Saturday, 27 August 2011

Weekly Geeks - Good-Bye to Weekly Geeks

 

A little over two years ago during one of my regular trawl of the net, I came across an amazing site called  Weekly Geeks  filled to the brim with weekly discussions, sometimes challenge and sometimes just plain fun events ..

The wonderful thing about finding this site was that it’s features went up like clockwork on a Saturday – the topics posted were topical, not too elaborative and just the right mix for anyone and everyone to get involved.

Today marks the end – the end of the Weekly Geeks.

Wendy one of the regular contributor to the Weekly Geek has written up a lovely goodbye piece as the final post on the Weekly Geeks site, Please jump on over and have a read..

Most of the readers to this blog have only heard of the weekly Geeks through my posting, over the past six months or so – they have gotten less and less and this is about regular for most of the participants of the event..  what can I say – life happened..

During my time participation in the WG, I have been challenged,  I have laughed, I have cried, I have even had some run ins with the darker side of the inter-net - from piracy to copyrights issues – but through it all the Geekers have been a solid force behind me and so my whole experience with the Weekly Geek has been a great learning curve..

I am sad to see it go but I understand why….

Some of my favourite post are

The O C R - Overly Critical Reader

Do you have shiny book Syndrome

Are you a hoarder

(Post Amazing Book Depression) P.A.B.D.

Why Haven't I Read This Yet?

Here is the link to all my Weekly Geeks posts - HERE

One super good news that we learned recently is that Weekly Geeks was nominated for the BBAW Best Meme award for this year.

What a way to bow out..

I will miss you old friend.

Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.
-W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965) -

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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Excerpt Day - Lost Between © Shawn Lane

Excerpt

 

 

 

...On the way to the Glenn Forest apartments that afternoon, Robbie convinced himself once again that whatever was going on wasn’t Aaron’s ghost. Ghosts, spirits, whatever, didn’t share bodies with living beings. And the reason was there wasn’t any such thing. Likely Curtis Macintyre was a nut job.

 

He hadn’t gone straight over there after his last hair appointment. He’d first gone home to check the Internet and find everything he could on Curtis Macintyre. There didn’t seem to be any indication the guy was in the middle of a breakdown. And according to the picture on the man’s website, the guy he’d had lunch with really was the famous horror writer.

 

Robbie considered the possibility this was tied into Macintyre’s latest novel he might be working on. Maybe he wanted to write a ghost possession story. Maybe he’d even rented that apartment, Aaron’s old one, with that in mind. It was cruel to use Aaron’s murder and Robbie’s love for Aaron, but it had been Robbie’s experience lots of people were cruel. No reason a famous writer would be any different.

 

After arming himself with two fresh containers of pepper spray tucked into his bag, Robbie left his apartment and headed to the Glenn Forest apartments. Of course, he first left a message with his friend, Iggy, as to exactly where he’d be. Just in case. With a nut job you couldn’t be too careful.

 

Robbie parked, ignored the old elevator cage, probably original to the building, and walked up the stairs to Aaron’s old apartment. Blowing out a breath, he rapped on the door.

 

The door opened within seconds, like Curtis waited on the other side.

 

“Robbie.”

 

And suddenly he was pulled into strong, muscular arms and squeezed tight. He closed his eyes as the familiar scent of Aaron washed over him. It was mixed with Macintyre’s, but there was no mistaking Aaron’s spicy cologne, the scent of his skin, the feel of his arms. It was like five years ago, before the murder.

 

Robbie’s arms wrapped around the other man, unable to resist the pull of Aaron. Time disappeared. He leaned his head on those broad shoulders and closed his eyes. A hand tilted his head a little to expose his throat and lips trailed over his pulse there. Robbie gasped, his cock hardening with a will of its own. This couldn’t be real, yet he was lost, powerless to stop his body’s response, his mind’s response.

 

Hands were everywhere, caressing his arms, his chest, lowering to grab his ass. Robbie moaned, his own hands moving over the solid body holding him. Lips took possession of his. Robbie moaned and opened his mouth, allowing the intrusion of a warm tongue.

 

He should not be practically crawling up the body of a stranger, although it wouldn’t be the first time he had casual sex after just meeting someone. But this wasn’t the same in any way. And Robbie didn’t know how he should be acting.

 

Gasping, Robbie broke the kiss and stared into the eyes of Curtis Macintyre. But yet…so much of Aaron lingered. He could swear the eyes looking back at him were Aaron’s...

 

©Shawn Lane

 

Lost Between

Author:  Shawn Lane

Publisher: Amber Allure

Genre: GLBT

Buy Link

Famous horror author Curtis Macintyre has recently rented an apartment in an historical building in San Francisco. But the apartment comes with more than just old charm. It also comes with the spirit of Aaron Carmichael, a man murdered five years before.

After Curtis visits a medium, Aaron’s spirit comes to him and asks for his help in finding peace since he’s lost between two worlds, the living and the afterlife. When Curtis decides to visit Aaron’s boyfriend, Robbie Henley, a beautiful hairdresser, Aaron comes along...inside Curtis.

Now with Robbie’s help, it’s up to Curtis to find out what happened to Aaron so he can finally have peace. And maybe, together, Curtis and Robbie can find their own happily ever after...

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Excerpt Day - She-Wolf © Elizabeth Morgan

Excerpt

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

~~ Owen ~~

 

"Well, this is fucking original, Karl," I said.

 

There were Rogues in my territory, and here I was, on some shitty back street in Inverness, surrounded by closed-down shops and flickering streetlights, watching four drunken men trying to make up their minds about going into a damn strip club.

 

We stopped on the corner.

 

"That dump?" Robert looked at Karl, then back at the club's façade. "Are you serious?"

 

"Classy joint, this here." Karl protested.

 

The neon lights of "The Lollypop Stop" blazed at the end of the dark secluded street. I had heard of the strip club, but never personally been inside. I had never needed to. I had never needed to pay a woman to take her clothes off for me.

 

"You've had too much to fucking drink, laddie." I grunted as I looked down the deserted street.

 

"Don't tell me you're a prude?" Martin laughed, hooking his right arm around my shoulders.

 

"No, not Mr. MacLaren. Ladies' man and number one charmer." Luke tried to joke, but I didn't miss the hint of envy mixed with the playful tone of his voice.

 

Stag nights . . . I had been to three in total and all had been for fellow Pack brothers. Since our metabolisms were high, we burned alcohol off too damn quick—meaning we never got the full effect. Sadly, we have never been able to go out, get shit-faced, and have what you would call a typical guys' night out. So, this was my first proper stag night, as well as my first human one.

 

If my father . . . my Alpha hadn't demanded I take the night off and let one of the others patrol, I would have continued searching for the bastards who were fucking about in our territory. The night was going okay so far. Robert had become a decent friend since I'd started working at the school, and at least being out in the open meant I could keep a look-out for our Rogues.

 

"Am I fucking a prude? I just think it's cruel to dangle temptation in front of a nearly married man." I shrugged Martin's arm away.

 

"But that's exactly the reason we're here, man. Rob can never touch another woman, ever again. Never look at one, in case the missus is watching, and all those fine pieces of ass out there, say bye, bye, Rob." Karl wobbled over to Robert and clasped his shoulders. "You will be fucking the same woman for the rest of your damn life."

 

"Says the married man and father of three," I said.

 

Karl grimaced at me. "What the fuck do you know, MacLaren?"

 

"I know that if you find the right woman, then it doesn't matter if you don't get to fuck another woman for the rest of your life."

 

"Says the man who screws a different woman every month."

 

I grinned. "Aye, but I ain't found the right woman yet."

 

He mumbled a curse and looked back at Robert. "What d'ya say? One last look-see before you enter the last legal form of slavery?"

 

Unlike these three pricks, Robert was a decent man, but like most men, hearing marriage phrased in such a way seemed to set off some idiotic "last night of freedom" bell.

 

Robert's gaze slid to me.

 

I already knew what he wanted to do. It's a strip club, for fuck sake.

 

I shrugged. "Your stag night, man. Do what you want."

 

Robert nodded. "All right, strip club it is."

 

The lads cheered like rowdy high school boys and made their way down the street.

 

I liked women. Fucking loved them, but I still respected them, their bodies, and as hard as it was for these pricks to understand, I think that once you've found the one, going to a club just to get a hard-on from seeing a fair amount of tits and ass . . . it just didn't make any fucking sense.

