Thursday, January 31, 2019

The law refuses to protect Alexa Thorne from her ex, a Silent Demon who thinks she’s still his property. #MCromance #eroticromance new release from Lynn Burke

Jonny
Fallen Gliders 5
Cover Art: Jay Aheer, Simply Defined Art

Jonny Hayes, president of the Fallen Gliders MC, can’t remember the last time a woman got him up or off. With the club under fire and an inside snitch spilling their secrets, the last thing he needs in his life is a curvy blonde on the run. Even if she does make his hands itch to redden her sweet ass.

The law refuses to protect Alexa Thorne from her ex, a Silent Demon who thinks she’s still his property. Bruised but not broken, she runs north in search of her friend—and a safe place to escape—but instead finds herself surrounded by a rival gang. Vouched for and under the Glider’s protection, Alexa refuses to let a man touch her again—even if their alpha president makes her body burn to submit to him.

Jonny vows to keep his hands to himself, but the undeniable pull between the two cannot be ignored. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe, even if the consequences of his plan costs him his club, his brothers, and his freedom.

PURCHASE LINKS:




EXCERPT:
My breath caught at the sight of the man coming through the door.
Damnit. My heartbeat kicked up a few notches, and my panties were done for, but my head. My head screamed retreat loud enough I questioned the wisdom of making “friends”.
Jonny’s gaze landed on my face, and I felt the scrutiny of his intense eyes across the kitchen.
Janie threw herself into Hawk’s arms, legs wrapped around his waist as she attacked his mouth.
Jonny glanced at the two of them sucking face, and turned back toward me, one eyebrow raised.
I found myself laughing beneath my breath and shrugging. “Guess they kind of like each other,” I said, my voice a little shaky.
“Guess so.” He slipped his leather jacket off his shoulders, and my mouth dried.
Nothing hotter than a ripped man in a tight, white t-shirt. While Jonny probably had a handful of years—if not ten—on me, the man sure took care of himself. A few lines lay at the corner of his eyes, and gray hinted in the dark hair above his temples, but beneath his neck? He could have been taken for a twenty-something with the hard dips and valleys of his body. Black leather pants clung to every inch of him from the waist down.
Saliva rushed back to coat my mouth, and I swallowed while ripping my gaze off him to focus on the carrots. My hand trembled, and I put the knife down, deciding there were more than enough carrots chopped for four salads.
“Hope you boys are hungry,” Janie said, a little breathless. “Want to go fire up the grill with me, baby?”
“Hmm.” Hawk hummed his agreement and grabbed a couple beers from the fridge.
I busied myself putting the carrots on top of the four bowls of lettuce Janie had readied.
“Be right back!” Janie giggled and scooted out the door once more with Hawk.
Jonny stayed behind, beer in hand, focus on me. “How are you?”
I had to swallow again from drool and nerves alike. “Better than yesterday,” I said, trying for a smile.
“Get some sleep last night?”
“Finally, yes.”
“Hawk told me you’re going to stay with them for a while.”
I nodded and moved toward the table to put the salads by each plate. The weight of Jonny’s stare kept my heartbeat thumping, my skin tingling.
“You’re welcome at the club.”
My attention shot toward him even though Hawk had already told Janie as much over the phone earlier in the day. Jonny swigged from his bottle of beer, dark gaze on my face while swallowing.
“Hawk says you’re good people, and I trust him above everyone else.”
Sudden tears filled my eyes, and I turned away to put the final salad on the table.
“Hey.” The warmth of his touch on my elbow stilled me. “You okay?”
A mere foot from me, the slight scent of soap, hops, and mint clinging to him weakened me in the best way possible. “Y-yeah,” I managed to say, but didn’t pull away from the first man’s touch I’d experienced without cringing.
Jonny glanced down to his hand still cupping my elbow and lifted his focus once more to my face, a question in his eye.
Temptation to lean into him, to accept the comfort he offered, played with my mind, and I stared up into eyes darker than the smoothest chocolate. Heated energy charged between us, making it hard for me to breathe.
Jonny’s gaze flitted down to my lips, and I realized I’d licked the lower without meaning to.
His bottle clinked on the table as he set it down, and my breath caught again as he lifted his hand and brushed my hair back over my shoulder, his fingertips feather-light over the skin of my neck.
Goosebumps spread down over my entire body, and I shivered, completely trapped by his gaze and torn between wanting to close the distance between us and scurrying away to find a hole to hide in.
“You and your gorgeous curves are one temptation I don’t need right now,” he murmured, his focus dropping to my lips again, “but I sure as hell want.”
Good Lord almighty, the man didn’t waste time or mince words. Tell him ditto or pull away?

