Alright secsi witches, time for a new personality test for readers! (Especially ROMANCE READERS) Tell me your favorite Dark Romance quote, and I’ll tell you who you are. You know the drill but, in case you don’t, here it is: Read the lines below and decide which one speaks to you within a few seconds. Which one sits right? Only after the decision fell, read the interpretations below. Have fun!
Who did this to you?
Touch her and you die
You’re mine – you’re a person who has had to earn pretty much everything in life, from money to your loved ones’ attention and affection; to you, relationships can be hard work; you are often expected to be in control; expressing your emotional needs may have been labeled as frivolous by important others in the past; deep down, you have a need to be loved without having to earn the love; typical for independent women; you need a partner that you can admire and that you can rely on; someone who will allow you to “rest”, relinquish control, and still be safe; you’re someone who feels most valuable when being desired beyond rhyme or reason, to the point where it doesn’t even make sense to common sense; the more anchored and dependable you are in real life, the more scandalous to modernity your deepest desires; you yearn to be loved for what you are, not for what you do; you may fantasize about a partner who watches you while you sleep; great need for a feeling of belonging, but that one wa obvious, right? Values a partner finds in you: you’re intense, dedicated, can be clingy, insecure, can become toxic;
Who did this to you? – the stronger a front you put to the world, the deeper the underlying fear you had to experience in the past; the fear may well still be there, you just learned to love it, like with chronic pain; you may harbor and unconscious need for revenge, especially against someone from your close family circle; may feel guilty for some of your more violent impulses and tendencies; duplicity in emotions; trauma – an event that you may not consciously remember; need to reconnect to parts of yourself from which you dissociated; feeling of loneliness; you vet a person’s dedication to you based on their willingness to take risks for you; you would remain forever loyal to someone like this, even if they are toxic, because you believe this is so good, there’s no way you can find better; beware, it’s just a distorted mirror image of what has been taken away from you. The person that you want your partner to be? That’s the part of you that you lost.
Touch her and you die – there are few things more seductive than a male willing to take on another male for his love; this willingness of the male to make it clear to the world just how valuable you are to him is a great evolutionary sign of commitment; in a world where it is praise-worthy for males not to value and respect females, and the more they can use and discard the merrier, where many men are ashamed to be in love, someone who puts their feelings on display in such a violent way is someone to take seriously; you are emotionally and sexually stimulated by the archetype of the protector–but you probably already knew that; the more interesting part is that you often play the role of the protector yourself for the people you love; you may have put yourself in dangerous situations in the past to protect your mother or a younger sibling; you may have witnessed a close family member being abused; a feeling of powerlessness pervaded your childhood; what you need is a sense of recovering your power; the paradox in all this is that you’re probably the strongest person you know; nothing can knock you down; what a partner finds in you – you would worship at the feet of someone who makes you feel protected; you’d put them on a pedestal, put your rose-colored glasses on, and see them in a way that will make them feel great about themselves; that may be your superpower;
Good girl – relationships must give you a feeling of reward; you live to please your partner; you have the nurturing kind of love that many people find highly seductive; you must be careful though because it also makes you a preferred target for predators; you’re a giver, so you attract takers; you tend to interpret an emotionally unavailable man as a serious man, which often gets you engaged in fruitless chasing; you may put your emotional needs on the last place, or even silence them for the benefit of others; you may do things that you are later not proud of in order to gain a lover’s attention and praise; you may even step on your moral standards and principles; you’re so forgiving, it’s almost angelic; a spiritual person; empathetic; has a direct line to loved ones’ emotions; may have the gift of foresight.
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Hello people! I just finished a new book in the Dark Billionaire Romance series that I’m writing as Ana C. Blacklace, and this is the beginning. Stay tuned, because I will be sharing more free excerps from the books I write under this pen name soon. Have a fantastic reading time!
This is NOT a clean romance. Remember that this is strictly a work of fiction for your pleasure. The author does NOT condone all of the situations and actions that take place between these characters. This is an adult, dark romance not suitable for anyone under the age of eighteen.
CHAPTER I – Cruel Intentions
My knees grow weak, and the flute of champagne trembles in my hand.
He saw me.
I desperately want to spin around and disappear into the crowd, but the shock keeps me rooted on the spot. I watch him approach, people staring at him with wide-eyed admiration.
Lord Declan Santori is a majestic, Brioni-clad version of the boy I used to stalk back in college. It’s striking to see him again, even though I’ve been following him online ever since he emerged onto the city scene as a New York mogul. His presence is even more powerful in person than on screen, punching me right in the gut. Deep down, I was hoping I’d be so far removed from his glamorous new preoccupations by now that he wouldn’t even remember me, but now I know that was stupid. You don’t just forget the kind of secret that we share.
He comes to a halt, towering over me, a dashing smile pulling at his lips. The same sinful lips that he used to torture me with.
Please, someone slap me.
No, Mia Rogers, you’re not that girl anymore. You’re a big-city hustler now, assistant to the most powerful talk show host in New York, the uber-bitch Lucretia Steinard. On top of that, the wife of the baddest billionaire in this city is your best friend, and this is her engagement party. You won’t let Declan Santori bully you here. This isn’t college anymore.
I stick my chin out, trying my best to keep my eyes on a neutral spot on his face, such as right between his eyebrows. I steel myself to ignore the abyssal black of his irises, his exquisitely sculpted face, the intense sex appeal he radiates that has all the women around fanning themselves. Charmed, beguiled, oblivious to the deranged mind behind the beautiful face.
“Well hello, little spy,” he purrs, his voice as deceiving as his scent of lemongrass and cinnamon that awakens my senses along with the memories.
I feel infuriatingly vulnerable in my red silk spaghetti strap dress that shows too much skin. There are media VIPs here tonight, moguls and anchors and decision-makers that I want to impress. I really need to get rid of that bully-bitch Steinard, so I went the extra mile at the gym these past few weeks in preparation for this occasion. I oiled my skin to look more tanned, the tone contrasting with my sharp blue eyes in a way that cameras like, and my shiny black hair is up in a flawless do. If this were a date, I’d sure want this to be the first impression I make.
But this is a seismic encounter that I’ve been working very hard to avoid all these years. It’s not like I didn’t expect Declan Santori to be here tonight–he’s the future groom’s best friend–but I have planned things to the minute so we don’t run into each other. I watched him leave at around ten thirty–he always leaves events early to create even more buzz around himself—and made my appearance afterwards. But this time, the bastard returned.
“Declan Santori,” I manage, my voice breaking. “Long time no see.”
I hold out against the fear that tightens in my chest, but who am I kidding? The champagne flute in my hand is still visibly shaking. Even the people I was talking to before notice it.
“Indeed,” he drawls, his eyes raking down my frame.
“Such a surprise to see you here,” I blurt out, too eager to fill the uncomfortable silence that he lets hang between us as if it could swallow me whole.
His smirk curls up his lips. “Is it though?” He gestures around elegantly with the glass of whiskey in his hand. “Because this is exactly the kind of place my friends would expect me to be. It’s my tribe.”
“Well, yes. Except we are not friends.” I don’t even know where that one came from. His eyes hold mine, and I’m unable to look away. There’s a quiet anger in his face that seeps into his aura, making everyone around shift their weight, sensing the danger.
“That’s hurtful,” he replies, his tone low, his voice haunting. “Considering our history.”
I’ve been working to gain my footing in the media for years now, doing my best to become a face for the screen, but I’ve never had so many eyeballs fixed on me before. I’m used to attention. I like attention, but this is a whole new level that Lord Declan Santori, owner of multiple trust funds, tech giants and diamond mines, garners. Word has it, he’s got Congress at his feet, and although some believe that to be an exaggeration, I know him well enough to expect that it’s true. Talking to him is enough to make a girl a star, and he damn well knows it. It’s obvious in the smirk he gives me, but his eyes smolder with dark promise.
Punishment is coming, no doubt. Now that he found me, he won’t stop until he destroys me. He’s planning it right now, I can see that devious mind working behind those obsidian eyes. He’s definitely not the best person to have unfinished business with.
“I’ll be damned, if that isn’t Lord Declan Santori in the flesh.” That voice scrapes my ears, but I manage to plaster a smile on my face as she steps between us.
My boss, uber-bitch Lucretia Steinard, places a long-nailed hand on my shoulder, heavy with designer rings and bracelets. Declan’s eyes are slow to drag over to her, and his mien darkens, making it obvious that he doesn’t welcome the interruption. But Lucretia is too hungry for contact to stop, grabbing onto the chance with both of her red-clawed hands.
“I see you’ve met my assistant, Mia Rogers.” She squeezes my shoulder, and it’s all I can do not to wince. I may have been too successful at banishing my chubby teenage self at the gym, and now voluptuous Lucretia could smother me with her tits. She’s practically pushing them up into Declan’s face as she holds out her other hand to introduce herself. “Lucretia Steinard. But I’m sure you already knew that, right?”
Declan raises an eyebrow. “Are you assuming that I approached your assistant in order to get to you?”
People giggle around us. It does sound preposterous.
Lucretia lowers her hand, looking confused. “No, that’s not what I meant–l just thought, you know, perhaps you had an interest in–” she glances at me, then at him again, “–our talk show?”
It takes effort to refrain from rolling my eyes. Her talk show is anything but collaborative. She calls the shots, and I find myself constantly running errands at her beck and call, but she thinks she can score now by giving me more importance. To think how hard it was to get this job at HQ, and that I wouldn’t even have it without Jax, Addie’s influential future husband, makes my stomach turn. In this industry, people have to pull strings for the sole honor of slaving away for people like Lucretia, but it’s somehow only in moments like this that we realize how mighty wrong that is.
“Miss Rogers and I knew each other in college,” Declan says, his eyes sliding over to me. “I assume it’s still Miss, and it’s still Rogers, yes?” The subliminal message–It better be–crawls up my spine.
“Yes, yes of course.” Of course? I make a mental note to slap myself real hard when I get home.
He tilts up that perfectly chiseled jaw. As a college boy he resembled a sexy anime character with his spiked hair and intense gaze. But now? He’s so striking, my stupid heart beats out of rhythm. So much added manliness, cunning, and sleek danger. His chest is broad and athletic under his suit, making it obvious he still has the body of a pro athlete. Maybe he still fights in the ring? It was a brutal and cruel kind of boxing that made him a star back in college and, while I haven’t heard a word about that in the media, he might still be doing it–sheer violence and sophistication in one package. Even the way he raises his glass as if to celebrate my being single, the grace and elegance, reminds me of the Machiavellian heartthrob I used to fawn over. Of the way the muscles in his back snaked in the shower, while he raked his fingers through his wet hair while I stalked him.
No, fuck that memory. This is a monster that almost destroyed my life. What he did to me the night we spent together at the frat house, that’s what I should focus on.
“I’m glad we bumped into each other, Mia,” he says. “What luck, huh? Now that we know where to find each other, I’m sure it’ll happen more often.” Words that any girl at this party would melt to hear. But I stiffen all over.
As if on cue, a catwalk model sashays over, looping her arm around Declan’s elbow, her chin raised with an attitude of ownership. I should feel relieved, but instead, my teeth grit together. The woman is so damn beautiful. Lucretia steps forward with her chest out and her chin up, her blond extensions falling in waves down her back as if to prove she is the most glamorous woman in this little gathering.
“I hope we see each other again soon, too, Lord Santori. I’ll send you an invitation to my talk show,” she calls after him as he turns away with the model on his arm. If I could peel my eyes away from Declan’s elegant back, my head would snap to her. I’ve never heard Lucretia Steinard sound remotely desperate before. People beg to be on her show, not the other way around.
But then again, this is Declan Santori we’re talking about.
“Have your assistant contact me about it,” he throws over his shoulder.
My eyes pop out. No, the bastard can’t be doing this to me.
Once Declan and his model have mingled with the crowd and everybody’s let loose the breath they were holding, Lucretia swivels around. Her pale blue eyes are big as onions, her long, fake lashes almost touching her highly arched eyebrows. “Are you serious?” she croaks. “You and Declan Santori are college friends?”
“I wouldn’t say friends,” I reply, but it flies right past Lucretia’s ear. One of the traits that has gotten her this far in life is that she only hears what suits her.
“Now’s not the time for false modesty, girly.” Fuck, I hate it when she calls me that. “Look around you. Do you see it?”
Indeed, I do. Everyone’s looking at me differently, like I’m more than just one of the hustling little rats at HQ. The sensation is new and scary.
“No, it’s not like that.” I motion in the general direction where Declan is talking to other people. He’s surrounded by a ring of bodyguards now, no one can get anywhere close to him, not even a celebrity like Lucretia. “I mean, he is Lord Declan Santori.” I purposefully stress the word Lord. “It’s not like we move in the same circles.”
Only one of Lucretia’s eyebrows remains up as she looks at me suspiciously.
“He sure seems to remember you.”
“Not for those reasons. He…” Okay, I have to tell her. It’s the only way to deter her from throwing me into the lion’s den. “He used to bully me, okay? I was this nerdy sophomore with braces that had a crush on him and, well, let’s just say he found that amusing, and shared the fun with his friends.”
“Shared?” Her cocked eyebrow rises even higher. The woman has a dirty mind, but that’s one of the few things I like about her.
I scoff. “Not in that sense. Declan Santori had other ways to bully me.”
She stares at me for another few moments, but then she nods in agreement. As if, after studying me more closely than she ever did before, she decided that indeed, I’m not the kind of woman that would make Declan Santori interested in her that way.
I could laugh in her face so hard right now.
If she only knew the sick bastard isn’t into pretty pleasures. He likes humiliating girls with braces, fucking them deep-throat in front of a camera. He loves to dominate and debase.
But I’ll be damned if I let him fuck me up again. I’m not stupid, I know that I can’t run from him anymore. But after how hard I’ve worked and how much I’ve sacrificed to get where I am today, Declan isn’t going to bully me out of my own life.
Still, Lucretia looms over me, exuding an air of ambition. Her appetite for success and money is never satisfied, and now that she sees this opportunity, she’s ravenous.
“Mia, I don’t think you understand.” She rests her jewelry-laden hand on my shoulder again, her nose dangerously close to mine. With every word she speaks, her super white teeth show. “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity here. We could get the Declan Santori on our talk show. The man controls half of this country’s wealth in his trust funds, and he’s the hottest bachelor out there, man of the hour. Audiences will skyrocket.”
