(A look at where the story was born)
Back in 2006 a young Italian singer by the name of Patrizio Buanne had come onto the international music scene. He was an old style singer, with a powerful and seductive voice, rich in emotion and range. He was in his mid-twenties then, and had just recorded his second album, a collection called Forever Begins Tonight. It was on this CD that a particular song caught my imagination, with the story it told and the romanticism of the tale. Bella Bella Signorina was one of the most popular songs on this CD, and remains a fan favourite. For me, the more I listened to the song, the more certain I was that I wanted to write a story. I met Patrizio after concert in April of 2007, and by then the story had come into being in my mind. I asked for, and was given permission to use a few lines from the lyrics of the song as the framework for the story I wanted.
Later in the summer, I wrote the first draft of Bella Signorina and after getting the properly signed release from the copyright holder, it was submitted to a publisher. The decision was made the “tone down” the sensuality of the story and make it a sweetheart story, so any sexual overtone were removed, leaving the romantic fantasy to play out like a song. The book held the #1 best-seller spot for over six months, but went largely unnoticed, despite good reviews. I revised the story after the contract expired, and it was released again. This time it was largely unnoticed.
So, when I finally located the file of the original story and had the chance to read this story the way it was originally written, I thought this time it could be released as it was meant to be. Eirelander was willing to give the sexy, sensual version a home at last.
Set in Rome, Bella Signorina is a sweet, romantic story of two people who meet in a trendy caffè, and through the magic of dance and music discover they have many things in common. Bianca comes to Caffè Rosati every week, and for many weeks she’s been watching a special man, a handsome, charming stranger who dances, flirts, and leaves alone each week. Bianca is a woman who enjoys her freedom, and has been hurt before, so she’s not anxious to fall in love again. Something about the enigmatic Stefano has captivated her heart, though, and she is drawn to him in spite of herself. When she finally gathers her courage to approach him, and ask him to dance, little does she know that her entire world is about to change.
Stefano Esposito is a man who’s past relationships have not left him much in the way of ideals about women. Many have claimed to love him, none have understood him. Stefano is a rare breed in today’s world of fast-paced life and love. He is a gentleman, a man who many consider a little out of step with the times. For Stefano, falling in love is the completion of a soul, not the consummation of a sexual itch. He wants the woman in his life to respect, understand, and adore him, as he will her. When he meets Bianca, he wonders if he’s finally found the one he’s waited a lifetime for? She understands his internal conflicts, his desires, and his dreams, after only hours together.
When their attraction to each other flares too quickly and too intently, Stefano pulls back. Confused and uncertain, Bianca flees his beautiful home and business, and goes back to her busy life. But, once the dance has begun, is there a way to go back to what you knew before, or is it just a matter of time before the music lures you back to your dreams and, perhaps, makes them reality?
Stefano kept a close eye on the pretty dancer even as he walked to the small caffè. She was lovely, and he’d seen her many times, always enchanted by her presence, but never inclined to find out if the outward beauty was all there was to her. If she was another vain and brainless girl, he didn’t want his illusion shattered. The romanticism of the thought made him smile. He wasn’t as jaded as he pretended to be if he was still protecting his heart with illusions.
Less than fifteen minutes after he’d left her, he rejoined her and handed her a steaming cup of coffee.
“It’s so different here at night,” Bianca noted, her eyes scanning the area. In a matter of hours, thousands of people would begin their daily movements, passing over the steps, not noticing anything but the need to be wherever they were headed. “There’s peace here now.”
“Is that why you dance, to find peace?”
She sipped her coffee and considered an answer. When it came, it surprised him.
“The music is freedom, and the motion is passion. Sometimes the only passion that matters.”
“All passion matters, bella,” he commented. “It’s what gives us life.”
“Or burns it out of us.”
He turned on the steps, faced her fully. Then he touched her chin and made her look at him.
“Who abused your love so fully that you can believe that?”
“People destroy each other for love,” she replied after a lengthy pause.
Stefano shook his head. “Love is the only gift there is worth having, Signorina. It’s what men live and die for.”
“Who are you, Signor?”
He was startled again, twice in less than five minutes.
“Would you like to walk?”
She laughed in the growing darkness, and Stefano felt it ripple the length of his spine, as though cool, flawless silk had glided over him.