© Lynn Burke 2018


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Monday, January 21, 2019

New Release - Duty Bound, Contemporary Reverse Harem Romances! #reverseharem #whychoose #eroticromance



Duty Bound
Featuring stories from Felicity Brandon, Katie Douglas, Lily Harlem and Lucy Felthouse.
Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

Blurb:
When their uniforms come off...
Bossy, dedicated, overprotective, super complicated. A woman needs a man like that in her life like she needs a temporal lobe headache, right? Think again, because when the uniforms come off and the temperature skyrockets, it’s time to forget Hell and take a trip straight to Heaven.
How about multiplying that by three, four, or more? You get the picture? This set of panty-melting reverse harem stories will have you gasping, panting, squirming and sweating. Read late into the night with these steamy tales featuring priests, military men, S.W.A.T. officers, gardeners, waiters, and more.
For a limited time only, grab your own harem of hot men who are determined to be the best of the best, especially when it comes to adoring their woman.
Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

Excerpt from Chasing the Chambermaid by Lucy Felthouse:
Prologue
Only the slop, slop, slopping sound of her painfully slow footsteps through the thick, sucking mud convinced Connie White she was actually making any progress. Her limbs and extremities had long since gone so numb that she couldn’t be sure otherwise.
Come on, Con, just a little bit further. That sign said something about an estate, and an estate means buildings. A bloody cowshed will do—anything for some respite from this infernal sodding weather.
She pushed on for several more minutes, then gasped with shock and relief when her next step met not with sloppy mud or waterlogged grass, but a track. A rough track, but a track nonetheless. And it had to lead somewhere, surely? It ran left to right across the line she’d been taking, so Connie had to make a decision. Which way would lead her to… something? She was already soaked to the skin and freezing cold, so a couple of seconds of rumination wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to her physical state. She really didn’t want to end up going in the wrong direction and heading further away from any semblance of civilisation.
She took a breath and remembered her gran’s—long since dead, bless her—nonsensical motto—or one of them, anyway: If in doubt, turn left.
Connie shrugged, and another of her gran’s daft phrases flitted into her brain. In for a penny, in for a pound.
She hoiked her backpack higher, hunched her shoulders against the relentless wind and rain, and turned left. Moments later, she was rewarded as the hulking shape of a building appeared from the sheets of wind-buffeted rain. Excitement gave her a burst of energy, spurring her on. Fifty feet. Forty. Twenty-five. God, what was this place? It looked so old and decrepit the Vikings could have left it behind. Doesn’t matter. If it provides even a modicum of shelter, it’s an improvement on where you slept last night. The wooden bench on the tiny village’s green hadn’t exactly been the warmest or most comfortable place to lay her head. And she shuddered to think about what would have happened if someone unsavoury had happened across her, alone and vulnerable. She’d been very glad to wake up and hurriedly continue on her journey that morning.
The last few feet went by in a blur of motion, her body still numb and not entirely under her control. At least the track was easier to walk on. It wasn’t particularly smooth, but at least it wasn’t trying to pull off her walking boots, like the sucking mud had been.
Finally, she burst through the building’s heavy door, only the adrenaline pumping in her veins making it possible to even shift the thing. Fuck, I’m exhausted.
The last thing she remembered was shucking off her backpack and slamming the door against the elements. Then silence.

Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound


Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

I love writing about the dynamics between two men learning to share a woman. #interview @BethDCarter #menage #romance new release from @evernightpub



The Song Bird

Interview with Beth

1. Why did you choose to write ménage? What intrigues you about this particular genre?

I love writing about the dynamics between two men learning to share a woman. Some stories jump right into a ménage but I think it's more fascinating for the men to grow into the love and all the sidesteps they have to take to reach a HEA.

2. Tell us about your latest ménage, The Song Bird: what’s it all about? Where did you find the inspiration?

I got the inspiration for this story after a vacation in San Francisco. Set a few years after the gold rush of 1849, in San Francisco when the city grew too fast for the local law enforcement to keep the peace, many citizens decided to take matters into their own hands. The largest vigilante group grew and the end result was the hanging of eight men.

