Thursday, October 5, 2017

Random Paranormal Tales of 2017 Part 2


Spectred Isle(Green Men #1) by KJ Charles
Summary:
Archaeologist Saul Lazenby has been all but unemployable since his disgrace during the War. Now he scrapes a living working for a rich eccentric who believes in magic. Saul knows it’s a lot of nonsense...except that he begins to find himself in increasingly strange and frightening situations. And at every turn he runs into the sardonic, mysterious Randolph Glyde.

Randolph is the last of an ancient line of arcanists, commanding deep secrets and extraordinary powers as he struggles to fulfil his family duties in a war-torn world. He knows there's something odd going on with the haunted-looking man who keeps turning up in all the wrong places. The only question for Randolph is whether Saul is victim or villain.

Saul hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time. But as the supernatural threat grows, along with the desire between them, he’ll need to believe in evasive, enraging, devastatingly attractive Randolph. Because he may be the only man who can save Saul’s life—or his soul.


Saul Lazenby, archaeologist before the war and disgraced during the war, now has found himself surviving after the war by working for an eccentric who believes in all things magic.  Randolph Glyde, the last of his family and a powerful arcanist who is at odds with the Shadow Ministry.  When these two cross paths repeatedly, is it fate, coincidence, or is there magic afoot?

I always find paranormal tales a bit hard to review in terms of the plot because I don't want to give anything away because even the smallest detail can be a huge plot factor so let me just say: Spectred Isle was awesome!  Saul and Randolph both spoke to me in multiple ways.  If you are asking is this an enemies to lover trope? I don't know how the author sees them but I would not classify them that way, they are definitely at odds a bit and most certainly not friends but enemies seem too harsh.  However you label them, they are a perfect fit, both as warring believers on all things magic and as a team, personally and professionally, looking for answers.

I have never really read KJ Charles before, though I have several on my TBR list.  There was a crossover novella, Remnant, her Caldwell & Feximal co-written with Jordan L Hawk's Whyborne & Griffin that I read when I first read Hawk's W&G series and I loved Caldwell & Feximal but I have yet to go back and read their own story.  Spectred Isle is a spin-off of that pairing but you don't need to read that first before enjoying Saul & Randolph's journey.  The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal has been on my TBR list for ages but after reading Spectred it has definitely moved closer to the top.

The passion and attraction between Saul and Randolph just resonates off the page so beautifully as does the author's attention to detail when it comes to setting a scene.  It was as if you were hovering in the air watching everything unfold as opposed to sitting at home reading the words.  Spectred Isle will keep you hooked from the first page to the last.

RATING: 

Falling into Darkness by LM Brown
Summary:
Their love could save the soul of a fallen angel or damn an archangel to an eternity in hell.

The realm of angels was created as a paradise where angels could watch over the earth as mankind took his first steps. For the archangel Michael, it is the only home he has ever known and he could never envisage another life. Michael’s life changes the day his path crosses that of the favoured son of the morning. From the moment he saw him, Michael wanted Lucifer for his own. When the two angels come together the passion surprises them both.

Their love is forged in heaven, but is doomed the moment Lucifer falls from grace to become the leader of an army of demons.

Separated by war, the former lovers know the time will come when they must face each other in battle. 

Their confrontation will set in motion events that neither could have foreseen. For Lucifer it is the chance to persuade Michael to stand at his side, as his partner as leader of the demons. For Michael, it is a mission to save his lover's soul, while risking his own.

Torn between his love for Lucifer and his duties as an angel, Michael walks a fine line, where one wrong step could result in his own fall from Heaven, and an eternity in hell.

Publisher's Note: Although this book contains characters from the Heavenly Sins series, this is a standalone story.


The Wolf and the King by Tami Veldura
Summary:
Kaleb is under pressure from his closest adviser. Either choose a husband and take the throne of his people, the shifters of the world, or one will be chosen for him. But Kaleb doesn’t want just any husband. He wants to find his mate, the one man that the gods put in this world specifically for him. Richard thinks Kaleb is a fool to trust in myths, but Kaleb insists he’s looking for a forever love and he’s determined to find it.

Parker is a lowborn wolf shifter and not interested in bowing to any tiger, that is, until Kaleb parades by and their eyes lock. For a second nothing else exists, just the two of them and the knowledge that they are meant to be together. It’s fate. But the advisor pushes Kaleb on, and it’s up to Parker to find a way to reach his true mate.

Wolves have been oppressed by the tiger royalty for generations, but it’s Kaleb who fears the bond he and Parker share. Something or someone is scaring Parker’s mate into an arranged marriage he doesn’t want. Parker knows that Kaleb is his, but unless Kaleb can make a stand, they’ll be apart forever.

Prophesy (The King & Alpha, #1) by AE Via
Summary:
An Enemies to Lovers
Shifter, Vampire True Mates story.

Justice Volkov is the youngest Alpha Zenith to ever lead the wolf shifters. Following in his father’s large paw prints was a responsibility he met head on. Now at age thirty-three, he is alpha of the alphas. As a direct descendant of the original Siberian pack, his wolf is bigger and stronger than Justice, himself is sometimes able to control. 

“His wolf howled long and hard but Justice kept it inside. It felt like a bass drum beating against his rib cage. The harsh breaths, angry snarls and the determined pacing inside him was overtaking him. All the while… his mate kept calling.”

Justice takes his role of leadership and his legacy very seriously. He has little time for romance, not to mention a true mate. His packs are his priority. With a human government trying to regulate them, an uprising of rogue shifters, and a violent team of scientists trying to experiment on them, Justice has his hands way too full. 