“Where are we to go, Stefano?”
“I think you’ll like the place,” he observed, with a hint of irony texturing the subtle undertone of his voice.
She eyed him for a few timeless moments, then nodded and rose.
He smiled when she offered her hand, and he curled his fingers around hers in a loose, but firm grip.
“So, is there a wife hidden somewhere?”
He laughed. “No. What about you? A husband who will come looking for me before dawn?”
She shook her head and sipped her coffee. “How does a man with so much passion not have the woman of his dreams in his arms every night?”
“I could ask you the same question,” he pointed out. “Why are you alone?”
Her laughter washed over him again and she stopped walking to look up at him. “No one I’ve met has inspired the things I need to feel.” She shrugged. “I’ve been too honest with too many, and it scares them away.”
For a moment he said nothing, weighing her surprising confession. “What do you need?”
“To be respected for who I am, what makes me unique.” She tilted her head to one side and held his level gaze. “I need to be given all the things I’m expected to provide, and that seems to be something quite beyond many men. Real men, who understand the value of a smart woman, also see that her beauty is in her wisdom, and her spirit.”
“And her ability to be all things without effort, because she is all things naturally,” he concluded, genuinely pleased at the startled flicker of surprise his words lit in her eyes. “We’re here,” he announced, indicating the building they’d reached.
She looked up, and her smile was radiant in the soft glow of the nearby streetlight. “La Galleria d’arte di Idillio,” she murmured. “I love this place.”
“It’s mine,” he told her as he dug out the key that would unlock the doors to the small gallery.
There was enough real shock in her voice to make him stop as he held the door for her to go inside. “Why does that surprise you so much?”
“I’ve come here a number of times, and I’ve never seen you,” she replied, once he’d locked the doors and turned on the lights.
“I’ve never seen you,” he noted. “Except at the caffè.”
“I’ve always felt this place was a tribute to love, and romance.”
“It is. My father began the collection for my mother.”
“Your father was a romantic?”
“My father was a gentleman, in the truest sense of that word,” Stefano said with a familiar sense of loneliness and pride combined. “He lived la dolce vita,” he smiled, “with the passion of a man who loved all life had to offer him, good and bad.”
A curt nod was all he could offer without revealing how deeply the loss still affected him. He set his coffee on the reception desk, hung his jacket on a rack then did the same with Bianca’s things. Then he took her arm and led her to a small area that had been his work for the past year.
“This is my latest addition to the collection.”
Bianca wandered the area, studying the beautiful collection of photographs. Each one was in a different area of Italy, and the women smiling and lovely, but each one as unique as her surroundings.
“What do you see?”
“Beauty. Romance.” Bianca stared at the photographs for a few moments longer, considering them with serious thought, then turned to face him. “In every photograph, they are not looking at you, but at the camera. They’re seeing the opportunity, but not your reason for wanting them.”
Something fluttered against Stefano’s chest from the inside, an excitement he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He let his gaze drift, cataloguing the woman in front of him. Standing next to him the top her head was at his chin. She had long, waving hair, dark brown with a distinct tint that caught the glow from the lights and turned her thick mane into a mass of warm, burnished auburn. She had eyes that resembled Chinese jade, and a wide, full mouth that curved upward, as though a secret hid behind her smile. She was curvaceous and feminine, effortlessly graceful, and with minimal makeup, appeared very much without artifice of any kind.
“What is my reason for wanting them?” He forced his tone to calm and curious, sincerely interested in her reply, but also caught in the spell she was exerting. Part of his mind was still watching her, measuring the emotion and internal workings of her mind as she analyzed his photographs with real interest. Her teal-colored dress was simple in design, flared skirt unevenly cut at the hem, swirling around her shapely legs as she walked, pausing often to peer intently at the images on the walls. The upper half of the dress clung to luscious contours, and the silver crucifix, her only jewelry, drew his eyes to the shadow between her breasts. He wanted very much to touch her, and instead stuffed his hands into his pockets and went to join her as she stopped at one of the last photos, then looked at him over her shoulder.
“She loved you.”
“So she said.”
“You didn’t love her?”
“Not the way she thought I should.”
“You wanted love from every woman here, yet not one of them saw who you really are,” she observed softly, sadness evident in her tone.
