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                                                    Shiloh Darke

Shiloh Darke

What to say about myself? Gee . . . I'm not sure. I'm a wife, a mother, and even a GRANDMOTHER . . . But call me MiMi!

I LOVE to tell stories! It is just about my favorite thing to do. Ever since I was a little girl, I've LOVED a good romance.

But not just ANY romance. No way! I have to have adventure, excitement, danger, thrills and chills as well. What's the point in just a regular old, PREDICTABLE romance? If I can tell halfway through the book what is going to happen, where's the fun in that?

As if you can't already tell, I love to read about as much as I love to write! I read romance, mystery, horror, fan fiction (Mostly Harry Potter or True Blood) and anything else that catches my eye.

I also write stories for younger readers age 14 and up; YA novels under the pen name of Rowan Shannigan. I'm working on my second novel in the first series I've started under that alias. Check it out at http://feeltheawareness.weebly.com if you are interested. Same CRAZY kind of stories, just a little less intense. If you don't try it, you don't know what you're missing!

I like movies, but I have to be in the mood for them. I'm sassy, stubborn, smart, silly and always wanting to know what people like or don't like about my stories! If you follow my blog, comments are LOVED! Actually, to tell the truth... if you ever contact me with questions, worries, or any kind of thoughts on my stories, you can rest assured, I will answer you. It may take me a few days. Sometimes it might even be a week. But I will always send you a response. Frankly because I believe not  torespond is just RUDE! And my Momma taught me to be a Proper Southern Lady.

Okay, so now you know more about me . . . Now, let's talk about you . . . What's YOUR fantasy?

WEBSITE: shilohdarkefantasies.weebly.com
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Shiloh_Darke1
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/shiloh.darke
MYSPACE: http://www.myspace.com/shiloh_darke   

At the website, be sure to join her newsletter to get the latest information on upcoming stories.
     Interview with Shiloh


Congratulations to Shiloh for being in the 2011 Preditors and Editors top ten Erotica Category for The Form of Eternity.
P&E Top ten 2011-Erotica

New Titles from Shiloh:

Titles in the Beauty's Stone Beast Series

 Rachel's Inheritance  Tarrah's Dream  Patricia's Desire  Alison's Deception



      Erotic Fantasy Romance:

 The Chosen Mate  Entity's Promise by Shiloh Darke  Sparrow's Release by Shiloh Darke  Tesla's Completion by Shiloh Darke  Masrissa's Surprise by Shiloh Darke  Kameeta's Pleasure by Shiloh Darke  Ocean's Portal by Shiloh Darke


    NOW AVAILABLE from The Order of Eternals Series:

The Eternal  Eternal Moon  Form of Eternity
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  WARNING: The books on this page contain graphic sexual scenes, Do NOT
  read if you are under 18.

Rachel's Inheritance

The most important people in Rachel's life have died. She's all alone in the world, but she's just inherited a castle in the south of France . . . A castle reputed to be home to a different kind of creatures—Gargoyles.

The stories her aunt told her of them were pure nonsense, of course. Rachel knew such creature couldn't possibly come to life only at night to give wings to a woman's desires. Those tales were just to fuel a young girl's flight of fancy. Weren't they?

But on her first night at the castle, Rachel dreams of one of the great beasts. He comes to her in her dreams as a man, leaving her breathless and doubtful come morning. A part of her aches for more, even as she tries to convince herself her experience was all only a dream.

                                                                                                 Excerpt

Word Count: 12,251                        Pages to Print: 51
File Format: PDF                            Price: $3.99

    

 

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Tarrah's Inheritance

    For centuries, Bastian, the second brother cursed to live as a Gargoyle, has wished for an end to his imprisonment, but no rescue has come. He has resigned himself to his fate. He even tells himself he doesn’t mind it, because, during the light of day for the past several years, he has discovered freedom in his dreams. In them, he has come to know, and love, a woman he believes, is too good to be real.

    Tarrah has been invited by her best friend, Rachel, to move to France for as long as she likes. Between working a job she hates for a boss she despises, and the fact she has always wanted to be in France, the decision is an easy one for her to make. Why? Because she just knows the man of her dreams is there. He’s just too good to be a figment of her imagination. Isn’t he?

    Neither realizes what fate has in store for them. Neither knows the test they must pass in order to be together. Will love prevail and give them the happy ending they desperately need and deserve? Or will the test prove to be too much for their fragile love?

                                                                                                    Excerpt

Word Count: 12,395                         Pages to Print: 53
File Format: PDF                              Price: $3.99

     

 

 

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The Chosen Mate

     The Magical world is in danger of extinction. As a way of battling this problem, the government has issued a mandate forcing every pure blood witch and wizard who are of the appropriate age and able to bear children, to marry another who is of pure blood. Clarissa, a young witch, just turned eighteen and has received her notification, along with a list of the wizards who have petitioned for her hand.

     Also tucked away within the notice is a charm. It will bring the one she is most likely to be able to find happiness with to her. Once she begins, the charm and its effects cannot be stopped. Will she use the charm, even if it will lead her into the arms of someone she doesn't want to marry?

                                                              Excerpt 

Word Count: 3,933                          Pages to Print: 18
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 The Eternal by Shiloh Darke

     Shameer and his brother Colin never wanted to be heroes. Cursed by a witch, Shameer suffers the bloodlust that only vampires know. His brother suffers a similar, yet different fate. Inducted into a collective known to precious few as The Order of Eternals, they try to use their abilities to protect the innocent.

     When he happens upon Jessica, Shameer experiences emotions he had long denied himself. Lost in her eyes, he yearns for a fate far different from the one he has accepted. Denying his heart and desires, he vows to walk away from her.

     But evil watches from the shadows. It creeps ever nearer, waiting for it's chance to devour and destroy the brothers. Avenging itself on those they love. Soon, they discover themselves fighting not only to find freedom from an old enemy. But also, to hold on to the loves that they have deemed, their destiny.

                                                                                 Excerpt 

Word Count: 89,518                      Pages to Print: 315
File Format: PDF                          Price: $5.99

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Eternal Moon by Shiloh Darke

Darmetheus has been alive for a very long time. A Werewolf Eternal, he's seen it all. Or so he thinks. But when he takes what he thinks is going to be a vacation from the daily hassle of fighting EVIL, he winds up in the fight of his life.

Lilith is a sassy, beautiful brunette with a secret talent. A talent that makes her a walking target. She’s more than eye candy to these immortal villains and they’re willing to kill in order to possess her.

But this enemy is no stranger to him and he is torn. The rebel in him wants to just walk away and leave Lilith to her fate. The hero in him won’t let him. Or is that his heart? 

                                                                                                 Excerpt

Word Count: 72,159                      Pages to Print: 270
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Eternal Moon by Shiloh Darke

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Patricia's Desire by Shiloh Darke 

A Love to Protect

    Corentin, the third brother cursed to live as a Gargoyle has given up on love. He knows not if it will ever come to him and he does not believe himself worthy of it.
    When Patricia flees an abusive boyfriend to find her way to her best friends, who have invited her to come to France, the last thing she expects is to find is love in the arms of a gentle giant.
    Amidst the painful memories from their pasts, they find a passion that consumes them from the beginning. It forces both of their reservations and fears to the side as love finds its way into not only their hearts, but their very souls.

                                                                                                 Excerpt

Word Count: 16,629                     Pages to Print: 53
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Entity's Promise by Shiloh Darke

Two reporters, Rosalie and Kendra, have been sent by their magazine to investigate a reportedly haunted mansion near the border of Louisiana in the swamps of East Texas. They arrive skeptical, but excited, at the opportunity. Almost immediately, they realize there is more to the old place than meets the eye.

                                                                                                 Excerpt

Word Count: 5200                        Pages to Print: 20
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The Form of Eternity by Shiloh Darke


 



Copper is a headstrong, fiery redhead with the power to move things with her mind and a distrust of anything male. She’s been hurt before and she doesn’t trust them not to hurt her again. She works hard to keep any man who may try to worm his way into her life at a distance.


When she meets Keltan, a Native American shape-shifting Eternal, she knows instinctively she will have to stay far, far away from him because just being near him makes fire coarse through her veins.

Keltan knows when he first sees Copper, she is the woman he’s meant to spend Eternity with. But he finds her resistance to his attempts to form a connection tormenting. Then, the choice to leave her to her solitude is taken from him as an ancient enemy to his ancestors decides to target the woman he loves.

Can she find a way to trust him? Can he prove to her the love they feel isn’t fleeting? More to the point, can they battle this evil without losing each other?
"This is a great story that has been published and does have trappings of adventure romance, struggle, mystery and best of all a great storyline that gives a long history of three hundred in a crisp and dynamic manner . . . It is Keltron's struggle to save Penny and all other humans as well."  ~Reader review on Writing.com                                                                                          Excerpt
Word Count: 71,000
Pages to Print:
219
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PDF
Price:
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The Form of Eternity by Shiloh Darke
ORDER THE FORM OF ETERNITY PRINT BOOK! (ISBN #978-1-61950-161-4)
   
Allison's Deception by Shiloh Darke














Dionde is the fourth and final brother to be plagued by the curse which damns him to be confined by the light of day in a stone prison, and a gray skinned beast with bat-like wings during the dead of night. His brothers have each found their freedom in the arms of their true loves, but he fears since he is the last, he will be forever doomed to remain as he is. When he rescues a young tourist, Allison, from a vampire, he feels his heart beat differently from the first moment he looks at her. Holding her in his arms, he knows she has always belonged there.

