Sneak Peek #3: Red Hot Dragon (Erotic Paranormal Romance)

30 Sep

RedHotDragon_200x322

Red Hot Dragon, the second book in the Dragon Heat series, releases on Tuesday, October 1! You can pick up a pre-order copy right now at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and iTunes for $1.99!

A DRAGON TO LOVE

Griffin Cadogan is surprised when Avani Monroe, the sworn enemy of his dragon family, walks into his gym. With his mating phase approaching, the dragon shifter wonders know why she risks coming into enemy territory. Yet the dark-eyed temptress shocks him even more with an outrageous demand: She wants him to help her have a baby.

After her mother’s dragon line was annihilated by the Knights, Avani vows to continue her unique dragon breed—and the registries indicate that Griffin is the best candidate. Determined to mate, Avani plans to use her seductive beauty and powerful scent to entice Griffin. The big, strong Welsh man will make for a fitting partner . . . if he doesn’t kill her first.

When they spar over the terms of her proposal, Griffin and Avani can’t deny the intense, primal attraction they feel for each other. But as they become closer to creating a child, the lovers can hear danger encircle them as loud as the clapping of wings. The dragon slayers are coming . . .and they’re gunning for Griffin, Avani and the entire dragon race.

 

Excerpt 3 (Contains NSFW Sexiness!)

 

Avani realized her mistake the second he smiled so sexily. White-hot need arced through her core. His rough palms glided up and down her arms and set her skin alight. She spotted the crimson flecks coloring his irises now. Though their constant touch seemed to prevent a fully forced shift into their dragon forms, there was no stopping the more primal urges or the tiniest hints of their beastly natures from peeking through. Her mind was filled with such primitive thoughts—hunger and lust paramount among them.

Griffin shifted her until she straddled his lap. His hands explored her curves as if she belonged to him and her body existed only for his pleasure. His domineering moves should have annoyed her—and in some small way they did—but another part of her, the primal dragon she tried to keep buried, responded to his possessive touch.

The serpent that lived within her craved a powerful male to serve as her partner and mate. For Avani’s more dominant human side, it wasn’t that simple. She wanted love, passion, and security, not simply to find good chemistry that would appease her Naga.

But all those thoughts were much too serious to be considered now. Griffin’s big hands did crazy things to her blood pressure. The silky fabric shielding her body did little to inhibit his roaming palms. He cupped her breast and brushed his thumb over her nipple. A tight peak formed and pressed against the green silk.

“Griffin,” she whispered his name, while he traced the bud through her top.

“Strip for me.” Need filled his hoarse voice.

Anxiety gripped her. The lights were so bright in here. “Maybe we could move to the bed and turn off some of these lamps.”

He made a low, hungry sound. “I want to see you.”

“But—”

“All of you,” he interrupted gruffly and grabbed a handful of her shirt. “Take this off.”

She shivered at his commanding tone. There was no denying him. She started to flick through the buttons but he growled. “Too slow!”

He ripped the fabric with his strong hand. She whimpered at his display of strength but he calmed her with a sensual kiss. His tongue danced with hers. When he nibbled her lower lip, she rocked against him.

Rather insistently, he shoved the torn shirt off her shoulders. Breasts bared to him, she cried out as his mouth touched her there. He cupped her hot flesh and let his lips move from peak to peak. She clasped his shoulders and arched into his tormenting mouth. “Griffin!”

Seemingly overcome with lust, he slipped his arm around her waist and stood. She expected him to carry her to the bed, but he flipped their positions and placed her in the low, wide chair. The leather retained his body heat and made her want to snuggle into its comforting depths.

Griffin took hold of her sleeping shorts and jerked them down her hips and legs. He tossed them over his shoulders. Naked and nervous, she squeezed her knees together. He shot her a look before grasping her thighs and prying them wide apart.

Pulsing and aching with desire, Avani blushed as he peered intently at her sex. “What are you doing?”

“What I wanted to do back at the gym,” he answered. She hissed as he gently parted her folds with his thumbs. “I can’t wait to taste you.”

 

 

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Sneak Peek #2: Red Hot Dragon (Erotic Paranormal Romance)

28 Sep

RedHotDragon_200x322

Red Hot Dragon, the second book in the Dragon Heat series, releases on Tuesday, October 1! You can pick up a pre-order copy right now at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and iTunes for $1.99!

A DRAGON TO LOVE

Griffin Cadogan is surprised when Avani Monroe, the sworn enemy of his dragon family, walks into his gym. With his mating phase approaching, the dragon shifter wonders know why she risks coming into enemy territory. Yet the dark-eyed temptress shocks him even more with an outrageous demand: She wants him to help her have a baby.

