Wednesday, August 1, 2007
August, 2007 - ISBN 1-59426-740-5
$3.50 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Author's Backlist: Jude Mason
Come on, ya sissy, down it," slurred Amber. She sprawled across the bar, one arm extended along it to keep her from falling face first onto the lap of the drunk in front of her. Her skirt was too tight, her blouse too revealing, but success was more important than decency at that moment. She knew he didn't recognize her. Over the past few months, she'd lost a good deal of weight, and her hair was now its natural black where it had been nearly blonde. Her nose was smaller, her eyes were now blue where they had been brown. No, he'd never recognize her. Besides, he never really looked at his conquests; he just used them before moving on to the next.
She eyed the man, silently urging him to down the amber drink in his highball glass. The dull gray parasite curled around the single ice cube, waiting to warm up and do its job. Tony Jeffers peered at her, his handsome face flushed, his deep, brown eyes unfocused. He smiled a lopsided grin that brought back memories of that night, making her stomach lurch.
He'd spilled half of his last bourbon down the front of his shirt. It pooled in the crotch of his jeans. In the dim lighting of the bar, she could barely see the dark patch. A liquored stick, she giggled and raised her own half-empty glass before downing it.
Come on, you bastard, she thought and slumped toward him, her hand inadvertently landing on his wet crotch. She wanted to tighten her fingers, to see if she could make him scream, but she held off. He'd pay soon enough.
Tony groaned and lifted his glass. Peering into it, he slurred, "Just a lil aphrodike, right?"
"Yeah, a little something I brought back from South America." She watched closely, her drunken act forgotten for the moment. The glass rose to his lips and, as only an inebriated man can, he carefully downed the drink. He belched loudly and slammed the empty glass on the bar upside down. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he mumbled, "'Scuse me."
Amber was elated. Soon the tiny beast would warm up and Tony, the self proclaimed God's gift to women, Jeffers, would be hers. He didn't suspect a thing, and she doubted he had the brains to figure it out, until she told him. And telling him was a big part of her plans. She wanted to see the look on his face when he realized who she was and why she was with him.
"I gotta go to the john." He slid off his stool, nearly falling in the process. Leaning forward, he ran his wet lips across her cheek in a sloppy attempt at a kiss then straightened up, all six-feet-four of him. He turned, stumbling as he headed for the men's room. He swayed, bumped into a table, which thankfully was empty, then lunged through the bright red door.
Amber sighed and turned, facing away from the bar. Leaning back, she felt the edge dig into her spine, just below her shoulder blades. The room was nearly emptyâ€”Thursday night and almost closing time, it should be quiet. Most of the chairs had already been piled onto the tables. One other table was occupied, two couples obviously celebrating something. The fireplace had been left to die down, the curtains closed against the chill night air, and the wait staff was mostly gone. Even the music was off. Just the muscle-bound, thirty-something bartender, manning his post behind the long expanse of well-polished wood, ready to offer yet one more round to whoever asked. Amber wouldn't be asking. Neither would Tony.
A thud from the direction of the men's room, and a soft curse, told her Tony was on his way back. She watched him approach. He really was gorgeous. Those dark eyes and the dimple in his chin would make most women swoon, and probably a good many men. Amber smiled at that thought. Tony didn't swing that way, but that might change very soon. He was built like a swimmer, but with a little more muscle. He also had a nice crop of curly dark chest hair peeking out of the front of his shirt where he'd left the top two buttons unfastened. His jeans were just tight enough to show a hefty bulge where the wet spot spread from his accidental spill. Black loafers and a cowhide vest finished off the picture. If she'd been in the market for a one night stand, he'd definitely qualify.
Tony wasn't a nice man, though. He used his good looks to get what he wanted, and to hell with the women he hurt in the process. Fresh anger pushed any effects from the alcohol aside. She glared at his drunken swagger. What really pissed her off was even after all he'd done to her, she still wanted him.
August, 2007 - ISBN 978-1-59426-744-4
$3.50 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Author's Backlist: Missy Lyons
"Are you going to Victor's party this weekend, Denise?" Sarah asked her boss.
"What party?" Denise Walden looked up from her stack of paperwork she had yet to complete.
"You mean you don't know? Oh! I shouldn't have said anything, I am sorry."
"Don't be sorry. How would you know he didn't invite me?"
Sarah flushed. "I just assumed. I mean you're so dominant...I mean, you and he have always seemed to get along so well and most of the other special agents are going, but they have been his friends for years."
