Abbie Roads has revealed the cover and blurb for Dangerous Dreams!
Releasing March 14, 2023
Love makes you weak and vulnerable. He vowed long ago to never feel that way again. But when he rescues a woman who’s been held hostage, she challenges all his beliefs. The attraction is staggering. The urge to keep her near him, to keep her safe, is overwhelming. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t resist her. And he’s not sure he wants to because deep down he knows he’s the only one who can protect her.
There’s only one reason she survived the past eight years of torture and starvation. Her nightly dreams of him: The man who finally rescues her. But now that she’s safe, the outside world no longer makes sense, and she’s questioning her own sanity. Is she a bad person? Was humanity better off when she was locked away? The only thing she knows for sure is that she feels secure with him. But what if he’s in danger because of her?
No one is safe.
Everyone is at risk.
Who will survive?
Who will die?
Only fate can decide.
By day Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor always focusing on the bright side. By night she writes on the dark side, but always with hope and a happily-ever-after. She loves true crime and good inspirational quote.
Tagline: One woman holds the key to his destiny—and his people’s salvation.
Hagen drags himself to the gates of Hell, body and soul shredded by the bloodlust that consumes all the unmated of his kind. Awaiting the painful atonement that will buy him ten more years to find his eternal mate—or face oblivion. But Hades himself kicks him out with the bloodlust still prowling, unsatisfied, in his veins.
Bargained away by her parents to Master O, a mysterious, cruel wizard, Faiza serves in his household, keeping her small magic a secret, plagued by wild, confusing visions of a strange, suffering man. Then the master brings home a wounded Titanian warrior whose touch sends ice, fire, and desire racing through her body.
When she learns Master O plans to use Hagen as a weapon to conquer all races, she devises a desperate plan to free him—a plan that opens a portal to a world she’s never known. And a destiny entwined with danger that could destroy them all.
The towering pair of boulders stood as gatekeepers and markers of the way. A steep path snaked between them until farther down the hill, the road disappeared in thick fog. Leaning on the closest rock, Hagen steadied himself to catch his breath, then pushed on.
Bloodlust crippled his Titanian vision. Still, he stumbled, rolled, and crawled over jagged rocks and gnarled roots with single-minded determination to reach his appointed meeting place, the cavern at the base of the Shivaliks, and the sole entrance to Hades’s domain on the earthly plane. A perverse satisfaction filled him each time he
scraped and sliced his exposed skin, as this was only a precursor to the punishment he deserved. If he could shred his flesh to strips in anticipation as he had done with his clothes, so much the better.
Hagen advanced through the haze, seeking the deity’s promised signal. Images of his frenzy during the last skirmish prodded him. He strained past gore-filled images, and the effort paid off. There, deep within the haze, a faint red light marked the spot. Alecto had not forgotten. A hitched breath escaped his lungs as he stood and trod on a
more secure step.
As the haze dissipated, the cavern’s hungry mouth gaped before him. Healing and deliverance acquired through pain would soon be his. As he inched closer to the wavering light, he removed the last remaining strips of clothing. The offering had to be bare and unadulterated. Nothing but skin would satisfy the Fury, purify his spirit, and
postpone the horror of termination for another ten years—a mere blip in the lifespan
of a Titanian. And yet, a decade offered hope and an opportunity to continue
his search for true salvation: his eternal mate.
His brother Soren had been at the edge of obliteration when the universe revealed Maya’s symbol in his scrolls. He’d been given a Simurgh, no less, the most powerful of all phoenix mates. Soren’s joy and deliverance had pleased Hagen without reservation or a covetous thought. His brother had earned such a high reward.
But what about him? Was he unworthy of an eternal mate, of love, and companionship? He’d only wished for a small slice of heaven. His cousin Roald had found eternal happiness with Ginny. Staring at an endless existence of service and loneliness was a frightening prospect for a Titanian of any rank.
Hagen could never be the brilliant fighter Soren was, and had, on occasion, not followed every command to the letter. Nevertheless, he’d proven his mettle and unwavering loyalty to the Titanian cause in and out of combat. Many a night, he’d promised to change his unorthodox ways and toe the line, if only the universe would grant him a phoenix mate.
Alas no, he’d been denied time and again. After witnessing from the sidelines the mating ceremony and resulting Titanian bliss, frustration burned a hole in his chest. Before the emotion turned to bitterness, he’d escaped to his old daemon hunting grounds in Asia.
On his flight back, he realized that his cherished airplane and state-of-the-art electronic gadgets no longer satisfied or entertained him. Even that last bit of gratification had been taken from him. Because seeing happiness unfold for Soren and Roald had displayed in real time what mattered: the completion a mate brought to a
Titanian’s soul. The beaming couples had stepped up onto a new plane of
existence. After witnessing their ascendance, no fancy equipment could ever
The hole in his chest turned black and cold.
Blood hunger, the deadly lust, awoke.
Visions tortured him. Rage drove him to living nightmares. He searched for minion hideouts and sought conflict at every turn. In the heat of these encounters, bloodlust blinded him to allies and friends who’d trusted him with their lives. Asian black bear and clouded leopard shifters had perished under his hands. While his bewildered, dying friends pleaded for their lives, he’d only seen minions. The red haze
controlled him, and he’d indulged the insatiable hunger to spill all blood.
The last clash had been the worst. Standing on a promontory, Hagen viewed an endless battlefield stained with red blood, green ooze, and mutilated remains. And as the mental fog cleared, horror captured his soul and he fell on his knees, begging the universe for help.
The chthonic deity, the implacable Alecto, heard and replied in his mind.
“Await my arrival at the place of atonement.”