 

Guess that makes me a traditionalist.

 

The bouncers moved aside and let us through the main doors. The smell of cheap liquor and perfume hit me in the face as I stepped into the stuffy entrance. Stains marked the wooden floor, and peeling posters of half-naked women covered almost all the red walls.

 

Yeah sure, real classy joint.

 

I watched as Karl and Martin staggered up to the pay booth, where a woman with fake blonde hair sat behind the thick plastic windowscreen and filed her nails.

 

"Fifteen pounds entry, gentlemen," she stated.

 

"Fifteen quid?" Karl grunted as he rummaged through his wallet. "Each?"

 

"For a brilliant show, sir, worth every penny." She smiled.

 

"For fifteen quid I should hope fu-uckin' so." Karl hiccupped.

 

"For fuck sake"—I grabbed a twenty from my wallet—"This was your idea, Karl."

 

"I know."

 

I pushed between them and slid the note through the slot in the screen.

 

"Just through there, sir." She nodded to a set of red doors on my left and slid a fiver toward me.

 

"Thank you, darlin'." I gave her a smile and walked over to the entrance. "Better be quick, boys, you don't know what you'll miss."

 

I pushed the doors open and made my way down the dimly lit stairway. The steady thump of popular music grew louder as I went lower, the sound of male approval joining it. I heard the others shuffling after me as I pushed a second set of doors open and stepped into a large room.

 

Every light gave off a soft red glow, the red fitted bulbs clearly just another cheap attempt to make the establishment seem more seductive. The place was half-full and stunk of smoke and sweat, plus a lot of other things I didn't want to think about. The bar lined the wall to my right and the large, square main stage stuck out from the back wall. The beat in the current song pulsed along the concrete floor and rippled up my legs. My gaze settled on the two female strippers on either side of the stage. I watched as they slid up and down their brass poles; a fine sheen of sweat coated their skin as their bodies swayed under the hot spotlight.

 

"Fucking beautiful," Martin said as he stopped beside me.

 

"This is more like it." Karl nudged Robert. "How about I-I pay for a lap dance for you Rob?"

 

"I said I'd come in and watch the show, not let some woman paw me to death," Robert said.

 

"Michelle has really got your dick whipped, ain't she?" Martin laughed.

 

"Shut the fuck up Martin," I grunted, studying the room.

 

Small, black, circular tables filled the floor; men crowded around almost every one. And every male in the room had their stares fixed firmly on the two naked women before them.

 

So this is why I never step into a strip club? Because sad men come here, trying to get themselves some thrills? Fucking pathetic.

 

"Okay, lads, what will it be, the cage or the stage?" Martin clapped his hands eagerly.

 

I looked over to my left and saw a single, medium-sized cage sitting against the wall. A near-naked woman inside it danced slowly. The female's legs were long and lean as she rubbed against the black iron bars, allowing one of the males to slip a fiver into her g-string.

 

"Stage, stage, definitely the stage." Karl sang, pushing Robert to a free table.

 

"I'll get this round." I made my way across the floor. I wove between the pulled-out chairs, then stopped at the right end of the bar and caught the barman's attention. "Five beers." I pulled a twenty from my wallet.

 

The scent of lavender and feminine sweat suddenly tickled my nose. "Hey, handsome." A soft voice purred into my left ear. "Can I interest you in a dance?"

 

"I'm afraid I don't dance," I said, offering the female a smile.

 

"My name's Diane." She placed her hand on my left shoulder and pushed her breasts against my arm. "And don't worry, baby, you wouldn't have to move a muscle. I'd do all the work."

 

I turned my head and looked down into her almond-shaped, caramel eyes. Her thin red lips morphed into a sultry grin as her hand began playfully stroking my arm.

 

"How about it?" she said. Her red, curled hair rested over her right shoulder, giving me a perfect view of her voluptuous breasts, which sat so temptingly in her crimson dress.

 

"That's fifteen pounds, pal," the bartender said.

 

"Sounds deliciously tempting," I told her as I handed my money to the bartender. "But I'm afraid I will have to pass."

 

She pouted slightly. "Are you sure, honey? I would be real nice to you."

 

"Oh, I'm sure you would be, sugar, but the answer is still no." I grabbed the five bottles of beer, and gave her a smile. "I promise, if I change my mind, you'll be the first to know."

 

"I better be." She winked and walked over to one of the tables.

 

Karl had snatched a table situated slap-bang front, and center of the stage.

 

Naturally.

 

I walked over to the table and put down the beers.

 

"What about you, Owen?" Luke reached over and grabbed one of the bottles. "You want a lap dance?"

 

I turned the red, padded chair around and straddled it, leaning my chest against the back. "Sorry, Luke, you ain't my type." I grinned and picked up a beer.

 

"Ha. Ha. Funny. You're a dick, have I ever told you that?"

 

"Every damn day," I said, then took a mouthful of beer.

 

"And here I was thinking you liked blondes." Robert nudged my right arm.

 

"Aye, I like naturals. Luke ain't a natural."

 

Luke shot me the middle finger.

 

"Plus he has a temper."

 

Martin pushed a menu toward me. "Just in case you change your mind, MacLaren."

 

I picked it up and scanned the prices of private dances. "Fifty pounds upwards"—I snorted—"I doubt any of 'em dance that well." I tossed the menu in the middle of the table. "Luke?"

 

"What?"

 

"How much do you charge?"

 

He grinned at me. "I'm way out of your fucking price range, mate."

 

I laughed, resting my elbows on the back of the chair, and turned my attention to the stage.

 

The music ended. The two women grabbed their clothes and headed backstage, hips swinging, as five and ten-pound notes hung out over the edge of their thongs.

 

"Give it up for Jenny and Jean, our tantalizing duo," said an invisible male, his voice gruff as it echoed throughout the club.

 

"Christ, they've got a voice-over." I laughed.

 

"Oh aye, this is a real classy joint." Luke knocked back his beer.

 

"Better than some places," Karl said.

 

"And now, gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the newest Lollypop."

 

"Oh sweet Jesus." I stifled my amusement with another swig of beer.

 

"The feral goddess with the wildest moves. The one, and the only, She-Wolf."

 

"This should be interesting." Martin grinned; his right arm hung over the back of his chair as he made himself comfortable.

 

A familiar guitar riff began leaking through the speakers as the stage lights turned from hot white to dusky blue. The drum beat kicked in and I realized it was the intro to a song from my favorite band.

 

"Least she's got good taste in music." I murmured to no one in particular as I rolled the neck of my beer bottle between my hands.

 

The red velvet curtains pulled back and the verse started. A black iron chair slid along the stage, and then stopped, perfectly, in the middle. The female strolled out of the shadows, one long leg in front ofthe other, and casually smoked her cigarette. She was dressed in a large black hoodie, dark denim hot pants, and black leather knee-high boots.

 

An odd prickling sensation danced down my spine, and caused me to shiver.

 

"Weird fucking costume for a stripper," Martin said.

 

Her long black hair was tied in a high ponytail. Black and silver eye shadow framed her eyes, the blended shades bold against her smooth, pale skin.

 

Smoke began dancing along the floor as she stopped before the chair. At the sound of the singer's voice, she flicked her cigarette to the side and stretched both her arms above her head. She bent forward slowly until she pressed her hands flat on the stage.

 

"What is this shit? Fucking keep fit?" Martin grunted.

 

"Take your fucking clothes off," Karl shouted.

 

She pulled herself up slowly, and as the guitars kicked in, her body swayed to the right and she fell straight into a spin, which seemed to last forever.

 

"Looks like the stripper knows ballet," Robert said.

 

"Fuck the stripper." Luke laughed. "How d'ya know that's ballet she's doing?"

 

"My little sister has studied it for years," Robert said, his focus glued to the stage.

 

The stripper dropped into the splits. After a moment, she brought around her right leg from behind to join her left, and then fell backward. She pushed herself off the floor, then jumped up and landed on her feet. A wicked grin curled the corners of her mouth as she slowly pulled the zip of her hoodie down, and exposed creamy, pale flesh.

 

The familiar scent of wild flowers suddenly wrapped around me; my stomach automatically tensed.