"He invited everyone but me?" Denise sounded incredulous.
"Well, the single ones, at least, he probably just thought...you know his parties are special...he may think you don't want to come."
"Oh, no offense...it's just you're so vanilla."
"Vanilla? Just what is that supposed to mean?" Denise's voice had a dangerous edge to it.
"Yeah, and he's s...I'm just putting my foot in my mouth now aren't I? Look, I'm really sorry, but there is nothing I can do to change things. I'm going to go now before I make things worse. Bye."
* * * *
Denise was busy in her office when Victor came in to see her. Her heart skipped a beat as she met his eyes. They had become close over the last two months she had worked for this satellite office. She had worked hard and made a lot of progress on several cases. She had made several new contacts and informants. But this wasn't just about her doing her job. She had come to think of him as a friend and not just a boss.
He closed the door behind him, giving them privacy. Which she didn't mind, but she didn't ask for either. It just proved how he was used to taking charge and being in control of his environment.
Not being invited to his party should not have bothered her, but it did. She thought they were friends.
Evidently he didn't feel the same way.
It just felt so high school to be "outed" like this. Denise jutted out her chin, and prepared to dig in her heels. If he could act juvenile, then so could she.
"You wanted to see me, Denise?" His voice sounded so smug, so superior. She wanted to wipe that expression off his face. He took a casual stance, with one hand in his grey dress pants. His brown eyes sparkled at her merrily. He could have been a model in that business suit. Damn him for being so good looking. It messed with her in ways it shouldn't. He was her boss.
Denise tried to phrase her words in her mind before she spoke. If he knew why she called him here to talk would he be any less happy? "It's not really important, but I heard you are having a party?"
"Yes." He didn't deny it.
Denise frowned at him. She was used to be able to intimidate men easily, and nothing seemed to crack this facade of his. He didn't look the least bit uncomfortable for her having brought up the party. Certainly he realized he didn't invite her? "Yes, well the only reason I am bringing it up is because if it happened to anyone else they may have felt uncomfortable being left out."
"Is this about you? Are you feeling left out, Denise?"
"Yes, and no. What I mean is if you did this to anyone else I would have to say something, because by leaving that one person out, it would make them feel ostracized. Personally, I have been hardened enough to not care, but to someone else it could really hurt their feelings." Denise's eyes caught on the off white card that he slipped out of his pocket. "I didn't ask to speak with you to force an invitation. I just wanted to help make you a little more aware of other people."
"Are you finished?"
"Who told you about this party?"
"It doesn't matter."
"It actually does matter, but since you won't tell me, I will figure it out on my own. Did they tell you what goes on at my parties?"
"All she said was it was the special kind." But her legal assistant Sarah did seem to like remembering the party. That was before she became uncomfortable from having brought attention to Denise's lack of an invitation.
"She?" he repeated, smiling at her. She winced at her disclosure. She had not meant to give out too much information. And she probably just narrowed his suspects down by half. Well, in this office, it was over half. More like down to three people.
He walked the invitation over to her and laid it on her desk. "My parties are very special. I just didn't think you were into that lifestyle, Denise."
He was regarding her with a wary expression, scrutinizing her reaction. She noted his set face, his clamped mouth and fixed eyes.
"What kind of lifestyle? Is this one of those swinger parties? A kinky sex party?" As she asked that question, she became aware of another kind of excitement overcome her body.
The corners of his mouth twitched in response. "You might call it kinky. It's where people can be free to express themselves and doms and subs can hook up and pleasure each other. It is not always about the sex, either."
"Doms?" she questioned, searching her mind for what the word meant, what it could be an abbreviation for. It sounded foreign and nothing clicked in her mind at the word. So her expression remained blank.
"Dominant," he answered her, letting her put the clues together. At the exact moment she registered what he was talking about, she blushed furiously, her face turned scarlet. He enjoyed watching her expression change to surprise as she registered what he was talking about.
"Oh...You mean like giving pain?" She never did have a good poker face. She could feel the heat in her cheeks at the thought.
"Pain can heighten pleasure."
"Oh my..." Her voice drifted off key at the end. She felt an erotic thrill sweep over her body, at the way he said that. His eyes locked with hers, and his words stuck in her mind. As if he was not just answering her question, but giving her a personal invitation to play.
