. Lily loaded the shopping cart and paid for her purchases, then pushed the cart to the door. The rain looked like it had slackened a little and she made a mad dash for the car, the shopping cart bumping and jolting over the uneven pavement. She popped her trunk and quickly loaded everything, before pushing the cart off to the side. Usually, she would put it in the cart return, but that was seven spaces away, and she was already wet enough.
Lily cranked the engine and blasted the heat, trying to chase away the chill she still felt from the cool air in the store and then getting wetter on the way to the car. Turning on her lights, she pulled out of the space and headed for home. She’d barely turned onto the road before the sky turned an ominous black and green mixture that scared the crap out of her. A moment later, the rain got so heavy that she could barely see through the windshield. The road was too narrow for her to pull over and wait for the weather to clear, but she did slow her pace and turn on her flashers.
As Lily went around a particularly sharp curve, headlights cut through the darkness and nearly blinded her, causing her to jerk the wheel. The tires slipped and slid as they tried to gain traction. Lily’s heart raced in her chest, beating so loudly she could hear it pulsing in her ears. Her hands scrambled on the wheel, trying to get control of the vehicle; the on-coming car smashed into the driver’s side of her car, knocking her off the road and down the incline. Her car tumbled and rolled, slamming Lily’s head into the window and steering wheel several times.
Finally, it came to rest at the bottom of the gorge. Blood dripped into Lily’s eyes, and she tried blinking it away. Everything blurred and swayed until it all went black.
I’m at the point where I have several active series, and just not enough of me to go around for the remainder of the year. That’s not to say the lower ranking series won’t be finished, they just may be postponed until next year.
For those of you familiar with my books, I’d love to know what you think. Which series is your favorite, which genre you prefer, and if you’re a Sci-fi reader, which type of alien you like best. It’s only three short questions, and your opinion would mean so much to me.
When Hadley’s ex-boyfriend starts to become a stalker, she decides it’s time to take drastic measures and kisses the first boy who walks past her locker. But she isn’t prepared for the kiss, not at all, or what happens afterward.
Tyler Robbins, the captain of the football team, is every girl’s dream guy. He has somewhat of a reputation for using girls and tossing them aside, not that it stops them from flocking his way. All of that changes the moment Hadley’s lips touch his.
When Tyler proposes that Hadley pretends to date him as a way to save them both—him from his mother and her from her ex-boyfriend—Hadley is reluctant to give it a try. In the end, she agrees, but she’s nowhere near prepared for the journey she’s about to embark on.
14+ due to sexuality and adult situations
Seeing Hunter head my way, a determined, slightly psycho look in his eyes, made me panic. I did the only thing I could think to do. I grabbed the first boy I saw and kissed him like my life depended on it, but as my body pressed against my unsuspecting target and my lips crashed against his, three things became very apparent to me. One, the boy knew how to kiss; his lips were divine and the hands going around my waist weren’t so bad either. Two, I was slightly in over my head, as he pressed me back against my locker. And three … well, I was still reeling from one and two. Three would have to wait for later.
“If you wanted me to kiss you, Red, all you had to do was say so.”
My eyes popped open and I stared in open-mouthed shock at the boy who had just made me melt with his kiss. Tyler Robbins. The one boy I should avoid like the plague. The only boy who had the power to completely devastate me, rip out my heart and stomp on it, and do so without any true effort on his part. I’d had a major crush on him since pre-kindergarten. Perhaps crush was too tame a word. When you’ve obsessed over a boy since the age of four, it escalated things beyond crush level.
He winked at me and moved along down the hall, as if the earth hadn’t just moved, as if lightning hadn’t just struck, as if … well, you get the point. He was everything I’d ever wanted, and the one thing I’d never have. Tyler flitted from one girl to another. He didn’t have a flavor of the month; he had a flavor of the day. Or maybe it was a flavor of the hour. Except for Alicia Thompson. She was his on again off again girlfriend for the last two years, and she was a total witch. The last time they’d broken up, she’d egged the car of his next conquest.
It took me a moment to realize Hunter was standing beside me, looking both livid and hurt all at the same time, but really, the entire thing was his fault. If he hadn’t cheated on me, then turned stalker, my lips never would have touched Tyler’s. Then again, maybe I should be thanking him. Now I could cross off a major item on my wish list. I’d been dreaming of kissing Tyler Robbins since the first time I saw him, on my very first day of school. Of course, that was before he started crushing on the snotty girl in our class, then I just wanted to pelt him in the face with a mud pie at recess.
“Why are you doing this, Hadley? Tyler Robbins? Don’t you know he’s going to use you and toss you aside like yesterday’s garbage?”
“Yeah, because there’s no one around here who hasn’t already done that, right? In case you missed it, Hunter, we broke up. You have no say in who I do or do not kiss. If I want to make out with him in the janitor’s closet, that’s my business and not yours. And stop stalking me! I’m not taking you back. Not now, not ever.”
