Category Archives: Mid Week Tease

Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with a snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. LA tech writer by day and romance novelist by night, Lily Nayar is still recovering from being dumped by her screenwriter boyfriend. When she gets loaded one night with her BFF and tweets to hot British actor Tom Morrison about the romance novel he inspired, hijinks ensue! In this scene, Lily is posing as Tom’s girlfriend (it’s complicated), and they need to get some details straight before they head off to Palm Springs for an important party.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

I made it back to the hotel a few minutes before Tom showed up in the lobby. I’d been entertaining myself with spotting various actors and trying to remember the first time I’d ever seen them when he strode in, a classy black wheelie case rolling behind him.

“Good, you’re here,” he said, sounding relieved as he dropped into the chair next to me. “I thought we should take the opportunity to get our notes straight, make it look like we’ve known each other for longer than six hours.”

“Works for me,” I agreed. “Who starts?”

He gestured towards me. “Ladies first.”

“Okay.” What had Kirk known about me (apart from the fact that I was a damn better writer than him)? “Um, I’m Lily Nayar, I’m twenty-seven, I graduated from USC, I live in an apartment in Highland Park, I don’t have any pets, and I write fantasy romance novels as Lilian DeVries, as you know.”

“As I know,” he said, smiling. “Rather naughty ones.”

He had noticed the sex scenes. Damn. “Anyway,” I said after clearing my throat, “I have a younger brother named Derek, and my mom and dad are still together. What else would my boyfriend know?”

He considered. “Ethnic background?”

Good point, and a graceful way of asking. “Mom’s white, Dad’s first-generation American. His parents are from Mumbai, hers are from Pasadena. You can imagine the holiday dinners. What about you?”

He sat back in his chair, scratching his chin. “Well, you know my name. Which is my real one, by the way. Born in Swansea, raised in London. Dad died when I was twelve, after which Mum raised me with Aunt Margery and my sisters.”

I felt a twinge of sympathy at that. I might fight with Dad sometimes, but I’m damned glad he’s here. “When you say Aunt Margery, are we talking an actual blood relation, or your mom’s girlfriend that they gave a familial title to in order to ward off a homophobic society that wouldn’t accept their love?”

His smile turned into a grin. “I like you. No, actual relation, although I suspect Aunt Margery wasn’t adverse to a bit of flannel. Went to a comprehensive secondary school—I think you’d call that junior and senior high over here—before heading off to the University of Manchester, where I studied history with a view towards teaching it until I was seduced by the drama department.”

“So you didn’t go to RADA?”

Ooh, he raised an eyebrow at me. I love men who can do that. “No, I didn’t go to RADA, mainly because I didn’t have the money. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with the University of Manchester’s drama department. Cumberbatch went there, you know.”

Well, if it was good enough for Sherlock, it was good enough for me. “And after you graduated?”

“Went back to London, split my time between being a substitute teacher and acting in anything that would hire me, and finally got my break in a tea commercial, if you’d believe it. Through that and a very clever agent, I sit before you now as one of a number of interchangeable British actors currently occupying Hollywood.” He spread his hands in a “ta-da” gesture.

I pretended to study him. “Got news for you, dude. You’re not interchangeable.”

“Ha. I regularly get mistaken for Ben Barnes, Tom Ellis, and Sam Claflin, and I don’t even have the same color eyes as Sam. English actors of my age and facial type are about as interchangeable as Lego, especially in Hollywood. It’s one of the reasons why I want to do this movie and get some experience in producing.”

I could see that. “Do you want to get out of acting?”

“God, no. I love acting. I want to keep doing it as long as I can. But unless the heavens bless you with a lucky break, the real money and power are in producing.” His expression softened, turning reflective. “That makes me sound like an arsehole, doesn’t it? I’m not in it for the money per se. I just want to make sure Mum and Auntie Margery are taken care of, as well as my sisters. I promised Dad I’d look after them.”

Oh, I heard that. My paternal grandparents came from India with nothing but a cousin willing to sponsor them. Taking care of family was woven into my DNA. “Okay, we’re both driven overachievers who love our families and are determined to support ourselves in a crazy business. No wonder we make such a good couple,” I said. “So that’s personal info done—how long have we been dating?”

“Let’s say two months? Makes it sound like we’re a bit more established that way.”

“Works for me.” And that way I could mentally blank out that last month with the dickhead. “How did we meet?”

“You’re the writer,” he pointed out. “What’s a good meet cute for us?”

Okay, Romance Writer Brain, go to work. “How about … my car overheated on the 110 and you stopped to help me,” I offered.

“Suicidal but very noble of me,” he agreed. “I like it. Go on.”

“And I almost called the cops on you, thinking you were trying to assault me.”

He snorted in appreciation. “But then you recognized me from TV and let me take you out for coffee while the tow truck hauled your car off to a nearby garage.” He pronounced it GAR-aj. “You do drink coffee, yes?”

“I’m a writer. Caffeine makes up seventy-five percent of my blood volume,” I said. “I think that’s a plausible meet cute for LA.”

“Sounds good to me.” Now he looked hesitant. “Er, we’d probably be publicly affectionate by this time. How much physical contact are you willing to engage in?”

A little thrill went through me, until I remembered that he was an actor and had to negotiate this with actresses all the time. “Holding hands, totally fine,” I said, trying to sound casual. “Arm around my shoulders and occasional hugging is cool. Kissing…” Aaaand there went my brain into vapor lock. “Um, I’ve never kissed someone I wasn’t actually dating. What do you think would be acceptable?”

He looked at my mouth, and his own curved slightly. “Let’s make this warm but discreet. The occasional peck on the cheek or temple, and one affectionate kiss with no tongues in front of Nathan. Sound reasonable?”

Kissing Tom Morrison would never sound reasonable to me. Unbelievable, amazing, addicting, yes, but not reasonable. “Yes.”

“Good.” Those cappuccino eyes twinkled now. “Do you want to do it once here, just so that we get the hang of it? Plus if anyone spots us, it’ll help deflect any more sneak attacks from Claudine.”

Crap. I could feel my cheeks heating up. “Um, how…”

“Just lean forward.”

Stamping down on my inner gibbering fangirl, I did as he asked. He mirrored me, cupping my cheek. “Relax,” he murmured, then touched his lips to mine.

It … was not what I expected. I thought it would feel fake, somehow, that I’d be able to tell he was acting. But it felt like I was kissing someone who was genuinely interested in me. Plus he smelled amazing, and his mouth was just the right amount of soft, warm, and mostly dry, definitely not Kirk’s sex beast technique. And there was the strangest little tingle that spread through my lips, like Tom was touching a live wire as our mouths met. Yet another romance trope that turned out to be true.

He held it for maybe two seconds, then pulled back. It was hard to tell with brown irises but I was pretty sure his pupils had dilated, turning his eyes even darker. Maybe he’d felt a tingle as well.

Without a word, we started to lean towards each other again—

“Sorry to interrupt your tête-à-tête, children, but our winged conveyance awaits,” a cultured British voice said cheerfully.

I have never wanted to kill an Oscar-winning actor so much in my life.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with a snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. LA tech writer by day and romance novelist by night, Lily Nayar is still recovering from being dumped by her screenwriter boyfriend. When she gets loaded one night with her BFF and tweets to a hot British actor about the romance novel he inspired, hijinks ensue! 

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

I pulled out the various receipts I’d saved up so that I could reconcile my checkbook (yet another ingrained habit from Dad). Supermarket, gas, Starbucks, sushi, Starbucks, Rite-Aid, Starbucks, I really had to do something about my triple venti nonfat latte habit—

Post office. I frowned at the receipt. I couldn’t remember mailing anything. But according to the piece of paper in my hand I had sent a package to…

Beverly Hills.

Why the hell would I send a package to Beverly Hills? For that matter, what the hell would I send to Beverly Hills?

The receipt was from Sunday night. A vague memory of me hunting for a padded envelope drifted into focus. Curious (okay, and maybe just a little worried), I opened a browser and checked the tracking number on the USPS’s website. Whatever I’d sent, it had been received Tuesday morning.