Allison was attacked and turned into a vampire before she even realized what was happening. Soon she discovers she is nothing more than a pawn in a darker game. She is bait for what Victor, her sire, truly desires: the Gargoyle. If she helps him get his desire, Victor will set her free, but soon, she discovers she can’t fight the attraction she feels for this beautiful, gentle beast. She knows to stay with him is to endanger him. Although her conscience demands she leave him before he can be hurt, she finds herself feeling a love she never believed possible.

Dionde and Allison have both surrendered to the idea of never finding anything better than the miserable lots they’ve been dealt. Now fate has stepped in and given them a love that will last throughout eternity. But will they embrace that love, or will they turn from it and risk losing what they have forever?
 
                                                                                         Excerpt
Word Count: 18,000
Pages to Print:
60
File Format:
PDF
Price:
$3.99
 
      


 

Sparrow's Release by Shiloh Darke







Sparrow is a street-smart, savvy cop. No . . . scratch that. She just made Detective. She's strong, self-assured, and fairly satisfied with where she's going in life. Her only sadness is the longing for family. But then, her life suddenly changes in the middle of the night when she gets unexpected company. She's heard stories of Alien abductions. She gives in to it fairly easily. She'll be back in bed by morning with no memory of it anyway, right?

Navar is a ruler of a world very similar to Earth. For some time now, he has been watching the women of his race die off unexpectedly or become barren. He is a just and fair King. He would never, under normal circumstances, take part in the trafficking of women from another world. But, his people are beginning to suffer and desperate times call for desperate measures.

                                                                                   Excerpt
Word Count: 11271
Pages to Print: 40
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
      

   
Tesla's Completion by Shiloh Darke 





All her life, Tesla has wished on stars and hoped her true love would find her, but when she left work that night, the last thing she expected was to get swept up and taken from everything she knew, only to be sold at auction as a slave to a man belonging to a race so similar to hers, yet so different. The loincloth was just one thing that gave it away she was nowhere near Earth! But how does she really know what she feels is real?

Dhorak is the Captain of the Guard. He is strong, merciless in battle, yet patient and kind in every way when it comes to Tesla. He yearns to take her in his arms and force her to give in to what she feels. But he knows he must tread softly. Can he convince her to trust in what he already knows is real?

                                                                            Excerpt
Word Count: 17200
Pages to Print: 54
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99 
 
     

 
   
Marissa's Surprise by Shiloh Darke


The first time Marissa saw him, she was training for the Olympics in the depths of the Sea. He was there for a moment, then she lost sight of him when he vanished beneath the waves.

Two years later, she has suffered some losses and is only beginning to refocus on her goals. Thoughts of her fleeting meeting with the man from the water still haunt her. When she’s abducted by an alien, she is illogically worried she may never see him again. Little does she know, he’s not from the ocean; he isn’t even from Earth.

                                                                                           Excerpt
Word Count: 18600
Pages to Print: 59
File Format: PDF
Price: $ 3.99
 
       

Kameeta's Pleasure by Shiloh Darke






 
Kameeta has had a hard life. She has loved and lost. She knows how to pick herself up and dust herself off and start over. She’s had to do it enough times. Why should now be any different? At least, that was what she told herself the night she closed the doors of the Women’s and Children’s Shelter.

What she wasn’t expecting was to wake up on a space ship. She didn’t expect to be injected with language Nanos. And what the hell was with the sex bot who suddenly wanted a kiss?

Tehklan is a warrior in charge of his world’s security. He has waited for the time when he could choose his bride. Now, knowing that Kameeta is his, he works very hard to prove to her that her dreams of a happy life can come true; even if it isn’t on Earth.

                                                                                        Excerpt
Word Count: 13400
Pages to Print: 43
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99 

          



Ocean's Portal by Shiloh Darke



Danielle is a successful author. She has been writing about a man from myth and legend for so long, she has very nearly let herself believe he is real. But she knows better. Dream lovers are just that—dreams.

When one day, she’s brought face to face with Sorna and is forced to rethink that theory, he is everything she has dreamed him to be, complete with tail. But his discovery as well as his link to her threatens both of them. Can they escape the clutches of those who would destroy them? Even if they do, will Danielle ever find her way back to her normal life? Will she even want to?

                                                                                                               Excerpt
Word Count: 30140
Pages to Print: 99
File Format: PDF
Price: $3.99
 
      


   
   
   
   

Excerpts:

Rachel's Inheritance

    She slept so peacefully. Arthmael watched her in silence from the balcony. He had broken free of the stone that held him the moment the sun had set. The very beat of her heart had tormented him from the moment she had entered the manor.

    Shrinking from his stone size to that of the man he had been before the curse he now shared with his three brothers, he moved to stand on the balcony. He looked completely normal now, aside from the pale color of his skin and the huge black wings protruding from his back. Wrapping them around himself, he looked almost like he was wearing a black cloak.

    His first thought had been of her. Seeing her. He remembered the beauty of the girl who had visited all those years ago, when she was but a child. He had kept his distance then. He scowled inwardly. He should keep his distance now.

    Now, he stared at the beauty within the bed. Long, brunette hair fell across the pillow as she slumbered, unaware of his presence. Her lips were slightly parted. Her chest rose and fell with each rhythmic breath she took.

    His heart sped up as he considered going to her and invading her dreams with soft touches and whispered words of love, spoken in passion. He could give her such dreams. Glancing up, he watched as his brothers flew out across the night sky. They knew that Geraldine had intended Rachel for him. They would not interfere.

    In exchange for the love he could receive from her in her dreams, he'd be her hidden protector. She need never know he was real. He would not interfere in her waking life. He only wanted a small piece of her dreams.

    Unable to deny himself any longer, he stepped up beside her bed and watched her closely for several minutes. The one pleasure he received was when he could enter into another's dreams and explore their fantasies with them.

    Kneeling, he ran his forefinger across her cheek, pushing back a stray hair as he went. When he wiped her brow, he took a deep breath, releasing it as he pressed his thumb over the center of her forehead. Closing his eyes, he slipped easily into her dreams . . .            Back to Rachel's Inheritance

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Tarrah's Dream 

    The night was clear. A light breeze feathered her hair away from her face as she stood on the balcony. Her eyes searched the darkness, looking for some sign of the lover she knew would come. He always came.

    For what seemed an eternity, he didn't show. She moved closer to the railing of the balcony and looked over the edge. The tower was too tall for him to climb its steep walls. She wondered briefly exactly where he did come from on those nights when he came to her.

    She was so lost in her own thoughts as she stared out into the darkness, he caught her by surprise when his arms closed around her from behind. Gasping, she started to struggle before his voice stilled her.

    "Ma Belle, you have nothing to fear from me. I want only to be near you. To feel you during this time, when we can be together before the dawn."

    Closing her eyes, she relaxed into him, her back pressed against his chest. "Why must you leave me in the dawn? Could we not share the sunrise together?"

    A deep chuckle escaped him. "You must wake up, Cherie. And I must return to my place as well."

    Confusion wrinkled her brows. "Where? Where must you go?" When she started to turn, he stopped her gently, but firmly.

    "That is unimportant," he answered softly. "What is important is what we do with this limited time we have." His hands began to move gently over her, opening the robe she wore.

    Tarrah's breath caught in her throat when she felt the warmth of his palm touch the soft underside of her breast. She moaned at the sensation as his forefinger rubbed across the tightening skin of her nipple.

    He groaned in response as he caressed the skin on her belly with his other hand; his fingers slid through her nether lips to tease her clit. His touch sent shivers spiraling through her.

   "Come for me, Mon Amour . . . let me hear you cry out for me." As he spoke, his finger rubbed fast across the tender flesh of her nub, making her writhe in his embrace and try to inch closer into the touch.      Back to Tarrah's Dream

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Chosen Mate

    Clarissa dropped the parchment and began to cry in earnest. She wouldn't be in this mess, had Lewis lived. He had promised her the year before if such a law should be enacted, he would petition for her.

    Her heart broke at Xavier's gesture. He was in love with a woman who had refused his proposal the year before. Clarissa knew he loved her still. But, he had stepped up and offered to make good on Lewis' promise. She was grateful, but couldn't see herself married to a man who worked with dragons when they could turn so easily. As good as he was with them, she knew eventually the beasts would make her a widow prematurely.

    Randolf's offer was also one made out of sympathy. He had first believed, because of his werewolf status, he would be ineligible. However, the Ministry had made it clear his condition was not seen as too terribly important. He had been informed as long as he and his chosen wife did not consummate their union during the active phases of the moon, any child they had would be unharmed by his curse.

    Clarissa smiled sadly as she considered Randolf. He was her friend. She did love him, but she did not think she could ever bring herself to be intimate with him. It would have been almost like shagging Lewis' dad. Besides, she didn't want to ruin his chances to find true love and happiness.

    Scanning the remaining names, she sighed. Daniel had petitioned for her only at the request of Father. He had no desire to marry her, much less have children with her. She was sure of that much.       Back to Chosen Mate

 

The Eternal

    Standing in front of the mirror, Jessica wet her hands in the sink, and then used one to dampen her forehead and the back of her neck. When she stood again to her full height, she stared into the mirror's depths, close to tears. It's just in my head, it is just my imagination, she told herself. This was not one of her premonitions! She was just imagining things from that crazy dream. He just resembled the man in her dreams. That wasn't Shameer. It couldn't have been. There was no way humanly possible. Shameer was a vampire, and vampires didn't exist.

    " There is no reason for you to act so stupid,"  she scolded herself aloud. " He's just another pretty face."  he nodded at her reflection in the mirror, trying to believe what she said. " Yeah, that's it. Just another completely, surreally gorgeous man, probably out looking to get laid."

    " Excuse me?"  the deep, slightly accented voice said to her, touching her soul like a gentle breeze, but shocking her nonetheless. She turned so fast she lost her balance and would have slipped on the hard floor, had his hands not caught and steadied her.