3. In your opinion, what makes a good ménage novel?

Believability.  Living in a ménage relationship is hard work so there has to be a dance of some kind to figure out how it all works.  Human flaws have to be worked in and resolved in an organic way. You can’t have insta-love and a HEA without breaking something along the way. Know what I mean?

14. Tell us about your future projects.
I have two books in my publisher’s hands, waiting on a yea or nay verdict. One is a time travel where the hero travels back to 1927, told from his POV, and the other is a short story about a hired bodyguard. Fingers crossed!



Blurb:

Avilon Chambert travels to the wild city of San Francisco to find her missing sister.  All she has is a letter explaining she’s in terrible trouble and that she’s been working as an upstairs girl in a club owned by two handsome men, Eli Masters and Jason Braddock.

When she arrives at the club, the only way she can get to talk to them is by auditioning for the singing position, and she captivates them by her beautiful operatic voice.  But the answers to her questions are vague and filled with holes, rousing her suspicions.

Her arrival at the club seems to set off a chain of events filled with danger.  As she searches further for her sister, she unleashes the wrath of a madman bent of revenge, threatening to destroy everything and everyone she’s come to love.


Excerpt:

“If you two love each other,” she finally said, licking her lips, “then show me.”
Confusion clouded their eyes.
“What do you mean?” Eli asked.
“Kiss him,” she ordered and pointed to Jason. “Love him. Convince me the emotion is real.”
The bedroom was suddenly filled with heart-pounding tension. Eli’s body hardened, the muscle of his jaw tightening. Jason’s eyes narrowed as he regarded her warily.
“How far do you want us to take this?” Eli asked softly.
“If you want me to be comfortable with you, to trust you, then you need to trust me,” she answered equally as soft.
That must have been the right thing to say because in the next instant, Eli reached for Jason, sinking his big hand behind Jason’s neck to pull him into his body. Their lips met, crashing together in a bruising kiss.
Their bodies gravitated toward each other. She watched Eli grab Jason’s hips and pull him into his body. They were equal in height and stature, but Eli simply oozed dominance. Both men ground against each other as if they couldn’t get close enough.
Hands roamed over hard abs, seeking. Clothes started to shift. Layer by layer was discarded as the room became thick with passion. Avilon watched them. Her heart pounded, and her blood boiled. She felt her feminine folds become slick as their hands traced over sleek muscles and tempered strength. Eli’s cock jutted hard and proud from the smattering of dark hair that surrounded the base and traveled up to form a line that rode the center of his tight abdomen to furl across his chest. A heavy sac rested at the apex of his thighs, almost begging to be fondled.
Jason gently grasped Eli’s large cock, taking the clear fluid leaking from the tip to rub into the shaft before pumping his hand up and down. Then he replaced his hand with his mouth, holding on to Eli’s hips as the bigger man buried his hands in Jason’s hair to guide him up and down again and again.
Eli’s gaze met hers, holding her captive within its brilliant lightness. “Touch yourself,” he told her.
“What?” she asked, startled.
“Touch yourself,” he repeated. “Use your fingers to rub your pussy, tease your clit. But watch us.”


Author Info:

I like writing about the very ordinary girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, so my heroines will probably never be lawyers, doctors or corporate highrollers.  I try to write characters who aren't cookie cutters and push myself to write complicated situations that I have no idea how to resolve, forcing me to think outside the box.  I love writing characters who are real, complex and full of flaws, heroes and heroines who find redemption through love.  I love to hear from readers so I’ve made it really easy to find me on the web:

Where to Buy


Sunday, January 13, 2019

He’s gay. He somehow knows I am, too—probably the way I’m ogling him. #newrelease #MMromance @elodieparkes


The Romantic 
MM romance from eXtasy Books
Release day teaser

Handsome Luke Kirby loves books, so when he finds boxes of old and beautiful tomes in a dusty shop, he can’t resist buying them. To his delight one of them contains what he hopes will bring an end to his loneliness and heartache. As he prepares to cast an ancient prayer spell to the god of love, across town Ethan Goss decides that moving to a new apartment will ease his broken heart.
With the help of an eccentric real estate agent, gorgeous Ethan goes to a viewing in the block where Luke lives.
When Luke meets Ethan in the lobby, it’s the start of a passionate love affair. 
Fate hasn’t finished with the two handsome men—will true happiness evade them both?
#gayromance with an edge of paranormal 

Warning this story contains MM sex in the love scenes.



