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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Excerpt Spotlight: Dragon’s Rogue (Wild Dragons Book One) by Anastasia Wilde + giveaway

Dragon’s Rogue (Wild Dragons Book One)
by Anastasia Wilde
April 29, 2018 
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
ISBN: 978-1717480088
ASIN: B07CND297P
Word Count: 83,000
Cover Artist: Melody Simmons
He’s loved her in his dreams for a hundred years. Now he’s finally found her, and he’ll do anything to make her is own…

The evil Dragon Lord Vyrkos is about to rise from captivity in a devastating volcanic eruption. Only the Greystone brothers can stop him—and only if they find the three women who hold the keys to sealing Vyrkos’ tomb forever.

Blaze McKenna is a witch hiding out from her former coven. After stealing their most powerful artifact to keep them from destroying themselves, she’s been preparing for the day when the coven leader will hunt her down and try to take it back.

A battle that only one of them will walk away from.

So when smoking hot dragon shifter Zane Greystone offers to help her fight the coven in return for her handing over one of the Seals to Vyrkos’ tomb, it sounds like the perfect plan—except for two problems.

She doesn’t know where the Seal is.

And the dragon doesn’t just want her help—he wants her heart, body and soul.

Dragon’s Rogue is the first book in Anastasia Wilde’s epic new trilogy, Wild Dragons. Each book features one couple, hot steamy dragon love, HEA, no cliffhangers!

Rated steamy – contains explicit sex but not erotica



Excerpt
The butler gestured to the terrace doors on the other side of the room. He stepped discreetly back into the hallway, closing the door behind him.

Zane took a deep breath, and then walked between the fluttering sheer curtains out onto the terrace. He caught a glimpse of an expanse of starry sky before he turned to meet the woman whose house he'd broken into the night before. The woman from his dream visions.

“Hello,” he said, extending his hand. “Thank you for meeting me. I—”

That was as far as he got. Two silken ropes twined around his wrists and yanked, as if held by invisible hands. Before he could react, he was suspended a few inches off the ground, his arms spread over his head in a Y-shape.

She’d outsmarted him. He was trapped.

Before he could say a word, Blaze made a swift movement with her hands. His shirt ripped open down the front and spread wide, exposing his heart.

Oh, hell, Zane thought. This can’t be good. She must have recognized him from last night.

And she was clearly holding a grudge.

Blaze walked right up to him, ignoring his struggles, and ran her hands over his chest. The heat from her fingers seemed to strike all the way down into his bones.

His exclamation turned into a murmured exhale. “What the hell are you doing to me?”

“Where’s your tattoo?” she demanded.

“My what?”

He had no idea what she was talking about. ‘Thorne?’ he called mentally to his brother. ‘Little help here? I’m on the terrace outside the study.’ He projected a picture of its location. ‘Come from outside. Cloak yourself. We’re having an issue with the lovely Ms. McKenna.’

His brother replied, ‘Saw you leave. Already on my way.’

“Your coven tattoo. Where is it?” Blaze jerked her hand back, walked around behind him, and magically ripped the back of his shirt and jacket as well. He shivered at the sudden touch of the night air on his bare skin.

Or maybe it was her making him shiver.

He felt her fingers on his left shoulder blade, and sucked in his breath involuntarily. Just that small contact sent electricity shooting through his body.

She thought he was a sorcerer. An evil one, if the way he was hanging from his wrists like laundry on a clothesline was anything to go by.

“I’m not in a coven,” he told her.

She came around to face him again. “You must be. You’re too powerful to be solo, and I felt power in the others, too. Stop lying.”

There was a sudden gust of wind, and Zane felt Thorne’s dragon presence just above the terrace. Then his brother shifted mid-air, uncloaked and landed on the terrace behind Blaze, in human form.

‘Watch out, bro.’ he cautioned silently. ‘She has a spell—’

Too late.

The minute Thorne’s feet hit the balcony, more silken ropes sprang to life and he was strung up the same way Zane was. Blaze whipped around and tore Thorne’s shirt open with her magic.