Attached to the receipt was a sticky with an address on it in my handwriting. Google informed me that the address was an agent’s office, Bryce Lambert Talent. I’d heard of them before–one of their main stars had just landed a new series on HBO–but I couldn’t figure out why I’d send something to them.

An image of the shot glasses and the open box of books came to me. Oh, God. I didn’t get loaded and send them a copy of one of my books, did I? Great. Now some junior agent would think I was an unprofessional idiot. Just what I needed. But why the hell would I send something to Bryce Lambert, of all agencies?

There was only one thing to do. I texted Theresa.

Did I mail something on Sunday night?

A minute later the response arrived:

Yup. I got an Uber for us. Don’t you remember?

Uh, no. That’s why I’m asking.
What did I mail to a talent agency in Beverly Hills?

A copy of FEAST OF LOVERS.

Fuck fuck fuck. I wanted to pound my head on the desk top.

Why did you let me do that? They don’t handle writers.

Before she could reply, a drop-down message appeared, telling me that I had a DM on Twitter from—

I stared at my phone. You ever read how a character’s heart stops when they’re shocked by something? That really happens. I literally felt my heart stop as I read that eensy message that said I had a DM from Tom Morrison waiting for me.

Tom Morrison. Tom “British Sex on a Stick” Morrison, who had just walked onscreen at this very moment dressed in tight pants and that gorgeous smile. The actor who had inspired my hero Drake Montmorency in Feast of Lovers. The man I guiltily followed on Twitter because it took my mind off of Kirk being a dickhead. It had to be a prank, some fake account using his name.

It took forever to open Twitter, then hit the little envelope icon, my fingers were trembling so hard. But there it was, with the little blue check mark verifying that my newest DM was indeed from Tom Morrison.

Hey Lilian! Thanks so much for sending me FEAST OF LOVERS. I’m really flattered that I inspired an actual book, and I’m bringing it with me on location to read. I’ll give you a book report when I get back!

It took me a couple of seconds to start breathing again, and I flinched when I saw Theresa’s message pop up.

You really don’t remember?

DID I SEND A COPY OF FEAST OF LOVERS TO TOM FUCKING MORRISON???

Okay, you do remember.

THERESA, THIS IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT.
WHAT IN THE NAME OF GANESH DID WE DO SUNDAY NIGHT?

Well, we were drinking margs and then started doing shots.
Then you checked Twitter and saw that Tom had posted something.
So you pinged him and told him about FEAST.

IS THAT ALL?

Why are you yelling?

THERESA.

Okay. I may have suggested that you send him a copy.
You did dedicate it to him, after all.
And Montmorency is basically him in fantasy baron drag.

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.

Is your caps lock broken?

Oh god oh god oh god. What else did I do?

He pinged you back a couple of minutes later with his agent’s address.
You signed a copy of the book, packed it up,
and we got an Uber to that all-night PO.

Did he get it?

Yes.

Good!

GOOD? GOOD? WHY IS THIS GOOD?

Capslock.

Theresa, there are sex scenes in that book.

I know! Rowr!

Really explicit, filthy sex scenes.
And apparently I told him that he not only inspired my hero,
but the whole damn book.

So?

So he’s going to think I’m a huge perv
who writes jack off fantasies about him!

Well, there’s a plot, too.

You’re. Not. Helping.

Sorry.
Look, did he actually say he was going to read it?

Yes.

Huh. Well, he was probably just being polite.
Actors get this sort of thing all the time.
Don’t worry about it.

I stared at those cool, logical words on my screen. Don’t worry about it. Like I was ever going to do that. I had just outed myself as a sexually perverse fangirl to an actor. But I shouldn’t worry about it. I had made a complete and utter fool of myself to a lovely, polite, and absolutely smoking hot man. But I shouldn’t worry about it. Even though I wrote about him and Clarinda using a—oh, God.

I need to get the book back.

Little late for that, my dear.

They say that desperation is the mother of invention. Turns out they’re right.

No, no it’s not. He said he’s taking it with him on location.
I think GS was supposed to start shooting this week.
All I have to do is find out where he’s staying,
get into his hotel room, and steal the book back.

Are you NUTS?

I can do this. And you’re going to help me.


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Mid Week Tease: Red Robin and the Huntsman #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! I know I said I wasn’t going to post any more teasers from Red Robin and the Huntsman, but I don’t have anything else that’s ready to go, so here’s another scene. Oh, and I’ve just added the reference pic I use whenever I write these two. You should see who I have in mind as Duncan’s brothers!

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


Robin grinned up at him. “I always wanted to see you naked. I used to daydream about this, in particular.” She touched the belted V of muscle that bracketed his hips. “It disappeared into your breeches like an arrowhead. I always wanted to see how far down it went.”

His dark eyes glittered in the candlelight. “All the way down, my lady.”

“Really? How delightful.” Letting her fingers trail down his chest and abdomen, she reached the fastening of his breeches. Undoing them was the work of a few moments, and she eased the placket open. As he claimed, the muscle band continued to the top of his groin, where a deliciously thick length pressed in a diagonal against the fabric of his breeches. All she had to do was pull them open further—

He took her hand, pausing it. “If you touch me now, I’ll spend,” he said matter-of-factly. “And I’ve been dreaming of this for far too long to go that quickly. Lie back down, there’s a good lass.”

Torn between a deliciously wicked desire to see him reach his peak and a burning need to have him inside her, Robin did as he asked. He straddled her body, leaning down to capture her mouth in another of those deliciously sensual kisses. His chest hair teased her nipples as they kissed, and she wanted to grind against him until the throbbing flesh between her legs finally gained some relief. But with his knees planted on either side of her thighs she was effectively trapped, waiting on his pleasure.

Not knowing what to do with her hands, she let them rest on his back, tracing the valley of his spine between the long bands of muscle there. Unexpectedly he lifted his head and sucked in a quick, happy breath at her touch.

How long has it been since he’s been touched like this? It gave her an idea. “Move to the side.”

“What?”

“It’s all right. Move for a minute.”

He did, gingerly balancing on the edge of the narrow bed. “Did I hurt you? I tried to keep my weight off—”

“No, you’re fine.” She rolled into a sitting position, patting the coverlet where she had just been. “Stretch out on your stomach.”

He blinked, then glanced down at the unmistakable bulge in his breeches. “That’s … not the best idea right now, love.”

She bit her lip. “Oh. Well, just sit on the edge of the bed, then.”

He did, reluctantly. Moving to kneel behind him, she studied his broad back. Thick with muscle at the shoulders, it tapered down to a trim waist, evidence that he hadn’t been spending the last twelve years commanding a desk. The waistband of his loosened breeches gaped, and she could just make out a pair of dimples bracketing his spine. Idly, she wondered what he would do if she licked them.

First thing’s first. Sliding her hands up his back, she started rubbing his shoulders, pressing her thumbs into tight muscles as she massaged. He made a noise she’d never heard before and sagged under her hands. “Oh, gods. That’s it—I’m marrying you if I have to bribe Patriarch Reniel himself.”

“I don’t think you have to go quite that high.” She kissed the valley of his spine and felt him shudder. “Pater Colbert would be more than happy to marry us.”

He reached back, stilling her hand. “I mean it, Robin. I want to marry you. If you’ll have me, that is.”

She trailed her mouth across the skin of his back to his neck, gently sucking there and raising another full body shiver from him. “We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Tonight, I want you to make love to me, captain. Can you do that?”

She felt more than saw him smile. “Whatever my lady wants.”


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Mid Week Tease: Cross Current #MidWeekTease #MWTease

Mid Week Tease buttonIt’s Wednesday? Awesome! Because I have a little teaser for you from Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4). Matt Taber, my divorced history teacher who just wanted to spend a couple of weeks on the beach before school starts, has just learned that he’s living next door to Poseidon and his mates Amphitrite and Griffin, mermen and selkies are real because one of each just showed up on the beach with the Oracle of the Waters, and things are never going to be the same for him again. Muwahahaha…

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Matt’s tentative knock at the green cottage’s door was met by an unsmiling Griffin. “Hi. Welcome to Greek God Central.”

