Book Blitz & Excerpt: Hex and the Single Girl + Giveaway

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Hex and the Single Girl, by Alexis Fleming

Book 3 in the Lucifer Inc! series

Word Count: 25,039
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 99

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FAKE RELATIONSHIPS
PARANORMAL
SECOND CHANCE

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Book Description

How’s a hexy chick gonna get laid if even breathing is an adventure sport?

Sabrina—Sabby to her friends—is a hex, a pariah. Even Lucifer crosses the road to avoid her. Everyone avoids her…except the sex-mad humpomaniac imps, that is. Chaos demons are known for…well, chaos. And for Sabrina, chaos equals misery, until she’s dragged to Earth by literary historian Jude Morrisey. Human, good-looking and definitely sex on legs, Jude is enough to set her libido on high alert. Now if she can just keep her chaos magic from ripping his life apart, things might be looking up.

When Jude accidentally summons a demon, his staid bachelor world erupts into an unholy mess. Someone’s sabotaging his career and his job’s almost down the gurgler. Sex-crazed imps invade his house and hump his appliances. The biggest shock of all is the sexy Calamity Jane who appears in his attic insisting she’s his jinx.

Harmony, peace and his staid life are out of the attic window, but here’s the thing… Can he keep his hands off the delectable walking disaster long enough to work out what’s going on?

Anarchy, bedlam, chaos… It’s all in a day’s work for a hexy chick.

Reader advisory: This book contains a brief scene of violence and attempted murder.

Excerpt

“Now that’s just plain tacky, girl. I hope you don’t plan to wear that outside. Oh, and I have to tell you… Those high heels just don’t go with that outfit.”

Sabrina—Sabby to her friends—spun about and stared at the woman who’d appeared without so much as a peep in the dark recesses of the library. She instinctively raised her arms and tried to cover her breasts, but this stupid costume didn’t have enough fabric to even manage that. Forget the rest of her body. It just wasn’t going to work.

“I don’t plan on wearing it anywhere, Aunt Luce,” she responded before directing a dark frown at the other occupant of the room. “Brel-ez figured he’d try to talk me into wearing it for the imps’ party tonight. I only tried it on to show him how ridiculous it was. And by the way, a little sonic boom or some hellfire or something to announce your imminent arrival might have been nice.”

“I am Lucifer, Supreme Ruler of Hell. I go where I please, how I please.” She drew herself up to her full height, her eyes flashing red sparks.

It took all Sabby’s willpower to keep a straight face. It wouldn’t do to annoy her Lordship by laughing at her, even if it was funny. Aunt Luce wasn’t much more than five feet three inches tall, but what she lacked in stature, she made up for with presence. As the ruler of Hell, she was a formidable lady and a dangerous opponent.

“Sorry, Aunt Luce. I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m just a tad embarrassed to be caught wearing this.” She gestured to the outrageous outfit.

“I would think so. It’s nothing short of disastrous. Human or demon, no woman should be seen in this.”

Lucifer frowned as she walked a circle around Sabby, her high heels clacking on the flag tiles that made up the floor of the dungeon-library. She shuddered when she stood in front of Sabby again.

“Leopard print is so out now, and that itty-bitty G-string is…” She broke off and shuddered again. “Doesn’t it hurt your girly bits, pulled up between your butt cheeks like that? And the rest of it… A flimsy scrap of material over a bra that barely covers your boobies and nothing but transparent scarves attached to a band around your waist. What is this? The dance of the seven veils? If you want to change your image, girl, you’d do better to emulate me.”

Sabby had to fight to control her emotions again. There was no doubt that Aunt Luce had a distinctive style. She looked like everyone’s idea of a cuddly grandmother. Slightly chubby—although Sabby would never tell her that—she mostly favored twin sets and pearls teamed with a tweed skirt. Her hair was a snowy-white halo that curled around her face. She did, on occasion, tip the ends with vibrant reds and purples to match whatever-color shoes she had on. Sporting long nails—or more correctly ‘talons’—she matched her shoes with her nail polish. And those shoes? Nothing but three-inch-high stilettos in bright colors for Aunt Luce. Today’s color was scarlet.