Read the teaser

In the lobby, Victor stopped walking. “I should show you the garden, but I need the key for the gate. It’s in my car. Wait here a moment.” He strode rapidly out of the front doors.
Ethan checked out the table in the foyer where mail sat in three neat stacks. One stack had a lot, the others not much at all. Ethan couldn’t help reading the names on the envelopes. As his gaze traveled over the addresses, someone clattered down the polished hardwood stairs.
Ethan turned to the footsteps.
A young man glanced up from watching where his feet fell. His blue eyes locked with Ethan’s stare.
Ethan gazed at him, and his stomach lurched. His heart pounded. Not one word would form in his mind other than, wow.
The young man smiled, approaching the table. “Hi. I’m collecting my snail mail—yeah, not much as usual.”
Through a daze of attraction, Ethan watched the man pick up the two envelopes in his stack. He looked the young man up and down, taking in his hard body and fashionably cut dark hair. He held back a sigh of appreciation as the man turned to him.
“Are you the new tenant?” He waved a hand at the apartment door.
His low voice traveled over Ethan like a glaze of melting honey. Ethan stared at the man’s handsome face. He is gorgeous. About my age, too. “I haven’t taken the place yet, just…just viewed it.”
The young man moved closer. “You should take it. There aren’t many places as good, big, and with a garden this close to the city.” He held out his hand. “Luke Kirby. I live on the third floor, but that’s my patch of garden next to yours, if you take the place. It might seem odd to have to trundle down the stairs to sit in the sun with my coffee, but I’ve grown used to it.” His eyes sparkled at Ethan. He held Ethan’s gaze as he talked.
Butterflies filled Ethan’s stomach. He couldn’t stop his heart hammering and wondered if he could actually speak, meeting Luke had such an effect on him. “Ethan Goss.” He shook Luke’s hand. What he felt like doing was pulling the guy close and kissing those perfect lips that moved again.
“Pleased to meet you.” Luke held on to Ethan’s hand. His eyes held something unspoken.
A wave of longing rose through Ethan. His loneliness and need for sex put an ache in his stomach, replacing the butterflies. He glanced down at the strong hand gripping his, wondering if he could hold on a little longer, despite how weird that might be. Better not, that’s kinda creepy. All the same, it wasn’t Ethan who abandoned the handshake.
Luke let go but trailed his fingertips along Ethan’s palm as he withdrew his hand.
With his skin tingling from the touch, Ethan gazed into Luke’s blue eyes and knew. He’s gay. He somehow knows I am, too—probably the way I’m ogling him. He’s interested in me. Thank you, god. Ethan flashed his eyes at Luke with a flirtatious expression he usually reserved for cute guys he met in the gay bar.
Copyright Elodie Parkes 2019 eXtasy Books
BUY the BOOK
http://mybook.to/TheRomantic will take you to your Amazon site









Saturday, January 12, 2019

Somebody’s about to get burned… #romance @AuthorHKCarlton Read a #teaser #eroticromance


Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. I’m doubly excited to share not only the re-launch of, If You Can’t Handle the Heat, but this re-release is also my first self-publishing venture.

This story was previously published with the title If You Can't Stand the Heat. Though there is a little bit of added content, the story remains relatively the same.

In this erotic story, two very different professionals are brought together as celebrity judges on a reality-based cooking show. Sesto Théodore—the celeb chef that the show is built around—meets walking cliché, Syn Fully, erotic novelist. Though there is an immediate conflict in personalities, there is also an instant sizzling attraction. A classic clash and burn.


If You Can't Handle the Heat
by
H K Carlton


Blurb:

An unlikely couple is brought together as celebrity judges on a new reality-based cooking show.

Sesto Théodore, is an arrogant yet well respected American-Italian chef, with several five-star restaurants.

Once bitten, twice shy, Syn Fully, is a jaded author of erotica, rocketing her way up all the best sellers lists.

From the moment Syn and Sesto meet, their personalities clash, yet behind the scenes sparks fly. Getting together would be a recipe for disaster, but hot sex with no-strings couldn’t hurt. At least not until real feelings get involved.

But just when Syn considers opening her damaged heart to the cocky chef, video of rather personal content is leaked online. Sesto immediately jumps to conclusions and accuses Syn of the privacy breach.

Can the arrogant chef forgive and forget, or will his pride leave him out in the cold?