After her mother’s dragon line was annihilated by the Knights, Avani vows to continue her unique dragon breed—and the registries indicate that Griffin is the best candidate. Determined to mate, Avani plans to use her seductive beauty and powerful scent to entice Griffin. The big, strong Welsh man will make for a fitting partner . . . if he doesn’t kill her first.

When they spar over the terms of her proposal, Griffin and Avani can’t deny the intense, primal attraction they feel for each other. But as they become closer to creating a child, the lovers can hear danger encircle them as loud as the clapping of wings. The dragon slayers are coming . . .and they’re gunning for Griffin, Avani and the entire dragon race.

Excerpt 2

Feeling anything but confident, Avani ignored the nervousness wobbling in her lower belly and tried to maintain the cool, controlled façade that had served her so well in business. Her gaze skipped to Ian Madoc. Griffin’s cousin stared at her with amusement and interest. She glanced back to the man she desperately needed to help her.

Surprise spread across Griffin’s face. She spotted the briefest flare of crimson in his pale blue irises as that beastly Welsh Red tried to surface. Like her, he was only hours away from going into heat. She figured that was the reason the two cousins had been knocking the crap out of one another. She preferred the more enlightened methods of fasting and meditation to ease her transition, but apparently these two dragons still clung to the older, more barbaric customs.

She examined Griffin more closely. His size made her nervous. She’d heard he was a big man, but she hadn’t been expecting this. Nearly seven feet tall, he sported the broadest shoulders she’d ever seen and muscular arms emblazoned with heavy tattoos. She didn’t recognize any of the symbols or markings, but they were probably significant to his old tribe or his Welsh homeland.

Griffin lifted one huge hand and crooked a finger. His deep, rumbling voice made her heart race. “Come with me.”

Gulping down the anxiety clogging her throat, Avani followed him across the gym to an office. She glanced over her shoulder and found Madoc making his way to an arched doorway on the other side of the gym. The realization she would have a few moments of privacy to plead her case with Griffin bolstered her courage.

He entered the office and kept one hand on the door for her. Fearful that inhaling his scent would make her brain fuzzy, she held her breath as she passed him. Soothing heat radiated from him in strong, penetrating waves. Her breasts ached and her core pulsed with need. Attraction and lust weren’t emotions she allowed herself to experience very often. Right now, she didn’t have a choice. Griffin’s nearness had inflamed her.

The door shut with a soft click. Hands trembling, she gripped the handkerchief tighter. Coming into a closed space with him had been a terrible idea. His delicious scent curled around her. She eyed him warily as he walked to the desk and leaned back against it. Even in that slight sitting position, he towered over her. Refusing to sit or give him the upper hand, she lifted her chin.

“You realize that I’m about to go into heat. The risk you’ve taken—”

“It’s acceptable to me,” she interrupted. “In fact, our synced heat cycles are exactly why I need you.”

His jaw visibly clenched. “If you’re suggesting what I think you’re suggesting, you are out of your damned mind. I’m not in the market for a mate and certainly not one whose great-aunt stabbed my great-uncle to death.” He pointed to the door. “You should leave. Now.”

“No.” She stood her ground. “And, for the record, my father’s family tells a slightly different version of that altercation that started off our feud.”

He snorted. “I’m sure they do. Now why are you here?”

“You’re a member of the Brotherhood of the Green Hide. You’re charged with protecting our species from extinction. You know what the Knights of St. George did to my mother’s family?”

His harsh expression softened. “Yes.”

“Then you also know that after the massacre last fall, I’m the last of my mother’s line.” Her eyes prickled with bitter tears as the memories of the vicious and brutal battle flooded her mind. “My mother’s family had invited us home for reconciliation. It was supposed to be a beautiful family reunion, but those bastards…”

She couldn’t finish the thought. Swallowing hard, she touched her chest. “I’m the last of the Naga. I’ve been combing the family trees of my people looking for someone, anyone, with the right genes, but the Knights have snuffed us out.”

Griffin exhaled slowly. “The Knights are frighteningly efficient when it comes to targeting specific bloodlines. Your mother’s line was one of the most fragile and unique of our kind.”

“Centuries of arranged marriages and a closed society didn’t help.” She thought of the horror her mother and father had caused with their scandalous love affair and elopement. Her Indian mother had chosen to marry a Western man from a little-known branch of a British dragon tribe. Both sets of parents had decried the match and ostracized the pair. Avani had grown up as an outcast, never quite belonging in the dragon commune that had accepted her parents as members.

“I don’t know why you think I can help you. My people are lightning makers and thunder clappers.”

