Thursday, January 31, 2013

Welcome Hazel Statham/Contest/Blog Tour Stop


Welcome to my Reading Nook, Hazel Statham. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink.

Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.

To get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?  
They say that good things come in threes – mine just came in fives and I have had five books released over the past two months. Consequence and Dominic  came out in December with His Shadowed Heart and The Portrait in January.  These four books are re-releases, however, For Love of Sara, is a totally new release.


How would you describe yourself using only five words?  
Wife, mother, grandmother, writer and animal lover (sorry, that’s a little over five words but they all apply)

If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say? 
Warning - this woman can’t resist animals

Do you have any guilty pleasures?  
My computer!  I spend a great deal of time on my laptop and would be completely lost without it.  Even when I have to go into hospital I insist my husband brings it with him at visiting time so that I can keep track of my e-mails etc.

Name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.  
I used to ride when I was younger, but never owned my own horse.  Now, at the age of 66 and unable to ride, along with my daughter, I am part-owner of a Gypsy Cob, two foals and a Welsh section B pony.  Despite very limited mobility, I love to spend as much time as I can at the stables and in 2013, my grandson is hoping to compete in junior dressage competitions – so I’ll be there at the ringside supporting him.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  
We live in the UK but have visited the USA on numerous occasions.  A few years ago we were considering buying a condo there, but my health forced me to remain in the UK.

How do you get yourself in the mood to write?  
I have no set times to write and have the luxury of being able to write as and when the mood takes me.  Some days the muse strikes early in the morning and lasts all day, others, not at all.

Can you share with us your typical writing day.  Is there anything you have to have while writing?  
Peace and quiet so that I can listen to my characters.  I like to write when the house is empty and I needn’t fear interruptions.  Being semi-retired, my husband only works two days a week, but I know those days are mine!

Who are some of your favorite authors?  
My ultimate favorites are Georgette Heyer and Charlotte Bronte, and the others, in no particular order, Mary Jo Putney, Anne Gracie, Laura Kinsale, Diana Gabaldon,  etc. etc. etc.  In fact, too numerous to mention.

What is in your To Read Pile that you are dying to start or upcoming release you can’t wait for?  
Re-read of Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, but I have a Kindle bursting with new purchases I’m just dying to read.

Is there something special you do to celebrate when one of your books is released?  
As a family, we usually go out for a meal whenever we have anything to celebrate.

Do you have a favorite TV show you can't miss?  
Anything historical, be it fact or fiction.  I love to immerse myself in history.

If you could date any character from any book, who would it be and why-no it doesn't have to be from your books? 
Justin, Duke of Avon from Heyer’s These old shades.  I love the erudite, omniscient, alpha males.  Perhaps not practical in today’s culture but in the historical context he would be someone who would protect and cherish you.  Perhaps a very romantic idea, but we are talking fiction here.

What is the strangest source of writing inspiration you’ve ever had? 
I don’t know if you would call them strange but I have been inspired by several things – a dream, a line in a song and, in the case of For Love of Sarah,  just six words uttered in a totally unrelated play.  In fact, it takes very little to set my imagination in motion.

If your muse were to talk behind your back, what secrets would he/she tell? 
This woman is not a planner and only has a vague idea where she wants her story to go.  She allows her characters to dictate the course and quite often, they take her off at a tangent.

Anything else you want to add? 
For details, excerpts, reviews and purchase links of all my work, please visit my website www.hazel-statham.co.uk   I love to hear from my readers and promise to answer all my mail.


Thanks for taking the time to be here today. I wish you many sales and wonderful reviews. 
Thank you so much for hosting me today.  It has been a pleasure to be with you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~






Contest Information: Hazel will be awarding winner's choice of either a Cream Coin Freshwater Pearl necklace or a digital copy of DOMINIC or HIS SHADOWED HEART (international giveaway) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a Choice of either Rhinestone Crystal Butterfly and Pearl earrings or a digital copy of DOMINIC or HIS SHADOWED HEART (international giveaway) to a randomly drawn host. Please leave a comment along with your email address in order to be entered for this great prize.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

Teaser Excerpt of For Love of Sarah by Hazel Statham

How many times can a heart be broken?  How many times can love be denied?  Sarah and Alexander were destined for each other but after just four short weeks of marriage, their lives were torn asunder.
   