Damn. Beautiful witch: 2, Dragons: 0

Not the heroic first impression he’d intended to make.

Blaze backed up, looking from one to the other. “All right,” she said. “No tattoos, no coven. So spill it. Who are you people, why were you after my artifact, and how much pain do I have to put you through to get it back?”

About the Author: FB-Twitter
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Anastasia Wilde lives in the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest, where sexy shifters may or may not be found hiding among the tall, ancient trees. She loves to write paranormal romances about wild, passionate shifter men and the strong women who are destined to win their hearts. Broken, complicated, devoted, protective—love heals their wounds and smooths their rough edges (but not too much!). When not writing, Anastasia enjoys traveling, nomming on any food involving bacon or melty cheese (ideally both), adding to her magical crystal collection, or relaxing with a glass of wine, watching the sun set behind the mountains.


Tour Giveaway 

1 Kindle Fire 7 (US only) 
1 $15 Amazon gift card 

1 set of ebook copies of my Silverlake Shifter series: Fugitive Mate, White Wolf Mate, and Tiger Mate 

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Author Beth Woodward: My Night in Greensboro’s Most Haunted Hotel + giveaway

Felt Up by a Dead Prostitute: My Night in Greensboro’s Most Haunted Hotel 

One of the more common questions I get as a writer of fantasy and paranormal is, “Do you actually believe in this stuff?” I consider myself a hopeful skeptic. I don’t really believe, but I’m willing to be convinced. After all, nothing really strange had ever happened to me…

That is until I got felt up by a dead prostitute two nights before my wedding.
 

My husband and I got married outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, several hundred miles from our Washington, DC, home. When we were visiting our wedding venue months earlier, we’d gone on a ghost tour of Greensboro, and we learned about the Biltmore Hotel—the most haunted hotel in Greensboro.

There are, according to our ghost tour, two well-known resident ghosts at the Biltmore Hotel. One is an accountant named Phillip who was strangled to death with piano wire before being thrown out a window, and has an affinity for inappropriate behavior with the female guests. (Even murder and death wasn’t enough to kill Phillip’s libido.) The other is a prostitute named Lydia who was thrown down the stairs by a drunken customer.

Upon hearing this, my future husband immediately turned to me and said, “We have to stay there next time we’re here.”

Yeah. Because staying in a poltergeisted hotel is exactly what you want to do two days before your wedding.

But stay there we did. I put my foot down at Pervy Phillip. So we ended up in room 223—Lydia’s room.

When we checked in, the clerk looked at us through her owlish glasses. “Oh, you’re staying in Lydia’s room. Well, there’s a few things you need to know first.”

Among these tidbits:
· Always speak nicely to and about Lydia. Apparently, being nice to Lydia is the difference between whether your experience is more Casper or Poltergeist.

· She really likes pink things, and she’s been known to move or steal pink items belonging to guests. But never fear, she said—the hotel has painted the entire room pink, which seems to have assuaged her pink-o-philia. (The only pink item I had on me were my glasses. Since I am effectively blind without glasses or contact lenses, I really hoped Lydia would choose not to steal them.)

· The door to room 223 is the only door in the hotel that won’t stay open. But if we ask nicely, Lydia will keep the door open for you. (The door, in fact, would not stay open. Sadly, we did not test whether asking Lydia for assistance would change that. I think we both would have felt a little ridiculous if we’d tried. Unless it had worked…)

· Housekeeping staff often finds long, red hair in the sink and tub—even when no one has been staying in the room. (Since I was, in fact, a long-haired redhead, I assured her that if hair was found the next morning, it was much more likely to belong to me than any noncorporeal entity. She looked skeptical.)

· Oh, and don’t worry too much if you hear loud thumping noises coming from outside the room. Poor Lydia met her demise on the staircase right outside the room, so sometimes you’ll hear the echoes of it at night. (Grrrreeeeat.)