His eyebrow rose. “Who do you think I am, bella?”
“How honest do you think I should be?”
“I admire honesty, Signorina,” he told her. “I respect the courage it takes to offer it to anyone.”
“But do you respect it if the object of discussion is you?”
“Now you’re beginning to worry me,” he teased with a smile. He was fascinated by her intelligence and her insight. She looked past his appearance and his presence to probe his secrets, and whatever she was seeing made her even more alluring to him.
Want to know more? The dance is only beginning for Bianca and Stefano, drop by Eirelander Publishing and indulge the fantasy more…
RETRIBUTION: Silent Death
Genre: Contemporary Action/Thriller
Publisher: Crimson Frost Books
Adam Walker is one of the Company’s best field agents, a highly trained, well-honed killing machine when that’s what’s needed. But, he’s also a man of many secrets, and one of them is that he’s a ninja, one of Japan’s mythical death warriors. When another of Adam’s secrets, his lover Kiku, is killed, he turns to the one person he trusts, fellow agent Shainna Barton. While Shainna covers for him on a mission, Adam metes out his revenge, and discovers that his friendship with Shainna has a much deeper meaning that either of them ever realized…
Adam’s steps were sure and silent as he made his way to the rear of the small theater. Exhaustion consumed him, but the residue of rushing adrenaline afforded his body a moment of false energy. Successful in yet another assignment—when the body turned up with the stolen files, there’d be no questions asked. Business as usual.
Still, the timing had been off, and there’d been no time to warn Kiku to stay at home. Uneasiness whispered inside him again, as it had for most of the past hour. Not for the first time during recent weeks, though . . . . He wondered if it had been wise to reject her desire to take their relationship to a more intimate involvement. Loving Kiku was as natural to him as breathing. But being her lover was something he hadn’t honestly considered. Not until she’d brought it to his attention.
Why he hadn’t noticed her love changing to passion baffled him now, as he thought about it. He’d told her intimacy of that kind would create distractions within his mind—the kind that might one day get them both killed. She’d been skeptical, though uncharacteristically reticent about explaining why, when he questioned her quick acceptance of his decision.
He thrust the doubts aside as he reached her office and entered. As always, the closet-like room appeared in complete chaos. An organized mess, she called it. He crossed the short space and picked up the phone as he settled on the edge of her desk. He was about to dial her home number when a flicker of movement drew his attention to the small, private parking lot separating the theater from a large apartment building next door. Adam slipped the receiver into its cradle and moved to stand in the shadows next to the small window behind her desk.
He spotted Kiku’s nearly naked body and he froze. Instinct guided him as fear and rage surged through him. Reaching beyond the haze of tumultuous emotions, he drew on his training. A careful look at Kiku told him she was dead . . . her neck broken. Again, the flicker of shadows betrayed a presence. He waited. Seconds passed, so drawn out by tension they felt like hours, but one-by-one he saw each figure with striking clarity. And in that brief instant, each of the five faces was burned indelibly into his memory. He knew one of them by name, and recognized the others as students of Caisson’s dojo. The heavy weight of the gun under his left arm all but spoke to him the alluring suggestion to pull the weapon and use it was so tempting. Adam had to force himself to resist using his weapon, a task made all the more difficult when Caisson bent over Kiku and placed a mocking kiss on her forehead.
He tore his gaze away, no longer trusting his ability to control his grief-enhanced rage. As he leaned against the wall, he realized he’d been holding his breath. Slowly, he exhaled, shaking uncontrollably despite his imposed strength of will.
When the wracking spasms of anguish subsided, he emerged from the theater’s office and left without looking back.
* * * * *
Less than half an hour later, Adam slipped into Kiku’s small flat. Like her office, it was in disarray, although not to the same exaggerated extent. He did a thorough, systematic search of the entire four rooms, removing every trace of his presence in her life. The items were few, for he seldom left even the smallest of articles behind. No photographs of them to be found, together or individually, a house rule they’d agreed to years earlier.
Hovering in the doorway, he took one final look at the place. It was so much like her, he thought, inhaling the light residue of sandalwood incense in the air. Books on every subject to satisfy her insatiable thirst for knowledge were strewn about, along with old theater posters, exotically painted masques, and cassettes and CDs in various languages. Despite his protestations, a map hung on the wall, dotted with postcards from the countries they’d traveled together. He hesitated for a moment then decided to collect the cards and destroy the map.
