No. I’m not dead, but my brain might have gone on hiatus.

You know how sometimes life gets in the way of everything else? Then before you even realize what happened, months have gone by as you’ve muddled through the minutia that clutters up day-to-day life.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean…I’m talking about the boring crap that everyone has to deal with, just so they can actually live.

…Laundry (quite possibly my worst enemy), work (the kind that actually pays the bills), housekeeping (Four children and three dogs, need I elaborate?), school activities (with my children, which is most often pretty fun, but time-consuming nevertheless), marriage/relationship (this I don’t mind, if you know what I mean…*wink,wink*), family time (always a good time of course, my little monkeys freaking rock)…

Well anyway, you get the point. That’s a lot of crap. Every. Day.

I’m not whining, don’t get me wrong, and I’m not here to excuse my prolonged absence. I’m actually here because I feel guilty as hell that I’ve pushed back the release date for the sequel to Control for so damn long! You see, I’ve finished the book with the exception of the final few chapters, but I’m stuck and it’s driving me slap-ass crazy. I know what I want to happen, but for some reason, I can’t get the words out. I just stare at the screen like a fucktarded mess.

So, I had this great idea *insert optimistic grin* to upload the book on Wattpad so that I can go ahead and share it with you guys!! Good plan, right? Yep, I thought so! 

But wait!! Before you click on the link, I need something from y’all. Not much, just a comment or a vote here and there, to let me know I’m on the right track, and hopefully kick my ass over the block my sad little mind has created. Maybe I’m just a needy little bitch who needs a few encouraging words, I don’t know, but I’m not too scared to beg. ;P

Now that is out of the way, you may click on the link and read to your little heart’s content!!

Control Book cover

Just in case you haven’t read it already, here is the link to Control, the first book in the Soul of Voodoo series:
 
 
 
Finally, click the kick ass cover image to read Power, Book Two in the Soul of Voodoo series! 
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Q & A for Saving Rain, The First Novel in The Rain Trilogy

Click the image to purchase at Barnes & Noble

1.  What is the title of your book?

Saving Rain: The First Novel in The Rain Trilogy

2.  What is the genre and age rating?

Saving Rain is a new adult romance with a dark side.  I would recommend this novel for readers 18 and over.

3.  Give a brief synopsis, using your own words.

Saving Rain is the beginning of a poignant story of abuse, human trafficking, and beautiful, redeeming love.  Raina is the abused heroine who tries very hard to forget her dark past.  Kas is the protective, sometimes over-whelming FBI agent who is hell-bent on saving Raina from the men intent on harming her; a task made quite difficult when she refuses to divulge any information.   Raina joins Kas’ team to help infiltrate a formidable and rapidly growing human trafficking ring. 

4.  Is it part of a series? Is the series completed? What made you decide to do a series rather than an epic?

Saving Rain is the first novel in The Rain Trilogy.  The second novel, Healing Rain, is written, but not published yet.  I am currently working on the final novel, After the Rain.  Saving Rain is available now and Healing Rain will be available later this year. 

When I began Saving Rain, I intended on a standalone novel, but I fell in love with the characters.  The plot needed more depth than what I felt a standalone could provide.

5.  Visually describe your main character and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person.

The main character is a five foot six, auburn haired, jade eyed nineteen year old (at the beginning of the novel) who is as attractive on the inside as she is outwardly.  She is not aware of her beauty.  The cover of Saving Rain is a model, not someone I know personally, but when I saw her photo, it is very close to the way I envisioned Raina.

6.  What are his or her biggest faults? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example?

Feeling shame for what other people did to her is Raina’s biggest insecurity. 

EXCERPT:

Raina sits in the cool night air, letting the breeze blow around her, wishing it could blow away her humiliation and shame of Kas seeing the pictures of what her father did to her, his seeing a glimpse into her life before she met him.  She desperately wanted to leave that part of her life behind, keep her past from tainting what she had hoped she and Kas would become.

7.  What are his or her best qualities? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example?

Forgiveness and strength to overcome are Raina’s best qualities.