“Not all of them,” she said. “Your archivist, Reynard, helped me identify dragons with suitable bloodlines. Your great-grandmother was a water serpent. Like me, she was the last of her kind, but she came from a pure and uninterrupted bloodline.”

He let loose an annoyed grunt. “So what?”

Gathering her courage, she said, “It means that our baby would have a high chance of inheriting my Naga gifts.”

Taken aback, Griffin stared at her. “Are you insane? Did you really just propose that we have a child? In case you’ve forgotten, our families are involved in a blood feud.”

Irritated, she snapped back at him. “No, I haven’t forgotten. If you’re not going to help me, you may as well go ahead and finish me off right here. Satisfy your family’s honor, Griffin. Who knows? Maybe the Knights will send you a thank-you card and a nice flower arrangement for tying up a loose end.”

He growled angrily and shot to his feet. “Comparing me to a Knight isn’t a very persuasive tactic, Avani.”

She rubbed her face and sighed. “Look, I’m sorry. I’m on edge and I’m desperate.”

“Why are you in such a rush to have children? You’re only, what, thirty? You haven’t even hit your first centenary!”

“When you’re the last member of a nearly extinct race of dragon, you can stand there and lecture me on biological clocks!”

He studied her intently. “Do you have any idea what you’re asking? I’ve gone nearly one thousand years without taking a mate or fathering a child. There’s a reason for that. My work is very dangerous. My loyalty to the Brotherhood comes first.”

She understood his hesitancy and embraced it. She’d been relieved when she’d researched him and realized how unlikely he was to want a role as an active parent. “I’m not looking for a husband or even a partner in parenting. Don’t worry. I don’t want your money, either. My jewelry business is quite successful. I can handle motherhood on my own.”

“Is that so?” An expression she couldn’t place filtered across his face. “It seems as if you have this all planned out. I suppose all you want from me is a sperm donation.”

She winced at how cold it sounded. “It wouldn’t be like that. You’re in heat. I’m in heat. I’m sure our time together will be pleasurable.”

“And when the phase ends?”

“You leave. I’ll contact you if we’re successful.”

“And that’s that?” He didn’t sound happy.

“Well, I mean, what more do you want?”

He made a disgusted noise. “What the hell kind of man do you think I am? You think I would make a child and then walk away from him or her?”

His fury stunned her. Stammering, she said, “I thought—”

“No,” he interjected roughly. “You didn’t think. You assumed you could waltz in here smelling like heaven, then ensnare me and convince me to do whatever you wanted. Well, I’ve got news for you, Avani. I’m not the kind of man who can be led around by his dick.”

His crass remark made her flinch. “You’re wrong, Griffin. I didn’t come here hoping to ensnare you with my mating scent.” Embarrassment burned her neck and cheeks. “Do you think it was easy for me to come in here and beg a stranger to sleep with me? And not just any stranger, Griffin! You’re my enemy.”

“I am not your enemy.” He spoke the words with such passion it set her back on her feet. “What happened centuries ago is of little consequence to me. No dragon is my enemy.” Looking pained, he rubbed the back of his neck. “You’re asking me to do the impossible.”

“No,” she replied insistently. “I’m asking you to uphold the oath you took when you joined the Brotherhood. I’m asking you to save my family line. I need you, Griffin. You’re the only one who can help me.”

His intense stare unnerved her. Her breath hitched in her throat when he took a step toward her. Instinct took hold. For every one of his steps forward, she scurried back two. Her back hit the door and stalled her flight.

He planted both hands against the door, pinning her smaller body between his and the wooden plank at her back. Her shuddery breaths buffeted his naked chest. His tanned skin tempted her like no other. She fisted her hands at her sides and closed her eyes. When his face lowered, she turned her head.

“Don’t,” he warned gently. Nuzzling her cheek with his nose, he coaxed her to face him. Their breaths mingled as he gazed into her eyes. His mouth brushed hers with such softness. The spark of contact arced between them, setting her skin alight.

With a low groan, Griffin finally captured her lips. He was easy at first, his lips pliable and soft against hers. Taking control, he deepened the kiss. His tongue swiped hers. She whimpered as he plundered her mouth. Her hands flew to his chest. The searing heat of his skin set her afire.

Whether it was the mating scent or their natural chemistry, Avani couldn’t say. In that moment, she didn’t really care. She’d never felt anything like this. Her whole body pulsed and ached. She didn’t fight him when he grasped the backs of her thighs and lifted her off the floor. The fabric of her skirt bunched and pulled taut when she wrapped her legs around his waist. She gasped at the sensation of his rock-hard cock pressing against her. Only a few pieces of thin cloth separated their overheated bodies.