I snatched the books out of my locker, slammed it shut, and took off down the hall. I could feel his gaze boring into my back, and I wasn’t not going to lie, it seriously creeped me out. But what could I possibly do about Hunter? My own family thought I should give him another chance; every girl in school was praying I wouldn’t, and no matter what I said to the boy, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
What I needed was a boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t be intimidated by Hunter, who would stand up to him and tell him to back off and leave me the heck alone. What I needed was a jock, but no self-respecting jock was going to be seen with a band geek like me. And I wasn’t even in the marching band, the semi-cool band geeks because they kept the audience revved up during football games. I played the flute, but I wasn’t coordinated enough to walk and play at the same time. Not without landing on my face at any rate.
I sat through first period in kind of a daze, not really hearing anything the teacher said. I managed to write down my assignment and shuffled toward the door when the bell rang. It seemed I wasn’t the only one in a daze and ready to leave Mr. Bertram’s math class because everyone bottlenecked at the doorway. As I was squeezing my way through, someone grabbed my arm and I found myself plastered against Tyler for the second time that morning.
Startled, I looked up at him, wondering why his hands were on my waist, and more importantly, why was he looking at me like that? You know, in that you’re the only girl in the world kind of way. Not even Hunter had ever looked at me like that. He didn’t say anything, not at first. He just stood there smiling down at me. I took a moment to admire his perfectly gelled hair and—sniff—his heavenly scent. I had no idea what type of cologne he wore, but if I could wrap myself in that scent—preferably by way of his arms being around me—then I would die happy.
About the Author
Charity West is a young adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.
By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.
The 2nd edition of Entwined is releasing at Changeling Press on 2/12 and at other retailers on 2/19! You can pre-order your copy at Amazon and All Romance eBooks.
Bane has wanted Ariana since the first moment he met her, except she belongs to his brother Arko. When a tragedy happens, Bane steps forward to claim Ariana as his own, but Keshpan law states a slave can never be a bonded mate. That isn’t going to stop Bane from loving her every day for the rest of his life, though.
When Ariana is kidnapped by space pirates, Bane is determined to rescue her, no matter the cost. But things are getting bad back home on Keshpa, a political storm is brewing that just may rip Ariana from his arms the moment he returns with her. Bane will stop at nothing to have her by his side, even if it means turning his back on his people and his culture. He’ll walk away from it all to have the woman he loves by his side.
A noise startled her awake. A quick look around showed that the suns were setting. Another crash downstairs had her jolting upright. Was that Bane?
She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood slowly, making sure they would hold her weight. Surprisingly, she felt almost a hundred percent better. Whatever the doctor had given her to wake her at the hospital, combined with the food she’d had and the nap she’d taken, had done wonders for her.
She heard a chittering sound and frowned. Bane didn’t have pets that she knew of. Deciding to be brave and investigate, she made her way downstairs only to stop in open-mouthed shock at the sight before her when she’d reached the bottom step. She had no clue what the furry critters were that were bounding around the lower level, but they were blue with swirling pink eyes, pointed ears and bushy tails. They kind of reminded her of the squirrels on her home planet, if squirrels were the size of small dogs. At the moment, the beasts were intent on wreaking havoc on the few knick-knacks Bane had scattered around his home. She cringed as something else crashed to the ground, shattering on impact.
Ariana stepped further into the room. “Stop it!”
The chittering stopped. A dozen beady eyes focused on her. Was it her imagination or did the one by the window just lick its lips? What exactly did an alien squirrel eat? She hoped to God it wasn’t people.
They began to converge on her, creeping along, their eyes intent on their prey. Should she throw a stick? Did they play fetch? Looking around for an escape, she saw that they had maneuvered behind her and blocked the stairs. The path to the front door was clear, but she didn’t have the alarm codes. As the creatures inched closer, those eerie eyes glued to her, she realized she had little choice but to make a dash for the yard and hope they scattered when they hit the outside.
Sprinting for the door, she burst through it, alarms blaring. She’d just cleared the walkway, with a dozen blue furballs of fury on her heels, when Bane zoomed into the driveway. He looked startled at first and then amused. She didn’t see the humor in the situation. A bunch of overgrown neon rodents were about to devour her. Where was the humor?
She ran for him and launched herself into his arms.
“I take it the zirrels got into the house again,” he said, a trace of laughter in his voice.
“Zirrels? Is that was those things are called?”
He nodded. “We actually engineered them from the squirrels on your planet about fifty years ago. One of our warriors saw them, thought they were cute and brought some back with him. Something went horribly wrong with the cloning process though, and that’s what we ended up with. They’re mischievous, but they won’t harm you.”
“I’m not convinced. They chased me from the house! Did you see the looks in their eyes? They wanted to eat me!”
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