Ah, there it is again, that our show thing. To think that, until a minute ago, she hasn’t missed a single chance to make my life a living hell. Juggling her appointments, doing the impossible to get props that occur to her at the last minute, and managing the people she doesn’t feel like dealing with herself. If it hadn’t been for Jax’s intervention, I would have been the last person she would have picked for a permanent hire after my internship. She hates my guts, and has shown it every day since I was shoved down her throat as her new assistant. She leans so close that I can smell the mint on her breath, her hand on my shoulder weighing me down.
“You will do this,” she pushes through her teeth.
“Lucretia, you can rely on me for whatever you need, you know that. I mean, I’m the one who got you gold-polished natural roses for that special edition you got at the last minute with that huge K-pop group. But please understand–I do not have that kind of access to Declan Santori. He just threw that over his shoulder to get us off his back.” You, to get you off his back.
Her eyes narrow into a glare. “Listen girly, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but the big man said loud and clear he expects you to contact him.”
“He was just trying to brush us off. I don’t even have his number.”
Her red-lipped grin fills with cunning. “But you are best friends with Jax Vaughn’s future wife. I’m sure she can help you get his contact details. You’re actually a very well-connected person, if we think about it.”
“We’ll look like tail-wagging stupid idiots,” I press, but she won’t relent.
“You will get me a meeting with Lord Declan Santori,” she decrees. “If you know what’s good for you and your career. Your connections got you on my set, but they won’t keep you on it if you don’t prove your worth. And now’s your chance.”
Her hand drops off of me. I breathe out in relief as I watch her rich, round ass saunter away and slip into a cluster of other celebrities she’s friends with. She laughs out loud, throwing her head back, and I wheel around, happy that I can breathe again. But as I run into a wall of eyeballs fixed on me, my breath catches.
The conversation between Lucretia and me was low enough that they couldn’t hear a single word, but the man-of-the-hour billionaire garnered me more attention than I need right now. The news that he talked to me will spread out like wildfire by tomorrow among the celebrities and elites of this city. Fuck, I need a drink.
I barrel through the crowd, murmuring ‘excuse me’ passive-aggressively and stomp right out of the party room into the more secluded bar area around the corner. Unlike the party rooms, which are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that make one feel like they’re floating out into the skyline, there are no windows here. Just glittering bottles all the way up to the ceiling behind the mahogany bar, and scotch-colored leather seats. It’s like a gentlemen’s club, except what I find here are scattered couples giggling, sitting too close to each other to have just conversation on their minds. It’s mostly beautiful young women and filthy rich old men.
I hop onto a leather-cushioned barstool, and the bartender walks over, cleaning a shaker, a white towel thrown over his shoulder.
“You look like you need something strong.”
I nod, licking my lips. They’re parched as hell under my lip gloss. The realization that I just ran into Declan Santori courses through me, making me shake all over, but the bartender is thankfully quick to set a glass in front of me.
I down the vodka, gritting my teeth against the burn shooting down to my empty stomach. A gym addiction isn’t my only derailment. I can also boast an eating disorder, but that’s fine, since the camera likes a thin woman. There’s a quote from a famous model right above the entrance to HQ – “You have one life, and you need to be skinny.” I’ve been taking that literally for years.
“Another one, please,” I mutter as I fumble inside my clutch for my phone.
“Are you sure?” the bartender asks with knitted eyebrows. “Maybe you should have something to eat first.”
So it’s that obvious.
“Listen, I’ve had a rough night, okay?” I tell him with a surrendering attitude, my shoulders slouched. “I just bumped into the man I’ve been running away from all my life, and to top it all off, my uber-bitch boss wants me to chase him and get him on her talk show.”
“That bad, eh?” a familiar, soothing voice says. I look over my shoulder to see Addie, the future bride, walking toward me. She hikes herself up onto the stool next to me, taking my hand in hers on the counter. “I saw you two talking.” Her soft blue eyes are filled with concern. “I swear to God, I had no idea he’d come back tonight. Usually, when he’s gone, he’s gone.”
“I know,” I manage, drained of energy, my eyes half closed. What I need is another drink, and then to sleep for a whole week. “On the one hand, I’m glad it happened, you know? I’m tired of running. Besides, I was bound to bump into him sooner or later. I won’t hold myself back in my career just so that he won’t see me on-screen. Maybe it’s better that it happened like this.”
Addie presses her plump, beautiful lips together, not sure what to make of my statement as I down my second drink. It hits me that Adalia Ross, my best friend, is everything Lucretia Steinard is trying so hard to be: voluptuous, impressive, and angelic. Except Lucretia is a viper, and everything about her screams that out–especially her too-large fake smile, and her enormous fake tits.
“I know it sounds partly defeatist, but it isn’t,” I defend myself.
“Not at all defeatist,” Addie says quietly. “Brave. But…It’s not this first encounter between you two that I’m worried about. It’s the next one, and then the next. I mean–” she doesn’t finish her sentence. She won’t probe around the reopened wound, but I do it for her.
“He’s going to want revenge,” I murmur, circling the rim of my now empty glass with my finger, eyes fixed on the glittering wall of liquor in front of me, my face reflected in one of the whiskey bottles. I look haunted. “He’s going to do bad things to me.”
Addie squeezes my hand, forcing it away from the glass. She tries to catch my gaze, but I keep evading it.
“You’re not that girl anymore, Mia,” she says softly. “You’re not the mousy little sophomore that used to film him secretly in the boys’ shower. The one that he could intimidate and manipulate.”
I smile at my wretched reflection. New Mia, terrified of the same old things.
“Maybe Jax can fix this,” she says. “He and Declan are as close as you and I are, maybe he can get him to give up the chase. I mean, it’s been years, he should have moved on.”
I shake my head. “You didn’t see the way he looked at me, Addie. He’ll never move on.” My voice fades over the last sentence because, as I say the words, I grasp the full scope of their meaning. “He knew perfectly well what he was doing when he told Lucretia to have her assistant contact him.” Slowly turning towards her, I ask, “By the way, can I have his number, please?”
Let me be upfront about it – this psychology personality test based on what you read is for readers of romance, and it’s based on a number of romance subgenres. From Dark Romance to Fantasy to Small Town Romance and Historical, whether you’re into emotional rollercoaster rides or dark and twisted relatiops, whether you prefer morally gray heroes or dragons, your preferences are going to reveal things about yourself. If you are a reader of romance, this test is for you. I have planned a series of videos like this, but if you are in for more personality tests right now, HERE are the ones I drew up before I started with the video.
Okay, ready? Click on the picture below, and see what your favorite subgenre of romance says about you. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel to be notified every time a new video comes up.
As promised, here is the first chapter of my upcoming novella, Frat Boy Billionaire, that will hit the Zon in ten days. Here is what this story is about:
When a one-night stand turns into a twisted game that follows you forever–along with the man that can’t let go.
When campus starboy Declan Santori caught me snapping naked pictures of him, he demanded payback. A one night stand at his frat house that he would be allowed to film and keep as leverage against me.
But a taste is not enough. He wants more.
And I do as well. I want him to do those twisted things to me again, use me for his pleasure and make me beg for it too.
He’s like a sickness spreading out through me, one I have to get away from or die trying. Especially when it turns out that my dark Romeo is far more than just a super hot frat boy that every girl wants. There’s a far darker secret in his closet…
NOTE. Coarse language edited.
CHAPTER I – The Bitten Apple
Seven years ago
It’s not like I’ve been trying to stay away from Declan Santori, asshole extraordinaire and hottest frat boy on campus. On the contrary. I’ve been slinking down the hall to the boys’ locker room after training for weeks, their banter and gross jokes turning louder the closer I got.
If anything, I’ve been trying to catch glimpses of him naked. After all, the campus UFC champion is one of a kind. Someone to snap pictures of to pleasure yourself to later.
Steam billows out of the boys’ showers, and I wait behind the locker room door, as I usually do. Frat boys that train for the UFC college octagon do it in a separate building that their fat earnings from betting pay for, making it easy for me to slip in on evenings like this. No one can catch me now that everybody is getting ready for the party at their frat house. The girls must be giggling at the dorms by now, clinking glasses of champagne while they pull on fishnets and leather corsets, talking about whose d*** might end up down their throats tonight. Eager to up their body count by adding the most eligible frat boys on campus.
Envy turns me livid.
They’re gonna get f*cked by my crush, and I won’t.
Because I didn’t get invited, of course.
Back in high school, I dreamed about being one of the hot girls in college. I’d promised myself things would be different from junior high, that I wouldn’t be invisible anymore, and I was willing to put in the work for it. But then my dentist announced I’d have to wear braces for another year. The freaking first-impression year. So my dreams shattered.
I peek in from around the door, phone camera ready, snapping picture after picture. Declan always uses the shower closest to the exit, so I know exactly how to angle the device, while keeping a hawk’s eye on the display for adjustments. All I get at first are blurry side-pics, as always, but before long I start getting exactly what I need. I snap pictures greedily, sinking my braced teeth into my lower lip, feeling like a creep.
But then I stop, my head tilting to the side.
Something’s different about his hair, even though it’s wet, and there’s no telling the color. The man’s shoulders aren’t as broad nor as powerful as Declan’s, the V tapering down to his waist not as steep. I narrowly avoid hissing out a cuss when I glimpse the sides of a tattoo reaching around the guy’s waist.
No, this isn’t him. Declan Santori doesn’t have any tattoos because his elite family doesn’t allow it. They are the closest thing to royalty in the state, inking their bodies is out of the question. A piercing–a dumbbell going through his nipple–is the only thing marring his perfect body. So who is that man? I work my wrist, changing the camera’s angle quickly to look for Declan, but he doesn’t seem to be in there. Which is strange. I know for a fact he trained in the octagon this evening, I saw him walk out of there with his guys, all sweaty and loud and perfect.
I’ve grown used to the adrenaline pumping through my veins when I spy on him, but it skyrockets now. All my senses know that something is terribly wrong here, but the moment I spin around to leave, I knock into a rock-hard chest. I stumble backwards, and I’d probably land on my ass if it weren’t for the wall behind me.
The realization knocks me in the chest like a hammer.
I just got caught.
My brain spins and my ears buzz, my mind refusing to process the identity of the man in front of me. For moments, I fail to recognize the broad shoulders, like a swimmer’s, or the lean, athletic body with well-defined sinews snaking down into the towel wrapped around his hips. I’m choking on my own saliva as I look up at his face, at those intense slitted eyes that seem to burn holes through my skull. Slowly, my eyes run along the finely-cut edges of his cheekbones and jaw, moving up to the black, scruffy-spiked hair that makes him look like an anime character. A mouthwatering one, smelling of a fighter’s hormones, lemongrass and cinnamon. A scent I would recognize anywhere, and one that forces me to acknowledge what just happened.
As much as I wish this were an alternative reality that I’ll snap out of at any moment, it’s not. Declan Santori actually caught me spying on him.
I suppose I could try and deny that I’m here for him, but he catches my wrist and snatches the phone from my hand. The camera is already on, so he doesn’t need my password to access my photo gallery. Heat shoots up to the tips of my ears. I try to side-step him, run away before I choke on my own shame, but his hand turns into iron around my wrist.
“So, Timothy was right,” he purrs in that calm baritone that has been haunting my dreams for months. “You have been spying on us.” Those slitted eyes flash from the pictures to my face. “On me.”
“She’s always been a lusty one,” Timothy Meyer says with a sneer, appearing behind Declan and propping himself against the doorframe. He’s the guy who’d taken Declan’s place in the shower, his body not as taut, his shoulders small, the tattoo under his belly button making a bad contrast with his cheese-white skin. Not even the towel around his hips makes anywhere close to the same impression. “You wouldn’t think it from the look of her.”
The worst part is that the bastard is right. Puberty hit me like a truck, my hormones morphing into tiny evil villains. But it’s not like just any guy could trigger them. Timothy Meyer should know. He tried his best to get into my pants back in high school, and failed, which is why he’s doing this to me now. Still, the truth is I rarely set my sights on a guy, but when I do, I’m relentless, and my lust becomes a problem. I’ve been trying to get a grip on it by hitting the gym too hard, and ended up skinny as shit, with no curves to entice guys like Declan. Pair my skinny frame with my braces and glasses, and not even cat-shaped blue eyes and shiny black hair can save me.
“A cunning little spy,” Declan says, eyeing me up and down with keen interest. It gives me pause, and I stop breathing. He cocks an eyebrow. “A horny one.”
“I’m sure she wouldn’t object to you finger-f*cking her right here, against that wall,” Timothy encourages with a lewd glint in his small eyes that are too widely set apart. He grabs his c*ck through the towel. “I wouldn’t mind watching. We can even take turns.”
“I’m not here because I’m into you, you stupid assholes,” I blurt out. My blood surges, my breathing ragged as Declan’s scent fills my nostrils. He’s close, too close.
His lips curling up into that dashing smile of his, Declan leans his head to the side. “No? Then why would you have naked pictures of me on your phone?”
“I can assure you it’s not because I sigh in bed at night for you.” A blatant lie.
That smile remains in place while his hand squeezes my wrist, and his body traps me against the wall. My breathing hitches. We’re now chest to chest, the water on his skin seeping into my oversized black metalhead t-shirt. I can feel the fabric cooling against my body.
“Let me guess,” he purrs. “You were going to upload those pictures. Or spread them around campus, in an attempt to–what?” He laughs, the sound rippling through my veins like a dark promise. “Bully me?” His voice drops, as seductive as the lure of a vampire. “Is that it? You were trying to bully me, Mia Rogers?”
“Y-you know my name?” I stutter.
His voice drops a few tones, pleasant and dangerous like a cool blade pressed to heated skin.
“Of course I do. Your stalking isn’t as subtle as you think. I can feel your eyes on me in class, in the hallways.”
“All eyes are on you in class and in the hallways, not just mine,” escapes my mouth, and I don’t regret it. I even manage to hold his stare, the most penetrating one I’ve ever seen. This is a good cover, and Imma use it. “You’ve broken many hearts and ruined many reputations, Declan Santori. It was about time someone ruined yours.”
Those eyes, black as tar, keep probing mine before he bursts into laughter, a low sound that vibrates against my ribcage.
“And you thought spreading pictures of my d*ck was gonna do that?”
My lips press into a hard line as I try my best to hold my ground.
“I hand out d*ck pics like candy, little spy,” he hums, “and they’re received as such. I might slide one into your DMs, too.” He winks. “If you’re nice.”
I swallow hard, my eyes hanging on his. If I managed to save some face until now, there’s no way he doesn’t see the lust in it now. He presses his body into mine, his c’ck hard against me. I gasp at the length of it. That thing would fill me up like a freaking missile.