The repetition of Atropos’s phrase from his dream sent a chill down Matt’s spine. “Hi. Pythia said that I should talk to Amphitrite?”

Griffin moved to the side, letting him in. “Right. She and Poseidon are busy with Donald at the moment. It might be awhile.” He gave Matt a sympathetic smirk. “How are you holding up?”

That was a damned good question. “I kinda feel like I got sucked into an episode of Stranger Things,” Matt admitted. “Apart from that, I seem to be okay.”

“Good on you, mate.” The Englishman took him into the kitchen, where he pulled two brown bottles out of the fridge and handed one over. “This’ll help.”

Matt noted the microbrewery label. “I thought Brits didn’t chill their beers.”

Griffin scoffed. “We do when we’re in Florida. I take it Nick gave you the scoop on what’s been happening here?”

“Crazy goddess trying to destroy Earth, a bunch of gods and other mythological creatures fighting her, yeah, I know.” He twisted off the bottle cap and took a welcome swig. “I’m not involved.”

“I’m not arguing. I’m new to the whole thing myself.” Although the knowledgeable look in the Englishman’s eyes gave lie to his words. “How are your guests doing?”

When Matt had left his cottage, the doctor had been asking the mer about how far they’d swum. “Nick’s treating them, I think. The blond guy’s really a merman?”

“Yep, just like Aidan and Liam. You can probably talk them into going for a swim and showing you their tails.”

“Yeah, no, that’s okay.” He leaned against the counter, rubbing his thumb over the cool, sweating surface of the bottle. “I’m thinking maybe I should go back to Jupiter. If I can’t get my deposit back, I can crash with a buddy until school starts.”

The Englishman folded his arms, leaning against the opposite counter. “If that’s what you think you should do, then do it. Nobody’s going to keep you here against your will.”

Amphitrite picked that moment to appear, looking concerned. “Oh, good, Matt. You’re here. Donald wants to speak with you.”

Matt straightened up. “Donald?”

“The Oracle of the Waters. Tall man, white hair and beard, came out of the water with our other guests?”

A faint wash of dread tingled down his spine. He tried to get his tongue to work properly. “I—why does he want to talk to me?”

“I don’t know,” the goddess said, exasperated. “That’s something you’ll have to discuss with him.”

She gestured towards the hallway she’d just exited. Feeling like he was walking towards a firing squad, Matt reluctantly headed deeper into the cottage. Soft voices were coming through an open doorway and he peeked into what was clearly a guest bedroom

Inside, the old man from the beach had been dried off and tucked into bed, wet clothes piled on a chair next to the bed. Poseidon stood over him, handsome face lined as he listened to the man’s words. He glanced up at Matt’s arrival. “Oh, good, you’re here. Donald needs to talk to you.”

“Yeah, I know.” Matt edged into the room, studying the occupant of the bed. The man looked to be about seventy, with Santa Claus-white hair brushed back from a high forehead and a slightly overgrown beard hiding a craggy face. His eyes, however, were his most notable feature. Pale as sea glass, they seemed to burn in that pale face.

“Ah. Matthew,” the man said, a faint lilt coloring his voice. “You’re quite the difficult man to track down.”

Dunn—no, Poseidon—turned and considered him. “You’re going to want to listen to him, Matt.”

The affable host from last night was gone. Replacing him was a being who radiated power and authority like nothing Matt had ever experienced before. Every rational cell in his body screamed at him to turn around, leave, jump in his car and head north until he was out of reach of the divinity standing in front of him.

Instead, he stepped forward. “Amphitrite said you wanted to talk to me?”

The sea god left, and the old man chuckled wearily. “Poor Poseidon. I don’t think he ever expected me to impose on his hospitality. But if Mohammad won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammad.”

More of the Fates’ words from his dream came back. “Are you talking about my trip to France?”

“Yes. You were supposed to visit Marseilles, you see. While you were there, you would have found your way to my cavern and I would have begun your instruction.”

Another of those cold washes of dread trickled down Matt’s spine. “Whoa, wait. Instruction? For what?”

“To replace me as the Oracle of the Waters.” Another ferocious smile. “I’m not actually immortal, you see. Just very long lived. But even my life is winding to a close, and someone must take over my position and my responsibilities. And out of all the mortals on this planet, I’ve chosen you to do that.”

****

Ten minutes later, Matt slammed back into the cottage and stalked into the kitchen. Grabbing the bottle of Scotch from the counter, he found a glass in one of the cabinets and poured himself a triple. He barely felt the liquor as he swallowed it in two huge gulps.

Nick materialized, pausing in the doorway. “I take it that didn’t go well?”

Matt glared at the doctor. “That’s a fucking understatement, my friend.”

“Okay. Well, it’s never a good idea to day drink alone, so…” Nick pried the bottle out of his hand, then grabbed another glass and poured himself a reasonable single. “You’ve been given your marching orders?”

“Marching orders? Marching orders?” His voice rose to a bellow on the last phrase. “Do you know what that old hippie in the cottage over there just told me? Apparently I’m the new Oracle of the Waters.” He started to pace the length of the kitchen, clutching the Scotch glass like a life preserver. “I’m supposed to give up everything in my life and go live in a fucking cave on the coast of fucking France so that fucking sea creatures can come and get me to consult with the fucking Fates on their problems.”

“Huh. Yeah, that must have come as a surprise.” Nick took a sip of his Scotch. “Is it the cave part that bugs you?”

The sheer laid-backness of the doctor made Matt want to throw the glass at a wall. “What’s bugging me is that I came out here for two weeks to get over my damn divorce before I have to go back into the trenches. And suddenly not only do I get dragged into some sort of weird-ass battle against a crazy goddess, but I’m supposed to become the supernatural world’s version of Dear Prudence. In a cave.”

“So it is the cave part.”

“Gimme that.” Matt snatched the Scotch bottle back and poured himself another double. “How the hell do I get out of it?”

“I don’t think you can. It’s one of those fated things.”

Nick’s matter-of-fact tone made him flinch. “Jesus Christ. I dreamed about them last night,” he said. “The Fates, I mean. We were having beer and hot wings at a sports bar. They told me—” He stopped. “They told me I was about to get a new job. And a new romance. Who the fuck is going to want to date a guy living in a cave?”

nicolacameron

Available on Amazon.


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Mid Week Tease: Red Robin and the Huntsman #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with one last snippet from my holiday novella Red Robin and the Huntsman before its release next week!

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


Duncan woke early after a fitful night’s sleep interspersed with dreams about Robin. In one she was being carried off by brigands, and in another pirates. Despite his best attempts at carving a path through the men he could never reach her in time and was forced to listen to her screaming for help as she was borne off by her captors.

Out of sorts, he dressed and headed down to the chilly dining hall. From the smell in the air, there would be no meat or eggs available for breakfast this morning. His suspicions were confirmed when Adele hauled a cauldron full of oatmeal into the hall and started dishing it out. “There’s no raisins, I’m afraid, and we don’t have cream,” she said apologetically as she placed a steaming bowl in front of him. “But there’s some fresh milk and I can fetch a bit of sugar, if you like.”

Unappetizing as it was, the oatmeal was still better than some of the things he’d eaten on patrol. “This is fine, thank you.” Duncan reached for the salt cellar and sprinkled some on the oats. The contrast between the beige glop and the elegant pewter bowl acted as a sobering barometer of the Busse family’s finances.

To his surprise, the next person in the hall was a young boy, his reddish-brown hair cut neatly in a bowl crop and his large brown eyes bright and intelligent. “Hello,” he said as he climbed onto a chair. “You must be one of the soldiers come to help Ser Arthur.”

“I am,” Duncan said, twigging to the boy’s identity, “my lord. Captain Duncan Bardahlson, at your service.”

“I’m Charles Busse, Count of Wellen. But you can call me Charlie.” The young count beamed at Adele as she served him. Duncan noted that she took a sugar bowl from the sideboard, carefully scraping out grains of brown sugar to sprinkle on the boy’s breakfast. “It must be very exciting to be a soldier. Have you fought many thieves before?”

“Once or twice, aye. Usually horse thieves, although there was one time when I had to track down a jewel thief.”