 

The stripper's hips began to sway as she shrugged off the hoodie and let it fall. The curve of her waist, and the sight of her supple breasts in her black lace bra, made my mouth dry instantly. I knocked back the rest of my beer, hoping like hell it would help my sudden thirst.

 

The pale blue light caught the shimmer of her glitter-dusted skin as she brought up her right arm, then placed her hand behind her head.

 

"Great breasts," Luke said.

 

"That's what I'm fucking talking about." Karl leaned forward, and banged his fists on the table. He threw back his head and howled.

 

She made a slow turn as she loosened her ponytail and shook her head; her hair streamed down her back like a glossy black waterfall. She finished her spin. Her focus landed on me, and the air caught in my throat. My Wolf stirred.

 

Clare.

 

Her body went rigid; her sultry gaze hardened as she stared at me.

 

Clare Walker. I'd know those moonlit eyes anywhere.

 

She ran and grabbed hold of the stage right pole.Her feet left the floor as she wrapped her legs around the brass and spun.

 

What in god's name is she doing working in a fucking strip club?

 

Her feet hit the floor, the pole between her perfect thighs. She pulled herself up, rubbing herself up and down the warm brass.

 

Every muscle in my body tensed.

 

She swung round and pressed her back against the pole. Her hands traveled down her breasts, then her stomach, then stopped at the waist of her hot pants.

 

My jeans suddenly felt too tight, and the sound of my heartbeat drowned out the loud music.

 

She slid her hot pants slowly down her thighs and. . . .

 

The neck of the beer bottle broke in my hands.

 

"You okay?" Robert looked at the bottle.

 

I let my gaze slip down to the broken glass and grunted. "Oops."

 

I put the shards on the table, and turned my attention back to Clare. She crouched before a group of men pushed up against the stage. Fire licked through my veins as I watched them slip notes into her cleavage and the band of her panties, their fingers purposely skimming across her milky flesh. The sight caused a low growl to break from my throat.

 

I felt my Wolf begin to pace; the urge to beat the shit out of them and protect her overwhelmed me. I didn't want any other man to touch her, let alone look at her, and the sudden realization scared the hell out of me.

 

I watched her carefully as she stood and danced away from them. Every move she made was graceful; each step seemed to have a meaning. Touched by the fake moonlight, her body shimmered with sweat and sparkling body dust. The need to run my fingers and tongue over every inch of her flesh hammered my loins. She looked exotic, feral. She was loup-garou. She was mine.

 

No. Not mine. She's not mine. It's fucking Clare, for Christsake!

 

I moved my hands under the table and pulled a small shard of glass from my right palm; I ignored the tingling feeling of my flesh pulling together, and closing the small wound.

 

It had been five years since I had last seen her. She had been nineteen and preparing to go to London to live with her mother while she studied dance at university. By the look of her body, she had studied hard.

 

My fingers sank into my thighs as she curled around the left brass pole.

 

Last time I had seen her, she was wearing dungarees she hardly filled out. Now her body was athletic, but she had more curves than a damn racetrack.

 

She turned her back to the audience. My focus slipped to the four tattooed paw prints climbing up her right hip. I couldn't stop the smile forming on my lips, nor stop the thought of tracing those four delicate tattoos with my tongue.

 

She stepped up on the chair and spun again.

 

"I think I've found my lap dancer." Karl's words were slurred.

 

I wanted to punch his head through the wall.

 

Clare dropped onto the chair she had brought out with her. Her knees spread wide, showing the audience the soft junction of her milky thighs. I felt my cock grow hard.

 

Applause roared throughout the room as she struck her final pose and the music ended. Tension wound through my entire body, and I had to fight to stay in my chair, as a string of crude comments left the mouths of the majority of men around me.

 

I could only watch as she grabbed her clothes and made her way off stage. The hypnotic sway of her hips, and the sight of her perky ass sitting comfortably in those lace panties, was painfully uncomfortable. The blood in my veins burned; the tension in my muscles pulsed.

 

She disappeared from view.

 

I suddenly found I was insanely ecstatic that she hadn't removed her underwear in front of these perverted bastards. If she had, I would have had to kill everyone.

 

Not good, Owen.

 

The sweet smell of her sweat had mixed with her natural aroma and now seemed to cling to my nostrils, teasing me. I wanted to find her so I could rip those panties off her with my teeth.

 

Not fucking good at all.

 

I took a deep breath. What I needed to do was calm the fuck down and then talk to her. And I really needed to talk to her.

 

The metal frame of the chair dented under the pressure of my fingertips, as the others continued to talk about Clare.

 

What the fuck is she doing here, taking her clothes off and dancing in a shitty strip joint?

 

She was supposed to be performing on cruise ships.

 

Her life is not my business. It's not my business. At least it wasn't, until now.

 

"So, Owen, you having a lap dance or-or not?" Karl burped, then knocked down the rest of his beer "Going to be a bit fuck-king boring sitting 'ere on your own. Maybe we can find you a nice blonde."

 

Fuck it! I needed to speak to her.

 

"You're right Karl," I said through clenched teeth. "I'm here, might as well get the full experience."

 

"Fuck yeah," Martin agreed.

 

"And here's my nights-s-s entertainment," Karl said.

 

I smelled her before he had even moved. A spicy perfume joined her familiar floral aroma. I looked over my shoulder and watched, as she made her way to the bar and sat on one of the stools. Her black hair was now braided and hung down her back. She wore a simple, shoulder-strapped black dress, which hugged her body like a second skin. She looked so grown-up; it was slightly strange, but damn, did she look good.

 

Karl shifted in his seat; his arousal hammered the air around me. I heard a whine, as my hands crushed the metal in my grasp.

 

"Now or never, lads." He pushed against the table so he could stand up.

 

I waited for him to walk past, then pulled my wallet out of my back pocket.

 

"You getting another round?" Luke asked.

 

"Nope." I took three twenties from my wallet and stuck them in my right pocket.

 

I stood up, pushing my wallet back where it belonged, and made my way over to Diane. She happily flirted with men at a table near the cage, trying her hardest to make a sale, but the pricks had more than an eyeful from her simply leaning over the table.

 

"Hey, darlin'." I grinned.

 

Her gaze lifted to meet mine, a smile on her lips. "Changed your mind, handsome?" She straightened, hands going to her hips.

 

"Aye, sugar, I think I have."

 

"Do you mind? We're having a conversation," one of the men mumbled.

 

"Not anymore." I held out my hand, which she took instantly, and walked around to my side.

 

"Hey." One of the guys stood up and grabbed my left shoulder.

 

I turned my head and met his glare. "I wouldn't do that if I were you."

 

"Oh yeah? Well—"

 

I heard his breath catch as my eyes flooded silver, a clear indication my Wolf was close to the surface. "Touch me again and trust me, you'll fucking regret it."

 

He dropped his hand from my shoulder, his gaze leaving mine just as quickly. Humans might be dumb, but when faced with a Werewolf their genius gene kicks in, and they always back down. We're taught it's all due to the "larger predator vibe" we give off, but I personally think it's because most humans are big fucking pansies.

 

I escorted Diane to the back wall, then pushed her softly against it. Desire darkened her caramel eyes, and overpowered all the other scents clinging to her.

 

"I'll give you sixty"—I whispered into her ear—"if you give my friend a dance."

 

"I thought you said you would come to me if you wanted—"

 

"No, darlin', I said if I changed my mind about your offer, you'd know. I have, and I would like you to give my friend your full attention for a while."

 

She studied me for a moment.

 

"Pretty please?" I begged softly, rubbing the pad of my thumb over her collarbone. "I would be very grateful."

 

A shiver swam through her. "How grateful?" Her teeth caught her bottom lip.

 

I pulled the notes from my pocket, lifted her left hand to my lips, and pressed a light kiss into her skin. "Very," I said, slipping the notes into her right hand.

 

She sighed. "Baby, you have no idea how good I would have been to you."

 

"Maybe another time, sugar." I smiled and backed away from her.

 

"Yeah, maybe." She checked the notes before pushing them deep into her cleavage. "Which one's your friend?"

 

I turned my attention to the bar, then indicated to Karl, who sat unsteadily on a stool next to Clare. The fucking jerk didn't deserve a free lap dance, but it was the only way to get him away from Clare without ripping out his jugular.

 

Diane nodded, and made her way over to them.

