Monthly Archives October 2013

24
October
2013

Valerie Twombly’s Eternal Flame Book Blast

Valerie Twombly’s Eternal Flame Book Blast

 

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Eternal Flame

Guardians #1

Release Date: October 2, 2013

A woman he cannot have, a man who is only a dream…

When guardian Marcus Dagotto, discovers the Gods have gifted him with a mate, he is pissed. He has no room for love and even less for a human who has no idea he exists.

Cassandra Jensen, has a shattered heart and has given up on men. Only one man can set her body on fire, but he is a fantasy that haunts her sleep.

Two worlds, one desire.

When the two collide, fate will rip them apart and test their resolve. Will darkness and evil prevail? Or, will love conquer all?

Buy Links

Resplendence Publishing

Amazon

 

Prologue

Tears stung Marcus’s cheeks when he raised his sword. “I am so sorry, love. I have failed you. It should be I who dies this day.”

Eliza’s cocoa eyes looked at him but didn’t see him. Dead inside, her soul was lost. She would never again be the woman he loved.

He sucked in a breath and flexed his arms, the sword swung, slicing across her neck. The blade tore through sinew and bone and sent her head rolling across the stone floor. Reality nearly sent him to his knees, but there wasn’t time to mourn the death of his mate. The fighting outside echoed in his ears, the demons were strong and put up one hell of a fight.

Marcus advanced down the corridor of the abandoned castle. The scene played out the same in every direction. Blood bathed the floors, and his brethren’s heartsick screams echoed off the walls as they killed their mates.

A demon jumped out from behind a door. Its claws tearing the flesh on his arm. He wielded his sword and sent another head flying across the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a Draki dispatching another demon. The shifter, a friend who also searched for his mate. Not even the dragons were immune to Drayos and his fucking misery.

The dragon turned his head. “Be careful, my friend. My brethren will soon be setting this place on fire.” Caleb’s cerulean body shimmered as he shifted back to human form.

“Have you found your mate yet?” Marcus asked as he searched the adjoining room. Empty.

“Not yet, you?”

He stepped beside his friend. “I killed her.”

Caleb laid a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry, my friend. Drayos will die this day for what he has done.”

Marcus nodded and moved forward in his search for the demon Drayos. He opened up the psychic path leading to his prince.

Aidyn.

Marcus, did you find my sister?

He closed his eyes, so many hearts broken today. She is dead, I am sorry, my lord.

I will kill Drayos with my bare hands.

Aidyn had already lost his brother and father in this battle. His pain ripped through Marcus. No doubt the other guardians felt it. It was a blessing and a curse to be connected to each other.

He tried to pinpoint the prince’s position, but something blocked him.

Aidyn, where are you? Do not engage Drayos.

The prince would die as well if he tried to kill the Demon Overlord. Aidyn was far too young; his two hundred years were no match against a thousand-year-old demon.

He took our women, used them to carry his spawn. He has killed everyone I love.

Tired muscles carried Marcus up a flight of stairs. He stormed from room to room, kicking in locked doors only to find them empty.

I know my lord, and he will pay, but it is not wise for you to confront him.

He knew Aidyn wouldn’t listen. Perhaps the gods would help.

“Zarek!” Marcus summoned the god, nothing. No surprise. After all, the gods could have stepped in and saved the women, but they had all been left to fate. Fuck fate, he was sick to death of it.

The sound of clashing swords filtered in from the hallway. He flashed into the room, not caring what he stumbled across. His vision filled with Aidyn and Drayos, they were face to face.

Drayos had morphed into a full demon and stood at least three feet taller than Aidyn. Blood seeped from the wounds that covered the demons blackened skin.

Marcus tried to run toward them but found himself behind an invisible barrier. “What the fuck?”

He balled his hands and banged on the wall. “Aidyn!” The prince ignored him. He was stuck, helpless as he watched the events unfold in front of him. Thoughts of telling Daria, his queen, she had lost her entire family in this battle sat like arsenic in his stomach. He pressed his palms against his prison.

Aidyn, my friend, I can’t bear another loss today.

The air behind him shifted, a cool breeze lifted his hair. He moved his gaze over his shoulder and found Zarek towering over him in a Scottish kilt rather than his beloved Egyptian shendyt. His raven hair held a beaded braid on one side.So this is why he ignores us?<

He is busy playing dress-up with the goddess Quadira.

