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Blood in Berlin by Celine Chatillon

Blood in Berlin

The Kindred Vampires, Book 3
by Celine Chatillon

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77111-737-1

In 1938, Vampire Edwin Carstairs joins British Military Intelligence. A Nazi scientist, Madame V, is creating vampire-soldiers. What will Edwin do when his lost love Ophelia Jones is discovered taking an eager part in experiments that risk the very survival of human and vampire-kind alike?

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Lovers in the Wood by Ann Raina

Lovers in the Wood

by Ann Raina

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77111-530-8

Rayenne thought this would be an easy police job—take the suspect to Belson Park for interrogation and make it fast. However, there is a strange wood to cross with stranger creatures to encounter before she gets rid of him. Can she withstand the challenges of both her male companion and dangerous animals to reach her destination and not lose herself on the way?

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The Pledge by Laura Tolomei

The Pledge
Virtus Saga, Book 5
by Laura Tolomei

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 9781771112949

While love and passion rise, enemies and misunderstandings become stronger. While resolves strengthen, the world and its nightmares stand in the way until one thing, and one alone, will save them–the pledge.

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In Wicked Chains
The Wicked, Book 3
by Avril Ashton

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77111-030-3

Two lovers will have to decide whether to break free from their pasts or remain forever bound In Wicked Chains.

