Give a warm welcome to Pat Esden, author of Reach For You, book three of Dark Heart Available for pre-order now, release on June 27, 2017! Don’t miss the rafflecopter at the end of this post.
Pull up a chair, grab a drink of your choice from the cooler, a Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter cookie from the plate, and let’s find out a little about Pat Esden and Reach For You.
Hi Tena, Thank you for interviewing me today. I’m excited to be here and to answer behind the scenes questions about REACH FOR YOU (Dark Heart, book 3).
My pleasure Pat. Tell me, what inspired this particular story?
REACH FOR YOU is the third and final book in the Dark Heart series. The idea for it came to me when I began to brainstorm A HOLD ON ME (Dark Heart, book 1). I wanted the series to end with Annie, the main character, finding her HEA, but I didn’t want it to come easy. To me, the struggles Annie goes through in this book are both emotionally devastating, challenging, and the logical conclusion to the other books.
Who is your favorite character of all of the books you’ve written and Why?
I don’t think I could pick a favorite. But one of the most fun characters to write in the Dark Heart series was Lotli. She doesn’t physically appear until the second book (there are hints about her in book 1). But once she appears, she brings out both the worst and best in Annie, the main character. Lotli is mysterious and powerful. She’s a master of magic and manipulation. I enjoyed giving hints about her true past and powers. One of my favorite scenes in REACH FOR YOU is when the truth about Lotli is revealed—and that truth may just be more horrible than Annie suspected.
Do you see yourself in your characters?
It isn’t something I consciously do, but there is probably a part of me in every character. A lot of Annie’s reactions to Lotli are emotions that I’ve felt at one time or another. Other characters have qualities I admire, like Chase’s selflessness (though in his case it gets him in trouble).
Where do your story ideas come from? If they come to you in the middle of the night, do you get up and write them all down?
My story ideas usually do start as flashes of scenes or lines of dialogue. I’m more likely to get those while driving and listening to music. I keep pens in my car and in my bag, along with notepads.
When I deep into drafting or revising a novel, I get a lot of ideas when I take a break from my computer. Walking the dog, showering, taking a nap—they all work equally as well. As far as in the middle of the night goes, yes. I used to keep a pad by the bed, but now I’m even more careful to not lose those flashes of inspiration. I’ll turn on a light and write things down at my desk or sometimes even turn on the computer and open a fresh document. What probably irritates me the most is when I work on a tough section of a project until I’m exhausted, then I go to bed and fall asleep only to have the solution come to me ten minutes later. Why couldn’t it have come to me before I crawled into bed?
Why do you write what you write adult contempoary paranormal and fantasty?
I love the idea of magick being real. I like taking the mundane day to day life and turning it into a grand adventure where anything is possible. I also love a hard-earned HEA.
How about a little about Reach For You?
Her passion is her greatest weakness. His legacy is his prison. To reunite, both must fight the demons within.
A world of deception and danger separates Annie Freemont from her mother—and from Chase, the enigmatic half-ifrit with whom Annie’s fallen in love. But she vows to find her way back to them, before Chase succumbs to the madness that threatens his freedom. The only person who can help is the magical seductress, Lotli, a beautiful, manipulative woman . . . a woman who has disappeared.
Annie must stay strong, even as the future she imagined is slipping away. With the help of family and friends, she discovers that Lotli is being held against her will, by those who want to exploit her powers. But though weakened, Lotli remains a powerful alley and adversary. A bargain is struck. And now Annie’s only chance to rescue Chase could also tear them apart . . .
Loyalties will be tested, walls will be breached, and enemies will be fought, yet Annie’s greatest battle lies within her own heart—to trust her love for Chase to overcome its greatest enemy, and to save those she holds most dear from the terrifying realm of the djinn . . .
May 28- July 2
We journey. Ceaseless and hungry.
Carved into stone tablet. Tenerife, Spain
The campsite was ominously silent. Then a breeze lifted and my ear caught the faint clank and rattle of the bones and knives hanging in the pine trees behind us.
“You don’t think they’re both dead, do you?” Selena whispered.
I scanned the dilapidated camper ahead of us, a do-it-yourself RV created out of an old bread truck. Despite the midafternoon warmth, the doors were shut tight. The tent behind it, barely visible from our angle, bowed under the weight of rain that had pooled in its canopy. There was no campfire smoke. No trampled grass. In comparison to when we’d come here last week, the place looked deserted.