 

I kept to the wall, watching Clare's spine getting straighter with each second. Watching her fight to keep the forced smile on her face, fight to hide her disgust at Karl's vulgarity.The sight amused the hell out of me.

 

Diane pushed in between them both and began her routine seduction.

 

"Excuse me, Diane." Clare gave the redhead a strained smile. "I was talking to the gentleman."

 

"Yeah, doll. We-e were tal-kin'," Karl slurred.

 

"I don't want to talk to you, baby, I want to─" She leaned close to his ear.

 

I walked around the tables, and headed slowly toward the bar, watching Clare's jaw tense as she heard everything Diane whispered.

 

"For free?" Karl sounded delighted.

 

Diane pulled away, a devious smile on her red lips. "Well, I like you a lot, baby, and I really want to show you how much."

 

Without a second glance at Clare, Karl stood up and wrapped his arms around Diane's waist. She helped walk him across the room and through the double doors next to the cage.

 

I watched Clare turn her attention to the bar, her body relaxing slightly, but it didn't stop her from mumbling soft curses after Diane. I left an empty stool between us and sat down. The tension in her body spiked at my presence, and her grip on the glass of cola before her tightened. My Wolf howled at the feel of her energy. Her surprisingly strong energy. Interesting.

 

"Come here often?"

 

"What the hell are you doing here, Owen?" She asked, keeping her focus fixed on her drink.

 

The bartender stopped in front of me. "Same as before, pal?"

 

"No, I will have a cola." I pulled my wallet out and placed it on the bar, trying not to inhale, as her scent wrapped around me. It was so strong, so sweet and familiar, canceling out the smell of smoke and sweat.

 

The barman placed a glass of cola in front of me. "Three pounds."

 

I opened my wallet, picked out the exact money, and handed it to him.

 

"Well?" she said, once the barman moved away.

 

"Well, what?"

 

"What are you doing in a strip joint?"

 

"I came for the show."

 

"Wow, you must be getting rustyin your old age if you have to start paying to see a woman naked."

 

"I see sarcasm is still your first language." I took a mouthful of cola.

 

"I see humor is still your only language."

 

Still Clare. Still the feisty girl I knew.

 

"I'm here for a work colleague's stag night." I told her after a moment of silence. "You?"

 

"Working. Obviously. What the hell does it look like I'm doing?"

 

"Does your father know you're back?"

 

"Of course he does."

 

"Funny, he never mentioned anything."

 

I inhaled slowly; she smelled like the meadows in spring . . . . Uh-oh, I'm in big trouble.

 

"He will have told Carter," she stated, taking a drink of her cola.

 

"If he had, Carter would have told me."

 

"Well, why don't you ask your father why he hasn't mentioned it then? Maybe he will announce it at the next meeting. My dad will have told him. He is fully aware of the rules, Owen."

 

Thomas was my father's best friend, and yeah, he would have told my father that Clare was back. I was just pissed my father hadn't told me.

 

"Does your father know that you're a stripper?"

 

A sharp laugh grazed her throat. "What the hell do you think?"

 

"I think I'm confused."

 

I was confused about a number of fucking things—the biggest being why I kept having the urge to touch her. I just wanted to rub against her, cover her in my scent, and remove the smell of this place and everyone else who had ever touched her. I was confused as to why I needed to explore and taste every inch of her body. Confused, because I couldn't understand why it was suddenly so important that I knew her in every way possible.

 

"Nothing new there then." She mumbled, turning around and leaning her back against the bar.

 

I growled.

 

"Knock it off, Owen, this isn't Pack bonding time. I'm working."

 

"I couldn't give a shit. I'm still your—"

 

Her energy spiked. "Second. I know, I do remember." Irritation prickled in the space between us. "Great for you, but go have your power trips somewhere else."

 

I laughed. "Same old Clare." I turned and looked at her. "You always did have a problem with authority."

 

"If memory serves"—she turned and locked her moonlit gaze with mine—"so did you."

 

My Wolf relaxed at the sight of the challenge in her eyes, and I was filled with sudden satisfaction. I recognized her for what she now was—mature, dominant.

 

She turned her focus back to the crowded room. "So what is it you want?"

 

I looked at the soft sheen of her bottom lip, and found myself wondering what she tasted like. "What makes you think I want something?"

 

"What other reason could you have for bothering me when there are at least eight strippers here you could be playing with?"

 

"I'm not interested in them." I promised, before taking another mouthful of cola. "I just want to talk, to catch up."

 

"Wrong type of bar for that, Owen. You'll have to go somewhere else if—"

 

"Fine." I turned to face her. "How much for a dance then?"

 

She looked at me, her thin eyebrows raised in question. "What?"

 

"You heard me, how much for—"

 

Her eyes narrowed. "Two hundred."

 

"Deal."

 

Her head fell back, and she laughed. The motion caused her breasts to shake. The sight made my cock harden once more.

 

For fuck sake!

 

"Oh please, your pay isn't that good."

 

"You said two hundred." I forced the words up my throat.

 

The starting price is fifty, depending on what type of dance and how long—"

 

"I don't care."

 

"I—"

 

"Rae?" An older man shouted from the other side of the bar, his dark eyes fixed on us through a cloud of cigarette smoke.

 

Clare's jaw tensed. "Give me a minute." She slid off the stool, then walked toward the man.

 

He was smartly dressed. His grey hair was combed back, his face clean-shaven, and his tanned skin was beginning to crease with age.

 

I shifted my focus to the room, leaned my back against the bar, and listened to their conversation.

 

"What the fuck are you doing, Rae?" It was Mister Voiceover, meaning he was most likely the manager of this charming establishment. "If a customer offers you two hundred for a dance, you take it."

 

"What the fuck is two hundred supposed to cover, Bill?"

 

"Two hours, max, and any style of dance he wants."

 

"Bill, I—"

 

"I don't want to hear it, Rae. You're too fucking picky with the clients. If a client causes trouble, one of the guys will throw him out; you know that. Now don't fucking argue. Take the man's offer."

 

"But I—"

 

"But nothing. You're a good dancer Rae, but your talent ain't making me enough money at the moment. You need to work on your people skills. Now go, accept his offer, and sixty percent is mine."

 

I heard her growl as she walked away from him. Felt her irritation pulsing through my own limbs.

 

I smiled as she stopped in front of me. "Two hours and anything I want?"

 

"What the fuck are you playing at, Owen?"

 

"Nothing. I came here to enjoy myself, and now I get to catch up with an old friend—"

 

"Our fathers are friends," she stated. Her expression was hard as she stared at me. "We aren't. I'm just a kid you had to baby-sit, remember?" She grabbed her cola and knocked it back.

 

Guilt sliced through my chest at her remark.

 

Females born to a Werewolf were Loup-garou. For some reason, the Were-gene only passed fully to males. To get a female Werewolf, one of my kind would have to pass the gene through blood, but the chance of the female surviving her first change was very slim. Loups, on the other hand, were more common, and, unlike female Werewolves, they were able to conceive, which made them particularly special within our species.

 

A pureblooded Werewolf's first change was at the age of thirteen, and a Loup's was whenever the girl hit puberty. When the Loup's Wolf awakened, she intensified all of the girl's already uncontrollable feelings and urges. The maternal need to mate with an equal Wolf was crazy at first, until the female learned to control her Wolf, teach it patience.

 

I was the target for all of Clare's early urges.

 

At the time, I was thirty-one, and could gladly pass for a twenty-four-year-old; physically, she didn't see a problem. However, she was sixteen, a kid, and I was a man. And yeah, I loved women, but it would have been wrong on more levels than she could understand.

 

Her father was away on business, and she was staying at our house for the weekend. We'd been watching some action films and had begun play fighting, not unusual for our kind; fighting in any situation was defense practice. She pinned me—I had let her—and as I was about to move her off me, she had leaned down and kissed me. Now, my Wolf hadn't minded, but me . . . I fucking flipped.

 

"You're a kid."

 

"I'm a young woman."

 

"Young being the key word here Clare. For fuck sake, this is bad. I—"

 

"I don't understand. You said I was pretty—"

 

"I was just being nice! Jesus, I didn't mean it like that. You're just a kid. A kid I baby-sit every now and again. I'm fifteen years older than you, Clare. If your father—hell, if my father would have seen that, I'd be fucking replacing the bear rug."

 

"But I lov—"

 

"Don't you dare say that to me! You don't know what you're saying—"

 

"I do."