Before Sabby felt forced to comment on Lucifer’s suggestion, Brel-ez decided to get in on the conversation.

“Your most magnificent Lordship, please tell Sabby she must attend our fancy-dress party tonight. She has to be there. She’s our queen.”

Lucifer rounded on him. “Queen? There is no queen but me. King. Queen. Lord. I am Supreme Ruler. I am all of them—and don’t you forget it.”

Brel-ez, captain of Lucifer’s Herald and head imp, shrank down, which was pretty difficult, given that he was only three feet tall. His little pointy red horns actually quivered as he tried to abase himself before Lucifer.

“So sorry, your Lordship. So sorry, but I found a prophesy in an old book and I’m sure it refers to Sabby.”

“I told him it’s all rubbish, but he won’t believe me,” Sabby chipped in.

“What prophesy?” Lucifer’s voice thundered throughout the library.

Holy Hell, Aunt Luce is really getting angry. Sabby just prayed that Brel-ez could extricate himself from this before Lucifer zapped him out of annoyance.

Brel-ez quickly retrieved a slip of paper from the pocket of his red-and-gold uniform and read it out loud.

“When the small stand up and fight against the law,

When the hungry hold out their hands asking for more,

When the greedy profit to improve their lot in life,

Unconcerned that their everlasting legacy is strife,

When pandemonium erupts and floods the world above,

Then the queen of chaos reigns—and the winner is love.”

Brel-ez shoved the paper back into his pocket and held out his hands to Lucifer. “See? Sabby’s a chaos demon, the only one living down here in the first level of Hell. It must be her.”

Lucifer burst out laughing, all her anger appearing forgotten. “Oh, you silly imp. That’s no prophesy. Bet you found that in an old diary buried here in the library, yes?”

Brel-ez nodded.

“My great-great-great grandfather fancied himself a poet. That’s one of his—and not a prophesy at all. And I’m the queen of chaos. You got that?”

Brel-ez nodded again and opened his mouth to speak. Before he could, Lucifer held up one finger.

“Is it important?”

“Definitely, your Lordship.”

He nodded so hard that Sabby was certain he was about to lose his head. And he would if he didn’t watch what he said to Lucifer.

Aunt Luce sighed. “Get on with it, Brel-ez.”

“Sabby has to come to the party. Otherwise, how else can she get la—?”

“Brel-ez,” Sabby shouted. Damn it, can’t that imp keep his mouth shut for once?

Now Lucifer turned her attention back to Sabby, her eyebrows raised in question. There was no way she’d back down if she didn’t get an answer straight away.

“She wants to get laid,” Brel-ez shouted.

“Way to keep a secret, imp.” She scowled at the little captain with the cocky grin spreading across his face. She turned to Lucifer. “I’m a twenty-five-year-old almost-virgin. Why shouldn’t I get laid before I bury myself down here in your damp dungeon?”

“It might have been a dungeon in the past, but it’s my library now. And I’ll have you know that there’s no dampness down here. It would ruin the books.” Lucifer frowned as she stared at Sabby. “Well, I guess there’s nothing wrong with going to Brel-ez’s party, but I’d choose another costume if I were you. One deep breath and those boobies of yours will pop over the top of that scrap of a bra.”

Brel-ez burst out laughing. “Hey, Sabby, that will sure get you a lover for the night.”

“Oh, be quiet, Brel-ez,” Sabby snapped, holding her hand over her chest as she dragged in a choppy breath. “It just so happens that I don’t want a demon to teach me all about the joys of sex.”

“Just because you look human and can’t change shape or form, you’re still a demon, my girl. What’s wrong with a demon lover?” Lucifer demanded.

“I’d rather practice on a human man—a real one. I screwed up every relationship I ever tried when I lived above. I want to give it one last shot, to see if I can make it work. Hopefully, now that I’m older, I won’t create as much of a mess as I’ve done in the past.”

