Book Blitz & Excerpt: Silenced + Giveaway

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Silenced, by Jayce Carter

Book 1 in the Larkwood Academy series

Word Count: 85,697
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 314

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
PARANORMAL
REVERSE HAREM

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Book Description

 

From spoiled rich girl to imprisoned siren—sometimes life sucks.

My life was perfect—a cute, loving boyfriend, a rich and well-connected family and an immaculately planned-out future.

As it turns out, perfection is a lie. After a random attack, I wake up to discover I’ve turned into a siren, had my vocal cords cut and am now imprisoned at Larkwood Academy, the most dangerous and heavily secured place for humans who have turned into paranormal creatures called shades. Everything here is out to get me—the warden, the guards and even the other shades.

As I try to survive, I get closer to the men around me—Kit, a wendigo who is often called the warden’s lapdog, Deacon, a guard who isn’t a shade but also isn’t human, Knox, an incubus who struggles with accepting his own hunger, Brax, a berserker with a bad attitude and sharp tongue and Wade, a void who is far more dangerous than his innocent face and humor would suggest. The longer I stay here and get to know them, the more I realize I can’t trust anyone.

Everyone wants me to follow the rules, but I can’t be that girl anymore.

They might have stolen my voice, but they can’t keep me silenced.

Reader advisory: This book includes mentions of incarceration, and scenes of violence and assault, as well as references to inadequate parenting.

Excerpt

 

Eyes forward—just ignore the werewolf.

I repeated that to myself as I quickened my steps. It wasn’t hard to identify the shade who crouched over a trashcan, rifling through whatever he could find inside. Even if he hadn’t been wearing the law-required bright yellow band on his wrist to identify himself, there was just something about shades that made it easy to spot them.

They had this danger in them, this bone-deep hesitation they provoked in normal humans when a shade crossed our paths. They had a feral quality to their movements and an emptiness in their eyes, as if everything that had been real about them had drained out when they’d become infected by source.

It meant that this shade, despite appearing young for the change—he couldn’t have been older than eleven—could have torn me apart if he lost control.

Though, the fact he was out on the street, even identified, meant he had to have been a weaker specimen and on the proper medication to treat his affliction. Otherwise, he would have been properly secured at an academy.

“Don’t stare, Hera,” my friend Moa said.

“How can he be out on the streets?” I asked, keeping my voice low as we passed by the shade. “I thought we had groups to keep them out of sight.”

Moa gave me a sharp look, one that reminded me just how different our lives were.

Moa wasn’t privy to reality, to the danger shades posed. She got to live in ignorance, to pretend the world was a safe place while I watched as people were slaughtered by uncontrolled shades. Then again, her family ran a little consignment shop whereas my mother was a senator and headed the committee for shade control, and my father ran one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country.

I was Hera Weston, the only child of Zachary and Regina Weston, which meant I didn’t have the luxury of not knowing.

Still, I played along, pretended I had no idea what her censure was for because there was no reason to have this fight again. A nonchalant sip of my water bottle helped to sell that. “What?”

“He’s just trying to get some food. Do you have any idea how many shades are kicked out of their homes when they change? How many can’t get hired after that?”

“They don’t change. They’re infected and they die,” I countered, but kept walking so she couldn’t give me another long winded, politically correct explanation about how they didn’t really ‘die.’

Moa was one of those who thought that shades were just altered, that they were still the people they’d been when human. It wasn’t true, of course, and if she paid any attention to the news or in school, she’d have known that.

Source—a substance that leaked through invisible tears between our realm and the darkness—could infect some humans. When it happened, that infection caused mutations so dramatic that only a fool would consider the resulting shade to be the same person as the human they’d been. The infections seemed random, since the tears could be neither tracked nor stopped.

It was just part of life.

“Besides,” I added, trying to offer the next words like an olive branch as we passed the shops that lined the outdoor mall, “that’s why we have academies set up, to take care of them safely and determine how best to treat them.”

“Those academies are prisons,” Moa snapped, tugging my arm to stop us, drawing the same line in the sand we’d danced around for years. She faced off against me as if we were engaged in some battle instead of standing in front of a high couture boutique shop. “Kids are stolen from their parents and thrown into the institutes. They’re often experimented on, drugged and who knows what else.”

