Release Blitz: The Nile Priestess by Catherin Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead #mystery #historicalromance #paranormal @totally_bound @firstfirromance

The Nile Priestess by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Word Count: 61,298
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 237

Genres:

HISTORICAL
MYSTERY
PARANORMAL
ROMANCE
VAMPIRES

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Book Description

Amid the shifting sands of Egypt, is an ancient evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

In the heat of 1920’s Cairo, Raf and Cecily are looking forward to making their honeymoon one to remember. Instead, they find themselves caught between a British nobleman on a mission to loot Egypt’s ancient tombs and a mysterious local woman who will do whatever it takes to protect the land she loves.⁠

When a foreboding pyramid rises from the sands and the scent of decay fills the air, Raf and Cecily find themselves caught in a terrifying race against time to vanquish a murderous mummy and put right the wrongs of the past. But is evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

Excerpt

Cecily leaned over the ship’s railing, shielding her eyes from the hot Mediterranean sun with her hand. They’d travelled across Europe to get here, and now they were almost at their destination, a place Cecily had only ever dreamed of before.

“And tomorrow we’ll see Egypt, just there on the horizon!” she excitedly said to Raf, her husband.

If only I could wish and wish and it’d appear there right away.

“And tomorrow night, we’ll be snuggled in bed in the Rosetta of the Nile, counting the stars above Cairo.” Raf beamed. He put his arm around Cecily’s waist and said, “It’s the perfect honeymoon, Sissy.”

“It feels like a dream, Raf, like it’s not quite real!” Cecily pictured pyramids and deserts, a world away from their home in Yorkshire or the places in Europe they had journeyed through. “We’ll go everywhere by camel, of course, and eat nothing but dates.”

“Just like we do in Yorkshire,” he told her with a grin. Then he pecked a kiss to Cecily’s cheek and asked, “Happy, Mrs de Chastelaine?”

“Oh, so happy I might go pop!” Cecily said excitedly. Then with affection, she added, “But then, I have been ever since I first met you, Raf.”

Not so long ago Cecily would never have dreamed that she’d be married to a man—or dhampir, really—like Raf de Chastelaine, let alone be honeymooning in Egypt, but here she was. Her life had taken an unexpected turn and as she stood here beneath the sun, the botanical scent of Raf’s homemade sun lotion mingling with the heat and sea salt, she’d never been happier.

A breeze rippled the brim of her sunhat, and Cecily turned to see another passenger lean against the railings a few feet away. Miss Mansour was a very glamorous Egyptian lady, who they’d sat with at the captain’s table the night before, along with Miss Mansour’s party of archaeologists. Cecily had been over the moon to sit at such an important table on her first long sea journey, and with a party who were travelling to Egypt to uncover its wonders, too.

But Miss Mansour seemed preoccupied and hadn’t noticed them. Instead, she stared off towards the horizon.

Cecily’s sixth sense, her ability to pick up on others’ emotions, began to twitch.

She’s homesick, Cecily thought, although she realised that was obvious.

“Raf,” Cecily whispered, “let’s say good afternoon.”

Raf glanced towards the woman, then gave a nod. “Yeah, let’s say how do,” he decided.

Cecily moved along the salt-covered railing. “Good afternoon, Miss Mansour!” She smiled. “You must be very glad to be so close to home again.”

Miss Mansour removed her sunglasses and smiled back, but there was something sad in her expression. “Oh, of course, if one has a happy home, then one is glad to return. I am thinking of all the work I must do when we arrive. Lord Bath has such great plans for his dig. I think we might uncover many wonderful things.”

“It must be terribly exciting!” Cecily said. “All those treasures that haven’t seen the light of day for years and years and years, and you brush away the sand, and there in your hand there’s a little golden Anubis!”

“Lord Carnarvon hasn’t put him off?” Raf asked. “If you believe the papers, pyramid-diving is a bad business. I don’t know… I feel like perhaps English lords should leave Egyptian treasures in Egypt.”

A flicker of amusement crossed Miss Mansour’s face. She maybe didn’t hear that sentiment often enough. But Raf’s Romanian accent no doubt told her that he had no patience with the meddling of the English. “It is strange to me to think of my ancestors lying in museums across the world. I cannot think it was what they expected when they died—that one day their remains would travel the world, to be stared at.”

“I heard that Lord Bath reckons he’s found a tomb that nobody believed existed at all,” Raf replied. “But legends sometimes turn out to be true, don’t they?”

And Raf would know all about that, wouldn’t he? Not many advertisements for family businesses that spanned the generations read, ‘Ghosts need laying? Rates negotiable on application.’ Raf didn’t work alone anymore though—Cecily was part of the family business, too.

But what fates had Raf’s ancestors faced? His father might be human, but his late mother certainly hadn’t been. After all, it wasn’t many newlyweds who spent Christmas at a castle perched atop a precipice on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains. Cecily would never have guessed that vampires could be such generous and attentive hosts.

“The tomb of Menkare II,” Miss Mansour replied, with a note of distaste. “He is sure that he has discovered it, even though the sands covered it from human sight longer ago than you can imagine. A pharaoh who has almost been entirely forgotten, but the legend of his missing tomb has persisted down the centuries. And now Lord Bath thinks he’s found it.”

Cecily shivered with delight at the thought. “Do you think we might come along to the dig and have a look? We won’t touch anything. We’ll be on our best behaviour. Won’t we, Raf?”

“I don’t want to touch anything that’s been inside a forgotten tomb.” Raf chuckled. “I’ve got an allergy to curses. I’d love to have a nose at the site, though…history’s a bit of a hobby of mine. Along with gardening. And tinkering. I love tinkering.”

Miss Mansour chuckled. Then she looked Raf and Cecily slowly up and down, as if she was assessing them. Cecily did her best to smile under her scrutiny. It felt as if Miss Mansour wasn’t just looking at them, but into them. Although Cecily told herself she couldn’t be. Then Miss Mansour nodded.

“Yes, why don’t you come along? I believe I can trust you.” Miss Mansour pointed to the jumble of necklaces and amulets around Raf’s neck. “You’re wearing a scarab, I see. And the Eye of Horus.”

Raf nodded. “It’s not my first time in Egypt,” he admitted, almost bashfully. “And I like to pack on the protection. Whether it’s from the sun, or…whatever else is floating about.”

“You are very sensible to do so,” Miss Mansour said. “Lord Bath scoffs at such ideas, of course. And I am told sometimes that I am too superstitious, but you never can be too careful. Especially not when you’re robbing graves, even ancient ones.” She paused for a moment, before adding, almost to herself, “Especially ancient ones.”

“We’re very careful about such things,” Cecily said, knowing she couldn’t go into detail with someone they’d not long met. “We always treat the dead with respect.”

“They’re people too,” Raf pointed out, straight-faced. “Just like us.”

“Oh, they are…” Miss Mansour glanced away for a moment, towards the southern horizon. Cecily sensed her homesickness again, a feeling of loss and loneliness. Then Miss Mansour turned back to face them. “You see, I knew I could trust you. There are not many people on this earth who share that sentiment, Mr de Chastelaine.”

Raf smiled gently and admitted, “It’s just something life’s taught us.” And he glanced towards Cecily, his eyes filled with love.

“Miss Mansour!” It was Lord Bath’s braying voice, and it was coming closer from inside the ship. “I say, Miss Mansour, where are you hiding?”

Miss Mansour sighed. “I apologise. I must speak to Lord Bath.” She raised her voice and replied, “I am out here on the deck, Lord Bath, taking the sea air.”

“Dreaming of the old homeland, eh!” Lord Bath stepped out onto the deck. He put his hands on his hips and drew in a deep breath of sea air. “Good Lord, it’s hotter than ever today!”

