Here, kitty, kitty, kitty… with M.A. Church – Post + Giveaway

October 30, 2015

Here kitty kitty kitty

Hey! My name is M.A. Church, and I’m stopping by to talk about my newest release called Behind the Eight Ball. One of the most asked questions about this series is what inspired me to write it? Well, several things lol. That’s clear, isn’t it?

*Grin*

Actually, this series started as a flash last New Year’s Eve. That’s where Trouble Comes in Threes sprang from. What I wanted for this story was a crotchety man with a sharp tongue and bad attitude sitting at home for the holiday. What I got was Kirk, a clowder full of cats that aren’t overly fond of humans, and the beginning of a series.

The first book dealt with Kirk and all the trouble life had thrown at him. In that book, you meet the betas: Aidric, Heller, Brier, and Remi. I had originally planned for the second book to be about Remi and his mate, but I figured out right quick that wasn’t going to work. Heller was the one demanding my attention. And believe me, Heller can be quite demanding. I call him a diva for a reason, lol.

It turned out going with Heller as the second in the series was the right choice. While writing Behind the Eight Ball, a very interesting set of secondary characters made their presence known. Now I knew why I couldn’t do Remi’s book yet. Heller’s book had to come first because Remi’s mate makes his appearance in Behind the Eight Ball.

Now, I write a lot of paranormal and scifi, and read just as much. While I have absolutely nothing against wolves and other big, cool shifters I’d noticed there wasn’t much out there about smaller, regular shifters. Don’t they deserve love too? This is where I mention I love cats. *Grin* I know, shocking right? If you know me, or follow me on social media, you’ve seen pictures of my writing buddy, Kitty-Kitty.

I’ve loved cats since I was a very little girl, but I was unable to have pets due to my allergies. Needless to say, as soon as I left home the first thing I did was get a cat! The second thing I did was get married, have children, and had a child who was asthmatic. We had to say bye-bye to the cat.

So twenty years later what was the first thing I did when my son moved out? You got it. I got a cat. Okay, that’s not exactly right. The cat got us, lol. On Halloween night about four years ago, this cute little gray kitten showed up in the garage. He was very used to humans, and so playful.

But taking on a pet is a big responsibility, a responsibility I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted. The Eldest Kiddo had moved out, and the Youngest Kiddo was heading off to college. The hubby and I would finally have the house all to ourselves. I refused to call the kitten anything more than Kitty-Kitty because I didn’t want to get attached.

For all the good it did.

Next thing I knew, the hubby was sneaking the kitten in. And that was the end of that. We bought all the things a cat needs and then came the trips to the vet for shots and stuff. (Wanna guess who had to deal with the crying cat? Right, lol. Me.) And that’s how we ended up with Kitty-Kitty, who the hubby calls Skeeter. *Cringe* Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. The strange thing is, the cat answers to both names.

Each title relates to the characters in its book. The first book revolves around how bad things come in threes. It’s a superstitious old saying. In the book Kirk has had a string of bad luck, and he’s waiting for the next crappy thing to happen.

In book two Heller finds himself in the position of chasing after the very mate he first rejected. He’s behind the eight ball. It means he’s in a bad situation, in a losing position. The phrase comes from pool (or billiards). When the cue (white) ball is behind the eight (black) ball, a player usually has no shot.

In book three Remi and his man mate pretty quickly, but then end up dancing around one another as they struggle with the power dynamics in their relationship. I have a title in mind for that one too, along with rough outlines and titles for Aidric and Brier’s books. *Sigh* I just need to get them written.

And that’s what inspired the Fur, Fangs, and Felines series! I’m doing a giveaway for the release of Behind the Eight Ball so comment for a chance to win an e-book from my backlist. Do you have a pet? If so, what kind? If you can’t or don’t have a pet, what kind would you have if you could?

 

Author Bio:

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013 and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

Author Links:

Blog * Twitter * Facebook * The Harvest FB fan page * Goodreads * Amazon

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Ghost in the Garden by A. Morell

October 29, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

GhostGarden1

 

The passage of time meant nothing to the dead. Even when they remained on earth.

How many years Elias had passed, never awake and never asleep, invisibly bound to the gardener’s shed in which he had too soon met his fate, he had no way of knowing. To him it appeared as it always had—neatly kept, if a bit ill-lit, and smelling of fresh, rich soil.

Sometimes people would join him for a while. At first, people he knew, like the servants about their business, and his mother in her mourning clothes. But then there were new faces, ones he did not recognize. Sometimes they would bring glimpses of rust and dilapidation with them. He didn’t care for those people.

Then Asher had come.

A loud crashing sound had alerted Elias to their presence. Two men, stumbling and panting and displaying the same wanton prurience that had brought about his demise. It was the closest to feeling alive again that he could recall, and it made him remember—the touch of callused palms, the scent of sun and sweat, the burgeoning passion that had been worth risking everything. He couldn’t help but watch.

But like the night his life had ended, something went wrong. The taller man kissed his amour’s neck, and then bit down.

Pain mixed with the pleasure on the other man’s face, then fear. And as his eyes had glazed over, they suddenly locked with Elias’s. For a brief moment, they sat on the same plane of existence, in that tiny antechamber to eternity.

Elias didn’t understand what occurred afterward. The man had died, and then just as quickly had somehow been reborn—sharper, faster, angrier. There had been a great fight and a lot of noise, and he had retreated to safety.

Some time later the bitten man returned. He called to Elias. Not by name, of course, but nonetheless Elias answered. But the man, like every other that entered these four walls, no longer saw him.

Yet he remained, perhaps having had nowhere else to go. He was handsome in a roguish, carefree sort of way, and he cut a pleasing figure. Elias wondered what had drawn him back.

“I hope you’re still here,” the man said to the room, “because I’d prefer not to add insanity to the list of shite I’m forced to deal with now.”

Elias stared and then laughed softly. The rusty wind chimes hanging inside the door clanged together quietly.

Asher, he called himself. He came and went. Sometimes he talked, sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes Elias would respond, and the shed would breathe life for fleeting half-seconds. It wasn’t unpleasant.

One night, Asher returned early, grumbling of crowded streets and being unable to hunt. He flung himself down on his makeshift bed and sulked.

Elias drifted to the tiny window above the workbench and peered out at the dark, though his eyes saw little of present day. He could hear the distant commotion of excited children.

“What on earth are they doing out at such an hour?” he murmured.

There was a loud thud, and Elias turned toward the bed. Asher was on the floor, staring right at him, mouth agape. Elias could see his fangs.

“It’s—it’s you!”

Elias turned again in search of another occupant, but Asher scrambled toward him and stopped only a few feet away. His hand hovered in the air, fingers twitching faintly as though they wanted to reach out. Elias could see himself in Asher’s eyes.

“You… can see me…”

“You’re really real!” Asher broke into a smile, and his hand finally found purpose in running through his hair as he began to pace. “My god, what a relief. I really did think I might’ve hallucinated you.”

He stopped suddenly and looked pensive. “I guess there is something to that ghosts-walking-on-Halloween stuff.”