Goose bumps pebbled my skin. I gave the camper another once-over. “Zea was really old and sickly. He could have died—or if the kidnappers came here first looking for Lotli, they could have found him. They might have—”
Selena cut me off with a glower. “You mean, supposed kidnappers.”
My jaw clenched. Yeah, that was exactly what I meant. I understood why my cousin didn’t like that everything we’d discovered pointed to her boyfriend, Newt, being involved in Lotli’s disappearance, and perhaps Zea’s as well. But I thought we’d gotten past that, like a bunch of times already.
I swiveled toward where we’d parked our Land Rover. The Professor stood rooted next to it, a mixture of disgust and apprehension crinkling his face. From his scholarly glasses and sandy brown hair all the way down to his polished loafers, he looked anything but ready for our reconnaissance trip out here on the back roads of Down East Maine. An afternoon of research at Oxford University would have been more appropriate. “You want to check inside the tent while we look in the camper?”
His gaze flicked to the soggy tarps. He cleared his throat, then—as posh as ever—said, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against the idea. But the thought of discovering a rotting corpse is a teensy bit abhorrent.”
“Would you rather discover one in a closed-up camper?” I snapped. It was lucky we’d driven into the campsite from the main road instead of walking like we’d done the last time. I’d assumed the Professor had an adventuresome spirit to go with his young Indiana Jones good looks. Especially since he was an archaeologist, though this summer he was tutoring Selena’s eleven-year-old brother as a favor. Still, and despite how eager he’d seemed to come with us, the Professor had freaked the second we started past the creepy stuff Zea and Lotli hung in the trees to scare people off: the knives and bones, pieces of copper pipe, broken mirrors, and doll parts. Frankly, I was surprised he’d even gotten out of the Land Rover at all.
I pasted on a smile. “Sorry. I don’t much care for the idea myself. Let’s just hope he’s napping or something.”
The Professor wiped his hands down the sides of his chinos. “I truly hope you’re right.”
As he headed for the tent, I tramped toward the camper with Selena close behind. If only Chase were here now. The creepy stuff hadn’t bothered him at all, and the fear of Zea being dead would have only driven him forward faster.
My chest tightened, my longing for Chase aching inside me, raw and unrelenting. If it weren’t for me, he would be here now. Instead, both he and my mother were trapped in the djinn realm, prisoners of his father, Malphic. If it weren’t for me, Lotli wouldn’t be missing either.
“Well?” Selena jerked her head at the camper door. “Are you going to just stand there?”
I raised my hand and knocked. One second passed. Two seconds. I rapped harder. Nothing. I tried the doorknob. It turned beneath my grip. I opened the door a crack, hesitated, and took a deep breath before pushing it open all the way.
A wave of hot, musty air rushed past me as if the camper had been closed up for days.
“Hello?” I said, sticking my head inside. I gave the air a cautious sniff. No dangerous odors, like a leaky gas stove, permeated the air. No rotting-trash smell—or decomp.
Selena nudged my shoulder. “What are you waiting for?”
I swallowed hard and stepped forward.
The place was cramped, a gypsy wagon on steroids. Tassels and prisms curtained the windows, letting only faint streaks of light inside. Miles of fuchsia and turquoise fabric draped the ceiling and walls. Animal skulls, feathers, and nubby candles clustered inside miniature altars. The fridge, table, and chairs, every surface that wasn’t fabric covered, was painted purple or black. Stars decorated the ceiling. An antique bed piled with crimson quilts and an avalanche of pillows took up the camper’s entire backend. It was cozy enough, I supposed. But I couldn’t begin to imagine what life had been like for Lotli, apprenticed to Zea as a child because of her magic abilities, essentially indentured. Not that I thought a devout shaman like Zea would have been cruel to her. It was just so different from anything I’d experienced.
“Zea, are you here?” I called out. “We need to talk to you about Lotli.”
I minced my way deeper into the cramped space, working my way toward the back of the camper. Cold sweat carved a trail down my spine. I crept past a tiny kitchen and dining nook, then the bathroom—one toothbrush in the holder, a washcloth draped over the edge of a yellowed sink.