When he finished, he locked the door and turned his back on this place, too. Kiku would have expected nothing less from him.
* * * * *
Shainna Barton sighed in weariness as she kicked open the door to her apartment to drag her luggage inside. She’d been out of the country for over a month this time, and home seemed more appealing than she would have thought possible. She was growing tired in more ways than one.
A quick slam and the door shut firmly, leaving her in the silent, air-conditioned sanctuary she’d bought only a year before, a purchase she’d recognized as the first step toward her accepting pending retirement from the field.
She’d called home the night before, and her oldest and dearest friend had opened the apartment and stocked the cupboards for her. DeeDee Caulwell was one of the few constants in Shainna’s life. She honestly didn’t know what she’d do without her.
The phone rang. She stole a glance at the caller ID. Dee. Shainna dropped her shoulder bag and flopped into a chair as she grabbed the phone. The worry in DeeDee’s voice hit before the actual words, and Shainna automatically reached for the TV remote control to turn on the news report her friend was going on about with such dread. The reporter’s words ran together as Shainna’s world twisted wildly on its axis. Her pulse roared so loud in her ears she barely heard DeeDee say she was on her way over.
* * * * *
From her window seat, Shainna looked out at the night sky. Her chill had very little to do with the air-conditioned air. The ice reached into her soul and expanded outward to her quivering limbs. She wasn’t prone to infatuation, never had been, but there was something almost obsessive in her passion for Adam Walker. They were friends; the relationship worked for them. But Shainna had realized, long ago, the hunger she felt in Adam’s company had precious little to do with being friends. If she’d been less honest, she would have hated Kiku Shimoda, simply for being the love in Walker’s life. But Shainna was too much a realist to pretend the other woman was the reason Adam didn’t love her.
She sighed and closed her eyes, letting her head thump gently against the wall at her back. Adam’s amazing topaz eyes came into focus so quickly she was startled to discover he wasn’t next to her. She could feel him, though. All around her. Inside her heart. His pain was agonizing—and total. He was out there, and by now, he knew.
“What are you going to do, Adam?” She asked the question aloud, as was her custom when working possible angles to a puzzle. She shivered when the answer, like a cold caress, brushed her consciousness—a promise of mayhem and death—as if Adam had spoken directly into her mind. They’d been connected on some level for what felt like forever. And in that moment, she wondered if he’d actually heard her and responded.
Before the odd thought could create another conundrum for her to ponder, she was distracted by a knock at the door. She crossed the room and opened the door, breathing a thankful sigh at the sight of her friend.
“Are you all right?”
She shut the door as DeeDee glided past, shedding her coat and tossing it into a chair before she turned to Shainna.
“I’m still trying to take in what’s happened.” Shainna confessed. “This is going to destroy Adam. Especially when he finds out what the press is reporting. I don’t even know where to find him, Dee!”
“Maybe that’s for the best.” DeeDee’s features showed visible concern.
Adam Walker was always a touchy subject between them, and the gentle censure in her friend’s voice made Shainna’s temper flare.
“Okay, Shain.” DeeDee held up her hands in a gesture of surrender before Shainna had time to snap. “Truce. Back off. What are you planning, anyway?”
“If I know Adam, he’s going to find who did this.” She paced, chewed her thumbnail, and tried to make her brain function past her fear for the man. Kiku was the world to Adam, and Shainna knew—via the Division grapevine—the two had been a solid couple for some time. Whether or not the rumors were based on truth wasn’t relevant to her heart. She’d tried not to resent Kiku for Adam’s lack of interest, but it hadn’t been easy when every part of her spirit and body cried for the man in ways she wished rather to never have experienced.
“And . . . .” She finally added. “He’s going to make them pay for what they did to her—in blood.”
“That sounds like Adam,” DeeDee agreed, her tone reflecting her dislike and her near contempt for the man they discussed.
“Why do you hate him so much?”
Startled, DeeDee didn’t answer for a moment, then she laughed. “I hate what he does to you. Adam himself means nothing to me. I know you’d walk through hell for him, and he wouldn’t have to ask you to do it. What would he do for you, Shain?”