EXCERPT:

Kas stares at her, bewildered by her innocence, her compassion, her willingness to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, wanting to believe the best in everyone.  He pulls her into his arms and kisses the top of her head.  “You are the most amazing person I’ve ever met Raina Kapture,” he tells her in awe, pushing away his sense of dejection and frustration from the knowledge that ‘Kapture’ isnt’ her real name.  She’s been through enough today and he will not question her about her past again, not today anyway.

8.  Is there a romantic interest for your MC (main character)…or maybe more than one? Would you describe it as antagonistic, angsty, steamy, romantic, and or loaded with sexual tension? 

There is certainly a romantic interest between Raina and Kas that builds throughout the story, and it’s loaded with sexual tension.  

9.  Visually describe the romantic interest(s) and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person.

Raina and Kas are immediately attracted to each other, but neither one admits to the attraction at first.  At the beginning of Saving Rain, Raina had just broken up with her ex-boyfriend after trying to have feelings for him, even though Kas captured her every thought.  Raina is confused and frightened by her attraction for Kas, especially after her past.

10.   Who is your favorite secondary character? Why?

 To me, Kas is almost as much of a main character as Raina is.  I love Kas’ dedication to Raina, his struggle to release his death grip of total control in order to find out more about her at her set pace.  He is a very determined man.  He uses his strength to shelter Raina instead of causing her pain.

11.   Were any of your characters inspired by people you know or have known?

All of the characters are fictional, but I do have to admit that some of the traits were inspired by people I love. 

12.   Post a short excerpt (1-2 pages max) that you think that readers will love…

I chose an excerpt where Raina experiences being undercover.

EXCERPT:

As she walks back to the table, she fakes twisting her heel, feasibly easy to pull off in the unbelievable height of the stilettos.  She spills one of the drinks straight into Victor’s lap.  She quickly grabs the linen napkin and begins dabbing his leg as she discreetly removes the bug from the hem of her dress, attaching it to the under-hem of his blazer while he’s distracted with what her other hand is doing.

Victor lets out what she is sure isn’t a nice word in his native language as he jumps to his feet.  He raises his hand to strike her, but Kas quickly grabs his hand before he can deliver the blow, causing the bodyguards to advance towards them.  Kas realizes that he better make this look convincing or things are going to go south very quickly due to his reaction to Victor’s imminent threat to Raina.

He releases Victor and grabs Raina possessively, “I told you that she’s mine, no one touches her except me.”  He grabs her as roughly as possible without actually hurting her as he growls dangerously, “I will deal with you later.”  He spins her back around so she’s facing Victor and he barks, “Apologize!”

Raina breathlessly whispers her apology, not having to work too hard to feign the fear evident in her eyes, her past giving her a very clear picture of what Kas’ words would mean for her if he wasn’t just playing a role.  Victor eyes them suspiciously, and Kas knows that he has to sell this.  “I apologize for my rashness, but I warned you about not sharing well with others.  I am the only one to touch her, to discipline her.”  He fights to hold in his true emotions and act like the cruel sleaze he’s trying to personify.  He hates himself for the next words he delivers as he grabs Raina, holding her prisoner in his grip. “The sting of my belt will teach you to be more careful.”

The malice in his words has the effect needed, and she blanches, the look in her eyes dissipating any suspicions Victor may have had.  Ambivalence rips through Kas.  He is relieved that she is safe at the moment, knowing what kind of harm can be delivered in the private setting during the minute it would take the undercover agents from Michael’s team to reach them from the bar, but putrid self-disgust fills him from the way he had to elicit painful memories from her to sell the façade.

The need for Kas to get her out of there is overwhelming.  She cringes as he grabs her again and pushes her.  “Wait on me outside,” he yells as she stumbles towards the door.

Victor calmly watches her leave, the blatant disrespect and cruelty bestowed on a lady doesn’t faze him in the least.  Kas would like nothing better at the moment than to rip Victor apart at his aloofness of his treatment of Raina.  He knows it’s a part of Victor’s normal routine to hurt those weaker than himself.

He reins in his temper and smiles at Victor, pulling out a wad of hundred dollar bills, “Allow me to take care of your suit.”

Victor laughs and waves the money away, “It is only a spilled drink, after all.”

“One that I hope didn’t put a damper on a lucrative business deal for the both of us.  I assure you, I will handle her.”

Victor nods towards the door, “Aren’t you worried that she will try to run away?”