He was dressed in a linen suit, as most of the European men on the ship were. But Lord Bath’s looked particularly expensive, cut to fit just right. His square jaw jutted out as he took the air, as though he was the master of all he surveyed. And the truth was, men like him were.

Not women like Cecily or Miss Mansour, not men like Raf. But wealthy English aristocrats in Jermyn Street linen suits ruled the world.

“This is not hot!” Miss Mansour chuckled. “You have the sea breeze here. But out in the desert, it doesn’t matter how hot it gets, you hope the wind won’t start up or a sandstorm might follow. But I will be glad to see my home again, yes. Are you not pleased to see yours when you return to England?”

“One has several, and one is always happy to see them. But the tomb of Menkare II is my life’s work. I’ll happily take a long-lost legendary treasure horde over even the nicest family pile in Bath.” Bath guffawed. He lifted his Panama hat to Raf and Cecily. “Good afternoon, Mr and Mrs de Chastelaine. Egypt awaits, what!”

“Oh, it does!” Cecily replied. “You must be so excited about the dig. I know I am, and I’m not even digging anything. But then I’ve never been to Egypt before, and you’re all experts on it. Miss Mansour especially.”

Miss Mansour smiled wistfully. “Egypt and her myths and legends have been my life’s work.”

But it wouldn’t be Miss Mansour’s name connected with the find. Rather, the name of a man born in a country far away, in a land without a single desert to its name.

“I must confess this was a last throw of the dice,” Bath admitted. “Seven failed digs over the years. But our Miss Mansour isn’t only a dashed pretty face. She’s got a very clever little brain in that head of hers!”

Little brain? Cecily had once been married to a man who spoke like that about women. She bristled on Miss Mansour’s behalf.

“How kind of you to say so,” Miss Mansour replied, acknowledging his backhanded compliment with a nod. “I have worked very hard—studied very hard—to acquire the knowledge I now have of my country’s ancient past.”

“And we’re all terribly grateful,” Bath assured her. “Miss Mansour was able to interpret the last clues to the location of the tomb. When the treasures of Menkare II are exhibited in London, I’m sure this young lady’s beauty will dazzle almost as much as the pharaoh’s gold.”

Young lady’s beauty?

Cecily bristled anew. She could sense that Miss Mansour didn’t appreciate the way Lord Bath spoke about her either, but she didn’t say anything.

“And everyone will want to talk to her to find out how she worked out the last clues,” Cecily said.

Miss Mansour gave Cecily a smile, as if telling her that she appreciated her support. “I would be more than happy to.”

Lord Bath met that with a bark of uproarious laughter. He clapped his hands together and exclaimed, “Quite so, Mrs de Chastelaine, quite so!” He wiped his eyes on a pristine white handkerchief. “And when one dines at the Ritz, one lauds the waitress for the chef’s splendid work, eh?”

“But without Miss Mansour, you wouldn’t have found the tomb,” Raf pointed out, frowning. “Isn’t that right?”

“And without my money to hire her, Miss Mansour wouldn’t have been part of the party at all.” Lord Bath’s smile had become rather tight. Cecily could tell that he didn’t take kindly to such ideas. “And she certainly wouldn’t have had access to the tablets and very rare papyri that held the secrets of Menkare II’s tomb. Believe me when I say that such treasures are highly prized and priced accordingly. Far beyond the reach of the Miss Mansours of the world.”

Miss Mansour raised an eyebrow before putting her sunglasses back on. A chill breeze rose from the sea. “That is because the tablets and papyri I needed to study are held in a private collection in England.”

“Guilty as charged.” Bath chuckled. “And I may yet have one surprise left up my sleeve, madam. A little showmanship, if you will.”

“Is that so?” Miss Mansour sounded like someone who was not easily surprised. She tapped her fingers against the ship’s railing, her rings clanging on the metal. “I shall look forward to it.”

“Well, you’ll excuse me. I must dress for dinner.” Bath gave a polite nod of farewell. “Miss Mansour, might I escort you to your state—cabin?”

No stateroom for the hired help then, no matter how valuable their knowledge.

“No, thank you, Lord Bath. I believe I can just about remember the way there. Good evening.” And with that, Miss Mansour inclined her head, then turned and glided away along the deck.

Cecily glanced at Lord Bath, wondering if he had taken offence. But how else could Miss Mansour have reacted without any further dents to her dignity?

“She’s homesick,” Cecily told Lord Bath by way of explanation.

“Ah, England’s green and pleasant land. We all miss her, of course,” Bath replied, apparently untroubled by her departure. And somehow unaware that perhaps Miss Mansour, his Egyptian associate, might not consider England home, no matter how green or pleasant.

“Egypt,” Raf said bluntly.

“Yes, she misses Egypt,” Cecily prompted Lord Bath. “I think maybe she’s glad not to be in England.”

“Well, I certainly won’t be asking her to come back to England if she prefers to remain in Egypt,” the Earl of Bath replied with a magnanimous smile. “I shan’t be requiring her expertise once the tomb is open. Miss Mansour can go wherever she might wish.”

Raf frowned and asked, “You won’t give her the credit for her work, then?” He added innocently, “I thought you said you couldn’t have done it without her.”

“She’s terribly clever,” Cecily added. “Just think of the number of languages she understands, modern and ancient ones. And she knows a terribly vast amount of things about the ancient world as well!”

“And dashed pretty too,” the Earl of Bath replied. “Well, I shall take my leave. Good afternoon to you both!”

“We must go and dress for dinner. Good afternoon,” Cecily responded, the words sticking in her throat. The earl gave another nod and retreated back towards the ship.

“Cheerio,” Raf called, but Cecily knew that his bonhomie was an effort. He didn’t like Lord Bath any more than she did. If the nobleman realised, of course, he didn’t care. Instead he disappeared into the ship, whistling a cheery tune as he went.

Cecily waited until he had gone, then she whispered to Raf, “What a dreadful man, robbing Miss Mansour of her discovery. I really don’t like him at all, Raf. But then, maybe I’ve known one too many men like him in my life.”

Raf nodded. He put his arm around Cecily’s shoulders and whispered, “Not my sort of bloke either. Do you want to head in and get ready to eat?” Raf kissed her cheek. “Do I have to wear shoes to dinner?”

“Oh, yes, let’s go back to the cabin.” Cecily chuckled. “Shoes? Well, if you don’t wear shoes, we might not be invited to the captain’s table tonight. But if the delightful Lord Bath’s sitting there again, maybe that’s a good thing.”

“I’ll put shoes on,” Raf assured her. Then he added with a wink, “But I’ll slip them off when I’m sitting down,”

Raf really didn’t like shoes. He was happiest barefoot, wandering through the garden at home. Cecily smiled at him. “I’d expect nothing less, darling! Right, let’s get ready for dinner.”

Arm in arm, they strolled along the deck towards their cabin.

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About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.

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New at Changeling Press: Legally Claimed by Alexa Piper #LGBTQ #vampires #urbanfantasy @prowlingpiper @changelingpress

Legally Claimed (Elvenswood Tales)

By Alexa Piper

Published by Changeling Press

Peter is good at being a lawyer. He also happens to be a vampire, which — in his experience — is far less exciting than the books make it out to be. The most romance he gets these days is watching others fall in love. But this vicarious lifestyle isn’t something Peter minds or even wants to change.

Theo escaped an abusive relationship and is determined to get his college degree, even if prostitution is how he pays for it. No stranger to the supernatural, he has agreed to let vampires bite him for money, but his first client in the new city is nothing like Theo expected.