“The same thing if I needed him.”
“You’re so certain of that. Why?”
“Because he’s Adam. Because what exists between us is a lot deeper than simply trusting another agent with your back.”
“What happened in Italy last year?” DeeDee asked. “You’ve never said much, but something changed between you and Adam on that mission.”
“Yeah, we took our last day and went sight-seeing like normal people. I got drunk and told him I loved him. We blamed the wine the next day, and pretended it never happened.”
“What did he say?”
“I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.”
DeeDee’s frown of confusion made Shainna laugh. “It’s a quote we found earlier that day, a 15th century Italian poet called Pietro Aretino wrote it. Adam told me we were friends, there was no room for anything else between us.”
“But he’s always willing to ask you to risk your life for him!”
“It’s my job, Dee. And his!”
“Not this time. This time it’s personal, so you should stay out of it.”
“How am I supposed to do that? He’s going to need backup, and if I know Adam, he’s going to make it clear he wants me.”
“Doesn’t mean Michael will agree.” DeeDee reasoned. She’d been fidgeting and tidying up the apartment from the moment she’d started the conversation. Now, she stopped moving. “He does have some control over Adam.”
Shainna laughed at DeeDee’s careful words, barely recognizing the shrill, hysterical edge that turned the sound brittle. “No one controls Adam,” she said, barely above a whisper. “Michael knows that better than anyone.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
Shainna trembled. “Wait.” She returned to the window and stared into the night once again. “I’m going to wait for him. What else can I do?”
“Live the Romance, Become the Fantasy…”
** Preditors & Editors Best Author 2012-2013 **
(Formerly called ROGUES, revised and re-edited)
Three stories, one kind of hero, pirates anyone? Includes the short stories:
Angel-Fire: A short intro to the world of Captain Jack Stanton, an honourable man with a tarnished reputation. Stranded in Nassau, caught up in a pleasant interlude with a barmaid, Jack has a vision that will lead him to his past and his future, if he can survive to get back Tortuga to discover what it all means…
Storm-Singer: The Isle of Nyx has become the dread of all sailors who must dare the waters surrounding the mythical island. Local legends say a vampire prince resides in the ancient castle that can be seen from the harbor of the island. At his side is a powerful sorceress whose song can control and summon storms.
In a desperate attempt to end the eternal threat looming over them, the people of the Aurora Islands sacrifice their greatest treasure, the princess Sarita, entrusting her with the task of seducing and destroying the dark prince who has been plundering their wealth and their people for centuries?
The Phantom’s Lair: Upon her arrival in the pirate port of Tortuga where her father is acting as Governor, Katheryn Hollinsworth is determined to choose her own path, and follow her heart wherever it may take her. On the streets of Puerta de la Plata, she encounters the mythical buccaneer known as The Phantom, and very quickly loses her heart to the handsome rogue.
Jack Stanton is a man who has never fully come to terms with his past, and in the Governor’s pretty daughter he finds a most unlikely champion. But when his past threatens her life, and any chance of a respectable future, The Phantom must face the demons of his past, and accept the dictates of his own reawakened heart…
“Relax, Jacques,” she purred softly as she rained kisses over his face and chest. “Let your mind accept the gift I have given you.”
Swept along on a tidal wave of sensuous excitement, Stanton struggled despite her pleas. He made a half-hearted grab for her when her soft lips trekked further downward, and she effortlessly slapped aside his attempt at restraint.
Jack’s hips rose from the bed, the reaction totally beyond his ability to control, if indeed he had truly wanted to stop the barrage of sexual delight pounding through his veins. He twisted, tried to pin her, but laughter met the awkward movement of his sluggish limbs.
Angelique pressed the expanse of his naked chest and pushing him onto his back as she straddled his hips and grinned down at him.
Stanton opened his mouth, but no coherent words passed his lips.
She lowered herself onto his straining erection and his body convulsed with new euphoria. When the surge of sensory pleasure threatened to suffocate him, his mind finally rose and found freedom.
Through a haze of smoke and mist, Jack’s beloved ship, The Scarlet Thorn, sailed away as he shouted obscenities and anything else his fertile imagination offered him. On Thorn’s quarterdeck, the newly appointed Captain DeBeaupre’s laughter rang out and taunted him. Gold, spinning wildly, glittering wickedly, always out of reach. Blood tinged the brilliance of the shining metal and Jack drew back from it. Engulfed in crimson, a skull grinned from the golden surface.
