Thought I’d pop in. I’ve been religiously “listing” the past few days, meaning not going to bed at night before I have the next day’s to do list sitting in the middle of my desk. I’m trying to get the work done, plus clear some space in my cluttered office. So, lots to do! I was sooooo efficient yesterday, I even wove a potholder for my dd! 🙂
Anyways, I wanted to let you know about the two stories I currently have up for pre-order so you have them in your crosshairs, or better yet, so you can pre-order the books! Below the books, take a look at 4 OPEN CONTESTS you still have time to enter, and at the very bottom, I’m sharing a spooky excerpt! Let’s get started…
Coming August 30th! This one’s f/f erotica, but if you can get past that fact, it’s a very cool story about a fledgling witch who faces Baron Samedi in limbo—it’s part witchy tale, part voodoo lore, part horror (not too much, swear), and part romance, and it’s set in New Orleans! You have to read it to figure out how those things work together. LOL! Oh, and if you’re curious, read an excerpt below!
A f/f paranormal novelette…
Ingrid Kassel is a fledgling witch, uncertain and not in complete control of her powers, especially after drinking a double-shot of vampire blood. Charged with retrieving an object buried with a daughter of the Voodoo Queen—she angers the spirit guarding the tomb and finds herself entering a shadowy limbo, where she meets beautiful Marie, living in fear of a demon who also desires the black magic candle infused with the powerful mambo’s blood.
In desperation, Marie tricks Ingrid, capturing her and seducing her to charge the candle for her own bid for freedom.
Montana Bounty Hunters: Quincy
And of course, there’s a bounty hunter coming on September 24th! One I had a ton of fun writing about in my short story, “Quincy Down Under“, which you can read at the back of Big Sky Wedding, inside Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, or as a standalone shorty! You don’t want to miss how Quincy and his beautician-in-the-bunker first met!
MONTANA BOUNTY HUNTERS: Authentic Men… Real Adventures…
Quincy James and Tamara Adams met under less than idyllic circumstances—trapped inside her doomsday-bunker-turned-beauty-shop while he was hunting a skip. Now that he’s settled into his new job with the Montana Bounty Hunters, he knows he’s dawdled too long asking her out on a legitimate date. But then, he gets a new case right in the pretty beautician’s neck of the woods. A dangerous new assignment he doesn’t want her anywhere near. However, NOT bumping into her proves tricky, and when they do cross paths, he blows it.
Tamara’s already feeling foolish over the fact she got way too friendly with Quincy when they were trapped together, but then, he never contacts her again. When she sees him on the street in her little town, she’s ready to give him a piece of her mind, but he acts like he doesn’t know her. What they hell?
When the pair find themselves trapped together again, there’s time for a reckoning…
These contests are still open, so be sure to enter now before they’re gone! The oldest contest is at the top!
- Caroline Clemmons: An Agent for Magdala (Contest, FREE Read, & Excerpt) — Win an Amazon gift card!
- A Puzzle & a Contest! — Win a download of a recent release!
- Melanie Jayne: Decision Time (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
- Flashback: Cochise (Contest & Excerpt) — Win a download of an MBH story!
Excerpt from Mambo’s Door
A drunk on the sidewalk bumped past Ingrid Kassel.
Instinctively, she turned her head and issued a hiss, baring teeth. Not that she had fangs to back up the warning, but her temper simmered at a slow, angry boil, and her reactions weren’t entirely her own. A single taste of blood had ignited a hunger for more, it seemed, and the loss of control pissed her off.
If this was what it felt like to be a vampire, it was a damn good thing she was a witch.
Ever since Magda, the coven’s priestess, had given her Elena Csintalan’s blood to drink to lend her strength for her quest, Ingrid had fought to retain a sense of self.
The moment the viscous fluid had slid down her throat the ground had swayed, shifting under her feet. Magda had urged her to drink more, her vivid eyes glinting with excitement.
With a dizzy shake of her head, Ingrid’s sight had changed—shadowy corners resolving into stark relief. Her sense of smell had refined so that, now, she could still detect the sour odor of cheap whiskey emanating from the skin of the drunk even though he’d shuffled around the corner. A feeling of invulnerability, of superhero strength, burned through her blood, hardening her muscles. She felt ready to test her newfound but temporary powers on the first person who looked at her crosswise.
And that just wasn’t her. Or if it was, she’d been really good at being a quiet, dutiful girl for so long that she’d convinced herself she wasn’t a grumpy badass.
Ingrid checked her watch and cursed. She was late. She’d stopped by her one-room apartment to dress in a long-sleeved black tee, dark jeans, and running shoes. She’d clipped her golden-brown hair into a messy bun and stuck a black ball cap on her head to cover it.
All so she could blend into the darkness. As if she were dressing up for a second-story job. Like Tom Cruise ready to zip down a wire.
Then she’d decided to pick up some supplies. The trip to the convenience store had taken longer than it should have because every drunk in the city had been in line to buy hooch for the night.