Note: Prologue omitted.
Chapter One

Elina Vicente hurried across the empty bar of Club Wik’d, the soles of her black Converse squeaking on the linoleum floor. The bartender wiped the counter with a rag and nodded as she sped past, no questions asked, not that he’d be able to stop her if he tried. Not tonight.
She’d finally made up her mind, set her sights on her prize, and there’d be no talking her down. The target of her interest was upstairs and she had to get to him before Sasha showed up. Elina and her best friend had a date for brunch, then shopping, but first things first.
Taking the steps two at a time, she ran up to the second floor, silently thanking Dios for Sasha. If not for her mouthy friend, Elina would be cooped up in her apartment, living off cereal and toast.
Her father must be rolling in his grave. This was no way for a Vicente to live. Good thing el hijo de puta couldn’t say anything at all.
She reached the second floor landing and took a breath to calm her erratic nerves. Thinking about the bastard who fathered her always made her hyperventilate. Elina pursed her lips and approached the office of the man she came to see. As she drew closer, muted sounds reached her ears, moans and groans.
Rough. Animalistic.
Elina frowned. She closed her hand over the doorknob, eased it open and stared.
Kingston Hughes sat on the edge of his desk, jeans around his ankles, with a naked woman between his knees. Head thrown back, chest heaving, Kingston tugged on the woman’s hair as she pleasured him with her mouth.
Elina’s knees buckled. She’d been too late. Someone else was once again in her spot, taking her place.
The woman kneeling at Kingston’s feet devoured him with obvious relish, saliva dripping down her chin. A thick leather belt bound her hands behind her back.
Anger and something else burned Elina’s skin, hardening her nipples and slicking her inner thighs. The bastard had no idea what he did to her, none.
“Shit,” Kingston growled. His hips bucked.
Elina’s gaze flew from the woman on the floor to his face, but his eyes remained closed. She tightened her fingers on the doorknob, unable to tear herself away. Her heart hurt, but her clit pulsed.
Betrayed by her body and Kingston.
“Mmm.” The woman’s head bobbed faster, urged on by Kingston’s hold on the back of her neck.
“I’m coming.” The rasp of Kingston’s voice sparked a blaze under Elina’s skin. “You’ll drink it all up, won’t you? Be a good girl and let me see you swallow.”
His harsh words, like cut glass on jagged metal, sent sweat trickling down Elina’s spine. She wanted to rub between her legs, soothe the ache there, but more than that, she wanted to scream and yell. Her fantasies were playing out before her eyes, except it should be her on her knees tasting Kingston, not some nameless, faceless woman.
“Ung, uh-huh.” The woman hollowed her cheeks as Kingston finally opened his eyes and looked down at her. His movements turned rough and uncoordinated as he thrust his hips forward, burying his cock down her throat.
Elina swallowed and shut her eyes. If she concentrated real hard, she could pretend to taste him. She inhaled deeply, fighting to get the smell of him, his musk, into her lungs.
“Yes. That’s it, good girl. Bring me down, bring me down,” Kingston chanted.
Elina opened her eyes.
“Shit.” His massive body shuddered, hips jerked. The woman gurgled, choked, but kept on sucking him. His seed ran out the corners of her mouth, dripping down her chin.
Elina squeezed her thighs together and moaned. It should be me. All the months she’d been sure she saw something there, something more in his dark eyes whenever he looked at her. He went out of his way to ignore her, pretend not to look, but he had to know. He had to know she cared. Yet he went to somebody else when she was right there, available.
She’d waited for him to make a move. Fed up with waiting for Kingston to come to her, she’d come to him tonight and this is what she got.
A frustrated sound left her throat, louder than she intended. Kingston’s head swung around to the doorway. His heavy-lidded gaze flew wide when he spotted her. Elina staggered backward, a trembling hand covering her mouth. He opened his mouth, and she ran.
Idiota. Shame washed over her as she dashed back down the stairs. Did he still see her as only Sasha’s quiet friend? She didn’t think so, not after all the times she caught his unguarded gaze on her. He wanted her.
Maybe he didn’t want to want her. She was damaged, but Elina saw him as the man who made her feel things, who made her want. Three years after her life blew apart, she felt again, and for the wrong man.
She burst into the bar as Sasha entered.
“Hey, E. Been waiting long?”
Elina brushed past her and out the open door with a choked sob. She’d lose Sasha, too, if her friend ever found out about Elina’s feelings for Kingston.
“Whoa. E, wait up.” Sasha’s heels clicked on the ground as she ran after Elina.
Elina slowed to a stop beside her car and hastily brushed at her damp eyes.
“Hey.” Sasha settled a hand on her shoulder. “Look at me.”
Resigned, Elina turned slowly. Sasha removed her sunglasses and frowned up at her. The concern in her eyes made Elina want to weep even more. She hiccupped.
“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
Movement at the club’s entrance caught Elina’s eye. Kingston stood framed in the entranceway, unbound braids around his shoulders, buckling his belt.
Sasha followed her gaze and frowned. “Did Kingston do something to you? Did he hurt you?”
“Get in the car.” Her friend opened her mouth. “Now.” Elina slid behind the wheel and started the vehicle, pulling away as Sasha hopped in and slammed the door.
“What the hell is going on?” Sasha buckled her seatbelt and threw her handbag in the backseat.
Elina bit her lip and sped out of the club’s parking lot. She eyed the rearview mirror. Kingston stood in the space she’d pulled out of, arms crossed, staring after them. Silence reigned as Sasha sat beside her patiently, glancing from Elina to the road ahead, and back.
Lo siento,” Elina said finally. If Sasha no longer wanted to be her friend, she’d deal with it. She’d probably broken some kind of sacred law between best friends. Thou shall not lust after your best friend’s brother, no matter how much he stars in your nighttime fantasies.
Sasha sighed. “You’re scaring me. You know that, right? I’ve never seen you like this before.”
“I know and I’m sorry.” Elina gripped the steering wheel to hide her trembling fingers. “I-I didn’t mean for it to happen, it just did.”
“What did?” Sasha’s voice rose. “Fuck, E, you’re not making any sense.” She twisted in her seat to face Elina. “Stop speaking in riddles before I smack the shit out of you.”
Elina’s lips twitched. Sasha’s violent side always made her smile. “I saw something in Kingston’s office. He and a woman. They were…”
“They were what?” Suspicion laced Sasha’s words. “Tell me and I’ll kick his ass.”
“They were…she was on her knees.” Elina swallowed and forced out the words. “Naked. Pleasuring him with her mouth.” She wanted to say, taking what was mine.
Sasha’s mouth rounded, eyes widened. “Oh.” She faced forward and placed her head back on the headrest. “That’s what has you upset?”
“It should’ve been me,” Elina whispered. Sasha stiffened. She ignored her friend’s reaction and continued. “I’m the one who’s wanted him for months, pretending not to care. Pretending.”
Sasha remained silent, staring straight ahead.
Elina glanced at her. “I’m so sorry. I know I’ve broken your trust in me and I understand if you don’t…” Her voice broke. “If you no longer want to be my friend.”
“Pull over.”
Elina flinched at the barked order. She pulled over to the side of the road and sat, silent, waiting for Sasha’s reprimand.
“Look at me.” Sasha unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned over to grasp Elina’s shoulder.
Elina lifted her chin and met her friend’s gaze.
“You’re in love with my brother?”
Elina nodded. “I’m sorry for—”
Sasha slashed a hand through the air. “Stop apologizing. I’m not mad at you. Surprised, but not mad.”
“Really?” Elina perked up. “You’re not breaking up with me?”
Sasha chuckled. “No. I’m not breaking up with you, E. I’m sorry you had to see him with somebody else. Why don’t you just tell him how you feel?”
“I was. I gave up waiting for him to make a move, to come to me. That’s why I was there, to see him. To tell him how I feel.” She shook her head and turned away before Sasha saw the tears in her eyes. “I think he wants me, too, but then this happens. Maybe he can’t see past our friendship. Or maybe he can’t deal with who I am,” she whispered the last part
“You don’t know that.” Sasha took Elina’s hand in hers. “You can’t know what he thinks until you talk to him.”
“No.” Elina pulled her hand away. “No, I can’t face him, not after that.”
Sasha sighed. “It’s your choice, but I think you should talk to him.” She grabbed her purse from the backseat and opened the car door. “Gimme a sec, I’ll be right back.”
Elina laid her head on the headrest and closed her eyes. She had one load off her chest. Others remained, but at least she had Sasha by her side. She didn’t lose her friend, and that was the one positive in all this.
* * * *
Kingston stood with a fist raised, ready to knock on Elina’s, door two days later. His sister’s yells echoed in his ears, demanding he fix whatever he did to Elina.
He’d been stalling, but Sasha’s command wasn’t the only reason he now stood at Elina’s door, unprepared to face the condemnation in those wide, brown eyes.
He felt like he should apologize, but he didn’t know for what. Despite his feelings to the contrary, there was nothing between him and Elina. He did his best to hide what he felt for her. Everyone in his circle knew his habits when it came to women, but the hurt and anger Elina flashed him at the club cut deep.
A self-deprecating smirk curled his lips. Wait until she found out about his tainted genes. She didn’t yet know that he had the blood of a predator running through his veins, his reasons for keeping women at arm’s length, his reason for staying as far away from Elina as possible. Not that he’d ever tell her. The shock in her eyes brought back all that uncertainty and shame he’d lived with during his childhood and early adult years. Hell, they’d never really left. He simply used his disposable women to hide from it. That didn’t work, hence the revolving door. The loathing and shame remained with him, in him.
He blinked away the morose thoughts and knocked, mentally stiffening his spine and blanking his features.
“Who is it?”
The tentative voice hit him like a punch to the gut. The word soft always came to mind when he pictured Elina Vicente.
“It’s Kingston.” He swore he heard her swift intake of breath from the other side of the door. A pregnant pause filled the silence and he pressed his forehead to the smooth wood surface. “I just want to see if you’re okay, Elina. One minute, then I’ll leave.”