Kas bites the inside of his cheek, furthering his self-hatred as he gives the sickening lie, “I found her half-starved, eating from a dumpster when she was fourteen.  I’ve invested a lot of time in training her.  She has only tried to run once, I made sure that night that she will never try to run again.”

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Thanks to author, Karen-Anne Stewart for giving us a special peek into the first novel in The Rain Trilogy, Saving Rain.  Be sure to keep us updated on your progress with future books in this series!

Karen-Anne Stewart

 Click one of the following links to become a fan of Karen-Anne Stewart or follow her current and future projects:

~*~Website~*~Facebook~*~Twitter~*~Goodreads~*~

 To purchase Saving Rain, The First Novel in The Rain Trilogy, click one of the following links:

~*~Barnes & Noble ~*~ Amazon~*~

 

Q & A for Shades of Summer, The Haunting Ruby Series, Book One

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1.  What is the title of your book?

Shades of  Summer, The Haunting Ruby Series Book One

2.  What is the genre and age rating?

Young adult paranormal romance

3.  Give a brief synopsis, using your own words.

Ruby Matthews is a 17 year old girl who is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by the past as she tries to move forward after a tragic loss.  She meets the boy of her dreams at what feels like the worst possible time.

4.  Is it part of a series? Is the series completed? What made you decide to do a series rather than an epic?

The first three books in the series are currently available and I am working on the final installment.  I wanted to do one book for each season of the year.  Each season corresponds directly with the direction Ruby’s life is taking her.

5.  Visually describe your main character and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person.

Ruby is slightly mysterious.  She has black hair with one red streak.  Her hair is naturally curly but she straightens it every day to try to look more ‘normal’.  She is average height, thin build with pretty hazel eyes.  She sees herself as plain but that isn’t how the world sees her.

6.  What are his or her biggest faults? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example? 

Ruby has a problem with lying.  Her lies aren’t malicious but they always tend to bite her in the behind.  She lies because she’s afraid of what other people will think about her and her slightly odd ways.

EXCERPT:

I opened my mouth to tell my dad what I just experienced.  “Dad the light just….” When my brain caught up with my mouth, I shut it pretty fast.  If I told him what I thought just happened, he would think I was crazy, right?  He threatened to send me to a psychiatrist about a thousand different times over the past year, but I was always able to pull my act together long enough for him to change his mind.  This time, I wouldn’t just sound depressed, I would sound insane.  There would be no talking my way out of this one.  So I lied.

7.  What are his or her best qualities? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example? 

Ruby’s best quality is her willingness to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of someone she loves.

EXCERPT:

I knew he was trying to be nice, but he wanted to go check on Rachel and I couldn’t ask him to wait for me.  “Zach, go find Rachel—I’ll stay here until you get back.”

He opened his mouth as though to speak, but no words came out.

“I’ll be fine—you said it yourself, the storm’s over.  I’ll find Coco and then wait for you upstairs.  Go find your sister.  I know you’ll be sick with worry until you know she’s safe.”

I knew it was a tough choice for him.  But who needed him most—Rachel or me?  I watched as he mulled it over in his head.

“Are you sure?  I hate to leave you here alone even on a good day.  If something happens, you won’t even be able to call me.”

“Nothing will happen.  Just go!”  There wasn’t a single worry in my mind that I would be anything but perfectly safe.

“Alright.  Just find her and get out of this basement.  I’ll be back as soon as I can.”  He hugged me close and gave me an extra squeeze.  “Be careful.”

“You, too.”  I watched as he closed the door behind him.  It was only after he was on the other side of it that I started to change my mind.

8.  Is there a romantic interest for your MC (main character)…or maybe more than one? Would you describe it as antagonistic, angsty, steamy, romantic, and or loaded with sexual tension?

Ruby’s romantic interest is Zach Mason. Something happens the first time they meet that simply takes both of their breaths away.  Their relationship is intense in so many different ways.  Paranormal activity forces Ruby to keep him at arm’s length.  She is afraid that Zach will leave her when he finds out the truth about her, so she tries to spare herself that pain by keeping him at a distance.

