Fiery First Chapter Friday The Tiger Queen

Host’s Note: Please check out every Friday for Fiery First Chapter Fridays, where there may be giveaways but there will always be a good time.

Title: The Tiger Queen
Author: Raisa Greywood

I’m the last of the Andreyev tigers. My species is extinct, except for me. Tigers used to be considered royalty. Atlanta is cold and dark now, and no safe haven remains in the once vibrant city. The devastating solar storms a hundred years ago saw to that. There is no prey and no chance for a mate in this poisoned world. Hunger and attrition have no respect for the shifter hierarchy, though. I am empress of a dying empire.
Aliens from a place called Ximera offer safe haven for humans. They want mates, too, and they offer fresh air and green space. It’s very tempting, and my tiger is hungry. My misgivings are put to rest when I go to the Exodus Authority and see the face of my mate. He is arresting. Not human, but his otherness is enticing. Even through a vid screen his fathomless brown eyes bore into my soul, and I want him. He is mine. And I don’t give a rat’s ass about who I have to eat to get him.
Chapter One
Atlanta, Georgia

Sendra closed her book and peered down at me, her brown eyes sharp. She adjusted the fussy lace collar buttoned to her chin and brushed a stray hair from her blue dress. “Did you enjoy the story?”
“Yes, but I still prefer Shakespeare.”
Chuckling, she patted my head. Her patronizing touch made me feel like a cub, as did my uncomfortable position on the floor at her feet.
“It’s important to explore literature, Miss Andreyev. You might find something else you enjoy just as much.” Her smile faded as she took the book and put it on the table next to her chair. “We have to talk.”
I stood and stretched, my back cracking. “What about?”
“I want you to go to the Exodus Authority.”
“I don’t need or want a mate.” I returned her teacup to the kitchen. It hadn’t held tea, of course. It was just filtered and boiled water, but she liked the tiny reminder of life before the storms.
“Have you considered cubs?”
“Why bother?” I left the cup in the sink and went to her bookshelf. “Do you want me to read? I can almost do Gulliver’s Travels.”
I refused to talk about cubs. That wasn’t an option for either of us. Sendra was too old, and I’d never found a male worth a mating bite. Though the few Ximerans I’d seen hadn’t been cruel or unappealing, I had no idea if one of them would make a good mate. Living on Earth wasn’t easy, but I had no idea what Ximera was like. The Ximerans promised a bountiful, healthy environment, but what if they lied? If things didn’t work out with my mate, would they let me stay? I couldn’t come back to Earth. Even if I found someone to take me home, I was slowly starving here.
”Pussy. There will be prey there.”
I ignored my tiger’s caustic comment as Sendra sighed and shook her head. “I’m going to ground. I want you to give a sample and –”
“No.” The book I’d chosen tumbled to the floor, my fingers unable to hold its weight. “I keep you safe here.”
Chuckling, she said, “I’m afraid not even the mighty tiger can protect someone from old age, Renata. My jackal and I have seen too much, and she’s very tired.”
“I said no.” I picked up the book and slammed it into place, making the bookcase shudder. “It’s a stupid idea. I won’t let you do that.”
“You can’t stop death.” She was silent for a moment, then added, “It comes for everyone, sooner or later.”
I shivered at her hollow whisper and replied, “Try me.”
She growled, the low rumble vibrating her thin frame. Without warning, she sprang at me and opened a gash on my face with her claws, leaving me bleeding. I covered the wound with my hand and stared at her in shock.
“Why are you doing this?”
“You are no longer welcome here, Miss Andreyev, and you’re too stubborn to do as you’re told. Leave now, and do as I’ve asked.” Blood dripped from her claws as she crouched and leapt for me again.
I dodged out of the way, upsetting her table and chair. She hissed, her teeth bared.
Tears welled in my eyes, and I backed away from her, shaking my head in denial. “I can’t leave like this.”
Fangs glistened between her thin lips. “I’m over a hundred years old, cub. I’m going to die, and I prefer to do it on my own. You’re going to leave this place and find a mate and have cubs. That is all I want from you.”
“But…” She snarled, and I ducked when she threw a book at my head. I held out both hands as I backed away. “Okay. I just…” I sniffed against the tears thickening behind my eyes. “I’ll miss you, Sendra.”
She didn’t answer and I left her den, my tears falling to mix with the blood on my face. I’d abandoned my best friend, and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. Without Sendra, there was nothing for me on Earth.
I sobbed, the breath tearing in my throat as I ran. A human darted across the street to avoid me, engaging my tiger’s prey drive, but he was too old and sick to provide any sport. I left him alone and kept running, not knowing or caring where I was going.
The cut on my cheek itched as it closed, but I didn’t bother to wipe the blood away. I wondered if Sendra had attacked me in the hope I’d ease her passing. One swipe of a claw across her throat would have done it. I just couldn’t. She would sneer and call me weak and too emotional, but she’d been my only friend for my entire adult life.
Everyone knew the story of Earth’s fall from grace. Seven years of solar storms knocked out our ecosystem almost a hundred years ago. Humans might have handled the resulting ice age, but the collapse of humanity was ultimately caused by such a simple thing. Bees. The honeybee that pollinated most food crops became extinct before the third year. It was humanity’s swan song.
Sendra told me tigers had been considered royalty back then and jackals weren’t considered at all. Before the storms, we wouldn’t have been friends. I’d never felt like royalty, though. The throne of the Andreyev tigers had long been crushed under the weight of poisoned destruction.
I tugged my jacket closer against the frigid breeze. Atlanta used to have hot summer weather, but the few people left in the city were lucky if daytime temperatures reached fifty in August. October would bring several feet of snow. The reek of poison and dying things filled the air and never cleared, even after the spring rains.
I slowed when I reached the carcass of my tree; one of the few bits of organic material left in old Atlanta. I always came to visit her when I was upset about something. I had no idea why I’d always thought of the tree as her. My bench was still there, a piece of stained marble with a chunk of concrete under one broken leg next to a broken statue of a man in a long robe. He had such a peaceful expression on his face, even though half his head was cracked away. The ruins of an old hospital surrounded the tree, its doors and windows long since scavenged, leaving gaping holes in the red brick.
I sat down and patted her lifeless trunk, leaning back to stare into skeletal branches. I tried to imagine what she must have looked like. I wanted to picture her with leaves, but I’d never seen a living plant except in Sendra’s books.
She would stand forever, dead, but a lasting testament to life on Earth. The empty hulks of concrete that had housed businesses and homes were the humans’ mark on the planet, but my tree was true evidence of life that existed beyond the machinations of humans. I closed my eyes, soaking in the peace of this sacred place and tried to remember how to pray.
“Pretty girl. We’ll have some fun and take that nice jacket she’s wearing.”
I heaved out a sigh and rolled my eyes. Though I couldn’t see the four men behind the south wall of the abandoned hospital, the fools thought they were far enough away that I wouldn’t hear them. I patted my tree one last time and left the dead garden, unwilling to foul my private space with a fight.
I had too much on my mind to make much sport of them, so I led them toward a quiet alley away from the clusters of occupied houses. They were either idiots or were new in town. Everyone in this neighborhood knew the only predator allowed in the city was me.
Their evil laughter followed me and I quickened my pace, wanting only to get the task over with and take care of the one thing Sendra had asked of me. The alley widened into a small courtyard, ending at a rusted chain-link fence blocked by abandoned cars on the other side. There was enough room to get behind them and cut off their escape. I could smell their excitement as they hurried toward me.
“Wait up, pretty!” The largest of the four shouted after me as I reached the fence. He was the only one who didn’t look on the brink of starvation, and it marked him as our first kill.
They spread out, thinking they had me trapped. The men wore heavy packs on their backs, bedrolls tied to them. Though I didn’t see a gun, I could smell the acrid scent of oil and metal. Knitted hoods covered their faces. My nose twitched at the stench of violence and hate emanating from them.
“Hey, little girl! Give us that jacket and maybe we won’t hurt you too badly! I’ll even give you a cut on the other side of your face so you’re sym… Sym something.” He grinned, showing blackened teeth as he pulled a worn knife from his pocket. The stupid thing wasn’t even four inches long. My claws were longer. Emboldened by the fence at my back, he moved closer, brandishing his poor weapon.
“I believe symmetrical is the word you’re too stupid to find.”
His face wrinkled into a vicious grimace of hate. “I’m gonna cut you good for that, bitch!”
I ignored him. I held my tiger back as I waited for them to get closer. We would end this threat to our home and distribute their belongings to the needy. There was an elderly couple a few blocks from our den who could use their warm clothes and whatever they carried.
The large one rushed me, his knife held high. I shook my head and allowed the tiger her freedom. We heard the humans’ curses as mist covered us. In the scant second during our shift, I could stare into her fathomless blue eyes, as she could into mine. It was the single moment we had no physical shape and knew each other as separate beings sharing a single body. Then fur popped and flowed, the sensation like ants on my skin. Bones ground against joint as they changed shape and moved, the sharp pain gone within seconds. The leader dropped his knife and took a single step backward. We wrinkled our muzzle into a snarl as we waited, enjoying the moment of shocked silence before the screams.
When our task was done, I pushed the tiger aside and returned to my human form, pulling on the clothes I’d left in a heap when I shifted. I didn’t bother rummaging through their packs as I stripped the bodies and rolled their clothes into a blanket I’d retrieved from one of the bedrolls. They had nothing I wanted, but my elderly neighbors might find something of value once the items were cleaned.
An old woman stood at the alley entrance, her threadbare coat pulled close around her frail body, the hood concealing her hair. I didn’t know her, but recognized her scent. She nodded once and turned to walk away.
“Wait!” I caught up to her and handed her the warm coat the gang leader had been wearing. My neighbors didn’t need so much. Tears filled her eyes, and she gave me a hard hug before hurrying away. I shivered at the sensation of being touched by a stranger as I continued toward my destination. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was… odd. Humans never touched me willingly.
Sendra had wanted me to submit a blood sample to the Exodus Authority. Those had been her last words as she’d chased me from her den. Earth wasn’t much of a tourist destination these days, but men from a system called Ximera had been collecting human women for almost two years, using genetic tests to match potential mates.
I wasn’t interested in a mate. They left you alone when they died. Just like my father had done to my mother. Sendra had been right, though. I couldn’t survive here forever. Though humans managed to grow some food, hoarding heirloom seeds that were worth more than gold had once been, there was no prey, and no chance for a cub.
Would it be so bad to leave a dying planet? Sendra had been after me for months to go. I’d always refused, telling her she was more important than a mate, refusing to admit to myself that sheer age would take her long before I was ready to let her go. Without Sendra, there wasn’t anything stopping me.
“All right, you skinny old bitch. I’m going!” It had to have been my imagination, but I thought I heard her rusty laugh behind me as I made my way to the Exodus Authority.
I crossed the broken pavement leading to the stadium’s main entrance. A human guard let me through the makeshift barricade, and I stood in line behind several other women. I wondered how many would find mates in this Faustian bargain.
When it was my turn, a human nurse drew a blood sample and took my picture, then told me to come back in two days for my results. I wasn’t sure what I wanted the answer to be.
* * *
Darkandian Wormhole