Peter has no good reason to tuck Theo into bed after that blood donation, but he does. Peter also has no reason to fantasize about Theo, and yet, Peter’s mind is soon drifting to the pretty, black-haired, jade-eyed boy he doesn’t even really know.

A chance encounter at New Elvenswood University brings Peter’s fantasies close to reality. Theo’s vampiric ex soon becomes a problem Peter will have solve. And he won’t use his skills as a lawyer to do it, either.

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Sitting behind his desk at his law firm, Peter Collins stared at the spreadsheet that was currently open on his work laptop. But the columns and all the numbers made no sense. Spreadsheets never did when Peter hadn’t had some nice fresh blood in a while, even if he normally loved himself some Excel magic. Sighing theatrically for the benefit of exactly no one because he was alone in his office, Peter leaned back in his ergonomically optimized chair and glared at the damned spreadsheet. It still made no sense, and obviously, his glaring was wasted on the damn screen. With a dismissive gesture, Peter closed his laptop and got to his feet.

He had the corner office, naturally, because he had founded the law firm Collins & Partners. Most days he liked the room that had been designed with an eye to justifying what his clients were billed for an hour of his lawyery time. But right this moment, Peter couldn’t spend another second in here because the cubist paintings just seemed gaudy.

Peter swung the glass door open with a touch and hurried down the hallway, the nice scowl on his face forcing everyone to move out of his way. Peter barged into Michael’s office, and the handsome siren looked up.

“Anything you need?” Michael asked.

Oh, Peter had a list of things he conceivably needed from Michael, and that list had grown ever since Michael had started working for him. At first, Peter had entertained thoughts of a nice, tempestuous affair with the delicious-looking siren. Peter had never had siren’s blood, and he’d wondered what Michael’s blood would taste like in the throes of passion.

However, Michael had not been interested, and Peter was not one to force his own desire on others because, the bother. Then, Michael had started dating a human, the cutest little librarian in all New Elvenswood, and that had been better, because Peter got to watch those two being adorable together. He’d also gotten to watch the cutie-pie librarian go up against a Yule cat to protect Michael, and then the three of them had enjoyed a vacation with a little zombie extravaganza on the entertainment front. It had been such fun.

Now, Peter’s siren and the cute librarian were planning their wedding, and Peter, to whom the sweet little librarian had given the epithet “the Terrible,” felt he was not involved enough. Yet, Peter could not outright state the injustice, because then he would have to explain his desire to be more involved, and the bother.

But still, in the face of a properly engaged Michael doing some paperwork or other, all Peter wanted to say was that he needed to be consulted on wedding decisions.

The goddamn bother. “Just checking in. I wanted to make sure you were dealing with your current caseload. I would understand if you needed more time with Corvin right now.”

Michael smiled up at Peter. “It’s fine, actually. Corvin’s excited and he’s still processing that his best friend is dating an Elf. And a vampire.”

Peter nodded. “Those are Lord Laurette’s lovers, yes?” That sweet, bookish Corvin was friends with one of the Elven lord’s lovers was, frankly, a wonderful happenstance. Peter had high hopes of meeting them and watching that story unfold. If an Elf such as Laurette of the Silver Moons had claimed two lovers, that romance truly had to be epic. Peter would like nothing better than to watch that love story from the sidelines, but still close enough to where the action was happening. Michael and Corvin would always be Peter’s favorites, but an Elf, a human, and a vampire? There was just no way that was not a romance built for swooning over in secret.

Michael nodded. “Yes. Corvin can’t believe he had to be engaged to a siren and survive a horde of zombies before getting told about all that.”

“Understandable. Perhaps we should go to the library? To surprise your Corvin, of course. I should like to make sure he is fine after that drama with the garden shears in Morrowvale.”

Really, Michael had to give Peter that. It wasn’t an unreasonable request, and Peter loved seeing Michael and Corvin kiss, touch — all that wonderful intimacy.

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!

Find Alexa Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | BookBub

Release Blitz: Voice by Sean Ian O’Meidhir and Connal Braginsky #PNR #LGBTQ #dragqueens @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Voice

Series: Crossing Nuwa, Book Three

Author: Sean Ian O’Meidhir, Connal Braginsky

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/21/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 62500

Genre: Paranormal Romance, LGBTQIA+, pride, parade, bears, action/adventure, drag queens, vampires, shifters, magic, mind control, urban fiction, plus sized

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Description

After an unfortunate mishap, Robbie has to learn how to use his Command abilities. Just when he thinks that it’s safe to turn them off entirely, he is challenged in a way he never imagined and is faced with the decision to use his abilities or lose his beloved cousin for good. His growth puts a strain on his budding relationship with Theo who is already stretched thin with his own dilemmas. Will the couple grow from their individual struggles, or will this be a final dividing point?

This is the third book in the Crossing Nüwa series and a continuation of Robbie and Theo’s relationship growth and struggles.

Excerpt

Voice
Sean Ian O’Meidhir and Connal Braginsky © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Robbie

“Oh shit!” I cursed, spitting out the flavor of another man’s unwanted lips on mine and chafing my lips as I fervently wiped my mouth on my sleeve.

With small bony hands, he grabbed both of my arms. “Robbie,” Brent said. His high-pitched nasally voice, which had always annoyed me a little, now grated on every nerve. “You know you want me as much as I want you. Stop playing hard to get.”

I couldn’t believe this was happening. At school! I glanced around the empty college hallway for anyone to potentially save me, but classes were in session. I felt more than saw Brent lunge in for another kiss, and my lua training kicked in. Thrusting into his solar plexus with one palm, I snatched his wrist and wrenched. As he fell, I twisted him, catching his chin in my left hand, and by stretching him out I was able to face him away from me.

“Oooo,” Brent cooed, kneeling from the ground. “You like it rough. Robbie, I never knew.”

Disgusted, I dropped him and tripped back into the wall. “I thought we were friends,” I managed pathetically. Confusion swirled around me. We were supposed to be on the way to class. We were supposed to be working on a project for class. We were supposed to be studying for finals. We were supposed to be doing anything but what he had just done. Brent had been my closest friend since I started college. While he had asked me out that first week, he backed off when I told him I had a boyfriend.

Brent pulled his small frame up, standing and looking up at me with a twisted smile that made me cringe. “You know we’re more than that. I don’t know what you see in that fat dude you call a boyfriend. You’re so much hotter than that. Deserve someone like me. Come on; let’s cut biology and get out of here? They know we’re working on that project anyway.”

I caught him as he moved in again. The scent of his sauerkraut-covered hot dog lunch wafted from his breath, making me shudder in revulsion. “Just stop!” I shouted, not caring if someone overheard, and pushed him back with all my strength.

He hit the other wall looking stunned and then slumped to the ground.

“Oh,” I exhaled. Nüwa are stronger than humans. What if I…?

Bending down, I gingerly pushed him, almost expecting a horror film scene of him grappling me down. He just rolled over, looking peacefully asleep.

Scrambling, I stumbled away. And then ran.

Chapter Two
Compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize, I chanted to myself. Brent was okay. I had just knocked him out. Someone would come along and find him passed out in the hall. Or he’d wake up and…and what? Call me? I glanced apprehensively at the phone mounted to the overly cheerful artichoke-shaped charging station in our kitchen.

I had thrown myself into cooking the moment I got home. Ms. Gomez, our live-in housekeeper and cook, kindly let me use the kitchen while she took off to the store. The new pasta maker I got online dominated my attention until it started slipping back to Brent. Maggie’s voice rung out in my mind, reminding me to compartmentalize—to put this experience in another box in my mind. And shut it. Lock it. Learning to tuck away the memories from childhood that left me feeling vulnerable had kept me sane this past year.