“In fact, I have a better idea.” His voice is a low, dangerous invitation. “Come to the frat house party later, and I promise you’ll be the only girl I f*ck tonight.” He holds up my phone and winks. “I might even let you film it. Then you can go about destroying my reputation all you want.”
The air between us is scorching hot as we hold each other’s stare. My heart slams like crazy into my chest, reverberating into his, but at least I can blame it on the shock and adrenaline.
He places my phone back into my hand, wraps my fingers around it, and lets go. “Of course, you don’t have to come.” Those dark eyes turn into simmering coals. “But if you do show up, little spy, I’ll know why you’re there.”
He backs away, and it’s all I can do not to slump down by the wall. I can’t let myself collapse in front of him, and even less in front of that bastard Timothy, who’s still cupping his c*ck, stroking it limply. His mouth twists in disappointment that he won’t be watching me get finger-f*cked by the wall, and maybe be the next to do it.
There’s a wicked look in his eyes that tells me he hasn’t given up on that prospect yet, and he won’t anytime soon.
This book is going to be out soon! Subscribe to my newsletter, and be the first to know when it does. Let me know your thoughts on this first chapter in a comment, I’m always happy to read them 🙂
His Twisted Fantasy is going to hit the Zon in fourteen days! Here is anorher sneak peek. Check out the first chapter here, and another sneak peek here. Leave a comment and let me know what you think 🙂
Warning! Boxing scenes ahead! There is violence!
This is why I never train with anyone but Declan Santori, The Bull. He can take my punches, swift and vicious and damaging, without ending up whining on the octagon floor like a beaten pimp. He’s a pro, a UFC champion back in his fraternity days in college, and a legend of underground fighting, too. He can’t say no to an illegal fight, hence his mask and nick-name, The Bull. No one can ever know his true identity.
A famous billionaire that never misses a red carpet, he’s many a city girl’s wet dream. I don’t think he’d ever settle for one girl though because, like me, he’s a fucked up bastard, with fucked-up secrets. But he was a promising boy when he came to me for help years ago, and I just couldn’t let him go to waste.
I couldn’t let him fall down the same dark pit that had turned me into a monster.
So I covered up his screw-up, and he’s been a loyal puppy ever since, albeit one with grit, and dignity. Fearless and dangerous, The Bull doesn’t need to suck up to me, not anymore. Unlike all other men I know, he doesn’t offer his adoration because he’s secretly afraid of me. On the contrary, if anyone stands a chance against me on pretty much all levels, then him.
Sweat dripping down my back, I throw punches so hard that one of his mitts flies off.
“Whoa, not feelin’ very friendly today, are we?”
I heave, my fists still up. I’m not wearing gloves, just the wraps, wanting to feel the impact of the blows full force. But now that I’ve thrown some punches, I know that what I need today is to be the punching bag.
“Hit me,” I growl. “Hard, in my face or my stomach, I don’t give a fuck, just make it hurt.”
The Bull hesitates, like he always does.
“Just do it, Declan.”
He knows better than to hesitate a second time. Dropping his mitts, his right fist hits me straight in the gut. It would send a large man bending from his waist and spitting his guts out, but all the years of training, all the fights to the death in prison, have taught my body to withstand much more than normal men. My muscles clench, and the blow bounces off of me like a fucking ball.
“Harder,” I push through my teeth, gritting them until my jaw hurts.
Declan hits again, and I buck forward, my abs turning into a wall of concrete. He shoots another blow, and another, so fast that his fists whip the air. My fists strain against the chafing bandages. Before I know it, I respond to his blows, and we dance in a full-fledged fight in the octagon, a stark light from above falling in the middle of it. We keep to the circle of light, the way we did back in the octagon where we met seven years ago.
The only draw in my life. And in his.
Right now, I need the violence that only he can give me. Something to knock out the beastly lust inside that threatens to consume me. If anyone can make the lights go out, then Declan.
The last few blows send us both outside the cone of light, bouncing against the octagon net walls, heaving. We have another go at each other, another flurry of blows that scrambles both of our brains. Another groaning pause sees us bouncing from net walls, struggling to find balance on our feet again.
“What the hell is wrong with you, dude?” Declan hisses among labored breaths, his large chest heaving, Unlike me, the former frat boy doesn’t have any tattoos. It’s a thing of the elites, not to mar their own bodies. But on the inside, his soul is a scarred wreck.
“And don’t even try to tell me it’s nothing because I’m gonna beat the shit of you until you talk.”
“No.” My chest vibrates. “You’re going to try.”
He does. He launches himself at me with a war cry, his arms bouncing off my guard as I block his punches. He does finally land a jab to my jaw, and I groan at the pain that splits my head–loving it, embracing it. Snarling, I stick out my tongue like an enraged gladiator, ready for more. The Bull throws his next hammer-like punch to my face, knowing exactly what I want. What I need. Had he gone for the body, my muscles would have reacted by instinct and turned to concrete, shielding me from any real damage.
But as long as I keep my hands down, nothing can pad my face against the onslaught of violence.
I revel in his blows, my mind focusing on the cracks and splinters and lightning that cut through my head. I grin like a madman, leaning into his pummeling until Declan suddenly stops.
“What are you doing?” I snarl. “Keep going.”
“Like hell I will. What the fuck dude, why are you doing this to yourself?” The sight of him swims in front of my blurry eyes, his fists unclenching at his sides. There’s blood on one of his bandages, which means the slick wetness above my eyebrow is from split skin.
“What you askin’ stupid questions for? This isn’t the first time we’re doing this. Go on.”
He shakes his head and steps back, running a hand through his soaked hair. “This is different, man. Seriously different. I’ve never seen you like this before, and honestly, it scares me.”
I fall back against the octagon wall, trickling down to the floor, exhaustion sliding through me. I rest my forearms on my knees, eyes closed to take in the feeling. At least for a few minutes, the beast will be quiet, stunned by the blows, reeling as it tries to regain some focus. Ah, there’s that feeling, of having gotten what I deserved.
“Start talking,” he presses.
“Or what?” I retort, my head leaned back against the octagon wall, my eyes closed.
A small laugh escapes me. Here it is, Declan’s unique way of cracking me open. I start unwrapping my bandages, focusing on the smooth movement as I speak.
“It’s, I–” What the hell do I say? I’ve never talked about women with a guy, simply because I was never interested in one.
Luckily, Declan has this uncanny ability to sense stuff.
“It’s a chick, right?”
My eyes fly up, meeting his eerily black irises. A grin curls up his lips.
“Well, well, well, the great Jax Vaughn has fallen for a girl. Who knew he even could.”
“It’s not like that,” I grunt.
“By the way you just tried to have it beaten out of you?” He clicks his tongue, pointing a finger at me. “It’s totally like that.”
“What would you know?” I grumble, ripping a piece of my bandage, folding it, and dabbing at the cut above my eyebrow.
Declan’s face tightens. Damn it. It’s been so long since we talked about it that it slipped my mind.
“I’m sorry.” I’m a bastard. “I don’t know what I was thinking, it’s just–” I refold the bandage and press it harder to my brow, until it forces me to hiss. “I haven’t fallen for her, this is something else.”
“Oh, but there’s no way you can tell, is there?” Declan says. “You’ve never been into someone before. You have nothing to compare it to.”
I throw a stray glove at him with my free hand. It happens swiftly, his hand raising a split second too late, and the glove hits him in the face.
“The fuck man,” he protests, hurling it back at me across the octagon. I catch it in the air, and drop it next to me. “It’s not my fault a woman is finally getting to you. I’m just trying to help here. I’m not even sure how, but I know beating the shit out of you isn’t a long-term solution.”
“Why not? I’m not a glamorous character in public life, like you, I don’t need to pamper my face.”
“No, but it still is a pity to see you roughed up. You’re a pretty boy, you know. Besides, what will that girl of yours say if you turn up looking like Kitschko run over by Muhammad Ali?”
“She’s slipped under my skin, man.” The words just slide out of my mouth. I rub the folded bandage into my wound, gritting my teeth. “I’m capable of doing the most horrible things for her.”
Declan stares at me keenly. “But not to her.”
“Never,” I react quickly, out of my gut. “But to anyone that tries to take her away from me. Like her ex, he kept texting her the other day, and I just lost it. I considered getting him in a dark alley and breaking every bone in his body. And that’s not even the worst part.”
“What is then?”
“She’s only been there for one night and one morning, and I already told her about Dominic.”
His face freezes. He knows what this means. “How about what happened in prison?”
I shake my head, wet strands whipping against my forehead. “Not yet.” And not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t face the disgust that would have twisted her features. She must never know what I did.
“I don’t know dude,” Declan says, rubbing the five o’clock shadow on his square jaw. “On the one hand it sounds great. You’re a hard boulder to crack, and being able to talk to someone like that, it’s priceless. Not something one wants to lose.”
“But something one definitely should let go of when they’re a–”
“Don’t say it,” he cuts me off.
“It’s what I am.”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be–” He’s careful about the use of the word, but he goes for it in the end, “you know, happy.”
“Happy.” I spit out the word. “That’s not in the cards for me. The prison shrink said as much when he declared me a menace to society after what happened. I’m incapable of good feelings. I destroy everything I touch.”
“You know damn well that’s bullshit.” Declan is usually a controlled guy, but there’s no missing the anger lacing his tone now. “You come from a shitty background, where everyone predicted you’d become an addict and a goon. Hell knew all the other boys down your lane did. Instead, you never touched drugs, got your first job at sixteen, brought all your money home to your mother, and even enjoyed the pure slavery they subjected you to on those construction sites because it gave you purpose. If there ever was a good man, Jax, then you. You made something great of yourself even in those terrible circumstances, just imagine what you could have accomplished if you were born to a couple of posh narcissists like my folks.”
I scoff bitterly, wishing I could believe that I am a good man, at least in essence. But Declan is biased because I helped him when he was at his lowest.
“Even if I were a good man, prison changed all that. In a sense, I never came back out.” I slap the bloody folded bandage on the floor.
“I can’t fall for her, Declan,” I say, my voice the closest thing to a whisper. “I would squeeze the life out of her, cage her in, and go mad with jealousy every time she stared with melancholy out the window, suspecting she might be thinking of some other guy. The only person I can tolerate around her is her friend Mia. And don’t even get me started on the effort it cost me to agree to those few dancing classes a week that she gives.”
When Declan fails to latch onto that, I look up from the floor. If I were to define melancholy, it would be the look on his face right now.
“Everything all right?” I probe.
“Yeah, it’s just–” He stares into nothing, his mouth hard. “That name.”
I soften my voice, speaking carefully. “Was it her name?”
He nods, his throat working as if he just swallowed a word he couldn’t say out loud.
A good friend would probe deeper. But a brother knows better.
“You know, if you ever feel like talking about her, I’m here.”
Declan bursts into laughter, coming back to himself, and throwing a mitt at me. “If I ever felt like talking about the woman that destroyed my life, it wouldn’t be with an emotionally crippled bastard who’s just tasting merciless passion for the first time. But as the more experienced of us I can tell you, Jax–the experience will hurt. There’s no avoiding that. Yet every second of it will be worth it, and you’ll crave more.”
As you’ve been surely expecting, I’ve been feverishly working on my upcoming book, His Twisted Fantasy, under my new pen name, Ana C. Blacklace. It’s a dark billioniare romance (emphasis on DARK, so steer away if that’s not your cup of tea), with an over-the-top, obsessed hero who will stop at nothing to get the woman that he wants. Because I’m dying to share this book with you, and I can’t wait until I’m done writing it, here is a new excerpt. Please keep in mind this is a first draft, and it still needs some editing. Lemme know what you think in a comment. Warning, strong language ahead!
NOTE: This is NOT the first chapter. You can read the first chapter HERE, and the excerpts that I will keep posting as I write do not follow in order. This scene happens in chapter III, for example, some time after Adalia and Jax met. Enjoy! Especially if you need some inspiration for a Valentine’s Day full of spice, and over-the-top, stalkerish chasing that is only ever safe in fiction.
Have yourself a blast 🙂
Title: His Twisted Fantasy
Main characters: Adalia and Jax
The rain patters against my windshield, a pair of incoming headlights fogging my view of Adalia’s window. My leather gloves squeak against the wheel as I grip it harder. I wonder what goes through her mind as she sits with her friend at the kitchen table, her forehead resting in her hand, knowing she’s only got herself to blame for the girl having lost her internship at HQ.
She should have known better than to reject me.
While her room-mate speaks, Adalia shakes her head, pouring them both more wine from the bottle standing between them on the table. I promised her I’d find her motivation to do what she professed she’d never do, and there it is–the people she loves. Maybe she won’t fight for her own dreams, but she won’t put the dreams and livelihoods of those she loves in jeopardy. She’ll give herself to me, in exchange for my leaving them alone.
I keep my eyes trained on her face through the rainwater trickling down my windshield, congratulating myself for not having sent her the contract after the first time we met. Adalia Ross isn’t a woman to have for a one night stand. It’s gonna take more to quench my appetite for her.
Her face turns to the window, her expression ghostly. There’s no way she can see me sitting in an anonymous black car parked across the street, but maybe she can sense the beast watching her from the night. Her friend is still talking to her, gesticulating amply, but Adalia just stares lost out into the rain. She comes to her feet slowly, her hands going to the sides of the window. For a moment, I worry she might close the drapes. Instead, she leans against the window frame, peering outside while her room-mate keeps talking.
My cock stirs in my pants, and I have to grab the bastard with one hand, my leather glove creaking. My eyes flash into slits as I zoom in on those dreamy blue eyes, remembering their long, curved lashes. The harder I stare, the more I wonder if that’s what attracted me to her from the start. If it was her selflessness, her capacity for love and dedication, her self-sacrificing nature that affected me on a visceral level, even before she proved them to me. Ah, how good it will feel to corrupt her. To ruin her. To break her apart and then piece her back together into my own Frankenstein’s monster.
Making her completely mine.
The day I met her I was certain she’d thrown herself to her knees to grab my attention, to turn me on, to have a shot at personal contact with me. Now I know that wasn’t the case, but fuck, I wish it had been. A week later here I am, chasing a woman for the first time in my life, even if there won’t be any chocolates or flowers. I won’t be turning up in a limo at her curb, because I’m not a knight in shining armor. I’m a ruthless bastard that will ravish her.
My cock turns to steel in my pants as I imagine her finally bending to me. In less than twenty-four hours, I’ll have her on her knees. Soon, her pussy will be clenching around my cock while I drive it deeper inside of her than any man has ever been.
She stirs at the window, as if she sensed my thoughts. A second later, a shadow simmers against the orange light coming out of the hall as it pushes the door to enter her building. She reacted when she saw him from the window, so she must be expecting him. Tall and lean, he moves confidently, like he knows what he’s doing, but something about it seems overdone.