    He held her, remaining close to her even after she had regained her footing. Once again, they looked into each other's eyes, feelings rushed unbidden between them. " My dear, are you all right?"  he asked softly, holding her to him, almost as though afraid to let her go.

    She flicked her tongue across her dry lips as she nodded, afraid to attempt speech. Unexpected heat coiled through her as she stood locked in his arms. Images of her dream floated once more through her mind. They moved through her like a whirlwind, turning into a shudder. Her breath escaped her as she felt his hand running through her hair.

    Longing filled her at the feel of his other hand touching her cheek. She tilted her head back, closing her eyes.

    His eyes moved to the exposed column of her neck. The vein pulsed, open to him. He could take her; it would be easy; he could feel the beating of her heart like a drum with his own. It would be so easy.

    He gently leaned toward her and placed a soft kiss at the base of her throat, before turning and mumbling a hasty, " I'm sorry,"  as he moved away from her and back through the doorway of the lavatory, leaving her once again, alone.

    Opening her eyes, she stared at the empty doorway, confused, surprised―and disappointed; so terribly disappointed. Her hand went to the spot on her throat where he had kissed her. She felt the pulse beneath her fingers. Shaking her head, she looked back at her reflection, eyes going to her neck, checking. " Oh, now I know I am crazy,"  she said to the mirror, cursing at herself for being so stupid.        Back to The Eternal

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Eternal Moon

    "  No. I don't think they're targeting me,"  she lied. "  I just think that these guys are taking girls that are psychically talented."  She shrugged before continuing, "  I can easily hide my gift. It isn't very noticeable. I just wouldn't want to lead anyone to you if there were any of them watching me. You know?"  Penny scoffed on the other end. "  I don't do my talent openly!"

    Lilith chuckled softly at that, "  Yeah, but you don't not do it in the privacy of your own home, either."  she sighed. "  I'm just not willing to take the risk, okay?"

    Penny groaned. "  Okay, all right. But listen, you have to promise me that you will get your ass out here if matters get worse. Okay? There is safety in numbers. Got it?"

    Just as Lilith opened her mouth to answer, she saw a wolf run into the safety of her yard. That wasn't not possible! Surely one of those damn things hadn't found a way through the magical barrier she'd worked so hard to put into place.

    Flipping the light switch in the kitchen off, she stood in the darkness weighing her options. A clearing throat on the other end of the phone line reminded her that her friend was still there.

    "  Penny, I promise, okay? Now let me let you go before we run up the phone bill so much we can't talk again this month! I love you, bye!"  As she hung up the phone, she watched the wolf shift into human form before her eyes. When he made for the front door of her cottage, she cursed, running into the hall. Grabbing her shotgun, she prepared herself for whatever was about to take place.

 ****

    Soon he reached what he'd been seeking, an old abandoned cottage. Enough human scents lingered around the old house that maybe it would throw that thing off of his trail. Glancing around, he looked for some sign of the beast. When he found he was indeed alone, he let go of his hold on the wolf's form and became a man.

    Moving quickly, he stepped into the cottage he'd known would be here, thankful he'd not forgotten the way. When he closed the door, he heard a shocked intake of breath. He pivoted toward the sound and found a dark-haired woman with startling blue eyes and a rifle aimed at his head. "  So, tell me,"  she spoke slowly. "  Did a thief steal your clothes, or did you shed them to become one of those things outside?"

    Darmetheus faced her with wide eyes. Raising his hands in a gesture of surrender, he spoke softly. "  You are safe, okay? I am not one of those things."

    The girl gave an exasperated laugh with a roll of her eyes. "  Yeah . . . and I'm Santa Claus' cousin."

    Darmetheus couldn't stop himself. "  Merry Christmas,"  he said in a low voice. His eyes never left hers. He could take the gun from her in mere seconds, but that would only alarm her more. So instead, he stood stock still and tried to reason with her. "  Come on, think about it. I was riding my bike through town. Those things jumped me and I ran."

    The girl stepped out of the shadows and closer to him, giving him a better view of her stunning looks. She was short. No more than five-foot, two with long black hair and eyes that looked like a clear sky in winter. "  Really? Then where are your clothes?"

    He would have been completely mesmerized by her looks if he hadn't found himself staring down the barrel of her shotgun. Yeah, idiot! Lie your way out of that one! Darmetheus winced at the thought. "I took them off. A piece here, a piece there, trying to scatter my scent."

    Indecision seemed to cloud her crystal blue eyes for a moment before she lowered the gun slightly. "  You swear to me, you aren't one of those things?"

    He nodded. "  Yes. I swear. I was just passing through. I would have gone a different way if I'd known there were rabid dogs out and about."

    Shivering at the thought, she whispered, "  Those things aren't dogs. They aren't even wolves." Lowering her shotgun, she moved to the closet and pulled out a large t-shirt, and a pair of sweats. "  This might fit you, I guess."

    He caught the clothes she tossed at him and looked at the bright pink t-shirt with disdain. "  Do you have anything a little less . . . feminine?"

    Snickering, she rolled her eyes for the second time since they'd met. "  Not that would fit you, I don't."  She said, looking his masculine frame over. "  You're huge!"  She sat the gun down in the corner and moved to lock the door. "  I'm Lilith. My father bought this cottage when I was little. I moved in when all the crazy things started happening in town."

    Darmetheus quirked an eyebrow at her. "  But, why wouldn't you just stay in town? Isn't it safer there?"  Lilith shook her head. "  No. Those things aren't intimidated by locked doors, or silver . . . or much of anything else, for that matter. They'll come right into your home and steal you from your bed. The only people that don't seem to be too bothered are the ones who don't live in town."

    He frowned. "  Well, that's weird."                    Back to Eternal Moon

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Patricia's Desire

   Corentin stood on the balcony, watching the night draw slowly to a close with a mixture of irritation and boredom. He felt restless and worried. Something was about to happen. He could feel it. Even the air was thick with a kind of anticipation.
   He huffed out a sigh and crossed his arms over his massive chest. His long ebony hair swung when he shook his head in disgust. He hated not knowing exactly what was about to happen. It turned him into a man even his own brothers would avoid.
   From the day the brothers were cursed to be Gargoyles, Corentin had felt himself becoming different from the others. They were all cursed the same way. But, he had found in time that his intuition became more than what the others experienced.
   When he felt something shift in his surroundings, it usually meant change was upon them. Corentin did not like change. It was usually never a good thing, and it would always make their lives even harder to bear. When the women had come, for once, the moment was positive.
   He had felt Rachel’s coming. He had been happy for Arthmael. His brother deserved every happiness. When Tarrah had come, he knew her to belong to Bastian. Again, he had felt a joy for his brother. He had been a little resentful, but not enough to be negative in the face of their happiness.
Feeling a presence behind him, he turned to find his brother Arthmael watching him with a furrowed brow. For several moments, they simply stared at each other before he groaned irritably, “What, brother? What is it that tears you away from your lovely woman’s side to come to me?”
   Arthmael took a deep breath, and stepped closer to his brother. “I need to prepare you. A friend of Tarrah and Rachel’s is coming. She will be here sometime in the morning, and I don’t want you caught unaware.”
   Turning, Corentin stared out into the darkness to keep himself from revealing his distress to his brother. “I take it she is to be brought to my tower?”
   Arthmael said nothing. When Corentin turned back to face him again, he offered him a slow nod before he explained, “Her name is Patricia. I think the girls are hoping she will be the one to break your curse.”
   Corentin couldn’t stop himself from barking out a sarcastic laugh. “Right! She’ll get a glimpse at my temper and run for her life! If she doesn’t die of fright before she can move.”
   Arthmael chuckled before answering, “Well, then perhaps now would be a good time to stop acting like an ogre.” He tilted his head, looking Corentin up and down for a moment before adding, “You used to be quite charming, long ago.”
   Both men fell silent as Corentin replayed the memory of his betroth’s reaction to his fate in the back of his mind. “Before Lyssa broke you.” His brother spoke softly, and then glanced toward the slowly rising sun. “I’m sure, deep down, you still know how to be.”
   Growling, Corentin turned toward the coming dawn. He hated to be reminded of the woman who had destroyed his heart. Even after all these centuries had past, he was still haunted by her betrayal. “Go to your woman, brother. I promise I won’t eat her guest.”
   As the two of them regarded each other, they were distracted  by Dionde landing on his own tower and moving into his position as the sun began to rise.
   Corentin nodded in Dionde’s direction and spoke, “Perhaps, instead of worrying over my lack of manners, you should inquire as to what is taking so much of Dionde’s nights. He comes home later and later each dawn.”
Arthmael looked at Dionde, agreeing with a nod before turning back to his other sibling. He smiled sadly and watched as his brother grew in size and took his position on the edge of the tower. As the sun peaked over the horizon, Corentin became the hard, cold stone that he always warned others was the flesh of his heart. Arthmael knew different. After all, his was the same imprisonment he himself had once endured.
 
