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Friday, August 7, 2020

PNR Author Efthalia: Ewe won't believe this... + giveaway

Ewe won’t believe this… A few years ago, I was attending the Romance Writers of Australia Conference and needed shoes, because we always need new shoes. So, I found a pair that was comfy and decided to buy them in two different colors. That evening when hubby came home and was unwinding on the couch, I put on one of each color, then came out and asked him what he thought of the my new acquisition. He took one look at my shoe clad feet then looked up at me, “Couldn’t you have at least bought them in the same color?”

I was on the floor laughing. When I managed to control the laughter, I told him that I bought two pairs of the same shoes in different colors. Mind you I had said that I bought two pairs of shoes before I said, “I’ll show you my new shoes.” For fun I wrote to New Idea, a women’s magazine in Australia that has a section for funny stories. I won $25 for that entry. It was just one of those moments.

PHANTASIA: A Bad Day On Olympus (Phi Athanatoi Series Book Two)
by Efthalia
May 19, 2020
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
ISBN: 978-0648785422 (print)
ISBN: 9780648785408 (e-book)
Number of pages: 327
Cover Artist: Lee Hyat
She’s following Zeus’ orders. He’s struggling to protect her. Is love their biggest weakness or their best hope for saving the world?

Torn apart by separate missions, can their love survive an impending apocalypse?

Demigod ex-cop Carissa Alkippes is hellbent on clearing her father’s name. But when she’s sidetracked into saving Zeus’ life, she’s forced into a dangerous mission to locate missing deities. To find them, she must face a horde of bloodthirsty demons.

Xen Lyson shouldn’t dwell on Carissa when he’s supposed to be stopping demons from feasting on humanity. But the sexy vampire worries her solitary journey to Olympus will put her in grave danger. And with absent gods causing devastating natural disasters, he must trust her father, Ares, to keep her safe.

With every mortal sphere at risk, Carissa races to retrieve a magical codex believed to hold the key to defeating her enemy. And when Xen discovers the true source of the threat, saving both humans and gods will put his own immortality in jeopardy.

In between battling Titans, gods, missing keys, and baklava can Carissa and Xen summon the power to conquer the sinister foe and return to each other’s arms?

Xen’s personal gymnasium had been designed to take the brunt of rough exercise. His Phi Athanatoi, a warrior group of vampires and werewolves who protected mankind, usually trained there. Tonight, though, this space belonged to Carissa and her father - Ares. She rubbed her ass for the twentieth time, the exact number of times she’d been thrown in their kung fu practice. Each time she hit the mat like a piece of tangled spaghetti. Her father had appeared when they returned from her visit with her yiayia. Perfect timing or coincidence? She couldn’t decide. She had yet to fill in her father on what she had discussed with Yiayia. It would have to wait until after they finished his so-called test of her ability to fight and use her power of compulsion. Yes, she had power but she had no idea how to control it.

“Focus, kori mou.” Ares brushed a few sweaty locks from his forehead.

“It’s a little tough to do that if you are in the air every minute.” She pushed up to her elbows from her current starfish landing. Her energy would be depleted soon; her fuel gauge pointed to empty.

“Your mind controls the power.” Ares held out his hand. Her fingers closed around his. A flow of energy danced between them. Recognition. Daughter to Father.

“I thought you said when you returned, we’d be paying Olympus a visit.”

“I need to know that you can call forth your power in a crisis situation.” He pulled her up to her feet. “You’ll be walking into the lion’s den. All they will see is a tasty morsel.”

“How is tossing me around like pasta training me?”

“Now, use your power of compulsion.” His hands darted to her neck, “Stop me.” He commanded, his fingers tightening, tightening, tightening around her throat.

Time froze, expanded, flipped to a moment in a warehouse where a demon had his claws around her throat. Her life’s essence slowly extinguishing. Death had been close. Now it was her father’s hold that choked her.

She spotted Kane, Xen’s trusted right-hand man and wolf, holding Xen back. A roar cracked and vibrated through the air. She had to summon her power.

Her gaze collided with her father’s. In the depth of his chocolate-colored eyes, she saw flares of fire. Fire spiked and tingled through her body. Somewhere in a deep chamber of her mind, she took control. “Release me.” The words a soft command.

His grip loosened, his hands falling away.

She coughed to stabilize her breathing. The air around her shifted, and Xen had her in his arms before she could swallow her next bit of air.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t pierce my xiphos through your heart, Ares?”

“Relax, vampire. I wasn’t going to harm my daughter.”

“Your practice sessions leave my woman battered and bruised every time.” Xen inspected Carissa’s throat. “I’ve been patient enough with all your methods. It ends here. There will be no more.”

“Xen, it’s okay. I’m okay.” Carissa tried to defuse the argument between god and immortal before it got messy.

“My daughter is right. If you weren’t in such a fit of rage, you would have seen that she compelled me to stop with a whisper.

“Whether she stopped you or not, that was going too far.” He removed his hands from around Carissa and closed the distance to Ares in two strides.

Carissa watched the nose to nose scene in slow-mo. She could see only one outcome in this - Xen hurt.

