Chapter One from Cassidy Hunter's Moonrise
“What’s your name, honey?”
The waitress tapped on the counter with long, red nails and stared her down. “Got a last name, sweetie?”
Selene chewed the inside of her lip and wished for the millionth time that she looked too mean for anyone to want to start a conversation with. But this redheaded waitress was practically oozing curiosity, and if she was to have a hope of getting this job, Selene was going to have to play the game. She threw the waitress the unfamiliar though practiced fake surname. “Morris.”
“Selene is a pretty name. Whatcha doin’ in this tiny old town, Selene Morris?”
“Looking for a job.”
Her thin red brows were nearly lost in her hair. “Really? You came all the way to Moonrise, Ohio for a job? Honey, this is not the place to look for a life. You should go to—”
Selene jumped with a reflexive start she was sure would never leave her at the sudden new voice, quiet though it was. The new woman was a tall, austere lady with hair pulled back so tightly it looked painful.
The redheaded waitress straightened and sent the older woman a salute. “Just keeping her company until you got here, Mrs. G.” She sent a bright, toothy smile Selene’s way and left the two of them alone.
“Follow me,” the woman said. No hello, no handshake, nothing.
Selene clasped her hands tightly around her handbag and trailed behind the boss, her stomach tight. Since she’d arrived in town two days ago she hadn’t met a friendly person. Oh, Lora pretended to be friendly with her toothy grins and jolly voice, but Selene had lived with a brutal man for close to half her life. She wasn’t fooled.
The older woman pushed open her office door and motioned Selene inside, her face blank, her eyes shuttered. “Sit down.”
Selene eyed the office while the owner of the cozy bar and grill settled behind her desk and began to shuffle papers. The office was neat as the house Selene had run away from and about as cold as a finger that had been chopped off and stuck in a deep freeze for a few years.
Selene jumped. “Selene. Selene Morris.”
“Why are you here, Ms. Morris?”
Selene kept her face carefully blank. Why did everyone keep asking her that? She tried for a casual shrug. “I’m looking for a new start.” Partly true.
“How did you hear about us?”
Sensitive after years of reading the slightest look, Selene knew the woman wasn’t asking how she’d found The Crescent, the charming bar and grill. No, she was asking how Selene had found the town. “I knew someone who used to live here.” Total lie.
The woman seemed to know that. She half smiled. “Really?” She marked something down on a piece of paper, a quick, hard slash that reminded Selene of a particularly unhappy elementary school teacher. “Age?”
She thought about lying but didn’t see the point. “Thirty.”
Her potential employer pursed her lips. “I have to say, this town doesn’t really … welcome new people. You’d be much better off to go to the big city, where you can hide yourself in the sea of people and find a waitressing job in seconds.” She stood, her manner final. “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing for you here.”
Selene swallowed the sudden rising tears and the constant panic. She couldn’t find another town, or city, or anything. She was nearing the end of the meager savings she’d managed to hide over the last couple of years, and her old car was running on dregs. “Please, reconsider. I need this job. I…” She pressed the back of her hand to her lips, unable to continue. Oh God, will life ever get better? Ever?
But there was no softening of the woman’s features. “I’m sorry.”
She had nowhere to go. She couldn’t afford another night at the little motel she’d found on the edge of town. She couldn’t run any farther. She’d come halfway across the country to find this place.
She sat back down and stared at the older woman. “I’m not leaving without a job.”
Surprise lit the woman’s features, the first real emotion she’d shown. “But I’m not offering you a job. Please do leave, Ms. Morris, at once.”
The woman appeared to be at a loss. She frowned, pursed her lips, then eyed the closed door. “I’ll have to have you removed, and you won’t want that.”
Selene pressed her lips together. “Then have me removed, because that’s the only way I’m leaving this place.” She leaned forward, desperation giving her courage. “But I’ll camp out in your parking lot, I’ll hound you every single day, and I’ll make you wish you’d simply hired me to begin with.”
Mrs. G, as Lora had called her, wasn’t one to be intimidated or bullied into anything. Her smile was cold, thin, and somehow dangerous as she advanced on Selene. Once she’d gotten over her surprise, she seemed almost eager for the confrontation Selene would rather have avoided. “Oh, I doubt that.” She turned her head to the side and sniffed, wrinkling her nose. “Fear comes from your pores, heavy and sweet. Old fear, like you’ve—”
The hard, masculine voice cut through the air like a whip, and Selene nearly fell out of her chair in her haste to get away from it. But it was not him, her hideous ex-husband. The stranger in the doorway was as different from her ex as a man could possibly be.
That calmed her a little. Still, she stood almost behind Mrs. G, clutching her bag and looking, she was sure, like a frightened mouse of a woman.
“What does she want?” he asked Mrs. G, as though Selene wasn’t even there.
“This is Selene. And she wants a job.” The older woman snorted. “I’ve told her she’ll find nothing here and she was just leaving.” She looked pointedly at Selene. “Weren’t you?”
Selene’s tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth and for the life of her she couldn’t pry it loose. The man now looked at her, turned his beautiful, strange eyes her way, and she could do little but gape.
He was too beautiful for words. Once, a lifetime ago, she’d fancied herself a painter. She would have painted this man over and over and over, as long as he would have let her.
He wore his hair a little on the long side, and it looked touchably soft and silky. There was a messiness to it that made her want to slide her palm over it and see if she might straighten out the rebelling locks.
He was somewhat tall but not overly so, his body compact and muscled as opposed to the lean slimness of her ex. But then she realized there was one thing the two men had in common. Danger.
It covered this man like a cloak, and he wore it well. Even Robert would have second thoughts about tangling with this man.
She wasn’t sure what it was about him, but this man was dangerous.
But his eyes. His eyes were wild and almost nonhuman. Exotic looking with their slight tilt, it was the color that held her spellbound.
They were light, very light, with the black pupil standing in stark contrast. His brows were dark, his lashes long, and she’d never in her life imagined such striking eyes.
She realized the room was dead silent, and her face began to burn. They’d think she was simpleminded. “I need this job,” she blurted.
He stared at her for a long moment. She didn’t mind. It gave her an excuse to stare back. Finally, he sighed and glanced at Mrs. G. “Give her the job.”