“Does this thing never shut up?” I couldn’t disguise my irritation, and I slapped the comm to silence it. “Increase speed by three percent.”
My co-pilot muttered, but he was too obedient to question my orders. I should have been paying attention to the panel in front of me. Lights flashed and sirens blared as we approached the wormhole leading toward the dying planet that hosted my female. Yet I couldn’t. Her image was all I could see.
The picture submitted with the genetic match revealed a tall, angular woman with wide hips. The rest of her body was concealed by a black jacket. Her hair was gold with dark streaks, and she had blue eyes. She clutched her jacket close in the photo, but she was too thin, and I knew she hadn’t been eating properly. I frowned at the image and tapped the screen to enlarge it. Someone had struck her. My blood boiled at the healing cut on her cheek, and I hoped I would have enough time to track down whoever had marred her pretty face.
It was going to be fourteen Earth days before I could get to her, and it was unconscionable that a branded Ximeran Warlord should have to wait for anything he desired. But wait I must, because the laws of propulsion and gravity would not bow to my will. More’s the pity.
“Commander Rakon, communication from High Council on your comm link.”
I would give my battle commission to silence that damned Council, but I managed to smooth my scowl into a less threatening expression. When the screen loaded, I said, “What can I do for you today, Councilor?”
Councilor Harkon’s pudgy face filled the screen. His thick lips curled into a derisive smirk under muddy brown eyes, and the dome of his bald head gleamed.
“We hear you’re on your way to collect your specimen.”
Renata Andreyev was not a specimen, but I managed to dredge up a bland smile that hid my fury. “Yes, Councilor. It has been determined that she is my genetic mate.”
“Turn your ship around. The human Andreyev has been loaded into a transport and is en route. You are needed elsewhere.”
“I see. May I have the identification of this transport?”
“I don’t know it, and it doesn’t matter. Your specimen will arrive in approximately two Earth weeks as you intended. We require your presence in the seventeenth sector. The mission details should be loaded into your computer already.”
“Yes, Councilor Harkon.” I cut off the comm, ignoring his last few words.
Though every inch of my body wanted to keep going toward my mate, I did as I was ordered and turned my cruiser around toward sector seventeen. That sector was a perpetual thorn in my side, filled with bounty hunters, slavers, and the dregs of interstellar society. If they behaved themselves, we left them alone. No one could say they didn’t serve a purpose. Nearly everyone took advantage of delicacies only available from the smugglers. Wine and spirits, rare foods, and textiles all found their way through sector seventeen for distribution elsewhere.
I didn’t understand why the Council was intruding on my task, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t give a fuck about the black market, or about whoever I would have to kill in sector seventeen. In two weeks, pretty Renata with the white-gold-and-black-striped hair would be in my bed.
Would she like me? It wasn’t necessary to court a genetic mate, but she would have no idea about our ways. I wished my mother was still alive to help me with her, but she’d died of the same wasting disease that took most of our females. Damn Krenions. I wish there was one left so I could kill it, but I’d already killed the last of the pestilential species who had introduced the devastating plague a dozen cycles ago. And good riddance.
Pushing the thoughts away, I checked our location. I’d reach sector seventeen in a few days. That would give me plenty of time to scan my collection of old Earth vids. I loved Golden Girls. Earth females were almost indistinguishable from their Ximeran counterparts, and Blanche reminded me of my mother. Maybe I liked it because I hadn’t seen an aged female in… I couldn’t remember the last time.
The vids became popular when it was discovered that humans could be potential mates. We shared a similar physical appearance, though Ximerans tended to be larger. Humans also had a wide variety of skin and hair coloration, ranging from shimmery black to skin as pale as the blossoms of the orcan tree. Ximerans weren’t lucky enough to enjoy such diversity. Our scientists told us we shared a common ancestor with humans, though it had been many hundreds of thousands of cycles ago.
Most Ximerans watched those old vids to get some idea of Earth culture, along with assistance in learning English. Though humans had a vast number of languages, we’d chosen the one used for telecommunications and transport. Their lives seemed strange, but the vids were a hundred Earth years old. The Ximeran cycle was close enough to a year to make the difference negligible.
Things were different now. I’d seen what was left of Earth. The storms had destroyed nearly everything, and I was shocked anything had survived. Humans must have been a very resourceful species.
Nothing I watched helped me find something to woo the beauty on her way to me. I wondered if I was wasting my time. The vids were ancient and from a time when the planet had been healthy. I turned my attention to the planet’s literature. Unlike the vids, the books had short synopses, allowing me to search by keyword. Mates and joining produced nothing of note, so I tried love and marriage, terms I’d heard before in the humans’ lexicon.
That search produced more titles than I cared to manage, but one caught my eye because it was less than fifty thousand words and would take an hour to read. It had a picture of a couple locked in an embrace, the male’s arms wrapped tightly around his female as she gazed up at him.
When I finished, I closed out the book and chose another of the same type. If the first was to be believed, a male need only be rich and give a female pleasure until she fell gratefully into his arms. I met the first requirement, and was determined to meet the second.
From the two books, I learned the mistakes the males made that hurt or angered their females. Blackmail, confinement, harsh words, and humiliation. Those human males were a cocky bunch and lucky their mates were gentle creatures. None of that would have gone over with Ximeran females. A male would have come back missing parts — if he lived to come back at all.
* * *
Atlanta, Georgia