Chadwick ‘Wick’ Bentley is not enthusiastic when the captain of his escort tells him he has to leave his comfortable London home and go back to the States. As the Vampire King, he has no choice but to get his species back in line before they cause anymore chaos. At over two-hundred years old, Wick is no one to trifle with, but his smooth, charismatic manner makes him quite unique, despite the negative reputation vampires have. Wick has had nothing but time up to this point. He doesn’t feel the need to make issues pressing. Nothing is urgent in his life. Until he meets Justice. His beloved.

“Natural enemies can’t be mates.” Or so Justice thought. He knows his skepticism and rejection is hurting his mate, so while he fights their connection, Wick gets help from a source very close to Justice to help him win his beloved’s heart. Wick is a force all on his own, but when he’s blessed with a special gift from the Mother herself, not even Justice’s powerful wolf can prevent the prophesy from being fulfilled. 

This story DOES NOT contain/mention MPREG. 
No multiple pairings. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has an HEA. 

Warning: This book is MM paranormal: If you DO NOT like hot, alpha men shifting into large wolves, or vampires feeding from their mates, this may not be your read.

Nicolas by Dianne Hartsock
Summary:
Betrayed by a lover, Jamie rents an isolated cabin on Lake Huron, wanting only to be left alone. Instead, he is pulled from his solitary existence as an artist and tumbles headlong into the legend of Saint Nicolas.

As a young man, Nicolas accidentally killed a man intent on murdering three children, only to have the man's malicious spirit rise up against him. Fleeing through the centuries from the Krampus, the evil troll-like creature that dogs his steps, Nico finds refuge with the young artist who takes him into his home and bed. But Jamie has questions. Who is Nicolas, and why does the Krampus want to destroy him?

When the Krampus begins to torment and torture anyone Nico comes in contact with to punish him, Jamie’s life is put in danger. And Jamie isn’t sure whether he can help Nico defeat his nemesis or if he’s merely a pawn in the Krampus’s game.

If you are looking for something different from the happy, happy holiday reads then Nicolas is the one for you.  A delicious blend of good, bad, sexy, torture, mystery, paranormal, and well just about everything in between.  I first came across this one when I was doing my paranormal blog posts for Halloween but never had a chance to read it so I stuck it in my holiday folder and loved it from page one. Nico, Piter, & Jamie's connection keeps you enthralled all the way through, I just hated putting it down to eat, I've never rushed through a meal so fast to get back to my Kindle.  With the paranormal darkness elements I hate to touch on any specifics so I don't give away any spoilers but let me just say that I am already looking forward to re-reading Nicolas for many holiday seasons to come.

RATING: 


Falling into Darkness by LM Brown
He was breathtaking. The archangel Michael could think of no other word to describe him. His long, blond hair fell down his back in luxuriant waves, stopping just above the perfectly rounded buttocks. The strength in his muscular arms carried him up the cliff side with ease, his feet never missing a step. His pure white wings didn’t have a hint of gray in them, showing all who saw him he was completely at peace in his emotions.

Even though all angels were beautiful, in Michael’s eyes, Lucifer outshone them all.

It had become a habit of Michael’s to wander to the reflection pool at the same time of day Lucifer liked to visit.

Lucifer enjoyed searching for gems embedded in the stones, always striving to find the most perfect pieces for the jewelry he crafted. The best time to see the hidden stones was at dawn, when the rays of the morning sun hit the area at just the right angle.

Michael had discovered Lucifer’s habit of visiting the pool by chance, but now he made sure his morning walk coincided with Lucifer’s swim as often as possible. He loved nothing better than beginning his day by watching Lucifer at his work.

He had every intention of introducing himself one day, but until then he was content to observe.

Michael took a bite of one of the peaches he had picked on his walk from his home on the beach. He had gathered a few, just in case he found the courage to speak to Lucifer this morning. He sighed as he admitted to himself he wouldn’t say anything today, just as he had held his silence yesterday, and all the days before.

He didn’t even know how long he had been watching Lucifer. It must have been several weeks now, if not months. He wished he could think of a single word to say to the aloof son of the morning, who outranked even the archangels.

Michael didn’t think Lucifer had seen him, yet something must have given his position away, because the angel peered over his shoulder from the cliff wall and stared directly at him.

He opened his mouth, willing the right words to come from his lips, even as he suspected he would probably say something monumentally foolish. Before he could utter a word, Lucifer let go of his grip on the rocks and dived gracefully into the deep, clear blue waters below.

Michael toyed with the edge of his robe, wondering whether he should join Lucifer in the pool. Had Lucifer’s piercing stare been an invitation?

While Michael deliberated, Lucifer surfaced and drew in a long breath. He ran his hands through his wet hair, the move drawing attention to his perfectly defined pectoral muscles.

Michael had to say something. Lucifer had seen him and it would be rude not to acknowledge him now.

“Good morning,” Michael called. His voice came out as something of a squeak and he cringed at the embarrassingly juvenile sound. He could have communicated his thoughts telepathically, as all angels could, but he had never enjoyed hearing someone else’s voice in his head. His fellow angels considered him a little odd for this particular quirk, but they respected his foible and spoke out loud unless absolutely necessary. Now Michael wished he had sent his greeting to Lucifer’s mind—at least then he wouldn’t have sounded so childish.

Lucifer inclined his head in response and dove under the water again.

Michael hung his head in disappointment. He had a feeling he had committed some kind of faux pas. Not only had Lucifer failed to reply to his greeting, he hadn’t even offered the smallest of smiles.

Now he thought about it, Michael didn’t recall ever seeing Lucifer smile. Even when he had struggled to reach a particular jewel and had, at last, been successful, he hadn’t smiled at the accomplishment. Michael suspected if Lucifer ever did smile directly at him, he would be entirely lost to the angel.

Lucifer continued to swim, diving under the water before returning to the surface, sometimes with a gem from the bottom, sometimes without. He didn’t look in Michael’s direction again.