About the Author:
Efthalia lives in Sydney, Australia.
Her passion for writing was cultivated by the stories her mother told her as a child. At school she often day-dreamt of exciting new worlds where the heroine had super-powers and would save the day. Her teachers told her on a regular basis to stop making up her own words. That flaw is now her super-power. Making up words, characters and worlds is all part of fiction writing and something she loves doing.
Tour Giveaway 

3 e-book copies 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Excerpt: The Patience of a Deadman by Michael Clark + giveaway

Welcome to the blog tour for chilling novel, The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark. Today we have an excerpt for you, and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway! Read on, if you dare! 

The Patience of a Deadman 
by Michael Clark
April 15, 2019
Genre: Horror/ Paranormal *Author has described it as more "chilling than gory."
390 pages

He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.

Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?

CHAPTER ONE: Henry’s Demise
November 29th, 1965

The sun was low in the sky on another perfect New Hampshire day. Henry Smith had just washed and brushed his favorite horse just inside the old red barn. The workday was over until something caught his eye…something out beyond the pond, way out in the field. He walked toward the front of the house and stood there for a few seconds, scanning the tree line where he thought he might have seen her.

It had looked to Henry like the woman they would see from time to time at the corner of the property, cutting across the field into the woods. The closest neighbors were more than a mile away. Henry knew them, and this woman did not look familiar.

The truth was there was no explanation why the woman made frequent appearances way out here for the past few years. All of the neighbors had their own meadows full of wild grapes and blueberries, not to mention pumpkins. Why come here? Then he got to thinking: It was time to select the annual Christmas tree. Why not kill two birds with one stone? He went back to the barn, grabbed the hatchet and set off down the front lawn past the stone wall and headed toward the far left corner of the field. One hundred yards later, he turned left into the forest.

He had known about the overgrown grove since they bought the place, but he was still enamored by it. If this grove had been tended to over the years, I’d have my tree already. I’d just chop it down, and after a relatively short drag back to the house, I’d be done.

The grove started about thirty yards into the wild forest, fully on Smith property. The Christmas trees gone wild had become towering spruce and of course, too far gone for holiday use. They were all at least forty feet tall, more or less, and grew in perfect symmetrical rows. In and around the grove in odd spots however, were random wild spruce that could pass for Christmas trees if you looked hard enough.

Henry made his way through the first few yards of the wild forest, and as always, all at once, the grove opened up in front of his eyes. He was fond of this place. It was hidden, and then it was in your face. And if you were here, it was yours and yours alone for the moment, like being lost in the hallways of an empty mansion. He angled his path to cut through the many rows, moving diagonally and to the right, deeper into the woods. Where’d she go?

He passed more rows than planned, and before he knew it, he could see the man-made symmetry coming to an end at the border of the congested wild forest. More and more rogue trees had claimed odd spots here-- a near-even mixture of man and nature. The forest floor here wasn’t just spruce needles like the rest of the grove; leaves from all sorts of trees had drifted in over the years, leaving piles of natural mulch.

The briars were thick, and behind them, undisturbed forest. Nestled inside the briars and brush were two high mounds of leaves that had collected for decades. They seemed artificially high as if they covered something. At first, Henry thought it might be a section of stone wall, but the stone wall in this forest also happened to be the property line, and he was sure he was still a ways from that.

As he closed in, he realized the two piles were each nearly waist-high. A section of gray stone peered out from under twisting vines that had caught years of falling leaves, revealing something several shades lighter than anything naturally occurring.

Gravestones, he recognized. Thirty-one years living here and I didn’t know… He looked down at his hatchet, wishing it was a pair of pruning shears. The briars proved well prepared to protect their long-held secret, but Henry’s curiosity was powerful. He forged ahead, hacking and flattening the bases of the sharp plants so that getting back out wouldn’t be the same battle it was going in.

As soon as he broke through the last of the thorns, he put down the hatchet, dropped to his knees and began to clear the dead leaves and ivy. The stones were crooked from years of heaving frosts but remained steady as he worked. There was a large one on the left and a smaller one on the right.

There was so much moss they were illegible. Concentrating on the left one, Henry scraped gently at the space he estimated the epitaph would be. After three or four moments of gentle effort, he had cleared the top two engraved lines. The first, in smaller letters, read: “Here lies.” The second line, where the person’s name should appear, was taller than the first--but he couldn’t quite make out the inscription.

Then, a twig snapped. Henry looked around, attempting to focus in the dark; it must be her; time to meet the stranger. He looked back, down the near-perfect aisle of spruce. It was all shadows and night had finally fallen. He squinted and took off his glasses, trying to catch a better glance.

She stood there in the dark--the mystery woman in the long dress. All he could make out was her silhouette; her pale white hands were holding what might be a bouquet, and her hair was pinned up, worn away from her neck. It was as unkempt as the woods behind her, strands and bunches pushing out in odd directions.

And there was a smell.

There are many unpleasant odors on a farm, but Henry recognized this as the smell of something unmistakably dead. Like the time a mouse died inside the wall of their bedroom. It was decay, and it was coming from her.