I was at the Exodus Authority an hour past dawn on the third day after I’d given my sample. I’d spent the last two days watching Sendra’s den in the misguided hope that she would come to her senses and forget her wish to die.
No one answered my knock. No one twitched a curtain or turned on a light. There was no scent or sound of movement. I cried as I walked away, knowing she was already gone. My tiger yowled in a vain attempt to get me to pay attention. In this world, emotion got you dead. I couldn’t afford to show my grief in public.
I hid in the remains of a building to give myself time to calm down. I sat there for hours, watching women walk in and out. I wanted to laugh at their hopeful expressions. One cried as she walked straight into the arms of a human man just a few feet away from my hiding spot.
If I didn’t have my tiger’s hearing, I’d have missed her soft whisper. “I didn’t give them my blood, Seth.”
“Lisa, you promised.” The man took her hand and pressed his lips to her gloved palm. “You promised you’d go if they found a match.”
She stopped walking and looked up into his face. She put her hands on his cheeks and tears streamed from her eyes. “I know. I just… I couldn’t. A life without you is no life at all. Whatever time we have left, I want to spend it with you.”
“Oh, honey.”
I smelled the man’s tears as he took his woman into his arms. My chest ached at what he’d been willing to sacrifice for her, and a sob choked me as it tried to escape my throat. I couldn’t fathom a love so deep. I watched them for a long time after they walked away.
When I couldn’t see them anymore, I shouldered my pack and walked toward the stadium. I didn’t know if I would find that kind of love on Ximera, but I knew I wouldn’t find it on Earth.
The human guard stepped in front of the barricade as I approached. “State your name and business, please.”
“Renata Andreyev. I’m here to find out the results of my blood test.”
The guard’s eyes brightened. “We’ve been waiting for you. Follow me, please.” He led me down a hall into a small room furnished with a metal table and two chairs.
“Have a seat, Miss Andreyev. The magistrate will be with you shortly.”
The door shut behind the guard with a metallic clang. I flinched at the noise. My tiger paced in my head, uncomfortable with the confinement.
Several minutes later, the door opened, revealing a human male followed by a tall figure. I thought it was male, but I wasn’t sure. Even my tiger was confused. We both loathed the creature on sight. It reeked of old blood and violence. My tiger wanted to kill it, and I couldn’t disagree. I soothed her with a single word.
“Soon,” I whispered. The single word calmed her, but she didn’t stand down.
The creature either didn’t notice my reaction, or it didn’t care. I had to force myself to listen to the human’s words.
“I am Magistrate Smith. I am responsible for administering the exchange program between Earth and Ximera. Blood tests have determined that you are the genetic mate of Warlord Rakon of Ximera 8.”
He placed a tablet on the table, bearing a single image of the male my blood told them would be my future mate. My tiger sniffed in derision, but I ignored her. Instead of an unknown alien male, I had a name and a face. And I liked what I saw.
Rakon was bulky with muscle under a skintight black uniform. Weapons were sheathed at his narrow hips, making him look dangerously competent. Unflinchingly, his dark brown eyes met the camera, stern, yet filled with excitement. Black hair fell past his shoulders in an inky trail, and my fingers itched to touch the dark strands.
I’d never seen a more visually appealing male. He stood next to a doorway with marks denoting his height. His head reached well past the two-meter mark. Thick eyebrows curved upwards at the ends, trailing into a point high on his temples. A stylized brand marked the tender skin under his left eye, swirling into an infinity symbol on his jaw. He obviously wasn’t human; he was too damned big for that. Aside from his size, his bone structure was almost catlike, with high cheekbones, square jaw, and tilted eyes. His nose was thin and aquiline, with a small bump in the middle as if it had been broken and poorly set.
“I accept.”
The tiger yowled at me, displeasure evident in every note. I didn’t care. I liked the look of this Rakon and couldn’t understand why she didn’t. He was gloriously male, and the most beautiful being I’d ever seen. I wanted to see him. Smell him. We had to wait until we could catch his scent before we refused him. “Will there be grass and fresh air?”
“Of course. Ximera 8 has a clean and healthy environment.” The human gave me a wide smile and pulled me into a brief hug. I flinched at the touch, reminding my tiger that the Magistrate meant no harm, though I didn’t understand why strangers were so determined to hug me now, when it had never happened before. “I wish you the best of luck, Miss Andreyev. When you’re ready to leave, Mr. Morris will escort you to your shuttle.”
“Thank you.” I shook his hand and turned to face the pale creature. It gave me a sneering smile and claws erupted from my fingertips. I balled my fists to hide them, but wanted nothing more than to remove its face from the front of its head. I soothed the tiger with images of taking half its skull for good measure.
Aggravated chuffing told me she wasn’t appeased. I told her we could kill Rakon and his transport crew if he wasn’t pleasing.
They allowed me an hour to pack, but I didn’t need it. I carried everything I cared about. The creature escorted me through the empty space in the center of the stadium and up a ramp into a waiting ship. I flinched when the ramp slid into the hull and the bulkhead doors slammed, cutting off any chance of escape. A cold hand touched my arm, and I jerked away. How could its hand be so icy through the thick leather of my jacket?
“Don’t touch,” I hissed.
The creature’s face rearranged itself into what I thought was a frown, but it nodded. “Fine, human. Follow me.”
It led me past several others of the same species. They were all pale, almost stick-thin, and all bore the stench of old blood. My nose wrinkled, and I had to stop myself from opening my mouth in the feral grimace Sendra had called a Flehmen Response. It was a weird name for a way to better taste scents. I didn’t want to taste this odor, though. My tiger and I both knew what it was.
We reached an open doorway revealing a miniscule chamber I assumed would be my quarters for the trip. There was a tiny bed that might not be long enough for me, a small metal table, one chair, and a vid screen. It was claustrophobic, but I wouldn’t have to be here for long. In two weeks, I would meet my potential mate.
I walked inside and turned around to thank the creature, but to my surprise and increasing trepidation, he chuckled. The sound burbled wetly in his throat, sickening me as he pressed a button on the wall. The door slid closed with a solid whump, and I tried to quell my rising panic. Maybe they didn’t want me wandering around while the ship escaped Earth’s atmosphere. Maybe they wanted to keep me safe. Maybe…
None of my thoughts helped. I hated being trapped. No cat likes a cage, and I was worse than most. I supposed I could shift, but the room was too small to contain me if I went furry. The chamber was barely two meters square and didn’t even have enough space for pacing. I sat down on the cot, grimacing at the hard surface. I hadn’t thought I’d be traveling in luxury, but this was ridiculous.
I inhaled a calming breath, only then noticing the air had a sweet tinge I’d never encountered. The scent was almost sickening and soon became overwhelming. I opened my mouth, but the odor crossing my sensitive palate made me gag and spit. When my eyes grew heavy, I knew the odor was a drug.
Why would the creatures want me unconscious? It didn’t make any sense. I tried to shift, damning the small space, but the tiger refused to come forth. Black stripes formed on my hands, but I couldn’t finish and collapsed to the hard floor.
I heard laughter as the cadaverous alien returned and tossed me over its shoulder. It carried me down a corridor, its heavy footfalls echoing against metal. When we stopped moving forward, the alien pushed me off its shoulder onto a hard surface. I tried to open my eyes, but nothing worked. It might have been for the best, though. Wherever I’d been taken was so brightly illuminated that it hurt my eyes through the closed lids.
It rolled me to my back and straightened my limbs, chattering in a guttural language I didn’t understand. I heard a slam as something dropped over my head, but I didn’t have enough muscle control to flinch. Even though I couldn’t see, I knew I’d been closed into something. Was it a cage, or a stasis unit? I’d never seen a stasis container, but I knew of their existence.
A stasis unit meant one of two things. The aliens wanted me safely out of the way and contained for the trip, or I was going farther than was convenient without one. I hoped it wasn’t the latter.
Fresh air blew across my face, and I sucked in a lungful of the untainted breeze as the temperature dropped rapidly. The air changed and became thick with the drug the alien had used on me earlier. Holding my breath for just a moment, I had enough presence of mind to thank whatever deity people prayed to that they hadn’t shackled me.
Someone was going to be very sorry when I came out of stasis.

Roosters 1 Innocent and Sweet

Title: Innocent and Sweet by Megan Slayer
Series Title: Roosters, Book 1
Changeling Press
Short Story
M/F, New Adult

Anissa Dunn wants one man — Kameron. He’s got looks, brains and a boatload of attitude… and all that muscle. A girl can only take so much, and he’s her heart’s desire. She’s not afraid to give as good as she gets and she wants him to be her teacher in all things carnal.

There’s only one catch — he’s her bodyguard and the rules state she can’t date the staff.