His style could probably fool men who hadn’t spent half their lives in prison, men who aren’t used to stalking people from a distance, and observing everything around them, watching for any element that could become a threat. But my observation skills and deadliness are what kept me alive all those years in prison. Being able to assess an opponent within the first seconds of seeing him was vital in the prison octagon, where I first made a name for myself among heaps of money–illegal fights, to the death. It was either me or the other guy. The way this one moves, he’s not even a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. He’s a hyena trying to fake the elegance of a dignified predator.
The leather gloves stretch over my knuckles, and I growl deep in my chest, wanting to bite his head off.
Especially when my hunch turns out to be spot on.
Mia Rogers stands up from the table only to return with the visitor. Adalia turns to greet him, and the bastard throws off his coat, putting his gym-trained arms around her. Next to his princely presence, I’m a boulder. My jaw clenches as I wonder if this is what she likes, if he is what she’s into. Neat hair, beard so well-tended I wonder why the fuck he grows one at all, considering beard stands for raw, beastly masculinity. For something straight out of the caves, which he obviously isn’t, and which I take pains to hide being by always sporting a cleanly shaven jaw.
Except now, because I haven’t shaved in days, focused on the one thing I’ve wanted in years–her.
I wonder how she’d react if I crushed him right in front of her, squeezing the pretense out of him. If I proved to her just how useless city rats like him are against the likes of me. If protection is what she’s looking for in his arms, she’s gonna find out soon enough what a lame excuse for a man he is.
I hitch out my phone, zoom in, and snap a picture of him. It’s good to have state-of-the-art technology at your fingertips at all times, the kind normal people don’t even imagine exists yet. After an investigation of a few minutes and a few firewall breach hacks, I have all the info I need. He’s Camden Murray, stock broker, well-known ladies’ man in New York, and Adalia’s ex who she supposedly broke up with. I hiss at my phone and put it away. Later, I’ll dig up the last vid on PornHub he watched, what time he took his last dump, and all the dick pics he sent to other women while dating Adalia. I’m gonna break his image in her eyes, as well as every bone in his body. But right now, I need to watch every move he makes around her.
Hello, people! As some of you may know, I’m working on a new book, under a new pen name, since I’m starting a series of contemporary dark billionaire romance novels and novellas. His Twisted Fantasy is going to hit the Zon mid March, and this is the first chapter. Let me know if you are interested in an ARC (a reader e-copy you get a week before release) so that you can post a review on Amazon on the day of release. Comment on this post, leave your e-mail address if possible, and let me know.
Please keep in mind this is the first draft.
I go into tycoon Jax Vaughn’s office looking for a job. When I come out, it’s with an offer I should definitely refuse.
But the most powerful man in America doesn’t give choices. He twists arms.
Not everybody has a price. But everybody has a weakness, and I’ll dig up Adalia Ross’s, if that’s what it takes to make her mine.
The curvy little angel refused my proposition and my money, but we both know, it’s only a matter of time until I’ll have my twisted way with her.
From the moment I saw her, dirty thoughts flooded my brain. Blood raged through me, making me rock hard. It’s been a long time since a woman affected me like this, too long.
This little angel opened up Pandora’s box, and there’s no closing down that lid again.
I’m a ruthless, relentless bastard, and now, I’m obsessed.
But then, she uncovers something that should have stayed forever hidden.
This changes things–it changes her contract. If she ever dares break it, someone will end up in pieces. Most likely any man whose attention she invites.
So welcome to the devil’s den, little angel. One way in, no way out, if that’s what it takes to keep you. Because who would choose to stay with the broken monster you’re about to discover in the dark?
The only thing harder than Jax Vaughn’s perfectly sculpted face and bulging muscles is his heart. Cold, stony, impossible to break. Want can’t move him.
But on the rare occasions when he desires something, there’s no scenario in which he doesn’tget it. And now what he wants is me, doing things with him that would have any decent lady clutching her pearls.
Except I’m not a decent lady. I’m a far cry from the innocent girl that came with big dreams to New York five years ago. Those dreams shattered, and now I have dirty secrets and bad habits. By the look of it, I’m also developing an obsession with a man way out of my league. A predator that wants nothing more than to consume me, and break me. In the end, he will succeed.
But I sure af won’t make it easy on him.
Chapter I – First Sight
Vaughn Corp Tower is one mean, impressive motherfucker. My neck hurts as I stare up at the monolith of glass and steel that scrapes the clouds. Even though it’s standing in the heart of Manhattan among others of its kind, it still dominates the landscape, demanding special attention and respect.
Which it kinda sorta deserves.
In the last few years, the V.C. Tower has become as much a symbol of this city as the Empire State, and all because Jax Vaughn, the man who runs it, is a whole new level of mobster. A dangerously smart one. He emerged from prison onto the stock market ten years ago, and bulldozered through everything in his path. Soon, organized crime bowed to him, and politics was quick to follow. Yes, I’ve done my homework, seeing that I’m now applying for a job at one of the crook’s companies.
Don’t judge. It’s a job I can do well–social media marketing–and one of his start-up brands is paying a banker’s wage for it. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to quit my nightclub job, and pay back all of mom’s debt, too. Practically a fairy tale, but with work. I can’t afford not to grab this chance.
I take comfort in the idea that Jax Vaughn must be old, ugly, and probably bald to make up for his money. Nobody knows for sure what he looks like, because there are no pictures of him online, but who builds something like this in their thirties, right?
I prance towards the building, trying to look confident in my two-piece suit and high heels, but as soon as I step through the rotative door, my jaw drops.
Fuck, how many people signed up for this?
I let my eyes run over the crowd in the lobby. Men and women, all looking crisp and competent, the kind of people with their ambitions forged in Manhattan, are stepping on each other’s toes.
What was I thinking? I should have expected hellish competition for this. Not many people are truly good at social media marketing, but everybody thinks they are, so it’s only logical they’d try for something this well paid.
“Ma’am,” a dry voice reaches me. My eyes find a tall lanky man in a suit, glasses down on the tip of his nose. Salt and pepper hair, in his fifties, high-brow. He holds out a device. “Your name and registration number.”
“Of course.” I pull out my phone, transferring the information by holding it to his device.
“Thank you.” He motions to a line I can now make out snaking through the crowd. Apparently, the people clustered together have already taken the interview, and are now exchanging notes. From what I hear, there are a number of openings on this job, not just one. I breathe out in relief. Maybe there actually is a chance.
“It will be around fifty minutes,” the man says.
More like five hours by the look of it.
I join the line.
“Also,” he adds, “No pictures, no matter what. Keep your phone tucked away at all times. When you hear your name, you walk up to that door.” He shows me a large black door across from the elevators and walks away, moving on to the next people entering the Tower.
I wonder why he didn’t demand that I give up my phone, but I guess it would be too much trouble collecting the gadgets from everyone here. I haven’t seen a lobby this packed since Jason Momoa stayed at the Crowne Plaza. Plus, there are cams in every corner, at the top of every marble column, so whoever breaks the rules sure won’t get away with it.
Half an hour later, there’s barely any progress, the crowd only getting thicker, the air hotter, and my feet are killing me. I’m shifting from one leg to the other, cursing under my breath. I better get this job, because it will be days before I can go back to dancing in my cage at the nightclub.
The red-head in front of me flips her hair for the hundredth time, whipping it over my face. The space between us has tightened so much I can smell her sweat mixing with Chanel No. 5. Why the hell did they have to put us in a line when we’re being called in by name? Maybe Jax Vaughn likes it this way. I imagine the heartless bastard watching us mere mortals through his cameras, swarming like cockroaches for the crumbs under his table, taking sick pleasure in it.
“Yeah, sure, no problem,” I bite out when the red-head fails to excuse herself. She turns around, arching an eyebrow. She’s got so much fill-up in her glossy lips that it must take a huge amount of effort to move them when she speaks. She gives me a once-over before her features distort in arrogance.
“Excuse you,” she says, waving a hand with pointy, black-polished fingernails like I’m trash standing too close. “Some distance would be great, thank you.”
“No, can’t do.” I throw my thumb behind me with a wink. “Peer pressure. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a tsunami back there. So why don’t we just be considerate of each other?” She glances over my head at the sea of people behind, but it doesn’t seem to faze her.
Every piece she’s wearing is designer made, and expensive as fuck. She scoffs and turns her back to me again, giving me the chance to measure her up and down, noticing she’s wearing only V.C. owned brands. Of course she’d try to impress like that. I would have done the same, if I could afford it.
Except maybe she doesn’t either. Shit, I should have rented, too. There is a place just down the street. Now here I am, dressed in my room-mate’s best two-piece suit that’s too small for me, wearing the most uncomfortable heels that ever existed. The suit jacket didn’t reach over my bust, so I had to leave the lapels open, enabling a view of my breasts that always borders on indecent no matter how hard I try to cover them. I don’t have the breasts of a porn star, but I do have those of a wet nurse, and they did get me my job at the nightclub. There’s no hiding them. It’s been five years since I dropped out of Julliard, and I’ve put on more weight than any ballerina would ever tolerate on her bust and thighs, so it surely wasn’t my dancing skills that got me into the cage. When Snake hired me, he said that I looked like a MILF at twenty-five, which was what his clients liked to watch.
And he was fucking right. None of the bastards drooling around my cage with drinks in their hands is right in the head, you can tell that much by midnight. They have crazy eyes, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the glittery Swarowsky mask that permanently covers my face, ensuring anonymity. If I took it off and went with them to the hotel, I’d probably have paid off all of mom’s debts and the mortgage by now, but I’d also be a suicidal alcoholic, and I can’t afford that. Let’s be honest, mom’s problems are never over, and she’ll never stop needing me.
With a little luck today though, we both will gain some stability.
I glance at my fuzzy reflection in the glossy marble column, clear enough for me to check my hair-do. It’s anywhere but in place. It’s too hot and too clammy in here, so there’s hardly anything left of my chignon. Blonde strands have rebelled everywhere, making me look like a secretary that just got fucked.
Who am I kidding? I’m so not ready for this, and I don’t stand a chance anyway. I mean, come on, how many people are in here? A hundred? Two? I should freaking go. This is a waste of time.
I turn to leave, but a piercing ‘ding’ makes me spin around. Elevator doors open, and men in black pour out of it. One of them holds his hand up, his face dead serious.
“No pictures,” he croaks.
When the last man steps out of the elevator, the others line up to flank him.
Even among his bodyguards–because that’s what they are, since the last guy is clearly the boss–he is seriously massive. He arranges the cuffs of his Brioni suit with a sleekness that is both refined and dangerous. Damn, his elegance could rule both the jungle and the city.
Which it actually does.
No doubt, this is him. Jax Vaughn. There’s no other reason why every member of staff should freeze in the straightest posture a human could take, or why dead silence sweeps over the entire room. And fuck me, he’s not old, ugly, or bald. In fact, he runs a hand through his thick brown hair as he prowls towards the exit, and the side of his face that I can see is so perfectly sculpted, it’s not fair to the rest of mortal men.
My jaw slackens, and so do my hands, a loud whump following–My bag, all of its contents spilling onto the floor. The sound echoes through the silence, causing the bodyguards to stop, and Jax Vaughn’s head to snap right to me.
One second, and the world tips.
Our eyes lock.
The wildest green I’ve ever seen pops against the backdrop of skin like caramel.
What a beautiful animal…
And he’s staring right at me, fully aware that I exist. My heart pounds crazily, heat flooding my cheeks until annoyed huffing rips through the magic. The red-head, arms crossed under her tits in a way that pushes them up, stares at me like I’ve just pooped on the floor.
“Clumsy much? Or just desperate for attention?” She sneers.
I look down at my stuff, and shame grips my guts. Not only have a few tampons spilled from their package, but my new battery-operated friend that Mia gifted me during lunch peeks out, too. One glance at Jax’s eyes, and I know he’s seen it. Good God, he’s seen it.
I drop to my knees, scooping my stuff quickly back into my purse, the red-head’s laughter so shrill that it echoes against the luscious walls. All the attention weighs like a boulder on me, even though it’s obvious she’d rather hi-jack it for herself. I can only hope that this is all too unimportant for Jax Vaughn, and that he’s already moved on, his schedule way too tight for him to waste another thought on either me or the red-head, but no.
I meet his eyes again the moment I look up, except this time there’s more than just surprise in them. He seems angry, his masculine face bristling with aggression. He doesn’t like this, not one bit, but then why isn’t he leaving? He should be out by now, people like me are nothing but ants to him.
Sweat runs down my spine while all sorts of thoughts plague my head. Is he thinking about having his men throw me out? No, why would he do that, I mean, only over a few tampons and a dildo?
Holy shit, he saw my dildo! Is this how I’m going to stay imprinted in his memory? On my knees, desperately trying to conceal the thing?
On the other hand, there’s no shame in single girls having their fun with their battery-operated friends, is there? Even though I would do anything to turn back time, and make sure Mr. Fucking Universe doesn’t find out I use one.
I should get up and bolt out the door right now, minimize the damage, but I can’t move, not under Jax Vaughn’s cold scrutiny. He pins me down with those green eyes like a wild animal does prey in the jungle.
Barely anyone in the room dares breathe.
It feels like an eternity until he finally signals his men to follow with a jerk of his head. But even as he exits the building, I can’t help feeling that he’s still aware of me.
Judging me. Despising me.
Probably laughing at me, like the red-head. I turn to stare daggers at her, but it doesn’t faze her any more than the competition did before, when she ran her eyes over the crowd. She’s just glad she used me to catch his eye.
Delusional bimbo. Jax Vaugh has a dozen like her lining up to suck his dick at a snap of his fingers, she’s nothing special to him. None of us are. Men like him are so spoiled for choice, only the sickest things can still arouse or interest them–I dance in a cage at a nightclub for a living. I should know.
“Really?” the red-head shrills. “Staging yourself in a pornographic position to get the billionaire’s attention? Come on, I’m sure you can do better than that.”
Anger shoots up to the tips of my ears.
“I didn’t stage anything.”
“Sure you didn’t.”
How satisfying it would be to punch the sneer off of her face, but I don’t need any more trouble at Vaughn Corp. I’ve had enough for a whole fucking lifetime. Making sure my purse is firmly shut, I prance out of the building in my heels with completely fake confidence. On the inside, I’m dying.