Explanations had not been necessary. Hagen’s Titanian spirit, same as every supernatural in the earthly plane, knew the location of the terrible gate. In eras past, he’d avoided going near it. Now, stripped to his natural state, defeated and humbled, he entered the darkness with a bowed head and an anxious demeanor.
To his right, four stonelike posts, spread in a rectangular formation, jutted out of the rock wall. Hagen studied them, unsure of what to do.
“Step in. Face out and clasp the posts. Place your ankles outside each one,” the Fury instructed.
“Receive and accept the pain, Titanian. Do not flinch or resist. Show your contrition. Only then will the universe accept your offering.”
About the Author:
Award-winning, multi-genre author Victoria Saccenti writes romantic women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and paranormal romance. Not one for heart and flower stories, she explores the edgy twists and turns of human interaction, the many facets of love, and all possible happy endings. After thirty years of traveling the world, she’s settled in Central Florida. She splits her busy schedule between family and her active muse at Essence Publishing. However, if she could convince her husband to sell their home, she would pack up her computer and move to Scotland, a land she adores. On a side note, in one form or another, Scotland appears in most of her stories.
Piper wanted nothing more than to escape the life she’d come to know, full of abuse and danger — certainly not love. When she drives to Eerie, she’s convinced she’ll get a fresh start. What she doesn’t expect is Diesel.
Diesel believes he’s not worthy of love, but when he looks at Piper, he wants more than to protect her. He wants to own her — body and soul. There’s just one problem. He’s a cyclops — dangerous, destructive and hated. He’s done things he knows are unforgivable.
Will the sweet runaway find the love she deserves in the monster she’s found? Or will the monster from her past catch up and ruin her chances at the future she craves?
Just let me get there. Piper sped through the night, checking the rearview mirror every few seconds just in case he’d followed her. She’d tossed her phone a hundred miles ago, but her wad of cash wouldn’t hold out forever. He’d see she’d taken her life savings — a whopping thousand dollars — and run. She had to get to Eerie. Anything was better than where she’d come from.
Her life wouldn’t get much better in the new town, but she’d get away from John. He was a bully, and she’d been a fool to hook up with him.
She sped on, blowing past the posted speed limit sign and praying the cops hadn’t seen her. Then again, a night in jail would be better than being with John.
She tugged her sleeve down to hide her bruises. God. She was a smart person and strong, but she’d allowed him to put his hands on her. He’d convinced her she deserved the treatment.
Even alone in the car, she could hear his voice in her mind.
Never going to do better than me.
You don’t deserve anyone else.
You’re bringing me down to be with you, but no one wants you.
You’re a waste of a person.
You’re a piece of shit.
Her tears clogged in her throat. Her sex life hadn’t been his business before she’d met him and had gone to nothing once she’d become his punching bag. She’d only ever had three lovers before she met John.
He’d been her undoing. He’d convinced her to quit her studies and change her appearance, and he’d hurt her. What kind of man did that?
She spotted the village limit sign and gunned the engine.
Eerie was the place for paranormal creatures to belong — so she’d been told. She’d heard stories of having Faerie blood. Did she? She hoped so. If she truly did, she’d be able to pass the village limit into Eerie. If not, then she’d been lied to, and she’d have to find somewhere else to hide.
Right now, she had to focus on the sign. She sped forward and held her breath.
The second she passed the yellow line on the road, she expected to be in the middle of a field or bland road. Instead, she rolled down the quaint street filled with closed shops, a restaurant, and even a drive-in theater. The place was cute — in a dark and slightly scary fashion.
At least she was here. That rumor about Faerie blood must’ve been true.
She didn’t hit the accelerator and instead coasted along the main drag through the village.
The place sort of reminded her of photos she’d seen of the 1950s small towns with lots of little businesses, neon signs, wide sidewalks, and eclectic names on the buildings — Nan’s Nothings, Curiosity Closet, Hot Dogs Dog Wash, Witch’s Brew Coffee… She’d bet the place was pretty in the light of day.
But no one who wasn’t a paranormal creature would be able to see it.
She spotted a hotel on the city square and pulled into one of the parking spots. She’d tucked what was left of her hair into a baseball cap and wore thick gloves — anything to disguise her appearance. If John found her now, then she’d have to find another safe place and work out another disguise.
She tossed the gloves and hat onto the passenger seat, then grabbed her purse. For all she knew, she’d be turned away at the front desk. She didn’t exactly look like someone who could afford a night at the posh hotel.
Being new in town, she might stick out too much, too.
She braced herself and headed into the hotel. She had a backup plan in case she got tossed but hoped that wouldn’t happen.
A woman with flame-red hair and faint, actual wings stood behind the counter. “Welcome to Eerie. How can I help you?”
“I need a room for the night, please?” She signed, then rummaged through her purse for some money and her ID. “I mean, I’d like a room, please?”
“Sure.” The woman swept her gaze over Piper. “You’re not from around here. How’d you find us?”
“My great-grandmother married a Fae. I never met either one of them, but I’ve been told stories.” She produced her ID card and fisted the small wad of cash.
“Do you have a credit card?” The woman eyed Piper’s ID. “We prefer a card to hold the room — that and in the event you destroy the property.”
“I don’t have a credit card.” She’d left hers at the apartment and tossed her phone along the road, hoping it’d be smashed by a passing car. Besides, she hadn’t wanted John to find her, and the quickest way to track someone outside of their phone was their use of a credit card.
“Just a moment.” The woman spoke softly into a tiny mic clipped to her shiny blue blouse.
The longer Piper had to wait, the lower her heart sank. She truly doubted she’d ever get away from John, but the odds he’d find her here had to be just about nil. He could be persistent, and if he thought he’d been shafted, he’d be tenacious. Nothing about him surprised her any longer, either.
She put her money back into her purse and held onto her ID.