A guttural sound emanated from his throat. He tore his mouth away from hers. Forehead to forehead, they panted and shuddered. Finally, Griffin spoke: “We do this my way.”

She licked her lips and stared into the eyes of the man who had awoken such need within her. “What way is that?”

“I’ll help you save your line, but I will not bond with you. I don’t want or need a mate.”

His words shouldn’t have hurt her. She hadn’t come here looking for a mate, after all. Still, they struck a raw nerve. She’d always been the unwanted one. It wouldn’t be any different now. It’s only sex, she reminded herself.

“I won’t bite you,” she promised. At the confused look on his face, she explained, “Among the Naga, a bite and exchange of venom is required to seal a true mate bond.”

“You have fangs?” He tilted his head for a better look at her mouth. “I didn’t feel them.”

She shook her head. “I only have them in my serpent form.”

“I see.” His fingertip trailed her jaw. “If this works, I’m not walking away from my child. There is no way in hell I’m playing the role of absentee father.”

His assertion troubled her. She wasn’t kidding earlier. She didn’t want the interference of another parent in her life. Single motherhood appealed to her for a few very personal reasons. “But I don’t want—”

He silenced her with a kiss. Leaving her breathless, he said, “This isn’t up for debate, Avani. These are my terms. Take them or leave them. Now—do we have a deal?”

Overwhelmed by his commanding heat and strength, Avani was powerless to say no. She found unexpected reassurance in his penetrating, unwavering gaze. His offer wasn’t the most palatable, but there was plenty of time to convince him to give her exactly what she wanted. “All right. We have a deal.”

But as Griffin carefully lowered her to the ground, Avani couldn’t shake the feeling her well-laid plans were about to be shot to hell by this ridiculously sexy beast of a man


Sneak Peek #1: Red Hot Dragon (#Sexy #PNR #EroticRomance)

26 Sep

RedHotDragon_200x322

Red Hot Dragon, the second book in the Dragon Heat series, releases on Tuesday, October 1! You can pick up a pre-order copy right now at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and iTunes for $1.99!

A DRAGON TO LOVE

Griffin Cadogan is surprised when Avani Monroe, the sworn enemy of his dragon family, walks into his gym. With his mating phase approaching, the dragon shifter wonders know why she risks coming into enemy territory. Yet the dark-eyed temptress shocks him even more with an outrageous demand: She wants him to help her have a baby.

After her mother’s dragon line was annihilated by the Knights, Avani vows to continue her unique dragon breed—and the registries indicate that Griffin is the best candidate. Determined to mate, Avani plans to use her seductive beauty and powerful scent to entice Griffin. The big, strong Welsh man will make for a fitting partner . . . if he doesn’t kill her first.

When they spar over the terms of her proposal, Griffin and Avani can’t deny the intense, primal attraction they feel for each other. But as they become closer to creating a child, the lovers can hear danger encircle them as loud as the clapping of wings. The dragon slayers are coming . . .and they’re gunning for Griffin, Avani and the entire dragon race.

Excerpt #1

Awash in adrenaline, Griffin Cadogan eyed his opponent across the sparring cage. He danced from foot to foot as he waited for Mad to make his move. The springy mat was cool beneath his bare soles. Though they’d been at this for nearly half an hour, it wasn’t the physical exertion making him so hot. No, tonight his mating phase would begin. Already his body was beginning to show the subtle signs as his forced shifting approached.

Like a raging bull, Mad charged him. Griff stepped into the oncoming assault but twisted his upper body just enough to escape the brunt of his cousin’s impact. Griff kneed him right in the stomach and slammed his elbow into the other man’s back. But it wasn’t enough to slow Mad down, and he wrapped his arms around Griffin’s waist. They fell to the mat with so much force they bounced.

Limbs entangled, they grappled and slapped. Anyone who caught a glimpse of them fighting would have assumed they were engaged in a death match. In fighting without gloves or protective head gear, they were breaking the rules of the mixed-martial-arts training facility they owned, but since they had the place to themselves for the afternoon no one would be the wiser.

Griff tried to get Mad in a headlock, but the other man twisted and arched his back to avoid being pinned in a bad position. Griff’s inner beast struggled to be set free. The primal urge to destroy threatened to overwhelm him, but he wasn’t worried about hurting Madoc. They’d been fighting this way for centuries. If anyone had the strength and skill to beat his ass when he was on the verge of going into heat and unleashing his dragon, it was Mad.

But today his cousin seemed off his game. Quite out of character, Mad let Griff get the upper hand. It was only a fractional slip, but it was enough for Griff to wrap his legs around Mad’s waist and clamp his arm around the other man’s neck. Though Mad kicked and smacked, he couldn’t break free. With a frustrated howl, Mad slapped Griff’s forearm three times and tapped out.