I wish I could block out the crowd’s whispering as I walk by, but my senses are only sharper. The adrenaline worked like a radioactive spider, so there’s no protecting myself from all the, “I’ve heard chicks do some crazy shit to get the guy’s attention, but this?” “How fucking lame.” “Stupid broad.” “Come on, it was funny.” “Who cares about the hoe, have you seen him? Oh. My. God.” Hand slapping chest. Giggling takes over before I even step between the glass blades of the rotative door, smoothing the hair off my face, leaving the swooning over Jax Vaughn to the girls who still have some dignity left.
I take a deep breath in an attempt to tell myself that life goes on, but the moment I step out, the tall man from before blocks my way. He looks down at his device, double checking my information, then at me.
“Miss Adalia Ross?”
Oh shit. Is it that bad?
She stared at me like a deer in the headlights, and my cock stood up to attention for the first time in what? Months? Years? It’s been so long since a woman turned me on that I lost count.
But the moment I saw her, I could barely keep my cock down.
Women have been throwing themselves at me for years. I’ve seen and experienced literally everything, and I was sure nothing could impress me anymore. Yeah, I can fuck, rough and hard, if a bitch insists, but I never initiate. I’m never the first one horny.
Until the woman on her knees inside the lobby of my Tower.
I stare out the dark window of my car with my jaw clenched. My boxing-roughed knuckles rest against my mouth as I focus on keeping my cock in check, and on taming my bristling.
I thought myself immune to this kind of shit, yet here I am, falling for the cheapest scheme a woman could pull. Dropping her bag with the dildo, and then pretending to gather her things by going down to a doggy style position, who does that? But ah, how her top stretched over her bouncing tits as she moved her arms to gather her things back into her purse…
I can’t get those messy blonde strands out of my mind, hanging over a perfectly plump mouth that looked ready to suck cock, her tits inviting jizz to spill all over them. Sweat glistened on her flushed chest as she stared up at me out of those milky blue eyes, making me wanna unzip for her.
I imagine those eyes on me while she masturbates with that dildo that slipped out of her purse.
My cock rages in my pants, this is insane.
Against all odds, I’m alive again, awakened by an onslaught of twisted cravings.
So twisted, like a sickness rising.
On an impulse, I reach for my phone, and text the chief of staff. ‘The girl that dropped her purse. I want her in my office when I’m back. Don’t let her leave even if you have to lock her in. I’ll deal with the legalities, if it comes to that.’
I tuck my phone back into my chest pocket, and rest my fist against my mouth again, trying to think about my upcoming meeting. It’s the first one with a secret group of underground tech rebels from the Middle East, and it took hell to arrange it. Yet here I am, thinking about fucking Ms. Clumsy’s mouth while she writhes on her dildo, instead of focusing on national security.
I straighten up, and pull at the lapels of my jacket, sharpening my focus.
She wanted my attention. Well, now she’s got it. She opened Pandora’s box, and there’s no fucking way that lid is closing again, not until all that darkness has spilled over her, and consumed her.
Today, he is my protector. Tomorrow, he could be my ruin.
The abuser from my past has returned, bent on getting me back in his power. Now only a shadow of my former self as a cheerleading team captain, I know I won’t survive abuse at his hands again. Enter Sinai of the Yces, winter fae and badass academy star boy with a grudge against my tormentor. He offers me protection, but his reasons don’t stop at our common enemy, and he’s not exactly my friend either. I’m not sure I want him to be, not with that perfectly chiseled jaw, those bulging muscles and the smoldering way he looks at me. He’s feared, nasty and dangerous, and yet I want him all over me. I feel that his rough lust can heal me. But Sinai is sweet poison that could lead me to my doom. I should run away from him as fast as I did from the other one, except this time I’m hooked. Hooked on the deadliest man I’ve ever met.
TRIGGER WARNING. This book deals with themes of abuse (physical and emotional, NOT between hero and heroine), stalker, forced proximity, jealous/possessive hero and related tropes. This is NOT a bully romance. There is a HEA.
The affair between fae prince Salazar Shadowthorn and me, a human witch, is three things – toxic, destructive, and forbidden. Now, it might become deadly.
Salazar is a prince without a crown, a tragically beautiful force of night. Shadow and smoke are deadly weapons in his hands, and even demons have learned to fear him. Yet now a mysterious power is closing in on him and his people, and Salazar can’t beat it alone. He needs to awaken the shadow fae king. Only that awakening the king is no less problematic than the dark power seeking to gain control of his kind. Because of me.
There’s a big fat chance that I’m the king’s fated mate, which means that Salazar and I would have to stop this toxic thing we’re doing. He likes toying with me, making me beg for him in basements, and pleasuring me in public in order to humiliate me. Perverted delights, to which I’ve secretly become addicted. We’ll have to kill this sick chemistry between us, if we want to stand a chance against this new power. A rising menace that can lead us both, ruthlessly, to our deaths.
A cursed beast lurks in the woods outside my village, and it wants one thing—me.
I learned to fear the Scorpio Beast many years ago. He is the most dangerous thing out there, brutal and cruel, so when he takes me captive in exchange for my brother’s freedom, I know to expect the worst. Yet deep into the ruins of his ancient castle, I discover there’s more to Ares Amberson than his ruthless reputation. There’s a tortured soul behind his mask, and a sensual touch behind his iron fist. There’s also more to my own past than I ever knew, a secret buried in my bloodline that Ares wants to use me for. But in order to unlock my dormant powers, he needs to teach me. Train me. Seduce me. Ruin me. The pull I feel towards him is wrong on all levels, but I’m hooked on the devilish pleasures he’s giving me. I must fight against it, or die trying. The secret of our bloodlines makes it impossible for us to be anything but rivals, polar opposites, enemies. In the end, there can be only one on the throne of the kingdom that we were both born to rule.
Note: This book offers you a strong female lead and a tortured villain, so brace yourself for dark themes and possible triggers related to past trauma. These two go to work on each other. Yes, there’s a HEA.
When you’re destined for each other – as sworn enemies.
With a common rival sitting on the throne that was meant for one of us, the Scorpio Beast and I are forced to work together – as a fake couple. We must fight against the evil usurper that brought misery upon our kingdom. But, in the end, there can be only one on the throne of Celestia. In the end only Ares or I can survive a terrible prophecy – that one of us is destined to kill the other.
Throne of Lust and Ruin is Book II of the Court of Scorpio series, telling the story of a passion that can only lead to ruin. Beware of triggers and dark themes. This is an enemies-to-lovers romance.
Hey book lover! I’m working on a new book, Queen of Blades and Roses, which is expected to hit the Zon at the end of August. Read the first chapter , and feel free to comment or e-mail and tell me what you think. This is a passion project for me, on which I’m working in parallel along with the next book of the Legends of the Fae series! So here we go.
A cursed beast lurks in the woods outside my village, and it wants one thing—me.
I learned to fear the Scorpio Beast many years ago. He is the most dangerous thing out there, brutal and cruel, so when he takes me captive in exchange for my brother’s freedom, I know to expect the worst.
Yet deep into the ruins of his ancient castle, I discover there’s more to Ares Amberson than his ruthless reputation. There’s a tortured soul behind his mask, and a sensual touch inside his iron fist. There’s also more to my own past than I ever knew, a secret buried in my bloodline that Ares wants to use me for. But in order to unlock my dormant powers, he needs to teach me.
The pull I feel towards him is wrong on all levels, but I’m hooked on the devilish pleasures he’s giving me. I must fight against it, or die trying. The secret of our bloodlines makes it impossible for us to be anything but rivals, polar opposites, enemies. In the end, there can be only one on the throne of the kingdom that we were both born to rule.
The Cursed Woods looked almost romantic from the window table at the Fyre Dragon Inn and Pub. Soaked in the scents of hearth and ale and leather, this was a place where stories had been born for many, many years, and most of those stories were about the Cursed Woods.
But the truth lurking in the hilly darkness spreading out between Azoth Hollow and Doomsday Mountain was far from the romantic adventure the pub’s storytellers made it out to be. They never told things the way my brothers and I gave it to them—raw and gut-wrenching. It frustrated my brothers. As for me, I didn’t take it quite as personally. After decades of suffering under the effects of the Spades fae’s curse, people needed some fantasy to keep them sane, and I felt for them. Not so my brothers.
“Do they even see our bleeding hands when they take the gold from them?” Thornan grunted, cocking a thick black eyebrow at the loud crowd from behind his pint. Scars adorned his rough fist, and his rugged looks placed him well beyond his twenty years. Part of that were his aggressive features, but most of it was what we had been doing for a living for years.
It had turned all three of us into brutes, even if it was less obvious in me, probably because I was female. One that dealt better with swords and knives than with baking, laundry and child-rearing, but still female. I had been fighting in the Cursed Woods for over a decade to help this village survive, and I was a Scavenger before anything else.
Once every month, my brothers and I put it all on the line venturing into that forested hell, hunting for treasure—and books, which were the rarest and most valuable items. I sure lived for the occasions when we found them. We spent the rest of our time training for our incursions into the woods. It took over our lives completely, but gold, silver and gems were the only things that got the people of Azoth Hollow through the winter. It helped us buy stuff from the other human settlements that didn’t have to suffer under the Spades’ wrathful curse, the curse that had turned our home into a haunted village.
Azoth Hollow intrigued outsiders and travelers, it fascinated them, but no one in their right mind would spend a full moon night here if they had a choice. As for leaving this place to settle somewhere else—others had tried before, and failed miserably. Being born here was like a scarlet letter, as if we could carry the curse into the wider world.
And maybe we could. We didn’t know for sure, but the curse might well have affected all of us in some way.
One sure thing was that our village wasn’t safe beyond nightfall on the three full moon nights of every month. Ghosts would creep onto the streets, hungering for human flesh. Consuming it made them feel alive again, even if only for a few hours. They were spirits of dead Scorpio fae, cursed by the Spades to dwell between life and death forever, unable to resume complete physical form or to cross into the spiritual world for good.
The spirits couldn’t enter cottages uninvited, but whatever they caught outside was theirs for the taking, and they never spared a life. Their hunger for flesh was beyond themselves, almost vampiric.
It was these stories that drew travelers to Azoth Hollow like moths to a flame. It was also why the three men at the bar were here, talking to Big Reo, the inn keeper. Checking them out from the corner of my eye, I’d have said they were monks.
“Those idiots, look at them,” Kovra groaned next to me. “Scented clothes, heads swimming with bedtime fairy tales, happy to believe all that bullshit.” He banged his pint on the table, the ale sloshing over the edges. “There are no fucking fairies in the Cursed Woods,” he called out, drawing the three strangers’ attention. “No fucking mermaids in its murky lakes. Only slimy stuff coiling around your feet, skeleton hands reaching out from the mud to pull you in, scorpions roaming around every fucking pile of treasure. It’s hard-earned silver that pays for this ale.”
Kovra tossed his ale down, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and looked away. I could only hope the three men wouldn’t dare to come over, but Big Reo leaned in and whispered to them who we were. The strangers’ eyes widened as he spoke, their curiosity and spiking interest obvious in their neat, monkish faces. One of them, probably the leader, licked his lips greedily, but still hesitated, which was understandable.
Kovra’s androgynous voice was one of many misleading things about my twin brother, but his words and tone always had a sobering effect. He was angry, always on the edge, and very efficient with a blade which, for some reason, shone through in him the most. We were both blonde, blue-eyed, fair skinned and half-fae, the last part making us particularly beautiful to the human eye, but that was pretty much where the similarities between us stopped.
Kovra was everything his name suggested. Fierce and swift. He’d inherited the fae looks of our mother, but his mordacity he got from Da, the best blacksmith in Azoth Hollow, and once the best blacksmith in the Golden City of Celestia, too. Yet my twin and I would have been seen as abominations in Celestia. Hybrids between fae and humans were extremely rare, and even those rare ones were born of human mothers and fae fathers, from affairs that rarely survived the night of conception. But Kovra and I were the product of a forbidden love between a fae princess and a human blacksmith, a story that ended in tragedy.
In the aftermath of that tragedy, Da got cast out of Celestia, and sent back to Azoth Hollow with my brother and me when we were still babies. Grief for our mother almost killed him, but the Allmother took mercy, and a kind girl from the village fell eternally in love with him. I guess there’s no resisting a handsome blacksmith with a broken heart. Thornan was the result of that union, two years later. They’re fine together, Da and Thornan’s mother, but I think Da never stopped being nostalgic about Celestia, and his lost love.
Sometimes, on clear days, you could see the city with the naked eye on top of Doomsday Mountain. But such days had been rare over the last two decades, ever since the Spades usurped the Scorpios. The curse spread a permanent veil of clouds over Azoth Hollow, unleashing hell into the woods covering the hills between it and the mountain.
These were the kinds of stories that travelers came here for, and that sure wasn’t any different for the three monks heading over to our table right now.
“May we join you?” the leader inquired, sinking his hands into the wide brown sleeves of his monkish garment. The other two drew close to him as they flanked him, looking fearful but greedy for information. A holy trinity of well-fed, well rested boys. I wondered how much they were willing to risk for the knowledge they desired.
My brothers had clearly already decided the monks weren’t worth the effort of even opening their mouths. Thornan took another sip of his ale, while Kovra shot them a killer glare. Chills ran through the flankers, but number one kept his ground.
He pulled a chair, and sat down. The old wood creaked.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Kovra demanded under his breath and shot forward, his long blonde hair framing his face like glinting platinum. It made a fierce contrast with his pale blue eyes, sharp nose and the angry curve of his lips. I was his female version, only that my hair was golden and up in a tight pony tail on top of my head, my eyes sparkled more, and my lips were fuller, all an effect of the vestigial lust-inducing magic I’d inherited from our fae mother.
“We don’t remember inviting you to take a seat,” Thornan bit out.
“Big Reo there said you were The Scavengers,” the leader said. “You’re famous.”
“Very famous,” the monk to his right chimed in. I named him number two.
“You have no idea,” number three said from the leader’s left.
“Fuck off,” Thornan growled.
“We have money,” number one put in, and pulled a pouch from his sleeve. It landed on the table with the telltale clink of precious metal. Coins. “We understand that people like you don’t let other people partake in their experiences just like that. They’re valuable, the things you’ve lived, the things you’ve seen. We understand that, and we’re willing to pay for the privilege of learning.”
“So, you want to learn,” Kovra said through his teeth. “How about you join us tomorrow, and learn by doing?”
Thornan burst into a raspy laugh that made number one’s throat bob, but he got a grip quickly. He reached to the pouch, unfastened the leather string around it, and spilled its contents onto the table. Thornan’s dark eyes fell to the silver coins. He ran his tongue over his teeth, his face unreadable to the strangers, but Kovra and I knew exactly what he was thinking. We had every intention to back him up, so my twin took on an even colder, forbidding and opaque demeanor, while I leaned back to let my brothers take center stage. This could prove lucrative.