Michael ate the final peach, knowing he had no intention of offering the fruit to Lucifer today. When he had eaten the last bite he rose from his place on the grass, intending to head to the communal conclave, where the rest of the archangels would be congregating and monitoring the earth, enjoying the new day.

“Did you enjoy watching me?”

Michael stumbled into a bush, nearly losing his balance entirely. When he faced Lucifer, the angel had exited the pool and stood near the robes he had discarded earlier. Lucifer didn’t seem in any hurry to pick up his clothing. He stood naked and unashamed before Michael, who couldn’t keep his eyes from straying downward.

“Or should I have asked are you enjoying watching me?” Lucifer amended.

Michael’s face burned as he met Lucifer’s gaze. He half expected to see a teasing smile on the angel’s lips, but his customary scowl remained in place.

“I…”

Lucifer laughed without humor. “Archangels,” he muttered, just loud enough for Michael to hear. “Spare me from ogling archangels who can’t string a sentence together.”

Michael wished the ground would open up and swallow him. He never had trouble speaking when he talked to anyone else. Why had he become tongue-tied at precisely the wrong moment?

Humiliated and dejected, Michael hurried away, leaving Lucifer at the side of the pool.

Michael knew in his heart he wouldn’t go back tomorrow. His one chance to speak to Lucifer, to secure his attention, had slipped past him, never to return.

* * * *

“What brings you here so early?” Gabriel asked as Michael took a seat at the breakfast table two mornings after his humiliating episode with Lucifer.

He hadn’t been back to the pool, following their embarrassing exchange, and Michael’s path had not crossed that of Lucifer’s, much to his relief. He couldn’t believe he had been so foolish as to get caught spying on the son of the morning. What must Lucifer think of him?

“Two mornings together,” Raphael added with a teasing smile.

Michael sniffed haughtily. “Just because I’m choosing to keep you company instead of dining alone at home.”

“Oh, is that what you’re doing?” Gabriel asked. “Because your body might be here, but your mind is clearly elsewhere.”

Raphael laughed. “His mind is probably lingering wherever it is he usually spends these hours, which certainly isn’t in his home.”

“What do you mean?” Gabriel questioned.

“I’ve been to Michael’s house most mornings these last few weeks to invite him to join us, and the place has been surprisingly empty.”

Michael studied his plate of food. He hadn’t realized his presence had been missed. Normally a late riser, he had gone to a great deal of effort to wake early enough to see Lucifer at the pool. He hadn’t imagined Raphael had attended at his home so early.

Any hope Michael had that Gabriel would let Raphael’s comment pass vanished along with his plate.

“Give that back,” Michael demanded.

Gabriel shook his head. “Not until you tell us where you’ve been going so early in the mornings. It must be something important to encourage you to stir out of your bed before the sun is at its zenith.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “I’ve just been walking the heavens, enjoying the birth of each new day.”

Raphael snorted. “This is the same archangel who couldn’t even wake to watch the sunrise from his own private beach, no matter how often we told him the sight would be spectacular.”

Gabriel laughed. “I don’t believe him either. I think our Michael is hiding something.”

“I’m sure he is,” Raphael agreed. “The question is what?”

Michael didn’t want to rise to the bait, but they didn’t need any encouragement. The life of an archangel rarely contained intrigue or mystery and a small part of each of them seemed to relish the same whenever the chance arose. Michael accepted their teasing with good humor, just as he knew they would treat his friendly jibes in the same manner.

“Or maybe it’s who,” Gabriel suggested. “Metatron has appeared rather lonely since he parted company with Sandalphon. Perhaps Michael has been warming Metatron’s bed instead of his own.”

This time Michael laughed along with the others. “No, I promise I’ve not been sleeping in any bed save my own.”

Raphael waggled his eyebrows. “Who said anything about sleeping?”

Michael groaned at the poor quip, but before he could deliver his retort, a hush came over the room. Across the table from him, Gabriel’s jaw dropped in apparent surprise as he stared at something over Michael’s shoulder.

Next to him, Raphael twisted in his seat and his expression morphed into one of shock too.

Michael wondered what might be happening behind him, yet he couldn’t move a muscle to see for himself. His spine tingled and he had the strangest sensation someone was staring straight at him.

“What is it?” he whispered, and in the silence of the room even his quiet question seemed obnoxiously loud.

“The son of the morning,” Gabriel murmured as he set Michael’s plate back in front of him with a shaky hand. “Lucifer.”

Michael must have misheard. Lucifer never came into the communal areas of Heaven. He, along with the other favorites, remained solitary, rarely associating with the rest of the angels, and never in a crowded setting such as this.

Slowly, barely able to draw breath, Michael faced the entrance.

Lucifer stood in the archway, the morning sun behind him. There could be no mistaking his silhouette for that of another.

In the brightness of the light, Michael couldn’t tell what Lucifer searched for, at least not for sure. Only his instincts told him Lucifer had eyes for him, and him alone.

Slowly, Lucifer strolled into the room. Every angel in his path stepped aside to let him pass. Some bowed their heads respectfully, but he didn’t acknowledge their deference in any way.

Finally he arrived at Michael’s table and came to a halt.

“Good morning,” Lucifer said.

“I…” Michael mumbled, once again silently cursing his ineptitude.

“I see you still have trouble forming sentences,” Lucifer commented. “Let us hope you can manage more than a single word by this evening.”

“Er…”

Raphael gathered his wits together first and rose to make a sweeping bow. “Great angel, welcome to our table. Won’t you join us and partake of the fruits?”

Lucifer spared the archangel a momentary glance. “I have already eaten this morning.”

Raphael didn’t seem to know what to say, so he sat back down with a bump.

Lucifer returned his attention to Michael. “This evening, at sunset.”

“Where?” Michael asked, his voice croaking embarrassingly.