Lucifer snorted. “You’re a chaos demon, girl. Of course you’re going to leave behind disorder and mayhem. And you know why? Your parents never got around to teaching you how to control your powers. Instead, they just shipped you off to me when it looked like your uncontrolled magic would expose them as demons. No thought for you at all. If your mother wasn’t one of my best friends…”

Sabby winced as Lucifer actually growled. She couldn’t really blame Aunt Luce. She’d been a trial for her parents from the time she’d been born. By the time she’d hit puberty and started to notice the opposite sex, the problems had simply gotten worse. Everything she’d tried her hand at, whether it had been jobs or relationships, had ended in disaster. Now here she was, buried in this dark library where she couldn’t cause any problems.

She sighed. “I’m sorry, Aunt Luce. I know I’m a misfit, but I do try. In fact, I think I am doing better. The library has run without a hitch for a couple of years now. I just want this last shot. If I screw it up, I promise I’ll come back here and never complain again.”

Her heels clacking on the flagstone floor, Lucifer moved close enough to give Sabby a hug. “Sabrina, you’re one of my goddaughters. I want you to be happy.” She grimaced. “I don’t apologize often, but I am sorry I parked you down here in this dark old dungeon. I should have taken you in hand and taught you how to use your magic, but I took the easiest way out.”

She released her hold on Sabby and strode across the room before turning to face her again. “You think this will make you happy? Getting down and dirty with a human male?”

Sabby chuckled at Aunt Luce’s turn of phrase. “I’d like to at least give it a go.”

“Hmm-m,” Lucifer mused. “Anyone in mind? It has to be someone who pushes your buttons.”

Someone who pushes my buttons?

Oh yeah! There was one person who came immediately to mind. When Sabby had been a kid, her best friend and neighbor had been a girl called Brianna. They’d been more like sisters than friends. They’d done everything together, and Sabby had loved spending time at Brianna’s home—but not just because Brianna had been her best mate.

Brianna had an older brother. He was eleven years older than she was, but he was oh-so-sexy. Sabby had hero-worshiped him, but as time had gone on, that had morphed into the biggest of crushes. By the time Sabby had reached her later teens, he had moved out, but Sabby had hung on his every word whenever he’d come to visit his parents.

Brianna’s folks had been terrific. Never once had they chastised her for her klutzy behavior. They’d just kept telling her she’d grow out of it eventually. And when Brianna’s brother came to visit, Sabby had followed him about like a bad smell, falling over her feet to keep up with him. Heck, even falling over his feet.

She smiled at the memories, wondering for a moment what had happened to him. Heat suddenly invaded her mind. Sabby frowned. For a moment there she could have sworn that invisible fingers had done a quick tour through her memories, one after the other—like someone—or something—hastily flicking through the pages of a book. Weird.

Sabby shook her head. Then, with a determined effort, she buried all thoughts of her juvenile crush in the back of her mind. Nothing had come of it and never would. It was time she settled for whatever she could get.

“No, no one special, Aunt Luce. I’d just like to go back above for one last time.”

“Well, in that case—”

“Nooo,” Brel-ez broke in. “Sabby has to come to our party. What am I going to tell the demons I’ve lined up to scr—er, romance her?”

“Brel-ez, you didn’t…? I don’t believe you’d do that to me,” Sabby said.

“I was just trying to help,” the little demon whined.

This time Lucifer cut him off. “I’m the one who makes the decisions here in Hell. You don’t get to say what happens in my domain.” She flicked out her hand and a spear of white-hot light erupted from the tip of one finger. It zeroed in on Brel-ez and zapped him on the rear end. The imp let out a yelp and smacked at the smoldering fabric of his pants.

Lucifer turned back to Sabby. “And you, missy. Is this really what you want?”

Sabby nodded, unable to say a word in case her godmother changed her mind.

“Then so be it. I’ll give you a month. After that, regardless of what happens, you come back here. Okay?”