“Halloween… All Hallows Eve?” Dim recognition slowly pulled from the fog of Elias’s memories. He moved back to the windowpane. “The children… they must be out souling.”

“Souling, sure,” Asher grinned. “They call it trick-or-treating now.”

Elias was stunned. Once more they shared that same plane, only now for much longer than a final breath. He didn’t understand why on this night he was allowed true company, but it was only after talking the night away, when the first shades of dawn began to color the tiny garden shed window, that he understood what a true gift it was. It ended all too soon.

“You’re fading,” Asher observed quietly. He looked exhausted.

“And you shall be sleeping soon,” Elias replied. He hesitated, but he had to know if he was to lose this tenuous connection to the living come morning. “Will… will you be staying much longer?”

A slow, muted smile that would have set Elias’s heart to racing when he was alive warmed Asher’s face. “I’ll be here a while.”

So ended the first of countless Halloween nights with Asher. True to his word, he still called the shed home. He still came and went, sometimes for days at a time, always returning with his stories of the world outside. But Halloweens were special—the one day of the year they could truly meet.

Over time Elias found that the more he learned of the world that had gone on without him, the more connected to it he became, and the stronger his presence grew. Eventually he could venture out into the gardens surrounding his shed, and feel the waxing and waning of the veil between the worlds.

One year, Asher began to leave for longer and longer periods of time. As Halloween approached, Elias wasn’t worried, but his restlessness rustled through the overgrown branches of the trees, hurrying the footsteps of passersby.

Hours after the veil lifted, with the moon risen and the children safely in their beds, Asher came through the rusting door.

“You’re late.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” Asher moved to the window, where Elias remained watching the outside. “Elias…”

“You must leave?”

Asher’s silence was answer enough, and it stretched mournfully. Elias felt him move closer—another new development in his strength, one he was loath to forfeit.

“I don’t want to. But I have to. I’ve been here too long, Eli. People see things… times change, but I don’t. I can’t hide it anymore. If I’m found out, they’ll kill me.”

Elias had no argument when Asher had already stayed far longer than he should have. He hated it all the same.

“Maybe… can’t you move on, now?” Asher spoke softly. “To the other side?”

“If I did, you would feel better about leaving.”

“That’s not—”

“I know,” Elias interrupted, already regretting his words.

Regret. That was the danger. What would send him back to the unknowing darkness, and trap him here forever in his desolate, narrow world.

He wanted the other side. But only with Asher.

He turned at last to look at the man he should never have been able to meet, that he had to cross lifetimes to love.

There would be no regret.

“I think… I would rather wait for you here.” However long it took. Time meant nothing to the dead.

Asher’s eyes widened with surprise before they softened in understanding.“I think that’d be nice.” He stared at Elias for a long moment before his boots carried him to the door. He paused, and waited until he held Elias’s gaze one last time. “I’ll come back to you… Halloween or otherwise.”

Elias’s smile was faint, but genuine. “I’ll be waiting.”

And then, he would be ready.

~*~*~

 

Find more of A. Morell’s vampires in Puncture Wounds, available from Dreamspinner Press.

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Coulrophobia by Jana Denardo

October 29, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

 

As the clerk checked them in, Aaron stared at the bajillion clowns surrounding the hotel desk. He tugged on Rhys’s shirt with his prosthetic hand. “Explain this to me again.”

“We’re road tripping between Vegas and Reno for Halloween. It’s simple.” Rhys grinned. “Is someone afraid of clowns?”

Aaron narrowed his eyes. “We’ll talk in the room.”

Rhys chuckled as he helped Aaron with the luggage to their second floor room. Aaron stopped at the door, unable to process the large clown on the door, on every door.

“Rhys….”

“Come on, everyone loves a clown.”

Aaron knew there was a joke he wasn’t privy to happening here and by the end of the night he might be kicking ass. “Not everyone.”

Rhys opened the door and Aaron screwed his eyes shut. He took a deep breath and followed Rhys inside, shutting the door behind them. There were freaking clowns on the night stand and pictures of them on the walls.

“Why the hell are we here?” Aaron struggled with the zipper on his luggage. “And don’t tell me Halloween road trip. I know that. But why didn’t you just magically hop us from Vegas to Reno like you did between Pittsburgh and Vegas?”

Rhys slipped his arms around Aaron, kissing him. “Because sometimes the slow road is much more fun. This was on the way. Who knew you were afraid of clowns? I guess I should have suspected.”

“I’m not afraid of clowns.” Aaron squirmed free of Rhys’s embrace. “And why should you have suspected?”

“Corrine made me promise to stop at the haunted clown hotel. She wants tons of pictures.” Rhys beamed. Opening his luggage he started to hang up clothes for tomorrow.

“I’ll give her pictures of my ass,” Aaron grumbled, crossing the room to open the curtain.

“She’ll put it online and you know it.”

Aaron snorted then choked. “Son of a….Rhys! That creepy-assed cemetery we saw across the street? It’s our damned view. Who puts a hotel across from an old cemetery?”

“Corrine insisted on that view.”

“I might have to rethink your twins’ offer to go out on a date. I might be better off with them.” Aaron sniffed.

“Corrine is your friend. You wanted me to bond.”

“Changed my mind.” Aaron sauntered back to the bed and tapped Rhys’s cheek. “And if you think you’re getting any love with clowns watching us, you’re sadly mistaken.”

Rhys grabbed Aaron and pushed him down onto the bed. He rolled on top of Aaron, straddling his hips. Rhys leaned in and stole a kiss. “You might rethink that.”

“And you might think on the phrase ‘pushing a rope’.”  Aaron slapped Rhys’s thigh.

Rhys took both Aaron’s hands, locking fingers with him. Aaron closed his responsive prosthetic fingers around Rhys’s hand. “We have one more thing to do before we worry about your clown-induced impotence.”

“Let me guess. Corrine wants us to get a ton of graveyard pictures.” Aaron sighed.

“You know her well.” Rhys kissed the inside of Aaron’s wrist. “We can skip that.”

“Hmmm, hot man on my lap kissing me, Bozo watching me from the walls. Nope, not working for me.”

Rhys gave him another kiss before swinging off Aaron to crash on the mattress next to him. “I can remember when people loved clowns. I blame Stephen King and Poltergeist.”

“You’re old enough to remember a time before clowns.” Aaron rolled his eyes.

“I’m not that old. Okay, I’m older than the modern idea of a clown.” Rhys wrinkled his nose. “I might be about the same age as the idea of clowning.”

“You old elf.”

“Twylyth Teg! I keep telling you elves are something different.”

Aaron snuggled up close, still bemused by the idea his lover was a centuries old fae. “A thousand pardons.”

Rhys chuckled. “Dig out the camera and let’s get those pictures. Wouldn’t want the ghost to get you once night falls in the cemetery.”

“Not afraid of ghosts.”

“Just clowns.”

Aaron sighed again. It was going to be a long strange night.