“Get me out of here!” he demanded.

“You will not interfere, my son.”

Marcus growled; his fangs elongated; he wanted blood. Yes, he would take the blood of his god if it ended the pain and suffering of his brethren. “You would let the prince die?” He tried to lunge toward Zarek but found his feet pinned to the floor.

You are our creator, we your warriors. Why would you do this to us?

Zarek gave him a leveled gaze. “What makes you think the prince will die this day?”

He looked back toward the fight. Aidyn had lost his sword; a small dagger was clutched in his hand. Both the demon and the vampire bore bloody wounds.

He turned back to Zarek. “The prince is too young to fight one as strong as Drayos.” Marcus dropped to his knees, he would beg the god if he had to.

Send me in his place…please.” He was three hundred years older than Aidyn and could defeat the demon. “We have lost so much today.” Death haunted him like a fucking plague. He was a healer, but today, he healed no one. The anguished cries of his brethren still echoed in his ears. They had slain their mates then turned on each other to end their misery. Marcus would like to end his suffering as well, but he would continue on; his skills were needed.

Zarek laid a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry, my son, for all the pain you will encounter this day. However, today must shape the future.” With those words, he vanished.

The future? Aidyn was their future, the line that tied them all together. They all hoped the prince would persuade the gods to find a cure for the curse Drayos had placed upon them.

The curse would devour them, creating an imbalance that would darken their souls. When Zarek created his vampires, he used light and dark, good and evil. The light fueled the guardian of humanity, the darkness the warrior. A perfect balance, but once Drayos’s curse took full effect, the light would fade, the darkness turning them into pure evil, destined to destroy everything in their path. Not even the humans they guarded would be safe.

He jumped to his feet but found the shield still erected around him. Aidyn’s body lie still on the floor, and Drayos stood over him, sword poised for the fatal blow.

He beat on the invisible wall. “Aidyn!” He sucked in a breath, his heart trapped in a vice that squeezed the life out of him. He could do nothing but watch his prince die. A tear slid down his cheek for the death of his mate, his brethren and now his prince, his best friend.

I am no guardian. I am a failure. I have failed them all.

Drayos swung his sword. Everything moved in slow motion as Marcus waited for the blade to connect with Aidyn’s neck.

Lightning sizzled from the sky and sent debris flying in different directions. The room crumbled around them as the earth shook. Drayos’s head rolled across the floor. Marcus sensed the shield that encased him drop, and he rushed forward to where Aidyn stood.

“What the hell just happened? Are you alright?” Marcus asked.

“I am not exactly sure. I think I caused the lightning.”

“You?” He looked over the prince, his pants torn and his shirt missing. Dust from the debris covered his bleeding wounds. There was something different about the prince. He seemed stronger. Marcus noticed the dark marking on Aidyn’s chest and reached out to wipe away the gray dirt so he could get a better look. “Sweet deity!” He jumped back.

“What?” Aidyn looked at his chest. His jaw dropped. “I never felt it.”

Like many of the other guardians, Aidyn had been given his mark. An indication of his position and abilities. Marcus bore the Ankh, a pair of angel wings spread out over the top. The ancient symbol meant life or living. A healer, able to repair the sick or injured with his energy.

The naked skin over Aidyn’s left breast bore the mark chosen by the gods. The eye of Ra, the symbol of protection and power, sat atop a pyramid encased by a blazing sun. This could only mean…

Marcus.

His thoughts interrupted by the almost unrecognizable voice.Father?

Come to me, son.

Aidyn touched his shoulder. “I am fine, let us go help your father.”

Together they flashed to the position his father communicated. When Marcus arrived, his father was on his knees holding the bloody, headless body of his wife, Marcus’s mother. His sword lay beside him covered in blood. He knew what had happened. His mother’s belly heavy with child. Drayos’s demon spawn had been growing inside her, and like the other women, her soul had been darkened. There was no cure, Marcus had tried to heal Eliza, but it had proved fruitless. Like him, his father had taken the head of the woman he loved.

“Father.” He knelt next to the frail man and placed his arm around his shoulder, pulling him tight to his side. “I am so very sorry.” Tears welled in his eyes, he refused them escape. He would remain strong for the man beside him.

His father looked at him, his eyes rimmed red. “You will do the honorable thing.”

Marcus closed his eyes, again. He would have to mourn later. “Yes,” he whispered. How much more destruction could he take before he crumbled? Somewhere, he would find the strength needed to end his father’s misery and begin his own.