A nervous energy pushed her faster. She had to retrieve the relic, charge it, and then return to her coven before the magickal energy from the relic dissipated, because, then, the spell wouldn’t work. Why she in particular had been chosen for this task was a mystery, but there was a lot she didn’t understand about the murky underworld she’d entered a year ago.
Most of the time, she simply banked her irritation with things she didn’t comprehend and saved her questions, reminding herself that she was still a fledgling witch and the others expected her to learn the craft in measured layers.
However, even without the vampire booster shot she’d drunk, she wasn’t a patient person. Even though Magda and the other women who mentored her constantly hovered when she played with magick, she’d practiced in secret, honing her skills. They didn’t have a clue what she could do.
Which made the fact Magda had assigned her this mission even more mystifying.
“Bring me the mambo’s candle,” Magda had said, hands cupping Ingrid’s face so that their gazes locked for a long, terrifying moment.
Staring into Magda’s dark eyes, Ingrid had relived the moment when the Blood Countess had swept into The Absinthe House and whisked away four women—three vampires and Cassia, her coven sister.
Then more pictures clicked through her mind like an old-fashioned movie reel, of more of her sisters chained inside a dark, dungeon-like room with their eyes glowing, faces lax, while the Hell Bitch, Elizabeth Bathory, painted her skin with the blood of another victim. Of Bourbon Street in chaos while Bathory’s army of vampires tore through the district on a bloody rampage.
Why Magda had decided to show her those visions was another mystery she might never fathom. However, it had impressed upon her the importance of her task. The fate of the city rested on her shoulders.
Ingrid shook off the chill that crept down her spine. St. Louis Cemetery Number One loomed just ahead. Time to get serious.
She slung the plastic grocery bag over one shoulder and ran along the whitewashed, brick wall to the iron gate, which she scurried up hand-over-hand before swinging over the top of the iron rail at the entrance to the graveyard.
Power still surging through her veins, she nearly laughed when she landed. She crouched and gave a quick glance behind her to see if anyone had noticed, but those walking along Basin Street this late at night hadn’t seen the blur of her figure running beside the wall, much less her creepy, spider-like feat.
Her heart thrummed strong inside her chest. Her body felt powerful, her breaths came steadily, even though she’d had to rush. For the first time, she envied vampires.
Until she smacked her lips and once again tasted the metallic flavor of the blood she’d choked down.
Dumping out the contents of the bag, she raked through it until she found the box of colored chalk. She opened the package, discarding all but the purple piece, then knelt on the sidewalk and drew a crude purple heart with curlicues extending from the bottom point, a triangle beneath it, and bars across the top, middle and bottom that ended in crosses. Then she tossed away the chalk, closed her eyes, envisioning her goal, and prayed to the loa of the cemetery.
“Ma’man Brigit, goddess of this cemetery, please guide me to Marie Laveau’s crypt.”
She opened her eyes, stuffed the things she still needed into the bag, and lunged to her feet, running straight ahead, not waiting for an answer because she was well acquainted with this particular divinity. Ma’man Brigit admired confidence in a woman. Even more, her pride would be stroked that she’d been asked, rather than her husband, Baron Samedi, loa of the dead. And Ma’man didn’t like humans fumbling around her realm. Something Ingrid had learned in her secret studies of Voodoo, or Vodou, as practitioners called it.
Moonlight filtered down, striking the long rows of pale, above-ground crypts, illuminating their whitewashed and marble exteriors, some more than others.
“Thank you, Goddess,” Ingrid whispered as she dashed toward the brightest row. She turned, and one mottled, stucco crypt sat awash in moonlight, tall candles huddled against its base, coins sparkling on the ground, glittery Mardi Gras beads draped on sharp edges—all left by worshipers seeking advice or a special wish.
X marks marred the three-panel marble front of the crypt, a groundskeeper’s bane for sure, but she was about to add more. She knelt and dumped her sack atop the Glapion family marker—the supposed resting place of Marie Laveau and her daughters—picked up a candle scented with dragon’s blood, lit it and placed it in front of the door. Then she selected a red marker and drew three X’s on the crypt.
“Beautiful Madame Laveau, please open your door. I seek a talisman, one you entrusted to your daughter, Marie. Please grant my wish.”
She waited. Nothing happened. Sighing, she tried to think of something more “witchy”—and didn’t everything sound more magickal in Latin?
Again, she paused. Then, irritated because nothing was happening, she leaned over the jumbled mess of coins, beads and candles and shoved at one of the stone panels. “Dammit, I asked nicely.”
A throaty chuckle sounded behind her. Ingrid scrambled around, still on her knees, to behold the full-bodied figure of a woman dressed in long robes, her shape nearly transparent but glowing, shimmering at the edges like the aurora borealis.
“Your curse ensures the mambo’s privacy, gal.”
Ingrid felt the voice rather than heard it, as though it emanated from inside her head instead of from the wispy lips of the apparition.
“Ma’man Brigit?” Ingrid asked. Although the loa had answered prayers before, this was the first time she’d seen her.