“You need to stop reading the tabloids. Have you ever even been to one?”

“No,” she admitted softly. “Have you?”

“Yes. Two years ago, I went with my mother to see Jasmine Academy. I can promise you, none of what you’re talking about was going on there. The shades were happy, healthy and unable to hurt themselves or others. Isn’t that the goal?”

Moa shook her head. “You are naïve, Hera. Do you think places like that want people to know what’s really going on? Do you think they’re going to just show all the bad things they do when the VIPs come around? It’s all a publicity stunt so people tell the government to keep sending them all the money they want. It’s just about creating enough fear so we don’t pay any attention to the atrocities they do there.”

I sighed and let the conversation drop. I could argue with her all day—and I had before—but Moa had no idea about the real world. I wasn’t angry with her about that—I envied her some of the time.

It would have been nice to fall asleep each night with no idea of what lurked in the shadows. I still remembered my first time seeing a fully changed werewolf, the horror as it had pulled at the silver chains wrapped around it, as it had roared. My mother had brought me with her, had worried when I’d become enamored with shades as so many teenagers did.

The power, the rebellion, the danger of something so powerful was intoxicating and most people went through a phase where they thought they could change them. Why we women felt the need to do that, to find fixer-uppers who we had to work on, I didn’t understand anymore.

Not after witnessing the bone-deep terror at coming face-to-face with a shade that could rake its claws through my throat in a heartbeat. I’d realized that day that the world was far more dangerous than most people knew.

Moa still had that fascination because her parents were bleeding hearts who hadn’t taught her better. She’d learn, eventually. Everyone did, because the world didn’t let people keep their illusions for long.

So, instead of furthering that line of thought, I pointed at a kiosk up ahead. “Let’s look at the necklaces up there.”

Moa let out a long breath, as if reining in her own temper, as if I were the difficult one to deal with, then nodded. “Sure. Maybe we can get matching ones.”

The selection wasn’t great, but it offered the perfect distraction. We were only weeks away from the new academic year starting, and we hadn’t gotten into the same schools.

Moa had gotten into a local state school, something that would work well enough for her to get the business degree she wanted so she could help and eventually take over her family’s shop.

I, on the other hand, had the acceptance letter on my desk from one of the premiere colleges in the country. I’d had good grades, but the fact that the building had a ‘Weston Wing,’ and my last name was Weston had gotten me in. In fact, I hadn’t even filled out an application. One call from my father and the doors had sprung open.

Moa had held the letter in her hands, staring as if it were the holy grail. Me? I’d tossed it to my desk because fuck that. Going across the country to some university sounded dreadful to me. It felt like another nail in the coffin of my future, the one my parents had laid out for me before I’d ever been born.

The right education, the right career, the right husband. It was all a path to the perfect little Weston life they wanted me to have. And I’d trudged along that path because what other choice did I have? Even now, at nineteen years old, I was stuck. An adult by age but a child by freedom.

An arm wrapped around my waist, spinning me before lips pressed to mine. Aaron swallowed down my startled gasp, then only laughed when I smacked his chest.

“Don’t sneak up on me,” I snapped.

He offered a crooked smile. “Don’t stand there looking like you want a kiss then. You never know who might just take you up on it.”

I shook my head, grinning at his playfulness.

The right spouse. That had my smile disappearing.

Aaron was that. The son of a business associate of my father’s—our parents had basically planned the wedding when we were still toddling around the playground in diapers. I’d grown up knowing what was expected of me, had fallen into line before I’d gotten old enough to question it.

Besides, Aaron wasn’t that bad. He was charming, handsome, rich. The sex was tolerable, and he never treated me badly. I didn’t have butterflies, or head-over-heels nonsense, but I was pretty sure those things were only in cheesy books and movies.

In the real world, ‘not bad’ was the best a person could hope for.

“What are you looking at?” he asked as he tugged me against him.

“Necklaces,” I explained. “Moa and I were going to get matching ones.”

“What about me?”

“What about you?” Moa asked with a smile. She’d always liked Aaron, probably more than I ever had, but she’d been respectful of our relationship no matter what.