“What’s this supposed to mean?”
“Like we said—”
“A few chipped silver coins? We get that within the first few minutes in the woods.” That was a lie, but Thornan was the kind of guy you took seriously.
The monks looked at each other and, after a few moments of hesitation, number two pulled a second pouch from his sleeve. When the contents spilled on the table, Thornan’s eyes glinted.
“Diamonds and sapphires,” number one stated proudly, pushing out his smooth boyish chin. “Originals from Celestia.”
“Celestia,” Kovra said. “And how does a man like you possess something from a Golden City?”
“My brothers in faith and I come from the oldest monastery in Northern Kaledonien.”
“Hmm,” Thornan purred. “Where the pilgrims go.”
“Yes. Where the pilgrims go. They bring much value to our holy place, new knowledge, exotic goods.” He looked down at the gems. “Rare items.”
“Then why did you need to come here, to this cursed place? Why search for the stories when the stories come to you?”
“Because only here we can learn the truth about the most famous monster in the world. The Scorpio Beast.” He bent in with greedy eyes, but lowered his voice to a whisper, as if the name alone could strike him dead. “He’s said to dwell in the Cursed Woods. Ares Amberson.”
A heavy silence spread out at our table, dampening the nearby chatter. There wasn’t much noise to begin with, not with everyone’s ears turned toward the conversation at this table, but even the little cacophony there had been died down now. It was the effect of that name each and every single time someone spoke it out.
“Ares Amberson,” the leader monk pressed on. “The cursed heir of the Court of Scorpio, the—”
“We know who the bastard is, we don’t need a fucking profile,” Thornan spat out.
The monk licked his lips, his eyes so big now I could see the red under his lower eyelid. My eyes flicked down when he put his hands on the table. It was my job in the team to take in the details and evaluate danger.
“Heroes from many parts of the world come to Northern Kaledonien, and all of them know about the Scorpio Beast. But we never met anyone who’d actually laid eyes on him. He became a myth with too many versions. We’re here for the truth.”
“Why would you even want that kind of truth?” Kovra grunted. “I would un-know it anytime if I could.”
“And I can understand that,” the monk said. “You and your siblings have been through hell.”
“You understand nothing,” Kovra burst out, shooting forward and causing the monk to snap back into his seat. My twin held out a long, scarred finger in the monk’s face. “Don’t you fucking patronize us. We’re sick of you useless scribes coming around, going all paternal on us. You have no fucking idea what it’s like to feel death’s cold breath wrapping around you from the moment you enter that cursed darkness. That place out there—” He motioned with his head towards the window and the woods. “That place is hell. You want to know what it’s like? With pleasure. Tag along tomorrow, and we’ll show you.” His eyes glinted pale blue from under white-blonde eyebrows. “Unless, of course, you’re afraid we’re going to take your treasure and use your ass as fodder for the very beast you’re so eager to see.”
Number one stared with a blank face for seconds before he spoke again.
“We’re not looking for the beast. We’re looking for the truth in order to write about the beast, and keep the accounts forever protected in our library, and you of all people should see why. Don’t you think the world should know about what’s really happening here?”
“We think the world should fucking help,” Thornan interjected. “But it’s easier to just come snooping around, and then get out of town before darkness falls.”
“I think they should know about the Scorpio Beast,” I chimed in, drawing the three monks’ attention.
“Oh?” one of them breathed, as if he couldn’t believe his ears. “She speaks.”
I gave him a smile meant to make him uncomfortable. Why wasn’t I surprised that he didn’t like a woman speaking?
“We know one or two things about him, it’s true,” I began, keeping still as a statue. The monks stared mesmerized as I spoke, surely because of my looks. The fae traveled the world of men only rarely, and they tended to keep their faces obscured under hoods on most of those occasions. Kovra and I might well have been the closest thing to fae these three men had ever seen, and my appearance as a female was even more specific. I proceeded to give them some of the knowledge we’d gathered about the beast.
“Ares is the eldest son of the late Scorpio King, Zavros Amberson, and his wife, Lumeia. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. King Gariel of the Court of Spades killed both King Zavros and Queen Lumeia when he took over Celestia. For that, he used black magic, because he wouldn’t have won against Zavros any other way. The Scorpio King was the world’s best fighter, and some said his wife was one hell of a strategist. She was the commander, and he was her General. Together, they were an unbeatable force, so Gariel turned to dark powers in order to defeat them. He sold his soul to the devil, if you like. I’m sure you of all people understand the concept. Ares and his siblings survived the terrible curse that fell over their court, but at a great cost.” My voice lowered, my tone darkening. “They had to integrate the curse, to let it run through their veins. They had to become one with it, and live with it like with a disease. They were all small children when this happened. It is said Ares had the worst fate of all. Have you heard anything about what this curse did to him, honored clergymen?”
The leader blinked as if recovering from a mesmerized trance. “Indeed, yes. The curse, ahm—” He scratched the back of his head. “Like I said, the Scorpio Beast has become a myth in its own right. There are many speculations.”
“Let us hear some,” I encouraged him.
“Well, there are those who say he can kill with seduction. He can give pleasure, but that’s all an illusion. In truth, terrible things happen to people’s bodies when they think they’re being pleasured by him. Where they feel a caress or the stroke of a tongue, it’s often the tickle of a scorpion. But that’s only one of the many theories.”
“Why am I not surprised you chose one related to carnal sin? But the beast is about more than that.” I placed my elbows on the table. They made a blunt clanging sound against the wood from the elven protective plates I was wearing over my black mail. Elven armor, scavenged from the woods. The metal in my outfit had the Scorpio heraldry carved into it, the intricate undulations of a scorpion. Everything that belonged to the Court of Scorpio, including their treasure, had been thrown out into the Cursed Woods in the aftermath of the bloodbath, imbued with the same curse, which rendered the treasure untouchable by fae of Spades blood. Luckily, my twin and I were only half fae, and our mother had belonged to another court, so we could make good use of what we found.
“Let us start with the beginning,” I told the eagerly listening monks. The leader’s looks had turned slightly more lecherous, but I didn’t mind just yet. I wanted their masks off. “Tell me, clergymen, do you know how fae names are chosen?”
The two flankers shook their heads no, while the leader kept staring.
“From their birth, fae emit a certain kind of energy. An aura, if you want. Like the name suggests, Ares Amberson was first and foremost a warrior prince, because he was born with martial magic. He would one day become head of the Scorpio Army. But the dark magic King Gariel cast over the Scorpios twisted what was already inside the children. For example, it turned Ares’ little brother, Taurus, into a nasty shifter that goes mad at the scent of blood. You can hear his chilling howling on full moon nights, and you can be sure no creature happening in his path escapes with their lives.
“It turned his sister Lybra into a dark executioner, a creature that will deliver justice in cruel ways. It’s not unlikely to find a wayward clergyman with obscure sins hanging from a cross with his insides spilling out of him.” I bent in closer over the table, driving tension into the monks like a rod up their asses. Only number one retained some measure of control over his facial expressions, while the others stared like they weren’t sure they wanted to listen to this anymore. “Can you imagine what it turned Ares into?”
Snorting laughter broke through my story, giving the poor bastards some respite. It was Thornan, unable to hold back his amusement.
“Look at them, staring like you’ve turned into the fearsome creature yourself. Relax,” he slapped number two’s back, nearly throwing the man off his chair. “It’s just my beautiful lady sister. For now.”
“Let them answer my question,” I said through my teeth, not trying very hard to hide my displeasure. I made a mental note to ruin my little brother’s fun the first chance I got, too.
“A devil,” the leader said quietly. There was fear in his voice, but also reverence. My cheek twitched.
“People shouldn’t revere monsters, clergyman, for whatever reason. It’s not like it’s real admiration anyway. It’s just a suck-up to power. Yearning for a monster’s approval is a weak man’s business. And even monsters despise weak men. They use them, chew them up, and then spit out the leftovers.”
“Have you ever seen him?” he managed.
Kovra scoffed by my side.
“You don’t see the Scorpio Beast and live to tell the tale. He’s killed more monsters with his bare hands than we ever slayed with our weapons. Facing creatures like Ares Amberson isn’t how you survive those woods.” He pointed to the darkening window behind him. “And it’s sure as hell not how you scavenge treasure every month to help this village survive.”
“Find a place by the hearth to spend the night, clergymen,” I concluded, leaning back in my chair. “Brace yourselves, because tonight you’ll hear the lamentations of ghosts, and the howling of Taurus. This, gentlemen, is the most dangerous night of the month—the last of three full moon nights. Not a great time to arrive in Azoth Hollow, but it seems that’s how your fate would have it. Tonight, death descends over the village, taking on treacherous forms. That’s why we gather in large groups in places like this.” And why we, The Scavengers, would go on our monthly hunt the next day, but I left that out. The monsters gave their all on these nights, and they slept deeper the next day, which made it easier for us to move through the Cursed Woods. “I hope you appreciate the great opportunity you’re being offered. You’re going to experience the thrill of your lives, but beware. The ghosts will call on you, using their power to lure you out of your sanctuary—the very reason we stay together on these nights. Whatever happens, don’t even think about leaving the inn, because you will certainly die.”
I took no pleasure in sowing fear, and I pitied number two and three. Poor bastards fidgeted in their seats, turning to their leader, searching his face for reassurance. But number one, he deserved every ounce of this.
“You shouldn’t be joking about these things—” he paused, realizing he didn’t know my name,“—milady.”
“Vyper Gladwell is the name,” I offered impassibly. “And these are my brothers, Kovra and Thornan.” My twin and my little brother raised their pints as I gave their names. “And I assure you, we of all people take these things very seriously. Just look around.”
Patrons looked away as the monks turned to analyze their surroundings more carefully. Mothers and children had already started to pour in, raising the noise level. Babies wailed in women’s arms. A bunch of chickens used the chaos to slip in as well, expertly scuttling their way among people’s feet.
The Fyre Dragon Inn and Pub wasn’t the only place of gathering in town, but it was where The Scavengers spent the night, and people felt safe with us. Some of the women walked over to say hello before they started up the stairs, screaming at the children to stop running and stomping. Big Reo always reserved the rooms upstairs for women and children, and he had a soft spot for chickens, too. The monks’ eyes swept over the thick sheepskins and the fire logs stapled by the fire where a group of men had already settled in, close the hearth.
The leader stood up swiftly, realizing he’d have to move fast if he was going to get a spot close to the hearth. He hesitated for a moment, his eyes moving from the hearth to me and back again. Sure, he was uncertain whether to leave our conversation about the Scorpio Beast. I often found myself wishing sensation mongers like him would get a taste of the horror stories they came looking for, of the horrible things that happened to other people.
“We’ll talk some more about this in the morning?” he probed. I folded my arms across my chest.
“If we live until morning.”
The other two got up and crammed around him like scared children. The bastard found it in himself to bring about a grin.
“I don’t expect this will be The Scavengers’ last night. If you expected it were, you wouldn’t be so relaxed.”
Kovra burst into grating laughter. “Oh, believe me, clergyman, we’re not relaxed.”
“We’re just a wee bit drunk,” Thornan added, while I said nothing. The monster admirer wasn’t worth it, so I might as well save my breath.
“You’ve outdone yourself, sister,” Thornan said after the travelers left, working their way among the crowd to reach the hearth. The closest spots were already taken, but they could still squeeze in by the bar, if they curled their knees up. My brothers and I would take up position by the door, like we always did. We were here as protectors, not protégés. We hadn’t had a careless night’s sleep since we got out of diapers. “You scared the shit out of them.”
“I like this new skill of yours,” Kovra said, proudly raising his pint.
I raised mine, too. “Bottom’s up, boys. Within the hour, these streets will be swarming with ghosts.”
My brothers joined their pints to mine. I took a long pull and set mine down, turning my head to the window. Night was nearly upon us.
Our job wasn’t something that one ever got used to. The third full moon night in a month brought nightmares to life, and surviving it was never easy, especially since The Scavengers weren’t by far the badasses we projected to the village. But thinking we were strong made the people of Azoth Hollow feel safe, so we let them take comfort in that lie. The three of us were good fighters, but no real match for the evil out there.
A claw squeezed my heart as we took our places by the door, yet it didn’t have to do only with the hungry ghosts out there. I had enemies in this room too, among the very people we protected. Some believed I was the real reason why the curse had spread over Azoth Hollow, and now those men sat right by the monks. It wasn’t long until they huddled together in conversation, eyes on me.
“They’re not even trying to fucking hide it,” Thornan grunted, flanking me on my right, Kovra to my left. “Back in the day, they would have burned you at the stake.”
“Back in the day, I would have cut their balls off in the main square,” Kovra pushed through his teeth, his sharp jaw tight. “It’s what they’d deserve for being stupid today, too.”
“We all know it’s not stupidity that makes them hate me.” I hooked my fingers into the leather girdle around my waist. “It’s the lust I awakened in them when I was girl, and my powers went as crazy as my hormones. It was a scary time for all of us.”
“You were only twelve, Vyper. It’s not like you were trying to seduce drunk middle-aged men,” Kovra said.
“Yeah, well, no way of convincing them of that,” I whispered, looking away from the group, and trying to swallow the knot of disgust in my throat. “Placing blame is natural. We all do it.”
“Yeah, but not when it means punishing a mere child for our own perverted nature,” Thornan added. “I’m with Kovra. Stupidity should be as deadly as bubonic fever.”
“It’s the ghosts out there that are going to start killing unless we focus on our job,” I said, fitting two curved magic blades into my girdle. They were rare finds that could make ghosts dissipate into thin air and get sucked back into limbo.
Before long, hissing seeped into the night, a full moon rising in the sky. I watched it through the window as it took over the firmament like a queen of the underworld. I focused on it to center myself as trapped fae souls took to the streets, whispering. The room went awfully quiet as the ghosts started circling the inn. People huddled together, barely breathing. The only sound inside was the rustling fire that spread out a dim but dependable glow over the space. Upstairs, mothers and their children kept a grave-like silence.
Twenty years ago, when all this began, it had been easier for the ghosts to lure out terrified children. It wasn’t long before their mothers followed, desperate to save them. They could easily feast on Azoth Hollow. Now, decades later, people had toughened up, but the ghosts had also upped their game. My hands tightened on the hilts of my blades as ghostly whispers slithered under the door. They couldn’t infiltrate the inn, but they’d start using some of their uglier tactics soon enough. The spectral lamentations of a mother in an attempt to draw out a kindred spirit wanting to help filled the air, the cue that the fight for our lives was on. The sound was gut-wrenching, appealing to deep-seated instincts in a mother’s heart. A few years ago, one of the women had thrown herself out the window over something like this, and I couldn’t stop her. I was too late, and that was going to haunt me forever, but I’ll be damned if I’d let it happen again.