Griff let go immediately and rolled Mad onto his back. “You okay, man?’

Mad shot him the finger and dragged a long, shuddery breath into his lungs.

Laughing, Griff plopped down on his backside and stretched out his aching legs. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Leaning back on his hands, he studied his cousin. There was no mistaking the tiredness in him, and it wasn’t just from this fight. “Are you still having those dreams?”

Mad threw an arm over his eyes and breathed slow and deep. “Yes.”

For the last three weeks, Mad had been experiencing vivid dreams. At first, they had been fairly innocuous. He’d dreamed of beautiful beaches, tequila-fueled nights, and even a wild foam party in a warehouse-style nightclub. They’d both assumed Mad was tapping into the dream energy of a neighbor. It wasn’t uncommon for their dragonkind to trespass into dreams.

But then the dreams had taken a darker, worrying turn.

“What did you dream last night?”

Mad didn’t answer straight away. Finally, he said, “I was in a cage or a cell.”

“Like a prison?”

“Maybe,” he said uncertainly. “It was definitely underground. I could feel the dampness on my skin and smelled its musty wetness. And I was hungry, Griff. So damn hungry. I woke up, stumbled downstairs, and tore through all of the food in my refrigerator. I ate so much I got sick,” he admitted softly. “But I couldn’t shake that gnawing hunger clawing at my stomach.”

Concern rippled through him. “Have you talked to Ignatius?”

“I did.”

“And?”

“And he told me sometimes we have to slay the beast.”

Griff rolled his eyes at their leader’s cryptic reply. “What the hell does that mean?”

“I don’t know,” Mad said, his voice filled with resignation. “Maybe he means I’m literally supposed to go out and hunt down whoever is filling my head with all these crazy images.”

Griff grumbled softly. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea. You could be walking into a trap. It wouldn’t be the first time the Knights used a seer or someone with empathic abilities to screw with a dragon’s head.”

“It doesn’t feel malicious.” He rubbed his chest. “It feels desperate.” Mad let his arm fall back to the mat. He met Griff’s gaze. “I can’t go on like this. I may not have a choice.”

Griff could see what these dreams were doing to Mad, and he agreed that they had to be stopped. Who would be powerful enough to project dreams as a call for help? The possibilities worried him, especially if Mad struck out on his own. “Will you at least wait until I’ve finished this mating phase? I’ll come with you.”

“Sure.”

He opened his mouth to ask him where they would start their search but the wild vibration of an approaching dragon gripped his gut. Every dragon of his acquaintance had a specific feeling, but this one he didn’t recognize. The vibrations filled him with a bright, trembling sensation of excitement. The alien sensation was unsettling.

Griff pushed off the mat and rose to his full height. Mad was a little slower getting off the floor. They climbed out of the ring and crossed the gym to the main entrance. The vibrations in Griff’s stomach pushed into his chest. A pulsing heat burned him. He rubbed the spot just over his heart and glanced at Mad. His cousin didn’t seem to be the least bit affected.

The double doors burst open and a woman appeared. Her scent hit him like a ton of bricks. Swaying on his feet, Griff backed up a step and tried to clear his hazy mind. Alluringly sweet and spicy, the smell invaded his lungs. His inner beast snapped with lust and need. This woman, whoever she was, had ignited his desire.

Griff let his hungry gaze roam her petite frame. He’d never seen a skirt look so good. The hip-hugging fabric outlined her body in all the right ways. A fitted blouse with the top buttons popped open displayed her curves. She wore her jet-black hair coiled at the back of her head. Emeralds dangled from her earlobes. The glimmering green jewels accentuated her silky brown skin. His fingertips buzzed as he wondered what it would be like to stroke her face.

She turned her dark eyes on him. Something about her was so familiar. When she waved her hand up and down, he spotted the white handkerchief. What in the hell?

“Griffin Cadogan?”

Her gentle voice spilled over him like sunshine. “Yes?”

“I’d like to request we put our family’s little blood feud aside for the duration of my visit.”

Blood feud? The shock of her identity smacked him right in the face. “Avani Monroe?”

Her lips curved in a teasing smile. “They told me you were the smart one.”

Trying to ignore the needful pull tugging at him, Griff narrowed his eyes. “You’re either very brave or very stupid to come into our gym.”

“I assure you I’m neither stupid nor brave.” She took a hesitant step closer. “No, it’s desperation that brought me to my enemy’s door.”

Her somber tone struck a chord with him. Against his better judgment, he asked, “What do you want?”