“Well, I mean, we’ve been running around together all this time. I should be part of the whole necklace thing, too.”

I rolled my eyes. Aaron could be awfully clingy at time, but he wasn’t wrong. He’d been friends with Moa and me, like some weird love triangle, for most of our lives.

“I’m not wearing two necklaces.”

Moa reached out and picked up a small white paper that had hung on a hook. A silver charm dangled on it, and she held it out to me. “Why don’t we do chains? Then we can pick the charm we want each of us to have, and we’ll all have those matching charms wherever we go.”

“That is cringingly sentimental, and I love it.” Aaron snatched a charm from the wall of product. “Look, a bear—this one is perfect for me because I’m big and tough and super manly.”

Moa smirked and grabbed a rat. “Or this one because you’re constantly shoving cheese into your mouth and are rather annoying.”

Aaron put a hand against his chest as if she’d struck him with her words. “Fine, you don’t get a charm from me. Good job.”

I laughed at their antics as I scanned the available options. What was for me? What would represent me enough that I’d want my two best friends to wear it?

Aaron settled on a racoon, which seemed fitting. He was hard to ignore, stayed up way too late and was rather entertaining. Moa chose a paintbrush, because of her love of art.

My gaze landed on one, and I knew it was perfect to represent me. A silver music note, something elegant and simple and so intertwined with who I was that it felt obvious.

I’d sung my entire life. In fact, my mother said I hadn’t learned to speak sentences so much as verses. The headphones hanging around my neck were a testament to my love of music, to the fact I couldn’t fathom a few hours without putting on the large earcups and disappearing into the sounds, into how they took away everything happening in my life I couldn’t control.

Music made me feel as if I still had a hold of something, and singing was my way of putting my voice into a world that always felt too loud, to make a mark when the world didn’t want to hear me.

“That’s perfect.” Aaron took all the charms and chains to the salesperson to pay for them, Moa now complaining.

Aaron or I always paid for things, since our parents were far better off than Moa’s. What was a hundred bucks between friends?

After Aaron handed them over, we hooked the charms on the chains, then put them on. It was a surreal feeling, like an acknowledgment of how much our lives were about to change, with all of us going to different schools, on different paths of life that would take us different directions.

Aaron and I would come back together—we didn’t have much choice there—but I wondered what would happen to Moa. Was this the end of our little group?

The three charms sat next to one another, cool against my warm skin, and I had a moment of wishing things wouldn’t change.

Unfortunately, I had a feeling nothing could stop that from happening.

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About the Author

Jayce Carter

Jayce Carter lives in Southern California with her husband and two spawns. She originally wanted to take over the world but realized that would require wearing pants. This led her to choosing writing, a completely pants-free occupation. She has a fear of heights yet rock climbs for fun and enjoys making up excuses for not going out and socializing. You can learn more about her at her website.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Disclosure Lines + Giveaway

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Disclosure Lines, by Emma Penny

Book 1 in the Orders to Haunt series

General Release Date: 19th July 2022

Word Count: 41,627
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 164

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
PARANORMAL
REVERSE HAREM

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Book Description


Shattered by one woman, will it be another who can fix their friendship?

Stephanie is newly inducted into The Order, and, as a ghost with a mission to prove herself worthy of the title, she takes the orders to haunt seriously. Tackling four human men in her first assignment is terrifying, but she’s determined to sway them by any means necessary.

Wyatt, Tyler, Colin and Dustin have been best friends from birth, but when a catastrophic event tears them apart, none of them knows how to fix it—or if they even want to. With their lives out of sorts, will they trust that a woman can bring them back together?

Only a master communicator can wield the lines of disclosure.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of anal sex and double penetration.


Excerpt

My back aches, and I need toothpicks to keep my eyes open. Three days of sitting huddled over the desk in my bedroom is enough to break me, but I need to make sure these orders go perfectly. Mom comes in and out several times, bringing me meals and trying to encourage me to take a break. I mostly ignore her, but after three days straight, I need sleep to function.

The bedroom door creaks open, and my bright-eyed sister, Audrey, pops her head in. I give her a wan smile, reaching my hands above my head to try to stretch out some of the kinks in my spine. Shutting the door, Audrey comes in, flopping onto the bed and staring up at the ceiling.