Before Sabby could nod, a sonic boom resounded throughout the library. Pungent smoke swirled about Sabby and caught in her throat. She started to shake. First there were vibrations deep in her belly. Then they spread out to totally encompass her whole body. There was time for one last thought before Sabby disintegrated into a stream of airborne atoms.

Yeah, baby, let’s get to the sex part.

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About the Author

Alexis Fleming

Alexis Fleming writes stories dominated by sassy women and sexy macho men, by mouthy shifters and the odd delicious demon. You’ll experience crazy, laugh-out-loud moments as you live vicariously through the antics of her characters. The magic of the paranormal and the suspense of a mystery to solve will tantalize all the way until the end.
Based in north Queensland, Australia, when Alexis is not interfering in the lives of her imaginary friends, she’s happy to get caught up with family and help her daughter, author Kelly Ethan, plot her next murderous adventure for her stories.

Nothing like keeping it in the family.

You can find Alexis at her website.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: In a Devil Bind + Giveaway

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In a Devil Bind, by Makayla Roberts

Word Count: 66,127
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 242

GENRES:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MYSTERY
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

 

It has been one hell of a week.

With a serial killer on the loose and her carnal needs spiraling out of control, the last thing Detective Cheyenne Wilcox needs is to be deterred. As her cursed fate would have it, she gets the biggest hindrance of all when she winds up drugged with a spell that prevents her from moving more than six feet away from none other than Thorne Lucifer—an egotistical playboy whom she hates more than anything. Perhaps it was a good thing he didn’t remember her from the past, because the moment they manage to find a way to break the spell, she’s going to go above and beyond to erase all traces of him from her life…again.

Chey is one hot succubus, but her detached attitude is nothing but a nuisance to Thorne. Plus, having her following him everywhere presents a threat to his hard-earned reputation as Elysium’s most eligible bachelor. However, he can’t deny the sizzling attraction between them, or the fact that her feistiness only makes him eager to have her submit to him.

There’s a fine line between lust and love, and though Chey seems determined to keep things casual until the spell is broken, for the first time in his life, Thorne is leaning more toward the latter.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, stalking and murder. It is best read as book two in The Lucifer Brothers series.

Excerpt

Waking up in a stranger’s bed was nothing new to Thorne Lucifer. At age eighty and some change, sex was one of the few things he had to keep from dying of boredom most days. If someone asked him to count how many lovers he’d taken in the past year alone—hell, the past month—he couldn’t even give two names. They all came and went—pun intended.

On this occasion, however, he couldn’t recall a day in his life when he’d awakened chained to a stranger’s bed with a splitting headache and a bad case of nausea, having been stripped down to nothing more than his socks. With a grunt, he squinted his eyes open, sighing with relief when the only lights he could make out were from a handful of dim candles that had been placed on top of a wooden dresser. He didn’t think his hangover would be very kind to him if he’d been encased in full illumination. A faint orange glow shone from the open door across from him—a bathroom, most likely.

He soon became aware of his other senses. Something smelled like mildew, piss and the very ass of hell. There was the sound of shuffling and scraping, though it was very light. It was distant, perhaps coming from another room.

Something cold and wet soaked one side of his head, so he turned a bit to spot a clear zipped bag filled with water, though the outside was coated in condensation.

Aw, his lover had been considerate enough to give him an ice pack for his hangover. How sweet.

With a snort, he waited until his vision cleared further before taking in his surroundings—moldy walls with chipped paint that had lost color long ago, a busted bubble-back TV, a crooked painting of a bland flower and furniture covered in stains that came from only-the-gods-knew what. Even the bed he was on was lumpy and uncomfortable, resulting in a deep ache in his lower back. A pile of sharp rocks would have been preferable.

He crinkled his nose in disgust. While he wasn’t as particular about his sex partners as his uptight brothers were, he was damn sure not down with doing business in raggedy motel rooms. He was a classier dude than that. He’d screw his partner in a dark alley and send her on her way before bedding down in one of these shitholes.

What gives?