“Rumor has it your beach is quite pleasant.”

Michael nodded, not trusting his voice enough to try speaking again.

“Tonight then, Michael,” Lucifer said, before sweeping away in a flurry of robes, everyone once again stepping aside to make way for him.

“The son of the morning knows your name?” Gabriel asked as soon as Lucifer had gone. “Is he the one you’ve been meeting each dawn?”

Michael ducked his head. “I wouldn’t say I was meeting him, exactly.”

“But you have been with him in the mornings?” Raphael pressed. “You kept that quiet.”

There would be no escaping the interrogation and Michael accepted he had to come clean.

“I couldn’t sleep one night and ended up walking through the lands to the north of here. I chanced upon Lucifer coming to the pool of jewels one dawn. It seems he visits there most mornings.”

“And you’ve been at the pool with him,” Gabriel concluded.

“I wouldn’t say with him,” Michael mumbled. “I just happen to be in the area at the same time.”

“Just happen?” Raphael chuckled and leaned in to whisper. “I heard a rumor that when Lucifer is diving for jewels he disrobes completely.”

Michael’s face heated again.

Gabriel roared with laughter. “You’ve been spying on Lucifer?”

“I wouldn’t call it spying,” Michael replied.

“But everyone else would,” Raphael teased. “Oh, Michael, what would we do without you to keep us entertained?”

Raphael and Gabriel laughed and teased him for a little while longer, until Gabriel asked the question that had been bothering Michael ever since Lucifer’s appearance.

“If all you’ve been doing is ogling him, how did Lucifer know your name?”

Michael shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe I projected it telepathically without realizing.”

“Or maybe he’s been watching you too?” Raphael suggested.

Michael laughed loudly and shook his head. The idea was too preposterous to take seriously. Lucifer hadn’t even seen him until two days ago, and the impression Michael had made was hardly one of note. The far more likely explanation was that Michael had accidentally revealed his name without being aware he had done so.

He supposed it didn’t matter. All that did was that Lucifer would be coming to his beach tonight. Michael didn’t let his thoughts linger on how Lucifer knew where he lived too.

* * * *

Michael sat on the sandy dunes waiting for Lucifer to appear. Sunset wasn’t for at least another hour, but he either sat here or paced the small beach hut until then.

He had already changed his robes four times, before finally deciding on the cream set with the golden trim and sash. If he returned to the hut once more he would, no doubt, change clothes again and still be debating what to wear when Lucifer finally appeared. No, it was better he sit still and wait as patiently as he could for his guest to arrive.

He had spent most of the day wondering what Lucifer could possibly want with him. Had Michael offended him by watching him at the pool? The angel certainly hadn’t seemed too happy to find Michael spying on him. Lucifer’s reaction, combined with Michael's embarrassment, was why Michael had chosen to stay away after he had been caught.

Lost in his thoughts, Michael didn’t notice the minutes slipping away until he saw the shadow of an angel in flight on the sand. Lucifer landed gracefully, several feet away, his back to the sea.

“Good evening,” Lucifer said as he drew closer.

Michael wondered whether he could trust his voice not to betray him again, decided not to tempt fate, and offered a smile to the angel as he gestured to the spot on the sand beside him.

Lucifer sat and stretched out his long legs next to Michael’s. “Why haven’t you been to the pool the last two days?” he asked.

Michael couldn’t meet his eyes. “I don’t go there every day,” he said. He spoke the truth, in so far as it went. Occasionally he missed a morning when he overslept, or when his duties kept him away.

“You’ve never been absent two days in a row before,” Lucifer replied. “Not once, in all the time you’ve been watching me.”

Michael gaped at Lucifer.

“Did you think I didn’t know you were there?” Lucifer asked, and the smallest of smiles appeared on his lips.

“Yes.”

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Foolish archangel, of course I knew. I sensed your presence weeks ago. The first time I could feel your surprise, I don’t think you knew I would be there. After that first dawn you came for me, didn’t you?”

Michael nodded. He had heard rumors the son of the morning was a powerful empath, and Lucifer’s words confirmed the stories.

“Did you never wonder why I kept returning to the pool when there are so many places in this wonderful realm where I can find what I need?”

“No, I guess I didn’t.”

“I enjoyed you watching me. Couldn’t you tell?”

Michael’s gaze drifted down to Lucifer’s lap, where his robes tented ever so slightly. It could simply have been the way the fabric had fallen, yet now the idea had been put into his head, Michael wondered if Lucifer might be aroused.

“Your thoughts are written all over your face,” Lucifer said. “You can hide nothing from me. Why don’t you ask what you want to know so badly?”

“Am I projecting my thoughts?” Michael asked.

“No, but they’re clear to me just the same. Ask the question.”

“I…”

Lucifer gave him another small smile and Michael’s heart leaped to his throat. “And you were doing so well at constructing those difficult sentences.” Lucifer leaned in to whisper. “Ask me, Michael.”

Michael stared into Lucifer’s sapphire-blue eyes and finally found his tongue. “Are you aroused?”

Lucifer’s smile widened, revealing perfect, pearly white teeth. “Give me your hand.”

Michael didn’t hesitate. He placed his hand into Lucifer’s open palm and let the angel guide him. He didn’t break their gaze as Lucifer placed Michael’s hand over his groin and encouraged him to touch the hardness.

“Have you ever done this before?” asked Lucifer, his voice breathless.

“Yes.”

“Who with?”

Michael frowned. The hardness in Lucifer’s voice when he asked the question took him by surprise. “It doesn’t matter. My last relationship ended centuries ago.”

Lucifer didn’t seem pacified, so Michael concentrated on stroking him firmly through the soft fabric of his robes.

“What about you?” Michael asked, not because he desperately wanted to know, but because he wanted to hear in Lucifer’s voice how close he was to losing control.