Was this part of the notorious curse that he’d been hearing about for years?
As quickly as the thought crystallized in his mind, it was lost to swirling mist again.
Slowly, the fog cleared and the Thorn, under attack and badly damaged, shrieked rage into his brain, echoing into a darkness that obscured everything.
“Breathe deeply, my love,” Angelique whispered, riding his bucking hips wildly as she held his wavering gaze. “Let my angel-fire bring forth your destiny,” she moaned, losing her hold on his gaze as her desire peaked and exploded.
The Phantom’s Lair:
Stanton stopped a few feet from the two people squared off against each other. The girl’s sword moved like a shimmering sliver of moonlight as she parried and feinted with careless grace, easily deflecting the less disciplined thrusts of her opponent’s blade. She was dressed like a buccaneer, but he sensed she was anything but what she appeared to be. She slipped on wet ground. The drunkard gained an advantage and made to deliver a fatal strike.
Cutlass drawn, Jack intercepted the other man’s sword on its downward arc. Sparks flew as the blades clashed, and Stanton circled until he stood between the woman and her attacker.
“Taking advantage of a lady when she’s down.” Jack shook his head in mock despair, while his mouth curved into a roguish smile. “That’s hardly fair play.”
“Stay outta this.” The sailor snarled in reckless fury. “It’s between me and the lady.” He tried to shove Stanton aside.
Jack pushed back and waited. The stumbling man to recovered and had a new target, as Jack had anticipated. He raised his weapon and edged closer to Stanton.
“Do you really think this wise, mate?” Jack smiled, enjoying himself now.
His opponent lunged.
Jack sidestepped and the other man hit the building and staggered. Jack tapped his shoulder with his sword. The man whirled, growling his fury, and attacked like a madman. Jack hadn’t calculated the ferocity of the other man’s anger, and he was nearly run through.
The swordplay began in earnest, and Stanton had no time to consider if he should have left this situation to the people involved. A few well-chosen steps gave him the advantage and he parried awkward thrusts with more ease as he drove the fellow backward. When he struck the man across the face with the hilt of his cutlass, he thought the contest over. Until a slash of fire tore up his arm and he had scant seconds to realize he’d been struck. Stanton’s annoyance went up another notch and he spun around, intent on ending the impromptu confrontation. The woman spared him further effort when she slammed the back of the sailor’s head with the butt of a pistol and he went down with a groan.
Jack looked at her, a quizzical tilt to his head.
“I didn’t think it necessary to kill a man simply for being stupid,” she explained with a flash of pearly-white teeth. “But I thank you for your assistance, sir.” She stepped closer and peered at her rescuer. He stepped back, sheathing his cutlass, with suspicion in his pale eyes.
“Do I know you?”
“I think not, m’lady.” Jack smiled.
Now that he could see her clearly in the torchlight, Jack knew they had never met. He wouldn’t have forgotten a woman as lovely as this one. The flicker of the torch flames found responding tongues of color in her long, tumbling mane, presently slipping from the leather thong she’d tied at her nape. The cloak she wore was open, and his sharp gaze took rapid stock of her clothes. His earlier opinion was confirmed in his sweeping appraisal as he inventoried silk shirt, close-fitting pants of heavy cotton, polished leather boots reaching her knees, and a wide belt from which hung the scabbard for her handcrafted sword.
“Jack Stanton.” She positioned the pistol at her hip. “You’re Captain Jack Stanton, aren’t you? The one they call The Phantom.”
Jack’s head tilted as he met her bold brown stare. What he saw there amused him. She was curious, and faintly excited by her discovery of his identity. “And you are?”
Magic thrummed in the icy pitch of the night air. Sorcery and song combined to create a powerful and potent spell, one that promised to be all Jaden had demanded.
Arrah contained her wrath, pushed it into the darkest corner of her soul, as she concentrated on the binding harmony she was weaving with the winds. Power surged within her, and she breathed in the sweet, pure essence of earth-force, captivated now by the mystical rapture that the music stirred and sent spiraling into the night.