Alexander, Earl of Thorne thought he had found his ideal mate but, when Sarah absconded shortly after their marriage, his world came crashing down.  Now, five years later, he discovers her in a remote Yorkshire village.
  
Sarah had thought she was safe, but when, severely injured in a freak accident, her husband is thrust once more into her life, she fears her dark secrets and the fact she has a son, will become known. 
  
Despite her own desperate longings, she continually repudiates Alexander’s efforts of reconciliation. However, fate conspires against her, and when her home is made uninhabitable by floods, she and her young son are forced to accept his aid and return to her former home.
   
Discovery threatens and, despite her breaking heart, she plans to leave Alexander’s life.  What is this secret that makes it so imperative that she should abscond from him yet again?  Can two broken hearts cleave and emerge victorious or will life's cruel forces tear them apart forever? 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Teaser Excerpt:


Yorkshire, June, 1815

Why now? Dear God, why now? After almost five years of schooling his body and mind from wanting her, the mere sight of her slight form across the crowded marketplace had brought back all the old emotions he’d worked so desperately to subdue, and he reeled with the impact.
   
He’d thought the stance of the young woman was familiar, as he had on numerous occasions, only to be disappointed, but when she moved into full view by the bakery stall, he immediately realized that it truly was his wife. Sarah, his senses cried, sweet, faithless Sarah. They had been wed but four weeks when she disappeared from his home and life. To find her now in a remote Yorkshire village defied all sense.
   
His impulse was to confront her immediately, but as he moved to tether his horse to the rail outside the smithy, the blacksmith came out to take the beast from him.
   
“Lost his shoe, has he, sir?” the man asked, casting an appreciative eye over the large chestnut. “Fine animal, if I might say so…”
    
Thrusting the reins into the smithy’s hands, Alexander Markham, Earl of Thorne, snapped, “Left side, fore,” effectively cutting short the blacksmith’s appraisal of his mount, and, turning on his heel, left the man to stare after him as he made his way into the throng of people in the marketplace.
   
Despite his advantage of height, he could see no sign of his wife. She had moved from the stall—but to where? Becoming frustrated with the press of people that milled around him, he strode toward the centre where the ground rose to provide a vantage point, but to no avail. Sarah was nowhere in view, and he began to doubt his own perception.      

Purchase links (available from all Amazon domains)

Amazon.co.uk

Paperback:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/For-Love-Sarah-Hazel-statham/dp/1612186831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344777843&sr=8-1

Kindle
http://www.amazon.co.uk/For-Love-Sarah-ebook/dp/B008RBTPZ0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1344778014&sr=1-1

Amazon.com

Paperback:
http://www.amazon.com/For-Love-Sarah-Hazel-Statham/dp/1612186831/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1344778163&sr=8-1
Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/For-Love-Sarah-ebook/dp/B008RBTPZ0/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1344778163&sr=8-1

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Hazel Statham began writing at the age of fifteen, finally committing to paper the stories she spun as a child. Writing has been her passion ever since, although marriage, motherhood, and career left time for little else. Once she retired, however, she was able to devote herself to writing full-time, publishing her first novel in 2007. A long time student of history, she writes mainly in the Regency and Georgian eras, though she has been known to dabble in the medieval as well. She lives in Staffordshire, England, with her husband, Terry, and their beloved yellow Labrador, Mollie.

Hazel loves to hear from her readers and promises to answer all mail.

Website address   www.hazel-statham.co.uk




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This Week's Releases from Dreamspinner Press


Dreamspinner Press' releases for the week of January 28, 2013

Caller's Secrets by Charlie Piersol 
Length: Novel | Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Available in E-book & Print

When a Fantasy Muse falls in love with a human, things can get sticky. 

On the surface, Ren Crystal appears to be a regular computer repair shop owner—but he isn’t. Ren is a Fantasy Muse, born to covertly pleasure the men who desire him. Although Ren immensely enjoys his purpose in life, he doesn’t feel a personal connection to his “callers” until handsome college professor Will Spencer brings his PC in for repairs. 

When Will unwittingly reveals his secrets to Ren in fantasy, Ren finds himself falling in love. Because Ren is young, he doesn’t realize how hard it will be to date a human like Will, and problems quickly arise. 