He frowned, images of the previous night coming back in bits and pieces. He’d gone to one of his favorite bars on the east side of town after leaving work. It had been a slow Saturday, so he’d wanted to go out for some drinks to pass the time. He was a big drinker, so throwing back shot after shot hadn’t even given him a buzz. Instead, it’d put him in a horny mood, and he’d been scanning the crowd for the hottest woman to take home for a night of fun. If he were lucky, he would have found two of them.

It hadn’t taken long before he’d spotted a petite blonde sashaying toward him. She hadn’t been the only one interested, of course. Despite being a Lucifer, his devilishly handsome looks and easy smile always aided him in attracting the opposite sex. But that woman had been a nymph—his favorite. He’d sensed that right off the bat and wasted no time ordering a drink for her while they made small talk.

Everything went blurry from there. He vaguely recalled her leading him to the dance floor, grinding against his dick in tune with the music. Then they were outside and…everything went blank.

Frown deepening, he realized the wench must have slipped something into one of his drinks. He glanced down at his naked body, checking for any damage. Nothing. Not even a little nick from a needle drawing blood. He grunted, pushing himself up the musty pillows.

Well, damn. If she hadn’t cut him open in his sleep, what the hell had she drugged him for? He’d already planned on screwing her brains out, so if she’d thought to use him for sex, it was pointless.

“Yo, nympho. You there?” he called, his voice rough from waking up. “You can unchain me now.”

Of course, he didn’t receive an answer. However, there was another collection of shuffling and thumping from the other room. He tugged on the chains binding his wrists in a way that made him look like he was being fucking crucified. A quick glance around showed a key on the nightstand next to him, and he sighed.

An ice pack and the key to free himself. How freaking considerate of her.

As he unlocked his chains, he grumbled a series of expletives under his breath, all directed at the vixen who’d caused this. While he didn’t mind being used for sex, he’d be damned if he’d let it slide that someone had drugged him and left him in such a dank room. He didn’t even know where he was. The blondie better pray he didn’t find out her identity. He might be known as a pretty laid-back man, but he damn sure wasn’t one to be crossed.

Freed, he stood and bent his body this way and that to inspect his backside for any blemishes. It wouldn’t surprise him to find his back and ass ate up by bed bugs. He didn’t see any, but he wouldn’t hold his breath on that one. The longer he stood in the room, the grosser his skin felt.

He spotted his pants and shirt thrown over the back of an armchair and swiftly donned them, sneezing as a chill washed over him. Great. Not only were his surroundings filthy beyond repair, but there was also a draft. The top of his head felt cold as ice, despite the rest of the room feeling like a damn furnace. He pulled on his shoes and spotted his leather jacket tossed on top of the half-broken dining table. Next to it sat his cell phone and wallet, and a quick check showed that his battery had a little juice—and nothing was missing from his wallet, not even a single torq.

Before he could reach for his jacket, he paused at the sound of someone knocking—not at the front door but the one that connected his room to another.

Tensing in preparation to kick someone’s ass, he strolled over and unlocked the latch, then threw the off-white panel open. “You have two seconds to explain what—”

Thorne stumbled backward as someone crashed into him. “Fuck,” a female growled against his chest before shoving him away. Dressed only in a black bra and panties, she clutched the side of her head, her hand coming away with blood. “Fuck! I’m going to kill them. Ohhh, someone is going to fucking die tonight.”

He stiffened when she looked at him, her dark eyes mere slits of coal. She bared her teeth like a wild animal. “Did you have something to do with this?” She flashed him her palm.

He cocked one eyebrow and jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I just woke up tied to the bed, lady. Not sure what the hell’s going on.” He narrowed his eyes, taking her in. She wasn’t the nymph, that was for sure. That woman had been blonde with sparkling green eyes and alabaster skin. The one before him was the total opposite. “Did you have something to do with this?”

She grumbled a curse and rushed over to his bathroom, dismissing his presence. Despite the strangeness of the circumstances and the amount of blood and dirt covering her, Thorne couldn’t help the way his gaze dropped to her rear. Hey, he was a man, after all, and he’d always loved his women with bigger assets—special emphasis on the ‘ass’ portion.