The knob turned. Elina’s pale features appeared in the tiny space. Nostrils flared, she stared at his shoulder. “I’m fine. You didn’t have to come over.”
He forced a chuckle. “Well, my sister thought otherwise. She ordered me to apologize to you.”
Her gaze jerked to his. “That’s why you’re here, because Sasha forced you to?”
Why did she look so hurt? “No. I-I wanted to also make sure you’re really okay.” Damn, he was repeating himself, but her eyes always had him off-balance. He sighed. “Look, can I come in?”
She moved out of the way, allowing him to step inside the penthouse. He spun around at the sound of the door slamming shut. Elina stood against it, hands behind her back. He’d be willing to bet she hadn’t let go of the knob.
Her gaze danced around the room.
His gut tightened. “What’s up, E? Suddenly you can’t bear to look at me?” Christ, saying those words hurt. “Are you afraid of me now?”
Her features, pale before, leached of all color. She opened her mouth, then closed it. “No,” she spoke barely above a whisper. “I’m not afraid. Of you.” She said the last two words like they were an afterthought.
“Then what?’ His voice hardened, but he couldn’t help it. The thought that Elina looked at or considered him different now iced his blood. “Tell me how to fix it and I will.”
She jerked the door open. “I don’t want you to fix anything, King. I just…I want you to leave.”
That’s it then. Regret heavy on his chest, Kingston walked past her and stepped out into the hallway. If only he was normal instead of a sick freak like his father.
“Why her?”
He stopped short at the soft question. Kingston spun around, wrinkling his brow in confusion. “What?”
Elina shifted. Tilting her chin upward, she met his gaze squarely. “The woman I saw you with. Why her? What’s so special about her?”
Of all the things he expected, that wasn’t it. He shook his head. “I don’t get it. What are you asking me, Elina?”
“Did I stutter?” Her voice rose sharply. “Why her and not me? Why?”
He burst out laughing. The surprises kept coming, didn’t they? Elina glowered at him before turning and stomping away.
Taking two strides after her, Kingston grabbed her by the shoulder and forced her to look at him. “What the hell are you asking me, Elina? Why I’m not fucking you?”
Color appeared in bright spots of red on her face and neck. She couldn’t possibly mean it like that. She couldn’t—
“Yes.” She shrugged away his touch. “I’ve been here, waiting for you to see me as someone other than your sister’s best friend.”
“No.” One word, but his voice still trembled. Kingston spun away before she saw the reaction her words had on him, on his body. “You’re not—I’m not the person for you.”
“You are, King. It’s always been you. You’re the one I want.”
Those fucking soft words. “Don’t say it. I won’t…it can’t happen.”
“Why not?”
He faced her again. “I choose those women because I can walk away after the fucking is over. No one’s looking for anything other than skin on skin contact and no one’s fazed when I move on to the next. You’re different.” So different.
“But I want it.”
She stepped closer, laying a gentle hand on his chest. Too close to his thumping heart for his liking, but Kingston couldn’t move away from her touch even if his life depended on it.
His deepest fantasies where coming true in front of his eyes, yet Kingston couldn’t allow it. He’d wanted her for so long. From the moment she fainted at his feet inside his club, he’d needed to touch her. And now that she offered herself, he had to say no.
“Not going to happen, Elina.” He removed her hand from where it lay on his chest. “Don’t bring this up again.” He shifted away, but her fingers dug into his upper arm.
“Test me. Test me and if I don’t pass, we can forget it.” Elina stepped back and clasped her hands in front of her. Voice strong, gaze steady on him, she said, “I was made for this. For you. Only you can make me feel like this. Whatever you require, I accept.”
Kington wanted to gather her up in his arms and hide her away, from him, from the explicit images in his head of Elina spread wide, lips wrapped around his cock, pussy wet and dripping, ass high in the air as he drove in and out. All these things he’d learned to stop wanting from her, all needs he’d kept at bay for so long.
Whatever she saw on his face, Elina smiled. “You’ve thought about this before. Me at your feet. You doing things to me.” Her entire face seemed to glow with the knowledge. She had power, time to take it back.
Kingston grabbed her hair. She arched for him beautifully, exposing her neck. Stifling a groan, he dragged his tongue down the smooth, creamy column. His cock, aroused since his first sight of her, pushed against his zipper. He winced. Elina moaned and he thrust her away.
“Clothes off,” he rasped. “Now.” He didn’t look to see if she followed his command, instead he strode over to the camel-colored couch and sat down. In no time she’d dispensed of the faded jeans and black t-shirt and stood before him in nothing but pink and black ankle socks. When he first saw her he’d thought her too thin, but she’d gained muscle and weight, filling out nicely.
Her café au lait skin was creamy smooth with small, firm tits, brown, nickel-sized nipples, and a flat stomach. Her chest heaved with every breath she took.
His balls ached with the need to explode.
She stood about five-six in her flat feet with toned legs. Her pussy was shaved though a thin landing strip remained.
No underwear. How…intriguing. He smiled and shifted to ease his dripping cock. “Come here.”
She bit her lip, reddening the skin. He wanted to kiss it away, but Kington reminded himself of the matter at hand. He had to make it so she didn’t want this, didn’t want him.
Elina walked toward him with sure footsteps. Their gazes held. Trust and need shone brightly in hers, and fuck if he didn’t blink to hide the raw lust running rampant through him. She stood between his parted knees, fists curled, waiting.
He smoothed a shaking hand down her front, sweeping between her breasts and stopping at her pubic mound. She held herself still as tiny sounds drifted from her. Staring up at her, emotion clogged Kingston’s throat. Fear of her negative reaction to him, even more afraid of the positive, raced inside him. After all this time of wanting from a safe distance, he had her in his grasp.
“Get on your knees.”
She dropped as if she’d been waiting all her life for his command.
Christ. His fingers flexed at the urge to hold her close and never let go. Lifting his hand, he dragged his knuckles down her cheek.
Her lashes fluttered and she leaned in to his touch. He didn’t linger. Swinging a leg over her head, he stood up and moved behind her.
She jerked and turned around, but he sank his fingers into her hair and held her head steady.
“Don’t move, look straight ahead.” He unbuckled his belt and pulled it free, watching the way her shoulders stiffened at the sound. “Hands behind your back.”
She complied silently.
“You say you want me, El, but I’ve been noticing things.” He dropped behind her on the floor. Catching both her wrists in his bigger palm, he wrapped the belt around them and buckled, drawing it tight. When she was secure, he leaned in and brushed her hair away from her neck.
She shivered.
“I’ve noticed you don’t like being touched, El.” He rubbed his nose over the shell of her ear.
Elina turned slightly, giving him better access.
“The only man you’re comfortable around is Niko, and he’s taken,” Kingston whispered in her ear.
She shook her head and panted. “Even with a different face, Niko’s familiar to me. He’s safe.”
Kingston’s gut twisted. Fucking jealousy.
“If you stayed around me long enough to notice, you’d see I like your presence just as much,” she said. “Maybe more. But you’re always running away and I’m always left needing you near.” Frustration brought her Spanish accent to the forefront as she rolled her Rs.
“I can’t be what you want,” Kingston’s voice cracked. Couldn’t she see how bad he’d be for her? His father made sure to ruin him for anybody.
“Let me be the judge.” Elina tilted forward, arching her back as she said, “Do whatever you want. I can take it. I can take you.”
Kingston ran his gaze down her curved back, to the hands shackled just over her ass, and her butt cheeks, so pale and taut. His mouth watered. He pictured himself sinking his teeth into the unblemished flesh, drinking in her cries.
Fucking. God.
Pressing a kiss to her nape, he trailed a shaky finger down her spine. Elina undulated like a dancer, mesmerizing, intoxicating. He licked her shoulder, then nipped.
She groaned.
Her aroused musk teased his nose. His hard cock dripped, aching to be buried between those pale thighs. He cupped himself through his jeans, shuddering at the contact.
“Balance on your knees.” King smoothed a hand over the curve of her left butt cheek as she changed positions, knees apart. Pressing himself against her back, he reached in front and palmed one of her tits.
Elina gasped. He squeezed her nipple, pinching and pulling before moving on to the next.
Her hips rolled, ragged moans left her throat, and he fought his own needs and wants to give her this. With one hand occupied with her tits, he trailed a finger of the other down her ass crack.
“King.”
Fuck, I love the way my name sounds on her lips. Soft and breathless. His balls drew up at the sound. Kingston gritted his teeth and counted to ten in his head. By the time he got to ten, her fragrant musk scented the air and his entire body shook from restraint.
He bent and slid his tongue over her spine, laving it. Her knees widened. Removing his hand from her nipples, he gripped her hips to hold her still, but she rocked back on him.
“King, more.”
A plea and God help him, but he wanted more. It wasn’t enough what he’d done, not nearly enough. Pulling apart her ass cheeks, he ordered roughly, “Open.”
Automatically, those legs opened, giving him an eyeful of juices glistening on the inside of her thigh. “Higher.”
She arched, opening herself for him. He plunged two fingers into her.
Elina cried out. Her fiery pussy clamped down on his fingers, juices squishing as he thrust in and out. She rode his fingers, her cries echoing around the room. He bit down on the inside of his cheek, stifling his grunts.
He hooked his fingers. She stiffened, then her hips rocked faster. She ground down and he ground up, the heel of his palm rubbing her ass. The rough material of his jeans rubbed his cock just right as his hips snapped forward in time with his hand. Contraction after contraction gripped his fingers as Elina came, slick moisture raining on his fingers, sliding down his palm.
Arm aching, shuddering as he came in his pants like a teenager, Kingston groaned. I’m fucked.