“How are your orders going?”

“I’m working on background still.”

Audrey shifts to stare at me. “Still?”

I shrug. “I want to get this right.”

“All right, Ms. Perfection. Are you trying to be the new Madeline?”

I balk, my chest constricting. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I could be compared to her. I don’t have that kind of confidence. Ignoring Audrey’s snarky remark, I leave my desk chair, rolling over her and lying on my back to stare up at the ceiling alongside her.

“That was mean. Sorry,” Audrey mutters.

“You know how much this means to them,” I whisper.

“Yup, I do.” Audrey’s tone rises and falls. Finally, I turn on my side and eye her. “What’s going on?”

Tears well in Audrey’s eyes, and she tries her best to hide them. “I didn’t pass training.”

“What?” I sit straight up, my heart thundering. “What do you mean you didn’t pass?”

“I didn’t pass. Madeline brought me in yesterday and fired me. I will never work for The Order.”

“Oh, Audrey.” My heart is heavy just thinking about it. Reaching out, I brush my fingers against her arm. “I’m so sorry. Did she say why?”

“Not really, and I don’t quite understand what happened. It was all going good, you know? I passed the tests, and I was making progress. I’d even gotten to the field training, but before I could finish the module, she brought me into her office and told me I was done.”

“Want me to ask her about it?”

“No.” A tear slips down Audrey’s cheek. “No, I just want to be done with it. I spent years studying for this, you know? I need to find something else to do.”

“What will you do?”

“Not a fucking clue.” Audrey throws a hand over her eyes so I can’t see her vulnerability anymore.

Resting onto the pillow on my small bed, I stay as close to her as I can. I want her to know that I’m here for her, but I know that my presence and my job with The Order will hurt her, so I don’t want to bring it up if I don’t have to. Audrey breaks that silence for me.

“Do you have a plan yet? I can’t believe she didn’t give you a detailed plan of action. It’s so unlike her.”

“I think I can understand it,” I reply.

Audrey looks at me with a suspicious glance. “Why?”

“Because there are four individuals I’m haunting for one order. Two of them live together, one I swear lives at work and the last one…? Well, I think he’s where I need to start.”

“Why would you start with him instead of the others?”

“I think his situation is more dire. Remember when Nick got all depressed a few years ago?”

Audrey nods.

“Think like that, only without the support system in place. I’ve watched him on and off for the last few days. He has zero routine and he’s drowning in bills with no job prospects.”

“I get that,” Audrey interjects.

“No, you don’t. You can always come home, to us, live here still. Tyler doesn’t have anyone to fall back on.”

“No one?”

“Well, he might.” At Audrey’s confused glance, I continue, “The other day, out of the blue, he got in his car and drove downtown to one of the other subjects’ places of work. He stood outside the front door for at least five minutes before turning around and getting back in his car and going home. They went to college together, and I think he might have thought about it.”

“Asking for help, you mean?”

“Asking for a job.” I press my lips together. “It’s likely a good solution to the problem, if I can only get him to take that final step and walk inside.”

“How do you know this other guy will even see him?”

I sigh. “Wyatt…I think he’s going to be my problem child.”

Audrey chuckles. “Why do you say that?”

“The others are so easy to read, but he’s so closed off. He doesn’t have a personal relationship with anyone, it seems.”

“But he knows Tyler?”

“Yeah, like I said, they went to college together. I think…maybe…Wyatt has a soft spot for Tyler.”

“What would make you say that?”

I sigh, rolling onto my back again, images and information flashing through my mind, everything I’ve learned in the last few days flooding into my brain just waiting for me to dissect it. I’m not sure I can answer Audrey. It’s a gut feeling more than anything, but they had been friends at some point. When that was, I still don’t know, but surely if they were friends at some point, then Wyatt would still have a soft spot for Tyler, wouldn’t he?

“Stephanie?”

“Yeah, um…They were friends years ago. I can’t fathom him ignoring Tyler if Tyler were to say he needed help.”

“Unless he’s a total asshole.”

“Well, he is that.” I put a hand on my forehead, my eyelids drooping heavily. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen someone not have a weak spot.”

“You just want to get them talking.”

I snort lightly, my eyes closed. “Maybe.”