The boy’s eyes widened. “Really? Did you catch him?”

“Her. And yes, I did.” The rest of that tale wasn’t appropriate for young ears, however, and the lady in question was now happily married to the jewel merchant she’d been robbing so everything had worked out in the end. “We’ll be heading out this week with Ser Arthur’s men to guard them while they collect the taxes.”

Charlie’s feathery brows lowered at that. “Do you think the thieves will attack again?”

“If they do, they’re very foolish. But we’ll be ready for them if they do.”

Ewan and Hamish picked that moment to troop in. Duncan made the introductions while Adele scooped out more bowls of oatmeal. Ewan gave his breakfast a disgusted look, but dug in while Charlie continued to ask questions about the upcoming tax collection. Duncan couldn’t help but be impressed with the child’s canny inquiries. Aye, you’re definitely your mother’s son.

Ser Arthur was the last to make an appearance, grimacing at the food. “Adele, why are we serving our guests oatmeal?” he asked. “I specifically requested ham steaks and eggs. You can’t expect soldiers to ride on this slop.”

Adele pressed her lips together. “We don’t have any ham steaks or eggs, Ser Arthur,” she said stolidly. “My lady said this was to be served for breakfast. ”

“Ach. Women.” Devines shook his head as he took his seat. “I’m sorry about that. I had asked for a proper breakfast, but this home clearly needs a stronger hand on the reins, eh?”

Charlie’s face reddened at that, and his fist tightened on the spoon. Quickly, Duncan said, “Oatmeal is quite filling and sticks to your ribs, Ser Arthur. The fact that we’re eating a hot breakfast at all is a pleasure, truly.”

“You’re too kind, captain. We’ll have to do better for you after you return.” After ordering Adele to bring him milk and sugar, the tax collector started on his own breakfast, orating between bites about his service to the king and how he would have gone into the army, “except I have these bone spurs, you see. Would’ve made me quite useless on the front lines.”

Duncan decided not to mention that a decent Terra mage could have healed something that minor. “Does that mean you won’t be coming out with us, Ser Arthur?”

Devines waved a sticky spoon at him. “Oh, no. Best for me to stay here and coordinate, don’t you think? I have full faith in you and your men’s abilities to keep the king’s taxes safe, captain.”

In other words, he didn’t want to travel in the cold weather. Duncan glanced at his brothers. Neither of them did anything as blatant as roll their eyes, but he could tell they both shared his rapidly dropping opinion of the tax collector.

Despite Charlie’s presence at the table, it was clear that Roberta wouldn’t be making an appearance at breakfast. Best to take that as a message and get on with it. “While we’re on the topic, gentlemen, may I suggest we head to Ser Arthur’s office after breakfast and plan out how we’re going to tackle the collection?” Duncan said.

The other men grunted in agreement, although Charlie seemed a bit forlorn. “Can I come with you when you gather the taxes, captain?”

Devines laughed loudly before Duncan had time to come up with a politic refusal. “Don’t be ridiculous, my lord,” the tax collector said, smirking. “You’re far too young for such a dangerous trip.”

The boy glared at the tax collector. “I’m not ridiculous, and I wasn’t talking to you, Ser Arthur.”

Devines’s smirk evaporated. “You impudent young pup. If you were my son, I’d take you over my knee for such impertinence,” he declared.

“But I’m not your son, am I?” Charlie shot back. “In fact, I’m count here, which means that I outrank you.”

Duncan cleared his throat before Devines could make matters worse. “My lord, while I appreciate your concern for your people and your lands, I’m afraid we can’t take civilians on this trip, what with the cold weather and the potential risk from brigands,” he said, careful to keep his tone respectful.

“But you’re taking Ser Arthur’s men,” Charlie pointed out.

Oh, he was most definitely Robin’s son. “They’re treasury employees, and as such are part of the royal government. Besides, it’s your duty as count to remain here and protect your estate and your mother.”

His words had their intended effect, and the boy nodded reluctantly. “All right. But I’d like to go into Halle this afternoon to see the holiday decorations. If you’re not leaving until tomorrow, you could take me there, couldn’t you?”

As if Robin would let him take her son anywhere. “We’ll have to ask your mother—”

“I’ll do it.” Limber as an eel, the young count slid off his chair and dashed out of the dining hall.

Devines huffed, tossing his napkin on the table. “You shouldn’t indulge the little rascal like that, captain,” he growled. “If I’d spoken to my father like that, he would’ve given me a taste of the strap.”

Duncan strongly doubted that Devines had ever felt so much as a flick on the ear, much less a strap across the backside, but he didn’t want to get into a discussion on child-rearing with the overbearing man. “I’m sure that her ladyship won’t want his lordship escorted off the estate grounds,” he said instead, scraping up the last of his oatmeal.

As it turned out, he was wrong. After the meeting had been wrapped up by a still huffy Devines, he’d gone to the stable to brush Fremder when he heard light footsteps behind him. They were followed by a tart, “So you’ve offered to take Charlie to Halle this afternoon?”

Duncan gathered himself, then turned to face his hostess. Robin was still wearing widow’s grey, but the shade held a hint of blue today. And even irritated, she was still beautiful enough to make his heart beat faster. “He wanted to go with us on the collection trip,” he said as evenly as possible. “I said that his duties were here, protecting you. He then asked if I could take him to Halle. I said it would be up to you. I assumed you wouldn’t want him going anywhere with me.”

Her eyes narrowed at his perfectly reasonable explanation. “Normally, I wouldn’t. But it would be good for him to attend the candle lighting ceremony this afternoon and tour the crafts fair. His people need to get to know him.”

She couldn’t seriously be suggesting… “Not being a nobleman, I’m not familiar with what airs and graces need to be put on for one’s people,” Duncan muttered, returning to his task.

She snorted, the sound still familiar even after so many years. “Oh, please. You needn’t sound as if I’m making Charlie out to be heir to the throne.”

There would be no finishing Fremder’s coat while she was there. Duncan turned back to her, currycomb in hand. “I’m not. I’m simply saying that I’m not a nobleman and I don’t know what goes into the job, all right?”

“I’m not asking you to tutor him in etiquette. But Charlie should go to Halle for the ceremony.”

“So take him.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

He realized his mistake when he saw her jaw muscles tense. “We had to sell the carriage and horses. All I have left is that grey mare.” She nodded at a pudding-like horse placidly chewing hay. “And it wouldn’t do for me to ride into town on her with Charlie on my lap like a baby.”

Her statement confirmed Duncan’s suspicions that the Busse family had fallen on hard times. He wanted to ask what had happened, but the set of Robin’s shoulders suggested that now was not the time. “You might have noticed that I don’t have a carriage, either, my lady.”

She shook her head. “You’re a soldier. If Charlie rides with you, that would be all right. You’d be his bodyguard for the day.”

He had set this trap for himself well and proper. “I need to finalize plans with Ser Arthur before we leave tomorrow,” he tried.

Now she gave him a disgusted look. “Charlie said you just spoke with Ser Arthur. And it’s hardly as if you’re planning an invasion. You ride with his men and yours, you collect the tax, and you fight off anyone foolish enough to attack your convoy. Anyone with a basic understanding of military strategy would know that.”

“True. But a good strategist would want to make sure that everything comes off smoothly.”

Another snort. “Fine. I’ll tell Charlie you were too busy working on tactics to take him to Halle.” She turned to leave.

The boy’s hopeful face appeared in his mind. Duncan sighed. “Is it really that important for him to go?”

Robin paused. “Yes. He needs to get out, to see his people. And it’s good for them to see him. Besides…” She trailed off, her shoulders dropping a bit. “He doesn’t ask for much. I hate telling him no for something this … small.”

Duncan fought off a sudden urge to take her into his arms, if only to cuddle her and give her some sort of reassurance that everything would work out in the end. Aye, and you know damn well she’d plant a knee in your bollocks if you tried it. Hands to yourself, man.