August, 2007 - ISBN 978-1-59426-900-4
$5 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Author's Backlist: Rayne 2. Marzett
Everyday we meet new people. Even the most fleeting moments we have with people have the greatest and permanent effects on our lives. Most people would consider them to be reasons, seasons, and lifetimes. Now there are things that will get in the way of how we perceive these people. There are times when the things that we know or assume as fact will prevent us from truly getting the full nature and purpose of the people in our lives. You sit around praying like hell that you'll get another chance. Sometimes you do depending upon your luck but for us normal folks more times then not we will never get that back. That's when you're wondering why hindsight is twenty-twenty.
Some might ask why is it so important to understand which is which? Well, it all has to do with love, I think. Sometimes we often find someone and think that we're going to be together forever. That's not the case, and we end up more hurt than necessary. All because we long for that one special person to make our lives complete in some way. Hell, we have been taught ever since birth. Kiss a toad and find a prince, but in real life that toad is just a toad and the disappointment of that cuts like knives. In order to end the confusion and hang-ups we must figure out the system of love and people.
I have always enjoyed the company and companionship of many women. You might even say that I'm addicted to them; they are one drug that I can't just say no to. They just have to look at me a certain way, or whisper in my ear and I find myself doing the oddest of things just to please them. Surely this is nothing more then an ego thing. Something that makes me feel like a champion. How many women can I keep sexually satisfied? I could say that I love them all. And I guess that is true to a certain extent, but in all actuality I loved what they could do for me. The fact that they all play a different role in my life and I seem to play the same role to all of them sure does make things easier.
I learned at an early age that sex was something that I was great at. I love the sounds and sights of a well pleased woman. The fact that she will do anything and everything for that special gift I have keeps a smile on my face. It gives me a certain cockiness that drives me. But where it drives me at times seems to be out of my control. Like any other addict, I hurt those that I supposedly care and love, and worst of all I did it without even being aware. I was caught up in my own world because I was addicted to that feeling of grandeur and craving it more then I realized. Until one day things sort of all fell in place for me to see what it was that I was actually doing to not only myself but others around me. The day I realized my biggest offense was not understanding reasons, seasons, and lifetimes, and allowing my addiction to confuse one of the best things that ever happen to me. Now hindsight is in focus, and I'm receiving swift kicks to the behind.
Many of my friends have commented on my relationships. They always want to know how I found women willing to put up with my hopping from women to women. I can't say that it was simple, because to anyone else what I do might cause headaches and lots of drama. But I keep a drama free life by simply playing the game of love. I know what I want and I'm pretty sure of how to get it. Say I meet a woman. I'm not really interested in the whole girlfriend, future wifey thing. So, I explain my stance right up front. I tell her, "We can hang out and do whatever, but titles go with property and that I am not."
I think that women want certain things like love, respect, honesty, and all that other jazz they scream about in songs. And most think that marriage will bring about all these things in a mate, but a ring and a ceremony will not get you what you don't already have. Once they see they don't have to kick, scream, and threaten to get that; they're pretty much okay with what goes on. You can have everything you want as long as there is not strings attached. If but only for a brief moment in time, in a world made just for us two. Then again, if I were a therapist I would tell myself I was truly full of you know what.
My addiction just like any other addicts causes hurt and pain to the ones that are closes to us. Failure to recognize this leaves me and everyone else in a world of limbo, and not that magical place I have created in my mind. It's funny what one might tell themselves just to rationalize the wrong being done.
August, 2007 - ISBN 978-1-59426-992-9
$7 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Catherine Ashbury jumped and shivered when a raspy voice spoke, "I might be able to help ye, laddie. Why ye be looking for that man?"
Nervous and afraid to give away her disguise, Catherine's eyes flared wide as she took in the short, bald man who had sidled up to her and her two companions. She'd noticed him just a moment before, whispering to two other disreputable looking fellows. Tilly McDonald, her Scottish nanny, and Mr. Hillman, who had been Andrew Townsend's manservant from his youth, were in disguise as sailors.
Just as she was.
The alley, with its barely visible visitors milling around, heavy humidity mixed with scarcely a breeze, and flicking torch lights, was eerie and a far cry from the bright ballrooms and cozy parlors that she'd left behind in London. She was shocked at the casual way the pirates and their customers conducted their nefarious business.
Heaven only knew how she had gotten herself into this situation. Nay, her desire to find Drew had brought her halfway across the world to New Orleans and this alley to which their escort had directed them, before hurrying to leave to go about his own pursuits.
She had only herself to blame.
Tilly saved her from answering when she whirled on the little man quick enough to make him start, glaring at him with her dour expression. "And who be ye? A beggar, thief, pirate?" she asked him with a snarl.