Though Ren is uninhibited by nature, Will struggles with his desires. His outward conservative persona conflicts with his inner life. Will could never admit to his attraction to Ren—or the wicked things he imagines doing with him—but Ren knows. Both men have secrets that could keep them apart. Together they must bear the weight of their mutual deception.

Metal Heart by Meredith Shayne
Length: Novel | Genre: Contemporary 
Available in E-book & Print

 Scott King swore off rock stardom after his band, King Phoenix, crashed and burned. Now in his forties, Scott lives a quiet life as a music producer and session guitarist. But in a box hidden in his wardrobe lie the relics of the past he left behind—a past filled with drugs, booze, and broken hearts. For sixteen years, Scott has had no contact with his former bandmates, so when he’s asked to play at a benefit gig for King Phoenix’s old sound man, his world turns upside down. A King Phoenix reunion means a run-in with Scott’s ex, Ash Walker—and sixteen years ago, believing Ash wanted to leave the band, Scott OD’d and almost died. 

Since then, Scott has ruthlessly suppressed his feelings. As a result, he's completely unprepared for the impact of seeing Ash again, or for dealing with his emotions about the band’s demise. He definitely didn’t expect Ash to want to start up where they left off. Now Scott has to decide between his sa
fe existence and the twenty-year-old love song that could cost him his sobriety—and his heart.


Poacher's Fall by J.L. Merrow
Midwinter Manor Series, Book 1
Length: Novella | Genre: Historical - Europe
Available in E-book only

One snowy night just before Christmas, 1922, poacher Danny Costessey rounds off a night trapping rabbits by climbing a tree to fetch some mistletoe for his mother—only to fall and break his leg. Taken to the manor house to recover from his injuries, Danny meets the reclusive owner, Philip Luccombe. Village gossip has it Luccombe went mad during the war, but Danny soon realizes he’s simply still mourning his late lover. As friendship grows between them, Danny starts to fall for handsome, shy Philip. 

Danny’s lively nature, roguish good looks, and ready laughter enchant Philip, and he finds himself being drawn out of his shell whether he will it or not. But when Danny tries to move beyond friendship, Philip panics—and his rejection threatens not only their happiness, but Danny’s health. 


Previously published as short story Pleasures With Rough Strife in December 2009 by Dreamspinner Press.

Keeper's Pledge by J.L. Merrow
Midwinter Manor Series, Book 2
Length: Novella | Genre: Historical - Europe
Available in e-book only

Landowner Philip Luccombe has been enjoying a passionate relationship with young poacher turned gamekeeper Danny Costessey for four years now. Danny’s love has brought him out of the shell he retreated into when his first lover died after the Great War. But this Christmas, visitors to the manor threaten their happiness. Philip’s young cousin Matthew is artistic, vivacious, and flirtatious: just the sort to remind him of his long-dead first love—and to emphasise the social gulf between Philip and Danny. 

But the worst danger comes from much nearer home. An old flame of Danny’s is discovered in incriminating circumstances, forcing the lovers to keep their distance for fear of being tarred with the same brush. Meanwhile, Danny’s younger brother, Toby, has grown to resent the connection between his brother and the lord of the manor. Danny wants to do the right thing—but that could divide the lovers forever.


Scratch & Sniff by J.L. O'Faolain
No More Heroes Series, Book two
Length: Novel | Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery/Suspense
Available in E-book & Print

Being a hero has its drawbacks. 

Real-life superhero Push knows that better than anyone. When the Cape Cabinet decided to boost their numbers and commissioned the release of Wrath, a former supercriminal, Push and his best friend, Scratch, got the arduous assignment of rehabilitating Wrath and showing him heroism's ropes. 

Now all three are stuck in Shove Point, Arkansas, lying in wait for one of Wrath's evil villain ex-buddies. Between the mysterious plane crash in the center of town and the spacecraft that self-destructed, Shove Point is weird enough. Then the utterly straight Scratch suddenly professes his undying love for Push. 

As the situation heats up—between him and Scratch and in Shove Point—Push decides to call in reinforcements. Giant robots stomping all over the small town do not help matters, nor does a rampaging cyborg, nor Push's unresolved attraction to Wrath. Then they discover there’s a mole in the Real-Life Superhero association. Whatever their differences, the newly formed team must put aside their baggage and work together to prevent an even greater tragedy.