The thong she wore was shaped against her like a custom fit, the lush globes jiggling with each step she took. Her lower back had two dimples, another thing he’d always liked on women. What bits of almond-colored skin he could see looked smooth to the touch, everything tight with lean muscles that spoke of a regular exercise routine. Her raven hair was parted down the middle and pulled into two thick braids that fell nearly to her waist.

His dick grew a bit hard while he followed from a safe distance as she entered the bathroom.

Snatching up a half-empty water bottle from the sink, she grabbed a washcloth and wet it, then began to dab at her wound with light touches. “Those motherfuckers,” she jeered, wincing in pain when she applied pressure.

Thorne leaned against the doorjamb of the bathroom. “Do you have even the slightest clue what’s going on here? I can’t remember shit from last night.”

She scoffed. “That’s because somebody drugged you.”

“No shit. I’m asking who did it—and why.”

She tossed the bloodied towel aside before turning to face him. He tried to keep from gaping at her full breasts, which were barely contained by her lacy bra. She pouted, then planted one fist on her hip with no shame whatsoever at her lack of clothing. “Do you see this?” She pointed to her bleeding temple.

Forcing his gaze away from the breasts, Thorne grimaced at the deep gash struggling to knit itself closed. It was a wonder she was even conscious, given how much blood soaked her. A wave of nausea rolled through him. “Yeah, that’s gross.”

She twisted her lips into a grim line. “Those bastards are dead when I get my hands on them. Do you hear me? D-E-A-D.” Before he could ask what she meant, she eyed him with caution. “You’d better get yourself checked. From what I know about devils, you guys can regenerate, but you can still catch an infection.”

He frowned, doing everything he could to keep himself from throwing up. The bleeding had slowed to a stop, but the raw pink tissue lying beneath was what sickened him. “What are you talking about? I’m fine.”

She lifted a brow, peering at the top of his head. “Sure, you are, Thorne.”

With that, she slid past him and made her way back to her room. Thorne frowned after her. “How do you know my name?” He didn’t bother trying to hide the suspicion in his voice. He’d be lying if he said she looked familiar. He’d come across so many women in his life that there was no telling who she was. Then again, there were few people who didn’t know him. He was a Lucifer, after all. Their name was known far and wide as they sat atop the pillar of the Big Four families in Sheol. “Have we met before?”

She snorted in derision. “If you have to ask that, then no.” She didn’t even hesitate as she stepped over the threshold.

Thorne meant to follow her to get more information, but he paused at the sight of himself in the broken mirror. All the color drained from his face as he blinked at his reflection.

There, on the top of his head, was the worst monstrosity he’d seen since…since…hell if he knew. He couldn’t even think of the proper words to compare it to, but it was disastrous.

His horns. His beautiful, six-inch, curved horns that held engraved patterns that were a proud sign of maturity and virility…

One was missing. Gone. Cut from his head, leaving him looking like a lopsided freak of nature. Like a fucking unicorn or something.

At the top of his lungs, he bellowed, “What the fuck!

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About the Author

Makayla Roberts

Makayla’s love for reading began at the age of twelve when her mother introduced her to the world of mystical creatures. From then on, she discovered a talent for turning her own imagination into words. From fanfictions to short stories to full-length novels and novellas, if she wasn’t focused on school activities, she was either reading or writing.

Raised on the coast of Mississippi, Makayla juggles her everyday life between work and being a mom. In her free time, she enjoys binge watching criminal suspense shows, shopping, painting, wood burning, and of course, working on her books.

Makayla enjoys writing stories with strong elements of romance, adventure, and paranormal. Vampires, shifters, fairies, dragons—she loves them all!

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Fang + Giveaway

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Fang, by Ellen Mint

Book 2 in the Coven of Desire series

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

 

How can Cal live when the monster remains in the mirror?

Cal is struggling. After his past unraveled into a torment that claimed nearly his whole family, how could he not be? The only good left in his life is Layla, even if she comes with a pain-in-the-haunches incubus. Dealing with Ink is one more problem he’s ignoring, until the werewolf issues he’s refused to face come for him.