 

"No, you don't, Clare! You're too young to know what you're doing. Too young to understand what that means! You're just a kid—"

 

"Fuck you, Owen!"

 

She'd been a pain in the ass after that moment. Different. Guarded. Especially toward me. I couldn't blame her. She was young, a kid, and I was a prick for losing my cool and not attempting to sit down and calmly explain how and why kissing me was bad.

 

"You coming or not?" She grunted as she began weaving between the tables.

 

But then again, she wasn't a kid anymore. In fact, twenty-four was a perfect age; the gap seemed so much narrower between that and my experienced thirty-nine. Not to mention the added bonus of her Wolf's strength. A strength I was all too aware of.

 

With a determined grin, I knocked back half my drink and followed her.

 

* * * * *

 

~~ Clare ~~

 

This had to be a nightmare. Any minute now, I would wake up and simply kick myself for dreaming about him again.

 

It would be a lie to say I never had. That I hadn't dreamt about him wanting me. Often. It was a pathetic girlish fantasy and one that I had had a lot, even though I hated myself for it. But it was only because he said no, and he was right to do so. I was a teenager back then, and he was a man, but those logical and simple facts didn't stop the rejection from hurting. Didn't stop me from feeling so humiliated.

 

I'd almost died at the sight of him, sitting there, watching me. Those hazel eyes pierced me, set my skin on fire. His blank expression caused my fists to clench. My Wolf knew him immediately, wanted him, and I hated her for it.

 

I opened the door to room five and walked inside.The walls in this particular box were draped with alternate black and gold voile, Bill's subtle attempt to tart up the room. I made my way past the leopard print love seat to the CD player set on a small pine table in the far corner. I heard the door click shut behind me, and my stomach clenched.

 

I flicked through the CDs, trying to find something half-decent, while I ignored his gentle footfalls. He walked to the opposite corner, no doubt to study the silver pole bolted to the floor.

 

How many times had I dreamt about us being alone?

 

Although in my dreams, I wasn't a stripper, and he wasn't my customer, and we weren't stuck in some shit-hole, in a small room that stank of sweat and cheap cologne.

 

So apart from the minor details, this was pretty much how it was supposed to go: I seduce him. I torture him until he wants me, until he begs me. And in the dream, he always begs, If only it were that easy.

 

Women always fell at his feet. He was the one in control. I doubt he even knew what "submissive" meant, and why would he? He was the Alpha's son. The Pack's second in charge. A dominant, and here I was, fantasizing about him wanting me, begging me.

 

"So, She-Wolf?" Amusement colored his words. "What made you pick that as a stage name?"

 

"Always been a fan of old horrors, remember? Wolfman in particular, and since Wolf-woman was too much of a mouthful"—I slipped the CD into the player—"She-Wolf just made sense." I turned to face him.

 

God, he looked good. I hadn't seen him in five years. Naturally, he hadn't changed much.

 

He still had beautiful sharp cheekbones, and a square jaw and forehead. Thick, pink, luscious lips to go with his broad nose. His skin was beginning to tan, and, apart from the stray lock that had fallen over his forehead, his dark, chocolate brown hair was slicked back.

 

I wanted to touch him.

 

"Nothing to do with the fact that you're—"

 

"What the hell do you think, Owen?" I placed my hands on my hips, and stared at him.

 

A grin played at the corners of his mouth. "And you changed your name to Rae?"

 

"All the girls have fake names. It's safer for us."

 

He cocked an eyebrow. "I see."

 

"So, two hours." I felt like I was chewing glass. "What do you want? Lap dance, striptease—"

 

His eyes glittered with amusement. "I think I will have one of everything, flower." He leaned a shoulder against the pole.

 

My stomach began to knot. This wasn't seriously happening, was it?

 

"Fine." I closed the lid on the CDplayer. "Sit down."

 

"Bossy."

 

"Says the power mad Werewolf"

 

I could do this. It was simple. Just another job, another customer. It didn't matter that it was Owen sitting there, watching me.

 

I flexed my hands in a vain hope of stopping them from shaking.

 

I hadn't seen him in five years; five years, and he still made me nervous. Five years, and I still wanted to kiss him, touch him. . . .

 

I hit "play" and took a deep breath. I hoped that more oxygen would force any and all emotions to leave my body. Then, I turned to face him.

 

God, give me strength.

 

He sat casually in the middle of the small sofa, his arms folded across his firm chest. The confinement of his black shirt made his biceps bulge, and highlighted the perfect width of his chest, and strong shoulders. My gaze wandered to the delicious cords of muscles in his forearms, visible below his rolled up sleeves.

 

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this?

 

A smile fluttered across his lips. "Are you trying to get a tip, flower?"

 

I walked over to him. "Don't you like Nickelback?"

 

"You know I do. If I recall, I was the one who introduced you to their music."

 

"Well, it's the only decent music in the entire CD selection," I said, removing the bands from my braid. I stopped directly in front of him.

 

I didn't even know where to begin. Do I sit on his lap? Do I stay standing in front of him? What the hell do I do?

 

I wasn't shy, far from it, but this was Owen. Owen, who made my knees weak every time he smiled. Owen, who made my insides burn just by looking at me.

 

I ran my fingers through my hair, and shook it out.

 

"Tell me that's a wig." His focus stayed on my face.

 

"It's a wig." I tossed aside the bands. "Part of the act."

 

"Good. You look better as a blonde."

 

"Huh." My nerves steadied as sudden irritation swept through me. "Well, if I'd known you would be coming I might have made an effort to look nice."

 

"I didn't mean—" He sighed. "You look great now. You just look better as a—"

 

"Yeah, I get it." I folded my arms across my chest.

 

He shifted on the sofa. "I was only joking; I don't want you to dance for me." He rubbed his hands across his face. "I was just planning on seeing how far you would actually go."

 

"Too bad, I would have gone all the way," I stated, as calmly as I could.

 

His gaze met mine. "I suggest you don't say that to any of your customers. They may get the wrong impression."

 

I rolled my eyes. "What is it you want, Owen? Because I don't appreciate you wasting my—"

 

"I already told you, I want to talk."

 

"And I told you this isn't that type of club."

 

"Well, considering I am paying you, and your boss—Bill, was it?"

 

My jaw tensed.

 

He smiled, the familiar dimple appearing in his left cheek. "Bill said I can have anything I want. Since you refuse to talk to me, Owen, your dear Pack brother, I am paying you your requested price of two hundred pounds, just to talk. I think that is a damn good deal, don't you?"

 

I turned and walked back to the CD player. "Fine. Talk."

 

"Why are you a stripper?"

 

A harsh laugh hurt my throat, as I turned the music down. "No pleasantries first? No talk of weather? Or asking how my mother is?"

 

"We had our pleasantries in the bar."

 

Why is it that that sentence,coming from him, sounds so dirty?

 

"I trust your mother is well?" he asked.

 

"Very." I pressed my back against the wall, and folded my arms across my chest.

 

"Good. Now answer the question, Clare."

 

"Why?"

 

"Because this is how catching up goes." He waved one hand through the air. "I ask how you are. What you're doing. Why you're doing—?"

 

"No, that's called interrogation."

 

READ REST HERE

 

© Elizabeth Morgan

 

She-Wolf

Author: Elizabeth Morgan

Publisher: Noble Romance publishing

Genre: Paranormal/shifter

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Dealing with the Rogue werewolves terrorizing his Pack? Simple. Trying to convince his mate he does want to be with her? Bloody impossible.

Owen MacLaren is the Alpha's son and the Pack's second, and he has never been one to let anything get to him. So when a bunch of Rogues begin purposely dumping mutilated bodies around the Pack Keep, he is more than ready to deal with the Werewolves responsible. But one trip to a local strip joint for a colleague's stag night changes things, and Owen soon discovers he isn't immune to everything . . . .
After five years away, Clare Walker finds herself back home in Scotland, working in a strip club. The tips are decent, and she gets to dance, but it isn't a place she thought she would ever be, let alone Owen, her Pack second and the Werewolf who broke her heart.

Although Owen is determined to prove he wants to be with Clare, things can't go smoothly between them, not when they have past issues to sort out and a bunch of unusual 'Rogues' to deal with.