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One Wicked Night
The Wicked, Book 2
by Avril Ashton

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 978-1-55487-853-6

Justice Alexandre kills for a living. A lover of the shadows, he makes no excuses for what he does. Besides, people bore him. He has no use for them…until a hot summer night in a Toronto nightclub.

Note: Prologue omitted.
Chapter One

He personified darkness.
Seated at the bar, alone in the crowded place, Myka Prentiss blinked moisture from her eyes. She pushed the still-raw wound of betrayal to the back of her mind. For now she wanted to watch the dark stranger. He caught her attention the instant he came through the doors of Club N.V. His movements were of a dancer, all stealth and precision, to a rhythm that didn’t come from the loud music blasting in time to her heart beat.
Mr. Dark tried to blend in, but his darkness intrigued her.
She tossed back the last of the ginger ale, licked her lips and swung around on the bar stool to face the crowd. He stood at the back of the club, wide shoulders against the wall, apart from anyone else. A loner. Maybe that’s why she noticed him. But then that didn’t make much sense. His aloneness appeared self-inflicted. Hers? Carefully orchestrated by her father, Senator Prentiss, of course.
Not tonight. Here, away from her father’s heavy-handed influence, she’d remedy that. If only for a measly few hours she’d take back her life. Live it on her terms, not on those set by the senator’s bigger picture.
She took a deep breath, hopped off the stool, and headed in the stranger’s direction.
Tonight he’d be hers.
She side-stepped the sweaty, writhing bodies on the dance floor and stopped in front of him. He straightened, waited for her to speak. It was difficult to make out his expression in the darkness—she felt, more than saw, his gaze on her. Even his eyes were dark, silver strobe lights reflected in their depths. For a brief second, her nerves got the best of her. What would the senator do if he found out?
She shook herself mentally. He wouldn’t find out, they weren’t even in the U.S.
Mr. Dark’s mouth moved, but she couldn’t hear so she rose on tiptoe. He leaned down and the scent of cigar smoke and man teased her nostrils, heating her blood in a rush.
She inhaled then brought her lips close to his ear. “Outside, two minutes.” Tearing her gaze from the smooth column of his neck, she walked off, suddenly too nervous to look back. To see if he followed.
Myka stood against the wall separating the club from whatever was on the other side and waited. The whisper of cool air on the nape of her neck felt like a lover’s caress. She crossed her arms over her chest then changed her mind and let them hang loose at her side.
He wasn’t coming.
What was she thinking? She shouldn’t have approached him, but she’d wanted to prove her life was still her own. Prove what she’d overheard wasn’t true, her father hadn’t sold her to the highest bidder for a senate seat. But he had and here she was, grasping at anything to dull the pain.
The doors opened and Mr. Dark stepped outside. Breath left her body, spine tingled. His gaze clashed with hers as he approached like a lion stalking prey. Uniformed dark clothes cloaked his bulky frame; leather jacket, shirt, jeans and boots. His features looked like they’d been chiseled from the finest, darkest chocolate. Sharp, dark and smooth. High cheek bones, slanted eyes with just a hint of stubble on his square jaw. Full lips to kiss, to taste. A voice in the back of her head yelled run, but she ignored it. She sensed he’d like the chase.
He stood in front of her, chest to chest, and placed a hand on the wall behind her. Then he leaned in, licked her earlobe and caught it between his teeth.
Her breath hitched, knees wobbled. A whimper left her throat as her pussy flooded.
“You beckoned?” A Caribbean accent gave his deep voice an exotic flavor.
Nipples hardening, Myka stayed with the bold approach. “I want you. Under me, on top of me, but definitely inside me.”
He pushed off the wall and rubbed his jaw, lips curved in a sensual smile. “A woman who knows what she wants. I like it.”
“No names. One time only.” No matter how hurt she was by her father’s actions, she wouldn’t intentionally seek to hurt him.
Mr. Dark laughed, a husky sound that did naughty things to her spine. “Done. Let me get my ride.” He walked back into the club.
She barely had time to catch her breath before he pulled into the alley on a motorcycle. A very loud, huge, and silver motorcycle.
He tossed her the lone helmet. “Hop on.”
She fumbled with the shiny, black headgear, her wet palms making the simple action a chore. Finally, she secured the strap and swung one foot then the other over the bike. Cheek pressed flat against his jacket, she wrapped her arms around his waist and hung on for dear life as he roared off into the night.
Ten minutes later he’d secured a room at a hotel close to Toronto’s Pearson airport. She waited by his side as he unlocked the door, trying to ignore the heat spreading through her body. The voice in her head questioning the sense of what she was about to do, she put that on pause— it sounded too much like the senator’s.
She followed him into the room and shut the door behind her. He flicked the light switch next to the door. Bright yellow light illuminated the musky room as he turned to her. Blacker than black eyes bored into her, making her take a step back. She hadn’t noticed the crimson teardrop tattoo at the corner of his left eye. Strange, it softened his features.
“This is your show,” he said. “I’m following your lead.”
Myka appreciated him allowing her to take control. Must have been hard, though. Somehow she didn’t see him relinquishing control often.
“Good.” She moved away from him, taking a seat at the only available chair in the non-descript room. Head down, she pulled off her boots while he sat on the bed and did the same. Her eyes focused on her task—she wasn’t ready to look at him—but the heat of his stare burned her skin. This wasn’t the time for second thoughts— here was the opportunity to be whomever she wanted. Someone other than the senator’s daughter.
She grabbed it and held on tight.
Finished with her boots, she stood and walked over to where he sat, palms laid flat on his thigh. She caressed his head and spoke the first thing that came to mind. “I want to lick you all over.”
His smiled one of those breathtaking smiles. “I don’t mind being licked.”
She tugged on his neck and he got to his feet. On tiptoe, she pressed her lips to his. He opened his mouth at the touch of her lips, her tongue swept inside. Myka tasted the rum and coke he’d drank earlier, plus another flavor she couldn’t define. One she suspected was uniquely his.
Their tongues slid over each other, their moans echoing. His hard arms brought her flush against his chest as he deepened the kiss. Between their bodies, his cock grew thicker, harder. Her lashes fluttered closed on a sigh, damp pussy purred in approval. One taste and she was hooked.
Myka wrapped her arms around his neck then drew back and flicked her tongue over the seam of his mouth. He shrugged out of his jacket and t-shirt, while she unbuckled his belt and undid his jeans. With his chest and torso exposed, she bent and flicked her tongue over his left nipple.
His breath hitched, body drew taut. Blunt fingers dug into her scalp.
Feathering kisses over his chest, she ran her hands across the wide expanse of smooth, delicious flesh. His heart beat furiously under her palm and she smiled at the way he reacted to her touch.
She moved to drop to her knees, get an up-close and personal with his cock, but he caught her arm. Eyebrow raised, she looked up at him.
Sharp lines stood out on his angular face. “My turn.” His voice sounded deeper, accent more pronounced.
Myka straightened. No complaints here. Smiling, she took both his hands and brought them to her breasts. He cupped the aching mounds, thumb brushing over her sensitive nipples. Her knees buckled and she closed her eyes.
“Turnabout is fair play,” he growled.
Her eyes flew open. He bent and suckled her nipple through her top. Heat speared her pulsing core, spiraling through her body.
“Ah, God.” She reached up, untied her halter then pulled out the pins holding her heavy hair in place.
Mr. Dark dropped to his knees. Her breath stuttered, the hairpins fell unheeded to the floor as he went to work on the fastening on her jeans.
His tongue slid into her navel, flicked over the diamond there. Stomach muscles contracted, her wet core pulsed. He pushed the jeans and underwear off her hips and down her legs. Licking his lips, he leaned in to peer at the tattoo above her pubic area. Her twenty-fifth birthday present to herself.
Slippery when wet,” he read the words out loud then looked up at her. “Let’s test that theory.” His finger made its way between her legs.
She tensed then widened her stance. The hand on her waist tightened. His lips and teeth nipped at the soft skin of her belly. A finger slid into her. She gasped, inner muscles tightening around him.
“Fuck!” he hissed, the fingers at her hips digging into her flesh.
She rolled her hips, her head fell back. Her hands clutched his head as a wave of fire washed over her. He withdrew his fingers and they locked eyes. He licked his finger clean, groaning at the taste.
Pulling away, he lifted her off her feet and walked a couple steps to dump her on the bed. He pounced before she stopped bouncing on the mattress, mouth closing over a nipple, a finger plunging into her aching pussy.
Strangled sounds came from her throat, but she was deaf to them. She bucked and writhed. Blood pounded in her ears. This stranger made her feel things she’d never felt. Took her places she’d never been.
He added two fingers down below while his tongue glided over her nipple. Slurping noises blended with her groans as he sucked. He bit down on her and his fingers scraped her walls, beckoning her to come. And she did.
The orgasm started at her toes, curled them, and raced up, bowing her body under the force. Stiff fingers gripped the sheets as she arched off the bed. Her cries echoed through the room.
She flipped back onto the bed, breath ragged, chest heaving, sweat dripping down her face. He kissed her eyes, her lips.
“Condoms?” she asked.
Nodding, he got up to retrieve them, tugging off his jeans. Lines of text, in a foreign language, were tattooed on his right shoulder. She watched him put the rubber on and swallowed. Her throat felt raw, over-used. He crawled back up her body, fingers once again dipping between her legs. She spread them wide, a fresh rush of heated pouring from her.
He positioned himself between her thighs and she reached between them to glide a finger down his length. He stiffened, groaned, and thrust himself into her palm. She caressed him through the condom, savored his heat and hardness. One last squeeze then she laid back and guided him to her entrance.
In a sharp thrust he buried himself to the hilt. She yelped. Legs rose to wrap around his waist. Lowering himself on his elbows, his hungry mouth found hers. Joined, they began to move. She swallowed his groans as he pounded into her, filled her.
Myka broke the kiss and panted. “God, yes…Fuck me!” She dragged her nails down his back.
He froze, lifted his head and stared at her.
She sank her teeth into her lower lip and met his eyes. “What’s wrong?”
His nostrils flared. “Do that again.” The snarled three words made her body clench.
“Do—do what?”
“Your nails, my back. Again.” A harsh command as he waited, staring into her eyes.
He wants me to mark him? Her fingers flexed where they rested on his hips. She slid her palms up the smooth flesh of his back, cupped his shoulders. Lifting her hip, she shimmied on his cock. The muscled arms on either side of her head wobbled. With a lick of her lips, she raked her nails down his back. Hard. Deep.
A strangled groan left him as he shuddered. The tendons in his neck bulged. He reared back and slammed into her.
Myka cried out. Pain. Pleasure. A wicked mixture of the two raced through her veins, scorching her. Climax hovered on the periphery and she closed her eyes, reaching for it.
Her lover switched up his tempo—sank all the way in then pulled almost all the way out slowly. Torturously. She spasmed around him and clutched his shoulders, nails leaving half moons on his skin. She lifted her lower body, tried to take him deeper, but he hovered out of reach so she sank her teeth into his shoulder.
He hissed and slammed into her.
She shattered, screamed. Her muscles rippled, head thrashed back and forth. He pummeled into her over and over. She loved it.
Needed it.
Never wanted it to stop.
Sweat dripped from his face onto her forehead as he ground his pelvis against hers. His fingers tugged on her hair. He buried himself in her again and again. Faster and faster. Then he stiffened, a guttural sound wrenched from his throat. His jaw clenched, eyes squeezed shut as he emptied himself in the thin barrier between them.
She caressed his face. If only she could keep Mr. Dark inside her and shut out the world.
He nipped at the tender flesh of her neck. Her pussy fluttered around him and groan rumbled from his chest. She hugged him close, kissed his head. They lay in silence, the only sounds their breathing and the whir of the ceiling fan. With his semi-hard cock cocooned in her tightness, they drifted to sleep.
Myka awoke at the crack of dawn in a strange bed, with a stranger’s arm around her. She took a moment to smile at the things they did and inhaled his scent. Placing a kiss on his forehead, she extricated herself from his embrace and went to get dressed in the bathroom.
She splashed water on her face and stared at herself in the mirror. Her hair was a tangled mop on her head, scratches and bite marks decorated her neck, and her lips were swollen. She looked like she’d been fucked good and proper.
The ache in her well-used core proved it.
Back in the room, she made sure she didn’t leave anything behind then opened the hotel room door. She turned, took a last look at the figure asleep on the bed then walked out. The door closed behind her with a soft click.