About the Author:
Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba. The Patience of a Dead Man, Dead Woman Scorned & Anger is an Acid are his first three novels. 

To win print copies of the entire trilogy (US Only), or a print copy of The Patience of a Dead Man (International).

Blog Tour Organized By:

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Book Review: Balthazar’s Bane (Gaslamp Gothic, #6) by Kat Ross + giveaway

Balthazar’s Bane (Gaslamp Gothic, #6)by Kat Ross
July 31st 2020
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Retelling
A bungled murder.
A ridiculous quest.

And a hero with extremely dodgy credentials.

Christmas 1889. Count Balthazar Jozsef Habsburg-Koháry tries to lead a simple life.

Oh, he enjoys a few hobbies.

Collecting ancient Egyptian artifacts. Hunting necromancers with a wire garrote. Impersonating dead Hungarian nobility. Seducing an endless string of women who never suspect the price of the count’s attentions.

But considering what Balthazar used to be like, these pursuits are harmless. And surely he deserves a reward for assassinating the elusive necromancer John Mortlake in the middle of Cairo’s teeming bazaar. What could be better than a holiday cruise up the Nile with his secretary Lucas Devereaux?

There’s just one thing that might ruin his mood.

If, for example, someone stole the talisman that’s kept him alive for two thousand years.

That would really suck.

Unfortunately for Balthazar, he just killed the wrong necromancer – one with a vengeful daughter and huge debts to some very shady djinn. To get his mojo back, he and Lucas must find a legendary sword and liberate a desert kingdom of magical misfits. For centuries, the people of Al Miraj have sought a valiant champion willing to face the wrath of the arch demon Fulad-zereh!

What they get is Balthazar.

But the gods always did like a good joke.

Kat Ross continues to utterly impress with everything she writes. I’m currently deeply invested in both her Gaslamp Gothic and Lingua Magika series. Balthazar’s Bane, the sixth installment in Gaslamp Gothic, entranced me from start to finish. I understand Balthazar is a character featured in another of Ross’s series, however, I was best acquainted with him in Dead Ringer (Gaslamp Gothic #5)

Count Balthazar Jozef Habsburg-Koháry is a counterfeit count with a Dorian Gray-esque ability to retain his youth. Befitting Balthazar’s appetites, he siphons life essence from his sexual partners during their climax via a powerful talisman. When a mysterious woman seduces the seducer and absconds with the talisman, a chain of events forces Balthazar and his long-suffering secretary Lucas Devereaux to travel to the mythical desert kingdom Al Miraj. Balthazar becomes the kingdom’s reluctant champion in a battle against a powerful demon holding a centuries-long grudge. 

Balthazar’s Bane is a delightful adventure story with plenty of action and intrigue. The setting and scope of the story are deeply imaginative and descriptive. Balthazar is a likable antihero whose questionable choices lead to questionable paths. His charm, however, is irresistible. The peripheral characters wonderfully support Balthazar in his quest. There is something for every reader in this epic tale. What I adore about this series is Ross’s adept ability to shift perspective from book to book. She lets characters and storylines simmer while treating readers to a whole set of figures and adventures. This grants an enjoyable, rare richness to the series. I eagerly anticipate the next installment in Gaslamp Gothic.

Five Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
5 ebook copies of the Gaslamp Gothic Box Set (which contains the first 5 books) 

Book Review: Calistos (Guardians of Hades Series Book 5) by Felicity Heaton + giveaway

Calistos (Guardians of Hades Paranormal Romance Series Book 5)
by Felicity Heaton
July 28, 2020
425 pages
Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Air, Calistos was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai. Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. 

Tormented by the death of his twin sister, Calistos wants nothing more than to find a way to save her soul, but the pain of continuing without her, the constant feeling that he got her killed, is slowly pulling him down into the darkness and he knows it’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to the call of the abyss.

Until a battle sets him on a collision course with a kind-hearted and beautiful mortal, one who rouses softer emotions he had sworn he would never risk feeling again, threatening to peel away his mask of playfulness and shatter the barriers around his heart.

Marinda is a woman on a mission—to become a great cellist and repay her father for his faith in her. But her regimented and studious life is thrown into chaos when a handsome man is carted into the ER where she works and takes her hostage, pulling her into a dark and dangerous world… one where she discovers there’s more to her than meets the eye and her entire life has been a lie.

When the enemy makes a play for Marinda and the gates, will Calistos find the strength to let someone into his heart again and look to the future, or will the pain of his past lead him to unleash hell on this world?

Based in Greek mythology, Felicity Heaton’s Guardians of Hades series follows the seven sons of Hades as they work against a prophecy. The sons have been banished from the underworld and stationed around earth. Each son is tasked with protecting a different mystical gate to the underworld from a force threatening to destroy both earth and the underworld.

Book five is the story of the youngest brother Calistos. Early in the series, Calistos was portrayed as an easy-going guy/god with long haired surfer boy appeal. In recent installments, readers have come to realize Calistos harbours some deep scars beneath his carefree façade. Throughout his 700+-year lifetime, Calistos has avoided meaningful connection in favour of a string of meaningless tumbles. This all changes upon Calistos’ fateful meeting with Marinda, a music student on the verge of realizing her own otherworldly powers.