Audrey pokes me hard in the ribs. “Are you falling asleep on me?”

“Yes.”

“Should we tell Mom we want to share a room again?”

“No.” I yawn. I have worked so hard the last few days, and I feel as though I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I thought I should. I’ll need to start my haunting proper soon, take it to the next step.

“What about the other two?”

“What other two?”

Audrey turns on her side, facing me and poking me in the ribs again.

“Hey!”

“The other two people you need to haunt?”

“Oh.” I yawn again. “They’re best friends. They live together, actually, and…well…I ghosted in on them the other day to do some observation, and let’s just say they need to come with warning bells.”

“What do you mean?” Audrey props her head up on her elbow.

“Are you sure you want to talk about this? I mean…doesn’t it sting a little?”

Audrey’s eyes well up again, but she rolls them. “Let me do this for you.”

“We should talk about you, not my orders.”

“Well, I don’t have much to talk about. You’ve got something going for you right now. Me? I’m just a bum still living at her parents’.”

I chuckle. “Hardly a bum. Maybe a bit lost right now, but I have a feeling you’ll find your way again.”

“Yeah. I can always go back to waitressing.”

I snort. “Your dream job.”

“Exactly.” Audrey falls backward, landing next to me. She may be playing it off as lighthearted, but I can see the pain in every word she says. She’d wanted this almost as much as I did, and when she’d been accepted into training shortly after me, she’d been just as giddy as I was.

“You tell Mom and Dad yet?”

“No.” Her tone turns somber. “I’m not sure what to say.”

“They’ll want to go down there themselves.”

“I won’t let them.”

“You can’t hide it from them.”

Audrey shrugs. “I can try for now.”

I frown, knowing that won’t last very long. Audrey, while I love her dearly, has never been someone who can hide her feelings well. “What exactly did Madeline say to you?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not part of The Order anymore, and I guess the entire weight of carrying on tradition is on your shoulders. You always were better with people than I am.”

I snort. “Only because I’ve had you to teach me.”

Audrey’s lips do quirk up at that, and it’s nice to see. “Tell me about these other two. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of orders with four.”

“Actually, you’ll find this amusing. When I went to do my observations the other day, I ghosted into the house—well, the bedroom—because that’s where Colin was.”

“Holy fuck, I think I know where this is going.”

“Right!” My eyes widen. “Hand wrapped around his dick, hips pumping, the whole nine yards. I must have got there right toward the end.”

“What did you do?”

I whimper, embarrassment heating my cheeks. “I went through the wall, which was straight into the bathroom, where I ran right into the other one.”

“Was he…?”

I shake my head. “No, not jerking off, thankfully, but he was completely naked after just showering.”

“All that water dripping down his hot skin.”

I send Audrey a sharp look. “Do you need to get laid or something?”

Audrey shrugs. “It’s been a while. Leave me alone. I think it’s hilarious.”

“You would. You’d probably jump him.”

Audrey’s wicked grin is answer enough.

I roll my eyes. “You’re insane.”

“Nah, I’m just not as tightly wound as you.”

“I do not need to know this.”

Audrey hits me lightly on the arm. “It’s nothing you don’t already know.”

Chuckling, I fight off another yawn. “Audrey, I need to sleep.”

“So go to sleep.”

I snort. “You’re in my bed.”

“Can I just crash here? I’m tired of crying alone.”

“Fine. But I swear if you hog the covers, I’m kicking you out.” We shift around the bed, pulling the blanket up and over our shoulders. “And you have to turn the light off.”

Audrey groans, but she does it without any further complaint. As soon as she’s back in bed with me, I grab her hand and give her a gentle squeeze.

“I’m sorry about what happened with Madeline.”

Audrey sniffles, and I can tell she’s nearly started crying again, but she doesn’t say anything as she burrows under the blankets. I let silence fall over us and let her sit with the moment. I love my sister, but I also know how good she is at avoiding her own emotions when she wants to. Maybe Tyler is a bit like her in that regard. Wyatt definitely is, which brings in a point I hadn’t thought about.

I need to find a way to get Wyatt to open up, and it may not be me. It may be the others who can get him to talk faster than I can. However, given how distanced he is from them, it’s going to take a feat just to get them into the same room, except perhaps Tyler. Maybe he is the key to all of this.