Somebody’s about to get burned…

Possible Triggers: Please note one scene contains borderline bdsm and dubious consent/forcible confinement. Also in this story intimate video is obtained without the knowledge or consent of the participants involved, and later distributed online

Author’s Note: This erotic story has been previously published with the title, If You Can’t Stand the Heat. Though there is a little bit of added content, the story remains relatively the same. It has been re-edited and re-formatted for re-release, and has a sizzling new cover thanks to Studioenp


Buy Link:
Excerpt:

Sesto took the opportunity to turn his wrath on Syn. “May I speak to you out in the hall, please!” he demanded, shooting to his feet.

“Of course,” she responded, haughtily, as though she hadn’t just been giving him the initial stages of a hand job under the table.

Sesto allowed Syn to take the lead. He was momentarily captivated by her long shapely legs, as she stalked across the space, confident and oh-so fuckin’ sexy in those red stilettos. Sesto pulled level with her and couldn’t resist the urge to place his hand to the small of her back, left bare by the severe cut of her dress. If he wasn’t mistaken, she’d trembled at the contact. Or was it his hand that quivered?

In the corridor, Syn rounded on him, at the same moment he blurted, “What the fuck do you think…”

The words died on his tongue, as she once again stroked his shaft through his trousers. Her gaze settled on his mouth. Her breathing was shallow.

“Where’s your dressing room?” she asked, backing him up.

Sesto grabbed her other wrist and dragged her into the green room, before slamming the door behind them.

He yanked her hand, above her head and forced it against the door. He half-expected her to fight. What he wasn’t prepared for was the brazen little smile that hooked her sinful lips, as she raised her arm to join the other. With both hands stretched above her head Syn arched toward him, thrusting her beautiful tits, right in his face.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he asked again. “We don’t even know each other.”

“I know. Isn’t it wicked, how our bodies want to though.”

He groaned, shifting uncomfortably foot to foot, yet he couldn’t focus on anything but her lovely breasts.

“Go ahead, Théo, set them free,” she tempted, her voice barely above a whisper.


© H K Carlton

Buy Link:

About the Author:

H K Carlton is a multi-genre Canadian author of romance, with over thirty titles in publication. From naughty to nice, historical to contemporary, time travel to space travel, and everything in between.

Variety is creativity’s playground—It’s where you’ll find me


Join me for the ride:

Blogs:
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Out Now—Sapphic Seduction by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #sapphic #lesfic #erotica #lesbian



Blurb:

If you enjoy short tales of ladies loving each other, then get your hands on this collection from the pen of award-winning author Lucy Felthouse.
From Zumba classes to army basic training, surfer chicks to mechanics, and even a lost dog, this book has variety galore. There’s something for everyone, and will have you eager to turn just one more page.
Enjoy twelve titillating tales, over 45,000 words of Sapphic delight.
Please note: The stories in this anthology have been previously published.

Buy links:

Excerpt:

Verity’s phone buzzed in her pocket, reminding her of an angry—and insistent—bee. Sighing, she pulled the device out and looked at the screen. Rolling her eyes, she rejected the call, then pressed the off button. Fuck her family and their petty dramas—she did enough for them, and they never appreciated it. Let them deal with their own shit for a change. She’d come here for some peace and solitude, and that was what she was damn well going to get.
After showing her membership card to the kindly old lady at the kiosk, Verity passed through the gate and into the gardens of Biddulph Grange. The beautiful stately home, sadly, was private, but the stunning landscaped gardens were open to the public. The place was already off the beaten track—nestled as it was, deep in the Staffordshire countryside—but once Verity stepped inside the huge gardens, she felt a million miles from anywhere.
Closing her eyes momentarily, she pulled in a deep breath through her nostrils, and released it from her mouth. Already she felt better, the stress and irritation seeping out of her and disappearing into the gravelled path beneath her feet. This place was her refuge, her sanctuary. She never told anyone where she went when she disappeared off for a few hours every couple of weeks—more often if her family was being more difficult than usual—and that was the beauty of it. No one knew where she was, no one could bother her. All she had was herself and the cacophony of nature within the garden walls, and that was precisely how she wanted it.
Letting out a contented sigh this time, she shut out all the unpleasant thoughts, emptying her mind, and concentrated only on what was around her. What she could see, what she could hear, what she could smell.
Her favourite thing about the gardens—aside from their being her escape—was the fact they seemed to look different every time she visited. Nature took its course: trees and bushes grew, plants flowered, leaves turned and dropped. New plants were introduced, old or diseased ones were removed.
The wildlife was wonderful, too. A huge variety of birds fluttered, swooped and hopped around, tweeting, twittering and singing. Butterflies and squirrels also made frequent appearances. They never failed to make Verity smile, and today was no exception. A further weight was lifted from her as her lips curved into a grin, and she breathed in deeply through her nostrils. The air smelled fresh, yet something lingered, hinting at something to come.
Verity tilted her head back and looked up at the sky. Hmm, that could be it. There was a thick covering of cloud, not particularly ominous-looking, but then that was British weather for you. It could, and did, change in the blink of an eye.
Shrugging, Verity carried on walking. She was here now—she wasn’t going to leave just in case it rained. Even if it did, so what? A little rain never killed anyone. It could actually be kind of refreshing.
Putting one foot in front of the other, she followed her nose through the landscape, admiring everything she saw, and exchanging polite nods and smiles with the handful of people she met. And it was only a handful. Perhaps others had checked the weather forecast before coming out and had been deterred. More fool them.
On the other hand, though, she thanked them. It meant she had the place pretty much to herself. Smiling, she allowed her imagination to run away with itself, painting a picture of a scenario where Verity owned the stately home currently hidden from view, and was wandering in her own private gardens. Every tree, every bush, every flower, every blade of grass was on her land, and she loved it. Having such an amazing place to call her own… well, she knew how lucky she was.
She was snapped out of her grand and wonderful fantasy by something that didn’t look quite right. Blinking, she focussed on whatever it was over to her left-hand side that seemed to stand out like a sore thumb. She frowned and stepped closer, still not entirely sure what she was seeing. Though it definitely wasn’t a thumb, sore or otherwise.