Excerpt from Cassidy Hunter's DARK PARADISE
Cin had lived for twenty-six years but could have sworn she was a hundred. Too damn old to be out in the wilds of Ripindal, trying to find the items that would buy her some supplies and eventually get her into paradise.
Thank God it was summer. At least she wouldn’t freeze to death. She crouched lower, her back against a gnarled tree, and stared into the misty semidark of the clearing. She was hungry. Here on Ripindal the slow-moving, tiny birds called poes came out in bunches in winter, but in the warmer months they were harder to find.
But she’d learned patience in her many long weeks on the mining colony. Eighteen months. Seemed like years.
Her job was to mine the moon for the shrube the Gamlogi so desired. From what she’d been told, the shrube powered not only the Gamlogi themselves, but their world. Energy in the form of the curious little stonelike items was necessary for the aliens’ survival, and they were stockpiling. If they’d been able to breathe on Ripindal, they wouldn’t have needed to buy humans from Earth to do it for them, and she wouldn’t be here now. Fucking Gamlogi.
But she scoffed silently. Like being in a prison on Earth was any better. At least here she had the hope of paradise. On Earth, in the grim prisons, there was no hope of anything more than a swift death. A painless death would have been too much to even hope for.
Yes, definitely better on Ripindal than in prison. She wouldn’t have been allowed to see Alana in prison. Wouldn’t have wanted the sweet girl to see her there anyway.
At least it was beautiful here, and she was outdoors. That’s right. Think positively. She smiled.
The sky was a dark purple, a clear canvas against which a pale poe could be easily spotted. Her eyes were strained and tired, but she didn’t dare rest them. Poes were slow, but they were cautious.
At last she saw one, its delicate wings carrying it ever closer to her clearing. She held her breath. Come on, little fellow. Come on…
Her legs began to cramp as the bird floated to a gentle landing on a lily pad not four feet from her. It stood as still as a stick, absorbing the sounds of the night, waiting, perhaps, to see if danger lurked.
Finding none, it lowered its tiny beak to sip. She could almost feel the little poe’s ecstasy when the cold crystal water touched its tongue, and hated herself just a little for having to bring that joy to an end.
Drunk on the liquid to which they had little resistance, the tiny poe had no chance at escape when Cin burst from her crouch. She dived at the slow bird, her hand closing around its warm body as she belly flopped into the shallow pond.
Its squeal was horrifying, but she’d long ago learned a valuable lesson. It was the poe or her. And she was a survivor.
She didn’t even allow herself to climb from the pond before she stuffed the little bird into her mouth. It got harder if she waited, if she thought about it.
Closing her eyes as she chewed, she did what she always did when she caught a poe; she imagined some delicious food from her days on Earth, and that’s what the bird became.
They were special, the little poes. They didn’t just keep the humans from starving; they also lent a quick energy that lasted for days. But best of all, they took on the flavor of whatever food a human imagined.
Then there was no blood, no ligaments to chew through, no soft gut or exploding heart. Only a small, chewy bar of chocolate. She moaned as she swallowed the last bite, wishing for another, but her stomach was already protesting the bounty, the tricky hugeness of the meal.
“Fucking poes,” she said, sighing and then smiling for the first time that day. The food hit her system like a drug, and had she been a little less strong, she would have fallen over to the dewy grass and wallowed in the good feeling, content.
But she was too smart for that. On Ripindal, a lone human girl couldn’t afford to relax. Not if she wanted to stay alive. And for some crazy reason, she did. She had her goals. She had her reasons for living.
An image of Alana intruded, and she shoved it away as quickly as she could. Forgetting about her baby was impossible, but dwelling on her brought only pain. Soul-searing, tormenting pain. In the beginning she had curled into a knot and prayed for death, too depressed to gather the energy to kill herself.
Besides, what if somehow, some day, she got to return to her daughter? At the thought, she pushed her knuckles into her eyes, chanting the litany that would allow her to function.
You can’t go back. You can never go back.
Because she couldn’t. Not ever. She would never see Alana again, and dwelling on the horror only made it worse. Alana was safe with Cin’s mother. She’d be okay. Motherless, but okay.
She just had to keep telling herself that. And try harder than she’d ever tried for anything to stop thinking about the little girl she’d left behind.
If only she could turn back time, could go back, could change things…
“Shut up! Shut up!”
Guilt was of no use here.
She was strong. She would be okay.
Paradise awaited the strong, and she planned on getting her reward someday soon. The poe lay heavy and comforting in her shrunken belly, and in seconds, she went from exhausted and starving to full of energy and feeling invincible. This was the power of the poe.
She’d camped out in this clearing for a week with no luck but had known her persistence would pay off. Good thing too, because she was out of items and low on supplies. Now she’d have the strength to work the caves of Manitua, where the best items could be found. Once she’d supplied herself, she would head to the mountains to search for the mother of all items, the shrube. Theshrube would buy her a place in heaven. Well, ten of them would. She had one. Nine to go…
She snatched up her near-empty pack, filled her water bottle, and set off. There was no time to waste. The poe would help her stay awake for around three days and nights, and by then, she hoped to have found a shrube or ten. If not…well, she’d been here for eighteen months. She’d just keep looking. What the hell else was there to do?
In a little less than an hour, she was standing at the bottom of a tall, barren hill, looking up into the gaping black mouths of the Manitua caves. Despite the poe and the heat, a shiver wracked her body and cold chills raced over her skin.
She had her two fighting knives encased securely in leather sheaths low on either side of her hips and caressed their carved hilts with tender, calloused fingers. The one on her right was called Saint and the one on her left Satan. She hadn’t named them; they’d come to her that way, and she hadn’t the idiocy to rename them. They kept her safe. If she started calling them pussy names or pissing them off, they might decide she wasn’t a worthy mistress and leave her to fend for herself.
Saint was blue smoke, and Satan was black fog, and both were beautiful enough to take a person’s breath away. They were sinister and deadly but to a stranger looked innocent enough. At least until she pulled them from their sheaths and offered them their taste of sweet, hot blood.
She didn’t unsnap the straps that restrained them. Not yet. They got angry when they were stirred up for no reason. But her fingers rested on the hilts, and she was ready.
Time to go treasure hunting.
The lone call of another being trickled down to her, and she stiffened. Of course there would be more hunters. She hoped they were all human; knew they weren’t. She took a deep breath. No matter. She’d been up against the others before, and she was still standing.