“Okay.” The woman nodded and produced a swipe card. “I’ll give you a room for the night.”
“Thank you.” She had no idea how happy she’d made Piper. A place to stay that wasn’t the lumpy front seat of the shit car she’d bought for five hundred dollars.
“Don’t thank me yet.” The redhead crooked her over-drawn eyebrow. “You’re a stranger in town.”
“I know.” Piper squirmed under her gaze. Jesus. She hated being nervous.
“And we don’t always take to strangers. You never know why they’re here,” the woman said. “So for now, you’ll have a handler.”
ABOUT MEGAN SLAYER
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.
Raya — Elias kidnapped me nearly a decade ago and used me for his awful experiments. His goal: to create a superior race. How could that possibly go wrong? Now I’m no longer fully human and I’ve lived a life in hell. But I adore my two kids, no matter how they were conceived. I thought we’d die before we ever found freedom, but it arrived in the most unexpected way. The big biker shifter is scary as hell, but it’s either go with him, or remain chained and starving.
Henry — The dark mage killed my mate and unborn child. There’s nothing I want more than revenge. It never occurred to me he’d have a woman and kids chained in his cellar. They reek of black magick, enough so, I hated them on sight. I’d planned to leave them behind. Until I heard their story. My club won’t be happy when I walk in with three people covered in the stench of black magick. But something unexpected happens when I catch Raya’s true scent. She’s my fated mate, and now I have the difficult task of not only gaining her trust, but the children’s as well.
WARNING: Contains subject matter some readers may find difficult to read. Recommended for ages 18+ due to adult situations, bad language, and violence. Guaranteed happily-ever-after, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.
∙∘☽ SNEAK PEEK ☾∘∙
Copyright 2023, Harley Wylde
“He’s been gone a while,” Logan said. “He didn’t forget us, did he? I’m not sure starving to death is much better than suffering whatever he’s planned for us.”
With no windows, I couldn’t tell what time of day it was by now. However, my butt had gone numb from sitting on the hard ground. I had to have been down here for more than an hour. I listened intently, wondering if Elias had managed to quietly return. Minutes ticked by, and when I was going to give up, I heard booted steps. They seemed to scout the entire house.
Would they find the hidden door to the cellar? Did we want them to? I caught Logan’s gaze, and he gave me a slight nod. Whatever he sensed seemed to make him feel as if the person upstairs wouldn’t harm us.
“Help! Please, we’re down here!” I yelled as loud as I could. By the fifth time I’d called out, the door at the top of the stairs opened and a large silhouette moved toward us. My breath caught when the man approached. I couldn’t tell his age and depending on what he was, he could have been hundreds of years old and still appeared young.
“What the f**k?” he muttered. His gaze narrowed on me before shifting to my children. I held them tighter, wondering if I’d made a mistake by calling for help. “Who are you?”
“A slave,” I said. “And these are my children.”
He scented the air, and a low growl came from him. “Dark mages.”
I shook my head. “No. At least, not entirely. If you could please release us and get us upstairs, I’ll tell you everything.”
Did you miss book one? Click the cover to find out more…
Jonah Ali Lucia Sky
Publication date: February 14th 2023
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Paranormal
The most heartbreaking truth is finding that you aren’t the master of your own destiny.
Lizzy Phillips is healing from an attack that she suffered at a Somnolence concert years ago, and struggling with facts that came to light during the last tour. Feeling like the odd girl out, she can’t find her footing in this world.
The only thing Jonah Creed has ever known is that Lizzy and he are Written in the Stars. They are destined to be, and knowing she’s his Tether only reaffirms that. Until she ran from his arms during the last tour.
Now he has her back, but she’s not what either of them expected and they both have hungers to feed.
Please be advised by the trigger warning inside the book.
It’s recommended that you read the series in order beginning with RAIDEN.
Ali Lucia Sky is the author of The Powers That Be and Somnolence series. She lives in Southern California with her husband and a house full of kitty cats, a yard full of crows, a backyard of ferals and a possum affectionately named Garcia.
She loves laughing, drinking good coffee, vegan food, and supporting animal rescues.
When she isn’t writing or dreaming of new stories, she can be found planning her next vacation because traveling is life.
If you encounter her in the wild, don’t be offended if she should run away. She’s timid with strangers, but can be plied with shiny things and pictures of your cat or dog.
My whole life, I’ve wanted to compete in the Alien Bride Games. So when my name is drawn in the Alien Bride Lottery, I’m ecstatic. With any luck, I’ll get one of the hot, giant aliens I’ve been admiring for ages.
And when I’m kidnapped from Station 21, I’m furious.
Even if my abductor is one of those sexy aliens.
Now I have to figure out why he’s stolen me from the Bride Lottery—and more importantly, how to get back!
Fans of Ruby Dixon, Grace Goodwin, and Laurann Dohner will love this steamy new series featuring gorgeous, bright alien heroes and the sassy human women they choose as mates!
Every book in the Khanavai Warrior Bride Games series is a standalone romance and part of an interconnected series. Join these brides as they find a whole new world of happily ever afters.
Invincible superpowers and nobody to stop him. Will he save the day, or trigger global annihilation?
England, 1989. Arthur Merlin is plagued by restlessness. Ever since he woke up from a head injury with extraordinary abilities, the Vietnam vet has turned the world into his unsuspecting playground as he masters his gifts. Showing off in front of scientists after teleporting to The Institute of Psychic Research in London, he’s intrigued by the red-haired woman who remained unimpressed.
Irresistibly drawn to the feisty doctor who seems to prefer the company of women, Arthur reluctantly plays a part in an MI6 mission to foil a plane hijacking. But determined not to be exploited by any government agency, he transports himself and the beautiful researcher away to an unassuming lake. Yet a mystery he finds lying beneath the still waters makes Arthur’s control over his powers slip… while a hidden threat lurks in the shadows.