“Take care of your sister.” It was the last command his father would ever give him.

“I will. I love you.” He kissed the man on the cheek then stood, his sword flashed through the smoke-filled sky and sliced through his father’s neck.

Marcus dropped to his knees, the heartache so severe he nearly passed out. His lungs contracted as he screamed to the heavens. Another failure, so many broken hearts he was unable to heal. Why couldn’t he heal the broken hearts?

Strong arms circled him from behind and held him tight. “I have you, my friend,” Aidyn whispered.

 

About the Author

Valerie-Twombly_300px

As a child, Valerie would often get into trouble for peeking at her mother’s favorite TV show, Dark Shadows. She can still hear her mother saying “It will give you nightmares.” She was right of course, but that did not stop Valerie from watching. As an adult, her love of the fanged creatures never waned. She would watch any vampire movie she could find.

Being a true romantic, Valerie was thrilled when she discovered the genre of paranormal romance. Her first read was one of Lara Adrian’s, Midnight Breed Series and from there she was hooked.

Today, Valerie has decided to take her darker, sensual side and put it to paper. When she is not busy creating a world full of steamy, hot men and strong, seductive women, she juggles her time between a full-time job, hubby and her two German shepherd dogs, in Northern IL.

Connect with Valerie:

Website| Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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16
October
2013

Renea Mason’s Symphony of Light and Winter Blog Hop

Renea Mason’s Symphony of Light and Winter Blog Hop

 

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One woman. Seven men. All bound by one man’s undying devotion.

Fundraiser Linden Hill has a knack for reading people. She always knows which conversations will put a prospect at ease, which drink will loosen a patron’s lips—or his wallet, and how cleavage will make a donor sweeten the deal. She’s even foreseen her dateless weekends four hundred and sixty-four times in a row.

But ten years after watching life drain from her former mentor’s and first love’s eyes, her skills for divining the predictable are lost. When Cyril returns, he’s still gorgeous, but this time he’s beyond human, far less dead, and pissed. His lack of memory drives him to desperate acts, and his turbulent re-acquaintance with Linden pulls her into his war with a creature hell-bent on his destruction. His group of six supernatural men share a tantalizing secret, but despite the hunger, it’s love that leads her to sacrifice everything to save him…

Excerpt from Symphony of Light and Winter

Your eyes are so lovely; please don’t hide them from me. Don’t be afraid. I would never hurt you.”

His sincerity must have been contagious because the words slipped through my lips without permission. “I know you’d never hurt me intentionally. It’s the unintentional consequences I fear.”

He brought his other hand up to cup my other cheek and, with my face firmly held he said, “Linden, I’m not fool enough to think that the gods don’t intentionally f**k with us.”

His use of that word was unexpected. Always a gentleman, but always something more carnal beneath the surface too. The inconsistency seemed natural.

But if that ever happens, I will spend forever trying to atone. Don’t turn away from me.” He stared at me for a moment and when his face started to move toward mine, I thought for sure he would kiss my lips, but instead he placed a lingering kiss to my forehead and pulled me into a hug. If he felt anything for me other than friendship, that was his moment to prove it. I had my answer. I gave a forced smile and pulled away.

Please, play,” he said while trailing his hand over my back.

Facing the piano, with my fingers lingering above the keys, I tried not to allow disappointment to lace my words. “How did you know about the song?” My racing heart slowed as I realized the kiss wouldn’t happen.

His response was casual. “I have very keen hearing and you start to hum it every time you walk away from me to return home. Where is the song from?”

Strange. Maybe I was louder than I thought.

“I don’t know where I learned it. I think I made it up, but it’s hard to know for sure.”

“It’s beautiful, please…” He motioned to the piano.

He stood and I pressed one key to test to see if it was in tune. Pitch-perfect, of course. I should have expected no less. I stretched to measure the distance to the pedals. After my assessment, I began to play. As I pressed the keys, I tried to forget he was even in the room, but that became impossible as he provided subtle hints as to how I should adjust my posture. He pushed back on my shoulders and lifted my elbows with a light touch. The adjustment made a difference, and in time my composition transitioned to something more graceful.

He placed his hands on my shoulders as he stood behind me and whispered, “Now relax, the music is in control. Give in to it. Let it take you, command you, while you find freedom in its control.”