My interest in this series stalled slightly with the last installment, Marek. I’m happy to say, however, Calistos renewed my interest in the series. I enjoyed the structure of Calistos with its focus on plot and character building. While it was clear throughout that Calistos and Marinda are fated to be together, their relationship builds with a slow burn I found incredibly satisfying. This book has all the hallmarks of HEA paranormal romance and this series relies on those formulaic elements. Heaton’s work is well-crafted with strong female characters, riveting action sequences, and descriptions of steamy romance.

Throughout Calistos, readers are teased by the inevitably explosive outcome of the series. We definitely have the sense the series is winding down. There are three intriguing storylines brewing in the background involving Calindria, Hades’ supposed long-dead only daughter, Daimon, the literal frosty son, and Keras, the oldest brother and leader of the group. I suspect Heaton is leaving some of the series’ best material for its finale.

Both Daimon and Keras are slated for fall 2020 release.

Four Sheep

Bianca Greenwood
“What did you just say?” The soft female voice invaded Calistos’s foggy mind, stirring the shadows until a glimmer of light peeked through like a warming ray of sunshine.

He focused on it, attempting to bring his senses back online as his entire body throbbed, a deep ache that warned him he had been badly injured and was still recovering.

“I don’t think so!” Her French accent lent a hard edge to that refusal.

Who was she talking to? What didn’t she want to do?

“I helped him.” She sounded fearful now, but angry too. “You asked me to help him… and I didn’t ask to be brought here.”

Another voice rumbled in his ears, this one a black snarl, and he struggled to make out what they were saying.

A second female joined the conversation, her tone gentle, whisper-soft. “The waters of the Lethe will not hurt you, child.”

The Lethe?

Cal growled as he was hurled back through time, memories flittering past him at high speed until he landed on the banks of that turbulent river, faced with a choice.

Drink the waters and forget her, or live with the constant pain in his heart.

“I don’t want to forget.” The French woman’s voice dropped low, the pain that laced each trembling word cutting through him.

He hadn’t wanted to forget either. He never wanted to forget.

He wanted to remember everything. He wanted to remember his sister. He wanted to remember what had happened to her. To him. He wanted to remember the face of the one who had tormented, tortured and murdered her.

But he never could.

In the vision building around him in the darkness of his mind, the river bubbling before him shifted colour and changed course, the waters receding to form a single sphere that then rose up before him. It dropped into a silver goblet, cupped in a delicate pale hand.

Mnemosyne offered it to him.

The water of memory.

Great pain rolled through him and he eased away a step, stumbled and fell on his back before her cell in the towering prison of Tartarus. Because the water offered only misery, only more pain when it failed to work. Not again. He would never drink it again.

“Drink the water.” Hades’s voice boomed like thunder rolling across the land, shattering the memory to leave only darkness behind.

Fear washed through Calistos. Fear that didn’t feel as if it was his own.

“You can’t make me.” That sweet voice lacked conviction as it shook.

He growled as he realised what was happening, as it all came flooding back in a torrent of images. Waking in a bright room. Finding himself surrounded by mortals. The agony. The fiery pain. The sudden explosion of energy inside him.

And then her.

A beauty who had looked as if she had stepped right out of Ancient Greece with her spun gold hair twisted into a braid across the top of her head and her warm blue-green eyes as inviting as the Aegean waters.

A snarl tore from his lips as he recalled seizing her, threatening her to defend himself against the other mortals, as he remembered trying to speak to her and how fiercely he had needed to keep her with him.

So fiercely he had apparently brought her with him to the Underworld.

“No,” he bit out, voice a hoarse scrape in his ears as he tried to move. He needed to stop his father. She was right and she had done nothing wrong. Gentle hands grasped his shoulders to hold him down, her touch light and offering comfort that he stole, strength that he absorbed as he gathered all that he could, preparing for a fight he would never win in his current condition. “No.”

When those tender hands attempted to keep him pinned, he brushed them away, as gently as he could manage as rage slowly built in his veins, roused by the thought of his father forcing the waters of the Lethe upon the mortal female who had helped him.

“Leave her.” Cal manoeuvred onto his elbows and managed to find the strength to crack his eyes open. They were sore, gritty and dry, his vision blurred. The room was a mash of fuzzy colours dominated by black. He blinked rapidly to clear his eyes and bring everything into focus. “I’ll take her back.”

“You will.” Hades stared him down from the end of the bed, his red eyes bright in the low light, stark against the long black lashes that framed them and his pale complexion. Obsidian spikes rose from his raven hair, a crown that suited the god-king of the Underworld, one meant to intimidate his enemies. “Once she has tasted the waters.”

Hades revealed the slender violet glass vial with a flourish, cupping it in the black claws of his left gauntlet. His father had come dressed for war.

Cal glanced at the golden-haired beauty where she stood off to his left, close to his mother, her soiled white shirt and grey pencil skirt so out of place in this dark ancient realm.