But rules are meant to be broken…

Available from Changeling Press:
Universal Link:

Copyright ©2018 Megan Slayer
I will make him notice me. Anissa adjusted her dress. The cherry-red halter frock hung on her thin frame. So much for the correct fit. She sighed. No matter what she did, she couldn’t put on weight. She debated what to add to improve her figure. If she wore the leather jacket, she’d appear edgy. The clunky boots helped increase her height, so she was fine there. But her bust… drat. She peered down at her chest. A wave of nausea hit her as she thought about her dating past. Guys didn’t want to date a woman with a flat chest — or so they’d told her.
She spied the gel bra cups she’d bought during her last trip to the fabric store. If she had boobs, maybe the guy of her dreams would finally notice her. He had to.
Anissa stuffed the chilly padding beneath the cups of her dress. Her boobs looked huge. Instead of the burst of confidence she’d expected, she hated her reflection in the mirror. The additions didn’t fit her frame. But she had a date and no choice but to do her best to entice him. If fake boobs worked, then fine. She’d take her chances.
She donned the jacket, then grabbed her purse and hurried downstairs.
Kam stood in the foyer. He wore the same battered leather jacket, faded jeans and dark sunglasses as he always did. He touched his earpiece. “In position.”
Her heart fluttered. Kameron Stone personified sex in human form. Her nipples ached, and she pressed her knees together. She’d never been with a man and wanted Kam to be her first. If she had her way, he’d be her only.
Would he fuck her?
Better yet, would he love her the way she loved him?
“I have the package,” Kam said. “Preparing to leave.”
She frowned. The package. She didn’t have the honor of being referred to by her name. Gaining his attention wasn’t going to be easy. “I’m ready.”
Kam nodded. “This way, Ms. Dunn.”
“Anissa.” He’d used her last name. Dang it. She’d pleaded with him so many times to call her by her first name. Ms. Dunn was her mother. She was just Anissa.
“Ms. Dunn.” Kam escorted her to the front porch, then down the steps. He opened the passenger door of the limo. “After you.”
“Thanks.” She couldn’t leave the house without her trusty bodyguard, Kam. She settled on the seat and folded her hands on her lap. Kam would do anything to protect her, and she trusted him, but she was twenty-one and her father needed to put some faith in her. He’d sheltered her from everything. She didn’t resent him for trying — when she turned twenty-five, she’d come into a hefty sum of cash via the trust her mother had left her, but still. She’d gone to an all-girls college, a private all-girls high school and never spent more than a few hours on her own. She crossed her legs, and her skirt rode high on her leg. Did Kam notice? Did he care?
She swept her gaze over him as he sat beside her. Strong and silent. He wore his clothes like a second skin, could eviscerate anyone who tried to get too close, but Kam said so little. Half the time she had no idea if he listened to her. Knowing him, he tuned her out.
“Kam?” She shifted in her seat to face him. Her skirt rode higher. He didn’t pay her any attention, which rankled her. “Kameron.”
“Ms. Dunn.” He seemed to stare straight ahead.
She whipped out her phone. She couldn’t go through with the date. Not now. She sent a text to the driver, requesting he stay in the driveway. She’d sent the itinerary to the security team but saw no point in leaving the house. Kam wasn’t paying attention to her — not in the way she wanted. He didn’t seem to care.
She sighed. According to the magazines she’d bought, her college roommate and the dirty movies she’d watched in the middle of the night, she had to be aggressive and demand what she wanted. Sure… she could be aggressive. She could demand his attention. But she wasn’t sure how.
Anissa switched seats to face Kam. The car rolled to a stop, most likely in front of the house. She parted her legs and leaned back. “Kam.”
If he looked at her, she couldn’t tell.
“Ms. Dunn?” Kam tensed, and the muscle in his jaw twitched. “Are you okay?”
Nope. He hadn’t noticed her lousy attempts to entice him.
“I’m fine,” she mumbled. What a liar…”I’d like to talk to you.”

About the Author:
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on
When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. Find out more about Megan and Wendi at: Sign up for the newsletter here:
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Fall Beside You

GENRE: M/M Romance

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Gideon Valsecchi had done the impossible when he busted out of the grueling poverty and pre-ordained existence his life had been on the South Side of Chicago. His free ride at college is the stepping stone to a career with a professional soccer team. And when his dream comes true it’s not what he expects—sacrifice shouldn’t taste this bitter, especially when the love of his life is what he’s missing and can’t seem to hold on to.

Elijah Tucker wants to give Gideon Valsecchi the world on a silver platter. And he has the means to do it. But Eli is learning the truth of the maxim that the way you hold onto the thing you want most is to let it go. And while his heart breaks into a thousand pieces, he doesn’t come apart even when the worst happens. Because, even as cliché as it sounds…true love does find a way.


“I love you,” Elijah whispered, rubbing the bar of soap over Gideon’s chest.

To Gideon, those words were a hot shower, full stomach, and a hat trick combined; a phrase that he couldn’t remember ever hearing in his life. His father certainly hadn’t shared the sentiment with him, and while he couldn’t be certain whether his mother had or not, he somehow doubted she was ever able to see beyond her drug-induced hazes to recognize he existed to begin with. “I love you” was foreign and formidable. It felt like the promise of forever, which was what Gideon wanted and feared. He didn’t want to give up his fight and fall into forever, where life was comfortable and he was complacent. He didn’t want to let himself go.

“I probably do, too,” Gideon replied quietly, the statement he made when he felt too guilty to not muster a response.

“Yeah?” Elijah asked, his eyes bright with excitement.

It killed Gideon that his boyfriend was eager for any scrap of verbal affection. Endlessly, he admonished himself for not being able to lavish Elijah with more.

“Yeah,” he confirmed. Elijah never pushed or prodded. He was tirelessly patient and understanding. Though Gideon was grateful for that patience, he almost wished that Eli would put more pressure on him. He worked well under pressure; he thrived in situations where he had to perform. As much as he wanted to get there, he knew he needed several shoves in the right direction. Being moderately self-aware, Gideon knew if Elijah goaded him, it would lead to epic arguments and his signature obstinance, but then maybe there would be a breakthrough.

“I feel it,” Elijah murmured as several beads of water dripped from his eyelashes. He tucked his face into the crook of Gideon’s neck and kissed the slick skin. “That’s the important thing.” From his tone, it seemed the statement was more a reminder for himself than reassurance for Gideon.

“Do you feel it?” Eli asked. “I mean, I tell you, but do you feel that I love you? Do I show you?”

“Of course you do,” Gideon replied, taken aback by the question. “You’re so good to me, so perfect,” he promised, slotting his mouth onto Elijah’s.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Riley has always loved to write, believing that life has the possibility to be its most beautiful when it’s portrayed on the pages of a book. Feeling the need to create and liberate in the midst of the political landscape, Riley writes novels that focus on LGBTQ protagonists, wanting to honor a community that deserves better representation depicting lives, loves and triumphs in all facets of fiction.

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Fiery First Chapter Friday Her Cyborg Champion

Host’s Note: Please check out Fiery First Chapter Fridays. Sometimes there will be giveaways, always there will be a good time.

Title: Her Cyborg Champion
Author: Anne Kane

Tag Line An intergalactic game of hide and seek, with a sexy human female as the prize.

Blurb: Zoe is five feet, six inches of green-eyed, red-haired militant activist. A deeply ingrained need to help those who can’t help themselves — human and otherwise — motivates her every move. She snuck into the Mailon research facility to investigate rumors of experiments being conducted on a rare and highly intelligent species of sentient mammals. Now she finds herself in need of help to rescue one very sick little battle rat.
Greyson is six and a half feet of ruggedly muscular cyborg with a penchant for violence. He loves to fight, and he fights to win. What he hates is being sent to the Mailon research facility on a petty errand. When he catches a glimpse of a former lover flitting around the facility like an impossibly sexy cat burglar, he is intrigued. What is the saucy little wench up to, and why is she stalking him through the corridors of the alien laboratory?