His finger made small massaging circles on my neck and shoulders, and the more he touched me, the more at ease I became. I played better than I ever had.

He ran his hands up and down my forearms, coaxing the notes from my fingers as he whispered in my ear, “That’s it. You are much more relaxed. Music is energy, Linden. With energy, you must first make yourself an attractive conduit. Energy does not like resistance. The less resistant you are, the more it can take hold, become stronger—make you stronger. Allow it to embody you, become one with you, and embrace its possession.” His breath teased as his words sent waves of electricity through me.

I added improvisational parts to the song I had never imagined. I played sequences far beyond my skill level without effort. As I neared the end of the song, the magical feeling broke down, and with it went my newfound ability. It was as if I took a drug to make me a better musician and it had begun to wear off, but I knew it wasn’t a drug. It was Cyril.

As the last notes breathed their final whisper to the air, I heard him say, “Well done! I bet you even surprised yourself.”

“How did you do that?”
“I didn’t do anything. I simply taught you to sit up and concentrate. Other than that, it was all you. Music can’t possess the unwilling.”

I shot him a suspicious glare. “All right…your turn.” I went to get up.

“No, please stay. Let me see…I’ll play something you know. How about Beethoven’s Sonata quasi una fantasia? You may know it as the Moonlight Sonata.”

I nodded. He could have played Chopsticks and I would have been happy.

He began with the solemn phrasing of the piece. Every languid note held so much emotion. My fingers mindlessly stroked the side of his leg in the slow melodic tempo of the first movement. The mournful timbre accented the sadness I felt knowing that every minute I stayed with him, it was going to be much harder to accept I could never have him.

I had only heard the first movement of the piece but as the somber melody transitioned into a more energetic strain, I knew it would be an experience I would never forget.

His enthusiastic gestures, the bounce of his hair as he pounded out the rapid notes, all added to the look of determination on his face. The notes were saturated in passion, and violence defined him. I watched him with intense concentration and wondered if he brought that same passion to his kisses, his bed, and his love. It would be a miracle if one person could harness him.

When he played the last note, his breathing was heavy and a thin film of perspiration coated the skin of his brow and neck. He looked down at the floor and then slowly into my eyes. That instant, the connection formed again. He reached up and brushed the hair from my face and I did the same to him, draping his thick, dark, sweat-moistened locks behind his ear.

“That was magnificent. I’ve never…”

His hand reached up to cup my face. His thumb caressed my lower lip as I spoke.

“Heard…or seen…anything like you. I mean that.”

He smiled and continued to outline my lip.

“Linden…” he said with a breathy whisper, “there are so many things I want to show you, teach you. I want you to make me a promise.”

I answered without hesitation. “Yes.”

“The way you are looking at me right now… Please, always look at me this way. Stare into my eyes and see me for who I am and know that there is nothing more than this. When the world calls things into question, you need not question me because I will always be here for you. The comfort I find in your eyes is new and frightening.”

I found it difficult to believe anything frightened this man. He cupped my cheek and with tenderness that mirrored his words, he caressed my face and trailed his hand to rest on my chest just below my neck. I wrapped my hand around his wrist, holding him to me.

He leaned in, pinning our arms between us, and breathed, “Promise me.”

I closed my eyes, reveling in his closeness, his scent, his heat. “OK.”

“Good.”

He inhaled. “I will make you a promise in return. I cannot bring you into my world as I would like, so I will not ask you to indulge me further. I should let you go, but I’m sorry, I am far too selfish to break all ties. I do promise to always be your friend, your mentor.”

Deep down, hopeful he might love me and see me as a woman, I opened my eyes and managed a smile filled with sadness and disappointment.

Protégé was the title bestowed upon me, not girlfriend, lover, or wife. I looked away from him to try to pull back the tears that escaped my eyes.

“Already breaking your promise?”

I looked up and he brushed my tears away with his thumb.

“I’m not immune, Linden. I feel it too. I just need to be stronger than this, for you.” He pulled me into his embrace.

 

 About the Author

Renea-Mason_Profile_300px

Renea Mason writes steamy romances to help even out the estrogen to testosterone imbalance caused by living in a house full of men.

When she isn’t putting pen to paper crafting sensual stories filled with supernatural lovers, she spends time with her beyond-supportive husband, two wonderful sons and three loving but needy cats.

Buy the Book

Amazon.com (available at most international Amazon sites – Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, UK etc.)