She wasn’t a threat to his father, or this world. Hades was overreacting. She was mortal.

He could feel it in her, was deeply aware of it and what he had done, how he had placed the fragile female in danger.

“Just let me take her back.” He tried to sit up, but his strength failed him and he gritted his teeth as pain blazed through him. He sank back against his elbows.

For a heartbeat, concern surfaced in his father’s eyes.

And then they hardened again.

“She must drink the waters.”

“I don’t have to do anything,” the woman snapped, fire in her eyes that swiftly abated when Hades shifted his gaze to her. She shrank back and wrapped her arms around herself, her slender dirty fingers tugging at her soiled white shirt near her elbows.

She looked small like that. Vulnerable.

It roused a dark need inside him.

Cal wanted to fight in her corner and convince his father that she wouldn’t tell anyone what she had seen, that no one would believe her if she did, but deep inside he knew his father was only doing what was necessary to protect his realm and his people.

Persephone looked to Hades and then to him, concern softening her green eyes as they met his.

He pulled down a deep breath and then nodded, hating himself for consenting to this when every fibre of his being wanted him to fight his father on it. He didn’t want her to suffer as he did, forgetting things that happened to her, left to wonder what she couldn’t remember when she inevitably felt as if she had forgotten something.

He only felt worse when his father held the vial out to him. He shook his head. He couldn’t be the one to do it and his father had to see that. He had to see the guilt and shame that was building inside him, a swirling tempest that felt as if it was ripping him apart as he waited. Hades curled a lip at the woman and turned towards her, his crimson cloak swirling around his ankles as he came to face her.

Darkness reigned in his father’s eyes as they burned scarlet, rage that flowed into the room from him and drove Calistos to act, because he wasn’t sure his father wouldn’t hurt her if he had to do the deed himself.

Persephone moved before Cal could muster the strength to intervene, gliding towards Hades and gently lifting her hand as she reached him, closing it over the vial.

“Allow me, my love.” She carefully took the violet glass bottle from him, brushing her fingers along his as she did so, a soothing caress that worked its magic on his father and had the rage in his eyes ebbing away again.

Cal deserved his father’s fury for bringing this mortal into his world, and for returning when he had been banished to the human world to defend the gates to the Underworld, protecting them from a calamity the Moirai had foreseen centuries ago.

This woman was an innocent, caught up in this because of him, because he was as reckless as his family believed him to be.

More reckless in fact.

If they knew the things he did, they would lock him away in Esher’s cage to keep him safe.

Persephone tipped the vial upside down and back again, pulled the stopper from it and held it out to the woman. “Only a drop. It will not hurt you and you can return to your world, to where you belong.”

The blonde looked as if she wanted to say something as she gazed into Persephone’s eyes, and as those tranquil blue-green orbs shifted to him, but then she nodded.

Opened her mouth.

Accepted the drop his mother placed on her tongue.

She closed her rosy lips, shut her eyes and swayed, a frown flickering on her brow.

When she opened her eyes again, they were dull and unfocused. She stared straight ahead of her, at his mother, a blank expression on her face.

“You have a few minutes to return her to her world before the waters take full effect.” Persephone handed the vial back to Hades, who curled sharp claws around it and levelled a black look on him, one that warned Cal that he wanted to speak with him about what he had done, and it wouldn’t be a pleasant conversation. His mother eased towards Cal and touched his arm, offered a smile that shone with love, and mischief. “I suggest you go now. Time is of the essence.”

It was. She was giving him an out, a chance to run before his father could explode at him over what he had done, and he was going to take it.

He let her help him from the bed, his strength returning as he shuffled towards the woman with her assistance. When he reached the blonde, he seized her arm, focused and muttered the words to activate the favour mark that Hermes had bestowed upon him at his birth. Blue light shone from the ancient writing on his right forearm and he focused on where he wanted to be as he looked at the woman. A portal shimmered into being just behind her, rippling like water as it expanded to fill a space large enough for both of them to pass through.

“Calistos,” Hades started.

Cal shoved her through and followed her, grimaced as they landed in the damp parking lot of a hospital. His father was either going to summon him to chew him out, or send a Messenger to do it for him.

Either way he would deal with it. He was well aware of the massive cock up he had made, and he deserved the wrath his father was going to level at him.

He looked at the woman, taking in her dull eyes and how she stared off into the distance, completely unaware of the world around her. Vulnerable.

He released her arm and lifted his hand, brushed rogue honey strands back into the plait that curved over the top of her head, and feathered his fingers down her cheek. She didn’t react.

“Sorry,” he murmured, the apology tasting hollow on his tongue, not nearly enough to make up for what he had put her through. He couldn’t imagine how frightened she had been—of him, of the world he had taken her to, and of his father.

He should have stood up for her. He cursed low as he stroked her cheek, as she continued to stare straight ahead of her, across the busy car park. He was weak right now, still recovering from his injuries, but he should have defended her.

Protected her.

He looked down at himself, at the bandages and dressings that covered his healing wounds, and at the crimson and black that stained her clothing—his blood and daemon blood. She had helped him, and he should have helped her. She had been afraid, and he had allowed his father to go ahead and wipe her memory.