“No one,” Lucifer gasped. “Oh, Michael, that feels so good. Don’t stop.”

Michael laughed. “I have no intention of stopping until you’re so far gone you can’t form a simple sentence.”

Lucifer sank back on the sand, his wings vanishing from sight, just as Michael’s did when their physical presence wasn’t required. Lucifer closed his eyes and Michael took the opportunity to ease aside his robes. By now there could be no mistaking his erection for anything else. The hard flesh rose from a nest of blond curls and Michael licked his lips at the thought of taking the length into his mouth. Not tonight, though. If Lucifer truly hadn’t felt the touch of another man’s hand on his cock, then Michael intended to take his time and let Lucifer enjoy one sensation before moving on to another.

Michael watched the emotions flit across Lucifer’s face as he played with his dick and fondled his balls. He suspected his own face held an equally stunned expression. If anyone had told him when he woke up this morning he would be doing this tonight, he would never have believed them.

Lucifer groaned and raised his hips a little. “Ah, Michael, Michael.”

Michael loved the sound of his name on Lucifer’s lips, especially spoken so breathlessly, almost a plea.

“Let go,” Michael said. “Come for me.”

He could tell Lucifer wouldn’t last much longer. A man could only take so much, and for one who had never done this before, keeping control would be almost impossible.

When Lucifer finally came, spilling over Michael’s hand a few moments later, Michael couldn’t take his eyes off him. Since the first day he had seen him, Michael had considered that Lucifer might be the most beautiful of all the angels. Now, watching him come apart at Michael’s touch, he knew he had been right. The expression of bliss on Lucifer’s face would forever remain in Michael’s mind as the most wondrous sight ever.

Michael reluctantly released Lucifer’s cock and stretched out beside him, resting his head on his clean hand, watching the angel come down from his orgasmic high.

Lucifer blinked at him and the smile spreading across his face was truly stunning. Michael’s breath caught in his throat at the vision before him.

“Come to the pool with me tomorrow,” Lucifer asked.

Michael nodded and Lucifer raised his hand to brush his fingers through Michael’s hair. He leaned up and pressed his lips to Michael’s, the kiss almost tentative and unsure, and such a contrast to the seemingly confident angel.

It was on the tip of Michael’s tongue to invite Lucifer to spend the night in his beach hut. Before he could ask, Lucifer stood and gathered his robes together, covering his nakedness.

“I’ll see you at dawn,” Lucifer said.

He didn’t give Michael a chance to reply before his wings reappeared and carried him into the air.

Michael watched him until he had flown away, into the mountains. He had a feeling he wouldn’t be sleeping much tonight.

Prophecy by AE Via
“I appreciate your dedication, Ramon. I always have. But we are not coming to fight. I chose the five of you to stand behind me with Captain Ermanno while I earn my beloved mate’s trust. Under no circumstance are you to become hostile with any shifters, now or in the future.” Wick turned in the front passenger seat to look each of his officers in the eye, adding a distinct, warning hiss. “Even if advanced on. Do not retaliate. Anyone who harms a shifter, I will see spends eternity in a wooden box.”

They all nodded in understanding. There wasn’t a hint of the scent of fear or stress in the large SUV, only the determination and focus of his men. There was no need for any of them to be afraid. The men Wick and his Captain chose were the best of the best in his Escort; in their entire species. They’d been well briefed on the subject of his fated beloved and without second thought, each one of them immediately reminded Wick of their unbreakable allegiance to him. No matter what the situation.

“Isn’t the beloved supposed to already trust and care deeply at the first scent of you?” Another vampire asked from the last row.

Wick didn’t like anyone thinking that there was a malfunction in the link between him and his mate. Technically, it was true. His mate should already be craving him. Wick believed Justice was aching, because heaven knows Wick was barely able to shield his worried scent, he was in such a state behind his mate. “Justice and I are not ordinary beloved souls. He’s the Alpha Zenith. It was silly of me to expect him to fall into my arms and tilt his head back for me.”

“You’ve never steered away from a challenge, sir,” Wick’s Captain said, his shaded eyes still on the brightly-lit, well-worn path that led to the Humboldt Pack’s land. The sun was still shining but setting quickly. In the blacked-out windows, Wick’s vampires were safe.

As they came around a sharp bend, cabins and log buildings came into view. There were five large shifters standing at the entrance cautiously watching them approach. Wick saw the one on the end pull out his cell phone and make a quick call.

“He probably called the Alpha,” his Lord Protector said.

“I’m hoping he did,” Wick answered. “Make sure you slow down a little more and stop several feet from them.”

His captain did as Wick instructed. The shifter was asked to come around to Wick’s side so the sun wouldn’t filter in and touch Ermann. “I’m here with a gift for your Alpha Zenith. He already knows I’m coming.”

Two large brown wolves ran down the side of the mountain and communicated something to the shifters at the gate, because they stepped aside and told Wick how much farther he had to go to get to the Alpha’s side of the property. As they drove over the worn dirt road, they heard warning howls go up. Wick wouldn’t take offense. Vampires were on their land, of course they’d make sure the pack was tucked away safely.

Instead of worrying about that, Wick looked around at the beautiful scenery of the Humboldt’s vast pack lands. Acres and acres. The rolling greens where they’d cleared the trees were nothing short of beautiful. Cabins were everywhere. Farms and livestock were being tended. Wick saw at least two schools, and even a couple makeshift stores. But he believed that packs still used a type of bartering system – amongst other packs at least.

“They’re looking a little hostile, Captain,” Ramon noted, turning and watching all angles of their vehicle, especially Wick’s side.

“They’re just going about their jobs. It’s curiosity. Nothing more. Vampires probably don’t visit every day.”