Author Bio:

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Meet a #vampire in #FirstChapterFriday Sparks start to fly as Ethan feels...what...not a twinge of jealousy, surely? @CHBB @ElodieParkes #romance


Meet a vampire #FirstChapterFriday

Gorgeous Ethan Ross believes he’s immune to love. He’s a lead member of, Deep Dream, a rock band that often plays at StarZ, an up-market, mysterious, New Orleans rock club and he’s never short of romantic offers, so, he reasons, why bring love into the equation? He also works in StarZ as a bartender, which is great cover for what he really is and gives the ladies the opportunity to flock to him. He’s seen some strange things there, but Ethan isn’t easily shocked, after all, he’s supernatural.
When music magazine journalist, Anna Prideaux visits StarZ to interview his band, she’s drawn to Ethan in a way she’s never experienced before. As she returns to the club time and again in the hope he will ask her out, she slowly becomes aware that the club holds a mystery ... what really happens in the private upstairs bar, for instance?
Anna is ready to give up the idea of ever gaining Ethan’s attention when gorgeous Remy Dubois hits on her.
Sparks start to fly as Ethan feels...what...not a twinge of jealousy, surely?
Who will win Anna’s heart and how low will the two men stoop to do it?


Chapter One


“Ethan Ross, that’s your real name?” Anna leaned across the bar counter, hooking her hands over the edge to avoid sliding back. Her face hovered close to his as he prepared to serve her. Her breasts pressed together on display in her low-necked dress.

Ethan’s gaze flicked to her throat where her pulse throbbed almost in time to the low beat of the music piped through the speakers when no live act was booked. He didn’t need to charm this girl. She’d be his at the snap of his fingers, if he wanted, if he didn’t already have an assignation that night. Assignation, the old-fashioned word echoed in his mind and amused him. He smiled before he answered with just a hint of exasperation in his tone.

“Yes. None of the band members uses an alias. I think I told you that before.”

Anna beamed at him, obviously thinking the smile was for her. “So, Ethan, I see you working every time I come in here, don’t you ever get a night off?”

The scent of her blood filled his nostrils and something else, desire. She wanted him, and it was badly from the strength of the pheromones she emitted. Ethan considered her. She’d be asking to let him know she was interested in seeing him. He’d heard that question more than a few times, and similar inquiries down the years, all designed to give him the opportunity to ask a girl out. It didn’t melt his resolve—this time.

He raised his eyebrows. “You’re here every night then?” Ethan put the cocktail she’d ordered down on the bar deliberately at arm’s length. He nodded at the lime green beverage. “Mind you don’t spill it.”

If the derision in his question didn’t put her off, maybe his mocking suggestion she might knock over her drink as she drew back from hanging onto the bar would. Ethan averted his eyes from her delightful cleavage dismissively. He moved off to another customer.