I returned to the front of the camper and pulled aside the curtain that divided the living area from the bread truck’s cab. Seats for the driver and a passenger, seashells glued to the dash, insulated coffee cups in the holders—
Something brushed the back of my neck.
I yelped and jumped sideways, whipping around to see what it was and smacking my elbow against the wall. Pain zinged up my arm. I glared at Selena, standing barely an inch behind me.
“Shit,” I said, rubbing the sting from my arm. “You scared the hell out of me.”
She gave me a sheepish pout. “Sorry. I thought you knew I was there.”
“I didn’t think you were that close.” It wouldn’t have hurt half as bad, except I was already sore and bruised from being thrown out of the djinn realm earlier in the day.
Her pout transformed into a smug smile and she flipped her blond hair over one shoulder. “Looks to me like Zea and Lotli might have pulled a vanishing act after all. Huh?”
I stopped rubbing. “Or the Professor’s about to find something disgusting in the tent.”
“Want to bet?”
I closed my eyes, struggling to regain my composure. We couldn’t afford to waste time discussing the same thing over and over again, any more than I could have afforded the luxury of staying home to nurse my aches and pains. Chase and Mother were in danger. And I couldn’t go back to the realm and rescue them until we found Lotli. Without her and her flute-magic, it would be too risky, perhaps even impossible to enter or escape from the realm.
I shoved past Selena and strode to the tiny bathroom. “While we’re here, we should find something personal of Lotli’s that you can use to scry and see where they’re holding her.”
Glancing around, I spotted a scruffy hairbrush. You couldn’t get much more personal than that. I grabbed it and brandished it toward Selena.
She stood just inside the bathroom doorway, hands on her hips, eyes narrowed. “Cut it out, Annie, I’ve had enough of you talking like Newt kidnapped Lotli, the innuendos and little jabs. Maybe his family’s hiding something, but Newt doesn’t have anything to do with it. So quit acting like he’s evil, okay?”
I mirrored her stance. “He told you his dad was a stockbroker, that they owned their summer home. Those were lies. His brother is a registered creep. No matter what you want to think: Newt’s not innocent.”
She turned her back on me, her voice bordering on hysteria. “I don’t know why I bothered coming. You’re so, so . . . You always have to be right—” Her voice died and she slowly faced me. Angry red blotches mottled her face. But tears rimmed her eyes.
My anger drained. She didn’t look pissed. She was trembling like she was about to fall apart. Earlier today, when we’d first heard about the lies Newt and his family had been telling, I’d seen something in Selena’s eyes, something beneath her disbelief.
“What is it? Tell me,” I asked gently.
She raked her hands over her face. “Nothing. You just need to trust me. I know Newt couldn’t be involved. And he wouldn’t have let his brother do it either.”
I leveled my gaze with hers and toughened my voice. “What makes you so certain? Tell me the truth, Selena.”
Her chin quivered. “I just know.”
Tucking the hairbrush handle first into my hip pocket, I stepped closer. I pushed her hair back from her face. “You’re my cousin. Please. Tell me.”
“Nothing. He just wouldn’t do it. He loves me.”
“I get that. But—”
She shoved my hand away. “No, you don’t get it. I know he loves me. Like forever.” Her eyes pleaded for me to understand what she couldn’t bring herself to say.
A possibility seeped into my head. My hands went to my mouth, covering a horrified gasp. She couldn’t mean. She couldn’t have. “What did you do?”
“I kind of—I put a . . .” Her voice faded and she looked down at the floor.
“A spell?” A month ago, the idea of witchcraft being involved would never have occurred to me. Now it seemed more than likely.
“You can’t tell anyone. Mom, Dad, Grandfather—they’d kill me.” She curled her arms over her head, her shoulders shaking as she crumpled down against the wall.
I crouched and put my arms around her. “Whatever it is, it’ll be fine. It can’t be that bad.”
“It is,” she sobbed.
About the Author:
Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts.
An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle, and George Sciter’s Cat Tales Anthology.
The first two novels in her Dark Heart series, A HOLD ON ME and BEYOND YOUR TOUCH are available from Kensington Books. REACH FOR YOU (book #3 Dark Heart series) will be released June 27th. Her short story, Black as a Dark Moon, Scarlet as Sumac, will come out this September in the Fragments of Darkness anthology.