Chapter One

“I’m sure you will find our new process fascinating.”
Greyson tried not to let the ingratiating tone of the scientist’s voice get under his skin. How had he managed to land himself an assignment where he had to tolerate this ass-kissing lump of alien-bred flesh?
He was a warrior, a fighter. His place was with the Terras Five Outer Rim Defense Fleet, not wandering down the halls of some obscure research facility with a fake smile pasted on his face. When he returned to Terras Five he’d make damn sure his name never came up for one of these assignments again.
“Here we are.” The ass-kisser stopped in front of a gray metal door and motioned Greyson to proceed him into the room.
A split second before he moved, flash of color in the very edge of his peripheral vision caused Greyson to turn to the left, but whatever it was had disappeared before he could see it more clearly.
He walked through the doorway, replaying the movement on his neural net, slowing it to a tenth of the speed. The replay showed a female, most likely human, gliding silently across the open space between one corridor and the next, her attention on some object beyond his vision.
Now that was interesting. There was an intruder in the facility. Certainly didn’t do anything to impress him with their security. He replayed the snippet again, studying the female.
She didn’t look like the usual type of intruder, a burly thug intent on stealing assets or secrets and able to fight their way out of the facility if necessary. She was small and pale skinned with a mass of shining red hair flowing down her back. The angle of view made it impossible to see her face. The vid clip was short, and the female moved with a silent speed and grace that reminded him of a dancer. Something about her stirred his male instincts.
What in the stars would such a creature be doing skulking around a Mailon research facility?
“We’ve created a process that allows us to improve the response speed that the synapses use to transfer messages to the muscle tissue, and I’m sure your government would be happy to have exclusive access to the new technology.” The smile on the Mailon’s face could only be described as oily.
Greyson repressed a shudder. As a cyborg, he’d long ago learned to ignore emotional response but a gut reaction was different. In battle situations a gut reaction could mean the difference between survival and destruction. His gut was telling him not to trust the man in front of him.
Then again, this was hardly a battle situation, unless you considered it a battle to keep his attention focused on this creature’s inane chatter.
Smile pasted firmly in place, he silently retrieved a still image of the intruder, studying it on his neural overlay while the Mailon continued to prattle on about the supposed improvements his cohorts had made to neural net technology.
Even from behind, the female looked familiar. He deftly cross-referenced the picture with his database relay. Within a nanosecond he had his answer.
Zoe Calhoun, a sentient activist. She made the newsfeeds on a regular basis with her crusade to set galaxy wide laws banning the sale or ownership of sentient beings. The latest story had her raving about the ape-like population of a planet that had been found to be rich in several high value minerals. The apes were pressed into service to mine the ore, under conditions that could be best described as slave like. Activists such as Zoe were horrified, and had made such a media circus out of the practice that the mine owners were promising to revise their operating procedures and treat the primates as employees.
She was also the only female who’d ever enticed him to break the unspoken rules of the Cyborg race and have unprotected, potentially fertile sex outside of the cyborg breeding protocols. His only excuse was that he’d been young and stupid and much too idealistic.
He’d actually fancied himself in a state known on the human worlds as love at first sight. Sheer stupidity.
They’d spent two sweaty, magical, exhausting days exploring each other’s every nuance, every quirk, every secret guilty pleasure on a vacation planet just inside the outer rim of the galaxy. They’d had sex in every position, on every possible surface, in every possible place on that planet. It had been the most educational and most character-forming weekend of his life. On the third morning, he’d awoke to find himself alone, a note on the pillow all that was left of the supposed love of his life.
$Got to get back to work. It’s been fun.$
He’d felt so incredibly stupid. He’d meant absolutely nothing to her beyond a warm body to pleasure her for a day or two. He’d returned to Terras Five and took his assigned place in the military. For the last decade he’d done his duty with a dedicated ferociousness that had seen him rise steadily through the ranks until he now captained his own cruiser. The downside, an occasional assignment such as this one, served to remind him just how much he enjoyed a good firefight.
He hadn’t seen Zoe Calhoun since she’d deserted him a decade ago, other than random snippets on the galactic news network.
So what was she doing sneaking around the Mailon research facility? So far, he’d seen no signs of gorillas or monkeys, and he doubted she was there to further her love of science.
It wasn’t that he was under any illusions about Zoe, or that he had any residual feelings for the human female. He just loved a good puzzle.
“So what do you think of our setup? We have been told it’s the best-equipped research facility in the known universe.” The Mailon finally stopped talking for a few precious seconds.
“Nice.” It actually was impressive, if somewhat sterile. “Do you do all of the research on site, or are there other facilities as well?”
“Everything we need is right here.” The biped swept his arm in a wide arc. “If it’s not, then we bring it in. No sense in diluting our assets by spreading them all over the galaxy. Your people can rest assured that only the very best goes into the products we produce.”
Just then, Greyson caught another flash of color. This time, the female hesitated long enough for him to get a glimpse of a bare thigh before she scurried out of sight. A flicker of lust ignited deep in his gut as he remembered how it had felt to have those silky thighs wrapped around his.
Okay. That had been deliberate. What was Zoe up to?
“Do you ever have issues with security? People sneaking in and stealing ideas or prototypes?” He watched the Mailon’s face carefully. Of course they’d never admit it if security was an issue but there were always telltale signs if a person were lying. The shifting of eyes, a slight waver in the voice, a telltale tilt to the head.
“Never. Our security system is one of our own invention. It’s one of the best in the galaxy.”
Zoe reversed her direction, slinking back across the corridor as if to point out the falsity of the claim. She paused, staring straight at Greyson. A ghost of a smile graced her lips, and she winked at him before disappearing once more.
Greyson blinked. Seriously? She’d looked right at him and winked. Was the woman insane?
He switched his attention back to his tour guide. “Well what?”
“What do you think of our facility?”
$I think the security system isn’t nearly as good as you’d like it to be if there’s a redheaded activist waltzing up and down your corridors.$
“It’s interesting and the new tech definitely looks promising. I applaud your research team.” Time to wrap this up and get the hell away from the one female he’d never managed to forget. “I’ll report back to the Ruling Committee and they will let you know their decision.”
The Mailon gave him a quaintly formal half bow. The self-satisfied smile on his face said he had no doubts about what the Ruling Committee’s conclusion would be. “I will await their decision. If they have any more questions, I’d be happy to answer them.”
“I’ll be sure to let them know.”
The Mailon turned, leading the way back to the transit deck while managing to keep up a nonstop conversation. Or monologue. A conversation would have required Greyson to take part in the oratory, wouldn’t it?
The annoyingly sexy human female slunk gracefully out from behind a wall to Greyson’s left and touched his shoulder. When he turned toward her, she promptly disappeared down yet another side corridor.
He should say something to the Mailon, warn him that Zoe was waltzing around the facility unescorted and presumably without an invitation. An activist in a research facility couldn’t be anything other than bad news, especially an activist playing hide and seek in the labs.
Then again, the Mailon was annoying and despite his better judgment, Zoe’s presence intrigued him. What kind of game was she playing?
They reached the flight deck where Greyson’s sleek interplanetary shuttle awaited his return. He turned, grateful to be leaving this sterile hunk of rock. The last thing he needed at this point in his career was to get tangled up with a militant animal lover who seemed to think that rules didn’t apply to her. He was much too mature to be led around by his libido. “Thank you for the tour, and the information. Once the Ruling Committee has had time to study it, they will contact you.”
The Mailon bent from the waist in a formal bow. “We appreciate the chance to work with such a well-oiled society. None of the political red tape that the humans are so fond of. I look forward to hearing from your Committee. I leave you to your departure routines and wish you a safe journey.” He bowed again.
Greyson nodded, and turned to palm the security panel mounted beside the entrance to his shuttle. It pulsed for a nanosecond before settling into an exact match of his palm print.
Interesting. His print wasn’t the last one used on the pad. Someone had been tampering with his ship’s security.
The access panel slid open with a quiet swoosh and he stepped into the familiar vehicle without doing anything to alert the Mailons to the fact that he knew there had been an attempt to circumvent his security and enter his ship without his permission.
The door closed behind him and he strode to the command console, throwing his bulk into the seat and placing his hands on the control panels on either side.
The screen in front of him lit up and the ship’s avatar shimmered into view in the space above the console. “Welcome back, Captain Greyson. Shall I start the launch sequence for our return to Terras Five?”
“Not yet, Gemma. I’d like to run a diagnostic on the security system before we depart. I believe someone tried to enter the ship without my consent.”
He’d named the avatar Gemma because he’d modeled her image on the bioengineered females that tended the bar in his favorite recreation facility on the vacation planet just outside the outer rim energy field. He’d spent a pleasurable few sun cycles with one of them while on R and R and it amused him to have her image represent the highly complex avatar that controlled his ship’s systems. Unlike the default avatars that came standard with this model, Gemma looked and sounded like a sex robot.
“Of course, sir. Do you wish me to access information on the female who entered the ship during your absence?”
“Yeah. That would be good for a start.” Sometimes he failed to remember that the avatar was not actually sentient. It did not provide information he didn’t solicit, so it would not occur to it to tell him about a security breach unless he asked it to share that information.
The avatar disappeared and the screen refocused to show a picture of Zoe, a recent mug shot by the looks of it. “This female humanoid approached me shortly after you departed from the ship. Her palm did not match any of the preset prints to trigger my systems to allow access however she verbalized a factory override reset code in order to command me to open the access panel.”
Interesting. The timing indicated that she knew exactly who he was and what his schedule was like before she’d started playing peek a boo with him down in the labs.
“Once inside, she proceeded to the command console where she inserted extra lines of code into the command procedures before exiting the ship.”
The avatar disappeared and a segment of surveillance video lit up the screen, showing Zoe as she worked her way through the ship.
He straightened in is seat. “Gemma, replay that last segment, and slow it down to a frame by frame shot.”
He studied the screen carefully, concentrating on exactly what Zoe was doing and trying to ignore his gut reaction. She appeared to be accessing the messaging system, then she turned and stared directly at the video camera. He’d missed that part in the initial run through. She spoke, but the video had no sound capability and the stop frame view made it impossible to read lips.
“Gemma, replay the last ten seconds again at half-speed. “
“Aye, Captain.”
Greyson focused on Zoe’s luscious red lips, vainly trying to ignore the thought of what they might feel like crushed beneath his own. Or wrapped around a certain male portion of his anatomy.
“Check this out.”
She knew she was being filmed and that he would be watching. The little minx had used his own security system to send him a message. He felt a grudging flicker of admiration for her brazen audacity.
Problem was, on his planet the females did not go running around breaking into research facilities and playing peek-a-boo with ex-lovers in the corridors. They waited in the palatial splendor of the conclave for their appointed mates to come to them.
“Gemma, access the most recent messages stored in the ship’s logs.”
“From all origins?”
“Yes. All of them.”
One thing about an avatar. No matter how human he made it look, it didn’t have feelings or emotions. He didn’t have to worry about how to speak to it. Gemma would do what he told her, when he told her. He had a feeling the same could not be said about a certain redheaded trespasser.
“Retrieving messages in reverse order of transcription.”
Greyson realized he was drumming his fingers on the edge of the command console like some untried warrior in training and forced himself to still. Something about that woman had him tensed as if waiting for the first move in a battle.
“Hey, Greyson, remember me? Zoe? It’s been a few years but we had a fling a decade or so ago. I know this is a lousy way to reconnect, but I need your help.”
Her voice, low and sexy, filled the bridge and Greyson’s body reacted predictably. It took more than a little effort to ignore the tightening in his loins.
“I found the female and she’s in bad shape. She needs medical attention ASAP. If I don’t get her out of here they will murder her to cover their own asses. Please. I’m going to try to get her out of the labs and down here to the landing bay. I’ve set the surveillance cameras to loop so security is blinded. What I need from you is passage off this hellhole of a planet. If your ship is still docked when I get back, I’ll assume you’re willing to help. Hell, you’d better be there when I get back. I don’t have a plan B this time. You’re my only hope, and I’m not leaving here without her.”
The sexy voice trailed off to silence.
Greyson sat back in his chair, eyeing the vid screen thoughtfully. Definitely the Zoe he remembered and definitely an activist, but he had no idea what female she was talking about. Based on her latest escapades, and the fact that primates made excellent research subjects, he assumed it was a gorilla or some similar creature.
Taking an injured gorilla on board his ship was not his idea of a good plan. An injured gorilla could do a lot of damage to the ship’s systems if it got out of control, and really, how did one control a pain-crazed gorilla? There were no containment crates on board nor did he have a brig. The shuttle wasn’t the type of ship that went out on missions where prisoners were likely to be taken. Maybe he could insist the creature be contained to one of the cargo bays. Yeah. That might would work.
He felt a rueful smile curve the corner of his mouth. Apparently he’d already decided to help Zoe and her mystery companion. Maybe the boredom of this mission was affecting his sanity, but he’d always had a soft spot for the underdog and he couldn’t help but admire a tiny slip of a human female who charged in to help where most, human and other, would look the other way.
A very delectable, irresistibly sensual human female. A decade had only added to her allure. She’d matured from the boisterous young idealist he’d fallen for so long ago. From her mane of flowing red hair to the way her hips swayed as she walked, everything about her aroused the predatory male in him. Centuries of a carefully mandated cyborg breeding program had failed to suppress that primal instinct.
On Terras Five, males were assigned partners who were selected for them based on genetic compatibility in order to assure the strongest, most intelligent offspring. Life-long mate bonds were rare.
Cyborgs weren’t genetically different from humans, they were actually offshoots of the same species. The humans who had elected to form the cyborg nation opted for a rigorously selective breeding program to give their children the best genetics possible. When the males were toddlers, they were implanted with cybernetic enhancements that fused to their skeletal and nervous systems, growing with the child until adulthood.
The females weren’t enhanced, as the scientists feared what those enhancements might do to their reproductive abilities. In reality, there was no genetic difference between a human and a cyborg female.
“We are cleared to launch when ready.” The ship’s avatar broke into his thoughts, and he pulled his attention back to the board in front of him. If he planned to help Zoe abscond with a creature that she’d plucked from under the noses of the Mailon researchers, he’d better be ready to leave on a moment’s notice.
Finishing the preflight checklist in record time, he ran his fingers over the navigation controls and selected his initial destination. No way was he heading directly for his home world with illicit cargo onboard.
There was a supply station in the Gliese system where everyone was welcome and no questions were asked. Yes, that would be the perfect place to go with the Zoe and her rescued… whatever it was. Once there he could point her in whatever direction she needed to go and get on with his own mission.
He was under no illusions about a romantic reunion. Her interest in him was purely practical. She needed an escape plan and he was it.
He felt a twinge of something unfamiliar at the thought of letting the human female continue her escapades. Inevitably, she would be captured by one of the groups she opposed and they were not nice people. They wouldn’t hesitate to hurt or possibly even kill her. After all, she’d exposed their unsavory business practices to the entire galaxy.
Still, she’d made her choices and he had no business interfering. He just happened to be in the right place to give her a hand with this particular exploit.
He heard the sound of the access door sliding open. The little redhead witch had his private access codes? He shook his head ruefully and tried to ignore the way his flight suit suddenly felt a size too small. Of course she did. She’d already been inside his ship to leave him that message.
“The human female is aboard, along with a small mammal of unknown type. The mammal appears to be in some type of medical distress.”
Thank you, Gemma. Prepare to launch ASAP.
“Initiating launch sequence.”
“Let’s get out of here!” Zoe burst onto the bridge, carrying what appeared to be a ball of white fluff about the size of a large feline. She threw herself into the empty chair at the navigations station and fastened the safety harness while still clutching the bundle of fur to her chest.
As if in answer to her command, the ship’s deck vibrated silently beneath their feet and the shuttle craft moved into the launch corridor. The vibrations ceased as the main engines came online. Nanoseconds later, they were hurtling out the launch portal and into the welcoming vacuum of space.
“Gemma, you have the com. Continue on course but alert me to any unusual activity.” He paused. “And let me know if anyone follows us from the research facility.”
“Aye, captain.”
Greyson turned to Zoe, determined not to show any emotion. “So. What exactly is that thing and what’s wrong with it?”