My muscles tensed, my eyes sharpened, and my hands wrapped tighter around the daggers at my waist. I would be ready this time.
Failing to get anyone to respond, the sound morphed into the wailing of babies, and then the calls of long lost, dead parents.
“Fuck it,” Thornan spat out. “They’re extra vicious tonight. Someone’s bound to fall.”
There was a heavy fatality to that statement that neither Kovra nor I could deny. Allowing yourself to be blindsided didn’t help things. We couldn’t know what everybody was hearing, because the ghosts could sound like anyone they loved. They lured people outside with promises that, if they got out there, they would be reunited with their lost loved ones. Only that this time it wasn’t a mother longing for a dead child that sought her way out. No. The one who stood and made his way towards the window, squinting, was none other than clergyman number one.
Of course. Unlike the locals, the monks were inexperienced. Easy prey.
“No,” Thornan hissed. “Get away from there.”
But the man was already entranced, mentally beyond Thornan’s reach. Those huddling on the floor didn’t bother to stop him because the foreigner going down meant more chances for the locals to survive the night. Maybe his flesh would appease the ravenous spirits. All the other watchers were upstairs with the women and children, which made us, The Scavengers, the only guardians on the ground floor. That also meant that the clergyman was our responsibility.
“Fuck! Stupid idiot,” Thornan spat out as he made his way toward number one. He got to the man before he could get to the window. The ghosts could take the shape of the Allmother herself, for all we knew, making him capable of anything.
A howl ripped through the air just as Thornan pushed the clergyman away. It sent ripples through the windowpane.
The howl of Taurus.
The blood froze in my veins, and my hands on my daggers. That was close. Too close. And if Taurus lurked in the area, Ares, the crownless king of the Court of Scorpio, wouldn’t be far.
Fuck me, this night would be the nastiest one yet. My pointy ears shifted imperceptibly as I focused on the sounds of night.
I watched Thornan with wide, unblinking eyes as he turned slowly towards the window, his lips parting.
“No! Fuck! Thornan!” Kovra sprang up, ready to sprint over and push our brother down to the floor. But what if the evil got to him, too? All I knew was that I couldn’t lose my brothers.
I shot up to my feet, jamming my shoulder into Kovra, and shoving him aside so I was the first to reach Thornan and place myself as a shield in front of him.
An icy fist tightened around my heart. My only luck, if I could call it that, was that fear always anchored me, making me hyper aware of my surroundings, which always proved an advantage. Even people’s breathing turned loud in my ears, yet clearly distinguishable from the sounds of night. Mothers hushing their babies upstairs, the quiet whimpering of a child, even rats in the basement scurrying to safety became loud thumps in my ears.
It was the first time I saw the three terrors, yet I didn’t have a doubt about who they were. You couldn’t mistake the dark executioner Lybra with a scales in one hand, and a blade in the other, or the creature to her left—a huge huffing shadow, steam curling out of its nostrils, its eyes red as fire.
A chill ran down my spine as the third creature stepped into the moonlight, right between the first two. There was no mistaking his identity, even though a hood obscured his face completely. He was bigger than Taurus, a black cloak flowing down from his broad shoulders, and he emitted so much power that all life seemed to be shrinking away from him. All he needed was a scythe, and I could have sworn I was looking at the bringer of death himself.
“Scavengers,” his ghostly whisper seeped into my head, while an icy mist coiled around my body.
Thornan shifted behind me. He must have heard him, too, and so did Kovra. I knew, because I had a direct line to my twin’s feelings. Still, I also felt the voice was addressing me more than either of them. I felt spoken to. And the more I stared at the hooded figure standing between dark executioner and shifter, the more I felt his focus. Penetrating. Cutting into my mind like knife through butter.
“Get out of my head,” I pushed out through my teeth. My jaw clenched so hard that it hurt, making speaking difficult. Was it him, not wanting me to talk out loud? What the hell, was he taking control over my body?
“I could,” he hissed, sending ice rolling down my back. “But you wouldn’t want me to come over there, would you?” A low rumble followed, as if he enjoyed this.
“Please.” I reached out to grab the sides of the window’s wooden frame. “These people are innocent. They’ve done you no wrong. Let them be.”
“They’ve done me no wrong, it’s true. But you have wronged me, and so did your brothers.”
A feeling of doom settled in the pit of my stomach.
“Scavengers,” he continued, the icy mist around me infiltrating my senses. “You’ve been violating the Cursed Woods, stealing Scorpio treasure. Now, we want it back.”
I begged the Allmother for an idea, but my mind stayed stubbornly blank. This was a monster I was talking to, the most dangerous creature in the Cursed Woods. I had to be very careful with what I did next. The responsibility weighed heavy on my shoulders. I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.
So, I did what I had never done before. For the first time, I accessed my magic, tapping into rusty instincts. My voice changed to a rippling soft tone, not entirely seductive, but getting there. The odds that my magic of seduction would work on the Scorpio Beast were close to zero anyway, but a deeper part of me was desperate enough to try.
“We can’t return the treasure, because we don’t have it anymore. It is spent. We don’t venture into the Cursed Woods for fun, you know. We do it because the Spades’ curse took Azoth Hollow in stride, and we can’t earn a living, so we have to buy one. The cursed treasure is how we’ve subsisted all of these years.”
A low growl like distant thunder made my skin pebble. When his spectral voice spoke in my head again, it chilled me.
“Well, then you’ll find that the Scorpio Beast isn’t beastly in all ways. I could let this slide, on the condition that you never come into the Cursed Woods again. That you never touch Scorpio treasure again.”
“You know that’s not a promise we can make. It’s the only way we can survive,” I pressed on, my fingers tightening on the window frame, the ridged wood starting to give way under my grip. “If you think about it, you owe this to us. We are all suffering under your curse, and we shouldn’t have to. We’re innocent.”
He burst into laughter. It was deep, controlled, but I could hear the repressed anger behind it, and it terrified me.
“Innocent,” the voice hissed in my head. “You mean we Scorpio fae deserved this?”
“I didn’t mean—”
“Save it, princess. I’m not here to discuss morals. You either give back the treasure, or pledge not to steal any more of it. Of course, since all good things are three, there is one other thing you could do to placate me.”
Rage tightened like a fist around my neck. He enjoyed torturing me with this. I wanted to scream at him that he was the most despicable creature, since he didn’t need the scraps of treasure we found in the woods, and everybody knew that, but I pressed my lips shut.
“You could pay your village’s debt,” he said, clearly taking dark delight in this. “In fact, if you choose this third option, I give you my word that neither my siblings nor I will set foot Azoth Hollow as long as you’re in my power. And if you make yourself really useful, we might provide the village with the means necessary to survive this winter, and maybe all the winters that follow. I might even protect Azoth Hollow of the ghosts on full moon nights. What do you say?”
My mind went blank. What the fuck was happening here? Why would he want me of all people, of what possible use could I be to him?
“All you need to do, Vyper, is give yourself over to me, as tribute.” His voice darkened, and more blood drained from my face with every word he said. “Do that, and see your village spared. Even those that don’t deserve sparing. You know exactly who I’m talking about.”
I did, and it scared the hell out of me. Did this monster know my secrets?
“Why would you even want me?” Even inside my own head, my voice was barely more than a shaky whisper.
“Come to the Well of Sorrows tomorrow at midnight, and see your questions answered.”
The invisible fist of anxiety closed tighter around my neck.
No one who ever went to the Well of Sorrows ever came back. No one that ever gazed down at their own reflection in the water ever resisted the urge of throwing themselves in it. Word had it that a terrible sadness came out of the well, and it overwhelmed even the most mentally robust.
“What you ask of me is pure suicide,” I said.
“Relax. If I wanted you dead, we wouldn’t be talking right now.”
“Then what do you want with me?”
The dark hooded figure shimmered, and chilling fear went through the entire room behind me. This man was pure terror. Every creature in the Cursed Woods knew to fear him, scurrying to safety whenever they felt his presence close. The ghosts that had invaded the village streets at nightfall had stopped whispering, now barely more than a quiet presence out there, as wary of the dark triad facing me through the window as I was. People behind me crouched in silence, barely daring to breathe, while Kovra kept tense like an arrow ready to spring if I needed protection.
Not that he’d be able to protect me. If anything happened, he’d only end up losing his life. I couldn’t let it come to that.
“What do you want from me, Ares Amberson?” I pressed on in the velvety tone of a nymph, even though it only seemed to amuse Ares.
“All in good time, princess. The Well of Sorrows. Tomorrow at midnight.”
I squinted at him, trying to pierce the night and get a good look at his face under the hood. My half fae eyes were able to scrutinize the darkness, but he managed to keep himself shrouded in a veil of mystery.
He raised his head just a little, upping the static that prickled my skin. Brilliant green eyes like pure poison gleamed under his hood, emitting light that hinted at the sharp, dangerous edges of his face that seemed made of metal.
While his siblings began to draw back into the night, Ares lingered, as if he were still waiting. Something glinted behind him, a blade in the moonlight as a war cry ripped through the night. Time slowed down as the silvery light revealed the attacker’s face. My blood thumped in my ears as I screamed out his name. The sound of my own voice deafened me, wood splinters piercing my skin as my hands crushed the wooden window frame.
“Thornan, no!” tore out of my throat. Taken with the Scorpio Beast, I hadn’t noticed when my brother had slipped outside.
The ghosts must have cleared the streets in fear of Ares, and Thornan saw opportunity. He took one hell of a risk to do it, and for what? This was pure madness. Ares turned, and the veins in my neck swelled as I screamed out my brother’s name once more. Probably for the last time.
Thornan never stood a chance. My heart crumbled into pieces as I realized that my little brother was about to perish. Watching his face, much more rugged than a twenty-year-old’s should be, felt like a knife through my heart. The moment Ares raised his arm, his black garment falling back from a large hand that was obviously used to heavy weaponry and to easily twisting the necks of young men, I knew.
My little brother had sealed his own fate.
Thornan was a big brawny man, but compared to Ares he seemed almost feeble. Even in a simple fist fight, one blow from that large hand that seemed capable of cracking an anvil would have rendered my brother senseless. But it didn’t come to that. An army of scorpions emerged from under the Scorpio Beast’s sleeve, the sight of them enough to send shivers all over me. They jumped on Thornan, throwing him down and spreading out all over him like termites. He scrunched his face and bared his teeth, screaming and thrashing on the ground.
“No!” I cried. “Please!”
Ares turned, but all I could see was a poisonous green eye glowing from under his hood, his face obscured.
“Your brother, yesss?” he hissed in my head. “Hmmm. I think I’ll keep him. You know, as a token of your good faith,” he rumbled, cunning behind his words. “Make sure you don’t do anything foolish, like try lukewarm, brothel magic on me again.”
With that, Ares Amberson disappeared into the night fog beyond the moonlight, dragging my brother along with him, and leaving me only with the sound of my own blood thumping in my ears. I started to feel the pain in my palms from the splinters that had pierced my skin. Pain shot through my hands as I unimpaled them from the splintered wood. Then the room tilted, and the ground disappeared from under my feet.
“Vyper!” I heard my twin as if through water as he caught me. I grabbed his dependable arms, my eyes hanging desperately on his pale blue gaze, struggling to stay conscious, my palms leaving bloody traces on his mailed biceps.
“He’s got him, Kovra. He’s got Thornan.” My voice sounded hoarse, like I’d been screaming for hours. “He’s only twenty, this can’t be how his story ends. It just can’t, I can’t let it be. He was in love, you know? And he kept on loving him, even if he didn’t want Thornan back. All he ever knew was pain. We have to save him! We have to, I have to—” my voice trailed off, and everything went dark.
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You like to read? Great. You’re a booktoker? Even better! Look at the covers and blurbs below, and tell me which one of these four books you would buy if you had to choose. Remember! Even if multiple books appeal to you, you have to pick ONE. Take a deep breath, and try to make that decision from your gut, without letting your mind interfere. That way, we’ll know the choice you make is purely authentic. So here we go—Tell me what you’d read, and I’ll tell you who you are.
Are you ready to enter into a new realm?
Fight for survival in the deadly gladiator Fae Games.
I shifted into a saber-toothed tiger…but that was just the beginning. Jax, Cobra, and Ascher are now my teammates. Once again, we’re fighting for our lives. And our futures. But nothing is as it seems, and for every secret we uncover, another unfolds.
Under the spiteful watch of Xerxes and the evil Fae Queen, it’s not clear we’re going to survive. Can we work together? Or will we implode?
One thing is for sure, I’m about to uncover my destiny.
Power is in my veins.
I spent most of my life feeling dead inside — until I met Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.
It wasn’t until Pan and Neverland that I finally felt alive.
But things are not all full of magic and sunlight on the island. There’s something darker and more sinister haunting the forest.
And worse, the fae queen and Captain Hook are ready to fight for control of Neverland and they will stop at nothing to get what they want.
War is brewing—can the Never King get his shadow back and assume his rightful throne? And if he does, where will I fit?
Or will all of Neverland be in jeopardy right along with my dark, twisted heart?
I could save him, but he would ruin me.
The beast. The creature that stalks the forbidden wood. The dragon prince.
He has suffered a fate worse than death. We all have. A curse put upon us by the mad king.
We are a kingdom locked in time. Shifters unable to feel our animals. Stuck here by a deal between the late king and a demon who seeks our destruction.
The only one keeping this kingdom alive is Nyfain, the golden prince to a stolen throne. The last dragon shifter.
He’s our hope. He’s my nightmare.
When he catches me trespassing in the forbidden wood, he doesn’t punish me with death, as he’s entitled.
He takes me, instead. Forces me back to the castle as his prisoner. Seeks to use me.
Apparently, I can save him. I can save the whole forgotten kingdom, locked away by the demon king’s power.
But it would mean taming the monster beneath his skin. It would mean giving myself to him.
Let me tell you a secret – Dracula had a brother. This is true. They called him Radu the Handsome, but his beauty was deceiving, and it hid a deadly secret…
With high ambitions as a journalist, Juliet Jochs travels to the Carpathians to investigate a mysterious and unnaturally beautiful prince. She suspects that he’s a dangerous man, and that this mission may cost her life. But, as the prince’s masks begin to peel off, she fears she may lose her sanity. Prince Radek’s dark powers suck Juliet into a whirl of hypnotic desire—no woman has ever resisted his lures. She must keep her head above the water if she is to save herself, run away and not look back before he consumes her completely. But can she resist opening the last door to his most terrible secret?