Will his hunt for the truth lead to a legendary fate… or his ultimate destruction?
The Secret of Excalibur is the captivating first book in the inventive Excalibur Saga science fiction fantasy series. If you like quirky characters, erotic fun, and surprising twists and turns, then you’ll love Sahara Foley’s snarky paranormal adventure.
I’m Kyra Baxter. Once, I was human—now, I learn it’s all a lie. As the top student at my university and the best intern in Dallas, I thought my life was built in the clouds, and I was on top of the world. But then…it all crashed hard.
A murdered friend.
A secret world.
A mysterious warrior.
It’s safe to say that the life I thought was solid will never rise from the rubble. It’s time to move on, and live the life I was always meant for–what I was born for. Except there are those who want to make sure that never happens. In fact, if I don’t move quickly, the enemy who I’d been hidden from is coming for blood.
Distraction by Elizabeth Jewell Alaska seems like a winter haven for vampires Glynna and Brandt and their companion Erik — until the snow starts.
Bear Hug by Tuesday Morrigan Snowstorm or not, Alyssa wants out of Devlin’s cabin — and his life. He’d rather give her reasons to stay.
Night Shift by Lacey Savage Spending her Friday night running surveillance on a shadow stalker in the dead of winter isn’t Samantha’s idea of a good time. But doing it with a sexy partner… now that could be fun.
Lunar Seduction by Kira Stone Gideon on a trip to a remote stellar observatory in Alaska. Winter storms make stargazing impossible, but Roth, the observatory’s resident vampire, is a master at seduction…
Melting Snowflake by Camille Anthony Winter’s throne awaits her. Snowflake’s three consorts must burn hot enough to melt her haughtiness. Watch Fire and Ice steam!
Saved by a Vampire by Silvia Violet A young woman becomes stranded in a blizzard, and her only hope is a stranger with fangs.
Publisher’s Note: Snowbound (Box Set) contains the previously published novellas Distraction, Night Shift, Lunar Seduction, Melting Snowflake, Snow Angel, and Saved by a Vampire.
Glynna eyed Brandt narrowly. “I believe it was yours, dear.”
Less diplomatic, Erik added, “Yep. Totally your lame-ass idea.” He flopped onto the couch, grinning at his companions.
It hadn’t been an entirely lame-assed idea to start with. Even in the midst of her complaining, Glynna could admit that much. A trip to Anchorage in the middle of winter should have been a stroke of genius. A fairly large population they could disappear into, an active nightlife where they could mingle, and nearly twenty plus hours of darkness — it should have been a vampire’s paradise.
And then the snow started. And didn’t stop. Three inches, then six, then twelve. And it was still snowing. “Somebody should have stopped me,” Brandt grumbled.
“I tried.” Glynna gave him a long-suffering sigh, then kissed him on the forehead. “How are you holding up, Erik?” She was more concerned about him than about herself or Brandt. They were vampires — they could get by if they had to. If getting food for Erik became problematic, he’d be in much more serious trouble than they would.
“So far, so good,” Erik said. “As long as this doesn’t go on for weeks, I should be okay.”
“It was so much cooler in the comic books,” Brandt moaned, peering out the window at the still-falling snow.
“You’re hopeless,” Glynna told him, though she found him endearing most of the time.
Erik stretched out on the couch, folding his hands behind his head. “Well, if I get too hungry, you’ll just have to distract me.” He added an eyebrow wiggle to punctuate his sentence, directed at Brandt, who caught the gesture and smirked, his mouth twitching in a way Glynna knew meant he wasn’t aware he was doing it.
“Are you hungry?” she asked Erik. Just watching the two of them look at each other like that made heat curl low in her belly. She wanted to touch herself.
Erik gave her a puzzled look. “Um. I don’t know. Maybe a little.”
“Distract him.” She leveled the order at Brandt, delivered it in the sharp, crisp tone she knew would make him obey. Brandt answered with an eyebrow tilt that made her want to drop her panties to the floor then and there.
Well, if she ever wore panties.
“And how do you propose I do that?” Brandt asked.
Box Set includesAuthors: Camille Anthony, Elizabeth Jewell, Kira Stone, Lacey Savage, Silvia Violet, and Tuesday Morrigan
Billy has always been a loner, but after being bitten by a ferocious wolf, his need for solitude becomes even greater. He can’t get a handle on the wild forces now running through him. He makes the best of it by carving out a territory in the Canadian wilderness, but he’s far from happy with his lot in this strange, new life.
Luc knows Billy is just the guy he’s looking for. His small pack is made up of men who are special even among weres. Their ability to control the elements — air, earth, fire and water — makes them uniquely qualified to act as spirit guardians. But presently there are only three, and they need Billy to complete them or Luc will lose much more than his position as alpha.
It’ll take a lot of fast talking to convince Billy to join their pack, but first the Wild Ones will have to catch him…
The moon’s pregnant, white belly hung high over the Canadian evergreens. Billy gave it the finger, even as his body began to shift. He didn’t understand the biochemistry that transformed him from man to beast. All he knew was a full moon meant he was in for three days of sheer hell.
It had been that way for a couple months now. Each full moon he prayed he wouldn’t feel the tell-tale tingle rippling along his spine. Each month since that unlucky July evening when he’d been bitten by a rabid wolf he’d been doomed to disappointment. The change always came, no matter what he tried to prevent it.
It was more than just the transformation though. With the change came hunger. His appetite for food was only eclipsed by his craving for sex, and sating either hunger wasn’t exactly easy. He always went after big game so at least he could comfort himself with the knowledge that his victims stood a fighting chance. His human skin was scarred with reminders of each struggle, but he hadn’t lost yet.