Her sexy, sinful grin knocked the air right out of his lungs. “You.”

Sexy Distraction and a $200 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

18 Sep

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I’m at Silken Sheets today talking about the 2nd year anniversary of our group blog. There’s a steamy pic (yes!) and a chance at winning at $200 gift card.

 

HerRussianProtector-BoxedSet-Vol1_2000

Also–the super sexy romantic suspense Her Russian Protector series boxed set containing the first three books in the series is on sale for 99 Cents through 9/22/13! You can grab a copy at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Smashwords.

Saved by Venom (Grabbed #3): Super Early Sneak Peek

26 Aug

Not a book cover–but hell–he’s hot! Like Venom!

 

Saved by Venom hit my editor’s desk this morning. I don’t have a release date yet but I would expect to see it before the end of the year. The moment I have a firm date, you can be sure I’ll share it!

To tide you over until Venom makes his debut, I thought I would share a teaser excerpt from the book. If you receive my newsletter, you’ve seen a few paragraphs of this excerpt already.  If you’re not on my newsletter list, the sign up button is the bright pink box at the top right corner of this page.

Here’s a blurb to give you an idea of what happens in Venom’s book.

Blurb

To escape her father’s debt to a loan shark, Dizzy seeks refuge in the upcoming Grab. She’d rather belong to one of those terrifying sky warriors from the battleship Valiant than to the sleazy criminal who wants her as his plaything. But when she spots the dangerously sexy soldier stalking her, Dizzy questions the wisdom of her gamble.

The years of constant war haven’t been kind to highly decorated sniper Venom. Only the promise of earning a wife kept him going through the deadliest, bloodiest battles. Catching and collaring Dizzy fills him with such incredible hope. Finally, he has a woman of his own, a mate to protect and love—and bind and adorn with his ropes.

After a brazen Splinter attack, the Shadow Force uncovers secrets about Dizzy’s late mother, secrets that entangle Dizzy in a web of spies and deceit. To save Venom, to save her father, to save a one-eyed operative named Terror—Dizzy digs deep and risks it all.

But Venom refuses to stand idly by while the specter of Dizzy’s haunted past threatens the future they’re trying to build. He finally has a reason for living—and he’s not giving her up without a fight.

 

Excerpt

Venom searched the shivering group of women for one that appealed to him. Choosing a wife on sight wasn’t the most of auspicious beginnings for a mate bond but it was the only choice he had. He had come this far. He wasn’t going back empty-handed.

The tightly packed group shifted as some of the women turned toward the stage for a better look at the men who would be chasing them very soon. A flash of white-blonde hair caught his eye. He was momentarily taken aback by the pale shade. It wasn’t very common among the Earth-descendants on Calyx, but it was the mark of a full-blooded member of the Harcos race like himself.

He zeroed in on the pale hair. The woman it belonged to found her way to the rear of the crowd. She was a tiny little thing, petite like Vee’s Hallie, but not as thin. The boxy cut of her bright red outfit obscured her frame but he could see the faint outline of curves beneath the papery fabric. She wasn’t quite as curvaceous as Menace’s woman but she had a nice shape.

Their gazes clashed across the wide expanse between them. Her eyes widened with shock and she took three quick steps back. Something primal ignited within him at the sight of her fleeing. Like a prowling cat catching the scent of its prey, he had to chase her now.

Her panicked gaze darted from the stage where a member of The City’s council read the official Grab rules and the gate that led to the snowy open field and the forest just beyond it. Fists curled at her sides, she sized him up before taking two quick hops toward the gate

No doubt she had done the math. There was no way she could evade him. His legs were nearly twice as long as hers and he had on rugged boots. She had on shiny pink shoes that were wholly unsuitable for doing anything outdoors. They looked like the kind of thing a woman would wear with a dress.

He frowned at her lack of preparation and hoped this wasn’t a sign of flightiness. Judging by the state of the other women, it seemed more likely that the officials running the Grab hadn’t properly advised them what to expect. It was yet another issue he would be reporting to the Grab committee aboard the Valiant.

The snap of two blocks of wood slamming together startled him. A man opened the gate and the women rushed out of the pen. The clock started on their short head start. Venom didn’t linger on the stage. He hopped down into the muck and trudged to the gate. A handful of the other soldiers and airmen followed him.

With his gaze fixed on the pale-haired woman, he watched her fight through the ankle deep snow. His gut soured with worry. He glanced at his watch and read the temperature and wind chill before hastily calculating the amount of time she had before suffering from frostbite. He made a quick estimation as to how long the women had been exposed to the elements. The numbers he arrived at didn’t make him happy.