9.  Visually describe the romantic interest(s) and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person.

Zach Mason is the exact opposite of Ruby on the outside.  He has blond hair, blue eyes, and an athletic build.  He has a smile that would melt anyone’s heart.  Ruby swears that there isn’t a female of any species that wouldn’t find him irresistible.  She’s right.

10.  Who is your favorite secondary character? Why?

Rachel Mason.  Rachel is Zach’s twin sister and Ruby’s new best friend.  I like Rachel because she isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  She tends to say funny things when you least expect it.

11.  Were any of your characters inspired by people you know or have known?

Every character has at least a small piece of someone I have known.

12.  Post a short excerpt (1-2 pages max) that you think that readers will love…

EXCERPT:

I jerked away from the table, nearly burning myself on a candle in the process.  We took one look at each other.  One thing was clear.  We needed to get out of there.

One by one, the candles extinguished themselves around the circle, wispy trails of smoke drifting up in their wake.  Another flash of lightning lit the room and I saw that we were not alone in the attic.  A dark shadow hovered closely behind Rachel.

“It’s behind you!”  I reached out frantically to pull her away but it was too late.  The entity rocketed forward and dove straight into her. 

Rachel’s eyes flew wide and her face contorted into a vision of agony.  I watched helplessly as she doubled over and the shadow figure forced itself out through her stomach and disappeared.  She crumpled to the floor lifelessly.

“No!  Rachel!”  I rushed to her side, afraid of what I was going to find.  I grabbed for her wrist and felt a weak pulse.  I breathed a sigh of relief—I couldn’t be responsible for another death!

“Rachel!  You have to wake up!  We have to get out of here!”  I took her by the shoulders and shook her hard but she bobbled limply like a rag doll.

I sunk to the floor beside her and cried.  A thundering crash resonated behind me.  And then another.  And another.  I opened my eyes to see my books flying off of the shelf one at a time and hurtling across the room.  I had to get us both out of there.

I was too weak to carry her so I gripped her by the ankles and dragged her toward the door, book bombs exploding around us as I went.  Suddenly, a weak groan rose from her throat.

“Rachel, we have to get out of here!  You need to get up—now!”  I slapped her sharply across the face.  It always seemed to work in the movies—it was worth a try.

“Ruby?!  Why are you slapping me?”  Rachel opened her eyes slowly.  “Where are we?”

I could tell when the initial confusion wore off because a look of mortal terror replaced it. 

Just then, the door flung open and a looming figure appeared in the doorway.  A piercing scream escaped my throat as it seized me around the waist and pulled me toward it.

Thanks to author, Joy Elbel for giving us a sneak peek into the first book in The Haunting Ruby Series! Keep your eyes peeled for more from The Haunting Ruby Series, as I’ll be featuring books two and three during the next couple of months, leading up to the release of the final book at the end of the summer!

Joy Elbel

For more information on author Joy Elbel, or her current and future projects, click one of the following links:

 ~*~Blog~*~Website~*~Facebook~*~Twitter~*~

Click the image to purchase Shades of Summer, The Haunting Ruby Series, Book One:

Cover Reveal for Give Me Pleasure, by Celeste Carrara

I am so pleased to be a part of the cover reveal for author Celeste Carrara’s newest book, the fourth book in her Paranormal City Series!

GiveMePleasureBookCoverJPG

~Give Me Pleasure ~

Kayla has needs and desires and thus far hasn’t found a man who can accept her kinks. Then again, she has a hard time accepting them too. She’s suppose to be a good girl. Good girls don’t do the things Kayla fantasizes about.

Mika doesn’t have time for women. His life revolves around his job. As the head of security to vampire king Sebastian, Mika’s only focus is protecting and serving his king. Women, especially the human variety, are used for only two things. Blood and sex.

When Mika and Kayla meet, neither are prepared for the feelings they stir in one another. They shouldn’t be together, too many obstacles, yet they can’t stay away…

Get an in depth look at Give Me Forever, the first book in the Paranormal City Series, from the awesome Q&A completed by author, Celeste Carrara as a part of my Write it Forward Indie Author Initiative!

For more information on author Celeste Carrera, or her Paranormal City Series, click the following links:

~*~ Website ~*~ Twitter ~*~ Facebook ~*~ Goodreads ~*~

Another Peek at Power, (The Soul of Voodoo, Book 2)

BEFORE READING, PLEASE BE AWARE: 

This post contains excerpts from my upcoming book, Power, Book 2 of The Soul of Voodoo Series.  