With all that in mind, my soon-to-be husband and I went to our room. The scariest part of the journey, much to my fiancé’s disappointment, was the elevator ride to the second floor. The Biltmore Hotel added one of the very first unmanned electric elevators in Greensboro in 1920. I’m fairly certain that it was the very same elevator we rode to the 2nd floor that night in 2016. It was old, it was rickety, and it was terrifying. It was one of those old cage elevators, which I had never seen in real life before, but it looked something like this:


But thankfully, my fiancé and I made to our (very pink, possibly haunted) room unscathed. It had been a long day, so we quickly retreated to bed—without saying goodnight to Lydia.

I had drifted into that liminal state between sleep and wakefulness when I felt something on my shoulder.

Tap, tap, tap…

Being the intrepid ghost hunter that I was, my mind immediately drifted to the obvious solution: that my fiancé had grown amorous and wanted a little pre-wedding quickie. But one glance over my shoulder verified that my fiancé was fast asleep. So I chalked it up to an overactive imagination, and closed my eyes again.

Tap, tap, tap…

This time, I couldn’t open my eyes. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t pull myself back to full wakefulness, and my mind remained foggy and sleep-drunk. And then it—whatever it was—became more insistent.

Shake, shake, shake…

If I just moved, just turned on the light, I knew the phantasm would go away. But in that not-quite-dreaming place, my limbs felt like they were covered in quicksand.

Shake shakeshake shakeshakeshake…

And then somewhere, somehow, my brain kicked in. Be nice to Lydia, and she’ll be nice to you, the clerk had said. So I took a breath and said, “Lydia, would you please stop? I have to go to my wedding rehearsal tomorrow, and I need to sleep.”

And it stopped.

And then I took another breath. “Also, please don’t steal my glasses.”

The next morning we checked out of the hotel, and the day clerk asked if we had “experienced” anything in Lydia’s room the night before. My fiancé piped up immediately, “No, nothing at all. It’s too bad.” But the clerk slid his eyes to me, as if knowing my answer might be different. “I might have been dreaming, but…” and I told him everything. I don’t know what I experienced that night, but one thing was clear: every employee at the Biltmore Hotel believes the place is haunted.

Fast forward. My fiancé and I had the wedding of our dreams, with no poltergeists to be found, and our honeymoon hotel rooms seemed thankfully un-haunted.

My glasses remained, thankfully, unmolested.



Embracing the Demon (Dale Highland Book 2)
by Beth Woodward
June 19, 2018
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: California Coldblood Books
ISBN: 978-1945572845
ASIN: B07D788DVM
Number of pages: 360
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Leonard Philbrick
Dale Highland never wanted to be a demon…but now she may be the only one who can save them all…

Dale Highland never wanted to be a demon, never wanted to go back to the supernatural world, but now she has no choice.

A militant anti-supernatural group called the Zeta Coalition is trying to kill Dale, and a mysterious illness ravages angels and demons throughout the world. As the death toll rises, and the Zetas get closer and closer to Dale, she starts to realize the two things are connected.

To save them all, Dale will have to team up with John Goodwin, the man she once loved. The man who destroyed her.

But by the time Dale and John figure out the Zetas’ real intentions, it may be too late…



Excerpt:
He wore a gray suit with a dark shirt and a blue tie that fit him so perfectly I knew it must have been custom made for him. His dark blond hair had been combed and gelled into submission. Normally, it stood up in random spikes around his head—not as a stylistic choice, but because he had the tendency to run his fingers through it nervously until it went in about 14 different directions.

Until that moment, I hadn’t been convinced he’d survived the fall off the roof of Amara’s estate. Every night in my dreams, I stared at his broken body, tears running down my face. I wasn’t sure why I cried: because I had killed him, or because he had destroyed me.

But here was John, very much alive, looking like the fantasy of some billionaire boss about to have hot monkey sex with his secretary on the desk. He didn’t look like the John I remembered, who’d spent most of our time together wearing blood-covered t-shirts. Which one was the real John, I wondered, the suave businessman or the urban warrior? And then I noticed the pin on his lapel: a flaming angel that matched the ones on the others’ pendants. John had declared his allegiance, and it wasn’t to me.