 
   She’d missed her plane. She was supposed to have been on it at two o’clock that afternoon. Drawing a shaky breath, she gritted her teeth when her muscles around her stomach rebelled. Her head pounded and one eye was swollen shut. Her entire body felt like she’d been in a car crash.
   Turning her head ever so slowly, she breathed a soft sigh of relief when she saw that David was indeed sleeping. Sliding from the bed onto the floor, Patricia sat there for a moment and collected herself, breathing through the pain as she looked at the dark bruises already forming on her body.
   Rising, she peered over the mattress at his still form. David was a sound sleeper, but even so, she didn’t want to chance what would happen if he awoke. Getting onto her hands and knees, she crawled toward the closet. It was big, with plenty of space for her to stand inside and stay mostly out of his sight, were he to wake while she was trying to dress.
   Slowly, she pulled a soft cotton dress off of the hanger and slid it over her head and down over sore muscles, already turning angry colors of deep purple and blue. The movement made her wince.
   She didn’t even care that she was wearing no underclothes. All that mattered was getting to the airport and onto the next available flight. She knew that. She had hidden her passport and cell phone the night before so he couldn’t destroy them and make it impossible for her to leave.
   When she moved out of the closet, David was still sleeping, and she held her breath as she tip-toed past the bed and bent to pick up the suitcase and duffel bag she had packed. Glancing back at him, she backed slowly out the bedroom door and down the hall.
   Her eyes never left him as she watched for any sign of his awakening. When she got to the end of the hallway, she turned and ran. As fast as she could, she raced out the front door he’d left standing open and down the drive to her little Volkswagen bug.
   Throwing her bags in the back seat, she slid into the front and pulled the keys out of the small box she had hidden under the seat. Inside it were her passport, a thousand dollars she’d been saving for the day she could escape, and her social security card. Turning the key in the ignition with shaking hands, she sobbed her relief when the engine fired up, and threw the car into drive so fast her tires squealed when she pulled away from the curb.
   Speeding down the street, she looked back to see David running down the middle of the street, with only his jeans on, screaming obscenities after her. Throwing her car into a higher gear, she sped faster away from the man she had come to know as her own personal nightmare. Grabbing her sunglasses, she put them on and turned the mirror to look at her face.
   There would be no hiding the bruises. They were already covering half of her jaw and most of the side of her face. Giving in to the tears she felt sliding down her cheeks, she tried to tell herself she didn’t look quite as bad as a prize fighter after ten rounds.
   As she made her way to the airport, she hoped there would be no questions. She just couldn’t handle them on top of everything else. This was all just too much. These last years had made her old and miserable. She wondered if she’d ever find her way back to who she once was. Moreover, was there any going back? Could she ever trust again?
   Her tears turned angry as they traveled down her cheeks. She thought of all this time she had wasted on a man who not only drilled into her head every day how much he despised her, but made her hate herself as well. She hated who she was, she hated who she had become and she wanted nothing more than to escape.
   Pulling into the airport parking lot, she parked her car and rose from it awkwardly. She was stiff and her muscles ached. Grabbing her bags, she moved as swiftly as she could under the circumstances to the entrance with a nervous glance over her shoulder. Would he follow her? She didn’t put anything past him at this point.  She prayed silently that she would be lucky enough to be in the air before he arrived. If he showed up, he would cause hell.
   Of course, nothing would deter her from getting on that plane. If she was lucky enough for there to be another flight that wasn’t booked solid. Then she would be able to put this place and that man behind her.
   Moving to the desk, she smiled at the attendant, careful to keep her hair over the side of her face that was the most bruised. “Hello. I―uh―I’m sorry, but my name is Patricia Neese. I was supposed to be on the noon flight to Paris, but I was unavoidably detained.” She sighed. “Is there a chance you have another flight out today?”
   The lady behind the counter smiled at her and pulled something up on the computer. “Ah, yes, of course. Miss Neese. Your flight has been delayed. There was a problem with the plane, but there is another on the way. If you go ahead and check your luggage, you will be in time for your flight. Departure isn’t until three thirty this afternoon.” She glanced at the clock behind Patricia. “That gives you another forty-five minutes.”
   “Isn’t that wonderful, dear?” The relief she had been feeling went suddenly flat at the deep voice that closed in on her at that moment. She felt the color drain from her face at his next words. “Now we won’t miss our honeymoon after all.”
   Closing her eyes, Patricia tried to calm her racing heart. “David, this is not our honeymoon.” she said softly. “I’m leaving.”
   He chuckled, wrapping his arm tightly around her, and throwing the attendant a charming smile. “She’s such a kidder. We just got married and this trip is our honeymoon.”
   The attendant raised an eyebrow at him and looked to the computer screen. “That’s funny.” she answered. “There is no ticket for a companion for Miss Neese.” she looked closely at the man, before glancing back at Patricia. “Perhaps you have mistaken the lady here for your punching bag?”
   David growled and slammed his hand on the counter. “You bitch! How dare you? I’ll have you know you have no right to speak to me like this!”
   The attendant motioned to a guard standing near the door. A big burly man who resembled a young Lou Ferigno moved swiftly to their side. “Is there a problem?”                                  
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Entity's Promise

    The two specters sat on the roof of the old house, watching the road. It was a lazy day with a gentle breeze blowing, and both souls enjoyed watching it rustle the leaves in the trees. The scene was relaxing.
    Connor turned to Gavin. “You are sure the ladies are comin’ today?”
    Without even glancing in the other ghost’s direction, Gavin nodded. “Ya, today is the day they should be arrivin’. I heard the old man make the reservation myself.”
    The other spirit looked back toward the road. “Do ya think it’ll be  them?”
    That brought Gavin’s head up. “I do no’ know if the other one is meant for you. But I heard the voice of the one who made the reservation. I felt her soul callin’ ta mine. She is meant for me.”
    Connor opened his mouth to ask yet another question, but stopped when Gavin held up his hand, then pointed toward the road. The women were coming.

 
ARRIVAL
 
    Kensington Cross stood in glorious splendor against the backdrop of the swamp. Located outside of the town of Jefferson, near the edge of the Louisiana border, it stood proud amongst the pines of the forest. The two women pulled into the small but empty parking lot with expressions of open-mouthed awe at the sight before them. It reminded them of an old Southern plantation mansion, even though it was surrounded on all four sides with forest.
    Sharing a happy look and a giggle of excitement, they grabbed their luggage and headed in to the old home to check in and get started. As excited as they were, this trip was not for fun. It was research. Kensington Cross was supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Texas. The story would fit into the Texas history magazine perfectly for the next issue.
Rosalie had brought her trusty camera with the night vision on it in hopes of catching something on film, while Kendra was looking forward to finding the motivation to write one of the best stories she could come up with while they were here. Of course, she was also hoping to  indulge her whim to begin her first novel. They were here for a week; longer if they found anything.
    After they checked in, the elderly innkeeper led the two women through the deserted inn, speaking animatedly about the history of the place. “Kensington Cross was built in the early eighteenth century. Originally, it was owned by an ancestor of mine. He built it for his betrothed as a wedding gift. During the civil war, it was a refuge to many a soldier, as well as slaves who needed aid.” He gave the women a hesitant glance. “Of course, neither one knew about the other. They had to be very careful back then. It wouldn’t have served to have our home taken from us for playing both sides. Soldiers were housed here. Runaway slaves were given sanctuary in the basement.”
    He sighed and ran his fingers through his silver hair before changing the subject. “My family redesigned it when I was just a child to serve as a bed and breakfast before the second World War.”
    Kendra found herself fascinated with his story. Unable to stop herself, she asked, “Did anyone in your family keep any records?” She hesitated before adding, “A journal, perhaps?”
    He watched her closely for a few moments before giving her a wink. “If we had such things, I can assure you, we would only be sharing them with the most trustworthy individuals . . .” he raised an eyebrow and pressed a finger to his lips before adding, “If one or two such journals made their way into your possession, I’m sure I would have no idea how.”
    Rosalie smirked, biting her lip. “I’m sure we would be very discreet with anything we found.”
    “Our home has had its share of ups and downs over the years. There were a few times when we  were afraid we would lose it.” As he led them up the spiraling staircase, he gestured around at the paintings that spanned the generations more than two centuries of. “However, as you can see, we have stood the test of time.”
    The two women, Rosalie, and Kendra, both followed his gestures with their eyes. “I can see the place has been kept up beautifully.” Rosalie offered with a friendly smile.
    The gentleman inclined his head in gracious acceptance of her praise, taking in her dancing green eyes and long auburn hair. “Of course, the establishment is almost an empty shell during this part of the year,” he explained with a smile. “You ladies will have the whole place to yourselves. Aside from us, that is.” He sighed after a moment, adding under his breath, “And the ghosts.”
    “Ghosts?” Kendra repeated in question. “How many? Do you know?”
     The kindly elder just answered, “Oh, we have many ghosts here. If they be wanting you to know of their existence . . . you can bet, they’ll be dropping in to say hello.” His eyes sparkled as he offered the brunette a mischievous smile.
    Kendra and Rosalie exchanged a look but held their silence as the innkeeper handed them each a key. This is your floor. Your rooms are right across the hall from each other.” He pointed to the room between them, “This bathroom is shared between you. If you lock this outer door, it can be accessed from your rooms and you won’t have to worry about strangers surprising you.”
    Thanking him, Rosalie and Kendra shared a smile. When Rosalie turned and went into her room, Kendra looked down the hall, feeling a strange sense of being watched. Brushing the feeling off, she opened the door and entered into her room as well. 
                                 Back to Entity's Promise

 

The Form of Eternity
Prologue
Spring of 1630

The youth secured his bow and arrows to his back and took off at a slow trot up the side of the mountain. His father had escorted him to the edge of the mountain, as was the tradition of his tribe for becoming a man.

He was a half-breed. His father was a Shaman to their people, but his mother was Scottish. He had two names, Keltan, from his mother, and Elohi-Ayagi, from his father. He had often wondered why his parents had decided upon two names with such similar meanings; both the equivalent of warrior. But he liked both, so he never complained.

He paused, looking again at the remaining distance he had to go to reach the top. Once at the summit, he would make camp and prepare himself for his quest. He would be on the top of the mountain for one week.

During that time, he would search for the meaning of his existence. He was determined to discover his destiny on his quest, and that destiny would be to accomplish something truly important, which would bring him the acceptance of his tribe.