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A Wicked Ride
The Wicked, Book 1
by Avril Ashton

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 978-1-55487-784-3

In order to save her family from jail, Sasha Forde must steal evidence hidden in a lawyer’s office. She sets out to do what she considers a simple B and E, but someone else has arrived first. He holds her life in his tattooed hands, but not for long.

Note: Prologue omitted.
Chapter One

Dust and cobwebs tickled her nose.
In the cramped stillness of an overhead air duct, Sasha Forde stifled a sneeze. She gritted her teeth, but kept her watery eyes trained on the activity in the lawyer’s office below her. Through the grate, she had a fairly unobstructed view of the three men dressed like her-all black, ski masks and gloves.
A rat, the size of a small cat, scurried past. Sasha bit back a scream. Someone would pay dearly for this. She’d been handpicked to break in and steal the evidence in the room below, but it seemed the men didn’t get the memo this job belonged to her.
She inched forward on her elbows, Baby Glock in hand, and rested her forehead against the grate. A bead of sweat escaped her cap and slid down her left temple.
“Go through every scrap of paper,” one of the men instructed. His deep voice appeared to rumble in the otherwise quiet room.
Was he the man in charge?
The two men fanned out to the row of file cabinets against the eggshell colored wall.
She studied the one who spoke. He stood like a linebacker, ready to move at a moment’s notice. Wide shoulders and lean, hard muscle dominated his frame. He wore a plain black sweatshirt with the hood covering his head. Black jeans were tucked into black combat boots laced halfway up. From her vantage point, his eyes were two black holes through the tiny slits in his mask.
As if he’d heard her silent appraisal, he turned. His sure footsteps brought him to the large oak desk located below her position. She held her breath while her heart raced.
He pulled out the high backed chair and it slid smoothly across the plush dark carpet. The linebacker flipped off the hood of his sweatshirt, folded his giant frame into the chair, and switched on the computer.
The tap-tap of his gloved fingers on the keyboard punctuated the silence. Over in the corner of the spacious office, his men went about their search. Sounds of cabinets opening and closing, and papers shuffling grated on her nerve endings.
She bit the inside of her cheek to stave off a groan. This is going to be a long ass night.
“Niko, it’s not here.”
“Here either.”
Hushed words brought her out of her pity party, as the two men rifling through the cabinets reported their non-findings to the man at the computer.
Niko, huh? She filed the name away.
“Then it has to be here. She made two copies, and we already have the one from her house.”
She being attorney Harper Royce, the one whose office they currently occupied.
Niko paused and fanned himself with a yellow envelope lying on the desk. Turning back to the computer, his fingers beat double time on the keyboard. His men walked over to him and stood like sentries while he worked.
Damn, they’d already been to Harper Royce’s house. Sasha planned to do the house job last, since it posed minimal challenges compared to this one, but now she’d have to scratch it off her list.
How did these men know about Harper Royce’s investigation into Johan Vicente? From what she gathered from skulking around, the only other person Harper told about her extra-curricular activities was the informant feeding her Vicente’s business. Someone other than the man who’d sent Sasha didn’t want the authorities to get the incriminating evidence.
Sasha wiggled her left foot. Her clothes were damp with sweat. She needed a drink. Hell, she needed two. And she also needed a bath. No doubt the rodents and bugs in this particular part of hell had pissed and laid eggs all over her.
Oh, heads were going to roll over this. One of which was sure to be the linebacker’s below her. Her foster parents’ lives were at stake, which was why she chose to do this herself.
Everything had been going according to plan: Harper left her office at nine-thirty. The building shut down at ten. And at eleven Sasha had been set to slide out of the duct, then drop onto the desk below. The whisper of the door halted her plans.
She glared at her pink Timex. 11:46.
“Found it.”
The triumphant words were barely spoken above a murmur, yet they resonated through her like a punch to the stomach.
Niko inserted a tiny blue flash drive into the USB slot on the computer. She watched in horror as the information she’d come for downloaded onto the drive. A stranger held it. He couldn’t know he’d just sentenced her foster parents to death, and her to an orange prison jumpsuit. The useless color fucked horribly with her skin tone.
Niko tore off his mask and stood. “Good thing there aren’t any cameras in here. I’m burning the fuck up.” His men murmured in agreement. He walked around the desk and stood facing her position as he held up the flash drive. She got the first glimpse of his face and her pulse stuttered. Sasha understood the implications of him having the information on the flash drive, yet her eyes devoured his brutal beauty.
Sweat dripped from his face onto the carpet. The overhead light glinted off his shaved head, the color of smooth copper. His high cheek bones and square jaw belonged on a New York runway, and the bump on his nose bridge indicated it’d been broken at least once. A neatly trimmed goatee framed the most suckable lips ever.
And tattoos. They poked from underneath his shirt like dark talons, wrapped around his neck from the left, then dipped back under his shirt. Even more spread up his nape, unto his skull and curled around his left ear.
She had the urge to see what the rest of his body looked like.
“Where’d you find it?” One of his men asked.
Niko wiped his brow with his sleeve. “Buried in a list for Christmas decorations. Two years old.”
His men chuckled. A smile shadowed Niko’s lips.
She wished she could see his eyes, but he stood too far away for her to tell.
“Alright.” Niko hustled his men. “Maysin, take care of the flash drive so we can get the hell up outta here. J, with me.” He motioned to the third man.
The one called Maysin sat in the chair Niko vacated. His dark ponytail escaped from the back of his mask and hung to the middle of his back. He pulled out a drill no bigger than the palm of his hand and proceeded to dismantle the computer. Niko and J stood guard on either side of the door.
Maysin drilled holes into the hard drive he’d removed from the computer’s innards. The handy little tool barely made a purr as he decimated the best evidence anyone ever had against Johan Vicente, gun runner, drug kingpin and all around nasty motherfucker. More importantly known as the man promising to end the lives of Sasha’s foster parents, if she didn’t produce the information on the computer.
Done drilling, Maysin rummaged in the pockets of his dark jeans, only to reemerge with what looked like a couple of magnets the size of Sasha’s BlackBerry. He used the magnets to scrape against the hard drive, again and again, making it so nothing on the drive would ever be recovered.
Nice really. Except now she’d have to hurt him and J. Niko? Well, since he appeared to be the mastermind of this little OP, she had other plans for him.
When he’d accomplished what he set out to do, Maysin left the magnets on the hard drive and they left the way they came. Through the door, single file.
Niko brought up the rear and at the door he turned. His dark gaze swept the room one last time. With a curve to his lips, he pulled his ski mask back on and turned around. The door closed behind him. He disappeared.
She felt his absence like a physical ache, until she remembered he had something she needed. She’d get the drive soon.
As head of the notorious Shadow Gang, she led her team in retrieving the most sought after and hard to find items. Retrieving had a more sophisticated ring to it, unlike the more common term. Stealing. She’d disbanded the group a few months go, choosing to go legit and partner with her brother in the nightclub business. Her identity and that of the other members were safe, or so she’d thought, until she had a face to face with Vicente.
He laid it all out for her as if she still wore knee highs on the playground. She’d break into Harper Royce’s office and make sure the evidence the lawyer had against him disappeared. Sasha didn’t question why a hotshot lawyer, and not the state, had the evidence. If she refused to do Vicente’s bidding, the world would know the identity of the members of The Shadow Gang, and her foster parents would be killed.
Hell of a choice. She could go to prison, but she wouldn’t sentence the others to the same fate. Not if she could prevent it. And there was no way in hell she’d allow him to hurt one hair on her foster parents’-the Hughes-heads. So, she’d booked the Hughes on a two week cruise to the Caribbean, mumbled something about an early anniversary present, and waved them off yesterday. In the end she agreed to Vicente’s terms. He knew she would. She’d procure the evidence, be the good little thief she once was.
Times like these were when she missed Terry the most. Terry Garraway founded the Shadow Gang, and recruited her when she was eighteen. He became her lover and best friend. Sasha could’ve used some of his cool logic right now. Unfortunately, he died three years ago. Gunned down in the streets for his wallet. She swallowed the bitter taste thinking of him always left in her mouth. Her failings, not his.
Now here she was; all alone since she chose not to tell the others about her deal with the devil. She’d been thwarted by a linebacker with a pretty face and bitable lips.
Sasha grinned in the darkness, present discomforts forgotten. A few more minutes and she’d finally be rid of this place. She had a flash drive to recover, a couple skulls to crack, and a brand new toy to play with.
###
The homeless Wino she’d paid a Benji to watch her car in the alley behind the building reported three men dressed in black, hopping into a like-colored SUV. He squinted up at her from his bed of cardboard, while she questioned him on the direction the SUV headed. A bony finger pointed down Broad Street, toward the Central Waterfront. She gave him an extra five and got into her car, smiling.
If prompted, Mr. Wino would never be able to identify Sasha. He saw and spoke to a woman with short spiked black hair, a ring in her nose and a long ugly slash across her right cheekbone. She also had a thick and distinct southern accent.
None of those characteristics matched Sasha at all. She tipped her invisible hat to Paula Deen for the cooking lessons, and the borrowed accent.
She stepped on the gas.
Central Waterfront in Seattle’s downtown area, once the oasis of maritime activities, was being converted over for urban and recreational uses. The piers, centuries old, were now housing restaurants and storefronts. There was an aquarium, several parks, and one hotel. Over the water, no less.
She drove straight down Broad and turned left on Alaskan way. The Edgewater Hotel sat on pier 67, and since she didn’t want to announce her arrival, she parked two piers over. She’d back to check out the vehicles, see if any matched Mr. Wino’s description.
She sat in the car and peeled off the fake wound on her face, and unclipped the ring in her nose. “Ouch!” That motherfucker pinched. She shoved the pieces of her disguise into the glove compartment of the rusted ten year old Ford Fiesta she used for jobs, and slammed it shut.
She checked her image in the rearview as she pulled off the wig, and tossed it onto the backseat. Her fingers combed through her hair. She winked and blew herself a kiss. Unlike the Wino, Niko would meet the real Sasha Forde.
Poor, unsuspecting fool.
Her linebacker didn’t know it yet, but Sasha had him in her sights and she always caught her prey.

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To Capture a Star
by N.S. Howard

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77111-116-4

Carlie is giving up her career as an actress to marry wealthy Philip Nystum. But someone with a grudge has Carlie captured, and placed in a slave training facility. Detectives Jill and Nathan are hired to find Carlie, but their search for her across the galaxy puts them on a discovery of their own.

Chapter One

Jeremy Raskin frowned as he observed her through the electronic field glasses. He considered that she might be mistaken for a manikin at first glance. Perfect skin, crystal clear blue eyes, blonde hair that could have been a wig made to order and the figure of a model.
However when she moved there was no doubt there was a lot of life behind her smile, and the face that had made its way into a half dozen low budget movies. Jeremy sighed.
Too bad for her someone has chosen her. Now to contact this Beverly Anderson and get the plan rolling.
* * * *
Most of the passengers wanting to board the Starship Twilight waited in the busy lobby for one of the shuttles to transport them to the low orbit rendezvous point. Those shuttles were noisy, crowded with the seats designed for easy maintenance and not comfort.
Boarding officer Reggie Johnston didn’t need to check the image sent to him earlier to recognize Carlie Simmons. He continued on with his work, making sure all the other passengers were accounted for in the VIP lounge.
By contrast, those waiting in the VIP lounge had a relaxing time in the comfortable surroundings. The quiet shuttles for the VIPs were not large but each over-sized padded seat offered extra legroom. During the forty-five minute ride refreshments were offered to the pampered guests.
A chime sounded and Carlie stood, along with her assistant Beverly Anderson. She glanced at the heavyset woman with the dark complexion.
“I’m getting nervous, Bev.”
Beverly patted her arm. “Your wedding isn’t for months yet. Don’t get yourself worked up.”
“I know, but there’s so much planning to do that I can’t do until I arrive on Mars. I can’t wait until I see Philip again.” She sighed. “He’s so good to me.”
Beverly smirked. She had gone through Carlie’s two other marriages, and this one seemed to her another of her future disappointments. She fingered the new bracelet she was wearing, feeling a twinge of guilt.
* * * *
Carlie walked the distance of the short ramp to the waiting shuttle. She sat next to Beverly and ignored the usual announcement about the safety features of the shuttle and the advice of making sure the harness was secured properly. The shuttle taxied away from the main terminal and shortly after the shuttle lifted off.
Carlie felt the deep vibration of the engine needed for the shuttle to reach low orbit and looked out the window to watch the planet Farlough drop away. As the shuttle climbed higher the artificial gravity began to increase to balance the loss of the normal gravity. She relaxed as the shuttle reached orbit and turned to talk to Beverly.
“This is it, Bev. Goodbye, Farlough. Hello, marriage. God, I hope I’m doing the right thing.”
“You thought about this a long time. It’s time for a new life. You know your career as an actress can only last so long so it’s good you’re going to be doing something else.”
“Yes. The acting is fun but I want to settle down now. I hope you don’t mind I have to let you go as my personal assistant. I tried to give you as much severance pay as I could.” She smiled. “My accountant was annoyed with me for that.”
Beverly touched her hand. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I guess maybe I’ll retire from being a personal assistant. I’ve saved some money and with the severance pay I can live comfortably if I do just some part time work.”
“Good for you. I know I’ve told you this before but I think of you more than my assistant. You’re also one of my best friends and have a special place in my heart.”
Beverly’s lips trembled for a moment as she looked away.

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Neverending Dream
Four Cups, Book 4
by Regan Taylor

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 9781554879748

At her 100th birthday, at the end of a long, happy life filled with songs, books and good friends Amber Curtis looks back at the moments that meant the most. To her surprise, the one and only love of her life, Bruce, is there beside her. Can love transcend time and place?