The memory of holding my mother’s lifeless body after she had sacrificed herself to save me came unbidden to my mind, and once again, I was awash with that guilt. The deep cleansing breath helped to center me, and I imagined settling the top on that box again.

As I thought more about it, it seemed like I was compartmentalizing other things too. The time we spent in San Diego lived in one box and my time spent in the oasis of my home with Theo in yet another. I found that I was a different person in each context. With Theo I was most at ease. He knew me better than anyone, even Maggie, though I had spared him the sordid details about my childhood. There was never any guesswork with Theo. He loved me unconditionally and was always there for me. I could be myself with Maggie and Abi, too, but felt a wall with them. I know it’s because they’re women and Nüwa, and Mother and my aunt instilled in me a fear of both and an internal need to be deferential. So, I knew what the wall was; I just didn’t see a way of getting past it. And part of me didn’t want to. They were both amazing, and loving, and kind. And nothing at all like Mother and my aunt. So, they deserved my respect and deference.

And college was another box. I groaned loudly, channeling my fury into my whisk, hitting the sides of the bowl in a frenzy. The cream sauce I was making from scratch for the Italian sausage lasagna spun around in a vortex inside the bowl. How could I go back if Brent was there? The idea of confronting him… But the idea of not going back to college left me with a sense of dread.

“Hey ya, sugar.”

I let out a yelp and spun around to see Theo casually leaning on the counter. How long had he been there?

“What’s up?” His question had a cautious tone.

“Cooking,” I muttered, turning my back to him and focusing on pouring the sauce into the pan that I had already layered with pasta, meat, and cheese. Heat stained my cheeks with just the thought of telling Theo about the kiss.

The weight of his stare on my back was a tangible thing, and I was relieved when his phone sounded. He let it ring longer than he normally would, but then answered and left. Relief slumped my shoulders. I would put this whole thing in a box. The Brent box. It belonged on a shelf with all the other bad memories and mistakes. Tonight, I was going to have dinner with my family: Kat and Theo. But first, I would need to meditate and get calm. All this rumination was getting me absolutely nowhere.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Connal Braginsky is a software engineer who lives in San Diego, California. Diagnosed with high functioning autism, Connal sometimes struggles in social situations, but has an inner world that is always incredibly rich. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge about many esoteric things, Connal brings a lot of personal philosophies and interests to writing.

Sean Ian O’Meidhir is a psychologist who lives in San Francisco, California. Sean is a hedonist who believes in living for today, living every day to the fullest, and enjoying as much as possible. They have been gaming since adolescence and have written about and played hundreds of lives, revelling in the chance to take on new personalities, dramas, even disorders.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

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Vampire Kisses Vol 2 by NYT Bestseller Angela Knight #vampires #darkfantasy #BDSM @AngelaKnight @changelingpress

Vampire agents, SEALs, captives, and bodyguards fight their way into their women’s hearts.

Hope’s Kiss: When a police detective discovers a chamber of horrors in the basement of an old house, she’s horrified to find her ex-lover, Mark Wilder, locked in one of the cells. Naked and covered in bites and blood, he’s been changed into a vampire. And he’s insane with bloodlust. Unless Hope can reawaken Mark’s humanity, he’s doomed to remain the slave of a vicious predator. What’s worse, his vampire sire intends Hope to become Mark’s first victim.

Kissing the Hunter: Navy SEAL Logan McLean is on a quest for revenge against the monsters who murdered his wife. Virginia Hart is a sexy vampire searching for her lost soulmate, only to find him in a man determined to kill her. She must convince him all vampires aren’t psychotic murderers — if he doesn’t get her first.

A Candidate for the Kiss: on the trail of a hot story, reporter Dana Ivory stumbles across a truly explosive scoop — a handsome secret agent who happens to be a vampire. She wants her story, but Gabriel Archer has something much sexier in mind. He’s been looking for someone like Dana for a very long time: a candidate for the kiss.

Blood and Kisses: A murderous vampire assassin is hot on the trail of Beryl St. Cloud. Her only hope lies with yet another bloodsucker, James Decker. Broke and desperate, she offers herself as payment for the mercenary’s protection. But will the price end up being her very soul?

Get the Paperback at Amazon

Get the ebook at Changeling Press on November 5th

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Angela Knight
Excerpt from Hope’s Kiss

He was naked, covered in blood, and lying on the floor of a steel cage.

She’d still know Mark Wilder anywhere.

Detective Hope Barton scanned the room from the bottom step, eyes flicking from the cage to the bloody wooden table beside it, to the shackles that hung from blood splattered cement walls.

The big, dimly lit basement reeked of murder: body fluids, rotting gore, and helpless suffering. Her stomach heaved, but Hope had been a violent crimes detective for two years, and she’d stood over her share of slaughter. Swallowing hard, she forced her dinner back where it belonged and did her job.

“Mark.” Hope strode toward the cage, ignoring the sticky puddles drying on the cement underfoot. She was too busy scanning the room for the key to his cell. There was no sign of one, damn it. “What the hell happened to you?” When he didn’t move, she raised her voice in a cop’s bark. “Mark!”

He stirred and lifted his head from the cage’s dirty floor. One dazed green eye met hers under a shock of matted blond hair. Blood and filth streaked his face, his lips were cut and bruised, and his left eye was swollen shut.

Somebody had beaten the crap out of him. And judging from his bloody knuckles, he’d fought back hard. Which was no surprise. Mark never took anything lying down.

Her gut twisted. How was she going to get him out of here? She grabbed the thick iron bars in both hands. “Mark… Mark, it’s Hope.”

For a suspended instant, he stared at her without any recognition at all.

“Arrrraaah!” With a tortured animal howl, he leaped at her in an impossible eight-foot bound. Pure reflex had her jolting back, barely dodging his hand as it shot through the bars.

How did he do that? Nobody could jump like that!

Mark’s lips peeled off snapping teeth, his powerful body straining to reach her with fingers curled into claws. His bare, bloody feet thudded on the bars as he kicked them savagely, trying to bend the steel. His one good eye glittered in frenzy.

He has fangs. She froze, staring at his sharply pointed canine teeth. Sweet God, Mark has fangs!

He sure as hell hadn’t had them in high school. She’d put her tongue in his mouth often enough to know.

As he bellowed and clawed, Hope damn near drew down on him. She managed to drag her hand away from the grip of her shoulder-holstered 9mm Glock, but it took an effort. I’m not going to shoot Mark Wilder. God, she ached to call for backup, but she no longer trusted anyone in the department.

Mark finally stopped howling. Clinging to the bars, he stared at her, his good eye feral and desperate, like a wolf with one leg in a bear trap.

“Mark, damn it, it’s me!” She all but screamed it, her voice raw with frustration and fear.

Recognition flickered in his gaze. “Hope?” His voice sounded broken, raspy, as if he’d been screaming. Screaming for a very long time.

Pity raked at her heart, along with a certain tense relief. At least he’d recognized her. “Yeah, it’s me.” She gave him a twisted smile. “Guess you were right. There is a vampire in Reede County.”

“Told you.” He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth as if fighting some powerful urge. “I warned you… what he was.”

Yeah, but she’d thought he’d lost his mind. The story he’d told her last week had certainly sounded insane.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times best-selling author Angela Knight has written and published more than sixty novels, novellas, and ebooks, including the Mageverse and Merlin’s Legacy series. With a career spanning more than two decades, Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine has awarded her their Career Achievement award in Paranormal Romance, as well as two Reviewers’ Choice awards for Best Erotic Romance and Best Werewolf Romance.

