Exclusive Excerpt - from Chapter 8 (Ela's POV):
Someone walked up to the table and cleared their throat. I looked up and my mouth hung open.
“Have you been waiting for long?” Obitus asked me turning on the full charm.
I shrugged. “I, uhm…no, no. Please, take a sit.”
Muscle-man got up, gave Obitus a once over and snorted as he walked away. But he did walk away. I waited until he was well out of earshot before I frowned at the dragon.
“So you are stalking me.”
He sat down and shrugged. “I stopped by your suite, but you weren’t there. Janice told me I’d find you here.”
I rolled my eyes. “And why would she do that?”
“Because,” he said putting his hand on the table, “I wanted to give you this.”
A single red rose sat on the table. I looked down at it, and despite my best efforts to not be moved by the gesture the least bit, I kind of was. His fingertips glided over the edges of the petals and my heart clenched. He had the most amazing hands ever, gorgeous long fingers that looked incredible as they caressed those rose petals. I had an insane flash of desire to have those fingers caress me, my lips.
I looked back up into his eyes. “You brought me a rose?”
He nodded. “As apology for stealing that kiss earlier.”
“You’re kidding me,” I muttered incredulously.
He shrugged. “I’m sorry. I got carried away. It’s easy to get carried away around you. It’s your scent, you know? It just drives me…crazy,” he whispered thickly.
My pulse spiked. “You don’t seem to regret it all that much.”
He grinned. “I did get to kiss your cheek. Can’t say I regret that. But I’m sorry it was a stolen pleasure. I’d like us to give each other pleasure.”
“I’m sure you would,” I muttered under my breath.
He pushed the rose closer to me on the table. I reached out and gingerly picked it up, brought it to my lips. The caress of the petals tickled and I smiled. It smelled wonderful, of rose and something else, darker, spicier–delicious.
He inhaled sharply as his pupils blew up, almost swallowing the brilliant white of his eyes.
“Do that again,” he whispered.
I gulped. “What? I don’t know what you mean.”
I put the rose back down on the table. My lips tingled where the petals had touched them. The air between us became electric, supercharged. I became very aware of my breathing, of air sliding in and out of me. Then I became very aware of his breathing, raspy.
I shook my head. “Thanks for the rose. It’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it is. But you’re much more beautiful than all the roses of the world.”
The mood sincerely had to change, or I’d be in trouble. We’d all be in trouble. I trailed my fingertips over the petals, not able to ignore the rose though I kept telling myself I should.
“What do you know about zombies?” I asked as calmly as I could.
If thinking of them wouldn’t kill the romantic atmosphere, I didn’t know what could. It surely killed my chances of finishing up that delicious hot chocolate. I wasn’t a fan of looking down on creatures, but zombies were really easy to dislike. They stank like death warmed over to begin with, and had no proper will of their own once they were given a command.
Obitus sighed. “It’s not the zombies you should really be worried about. They’re just servants. What worries me is it means there’s a fullbladth here, and they’ve got an issue with you. Do you know of any fullbladths in Akai?”
I shook my head. “I know there was one, but it was long, long time ago. She’s imprisoned and guarded, there’s no way she got out.”
“I see it’s become something of a trend to lock up powerful creatures.”
I frowned. “Only the fickle, irresponsible ones.”
He shook his head and looked away from me, a shadow crossing his face. “And who gets to decide that, Elana? Who gets to be the judge of us all?”
I thought about it for a moment. “The majority, I guess.”
“When we were imprisoned, do you suppose there was a vote? Or rather someone decided for the majority instead?”
I bit my lip. “The gods act for the greater good.”
He snorted. “The gods, huh? It must be comforting to believe in something. I’m too old for childish hope like that.”
That stung. I watched him, took in the strange expression on his face though he still wouldn’t meet my eyes. It was easy to forget this was a 3000 years old creature, because he acted like some random guy I guessed. He looked like one, talked like one most of the time. I wasn’t ready to debate beliefs with a 3000 year old being, I realized, so I tried to change topics.