A second pack is hunting him and they’re threatening his mother. Cal has no choice but to travel back to Santa Fe and confront them, or lose the last family he has left. While a road trip with Layla sounds nice, Ink has to come along, and the demon keeps driving a growing wedge between Cal and his tenuous grasp on humanity.

Cal, Ink and Layla come face to face with an enemy Cal once believed to be nothing but a myth, his claws and fangs useless against their firepower. What do they want with the witch, werewolf and demon? And, most of all, how can they be stopped?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, peril, near death, blood and gore. There are references to a cult, abusive and violent parents, and references to patricide.

Publisher’s Note: Everyone who buys a copy of Fang will receive the short story Snow Print free. Set between the events of Claw and Fang in the Coven of Desire series, Cal’s struggling to overcome the loss in his life is interrupted by a snowman army.

Excerpt

A crack shattered the silence, trying to pry my locked jaws apart. Shadows clipped across the single floodlight above the floorboards.

Diesel, gun oil, salted pork and…old leather. Every scent filled my sinuses and I whimpered.

“Cal…”

No! I spun in the tight space, clamping my filthy fingers onto my brother’s mouth. Even in the muddy crawlspace, I could see his eyes blazing above my palm. Eli’s entire body shivered, his shoulders rising to shield himself from every clip of the boot above our heads.

“We have to keep moving,” Mark spat in my ear. I cringed at the loogie sliding down my face while the eldest brother easily spun on his haunches. Even with his messed-up leg duct-taped to a fence post, he crawled quickly under the floor.

The boards above our heads stopped creaking and the light vanished. Had he gone to bed? This was it. Mom had put me in charge of getting Eli. All we had to do was…

Blinding white punctured the world. The ceiling above us shattered, splintering my heart. A massive hand slammed down right in front of my face. I reached my foot back, prepared to kick and break a finger, when the entire house collapsed over Eli.

Another crack. We all flinched as he took it. Three more lines added to the ones crisscrossing his back. Growls rumbled from Mark, pinned by his mother to stand and watch. I tried to twist away, but my head wouldn’t leave. If I didn’t watch, I could be next.

“Ah!”

A single cry escaped from Eli, and both Mark and I screamed, “No.” If he made a sound, it started all over.

The belt hung against the five-year-old’s back, Eli straining to reach over the apple crate he bent over. Crimson wicked up his burlap cassock. The blood would be left to dry for days as a reminder because the scars weren’t enough.

“This is what happens to disobedient boys,” boomed the voice through my ears, up my feet and into my blood. I tried to spit it out, the scent of him merging into a putrid taste boiling down my throat. Leaning over, I tried to retch it away—diesel, gun oil, salted pork, old leather, and blood. A spray of it erupted from my lips, staining the floorboards of the great room. No one turned to me, no one noticed I was vomiting in front of them.

Every eye gazed upon him. The father. Our great leader into the next stage of existence.

“Cal!”

“Eli…?”

His dirty, matted hair began to lift. As it did, crimson paint dribbled down the sides. “I don’t wanna be here, Cal!”

“I…” Damn it. My gaze plummeted to the floor, tears threatening to burst. Slamming my lids closed so no one could tattle on me for crying, I said, “I’ll get you out of here, Eli. When it’s done, I’ll get you.”

“Forget it.” It wasn’t the soft cry of a kid, but the dead acceptance of an adult. Even with my eyes shut tight, I saw Eli rise from the box. He trampled it down with his foot, shattering the crate we’d all been whipped on. Eli stood tall, stretching far above my head.

“Weak,” the voice of my unending nightmares thundered. “All of you.” His face burned hot like the sun and I could only stare at the black gun extending from his hand. He pointed it at the followers standing in a ring around us.

“The time of the Moon is nigh,” the rotten bastard said. “Destiny, child. Blood.” He aimed his gun at Eli. A flash turned my brother’s head into a wolf’s skull.