Chapter One

“There…oh, Bruce…yes. Right there. Oh God, Bruce. Oh-h-h-h.”
“Oh yeah. Amber, Amber, baby, come with me, come with me baby. I love you so much.”
Sweat slicked from a marathon love session Amber grasped her husband’s buttocks, squeezing and kneading his well-formed posterior while her vagina clenched around his cock.
Lifting her thighs to draw him deeper inside of her she hissed as the pleasure of an orgasm rode threw her.
The satiny smooth slide of his chest against her breasts sent a thrill of desire and sheer bliss from top to toes. How she loved to feel him nestled between her thighs and the pleasant weight of his body on top of hers. The romance novels she kept hidden between her mattress and box spring had nothing on what she shared with Bruce. Bruce Curtis was the only man for her. She knew it in kindergarten on the playground when he snuck that quick little kiss on her cheek—something she’d be appalled if some boy did it to one of her daughters!
She knew it in junior high when he asked her to her first dance. There was no doubt in high school bath when Regina, aka Queenie, Taehlor formed their girl band, the Four Cups that this was the only man she could and would ever want to be with. He was the inspiration for every love song she ever wrote and the hero of every one of her romance novels.
And that was before she sampled sex. Only sex with Bruce wasn’t just sex. It was the pinnacle of existence. The be all and end all of what life was about. She didn’t need to try out other men to know Bruce was all she’d ever want. He was her forever guy.
Even their first time, the night of her eighteenth birthday—just so the consummation of their love was all legit and legal, was sublime. Of course it hurt a little bit that first time. In Bruce’s case the theory of big feet and big hands meaning a big other part held quite firm.
Amber giggled to herself. Bruce was definitely…firm…in all the right places. She couldn’t remember a time he wasn’t in her life and they weren’t in love.
Amber climaxed again and this time Bruce came with her. The couple joined in a shuddering climax.
“Who would have thought after this many years making love with you would still get better and better?”
Amber threaded her fingers through the now sparse, gray hair on her husband’s head.
Sparse?
Gray?
Wait…they had been on a beach. Making love in a secluded alcove. It was the night after the Four Cups’ show in Hawaii that coincided with their anniversary, before a sell out crowd. They’d done four encores that lasted almost as long as the main show. She and Bruce stole away moments after the show ended.
So why did he now look so old?
Amber turned to look at her husband again and sighed in relief. There he was, a buff twenty-something with a killer smile. A woman hadn’t been born who didn’t turn to look at that fine physique of his. He ran every morning, lifted weights every day and every night they made love.
Well, almost every night.
The weeks before the birth of each of their children things ran a tad slow. At least for her. Those were the weeks when she nightly sampled her favorite flavor of Bruce delight. And he more than made up for it the day the doctor gave them the go ahead to do the deed again. The twins slowed them down for awhile…
The twins? Wait…
She looked up, into his eyes. Warm brown eyes filled with love gazing deeply into hers. “Push, baby. I’m right here. Just a little more. They’re almost here. One more push. You can do it.”
Sweat poured off her body. Only this time it wasn’t from making love. With a groan she pushed and pushed again.
Somewhere in the distance she heard a woman announce the arrival of the first baby and shortly after, just before he planted a kiss on her forehead, Bruce told her the second healthy girl had been born.
Amber slipped back into sleep. But for just a moment. It was only a moment…really…wasn’t it?
Where was he?
“Bruce?”
“I’m here, darling. I’m always here. No need to rush. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the party. I’m with you through thick and thin and will wait until you are ready.”
“Bruce? I can’t see you?” She looked around, frantic. Where was he? Where did he go?
“Bruce?”

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The Pirate’s Surrender
Sequel to To Seduce a Soulmate
by Laura Tolomei

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 9781771110365

All right, so he did it! Marin seduced me. And the sex is fantastic, blows my mind every time, no complaints there. But that thing about being his soul mate still doesn’t sit right with me. Yet there seems no way around it except…but can I do it? Do I want to do it? No, I don’t know if I’m ready to surrender. Me, the pirate, and to the blond devil, no less…talk about fucked up destiny!

Chapter One

Sitting on the toilet, Drake stared at the unfamiliar bathroom. He was still groggy from a deep sleep, which could account for his forgetting where he was or how he had gotten there. The peeing was not helping either, since it kept him focused on his aching bladder, so full it actually hurt, and the terrific erection doing its best to empty it. Maybe the two contributed to clog his senses at the moment…who could tell?
Safe to say, the bathroom was nothing like his own, the piping too old and in some places too rusted to be his. The sink was also old fashioned and with two faucets, rather than the solitary modern one he had at home. Turning his head, he would have examined the bathtub, too, if the pee had not stopped its furious rush, so after a vigorous shake at what remained as rigid as marble, Drake got up and stumbled back to bed.
He did not have far to go. The bathroom adjoined the bedroom and everything he saw on his way confirmed he was not home. From the iron-wrought bed, the massive chestnut closet to one side, to the quaint wooden window shades, filtering pale, trembling light, nothing was a standard fixture of his house in Atlanta, Georgia, or in many other American homes for that matter.
But it was no use to keep wondering when light was scarce and his eyes needed to adjust to it. Instead, he crawled back to bed, curling on his favorite side. The only thing he knew was that he had just woken up from a deep sleep with the swollen bladder and the impressive hard-on he now grasped firmly, sliding the soft skin up and down the tight stem. He did not indulge, though, just a couple of strokes before returning to the problem at hand. Where was he?
Someone stirred behind him. And with whom? Drake did not turn immediately, waiting for whoever was there to settle in a new position. Then carefully, he rolled on the opposite side, shifting the thick cock until it pressed on the other person’s naked back. It was a man, no doubt, light-skinned and a lithe build smaller than his for sure. But if Drake dominated him with his more muscular frame, what attracted his attention was the sexy ass rubbing against his rigid dick. At first, Drake thought he was imagining it. Maybe he was confusing his own slide on the tempting cleft as that of the other man. Stopping for a second, though, he realized the butt was stroking the shaft of its own will, independently of Drake. Fucking arousing, no doubt, made the erection swell to a gigantic dimension, still did not give the man away. What did the trick was the flash of blond hair, short and thick like the devil’s, so unlike his long black strands, which could only mean—
“Good morning, Pirate.” The heavily Irish-accented voice caught him off guard. “How was your first night in Cork City?”
Ireland! That’s where I am! “Not as great as my first fuck on Irish soil.” He grinned, increasing the slide between Martin’s buttocks.
“That was just the appetizer.” Rolling to face him, Martin had the same broad smile, lighting his handsome features and the startlingly green eyes. So Drake’s heart stopped.
It had all happened so fast, he had not gotten used to Martin’s beauty or to the fact they were actually together. Not that it had been easy for the good-looking devil to seduce the pirate. No, not at all, despite the short time that had passed from their first meeting, since Thanksgiving to be precise.
“Now you’ll be treated to vigorous sessions of Christmas fucking, which is the reason I brought you all the way over here.” Stretching closer, Martin gripped the hard cock. “And since today’s Christmas Eve, I might as well get started…” Cocking his head in understanding, he threw open the sheets. “Right after I’ve seen to some pressing matters.” Then he got out of bed and moved to the bathroom.
Yes, just one short month convinced him to have sex with a man for the very first time in his life. Sure, Martin and his technique, a slow circular maneuver that replaced his initial blowjob slip, had left Drake no choice except capitulation a few days before they left for Ireland. So good was the blond devil, he had crumbled the pirate’s resistance, not to mention his many objections, to the novelty of having sex with a man. Impressive, to say the least.
From the room next door, Drake heard the bladder being drained like a waterfall tumbling down a mountain. To be honest, if Drake had never considered it an option, it was not out of any prejudice, simply did not think it was something a pirate would do. Why a pirate? Because it was his alter ego, the way he saw himself since he was a little boy and growing up had only reinforced the role model to the point of creating doubts where none should have existed. Luckily, his friend Peter and the Greek philosopher Plato straightened him out on that count. “Would this qualify as my Christmas present?”
“Not entirely.” Back, Martin slipped between the sheets, pressing to him again. “What you got last night was only a…first installment.” His warm palms cuddling his twitching piece had a long experience. Never one to choose between genders, the Irishman had done his time with both, enjoying them for their differences as much as their similarities. And he was not just an expert on cocks. He loved them in whatever shape or form they came, knowing their most intimate desires and providing the comfort they needed. Like now, for instance, slipping below the covers to close his hungry mouth around the bulging head, then sliding his lips to the balls and sucking it practically to the throat. The swallowing effect drove Drake crazy, which had also been his undoing in his parents’ house on Lake Lanier.
Unusual, completely unexpected and unprecedented to come so quickly and without any restraint in a stranger’s mouth, for such had been Martin at the time. Women rarely, if ever, had the privilege to drink his sperm. They never seemed to hit the right spot on his sophisticated dick that did not surrender easily to a vigorous lapping, however practiced the tongue. But Martin had set a different standard from the start, bypassing all Drake’s mechanisms and sucked him dry the first time around. Now it seemed no different.
Swinging his hips forward, he made Martin take more, past the tongue’s blocking to reach the plunge, if a tight curl had not stopped him. Just a temporary setback, though, to allow for a gulp of air before the cheeks pressed again on all sides, while the hands took firmer control of the situation. God, he had a wonderful touch. Strong, forceful yet not hurried, it adapted to the pirate’s rhythm until it was too late to contain the tide. Holding the blond head to screw it deeper, Drake shoved one last time and everything spilled out, soul included, in the warm cavity opening wider to receive it all.
Evidently unsatisfied, Martin did not let go of his prize, which explained why it did not go limp, remaining stiff and ready for more action. Despite their limited sexual activity, the pirate already knew how insatiable the devil was and how irresistible his urgings were. And it could definitely become a problem. Already Drake could not get enough of him, whether down his throat or up his ass, Martin’s mastery over his dick was something unique and seldom experienced before, like coming with a blowjob. To Martin, cocks had no secrets, none he had not discovered and put to good use, with the pirate in particular, judging from the healthy erection rising so fast after an explosive climax.
“Just love them when they’re hard.” Coming out from underneath the covers, the devil kept jerking him.
“So they can stick better in your ass.” Chuckling, Drake toppled him, pressing his stomach down on the mattress.
“Can’t wait to get it as a matter of fact.” Raising his behind, the blond Irishman captured the tip of the erection in his cleft.
“Just open wide,” Drake teased, poking the tight entrance. Knowing Martin, he would not need too much of a preparation, his ass always ready to receive thick pieces. The bulging head was drenched enough anyway, to have no problems breaking through and sliding up the cramped passageway Mother Nature provided.
Hell! Simply fucking delicious. The back end was Drake’s favorite also with women, so at least that had not required too many adjustments. Maybe what he still had to figure out was how to handle life with a man, a prospect he really did not feel ready to face. Martin did not seem to have much experience in that department either, considering he was coming from a failed marriage.
“Fuck! You sure know how to screw an ass.” Moving seductively beneath him, Martin raised his hips to get more inside, something Drake had no trouble delivering. “And to think I had to wait an entire month to get it.”
“Not many resist you, eh, Devil?” It was not a question, merely a statement. Martin’s allure was undeniable. Drake, too, had been fascinated upon first seeing him, but it could have ended there had that disturbing feeling not kicked in to change everything forever.
“No, Pirate, practically no one resisted in my entire life.” Swinging faster, he accelerated the tempo. “Particularly not after one of my great blowjobs ever.”
“So I’m a little slow.” Long hair brushing Martin’s shoulders, Drake went along, stepping up the shoves to ram the narrow hole to a pulp.
There was a moment’s silence on Martin’s part that Drake used to penetrate to his balls and pump with greater force. Then the blond Irishman moved in such a way the pirate had to pull back and allow him more leeway. When it became clear the man wanted to change position, Drake reluctantly left the snug confinement for the time it took Martin to lie on his back. After the change, it was only a matter of seconds to slam back in his ass, legs cradled to Drake’s chest.
“No, Pirate, you’re anything but slow.” Now the devil caught his face between his palms. “Your only problem is that you’re scared shitless.”
And he was right, too. “Oh, come off it!” Shoving harder on purpose, Drake tried not to think of it. “No way am I going to be scared of a great ass like yours.” Maybe humor worked better. And fucking was having its results, too. The deeper he sank, the more pressing his need to come again and forget about everything.
“You know what I mean.” Arching his back, Martin brought the dick all the way inside with a suddenness that cut off Drake’s breath…or rather the little still left after the devil pulled him down for an avid kiss, which blew the pirate’s mind to outer space.
Martin’s tongue pushed down his throat, wrapping around his when it did not have to battle it for supremacy. An exciting addition for sure and had Drake’s shaft not been stuck in Martin’s butt, it might not have had any consequences. Instead, the two effects combined the second the ass squeeze became irresistible, the fleshy walls cramming it on every side. On top of it, his pounding was jerking off Martin’s dick, caught between their bellies, until everything spiraled to the point he felt the wetness on his stomach before he realized the devil was coming. So he let it go, plunging with a muffled groan into Martin and bursting.
“You’ll see how much better it can get once you accept it, too.” Martin’s voice breathed in his ear as he cuddled his head to his chest.
Right! He had almost forgotten the goddamn catch.
“Our connection, I mean.”
He was his fucking soul-mate, for Christ’s sake, and there seemed no way around it either.