“My apologies for the mess,” he said. “Ephraim, Leah, please clean that up. Make sure you dispose of the body well. I don’t want him coming back to haunt us one of these days.” A man and a woman jumped out of their seats and scooped up the body, leaving just a puddle of blood behind. Guess they’d be getting that later.

John turned to the rest of the group. “Let’s not forget why we’re here. This illness is already devastating our community, and it’s getting worse. The Zeta Coalition created it with the intent of wiping out supernaturals—angels and demons. And if we can’t cooperate, they will succeed.”

“She’s the daughter of our worst enemy!” someone shouted.

“Amara is dead. And Dale is not Amara.” He paused. “Covington is right. We need more information if we’re going to survive this, and Dale is our best hope of gaining access to their records containment facility.”

“What about taking an army and storming the compound, like we talked about a few weeks ago?” someone asked.

To my surprise, it was Tina who answered. “The compound is too heavily fortified, and its underground architecture would make it difficult to strong-arm. We’ve run the scenario many times, accounting for the different variables. The most likely outcome is that we’d end up trapped down there while the Zetas pick us off.”

“There must be another way,” a woman said.

“Maybe, but this is the best way,” John replied. “We all know Dale can do things that no one else can. Her return may have been a coincidence, but we should use that to our advantage.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything yet,” I managed to get out through gritted teeth.


About the Author:
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Beth Woodward has always had a love for the dark, the mysterious, and all things macabre. She blames her mother for this one: while other kids were watching cartoons, Beth and her mother were watching Unsolved Mysteries together every week. She was doomed from the beginning. At 12, she discovered the wonders of science fiction and fantasy when she read A Wrinkle in Time, which remains the most influential book of her life. Growing up, she was Meg Murray with a dash of Oscar the Grouch. She’s been writing fiction since she was six years old; as a cantankerous kid whose family moved often, the fictional characters she created became her friends. As an adult, she’s slightly more well adjusted, but she still withdraws into her head more often than is probably healthy.

When she’s not writing, Beth volunteers at her local animal shelter, attends as many sci-fi/fantasy conventions as she can, and travels as much as time and money will allow. She lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband and their three cats.


Tour Giveaway 
3 copies of The Demon Within (the first book in the Dale Highland series), available for US shipping only. 

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book Review: Portraits of the Forsaken (The Gateway Trackers Book 4) By: E.E. Holmes

Portraits of the Forsaken (The Gateway Trackers Book 4)
by E.E. Holmes
May 22, 2018
309 pages
Publisher: Lily Faire Publishing
Pages: 309
Deep in the heart of old London town, spirits are drawn to the tempting lure of a lie...

As Jess Ballard is struggling to adjust to her new life in London without Finn Carey to watch over her, she has thrown herself into her role as a Tracker, using her gift to communicate with and help as many spirits as she can. But just as she begins to settle into a new city, the city reveals a mystery too intriguing—and dangerous—to ignore.

Something sinister is drawing restless spirits to a tiny old museum, luring them with a promise of salvation it cannot deliver upon. Meanwhile, Durupinen are being brutally attacked, and their gifts are being twisted with a Casting too terrible to comprehend. Can Jess discover the connection between the two mysteries before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim?

Portraits of the Forsaken is the much anticipated fourth installment in E.E. Holmes' paranormal series The Gateway Trackers.

Jess is now living in London and without Finn. She’s trying to not spend every waking moment thinking about him, but that’s easier said than done. Hannah is busy with her seat on the council, Milo has his hands full with the release of his new clothing line and Tia has moved to London and his attending medical school while trying to mend her broken heart as well.

Always an exciting storyline with a side of snark, Holmes fourth book in the Trackers series is fantastic. New threats emerge, while the foundation of the final installment in the series is laid. There were a few plots along the way that I would have liked to hear a little more about or have tied up, but I do believe that a few of them will make it to the next book.