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatEsdenAuthor/
paperback set of the entire series
It was wonderful having you with us today. Please feel free to stop by anytime. Good Luck with Reach for You!
Posted in Authors' Secrets Blog and tagged djinn, Paranormal, Pat Esden, Reach For You, Romance by email@example.com with 5 comments.
From Tena Stetler, best selling author of A DEMON’S WITCH, comes the second in Demon’s Witch Series, A WARLOCK’S SECRETS blending the magical and the real…Release June 14th .Author’s Secrets is again doing something a bit different celebrating the release of A WARLOCK’S SECRETS with Books at the Beach Giveaway & Book Fair – June 19th running through the 30th! Win a Kindle HD 8 Loaded with 80 Bestselling eBooks! You could also win one of two runner-up $25 Amazon gift cards. And while you’re at it, shop our AWESOME SUMMER BOOK FAIR with over 50 fantastic romance titles for you to choose from.
Enter the rafflecopter below to win.
Pull up a chair, grab a drink of your choice from the cooler, choose from a piece of chocolate fudge cake and ice cream, or strawberry shortcake to celebrate my new release A Warlock’s Secrets.
First let me tell you what inspired A Warlock’s Secrets.
A Warlock’s Secrets came to fruition after several readers and a couple of reviewers asked or assumed Tristian’s story was next in the Demon’s Witch Series. In truth, I’d never considered writing his story. He was the Demon Overlords enforcer/assassin, for heaven’s sake. After delving into who he really is and what he wants, come to find out, he has a strong moral compass and when love comes his way he is fiercely protective and everything Hannah is looking for in a man. A Warlock’s Secrets, second book in the Demon’s Witch Series is available June 14th!
A little about A Warlock’s Secrets:
Years ago, a sacred ceremony at the Dragon’s Moon Coven turned deadly. Son of the high priestess, Tristian Shandie’s life changed forever. With a price on his head and revenge in his heart, he has no choice but to follow in his father’s footsteps to a profession shrouded in secrets. Now his skills as an enforcer for the Demon Overlord are second to none. But dangerous secrets he harbors are a liability he can no longer afford.
A chance meeting with a woman he finds irresistible flips Tristian’s world upside down. Hannah is a cyber security specialist with secrets of her own. Bad boys never appealed to her until Tristian, who changes everything. In his darkest hours, she is dragged into his magical world
If they survive, is she strong enough to heal his heart and tame the warlock? Or will their secrets destroy them?
A NEW Sneak Peek between the pages of A Warlock’s Secrets: Oh, yeah I love the cover!
He offered his hand to Hannah as she stood, wrapped an arm around her waist and guided her out of the diner. “How about a ride up the coast?”
“Sure as soon as you explain how you held those teens down without touching them.” She smiled up at him knowingly. “And don’t give me that crap about telling me or killing me.”
A slight grin curved the corners of his mouth. “How about on an as needed basis and you don’t need to know?”
A soft laugh bubbled up from her throat. “If I had to guess, I’d say you’re a warlock with well-honed powers.” She tilted her head up towards his. “Would I be right?”
HIs grin faded replaced with a stormy expression. “Where would you get that absurd idea? They merely tripped and had trouble getting up. I suggested they stay put until the police showed up. Simple as that.”
“Right. Well on that note, I’ll see myself home.” She turned to her car and opened the door.
For a moment, he considered letting her go. Women are more trouble than they’re worth anyway. That’s when the meddling voice of Birch wafted through Tristian’s mind. She’s moved on, so should you. Damn faeries anyway. I’m sure he’s using some kind of magic to do this to me.
“Okay, you win. But only if you tell me why you are disguising your magic signature.” He leaned against the car a smirk on his face.
A Warlock’s Secrets is available at:
A little about the author:
Tena Stetler is a paranormal romance and cozy mystery author with an over-active imagination. She wrote her first vampire romance as a tween, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, Tena sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures telling her their tales. Colorado is her home; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle. Any evening, you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn. Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them. Well,okay there are a few companion animals to round out the tales.
Learn more about Tena:
Authors’ Secret’s Blog – http://www.tenastetler.com/category/authors-secrets-blog/
My Say What Blog: http://www.tenastetler.com/category/my-say-what-blog/
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/tenastetler.author
Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/TenaStetler
Newsletter Signup: http://www.tenastetler.com/newsletter-signup/
Enter the Rafflcopter for Books at the Beach Giveaway June 19th – 30th giveaway here.