Laura’s Legacy

Author: Lilli Carlisle
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Boroughs Publishing Group can’t wait to give you a Xmas gift in July. Join the party:



While Laura was attending the annual omega celebration, a ruthless ogre attack destroyed her village and wiped out her family. Heartbroken, lonely, and adrift, she was forced to rely on the kindness of the Black Ridge wolf pack alpha for a home. And so were many others, including members of the small Newton pack, and their handsome, strong alpha, Dedric. One brief interlude was all it took for Laura to know she would choose him as her mate.

Alpha Dedric Newton couldn’t believe his good fortune. Beautiful and powerful, Laura was the omega of his dreams. Worried he had so little to offer, he insists she spend time with his small pack as they rebuild their village and homes. Laura and Dedric’s time in Newton strengthens their bond while evil works to undo all of Laura’s gifts, especially her legacy. After finding the greatest love an alpha could dream of, Dedric will do anything and everything to keep Laura safe from harm.

The next day Laura found herself in the passenger seat of a large SUV heading to Newton. Dedric was driving; Gabi and Lily were in the back, along with two warriors, Jensgar and Drune, in the third-row seats. Laura’s chosen mate held her hand as he drove, leading the convoy forward and further away from the place she’d come to live, and where she’d felt safe.

Since she woke this morning, she had that same grip of fear in the pit of her stomach as she’d had when she’d learned marauding ogres had destroyed her home and village. Dedric seemed to sense her distress and held her hand tighter.

“Are you okay, sweetheart?”

She hated making him worry, but in an effort to be truthful with her partner, Laura replied, “I was finally getting used to living in Black Ridge after my home was taken from me, and now I’m moving on to the pack that I hope to make my home. It’s a bit overwhelming. I’ve moved more in the last six months than I have in my entire life.”

“I promise, I’ll make you happy and you’ll grow to love Newton as much as I do.”

Laura appreciated the sentiment and his effort, but mere words weren’t going to make the dread vanish. The last thing she wanted to do was to ruin his homecoming, so she smiled at him and squeezed his hand in reply. It would take a lot of work to clean and repair the town, but getting Newton back on its feet meant a great deal to the man she loved. “I’m looking forward to being in Newton, really. But there’s been so many changes in the past few months, I hope you understand, this is a me thing.”

“I understand. We’ll make it through this together. I love you,” Dedric murmured, and she knew his heart was true; she could see the love in his eyes.

“I love you, too,” she whispered before kissing the top of the hand that was holding hers.

Author Bio and Links

Lilli Carlisle, lives outside Toronto, Canada. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter, Toronto Romance Writers. Lilli is a mother of two wonderful girls, wife to an amazing man, and servant to the pets in her life. Lilli writes both contemporary and paranormal romance and believes love should be celebrated and shared. After all, everybody needs a little romance, excitement, intrigue and passion in their lives.

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Giveaway: $15 in Boroughs Bucks

Dark Pleasures

Title: Dark Pleasures
by Aja James
GENRE: paranormal, fantasy romance


Devlin Sinclair, the New England Dark Ones’ Hunter, is on a mission to track down the elusive and mysterious Medusa, perhaps the ultimate nemesis the Pure and Dark Ones have been battling in recent years.