I tapped my fingers on the table. “So anyway, aside the captive fullbladth, I don’t know of another one in Akai.”
“Huh. Is it Isis?”
I frowned. “And how would you know that?”
He chuckled. “That happened a good while before dragons were imprisoned. Of course I know, everyone knew. Her father thought she was a disgrace to their family, so he exiled her into a world of light. Pretty harsh punishment for creatures that can’t stand sunlight. She chose Akai because it was the safest place away from Hesa.”
“And it contained the easiest prey,” I supplied.
“That too. But if she’s imprisoned, as you say, who made that servant? Only fullbladths can create undead.”
“What if someone would have some of the full’s blood? Could they use it too?”
He shrugged. “It would have to be someone close to her. Very close. One of her children.”
I sighed. “Well, she had plenty of those. But at least I know who to ask about it.”
He smiled. “Of course you do. You know everything, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t. But I hope I know enough.”
“Do you know how much I’d like to kiss you right now?”
I looked down at the table. Maybe I could fool myself into thinking he was a sweet guy, just a sweet guy hitting on me. Then my autopilot would take care of turning him down without me even paying to much attention to the whole thing. I knew I couldn’t trust his kindness, not when I’d seen him destroy my world. Not when I knew it would come to that if I wouldn’t resist him. But I wished so bad I could see the whole way there, that I would know exactly what steps would lead to that outcome. There was no point in allowing foolish feelings to stem in my heart. I couldn’t afford a crush. Not on him, no matter how my heart fluttered whenever he was around.
“I wish you’d stop this,” I said not looking up. “I can’t give in, and you can’t change my mind. What’s the point to still trying?”
He sighed. “The point, my dear Elana, is to convince you I deserve a chance. Just give me a chance.”
I shook my head. “I can’t. And the world is filled with women, why are you so fixated on me?”
“I thought a successful woman like you would be more confident.”
I shook my head. “I am confident. But your stubbornness to keep trying is suspicious. I’m cool, but I’m not that cool. You could have any woman you’d want, but you seem fixated on getting me. What are you really after?”
He grinned crookedly. “You. I’m after you, of course.”
“Yes, fine, but what’s the catch? What else does it get you?”
He hummed. “Well, I get to kiss those beautiful lips of yours, to run my fingertips down your neck and along your collarbone, to trail kisses down to your–”
I held a hand up. “Don’t be crude.”
What I meant was to tell myself to not be crude, and not imagine hardcore X-rated moments between him and I. Because I could so easily slide into that trail of thought. Was the room getting hotter? I felt like I was too hot, like I needed some fresh air. I closed my laptop and prepared to get up.
His hand shot out and gripped mine. “I’m sorry. Please, don’t leave.”
I shook my head. “I have to. I’m busy, things to do, zombies trying to kill me, you know–the regular stuff.”
His eyes got sad, which I dejectedly admitted made me sad too. I couldn’t afford to feel that way, but I did and I had no idea how to stop it right now.
“At least take the rose with you,” he whispered.
I put the laptop in my bag, took the rose and left hoping against hope that he wouldn’t follow. That he wouldn’t come to see me again today. By tomorrow I could rebuild my defenses, I could prepare myself to turn him down and look entirely unfeeling. But right now, today, I felt weak. I felt vulnerable. I felt guilty about wanting him and turning him down.
I walked home carrying that rose in my hands, glancing down at the beautiful petals. My mind was carefully blank, feet carrying me home. Or at least I hoped they were. I looked up when a foul smell hit my nose. A dumpster, it was a dumpster. I’d somehow managed to get lost and found myself in a dubious and stinky alley. At least it was garbage stink. Or not…
Something crawled over from behind the dumpster. Flies swarming the place made a beeline for the stinker zombie. I almost laughed. The thing picked up a broken bottle and threw it at me. I ducked out of the way and turned around. Good thing I liked running, because I sure got plenty of chances to do it these last few days.