✩✭✩ BOOKS AT THE BEACH GIVEAWAY AND BOOK FAIR✩✭✩
Win a Kindle HD 8 Loaded with 80 Bestselling eBooks! You could also win one of two runner-up $25 Amazon gift cards.
And while you’re at it, shop our AWESOME SUMMER BOOK FAIR with over 50 fantastic romance titles for you to choose from.
Thank you for stopping by! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! It was wonderful having you with us today. Please feel free to drop in anytime. You never know what awesomely talented author will be visiting Author’s Secrets next!
Posted in Authors' Secrets Blog and tagged A Warlock's Secrets, Adventures, Books at the Beach Giveaway and Book Fair, Hawaii, Maine, Paranormal, Romance, Scotland, Shapeshifters, Some Girls Like It Hot Giveaway, Tena Stetler, Washington DC, Witches by firstname.lastname@example.org with 8 comments.
Give a warm welcome to Sandra Tilley, author of The Ghost & Mrs. Miller!
Pull up a chair, grab a drink of your choice from the cooler or there’s a pitcher of fresh lemonade on the counter. Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter cookie are on the plate beside the pitcher. So let’s find out a little about Sandra and her guests, Eli Anderson and Libby Carlisle Miller of The Ghost and Mrs. Miller.
Eli, how about you go first? Tells us about the real you. What event in your past has left the most indelible impression on you?
Freshman year at the University of Alabama, tore my ACL in a freak accident playing flag football with a bunch of sorority girls. Lost my scholarship and my dreams of the NFL. Thought that was life-changing. Until I had to identify my best friend’s body. Changes your perspective on everything.
What do you most value?
What is the type of woman you want to spend the rest of your life with?
That’s easy. I knew in kindergarten Libby Carlisle was the only girl for me. But she ended up marrying my best friend.
What do you consider most important in life?
I’d have to say honor. If you don’t stand for something, what’s your point? If I tell you I got your back, you don’t need to turn around and look.
What is your biggest secret?
Never told. Never will.
Awww…. you’re no fun! Well, Libby, you’re next. Who are you really?
Are you talking yesterday or five minutes ago? Thought I knew who I was–until Neil betrayed me.
Who were the biggest role models in your life?
My mom and dad. Mom could be a little overwhelming at times. Of course with three daughters, I totally get it. But Dad could jump into the middle of a three-ring sister argument, start his clowning around and make us all laugh. We knew the clown had another side, though. If Mom needed backup, he was strong, too.
What kind of man do you want to spend the rest of your life with?
Do I have to choose right now? Neil and I married right out of high school, and I literally went from living with my mom and dad to living with my husband. Now that he’s gone, I want to be in charge of myself for a while.
What kind of man would you never choose?
Never choose a bully.
What is most important to you in life?
What is your biggest fear?
Neil finding out that I lied.
LIbby and Eli, thank you so much for being here!
Sandra, just a couple more questions. Tell us a little about writing this story. Was it fun or difficult? Do your characters always act as you expect? Are you a plotter, or fly (write) by the seat of your pants?
I’m basically a plotter, but I do love it when the characters take over. This story began as four short stories; and after eights year and seven name changes, it became The Ghost and Mrs. Miller.
Wow, those are a lot of changes.
Sandra, Wwat is The Ghost and Mrs. Miller all about?
Libby Miller is a good Southern girl, and good Southern girls know the rules. But Libby forgot about fate. And fate has no rules. On Libby’s nineteenth wedding anniversary, she catches Neil cheating with his assistant; and fate whips up a tornado of turmoil. But the storm’s not over until the karmic gods have finished playing and Neil’s flipped his BMW and his ghost is swinging from the chandelier. How is Libby supposed to grieve and raise their teenage children with Neil’s ever-present, meddling ethereal presence? She wants to move on with her life, if only Neil will transition to where ever it is he needs to go. And adding to the karmic soup are two men from Libby’s past–both of whom want a second chance.
Can we have a peek between the pages?
“I was your high school sweetheart and husband for nineteen years. I’ve only been dead for two months. Why aren’t you despondent with grief? Or at least sad?”