“Steph?”

“What?” I focus on my baby sister.

“Next time I see Madeline, I’m going to yell at her.”

Laughing lightly, I pat Audrey’s hand. “You do that. I’m sure she’ll take it like a champ.”

“She deserves it.”

“She does. How anyone could sack my baby sis I don’t know, but she deserves it.” It doesn’t matter if I agree with what happened or not. I will support Audrey in everything.

We fall into silence, and, before I know it, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open again. Settling into the pillow, I allow them to close with a decision clicking into place. I’ll start with Tyler, help him rebuild the relationship he had with Wyatt and go from there. Everything needs to be centered on getting Wyatt to open up.

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About the Author

Emma Penny

Emma Penny is a millennial living in the US. She often moves and loves experiencing new adventures and letting her mind wander to new possibilities. She currently lives north of Denver, CO and has fallen in love with writing steamier romance. Emma started writing when she was a teenager and has never looked back from the creative side of her life. She particularly loves to explore worlds beyond the believable, worlds that stretch her imagination but still root her in the very real personalities of her characters and their relationships.

Follow Emma on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and find her at her website.


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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Badge + Giveaway

Badge Banner

Badge by Ellen Mint

Book 4 in the Coven of Desire series

Word Count: 80,841
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 305

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
MULTICULTURAL
PARANORMAL
REVERSE HAREM
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

They’ve found her.

Layla’s life is a mess. Thanks to Ink’s big mouth, Cal knows that she knows about the big red wolf, and he is pissed. She can’t find a way to bring Daniel back from death and even worse, Ink seems to think that’s the perfect time to dissolve their bond. Naturally, the second she’s abandoned by her guys, the witch hunters strike.

After yet another argument between his bond and her wolf, Ink’s grown exhausted with their arrangement. He has every intention to break their bond and return to his old hunting ways, until Layla goes missing at the hands of his greatest enemy. If they harm her, he’s on a one-way trip back to hell. Enraged, Ink enlists the help of both wolf and ghost to try and track her down. But the cursed hunters have learned. Anti-demon wards cover every surface of their underground lair. His only hope to save her is by wearing a cloak of mortality.

For the first time in his existence, Ink not only knows pain but the true threat of death.

When Layla arrives in the Witch Hunters’ bureau, Detective Stone comes to her not with a torch, but a job offer. If she doesn’t agree to work with them, then she’ll die. How will she escape from a trap-filled dungeon crammed with already captured monsters? Are her guys hunting for her, or is she truly alone? And why does Stone make her blood boil in all the wrong ways?

If she gets out of this alive, there will be hell to pay.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, and a dream scene including dubious consent.


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Contest ends on June 24th, 2022


Excerpt

Ink

A hand pierced the grave, shattering the witch’s pentagram as it strained for the sky. Lightning crackled through the dark clouds above, the fully emerged arm somehow perfectly lit despite the night around it. While the sorceress cackled in glee, the dirt fell away, revealing a face of ashen pallor with minor skin inflammation and a withered nose.

“Ah, he suffers from the great pox,” I said aloud, and a shushing broke from the blubbery lips beside me. There was no doubt a person was attached to said flopping skin bags, but I could not discern them in the darkness. The air bulged with barely coherent desires, the shadow in the chair beside me wishing only for my death.

A shame, for after two thousand years I had yet to ascertain any way to cause such an end. I began to lean over the divider keeping us separate, when a palm graced my knee.

The chasteness of the touch nearly caused me to chuckle, when my bond whispered, “Watch the movie.”

I folded my arms. Having already dispatched the box of chocolate balls, I had grown bored of this display of flickering images ten minutes in. I tipped my head to her, spotting the blond locks of the wolf to her other side. He seemed to be enraptured with the tinny trite, a full fist of popcorn raised to his mouth. I intended to tell her I’d had my fill, when her eyes darted to me.

Please let me enjoy this.

Her desires did not require my talent of reading through the colored fogs surrounding the gray mass of humanity. I felt her request singing through every nerve and a smile replaced my smirk. Taking her hand, I raised it to my lips and whispered against her knuckles, “As you wish.”