Wick was about to agree with his captain but his words stopped just short of passing his lips when he caught sight of the row of shifters standing in front of a large two-story home with sand-colored, handcrafted logs and a huge wrap-around porch. Better craftsmanship than any one-hundred story skyscraper he’d ever seen. The gathered shifters looked to be the pack’s hierarchy. They stood in a sort of diamond formation with his beloved standing in the front. Another large man was to his left and Wick assumed that to be this pack’s Alpha because the man on Justice’s right was his brother and beta. Wick remembered him from the police station. Several more men, and even a few women, spanned the line. All looking strong and ready for whatever was about to happen. Aside from the few men milling about working or surveying the grounds, this area of land was void of any other pack members. Like they’d been tucked away to safety.

Even through the dark windows the shifters could see them. The sun was just at the tip of the tall redwoods behind the cabin, casting the open space in an array of striking golds and ambers before it disappeared for the night. This was the moment he’d waited for. Wick hadn’t tried to use his link with Justice, scared to attempt it only to find it gone. He’d felt the apprehension from his beloved when he thought of how they could possibly live and exist together when they were so different. Wick wasn’t all that different from his gorgeous mate and he was about to show him. Wick opened the door and stepped out, the bright sun hitting him in his face. He tilted his head up and smiled at the romantic sky. The warmth felt lovely on his typically cool skin. The gasps and murmurs of disbelief were easily heard… including his beloved’s. That was lovely too.

“You can walk in the sun?”

It took everything in Wick not to drop down to his knees and thank the Mother right then and there that their link was still alive. “There’s a lot I can do. Maybe you’ll let me show you, beloved mate.” Wick sighed inside. For the first time, Wick didn’t feel the dreadful feelings Justice had given off before.

“May I address one of your packs, Justice?”

Justice stepped forward, his brother at his right a mere step behind. Aleksei Volkov was a hulking alpha in his own right and could clearly defend his AZ if needed. Wick was sure his own second was counting down the seconds until the sun set and he could leave the refuge of the SUV and stand at Wick’s back like he was supposed to. His mate nodded once, still eyeing him carefully. Wick didn’t want to turn away from the look of longing and desire he saw in Justice’s miraculous eyes.

Wick finally pried his coal-colored eyes away. He looked at each shifter’s unique face, committing them all to memory. They would all be an extension of him soon. In a tone as silky as satin and smile that was nothing short of mesmerizing, Wick addressed them, simply. “Greetings.”

Nicolas by Dianne Hartsock
JAMIE STARTLED awake. “What?”

He had trouble breathing, the crushing weight on his chest seeming to have followed him up from his dreams. But that couldn’t be right. He’d rented the cabin for its isolation. No one should be there. Did he still dream?

A warm breath brushed against his cheek, sending a shiver of dread and strange anticipation through him. “Easy, baby,” a silky voice whispered in the darkness. Sharp teeth nipped his earlobe and pleasure and pain sparked along his nerves. His eyes adjusted to the moonlight filtering through the sheer curtains, and he stared in amazement at the man gazing at him with wild green eyes, long pale hair, high cheekbones and a slender neck he craved to run his tongue along.

The stranger laid his weight on him, driving the air from his lungs and making Jamie struggle for every breath. Shifting position, the man sealed his full lips over Jamie’s, drawing a long groan from Jamie when an impossibly large cock slid against his. In sudden panic he reached to shove his unknown visitor away and touched hot skin and lean muscles. Of their own volition his hands roamed lower, following the curve of the stranger’s back to the rounded swell of his ass. He drew a quick breath and the man laughed into his mouth, pushed his tongue deep, thrusting inside to match the movement of his hips as he ground against Jamie’s aching dick.

Heat pooled in Jamie’s stomach. God, what was happening? The thing in his bed looked like a man, but his every instinct shouted otherwise. His skin was warm when it should have been cold from being outside. And how had he gotten in? All the windows and doors were locked tight against the winter storm. It was as if he’d just materialized in Jamie’s bed. “Who—”

He cried out when a hand pushed between them and grabbed their cocks, stroking them together until he lost the ability to think. So close! He grabbed the man’s firm ass and yanked him tighter against him, rising up to shove into his strong grip.

The triumphant hiss in his ear shot ice through his veins. “So naughty.”

“No!” Jamie struggled to sit up, scrambling back against the headboard. He blinked, finding himself alone in the room, only his ragged breaths disturbing the silence of the cabin. A forgotten anxiety knotted his stomach. Naughty. He hated that word, tossed about by the boys he once knew in school. The ones he’d suck off behind the gym, desperate for a gentle hand in his hair, balm against his loneliness. He’d been terrified his parents would find out he was different, that he liked girl things and found boys much more exciting than he should. They would know he was gay and there would be hell to pay for their freak of a son.

He scrubbed a hand over his face. God, that had been ages ago. The last shreds of the dream dissipated, and he reached for the bedside light, fumbling in the darkness for the switch. Low light stung his eyes and he blinked at the empty bedroom, unable to believe the attack hadn’t been real.

He flung off the heavy quilts and slid to his feet, clinging to the post at the foot of the bed as a wave of dizziness struck him. Laughter from the other room jolted him. Heart pounding, he bolted for the door and it crashed into the wall as he flung it open. The reddish glow from the banked fire on the hearth lit the main room of the cabin, though the kitchen area remained in shadows.

Jamie’s gaze swept the rooms, focusing on the dark corners. No one jumped out at him. Nobody sat on the couch. His coffee cup remained undisturbed where he’d left it on the hearth. Of course. The cabin was isolated, miles from the nearest neighbor. Who would bother to come way out there, especially with the threat of another snowstorm on the way?

He ran a trembling hand through his hair, pushing the sweat-drenched bangs from his forehead. Christ, the dream had seemed so real. The cold of the great room finally registered, creeping up from the hardwood flooring. Shaking, he crossed to the fireplace and stirred up the coals, adding another log.