The woman nodded then drew closer, bending so her face was inches from Ingrid’s. “Hmmm… The night creature’s blood is mo’ hindrance here than help, I think, li’l witch. It makes you proud.”
Ingrid swallowed an instinctive bitchy vampire retort, then offered, “I need your help, Ma’man.”
“So direct. So rude.” The loa tsked. “This be my realm you entered, my help you be seekin’. What you bring fo’ me?”
Ingrid shrugged, at a loss. She hadn’t known she was expected to bring tribute. “Gratitude?”
Lush, pouting lips stretched into a smile. “So impatient, you be,” she said in her velvety, melodic voice. “And yet your quest awaits.”
Unable to summon an ounce of patience, Ingrid blurted, “What do you want from me?”
Ingrid blew out a deep breath. “All right. Anything. Name it.”
The loa gave Ingrid a hard stare. “The thing you seek, it resides with the mambo’s daughter, little Marie…?”
Ingrid didn’t blink. Why didn’t the spirit already know? Wasn’t she rubbing around inside her head? “I’m to retrieve a candle for a rite.”
Another nod, this one curter.
Ingrid worried she’d again annoyed the death loa with her urgency.
Ma’man Brigit narrowed her eyes. “Seek only her. Touch only her.”
Ingrid shuddered. “I want a candle. I don’t intend to rifle through bones.”
Ma’man shook her head. “Heed my warnin’. I’m a guardian of death. What’s mine, I keep.”
Ingrid didn’t think she’d have any problem honoring that promise. “Of course.” She tilted her head toward the crypt. “The door?”
The loa’s lips thinned. Her dark, hollow eyes slitted. “Repeat yo’ spell. Now.”
Ingrid cleared her throat. “It’s not a spell so much. I haven’t had time to pretty it up.”
The loa rolled her eyes. “Don’t need no fancy spell. Say what you wish.”
“I wish to retrieve the mambo’s candle. Please open the door.”
Behind her, Ingrid heard the creak and slip of something moving. When she turned back to the tomb, the bottom panel had disappeared. Again, she dug into the sack. Even her vamped-up eyesight couldn’t see into the blackness looming in the square the size of a large doggie-door.
She flipped a switch and shone the flashlight inside. Rather than a narrow shelf just large enough to hold a casket, as she had expected given the size of panel, she gazed into a single, large room. The air around her crackled. The fine hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Stitched burlap sacks, body-sized sacks, lay upon the floor. “Eww?”
“The one you seek’s in the back,” came the disembodied voice inside her head.
“Of course, it is,” Ingrid muttered. She stuck the small flashlight between her teeth, gripped the sides of the opening and pulled herself inside, careful not to crawl on the lumpy sacks. She stood inside the tomb, which somehow seemed larger than it had looked from the outside.
A throaty chuckle sounded, this time with a hollow ring, no doubt due to the acoustics of the tomb. But when she glanced back, her heart stopped. The marble panel was in place again. Her exit was blocked.
Her flashlight blinked out.
“Fuck! Ma’man!” she cried, pounding on the marble, but it didn’t budge. “Great. Just fucking great,” she shouted.
She turned and slid to her butt on the hard floor. She’d have to wait out the night inside a crypt with body bags and who knew what else crawling inside it. She rubbed her arms and face, sure worms and spiders were even now encroaching.
Surely someone would come looking for her when she failed to return. However, that possibility worried her even more. Magda would have her ass for failing. New Orleans would be the starting point of a huge paranormal disaster—and all because she, an apprentice witch, hadn’t shown a spirit the proper respect.
She breathed the stale air, quieting her heartbeat, then took stock of her situation. She might be trapped, but she could at least locate the candle.
Then the musty smells surrounding her—of decay and dust—made her wonder just how airtight the little tomb was. Double-fuck.
Her mind raced with all the possibilities. She could suffocate. Get sick from mold. Starve, if Ma’man hadn’t shown her the correct tomb in the first place and no one found her. She’d trusted the loa to guide her here—had that been a mistake?
A stirring of fresh air brushed her cheek. Hope flared. Perhaps there was a crack in the tomb. Maybe she could find something to widen the opening. She pushed up from the floor and followed the breeze, nudging a toe to find the bags, then stepping deeper into the tomb and reaching out a hand to feel for the far wall.
Instead, she bumped against something that gave a dull, wooden thud. She smoothed her hands over the surface, tracing the edges of what felt like a large door, and her hand brushed a protuberance—a doorknob! She turned it and pushed open the door, letting dull twilight stream into the tomb.
Ingrid didn’t care how unlikely it all seemed—she quickly stepped through the opening before glancing back into the darkness of the crypt.
The cemetery was gone except for the Glapion tomb. All around it was a gloomy forest bedecked in trailing Spanish moss, with a spongy floor of fallen leaves and damp earth, and a beaten-down path that trailed deeper into the dense undergrowth. Beyond the clearing where she stood, she caught glimpses of a dark, murky bayou to either side of the path.
Well, The Powers That Be had spoken. She didn’t quite know what awaited her, but one thing was certain—she’d asked for a door to open, and one had.