She started up the hill, lips pressed together in a tight line. The sooner she found items to trade for supplies, the sooner she could tackle the mountains.
The hills to the caves were tricky, full of deep holes, mounds of hard-packed dirt, thick, twisted roots, and broken stumps. Some of them were deliberately planted traps to break the ankles—or worse—of competitors, but most were just the naturally occurring changes in the dark terrain of the mining moon, Ripindal.
Full dark descended rapidly, but in seconds, the light from the stars and overly plump moon blanketed the area with a fresh silver light. There were things to be thankful for here.
Halfway to the cave entrances, she paused for a drink of water and a quick look around. Nothing burst from the shadows to attack her, and all was silent. Too silent, really. Usually that meant there were others around, and she could not be surprised. There were always miners gathering items to trade to those who ran the trading posts.
She walked on, grasping hanging roots and available rocks and half-rotten stumps to help propel her up the steep hill. At last she reached the top. She wiped sweat from her face and took another long pull of water, then pulled a precious lightstick from her bag. The moonlight would not reach far into the black caves. She wound the stick around her head like a glowing bandanna, and it cast its soft bright light ahead of her, leaving her hands free to gather, but also, and more importantly, leaving them free to release Saint and Satan should the need arise.
Time to go to work.
Sometimes a treasure hunter would neglect the first caves, thinking perhaps that the first caves would have already been scavenged for whatever goods might be hidden there, but Cin could not pass them by.
Still, she did only a cursory search, and finding nothing, ventured deeper into the caverns. The maze of caves took up miles and miles of Ripindal. It was said that if all the miners on the planet spent five years looking, they would still not search out all the treasures of the caves, and that was just the surface area. Hidden beneath the black earth, treasures abounded, but there was little need to work so hard to find items. Surely there would come a time when the surface was raped and robbed of all its wealth, but she hoped to be long gone by then.
Something scurried ahead of her and she paused, narrowing her eyes to better see into the shadows. Probably a goblin. The hideous little things lived in the caves and selfishly hid whatever treasures they found. They didn’t need them; they just didn’t want the humans, or anyone else, to have them.
The cavern in which she stood was long and deep. Stalactites and stalagmites taller than she hung from the ceiling and rose from the floor in beautiful, mysterious columns. A musty, damp chill crept through the room, lending relief from the heat for only a moment, before she found herself wishing for the summery warmth and cheer of wildflowers and moss, the teasing scents of cook fires, and the gentle buzz of the nightflies that carried dim green bulbs in their globular bellies.
“Sissy,” she whispered. Her words slid through the cool dark, an insidious echo that seemed to bounce from the walls of her mind, making her feel more alone, instead of reassuring her.
The caverns expanded. They looked huge from the outside, but once you got inside them, they were a whole new world. No one she’d ever talked with knew exactly how big theses caves were, or what they held. Every time she entered, she found new things. And new creatures.
The caves themselves seemed to live, to breathe, to watch and wait. But they hadn’t killed her yet, and she wasn’t planning on letting them start now.
She reached out and caressed a slimy, cold wall. Closing her eyes, she waited. At last it came, as it did nearly every time she touched them, an indescribable feeling of…power, somehow, that seeped through her fingertips and into her body.
Not even power, exactly, more like a sensation of warmth and emotions that traveled up her arm and into her mind, giving her the feeling that she was accepted here. That the caves recognized and welcomed her into their damp depths.
But it might all have been her imagination.
Finally she straightened her shoulders and walked quietly on. She kept a sharp eye out for shining treasure and her ears tuned for the sounds of lurking specials, as she thought of them.
The specials were treasures she could trade that were possessed of a certain intelligence and life. They moved, breathed, sometimes bit and pinched, and she could get more for them than for most of the items the caves held.
Two hours later, she’d found and deposited into her bag three decent items. One was a yellow rock that glowed and let off the most pleasant of scents when you touched it. The inside of her bag would retain that scent for months to come. There was no scent like it on earth, and she couldn’t have described it had she wanted to.
The second item was a water rock, and she considered keeping it for herself. The water rocks would last for about five sucks before they lost their potency. If one were stuck without access to water, the rock would deliver a long, cool drink from merely placing it in the mouth and sucking.
The third item was the most interesting. About as long as her index finger, it looked to be an ordinary stick until she touched it, when it became a tiny humanistic figure with a carved face that glared at her quite menacingly as she looked at it.
It revolted her. The cold blackness of it seeped into her skin and sent a feeling of evil deep into her heart. She shuddered and quickly threw it into her bag. Some of the strange items of this world were best left alone.
Deeper and deeper into the caves she went, until she’d found seventeen items and decided she had enough to outfit herself for a trip to the mountains. She pulled from her pocket the cavern map and found the nearest exit.
To be caught in Manitua caves without a map would mean wandering until you fell dead. No one came into the caves without the supplied maps.
When brought to Ripindal, all prisoners were given certain things that would help them supply the bosses with the items they so desired. The shrube were the most desired, not only by theGamlogi who now owned the miners, but by the miners. The shrube would buy the miners entrance into paradise.
Her exit was close. She judged she’d reach it in less than two minutes and couldn’t wait to get outside into the fresh, warm air once again.
She headed toward the door, her footsteps light and silent out of habit. The cave floor squished beneath her boots with dampness and a variety of things she didn’t want to examine too closely.
She’d nearly walked into the exit room before she became aware the room was occupied. Quiet groans and whispered words slid through the cool, dark air, and she reached up quickly to unwind the lightstick from her head.
Its light dimmed and extinguished as soon as she stuffed it into her bag; the light generated by its contact with her skin turned green, then cold and nearly black, before she’d withdrawn her hand.
She was glad of the quickness of it, for the hoarse voices in the exit room were growing louder, more intense. Still, she hesitated to draw Saint and Satan. There could be no more threat than a couple of goblins or a human just like her, gathering items for trade.
Slipping into the exit room, she kept her back to the wall and carefully felt her way, small step by small step, more deeply into the room. The murmuring voices and rustling sounds were just around the corner, behind a particularly large, gently glowing stalactite.
In seconds she saw them: two people having what she could only guess, due to their whispers and urgent movements, an impatient and passionate encounter.
She felt a brief stab of envy. How long had it been since she’d felt passion’s forceful embrace or had the warm lips of a lover against her skin?