Perhaps tonight he would.
His limbs contorted as they pursued a new shape. Hands became paws. Mouth became muzzle. Screams became howls. As the last vestiges of his humanity buried itself under a thick pelt of tawny hair, Billy pushed himself to his feet — all four of them — and sniffed the night air, searching for traces of hidden foes.
The Watcher was nearby.
The creature smelled different from other wolves… smelled almost like Billy himself, except that was impossible. There was no one like him.
Rage nipped at his hindquarters that another wolf would dare to enter his marked territory. It was an animal instinct his human side didn’t understand, to mark and defend. His wolf side demanded that the intruder be challenged. Tonight, Billy decided, he would do just that.
He loped down to the fast flowing river and then drank until he thought his stomach would burst. The change always left him dehydrated. And though he knew it would do little to assuage his hunger for meat, he munched down a rabbit that wasn’t quite fast enough to evade his powerful jaws. He needed more, much more. After he confronted The Watcher, he’d have it.
Or he’d be dead.
Either way, his problem would be solved.
Billy returned to the copse of trees where he’d gone through the change. The Watcher’s scent was still there. He’d tried on other occasions to track down the beast who’d been keeping an eye on him lately. The trail always ended in a tail-chasing circle. It had befuddled his animal mind, but the passage of time had brought about a blending between his human side and this creature he’d become. He could now think logically as a wolf, and use his animal instincts when he wore his human skin.
When it came to tracking down the interloper, logic prevailed where animal instinct had failed. He thought he knew how The Watcher could be found. Tonight, he’d test his theory.
Letting his wolf senses take the lead, Billy followed the scent trail through the woods. The invisible lines drawn by man to partition the land were beneath his notice in this form. He crossed into the territory belonging to the Iroquois Indians, a place where he’d be arrested for trespassing if he entered on two feet instead of four.
Some night bird gave a warning cry. Little furry critters scattered out of his path. The other animals sensed the tension in the air. Something dangerous was about to happen, and they didn’t want to be caught in the middle when it did.
The wind blew new information to his ultra-sensitive nose. The Watcher was close, and he wasn’t alone. Two more wolves had joined him. It was difficult to be sure where one stood in relation to the others, so close was their scent. Certainly, they were pack mates, living in the same den. And if they lived together, they’d fight together.
Three against one. The odds gave Billy pause.
This territory was his. He’d fought like the devil against other predators in the area and carved out a niche for himself. A lone wolf. A rogue. An outsider. He wanted to keep it that way. It would be far safer for their pack in the long run. Billy’d sacrifice one to save the whole from whatever evil, unholy thing he might become next.
But three against one? Surely they’d kill him. Part of him longed for that release from this nightmarish torment, but that part wasn’t currently in control. The animal in him said flight now would ensure he’d live to fight another day. Perhaps pick them off, one by one.
His decision made — at least for tonight — Billy started to turn tail and run. But then the scent of The Watcher came to him again, much stronger than before. Billy froze, his keen eyes searching the darkness around him. The surrounding forest was deathly silent, except for the sound of his own breathing.
A predator was near.
Slowly, Billy cocked his head to look over his shoulder. A pair of golden eyes gazed back at him. The beast was sitting there, waiting patiently. A skilled hunter watching his prey.
The circumstances had changed, and so had Billy’s options. To flee now would signal defeat. He’d lose face among the forest dwellers and once again be vulnerable to those he’d already bested. He had to fight now and hope the vestiges of his human logic that traveled with him in this form could out-think The Watcher and his pack mates.
Billy faced the threat, again sniffing the air to see if The Watcher’s companions had moved at all. They remained some distance behind him. Perhaps if he struck hard and fast…
Thought became action before it was fully complete. He bounded forward, prepared to knock his opponent down with sheer brute force. But when he landed, The Watcher wasn’t beneath him.
Billy looked around and spotted his quarry sitting several yards away, his tongue lolling out in a wolfish smile. Damn that creature to hell!
Leave or die, Billy yipped in warning. The temperature had dropped enough for his breath to curl up from his wet nose in spirals of white steam.
You’ll not find me so easy to kill, young one, The Watcher barked in return. Try me, if you dare.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kira Stone lives in a warm cave tucked away in the remote Scottish Highlands, where a small band of ever-changing heroes serves as company. As they relax in front of a roaring fire, demons dance in leather pants and angels stroke tunes from the harp strings, while the Fae stop in to share tales from other worlds. Bound by pen and imagination, these are the folk who wait to greet you from the pages of Kira’s stories.
When Marissa learns her abusive husband, Arfon Hanson, plans to murder her so he can take another wife, Marissa flees. She hopes to find sanctuary at the convent where she was educated, but fate intervenes when Steffan Gwinett rescues her from the henchmen Arfon sent to bring her back.
Years ago, Marissa and Steffan had been in love, but her father broke off their relationship, sending her away. Their chance meeting rekindles all their old feelings for each other. After they make love, Steffan vows to expose Arfon for a would-be murderer.
Marissa won’t let Steffan take on the dangerous job alone. She disguises herself as a boy, and they begin an investigation of Arfon. They get more than they bargained for when they discover her husband is the leader of a demon-worshiping cult — and is making plans to offer a local boy as a sacrifice. Can they rescue the victim and find a happy ever after for themselves?
Steffan Gwinett rode past the darkened house and dismounted in the pasture where Darias, his horse, could graze as he would. The moon was almost full, and the sky danced with stars, the heavens giving him enough light to guide his steps. He stood for a moment looking toward the spot where the bee boxes had stood. He could see no sign of them now.
“I’ll be back soon,” he said to his steed, before turning toward the cottage.