One thing is for sure—you’re fearless. You know that life isn’t fair, and expecting it to be is purely frivolous from your point of view. You’re highly intelligent, Machiavellian even when need be. You don’t make ruthless decisions lightly, but when necessity arises, you don’t back away from what needs to be done. You can be quiet, but you’re also powerful. You’re probably the one who takes action when everybody else freezes. You like to be loved and desired, but you also need freedom. You have many talents, whether of intellectual or athletic nature, but, in order to use those talents as sharply as you need to, you require space. You may not be ready to offer it in return, though. And let’s face it—There are times when you like to be smothered, because you love extremes like that. (PS: you should probably kick the habit of checking your significant other’s phone).
If anyone knows about inner demons and the power of their torment, it’s you. You’ve learned to tame them better than most people, but that sure took one heck of a toll on you. You can be the most quiet person in the room, but also the most dangerous. If people knew what’s going through your head sometimes, chills would run down their spine. You’re sort of like the vigilante of the inner world. There’s no place too dark for you, nothing where you’re afraid to delve. You’ve seen multiple faces of evil, and you’re always ready for a new one. Your love is deep and kind of twisted, and that’s the kind of love you like to get in return. One of the titles I would choose for you is “surgeon of the soul.”
You are the most profound romantic at heart! Erudite and with refined tastes, you have a fascination for all things ancient, as well as respect for the wisdom of the ages. In a fantasy story, you’d probably be the guardian of dangerous secrets (Let’s be honest here, you probably already safeguard quite a few secrets of your closest friends. People tend to tell you stuff because they find deep understanding in you, and you never judge). You could make a great therapist. You love beauty and tragedy all in one.
You can’t resist a dark mystery, especially when it comes with the promise of romance just as dark. You’re into secrets and mysteries, but the climax needs to be worthwhile. You’ll probably rarely ever read a murder mystery because, to you, it’s not whodunnit that matters, but WHY they dunnit. You like quiet, reserved people with an aura of shadow and power. People whose love and trust are hard to earn, but once you earn them, they’re dependable. You’re obsessive in love, and you like to be loved obsessively in return. With you, it’s all or nothing. A relationship with you is all consuming, but so darn worth it.
Enjoyed this? Plenty more where it came from. Check out more of my Personality Tests here, and please! Don’t shy away from sharing with your friends. If you know someone who’d like this, tell them about it. As for me, I always love to hear from you. Leave me a comment and tell me what you’ve got. My result is in the comments. (P.S. Long Live cover artists and blurb masters!)
Please take a deep breath, relax, and look at the covers below. Take a few seconds to listen to your innermost self. Try not to take more than five seconds, to make sure you stay honest with yourself before your thoughts start playing tricks on you. It’s important to keep your mind as quiet as possible to feel the truth. Ready? Which character/cover/title do you feel more attracted to? See the results below (DO NOT peek before you’ve made your choice!) Please share your result, you know I always love to hear from you.
You have a very rich inner world. Your strength in a relationship lies in the imaginative and fantasy-rich sides you can put on it. Living with you can be like living in a world of wonders. With you, your partner can experience things they’ve never dreamt of before. You need stimulation in a relationship, that’s often what feeds your imagination. You have to feel your partner is worth it. Still, you probably made peace with the fact that your ideal partner will remain just that—an ideal; but you certainly know how to become your partner’s fantasy, and that is one of your core strengths.
Your ideal partner is mysterious, dangerous, profound, intellectual. You’re profound yourself, and your needs are sophisticated. You need intensity in your relationships, and you offer it in return. You have a vast and interesting mind, and enjoy long and deep discussions. You’re attracted to a partner that can mesmerize you, and you can be quite mesmerizing, too. You can create addiction in a partner, to you, your essence, your relationship, but beware! You’re susceptible to the same.
There’s something about the bad guy you just find irresistible. You might attract the predatory kind of partners. But there’s another side to that coin. You can make your tormenter dependent on you. You can sort of embody the perfect emotional victim. You can be quite manipulative in your responses, giving this kind of bad boy exactly what he needs. You have an instinctive understanding of what this kind of people need, emotionally, and you know how to exploit that. But beware! There is a great danger to all this. These predators are usually apt at taking without truly giving anything.
You’re seriously into protector vibes. There’s a vulnerability and sensitivity about you that’s quite precious. You’re dedicated and nurturing when you fall in love, you’re all about The Other. Very protective of your (future) children. You’re generous, giving, honest in your feelings. You’re loyal, and you need stability. You like the idea of family, of starting one with the partner of your dreams, of putting down roots. Your strength in a partnership is loyalty, reliability, you’re a good family person. You like a splash of danger in your protector-type lover, and that points that you might have an anxious nature.
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Time for a NEW personality test based on your favorite books, covers and characters, loves. As always, please don’t peek at the answers before you make your decision. Look at the covers and captions below (it’s important to consider the captions!), and decide which one speaks to you most. Ready? Here we go.
Ice fae king holding you captive.
Deal with the devil. He’ll make your deepest desire come true – for the tiny little price of your soul.
Vampire king with an obsessive need for your blood.
Celebrity vampire stalking you.
(Lord of Winter). You have powerfully developed fantasy, and you crave a partner that is superior to you in that regard. That is often hard to come by. You love beauty, and may have certain dreams about how your ideal lover should look like. You need someone strong that can dominate you. If you have to choose between a love story and a life story, you will most probably choose the first. To you, a relationship without passion is not worth it. To you, there’s no point to stability and safety if your heart isn’t aroused in the only way that matters – through intensity and passion. Of course, that is also the kind of love that you offer, and will take nothing less in return.
(Mister Dark). You don’t shy away from risk in matters of the heart. You’re definitely not afraid to play with fire, and you’ve probably done it often enough that you’ve learnt some stunts around it, too. A relationship with you is an adventure, often a rollercoaster ride. You can sure offer your partner some powerful sensations. It takes a daredevil to be with you, and some serious amount of Dark and Dangerous to get you going; a queen of the night at heart, whoever takes a chance on you is in for pleasant, electric surprises.
(Prince of Blood). You’re not gonna believe this, but at heart, you’re the princess that every prince dreams of saving. You’re pretty traditional in matters of your heart’s desires, not trying to be original or pretending to want something else just for the sake of being “different” or “interesting” or even woke. You’re very clear about what you want and yes, it’s the vampire that craves your blood, because that means he’ll never want another woman besides you. What you crave most in a relationship is complete dedication. You would give up anything for a partner that can persuade you that you’re the apple of his eye. Problem is, you’re not very easy to persuade of that, are you? Your needs in order to feel emotionally safe are extreme, even if your demands might not be. You have no desire for freedom.
(The Porcelain Prince). Let’s be honest here, you have a thing for painful relationships, don’t you? Maybe unrequited loves? But enough about the dark side of your emotional nature. You crave excitement in your love relationships, and periodically you need renewal. Stability? Yeah, it’s nice but not necessarily what you’re after. What you want is emotional stimulation. Having the undeterred attention of the one person you’re crazy about is your favorite way of feeling alive. It’s your own personal kind of high. To you, love should be something you can get drunk on, the one emotion that should replace any drug. You probably think that, if people had the love lives they truly craved, no one would turn to destructive substances. Of course, love can turn toxic and destructive too, but you probably think it’s worth it. Considering that you offer what you expect, you might be right, too.
Liked this? Check out the books in question, and it will be practically be like reading about yourself. Also, feel free to roam the site. THIS page has a wealth of personality tests for you to choose from, and please—let me know what you get. I’m super curious like that.
Okay loves, same as all the tests before. Please DO NOT peek at the answers before you’ve taken a good look at the images, and taken your pick regarding which one speaks to you most! Look at the book covers below, and let your gut insitinct decide which one is The One to you. Try not to think about the answer, but feel it instead. So here we go:
Toxic – your secret sin is Lust. But hold on. You’re not only a lustful person, you’re also quite good at igniting lust yourself. If you’re not experienced in deed, you’re rich in fantasy, and you feel things on a very deep level. When you trust a lover, you can reveal sides of yourself that they can become highly addicted to. There are probably only two types of people out there – those who fear to get too close, and those that are attracted like a moth to flame, unable to resist your innate magnetism. Because there is a magnetism about you that either freaks people out, or pulls them in.
Scarred – your secret sin is Pride. But wait. That also means that you are royally generous, you care about the needs of those you love, and you are fiercely loyal. Yes, you’re particularly sensitive to humiliation, but you’re also dependable, you never tire of finding creative ways to help and lift up those you love, not to mention you have a gift for bringing luck, good fortune and good vibes into your loved ones’ lives. You invest yourself completely in your relationships, and you’re particularly hurt when the other party holds back. You go all in. There are few people in the world more dedicated than you, but probably also few that have been betrayed worse than you.
Ward – your secret sin is Greed. But there are two sides to that coin. You may be demanding, and your expectations soaring, but you’re also highly artistic, you have a way of enchanting people, and those that get tangled in the web of your charms rarely ever find their way back out. You’re interesting, and probably compelling and fascinating. You see shades and hues to things that others can’t, and you’re often disappointed and impatient with other people’s shortsightedness. Mathematical and analytical types are offensive to you through their crudeness. You appreciate good style, not only on the outside, but also in matters of inner life and intellectual abilities.
Forbidden Fae – your secret sin is Escapism. But there’s more to that than meets the eye. You may have a soft spot for forbidden fruit stories, which probably caused you a lot of pain in your love life. You have very rich imagination, and quite the ability to picture things in your head as if you would live them out in reality. Deep down, you could harbor the secret conviction that those fantasies could actually happen. You have a fascinating inner world, and people gravitate towards you because there’s something irresistibly intriguing about you, no matter what you look like. Still, it may rarely be the people you want. You tend to dream about what you can’t have. Be careful that it doesn’t become a psychological issue.
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Okay, ladies and gents, you know the drill. No peeking at the interpretation before you’ve read the quotes, and let your gut decide which one speaks to you most. Try not to think about the answer, but feel it instead. So here we go:
Which of the following sentences holds true for you
“To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often.” Winston Churchill
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never changes.” Confucius
“The problem with a life spent reading is you know too much.” Josh Lanyon
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Will Rogers
You are a dynamic person, future-oriented. Your level of ambition is very high. You’re interested in new developments, and you’re probably an early adopter in matters of technology, too. You’re curious and inquisitive by nature, and you might be talented in fields such as journalism and detective work, even science. Competent, determined, energetic. Undeterred. Hard on yourself but lenient with others, except maybe with your partner after many years of being together.
People who know you might refer to you as a wise old soul. You’re probably an intellectual even if you didn’t study long. Despite your knowledge of many things (you have a diverse wealth of knowledge), you could be rigidly set in your ways. You believe in the deep wisdom of tradition, in the complexities and value of experience. You may be resistant to new things, and consider many modern developments frivolous. You do have some kind of mystical access to ancestral wisdom through your appreciation of nature and of the entire chain of planetary evolution.
You often feel like part of an “elite”, and you may sometimes discard other people’s opinions because you feel they don’t have the intellectual basis to emit them. Put simply, you can get a little judgy. But that happens mostly because you’ve often been praised for your intellectual prowess, when you emitted an opinion you’ve often been right, and you’ve been blessed with a taste for intellectual pleasures. You tend to live more in the mind than in the heart, but that doesn’t affect your well-developed capacity for compassion. You’re interested in people and what makes them tick, and you like developing theories, which are often well-articulated and viable.
You have a very rare quality—you’re a good observer. In fact, a good career choice for you could be that of a spy. You pick up on the most inconspicuous details, and you’re usually spot on about their interpretation, too. You’re a silent, but powerful opponent. You’re probably mysterious and compelling, and people are drawn to you. A strategist. Tough, methodical. Very patient. In a thriller, you would probably be the silent character who turns out was the villain all along. But once someone wins your loyalty, you’re there for life. You’re one of the most reliable people out there, and you have qualities that are truly very hard to find.
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NEW personality test by Ana Calin. Be warned – this one is for dark, complex souls. It’s one of those articles in which we’re exploring our demons (you know, because that’s what I do all day writing sexy shifters, vampires and fae princes). So here we go.
Please read the following sentences and decide without much thought, within a few seconds, which one holds truest for you. Try to feel the answer rather than think it, and please, do NOT even peek at the interpretations before you’ve made your decision.
I’ve been spending my life waiting for a drop of tenderness.
True love isn’t a sweet delight, it’s a decadent pleasure.
I take my love stories with a bed of roses and a dash of poison.
There’s no crueler hell than unrequited love.
Yours is a bottomless soul with a tragic story. You were probably subjected to emotional abuse in your early life. You might be prone to develop the Stockholm Syndrome. Your love stories are profound, but they always have an element of pain to them. It’s that element of pain that attracts you, and that makes you attractive. You might be inclined to create victim-abuser scenarios. Try reading villain romances, bully romances, you might like them. You love a bully if you feel he is a hurt soul in need of rescue.
Your love stories are probably toxic and glamorous, which is why you might be highly addictive to your partners. You love hard, but you hate even harder. You tend to take matters into your hands, and you probably go after the men or women you like, too. You’re mentally very robust, but you can still go stalkerish on your love interests. Your lovers are either so affected by you they can never forget you, or they run away from an intensity they can’t handle. You simply burn too hot for them.
You might be slightly (or seriously) masochistic, and here I don’t necessarily mean your sensual preferences, even though those could be as interesting and elegantly twisted as your personality. You’re interested in sophisticated and demanding lovers that challenge you on multiple levels, helping you grow. You’re most probably that kind of lover, too. You know how to make your SO feel special, but you can crush them, too. You don’t mind being the one crushed either, because to you, that is sometimes the price of a love story that’s worth living.
You are a natural giver. Your love is like a deep, mysterious ocean that yet hides more sorrow than golden treasure. You have a tendency to fall in love with emotionally unavailable people, or may have an attraction towards forbidden love scenarios. You may have a subconscious pattern of putting yourself in painful situations. Subconsciously, you may fetishize being emotionally mistreated. It’s very possible that you have deep-seated worthiness issues. You may gravitate towards people who seem indifferent to you in an effort to feed your self-deprecating self-image. But make no mistake—being loved by you is like being cradled by ocean waves; it’s a one of a kind experience.
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Also, if you’re in the mood for a romance as dark and creamy as chocolate with sexy demons, vampires, fae and shifters, check out this page. It’s got over thirty titles that might be just the kind of entertainment you need tonight. I always love to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to leave me a comment, share what you think.