Ethan took his order. He’d seen this guy before at the club and Ethan knew the drink he bought would be left untouched on the bar as the mage waited for his cue to appear in the private upstairs bar. It’s his attempt at looking normal. Ethan grinned to himself as he mixed the Brandy Alexander—horrible stuff. He smiled politely at the mage and set the glass down.

There were two other male vampires in the club that night. Ethan watched them posture and demonstrate their beauty. He noticed Anna gravitate to their display and sighed. She was human, and, as with all StarZ employees, it was his job to make sure she left the club safely. Despite the hijinks that would begin at midnight in the private upstairs bar, known to its select members as the clouds, StarZ prided itself on safety. Long gone were the days when the supernatural beings of New Orleans could use the club as a place to kill and enslave. Ethan hadn’t worked in the club long enough to have seen it, but he’d heard stories, and they weren’t pretty.

That night Ethan’s band, Deep Dream, was playing in the clouds and the two vampires were there to set up the gear. Marcus, the bass guitarist, insisted that the band use members of their own community as much as possible. Ethan understood, but the arrangement sometimes irked him. As far as he was concerned, very few vampires were trustworthy. Marcus, and Jolene, the other singer in the band, were, but other than that—Ethan sighed with the knowledge the answer was negative. He watched the two roadies knowing they’d take a couple of girls with them as they set up in the private bar. Those unfortunates would provide, sex and food.

Ethan couldn’t fault the sex part. He took what he wanted in that department. It was the food part. These two vampires could still kill if they let the bloodlust take over when they’d lured a girl away from the safety of the club. They said they didn’t kill, but all the same, they left their victims close to it. Ethan never killed, had never killed, although none of the other vampires knew that. It wouldn’t do to appear weak.

Ethan could feed and leave the victim feeling euphoric and satisfied. These days he only fed from women, if at all. He made it part of sex. If he was particularly ravenous, Ethan ate before he left home to ensure his conquest’s safety. He had a friend working in a local hospital who supplied him with blood bags for a reasonable fee.

Ethan watched the two roadies welcome Anna onto a stool situated between them. She placed her smartphone on the bar counter. She was at the club to interview him and the other band members for a local music magazine. It still produced a hard copy issue as well as being available online. Ethan knew it was widely respected and wielded clout in the fan base, and that’s why he’d agreed to the interview. Deep Dream had a great local following, and a good statewide presence, but he reasoned a few more fans wouldn’t hurt. Marcus had said maybe it was time they toured, and so the band members had agreed to the interview, even though they knew they’d need to be careful of revealing their true natures. Anna had recorded his answers to her questions and taken a photograph of him tending bar, before he’d tired of her flirting, but it sickened him to see her fall under the vampire roadies spell.

Contrary to the contemptuous impression he’d given her as he dismissed her flirting and interview, he’d definitely seen Anna the first time she’d entered StarZ, heard her heartbeat, in fact. She was stunning and yet Ethan hadn’t made any move on her during the nightly visits she’d made to the club since then. This time something stopped him. The feeling that rushed through his body when he saw her was too close to one he’d crushed down in the last decades.

In nineteen-twenty-two, Ethan swore off falling in love again when the woman he loved betrayed him. He’d met her in New York in a speakeasy. He was twenty-five, and going places in the music world. She was so beautiful, and he flew to her like a moth to a flame. Ruby lured him into a love affair that changed his life.

Carl, one of the vampire roadies, gestured with a wave of his hand to Ethan for service. The other two bartenders served customers. Ethan had fallen into a daydream as he considered the past stretching out behind him, and the annoying prospect of saving Anna from possible death in the immediate future. He woke up as the gesture penetrated his peripheral vision, and wandered over to Carl. Feigning nonchalance, he placed a coaster on the bar counter. Instead of looking at Carl, he kept his eyes on the distinct double interlocking silver S and Z embossed on the black swirling background until Carl spoke.

“Three dry Martinis, no olives for Jim and me, but I believe the lovely Anna will take a couple.” He turned to Anna and smiled. “That’s right, isn’t it?”

Ethan’s skin crawled at the syrupy tone in Carl’s voice as he checked with Anna.

“Yes, please.” She addressed Ethan, and that cheered him. She hasn’t answered Carl, which is a good sign. They haven’t compelled her … yet.

Ethan nodded to her and then cast a stony gaze at Carl. “Coming up.” He sent the vampire a message in that look. Keep off.