The weight of his words pressed down, pinning my eyes to the ground. I felt his eyes digging into my skull, but I couldn’t lift my head to meet his accusation. I removed a flip-flop and swatted at a line of ants traveling inside the groove of grout between the stones. “The therapist says we handle grief in our own way.” I turned my head to the side. “How can I be sad if you’re still here?”
Wow. A little more about Sandra:
She grew up in a small town near Birmingham, Alabama, where friends always entered through the back door and where everyone spoke the same language—Southern. After a successful teaching career, she packed up her pearls and headed toward her inspiration: the sugar-white beaches of Orange Beach, Alabama, on the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Follow Sandra on Facebook at Sandra Fetner Tilley-Author and on Twitter @SandyFTilley. Or stop by her web page at http://www.sandratilley.com/
It was wonderful having you with us today. Please feel free to stop by anytime. Good Luck with The Ghost and Mrs. Miller.
Posted in Authors' Secrets Blog and tagged ghosts, Paranormal, Romance, Sandra TIlley, The Ghost and Mrs. Miller by email@example.com with 26 comments.
Bleeding Hearts is part of The Spellbound Boxed Set, a compilation of 20+ full-length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reads and will be released on May 2, 2017! Pre-Order sale only 99 cents. See special offer below and a rafflecopter give away.
Readers of all ages will be swept away by this fascinating mix of existing titles and brand new content, full of pages brimming with faeries, witches, vampires, shifters, psychics, Greek gods, angels, demons, and even ghosts!
With over a million words of fiction, this is your one stop shop for urban fantasy, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, shifter romance, vampire romance, elemental magic, time travel, and MORE from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling authors!
Although some of these reads may be gritty and dark, this is a collection of clean reads that anyone will enjoy!
A little about Bleeding Hearts by Ash Krafton
Sophie Galen is an advice columnist whose work leaves her neck-deep in other people’s problems. Thanks to her compassion, her gut instinct, and her magnetic charm, Sophie really knows how to attract little black clouds.
Marek Thurzo is no little black cloud; he’s a maelstrom. Marek is Demivampire, a race with the potential to evolve into vampire. A warrior who’s taken his share of spiritual damage, he hovers dangerously close to destruction.
He seeks salvation. She’s driven to save him. But what if he can’t be saved?
Sympathy for his plight becomes true empathy as Sophie’s hidden nature is revealed. Marek suspects she may be one of the Sophia, oracle and redemption of the damned Demivampire. She alone can turn back the evolutionary clock.
All she needs is the courage to face her fears. Can she save him from Falling?
A Sneak Peek into BLEEDING HEARTS – Demimonde Book 1 by Ash Krafton
In the great hall housing the Egyptian exhibitions, I immediately noted the change in the atmosphere. The room was cool and dry, its climate controlled to mimic the conditions in which the relics had existed in their native land.
The entire room had been designed to resemble an Old Kingdom temple. The main lights were dimmed while strategically-placed spotlights emphasized massive columns and magnificent wall carvings like sunbeams through temple windows.
I scanned the room. No other tourists. Even better. I meandered, enjoying the rare opportunity to linger.
Craning my neck, I ran my gaze up each of the columns, reading the images, admiring the palm leaves carved at the tops like great stone trees. Eyes toward the ceilings, I turned slowly around, admiring the handiwork of the ancient artists.
What was it like to live in those lands and those times? Could an ancient version of my spirit have been there, stepping barefoot and silently through a sandy temple like this one?
Lost in contemplation, I was completely unprepared for the shock of smacking into someone, bumping him hard enough to lose my balance. I’d have fallen had he not caught my arm. Wide-eyed with consternation, I stammered an apology to the handsome but serious-faced gentleman.
“You are not hurt, I hope?” His voice, deep and smooth, sent shivers marching down my neck, between my shoulders, down my spine.
“I’m okay.” I shook my head, too shy to make direct eye contact, wishing I’d checked my hair and lipstick before coming in. “I’m far too adept at being inept.”
He flashed a grin and I caught a glimpse of nice white teeth. “Temples are places for spiritual reflection. It is forgivable if your vision was turned inward, rather than toward where you were walking.”
His expression softened by amusement, he tilted his head toward the pillars. “Majestic, aren’t they?”
I stole another glance at him—black hair smoothed back into a discreet tail, clear light skin framed by long sideburns, strong jaw culminating in a square, cleft chin. Like the other items in the museum, something about him made me want to look closer, inspect each detail.