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Excerpt Day - Muscling Through © JL Merrow

Excerpt

 

 

People always ask how me and Larry met, and Larry tells this really complicated story how he thought he was going to be mugged or raped or something, and then I came along, and everyone always laughs, but it wasn’t like that, really. See, I’d just been to the pub with Daz and Phil and a couple of other lads. We was supposed to be cheering Phil up ’cause he’d broken up with his girlfriend, Leanne, who works on the checkout at Lidl, but some of them were pissing me off going on about poofs, so I left early. I got caught short on the way home, so I stopped to have a wazz in the street. I mean, I checked to make sure there wasn’t no one there before I got my cock out. I didn’t want to shock no one.

 

But it took a while, ’cause I’d had a few pints, so by the time I was almost finished, this bloke had turned into the street. I could hear his footsteps, so I looked up, ’cause I didn’t want no one sneaking up on me when I had my cock out, and there he was. I mean, it was Larry, but I didn’t know that then. I just saw this really pretty guy in a posh suit. He had browny-blond hair, like straw that’s been left out in the rain—I don’t mean it was messy or nothing, it was just that mix of colours, like it couldn’t make its mind up if it wanted to be yellow or brown. And his face was kind of delicate, and he was really little. Way shorter than me. Skinny too. I like them skinny. And he was looking at my cock. So I smiled at him, ’cause he was pretty, and then I zipped up and headed his way. Which was my way home, I mean. I wasn’t planning to make a pass or nothing, ’cause I could tell he was too posh for me.

 

“Shit,” he said, and he started backing up like he was scared or something. “Ah, sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

 

I wasn’t sure what he was on about, so I smiled again. He looked like he was about to piss himself, and I didn’t like it, you know? It’s not right, people being scared like that. “You look like you’re about to piss yourself,” I told him when I got close.

 

“Shit,” he said again, and he sort of leaned against the wall and closed his eyes like he wasn’t feeling well, so I stopped and leaned over him.

 

“You should let me take you home,” I said, ’cause I was worried he might not make it on his own. “Nice-looking bloke like you, stuff could happen. You meet all sorts on these streets. I saw a bloke getting the crap beat out of him last week just a couple of streets from here.”

 

“You want money?” he said, and he was shaking a bit. “I’ve got money.”

 

I didn’t say nothing for a bit, ’cause he was confusing me, and I don’t like making a prick of myself. See, you keep your mouth shut, most times people don’t realise you don’t know what they’re on about. So I just took his arm and set off down the alley, ’cause that was the way he’d been going. He came along with me all right, but he was still shaking. “You live near here?”

 

“No! Er, yes—please don’t hurt me!”

 

I didn’t say nothing for a bit, ’cause I didn’t understand why he thought I’d do that. I thought he must have had a lot to drink.

 

“Your mates shouldn’t of let you go home on your own,” I told him. See, he’s just a little thing; you’d need about three of him to make one of me. “You’re such a little thing.”

 

“Oh God,” he said, and his voice was all thin and shaky, like the rest of him. “Look, take my wallet, please?”

 

So I stopped while he got his wallet out, and he had his driving licence in there, so I read his name—Lawrence Morton—and his address. “Fifteen Bewdsley Close, Cambridge. That’s that posh bit near the river,” I said to prove I’d read it. I tried to give him his wallet back, but he had his eyes shut again, so I put it in my pocket. I think he needed to get to bed. “I’m going to get you home and in bed,” I told him.

 

He wasn’t walking too good, so I put my arm round his skinny little waist. I could have snapped him in half. “I could snap you in half,” I said, and I smiled so he’d know it was a joke, but he still had his eyes shut.

 

We went down the back ways ’cause it’s quicker and I wasn’t sure how long he was going to be able to stand up. I mean, I could have carried him easy, but I thought he might have thrown up on me, and I didn’t fancy that, no matter how pretty he was. He was all pale and shaky still. “This it?” I asked when we got to number fifteen. It was a nice place—one of those terraced houses, all tall and thin with no front garden and a skylight into the basement. Pretty windows.

 

“Yes—please, you’ve been really kind helping me home, but I’ll be fine now,” he said, but he looked funny when he said it, so I didn’t think I ought to leave him till he was safe inside. His hands were shaking, and the key skidded on the lock, so I took it from him and opened the door.

 

“You didn’t ought to drink so much,” I told him as I went in. I thought I’d better make sure he had a glass of water or something, or he’d be feeling like crap in the morning. He looked funny, like he was going to run away or something, which would have been a bit weird as there I was in his house and him still standing on the doorstep. I grabbed his arm and pulled him in after me, in case he was so drunk he’d forgotten this was where he lived. “You got a kitchen?”

 

“Yes—this way,” he said, like he’d just woken up, and he darted through a door. I was surprised he could move so quick, him being drunk and all, so I let go of his arm and just followed him into the kitchen.

 

He was standing by a knife block with this big knife in one hand and a phone in the other. I thought, he’s going to have trouble trying to dial one-handed. “I’m calling the police,” he said in this funny high voice.

 

I didn’t get why he wanted the police, but the knife in his hand was shaking all over the shop, so I went and took it off him before he could hurt himself. Then he sort of collapsed down on the floor and said, “Please don’t hurt me” again.

 

“Okay,” I said, and I took the knives over to the other side of the kitchen and got the biggest mug I could find and filled it with water. I held it out to him, but he had his eyes shut again and didn’t take it. “You should drink this. Then you won’t feel so bad in the morning.”

 

He looked up, and his brown eyes were all wild-looking. “No drugs!”

 

“Good,” I said, ’cause drugs and stuff are really bad for you. I put the mug down where he could reach it and sat cross-legged on the floor so I could keep an eye on him, ’cause he was freaking me out a bit. It wasn’t very comfortable. I got big thighs.

 

“Please go,” he said. “Just take my money—take anything—and go.”

 

I didn’t get why he wanted me to take something, but he seemed really worried about it. So I looked around, and he had a bowl of fruit on the side, so I grabbed an apple, ’cause I always get hungry after I’ve been drinking. “I’ll take this, okay?” Then I left him there, but I took the knives and I hid them in the hall cupboard, just in case.

 

© JL Merrow

 

Muscling Through

Author: JL Merrow

Publisher: Samhain publishing

Genre: GLBT

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The bigger they come, the harder they fall... in love.

Cambridge art professor Larry Morton takes one, alcohol-glazed look at the huge, tattooed man looming in a dark alley, and assumes he’s done for. Moments later he finds himself disarmed—literally and figuratively. And, the next morning, he can’t rest until he offers an apology to the man who turned out to be more gentle than giant.

Larry's intrigued to find there's more to Al Fletcher than meets the eye; he possesses a natural artistic talent that shines through untutored technique. Unfortunately, no one else seems to see the sensitive soul beneath Al’s imposing, scarred, undeniably sexy exterior. Least of all Larry's class-conscious family, who would like nothing better than to split up this mismatched pair.

Is it physical? Oh, yes, it’s deliciously physical, and so much more—which makes Larry’s next task so daunting. Not just convincing his colleagues, friends and family that their relationship is more than skin deep. It’s convincing Al.

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Excerpt Day- A Line in the Ice © Jamie Craig

Excerpts

 

 

The ancient ice stretched into the horizon with no sign of cracks or fissures. Sergeant Charlie Weller knew better. She heard it first. A low hum deep in her ears, creating pressure behind her eyes and in her sinuses.

 

"Three o'clock." Theo Maigny drew her attention to the right of their glider. A tall figure loomed over the ice, its silhouette twisted, its head too large for its body, its arms almost touching the ground. They were too far away—and the sun was too bright—to make out the details, but Charlie didn't need them. Regardless of what the thing looked like, she only had one objective.

 

Their sentry had warned of two heat signatures. That meant two creatures on the ice, but visible or not, she didn't worry about a second monster shooting off in a new direction. Soren would have told them. They each had a job. None of them slacked. Right now, hers was to get the state-of-the-art glider close enough for Theo to take a shot.

 

Thirty yards away, they rocked hard to the left. Her hand tightened convulsively on the sidestick, and she righted them almost immediately, but her pulse raced in time with the glider's engine.

 

She decelerated to better navigate through the shock waves. "What was that?"

 

"We were hit. I don't think we took any damage, but I think that big fucker up ahead is meant to serve as a distraction. I can't find the second creature."