Although… If he was honest, it wasn’t actually a bad idea to go to Halle for the afternoon and get a feel for the town. If nothing else, it was better than spending the time listening to Devines’s interminable stories or staring at the gloomy ceiling in his room. And if he took Ewan and Hamish with him, the three of them could share babysitting—no, count-sitting—duties. “Fine,” he said, making sure that his tone was properly put-upon. “I’ll take him into Halle.”

An unexpected sheen appeared in Robin’s eyes, making them glisten. “Thank you.”


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Mid Week Tease: Red Robin and the Huntsman #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with a new snippet from my holiday novella Red Robin and the Huntsman. In it, we get a look at Duncan and Roberta: The Early Years, and see how things went sour between them. Man, I’m a mean author…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


Getting ready for bed was a matter of shucking out of the day’s clothes, giving himself a quick wash with the now-cold water left on the dresser, then climbing into bed. The sheets were as cold as the water, and Duncan wondered if perhaps his men in the camp weren’t better off after all. At least they would have a decent fire, unlike the pitiful pile of twigs burning in his fireplace.

Waiting for the bedclothes to warm up, he thought about the woman sleeping not a hundred yards from his own bed. I suppose I should consider myself lucky I have a room at all. Considering the way she was looking at me, she would’ve put me in the stables if Devines hadn’t spoken up.

He turned over in the chilly bedclothes and remembered a happier time…

****

“Hellas?” Roberta Duquesne’s eyes widened at the news. “For how long?”

“Six months, give or take,” Duncan said, pacing the length of her father’s sitting room. He’d come straight from the barracks with the news and was too excited to sit down. “Possibly longer if we’re held up by storms.”

Being chosen for the Ypresian military delegation that would be sent to the island nation was an incredible honor, especially for an ensign fresh out of the academy. The ambassadors of King Matthias and King Cresus of Hellas had been working for the past year on a massive trade treaty between their countries. After all the details were finally hammered out, it would be sealed by the marriage of the king’s son Crown Prince Lucas to the Hellene heir Princess Danaë, once both of them were old enough to wed.

Even better, the treaty would also involve co-training of the two countries’ military forces. This delegation was the test case to see how that could best be achieved. Duncan wasn’t all that enthusiastic about having to spend time on a boat, but the experience he would gain in Hellas would be invaluable for his career. Once he returned to Ypres, he would be one of the officers setting out the track for the entire army’s future. His father was already lieutenant commander of the Ypresian army; he might even surpass that someday and become Lord Commander himself.

So he was disappointed when Robin sank onto a chair at his news, confusion and dismay warring on her face. Her father, Colonel Gerard Duquesne, had served as the commandant of the military academy for the last ten years. Of all people, she should know that a soldier’s life wasn’t his own. “They only chose three ensigns to go,” he said now, trying to ignore his irritation. “If I do well in Hellas, I’m sure to be promoted within the year.”

She still looked miserable. “But you’ll be in Hellas for half a year, Duncan. That’s so far away.”

“Aye, but it’s the only way we can learn how to fight alongside sailors. They can come here for the land trials, but we have to go where the water is for the sea trials.” He paused in front of the fireplace, relishing the heat. It was only autumn, but Mons had already seen a light dusting of snow. Hellas is supposed to be warm year ’round. Perhaps I could bring her out there for a trip–with a chaperone, of course.

He glanced at her, wondering how to snap her out of this puzzling funk. Their fathers had been army comrades for years, their families mingling at holidays and other celebrations. For most of Duncan’s childhood Robin had been a thin, gawky, annoying girl who insisted on being included in his war games with Ewan and Hamish. After he had gone off to the military academy, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a renowned cavalry officer, all thoughts of Robin Duquesne evaporated from his head until his last year of school when his class was required to attend the academy’s Harvest Ball.

The event was held in order to give the future officers a semblance of social polish, and was always well attended by pretty young women eager to find a military husband. Reluctantly, Duncan had accompanied the other officer candidates to the ball, lurking on the outskirts of the dance floor. His unusual height presented certain disadvantages when it came to dancing; either the girl got a crick in her neck from peering up at him, or he spent the dance staring at the crown of her head. Granted, it also meant he got a good look at her bosom, but that tended to cause a certain reaction below the belt. The offset alignment in heights made it hard to hide his interest and had earned him a slapped face more than once.

He’d been on the verge of leaving when a tall, gorgeous redhead broke free from the feminine throng and approached him. Her pale teal gown made her look like a seamaid rising from the foam and outlined sleek curves that made his palms sweat. “Thank the gods you’re here, Duncan,” she said with a delighted smile. “Will you please dance with me and save me from the lead boots of your brother officers?”

With a start, he recognized Robin Duquesne. The annoying little girl of his memory had grown up into a stunning young woman. It took a moment to find his tongue, but he finally managed, “If you like. I’m warning you, I’m not much better.”

“At least you’re light on your feet. I’m willing to risk it.”

The sparkle in her eyes had been impossible to resist. He led her onto the dance floor, surprised at the way she fit so well in his arms, and found himself gliding around the ballroom with her as if they’d been dancing together for years. Without quite intending to, he found himself courting her. The sniping of their childhood slowly transmuted into easy bantering and a genuine rapport, spiced with sweet kisses and stolen caresses. Best of all, Robin had a knack for anticipating his thoughts, which was why her current dismay at his posting was so surprising.

“Six months isn’t that long, if you think about it,” he offered.

She scoffed at that. “Easy for you to say. What am I supposed to do while you’re off learning naval warfare?”

“I assumed you’d keep doing what you’ve been doing. Helping your ma, studying with your da, volunteering at the widows and orphans’ home, that sort of thing.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I see. So you go off to learn naval battle tactics, while I stay home with my parents and do charity work.”

Her chilly tone was as clear as a trumpet call to battle. “If there’s something else you want to do while I’m gone, you don’t need my permission,” he said, trying to sound conciliatory. “Go off and do it.”

“How kind of you. Unfortunately for me, the one thing I want to do requires the assistance of a husband.”

Duncan smothered a sigh. He knew she didn’t mean bedding, much as he longed to get her naked and under him. She wanted to marry him. “Robin, we’ve talked about this.”

“Yes, we have. You didn’t want to get married until you graduated. I could see your point, so I waited. Then, you had to find your footing in the army. Once again, I saw your point, so I waited. Now I learn that you’re heading off to Hellas for six months, give or take.” An elegant hand rose, opening in a sharp gesture. “Were you ever planning on marrying me, or was this all some elaborate ploy to stay in my father’s good graces?”

Duncan bristled. “That’s not fair, and you know it.”

“Isn’t it? I know Father was the one who drew up the list of officers to be sent to Hellas.”

“Which my da approved,” he shot back.

“Your father would’ve never put you on that list, and you know it. He’s bent over backwards to stay away from your military career.”

He tried to tamp down his rising anger. For the gods’ sake, why was she being so irrational? “I didn’t need my da’s help to get this posting, or yours,” he snapped. “I earned my way onto that list. I had the highest grades of my graduating class, and I’ve excelled at every training opportunity I’ve been given. I’m a damned good officer, Robin, and I deserve to go to Hellas.”

In prior years, she would have shouted at him, giving as good as she’d gotten. Now, her expression closed off, leaving him with a marble effigy of the woman he loved. Damn it, Robin, why can’t you see how this will help both of us? Sighing, he knelt down in front of her chair, taking her cold hands in his own. “Don’t you understand what this can mean for me, love? Quicker promotions, better postings, more money for a household.” He rubbed his thumbs over her delicate skin, trying to warm it. “And I need that money if I’m to marry you. Do you want to live in some run-down boarding house while I’m deployed? Because that’s all I can afford for you at the moment.”

She looked away, profile limned by the firelight. “I suppose not.”

“No, I didn’t think you would.” He lowered his tone, making it persuasive. “So I go to Hellas, do the best job I can do, and line things up for a promotion when I get back. And after that, we’ll get married, if that’s what you want.”

Now she turned back, storm-blue eyes focusing on him. “Is that what you want, Duncan?”

He paused, aware that he was treading on dangerous ground. He had always assumed that they would marry at some point. He had no issue with the idea, especially if it got Robin into his bed, but he wanted it to happen at the right time with regards to his career. Taking on a dependent (or more, if she got pregnant early) wasn’t on the schedule just yet.