A subtle flush warmed my cheeks and ears so I quickly turned back to the heights of the exhibition. Murmuring a sound of agreement, I circled the column, stepping a few feet away so I could see both him and the stone. “Do you visit this museum often?”
Furtive glances allowed me to take in more of his appearance a tiny section at a time. Clothing dark as his hair. Long blazer, something in between a suit coat and an overcoat. In one hand he carried a bound book and fountain pen, as if he’d been making notes.
His gaze was calm and steady and entirely on me. Taking a deep breath I permitted the contact of the direct look. My boldness was well-rewarded. His Paul Newman lips brought to mind the sculptured busts on display in the Greco-Roman Quarters and he wore a stern expression that cast a veil of hardness upon his features, enhancing the impression he’d been carved from marble.
Except for his eyes. The Roman busts bore eyes that were blank and white but this man’s eyes were alive with bright green color. Like gemstones, they glittered and drew my gaze.
“No, actually,” he said. “My first time here. Although, I admit, I’m drawn to places like this.” His voice made music of the words—deep bass notes and soothing rhythm.
“Ah!” I said. “A man after my own heart.” His left eyebrow arched so sharply I thought it might disappear into his hairline and I hurriedly continued. “Are you a professor?”
“No, nothing like that. I do studying of my own, it’s not a living. It’s more of a hobby. Personal research, of sorts.”
“Studying past times is one of my pastimes. It’s my preferred form of entertainment.”
“Mmm.” Eyebrow cocked again, he cast a disapproving look at me and swept his hand around the contrived temple. “Would the gods be pleased to know they are reduced to the level of entertainment?”
“I hope so.” I kept my tone light. Considering the seriousness of his expression, I didn’t want to accidentally insult him. “Otherwise, they’d have to be content with staying dead, right?”
His gaze swept over me and I shivered again as if the touch had been tangible, a brush of fingertips against my cheek.
“Well, I’ll leave you to your worship. I mean, your wanderings.” He gave me a conspirator’s wink. “Unless…”
He hesitated, with a quiet clearing of throat as he tucked his notebook and pen into an inside pocket. “You wouldn’t mind a companion? Sometimes one sees things differently when seeing through another’s eyes. I would appreciate a new perspective.”
I mulled it over, listening to the rain spattering the windows and distant voices echoing faintly from other rooms. Although I’d looked forward to a quiet afternoon, it might be nice to spend it with someone who seemed to share my interests. He certainly was attractive, and his pleasant voice intrigued me.
I realized I’d become used to living inside a shell. This man made me want to step outside for once.
“I’d like that.” I smiled at his pleased expression. “I’m Sophie, by the way.” I stuck out my hand in introduction.
Instead of shaking my hand, he bent his head over it and pressed polite lips to the backs of my fingers. The quaint gesture would have seemed strange and out of place had we been elsewhere. “I am Marek. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Fingers tingling from the unexpected kiss, I fought the urge to curtsy. “Well, Marek. Lead me into the past.”
His almost-smile sent a thrill down the back of my neck. “That’s exactly the sort of thing I’d hoped you say. Shall we?”
He turned on his heel and swept out a hand with a slight bow, indicating the archway to another exhibit. For the first time since I’d been coming to this museum, I wondered what I’d see on the other side, and was surprised to realize I wasn’t afraid to find out.
The first chapters of books by each featured author are also available in the Spellbound Sampler, available on Wattpad
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A bit about author Ash Krafton:
Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction girl through and through, Ash writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels as well as poetry and short fiction. She also writes for New Adult audiences under the name AJ Krafton. Her work has won a bunch of awards and was even nominated for a Pushcart Prize. When she’s not writing, she’s practicing Tai Chi, listening to loud rock and metal, or crushing on supervillains.
Most recently, she’s re-released her urban fantasy trilogy THE BOOKS OF THE DEMIMONDE because she never really left the world of Sophie and her Demivamps. She’s also working on the next installment of her Demon Whisperer series.
Find out more when you visit www.ashkrafton.com
Posted in Authors' Secrets Blog and tagged Ash Krafton, Bleeding Hearts, compilation, Giveaway, Multi-Author, Paranormal, Romance, Spellbound by firstname.lastname@example.org with 4 comments.