If you have not read the first book, entitled Control, you need to be aware that this  chapter excerpt may contain spoilers…I do not recommend reading it before you have read Control.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

*This excerpt contains adult content and adult language…lots of adult language.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

CHAPTER  TWO

I cursed my stupid luck when I realized that it was past one in the morning, we wouldn’t be able to see Andre until visiting hours at nine. Frustration and disappointment weighed heavy on me, but rather than pout about it, I decided to use the time to figure out how I could leave the safety of the house and how I could get Andre back to normal.

“Mrs. B, are the gree gree sachets strong enough protection for me to leave the house and visit my bo…uh, friend in the hospital?”

She looked from me to Lance and her smile faded a little.

I am such a giant turd.

I had to stifle the urge to pinch my own head off, not that I could. Unfortunately. Instead, I squeezed Lance’s hand and brought it up to my lips to brush a quick kiss across his strong fingers. He chuckled at the gesture and softened his stance slightly.

I couldn’t keep freaking out over every little slip, this situation was about to get crazy complicated, so whether I liked it or not, it was time for both Lance and me to get thicker skin.

“Yah, y’all be protected. Y’all protectin’ each other now, huh shaa?”

She placed one hand on each of our chests as she spoke and her wrinkled face split into a huge grin. I felt warmth seeping into me from the contact with her hand and glanced down to where it rested. A glow had appeared underneath her small hand and I watched in amazement as it gradually brightened, showing the silhouette of her frail bones.

I looked over to see Lance watching the same phenomenon on his own chest. He looked away from the power display and our eyes met. In the second that it took to register our shared confusion, the glow released a flash and I saw Mrs. B tumble backward.

“Whoa!”

Lance’s tone was soft as he questioned, “Mrs. Broussard, are you okay?”

Lance and I pulled apart and immediately fell to the floor beside Mrs. B’s trembling form. I had seen her fall, and although falling is never graceful, I had to admit that she did it well. She didn’t fall so much as roll backward, like a turtle rolling on its shell.

She lay flat on her back with one thin arm flung over her eyes; her body continued to tremble slightly. I wondered if the flash could be some type of electrical current that we unknowingly produced as some freakish byproduct from merging our souls.

Lance gently tried to move the arm that was covering her face; she had begun to wheeze slightly. As he was slowly lifting her arm away from her face, the wheezes turned into cackles and I let out a breath as I realized that she wasn’t truly hurt. She was laughing her ass off!

Lance’s brows knit together in a tight frown, “Mrs. Broussard, you scared the ever-lovin’ crap out of me. I thought you were hurt.”

“I’m glad you aren’t hurt, because I have to say, that was pretty damn cool,” I proclaimed.

The cackles had died down and tears of mirth were leaking out of the corners of her eyes as she cracked them open to look into Lance’s worried face. She patted his cheek softly and grabbed his hands to use as leverage while she struggled to her feet.  Just as she had calmed enough to speak, and finally answer some questions, the front door flew open to reveal James, looking like crap on a cracker. His face was slack and his body drooped in exhaustion.

“Honey, I’m home,” he said loudly as he stumbled forward a few feet and slammed the door closed.

No sooner than the words had exited his mouth, he fell back against the door and slid to the floor. His eyes were already starting to droop and I knew we wouldn’t be getting any information for the next several hours unless we could drag it out of him before he passed out.

I watched his eyes close heavily and felt anxiety start to bubble up; I didn’t want him to pass out until I had a few answers. I needed to know more about what had happened with Andre. I couldn’t stand envisioning him alone and broken in a hospital bed.  I had healed Lance but didn’t know how or understand why, I needed to figure it out so that I could heal Andre as well.

“James! Wake up heifer!”

He cracked his eyes open and chuckled at me, mumbling something that sounded a little too much like, “tramp” before his lids started to droop again.

“Why you don’t give him a little juice, huh shaa?”

“Uh, sure, if you think that will help,” I responded. “Lance, do you have any juice? I guess orange juice would be best…”

“Mais non! Use your power,” she snapped at me. “Couillon!”