But he can’t do it alone.

Grace Darling has isolated herself from the world since a very young age, after her parents’ death and because of her own social disability. Awkward and brilliant, a born sensualist, Grace agrees to a blind date that changes the course of Destiny.
She has the skills he needs. Their chemistry is off the charts, but will she, can she give him the love he craves?


The taxi jolted to a stop and Grace got out without waiting for Devlin to disembark first and open the door for her.

He never understood this aspect of modern women, in particular American women. Were they so independent that they couldn’t appreciate gentlemanly behavior? Did they never think that some men simply enjoyed being a gentleman?

After some two hundred years, Devlin would always behave according to the principles and manners that had been ingrained in him since birth. Not because they were habits he couldn’t shake off but because they were part of who he was, part of the man he was.

Well, bloodsucker now.

He rapidly scoured his mind for ideas. How could he get this strange, Sphinx-like woman to invite him inside? Surely there was a—

“Come inside,” she intoned with nary a trace of emotional inflection. Not excitement, anticipation or nervousness.

But at least she saved him from thinking up an excuse to impose on her.

Devlin was about to thank her for her invitation when he met her eyes.

Her pupils had fully swallowed her irises. Her stare was so intense now that it actually gave him pause.

Just who was the hunter and who, the prey? Her unblinking black eyes reminded him of a cobra hypnotizing a field mouse.

He silently accepted her invitation anyway by following her down the steps of her basement apartment in a posh part of Soho, and then inside her abode once she unlocked and opened the door with efficiency.

He was well over ten times as strong as she and a trained killer besides. He was certainly not the prey in this scenario.

Just as efficiently, she locked the door the moment they were both within the entryway, working a series of four locks and deadbolts in addition to punching in the codes to a state-of-the-art security system. No one was getting into her fortress unless she voluntarily admitted them.

Devlin wondered if the same applied for getting out.

Review by Emily: This book is *awesome*. I’m giving it a 4.75, and I’ll explain that .25 loss in just a minute. First, though: HOLY CRAP what a GREAT book! The plot is enticing, the sex is hot, the characters, ALL of them, are well-developed, and it leaves you on a cliffhanger as far as two of the subplots go. Who could ask for more?

My only issue with the book isn’t the story but is in the way the author, Aja James, chooses to tell the story. She often fluctuates between two POVs (points of view) in a single scene without warning. This drove me crazy because 1) it’s hard to know whose head I’m in and 2) this is a violation of everything we’re taught as authors. Oh, and 3) it didn’t seem to be for any good reason.

That being said, and even though this is distract me from the story, it was no more annoying than someone snapping their gum a few times during a movie in a theatre. I would love to see the author fix this in future books because it might be as frustrating to some as bad grammar is to me. (Very, in other words.) But the story was so exciting and pulled every character together so well that I just can’t hold this flaw against her too much.

If you like original magical creatures (shadowy ones) and traditional magical beings used in new ways, you’ll love DARK PLEASURES.

***A special note to the author: I will review your books anytime!***

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Aja has been writing stories since the age of six, and novels since the age of thirteen. While she’d be the first to admit that those early efforts weren’t particularly good, she sure loved putting them down on paper!

The best part of writing, according to Aja, is that it’s completely organic, the way the stories develop. When the inspiration hits, she writes just so she herself can learn where the characters are headed because oftentimes, they take her by surprise! It is her ultimate dream to share her stories with as many readers as she possibly can.

Her other loves include art, cooking, old movies (anything with Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Clark Gable, and all the song and dance numbers because she can’t watch them and not be happy!)
She adores taking long walks with her husband and running after her two rambunctious kids. She has traveled extensively (all seven continents except Antarctica) and has a multi-cultural upbringing. She speaks two and a half languages and binge watch TV shows when the mood strikes.

Aja has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Comparative Literature and Economics and two Master’s degrees, one of which is in East Asian Studies.

Contact Information
Pinterest: N/A for now

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Aja James will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Tempting Beat

Author: Brooklyn Ann
Genre: Contemporary Romance



Bleeding Vengeance’s drummer, Roderick Powell knows he’s a sod for feeling glum, especially after moving into a beautiful new home in a smart Denver suburb. But all his mates are partnered or married, and dreadfully happy. It’s enough to make a rockstar rethink his options. And even though his sexy neighbor has given him the brush-off, he’s decided to have another go – at this point he has nothing left to lose, apart from his heart.


Gwen Mason’s romantic past has been bumpier than most – twice divorced by thirty, she’s had enough of broken promises. An ER nurse who keeps a brutal schedule, she’s happy to become known as the neighborhood crazy cat lady. But…the most delicious man has moved next door. He’s British, he’s famous, he’s a rockstar. And, hard as she tries, Gwen can’t keep Rod Powell from breaking all her rules, and suddenly she sees a future she never believed possible.


When Gwen stepped out onto her porch, it seemed her neighbor, Mrs. Kersh, had the same idea. Gwen saw her striding across the street before Gwen looked over and saw the moving truck next door.

“Our new neighbor has finally arrived,” Mrs. Kersh said in a somewhat scolding tone, as if the new homeowner was tardy in taking up residence. “I do wish I’d been home to see more of the prospective buyers touring the property.”

Gwen nodded. As an ER nurse, she worked twelve-hour shifts alternating between three and four days a week and almost always on the weekends, when most people perused houses for sale. She’d been working during the open house, and also missed the people who came after to look at the home. “I hope whoever bought the place is a nice person.”

Mrs. Kersh huffed. “I hope they’re quiet and don’t have a dog. The last people were atrocious, leaving that mutt in the yard to yap all the time.”

The last people were also major jerks, Gwen thought as she watched the movers pile out of the truck and begin unloading furniture. Their barking dog and loud children had cost her precious hours of sleep. Still, she couldn’t help but give Mrs. Kersh a sideways smile and glance down at Molly, the little terrier that was ever at Mrs. Kersh’s side.

Mrs. Kersh’s eyes widened with blatant terror. “Oh no.”

An older silver Honda CR-V pulled behind the moving truck and a man got out with a happy smile and a proprietary gleam in his eyes as he met the moving truck with a fob of jingling keys.

Holy hotness. Gwen almost breathed the words aloud as her belly tilted at the sight of the man striding up the walkway of the house next door. Shoulder-length chocolate-brown hair framed a face that was worthy of a magazine cover. Gray eyes danced with a touch of mischief. His lips were arched and full, making it impossible not to think of kissing.

Which was something Gwen could never do, because aside from that not being neighborly, he was clearly too young for her. If he was older than twenty-five, Gwen would eat her scrubs.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Formerly an auto-mechanic, Brooklyn Ann thrives on writing Romance featuring unconventional heroines and heroes who adore them. After writing historical paranormal romance in her critically acclaimed “Scandals with Bite” series and urban fantasy in her “Brides of Prophecy” novels, she now explores the chaotic realm of heavy metal music— a difficult world to find love in.

She lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with her son, her cat, and a 1980 Datsun 210.

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Author giveaway: $15 Boroughs Bucks

His Untamed Love

Title: His Untamed Love
Author: Anya Summers
GENRE: Erotic Romance


Visiting the Black Elkhorn Lodge and Resort is Mia Evans’s last option. She’s bordering on a nervous breakdown. Everyone in her life she thought she could count on deserted her. And, to make matters worse, she has the foulest case of writer’s block in the history of the world. She figures getting herself out of the prison her apartment in Chicago has become will help jar her life and her writing out of the rut they are in. But she isn’t prepared for the surly, sexy cowboy – who looks like her every dark fantasy come alive – riding into her life on his trusty steed.

Cole Stewart only loved one woman in all his thirty-five years, until he lost her forever and swore he would never love another. Since then he’s had a revolving door with the subs at his lifestyle club Cuffs & Spurs, all with the unwritten rule that he doesn’t get involved or do relationships of any kind, period. That is, until Mia Evans, the burned-out, anxiety ridden author, needing to get away from her real life, nearly runs him over with her car. Seeing the haunted expression in her gaze and a body he craves, the Dom in him knows he must have her, must taste her and feel her writhing beneath him. But will he be willing to risk his heart for the untamed passion he finds in her arms?

Behind the registration desk was a blonde woman, roughly around her age. But where Mia felt she looked like a bedraggled escapee from the local loony bin, this woman, in her pretty ivory blouse and pinstripe navy blue blazer, appeared to be a calm and confident businesswoman.

Mia wished she had a tenth of the woman’s poise.

Her face lit up at spying Mia and she said, “Hi, welcome to the Black Elkhorn Lodge. I’m Billie. How can I help you today?”