Clenching his jaw, he continued up the mountain with renewed purpose. If his quest proved fruitful, he would be known to them, not as a half-breed, but as a highly respected member of the tribe! He would know their respect, not their scorn. They had never been cruel to him, but he had not fit in as well as he would have wished.

His parents both loved him, and they were accepted, although the tribe looked at Heather as an outsider, a limitation to his father. She was not truly recognized as one of them until she had been among them for many years. Keltan had nothing but admiration and respect for his mother. She was a brave and wonderful woman. He felt pride in having her blood.

When he finally reached the steepest incline, he pulled himself to safety and looked around. He found himself in a cave, and it was perfect. The entrance was huge and dark. He could safely camp here and watch for beasts each night as he waited for the visions that would foretell his destiny.

Standing, he moved to gather some fallen branches from a tree growing on the side of the cliff. He would use them to build his fire for warmth, and eat some of the rations his father had allowed him to take for his first night. Starting tomorrow, he would have to begin fasting for the remainder of his quest. He had spent the previous two evenings within the sweat lodge in preparation of the coming days. His first vision had begun then.

It had been a simple, but strong vision, one of watching an Eagle soar in the early morning sky. The majestic bird looked down upon him with keen interest, and he had felt an overwhelming desire to be one with the creature. Then, suddenly he was the bird. Or he was a part of the bird. Flying with the massive creature and feeling for the first time in his life he had finally become whole.

The vision was just the beginning. When he reported it to his father, the Shaman made arrangements to escort him to the edge of the mountain. Now, the outcome of this vision quest would mark the beginning of the rest of his life.

After he had a decent fire burning, he unrolled his pallet and settled it on the ground. He ate his rations before lying down to take his rest. He would rise before dawn the coming morning. Tomorrow would be the day he began working to prove he was now a man.

Later, as he slept, the Spirits of the animal energy within him gathered around him. Dragon, Wolf, Eagle and Leopard all kept vigil, waiting for him to awaken.

Slowly, he opened his eyes as he lay there, staring blankly at the creatures around him for several seconds. As he blinked the sleep out of his eyes, he realized he was truly awake and no longer dreaming.

Panic assailed him as he rose and looked frantically for his weapons. They lay there beside his makeshift bed. Grabbing the knife, he held it tight as he jumped to his feet, ready to fend off the first predator.

Each animal watched him with a mixture of mirth and tolerance shining on its face. They each regarded him with intelligent eyes, but Dragon spoke to him.

“Do you really think if we wanted your flesh to feast upon a mere blade would deter us?” He chuckled, shaking his head at the humorous situation. The other animals seemed to join in his laughter, which only served to infuriate and confuse Keltan more.

“What is it you want of me?” he demanded in a voice still in the process of making the change from child to adult. He tried to seem intimidating. Instead his voice cracked.

Leopard answered in a soft, almost seductive voice, “You have sent up your prayers to discover your destiny, young Keltan.” She blinked once. “We have answered.”

Perplexed and intrigued, Keltan slowly lowered his meager weapon. “Are you my Spirit guides?” Perhaps this was what he’d come searching for.

Eagle ruffled his feathers. “Well, of course, we are. We are also a part of your destiny.”

The boy sank back onto his pallet and looked around at each of the majestic animals surrounding him. They each looked at him with intelligent, friendly eyes. He felt somewhat embarrassed that he flew into defense without even waiting to see if any of them was planning to attack him.

Lowering his head, he offered softly, “I am sorry for not knowing why you were here.”

Dragon spoke again at that moment, “Child, you have no reason to apologize. If I had been sleeping and had awakened to find such an array of dangerous creatures surrounding me, I would have felt threatened and intimidated as well.”

The beautiful Wolf, who sat closest to him, spoke next. “Your reaction is understandable and forgiven, young one.”

Keltan turned to stare at her and was entranced by her eyes, the color of the sky when the sun was high. He was completely amazed. Never had he seen a Wolf with such eyes. Their beauty was stunning.

She seemed to smile at him then. “We shall be close as we each guide you through your journey to manhood.”

Dragon spoke again, drawing Keltan’s attention to him. “We are here with you because you are special, my young friend. Where most of your people may have one or two Spirit guides, you have all four of us. We are the representatives of the energy within you.”

Keltan found himself drawn into Dragon’s words. He listened as the Spirit told him of what he was to be, and the powers he would have. The longer Dragon spoke, the bigger the young man’s eyes became.

When at last they fell silent, he questioned them. “Me, a shape-shifter? But how? The stories of our tribe tell there hasn’t been one of those born to us in many years. My father said the last one was his great, great-grandfather. Why me? Why after all this time?”

Dragon smiled and leaned down, breathing his essence into the boy. Each Spirit animal followed as they became one with the youth who had been sitting among them as a boy, but would leave the mountain a man.

Keltan looked around, realizing he was alone now on the mountain. But he knew he wasn’t truly alone. As the truth of it became evident, he heard the whisper of Dragon in his very soul. “Because it is your destiny . . .”

One

Summer of 2011

The Spirit flew through the night, traveling with ease over the valley, unseen by the human eye. It moved as a dark cloud would over the land, building in size as it pressed ever closer to its goal.

When it neared the ancient Cherokee burial ground, it assumed a more tangible form, becoming shadow and continuing toward a specific grave, belonging to one particular Shaman. Many wards and warnings protected his resting place. However, the magic of mortals was no threat to the Spirit, which moved past them with no difficulty at all.

The Shaman was a thing of legend. He was a kind soul in his youth. His people believed he would be a great man; a leader among his tribe. He was a truly powerful figure among his people.

He’d fulfilled the hopes of his tribe in many ways, until a certain event changed his entire outlook on life. No record was kept of what changed him, so it was no longer remembered after so many years. Desolate and inconsolable, he turned to dark Spirits, taboo and forbidden among his tribe.

They answered his calls, and the powers those Spirits gifted him with appealed to his darker nature, making him power-hungry and sick with an ever-growing evil within his soul. He began to have a taste for evil. He enjoyed torturing creatures weaker than himself. Many women of the tribe learned he could not be trusted if they were alone.

But still, the tribe was blind to his evil habits and appetites, until he attempted to sacrifice a newborn to dark gods not among the ones they worshiped. They were unable to exact justice on him for his crimes, for they feared his insanity. If they had only known the depths of his crimes, they would have burned his ashes to dust, making his return impossible.

Instead, he was always guarded and treated with the reverence of the insane, for in those days, they were always treated with respect. Such people were believed to be touched by the gods.             Back to The Form of Eternity
 
Allison's Deception

Prologue

Dionde stretched slowly as the sun fell below the horizon. He felt the stone encasing his form break and drop away from his slate gray skin. His long platinum hair fell in ripples past his waist as he shook himself free of the stone that had been his prison during the daylight hours.

Unlike his brothers, who had tendencies to braid their hair, Dionde preferred to wear his loose and free. They could bind their hair all they wished, but he had enough boundaries and limitations during the daylight when he was encased in stone. At night, when he was free, every inch of him ached to remain unencumbered.

Glancing at his brother Corentin, Dionde sighed. The woman who was meant for him had arrived earlier that week. He had sensed her even through his sleep, if it could be called such. Dionde wondered if he ever truly knew sleep. Even inside the stone prison, his mind was always working.

He could hear conversations throughout the castle. He had known before Corentin did that Patricia was coming. He had felt within his very soul that she would be the one to set his brother free. He knew soon he would be the only one left of his brothers to bear this curse.

The realization made him melancholy. To be the only one bound to the night as he was—as they all had once been—was not something he relished. It burdened his heart and worried him.

As they were freed from their Gargoyle fate, he believed they were now Mortal; simple men who would age and eventually die. He couldn’t help being curious as to what his eternal life would entail without them if he himself was never given release.

As he and Corentin faced each other, he bit back his resentment and depression, offering a carefree smile and a wave before turning to take to the sky and closing his heart to the possibility of surviving centuries alone in a life without his brothers.

But he would not focus on his fears just yet. No, the truth was he had many years with them still. If they had children, he would have nieces and nephews to care for over the centuries.

The night was clear and beautiful. As his wings carried him farther and farther from his home and closer to the streets of Paris, he felt his dark mood give way to elation as he let go of his worries for the time being. In the darkened streets of the romantic city and its tall buildings, he could observe the world around him with nary a worry of discovery.

He was happy in these moments. He could forget the troubles that plagued him when his mind was ever active while his body wore its stone shell. The night, to him, was not a dark place at all. Instead, he focused on this amazing modern world.

The marvels mankind had achieved fascinated him. Their means of travel astounded him. The different ways they had found to communicate astonished him. He wanted to learn everything he could about how these many wonders worked. Before Rachel came to them, he had forever longed to make a friend who would explain such things to him.

Soon, he found himself perched atop one of the taller buildings, watching everything around him with keen interest. Silently, he stood in the shadows, watching the world below him carry on, oblivious to him and his watchful presence. Sometimes he fancied himself a brooding hero, playing the part of protector to the occasional innocent caught in a bad situation.

A few times, he had recovered stolen purses from thieves and returned them anonymously to their rightful owners. Upon occasion, he scared away evil-doers before they could make good on a robbery, rape or other such mischief, but he always kept to the shadows. No one had ever seen him. No one knew he was actually more of a monster than the pathetic Mortals he fought. He always moved so fast, all they saw were shadows.

Somewhere inside, he told himself he didn’t mind continuing to be what he was. It gave him the power to help mankind in a way he couldn’t as a Mortal. Perhaps he was called to be a creature of the night. Perhaps a helpful shadow was what he was meant to be.