But the two lovers weren’t planning on continuing their sex inside the dank and dirty caves, full of creepy-crawly things and goblins that might smell their desire and come to investigate.
They groped their way out the exit through which Cin planned to leave, and she cursed under her breath. She rested her fingers against the comforting hilts of Saint and Satan.
When one of them pushed open the loud, heavy rock door to the exit, her stomach clenched. Light from the outside poured in, framing the lovers in a bright silhouette and chasing back the long-fingered shadows of the caves.
She tensed, but they were too involved in their romance to glance back and see her. Before the door could shut them out and her in, she sprinted to the door and through the opening. The door was so loud it covered her sounds, but had she been trapped inside and forced to open it again, they would have heard her.
The hours she’d spent inside the caverns had seemed fewer than they actually were. She’d gone in at early night, but now it was morning, and the sun was a striking, bright light of heat in the dewy day.
Time was different inside Manitua caves.
But her thoughts were distracted by the lovers. She slipped behind a tree and spied, unashamed and quite interested. Blinking in the harsh light, she waited for her eyes to adjust.
Then she narrowed her eyes. The lovers were two men, and they seemed caught in a half-turned on, half-enraged moment and paid little attention to their surroundings.
That was just stupid. No one could afford to let his or her guard down on Ripindal. She bit her lip and smiled.
Their bags were lumpy and large, as thick and bulging as the muscles on the two men. They’d had a productive time inside Manitua caves, and if she was lucky, she could slip off with at least one of those bags without either of the hapless men any the wiser.
But her gaze was drawn from the bags and back to the men when one of them cried out in pain, and she slid carefully to her knees to watch.
The clearing outside the exit door was small, surrounded by trees and bushes and exotic plants that she would have no more trusted near her tender private parts than she would have trusted her bag to a stranger.
The men seemed to have no such compunctions, however, and threw themselves into their lovemaking with an abandon she’d long since forgotten existed. Maybe they, being men and not alone, were simply aware they were more than capable of taking on whatever threat happened to show itself.
The larger of the two men grasped the other man by the back of his neck and shoved him against a rough tree, and again the smaller man cried out.
The big man had dark hair that ran in a straight fall down his broad back, and something about him made her clench her legs in desire. Maybe it was his forcefulness, the way he tossed the other man about with an alpha’s disregard for any but himself.
When he stripped off his shirt and showed his tanned, smooth body with its bunching back muscles and tree-trunk-size arms, her mouth watered and thoughts of robbing them became less of a priority.
He called to something primal and dark inside her when he reached around and jerked his lover’s pants over his hips, his manner almost angry. Once again he shoved the smaller man into the tree when he had the nerve to move, bringing forth another cry of pain.
Bully. Assholes like that pissed her off. But she clenched her legs together and swallowed hard as liquid heat bathed her pussy. Pressure almost too extreme to ignore made her want to reach between her own legs to relieve it.
The big man unfastened his pants and turned toward her just enough so that she could see his cock spring free—angry and red and so very hard. Huge. She barely had time to smother a gasp. She couldn’t remember wanting to do anything as much as she wanted to run to him, shove him to the ground, and ride him until she fainted.
Get a grip, Cin.
“Mock,” the smaller man cried.
She stiffened at his voice, then realized he was calling out the big man’s name. Not mock, but Mach.
Mach bent his knees slightly and forced himself into his lover, and Cin cringed at the pain that must have caused. But the smaller man’s voice, though it held pain, also held a deep, uncontrolled pleasure.
He was exactly where he wanted to be.
Mach pulled the other man away from the tree and forced him to his knees, following him down in a smooth, practiced gesture.
“You want this, Elder?” Mach’s voice was low and guttural, his words clipped and awkward, as though he hadn’t quite grasped the English language.
Mach wasn’t human, not fully. She could see that in his profile and his hulking, enormous body. She didn’t know what he was mixed with, but either his mama or his daddy hadn’t been human.
Elder. Mach and Elder. Strange names for a couple of sexy strangers, but ones she was sure she’d heard sometime before. She didn’t care to think about it right now, though, as all her concentration and will was needed not to throw herself to the ground and masturbate as she watched Mach fuck Elder.
Her fingertips ached, and she realized she was holding on to the rough bark of the tree with a death grip. Her breath came fast and hard, but she didn’t worry about the men hearing her.
Mach’s hips pumped as he shoved his cock into Elder, and she couldn’t take her stare off them.
Then something made her look at Elder’s face. He was on his knees with his upper body on the ground, his face turned toward her.
And as she peeked around the tree like a sex-starved voyeur, Elder’s gaze met hers.
She couldn’t pull back, couldn’t tear her guilty stare away, couldn’t get up and run. Frozen, she knelt there and watched him come as he held her captive with his dazed eyes. He cried out his orgasm to her as the big man fucked him so hard he would have rammed his head into the tree had Mach not secured him.
Elder’s climax held a little more edge because she watched; she saw it in his eyes. She also knew that when his orgasm eased and his body was once more his own, he’d be coming after her. Those two would rip her apart and steal her goods, then forget she’d ever existed. It was the way of life.
Even so, her pussy throbbed, and she could not look away. The thrill of her predicament and the awfulness of the risk, combined with two mostly naked male bodies slamming against each other stamped her will into the ground and held her helpless and trapped.
Mach groaned and drew her gaze. He threw his head back and gave two more slow, heavy thrusts into Elder, then collapsed half atop the other man.
“Mach,” Elder murmured. “We have company.”
Mach was halfway to her before she even realized he’d moved.
And by then it was too late.
By then it was much too late.
© Cassidy Hunter, January 2012
All Rights Reserved
Excerpt from Cassidy Hunter's Beyond the Shadows
He moved down her body, slithering like a muscular, beautiful snake. Using his elbows to support his weight, he stretched over her and lightly skimmed her lips with his.
“You taste of sunshine and mint,” she whispered and ran out the tip of her tongue to touch his.
He growled. “My cock throbs to be inside you.”
She laughed against his lips. “How romantic you are.”
“I never pretended to be, sweetheart. I want to fuck you. My mind doesn’t think of mint and sunshine.” He rubbed his hardness against the cradle of her thighs, slippery silkiness that robbed her of speech and breath.
His eyes darkened as he stared at her. “What do you want, Sarah?”