 

XXX

 

Aaron woke, feeling eyes on him. Rhys’s arm draped over him and no small amount of his long blond hair cascaded over Aaron’s shoulder as Rhys spooned him. Raising his arm to rub the sleep from his eyes, Aaron failed. How many times would he forget most of that arm was gone?

More awake now, Aaron scanned the room, his breath caught. A shadowy figure hovered at the foot of the bed. Aaron’s bladder almost went into business for itself. The shadow glided closer. Aaron elbowed Rhys a couple times. Rhys groaned, letting go of Aaron as he flopped onto his back.

“What the hell?”

“Tell me that’s not a demonic clown at the end of the bed!”

Rhys propped himself up on his elbows and the clown’s head swiveled to look at him. “I’m going to say not demon. Ghost clown?”

“How the hell are you so calm?” Aaron’s pulse thundered so hard he was sure Corrine could hear it back in Pittsburgh.

“I’m used to weird things but this is freaking creepy.” Rhys poked Aaron in the ribs. “See what it wants.”

“You do it, Mr. Magic.” Aaron inched toward the headboard. “Rhys, seriously, what do we do?”

“Ghosts really can’t hurt you.” Rhys reached for his cellphone on the night stand.

“You’ve never seen a possession movie, have you?” Aaron huffed. “Fine. What do you want? We were trying to sleep and I don’t think there’s anything we could do to help you.”

The dark shape rippled, becoming more old man and less clown. Aaron felt more than heard the words, “I’m ready to go.”

In that instant he was less threatening and sadder.

“I think you’re already on your way. You just need to keep going.” Aaron pointed toward the window.

The ghost faded away.

“You’re good at this.”

Aaron twisted on the bed. “Is that all you have to say after bringing me to a haunted hotel?”

Rhys smiled, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “But you did great and it’s gone. It’s not like we were in any danger.”

Aaron pinched his lips. “I cannot believe you just said that. Any other horror clichés you want to utter before the ghost comes back to kill us?”

Rhys took his hand. “Just try to go back to sleep.”

“After you just jinxed it? Am I pretending I didn’t just see a ghost?”

Rhys rolled over and grabbed his phone. “Look. Think Corrine will be impressed?”

Aaron looked at the blurry ghost picture. “Glad your go to for ghost fighting is to take its picture. You’ll be great when he comes back to eat our souls. I should go sleep in the car.”

“You’ll be closer to the haunted cemetery.” Rhys put his phone away.

Aaron huffed. “Rhys, if I find out that ghost was one of your illusions I’ll hang you by your braid and use you like a piñata.”

Rhys widened his eyes. “Now I’m the one afraid to go to sleep.”

Aaron grunted, squirming down on the mattress. “You better be ready to treat me like the prince you are when we get to Reno.”

Rhys kissed him. “I will.” He skimmed his hand down Aaron’s belly.

Aaron caught it. “Are you out of your mind? You know the number one rule of surviving in a horror movie? Don’t have sex. At this rate you might never have it again.”

Rhys’s second kiss was deeper. “Empty threat.”

“Probably,” Aaron muttered as Rhys twined his arms around him.

“Should I mention that I plan to take us to the Stanley Hotel after Reno?”

Aaron sighed. “I so need a new boyfriend.”

 

***

 

Read more of Jana Denardo’s books here! 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Home by Andrea Speed

October 28, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

 

He only crawled out from under the bed when the screaming stopped.

It felt like it had lasted hours, but Tommy was pretty sure it had only been minutes. When it started, all he heard was thumps, but then some glass broke, and the screaming began. He didn’t know what was going on, but something bad. The terror was nearly paralyzing.

The silence after so much chaos seemed deafening and alien somehow. Every noise, from the scuff of his clothes against the carpet to the creak of the floorboards as he neared his door seemed shockingly loud. He thought it would bring the horror to him.

But despite the breathless minute he waited to be confronted by whatever evil was in the house, nothing came. Dare he hope he was safe? Could the guy have left?

It seemed like way too much to hope for, but Tommy decided to believe in it, if only to make the watery feeling in his stomach and legs go away. Still, he eased the door open, wincing when the hinge let out the slightest creak, but again, nothing manifested from the shadows. Tommy tiptoed out into the hall.

The house was quiet. Not even wind sighed in the eaves. It should have been comforting, but it was far from that. Right now he wanted noise, his mother or dad asking if everyone was okay, anything, but when you wanted something it never happened.

He found his sister first. She was face down on the floor of her room, in a pool of blood that the moonlight through the window turned black. But as he watched, something happened to her. Her body seemed to change shape, become smaller, become someone else. A child.

Tommy’s heart was trip hammering in his chest as he stumbled away from her room, not sure what he’d just seen. He came to his parent’s room, and his father was dead on the bed, his chest split wide open, blood turning the white sheets red. Mom was on the floor, a hole the size of a baseball blasted in her chest, her blood splattered over the mirrored closet doors. Tommy clapped a hand over his mouth to stop from sobbing, as his mother changed, becoming a woman with long, dark hair he’d never seen before. His dad was now gone from the bed, the sheets as crisp as freshly fallen snow.

He decided he was losing his mind when he recognized the woman on the floor. His wife.

What?

Tommy looked at his hands. He was what, seven? He wasn’t married …

Except he was. He had very clear memories of getting married to Becky, of being an adult. The child in his sister’s room, that was a boy, wasn’t it? His son, Jamie. What was going on?

Tommy looked in the mirror, and saw two different things. Himself as a child, in his cowboy pajamas, and him as an adult, blood splattered on his shirt and face, a gun in his hand. The adult him seemed to stare at him through the mirror. “You killed them all. And now you live here.”

He didn’t understand. How did this make sense? He didn’t do any of this.

Except he did, didn’t he? He now had a very clear memory of Becky threatening to leave him, and he got so mad. He wasn’t thinking straight. He just saw red. And his gun was right there …

No! He wouldn’t do that. He couldn’t …

He saw his adult self in the mirror, pressing the hot muzzle of his gun to his temple. He could feel the skin burning on his face. “You will always live here.” For a single moment, he thought he could see through himself, to another room. A different room, one free of corpses and blood, but one where he was barely an afterthought. And yet, he was still there.

Tommy understood then that he was always here. He was always stuck in this moment, in this place, in this act. No matter how he tried to escape, how he tried to will himself into another time, another memory, he was always trapped here. He did the worst thing anyone could ever do, and now he would live with it forever.

Tommy pulled the trigger, and his consciousness was obliterated in a loud blast of darkness.

When the screams woke Tommy once more, he screamed right along with them.

 
 
 

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Love on the Midway by Lex Chase

October 28, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Love on the Midway

A Darkmore Saga Short

It felt good just to be ordinary for a change. No windigo senate disputes. No aisa council politics. No crises from kingdoms near and far. No urgent matters that had to be dealt with right that moment. Bianca had seen to that.

Darkmore’s King Sevon Maraté wasn’t the ruler of the aisa and Jack wasn’t his ungati shifter lover.

They were the same as the average humans of Port Isabel, Texas. Jack symbolically announced their relationship status by keeping his arm loosely wrapped on Sevon’s narrow waist. They strolled down the carnival midway and laughed in good humor. Their faces illuminant with joy under the hanging strings of colored lights.