Suddenly, he heard a sound that reminded him of someone trying sneak away from danger unnoticed. The sound was small; almost nothing at all. But it was enough to pull at Dionde’s attention. Turning, he moved silently to the other side of the rooftop where he knelt and watched as a young woman was cornered by something he had heard existed, but had never truly believed to be real . . .
                                                                                             Back to Allison's Deception
 
Sparrow's Release 

                                                              Chapter One

Sparrow McBride woke to the sound of breaking glass. Jerking upright in the bed, she blinked a few times, trying to command her eyes to focus. She knew a few seconds of disoriented confusion. Someone was in her house. No sooner had the thought come than she heard yet another breakable thing shatter.

Her memories of another intruder breaking into her home when she was a child came to the forefront of her thoughts. Her father had run to protect them. Her mother had made her hide under their bed. She still slept with her parents and had no room of her own yet. Her brother, wanting to be tough, like dad, had followed him.

When the first shots were fired, Sparrow had covered her ears. The intruder had not wanted to steal anything. He just wanted to feel what it was like to kill someone. She had stayed where her mother had hidden her for hours after everything had gone silent. When she finally emerged, it was to find her entire family slaughtered at the hands of someone who had cared only about ending someone’s life.

The courts appointed her aunt as legal guardian. Sparrow lived with her until she finished high school and turned eighteen. Then she had started pursuing her plan of becoming a cop. She wanted to help do her part to keep that same horror that happened to her from happening to any other six-year-old child. Her aunt had died the year after she had graduated from the academy.

Not having a family was something that constantly bothered Sparrow. She was thirty now. Well past the age of Spinster, in some people’s opinions. She hated being alone, but she just hadn’t met the one. She knew in her heart he was out there . . . somewhere. Someday, he would rescue her from all the painful memories and give her a child and a life worth living; one where she wasn’t always alone.

The sound of still more breaking glass interrupted her thoughts, reminding her some jerk off was breaking into her house. She growled softly, “Not this time!” and hit the floor, pausing only long enough to grab the Heckler & Koch P2000 Compact Pistol out of her nightstand. Whoever was so insistent on robbing her better kiss his ball-sack goodbye, because he was going to lose his left nut if he broke one more thing. What idiot would enter the home of a cop in the middle of the night anyway? She eased down her stairs silently with a second’s smirk at the thought.

One would think the squad car parked in the drive would be a dead giveaway that whoever was the officer in the home was indeed currently occupying the residence. Of course, it was beginning to be a well-known fact—people were becoming dumber every year. Maybe the intruder thought the car was just there for curb appeal?

She paid no attention to her state of dress. It didn’t even bother her that she was about to take down a burglar, wearing nothing more than a wife-beater and a thong. Pressing herself against the wall at the foot of the stairs, she moved, silent as a panther readying to strike.

Although her name made people believe she was no more than a tiny sprite, Sparrow was a well-trained officer. She had gone into the police academy straight out of high school; had worked with the bomb squad for over three years. This last month, she had made Detective. The standard squad car was going to be replaced by her preferred personal choice next week. Then she wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb in her neighborhood any longer.

Slowly, she edged around the corner and looked at the reflection offered by the mirror, which just happened to be placed strategically to give her a view of the kitchen. It hung over the fireplace, but was big and offered her a revealing glimpse of both the entryway and the kitchen in just such an instance as this.

At first, she saw nothing. Then a large, skinny, naked gray man’s reflection became apparent as he stood staring back at her image in the mirror. She heard a series of clicks and pings, which the logical side of her brain told her had to be his language. However, her logical side was not the voice she was listening to. She shook her head in crazed denial at what her eyes were seeing . . . little gray men? Her mind couldn’t make sense of what she was witnessing.

She had come down here expecting some stupid member of the adolescent male species from the state of Texas, rummaging through her belongings in search of something he could pawn. Finding a skinny gray being with black eyes and no discernible mouth was not what she had bargained on. Not in a long shot!

Suddenly, her whole world changed when she watched a second being join the first. He had no mouth either, but he was bigger and more menacing. His face seemed to resemble something she had once seen on Star Wars, with flaps of flesh that pulled back from his head to fall loosely around the edges of his head; almost like a lion’s mane. It reminded her of someone who had Dreadlocks, but not with hair . . . Not! That was a continuation of his skin. As she watched, a series of clicks and pings began between the two. The bigger one looked from the gray one to her and lifted his left three-digit, stubby-fingered hand. Her mind issued the warning to run, but she could not make her body obey as she stared in silent fascination.

As the orb neared her, it seemed to grow, eliciting a squeak of shock from her as tentacles much like spider webs snaked out and wrapped around her. Her arms were immediately pinned to her sides and she fell, powerless to the floor.
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Tesla's Completion 

Parking, she cut off the engine and hopped out. With just a second of consideration, she made the decision to leave her bag in the car for the night. She had no need of it now. Her cash was nestled safely in a small zipper pocket she had sewn inside her skirt for just that purpose.

As she walked, she stretched her arms above her head like a cat. It was just at that point she took in the night sky above her. The thing Tesla always liked about living in the country was how many more stars she could see. She loved the stars. She had always loved looking at them. As a child she used to wish she could be magically transported through them to a different place. Somewhere she might belong. She’d never felt she belonged here; like a part of her soul was somewhere, millions of light-years away.

Her thoughts on this night however, were interrupted by the bright light that suddenly engulfed her. Her eyes widened in alarm as she suddenly stopped walking. It wasn’t that she had been startled into stopping. No, she was frozen. Gasping in disbelief, Tesla tried to move, but found she really couldn’t. Her arms and legs wouldn’t obey her. Her voice wouldn’t even obey her demand to scream. As she waited in unwilling silence, she felt her feet leave the ground. If she had been able to look down, she knew she would find her body was being lifted through the air.

Terror unlike anything she had ever known consumed her. Part of her wanted nothing more than to find her way free and run as fast as she could to the safety of her home. Even as she desperately wished there were a way to do just that, the logical side of her brain knew her house wouldn’t be any safer than the yard. You have no choice about what is happening here, Tesla. She told herself silently, ignoring the pain the thought brought along with the memories of being held down and raped repeatedly by a burglar. This isn’t an end to your life and plans. It’s just another damn delay. She fought to calm her racing heart. Maybe it’ll be over soon.

Giving up her attempts to struggle, Tesla closed her eyes and took deep, calming breaths. She had learned long ago, when you’re powerless, the best thing you can do is just let what will be done happen. There was a loud vacuum noise, then everything went silent and she knew nothing.

                                                               Chapter Two

Tesla awoke to feeling a probe pushing past her nether lips. It was cold and felt like a metal alloy phallus, reminding her of the type of discomfort one felt with a pap smear. Then, she felt a warming sensation as whatever was inside her thickened and lengthened, stretching her. Alarmed, she tried to sit up enough to investigate, only to find she was confined with her arms pinned above her head and her body completely bereft of clothes.

She tried to ease her legs closed, but found they were restrained as well. “Oh great!” she muttered softly. “Stripped naked and played with on the fancy alien experiment table.” She looked around for the little gray men. No one was in the room. Exasperated, she yelled, “I thought you aliens liked to witness the earthlings’ reactions to your experiments.” She growled, pulling on the restraints, “What’s the matter? Afraid I might actually cuss you out? You damn cowards!”

Trying to relax, Tesla went limp on the table and took deep breaths. This couldn’t last all that long, right? The probe was just checking out her reproductive organs. She smirked. Well, they would be disappointed. The damage done to her uterus when she had been raped was beyond repair. They told her there was too much scar tissue, and getting pregnant was something that was near impossible.

Her deep breathing became embarrassing moans as the metal feeling phallus began to move inside her in a way that simulated sex or masturbation; really good masturbation. Balling her hands into fists, she tried to fight the warmth as it spread through her. She’d be damned before she’d let those sick bastards hear her get off!
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Marissa's Surprise

Prologue
Two years prior to when the abductions occurred

Savryk circled the portal, using his powerful tail to gain momentum. The vortex between the sister planets opened only once every few cycles, so his time was limited. The survival of his species depended on the chance that this planet held women whose DNA could be easily modified to enable them to survive within the waters of Meridia.

His brother of blood had undergone the appropriate tests to see if the land-dwelling females here could bear offspring with the Meridia races. Once the seed had taken root in the incubators, he had known the only thing left was to see if the race from Earth ever ventured into the waters of their world.

With one mighty dive, the Merman swam through the portal. The oceans of Earth were similar to the oceans of Meridia. But if the women there never set foot in their water, then Savryk knew he and his brothers of the depths were doomed.

As he swam out of the coral that protected the entrance to his world from prying eyes, he took notice of the creatures who occupied this sister ocean. Almost immediately, a school of dolphins approached him, curious about his existence. He watched them warily a moment, but couldn’t help smiling when they greeted him and joined him on his journey toward the surface of the water.

He could tell by the shallowness of the ocean floor, land was not far away. He couldn’t risk being seen, for obvious reasons: blue tinted skin, along with a tail would be very hard to play off as normal on this world. Luckily, his eyes could see easily at far distances, so he would only need to see if they were swimmers.

As he neared the surface, the dolphins, who bore close resemblance to the creatures his world called Pheldorns, sprang from the ocean, soaring powerfully out of the water and splashing each other as they did. He watched them frolic for a few minutes while he worked up his courage to surface and find out if there were any of what the Slavers referred to as humans, playing in or around the water.

Slowly, he broke through with gentle strokes, only rising above enough to let his eyes see. He stared intently at the sandy beach and the men, women and children who played there. Hope filled him as he saw women and children not only running through the shallows, but also some people, further out, swimming. They lacked the tail that he was able to grow when in water, but they still swam.