She gasped, her desire becoming a thing alive as he continued to slide against her. Tilting her pelvis, she tried to capture his cock, but he refused to enter.
“I want you.”
He positioned the tip of his erection at her opening, easing it in just enough to stretch her, and she shivered at that taste of things to come. Somehow, when she wasn’t looking, control had shifted. He seemed to be possessed of more of it than she’d ever been.
With a sudden, hard thrust, he was inside her, his hugeness filling her up. She fought for breath as the air caught in her lungs, her nails digging into his back, her fingers clutching in a spasm of shock at his entry.
Arching her neck, gasping, she felt him bite the tender space between her shoulder and neck, then immediately ease the sting with his tongue.
He pulled out, a long, slow slide she felt with every fiber of her being, a sensation that made her too weak to breathe. And before she could recover from the withdrawal, he slammed into her, pushing everything else from her mind. There was only this man, this moment.
He gazed down at her, and she couldn’t, didn’t want to, look away. Lips parted, eyes nearly black with heat, he stared at her as he fucked her. Faster and harder, until she wasn’t sure where he stopped and she began.
“Am I making you feel it?” he said, his voice gravelly and low.
An Excerpt from Cassidy Hunter's Asylum
Fate ruled the world. It was easy to fight something you could see. Fate, though, that bitch hid in dark, musty corners, jumping out to blindside a person when they least expected it. She then ran away cackling, satisfied she was leaving behind chaos and confusion.
Who knew why? Maybe she was just that cruel.
Or maybe, maybe it only seemed that way to those whose lives she touched, whose paths she twisted, making it impossible for them to reach the end without tripping over carefully placed rocks, crashing into suddenly appearing trees, and falling into deeply dug holes.
Elijah Berry sat contemplating Fate, thinking about how she’d fucked with him until he was pretty much as confused as a man could be. All he’d wanted was to take care of the boss, to stand on one side as Andrew stood on the other and be the iron fist where Andrew was the sweet-talker. And as always, standing between them was Logan, the boss, the alpha, the ruler who kept the pack alive.
But then Fate threw Kimberlyn at them, and nothing had been the same since. Ever since the freaky bond and thirds and fourths and all that mumbo jumbo, a man could barely keep his thoughts to himself. One of them, Kimmy or Logan or even Andrew, was always staring at him like they were somehow listening to the inside of his head, and he didn’t like it. Nope. Not one little bit. And Kimmy—
As though by thinking about her, he’d conjured her, Kimberlyn walked toward him, her hips swaying in invitation, red lips tilting up at the corners as she smiled at him. Just at him. Not Logan or Andrew, but Elijah, the big rough-and-tumble wolf other women tended to shy from in fear.
Or so he liked to think.
Her long red hair streaked over her breasts, covered in the cold winter air by a heavy brown coat. But that coat hid nothing from his imagination. He knew exactly what Kimmy looked like, what she tasted like, the way she looked when he fucked her a little too hard.
“What are you doing out here alone, Elijah?” She squatted beside him, her back against a tree.
He grunted. “Too much noise back at the house. What are you doing?”
She shrugged. “I missed you.”
He snorted. “Yeah.”
He knew without looking at her that one of her slender brows would be lifted. It was a Kimmyism, as he thought of her little characteristics and quirks. She had a hell of a lot of Kimmyisms.
She put a pale hand on his arm. “Are you cold? You’re not even wearing a jacket.”
Again he snorted. “Wolves don’t get cold.”
“I’m a wolf.”
He folded his arms and stared at her. Sitting on his ass with her squatting beside him, and he still had to look down to meet her big green eyes. “You’re a girl.”
She stiffened and snatched her hand away, as he’d known she would. Kimmy was so easy to rattle, it was almost funny. He grinned and looked away, waiting.
“I may be a woman, Elijah, but I’m as tough as you any day of the week.”
“Kimmy, Kimmy. You know better than that.”
She punched his leg. “You’re such an asshole.”
“Now, don’t get mad, Kimmy. I’m only stating a fact.” He jerked her off balance and onto his lap. “Take that coat off and let’s see if you get cold.”
He felt her shiver, and his dick automatically began rising to the occasion. That girl had a way of getting under his skin like no female he’d ever met. Roughly, he began pulling at buttons, finally giving up and just yanking the lapels apart.
“Elijah!” she said as buttons went flying. “You’re ruining it, and this was a present from Logan!”
He paused. “A present? What for?”
She struggled off his lap. “Because Logan is sweet. Because he loves me.”
He stood, blocking her escape. “Well, get the fucking coat off before I rip it to shreds.”
She frowningly studied the damage he’d done but looked up quickly at his words. Or his tone. He was never real sure which. Her eyes narrowed, a sure sign she was pissed. He didn’t mind Kimmy pissed, the little spitfire. She turned him on when she fought him. Just like he turned her on when he took command and control. He knew his Kimmy.
“I’m going back to Sanctuary.” She turned her perfect little nose up at him and spun around, like she thought he’d actually let her go.
He smiled, unable to help himself. “Nah, baby. You’re not.” He grabbed a handful of the back of her coat and yanked her against his chest. “You came for this, didn’t you?” He pushed his fingers inside her coat and felt for the hem of her shirt. He skimmed his fingers over her warm belly, then cupped a soft, naked breast.
She squirmed against him, and he bent his knees so her backside wiggled against his hard cock. “Damn you, Elijah. Why do you have to make me so mad?”
“Why do you have to make me so horny?”
He squeezed her breast, hard. “Shut up, Kimmy. I’ve got better things for you to do with your mouth than talk. Besides…” With his free hand, he unfastened her jeans, thrusting his hand down inside her thin panties. “We’ve got an audience.”
He found her clit and began rubbing, growling low in his throat when she shuddered against him. She sniffed the air. “Elijah, no! Who?”
“Some bored wolves looking for a quick thrill.” He rubbed faster, getting her little clit so excited that she moaned and melted against him. Kimmy was sex.
Regretfully, he took his hands from her body and started pulling at her clothes. “Let’s get you naked, Kimmy girl. And don’t worry, I’ll keep you warm.”
She groaned as he pulled her this way and that, until at last she stood bare and shivering in the cold. Her lips were parted, and she panted slightly, not even attempting to hide her body from him or the hidden, watching eyes.