Sevon shuffled in his flip-flops excitedly clop-clopping to the ring toss. He pointed to the toy panther stuffed to the gills with polyester pellets hanging off the orange and purple awning. Smiling hopefully to Jack, his lover ached a brow.

“It’ll be like sleeping with you when I can’t,” Sevon begged with folded hands.

Jack crossed his arms as he inspected the panther with the dopey grin and bristly pink fur. He snorted his disdain. “It doesn’t look anything like me.” He ensnared Sevon’s reedy wrist and pulled him close to illustrate the most obvious difference by guiding their hips to meet. “See what I mean?” he purred, his eyes half-lidded.

Sevon laughed then leaned into Jack, putting his head on his shoulder and gently scratching at his chest.

“Jack…” Sevon sighed his name in a needy tone.

Jack shuddered when Sevon snuck a nip of a fang on his earlobe. “How do you make that sound so sexual?”

“Jack…” Sevon pouted while his fingers tripped down Jack’s abdomen.

Jack chuckled and ruffled Sevon’s wind tossed curls. “Fine. I’ll win you the stupid cat.” He stepped up to the game attendant and offered the man a crisp bill. The attendant nodded and cracked the cottony paper of the dollar.

“A pink panther for the gentleman’s true love!” The attendant announced to all in earshot as if Jack were a knight jousting for the love and favor of a princess. The attendant handed him a set of flimsy plastic rings as his weapons for battle.

Sevon’s cold face heated at the very idea. People were watching.

He couldn’t tell if there were aisa about, spying on them. Sevon thought he and Jack were safe here, walking among the humans and able to openly express their affair.

For the attendant to boldly point out Sevon was Jack’s true love and Sevon felt a pang of exhilaration mixed with a roll of anxiety in his nonexistent stomach.

Love was exciting!

That is until someone pointed it out.

An aisa and a shifter in love? So taboo! Darkmore’s allies would think Sevon had gone mad! The nobility would never understand or accept what Darkmore’s king sees in an animal. It’s just not right! Not sane!

Still, Jack smiled at him over his shoulder.

“For my true love…” Jack said softly and Sevon’s anxieties swirled away on a gentle breeze.

Love was amazing.

Jack was amazing.

Sevon’s body shuddered from the top of his seraphim curls down to his glassy toenails.  Jack wouldn’t lie about such a thing.

Such importance placed on the symbol of a stupid stuffed toy.

Jack tossed the first ring.

It chimed against the glass bottle with a sharp bounce to the right.

He frowned testing the weight of the second ring and noting the difference.

“You can do it, Jack,” Sevon cheered clapping his hands.

The attendant laughed and called over the crowd of carnival goers. “Oh look. He cheers on his true love!”

“Go, Jack, go.” Sevon shifted from foot to foot in a silly little dance while pumping his fists high into the air.

Jack nodded once and gently tossed the ring.

Sevon held his breath as he tracked the ring gently sailing through the air.

Slowly, it descended and a quiet tinkle signaled it hooked around the neck of the center bottle.

The ring spun once, twice, then swiveled, and settled primly at the base announcing Jack had won.

Sevon hopped with a squeal of victory!

The attendant handed Jack the plush toy and clapped him on the shoulder in congratulations.

Jack fixed Sevon with a goofy grin and a waggle of the brows as he overdramatically crouched to one bended knee.

Sevon clapped happily as Jack put one hand to his heart and held out the silly stuffed animal.

“Will you, dearest Sevon…” Jack began, feigning breathlessness. “Take this… weird, little, malformed creature… as a token of my love?”

Sevon laughed, his anxiety forgotten and replaced with living in the moment. “Yes. Yes, my dear prince.”

Behind Sevon, a young lady elbowed her boyfriend. “Why can’t you be more like that?” she hissed in envy.

“Shaddup an’ eat your deep fried pickles, Missy,” her boyfriend groaned and dragged her away.

Sevon hugged the ridiculous Pepto-Bismol pink panther to him. They resumed their stroll down the midway past the Grav-A-Tron and Tilt-A-Whirl.

“Mmmm…My Jack kitty…” Sevon murmured into the cheap plastic scented fur of the toy.

Jack gave a snort. “I fail to see how that serves as my replacement.”

Sevon laughed. “It’s cute.” He held it out, observing the pink tuft of hair on the top of its head. “I’ll put it in a place of honor. I think the throne is perfect.”

“I can see the council now.” Jack smirked. “Your Majesty, what is that bizarre thing?” he asked in a squeaky tone.

Sevon swatted him in the shoulder. “Be nice. I think it’ll be perfectly intimidating. The valkya are special kinds of assholes.”

“You are not discussing foreign trade agreements with the valkya with that thing in the throne room.”

“Of course.” Sevon beamed.

“Sevon.” Jack scowled.

“I mean it,” Sevon said, feigning vapid innocence. He took Jack’s hand while they walked past the haunted house and freak show.

Jack chuckled. “You’re cute.”

“T-thank you,” Sevon stuttered as he watched the Ferris wheel shimmer and slowly rotate.

Jack tugged on the waistband of Sevon’s jeans to guide him into following along. He hooked a thumb to a row of penny candy machines. “Come on now. I’ll buy you a jawbreaker or two.”

“Jawbreaker for the aisa. Hilarious.” Sevon purred, making a sarcastic grin they stepped up to the fire-engine red metal and green glass machines.

Jack fished for a dime in his pocket and slipped it into the slot. Sevon stooped and held out his palms to the machine’s candy chute while Jack turned the crank.

Nothing happened.

“Well… What the hell…” Sevon pouted still holding out his hands.

Jack bumped the machine with his hip to rattle the stubborn jawbreakers loose.

Sevon chirped happily as his reward tumbled out into his eager hands.

A bloody fang.

Sevon backpedaled and flung the tooth away. “What the fuck? That’s not fucking funny!”

Sevon stepped back, and pulled his pink panther plush to his chest as if it would protect him.

Jack peered into the glass window of the machine.

“…Sevon…” Jack said slowly and calmly. “We need to go.”

“What the hell is going on?” he squealed in a panic.

“You won’t be holding counsel with the valkya tomorrow,” Jack declared with a straight face.

Sevon didn’t understand. “How do you know that?” he demanded.

Slowly, Jack raised a finger to indicate the machine.

Sevon crept toward display and peered inside the machine. He squinted to make sense of the mishmash of colors of half-dissolved jawbreakers and a glob of something gummed up against the glass. Finally it snapped into focus.

Lady Sergevik. The Queen of Zelena. Her severed head.

Crudely carved into her forehead were the crooked words:

 

I SEE YOU

 

Discover the horror and hope of the world the Darkmore Saga starting with Chasing Sunrise. Available at Dreamspinner Press!