It was not an imposing dwelling. The main room had a packed dirt floor. When he’d lived there, the only furnishings had been a large fireplace for warmth and cooking and a table and chairs for sitting and eating. Up above, on the opposite side from the fireplace, was a narrow loft where he had slept. Beyond the main room lay another, barely large enough for a mattress, where his parents had slept until his mother had died. Then it was only Steffan and his grizzled old father — until his father, too, had succumbed to years of hard labor.
Steffan’s father had been a farmer whose fortunes rose and fell with the vagaries of the weather. When the crops were good they ate well, with extra coin for buying necessities they could not make themselves. Sometimes they could even afford a few luxuries, like sturdy fabric for his mother to sew into clothing.
Steffan had known that hardscrabble life was not for him. He’d dreamed of running off with the girl he loved, though that had only been a foolish fancy.
After reality had crashed over him, he had gone off to join King Norwen’s troops. That had not worked out either. Three years of enforcing the king’s draconian edicts had been enough for him. He’d declined his next enlistment and taken the coin he’d managed to save during his time of service.
Now here he was, having another look at this land, wondering if he could make it work for him in a way his father had never considered.
He was almost to the front door when he stopped short. Since childhood he’d enjoyed a talent other people did not possess. He had no name for it, yet somehow he always knew when he was not alone.
That sixth sense had saved his life more than once when he’d been a member of the royal troops — like the time they’d been ordered to clear a town of troublemakers. One of the ruffians had been waiting with a heavy club at the intersection of two streets. Sensing him, Steffan had stopped in his tracks and turned the tables on the would-be assailant.
That same ability slowed his steps now as he approached the cottage. Stopping short of the entrance, he drew his knife and reached for the knob, easing the door inward a few inches. At the same time, he stepped to the side so that he would not be an immediate target. With the door cracked, he stood in the cool night air — listening. He could hear nothing. The house looked as though it was abandoned, yet his instincts told him that was not true. Pushing the door open a bit farther, he peered into the darkness, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the shadowy interior. When he could take in details, he scanned the room. The table and chairs were gone, as was all the cooking equipment near the fireplace.
He tipped his head up, directing his attention to the loft. Someone could be up there in the shadows, waiting to leap down on anyone who entered. A quick glance told him the access ladder was also missing. Unless an intruder had pulled it up after himself, there was no way to reach the sleeping platform.
Who would be in here? From the squalid looks of the interior, obviously not someone who had made a home in this empty cottage. Perhaps it was a ruffian using it as a temporary hideout.
With the main room cleared, his next target was the bedroom. Quietly he crossed the packed dirt and listened at the ripped curtain that still hung there.
Steffan detected nothing — until the curtain flew open and a dark figure leaped out at him, the only thing clearly visible the glint of moonlight on steel.
Only Steffan’s instincts and his hours in the practice yard saved him from a serious knife wound. He twisted away from the assailant and thrust out his foot, sending the knave sprawling and their blade skittering away.
The man was hardly an experienced fighter, Steffan noted as he followed the attacker down, trapping him against the packed earth floor.
The man? No, it must be a youth. In their frantic struggle he detected little meat on the assailant’s arms, and little muscle mass. This boy had no idea how to fight off a warrior — luckily for Steffan. “Stop struggling before you get hurt,” he growled.
Probably realizing that further combat was dangerous, the assailant took his advice — which gave Steffan time to evaluate the body that lay beneath his. He had expected a shallow chest to go with the spindly arms. The reality was quite different. Instead of a boy’s upper trunk, he felt the swell of nicely rounded breasts. Confusion grabbed him as he stared down into glaring green eyes. Familiar eyes — eyes that took him back to another time and place.
He gasped, feeling as though he had taken a hard blow to the gut in a jousting match. For heartbeats he was frozen in place — as was the girl who glared up at him.
Finally he was able to choke out, “Marissa Dumfries.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling Author Rebecca York began her career as a journalist writing articles for newspapers and magazines, but after several years decided to try writing fiction. She’s a highly successful author of over 50 romantic suspense and paranormal novels and is the head of the Columbia Writers Workshop. Her many awards include two Rita finalist books. She has two Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times: for Series Romantic Suspense and for Series Romantic Mystery. Her Peregrine Connection series won a Lifetime Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense Series. She collects rocks, and enjoys cooking, walking, reading, gardening, travel, and Mozart operas.
Cambry is everything an omega shouldn’t be. He’s tall, muscular and attacks every alpha who approaches him, shifting into his wolf form before making sure they know their place—away from him.
Cambry’s father sends him to Feral Woods in the hopes that Cambry will return home too shattered to put up a fight against his next potential mate. If one alpha can’t tame him, then why not try two?
With two hundred supervised acres, Feral Woods is a couple’s therapy center run by Bryce and Jake—two massive alphas who could tear Cambry apart. It’s not long before Cambry finds himself drawn to them, his inner beast submissive for the first time in his life. But he is met with dismissive refusal instead of interest.
With his heart on the line and time running out, there is a chance he could remain broken forever.
Reader advisory: This book contains a scene of a shifter orgy.
Cambry grasped the curtain, pulling it away from the polished glass of his bedroom window. The fabric was soft and heavy in his hand—something from the latest designer his mother had fallen in love with. Instead of the previous indigo, it was now a deep blue that blended in with the softer tones of his room.
A fountain spurted beyond the window, its waters guarded by a black gate that matched the fence that surrounded the property. There were grass and trees, too, beyond those gates, not that he ever got the chance to enjoy them.
An alpha retreated along the concrete walkway, his back rippling under his thin T-shirt. Each movement was like a feral dance of instinct and desire. There was a streak of red across his shirt that hadn’t been there when he’d arrived. The alpha had been big, strong, attractive and sweet—everything a proper mate should be.