The Last Grand Master by Andrew Q. Gordon
Champion of the Gods Series, Book One
Length: Novel | Genre: High Fantasy
Available in E-book & Print

In a war that shook the earth, the Six gods of Nendor defeated their brother Neldin, god of evil. For the three thousand years since, Nendor and the Seven Kingdoms have known peace and prosperity. 

But then a new wizard unleashes the power of Neldin. Meglar, wizard king of Zargon, uses dark magic to create an army of creatures to carry out his master's will. 

One by one, the sovereign realms fall. Soon the only wizard who can stop Meglar is Grand Master Farrell, the Prince of Haven, the hidden home of refugees. An untried wizard, Farrell carries a secret that could hold the key to defeating Meglar—or it could destroy the world. 

While helping Nerti, queen of the unicorns, Farrell saves Miceral, an immortal muchari warrior the Six have chosen to be Farrell's mate. But Farrell approaches love with caution, and before he can decide how to proceed, Meglar invades a neighboring kingdom. Farrell and Miceral find themselves in the middle of the battle. Farrell pushes himself to the limit as he and Miceral fight not only to stop Meglar but for their very survival.

Blog Tour Stop for Byzantine Gold/Contest



Byzantine Gold by Chris Karlsen

A sunken warship from the Byzantine Era carrying an unusual cargo of gold has been found off the coast of Northern Cyprus. News of the valuable cache has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. They plan to attack the recovery team’s campsite and steal the artifacts. On the Black Market, the sale of the relics will buy them additional weapons.

Charlotte Dashiell, an American archaeologist, and her lover, Atakan Vadim, a Turkish government agent, are scheduled to be part of the recovery team that brings up the artifacts. While en route to Cyprus, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of Maksym Tischenko, a Ukrainian contract killer bent on revenge. Charlotte, Atakan and Tischenko share a grim history. As a result, Tischenko is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal—seeing them both dead.

Teaser Excerpt:

Charlotte answered on the fourth ring. Caller I.D. showed “restricted.”

“Hello.”

“They are called, Angelique tulips. You admired them in the hospital garden in Paris.”

Charlotte froze, holding her breath as she listened to the nightmare voice, remembering how his Eastern European accent rounded certain sounds and how he stressed the last syllables in his words. Called became cawl-d.

Tischenko.

“Everything in time,” he said and hung up.

Charlotte dropped the phone on the table. She turned to Atakan.

The shock must’ve shown on her face. “What is wrong?”

“That was Tischenko,” she said, finding her voice. “The flowers are from him. He was watching me in Paris when I was at the hospital. He—”

Atakan didn’t wait for her to finish. He rushed into the living room, grabbed his gun from the bookshelf, and ran out of the apartment.

Charlotte followed as he flew down the four flights of stairs to the street.

“Stop.” Catching up to him on the sidewalk, she hooked his elbow with her hand. Fearful an armed Tischenko hid nearby, she positioned herself in front of Atakan, thinking to shield him. “We can’t stand here. He could be anywhere taking aim at you right now.”

“Go back inside.”

“Not without you.” She tugged on his shirt, pulling him toward their building. “Atakan please, let’s leave. Call the Director.”

Atakan shoved her behind him. Silent, his eyes searched the dark doorways of neighboring apartment buildings and parked cars.

“Atakan please.”

“Get inside.”

She stepped in front of him again. “We stay here together or we leave together.”

An eternity of seconds passed. Neither moved or blinked.

They both jumped and turned at the bellow from the horn of a passing truck. Thankfully, the driver was waving to another coming the opposite direction. He never saw the man in the sling pointing a gun at him.

“Please,” she repeated.

Atakan nodded. He stopped at the building’s entry door and took a last look, surveying the street. “He moves us around like pawns in a private game.”



Contest Information: Chris will award one randomly drawn commenter at every stop an ebook copy of Golden Chariot, and one randomly drawn commenter will be awarded a $50 Amazon gift card during the tour. A $25 Amazon gift card will be awarded to a randomly drawn host.

Leave a comment with your email address included to be entered to win this great prize.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:



About the Author:

Chris is a retired police detective. She spent twenty-five years in the law enforcement with two different agencies.