Indignant, the man bristled and pulled himself up to his full height of five foot nothing. "I be boatswain to the most famous cap'n to tread these waters." And, as if no longer willing to give Tilly another moment of his time, the man walked next to Mr. Hillman.
Thank goodness the man was English. There were a variety of languages coming from the shadows, the majority being French, of course.
Although some of the French spoken sounded guttural, Catherine knew enough to know she had a right to be frightened. The last man that Mr. Hillman had attempted to ask about Drew's whereabouts had offered, "The boy, how much?" The baleful stare the man had given her as soon as Mr. Hillman had refused him sent a shiver of unease skating over her body.
"Harrumph." Tilly's voice had no need for disguise. She'd always sounded like a grumpy Scotsman and, with the addition of her male sailor's garb, the illusion was complete. "Verry likely."
Catherine suppressed a giggle at how disgusted Tilly appeared at the little man's affront to her. She really shouldn't find amusement at a time like this, but with Tilly's gray hair stuffed beneath a woolen cap and her thin frame in unkempt sailor's clothes, Catherine couldn't help herself. No caliber of clothing could disguise the annoyed green gaze she threw the boatswain. No matter how grumpy she sounded, Tilly only had her best interest at heart, she knew. Which was how Catherine had convinced Tilly to agree to accompany Mr. Hillman and her on what Catherine's father, Robert Ashbury, would have classed a fool's errand.
Her father. Catherine shivered again when she thought of how furious he would be when he found out from her sister, Diana, where Catherine had gone and why. She'd sent a missive to her sister right before she embarked on this trip, but knew that by the time Diana sent word to their father, Catherine and her companions would be well on their way to the Americas. He might even be halfway to New Orleans himself by now.
She wouldn't think about that now. Her mission to find Drew was her sole priority at the moment.
The man sent a scowl in Tilly's direction, then turned his gaze to Mr. Hillman, who, no matter how rough his clothing looked, could not be mistaken for a simple sailor. "Ye look to be a gentleman who might be interested in wa' I ha' to say. If yer looking for the gent, me cap'n might be able to 'elp ye. But ye ha' to follow me. Directly."
Mr. Hillman looked over the man's head at Tilly and Catherine. Tilly looked toward her, too. After Catherine's brisk signal, Mr. Hillman nodded in agreement. No matter that he appeared the leader of their small but misfit band, William Hillman had been in the employ of the Townsend family since his own youth. Thus, he never stepped beyond his station, which was why he presented something of a problem. The man was tall and distinguished looking, and although his steel gray hair was covered by a hat, there was no hiding his haughty, highbrow servant's expression or the mild disdain in his pale blue gaze.
August, 2007 - ISBN 1-59426-929-7
$3 eBook (five formats) - Buy Now!
Author's Backlist: L.E. Bryce
The sloop turned toward the deeper water of the harbor, where the sea began to roughen. Unused to boats, the young man grimaced as nausea threatened to overcome him. He managed to hold his stomach. The fisherman and his crew noted his pallor with disdain, but his coin was good and, as long as he stayed out of their way, they would not bother him.
Waves frothed in the wake of the boat as the wind caught the sails, and it picked up speed. Among the whitecaps he saw the sleek, darting bodies that could only be hrill. On the port side, the fishermen paused over their nets to call out to them, to the dolphins frolicking among the seal-like creatures to compete for attention, and the fish heads the men would eventually toss back into the waves.
Swaying with the movement of the boat and his own unsteadiness, the young man stepped up to the stern, ostensibly to get a better look at the hrill. His breath caught at the dark heads that emerged from the waves to regard him; all his life he had heard of these sacred, intelligent creatures but had never seen one. The waterfront neighborhoods were too rough for well-bred youths, said his father, and his mother complained that such places always smelled unpleasant. From his bedchamber window the young man could see the ocean, and drink in the salty tang of the air that blew inland to cool warm summer afternoons. Until now, that was all he ever knew of the sea.
"You are very beautiful," he murmured to the hrill. With trembling hands, he gripped the rail to lean out and watch them. Time pressed down upon him. Urgency and fear made his heart race. If he was to do it, now was the time. There would not be a second chance.
"What are you doing?"
The boy's voice cut through the breeze, an arrow of annoyance that made him start. Forcing a smile, the young man turned to see about getting rid of the child. "Can you read?"
Curious gray eyes met his. "Just a little, sir, but my da can read better."