But saying that out loud would just anger her even more. “Of course I want to marry you. And we’ll talk about it in more detail when I get back from Hellas, I promise.” He leaned closer, gazing into the storm-blue eyes he loved. “Trust me, Robin. Please.”

She hesitated for a moment, then nodded. “All right. Go to Hellas and make your mark. But I’ll expect regular letters, understood?”

“Of course, love.” He kissed her, breathing in her honeysuckle perfume as he memorized the softness of her lips. Gods, he truly would miss her. “I’ll write you every day, I promise.”

He had meant to keep that promise, even bringing paper, sealing wax, and ink with him to the island of Rhodope where the training would commence. But there had been so much to do, what with the working on the integration of Ypresian and Hellene fighting styles, teaching sailors how to ride horses and learning how to handle sail lines and tillers. And then there were the multitudinous tasks delegated to him and the other ensigns by their superior officers. By the time he reached his cot every night, he barely had enough energy to crawl under the thin cotton blanket and fall into dreamless slumber. He kept meaning to write to Robin, would remind himself to do just that the next day before drifting off. And then the next day would dawn and he would be back in the grind.

It wasn’t until his delegation was preparing to leave that he found himself with enough time to compose a letter. He had sat there, staring at the blank paper, a drop of ink hanging off the nib of his quill. Why even bother? It’ll take a week to reach her, and I’ll be there less than a week afterward. Better to save all the news for when I can tell her in person.

Cheered at the thought, he wiped off the quill and put it away. Two more weeks, and he would be back in Mons with his beautiful Robin. Everything would be wonderful then.


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Mid Week Tease: Red Robin and the Huntsman #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from my holiday novella set in the Two Thrones universe, Red Robin and the Huntsman. This is the scene where a captured Duncan first finds out who’s behind the banditry plaguing the province of Wellen. Heh, heh, heh…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


The first thing Duncan became aware of was a sullen, painful pounding in his head. Groaning, he tried to straighten up, and couldn’t.

Opening his eyes didn’t improve matters much. His smeary vision slowly came into focus, revealing a room in what appeared to be a small cottage. Its once-whitewashed walls were stained yellow with age and in dire need of repair. Glancing down, he saw that someone had tied him to a wooden chair.

The leader of the thieves came into view, peering down at him. “Good, you’re awake,” he said. The brazen tone from the raid was gone. Now he sounded conciliatory. “I was hoping we wouldn’t have to toss a bucket of water over you. Bit too nippy for that sort of thing, you see.”

“Thanks.” Duncan winced as the words set off echoes of pain in his skull. “Where am I?”

“Somewhere safe. The Redbird wants a word with you.”

“He does, does he?” That caused the painful fog to dissipate. “You do know how much trouble all of you are in, yes?”

The thief’s shoulders twitched. “I’m not the one tied to a chair, captain. Best mind your manners with the Redbird. None of us will tolerate lip.” He hefted his pike meaningfully.

Duncan tried to swallow, but his mouth was desert-dry. “Let’s get this over with. Send the bastard in.”

The thief shook his head, snorting. “You’ve got bollocks like boulders, my friend. On your own head be it.” He nodded to someone out of sight.

A figure in a long, dark red cloak with a hood strode into view. It was the stride more than the dramatic cloak that caught Duncan’s attention. Clearly this was the infamous Redbird, leader of the Wellen brigands.

“You shouldn’t have come here, captain,” the cloaked figure whispered, a harsh sound in the silence of the cottage. “Now we have to kill you.”

Duncan bit his lip to restrain a laugh. The dim illumination from the room’s fireplace couldn’t penetrate the shadows of the hood, presumably on purpose. He focused instead on the boots. Good quality, excellent even, unlike the footwear he’d noticed on the rest of the thieves. And on the small side.

He took in a deep breath. What he smelled on the cold, dusty air confirmed his suspicions. “You can always ransom me,” he offered. “My father’s lord commander of the royal army. He’ll pay for my safe return.”

The Redbird’s hood shifted, turning to the thief for a moment. “How much?”

“Oh, I’d say enough to pay for a decent breakfast with meat. Maybe even some bread as well.” He allowed himself a brief smile. “Your dining hall could do with some variety, Robin. A man can only eat oatmeal so many times.”

The cloaked figure let out a hissed curse before yanking back its hood. Lady Roberta Busse’s now-irritated face appeared, glaring at him. “How did you know?”

“Your walk. Men and women walk differently. Something about the difference in our hips, I suspect. Then I noticed your boots. They’re smaller than a man’s.” He shrugged as best as he could in the ropes. “Finally, I recognized your perfume. You still wear honeysuckle essence.”

“Damn it.” She planted fists on her hips, looking like a furious fire sprite with her flaming hair. Duncan’s treacherous heart ached at the sight. “So what now? Are you going to threaten me with prison? Haul me back to the capital in chains for theft against the crown?”

He had to be careful. He was still tied to a chair, and the thief behind his lost lady love was armed. “I could. But somehow I don’t think you’d risk capture and imprisonment, not to mention the ruin of your son’s reputation, just for gold.” He held up his bound hands. “Plus there’s the fact that I’m somewhat tied up at the moment. What say you cut me loose, then take a seat and tell me what in blazes is going on here.”


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Mid Week Tease: Red Robin and the Huntsman #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with a snippet from my holiday novella set in the Two Thrones universe. Titled Red Robin and the Huntsman, it introduces a few new characters to the series such as Duncan Bardahlson, the eldest son of Matthias’s lord commander Ferdal Bardahlson. And if you follow my FB or Twitter, you know who I cast as Duncan in my head, heh, heh.

When Duncan is sent (along with his annoying brothers Ewan and Hamish) to investigate bandits attacking tax collectors in a small province, he comes face to face with a lost love, the now-widowed Lady Roberta Busse. Will Duncan get a second chance at happiness with Roberta, or is he doomed to spend Frost Fair alone? You’ll find out in December!

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


They sat on the bed, Robin’s head on his shoulder. “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too. I’m sorry.”

“So am I. We were both fools.”

“No, just young and hotheaded.” Without thinking, Duncan kissed her hair. To his relief she didn’t push him away. “And stubborn as blazes.”

“That’s an understatement.” She chuckled. “Poor Charles. He thought he was getting a demure, gently raised flower as his wife. And he got me instead.”

“Aye. But from the sounds of things, that’s what he needed. Someone strong enough to hold things together when he couldn’t.”

She looked up at him. “And you didn’t need that.”

This time he kissed her forehead. “Says who?”

“Duncan.”

“No, I mean it. I needed you, Robin. I was too arrogant and foolish to tell you, aye. But I needed you.”

Praying he wasn’t doing the wrong thing, he kissed her lips. They were cool against his own, and his heart sank. I’m a fool, I never should have done this…

Then her mouth softened. He heard a small, hungry noise. He wasn’t sure which one of them had made it, and didn’t care. Raising his hand to cup the tangled silk of her hair, he kissed her harder. She responded, opening her mouth and meeting his tongue with her own.

It felt like coming home. She tasted the same as she had twelve years ago, when she was still Roberta Duquesne and he thought he had all the time in the world to woo her. He lost himself in the sensual, swirling dance and the sweet taste of her, the only woman he had ever loved.

And then they were stretched out over the heavy coverlet, Robin in his arms. Her breasts and belly pressed against him like he’d always dreamed, filling him with a hot craving to take her. He had enough presence of mind to pull away from her mouth, sucking in a breath. “If you want to stop, say so now. Please.”

****

Robin wasn’t sure if she wanted to laugh or cry at Duncan’s agonized question. If he moved away now and left her aching and unfulfilled, she’d go mad. “I don’t want to stop,” she breathed, stroking the soft prickly stubble on his cheek. “I need you. Please, Duncan.”

“Gods.” It was curse and prayer at the same time. His lips came down on hers again, a welcome invader claiming new territory. She surrendered happily, kissing him with all the passion that had lain dormant since Charles’s death.