With a sigh, he sank into the cushions of the worn couch and pulled the woolen afghan up around his bare shoulders. The log caught and the fire crackled, sparks dancing up the flue. Recalling his dream and the hard body against his, he shrugged when his cock perked up.

“It’s been a while,” he acknowledged, watching the flames lick at the oak log. He’d signed a year’s lease on the cabin, right after catching his boyfriend in the stairwell of their apartment building, making out with their neighbor. It hadn’t been the first time, either, though again Patrick had his apologies ready. That had been over six months ago, and since the cabin stood miles over rough terrain from the nearest town, he’d rarely seen another human being in all that time.

“Just the way I like it,” he told the indifferent fire burning its way through the wood. But the stranger’s lips in his dream had been soft, his thrusting tongue sweet in Jamie’s mouth. He hadn’t liked the violent aspect of the dream, but if that had been a lover in his bed? His dick pressed against his thigh, and Jamie reached under the heavy blanket, moaning when he took its heavy weight in his hand. Drawing lazy circles on his balls, he let the pleasure build slowly, lifting his cock while in his mind the stranger licked the glistening head, his pale gold hair a curtain of silk against Jamie’s sensitive skin. He moaned as the man slid his tongue down the thick vein on the underside of his cock.

His mind flitted over the question of whether the guy would fuck him or want it the other way around. Didn’t matter to him. He liked it both ways. Rolling to his back, Jamie continued to stroke himself while he tugged his tight balls, then pressed a finger against his hole. He remembered the lube in the nightstand drawer by the bed, but he wasn’t about to stop, and hissed when he pushed the finger inside. The man’s cock had been huge in his dream. What would it feel like as it stretched him open? Would it be enough to fill all the empty spaces inside him?

It was a moment before the tolling of a bell outside the cabin registered. What the fuck? Jamie sat up, trying to hear past the pounding of his pulse in his ears. His cock throbbed and he groaned in frustration, knowing he couldn’t chase his pleasure until he found out what was going on at the dock. The only one to boat in was the man who dropped off his monthly supplies, and he’d been and gone two days ago. Who else would be using the dock? Jamie had been isolated for months without anything disturbing his peace. But this night he’d had a wildly erotic dream and now this. What made tonight so special?

With a deep sigh, he got up and returned to his chilly room to dress. Thermal underwear was a must, along with snow pants and a wool sweater. Nights in Alpena, Michigan, averaged around twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit in early winter but could drop to the teens when sleet swept off Lake Huron. Stomping into his boots and sliding his arms into a heavy coat, he pulled on gloves and a hat and opened the front door. Freezing air struck his face, catching at his breath, and he almost returned to the warmth of the great room behind him.

“Dammit.” He pulled the door closed and maneuvered over the icy porch and steps. The bell tolled again, and he hurried through the pristine snow blanketing the yard and surrounding forest. Even if it was only an animal that had ventured onto the dock, if it had slipped on the icy surface into the lake, he had to try to save the poor creature. It could take only moments to freeze to death in the subzero temperatures of the water. The lake shimmered in the moonlight as he approached the bank, a wide expanse of silver stretching in all directions.

His heart stumbled when he spotted a form sprawled on the dock jutting from the snow-covered bank. A canoe lazily bumped into the wood planking, sending the bell chiming into the night. Forgetting the danger of the slick wood, he hurried to the man’s side, praying it wasn’t already too late. He knelt and peeled off a glove, letting out a held breath when the man’s clothing proved dry. Biting his lips at a surge of anxiety, he rolled him onto his back.

The man’s features hardly registered as he hastily loosened the stiff scarf and searched for a pulse. He leaned closer and relief washed through him when a faint breath warmed his cheek. “Thank God.” His gaze ran over the man’s large frame. “But I can’t carry you. Can I wake you up?”

A melancholy smile flittered across his face. “Talking to yourself again, Jamieson,” he muttered. Maybe he’d been spending too much time alone after all. “Well, let’s try to get you up.”

He slid an arm under the broad shoulders and lifted the man into a sitting position, resting the heavy body against his chest. He patted a white cheek and worry creased his brow. The man felt ice cold.

A shudder ran through the long frame and the stranger began to shiver in earnest. Thick lashes fluttered, and Jamie lowered his head to catch the words that whispered past blue-tinged lips.

“What? I can’t understand you.” The foreign language sounded familiar. Spanish? No. With the man’s olive complexion and the dark waves of curls brushing his shoulders, there was a chance he might be Italian. He sounded like the foreign exchange student from Italy Jamie had known in high school. “Can you stand up?” he asked, hoping the guy knew English.

“SƬ.”

Jamie helped him to his knees and heard the man’s deep breath before he struggled up, leaning a heavy hand on Jamie’s shoulder. “Grazie. Thank you,” he said. The slightly accented voice sounded sexy even in the frigid air, and Jamie looked at him with sudden interest. Incredible hazel eyes met his gaze, dark with exhaustion and pain but also curious, stirring a small ache of pleasure inside Jamie. It had been a while since anyone took notice of him.

“Let’s get you inside,” he said, self-conscious as the man continued to stare as if intrigued with his face. Feeling the heat of a blush in his cheeks, he glanced aside. Sure, he was attractive enough. Freckles dotted his nose and cheeks, and at times his mop of red hair could be unmanageable. Previous lovers had called his lips deliciously full, kissable. Too bad that hadn’t kept any of them in his bed. But he had nothing to gain this man’s attention.