Dashing out of the alley, I picked another empty one to run down to. People would have freaked out majorly if a stinky zombie would end up in the middle of a street. They had no issue blocking traffic, but if anyone saw it the shitstorm would last for weeks most likely.
This stinker was less of a runner than me, fortunately. I ran clutching the rose and my bag. The soles of my feet hurt, I didn’t have running shoes on. The stinker threw something at me. A squishy sound followed by a wet plop as the thing got me right in the head. I was enveloped in the stink of something fruity and decay, causing me to heave. His projectile stuck to me, I shook my head hard to make it fall. I didn’t look to see what it was after it fell to the ground, I seriously didn’t want to know. I couldn’t stop running–not yet.
I lured the stinker into the filthiest, emptiest place I could find. No one would notice the extra layer of yew here, and should something go ka-boom they might miss the filth less than other things. I turned around as I reached into my bag.
“We really have to stop meeting like this,” I quipped.
Stinky squinted his eyes but said nothing.
“You’re not the chatty type, huh?” I asked rummaging through the bag.
When I finally found it, I clutched the metal ring. I looked into Stinky’s yellow eyes and summoned the buzzer spirits of air. He frowned at me as the little wisps of air swirled around me.
“You’ve called?” their lord buzzer asked.
“I’ll release you into a storm if you isolate that zombie.”
The spirit didn’t ask for more explanations. They buzzed in the zombie’s direction. A bit too fast, I thought, but I pulled the ring of my purse goodie and threw the thing at Stinky. He caught it, stared for a moment as the spirits formed an air front around him. I thought Stinky looked surprised for a moment there as he exploded. Not exactly finesse, but then again this wasn’t art. The wall of air contained the explosion and smoke sipped out of it slowly. Some burning parts hit the trash bins beside us, the sickly stink of cooked zombie and burning garbage making my eyes water.
The buzzer lord appeared in front of me. “Storm now?”
I nodded. They rose into the sky chuckling, the whir of their ascend eerie. Thunder sounded in the distance–their storm would happen soon. Buzzers loved to provoke storms, especially lightening. They needed someone to invoke and release them to cause one, though. Once they’d have their fun, they’d go back into the spiritual world.
I was about to step away when I realized my rose had fallen to the ground. Its petals were covered in some filth, but I picked it up and ran home.
Everyone in the hotel’s lobby gave me nasty glares when I walked in. Of course they did, I was stinky and wet. I dashed into the lobby, shot into my suite and took a long, long series of showers until I couldn’t smell anything funky on me. Then I took the rose, washed its petals carefully, and set it in water–not because it was from Obitus, but because I liked roses. I put in a glass of water and set it on my nightstand while I got dressed.
Genre: New Adult Paranormal / Erotic Romance
Approx. word count - 70k - 80k words
The world holds few secrets for Oracle Elana Anderson, or as her fans know her, Ela Deville. Successful author of paranormal romance, Ela, has a secret: not all her paranormal characters are quite that fictional. She hardly expected she'd trigger a chain of events that might bring about the end of the world via a pesky dragon. Rendered blind to visions of him, Ela’s only way to save her world is to keep the dragon close…very close.
Obitus, the only awake dragon in the Otherworlds, is determined to get back the magic that was stolen from him and secure his position for a good thousand years. Becoming Akai’s new guardian after getting rid of the current one is the best way to it. But that means getting Ela on his side. He’ll bargain and maneuver his way there if he has to, but ends up tormented by the desire to have her for real.
In a game of deals, half-truths and irresistible cravings, does one heart have to break in order for the other to save the world?
About the Author:
Livia lives in Europe where she listens to obscene amounts of music and devours every reading material in sight. When she’s not doing either of the two, she fiddles with anything remotely customizable within reach.
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