One large hand with those long, clever fingers stroked her cheek, her throat, tracing lines of fire along her skin. They dropped down to the top of her chest, toying with the neckline of her nightgown but going no further. That was Duncan, a gentleman to the end.

Impatient, she grabbed his hand and placed it on her left breast. The lovely sensation of it made her groan, and the warmth of his palm caused her nipple to stiffen.

He chuckled against her lips. “Forward lass.”

“When was I not?”

“True.” He cupped her breast, squeezing gently before letting it go. Unlacing the ties of her neckline, he tugged it open and exposed her to the air. He gazed down at her breasts like a devout man might look at an effigy of the god Rebben. “So beautiful. Gods, Robin, you’re all cream and pink, like two cherry blossoms.”

The unexpected poetical description made her blush. “Baby-chewed, I would think.”

“No. Perfect.” His head lowered until the wet heat of his mouth surrounded her nipple. She whimpered when the velvet of his tongue licked across it deliberately, the sweet friction setting her on fire.

Duncan continued to make love to her breast with his lips and tongue, hand cradling the other one as if in reassurance. When he switched between then, she keened for a moment in complaint before his mouth worked new magic on her other nipple. Between her thighs a familiar, hungry ache began to grow.

“Wait,” she begged.

He let go of her breast with a soft pop. “What?”

“Take off your shirt. I want to see you.”

He hesitated, grimacing. “I don’t know why. I’m not nearly as lovely as you.”

“Please, Duncan. Let me look at you.”

Letting out a soft sigh, he leaned back and pulled off his shirt. It exposed an impressively muscled chest covered with dark, curling hair. “Ewan says I look like a bear,” he muttered.

“Ewan’s an idiot.” She wound her fingers into the crisp curls, lowering her face and taking in a deep breath. The scent of leather, salt, clean sweat, and a rich, dark musk tantalized her nose. “You have no idea how much I loved seeing you with your shirt off. I kept wandering past the exercise yard when you were sparring, hoping you’d get too warm and strip down.”

He blinked at her. “Truly?”

“Truly. I only wish I’d had the nerve to spy on you when you went swimming with your brothers.” She grinned up at him. “I always wanted to see you naked.”

And now he blushed. “You never.”

“I did. I used to daydream about that lovely band of muscle that disappeared into your breeches like a V. I always wanted to see how far down it went.”


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Mid Week Tease: Gentleman Jackson #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from “Gentleman Jackson” because I haven’t gotten into any of the sexy stuff in Cross Current yet. Besides, this’ll be out in less than three weeks in Evernight’s hot new antho Lawless — trust me, you’ll want to pick that one up.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


Colton’s place turned out to be a gorgeous three-bedroom loft in a converted factory building. Colton pulled out a burner phone and handed it to Ria, then headed off to the bathroom.

Taking a deep breath, she checked the unlabeled number on her phone and tapped it into the burner phone.

Two rings, then a familiar voice said, “¿Si?

“Carlos, it’s Ria,” she said in Spanish.
A pause. “This isn’t your number.”

“No, it’s a burner phone.” Quickly, she explained the day’s events in family code, glossing over names or identifying information that could be used by law enforcement agencies listening in. Carlos knew enough to fill in the details. “So I’m out of Dallas,” she finished, pacing along the length of the granite kitchen counter. “I’m going to stay with my friend for awhile.”

He chuckled softly. “Good. You were bored stupid in Dallas, hermana. This man you’re with, he’s a gentleman, a caballero?”

A memory of riding Colton flashed through her mind. She was grateful Carlos couldn’t see her blush. “He’s a gentleman, hermano. He’ll take care of me.”

Another pause, a longer one. “If he doesn’t, tell him there’s no hole deep enough to hide him from me, you understand?”

Si. I’ll send my details later.”

“Good. Te amo, hermana.”

Te amo también.”

The call cut off. Only then did she notice the sound of the shower. Putting the phone on the counter, she headed in search of Colton.

The bathroom was just as luxe as the rest of the apartment, with mocha wall tiles and coordinating floor tiles, a twin sink countertop over espresso cabinets, and a huge square tub in one corner. In the other corner was a large glassed-in shower area. Steam rose from it and she could just see Colton’s body through the foggy glass.
Stripping out of her clothes, she stepped into the enclosure. After everything she’d gone through that day, the hot water felt amazingly good. “How’s the nose?”

He turned, rinsing shampoo out of his hair and blinking at her through the cascading water. “I’ll live.” His voice sounded nasal and stuffy. “How are you?”

“Tired. Hungry.” She stroked her fingertips across his chest, laying her palms flat over his pecs. His nipples felt like little rivets against her skin. “Glad to be here.”

“Well, good, because I’m glad to have you here.” He finished rinsing and kissed her delicately, tilting his head to keep his injured nose out of the way. “You call your brother?”

“Yeah. He’s glad I’m safe, threatened to kill you if you hurt me, the usual macho bullshit.”

Firm lips curved into a smirk. “I don’t think it’s macho bullshit, especially coming from your brother.” His arms came down around her, hands slicking down her back and curving over her ass. He tugged her flush against his groin, holding her there. “Luckily for me, I intend to treat you like the lady you are.”

“God, I hope not.” She kissed his chin, careful not to touch his nose. “I mean, would a lady do this?”

She dropped carefully to one knee, resting her hands on his thighs for balance as she laid a kiss on his still-soft cock. Silently she prompted him to lean back against the shower wall. He did, playing with her wet hair as she started licking the silk-soft skin before taking all of his shaft in her mouth, enjoying the feel of it swelling on her tongue.

She finally had to let it slip out before it choked her, using her hand to pump the hardening thickness while she crouched lower and laved his balls with long, gentle licks. They didn’t look bruised, but she was acutely aware of the injury they’d taken earlier in the day. “If this hurts, tell me and I’ll stop.”

He let out a long, rumbling groan. “It feels great. Just be careful—they’re still a little tender.”

“Got it.”

She kept her licks gentle and loving, stroking the furry skin of his sac with her tongue while she caressed his cock with equally slow, gentle touches. Keeping one hand on his thigh, it wasn’t long before she felt the thick muscles there start to tense, then tremble.


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Mid Week Tease: Cross Current #MidWeekTease #MWTease

Mid Week Tease buttonIt’s Wednesday? Awesome! Because I have a little teaser for you from the WIP currently up on Scrivener, Cross Current (Olympic Cove #4). Here, my main character Matt has not only learned that Greek Gods, mermen, and selkies are real, but he has his own role to play in the battle against the Mad Goddess Thetis. He just wanted a few weeks of sun and fun before school started, poor sweetie.

Thanks go out to the lovely Angelica Dawson for doing this every week, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Matt’s tentative knock at the green cottage’s door was met by an unsmiling Griffin. “Hi. Welcome to Greek God Central.”

The repetition of Atropos’s phrase from his dream sent a chill down Matt’s spine. “Hi. Um, Pythia said that I should talk to Amphitrite?”

Griffin moved to the side, letting him in. “Right. She and Poseidon are busy with Donald at the moment. It might be awhile.” He gave Matt a sympathetic look. “How are you holding up?”

“I kinda feel like I got sucked into an episode of Stranger Things. Apart from that, I seem to be okay.”

“Yeah, sounds about right.” The Englishman took him into the kitchen, where he pulled two brown bottles out of the fridge and handed one over. “This’ll help.”

Matt read the microbrewery label. “I thought Brits didn’t chill their beers.”

“We do when we’re in Florida. I take it Nick gave you the scoop on what’s been happening here?”

“Crazy goddess trying to destroy Earth, a bunch of gods and other mythological creatures fighting her, yeah, I know.” He twisted off the bottle cap and took a welcome swig. “I’m not involved.”

“I’m not arguing. I’m new to the whole thing myself.” Although the knowing look in the Englishman’s eyes gave lie to his words. “How are your guests doing?”

“Nick’s treating them. The blond guy’s really a merman?”

“Yep, just like Aidan and Liam. You can probably talk them into going for a swim and showing you their tails.”

“Yeah, no, that’s okay.” He leaned against the counter, rubbing his thumb over the cool, sweating surface of the bottle. “I’m thinking maybe I should go back to Jupiter. If I can’t get my deposit back, I can crash with a buddy until school starts.”