 

"Soren!" She jerked hard on the stick, banking toward where the shot had to originate from. They needed to be able to see the enemy. "What's going on? We only see one creature!"

 

The connection crackled in her ear. "It's there. It has to be."

 

"Where?"

 

"With the other one."

 

"No, it's not."

 

"The sensors say—"

 

"I don't care what the sensors say! My eyes are telling me something different!"

 

The glider rocked again. Theo's growl of frustration rumbled in her earpiece, and they shifted slightly as he brought the gun up to his shoulder. Her shoulders and neck ached from additional strain as she braced herself for the shot. They practiced this as much as they could—which wasn't much since every bullet was precious. But no amount of preparation could ever be enough.

 

When he fired, she wrestled with the glider, stopping it from going into a spin from the force of the bullet exiting the barrel.

 

The rear jackknifed over the ice. Her fingers flew along the trim, compensating for their speed, while she tried not to yank the sidestick and flip them over. Even with the glider's high sides, a roll was the surest path to death. The force against the ice upon impact would either snap their necks or decapitate them, and she liked her head exactly where it was.

 

Though it took seconds to straighten them out, it felt like an eternity. "Tell me you got it, Theo."

 

"Pretty sure I hit it but the bastard didn't even flinch. You got to bring me closer."

 

As soon as Theo finished speaking, the glider lurched again. For a brief, horrible second, she knew they were going to flip. She wasn't strong enough. She wasn't fast enough. She couldn't fight the basic laws of physics. Her shoulders screamed in protest and a part of her recognized she wouldn't even be able to move the next day. If they survived at all. It may have been nothing more than sheer force of will that straightened the glider, but she wasn't going to question it.

 

"Come on, come on, come on...you fucker." The gun's report exploded over the ice.

 

©  Jamie Craig

 

A Line in the Ice

Author: Jamie Craig

Publisher: Carinna Press

Genre: Paranormal/ Science Fiction Romance

Buy Link

Bloodthirsty monsters are emerging from the Antarctic ice, the same creatures that once stalked the battlegrounds of World War I. Back then, a group of soldiers valiantly fought off the beasts—and were never seen again. A century later, an elite military squad stands between civilization and the mysterious return of the enemy.

Captain Charlie Weller thinks she's seen everything—until a man crawls out onto the ice, barely alive and muttering about a place called Illyria. Lysander Davies claims to be the descendant of one of the missing soldiers. He insists the monsters are actually gentle creatures, under the control of beings far, far more dangerous...

Drawn to the stranger, Charlie believes his stories and agrees to help him. But they both know nothing can come of their feelings for one another, for the only way to save earth is for Lysander to return to Illyria and close the rift behind him, forever...

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Excerpt Day - Sodom and Detroit © Ann Mayburn

Excerpt

 

 

Maeve Burgundy tried to tune out Trinity's excited voice as she chattered away and read the brochure over the muffled roar of the 747's engines. Even in first class, you couldn't get away from their rumble. "'Sodom is the world's largest five-star virtual reality resort. Boasting over one hundred individual VR spas and specializing in erotic fantasy, guests can fulfill their every desire. We encourage you to embrace your wild side and challenge us with your dreams that we turn into reality -- virtual reality.'"

 

Tucking a strand of coal black hair into her bun, she stole a glance at Trinity before returning to her e-mails. Trinity's black spiral curls practically vibrated with excitement, and a flush painted her dark chocolate cheeks. Maeve didn't know why she was so keyed up; it wasn’t like Trinity needed the VR fantasies the resort promised.

 

Built like a runway model with mile-long legs, Trinity never lacked male admirers. Maeve often felt dowdy compared to her best friend. At five-one with abundant curves and a plush Italian bottom, she usually wore five-inch heels to appear taller. Not that she lacked male companionship either, but she kept her relationships strictly sexual. She had trusted the wrong guy with her heart and had the emotional scars to prove it.

 

She tried to ignore Trinity and finish the e-mail to her assistant back at Noven Enterprises in New York City. As an expert in contractual law for Noven, Trinity pretty much worked by herself, while Maeve ran the entire corporate acquisition section and reported directly to the president. The thought of being out of touch with the office for a whole week made her panicky inside, and she typed even faster. At her job, she had total control and could lose herself in her work, bury herself in a world where there were few surprises and being cold and ruthless was encouraged.

 

Trinity attempted to shut Maeve's laptop with one hand while she continued to read the brochure aloud. "'Would you like to be Tarzan, swinging through the trees to rescue your beloved Jane from an army of headhunters? Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be a botanist working with a plant that induces sexual euphoria? If you can imagine it, you can do it from the safety of our virtual reality chambers. Nothing is taboo, and the only thing holding you back from living the ultimate fantasy is yourself.'"

 

Maeve snorted and wondered who would find plants sexy, but Trinity continued unabashed. "'For an extra thrill, you can partner with other resort guests and live out your fantasies with them in the safety and anonymity of cyberspace.'"

 

An announcement came over the speakers that the plane would begin its descent into the Detroit Metro Airport and to please put away all electronic devices.

 

Maeve typed as fast as she could in an effort to get out her last-minute orders. Trinity, the bitch, was taking away her laptop once they landed. She didn't believe Maeve would be able to relax and enjoy her vacation while having access to her office.

 

Grumbling, Maeve added a last set of instructions on the acquisition of a failing steel mill. She'd won this vacation, even though she couldn't remember actually entering the contest. When the representative from the Sodom resort had shown up with two dozen red balloons and a local TV crew, she had been so astonished she'd babbled through most of the interview. Trinity and the rest of management had forced her into actually taking the vacation, and she'd only agreed after her boss threatened to fire her. He was kidding, of course… She hoped.

 

Maeve scowled and hunched over her keyboard as she saw the stewardess approaching them with a frown. The petite blonde  flight attendant stopped at their aisle and said, "Ma'am, could you please close your laptop?"

 

Ignoring the stewardess, she clicked Send just before Trinity smashed her fingers with the screen of the laptop. The stewardess startled at the aggressive snarl that Maeve gave Trinity and backed away with wide eyes. Trinity just laughed and hugged Maeve's laptop to her chest.

 

Maeve gave Trinity a dirty look. "We aren't on the ground yet."

 

"The office is fine. Your underlings live in fear of you, and they won't do anything to incur your wrath." Trinity tried to tug at the carved wooden sticks holding Maeve's long hair back in the tight bun. "Let your hair down, sister! You're on your first vacation in two years. Relax and enjoy the ride."

 

Maeve eyed the laptop with longing. "I've taken a vacation," she said defensively.

 

"Business conferences don't count. And when is the last time you made love?"

 

The sight of Detroit's glittering lights suddenly became very interesting. "I've had partners."

 

Trinity snorted and slipped the laptop into its bag, then under her seat. "I said made love, not sex." She patted Maeve's hand. "I worry about you. All work and no play makes Maeve a very dull girl."

 

Now it was Maeve's turn to snort. "What about you, Ms. Trin? You aren't exactly the poster girl for long-term relationships."

 

Trinity stuck her tongue out. "Well, at least I try. What are you so afraid of that won't let you fall in love?"

 

That remark hit too close to home, and Maeve's stomach clenched. She'd fallen in love once, given her whole heart and soul to a man who didn't trust her, and it had almost destroyed her when they broke up. That mistake wasn't going to happen again. She quickly changed the subject. "So what fantasies are you going to try out? We get four, one for each day we’re there." Maeve pulled out her phone and looked at the list of possible fantasies she wanted to try.

 

Trinity gave a shocked gasp. "Are you for real? You made a list of your fantasies? Did you also schedule your orgasms and bathroom breaks?"

 

Maeve narrowed her eyes at Trinity. "I hope the batteries on your vibrator run out."

 

Trinity laughed. "Oh, low blow!" They pressed back into their seats as the plane touched down with a thud. Trinity bounced up and down . "We're here!"

 

Maeve looked out the plane's window and watched the brand-new airport terminal gleam in the darkness. After the economic collapse of the late '90s, Detroit had reinvented itself through tax breaks and hard work into the virtual reality capital of the world. Now it celebrated the fruits of those efforts as not only a center of enormous wealth, but also as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Here, in the safety and comfort of the Midwest, an adventurous spirit could fulfill their every desire at one of the nineteen VR resorts.