Angela is currently a writer, editor, and cover artist for Changeling Press LLC. She also teaches online writing courses. Besides her fiction work, Angela’s writing career includes a decade as an award-winning South Carolina newspaper reporter. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a thirty-year police veteran and detective with a local police department.

Find her Online: Website | Facebook

Book Tour: Accident Among Vampires by Elizabeth Guizzetti #paranormal #vampires #rabtbooktours #AccidentAmongVampires #ElizabethGuizzetti @E_Guizzetti

Standalone, set in the Paper Flower Consortium world

Paranormal (Vampires)

Date Published: June 21, 2021

Publisher: ZB Publications

Issaquah, Washington, USA

1951

My name is Norma Mae Rollins. I’m fourteen and an illegal vampire. I miss my mom, but new ghoulish appetites force me to remain with my creator.

Bill didn’t mean to transform me. At least, that’s what he claims. His frightening temper, relentless lies, and morbid scientific experiments makes it hard to know what to believe. However, someone snitched about Bill’s experiments to a nearby coven. Now both of our corpses will burn.

Bill won’t run. He is curious what happens to a vampire after final death. I don’t want to die again. It hurt so much the first time. Bill thinks his vampire boyfriend might shelter me. I must brave an eternal existence with elder vampires and other monsters who don’t think I ought to exist. Oh and figure out who I am allowed to eat.

A vampire’s reality is nothing like the movies.

EXCERPT

Diary, there are movies like Dracula’s Daughter, which show the reluctant vampire. I feared losing control and missed my mom, dog, friends, and old life. Still, I liked being a vampire.

The sun sank under the foothills of the Cascades; we raced into the coming darkness. Though Bill slowed himself to not leave me behind, I was faster than I was as a human. We sprinted into Tiger Mountain’s thick stands of ferns and Douglas firs. The girl I was, the life I had, became meaningless as the night wind tousled my hair. My heart pounded with strength as we, Bill and I, jumped over rocks, twisted around trees, and climbed clay-covered slopes. I was Artemis: a goddess of the hunt and moon, dashing through the forest to find prey.

He signaled with his hand.

I saw our prey in Bill’s mind before I saw him in reality: a young, slenderly built man in overalls and thick flannel. Perhaps working, perhaps in college. It didn’t matter. His blood mattered. His flesh mattered.

Distract him. I’ll kill him, and we’ll feast.  Bill disappeared into the darkness.

“Sir? Excuse me, sir?” I called to the man.

My victim’s mind exposed worrisome thoughts about what should happen to girls alone in the wood. The world was better off without such people.

Bill attacked from behind. The man shouted as Bill’s fangs sunk into his neck. It was not a killing blow. He maimed the skin.

I comprehended Bill’s plan. I jumped on the victim and ripped into the wound. His viscous blood poured into my mouth. Ravenousness compelled me to kill. I relished the taste, the scent, the smooth feeling in my throat as I swallowed his life force.

Our victim’s heartbeat fluttered. Gasping spittle dripped from the man’s lips. Heartbeat slowed. Stopped. The man was dead but not yet cold. I felt powerful, formidable, as if I was a conquering goddess of the night.

Still, this time I stopped when Bill instructed.

Bill smiled, his fangs stained with scarlet.

“I can’t wait for my fangs to grow in!”

The man’s boots were too big. They were discarded. His clothes were a little long, but once modified, they fit well enough.

Bill took measurements of the body and drained it of blood before he allowed me to gnaw on the flesh.

I was insatiable. With each bite, scarlet danced into my vision. Yet consuming gave me no release from the hunger. Though it was impossible for me to eat a grown man in a single night, I wanted more. All that mattered was sinking my teeth into the flesh.

About the Author

Elizabeth Guizzetti is an author, podcaster, illustrator, and a collector of dragons — the ceramic kind. Elizabeth lives in Seattle with her husband and poodle. When not crafting stories, she can be found hiking, birdwatching or hanging out at the dog park.

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Purchase Link

Amazon

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RABT Book Tours & PR

Cover Reveal: A New Queen (A History of Vampires) by Amanda Lewis #vampires #paranormalromance @theamandalewis

A New Queen
Amanda Lewis
(A History of Vampires, #1)
Publication date: October 31st 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

When a mysterious outsider shows her the impossible, can she unveil old secrets… and step into destiny?

Angelina Arbonne is obsessed with history. Driven by a passion for travel, the thirty-five-year-old archaeologist has no time for love. But she can’t resist knowing more when she’s stalked by a hopelessly gorgeous stranger who claims he’s a vampire king.

With her handsome suitor leading her through the hidden society of the long-lived, Angelina’s heart begins to beat to an intriguing new tune. But with an ancient magical war brewing, dating a two-thousand-year-old is giving her second thoughts about becoming an immortal queen…

Can they bridge their improbable age gap and enjoy an eternal happily ever after?

A New Queen is the compelling first book in the A History of Vampires paranormal romance series. If you like intelligent characters, original storylines, and historical themes, then you’ll adore Amanda Lewis’ enthralling tale.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Author Bio:

**The Weight of Birds – 2020 Silver Medal Winner – Contemporary Christian Romance, Reader’s Favorite Awards**

Amanda lives in Alabama, with her husband and cat. She enjoys IKEA cinnamon rolls and trying new recipes of macaroni and cheese.

To subscribe to The Story Behind the Story newsletter, and become a member of the Society of M.O.E., please visit https://www.patreon.com/theamandalewis

For free e-mail updates, please follow her on BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amanda-lewis

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Dark Reign/Clutch Wars by Mychael Black #multiplepartners #darkfantasy

Marcus’ werewolf pack faces a deadly vampire hell-bent on revenge. And then there’s the dragons…

Dark Reign: Marcus has spent most of his life saving his fellow weres from his ex-lover, vampire Dalton Gray, but after one of his Enforcers slaughter Gray’s guards they’re headed for war. His allies are few in number until unexpected help arrives — but that brings a whole new set of problems, including an injured child. And inside knowledge of Gray’s operations.

Meting out justice to the vampires who attacked his lover is easy for Daniel. Dealing with the fallout from hidden truths coming to light? That’s the hard part.

Clutch Wars: As the last female dragon shifter, Tia’s the only hope for her species’ survival. That means mating, which wouldn’t be problem—if she wanted to be a queen. She doesn’t.

Meanwhile, the Navarro clan is headed for war with a demon force hellbent on wiping them out. Demons don’t play fair, and they force Mason to make hard choices. When the clan is surprised by an ambush, Korin seeks revenge. But what price is he willing to pay?

Publisher’s Note: Dark Reign/Clutch Wars contains the previously published Dark Reign novellas Found, Oathbound, Atonement and Fight or Flight, and the Clutch Wars novellas The Reluctant Queen, Regan’s Folly, Sub Rosa, and Sovereign.

Get the paperback at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CGFVPFP

Praise for Found

“I’ll happily recommend this book to friends because Mychael Black’s werewolves are darned hot to read about. Where can I find one of my own?”

— 4 Cherries from Tiger Lily, Whipped Cream Reviews

“The love scenes are incredible. Mychael Black has created a fantastic story.”

— 4.5 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs

Praise for Oathbound

“…a superior example of exceptionally sensual lovemaking. Oathbound is an impressive, as well as, incredibly enjoyable saga.”

— Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews

Praise for Atonement

“Mychael Black has created another superb installment to this series. Atonement is an exceedingly enjoyable illustration of dramatic moments, heartwarming characters as well as a happily-ever-after climax.”