But Cambry’s plan had been disastrous, like a spectacular firework that had failed to launch and exploded in his face instead. The second the alpha had shown any intent that wasn’t exactly platonic, Cambry’s instinctive side had reared up and taken him out.
Sighing, Cambry let the curtain fall shut, the filtered light dimming to a sparse glow. Luckily, the alpha was only leaving with a scratch and a black eye instead of a broken arm like the last one—or the broken collar bone from the one before him. Maybe it was because Cambry had warned him?
Most alphas sneered at the warning—hence the broken arm and collar bone—but this one had seemed different.
“When you try to touch me, I’m going to react…badly.” Cambry couldn’t remember how many times he had said those same words. He guessed that the first few alphas had assumed that Cambry would react like any other omega was supposed to—with slick and a burst of pheromones.
They hadn’t been expecting violence.
Walking to his dresser, Cambry pulled the top drawer wide, fumbling with a pair of boxers and tugging them up his thick legs. The fabric was smooth and silken and clutched his soft package like a fitted glove. They were worth spending his tiny allowance on, that was for sure. Thank goodness for the little things in life.
The little things being both his package and the expensive underwear.
His old friend Aubrie had asked him why he always splurged on the things if he had no one to show them off to. He had his own mirror, thank you very much, which added ten pounds, even on the best of days. But it was always honest about the boxers, which looked a hell of a lot better than they did on most omegas.
“Why don’t you give up, Cambry? It kills me to see you like this. If an alpha hasn’t induced a heat in you by now, it’s not going to happen.”
Aubrie had probably had the best intentions when she’d said that, but it had pierced Cambry’s soul like a dull pencil crayon. Or maybe that was why Cambry’s father had chosen her as his friend…to wear him down a bit more.
There was only so much loneliness he could take before he tried to be with someone again, hoping that everything would finally work the way it was supposed to. It wasn’t the sex as much as it was everything else. He couldn’t hug someone or even hold their hand without his feral side acting out.
His skin prickled as his door slid back, light footsteps moving across the floor behind him. And there was that.
“Your father is upset,” said his mother, her meek voice slapping him harder than any blow. He couldn’t look at her and see the same disappointment that was in his soul.
He could hear her shaking, her teeth chattering softly as she stayed as far away from him as she could. He was surprised that she had even managed to step into the same room as he was in.
“I tried, Mom,” he said, pulling a second drawer wide and tugging a shirt over his frame. He had to get alpha sizes, seeing as nothing for omegas fit his frame. His father was upset about that, too.
The alpha sizes were shaped differently than he was, though—the shoulders a touch too wide and the waist not quite narrow enough. Nothing had fit him well since he’d hit puberty.
The steady thumps of his father’s steps approached, and he hurriedly pulled a pair of jeans over his legs. They at least fit a bit better, his thighs stretching the fabric to its brink as it cupped his ass. The only place with too much room was the crotch, but he was almost glad that nothing ever touched him there.
He looked at the mirror above his dresser, scowling at his reflection. Fellow omegas were terrified of him, and alphas treated him like he was a strange cousin to the human race who needed to be broken or beaten until he fit into a different shape than what he had been born into.
He sniffed, slamming the drawer shut before his father could step into his room. There was no use crying, no matter how frustrated he was.
“We’ve tried it your way, Cambry. These alphas can’t stand to get close to you, let alone allow you to bond with them,” said his father as he hovered at the edge of the door frame. He was a few inches shy of Cambry’s height and had lost his alpha muscling to his age long before Cambry had been born. Like most alphas, he never got too close to Cambry—just close enough to hurt with words.
Cambry wondered if he would ever forget his father’s way. The restraints had dug into his wrists as a strange alpha had approached him from behind. Guided by an overdressed and undereducated doctor, Cambry’s father had hoped to kick-start Cambry’s omega nature with some good ole fashioned alpha cock. They hadn’t counted on Cambry breaking his own arm as he shifted, turning on the alpha and ripping a chunk of flesh from his throat.
The alpha hadn’t died—thank goodness—but they had never tried to restrain Cambry after that. And they had finally listened to him and had let him try on his own terms by picking up an alpha from a bar. It was about as romantic as a one-night stand could have been.
But it had resulted the same way—minus the shifting and massive blood loss, at least.
“It almost happened, Dad. I was so close,” said Cambry, touching his belly. He’d been naked, which had been a first. And the alpha had managed to touch him once before Cambry’s beast had risen to the surface and socked him in the face. Biting the alpha’s gland to bond with them had been the last thing on his mind.
“Close isn’t enough,” said his father, the snarl in his voice enough to prickle the hair on the back of Cambry’s neck. He’d never attacked a family member, but he had come close enough times that his father rarely approached him without backup. It was probably why his mother was strategically between them, shivering with her eyes downcast.
“Your heat could kill you. You’re already so much older than you should be for your first one, and there’s no way you can manage it alone,” said his mother, the edge of a sob in her voice. Cambry turned, his heart falling as he watched the tears stream down his mother’s face. She, at least, cared for him. His father was more interested in seeing him out of the door in a different alpha’s house—with some financial benefits for himself, of course.
“I’d have to have a heat first.” Cambry turned away as his father’s dark eyes glared into him. Most omegas had their first heat when they were still in high school, the late bloomers sprouting by eighteen at the latest. Cambry had turned twenty-two three weeks before, and he still hadn’t experienced a heat. He was hardly an omega at all by some standards.
But his mom was right. Those that had monthly heats had the mildest cycle, still able to continue their day-to-day lives with only a mild fever and a bit of slickness. Some of Cambry’s classmates had been that way, and he’d scarcely been able to tell.