Putting aside the bitter thought, he left the man a moment to secure his canoe to the dock. The stranger leaned against the railing, head down as he waited, and Jamie swung an arm around his waist and nudged him toward the cabin, walking gingerly on the icy wood planking of the dock. He’d broken a path through the snow to the structure, but it was still a steep climb, the man seeming to grow heavier with each step. They reached the halfway mark before the stranger stumbled and dropped to a knee, breathing hard. Tremors ran through the large frame under Jamie’s hand.

“Please, it’s not much further,” he begged. No way could he carry him, and staying out here in the snow was unthinkable. The temperature had dropped lower and his face was growing numb. The man must be frozen through.

Muscles bunched under Jamie’s fingers, and the stranger heaved to his feet, a moan torn from deep inside his chest. The walk became a nightmare after that, each step forward a small triumph over pain and exhaustion. Jamie lost all sense of time. There was only whiteness and cold and the porch light promising heat and safety if they could reach it. At long last they stumbled up the steps and Jamie shoved open the door, coming close to dropping the man as they crossed the threshold into the stifling warmth of the cabin.

Slamming the door shut behind them, Jamie somehow managed to keep the dead weight in his arms from sliding to the floor.

“Couch,” he barked through frozen lips, and they staggered across the room, the man crumpling onto the cushions as soon as Jamie eased him down. Jamie looked at him, not sure what to do, then shook off the panic skittering along his nerves. He had to warm the guy up. He knelt, cupping the man’s cold face. “Can you sit up?”

A small grunt escaped the blue-tinged lips and Jamie helped him into a seated position. He removed the man’s heavy coat, then got to work on the snow-encased boots. The laces were impossible, and he tugged off his gloves to work on the knots, his fingers stiff with cold.

“Fuck,” he muttered, reaching over and grabbing scissors from the coffee table drawer and cutting the strings. He slid the boots off, then very carefully rolled down the socks, holding his breath while he removed them. The toes were white with cold but—thank God—no sign of frostbite.

He looked up, his heart clenching when he saw that his guest had fallen asleep. Pain lined the man’s face, and Jamie set his lips, knowing he still might be too late. He had to warm the chilled body and hope his heart was strong enough to survive the shock. And there was also the threat of pneumonia…. Shoving that fear aside, he began to undress the man, lifting the bulky sweater over his head. He tried not to notice the defined muscles of his chest and arms and strong thighs as he removed his jeans and thermals. The dark cotton briefs were dry, and Jamie left them on in relief, embarrassed by his body’s reaction when the man was plainly suffering.

After a brief hesitation, he searched the pockets for a wallet or anything to identify him. Not even a phone. Who was he? Didn’t matter. Jamie had to get him warm. He stripped down to his blue panties. Shivering, he stirred up the coals in the fireplace and added one of the thicker logs. That should keep burning for the rest of the night. He almost hated to disturb the sleeping man, but with some tugging and pushing, he was able to pull the blanket from under him. Stretching the long frame out on the couch, he lay down beside him and covered them both with the thick afghan. The man felt wonderful in his arms. It had been too long since he’d had someone in his bed, even if this man still shivered with cold. He should begin to warm up soon enough.

Jamie yawned as exhaustion caught up to him. He blinked sleepily, then fell into a heavy doze with the man’s warm breath on his neck.

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Random Paranormal Tales of 2017



KJ Charles
I'm a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both. My books include The Magpie Lord and Think of England.

I'm also a freelance editor, and I blog about writing and editing at kjcharleswriter.com.

I live in London, UK, with two kids, a tolerant husband and an even more tolerant cat.

LM Brown
L.M. Brown lives in England, in a quaint little village that time doesn't seem to have touched. No, wait a minute- that's the retirement biography. Right now she is in England in a medium sized town that no one has ever heard of, so she won't bore you with the details. Keeping her company are numerous sexy men. She just wishes that they weren't all inside her head.


Tami Veldura
Tami Veldura is an enby/aro/ace author of queer fiction. Hir pronouns are sie/hir/Mx. Sie loves romance, fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal stories that push genre limits. Sie lives in California where sie writes full-time which means procrastinating as often as possible with video games. Dragons fascinate hir, a consistent schedule eludes hir, and sie makes a terrible housewife, just ask Mr. Veldura.

AE Via
A.E. Via is an author in the beautiful gay romance genre and also founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books. Her writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to spicy to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.

When she's not clicking away at her laptop, she devotes herself to her family--a husband and four children.

Adrienne Via has tons of more stories to tell, but she really would like to hear yours. Via Star Wings Books is currently accepting submissions for established and aspiring LGBTQ authors. I've contracted and successfully published a couple authors - whose information can be found on my website - who can tell you that my passion is giving other writer's stories the love and care it deserves so it could be a gift to another. Visit my site to learn more!


Dianne Hartsock
After growing up in California and spending the first ten years of marriage in Colorado, I now live in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with my incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours I spend hunched over the keyboard letting my characters play.

I have to say, Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house while it pours rain outside, a fire crackles on the hearth inside, and a cup of hot coffee warms my hands, which kindles my imagination.

The intricate and fragile nature of the mind is always fascinating. Having worked with the public through various careers I’ve come to respect the resilience and strength of the human spirit. I’m always trying to capture that spirit in my writing.

Currently, I work as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for me. When not writing, I can express myself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.


KJ Charles
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EMAIL: kjcharleswriter@gmail.com

LM Brown
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Tami Veldura
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EMAIL: tamiveldura@gmail.com

AE Via
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EMAIL: authoraevia@live.com

Dianne Hartsock
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WIP  /  PINTEREST  /  SMASHWORDS
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EMAIL: diannewrites2@hotmail.com



Spectred Isle by KJ Charles
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Falling into Darkness by LM Brown
The Wolf and the King by Tami Veldura

Prophecy by AE Via

Nicolas by Dianne Hartsock
AMAZON US  /  AMAZON UK  /  B&N
KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  GOOGLE PLAY

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