The daughter of a history professor and a voracious reader, she grew up with a love for history and books.

She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and Northern Africa satisfying her passion for seeing the places she read about.

A Chicago native, Chris has lived in Paris, Los Angeles, and now resides with her husband, and five rescue dogs in the Pacific Northwest.

http://chriskarlsen.com/

http://pinterest.com/chriskarlsen/byzantine-gold/

Book video:











Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tour Stop for Lexi Ryan's Accidental Sex Goddess & Contest


Accidental Sex Goddess by Lexi Ryan

Promotions director Reese Regan isn’t a sex goddess and doesn’t want to be. But the job of her dreams requires enrollment in the renowned Sex Goddess 101. To avoid a trip to the unemployment line, Reese must pass the program and become Chicago’s next seductress—or at least fake it convincingly. Her best friend, the ruggedly sexy contractor Ben Hawk, helps her “fake” her way through the program, and the heat between them flares. When trust is broken and secrets are revealed, it appears they’ve traded years-long friendship for temporary passion. Will faking something so important cost them their chance at something real?

Teaser Excerpt:

Ben stifled a grin. “Please tell me she’s making you burn your bras.” He signaled to the door with his thumb. “I think I have some lighter fluid at the house.”

“What? Of course she’s not.” She scowled. “Cripes. I hope not.”

Ben’s eyes dropped south for a second. “You know, bras are a sign of repression.”

She rolled her eyes. “Stop being a dork, and read the letter.”

Ben frowned. “You’re taking this program more seriously than I thought you would.”

Reese snorted. “No, I’ve just gotten really good at faking it.”

“The new outfit doesn’t look fake. Or the makeup.” He crossed his arms, realizing what had been bothering him since she walked in the door. “I thought you hated contacts. Where are your glasses?”
She waved a hand dismissively. “Just read it.”

Say goodbye to your panties. For the next week, you’ll be going commando, forcing your mind to acknowledge the parts of your body too often left as an afterthought.

He grunted. “No wonder my guys want their wives to sign up.”

“Spoken like a true male. Foregoing underwear isn’t sexy, it’s…it’s…unsanitary.”

He shook his head. “It’s sexy.”

“What if I’m doing yard work?”

“Sexy.”

She crossed her arms. “Or I’m working out?”

“Still sexy.”

Reese leaned forward. “Or want to wear a skirt?”

Ben narrowed his eyes. “Now you’re just tormenting me.”


 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Contest Information:

Lexi is awarding a "pamper your inner sex goddess" gift basket (bath products, books from her backlist and candles - US ONLY) to one randomly drawn commenter, and a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card, winner's choice, to another randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Leave a comment for Lexi along with your email address to be entered to win this great prize.

I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:



~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Author of both contemporary and paranormal romance, Lexi Ryan writes smart, spunky stories that sizzle. She enjoys reading, sunshine, a good glass of wine, and rare trips to the beach with her husband and children.

Lexi lives in Indiana where she divides her time between her family, her writing, and her job as an English professor. You can find her at her website: lexiryan.com

Contact Links:

Website: http://lexiryan.com

Blog: lexiryan.blogspot.com

Facebook: facebook.com/lexiryan

Twitter: @writerlexiryan

E-mail: writerlexiryan@gmail.com









Monday, January 28, 2013

Welcome author Jaime Rush Today



Welcome to my Reading Nook, Jaime Rush. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink.

Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.

Tell us about your favorite character from your books.

Magnus McLeod was definitely one of my faves from my Offspring series. He'd made appearances in a couple of the books as a good guy who drove like a maniac and had a little Scottish accent. At the end of the sixth book, DARKNESS BECOMES HER, he's infected with something called Darkness, which would fundamentally change who he was. I was really curious as to how he would handle it.


Tell us about your current/upcoming release. What inspired this story?

I liked the idea of a good guy being infected with something bad. Then pair him with a woman who has deadly abilities of her own, and let the sparks fly. Especially when she thinks he's a serial killer! Erica has some big wounds to heal, and I love when characters overcome their baggage to find love.

THE END OF DARKNESS is only available as an e-book and is a half novel. It's original fiction.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

My creative engine doesn't kick in until midday. I usually take care of administrative things in the morning and then start writing/editing at about 10 am. I write until five-ish when I stop to get dinner ready and have family time. Then it's often back to the computer until ten or so.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

The last round of edits. By then I've written the book and edited it twice. The fine-tuning edits are rough.