Around him, the other men seemed to be doing the same mental calculations. There were grunts of annoyance as the seconds ticked down to their release from the pen. Antsy and on edge, they fidgeted and flexed to release some of the anxiety.

The moment the blocks clapped together again, Venom shoved off the slick, muddy ground and raced onto the field. He tracked the woman he wanted as he sprinted to intercept her. She was in the middle of the pack but seemed terrible at navigating. From what he could tell, she was angling for a section of the woods clear off the course. His lips twitched with amusement. He’d have to make sure to program her personal tablet with a map app for navigating the ship.

Venom noticed another man closing in on him. He shot the guy a hard look to warn him off the prize he had selected. The airman put up both hands to show he wanted no problems and pointed to a brunette nearing the tree line. “I’m after that one, sir.”

“The blonde’s mine.” He kicked his pace into high gear and started to gain on the woman he wanted. She had disappeared into the dense woods. Panic gripped his gut. Would she evade him now?

Considering the way she had been unable to even run in a straight line from the starting point to the forest, he doubted it. When he hit the tree line, he slowed his speed just enough to get his bearings. He scanned the snowy forest floor and found her tiny footprints. With a path to follow, he hurried after her.

Another minute into the pursuit, Venom spotted the bright pink shoes discarded near a tree. His heart leapt into his throat. Didn’t she realize how dangerous it was to run barefoot in the damned snow?

“Shit.” Growling, he surged forward in search of her. He had to find her quickly and before she got frostbite.

So focused on finding her, Venom missed the telltale sign of a hunter’s mark on the trees surrounding him. His boot hit the spongy trigger of a trap a millisecond before his brain alerted him to the mistake he’d made. With a chilling snap, two metal halves of the trap slammed shut on his leg.

“Fuck!” His pained shout ricocheted off the trees. Caught, he fell forward onto his knees and hands. His jaws ground together at the excruciating bite compressing his leg. The reinforced webbing and nano-fibers of his boots kept the gnarly metal snare from piercing his skin and crippling him but the terrible squeezing grip knocked the air right out of his lungs.

A wave of panic seized him. Despondence quickly overwhelmed him. He had two choices now. He could try to jerk the chain free and bust the trap or he could use the signal flare tucked into the pocket of his pants to call for help. Once the flare was lit, he was officially disqualified from the Grab. Even if he had his collar around her neck, they would set her free and send him home empty-handed.

Either way, he had lost his reward. He had lost her.

* * * * *

Dizzy gasped at the terrible, pained shout that echoed in the forest. Birds scattered as the guttural groan tore the stillness. She slid to a stop in the freezing cold snow and tried to slow her ragged breaths. Was that a man?

Was it the man?

She gulped hard and licked her lips. Glancing back in the direction of the awful sound, she tried to decide what to do. A sky warrior like the rugged, intimidating one who had been eying her would only make a sound like that if he was in big trouble.

The race officials had warned them that people hunted in these wounds. The gun laws out here weren’t like the strict, zero-tolerance laws in The City. It was rumored everyone in the sticks had a weapon. Maybe the sky warrior chasing her had been shot? Did he need help?

She warred with her conscience only a moment before exhaling roughly and turning back in the direction she’d come. Pressing a hand to her temple, she tried to gain control over the dizziness threatening to swamp her. She hated this damn sickness! Running and playing had been nearly impossible as a child. She couldn’t predict when the waves of nausea and dizziness would hit her but they usually happened at the worst times.

Like right now.

Bracing herself on a tree, Dizzy closed her eyes. She inhaled steadying breaths and performed a series of slow maneuvers that usually helped abate the uncomfortable swirling some. Today, thankfully, it worked. She managed to get moving again without feeling like she was going to puke or fall flat on her face.

The sounds of a struggle met her ears. She heard rattling chains and grunting. Hiding behind a tree, Dizzy licked her lips and gathered her courage before sliding to the side and peeking out at him.

Seated on the snow, he gripped a long, thick chain in both gloved hands and jerked hard. Her eyes widened at his shocking display of strength. When her gaze moved lower, she gasped at the sight of the awful looking trap closed around his lower leg. The snow around his leg remained white and pristine so he wasn’t bleeding badly. Even so, the injury he would sustain if the trap wasn’t removed quickly would be a terrible one.

Trembling with cold and fear, she stepped out from behind the tree and revealed herself to him. His gaze snapped to her and she took a nervous step back. He let the chain fall from his hands. The tension eased from his face, softening his harsh features and making him look less vicious. They stared at one another for the longest time.

Finally, Dizzy found enough courage to move closer to him. Her footsteps crunched on the firm, packed snow. He glanced at her bare feet and scowled. “Why the hell did you take off your shoes?”