“Okay! Damn, you don’t have to be so bitchy…”

I stomped toward the door, frowning and muttering under my breath, “…call me a dumbass one more time…”

I squat down next to James, unsure of what to do, so I grabbed one of his big hands and held it between both of mine. Nothing happened, but I would be damned before I asked Mrs. B for help.

Her attitude was wearing on my nerves and as grateful as I was for everything she had done, I needed a break from her. I was becoming agitated; it felt as if her eyes were burning a hole in the back of my neck.

After a few more seconds with no change, I decided that it probably wasn’t working because my mind was busy directing a multitude of negative thoughts toward the wrinkled old crone who stood behind me.

I closed my eyes and imagined myself as I pushed the negative thoughts away and locked them up behind a heavy door. Once I had removed the distraction, I focused on the warm hand that I held, noting the weight of it and the calloused ridges along his knuckles. I felt a slight tingle along my palms and I smiled as they began to glow softly.

I felt a burst of pride when James’ eyes opened after only a few seconds.  After a minute, he pulled his hand free, sat up, and then leaned back against the door. His pleased expression faded into wary confusion as he stared at me with narrowed eyes.

“Damn, ho! How did you get so strong so fast?”

He suddenly shifted his gaze to Lance, and his mouth dropped open. His eyes widened comically as he shifted them back and forth between Lance and me. He was speechless for the moment, but I knew it wouldn’t last long.

Lance grinned and stated jokingly, “I think you broke him.”

I scooted back quickly and covered my ears, Lance’s statement snapped him out of his bug-eyed trance and it was only a matter of time before the squealing started.

“OH. MY. GAWD!!”

Lance and Mrs. B. flinched at the sudden verbal explosion.

Heh, heh, heh, I totally called it.

“You porked her!!”

“Porked? Really, James?”

I could have been talking to a piece of pork, for all it mattered. James was in the zone, so I just sat back and got a little more comfortable while I waited for him to get it all out.

“OH MY GAWD!! You banged Buff McHunkypants!! Is he ‘Buff’ all over, Celie? Can I call him Buff Thickchubbypants now?”

Oh my, I think that might be his best one yet.

I turned my head to look up at Lance and had to stifle a giggle at his expression of shock. He looked slightly queasy as his mouth fell open and the color drained from his face. Mrs. B, on the other hand, looked positively gleeful! I didn’t even attempt to cover up my giggle as I watched her gawking at his pants while she surreptitiously scooted toward him.

“I’ve always heard that everything is bigger in Texas, Celie. Is it? Huh? Is it, Celie,” James questioned conspiratorially and nudged me with his elbow.

He then turned his face toward Lance again and finally shut up as he took notice of what Lance was wearing…or, more specifically, what he was not wearing. I felt a little sorry for him as he began stuttering, I knew exactly what James was thinking and nodded in silent agreement.

Yep, Lance is truly magnificent.

He had turned slightly, the top button of his jeans was unbuttoned and the waistband hung precariously low, revealing the upper curve of his muscular buttocks.  I sighed heavily as I visually followed the curve of his back, finally reaching the wide expanse of his shoulders.

The muscles of his shoulders bunched as he unfolded his arms from across his chest and dropped them to his sides. Three sets of eyes flew to his abdominal muscles to ogle them shamelessly as he tensed in embarrassment. I could hear James’ unsteady breathing beside me and smiled as I realized I sounded the same. My fingers twitched involuntarily as my tactile memory recalled the heat of his golden skin and the springy texture of the light brown hair sprinkled across his chest.

I tried, without success, to tear my eyes away from him and focus on something else…anything else. Unfortunately, my eyes chose not to get on board with that plan. Instead, my gaze merrily followed the narrow path of hair down his chest as it dissected the muscular ridges of his abdomen, and then disappeared underneath the worn zipper of his jeans.

“Prrrrrrrrrrr.”

Uh, what was that?! Please tell me I did not just purr!

I looked around and pretended that nothing had happened, only relaxing after I felt sure that I had been successful. I took a deep breath and turned, making eye contact with James who offered me a gentle smile.

I returned the smile, glad to see that he had finally settled down. I had a pretty good idea how to kick start my healing power, but I needed to know exactly what happened when Andre had his seizure. A coma was significantly more serious than fatigue, so I would still need some direction from him and probably Mrs. B.