Those who had heats once a year had to isolate themselves for nearly a week, their scent and instincts so uncontrollable that they could kill any stranger who attempted to approach. They needed a mate to ease them through it, more with their presence than their knot, from what his mother had explained.
For Cambry not to have had a heat at his age meant that his first would reduce him to nothing more than a feral beast that would kill and fuck without conscious thought. The idea was terrifying, especially since he was already so close to feral that an alpha couldn’t touch him.
“I’ve tolerated this abnormality of yours for long enough,” said his father, his mother’s spine stiffening.
“Dear, you promised,” she said, her voice pleading.
“No, he’ll be going to them, and that’s final. That doctor wasn’t worth his degree, but a colleague of mine gave me the name of a facility that he swears by. If one alpha can’t handle him, then maybe two can snap him out of this phase.” He tossed a business card into the room and it fluttered end over end before settling upside down on the floor. Turning, he stormed from the entry.
Cambry finally took a breath as his father disappeared, skirting by his mother to grab the business card. It was deep forest green with the name Feral Woods inscribed along the middle with deep gold lettering.
He flipped it over, his eyes going wide as he read the services listed on the card. “Instinctive therapy? What is that?” It sounded terrifying and alluring at the same time.
His instincts were everything that was wrong with him, though. As much as he wanted to listen to the little whispers in the back of his mind, he knew if he did, he would be alone for the rest of his life. Therapy brought to mind cages and bindings, the hair on his arms and chest thickening at the thought.
If it had been his father’s idea, the latter was probably exactly what was involved. His colleagues weren’t much better in Cambry’s experience, either.
“I hear they are very good,” she said softly, her voice trembling as she took a step back. His heart broke under the weight of her fear.
His parents were terrified of him. Maybe he should be locked in a cage for the rest of his days until they found someone who could make him submit. Or two someones. He quivered.
“When do I leave?” He took a shuddering breath as he looked around his room. What would he be allowed to bring? His collection of rocks from his younger years? Probably not. His romance novels? He should probably give them a proper burial before he left, because his father would burn them and disown him if he found them hidden under the floorboard.
Just another layer of his abnormalities. His father would have a heart attack if he ever read one of them or even caught sight of the cover. They were the only things that Cambry had ever intentionally rebelled with, and they could cost him everything.
“Your father pulled some strings.” Because of course he did. She cleared her throat. “You’re leaving in an hour.”
So his father had expected his plan to fail.
“There are single omegas, Mom. Why can’t he just let me be?” Cambry sighed, drawing a hand down his arm as his fur retreated, prickling as it pulled back under his skin. Others described shifting as painful, and even his mother could hardly bear to do it. But to him, it was a release he only ever found when he was in that form—wild and without the presumptions of a society that hated him.
“You know why,” she said, not even looking at him. He hadn’t noticed the exact moment that she had given up on him, but it had been a long time ago—perhaps when he had matured into an omega, only he hadn’t stopped growing like he was supposed to or maybe when the first alpha had offered him a mating contract and Cambry had bitten clear through his hand.
“I’m sorry,” he said. The reasons were too long for her to list, and he knew them almost by heart. “Your father has so much pressure at work. People are wondering why you haven’t mated yet. People will talk, son, and your reputation will be ruined. We can’t let them know that you’re…unnatural. Your heat will kill you, and if it doesn’t, your father…”
They did have a slight point. He had no desire to die, especially since he hadn’t seen the world except for his tiny slice of neighborhood and the bit of lawn within the black gates. The unmated omegas he’d seen were considered strange anomalies in the circles his father traveled in and were best to be left alone and shunned.
As if they couldn’t function without a knot to drool over.
Cambry rolled his eyes. The idea of a knot made him a bit nauseous. He had no desire to bend over and take it like he was supposed to. His feral side agreed with toothy gusto.
“You should pack. I’ll give you space.” She set a duffel bag on the floor before she swept from the room, the loss of her presence barely palpable in the quiet house.
She was his polar opposite. His beast refused to be compliant and meek, even when he tried so hard to overcome that part of himself. He didn’t want to be his mother, who was a shadow of a human being ruled by society more than her education and emotions.
Sighing, he looked around the room before grabbing the bag. If he were lucky, he would have just enough room to pack his books under a thin layer of clothing. Then, at least, he could take everything that meant something to him.
He looked at the business card one last time. Alpha and omega instinctive therapy sessions. Two hundred acres of supervised development.
Well, on the bright side, he would probably get to see some hot alpha ass. A smile tugged at his lips. He could have a positive attitude. At least he was getting out of the house. And two hundred acres would give his beast a lot more places to run, even if he was supervised.
Checking to make sure the coast was clear, he lifted the floorboards just inside his closet. His collection of books that he’d spent years gathering barely fit in the space anymore. The pages were worn from being read so many times, the front covers smudged from his fingers. The covers gave away everything that his father didn’t need to know. Two men, bigger than even himself and twined in a primal embrace, painted a steamy picture that made his mouth water. Forbidden Alphas.
Heat flushed his cheeks as he packed them out of sight, zipping the bag shut with a hard pull. He balled up a pair of socks and underwear, jamming them into the side pouch to disguise the corners the books had created.
M.C. Roth lives in Canada and loves every season, even the dreaded Canadian winter. She graduated with honours from the Associate Diploma Program in Veterinary Technology at the University of Guelph before choosing a different career path.
Between caring for her young son, spending time with her husband, and feeding treats to her menagerie of animals, she still spends every spare second devoted to her passion for writing.
She loves growing peppers that are hot enough to make grown men cry, but she doesn’t like spicy food herself. Her favourite thing, other than writing of course, is to find a quiet place in the wilderness and listen to the birds while dreaming about the gorgeous men in her head.