About the Author:
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E.E. Holmes grew up near Boston, Massachusetts, where she spent the majority of her childhood reading books. She read them almost constantly, and as a result, perfected the art of walking and reading at the same time, a skill she can still perform to this day with remarkably few instances of falling on her face. She also wrote many books and poems in blank books and on the backs of legal pads her father brought home from the office. They remain some of her finest work.

E.E. Holmes lives in central Massachusetts with her husband, two children, and small, but surprisingly loud dog. When not writing, she enjoys watching unhealthy amounts of British television, procrastinating, and rediscovering her favorite books from her childhood all over again with her kids. Her next project is Spirit Ascendancy: Book 3 of the Gateway Trilogy, due for release in November of 2015.

Excerpt Spotlight: Dethroned (An Inimical Prequel Novella) by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge


Dethroned (An Inimical Prequel Novella)
by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
June 19, 2018
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: 
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
For eighteen-year-old Rouen Rivoche, being a fairy princess isn’t about fancy parties and happily ever afters.

Rouen’s people are the dark Fae whose powers of lightning, thundersnow, and all things Winter make them cold, severe, and 100% intolerant of rebellion.

Too bad being a rebel is in Rouen’s blood.

Against tradition, she’s teamed up with Syl Skye, the sleeper-princess of the fair Fae—a mortal enemy who Rouen should want to kill but only wants to kiss. Plus, to be with Syl, Rouen’s masquerading as a glam goth-rock star and human high school student. Honestly, Rouen doesn’t think things could get any more complicated.

Then, she discovers she must become Queen of the Winter Court or all her people will die. No pressure.

Now, dark forces are amassing in the Winter Court, turning Rouen’s people against her and blocking her path to the throne. Even Syl with all her powers of white flame and Summer can’t stop this new kind of evil.

Because betrayal cuts close when it’s someone you love… and now it looks like Rouen’s going to be dethroned before she ever becomes queen.



EXCERPT:
Chapter One
Rouen
There’s nowhere I belong
No home, no hearth
No sing, no song
A princess with no kingdom to rule
– “Nowhere I Belong” – Euphoria

It’s December 24, Christmas Eve in the mortal realm, and you know what that means.

Only fifty-four days to go. Fifty-four days until the Lunar New Year.

Until I take my rightful place as Queen of the dark Fae.

No more being Rouen, princess-assassin and rebel. Once Father steps down—and he said he would—I’ll take his place.

Half of me, my dark self, says he’s lying through his fangs again. But the other half of me remembers the father-before, the man he was before our realm was crippled by our mortal enemies, the fair Fae. That man taught me to fight, to tap into the Winter in my royal blood and hear the wintry nightsong running through our Dark Faerie realm like a secret language.

The Adamant King. He was a good father and a great king—powerful but even-tempered, severe but just.

That’s the man I could trust. That man would keep his word to make me queen.

Even though there’s never been a dark Fae queen. Ever.

I’ll be the first. I can’t wait to rule, to do whatever I want, to be with whoever I want.

In fifty-four days.

But who’s counting?

“Not you,” Syl murmurs sleepily as we lie on the beat-up couch in the dressing room of our local club/hangout, the Nanci Raygun. It’s a snug room wallpapered with faded band flyers and covered in peeling spray paint art. The best thing is the comfy couch that’s ideal for snuggling with your girlfriend.

“Nope. Not me.” I kiss the top of Syl’s red curls. She knows me too well.

Just like I’m the princess of the dark Fae, Syl’s the princess of the fair Fae.

We’re complete opposites. I’m everything Winter—storms and squalls and brutal cold, unyielding ice and thundersnow. My Syl is the epitome of Summer and sun and brightness, with the power to purify dark magic with her white flame.

We met when I tried to kill her.

Technically, we’re mortal enemies. Winter. Summer. You get the picture.