BarnesandNoble.com

AllRomanceeBooks.com

Kobo.com

 

Follow Renea Mason

http://www.ReneaMason.com

http://www.Facebook.com/ReneaMasonAuthor

http://www.Facebook.com/symphonyoflightandwinter

http://www.Pinterest.com/ReneaMason

http://www.goodreads.com/ReneaMason

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/reneamasonauthor

https://twitter.com/ReneaMason1

S.ReneaMason@gmail.com

http://www.amazon.com/Renea-Mason/e/B00DIMOX2S/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

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15
October
2013

The Ones: The Wolf at… by Kishan Paul

The Ones: The Wolf at… by Kishan Paul

 

The Ones is a writing blog game in which participants receive a story title, a little wrinkle to up the challenge factor and then must create a single draft story in no more than one hour from the prompt.  The game was fun and I hope you enjoyed reading the stories as much as I enjoyed writing them.  Since I had already written the next prompt, I figured I’d share it anyway.  Here’s my last contribution to the One’s.

 

The Wolf at…

 

The sound of my father arguing with the strange men in black suits at the other side of the house makes my heart jump like that big bullfrog who lives by the edge of the lake. I don’t like the way Papa’s voice gets louder.

“Where is she?” one of them yells. I can’t hear Papa’s answer but I know the tone. He’s mad. Really mad. It’s bedtime, they need to leave and they definitely don’t need to talk to my Papa like that. When I try to run to help, Momma wraps her arm around my stomach, lifts me up, and carries me away.

I consider arguing but Momma and Papa are always right and they always know what’s best. So I don’t. When she puts me on my feet, it’s in front of our screen door to the backyard. My eyes and ears focus on the hallway and wait for my father to emerge.

But the yelling is getting louder. With it are new sounds. Sounds of things breaking. Screams of pain. Papa’s screams of pain. I’ve never heard him sound like that before and try to run to him but Momma holds me.

He needs my help. Why won’t she let me? I might be a girl but I don’t fight like a girl. Ask Robbie or Tommy down the street, they’ll never call me a girl again.

“Papa needs me. Please Momma, I can help him.” When I try to go again, she grabs my arms and makes me face her. Momma squats down in front of me. “Marissa, you have to listen to me, okay. Those men are bad. If they get you, they will hurt you. Do you understand me?”

What sounds like a dozen firecrackers going off at once comes from the other side of the house. Momma closes her eyes, a tear falls down her cheek. “Honey, you have to go now and don’t look back.” She points out the door into the darkness.

My stomach flips like it did when Papa and I went down that really big roller coaster at the amusement park and I start to shake. “Momma, don’t make me go. Please, let me go help Papa. I can make it better.”

And I can. Every minute of the seven years I’ve been alive, I’ve known I was different. Grownups said it all the time. Always bigger, stronger than the other kids my age, I used to wonder if I was a boy would they notice as much. But I’m not and now the bad people are here.

No one was supposed to find out.

All this time, we’ve practiced. “You will play house and tea party with the girls. No wrestling, no fighting, do you hear?” she’d say every morning while she brushed my curly brown hair for school. I’m not sure why she kept saying it. I hadn’t hurt anyone since preschool and even then, Tommy showed up a week later with a cool superman cast on his arm.

Then on the drive to school, Papa would give his daily sermon. “You don’t want to make the teachers feel bad so don’t ask any questions and don’t tell them they’re wrong. Wait until you come home and tell me. OK, Princess?”

I did everything they told me to do. So how did the bad people find out?

Momma shakes me out of my thoughts. I stare at her. She’s scared. I can feel it. “Baby. You are never allowed to go to them. Do you hear me? No matter what happens, you have to stay away. Promise me.”

The voices get louder and footsteps pound our wooden floors. I nod my promise. She kisses my cheek.

“Momma and Papa love you always never forget that.” She slides the door open and shoves me out. “Go to the forest. You will find friends there. They will help you. Go.”

The glass shuts and locks. I watch as the curtains close. The shadows of the people approaching her grow.

I walk backwards until my bare feet are no longer on rough cement but prickly grass. When the loud firecrackers from earlier start again, I turn and run. The night is thick and black but I know where I’m going.

At the edge of our yard, is the forest. As I get lost in its trees, the voice of one of the men behind me screams, “There she is! Go. Go.”