He should have fought.

Esher had fought their father, had gone against him and had gotten what he wanted.

Cal’s courage had failed him.

Or maybe he just wasn’t as insane as his older brother.

His phone vibrated in his pocket. He grimaced. No guesses needed to know who it would be and why they were messaging him.

He pulled his phone out, slowly, guilt fusing with anxiety inside him, a sickening sense of anticipation that set him on edge. He turned the screen towards him and grimaced again as he spotted his oldest brother’s name at the top of a very short message. Keras was pissed.

The message was three words.

Meeting. Tokyo. Now!

Apparently, his father had sent a Messenger as predicted, only he had sent it to his brothers.

The worst part about having six older brothers? Having seven mothers. It wasn’t as if there were centuries between them. Hell, there was less than forty years between him and Daimon, the second youngest. Cal was over seven hundred and sixty years old. Didn’t stop them from treating him like a kid though.

They were overprotective and overbearing.

Had been ever since they had lost his twin sister.

Pain struck across his skull like lightning and he flinched and rubbed his forehead, cursed low as that agony spread through him, condensing in his chest. He held himself together through sheer will alone, breathed through the pain and the fear, reaching for the other side. The pain slowly passed, the impending sense of doom lifting with it.

He hated that he couldn’t even think about Calindria without fear of blacking out. He wanted to remember her, needed to remember the good times, because right now he was on the verge of stepping off into the darkness and he knew he wouldn’t come back.

The abyss beckoned.

Offered oblivion and an end to his pain. His suffering.

The only hope he had left in this world was the hope that through death he might be able to see her again.

The woman beside him murmured something. He stared at her, silently apologising again for everything he had done, and how she was going to feel when she came around, her memories of him stolen from her.

Would she feel as lost as he did whenever he blacked out and couldn’t remember anything? Would she hate that feeling as much as he did?

He hated that he had inflicted it upon her.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered again, lingering now, unable to bring himself to part from her while she looked so lost, so vulnerable.

He forced himself to take a step back and break contact with her.

Her stunning eyes gradually gained awareness.

Calistos stepped, a term he and his brothers used for teleporting, leaving her before she noticed him. Darkness embraced him, a cool and comforting touch as he passed through his connection to the Underworld to emerge on the other side of the planet in Tokyo.

He had barely touched down in the elegant formal garden of the ancient Japanese mansion before Ares, his second eldest brother, was collaring him. His brother’s hand briefly closed around the back of his neck, the scalding heat of it warning him that Ares wasn’t happy. It worked in Cal’s favour.

Ares’s power over fire had manifested when they had been banished to the mortal world, meaning his brother couldn’t touch anything without risking setting it aflame, especially when he was in a bad mood.

Which was around ninety percent of the time.

The only one who was apparently immune to his power was Megan, his wife, a Carrier who had inherited the power to heal from her ancient Hellspawn ancestry.

“Move it. You’ve got some fucking explaining to do.” Ares moved up behind him, a wall of heat that had Cal moving towards the wooden porch of the Edo period single-storey building despite the fact he wanted to run in the opposite direction.

Mostly because in his current mood, Ares wouldn’t be allowed into it. Esher would see to that. Esher protected the mansion that was his home as fiercely as he protected his family.

“Shit, man, you royally fucked up.” Valen greeted him at the door, his violet-haired brother grinning like a fool. The puckered scar tissue that ran down his jaw and neck pulled taut as that grin widened. “Good luck.”

Valen slapped him on the back as Cal kicked his boots off and entered the building, stepping into the long rectangular room that made up the communal area of the mansion.

To his right, Esher sat with Aiko on one of the cream couches in the modern TV area, holding her tucked close to him on his lap, fussing over her. Aiko murmured sweet things to him in stilted English, soothing him, increasing the guilt Cal felt. Apparently, his little trip to the Underworld had reminded his brother of when Aiko had been killed, and how he had fought to bring her soul back to the mortal world.


Esher was on edge enough as it was these days, without Cal adding to his burden. All Esher could think about was hunting the wraith, Eli, one of the ranks of their enemy. It was taking all the power Aiko had over his brother to keep him from losing control and surrendering to that need.

To his other side.

Thankfully, it appeared two of his brothers had found reasons not to attend his trial.

Although he could have lived without Keras being present.

His judge, jury and possible executioner towered before him, his backdrop a beautiful manicured garden of topiary and gravel framed by the white paper panels that had been pushed open to reveal it, an immaculate vision that suited his oldest brother.

As always, Keras wore perfectly pressed black slacks, expensive polished black leather shoes, and a crisp black dress shirt. If his brother had been worried about him at all, it didn’t show in the hard lines of his sculpted features or the sharp edge to his green eyes.

“You want to explain what happened?” Keras said, deep voice as calm and smooth as an ocean on a still day. His brother was just as unpredictable too. He schooled his features well, hid his emotions from everyone, but sometimes, just sometimes, he reacted.

Like when Cal was rubbing him the wrong way, which was pretty much every day.