He couldn’t help but stare for a moment. His Kimmy had a body that would make a man do pretty much anything she wanted, but she hadn’t seemed to grasp that little fact yet. She might be a sweet healer, but she’d also admitted long ago that sex was her drug, and she was extremely addicted.
Something about that, knowing that she couldn’t resist, that she had that much need, drove him crazy. And he liked giving her what she needed. Fuck, yeah.
Her nipples hardened, from the cold or his regard—he couldn’t tell and didn’t care. And while he stood staring at her like a kid staring at the most amazing toy he’d ever seen, she turned and ran.
He groaned. Kimmy was so fucking much work. But he couldn’t think of anyone more worth it. Growling to give her warning that he was hot on her trail, he ran after her.
There were certain perks to being the fourth. His Kimmy was one of the biggest and best.
He followed her through the woods, his gaze upon her white backside. “Kimberlyn, stop!”
But her laugh floated to his ears as the fleet-footed tease nimbly dodged trees and low, reaching limbs, laughing, perhaps, at his clumsy and loud pursuit. He crashed through that which she would have danced around, but Kimberlyn, though fast, would never outrun him.
He could have shifted and caught her, but he didn’t need his wolf to catch a single female. After all, she hadn’t shifted.
Breath billowing from him in great clouds, he drew close enough to hear her pants of excitement, of fear. He knew he could be too rough sometimes, but she surely knew there was a line he wouldn’t cross. But Kimmy liked the…fear.
And he knew that was why she provoked him.
Her squeal as he caught her only fueled his passion, and he bore her to the cold ground. “Did you really think you could outrun me?”
Her chest rose and fell as she panted, her wide gaze plastered to his. “Get off me. This ground is hard. And cold.”
He ignored her words, his mind on the way her breasts jiggled slightly, the way they seemed to grow even bigger when she inhaled. Her nipples were stiff red points, just begging for his mouth. He was happy to oblige.
“Logan wouldn’t like this,” she whispered.
He drew her nipple into his mouth, twirling his tongue around the tiny piece of heaven as he sucked. She dug her nails into his shoulders, arching her back, pushing her nipple farther into his mouth.
His clothes were restrictive, smothering, and he couldn’t wait to tear them off. Letting her nipple pop from his mouth, he rose up on his knees and peeled off his shirt, just as quickly ridding himself of his boots and jeans.
His cock grew larger and heavier beneath her hot regard, and he watched her as he pushed his boxers over his hips.
Hearing her gasp when his cock sprang free pleased him, and he grinned down at her.
“What?” he asked.
“I always forget how enormous you are.”
Yeah, he liked to hear it. What man wouldn’t?
She reached for him. “Get down here, Elijah Berry.”
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Excerpt from Strange Familiar:
The minute she touched her door, she knew Kane was inside. Relief, sharp and instant, flooded her body. Quietly, she entered her living room. The lights were off but she didn’t need to see to feel him there.
Still, she wanted to see. With a quick, practiced gesture, she motioned a lamp on.
“That’s a pretty good trick.” His voice floated from a dark corner of the room, gravely, low.
Shit. Somebody was in a great fucking mood. “Kane. Are you okay?” She probed the shadowed corner, almost unconsciously gesturing for more light. She needed to see him. She walked closer, careful. Now that she knew he was a demon, caution ruled.
He ignored her question, staring at her as she sat on the edge of the couch, her knee almost, but not quite touching his. “Where have you been?” he asked. “You smell like something familiar.” He sniffed the air. “Just another little perk to being your animal. I seem to have the ability to smell things. Isn’t that fucking fantastic.”
“I went to see Aunt Herman.”
“Of course you did. And what, exactly, did you say to her?”
“She told me some things. Some things you’re not going to like. Things she should have told you a long time ago.” She should have shut up. She would need backup before enraging an inexperienced demon. But she couldn’t stop. “When I made you my familiar, it brought things out in you, things Aunt Herman had buried since you were born. I’m not sure how she did it…but now it refuses to stay hidden.”
“Could you be a little more cryptic?”
She swallowed. Her gaze skipped from his dark, glittering eyes, familiar and strange at the same time, to his hard body, sprawled with deceptive looseness on the chair. “I’m sorry. This isn’t easy, Kane.” Now is not the time, Olivia. And for once, she heeded her inner voice. “I think you should have a talk with Aunt Herman. She has some things to explain to you.”
“But I’m not at Aunt Herman’s. I’m here. And since you’re so obviously in the know, I think you should explain things.” And he leaned toward her, his eyes so dangerous she couldn’t help but gasp. “What’s wrong, little witch? Are you afraid of your animal?”
“You’re not my animal, Kane. To be a familiar is an honor, not an insult.”
He lifted an eyebrow, easing back into his chair. “Why doesn’t that warm the cockles of my heart?”
“There are other things to consider…”
“And you’re about to tell me what those other things are, yes?”
She shook her head. “No…I can’t. I am not safe with you.”
He barked a sharp laugh, but didn’t disagree.
She shivered, rising to her feet with a smooth, quick motion. The kitchen would ease him, at least a little. “Let’s have some coffee, Kane. Some dinner.”
His hand shot out, snaking around her wrist. He jerked her to his lap, his grip strong, so strong.
Ordinarily her power would have risen at a threat posed to her, but her spirit accepted him. He was her familiar. Her power was attracted to this man, not threatened by him. Still, she called her power, forcing it around her like an invisible, shielding cloak.
“Hmmm,” he said. “You really are afraid. I can smell your fear.”
“I’m not afraid.” She was sure her scoffing fooled no one.
“Know what else I smell?”
His body was so warm against her, so right. “Excitement?”
He slid his fingers between her legs, his skin hot even through the thick fabric of her jeans. “Sex.” He rubbed her crotch. “Lust. Need.”
She closed her eyes, her body more than willing to forget her mind’s fear when he was touching her. “Kane.”
She leaned her cheek against his forehead, her breath caught somewhere between her lungs and her throat, refusing to move in either direction. “I can’t think when you’re touching me.”
He increased the pressure, his fingers seeming to know exactly where to touch. “So don’t think.”
They could talk later. “Okay.” Breathless, she straddled him, yanking her top over her head with one quick pull. Breasts heavy with desire, she guided an already swollen nipple to his mouth.
He growled, pulling her nipple into his mouth, sucking with an almost painful intensity.