My feet scratch against the rocks and other hard things on the ground but it doesn’t matter, I keep running. The moon shines into the darkness, sprinkling silver light along the way.

I zigzag through the trunks, crouching low to the ground, the way Papa and I practiced. One hand clutches the bottom of my pink unicorn nightie and the other the red ruby necklace around my neck.

“This will always keep you safe. Never take it off,” Papa used to say. “You are my brave and fearless Princess. Remember how proud I am of you.”

I wish I had given it to you, Papa. It could have kept you safe too.

But I will not go back and the bad people will never get me. I promised and I’m a good girl. I do what my Momma and Papa tell me.

When I get to the edge of the forest, I freeze.

The lake.

The moon turns the black waters silver and almost peaceful but it still scares me. It has since I was small and almost drowned in there. Now I don’t ever get any deeper than my knees. With nowhere to run, I turn to the forest but stop when four grownups in suits step out from the trees and stare at me. They take a step forward, I take one back until my feet touch the cold water.

“We’re not going to hurt you sweetheart,” one says with a smile. But I can feel his heart – his evil. “Your Mommy and Daddy are waiting for you. We just want to take you to them.”

There’s no where to run. Squeezing the red ruby, I crouch to the ground, bundle into a ball and cry. I promised I wouldn’t let them get me.

I’m sorry Momma. Please don’t be mad.

Twigs snap. I squeeze my eyes and wait. Somewhere in the distance, a beautiful howl erupts. The sound of growls and screams hurts my ears and makes me press my hands harder into them. The noises become louder and louder until finally there is silence.

I stay in a ball, my eyes shut, ears covered, and shake.

Something cold and wet like my puppy’s tongue licks across my arm. When I crack an eye open, it’s to the silver fur of the biggest dog I’ve ever seen. My hands fall and I stare at the giant. Its forehead touches mine, sending warmth and peace into me. I feel its love. Eyes blue like mine stare back. Soon more come and lick and nudge.

Momma was right. My friends did come.

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03
October
2013

Interview with Eternal Flame’s Author, Valerie Twombly

Interview with Eternal Flame’s Author, Valerie Twombly

 

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I had the pleasure of reading Eternal Flame before it was ever submitted for publishing and let me tell you this is one steamy story. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing the story’s author, my dear friend, and fellow Coffee Talk Writer, Valerie Twombly.

K: Hi Val, Thank you for joining me today.

V: Hi Kishan, I am so excited to be here. Hugs to you!

K: Hugs back! For those out there who haven’t read the book, tell our readers about the story.

V: Well where to start. I have combined two of my favorite paranormal elements, vampires and dragons. Tossed in a few demons and Gods, mixed it up and came up with Eternal Flame.

This is book one in a series and is the story about one immortal guardian named Marcus who discovers his mate. Problem is she happens to be human.

In this first book the readers will get a glimpse into the world of the immortal guardians and the Gods who created them. Marcus and Cassie will struggle against an evil force that is trying to unleash all kinds of hell (literally) into the human world.

K: What was your inspiration for Eternal Flame?

V: I wanted to write about vampires, but needed it to be different from other books I have read. So I decided on the immortal guardians, but with a twist. Did you ever think your guardian angel might have fangs? *winks*

Aidyn, was the first character to come to me. I knew this could not be his book because I had bigger plans for him, so I came up with his second in command, Marcus. From there I put together the rest of the crew.

K: Speaking of the rest of the crew, Marcus and Cassie are very sexy and no-nonsense characters. They sizzled with sexual tension. Tell us a little about these two hotties.

V: Marcus was fairly easy to write, I knew his personality from the beginning. Loyal, stubborn and even a bit angry, but he has a heart of gold.

Cassie, on the other hand, she was more of a challenge. As it turned out the more I wrote her the more I got to know her. I think she grew tremendously from the beginning of the story. She is a soft hearted woman, both strong and weak. There were times when she would simply burst into tears and then she would show me strength I didn’t know she had. I think Cassie is not unlike many women I know. I really do have to give her credit, she handled the clashing of two worlds with finesse.

K: When I read the story, so many of your characters caught my attention and left me wanting to know more about them. I couldn’t help but feel that several of them deserved their own stories. Do you have any plans of making sequels?

V: *Squeals* I’m so glad you asked. Yes!