She rubbed my knee once more and left her palm upon my thigh. The greens and purples of the giant screen reflected off her fingers, each digit delicate and also hard as stone. She’d chipped a nail recently, no doubt the damn specter’s doing. I clasped my hand over the back of hers and held tight when a finger jabbed into my shoulder.

The wolf had raised his hand from Layla’s shoulders in order to prod me. “This is the best part,” he said in a harried but exuberant voice.

I jerked my gaze to the grumbling guardian of silence beside me, but it remained resolutely still. I see, so Calvin can speak whenever he wishes, but I must be held to a higher standard. Humans never could wrap their minds around the concept of justice.

Rather than pick a fight, I turned my gaze to the screen. The syphilitic man was moaning, no doubt from the pain he now found in urinating. Around him circled the sorceress, her silver cloak flapping in a wind that did not move the trees in the background. She spoke gibberish Latin and lightning lit up the white sky. In an instant, all of the graves cracked open like elevator doors and people climbed out.

“Is she attempting to build an army of undead?” I scoffed. “No villain worth their salt would waste time with such a foolish plan. You have, at most, three days before rot causes your army to bloat, then explode. Even less in the summer.”

“Will you shut the hell up?” My neighbor greatly disapproved of my logic, even if it was sound. Humans were basically walking candles—one light and the whole of the army would go up in smoke, leaving the sorceress alone and awkward on the battlefield.

“Ink…” Layla leaned closer to me when the man with the pox leaped forward and bit off the sorceress’ nose. As I said, a very foolish endeavor. My smug righteousness only lasted a moment when Layla gasped and clung tight to my leg.

My heartbeat increased with hers, a flush of those endorphins she devoted her study to rushing from her to me. While the undead man crunched on the offscreen sorceress’ body, my bond turned to look at me. Pink tinged the soft tan of her cheeks, the dark depths of her eyes wide in shock.

She glanced to where her nails tried to dig through my flesh and blanched. “Sorry,” Layla said, but before she could retract her hand, I pressed it tighter.

“You need never apologize for that,” I said, catching her chin. I pulled her closer and whispered against her lips, “I am built for your punishment.”

The kiss sent a wave of spicy pink desire through me. It radiated down my tongue, encouraging said nimble organ to toy with Layla’s lip. As I plunged deeper and tasted of her mouth, the desire pulsing from her transformed to a sultry fuchsia. I let my touch land on her shoulder, all manner of horrific undead attacks forgotten. Each traipse of my fingers winding down the ribbons on her blouse toward her breast sent a touch of satiety through me. It was little more than a bite, a nibble really, but the fuel fed my fire.

Layla’s wily hand had found itself trailing up my thigh then retreating. She fought the internal war far too many of my prey carried the mantle for. What I desire versus what society deems proper. Ever at odds, never satisfactory. The whole concept of morality had been invented to keep people anxious, unsatisfied and in search of a cold bath. But within my bond, the electric desire was winning out.

I took her breast in my hand and Layla bit down to silence her moan. That seemed to shatter the mood and she froze, causing my elaborate dance to pause as well. “Ink, we should…”

“Take advantage of the flickering ambience of mutilated corpses in this foreboding dungeon?” I whispered, tucking back her hair and tracing around her ear. She closed her eyes, lost in the simple pleasure of my touch.

Alas, it was my neighbor who once again could not cease to thrust himself into my affairs. “Will you shut your fucking mouth already?”

I scoffed and shook my head. “No. I do not believe I shall, and you are the better for it.”

The man, for his visage grew more evident in the rising light of the screen, folded his hand into a fist. He popped it up as if he intended to knock my teeth out, which only caused me to smile. Whatever nerve he thought to have had fled, and the man rose and abandoned his seat in the back of this darkened theater. As he stomped his feet and cursed under his breath, his shadow cast over the screen, hiding away the funeral march.

“Down in front,” I called to his retreating form.

“Now you’ve done it.” The cursed specter slipped into the vacated seat, proving I was never afforded a moment of peace in this world. He managed to look smug despite being without a body and forced to stand in the aisle.

“What? You think he will challenge me to a duel? Even with two of his sturdiest gentlemen at his side, it will be nothing more than a jumping behind the pub.”