— 5 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews

“Darkly sensual and mysterious, Atonement is a captivating story of redemption. Fast paced, scorching hot, and suspenseful from start to finish…”

— Lisa, Joyfully Reviewed

Praise for Fight or Flight

“Another interesting addition to a very imaginative m/m erotic series that introduces very sensual characters who have survived personal traumas. This is a very sizzling entry…”

— 4 Stars from ELF, Night Owl Reviews

“Mychael Black has created a wonderful, as well as enjoyable, installment to this series. I found Eric to be an especially impressive character.”

— 4 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews

Praise for The Reluctant Queen

“This is the first of a new series that may be a quickie, but it is one helluva good ride. The reader can enjoy this book in one sitting. Take a load off and enjoy this new series.”

— 5 Stars from Angibabi4, Night Owl Reviews

“Melting hawt manlove is on the menu for this new series from Mychael Black. For dragonshifter lovers, this is a good new series to start reading. It’s fast, furious, and arousing.”

— BookAddict, Manic Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Myc has been writing professionally since 2005, solo and with Shayne Carmichael. Genres include pretty much anything (no steampunk yet), though Myc is well known for paranormal stories. When not writing, Myc is usually playing PC games, reading, watching Netflix, and spending way too much time on Facebook. Since the question has come up in the past, pronouns are not an issue. Myc is bio-female, mentally male, and 100% genderfluid, so any pronoun works!

New Release: The Curator’s Vampire by Alexa Piper #vampires #paranormalromance @prowlingpiper

After returning from France, Robyn wants nothing more than to snuggle in the arms of her vampire husband and lover, Maxim. When Maxim, New Amsterdam’s vampire hunter, is called to work, Robyn finds a mummy has been added to the art collection she manages. While Maxim follows his case, Robyn decides to dive headfirst into yet another mummy mystery.

Maxim has been working on a case that might involve a dark conspiracy, but more than anything, the case forces him to confront scars from the past. He can no longer hide how damaged he is from the woman he loves. He may have hidden the truth from her for too long already, and Maxim fears that Robyn will find him unworthy of her love and desire.

In the aftermath of Maxim’s tumultuous case and the emotions it’s forced him to confront, the mummy turns out to be more murderous than anyone expected. It’s not a mummy’s curse that’s been triggered, but the beginnings of a conspiracy Maxim fears he and those he loves may not easily be rid of.

Available from Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Alexa Piper

Niccolo and Sibylla sat in the lounge area of the Paris airport. Sibylla kept tugging her hair back behind her ears — when she wasn’t stirring her cappuccino or rearranging the packets of sweetener in their holder on the table.

“Stop fussing,” Niccolo told his sister in flawless French. “It makes you look suspicious.”

Sibylla jerked her hand back from the sweetener packets and stopped her hands from going to her hair again by folding them in front of her as if in prayer. She took a deep breath, but Niccolo could tell it wasn’t doing much to calm her. He understood that all too well.

“Do you see her yet?” Sibylla asked. She wanted to look over her shoulder. Niccolo could tell.

Niccolo let his gaze drift to the terminal beyond, the stores advertising high-end brands or selling overpriced gifts to travelers who forgot to pick something up for a loved one in Paris. Tourists and business travelers alike brought color and voices from halfway around the world to the scene, but Niccolo couldn’t see the woman they were here for. “Not yet,” Niccolo told his sister.

Sibylla nodded. “I’m scared, Nico.” She’d been skeptical about coming here, and she still was.

“I know. I am too, but we have to do this.” He said the words to her, but also to himself. Certainty was always fleeting and had been so all their lives.

Sibylla nodded. Her knuckles turned white as she forced her hands to remain still.

Niccolo looked over Sibylla’s shoulder again. His eyes fell on the woman from his visions. She was running and awkwardly dragging a bag behind her, which she then dropped in order to hug a dark-haired, olive-skinned man who hugged her back eagerly. They almost seemed like family, and if it weren’t for their obviously different features, Niccolo would have thought this man her brother. And he wasn’t alone. Niccolo knew who his companion was.

“Don’t turn. That’s her, and her husband’s assistant,” he told Sibylla.

Sibylla bit her lip. “The vampire hunter’s assistant?”

Niccolo nodded. It hadn’t been easy to find out things about Maxim Vallois and his new wife, Robyn Somerton, but thanks to his visions, Niccolo had known what to look for, and the Internet had delivered at least some insights.

“Merde,” Sibylla said. “Do we still talk to her before the flight?”

The woman had now moved on to hug the taller of the two men, the one with the sandy-blond hair Niccolo had recognized as Vallois’s assistant. The man with the darker hair whom Somerton had greeted like a brother had picked up her bag, and his wide smile distracted from the wet sheen of presumably happy tears in his eyes. They didn’t seem like they were going on a different flight or going their separate ways, flying off to different countries.

Niccolo shook his head. “I think it’s better if we wait. In my vision, it was just us and her, so we’ll have to find another time. We should head to the gate, but don’t stare.”

Sibylla snorted. “That’s just his assistant, but I really don’t want his attention. And I may be nervous, but I’m not stupid.”

Niccolo shrugged. “I never said that. But that other guy seems very protective. Almost like close family.”

“Eyes down. Got it,” Sibylla said, her tone bitter enough to hide the desperation.

Before she got up, Niccolo reached out to take his sister’s hand in his. “New Amsterdam will be good for us. You have to trust me, Siby.”

She looked at him with her dark brown eyes that mirrored his own. “I trust you, Nico. That doesn’t mean I can’t be scared at the same time.”

Nico knew how that felt. Every other vision he had these days scared him. Following them got increasingly harder as a result.

“Right,” he said. “We can do this.”

“We can do this,” she agreed. Then, she tugged her hair back behind her ear and flinched when she noticed. “I hope they have plenty of booze on that plane. It’s a twelve-goddamn-hour flight.”

And they’d have to ignore the hunter’s bride for every minute of those twelve hours. Niccolo sighed. “Maybe we should get a drink before we head to the gate and board.”

“A drink would be so much better than coffee right about now,” Sibylla agreed. She pushed her cappuccino away. The frothy top had already considerably deflated, leaving just a half-full cup of brownish liquid with the odd bubble showing.

They went to buy overpriced liquor to calm their over-stressed nerves. It only helped so much, but it was better than trying not to stare at Robyn Somerton while they waited to board.

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, and subscribe to her newsletter!

Find the author online: Website | Facebook | Instagram | BookBub

Release Blitz: Revealed by Zoe Allison #eroticromance #vampires @totally_bound @firstforromance

Revealed by Zoe Allison

Word Count: 84,315
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 324

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MYSTERY
PARANORMAL
VAMPIRES

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

Valentino has a secret—but he’s not the only one.

Valentino Bianco is the leader of a covert league named The Organization. Made up of benevolent vampires, its objective is to thwart and destroy the malevolent of their kind and protect humanity. Operating under the anonymous guise of Mr. X, Valentino’s identity as leader is shrouded in secrecy, as is the very existence of vampires.

Victoria Black has her own secrets, one of which is that she’s in love with Valentino. However, that isn’t the only matter she must keep from him at all costs.

Valentino and Victoria, along with their allies, must investigate a devastating malevolent campaign that is destroying humankind on a massive scale. But can they unravel the mystery of who is behind it in time to prevent the fall of both humanity and The Organization? And in the end, will all the secrets be revealed?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of murder and bloodletting, acts of terrorism, coercive control and emotional abuse.

Publisher’s note: This book is a sequel to Impervious and is best read in order.

Excerpt

Valentino studied the data that Priyanka was displaying on the virtual screen.

“We now have the last of Glassmarsh’s allies in custody,” she said, as a list of names

accompanied by pictures flashed up. “But none of them has yielded any information regarding the background of his sibling.”