ChasingSunrise_FBbanner_DSP

 

 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Necro-Quellers by M.D. Grimm

October 22, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Pic3

 

Pain spiked through my shoulder and knee as I leaned against the wall to stay standing. My best friend in the entire world stood in front of me, acting like an immovable barrier between me and the ten corpses possessed by the jiangshi shuffling toward us. Maverick told me the jiangshi were evil spirits known to the Chinese, and they infested newly dead corpses and reanimated them. How such monsters showed up in freaking San Francisco, Maverick told me was courtesy of an amateur conjurer named Mr. Chinn. Maverick would know—this was his business. He was a clairvoyant, often communicated with the dead, and every now and then expelled demons from possessed persons. He hated his gift, but used it to help those in need. I loved his strength and courage… of course, I loved everything about him. I was hopelessly, pathetically in love with my best friend who also happened to be supremely straight.

Pic2

“Reggie, time to go buddy,” he said.

I cringed. “Right. What with my fucking shoulder and knee, I’m sure I’ll outrun them.”

Maverick grunted. With two machetes in each hand, he succeeded in keeping the Jiangshi at bay, but he couldn’t keep this up forever. Two corpses suddenly pounced, and I flinched even as Maverick sliced and diced them like some badass movie action hero. I guess having a retired, ex-Army sniper for a father helped with stuff like this.

Maverick suddenly took a step backward, closer to me, and crouched.

“On my back,” he said.

“What—?”

“Now.”

Gritting my teeth, I limped forward and climbed on Maverick’s back. A groan of pain escaped me before I stifled it. I wrapped one arm over his shoulder, the other slipped under his arm, and I gripped my hands tightly against his chest. My knee didn’t like me bending it but I didn’t have a choice. I tightened my legs around his waist and he only grunted as my weight settled on his back. I might only be five feet tall compared to his six foot frame, but I was more muscled than him. I wasn’t a lightweight.

“You will hold on to me.” There was steel in his voice. “You will not let go. I will not lose you.”

I tightened my grip and pressed closer to him. “Right.”

I felt Maverick take a breath, then he launched forward, running at full speed. The jiangshi surged forward and hands tried to grab me. I held on tighter and trusted Maverick with my life. Maverick’s arms never stopped, never slowed, and limbs and bodily fluids flew everywhere, drenching us it disgusting crap. But suddenly we burst out of the chaos and Maverick ran faster down the deserted street before turning sharply into an alley. I felt him stagger and as he stumbled forward and fell to one knee, I shoved off his back, falling to the ground beside him. We both gasped for breath, shaking with adrenaline.

A few minutes passed before I gripped his shoulder. He looked at me, and I was always struck by his pale, blue eyes. They were unusual eyes, unique and hypnotizing.

I smirked. “My hero.”

He scowled, his lean face tightening. “Bite me.”

“Anytime, anywhere.” I chuckled at his obvious discomfort. He knew I was gay—he didn’t care—but he hated it when I flirted with him. Which, of course, made me flirt every chance I got.

“Get off,” Maverick said, but he chuckled.

“What now?” I asked.

His expression turned cold, his smile sharp. “Now we find the bastard who caused all this and end him.”

I knew it was my fault, but I couldn’t kick myself right now, I had to focus on survival. Mr. Chinn gripped my shoulder with one hand and the other pointed a gun at my temple. I hated being the damsel in distress.

Maverick stood a few feet from us, his own gun pointed at Mr. Chinn, the look in his eye deadly. Maverick was irrational when it came to protecting those he cared for. I had to hope he’d keep a level head.

Pic1

“Put your gun down, now! Or your friend becomes one of my pets!” Mr. Chinn was screaming threats but I don’t think Maverick was listening. His eyes were cold, calculating, and even I was a little scared. He suddenly met my eyes and jerked his head in a nod. I swallowed hard. I knew self-defense, had trained for years, and it looked like it was time to employ some.

I took a deep breath before gripping Mr. Chinn’s wrist and shoving his arm up even as my body dropped to the floor. I obviously caught him off guard and his hand convulsed, firing the gun. A second shot quickly followed, and I yelped as Mr. Chinn jerked backward and collapsed onto the floor. With wide eyes, I looked over to see that a neat bullet hole marred his forehead. I swung my head around to look at Maverick. His expression was frigid, hard, unforgiving.

“You good?” he asked.

I cleared my throat to make sure I could speak. “Yeah. You?”

“Yeah.”

***

I sat on the bumper of the ambulance. The EMT patched me up as much as she could, insisting I go to the hospital. I wasn’t about to argue, but I wanted to see Maverick first. The cops interrogated both of us separately, but we’d had time before they arrived to coordinate our story. It’s not like we could mention zombies and get away clean.

After about an hour, Maverick approached, and the EMT stepped away. He watched me cautiously before easing down beside me on the bumper. He wondered if I was afraid of him. Silly man.

“Hey, ghost boy,” I said, smiling.

Relief relaxed his features. “Hey, gay man.”

We were silent for a long moment as activity went on around us.

“While I don’t condone taking the life of another,” I said softly. “I will thank you for saving my life.”

He rested an arm across my shoulders. “You’re welcome.”

I leaned into him, resting my head against his chest. We got looks, and I know Maverick didn’t care. We’d been through a lot together and I knew he loved me. Just not that way. Oh well, I was damn lucky to know him.

“Wanna grab a beer?” I asked.

“Yeah. After I shower for about fifty years.”

I chuckled.

Website: www.mdgrimmwrites.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=md+grimm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

 

Picture credits:

Pic 1: Jiang Shi by Anja Millen at DeviantArt

Pic 2: J for Jiang Shi by tohdaryl on DeviantArt

Pic 3: Zombie-art JD Rucker

 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Big Bad Wolf by Piper Vaughn

October 21, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Big Bad Wolf (A Portland Pack Chronicles Flash Fic)

It wasn’t often Avery and Jaden’s schedules allowed them time to shift and play together, but on Halloween, they got a rare opportunity to run and pounce in Forest Park.

As Avery stripped, shivering at the blustery wind, he took a moment to admire Jaden’s animal form. Simply put, Jaden was beautiful. Where Dylan, Avery’s mate, was a powerhouse of a wolf, large and heavily muscled, Jaden was compact, built more for speed than brute strength. Shades of cream and russet accented his shiny auburn coat. He lifted his rear, tail wagging, and yipped encouragingly, his amber eyes gleaming with mischief.

Avery smiled and stepped out of his briefs, letting the change overtake him. The trees swirled as he shrank into his hedgehog form, his spines bursting forth with the familiar flash of pain. When it was over, he sneezed at the overwhelming scents of loamy soil, moss, and decaying leaves.

A wet tongue dragged over his snout and then Jaden nuzzled at him gently. Hedgehogs weren’t tactile creatures like wolves, but Avery nuzzled back, drawing in Jaden’s sweet, musky smell.

For a while they romped through the trees, Avery scurrying on his tiny paws, and Jaden loping ahead before circling back to keep pace with him. With a wolf as his companion, any predators that might have eyed Avery for a snack kept their distance.

Eventually they returned to where they’d left their clothing. Avery shifted to his human form and sat to reorient himself until the cold compelled him to start yanking on his clothes.

“That was fun,” Jaden said once they were dressed. “I need a shower before we go out, though.”