“I, um, have a reservation,” Mia said in a pained whisper. She kept herself from wringing her hands together, but just barely.

“And your name, hon?” Billie asked, not showing any sign that she thought Mia was crazy.

“It’s Mia. Mia Evans.”

Billie’s smile widened at her name. “Miss Evans, yes, I have you down here as arriving today. It looks like you are going to be with us for a month, correct?”

“Yes.” If she made it that long. She might be carted off to the asylum before then. So…

“Perfect. I will just need your driver’s license and a major credit card for any amenities, since you’ve already paid for your stay in full. We’ve put you in cabin D, and it is just the sweetest little place that I think you will adore. Here are your keys. It’s one of our luxury cabins and an absolute peach. We stocked the refrigerator and pantry as you requested. I put together this packet of all the information about our tours, what to do with your trash, whom to contact if you need after-hours maintenance, and some of the local attractions in the area. If you have any questions about any of the information, just let me or one of the other clerks know and we can help you out. The Elkhorn Restaurant is open until eight every weeknight and nine on the weekends. Trust me, you will want to experience Chef Emily’s cooking. It’s simply out of this world.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Billie whipped out a map and circled a building with a pen. “This is where we are, the main lodge. To get to your cabin, take the road here, make a right when you come to the three-way split in the road, and your cabin will be the last one at the end of the drive.”

“Great.” That way, if she had a total meltdown, there would be fewer people around to witness the spectacle.

“And if there’s anything at all that you need or have a question about, don’t hesitate to contact us here at the front desk,” Billie said and gave Mia a friendly smile.

Perhaps a padded cell or a personality transplant?

But Mia just nodded and replied quietly, “Okay, thank you.”

She scooped up the packet, the map, and keys. Then Billie handed her license and credit card back. With everything clutched in her hands, Mia headed back out to her SUV, setting the packet on the passenger seat.

She started the engine and began backing out of her space—only to slam on her brakes.

Shit! Crap! Dammit!

She blanched. She’d nearly taken out a guy on horseback.

Mia could imagine the headlines now: Famed Author Mows Down Innocent Cowboy! More in the news at eleven!

Web Host Note: This excerpt is really good. If this book ever comes up for review, put my name in!

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Anya grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Anya never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.

Anya is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance under the name Maggie Mae Gallagher A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

Visit her website here:
Visit her on social media here:
Twitter: @AnyaBSummers
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Amazon Author Page

Don’t miss these exciting titles by Anya Summers and Blushing Books!

Dungeon Fantasy Club Series
Her Highland Master, Book 1
To Master and Defend, Book 2
Two Doms for Kara, Book 3
His Driven Domme, Book 4
Her Country Master, Book 5
Love Me, Master Me, Book 6
Submit To Me, Book 7
Her Wired Dom, Book 8

Pleasure Island Series
Her Master & Commander, Book 1
Her Music Masters, Book 2
Their Shy Submissive, Book 3
Her Lawful Master, Book 4
Her Rockstar Dom, Book 5
Duets & Dominance, Book 6
Her Undercover Dom, Book 7
Ménage In Paradise, Book 8
Her Rodeo Masters, Book 9

Cuffs & Spurs Series
His Scandalous Love releasing March 8, 2018
His Wicked Love releasing May 8, 2018
His Untamed Love releasing July 9, 2018
His Tempting Love releasing September 6, 2018
His Seductive Love releasing November 8, 2018
His Secret Love releasing January 8, 2019
His Cherished Love releasing March 8, 2019

Purchase Links


Anya will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Tempted by the Viscount

Title: Tempted by the Viscount
Author: Sofie Darling

Review by Amber: I am going to give this novel 4.5 stars. Sofie Darling brings another fun, romantic and drama filled to her historical novels. I have read her first book and this one is just as good. The characters are strong and the attraction between Olivia and Jacob is immediate and fiery. There are a few times I think the author could have made more exciting or cut.

Poor Jacob never wanted to be rich, but as he is he only surviving male from the l, he is thrust into society instead of following his desire to sail.

My heart became mush at how much Jacob loves his daughter, Mia. Which is one reason he does not want to fall in love with Olivia. Since Olivia has her own scandals following her around and to get the best for Mia’s education and fit into society.

Another wonderful historical romance that leaves me wanting to know what happens next. I highly recommend the books by Sofie.

Author Bio:

Sofie Darling is an award-winning author of historical romance. Her debut novel, THREE LESSONS IN SEDUCTION, won the Writers’ League of Texas’ Manuscript Contest in the Romance Category in 2016.

She spent much of her twenties raising two boys and reading every book she could get her hands on. Once she realized she simply had to write the books she loved, she finished her English degree and embarked on her writing career. Mr. Darling and the boys gave her their wholehearted blessing.

When she’s not writing heroes who make her swoon, she runs a marathon in a different state every year, visits crumbling medieval castles whenever she gets a chance, and enjoys a slightly codependent relationship with her beagle, Bosco.


Book Blurb:

London, April 1825

Lord Jakob Radclyffe left his past behind in the Far East. Or so he thinks until a ruthless thief surfaces in London, threatening to ruin his daughter’s reputation. With the clock ticking, Jake needs the scandalous Lady Olivia Montfort’s connections in the art world to protect his daughter’s future.

Olivia, too, has a past she’d like to escape. By purchasing her very own Mayfair townhouse, she’ll be able to start a new life independent from all men. There’s one problem: she needs a powerful man’s name to do so. The Viscount St. Alban is the perfect name.

A bargain is struck.

What Olivia doesn’t anticipate is the temptation of the viscount. The undeniable spark of awareness that races between them undermines her vow to leave love behind. Soon, she has no choice but to rid her system of Jake by surrendering to her craving for a single scorching encounter.

But is once enough? Sometimes once only stokes the flame of desire higher and hotter. And sometimes once is all the heart needs to risk all and follow a mad passion wherever it may lead.

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“And what in this world doesn’t a woman under the protection of a duke have at her fingertips?”
Her own Mayfair townhouse, she didn’t reply. Instead, she pressed her lips together and held his piercing gaze.
A possibility stole in. He wasn’t only a man. He was an opportunity.
She and he each had something the other wanted. And they each had the power to give it to the other. It was simple.
Misgiving seized her. This was Lord St. Alban. Nothing would remain simple with him for long. She felt it in her bones. But how badly did she want her independence?
It felt like a test question. And Lord St. Alban was the correct answer.

Giveaway Info:

$25 Amazon Gift Card

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Nothing is Predictable

Title: Nothing Is Predictable
by Adalina Mae
Genre: Autobiographical Novel – Memoir – AutoFiction


Zara is eight years old, her father, in a drunken rampage, accidentally shoots himself dead.

Her childhood memories leave her struggling with romantic attachments and hinder her from developing healthy relationships.

Seeking answers, She meets a monk for wisdom, and a gypsy for insight.
The journeys Adalina Mae takes us on are interspersed with heartbreaking moments as well as hilarious escapades.

This is life and nothing is predictable. The story keeps you on your toes and offers mysteries to solve.

Why does Zara have recurrent nightmares of her last night with her father?

Why does she struggle with love?

“Please, try your best, then when you are ready, come to the pavilion and find me. This discussion is not over. I need you to do this first, okay?” She stood up, nodded humbly, and started walking down the hill.

“Don’t forget, drop it like a sack of potatoes, and focus on your breathing!” she called back politely.

She wanted me to grasp the moment, and to focus on cultivating the art of a controlled mind, to increase wisdom and mental awareness. In return, that should give me the ability to focus on my childhood years with controlled thoughts that would no longer affect my emotions, if I learnt to have empathy and to forgive.

“Oh God, how on earth am I going to forgive? Okay, let’s try,” I mumbled to myself.

“Drop it like a sack of potatoes, drop it like a sack of potatoes, sack of potatoes, potatoes. Oh my God, I feel like French fries.” Clearly, meditating about the sack of potatoes wasn’t helping. I tried again, closed my eyes and began to focus on my breathing. Then I took myself back to my childhood years to try to find a way to forgive all that had happened to me. I failed endlessly with that task; a minute of silence seemed like an hour. I kept getting distracted, thinking about French fries and what bills I’d forgotten to pay.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Adalina Mae is the author of the published novel Nothing Is Predictable and soon to be released Nothing Can Last Forever.

After leaving the corporate world of management, she decided to pursue her lifelong passion to write.

She’s also a lover of movies and hopes that her novels become a motion picture.

Adalina wrote Nothing Is Predictable to inspire optimism and positive thoughts, reminding us we are strong and can overcome life’s challenges. Particularly those who suffered childhood trauma like she has.

She is determined to spread the inspirational message of her story.
Her life’s incidents have taught her that,

Nothing Is Predictable and Nothing Can Last Forever.


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Adalina Mae will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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