Waves rose and battered the ebony shores of the Isle of Nyx, their crashing voice another rhythm of power in the enchantment. The winds coalesced, added their resonant wail to the sounds filling the air, and she shuddered, savage spirit attuned to the maelstrom of forces engulfing her. She shifted the tone of her song, weaving greater torrents of madness into the music, and the night darkened further.
With the blackness came vision.
She caught his unique scent, heard the whisper of silk moving rhythmically with each step he took toward her. She felt the power of his very presence long before his graceful hand came to rest at her shoulder.
“The Spectre is ready for launch.”
Jaden’s smooth, sensual voice caressed her, as silken and alluring as the power that vibrated within her body. His arms glided around her waist, and the soft, evocative stroke of his tongue on her neck made her tremble. His hands roamed freely over her, everywhere at once, lighting fire and hunger in her veins as he touched and explored familiar curves. She arched away from him, and he pulled her back against the solid steel of his body. When his mouth covered the throbbing pulse at her neck, her voice reached a new crescendo of furious power. She felt the sharp piercing of her skin then their thoughts merged and reached outward as he sought beyond the storm she’d conjured for him.
Long minutes later, he released his hold on her and turned her to face him, dark eyes glittering. He smiled, tenderness in the shift of his perfect features. She kissed his cheek, then bent her forehead to his chest, faintly aware of the stolen heartbeat that was hers, hearing the even cadence that was a flawless echo of each thump of life within her.
“How long will you need?” she asked, her earlier anger faded for the moment.
“We will return before dawn,” he replied with faint laughter in his rich tone.
“Is this treasure worth the risk you take, Jaden?” She wasn’t as certain as he appeared to be. An indefinable and worrisome element that remained out of her reach nagged at her.
“This treasure is far more than gold and jewels, Arrah,” he purred.
Startled, she met his gaze. “What did you see?”
Her eyes grew huge as he smiled down at her.
“Have faith.” He kissed her lips, a slow, erotic caress tasting faintly of blood and magic. “Wait for me.” He winked then vanished in an inky swirl of mist and silken cloak.
** Preditors & Editors Best Author 2012-2013 **
For many readers the magazine Sensual Treats is a familiar one. 2014 ended with a special Holiday Edition we’ve created for readers, with holiday recipes to share, interviews with two best-selling authors, a feature on a Christmas Collection of four novellas from NYT and USA best-sellers, and much more.
Last day to win this, and be entered for an awesome prize pack of books for that new eReader. Drop by for details: http://www.boundbypassion.ca/2015/01/fill-up-those-new-ereaders-prizes-and.html
PAS de DEUX
Her Secret Admirer – Brigit Aine
The Conversation Cards – Denysé Bridger
One sweet, one sexy – both passionate and guaranteed to make you smile!
Amazon • ARe Romance eBooks • Smashwords • Kobo • Barnes & Noble
Two very different stories of love and passion. In Brigit Aine’s enchanting tale, Her Secret Admirer, love is being discovered, with all its magic and mystery and hope… and in the second movement of the Duet, The Conversation Cards, two people already involved in their passionate love affair learn new things about each other, and reaffirm their bond.
Pas de Deux: Her Secret Admirer – Love is often found when it’s least expected. Cindy is working hard at making her business a success, and at her side offering solid support is Will. When she arrives home one evening to find a Valentine Love Coupon taped to her door, a romantic game of dreams and hope begins as her Secret Admirer begins a courtship that will win her heart long before she knows his name…
Pas de Deux: The Conversation Cards – Two modern lovers, living often separate lives, discover that making time for their relationship isn’t always easy. A whimsical, spur of the moment purchase of a Valentine novelty evokes an open and honest conversation that makes their secret getaway an even more romantic rendezvous, and renews hope for a future that is the stuff of dreams…
Excerpt: The Conversation Cards
“What’s this?” He leaned forward and pulled out the slim deck of cards that was on the table next to the sofa.
“I bought them when I stopped at a store on the way up here,” she said, taking the small box from him. She shook out the slender deck and showed them to him. “Each one has a question on it, it’s a game for Valentine’s Day. Want to play?”
“What’s the purpose?” Suspicion and amusement vied for dominance in his expression as he looked at her.