Actually I am working on book two right now, called Fatal Desire. I aim to have it completed by the end of the year and ready to turn into my editor. My hope is it will be published by Spring 2014. This book is Caleb’s story. You do get a small glimpse of this dragon shifter in Eternal Flame. He was very insistent that his story be next. He is a demanding dragon, but sexy as hell so I couldn’t say no. I think the fans will love him.

I plan on several books in this series and have already started jotting notes for book three.

K: What genre would Eternal Flame fall under?

V: Paranormal Romance.

K: So this is your first published novel. What’s that like?

V: I am excited and nervous. It really didn’t hit home until I saw the cover and I have to say I am still floored over it. The publisher did a fantastic job.

Now, I worry about my schedule. I have a two week blog tour coming up in October and I think life is going to get a little crazy.

K: That is one sexy cover 😉 You’re life is about to get a little crazy. Tell me a little about that life. What do you do when you’re not writing steamy paranormal romances?

V: I work a full-time job as an administrative assistant. I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful dogs I like to spend time with. I must admit, I’m still trying to find the best way to juggle my time.

Eternal Flame will be releasing on Oct 2, 2013 with Resplendence Publishing.

Grab your copy at from Resplendence Publishing.

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Connect with Valerie:

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Email |Pinterest | Goodreads

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01
October
2013

The Ones: The Gun’s Fear by Paul Hamilton

The Ones: The Gun’s Fear by Paul Hamilton

 

Hello again,

The Ones is a writing blog game in which participants receive a story title, a little wrinkle to up the challenge factor and then must create a single draft story in no more than one hour from the prompt. They then trade stories and post someone else’s entry on their website. My guest is Paul Hamilton.

 

The Gun’s Fear by Paul Hamilton

The smoke circles like a dog looking for a place to sleep. Uriah Gett is not a smoker, but he draws on the cigarette to feel something. It’s the reason he’s discarded sixteen years of sobriety in favor of the four empty shot glasses on the table in front of him.

“One more, sugar?” Gina asks, leaning over so he can see down the front of her dress, if he were so inclined. He looks into her eyes instead.

“No. Thank you.”

Gina looks him over. He’s handsome for his age, not too grey. He’s neither clean-shaven nor bearded, somehow existing in a half-state with a perpetual three-day scruff. His eyes are too still, as if glancing were a physical impossibility. Uriah is all stares. He reeks of loneliness.

“Why don’t you go upstairs?” Gina asks.

“No. Thank you.” He stamps out his cigarette in a clay ashtray.

“Then why don’t you come back to my place. Marv will let me off early.”

Uriah looks at the bartender, a moist, hunchbacked man living with a perpetual shrug. “No. Thank you,” Uriah says. Gina is hurt by this. She never offers to take customers home. Most of her shift is spent insisting she would never take a customer home.

“Fine,” she sniffs, “but if you ain’t drinkin’, you can’t stay.”

Uriah nods, spinning the empty glass in front of him with his thumb and forefinger. He wouldn’t mind going home with Gina, but he’d be poor company. A sour notion makes him wonder if he’s ever been pleasant company. Gina hovers over him, her way of following up on her threat. Possibly it’s her way of silently persuading him to change his mind and accept the offer. Uriah isn’t the only one who’s lonely.

He stands and rests a powerful hand on her shoulder, though he doesn’t look at her. By the gesture he means this: sorry, ma’am, any other night. Gina interprets the gesture like this: you’ve lost your touch, but I appreciate the gesture. They move to separate sides of the saloon, each feeling worse than before.

At the bar, Uriah tilts his head at Marv.

“Settling up, Ry?” Marv’s voice is nasal and unpleasant, like the rest of him.

“Yep.”

“Why don’t we call it on the house?”

“Why?”

“Because you never carried a tab, even when you were regular,” Marv says. There is a touch of bitterness to his words, because Uriah’s decision to go sober cost Marv a valuable cash-paying customer.

“Don’t need to start now,” Uriah replies, staring at himself in the mirror behind the rows of hooch.

“Look, you’ve had a bad day.”

Uriah smiles, and Marv shudders. He can’t recall ever seeing the old gunman smile before, and he doesn’t wish to see it ever again.

“…Uh, a real bad day.” The bartender tries to find something to busy his hands with. He fails. “So I figure it’s on the house.”

Uriah stops smiling. “You think I’ll be back tomorrow, don’t you?”

“Sure I do, partner,” Marv’s voice is soft. He feels like crying, but doesn’t show it.