Cal shrugged. “I don’t remember.”

Keras’s green eyes narrowed. “You don’t remember. How convenient.”

Cal glared at him. That was a low blow. Forgetting things was never convenient for him. He despised that he couldn’t recall what had happened before he had come around on that hospital gurney surrounded by a few too many curious mortals.

“Easy,” Ares murmured from behind him, and Keras levelled a black look on him that warned him to stay out of this.

Cal knew his brothers well enough to know that wasn’t going to happen. Ares would have his own choice words to say to him about what he had done, but he wouldn’t let Keras go too far, or strike low blows meant to wound.

“Try to remember, because our father is… furious.” Keras managed to pick a word that perfectly conveyed what Cal had felt coming from their father.

Probably because Cal could feel it coming from him too.

Cal cocked his right hip, rubbed his jaw with his left hand, ignoring the dull, sore ache in his arm, and pursed his lips. “I met a really hot girl. Bee-u-tiful.”

“Calistos,” Ares said, the warning in his tone aimed at him now. “You know the rules. We all agreed to them. Hellspawn are involved with our enemy, so whenever we go to a gate or it calls us, we go together. Just admit you went to a gate, admit you messed up.”

Hellspawn was the name he and his brothers used for the breeds of daemons that Hades had allowed to remain in the Underworld after the last rebellion, when he had exiled all from the species who had been involved in the uprising and closed the gates to them. Hellspawn were allowed to come and go as they pleased with their father’s consent, travelling through the gates between the Underworld and this one.

Well, almost all the Hellspawn breeds were allowed to travel freely through the gates with Hades’s permission.

Since Keras had sent a Messenger to Hades about the possibility a necromancer was involved with their enemy, Hades had stopped giving permission to that breed, closing the gates to them and trapping them either in the Underworld or the mortal one.

Their father had also dispatched several of his legions to seek out the necromancers and bring them in for questioning, and every god and goddess allied with him was on the look out for them too.

So far, none had turned up.

“I have better things to do than this, so it would be appreciated if you would just fess up,” Valen put in. “I’m no saint, but even I agree that taking backup to the gates is the smart thing to do. The enemy knows we’re the keys to those gates now, and they know the only way to open one is to have us near it, so that means we work as a team. Safety in numbers and all that shit.”

Things had to be bad if Valen was going along with things rather than acting out and playing the rebel.

“Why didn’t you message for backup?” Keras moved a step towards Cal, a casual move but one that sent a cold chill shooting down Cal’s spine.

He preferred a little distance between him and his oldest brother when he was in a mood, and Keras was in a mood. He could see it now, building in his green eyes, a storm looming in the distance but rapidly growing stronger.

The sort Cal loved to unleash on the world.

He didn’t want to answer his brother’s question. To answer it, he would have to attempt to remember. Only pain lay that way.

“There must have been a powerful enemy involved.” Valen moved around him, casting golden eyes over Cal’s bare chest and ruined black combats. “Several of them. You were in bad shape. Father’s Messenger relayed that much.”

Valen placed a hand on Cal’s shoulder, and Cal shrugged it off, because seeing worry in his brother’s eyes was unnerving. He preferred the fuck-you-all brand of Valen. This new, softer version freaked him out.

“Try to remember.”

Cal looked at Keras as he spoke those words, catching in his eyes how much his brother needed him to explain, and therefore at least attempt to remember. Hades hadn’t just sent a Messenger to inform his brothers of what had happened in the Underworld. He had sent a request for information, one Keras needed to fulfil.

Hades wanted to know what had happened.

Their father had been on edge since Keras had sent the Messenger to inform him of their suspicions about a necromancer being involved. Keras had to send regular reports to him now, sometimes more than once a day depending on their father’s mood. Cal could understand why both Keras and their father were so insistent on getting every scrap of information available to them, because anything could be a clue as to who was involved or what the enemy planned to do next.

Cal sucked down a deep breath. He was doing this then. No question about it. His father wanted the details, and as much as it pained Cal, both physically and emotionally, he would do his best to provide them.

“Fine,” he grated and went to the couch that stood with its back to the main area of the room. “At least let me sit down in case I pass out. I’ve had enough knocks for a lifetime tonight.”

He slumped into the seat, leaned back against the soft cushions and closed his eyes, ignoring Esher’s muttered words about dirtying the cream material.

He focused inside of him instead, on the darkness of his mind, conjuring an image of the first thing he remembered on coming around. The white room. The humans. The beauty, staring at him from the doorway, fascination mixed with fear in her striking eyes. He remembered speaking to her.

Cal forced himself to go backwards, denying the need to roll forwards and replay everything that had happened with her. He remembered pain. Incredible pain. Jerky movements. Someone lifting him. The paramedics?

He pushed back further, and gritted his teeth as fire spiderwebbed across his skull, red veins of it that he could almost see as it burned his mind, bringing darkness in its wake. He struggled against it, stretching for the memory that felt just out of reach, hoping this time he would be able to recall it all without the abyss devouring him.