Avery nodded. “Me too. I have a surprise for Dylan tonight.”

Jaden arched his eyebrows. “You didn’t mention any surprises.”

“Wait and see.”

“Is he meeting you at Wolfhound?”

“Yeah. He had to go look at Miss Betty’s car. She’s helping me by making him stay for dinner.”

Jaden smiled and shook himself, sending a dried leaf flying from his ginger hair. “Well, I’ll see you there. Eight o’clock?”

“Yep. But I might be fashionably late.”

Jaden snorted. “When aren’t you?”

Avery grinned cheekily. “Just have your camera ready.”

 

****

 

Two hours later, he hesitated in front of Wolfhound. Two men stood smoking to the left of the entrance and they eyed him with open fascination as Avery adjusted his skimpy costume.

Here goes nothing.

Chin raised, he swept into Wolfhound. As usual, hair metal greeted him. Avery ignored the screeching guitars, eager to see Dylan after spending the day apart.

Sensing his mate’s presence on the other side of the bar near the pool tables, Avery hurried his steps. He ignored the side glances and comments from the other patrons. He wasn’t the only one in costume, but he stood out for several reasons.

Jaden and Sawyer saw him first. Quiet, implacable Sawyer choked on his mouthful of beer while Jaden let out a bark of a laugh that drew everyone’s attention.

When Dylan spotted Avery, his eyes bugged. Avery approached him and slowly spun around so Dylan had a view of the back of his costume. He shook his ass, swinging the fake bushy tail suspended from the broad belt above his hips.

“What. The hell. Are you wearing?” Dylan sounded constipated.

Avery shot him a coy look over his shoulder—which Dylan missed, as he was staring at Avery’s tail in horror.

“I’m the big bad wolf.” Avery turned to face his mate. “Sort of.”

The costume was a loose interpretation. It consisted of a skintight gray romper with a low-cut halter top that left most of Avery’s chest bare. Furry leg warmers made up his hind paws and a hood with big ears and tassels completed the outfit. Avery hadn’t bothered tucking, and the material hid nothing. Both his bulge and lower asscheeks were on full display. Any other time, he wouldn’t have been caught dead in something so tacky, but it was Halloween. If there was ever time for a trashy costume, it was now.

“I brought you something too.” Avery dug into his messenger bag and pulled out the sweater, nose, and ears he’d purchased for Dylan. The sweater had fake spines and padding on the back, meant to mimic the look of a rounded hedgehog.

Dylan snapped his jaw shut. “Fuck no.”

Around him, their friends watched with open amusement. Too bad Lucas wasn’t there. He would’ve at least leered at Avery a little.

Avery pouted. “Come on. Don’t be a spoilsport.”

“Nope.” Dylan turned away.

Avery narrowed his eyes at his back. Dylan could play hard to get if he wanted, but Avery would wear him down.

He started his attack with a lot of bending—over the pool table to line up a shot, down to the floor when he “accidentally” dropped his cue stick. He felt eyes on his ass every time, and once or twice, he might have wiggled his hips a little just to set the tail swinging.

Finally, Dylan growled and snatched the bag off the table where Avery had set it.

“Fine,” he snapped. “I’ll wear the damn costume if you stop flashing your ass! I don’t want anyone else seeing what’s mine.”

Avery widened his eyes and amped up his Southern twang. “Me? Flashing? I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean.”

Dylan glared. “Shut it.”

Avery watched as Dylan pulled on the sweater and then set the ears on top of his head. The nose came last, and it made Dylan look absolutely ridiculous. Avery smiled gleefully and pounced on his mate. He kissed Dylan, not caring that Wolfhound wasn’t a gay bar. No one in their group would mind, and Avery didn’t care about anyone else.

Dylan growled again and dragged him close. “Such a brat,” Dylan whispered against his mouth. “I oughta put you over my knee.”

Light flashed and a shutter clicked as someone nearby took a picture.

Avery laughed and nipped at Dylan’s lower lip. “Maybe later. And if you’re a good boy, I’ll keep the tail on.”

 

****

 

Meet Dylan and Avery in Prickly Business, now available from Dreamspinner Press.

PB - 500x750

Buy link: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6530

And look for the sequel, Prickly By Nature, on November 19th!

 

****

 

Piper Vaughn Bio

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life… even if it’s only in a book.

 

Visit Piper at:

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Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Coffee Boys, Cops, and Werewolves, Oh My! with Ki Brightly

October 11, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

Moonphoto

Steven, Mark, and Thomas are from The Shape of Honey

Steven Wright

I twitch the thick gray curtain back from the dark window. The bright face of the moon streams down onto me. The stars glitter crisply on this frigid night. “I wish Thomas wasn’t out.” I shiver, feeling ridiculous, and roll my shoulders. I’m a cop, for god’s sake. I’m comfortable in my own home on the edge of town. I want my gun, but I’m out of uniform and it’s locked away in its case. I let the curtain drop back. With a smile I go to Mark where he’s busy digging around in his backpack and wrap my arms around him, pull him close. My chin rests on the top of his blond head while he ignores me. The smell of coffee and a bright cologne he prefers wraps around me. “There’s just something about a full moon this close to Halloween that gives me the heebie jeebies.” With a shiver I drop a kiss onto his temple. His elbow smacks sharp pain into my hip as he digs deeper into his bag.

“Mark, what are you doing?” I step back and rub the spot. He grins apologetically over his shoulder, a quick tilt of his magnificent lips. I lean forward, grab them with mine for a few seconds. He chuckles and stumbles away from me, his arm still fumbling in his bag. With a triumphant yell he brings out a small mason jar of clear liquid.

“Checking to make sure I have my holy water.” He cradles it close and drops the bag. I smack my hand to my face and massage the bridge of my nose.

“What?”

“Thomas is a werewolf, no joke, right?” He bounces from foot to foot, jittery as usual. “So, game on man. And he’s not here tonight…so…” He shakes the jar around.

“What are you talking about?” With a smile I drop my hand and shake my head at him. “I’ll keep you safe,” I promise with a smirk as I go after him again. Bed is starting to sound pretty good. He’s fast though, and sidesteps me.

“Vampires. There have to be vamps. And mermen.” He shakes the jar around while he rambles.

“Mermen?” I try hard to hold back my snicker, but snort it out anyway.

“Yep. Watcha think, that he’s the only weird thing out there? Our wolf ain’t the only strange shit, guaranteed.” He’s so serious as he stalks to my front door and shoves the jar into his sneakers.

“There’s no such thing as vampires…he would have told us.” But now I’m not so sure. The werewolves sure are into their secrecy. Maybe they wouldn’t tell us something like that. I glance nervously at the front door before I smack myself mentally. Even if there are vampires, it’s not like they’re going to burst in here right now.  A loud thump from my front porch has Mark throwing himself at me. I’ll never mind having an armful of my boyfriend, but damn it I want my gun. I sit him on his own feet and go to the coat closet to get my gun out of its box. I’m a fucking idiot for letting Mark shake me up, but the smooth, cool metal is a better shot of confidence than anything else I’ve got. I go to the door and put my ear against it. Mark, wielding his holy water like it’s a moltov cocktail, snuggles up to my back.