What does your family think of your writing career?

My husband and parents are proud and supportive, and were even before I got published. My hubby bought me my first computer for writing, and we were only dating then!

What do you think makes a good story?

Characters you care about. Then throw them into a mess and watch them claw their way out. [evil laugh]

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

A little of both, but I'm mostly a plotter.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

I usually get snippets of scenes and characters and then I try to fit them into a cohesive plot. It's like watching previews of a movie, where you see the tantalizing bits. I do a lot of character development and cast my roles using actors or models. I don't have any kind of set formula. I let the book flow as it will.

What book are you reading now? Any favorite authors/books you want to do a shout out for?

Right now I'm reading contest books so I can't say. I love Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs, and Cecy Robson's got an exciting new author on the scene. And my writing bud, Jamie Ayers, has a new YA out called 18 THINGS.

What do you do to unwind and relax?
Read spiritual books. And I love reading fiction, but it's hard to disengage the editor in my brain!

Morning Person or Night Person? 
A midday person.

Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning? 
I enjoy my daily cappuccino, but I don't get or need a jolt from caffeine.

What is coming up from you in 2013? Anything you want to tease us with?

I'm so excited about my new paranormal romantic suspense series, The Hidden! It comes out from Grand Central Publishing, starting with two novellas in July and September, and the first book in December. It's a series about Crescents, humans with the essence of gods who walk the knife's edge between the glamour of Miami and a place filled with dark magick and dangerous beauty. Think dragons, angels, and wizards!
 
  
Anything else you want to add?  
Author Website: www.jaimerush.com.

Thanks so much for having me, Dawn!


The End of Darkness by Jaime Rush

The dark energy that infects Magnus McLeod's soul draws him to an Arizona town in crisis—and a woman with a dangerous ability of her own. Erica Evrard isn't afraid of much, but suddenly she has much to fear. Like Magnus, whose noble heart brings her to life even as his Darkness could kill her. And the group of supernatural humans whose evil plans threaten an entire town.



Teaser Excerpt:

Magnus McLeod came to with a violent start, sitting up so fast, the room spun. Even so, he instantly knew this wasn’t his bedroom. Or a hospital. Lachlan stood next to his bed with an odd expression, both relieved and like he was about to tell Magnus his legs were missing.
Lachlan leaned forward and held him tight for a few moments. “Thank God.”
Magnus hardly enjoyed the hug, preoccupied with wanting to make sure his body parts were intact. The second Lachlan stepped back, Magnus did a visual check. Legs, aye, and they moved at his command. Arms, fingers, all accounted for.
Lachlan peered into Magnus's face. “You alright, Maggie?” The childhood nickname Lachlan had given him when Magnus started calling him Locky, a bit of teasing between two brothers.
“Seem to be, other than feeling muzzy, like I was on a bender and slept for twenty-four hours.” He rubbed his hand over his face, feeling several days' worth of beard. “How long have I been sleeping? Where am I? What happened?” He took in the room with its light brown walls and framed pictures of the Wizard of Oz.
Lachlan said, “You’re in Cheveyo and Petra’s guest room in downtown Annapolis. They’ve been taking care of you while Jessie and I dealt with her uncle. Which felt like it lasted for weeks but was only a few days.”
“Jessie.” Magnus pictured the lass he was keen on, a pixie of a thing with brown hair. “I’ve been stuck in this dream about being at the carnival and some man trying to hurt her. I tried to protect her, and he turned into a black beast.e,k in of something not being right crashed over him. "g muzzy, like i'___________________________________________________” His hand went to his neck, but the words cut as deeply as the memory of claws slicing his throat.
Bloody hell. Memory, not a dream.
“You were killed,” Lachlan said softly.
“Jessie?” He looked beyond Lachlan, finding no one else in the room. Cold fear washed over him. “Is she alright?”
“Aye, she's fine now.” Lachlan shook his head. “That's the kind of guy you are. I tell you that you died, and you're worried about her.”
“You say it like it's a bad thing.”
Lachlan's laugh had no humor. “No, it just shows what a damned good guy you are.”
Again, sounded like a bad thing.
Lachlan leaned against the side of the bed. “She healed you.”
“Healed psychically?” He felt a thrumming energy in his body, an odd heaviness as though his soul had gained a hundred pounds. Which made no sense.
Lachlan’s expression darkened. “You were dying, just like I saw in the vision I warned you about.”
Aye, the vision where Lachlan had seen Magnus dead at the carnival, Jessie standing over him. “You did see the future. I guess you’ll toss me an ‘I told you so’ and deservedly so. Who was the guy that tried to kill me?”
Lachlan leaned against the footboard. “Her uncle. Bastard was hunting her for years. He's dead now,” he added when Magnus stiffened at the thought of the guy hurting her. “What happened in the days after your attack, why Jessie was on the run, that’s a story for later.”
“He turned into a bloody beast. That wasn't my imagination, right? Because over and over I've been living it, seeing him morph into a black creature.”
“It wasn't your imagination.” Lachlan released a long breath. “You need to understand that you were dying, and we had to make a choice. Jessie and I.”
The mention of her name had Magnus glancing at the door. “Where is she? I need to see her.”
“You were right when you told me there was something special about her. She’s got enhanced abilities like us, but she's not an Offspring.”
Magnus digested that for a moment. “So that means what, that she didn't have a parent in the same secret government program Dad was in?” The program for psychically gifted people who were given the DNA of a bloke from a parallel dimension to enhance their abilities—DNA their offspring inherited.
“Her father is from the other dimension. And she was even more special. She held Darkness. So did the man who turned to beast. In the parallel dimension, they aren’t allowed to express their emotions, so they repress them. All those emotions accumulated into this mass of energy called Darkness. Jessie's father and uncle tapped into it and drew it into their bodies. They could channel it to change into an animal of sorts. As you saw.”
“I saw, all right. But why are you still looking at me like I've lost a limb?”
Lachlan's jaw tensed. “The price of Jessie's healing was that she had to infuse Darkness into you. I told her to do it. I made the choice.”
Something inside Magnus went numb as Lachlan's words sank in. “So that…beast is in me?” That had to be the heaviness he felt.
“You can choose what form it takes by focusing on a particular animal. Jessie's dad will work with you. You have to learn to control Darkness, or it’ll take you over.”
“Bloody great.”
Magnus pulled himself to the side of the bed and tested his weight. His legs were shaky. Lachlan moved closer, hands out to steady him. Magnus used the headboard to stand. “Where is Jessie?” At Lachlan’s ever-darkening expression, his chest tightened. “I need to see her.” That need raged through him, making him want to start tearing furniture apart until someone brought her to him.
Lachlan drove his fingers back through hair much shorter and neater than Magnus had ever seen it. “You can't. Darkness has other side effects. It can make you volatile when you experience high emotions. And it makes you possessive and madly jealous to the point of being deadly to anyone you see as a rival to the woman you feel is yours.”
“I don’t feel she’s mine.” They hadn't even kissed, but he did feel…oddly possessive, aye. “It's just that I've spent days of unconsciousness caught in a loop of those last several minutes with her.”
Lachlan shifted from one foot to the other. “She's at Sanctuary.” Their family compound in the woods.