“Therefore,” Vale said, “we are no further forward than when we captured him over ten years ago. The only advance is that we now know he is Glassmarsh’s brother.”

“Correct,” Priyanka said.

Victoria examined the details. “We don’t know where they came from?”

“No,” Priyanka confirmed.

“How can we find out,” Victoria asked, “if none of these guys knew anything?”

The three sat in silence for a moment. Vale stole a glance at Vic as she frowned and bit her lower lip. Her blue-green gaze seemed troubled. Priyanka tapped the keyboard and the screen changed to display intelligence from other agencies around the world. “We need to cast the net back out again,” she said.

The door opened and Lorenzo entered, followed by Gareth.

Lorenzo took his place next to Priyanka, leaning across the table to shake Vic’s hand. “Hi, we’ve not met in person yet. I’m Lorenzo, Priyanka’s deputy.”

Vic smiled. “Great to meet you. Victoria Black.”

Lorenzo smiled back. “I know. We’ve been very impressed with your work on this case so far.”

Vic flushed. Gareth approached her from the other side and kissed her cheek as he sat next to her. Vale blinked and looked away.

Priyanka frowned, glancing at Gareth and Vic as she moved some images around on the screen. “We’re checking to see if there’s anything here that could help us.”

Vale scanned the information, but it all pertained to human issues…mainly the latest spate of terrorist attacks that were sweeping Europe. He read through the details of the most recent bombing, in Berlin. Why do humans do it to each other? Their life spans were short enough without these atrocities.

There were no particulars that might aid them in their own cause, however.

“What’s that?” Vic asked.

“What’s what?” Vale said. “I cannot see anything here that would help us.”

“No,” she said. “It’s not something I see. It’s something I hear…outside.”

Vale tuned into his sensitive vampire hearing, detecting a subtle noise. He pressed a button on the desk and the tint of the glass wall morphed from opaque to transparent. He moved over to the window. The noise was a low-pitched rumbling, too low for the human ear to pick up. It was coming from the tallest building in London.

“What’s happening at The Shard?” Lorenzo said. He typed a few things into the keyboard but nothing of value appeared on the screen.

Vale peered more closely, trying to zoom in on any slight giveaway as to the source of the noise.

Just then, a boom emitted from The Shard, loud enough this time for the human ear to detect. Shattering glass sprayed out from the top floors. Everyone froze for a split second. Vale looked at Vic and the two of them broke into a sprint toward the stairs, Priyanka, Lorenzo and Gareth hot on their heels. Within seconds, they’d made it to the lobby of HQ.

“Get to the main entrance of The Shard,” Vale told them. “We can sneak in while everyone is running scared, then divide up to search for survivors and pull them out.”

They ran onto the sidewalk and toward the damaged building. The panic on the street was palpable as people ran past them in the opposite direction. No wonder they call it terrorism.

It didn’t take long to get there. They couldn’t go flat out and alert the public to their superhuman speed, but they could go faster than usual because the petrified humans were too focused on escaping danger to realize the velocity of their group.

They entered the building. Something didn’t sit right with Vale. “Why is no one exiting?” he asked the others. “This lobby is deserted and there was no one coming out of the main doors.”

“There were a lot of people on the street running away,” Vic said. “Maybe whoever could get away is out already?”

He shook his head. “They didn’t look as if they had come out of the building—more like passers-by on the street who were fleeing.”

“Let’s stick with Vale’s plan,” Lorenzo said, determination in his dark eyes. “Divide and conquer.”

The others made noises of agreement.

Vale adjusted his earpiece. They all carried them to stay in contact during such situations. “Take a section each and start searching.”

Priyanka gestured to the rear of the lobby. “Use the stairs, because the elevators will be out of commission.”

Gareth smiled. “We’re faster than the elevators anyway.”

Priyanka glanced at him and he gave her a wink.

“Fall out,” Vale said. “I will take the top.”

They entered the stairs and Vale streaked ahead, arriving on the highest habitable floor within seconds. A smoky atmosphere greeted him, but it impaired neither his enhanced vision nor his breathing. He listened for the sound of injured humans but could only hear silence, and it increased his unease.

He walked into one of the bars and scanned the room. Bodies were apparent, lying on the floor and the chairs, yet none of them made a sound or any movements. The blast cannot have immediately killed everybody in here. Someone must still be alive.

Vale checked the lifeless form of the nearest person. Nothing…and not the next. He rubbed his forehead as he scanned the area and something occurred to him. None of these people had a mark on them. For all intents and purposes, they appeared to be sleeping. A gut feeling told him to check their necks. As he moved the nearest person’s head to the side, two small puncture wounds on the neckline became apparent—very neat, with no laceration of the flesh.

His insides turned to ice. “Guys,” he said, speaking to the others via their earpieces.

“I know,” came Vic’s reply. “I see it too.”

“So do I,” Priyanka said. “This is the work of the malevolent.”

“Everyone,” Lorenzo said. “They’re all drained. But how?”

Vale exited the bar. “So what was the meaning of the explosion?”

“A cover-up,” Gareth said.

“But it isn’t covered up,” Priyanka replied. “The authorities will find these bodies once the search and rescue get here, which could be any minute.”

The true meaning behind it hit Vale, just as another rumbling started deep below them. “Get out!” he said. “The building is coming down!”

He dashed to the stairs and joined the group zipping down and out onto the street, where they accelerated into a sprint. Another huge explosion ripped through the building as they traveled flat-out along the road, a huge cloud of dust and debris overtaking them.

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First For Romance

About the Author

Zoe Allison

Growing up, Zoe Allison loved stories about falling in love. But rather than being rescued by a knight in shining armour, she imagined herself fighting dragons alongside him, battling supervillains as heroic allies, or teaming up to dive into perilous waters in order to save a loved one from drowning. Once Zoe did grow up, she became a doctor. But as time went on, she craved a creative outlet to counter the soul sapping burnout that her career inflicted upon her, and also to achieve those happy endings that were so often lacking in the real world. She wanted heroes who truly love and value women, who find their true love inspiring, are fascinated by her, want to connect with her as a soulmate and fully open themselves to her on an emotional level. And so, Zoe began to write her romances.

A Zoe Allison novel promises a heroine who is not only her hero’s equal in ability and intellect, but whose hero equals her in emotional intelligence. Her characters overcome conflict infused with spine tingling sexual tension to forge a deep connection as soul mates as well as lovers, and ultimately, they both rescue each other emotionally. Even if they might begin their journey as enemies…

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a FREE eBook from the author!

Zoe Allison Revealed Giveaway

ZOE ALLISON IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET YOUR FREE ZOE ALLISON ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 6th July 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

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New Release: Dire Wolves (paperback) by Shelby Morgen and Lena Austin #paranormalromance #LGBTQ @shelbymorgen @Lena_Austin

Whiteout by Shelby Morgen: Zan gives John a reason to want to live as a man again. But before he can make that kind of promise, he’s got unfinished business to take care of.

Silence by Lena Austin: Noel Miller, a vampire with a few scars of his own, wants to be more than Cam’s sign language interpreter. If only the werewolf will let him into his life — and heart.

White Heat by Shelby Morgen: Heather Grant’s got far too much experience working with stubborn males. She figures it would serve both Alphas right if their pride blows their cover. But someone’s got to salvage the mission.