He was so excited by his discovery that he didn’t notice the girl until she spoke. “Are you okay? What’s the blue stuff; some kind of sun screen?”

Startled, he turned toward the voice, only to come face to face with the most beautiful female he had ever seen. Her hair, which he’d been told about, was light colored, even when it was wet, and floated in the water around the girl as she moved slowly closer to him. Her eyes were a deep color of blue. He could understand her speech, but he knew she would not understand him if he were to speak, so he remained silent, and simply nodded. If she thought it was sunscreen, maybe he could spend a few more moments in her presence.

She waited for his answer, but when he said nothing, she tried again. “Do you not speak English? I’m surprised to see anyone besides myself out this far from the beach.” She seemed to contemplate him for a moment before her face brightened.

“Are you training for the Olympics too? I have two more years to get ready, and I figure if I can master these waves before then, it’ll improve my time in the pools.” She chattered as he watched her in silent fascination. “I’ve also been working on holding my breath underwater. I’m up to three minutes if I’m swimming and almost six if I’m just hovering.”

When his eyebrow rose in response to her words, she took it to mean he didn’t believe her. “Oh, you think I’m lying, don’t you? Well, here! I’ll show you! Watch!”

~~~
Savryk watched in a mixture of horror and fascination as she pulled what looked to be some kind of protective eye covers over her eyes and took a deep breath before plunging beneath the surface. His eyes widened as he realized he only had a matter of seconds before she knew he was not like her. Panic filled him, but he couldn’t bring himself to abandon her company. Instead, he waited for the hysteria that was bound to overwhelm her. He reasoned with himself that if she passed out from what she discovered, he couldn’t leave her defenseless. She could drown.

She had sunk below the water and began mentally counting. She was good at this. He would have no choice but to believe her when she resurfaced, because he would have witnessed her talent firsthand. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around. The ocean was pretty clear out here and easy to see, as long as you used goggles.

She had her face turned to the side, but she was curious as to whether this man had put the blue sun screen over his entire body. However, when she turned to look at his legs, she found them strangely missing. Instead, there was a large fishtail. At least, that’s what she thought it was. She had heard of people who practiced swimming wearing suits that covered their lower bodies with long back fins that helped to steer their way through the water, but she had never seen one.

Her curiosity got the best of her, and she found herself reaching out to touch the suit. She had to remind herself not to breathe at her discovery. She knew what she felt was most definitely flesh under her touch instead of any kind of waterproof fabric. She stroked the tail for a moment as if trying to wake herself up from what she was afraid was only a delusion.

~~~
When he felt her hand, not only touching his tail but also stoking it, he closed his eyes. He could just take her; claim her for himself and swim through the portal with her in his arms. No one need ever be the wiser. He could claim her, breed her, and they would have children before the end of the Season. The desire to do just that was almost overwhelming.

He stayed stock still, breathing slowly as she seemed to be exploring him. She was being so gentle it was almost a kind of torture to him. She obviously wasn’t really panicking too terribly. He couldn’t imagine she would be spending so much time below the water, touching him if she was truly scared.

He was debating silently with himself when her hand slid slowly across the flesh fold that covered his genitals. Immediately, he felt them stir in response to her touch. Unnerved, he couldn’t stop himself from grabbing her hand and pulling her up.

When she surfaced, he reached out and yanked the goggles off her face, eliciting a startled squeak from her. “I’m sorry. Did I hurt you? Please forgive me.” She spoke hurriedly, and Savryk shook his head as he found himself unwilling to let her go.

By all rights, she should be screaming and trying to put as much distance from him as she could manage. Instead, here she was apologizing and asking if she had hurt him. He gripped her arms with both his hands and held her closer than he should, but she didn’t seem to mind.

When she finally stopped speaking, she bit her bottom lip and seemed to think over her words before she asked, “Is that real?” Her voice was soft, and Savryk found himself mesmerized by both her beauty and her voice.

He knew she would not understand his words. She did not have the Nanos that had only been in use in his galaxy for a little over the last few centuries. He answered her the only way he could. Nodding his head, he was still reluctant to let her go. She might try to flee and he just couldn’t bear to part with her yet. She was the most amazing creature he had ever seen.

She offered him a shy smile. “My name is Marissa Prince. I love to swim. I’ve been swimming since I was old enough to get in a pool.” Her smile grew and she giggled. “Is this for real? I’m talking to an honest to goodness real life Merman. I must either be dreaming or I’m the luckiest girl in the world!”

Savryk fought an internal battle within himself. He was breathing in the sweet fragrance of her pheromones. It was a unique scent the men of his race could smell only when in the presence of a potential mate. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and swim swiftly back through the portal and claim her as his bride, right now.

The desire to do so almost overwhelmed him, but he fought it as he returned her gaze. She was still too young for him to claim. Even in his own world, it would be forbidden for him to take her as a mate. She was close to reaching maturity, but he knew she was not yet ready.

Unable to stop himself, he reached out and stroked her cheek for a moment. Her eyes held his, and she smiled. Steeling himself, he moved back from her and turned, diving back into the depths of the ocean and making his way swiftly to the portal before he changed his mind and did something he knew would be a violation of everything he believed.

His mind repeated her name over and over in his head; Marissa Prince. He would remember her. If it was at all possible, he would request the Slavers take her when the time came. He was already desperate for her. He had to have her. He’d ask forgiveness later. If he was truly lucky, she would find a way to forgive him.
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Kameeta's Pleasure 

Prologue

The Dragon sat on the highest point of the mountains of Meridia, watching the night sky. His eyes were sharper than those of any other creature on their world. He could easily see the ship approaching. They had entered Meridia’s Solar System. Soon he would be taking flight to join them. He had insisted that the only hands laid upon his mate would be his own. None other should touch her.

Now he watched as the ship containing his mate, and the mates of his friends and king approached. He wanted her to be here already. He had to fight every instinct within himself to keep from meeting them now and demanding his bride. But he knew if he followed his desires and took her; the punishment would have been severe. His king would have most likely exercised his right to take her from him and give her to another.

So he had ignored his most primal desires, and let her be where she was for the time being. But as he sat on his mountaintop perch, watching the ship come closer to the atmosphere, he swore silently to himself that once she was with him, he would never part with her for any length of time. Taking a deep breath, he shifted, taking to the air. After all this waiting, the time had come. He would touch her for the first time now.

Chapter One
One Week Earlier

“I’m going to miss you, Ms. Jarnes. I never thought they’d close this old place down.” The young woman spoke softly with a catch in her throat. She had been a resident of the shelter when she was a child and then, when she had started the community college, she had taken a part time position there. “Now where are women going to go when they need help with an abusive man?”

Kameeta gave a sad smile to Dionne as she locked the door for the last time, then pressed the key back inside the mail drop. When she turned back to face the other girl, she reached out and pulled the girl into a bear hug. “You don’t worry about it, okay?” she whispered, pulling back to look the girl in the eye. “You got a good life ahead of you. Finish school. Get your Bachelor’s Degree and don’t you dare let no abusive man into your life. You hear me?”

When Dionne nodded, Kameeta smiled. “That a girl!” She turned back and picked up the last box that needed to go in her car. “Someone will open another shelter. Someone who doesn’t have to depend on the government for the proper funding.”

She walked briskly down the steps, brushing her braids back away from her face. She knew it was going to be hard going for the next few months while she got used to no longer running the shelter, but she told herself it was for the best. Without the women and children to worry about, she could get back to working on her paintings. That was her first love, anyway.

Once the box was loaded into the car, she turned and gave Dionne another big hug. “Now, you tell your Mama hello for me, and threaten that little brother of yours to commit to his studies, or I’m going to come beat him with a stick!”

Dionne burst out laughing. “Okay, Ms. Jarnes, I will. You keep in touch too, okay? I’m going to be waiting for your big debut at the art festival. Paint me something pretty.”

Nodding, Kameeta unlocked the driver’s door, and got in. The sun had set about an hour before. She had tried to get Dionne to go ahead and go home, but the girl had refused, insisting on helping her finish up packing.

She fought the tears in her eyes as she started the engine and drove away. She hated this. She hated goodbyes, and she really hated the fact this was it for the shelter she had worked so hard to build.

Kameeta had been an abused child. When she’d gotten older, she had married the first man who asked, just to escape the abuse, only to find out he was just like the parents she tried so hard to get away from.

For years, she had put up with it, resigned to what she had decided must have been her lot in life. Then, a ray of hope had been granted to her. She’d found out she was pregnant. Her heart had filled with immediate love for the tiny little life growing inside her. She had felt so sure her husband would be a changed man when he found out they were going to have a baby.

If she had been thinking clearly, she would have run for the hills and hidden, instead of going home from the doctor’s visit that day. She would have disappeared from that horrid man’s life without as much as a clue for him as to where she had gone.

He hadn’t wanted a baby. He was furious with her for being so careless. He’d flown into a rage, accusing her of having an affair. He denied it could have even been his because he knew how to be careful with his sperm.

They had argued. When he insisted she get an abortion, she had refused and asked for a divorce. She told him she would leave and he would never have to worry about helping her or the baby. She would find a way to survive.

When she said it, she really had meant it. She didn’t need him. She was actually relieved. Surely, this was God’s way of helping her be strong enough to leave him once and for all.

His name had been Kevin. She had once believed he was the man she was meant to be with for the rest of her life. The day she lost her unborn baby to that monster had been the day the wakeup call she had been ignoring finally got through. It was also the day she put her foot down and took her life back.

Now here she was, being forced to walk away again. Fury bubbled up within her and she found herself scowling at the thought of having to start all over again. Now! If she had it in her to be half as mean-spirited as all the men she had to change her life around and for, she would have called her cousin, who always played herself off as a voodoo priestess, and tell her to prove that stuff was real!