 

In the distance, Sodom's giant illuminated obelisk soared above its competitors. From small motels to megaresorts, anything you could possibly want in the VR world was available. Some of the smaller businesses specialized in themes such as ancient Rome and adventure sports, while the larger hotels often had a variety of programs made to appeal to a broad audience.

 

An excited murmur swept through the cabin of the airplane as they taxied down the runway. Across the aisle, two twenty something men with beards talked excitedly about the sports VR resort where they were going to climb Mount Everest. Maeve heard a woman talking about whether she wanted to be a lady-in-waiting in Queen Victoria’s court or the queen herself.

 

A small glow of excitement began to burn inside of her as she opened her mind to the possibilities of this vacation. All those delicious fantasies that she pleasured herself to brought to life by the wonders of technology. She shared a grin with Trinity and looked forward to a week of fantasy.

 

* * * * *

 

"What do you think?" Angel ran his hand across his smooth, shaved head. He strode over to the floor-to-ceiling windows and looked down on the city lights of Detroit. The view from the top floor of Sodom was fantastic, and he watched the red dots on planes in the distant night sky circling the airport. Was Maeve on one of them?

 

Luke leaned back in the black leather chair and kicked his feet up on Angel's steel and glass desk. A tall man with a swimmer's build, he had been Angel's best friend for the last eight years and his chief of security and lover for the last five. He ran a finger over his neatly trimmed dark gold goatee and gave Angel a teasing grin. "I think our lovely Maeve will be heckled into taking a vacation against her will and is on her way right now." His feet twitched on the desk in an impatient rhythm. "Why do we have to do all this bullshit cloak-and-dagger stuff again instead of just inviting her here? If she really is the woman we've been looking for, I want to start out on the right foot with her. Your breakup couldn't have been that bad."

 

Angel shrugged his shoulders and avoided Luke's gaze in the reflective glass. "We parted on hard terms our freshman year of college. Her scholarships took her out to California, while mine took me to Cambridge." He turned and gave Luke a rueful grin. "Part of the reason I got interested in virtual reality at MIT was because of her. I wanted a way to be with her without having to sell everything I owned to afford a cross-country plane ride."

 

Luke joined him at the window and put his arm around Angel's waist, tugging him close. "Did you ever try to apologize? Lord knows we've had our epic fights, but we always manage to kiss and make up."

 

Angel grinned. Luke's hands roamed to his ass and gave a fleeting caress. He sought out Luke's wrist and held on, stroking his thumb lightly over Luke’s pulse.

 

Looking out the window again, Angel said, "I sent her a long and rambling e-mail when I was wasted on Jägermeister trying to win her back." He groaned at the memory. "She sent me a reply five minutes later saying she was dating someone else and to leave her alone. Then I, full of drunken misery, wrote her back calling her a whore and other things I wish I could take back."

 

Luke winced. "Ouch."

 

"I know."

 

"Did you try calling her?"

 

"Yeah, she changed her number. So I called her mom, who told me to piss off."

 

Luke snorted out a laugh. "That would be pretty disheartening."

 

"That was twelve years ago, and I was an idiot back then. A very insecure idiot who didn't know how good I had it. Before I became Angel and I was just Rafe, the punk kid with piercings and blue hair."

 

"Well, now you're Angel. Millionaire bachelor and virtual-reality god," Luke teased him, and they wrapped their arms around each other, enjoying their reflection in the glass.

 

Angel grinned, recalling the interview on CNN with Maeve and Larry King. He had sat straight up in bed and hit record the second he recognized her. She had grown into her beauty and wore it like a fine perfume. Confident and intelligent, she’d handled the interview with class. He couldn't believe the girl that had made love to him in the rain was the woman sparring with Donald Trump. The sound of the TV woke Luke from his sleep next to him, and when Angel explained who she was, Luke had been intrigued.

 

"Do you think Maeve will be…open…to our lifestyle?" Luke asked delicately. "When you sent me out to New York City to spy –"

 

"Research." Angel glowered at him, and Luke rolled his eyes.

 

"Fine, research her, stalk her, whatever." Luke ignored Angel's warning growl and continued, "She seemed to be devoted to her job, and that's about it. Everything about her is so straitlaced, I don't know if I can picture her happily living with two men."

 

Angel loved sharing his women with Luke. It was the best of both worlds. He had his man and his woman and didn't have to worry about either straying. He trusted Luke completely and vice versa. To tell the truth, Angel loved watching his women getting fucked by Luke as much as he loved Luke fucking him. It just flat out did it for him.

 

Turning Luke by his trim waist, Angel sought out his lips with a soft brush of his own. Firm, gentle, they explored each other's mouths with the intimacy that can only come from two people in love. A groan stole from Angel's mouth as Luke dug his nails into Angel’s broad shoulders, pulling him closer and deepening the kiss in a dance of tongues and heat. Angel ran a hand through Luke's hair and admired the play of light on the golden strands.

 

Luke's blue eyes darkened to sapphire with passion. "I really want this to work out for us. I know I'm extremely picky about my women." Luke brushed his lips across Angel's again, soft and decadent. "But I think that you're right: Maeve is the one. Beyond finding her utterly delicious to look at with that full and soft body, she is wicked smart and owns enough lingerie to open a store."

 

"How do you know that?" Angel gave him a suspicious look, and Luke laughed, leaning back in his arms.

 

"Easy there. I didn't break into her apartment and go digging through her underwear drawer." His lips twitched with a grin, and through Angel’s dress shirt, he traced the thick gold ring piercing the right nipple. "I hacked into her credit card and checked out what she spends her money on."

 

"You shouldn't have done that."

 

Luke watched him closely, his smirk turning into a full smile as Angel's cock thickened against his. With a firm grip, Luke drew him closer and whispered against his lips, "Don't you want to know what she bought?"

 

Soft silk slid beneath Angel's hands as he pulled Luke closer. The press of Luke’s goatee tickled Angel’s throat as Luke brushed his lips over the banging pulse in his neck. "She buys her corsets custom-made from France."

 

Luke tugged the edge of Angel's shirt from his pants and fumbled with the buttons. He growled as Angel licked the outer rim of his ear. Their shirts hit the floor at almost the same time, and Angel sighed as he wrapped his arms around his lover, tracing his fingers in familiar paths over Luke’s muscled back, the thick gold of his nipple rings rubbing against Luke's chest.

 

Angel turned them to face the window and teased Luke's pants down his long, muscular legs and off his feet. With a grin, he nipped the back of Luke's knee and ran his tongue over the soft skin there. He loved the smell of Luke, the way he made him feel, and most of all the trust that they had in each other. He moved around to Luke’s front and pulled his pants down with exaggerated care, holding Luke’s gaze as his cock sprang out. A rumbling growl of appreciation met this gesture, and his dick throbbed. Angel loved how he affected Luke, how Luke totally gave himself over to the moment and focused only on Angel. Always a bit of an exhibitionist, Angel enjoyed displaying himself for Luke's pleasure.

 

Angel knelt, and the soft blond hairs on Luke's thighs tickled his palms as he ran his hands up Luke’s legs to his hips. Angel positioned himself so Luke could watch their reflection in the big dark window. Stroking himself, he thought about what it would be like to share Luke's cock with Maeve, to have their lips locking together over the rock-hard flesh.

 

© Ann Mayburn

 

Sodom and Detroit

Author:  Ann Mayburn

Publisher: Loose Id, LLC

Genre: Fantasy Menage

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Workaholic Maeve Burgundy avoids any relationship where she might fall in love. She's forced by her best friend to take a vacation she won to the exotic Sodom Resort. They specialize in turning any erotic fantasy into reality. Virtual Reality. What Maeve doesn't know is that Angel, the owner of the Resort and her old college boyfriend, has rigged the contest in an effort to reconnect with Maeve. He wants to persuade her to become part of a committed ménage à trois with his best friend and lover, Luke.

The three embark upon a sexual adventure that takes them from the sultry pleasures of a sheik's harem, to the forced seduction of a royal lady by two highwaymen, and the fun of having a handsome biker hanging chained from the ceiling-just begging for a flogging. During each fantasy Maeve falls a little more in love with the men she thinks she knows, and begins to trust them with her heart.

Luke warns Angel that they may lose Maeve because of his deception, but Angel will take any chance to win Maeve back and convince her how good a loving ménage à trois can be.

 

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