She threw her head back, neck straining, breasts thrusting. “Ah, Kane…”
He tore his mouth away and pushed her off him. “Get your pants off.”
She ripped her boots off, nearly falling in her hurry to get undressed and back to him. Naked, shivering from overpowering desire, she leaped once more into his waiting arms, a leg on either side of his big body.
He dug his fingers into her hair and captured her lips, kissing her so deeply she wasn’t sure where she ended and he began.
She rubbed her bare pussy against him, caring not even a little bit that he was fully clothed. His clothes against her naked skin only heightened her sensations.
He dragged his lips from her and cupped a breast with one hand as he snaked the other between her legs. Leaving trails of blistering heat wherever he touched, he took her deep into a cave of desire.
She became nothing more than a nerve ending of craving. She couldn’t find control, didn’t want to. All that mattered was his lips, his hands, his cock.
Only realizing he’d lowered her to floor when she felt the rug soft upon her back, she cried out when he stood.
But he sought only to remove his own clothing, and when her searching gaze found his, long tendrils of excitement traced her body at the reddish glow she saw lurking in his eyes.
The demon was nearly free. And she, for the first time in her life, was about to do the unthinkable. She was going to fuck it.
Available and Coming soon:
Dark Paradise with Loose Id
Sanctuary with Loose Id
Beyond the Shadows with Loose Id (June, 2011)
Asylum with Loose Id. Sequel to Sanctuary
Strange Familiar with Etopia Press (New Release!)
First Night with Liquid Silver Books
Puppy Love (Sweet Romance)
Excerpt from Sanctuary
The shift wasn't easy. She'd denied it for so long. Because she'd restrained herself to only changing when she had no choice, each lengthening of bone, each twisting of sinew and stretching of skin was an agony.
She tried to anticipate each step and be ready for it, but the pain clouded her mind and soon she writhed on the ground, moaning.
But at last, it ended. The wolf got to its feet and stood for a moment, head low, as the hurt faded. She looked up at the world, a world with muted colors and scents so heady and strong she could have taken a bite of it.
She ran through the woods, freed from the restraints of big-city society. Heady freedom brought with it a loosening of caution, and Kimberlyn the wolf cavorted like an innocent pup who'd long been caged.
Pausing to drink from a cold, crystal clear stream, she stared at her reflection. Water dripped from her muzzle, and golden eyes shone, mysterious and untamed. White face surrounded with bluish grays, her coloring and beauty fascinated her.
She was such a girl. She lowered her mouth to the water, drinking her fill. Her stomach growled, and her thoughts turned toward the wild bounty the woods offered a hungry wolf.
Then her attention was caught by something much more important than her stomach—a long, musical wolf howl that undulated through the quiet night air like the call of a siren to a hapless sailor.
She stood frozen, unable to so much as breathe. Wolves. There were wolves in these woods. The howl was cut off abruptly.
She couldn't resist. She had to follow that howl. If there were wolves here, and she'd heard one with her own ears, she had to find them. Or it. She trotted toward the sound.
In three minutes, she heard them: hushed noises and sharp yips of unease. Whines of pain. Slinking forward, she finally saw them.
A silver-washed clearing held at least twelve wolves gathered around what appeared to be a fallen pack member. The dead or dying wolf was an enormous dark shadow on the moon-drenched ground.
Even as she watched, a black stain spread from under the huge, shaggy wolf's body. He'd been injured, severely injured, and Kimberlyn frowned. Why did his pack not heal him?
But it was difficult for her to concentrate on one fallen wolf when, for the first time in her life, she had stumbled upon an entire group of her own kind. Werewolves.
She couldn't run to them, as much as she wanted to. She didn't belong to this pack. For all she knew, they would tear her to bits as soon as they saw her.
Anger and sorrow arose from the pack like poisonous vapors, rising into the night air on wings of fear. Why they didn't heal their friend puzzled her, but she couldn't go charging into their midst and demand they help him. They must have their reasons. It wasn't her business. Not yet.
Carefully she slid back into the trees. They were here. It was enough for now.
Then she froze as one of the wolves looked her way, lifted his nose, and sniffed the air. His growl, when it came, chilled her blood. The others looked in her direction as well, hackles rising, growls weaving together in a terrifying song. They knew she was there.
She could run, or she could stand and fight. Not that these were good choices. If she outran the wolves, by some unlikely chance, they would not only know where she lived but also would see her as an encroaching enemy, and she'd never be safe in the woods.
If she stood and fought…well, one wolf against an entire pack never bode well for the loner.
They were upon her before she could decide, thus deciding for her. She rose to her full height, but despite the fact that she was huge, most of these wolves were even larger, especially the males. They gathered around her in a large circle, snarling and growling deep, dark warnings. Their voices vibrated along her skin, raising her soft fur to stand stiff and bristly on her neck.
Three of the wolves had shifted halfway between the human and the wolf, and Kimberlyn was fascinated. In her limited experience, there was no halfway. She had so much to learn.
“Who are you?” asked one of the half-shifted wolves.
She couldn't talk. Of course he knew that. Hesitating, she began to change to human form. Less painful and time consuming than the shift to wolf, she managed to not embarrass herself too much as she completed the change on her knees, naked and shivering before them. The adrenaline rush kept the pain and exhaustion from overtaking her, but she'd feel it later. If she managed to make it out of this alive.
“Kimberlyn from California,” she said, her voice coming out awkward and rumbling. “I'm new here. I mean you no harm.”
“Who do you belong to?” A dark male's eyes narrowed suspiciously, his lips drawn back to show sharp, lethal incisors.
“I have no pack.”
The pack drew in closer still, their circle tightening slowly. One of the half-shifted wolves walked close to her, close enough to touch. His body was covered with a fine fur, and claws shot from his fingers and toes. His face was caught in the half change and could in no way be described as beautiful. He stood on two feet and bared his belly, his cock half-erect and enormous, bobbing as he walked.
She stood silent, understanding they could smell her fear, unable to do anything to halt it. The half-shifted wolf didn't touch her but pushed his face close to her, sniffing.
“You smell good,” he said. He closed the couple of inches between them and dug his hands into her back, thrusting his cock into her side.