From his pocket, he took a sealed letter and pressed it into the boy's hand. He had meant to leave it on deck, but this was better. Its discovery would not be left to chance. "When the boat comes to shore, give your father this. Remember, when you dock and not before, and you are to tell no one you have it until then." He emphasized his point with a silver coin and bade the child to be off.
Toward the prow, he heard the fishermen calling out to each other. Rough nets were cast overboard, well away from the hrill who veered to avoid them. Now was the time, he decided, when their eyes were turned and they had no mind for him.
He pulled himself over the wooden rail, balancing there while he swung his other leg over. Splinters dug into his palms. Sea spray flew up into his face; he licked salt droplets from his lips. Behind him, he heard a shout and knew it was for him. He did not turn to see who had called out or bother to note what the man said. When the rail slid from his grasp, gravity sped him into the water. The sea weighted his clothing, surging into his mouth. Through the stinging spray he saw the boat making a sharp turn. Voices called out advice to tread water and remain calm. No one knew he could not swim.
Pale sky and blurred faces vanished under a smothering blanket of foam. Water swirled into his lungs and, whether he wanted it or not, the body's fight for survival began.
August, 2007 - ISBN 978-1-59426-926-4
$6 eBook (five formats), $11 paperback - Buy Now!
Author's Backlist: Wendy Stone
"Hurry up!" His growl reverberated throughout the bed chamber.
She hurried up to him, book in hand, her small satin slippered feet scurrying up the steps that led to the huge, ancient bed in the center of the dark, stuffy bedroom. Sitting on the edge, she lifted the book, showing him the front of it, waiting quietly.
"Go on!" he growled, his temper foul.
"Once upon a time," she began, reading from the old book, for that is how all good fairytales begin here and everywhere in the world. "There was a girl born on the edge of a small village to poor people..."
* * * *
Melissa was a beautiful girl, full of love and laughter, and always a kind word to say to any who needed it. She lived with her parents, her father was a slightly bewildered farmer whose crops never amounted to much more than what the family needed. Her mother, once a carefree woman, took in mending and made clothing for the family's more affluent neighbors to help make ends meet.
When it became known that the big manor house outside of the village was being cleaned out, that an owner had been found and would be moving to the country for health reasons, her mother sent her to inquire about work, Melissa was old enough to be a maid.
She dressed in her nicest dress, a muted green that made her hazel eyes shine with gray green flecks and brought out the gold in her blonde hair. She pulled her long tresses back from her face, catching it up in a tail at her nape that fell to the small of her back. She'd blossomed into a beauty in the last days of her eighteenth year, her figure filling out the bodice of the dress nicely, leaving small mounds of flesh to draw the eye. Her hips were slender but ripe, her buttocks pleasing to watch as she walked to the manor house and rang the bell.
"Yes, miss?" said the older gentleman who opened the door. He was thin to the point of leanness, his head bare of hair except for the tiniest bit at his ears. His arms seemed almost too long for his body and his nose filled his face overly much, making him one of the homeliest men she'd ever seen.
"My name is Melissa, sir. Melissa Turner. I come from the village seeking employment." Her voice was breathless from nerves, her cheeks were burning and she knew they must be bright red.
The gentleman opened the door wider, ushering her into the foyer of the huge manor which was still full of cobwebs and dust. "My name is Jeffrey, Miss Turner. I will let the master know that you be wishing to work here." He turned, hesitated a moment, and turned back toward her.
"The master is a sick man, Miss Turner. His illness has taken a toll not only upon his body but upon his manners as well. He isn't ... an easy man to be around. But he is a good man and a fair master most of the time." His ears turned red and he stammered out the order to stay put, as if he were embarrassed by what he'd just said.
He was back before she could get even more nervous, waving her ahead of him, guiding her to a room at the back of the manor house. "He will see you, miss, but I must warn you. Today is not one of his better days. Do not be offended by anything he says. He's not himself."
Melissa nodded. "Thank you, Jeffrey," she said, bobbing him a small curtsey and taking a deep breath as he opened the door and waved her in.
She entered the room. It had once been a grand library, with shelves over all the walls that were now empty of books and covered with dust. A fire roared in the fireplace, sending a wisp of smoke back into the room and causing her to cough lightly as she looked around.
"Well," a voice roared from the shadows. "What are you waiting for?"
"Sir?" she asked, her hand rising to her throat as nerves tried to overtake her.
"You want something ... spit it out, girl."
"A ... A job sir, that is all that I want," she said, speaking up loud enough for him to hear. "I will work hard for you if you will but hire me."
"Undress," he growled from his hidden corner.