Griffin folded his arms, leaning against the opposite counter. “If that’s truly what you think you should do, then do it. Nobody wants to keep you here against your will.”

Amphitrite picked that moment to appear, looking concerned. “Oh, good, Matt. You’re here. Donald wants to speak with you.”

He straightened up. “Donald?”

“The Oracle of the Waters. Tall man, white hair and beard, came out of the water with our other guests?”

He tried to get his tongue to work properly. “I—why does he want to talk to me?”

“I don’t know,” the goddess said, just a bit exasperated. “That’s something you’ll have to discuss with him.”

She gestured towards the hallway she’d just exited. Feeling like he was walking towards a firing squad, Matt slowly headed deeper into the cottage. Soft voices were coming through an open doorway and he peeked into what was clearly a guest bedroom

Inside, the old man from the beach had been dried off and tucked into bed, wet clothes piled on a chair next to the bed. Poseidon stood over him, handsome face lined as he listened to the man’s words. He glanced up at Matt’s arrival. “Oh, good, they found you. Donald needs to talk to you.”

“Um.” Matt edged into the room, studying the man in the bed. He looked to be about seventy, with Santa Claus-white hair brushed back from a high forehead and a slightly overgrown beard hiding a craggy face. His eyes, however, were his most notable feature. Pale as sea glass, they seemed to burn in that pale face.

“Ah. Matthew,” the man said, a faint lilt coloring his voice. “You’re quite the difficult man to track down.”

Dunn—no, Poseidon—turned and considered Matt. “You’re going to want to listen to him, I’m afraid.” The affable host from last night was gone. Replacing him was a being who radiated power and authority like nothing Matt had ever experienced before. Every rational cell in his body screamed at him to turn around, leave, jump in his car and head north until he was out of reach of the divinity standing in front of him.

“Hi.” He raised a hand and realized he was still holding the beer bottle. With a sigh, Poseidon plucked it out of his hand. “Um, yeah. Ammie said you wanted to talk to me?”

The sea god left, beer bottle in hand, and the man in the bed chuckled wearily. “Poor Poseidon. I don’t think he ever expected me to impose on his hospitality. But if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed.”

More of the Fates’ words from his dream came back. “Are you talking about my trip to France?” That didn’t make any sense.

But the man nodded. “Yes. You were supposed to visit Marseilles, yes? While you were there, you would have found your way to my cavern and I would have begun your instruction.”

“Whoa, wait. Instruction?”

The old man gave him a wide, white smile. “Yes. Every good teacher knows that learning never truly ends. I’m Donald, by the way.”

“Matt.”

“I know. Matthew Taber, teacher of history to indifferent teenagers, warrior, scholar. You’re my personal choice, you know.”

This was getting far too weird. “Okay, wait,” Matt said, grabbing the wet clothes off the chair and putting them on a nearby dresser. After wiping the seat dry, he sat down in it. “Personal choice for what?”

“To replace me as the Oracle of the Waters.” Another ferocious smile. “I’m not actually immortal, you see. Just very long lived. But even my life is winding to a close, and someone must take over my position and my responsibilities. And out of all the mortals on this planet, I’ve chosen you to do that.”

****

Nick closed the guest room door in time to see a red-faced Matt storm back into the cottage. He went straight into the kitchen and grabbed the bottle of Scotch from the counter, opening a cabinet and grabbing a glass before pouring himself a triple. Nick winced as the other man tossed back the drink in two huge gulps. “I take it that didn’t go well.”

Matt panted and blinked, sniffing hard. “That’s a fucking understatement, my friend.”

“Okay.” Nick reached down a glass for himself and pulled the Scotch out of Matt’s hand, pouring himself a reasonable finger. “You’ve been given your marching orders?”

“Marching orders? Marching orders?” Matt’s voice rose to a bellow on the last phrase. “Do you know what that old hippie in the cottage over there just told me? Apparently I’m the new Oracle of the Waters. I’m supposed to give up everything in my life and go live in a fucking cave on the coast of fucking France so that fucking sea creatures can come and get me to consult with the fucking Fates on their problems.”

“Huh. Yeah, that’s got to come as a surprise.” Nick took a tiny sip of his liquor. “Kinda know all about that sort of thing myself.”

Matt had started to pace the length of the kitchen floor. “Really? Because I don’t see you going off to live like a fucking monk in a goddamn cave.”

Nick had to give him that. “Is it the cave part that bugs you?”

The pacing man stopped, glaring at him. “What’s bugging me is that I came out here for two weeks of sun and relaxation to get over my damn divorce before I have to go back into the trenches. And suddenly not only do I get dragged into some sort of weird-ass battle against a crazy goddess, but I’m supposed to become the supernatural world’s version of Dear Prudence. In a cave.”

“So it is the cave part.”

“Gimme that.” Matt snatched the Scotch bottle back and poured himself another healthy knock. “You say you know about this sort of thing. How the hell do I get out of it?”

“I don’t think you can. It’s one of those fated things.”

The teacher twitched at that. “God. I dreamed about them last night, you know? The Fates. We were having beer and hot wings at a sports bar. They told me—” He stopped. “They told me I was about to get a new job. And a new romance. Who the fuck is going to want to date a guy living in a cave?”

“I think you’re a little fixated on the cave thing.”

They both turned. The blond merman leaned into the entrance to the kitchen, hands on either side of the entryway and still naked as when he first came out of the water. Nick gave him an admiring once-over. The wide shoulders, thick chest, and well-muscled arms common to merfolk tapered down to a narrow waist and a nice Adonis belt of V-shaped muscle. And under that was a great cock, not too large and not too small, nestled on top of a set of heavy balls and surrounded by a short cloud of dark gold hair.

From the corner of his eye he spotted Matt going very still, then looking away quickly. Interesting. “Uh, hi,” the man muttered.

“Sorry. You were shouting. Kind of hard to ignore it.” The merman padded over to them, holding out a huge hand. “I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself. I’m Finn.”

Nick shook his hand. “Well, that’s appropriate.”

Finn chuckled once. “I know, right?” He offered his hand to Matt. “Thank you for taking us in. You’ve got my eternal gratitude for that.”

“No problem.” Matt’s voice was slightly strangled as he shook the mer’s hand. “Do you want me to get you some pants? I think I have a pair of sweats that’ll fit you.”

Finn glanced down at himself. “Sure, why not?”

“Okay.” Stumbling just a little, Matt headed out of the kitchen, Scotch glass still in hand. Cheerful, Finn watched him go. “He’s cute.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Thanks to his agapetos Nick already knew that most mers were bisexual. “How’s your friend?”

Finn sobered. “Still sleeping. He’s not used to swimming that far. I told him to stay behind, but…” He grimaced. “Damn Fae. Stubborn as all hell.”

“How did you wind up with the Oracle, anyway?”

Now the big mer looked uncomfortable. “We’d gone to him to get some advice. When we got there, he told us the price for it would be us escorting him here. I wanted Duncan to stay at the cave, but he insisted on coming along.”

From his accent, Nick placed him as somewhere along the upper East coast. Swimming back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean was something a mer could do, albeit with effort. But to have a seal, even a magical one, in tow turned it into something impressive. “How are you feeling?”

Finn spread his hands. “I’m fine. Hungry. Worried about Duncan. Is the Oracle all right?”

“I haven’t had a chance to go check on him yet. I was going to go do that now. Will you be okay if I leave you here?”

“Oh, sure.” Finn glanced in the direction Matt had taken. “He’s not going to shoot me or have me stuffed and mounted, right?”

“I think his mind is on other things at the moment.”

“Then I’m good. And thank you again for taking care of Duncan.”

The sudden tenderness in his voice said a lot about his relationship with the selkie. Nick was used to unusual hookups happening on the cove, but a mer and a Fae getting together was something he wanted to hear about later on. “If anything goes wrong, I’m in the yellow cottage own the beach. Come get me, okay?”

“I will.”

Nick headed out, wondering how well Matt was going to adjust to his new reality.

nicolacameron


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