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Demon Master
by Simone Bern

eXtasy Books

eBook ISBN: 978-1-55487-105-6

Vankor is beautiful and pitiless. Rianne is his victim, her innocence repeatedly sacrificed to the demons that answer his call. She is also his wife and bound to him by a spell more secure than any chain. Rianne burns with hatred even as her body betrays her passion. But when the old gods answer her prayers, she finds herself with a choice. Does she truly desire his death… or his heart?

Chapter One

“Come with me.”
The words penetrated her sleep-fogged brain and terror surged through her body. She mastered it quickly and opened her eyes. Her husband stared down at her with distant coldness. The long face, with dark slanted eyes and a sensual mouth, had once seemed handsome to her. She had been such a fool.
Rianne climbed out of bed and followed him down dark corridors, the flickering candle in his hand their only light. The stone walls radiated cold and her bare feet were turning to ice with each step. She was numb, both in body and spirit. It was better this way. In the beginning she had made this trip screaming with fear and defiance. Then there had been the times when she’d been carried, a quivering, sobbing parcel held tightly in his arms. It was only this past year that she had learned to mechanically follow her husband to his workroom.
Vankor opened the heavy door. She knew what was required and walked over to the coffin-like box in the center of the room. The lock on the door clicked shut behind her. Rianne glanced toward the large table on her left and tried to spy the pattern he had drawn for tonight’s working amidst the scattered papers. She could recognize most of them by now and it would tell her something of what to expect.
“Lie down,” he snapped in response to her hesitation.
Rianne stripped off her nightdress and fit herself into the box. She pulled her long blonde hair to one side and then placed her wrists on the wooden supports. Vankor lowered and locked the bars which held her feet and arms in place. There was no need for adjustments, this box had long been fitted to her dimensions.
She could feel her heart hammering against her ribcage. The arched ceiling with its beautiful mimicry of the night sky swam before her eyes. Rianne focused on remaining still. The more she strained against the wood encasing her fragile wrists and ankles, the worse the bruising. Of course in another minute she would no longer have control of her body and might find herself thrashing so violently that bones broke. She hoped for a calling which would fix her in frozen rigidity or plunge her into limpness. It all depended on which demon came to feed.
Vankor’s melodious baritone began chanting. Rianne heard the name of the demon and experienced a slight lessening of fear. Birishla was one of those that left her whole and reasonably sane afterward. Still she could not restrain a sob as she felt a leaden weight begin to press down on her. An oozing darkness embraced her and the demon slowly pushed himself into every crack and crevice of her body. She could sense his hunger and desire. She whimpered, knowing what came next.
The chanting ended and Rianne was staring up into inhuman eyes, solid black gateways into hell framed by an impossibly beautiful face. The demon smiled and lowered his lips to hers. A dagger of his amorphous being entered her mouth and stabbed into her soul. She would have screamed had she been able to.
Birishla swept in and stole every bright and glittering moment she had accumulated over the last month. The beauty of sunlight glinting off the waves, a moment spent absorbing the soft scent of early spring, the peace of walking alone along the beach, the sound of Nicco’s bold laugh and the feel of her sister Mya’s small body curled up next to her. The demon took them all and left behind only the taste of ashes and an echoing emptiness. Each theft was accompanied by a physical thrusting, like a man taking a woman, but this came through every pore and carried only agony. Fourteen times the demon spasmed into her.
Birishla pooled into a human-shaped body and lifted off her. Relief made her weak. The price had been very small this time. Her body did not scream with pain and her mind felt unsettled, but not ransacked.
“The payment becomes less sweet with every visit.” Birishla’s voice was like brushed silk. “This one’s innocence has been corrupted.”
“My spell ensures that she remain a virgin,” Vankor said.
He had worked that spell on their wedding night. Any other man who touched her with even the faintest hint of desire suffered immediate and painful paroxysms. Vankor had spoken a great deal about duty and sacrifice that night. She had replied with tears and screams of anger. But the chain had already been forged.
“There are ways to become tainted even so. You know that,” the demon replied. “Do not presume to call me again until you can offer a more satisfying payment.”
Vankor stood at the foot of the box and studied her naked body. A slight smile lifted the corners of his mouth and something kindled in his eyes. He casually stroked her thigh and whispered. “What have you been up to during those long, lonely nights, my dear?” Vankor turned his attention back to the demon. “Another is ready for you. The boy is fourteen. Strong enough to endure your caresses.”
A new terror clutched at Rianne’s heart. Her brother Nicco was fourteen.
“What is it you wish of me tonight? Some fat merchant to terrorize into insanity? A philandering husband to make impotent? I must say your recent chores have lacked artistic merit.” The demon sounded bored.
Vankor chuckled. “That is why I enjoy working with you, Birishla. You have a much finer sensitivity than most of your kind. And you do not damage my property to the same extent.” He began to instruct Birishla on the task which needed to be performed.
Rianne’s body trembled within the confines of the restraints. Her bid for freedom had worked, but she had not thought through the consequences. For years she had believed there was no way around the spell that bound her. Only recently had it occurred to her that, although she was condemned to virginity, there were things she could do which might result in her tasting less sweet to demon-kind. It had been relatively easy to sneak out of the house at night and she had learned much by paying to sit behind the walls at a local brothel, watching through a spy hole. Last month Rianne had even gone so far as to buy time in a whore’s bed. Apparently the gamble had worked.
Nicco. She imagined his slender limbs forced into this box, saw his bright blue eyes go wide with terror and pain. What had she done? She’d believed that Vankor killed her parents to tighten his control of her and also to bring her siblings into this big, old house. Her brother and two little sisters provided most of the rich memories the demons stole. Now she understood the longer term planning behind such a move. Her husband had been stocking the larder in preparation for the day when she lost her usefulness.
Vankor was undoing her restraints. She sat up, rubbing her wrists as she looked around. Birishla had as usual disappeared without fanfare. Rianne climbed out of the box and bent to retrieve the discarded nightdress. She felt hands on her buttocks and heard Vankor’s indrawn breath. She straightened and froze. His lips brushed her shoulder. After three years of treating her like a piece of meat staked out to feed his demons, her husband was responding to her as a woman.
“Ah, Rianne,” he said and his sigh was soft against her neck. “Part of me has been hoping for this to happen.”
He turned her face toward him and kissed her…tenderly. His lips just brushed hers with the faintest of touches. Then he let her go.
“You have been through enough tonight.” Vankor turned his back on her and went to tidy his worktable. “Best you get to bed.”
She said nothing as she pulled on her nightdress and let herself out of the room.
Rianne crawled into bed and let the shaking consume her body. Vankor had fed her to demons, he had killed her parents and soon he would subject Nicco to his torments. The man was evil and she hated him. How dare he pretend at kindness? Yet memories crept into her mind, memories of Vankor binding her wounds and skillfully resetting her broken wrists. She dimly recalled a gentle hand stroking her face as she sobbed and raved. His liquid voice had murmured encouragement as he made her drink healing potions that burned her up from the inside, but restored her body far more quickly than normal.
She barked a harsh laugh into the still silence of her room. He took care of his property, nothing more. She must have slipped into madness tonight after all to imagine her husband as anything other than cruel and heartless.
Rianne turned her mind away from Vankor and focused on finding a way to save Nicco. A simple solution presented itself and Rianne considered taking her little brother to a brothel. This time, however, she gave careful consideration to potential consequences. Hanna was twelve and Mya only seven. If Nicco was corrupted, would her husband then move on to Hanna? Very likely, even though it might kill the girl. What use did he really have for her siblings except this? If Rianne ensured they were all rendered useless for demon feeding, she did not expect any of them would live long.
A darker alternative crept into her thoughts, a magic as old and powerful as the demon calling. There was a way to rid herself of his evil, if she was willing to pay the price.
* * * *