Right now, she felt almost mad enough to hex the gizzards out of someone just to blow off steam. She had devoted herself to the shelter. It had become her life. Now what was she going to do?

That was the last conscious thought she had. Her car would be found later with all of her things still in it, parked by Lake Michigan. Of course, they would never discover what happened to her. All they knew was her car was over two hundred and eighty-six miles away from where she had lived. 
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Ocean's Portal

Prologue

The Beach was a private one. Because of that, no one was there in the middle of the night—a fact he was grateful for. It suited his purpose much better. You shouldn’t be here! He told himself silently. It is a grave risk you are taking, just to catch a glimpse of her. Even as his conscience chided him, he pulled himself even closer to the water’s edge. The moon was not out tonight, so the beach was dark except for what little amount of light was given by the stars.

The risk was minimal, anyway. A total of five houses were set back some ways from the pure sands of the beach. They were big, luxurious places, serving as weekend homes for their owners. Which meant they were empty. Or at least most of them were.

One house was almost always occupied. The entire back of the house was open to his view. Lights were on. His keen sense of hearing vibrated with the softly playing music. He could even differentiate the sound of her voice from the rest as she hummed along softly with it.

Slowly, he lowered himself down on his belly and stared with longing at the woman who sat at her desk, oblivious to his scrutiny, typing away happily at her computer. Longing surged through him at the idea of holding her close. He had been coming to steal glimpses of her for years now. His mind had wandered into her dreams before as he had searched to form a bond.

It was recklessness on his part. He should have been satisfied to continue his research below. He could never have her. She was a land walker. No one in his demesne had brought one of them down in so many generations now, it was unheard of anymore.

Of course there were not many of his kind who dared to breach the surface and breathe the air anymore either. There were so many pollutants in the outer world now, they knew it was only a matter of time before they all had to go back.

A tightening gripped his heart for a moment at the thought. He had never been to his home world. He had been born in the Oceans of Earth and had always believed within its depths was where he would raise a family and die as an old Aquarian.

Shaking his head, he pushed those thoughts from his mind and turned his attention back to her. Slowly, he felt his mind reaching for hers. He had never attempted this when she was awake before. He wasn’t sure of the outcome. Instead, he had always visited her in her sleep.

But he had stayed away for so long now, he felt an almost unbearable urge to feel her waking thoughts and hear her inner voice. Hesitantly, he reached his mind for hers. To his surprise, her subconscious heard and recognized his inner voice and he immediately began hearing her thoughts.

Now, I can’t forget to go by Rachel’s and drop off the house key, so she can water the plants and feed Tiberius for me while I’m away. Her thoughts were focusing on some kind of trip she was getting ready to take. I better leave a little extra money on the counter just in case she needs to get more cat food before I get back. Poor baby is going to pout at me hard when I get back from this. Three days away is longer than what he’s used to— She trailed off and he watched as she slowly looked around, as if she felt she was no longer alone.

“Hello?” She called out and waited as though someone were going to answer her. Then she shrugged and laughed at herself. “Danielle, you are positively insane!” she muttered out loud. Then in her mind, she whispered, although you fantasize about it, the Merman—Sorna—is not going to just come knock on your front door and announce himself.

Feeling her thoughts and knowing a part of her actually wished it was so had him dragging himself out of the water before he could stop himself. Once out, he turned and stared down at his tail, willing it away.

He was out of practice. It had been awhile since he had been in the City-caves. Instead, as he warred with himself and his true desires, he had stayed in the waters. Because of that, his legs were taking longer than normal to come at his call. But hearing her desires . . . Those thoughts in her mind made up his. He would begin her conversion. Then he would take her just beyond the reef and they would stay there until she was able to breathe through the water without his aid. Then, she would go with him. They would be together . . . Finally.

He was so wrapped up in his thoughts and calling his legs, he didn’t hear the approach. Before he knew what had happened, the net was thrown over him and someone injected something into his neck.

“Good night, freak! Have a nice nap.” He heard the words, spoken in a gruff baritone. He blinked several times to try to focus so he could clearly see his abductors, but the lethargy was already setting in and he knew there was little to no point in fighting it.

His mind was still attached to hers. He felt her moving out to her balcony and sent a gentle push, to dissuade her. No, don’t come out. Stay safe, my beloved. They cannot see you. He sent so weakly through their bond he was unsure if she’d even hear it. Then the darkness took him, and he knew no more.

Chapter One

Danielle autographed the inside cover of her latest novel, The Mermen of Cascadia, with a flourish, and smiled brightly at the last fan. “I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!”

The woman returned her smile and held the paperback to her chest with a blush. “Oh, I am sure I will! I’ve read all the others in the series. I just wish this one wasn’t your last on the subject. You just have a talent for making them so real!”

She shrugged, “I know, but I figure this is book number five . . . It’s time to start a different fantasy for the fans to eat up. I promise the next series will be just as mouth-watering!” She had been writing about the Mermen of Cascadia for over eight years now and if she was truthful, she was reluctant to let them go as well. But that was exactly why she had to.

It had been almost two years. Two years with no more dreams of him. Truth was, the recurring dreams had been what had motivated her to create the series. She had fashioned each book after her dreams and secret desires for those dreams to be real. But, of course all good things must come to an end. The dreams had stopped. It was time the books did too.

Honestly, it was time to move on. Hell, she couldn’t even see herself getting in a relationship with a real man because they just didn’t measure up to the men with powerful tails who now ruled the Oceans of her dreams.

As the lady left, Danielle took a deep breath and released a sigh, flexing her hand a few times as she did. She was twisting her wrist in a circular angle when her publicist walked up. She laughed at the look Carla gave her and muttered, “I think my hand is out of shape! I’m so used to typing everything out on computers these days, if I have to write more than just a few things with a pen, the muscles in my hand don’t know how to react!”

Carla laughed and nodded. “I know what you mean! If it wasn’t that people would think it was impersonal, I’d suggest you just invest in one of those signature stamps.” She handed Danielle a bottle of water, which the author gladly accepted.

“Thank you, Carla.” She sighed before bringing the bottle to her lips, taking a drink. The liquid felt good in her dry mouth. She usually had a bottle with her when she came to these signings, but today she had been rushed to get here and had forgotten to get one. Of course, Carla had noticed. She gave silent thanks for a publicist who was so attentive. She was the best friend a person could have.

Her agent nodded in response and gestured to the billboard that housed a blown up copy of the final novel in Danielle’s series. “It’s been a good ride, Danny. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to those guys.” She looked beseechingly back at the woman who had become more than just a client. “Are you sure you want to stop writing about them? The public would love even just one more book.”

Danielle chuckled and shook her head. “I have to put these guys to rest, Carla. I’m thirty-six years old! If I don’t move on, I’m going to be forever doomed to live as this old spinster, alone in my house, with nothing to show for my life but twenty cats and all the novels I’ve written.” She unconsciously clutched the novel to her chest at the thought of never dreaming of Sorna again.

Suddenly, she remembered that night a year ago when she was getting ready for her trip to find her mind unexpectedly opening back up to thoughts of him and different scenarios building again in her head. It actually made her heart ache and her eyes water. That had been the night all the dreams of him had stopped. The ache was still deep and she felt bereft over the loss.

Part of her wished she could just lock herself away with her imagination and dreams to be able have one fantasy after another about him. Some part of her actually thought it would have been the closest to heaven she’d ever come.

Sternly, she pushed back the sad thought and blinked back the tears as she gave her old friend a sad smile. “If I don’t let go of this fantasy, I’m never going to find a good reality.”

Carla made a sad face and answered. “Well, you can’t blame a fan for trying. I know whatever you write next will be as big as this series was. I’m just a little reluctant to let these guys go.”

Danielle handed the novel she had been holding to Carla. “Well, that’s the good thing about books. When you love the characters that much, you can always revisit them anytime you want.” She smiled a little. “I know I’m going to bundle up with these guys on any cold and lonely night.”

Carla laughed outright. “I never imagined on cold nights, the stories that would help me warm up would be about Mermen who live in the deepest parts of the Ocean.” She gave a little shiver for emphasis, making Danielle laugh as she turned to gather her things.

“It’s almost nine at night and I have to start working on the layout for the next series now.” She turned back to look at Carla with a wink. “Go home and get some rest. Your day was just as long as mine.”

Carla smiled and nodded. “And don’t you stay up so late that you’re a zombie tomorrow.” She wagged a finger at her friend. “I know you! You’ll get into what you’re doing and the next thing you know it’s seven in the morning and you haven’t slept a wink!”

Danielle was already heading for the exit, and turned back to wink at Carla. “It’s okay. If I do lose track of time, at least I don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow.” Without waiting for the other woman’s response, she pushed the door open and stepped through it.

The sun was almost down. The evening was beginning to look eerily dark. Danielle walked at a brisk pace toward the burgundy Toyota Camry parked at the far end of the parking lot. She wasn’t easily scared, but she found herself glancing around as she made her way. Tonight she could feel eyes watching her. It was a creepy feeling, and not one she was accustomed to.

When she was mere feet from her car she breathed a sigh of relief and hit the button that started it. Two parking places between her and the safety of her car. Relaxing her shoulders, she caught sight of a flash of silver right before the black and chrome Escalade pulled into the final parking place between her and her car.

Startled, she stepped back and would have lost her balance if hadn’t been for the men in black suits filing out of the SUV and grabbing her by her arms. Instinctively, she pulled her arms up, trying to free herself, only to find the grip the two men had was iron.

The one to the left said, “Danielle Ryder, We’re from Homeland Security. We need you to come with us, please.”
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