The ghost only stared ahead, not saying a word to me, but his eyes flickered to Layla who was quickly losing the thread of desire. That would not do. I had seen little of her in the past week, though I’d had more than my share of the vagrant ghost we’d acquired. Whenever I would reach for her, either the wolf or the dead man would be there first. Typically, I could work with such a scenario, but the ghost was without form and the wolf…

I sighed, staring askance at the man doing his best to ignore his own animalistic urges and the tenting in his trousers. What everyone needed was to break this tension with a day-long celebration of the joy only three bodies could bring. The ghost could sit and watch for all I cared.

“My bond.” I pulled aside her spirals and breathed heavily in her ear. That sent the heat rolling once more and she clenched her fingers tighter to my thigh. “Why hesitate?”

Her deep eyes opened wide and she stared as if in shock that I could yet read her mind. “I know…” Gently, I dropped my finger to the top of her cleavage.

“What you truly…” I swept it down between her breasts and over her belly.

Where her thighs split, I clutched onto her skirt, and began to raise it. “Desire.”

Layla squirmed in her seat, her eyelids heavy as she succumbed to my logical charisma. I abandoned any prelude of remaining in my seat and turned to press my cock against her thigh. She struggled to fight a gasp and I drew my touch up the hot spread of her underthings. I never needed to test if she was wet, but I quite liked the glide of the proof of my pull and how she flexed to let me in.

As I tugged aside the edge of her panties, I leaned into her ear. “Go on,” I whispered, toying with the succulent lady lip at my finger. “Tug on him.”

The wolf turned, his eyes blazing with a hunger I knew he too was fighting and failing to ignore. For him, it ran either burning red or muted yellow. Tonight, it burned hotter than the flames of Hades. Cal took Layla’s cheek and pulled her in for a kiss just as she reached for the waistband of his jeans…and slipped under. His groan trembled through my hunger, smelling of a feast but failing to satisfy. I paid it barely any heed, Layla’s response to him far more delectable.

Her body burned with a rising tide of desire, and my innocent little flick of the bean wouldn’t do. I abandoned the seats entirely and took a knee to the floor. The wolf was trying to not thrust his hips in his seat even as he rolled a hand over Layla’s breast and panted. Their deep kiss broke and she looked at me in shock.

“What are you doing?”

“I’d think it’d be rather obvious,” I answered. Her heart thundered like a rain of timpani. I wrapped my hands under her thighs, clenched her hips and pulled her to my mouth. The underthings meant nothing to the slip of my tongue or the press of my lips. I licked and sucked around, under and over them, soaking her already drenched panties to total saturation. Layla raised her leg and placed it on my shoulder. As she did, Cal reached over to run his hand over her thigh and lift it higher.

Her hand worked fast under his jeans, bringing the unresolved tension to a proper crescendo. I too felt the swell inside, the only way I knew sex to feel. The slumbering hunger sharpened its fangs, my metaphorical mouth drooling while my literal one supped upon the beautiful woman’s clit. She arched her back, pressing more of herself to me and pulling her head down the chair.

I glanced up a moment, delighted by the response, when I spotted the ghost standing behind watching. No, he was whispering words to her, no doubt ones stolen from better men. But they seemed to be working to bring Layla to a frenzy. I dipped deeper, every pulse of my tongue filling my body with the strength of a dozen men.

When she began to clench, nearing her climax, my first instinct was to stop. Not in pleasuring her—that I could do for days without end. No, I nearly paused in pulling her energy lest I take too much. But that was the joy of taking a witch to bed—there was never an end. Her magic fed me, letting me feast without risking her loss.

“Ink…” Layla whimpered. With one hand, she clung to the wolf’s impressive John Thomas. With the other, she wrenched on my hair, ordering me to finish her off. Gladly.

I dipped back for the last taste that’d fill me to bursting when a bright light blinded me. Blinking against the harsh rays that highlighted the nearly empty theater seats ahead of us, I turned to find a man not yet old enough for a hair on his chin dressed in a crimson uniform with his arms crossed and a glower on.

“Hello, my good man,” I said, rising to my feet. He flinched as I held my hand out to him. “Would you care to join us?”

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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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