Rianne reached for the bread and hoped no one could see how her arm trembled. She had managed to stay out of Vankor’s sight all day, but there was no way to avoid him during the nightly ritual around the grand dining room table. Vankor’s gaze seemed to be tracking her slightest movement, heavy with intent. Even little Mya, who usually chatted with the blithe self-centered confidence of the truly innocent, sensed the tense atmosphere and squirmed in silent discomfort. Hanna’s serious blue gaze darted between Vankor and herself while Nicco just scowled down at his plate. Rianne forced herself to smile and make a casual remark about the changing weather.
Finally the servants lifted the last plate from the table and Rianne rose to leave. Vankor stood and blocked her passage. Without a word, he took her arm and steered her out of the dining room and up the stairs. She followed obediently as she had been trained to do. They did not go into his workroom, but rather to a room that she had never entered before. Dark red velvet curtains hung over the windows and a plush red and cream rug covered the cold stone floor. A grand canopied bed took central place against the far wall.
Vankor put his arms around her and she felt him quiver through the satin of her gown. One hand buried itself in her hair and he tilted her head back so that his lips could find hers. Again the kiss was surprisingly sweet. A delicate exploration of her mouth that demanded nothing from her. She held herself limp and lifeless as a rag doll in his embrace. It meant nothing, she told herself. All sweetness, all kindness, was only a ruse. She knew him too well to fall for such a pretense. Yet something deep within her yearned to respond. Perhaps she was a fool still.
“You do not know what to make of me do you?” he asked very softly, then stepped away from her and striped off his black dinner jacket. The white silk of his shirt glowed like moonlight next to the deep copper of his skin. She turned away from him and stared at the fire. She knew what he was, a monster—he was beautiful only on the outside. His beauty and charm had won over her child’s heart when she was but seventeen. Rianne pulled up sharp memories of his cruelty and drew them tightly around herself like a thick cloak in the dead of winter.
“I am a man for all that I have done to you. Demon calling is my skill, as it was my father’s and his mother’s before him. There is a heavy price to practice that craft and you have paid it these past three years. Unfortunately, it is the only way I know how to live. I do not expect you to believe me, but I am sorry for what has been done to you.”
“You torture others to afford this mansion and all the luxuries within it,” she replied bitterly.
“Would it change anything to know that I suffered every torment you have been through? I endured five years with my father.”
She turned to stare at him. He had never told her that before. But surely it was a lie. “Your father sacrificed you to demons?”
Vankor lifted one broad shoulder in a small shrug, acknowledging the disbelief in her voice. “It is the way things are done in my land. The families with this…gift know the source of their wealth and are expected to contribute in their time. I should have gone south and found myself a Vandorian bride, someone who would have understood and accepted her role.” He smiled and seemed almost sad. “But I saw you and could not resist. I have regretted my decision often enough.”
“And now you will use my siblings to feed your demons.” Her voice was cold.
He nodded. “They will survive. Is that not how the north works? The strong prey on the weak.” Vankor suddenly stepped forward and put his hands on her waist. His gaze bored down into hers. “But I do not believe you are weak. After everything you have endured, there is fire in you yet.”
“Fire enough to hate you,” she spat at him.
Something flicked in his eyes, but disappeared quickly behind a veil of amused condescension. “Of course. And I allowed you that hatred as a shield. But it is time to begin tearing down the walls between us.”
He pulled her tight against his body and this time there was a rough edge of hunger in his kiss. When she parted her lips in protest, he plunged his tongue into her mouth. Shocked by the warmth that surged through her, Rianne tried to push him away. He merely held her even more tightly, pinning her arms to her sides. She knew it was useless to fight. It would only amuse him. Rianne forced herself into stillness. She would not give him that satisfaction.
“The spell preserves you from all other men,” he whispered into her ear. “As long as I live, the only touch you will know is mine. You have endured pain. Now I offer you pleasure.”
His lips moved down her neck and a hot tongue found the hollow at the base of her throat. What arrogance, that he thought he could balance out torment with a skilful tongue. She stood with her fists clenched at her side as he unbuttoned her dress and eased it off her shoulders. Soon she stood in a pool of fabric, shivering slightly as the chill air pressed against her bare skin.
When he stepped back and began to strip off his own clothing, her eyes were drawn to his long-fingered hands. She stared as he undid the buttons of his shirt. The muscular expanse of his chest gleamed like polished metal. He began to unbutton his trousers and Rianne tore her gaze away. She had no desire to see the fabric slide down over his slim hips.
Staring past him at the wall, Rianne moved mechanically forward as he took her hand and tugged her toward the bed. She lay down, composing herself as if for the sacrificial box in his workroom. Vankor’s mouth pressed on hers, teasingly asking for entrance, but this time she kept her jaw locked. It annoyed her that her nipples hardened into involuntary points when his hand stroked the sensitive skin of her breasts. She closed her eyes and imagined he was another demon taking her flesh.
A strong hand slid over her belly and moved between her thighs. She told herself that the finger passing slowly in and out of her vagina, rubbing maddeningly against a nub of swollen nerves, was nothing but another new torment.
She felt nothing as he mounted and entered her, not even pain. Nothing as he moaned and thrust, calling out her name. Nothing but relief when he rolled off her. A glow of triumph warmed her belly. His breathing was ragged, hers was level and smooth.
Vankor lifted himself up onto an elbow and regarded her appraisingly. As his dark eyes probed hers, a corner of his mouth twitched up. A disturbing question crept into her mind in response to his knowing smile. Had the battle she just fought been against him—or herself? Rianne yanked her eyes away and glared at the embroidered white canopy.
“Go to your own bed, my wife. I do not think I trust you to sleep next to me.” The merest hint of amusement colored his tone and cut into her like the keen edge of a blade.
Rianne threw on her dress and ran to her bedroom down the hall without bothering to do up the buttons. She lay on the soft bed and closed her eyes, but her mind roiled with bitter thoughts. She should have known that Vankor would not simply use her body in this new fashion and leave her inner being alone. It was far more amusing for him to attempt to overcome her resistance. Vankor was playing a twisted game of seduction with her. One he was clearly well practiced in.
Rianne snarled into the pillow, caught up in a tangle of emotions. She would not give him what he wanted, no matter how beautiful his body or how skillful his hands. She had been able to conquer her fear of demons, she would be able to quash this unwelcome ache between her legs.
After an hour, Rianne rose and dressed. She pulled on a warm, wool dress, black boots and a black cape. Then she slipped into the corridor and walked in near total darkness toward the kitchen. The front door would be locked and guarded, but the servant’s entrance through the kitchen was protected only by a deadbolt and the fat cook who lay snoring in his cot beside the warm oven.
Rianne used the small gate at the back of the garden and followed the familiar path down to Wainstown. There was enough light being cast by the plump orange moon that she could see the bumps and puddles along her way. Untrimmed hedges poked at her with new shoots and the smell of fecund growth filled the air. The night carried a chill even though spring was well on its way to summer.
It was only a few minutes before the dirt track joined the main road that lead to the jumbled collection of inns, ale houses, brothels and cheap residences, which skirted the edges of town. Wainstown had burst past its walls some fifty years ago, after the Vandorian Empire had conquered the north and installed peace over this fractious region.
Rianne strode through the warren of crooked and foul-smelling streets. There were still people about at that time of night. Street whores and drunkards, wealthy young men seeking thrills of one sort or another as well as the pickpockets and cutthroats who hunted them. She did not fear for her safety. The men who attacked her during her first few explorations ended up writhing on the ground, their screams filling the air. Now the locals whispered witch behind her back and left her alone.
Rianne wondered again how differently things might have turned out if she’d been attacked by someone who did not feel desire at the sight of her rounded curves and delicate features.
She turned into a narrow passageway, a finger of fetid, black air that ended at a battered door. This was the place the whores had told her about, where enough hatred could buy you a death. Rianne did not hesitate. She lifted her arm and knocked loudly on the wooden door.

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