She snarled and struck out at him before she thought of the consequences. He squealed when her fist smacked his nose, his voice more surprise than pain. His backhand burned against her cheek, numbing half her face. She landed in an ignoble heap but leaped up immediately, rage and a big dose of fear clouding her vision.
Before she could reach him, she was jerked around. One of the wolves had shifted back to human form and lifted her against the tree with a hand to her throat. She gagged and kicked at him, her fingernails digging into his arm.
“I'll let go of you if you calm your ass down,” he said, staring up at her. Muscles bulged as he held her up, but no strain showed on his face.
“Yes,” she whispered. Her voice rasped like rusty nails, burning a trail of white-hot pain through her throat.
“Elijah! He's shifting! Hurry…”
He loosened his grip on her throat. “Fuck! Don't let him shift, for God's sake.” He turned back to face her as he let her slide down the tree, his cold eyes leaving no doubt he meant every word he said. “Stay by my side. Do not try to run, or I will hunt you down and kill you. Are we clear?”
She nodded, barely. He took his hand away. “Follow me. Try to run and you will be stopped.”
Every deep, shuddering breath sent waves of pain through her throat. If she could shift, the pain would go away, and her throat would begin to heal. But she couldn't take the time.
She ran with Elijah, the other wolves following. If Elijah wasn't the alpha, God only knew what their leader was like. Maybe that's why they didn't heal him. And too bad for her she couldn't heal herself. But then, she couldn't very well lick her own throat.
The wolf was lying in the same position, only now his body was returning to its human form. If that happened, his wounds would kill him. Even as a wolf, he would have trouble healing.
“What happened to him?” she whispered, her throat cramping. “Is he your alpha?” But she knew he was. His body, as hurt as it was, screamed power. It floated around him like a cloud of steel, an aura of strength that was unmistakable.
“A sleuth of bears,” Elijah said, then ignored her as he bent to the pack leader. A gray wolf, huge and sleek, sat at the alpha's side, his yellow eyes on Kimberlyn. Then he licked the leader's cheek.
“He's going to die,” Elijah said, and there were moans and gasps at his declaration. The gray wolf lifted his nose toward the sky and howled, a sound of grief and mourning that sent shivers down Kimberlyn's spine.
“Why don't you heal him?” she asked, becoming angry despite herself.
Elijah's face snapped toward her and he growled. “He is beyond help, bitch. Do you think we would not help him if we could?”
“I don't understand. I've seen no attempts to help him.”
Elijah jumped to his feet, rage in his eyes, death in his face.
“Let me heal him,” she said.
“He cannot be healed,” Elijah roared, reaching for her.
She danced away from him. You dumb fuck, of course he can be healed. “I can heal him, if you really want him alive.” There was challenge in her voice. She'd once brought back a dog who had been hit by a car, his insides and bones mixing together in a mealy mess. What she couldn't understand was why this man's pack stood around him, doing nothing at all. It made no sense. A quiet thought grew into a scream, and she narrowed her gaze, thinking.
What if they couldn't heal? What if they didn't know how or didn't possess the ability? She didn't ask them. “I have to shift before I can heal him.”
The wolves closed in like a tightening vice, and Elijah stared at her with grim, cold eyes. “If you think to try to harm him or any of us, you will be killed before you can move.”
She raised an eyebrow but nodded. He was dying, but they worried about her finishing the job. Idiots.
The gray wolf at the leader's side watched her, torment and fear in every line of his body. He gave an urgent yip that seemed to say, Hurry up, girl. If you can do something, do it!
She hated for anyone to see her agonized shift but had little choice. Elijah the bodyguard wasn't going to let her go change in the bushes. The wolves watched her in complete silence with varying degrees of disbelief and empathetic grimaces.
“God, girl. What the hell?” Elijah stretched a hand toward her, then snatched it back before she could tell whether he was about to hit her or pat her.
She padded to the fallen wolf. He was a big man, this leader, but not as big as Elijah. His lean body was still in the throes of a fight not to shift. He was a fighter, a strong, strong man. His back was broken, and cuts that went all the way to bone slashed across his body in hideous stripes.
He wore blood like a gruesome mask on his face. She couldn't tell if he had once been a handsome man.
“Get on with it,” Elijah said.
The wolves watched, and she could feel doubt flowing from them in waves. And something else. Hope. That they loved this torn and battered man was obvious.
She drew in a breath and went to work.
“What are you doing?” Elijah's voice was just below a yell. He looked down at her, his body as stiff as cardboard, hands fisted at his sides.
She ignored him. It wasn't like she could shift back every time he wanted to have a conversation. If he wanted his leader alive, she hadn't much time. Too bad she couldn't heal the human body. Her life might have been easier.
The gray wolf hovered but didn't get in her way. He seemed to trust her more than the others did. Or maybe he was just that desperate.
Kimberlyn the wolf began to lick the injured leader's wounds, and as she licked, her saliva closed wounds, repaired blood vessels, and sank deep within his body to heal bones and the fractured spine.
Her mind drifted. The sounds of the other wolves faded, as did awareness of her surroundings. Should someone wish to harm her, now would be a good time. With her thoughts fully engaged upon his wounds, she was as helpless as the man she healed. Her power eased out of her, cooing and crooning to his ills, coaxing them better, mending injuries like an old woman darning socks.
Time had no meaning; she had no idea how long it took her to heal his shattered body. As she neared the end of her work, her conscious mind began once more to awaken to the sounds around her.
Murmuring voices whispered on the cooling breeze like the rasping together of falling leaves. Fresh early-morning dew soothed her bruised throat as she dragged her mouth from the wolf, inhaling deeply.
Dazed, she looked up. The wolves, all in human form, stood in a circle, watching her. Mist danced and weaved around them, creating a picture of such rightness and beauty she might have cried had she not been in wolf form.
She staggered up and shook herself, wondering if she wasn't too fatigued to shift. She'd have to get home before she changed, or else she wouldn't make it. Nearly too exhausted to run, in human form she would simply have crashed where she stood.
The wolf whose life she'd saved slept a slumber of peace and not the near-coma sleep she'd found him in before she'd healed him. He'd be okay. He'd be better than okay. He needed to rest and repair his mind.
She backed away. His pack gathered around him, touching his body, shocked and awed by his obvious health. His body began to shift back to human form, and she fled.
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Buy Link for Sanctuary
Writing under Jane E. Jones:
One Night with You
Dancing with Johnny (Free Read)