Long story short, I tried to assassinate her. Not my finest moment, but I was controlled by Circuit Fae black-magic—a Moribund infection that stole my will and forced me to hunt her down when she was a mere mortal. Sleeper-princess that she is, though, she Awakened to the fair Fae power inside her.

Hoo-boy, did she give me a hard time. I loved it. Still do.

Syl snuggles in closer. Her nearness sends a spike of warmth shooting through me. She leans her head on my shoulder. “Is it time for your gig yet?”

Ancestors, I hope not. I’d rather lie on this couch with her forever. Lazily, I look past the Euphoria fliers plastered all over the dressing room and check the faded Blue Bee Cider clock on the wall. Almost 11 p.m. “Ten minutes.”

Ten minutes till I step onstage and take on the Euphoria half of my mortal guise. The other half is a seventeen-year-old high school junior, but this is more my style—local legend and goth rockstar violinist. Thanks to my powerful Glamoury, only Syl, her mom, and a few kids at Richmond Elite High have put the Rouen-Euphoria connection together. Otherwise, the human paparazzi would have a heyday with us.

As it is, they mostly leave us alone. Good thing, too, since tonight, I want some peace.

Tonight’s special.

In a little bit, Syl will be headed off on her own. Her task is less glamorous, but far more important. She has to leave to grab our Christmas Eve dinner.

I’ve never had a proper Christmas Eve dinner. It’s a mortal thing and very different from my people’s Dark Yule celebrations (which involve a lot of mayhem and destruction), and I’m looking forward to it.

Syl turns her face into my shoulder and says something like, mumble, mumble, don’t wanna, mumble, mumble, cold outside, mumble.

So. Adorable. I kiss the top of her head, inhaling the heady scent of sunshine and vanilla. My sweet fair Fae princess.

I’d do anything to protect her.


About the Author:
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Raised by witches and dragons in the northern wilds, GIE writes angsty urban fantasy YA romance--where girls who are mortal enemies kick butt, take names, and fall in love against all odds.

She enjoys long hikes in the woods (where better to find the fair folk?), believing in fairies (in fact, she's clapping right now), dancing with dark elves (always wear your best shoes), being a self-rescuing princess (hello, black belt!), and writing diverse books about teenage girls finding love, romance, and their own inner power.

She might be planning high tea at the Fae Court right now.

GIE is multi-published, and in her role as an editor has helped hundreds of authors make their dream of being published a reality.

Monday, June 18, 2018

New Release: Not Her Gargoyle by Annie Nicholas + giveaway


Not Her Gargoyle
by Annie Nicholas
publication date: June 18, 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Ruby is done with jerks, dead-end jobs, and eviction notices. Everyone else she knows is finding ways out of this crappy neighborhood, so why can’t she? Since opportunities refuse to fall from the sky, Ruby makes her own. To hell with the little voice in her heart whispering about love. She never met a man she wanted to keep…then she met a gargoyle. Men were boring after all.

Nick was a con, a thief, and a rogue. He couldn’t keep a dime in his pocket even if it was glued. Then he met a ruby. Not one from the earth but one of flesh and blood. And ass. Let’s not forget the ass. Stealing her heart was now all he wanted.

He has a plan that could make both their dreams come true. It only involves an itsy-bitsy risk. All they must do is rob a witch.

Oh, and avoid the dragons.

Grab your copy for only 99¢ during release week only!

EXCERPT:
A distant dragon roar made Nick miss a wing beat. He swirled out of control for a second and caught his balance. One of them was close and he bet it was Eoin. Masquerading as a human would help Nick avoid recapture. He increased his speed, heading back to the apartment.

Landing on Ruby’s fire escape, he found the window cracked open for him. He smiled at the small gesture of kindness. She was one of the sweetest women. He recalled how fiercely she’d protected her sister from the vampire and himself when they had invaded the apartment. That felt like forever ago. She had been ready to fight them both. Brave and beautiful and kind.

Once more he wondered why she didn’t have a mate.