“They’re called The Conversation Cards, they’re meant to stimulate talking to each other,” she said.
“I can think of better stimulations, sweetheart.” He laughed.
She rolled her eyes and selected a card. “What’s the first thing you notice in a person?”
“Is there a point to this?”
She made a face at him. “It’s a game of sorts, allowing you to get to know things about the person you’re with,” she said. “It wouldn’t pain you to play along, would it?”
He took the card from her and looked at it. White and red, simple and sweet. The kind of thing teenagers might enjoy, and yet there was something very sweet about the hearts and red script. He shrugged.
“The first thing I noticed about you was your honesty,” he told her. “But that was in your letters. When we met, I noticed the light in your eyes. You were so alive and filled with passion.” He leaned forward and touched her cheek, his thumb tracing the curving slope. “You still don’t seem to understand how much beauty that can create in a woman, or how seductive it is to a man.”
“Is that what you always notice about a person?” She smiled, and waited.
She laughed. “We’ll leave it at that, I think,” she said with a wink. “Your turn to pick a card.” She handed him the deck, and watched him shuffle the cards.
He selected one and read it, “What is your most cherished possession?”
She gave it some serious thought and leaned on the back of the sofa, head resting against her hand. “I think that would be your heart, but I don’t think that’s the real question.”
He grinned. “Good answer, though.”
“If it’s material possessions, it would be the doll my dad gave me when I was four. I still have her, as you know.”
He nodded. “Yes, sitting in the middle of your bed, as I recall. I don’t think she approves of me.”
Laughter filled the space between them, and she hugged him. “She approves, trust me! It’s being tossed on the floor by you that upsets her,” she concluded with a wink.
Another card was drawn and she read it, then looked at him.
“Well?” he prompted.
“Live the Romance, Become the Fantasy…”
** Preditors & Editors Best Author 2012-2013 **
Fantasy Pages (general): http://www.fantasypages.ca
Bound By Passion (adult content): http://www.boundbypassion.ca
The gods of ancient Greece must find a mortal champion to defend their fate.
“Go and seek the one I have told you about, she is frail and in need of help. Look not of upper blood, for I have seen her down in the dirt. She is held against her will. Find her and you shall find your savior.” — The Oracle of Delphi
In ancient Greece the young maiden, Amarantha, is captured and sold in the slave market of Athens.
“What fates await?” she wonders. “And what divine design will the Olympian gods have for me?”
As unexpectedly as she had found herself placed in chains, Amarantha finds herself purchased by a mysterious master who refuses to reveal his true identity.
But he is no ordinary man, nor she an ordinary slave.
Under her master’s tutelage, Amarantha is trained as a fighter and challenged to prove herself in battle after battle until her skills are perfected and she is granted the right to know his true identity.
He is Ares, god of war and the son of Zeus. And she is to become Champion to the gods of Olympus; bound forever to serve and vanquish all foes until the gods themselves grant her peace.
But even gods are not immune to the fickle twists of fate, and Amarantha is soon ripped from her quiet resting place and cast through time itself to do battle with a modern day reincarnation of an old foe – a madman bent on rewriting history to suit his own twisted desire.
She must act quickly to win this battle, for the fate of all Olympian gods hangs in a delicate balance between immortality and the realization that even the gods themselves may be returned to the dust from which they arose.
Currently on special for the Holiday, check out an awesome review from Romance Junkies, and indulge in a time-spanning epic fantasy fit for the gods of Ancient Greece:
For anyone who would like to read the opening chapter from As Fate Decrees, it’s available here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/10537-as-fate-decrees
Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope your 2015 is off to an awesome start!! It’s going to be a great on, I think.
My newest best-seller is a sexy tale set in the Old West, with a heroine who is smart, savvy, and strong… and she things she’s happy in her life for the most part…. until Austin Standish walks into her world and changes her mind. Reviews for this one have been incredible, and if you have a fondness for slightly roguish heroes, I think you’ll love Austin. If you’d like to know more, and enter to win a very wild set of jewellery, drop by here and meet these wonderful characters: http://www.boundbypassion.ca/2015/01/fill-up-those-new-ereaders-prizes-and.html
If you liked meeting Austin and Chantille, please drop by the Preditors and Editors Poll and give them a vote for romance story! You can do that HERE!