“Eli!” I screamed, running for him. But my feet couldn’t get any traction. Every step kept me pinned in place, unable to reach my brother slowly tumbling to the cement ground.

“You cannot escape it, Calvin.” The asshole’s hand clamped to my shoulder and he pressed me down to my knees. I tried to fight it, but my bones were matchsticks against his might. They buckled, my nose pressing into the dirt.

A wind howled through the trees, parting the stricken branches to reveal the yellow-blue light forever beaming down upon us. Itching rippled under my skin, one no amount of scratching would solve.

“Give in,” he chanted almost serenely.

I shook my head, feeling fur and not hair brush against my shoulder. “No,” I declared, the words warping as my gums receded. Pain clawed up the roots of my teeth sharpening to fangs.

“You cannot escape, Calvin.”

Squeezing my eyes tight, I willed the wolf back. My teeth flattened. I patted my head, finding only the shaved hair. Lashing my arm back, I burst from his grip and took two steps forward. “I’m never changing again!” I shouted.

A low chuckle caused me to freeze. My body betrayed me, terror beckoning me to turn. Lucien bent down, half of his skull exposed, the skin ripped like paper, the muscles rotted away. The eyeball in his fleshless socket was milky white. “Child.” A squishy, flapping sound followed his words. Red and purple tubes flapped out of a massive wound in his throat. I wanted to scream, but my mouth drowned with hot liquid.

“You cannot escape your blood.”

Fuck!

I shook awake, my whole body slamming forward to try to escape. Instead of hurling myself off the bed, I almost knocked my teeth into a soft shoulder. Layla’s hair provided cushioning to stop me, and I buried my face in it. I opened my mouth in a rictus and gave all the force of shrieking without letting a single sound escape.

My tongue tasted of copper and salt, of Lucien’s blood that I had ripped from his throat. My brain thundered with the scents of his body, his boots, his instruments of terror. Get out of it. He’s not here. He can never be here.

Burrowing my nose farther into her hair, I pulled in the deepest whiff imaginable. Cereal marshmallows. We’d gotten into a pointless food fight last night and I’d flicked them at her as she laughed. Amber. She’d used my soap to wash her hands and face. Me. The long night I held her safe in my arms. The air right before a thunderstorm struck. Layla.

My body tightened around her as it recognized the fullness of her. And she was stirring. Damn it.

“Cal…?” she croaked. Most of the time her voice was lush and lyrical, but in the morning it sounded more like a smoking frog.

I placed my lips to the nape of her neck, kissing over her curly hair to try to find the skin below. The taste of her replaced the lingering memory of blood. “Sorry to wake you,” I said.

The wolf inside me was restless. No, angry. It wanted vengeance even though we’d already gotten it. I winced and started to slide away. If I stayed in bed, no matter how tempting, it could rip through me. Take over my thoughts and push me to its side. I slid my hand up Layla’s stomach and over her hip, having to abandon her to calm down.

I was fairly certain she’d passed out and I slipped to my feet, when her fingers crested over mine. Through the shadows of the old house, I couldn’t see much, but the silhouette of her breasts tumbling together out from under my blanket almost drove me back in with her.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

No. But I’ve never been okay my whole life. “You stay sleeping.” I bent over and kissed her lips. I wished her taste and touch could chase away all the nightmare, but it clung to me like a filthy sack caked in blood. Rising to my feet, I stumbled out of my room. The wolf inside me howled.

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About the Author

Ellen Mint

Ellen Mint adores the adorkable heroes who charm with their shy smiles and heroines that pack a punch. She recently won the Top Ten Handmaid’s Challenge on Wattpad where hers was chosen by Margaret Atwood. Her books, Undercover Siren and Fever are available at Amazon as well as a short story in the Lucky Between The Sheets anthology. Married, she lives in Nebraska with her dog named after Granny Weatherwax. Her hobbies include gaming, painting, and halloween prop making. The basement is full of skeletons because they ran out of room in the closets.

You can find Ellen at her website here and also on Bookbub.

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