The darkness roared up on him, a towering black wave that threatened oblivion, but he pushed back against it and a faint image flickered in his mind, and a feeling went through him.

He popped his eyes open and let everything go, releasing it in a rush of breath as he sank deeper into the couch.

“Well?” Ares knelt beside him, concern in his dark eyes, his overlong tawny hair mussed and pulled from the leather thong he wore it tied back with. His brother dropped his hand to his black jeans-clad knee. “Did you remember anything?”

Cal nodded.

While he couldn’t recall what had happened to him between fighting a horde of daemons and waking in that hospital room, he could remember a few things.

Like where he had been.

“Seville. I was at the twin gate.” The one that had been bound to his twin sister before he had been forced to seal it shut and close it down, leaving him feeling as if he had lost her all over again. “A lot of daemons showed up. I think I ended up teleporting to get away from them.”

His brothers exchanged sympathetic glances. Would they be so sympathetic if he told them what else he had remembered?

He hadn’t fought back.

In that moment, he had felt so empty, so hollowed out, that he hadn’t been able to bring himself to fight the daemons.

He had wanted to die.

Death wasn’t the answer. Keras was right about that. Dying wouldn’t reunite him with Calindria. To see her again, he needed to find whoever had her soul and discover the location of it. He had to live.

But it was so hard to do that.

The daemons had caught him at a low point, when the pain of closing the gate linked to her had been too raw and too much for him, opening him to the thought of escaping it all by letting oblivion claim him.

Part of him hated that he had sunk this low, that he had craved death, because Keras was right about another thing too.

Calindria wouldn’t want it.

She would want him to live.

He just wasn’t sure he had the strength left in him to do that.

About the Author:
I'm a NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY and International Best-Selling Author writing passionate paranormal romance books and series for adults.

I love to create detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! All of them alpha as you would expect in paranormal romance!

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, my best-selling Her Angel romance series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires, then try the Vampires Realm romance series or any of my stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate, and steamy, then try my Vampire Erotic Theatre romance series. Or if you like hot-blooded alpha heroes who will let nothing stand in the way of them claiming their destined woman, then try the Eternal Mates series. It’s packed with sexy heroes in a world populated by elves, vampires, fae, demons, shifters, and more. If sexy Greek gods with incredible powers battling to save our world and their home in the Underworld are more your thing, then be sure to step into the world of Guardians of Hades.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

National Celebrations in August

Running behind on this! So we missed some good stuff but it is still chocolate chip cookie day!! Check out what's coming up and put it on your calendar.

August 1
Campfire Day
International Hangover Day
National Girlfriends Day
National Mahjong Day
National Mountain Climbing Day
National Mustard Day
National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
Spider-Man Day
National Doll Day
National Psychic Day 

August 2
2-8 (1st Week) International Clown Week
Friendship Day
International Forgiveness Day
National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
Sisters Day
Wes Craven’s Birthday
National Coloring Book Day

August 3
3-9 National Psychic Week
Grab Some Nuts Day
National Watermelon Day

August 4
National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day
U.S. Coast Guard Day

August 5
National Underwear Day
National Oyster Day
Work Like a Dog Day

August 6
National Fresh Breath Day
Wiggle Your Toes Day
M. Night Shyamalan’s Birthday

August 7
International Beer Day
National Lighthouse Day
Professional Speakers Day

August 8
National Clown Day
Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day

August 9
9-15 Weird Contest Week
Book Lover's Day

August 10
Lazy Day
National S'mores Day
Josh Gates’s Birthday 

August 11
Presidential Joke Day
Son and Daughter Day

August 12
Middle Child's Day

August 13
Left Hander's Day
Alfred Hitchcock’s Birthday

August 14
National Creamsicle Day
14/15 V-J Day

August 15
Feast of the Assumption
National Honey Bee Awareness Day
Relaxation Day

August 16
National Tell a Joke Day

August 17
National Thriftshop Day
Black Cat Appreciation Day 

August 18
Bad Poetry Day
World Daffodil Day
Serendipity Day 

August 19
Aviation Day
National Potato Day

August 20
National Radio Day
World Mosquito Day
International Geocaching Day

August 21
National Spumoni Day
Senior Citizen's Day

August 22
Be an Angel Day
National Tooth Fairy Day
Walt Disney released the cartoon “The Skeleton Dance” in 1929 

August 23
Ride the Wind Day
Ed Warren’s Deathiversary 

August 24
Vesuvius Day

August 25
Chinese Valentine's Day/Daughter's Day - 7th day of 7th Lunar Month
Kiss and Make Up Day
National Banana Split Day
National Park Service Day 

August 26
National Dog Day
Women's Equality Day

August 27
Global Forgiveness Day
Just Because Day

August 28
Race Your Mouse Day
Stuffed Green Bell Peppers Day
National Ghostbusters Day

August 29
29-30 International Bat Night
International Bacon Day
More Herbs, Less Salt Day

August 30
Frankenstein Day
Toasted Marshmallow Day
Mary Shelley’s Birthday 
Wes Craven’s Deathiversary 

August 31
National Eat Outside Day
National Trail Mix Day