Magnus knew that nervous shift. He’d seen it whenever Lachlan was about to admit he’d broken something, like the time he'd put a ding on Magnus’s sword when they were lads. “Out with it, Locky. What aren't you telling me?”
Lachlan bowed his head, pain wracking his features. No, this was worse than anything like that. “I’m the lowest of the low. She and I went through hell together. We fought the pull between us, I swear it. I tried to be an arse—as you know I can be—but she saw something inside me even I didn't see.” He met Magnus's gaze. “I love her. I didn’t mean to, but I love her, and all I can do is ask your forgiveness.”
He knew his brother would never do anything to hurt him, and his regret was clear. So was his love for Jessie. So why did the words, “You stole my girl while I was recuperating?” come roaring out of his mouth?
Lachlan hung his head. “She wasn’t your girl yet, but aye, that’s the bottom line. I am pond scum. The scum that lives beneath the pond scum.”
Anger unfurled inside him. Even weak, Magnus was big enough to pound Lachlan but good. He took a deep breath, pulling back all that fury, and made his way to the window to stare out into an alley between the townhouses. “I forgive you.” He meant it, but the words still felt gritty as they left his mouth. “You’re right, she wasn’t my girl.” He turned to Lachlan from a safer distance. “So this Darkness is why I want to smash in your head over it?”
Lachlan’s mouth tightened. “Aye. I deserve it, too, but I’d rather you not. I don’t want to lose you over it, but I could no sooner break it off with her than cut off my hand. Once you’ve met someone else, you’ll move on. Remember what you told me not long ago: the feelings you have for a woman always fizzle out like a soda left out too long.”
Aye, he had said that, and he’d experienced it many a time. But Jessie felt different. Now he knew why.
Lachlan waved his hand dismissively. “You’ll find other women. Hell, you draw them like flies.”
Magnus crossed his arms over his chest. “Thanks for that lovely analogy. Makes me sound like a pile of shite.”
“I was thinking a candy bar or maybe a glob of jelly on the sidewalk.”
It felt like one of many exchanges, but everything was different now. Lachlan was happy and in love, both new for him. Magnus held something otherworldly and dangerous.
He didn't want another woman. He breathed Jessie, the need for her. The need to posses her. He felt her in his cells, something he'd never experienced before. Nor had he ever felt jealousy. If a woman he was dating wanted to move on, Magnus wished her well with nary a hard feeling. He flexed his fingers. “And if I feel proprietary about a woman, I'll hurt anyone who flirts with her? Or hurt the woman?” An unfathomable thought.
“Potentially. I’m sorry for what comes with Darkness, but not for making the decision. I wasn't going to let you die.”
No, he wouldn't, not after everything they'd already lost. “I would have done the same, brother.” The sight of his sword, leaning against the wall with the tip buried in the carpet, brought comfort. He picked it up, running his fingers down the flat part of the blade. “You took a chance bringing this here.”
“It's like an old friend. Thought you might like it nearby.”
Magnus swung it around, holding the blade a foot away from Lachlan. “Were you not afraid I'd cleave off your head when I found out about Jessie?”
Lachlan remained still, no fear on his face. “You've got a much deadlier weapon inside you now. If you're of a mind to kill me, I'm going to go one way or another.”
Magnus held the sword up, studying the ornate hilt. He wouldn't need his sword anymore? How much more would he lose?
A knock sounded on the door, and Cheveyo opened it and peered inside. “Everything all right?” His Hopi heritage was clear in his coloring and dark hair. That he'd once spent his days hunting down supernatural vermin showed in his warrior bearing. Especially when he saw the sword in Magnus’s hand and stepped inside, ready to contain him.
Magnus let him know that wouldn't be necessary by setting the sword down. He reached over and shook Cheveyo’s hand. “Thanks for everything.”
He’d only met Cheveyo once, Petra a few more times, so it was damned nice of them to take care of him. Made him feel odd though, being passed out at their house.
“You’ll be okay,” Cheveyo said. “I don't know how similar Darkness is to my ability, but when I get worked up, I feel my cat want to take over. You need to practice, get comfortable with Darkness, because control is everything. I’ve got a place out near Flagstaff, Arizona. Why don’t you spend some time in new surroundings?” Away from Jessie, he didn't say. “Take as long as you want. We’re staying here, waiting for Amy to have her baby. I couldn't pry Petra away now. Stay for the shower and then head out.”
Magnus had planned on attending the baby shower, since the guys in their group of Offspring were invited too. That was before he’d been infected. The heavy feeling was like the blackest part of the night inside him. “I’m not in the mood for the party, but I've got gifts for the baby.” He pinned Lachlan with a look. “You'll take them, right?” Make him go to a baby shower, small retribution for stealing his lass.
“Anything for you,” Lachlan said, clearly meaning it. But Magnus saw his upper lip twitch at the thought.
Anything but give up Jessie.
He turned to Cheveyo. “Your place sounds like exactly what I need.” Especially if Lachlan and Jessie were staying at Sanctuary.
Lachlan walked closer. “Spend some time with Jessie's dad. He’ll tell you what you need to know.” He put his hand on Magnus’s arm. “Take a week or so, work through it. But keep in touch. My brother once told me that we had to stick together because we were all we have.”
But that was before one of them became a beast…and the other fell in love.








Book Spotlight~ NJ Walters' Eternal Brothers

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