“James, I need to know…”

I stopped talking as he held his hand in front of my face.

“Hold that thought,” he said as he hopped up and walked through Lance’s house into his kitchen.

He had been gone a moment before I heard the refrigerator open and the clinking sound of dishes, and then he was walking back toward us, carefully balancing a small plate in between his large hands. I looked at Lance questioningly but he simply shrugged and raised his eyebrows, appearing equally confused.

I wondered briefly if James was working on some kind of spell, but my confusion turned to discomfort as he drew near.  He set the little plate down right in front of me and I felt my stomach knot as I looked at the little saucer of milk.

Son of a whore!  He heard me, dammit.

“Here Celie, I thought you might be hungry,” he said as he softly stroked my head. “Good kitty.”

“Just shut up, you really don’t have much room to talk.”

James smiled broadly and shook his head in agreement, “I know… All I can say is, damn!”

I stifled a giggle and started to stand up, reaching out for Lance’s hand when he offered it. As soon as our hands connected, he lifted me straight up into his arms and pulled me tight against his chest in a basket hold. I blinked up at him curiously, but he ignored me and turned toward Mrs. B.

“Mrs. Broussard, why don’t you and James head over to your house and fill each other in on what you know of our history,” Lance stated calmly.

“Uh, Lance,” I asked slowly, drawing out the sound of his name. “Are you going to put me down anytime soon?”

“Nope,” he replied succinctly, and then continued to speak with James and Mrs. B.

“I’m through playing Scooby Doo with this shit, so here is what we are going to do…” his voice was polite but firm as he took charge.

I stared up at him in amazement as he began to compile a comprehensive list of questions he wanted answered before we headed to see Andre at the hospital. His voiced rolled out, smooth and confident, as he listed generic concerns, and then broke them down, identifying where we needed background information to complete specific tasks. Mrs. B and James wore twin expressions of rapture as they listened to him, their heads bobbed in unison as he identified his expectations.

He was the definitive leader, gaining control over a situation that had been uncontrollable thus far. I didn’t hesitate to jump on board as he spoke, but that didn’t really surprise me, I had complete faith in him and his ability to handle whatever curveball was thrown at us.  My mind wandered back to through our relationship and I marveled at the level of trust I had in him after such a short time. Still, I never questioned it and I knew instinctively that I would never need to.

“First thing that we need to do is get Andre back on his feet, he’s part of this and we need him,” his arms tightened around me imperceptibly, but his face remained impassive while he substantiated Andre’s connection to our future.

“I think I’m correct in assuming that there is more to this curse than we had originally thought?”

After receiving simultaneous nods from James and Mrs. B, his brows knit together in a small frown of concentration and he quieted for a moment.

He is so freaking sexy.

I felt a blast of heat and a sultry smile slid across my lips.

My eyes traveled slowly over his face, lingering on the firm lines of his mouth. As I stared, the corners deliberately tilted up into a smirk and I gasped, feeling the heat pool in my belly before burning a path straight south, causing me to wiggle around in his arms.

“Alright, that’s enough for tonight. We should get some rest if we want to be at the hospital for visiting hours.”

Mrs. B and James headed for the front door, I vaguely listened as they discussed what they would start working on, and where James would sleep for the next several days. We had all agreed to stay here until we understood a little more about what was going on and what we could do about it.

Mrs. B had already walked out, but James turned around to blow me a kiss before following her. I laughed at his gallantry and blew him a kiss in return as he turned toward the door.  However, before he made it through, Lance called out to him and waited while he turned back with an expectant look on his face.

“I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. The change that you noticed between Cecelia and me, is due to the merging of our souls,” he stated as if it were the most normal thing ever.

James’ look of shock was priceless, but I actually worried for his health and well-being after Lance’s next bombshell.

“Also, I did not bang Cecelia; you don’t bang someone who makes your soul sing.” He cocked his eyebrow up and grinned, showing off his dimple as he added, “However, you can rest safe knowing that I’ll be making her body sing be tonight.”

Without saying another word, Lance turned and headed toward the bedroom.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Yeah, yeah, I know. You hate me, right?  You know what they say…you can hate the game, but you can’t hate the player.  😉