As he mixed the drinks, he considered how to keep Anna safe. Ethan had perfected the art of tuning out clamor from the world around him. He left the buzz of the busy bar behind as he retreated into his thoughts. He could easily pass for human, especially since he worked long night hours. No one expected him to have a tan from the hot Louisiana sun. No one batted an eye at the fact he mostly disappeared during the day. Anna would have no idea he was a vampire, but as usual, he would need to make his protection seem within the bounds of normalcy. StarZ owner wouldn’t want any patron thinking the place was unsafe.

Ethan had been turned in the famous Manhattan speakeasy ninety-three years ago when he was twenty-five. At the time, he was in great shape, because if he hadn’t gone places in the music world, he’d be going places in baseball. Ethan looked back on that promise now. Sorrow at the lost opportunity flashed over him. Then his philosophical nature kicked in, and he was thankful that at least he’d been turned when his body reflected an athlete, and his mind an educated young man. The only thing Ethan had never overcome was his lover’s betrayal.

Ruby had breezed into the speakeasy one night with two male companions. Easily the most beautiful woman Ethan had ever seen, he left his own circle of friends to watch her glide through the crowds, drinking, smoking, and tapping a delicate foot as she listened to the jazz band playing. Her dress was remarkably short and the fringes shimmered around her pale, slender legs as if dusted with the Californian gold she said had built her fortune. Entranced, Ethan fell for Ruby’s charming chatter. She lured him into a relationship so sexually charged his head spun continually. He wrote a song for her, followed her every night through the glittering city of New York, and when she said she loved him, Ethan laid his heart at her feet for her to trample. When she’d tired of New York she talked of vacationing in her Louisiana house among an elite group of friends, and Ethan fretted that she’d leave him.

She was the one who’d turned him into a vampire, and at his most vulnerable, she’d brought him to New Orleans to meet her community telling him they’d be married there. Dazed from discovering his newly acquired vampirism, and his consuming love for Ruby, Ethan clung to her for the three nights she gave him after delivering him to her French Quarter mansion—then she disappeared.

He speared two fat green olives on a cocktail stick as the memories flew through his mind and knew he was only thinking of Ruby because of Anna.

Ethan brought the martinis to Anna, Carl, and Jim. He waited for a moment in front of the three taking in the sight of the girl. If he gazed at her for longer than a minute an empty ache started up in his stomach. His gaze skimmed over her glossy hair, creamy skinned bare shoulders, and settled on her pretty, heart-shaped face. Anna didn’t resemble Ruby, but she was just as beautiful. It was the feeling her presence evoked in Ethan that forced Ruby to the front of his thoughts. He sighed, wistful for love, but after all these years afraid to go after it and even uncertain he wanted it.

Over the top of Anna’s head, Ethan saw Marcus, Jolene, Alex, and Luke threading through the crowd toward the bar. He grinned at Marcus, who headed up the line of band members.

“Hi, you might just have time to answer this journalist’s questions before we do a sound check.” He indicated Anna with a wave of his hand, knowing Marcus had advance knowledge of the interview already. Ethan hoped this would send the roadies to the private upstairs bar to set up and make his job of securing the girl easier.

At three hundred, Marcus was the oldest vampire in the city. Easily the most powerful, he assumed the position of leader and it worked well. Ethan respected the vampire, who admitted in the past he’d killed for food, but now never fed from a human at all. He glanced at Jolene, who now stood alongside Marcus, with a welcoming smile. She was a youngster at fifty years, and looked the nineteen she was when turned. Jolene and Marcus loved each other. Ethan watched the way they encircled each other with slight touches and looks conveying care and concern. He’d seen them crushed together after a few hours being apart and the passion in their embrace had fueled his loneliness, but still Ethan couldn’t allow himself to trust a woman not to break his heart.

Marcus engaged Anna in conversation.

Ethan turned to Alex and Luke with a grin as he enjoyed the fact that Marcus elbowed Carl gently but firmly away from the journalist’s side.

The other two band members were born warlocks. They were twins. Their jet-black hair and green eyes gave them an exotic air, but Ethan had never met a more grounded pair of young guys. They smiled at him.
“Hey, Ethan, how’s things? We’ll take a beer with us and head up to the clouds if that’s okay.”

Ethan nodded his answer and uncapped two imported continental beers. He handed them to the twins. “Take Carl and Jim along with you, will you? They’re being flakes and it’s getting late.”

Luke answered him. “Sure.”

Ethan left them to it and walked rapidly to a customer waiting for service at the far end of the bar.

Copyright Elodie Parkes, 2016 Hot Ink Press
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