Uriah nods. “I won’t. If I don’t pay now, you won’t get paid.”

“It’s just a gesture, Ry. Try not to make everything a funeral march.”

Uriah stares into Marv’s eyes for a long time. “That’s funny.”

“It wasn’t meant to be.”

Uriah pulls a wad of cash from his pocket, the motion making the leather holsters creak, and sets it on the bar. “Tell you what. You hold this for me. If I’m still alive tomorrow, I’ll come back for this and thank you for the kindness.

“Otherwise, keep it. I won’t need it anyhow.”

Marv has never thought of Uriah or any other customer as a friend. “Whatever you say, pal.” Both men are relieved.

* * * * *

Uriah Gett doesn’t sleep. Instead, he walks. He tries not to think about things, but things come up. Most are memories. He remembers Sandy, knocking little Patty to the ground with the force of her exertion, tossing lanterns and pans and dishes and crabapples—anything she could find on the porch—while he mounted his horse. He remembers Patty’s wail.

He remembers vomiting and sweating and lying in a trembling, naked ball on the floor of a flophouse as he came off the liquor. He remembers Trent laying cool, wet cloths over his fevered forehead.

He tries not to remember a grown-up Patty spitting in his face, the fire in her eyes so much like Sandy it made his back ache. He tries not to remember Trent’s head opening up when the bullet hit.

Mostly Uriah thinks about Kane, and how he stood over Trent’s body. Kane saw Uriah was wounded, and should have shot him dead then and there. Kane wasn’t even capable of the one small mercy to relieve Uriah the burden of a futile quest for revenge. Kane should have shot him. Instead he turned around and urinated on Trent’s corpse.

As he walks, Uriah tests his shoulder. It’s very stiff, even with the hot whir of drunkeness loosening his joints. He’ll die because of the shoulder. Kane killed him already, the day Trent died. He just didn’t have the common courtesy to do it all at once.

This has been the slowest death.

* * * * *

Uriah is sick. If there were anyone to talk to, he’d blame the hangover. Since there is nobody, he grimaces and acknowledges that he doesn’t want to die at last. He never wanted any of it.

“Uriah Gett!”

The hat doesn’t fit, because the ring of sweat at his brow makes it slip down, warps it out of shape. It’s not sunny outside anyway. Maybe it will snow.

“Uriah! Gett!” Kane makes the last name a command. Uriah steps out of the livery, his guts watery. Gina leans out of the saloon window, her face is split by a worry wrinkle reaching for her chin. He should have gone home with her. The gun’s fear is worse than his own.

“You’re late,” Kane says. He’s still on his horse.

“I’ve been here all night,” Uriah says, low enough that Kane can’t possibly hear.

“What’s that?”

“Forget it,” Uriah hollers.

Kane dismounts and walks toward Uriah. Hands remain low, orbiting pistol grips. Gina decides she’s seen enough men die and pulls away from the window.

When Kane is close enough to shoot, he sighs. “You’re going to die today,” he says. He sounds sad.

“Probably.”

“Why are you here, then?”

“You know why.”

“No, I don’t mean that. I mean why are you here? In this town? This county?” He implores Uriah with a frightening intensity. “This life?”

“God,” Uriah says after a moment. “I guess.”

Kane holds Uriah’s steady stare for a long time. He nods. “So the man says.”

“So he does.”

“I’m faster than you,” Kane remarks.

“Yep.”

“I can let you go.”

“I won’t go.”

Kane nods. “Okay then.”

“Okay.”

“Shall we?”

“Might as well,” Uriah says.

Kane reaches out a hand. Uriah extends his good left arm, as if to awkwardly shake with the back of his hand leading, fingers pointing down. Kane hesitates, unsure if he should switch to shake with his left, or grasp the extended fingers as he might to kiss the hand of a lady.

Uriah’s right arm comes up, a bit lazily. The gun is in it, trembling. Uriah’s shoulder screams. The smoke chokes them both and they stare at each other.

Kane smiles.

“Thank you,” Kane says.

“No,” Uriah replies, “thank you.”

To read the next entry in the circle, click here. To go straight to my story from this prompt, go to Alisia Faust‘s blog.

Paul Hamilton lives and works in the Silicon Valley with his wife and daughter. He writes stories about broken people and repairing worlds. When not writing, he reads or draws or rides roller coasters. He considers the word “omnibus” beautiful and never passes up a chance to try new foods.

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