Taken aback by his gruff tone, she froze in place. Squeaking with fright, she explained, “The soles were too slippery. I nearly face-planted on a tree stump and decided it wasn’t worth the risk.”

He grunted. “You’ll care when you lose those toes to frostbite.”

Her stomach trembled violently and she stared at her frigid feet. “Are you serious? Am I really going to lose my toes?”

His lips twitched with amusement. Was he teasing her? She couldn’t tell. With a flick of his fingers, he motioned her closer. “Come here. Let me help you.”

She took a few tentative steps toward him. “I think you’re the one who needs my help.”

His mouth settled into an irritated line. “My leg will keep. Now get over here and let me see your feet.”

She frowned at him. “You could be nice about it.”

He sighed loudly. “Please. Come here before you freeze to death or need your damn feet amputated.”

Though that was hardly nice, Dizzy felt sure that pushing him wasn’t a good idea. She moved as close as she dared. Apparently, that wasn’t close enough because the frightening sky warrior snatched her by the waist and hauled her onto his lap. She squealed with surprise and smacked his chest. “Let me go!”

“Not likely.” He gathered her even tighter to his warm, hard body. “Now stop fighting and hold still.”

“Like hell,” she snapped and pushed at the ridiculously strong arm clamped around her waist. It was no use. His superior strength rendered her desperate shoving futile.

“Stop,” he said with a laugh. “You’re going to fall off me onto the snow. I’m trying to warm you up. Now behave or I’ll toss you over my lap and spank that sweet little ass of yours.”

Outraged, she gasped at him. “You wouldn’t dare!”

“Oh, sugar, I would.” His blue-green eyes glinted with excitement and something else, something she couldn’t quite pinpoint. Arousal? Yes, she decided finally. The thought of spanking her bottom aroused him. She wasn’t sure what to think about that.

His gloved hand moved down her legs to her feet. She couldn’t believe how small her foot looked cupped in his massive palm. He brushed the snow and wetness from her skin. “Can you feel your feet?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

He pinched and wiggled her toes. “And here?”

“Yes.” She curled her toes under and tried to pull her foot away from him but he held tight.

“Unzip that pocket on my left leg.” He gestured to the pocket in question with his head. “There is an extra pair of socks in there.”

Fingers trembling from cold and nervousness, Dizzy did as instructed. She found the pair of too-big socks and handed them to him. He shook them out and quickly rolled them onto her feet. The tops brushed her knees and the heel was above her ankle but she didn’t care how silly they looked. Her feet began to warm almost instantly. “Thank you.”

He simply nodded and unzipped another pouch on his strange pants. He withdrew two clear plastic bags and two long, thin strips of plastic. “Evidence bags and zipties,” he explained. “I’m going to use them to secure a barrier around the socks. I don’t want them getting soaked with melted snow.”

She marveled at all the things he kept in his pants. “Don’t these get heavy?”

He flashed a quick smile. The sight of his lips curving in that playful way did crazy things to her belly. “You get used to it.”

Ignoring the wild tremors shaking her core, she asked, “Why do you need all these things?”

“I’m SRU,” he said and slid the plastic bags over her feet. “Special Response Unit,” he clarified. “We’re small, focused, elite teams who respond to highly dynamic environments and situations.”

“Dynamic environments?”

“Hostage situations, terrorist threats—dangerous stuff that requires some finesse and understanding,” he said while tightening the zip ties around her ankles. Satisfied with his work, he pulled down the cuffs of the ugly red pants she’d been forced to wear. “What do you do?”

“I’m a seamstress.” It seemed a silly occupation compared to his. “I design clothing for a couple of small boutiques in The City. Well—I used to design for boutiques.”

His gloved hand caressed her cheek. The cold, slightly damp fabric rasped her skin as he slid his fingers under her chin and forced her to meet his unnervingly steady gaze. “I’m keeping you.”

She swallowed hard. Voice barely a whisper, she answered, “I figured.”

Blog Hop Winners!

26 Aug

 

The Summer Seduction Blog Hop has ended and the winners have been chosen. The main hop prizes ($75 gift card to Eden Fantasys and a ten book bundle) were Valerie R and Michelle V.

The winner of the $100 Mod Cloth gift card for my hop stop is:  Kimberly Mayberry!

I’ll drop you a quick email later to make arrangements.

Huge thanks to everyone who followed the hop and entered the giveaways!

Stomp Vs. Romp: Let’s Talk About Dragons in Heat

21 Aug

 

I’m visiting Rabid Reads today as part of the month-long Stomp Vs. Romp competition. There’s a steamy excerpt from Dead Sexy Dragon and a giveaway!