Nick climbed inside and found her on the couch, feet propped on the coffee table as she watched the evening news. Three empty bottles of beer sat next to the couch.

“Honey, I’m home,” he sang out. He’d always wanted to say that.

She gave him a huge grin and waved him over. “Come sit with me.”

The couch seemed too small for the two of them so he sat on the floor in front of her instead, leaning his back against it.

“Look.” She pointed to the television. “More gargoyles.”

His brothers were on the evening news, flying over the city’s port. “Yeah, I know them.” The dragon would hear about this if he wasn’t already watching. Nick hoped his brothers would lie quiet for a few days so Eoin wouldn’t blast them from the skies.

Ruby draped herself over his shoulders and handed him a beer, rubbing her face on his skin. “You’re very warm.” She snuggled closer between his wings, her arms lazily circling his neck from behind. “Can you shoot flames like the dragons?”

He snorted and took a sip of beer. “No. Are you drunk?” He eyed the bottles. There were only three. Then again, she was much smaller than a gargoyle. Maybe three was all it took.

“Nah, but I’m feeling good.” She sighed and seemed to melt against him. “I had an awful day.”

He reached behind and scratched her scalp with the tips of his claws like he would any family member in distress. He knew from experience that it felt good. He’d had a bad day too. Touching her made him feel better.

She moaned in his ear and it sent shivers down his spine. She bent over his shoulder more, giving him better access to her head. “That feels great.”

He undid the pins holding her hair and allowed it to cascade over his chest before continuing to massage her scalp. “What happened?” She felt so soft and tiny. Delicate like an angel. A brief whiff of her sweet smell and he struggled with the urge to bury his nose into her hair.

“What do you mean?” Her voice was muffled against his skin. Sleepy.

“Why was today so awful?”

“My boss sold the diner. I might be unemployed soon and my landlord is pressuring for rent.”

Nick finished his beer, absentmindedly scratching Ruby’s head. Stalking her boss until he changed his mind on selling the diner would probably end up with the police being called. Killing him was not Nick’s style. “Who’s the new owner?” He moved his hands to her shoulders and gently massaged the knots. Maybe they could be convinced to keep Ruby as an employee.

“The right side is worse than the left. Oh God, right there. Don’t stop.”

Those breathless pleas made him shudder. His wings reflexively expanded. She was setting off instinctual triggers. He breathed through the strong urge to carry her away somewhere dark and secluded. Teach her a thing or two about gargoyle anatomy. The desire to show her exactly how good he was at making women scream grew. The good kind of scream. Not the bad kind. Well, he could make them do that, too.

“I don’t know about the diner. I imagine I’ll meet them soon. My boss says that my job is secure—”

“That’s good news.” He ran long strands of red hair under his nose. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply. So, he didn’t have to beat anyone.

“It is, but it’s also a lie. I’ve been through this before. The shifters are trying to clean up this area. They are building shifter oriented neighborhoods close to here and investors are gobbling up every available building.”

“They are planning to make this neighborhood nicer?” That meant safer. Shifters were territorial and the majority responsible citizens. Any criminals in the area would be smart to move. He scratched his chin. Most shifters didn’t care for his kind.

“Nicer means more expensive. It means my landlord can increase the rent, which means I’m going to have to move just like everyone else.”

This wasn’t the Ruby he remembered. She seemed deflated draped over his body in defeat. “But you could find a better job at one of these new businesses.”

“That’s if I can find a job. The last place I worked was a biker bar. The new owners renovated the place, it became an after-work lounge for hipsters. Then I was fired because I didn’t fit their expectations as a bartender.”







About the Author:
Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romance with a twist. She has courted vampires, hunted with shifters, and slain a dragon's ego all with the might of her pen. Riding the wind of her imagination, she travels beyond the restraints of reality and shares them with anyone wanting to read her stories. Mother, daughter, and wife are some of the other hats she wears while hiking through the hills and dales of her adopted state of Vermont.

Annie writes for Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, and Lyrical Press.