“Did you hear that?” he mutters.

“No.” I lie. He nips the back of my arm with blunt teeth and I grunt. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. I tense. Feet across my front porch.

“Vampires!” Mark whispers. I glare at him and he smiles brightly. I snag another warm, sugar sweetened kiss from him, push him back and throw open the front door with more confidence than I’m actually feeling.

“They don’t exist. Stay behind me.”

We sneak outside, gun in advance. Mark hides behind me. I groan and drop my gun when a piece of white thin paper clings to my face. It’s a mess. A big, fucking, vampireless mess. The entire front porch is drenched in waving white toilet paper. There are giggles from the bushes. I step toward them. There’s a stampede of feet. A herd of kids scatter in all directions. Some take off down the sidewalk, some through my neighbor’s yard.

“Hey! You kids almost got shot. Get back here!” I yell, but I only get laughter in return.

“Fuck you!” one kid with a Nixon mask actually stops to yell at me. When I start down the front steps he runs for it.

“Gonna go get ‘em, Officer?” Mark snickers and I sigh. They got both the trees on the front lawn too. Son of a bitch. Better than vampires though. I join Mark and we both laugh.

“Be good or you’ll have to help clean up.”

“Make me.” I lunge for him and catch him in one arm. With a yelp he struggles, half-heartedly, but in the end I have him pressed to my chest, and I’ve caught those pretty lips with mine. We lose some pleasant time together while all the warm air leaks out the front door. A wet nose on my hand startles me so badly I almost drop my gun. The wolf is huge, and seems like he’s laughing with his tongue lolling out. I relax and my eyes almost cross for a second as I try to watch Thomas transform from an animal into our other loyal, loving boyfriend. Water smacks Thomas on the face and he sputters, wiping it out of his blue eyes, scraping it off his short beard.

“What?” he laughs. Mark scowls.

“Jesus, you scared the shit out of me,” he yelps.

“I missed you two.” With a quick grin he leans forward and presses a kiss to my cheek, then Mark’s.

“Don’t you need to…Ow…Ow…Owoo.”

Tom rolls his eyes at the attempted howl. I stop for a second to check for my neighbors, but I don’t have the porch light on, and the toilet paper mess is making a nice bit of camouflage for us. “I need something.” He says with a leer. My eyes flash downward and my entire body warms at what I see. Oh, man. Naked werewolf on my front porch. I steer my boyfriends inside and Thomas laughs loudly.

“Hey, are there vampires?” Mark asks as I shove them both inside and shut out the darkness.

“Um…Not really…” Thomas starts. “Let’s go to bed,” he says too brightly. Glee sparkles in Mark’s eyes.

Oh, no.

***

Website: www.brightlybooks.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kibrightly

Twitter: @KiBrightly

G-mail: kibrightly@gmail.com

 

Buy Links:

Threefold Love

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6278

The Shape of Honey

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6972

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Not Forgotten by Ariel Tachna

October 9, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

 

A Partnership in Blood interlude (takes place after Perilous Partnership)

 

“You seem pensive tonight.”

Marcel Chavinier looked up from his contemplation of the menu—he had it memorized, yet he looked at it every time they met—and smiled at Christophe.

“Do I? Perhaps I am.”

“Should I not have mentioned it?”

Marcel huffed softly in amusement. For a millennia-old vampire, Christophe frequently lacked basic social graces. Or he had decided his great age excused him from them. Either way, Marcel found it delightfully refreshing most nights.

Most nights.

Tonight, not so much.

“Few people care to notice and those who do dare not ask,” Marcel replied.

“All the more reason for me to ask,” Christophe replied. “I am not ‘few people,’ after all.”

Marcel chuckled this time. “No, my friend, you are not. No more than I am. It’s why we are here, is it not?”

“It is, but you have changed the subject. If you wish to drop it, say so and I will not speak of it again, but something troubles you.”

“Magic is an amazing thing. It can take people places they could never otherwise go. It can simplify difficult tasks and reveal secrets invisible to the mortal eye. In the hands of the right practitioner, it can mend blood vessels, keep a heart beating, stabilize all kinds of medical conditions long enough for healing to occur. I was married once, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know,” Christophe replied. “She must have been a remarkable woman to have caught your eye.”

“She was. I met her when I was helping the Résistance.” He caught the surprise on Christophe’s face. “Wizards age more slowly and live longer than most mortals, but I was young too. War came to Paris and age was no guarantee of safety. I had only come into my magic a few months before, not strong enough to be of any real use but young enough to pass unnoticed at times. She was a few years older than I was and shouldn’t have taken any notice of me, but war is a great equalizer. What were a few years age difference when we could die tomorrow at the hands of a Nazi firing squad?”

“I remember,” Christophe said. “Many a vampire met their end that way, out after curfew because it was feed or starve, or dragged out into sunlight when a building was searched. It was a terrible time.”

“By some miracle we both survived relatively unscathed, and a few months later, she agreed to marry me. We talked of having a family, but we were young. We had time. Less than five years later, a car accident did what the war could not and stole her from me. They told me I couldn’t have saved her even if I’d been there. Magic can do many things, but it can’t bring the dead back to life. Today would have been our seventieth anniversary.”

“I would say I’m sorry, and I am, but I know how little such words mean in the face of that kind of grief,” Christophe said. “You don’t live to be a certain age without learning to live with loss.”

“The words are easy to say,” Marcel agreed, “but you are the only one who has said them in many years. The others, Alain, Thierry, Raymond, they don’t even know. By the time I met them, I was already an old man. If they thought of it at all, they assumed I was a widower, but they were young and full of life and I was their teacher, not their friend. Not in the way that encourages asking about the past.”

“Alone in a crowd,” Christophe said with a nod. “I know the feeling well. I much prefer being alone in the solitude of my house. At least there, I can be done with all pretense. Mireille expects nothing from me except refuge against the sun and her salary.”

“She is as wrapped up in Caroline now as all the others are with their partners, I would imagine,” Marcel said.

“I rarely see them. Mireille is kind enough to shelter me from their happiness.”

“Does that help?” Marcel asked. “I look at my boys—for all that they are men grown—and I see hope for the future in the relationships they are building. I won’t be here to see the future they help create, but I have faith in them.”

“Ah, but there is the difference,” Christophe said. “I will be here to see that future, as I have seen the future for dozens of generations. A time comes when hope is no more consolation than memory.”

The expression on Christophe’s face spoke volumes about the memories inherent in that simple sentence. Christophe had revealed little of his past. Marcel had learned little more from Jean, but enough to hazard a guess.

“Were you together for long?” Marcel asked.

“No more than you and your wife. He was a soldier in Clovis’s army, taken captive by the invading Alamanni. We fought with his army, but we didn’t have the protection your wizards offered Jean and the others. Our numbers were decimated. I felt it the moment he died. There will never be another for me.”

“No more than there was for me,” Marcel replied. “You speak of him on occasion, but you never say his name.”