Available in paperback at Amazon

Praise for Dire Wolves (Box Set)


“…a collection that grabs the reader, takes them on a journey, and ensures some cold showers. Erotic, captivating, and deliciously carnal are how I would describe The Dire Wolves Anthology. It is definitely worth reading, worth adding to one’s reading library, and well worth re-reading.”— 4 Stars from Nikki, Sensuous Reviews  

“This book hooked me from the get go. I just couldn’t put it down. I fell in love with these characters… just a perfect read.” — 5 Stars from Jeanne, Amazon Review

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021
Excerpt from Silence by Lena Austin

“Danse Macabre” was a lousy choice for a ring tone, but Detective Cameron Douglas always thought about it when he had the least amount of time to change the ring to something else. The tune was the last he’d ever hear. Cam didn’t know that sad fact, or he’d have changed the ring sooner.

Cam snatched the phone out of his pocket and flipped it open as soon as he saw it was his boss, Lt. Kraynak. “Hey, Mark! You caught me just leaving the mayor’s office.”

“Yeah?” Mark’s voice always sounded nervous, but at that moment, he sounded as squeaky as a girl. Cam always wondered if Mark was as closet gay as Cam himself. “How’d it go?”

Cam sighed. The investigation into the death of the mayor’s secretary, Margaret Lund, was supposed to be kept very quiet and low-key. “We got the blood from her apartment at the lab, looking for DNA. They seem to be consistent with the defensive marks found on her body despite floating around in the St. John’s River for a while. I’ve got a few good leads.” He had to be vague. Cam couldn’t exactly tell his boss he was a werewolf and he’d caught an odd, masculine scent in Margaret’s apartment. He knew any sort of masculine odor didn’t belong in that apartment because Margaret and his mother had been lovers for over twenty years. Not exactly what you want the whole world to know. Mom had been in the closet all her life, and he wasn’t about to out her when she was mourning “Aunt Maggie’s” death. Dad would turn over in his grave, the day care she’d run for fifteen years would close, and her life would be in ruins. What she and Maggie had enjoyed just wasn’t ever going to be public, and that wasn’t admissible evidence anyway.

He could see it now. Him, on the witness stand. “Yes, Your Honor. I’m a werewolf you see, and I sniffed this odor…” He winced, even to himself.

“I don’t like it, Cam. You shouldn’t be on this case. Ms. Lund was your mother’s best friend. You could be called prejudiced in court.” Mark popped another gumball in his mouth. Cam heard it rattle against his teeth before it crackled as he chewed it into oblivion. Mark’d been trying to quit smoking again, and kept a gumball bank on his desk.

“I don’t like it, either, Mark. Where His Honor got the idea I’d be the only detective who could do the job is beyond me.” Cam was in sight of his car at last. The covered parking garage across the street from City Hall was a piece of shit like all the rest of downtown. Half the security cameras didn’t work at the best of times, and the roof leaked whenever it rained. So where was he parked? On the roof. In the rain. Of course. So he was wet. It was Florida. Not like he would melt. He was a werewolf, not a witch, and this wasn’t Hollyweird.

The beep in his ear made him jump, and the caller ID told him it was Mom. “Hey, I’m at my car. Hang on a sec.” Cam flipped over to his mother’s call and sat down on a bench about fifty feet from his car, in the shelter covering the elevator. “Hi, Mom.” He frowned and noticed the hood of his car was slightly ajar. That was odd. He distinctly remembered changing the oil the previous Sunday and slamming the hood closed because he hated working in the hot sun.

He never heard her answer. Hell, he never heard anything except the biggest boom on the planet.

Waking up wasn’t like someone flipped on a light switch. It was more like a lazy Sunday morning when you didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything in particular, so you could roll over and laze in bed. That is, until your bladder or some other bodily need woke you up.

What woke him up was pain. Cam had the worst headache ever, even beyond hangovers and mild concussions from playing rugby. Cam felt like he’d been run over by a semi, too, with a backache from lying in one position too long on top of assorted injuries. Worst of all was the ringing in his ears. Tinnitus, he guessed. Not bad, since Cam had to assume he’d survived that explosion. Hell, he counted himself lucky when he opened his eyes and saw his left leg in bandages, not a cast. If a headache, a bum leg, and a case of tinnitus were all he had to suffer through, Cam was happy.

A nurse peeked in. She saw Cam was awake and smiled at him. Her lips moved, but he couldn’t hear her over the ringing in his ears. She frowned when Cam told her she’d have to speak up, and would she bring him something for the headache and tinnitus? She turned around and walked out without another word. She was back with something she shot into his IV. Whatever it was put him out like a light. Pain, tinnitus, and consciousness all went away at once.

When next Cam could put two words together in a coherent sentence, the clock on the wall and the darkness out the window gave him a clue it was 7:30 PM, not AM. He’d slept away the whole day. Great. Now his ears were sore.

A young man in a lab coat read a book in the corner chair, even though the only light source was the fluorescent above the head of Cam’s bed. The guy’s eyesight must have been superlative. He looked up slowly, and Cam was completely arrested — pardon the pun — by his eyes. They were big, blue and so world-weary Cam wanted to — maybe buy the kid a cup of coffee and give him a sympathetic ear. Then the newcomer smiled, and the world was all sunshine and cheer. The young man tapped on the keyboard of his laptop without taking his gaze off Cam’s face.

Cam moved restlessly under that intense blue gaze that did not in the least match with the smile. Cam opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when the screen on a laptop left on his lap table brightened. He frowned and studied the screen. “Can you read this?” Surprised, Cam nodded without thinking.

The blue-eyed man smiled and nodded. “Good. How’s your tinnitus?” lit up on the screen in a standard IM chat feature of a common website.

“Um… should I answer aloud?” Cam felt suddenly adrift in a strange sea, unsure of himself for the first time since college. Still, he did an internal check, and the buzzing still filled his ears like a thousand crickets on speed. “Yep, still have the crickets.” The realization hit him. “The explosion caused this tinnitus, didn’t it?”

“Yes, Mr. Douglas. Please speak more softly.” The IM kept up easily, and the young man’s hands flew silently but rapidly over the tiny keyboard. Damn, this guy was good.

Oops. Cam wasn’t stupid. He knew that those with hearing issues often spoke too loudly, trying to over-compensate for their loss. He modified his volume. “Um. Sorry.” He clung to the thin thread of hope that the tinnitus was causing his hearing loss, but he knew a bunch of cops who’d neglected ear protection at the shooting range once too often. Tinnitus could be permanent, or worse, the symptom of something much, much worse.

The IM lit up with several lines in rapid succession. “My name is Noel Miller, and I am your ENT therapist.” Now the cheer was gone, and the face serious.

Cam’s heart hammered, and he swallowed to help his suddenly dry mouth. Fear, ice-cold and cruel, raced up his spine. Part of him was grateful he still had painkillers in his system. Deep inside himself, a little kid threw a major temper tantrum, even if he held himself rigidly under control. “I’m deaf, aren’t I?”

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Shelby Morgen

Shelby Morgen loves writing offbeat tales that defy as many rules as possible.

She likes chocolate with her peanut butter, suspense with her romance, and kink with her sex, and she’s always had a hard time keeping science fiction, fantasy and paranormal from mixing with her kink.

Shelby shares her belief in electronic publishing with her longtime friend and partner, Bill, her husband of nearly four decades.

Lena Austin

Someone cursed Lena Austin with “may you have a life so full you’ll have many tales to tell your grandchildren.” Lena’s a “fallen” society wench with a checkered past. She’s been a licensed minister, hairdresser, Realtor, radio DJ, exotic dancer, telephone service tech, live-steel medievalist swordswoman, BDSM Mistress, and investment property manager. Not necessarily in that order. She never finished that degree in marine archaeology, but did learn to scuba — she’s got a lifetime of “Research material!”

Hey, why waste these stories on kids who won’t listen anyway? Writing them down is a nice way to spend her retirement. What? You expected an ex-BDSM Mistress to take up crocheting or something?