“It would mean nothing to those who hear it,” Christophe said with a shrug. “He is not even a footnote in time.”

“That’s not true,” Marcel said. “He is your Avoué, and that makes him part of all that you have done, up to helping us rescue Orlando and end the war.”

“Childeric,” Christophe said so softly Marcel could barely hear him. “Named after the father of the king he followed to his death.”

Marcel picked up his coffee cup and gestured for Christophe to do the same. “To Childeric and Joséphine.”

Christophe looked halfway between horrified and amused as he tapped his coffee cup against Marcel’s. “To all those who were loved and whose names have been forgotten.”

Marcel sipped his coffee with a smile, grateful that Joséphine’s name would live on in Christophe’s memory now too.

Ariel Tachna bio pic

Find Ariel at her Web site: http://www.arieltachna.com

On Twitter: @arieltachna

Or on Facebook: http://tiny.cc/29npd

 

Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: The Dreamer by J.S. Cook

October 8, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

 

Another_Full_Moon

October 31st. Samhain, according to the old calendar. The night when the veils between the worlds grew as thin as paper. Darkness had fallen. Soon, it would be time. Soon, it would be safe enough to go out, to go out there, where everything was…everything he wanted. Seth Corrigan smiled to himself. What game would they play tonight?

A huge, bloated moon pulled itself into the sky by degrees, and the stars were plainly visible. He took the old path down to the shore, walking slowly, reacquainting himself with his body’s innate tendency to movement, his arms swinging slightly by his sides. To be bound in iron chains and buried in the earth for three hundred years was punishment – punishment for sins he had committed, yes, but was he truly to blame? He hadn’t placed the curse upon himself. It was hardly his fault that the bloodlust ran hot in his veins on nights such as this.

At the highest point of the land he stopped, surveying the gentle undulations of the summer sea, his gaze traversing the horizon and settling, finally, on the beach below. There, lying mother-nude on a large, flat rock, was a young man – the estate’s groundskeeper, Jamie Randolph. The sight of him – gods forgive the blatant cliché – took his breath away. He was immediately reminded of the night he’d first tasted Jamie, drawing the young man close to him, holding that taut, youthful body next to his own and sealing his lips over sweet, flowing life. At first Randolph had resisted – they always did – but then the pleasure had taken hold and he had relaxed in the vampire’s grip, sagging back into the older man’s arms, compliant as an infant.

Jamie’s naked body was pale, pale as wax, nearly as pale as Seth himself, and lightly furred with hair about the chest and genitals. He was slender, not overly bestowed of muscle but it didn’t matter: he was beautiful. If he was any other mortal, Seth would have long since discarded him – a meal, that’s all he would have been, or a temporary dalliance, no more. But Jamie was different. Seth remembered their first time: the taste of him, the smell of him, the texture of his sweet, warm flesh as the vampire’s lips sealed around the wound. Seth slid his fangs into the young man’s vein, and Jamie had grunted softly, at first in pain and then…

And then. Seth sighed, remembering. The pleasure always surprised them and the ones he took all the way down died smiling.

Jamie stretched and sat up on his rock, his skin gleaming in the moonlight, but Seth turned back towards the house, pretending that he hadn’t seen.

*****

old_house

“Did you have a good look, Seth?” Jamie – fully clothed this time – stood leaning against the door frame. Seth was propped up on the bed, pretending to read.

“Look?” Seth didn’t raise his eyes from the book. “At what?” The boy’s temerity amused him. Jamie’s question was uncharacteristically bold – and potentially very, very dangerous – but this apparently hadn’t occurred to Jamie.

Jamie smirked. “You were there, on the cliff, watching me.” He stepped forward, into the room. “I saw you.”

Seth tossed the book away and got up. He moved to the window. “You’re imagining things, my boy. Why would I be watching you?” He turned and Jamie was right there in front of him, no more than a hand’s-breadth away.

“There’s no need to pretend.” The words were a mere breath of sound as Jamie leaned in and closed the gap between them, sealing his mouth over the vampire’s. His hand cupped Seth’s cheek, holding their heads together, long fingers slipping into the vampire’s dark hair. He drew away, smiling, and for a moment they gazed at each other – then Seth grabbed him by the back of the neck and pulled him in. The kiss, intended to be cruel, slid rapidly into a passion that surprised them both.

“Jamie.”

“Yeah.” Jamie kissed him again: a slow, burning caress that kindled dark fire in the vampire’s belly.

“You are taking dangerous liberties. You realize I could punish you severely for these infractions.”

“Uh huh.” Jamie’s talented hands slid under the vampire’s loose shirt, warming the cool, hairless chest. He swayed close and they kissed again.

“Because this is highly inappropriate.” Seth’s voice shuddered just a little as Jamie’s index finger rubbed a sensitive nipple. “I am your master, after all.”

“Yeah, you sure are.” He drew the tip of his tongue up the side of Seth’s neck, fastening to a spot just under his ear and sucking gently. “Seth – ”

The older man’s hands tightened on his upper arms. He grabbed the front of Jamie’s cotton shirt and, in one sudden movement, tore it to the waist.

Seth’s mouth was liquid heat, his lips tugging at Jamie’s, his tongue slipping into his mouth, even as his busy hands pulled the ruined shirt free. Jamie’s hands roamed until he found the hard bulge at the juncture of the vampire’s thighs. His touch was intimately, deliciously cruel as he wrenched Seth’s head back, sucking on his throat; he kissed Seth until he begged and shivered. He slid slowly to his knees in front of Seth, his hands on the older man’s thighs.

He was gentle with the vampire’s cock, palming it tenderly, licking his way up the shaft, circling the swollen head with his tongue. Seth’s thighs shivered when Jamie took him into his mouth, and he struggled to master himself. The tide of glorious sensation overwhelmed his senses, rendering him mute and blind and deaf. His legs trembled with the effort of holding him up; he reached out and stayed Jamie: “Bed.”

The warm breeze from the opened window played over their naked bodies as they lay together: kissing, caressing, each exploring the unfamiliar terrain of another body. Jamie touched the vampire’s mouth, the tip of his nose, his cheek; Seth’s lips opened and drew his fingers in, sucking.

A pulse of heat bloomed low in his belly and spread and he lay back on the bed, reaching out wordlessly. Seth’s body pressed him into the bed and Jamie arched up to meet him as they kissed deeply. He wrapped his arms around Seth’s waist and cradled the vampire’s long legs with his own. He was flushed and sweating, and his body trembled from somewhere deep within his belly. He held Seth tightly, and their bodies moved, the slow slide of skin on skin. His cock was pressed against Seth, and he was kissing Seth, and Seth was kissing him and he was warm, warm and safe. He had never – goddammit – been this safe before. His pleasure built slowly, rising up from the soles of his feet, flooding him like water until it reached his heart and he was drowning, crying out, fists clenched in the sheets as he spent himself in long, ragged bursts. Seth arched his back and groaned, and a hot wetness dispersed in the space between their bodies.

They lay side by side, the breeze cooling their sweating bodies.

 

J.S. Cook

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