Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pearls by Madeleine Oh

Pearls by Madeleine  Oh
Read an excerpt


by Madeleine Oh
cover art by Marteeka Karland
ISBN: 978-1-60521-467-2
Genre(s): Guilty Pleasures (Contemporary), BDSM
Theme(s): Ménage, Bisexual and More
Length: Montage


Pearls: Pearls make the perfect anniversary gift... wherever you wear them... like a negligee, it's all about who's removing them. And how. (BDSM)
The Green Man: A woman. A car. A lonely road... sometimes when things go crash in the night there's more at work than just the weather. (Paranormal, Dark Fantasy)
Jasmine: Be careful what you say to a writer. Especially a mystery writer -- particularly if she happens to have been your childhood sweetheart -- and the woman you dumped two decades ago. Sometimes revenge is a dish best served cold. There's always room for another twist in Jasmine's plots... (Bisexual)
Women Know: Jamie's Turkish lover has asked that she follow his cultures' traditions. But a bikini wax is more than she's willing to have done in her local salon. A visit to his sister seems in order. Her lover assures her "Our women know what to do." And he's right... (Ménage; Bisexual)
Publisher's Note: Vintage Madeleine Oh -- Four stories from long ago revisited.Excerpt:
Madeleine Oh
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Madeleine Oh

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

"For you."
When Robert speaks, in his slow, deep, "I've got a surprise for you" voice, he gets my undivided attention. Chicken with Holy Basil can't compete.
This was our wedding anniversary and I expected a surprise. But what? A bright, red butt plug with a green ribbon around the base? A pale-as-the-inside-of-an-oyster shell vibrating egg? Quilted purple silk restraints? That had covered Christmas and Easter and my birthday.
Our first wedding anniversary could be anything.
He set a black, velvet jeweler's box on the table. Had Robert turned conventional? Buying me a string of pearls or perhaps an add a bead necklace? Possible, but highly improbable.
He nudged the box closer to my wine glass. "Open it."
I had it opened just enough to glimpse the white satin lining in the lid when our waiter reappeared. All he wanted was reassurance our meal was perfect but I almost slammed the lid on my finger. Maybe it was matinee length pearls, but you can't be too cautious in public. Not when you're married to Robert Kelly.
Checking to make sure no solicitous waiter or maitre d' loitered, I snapped open the velvet lid. It was pearls, all right, but I'd never wear these to the opera -- I hoped.
Nestling against the velvet padding and almost reflected in the gleaming satin lining of the lid were six large pearls, strung on a fine twisted cord, one end sporting a polished metal ring, plenty big enough for hooking and tugging with a strong middle finger.
I did an involuntary Kegel exercise imagining how they'd feel pushed one by one up my asshole. Knowing how the butt plug stretched and stimulated as Robert pulled it out, my stomach churned jasmine rice and holy basil imagining six round beads exiting my tight opening one by painful one.
I was so wet thinking about it, I was scared I'd leave a damp patch on the upholstered seat. Wearing no panties didn't help in the least. I should be used to that by now, but I wasn't. I never crossed the street without thinking about my mother's warnings in case I got run over.
Sitting in the Thai Pavilion, smelling my own arousal while Robert smiled promises at me across the pink linen table cloth, I wanted to shove back my chair, grab my husband's hand and drag him home to bed. But Robert ordered mango mousse, which I ate one tiny bronze spoonful at a time and never tasted a thing.
By the time he'd sipped the last of his decaffeinated espresso and finished signing the credit card slip, I could feel myself soaking through my skirt and I was panting as I settled on the soft leather upholstery of Richard's Mercedes. Only a ten minute drive, fifteen max, even if every light was against us, and we'd be home.
I was ready and willing for whatever Robert had in mind, even six gleaming pearls up my asshole.
What Robert had in mind was having me strip in the garage. I half-expected him to fuck me over the hood of the car, but no, while I was stepping out of my shoes and getting ready to roll my lace-top stockings down, he grabbed me by the waist and tossed me over his shoulder. My head was hanging halfway down his back, face rubbing against his Tussore silk jacket, while he held my ankles in one hand and stroked my butt with the other. I was tempted to wriggle and complain, but with my ass literally under his hand I decided against it. That part of me was going to get enough attention tonight, no point in getting it reddened as well. Besides, I was more worried about one of the neighbors seeing as Robert carried me across the breezeway into the house.
Once inside, Robert eased me down his body. Every inch, from my shins and knees to my boobs and my face, rubbed the warm, rough surface of his jacket as he lowered me until my feet touched the cool, tiled kitchen floor.
"Happy anniversary," he said and kissed me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Star Haven 1: Sinful by Anne Kane

Star Haven 1: Sinful by Anne  Kane
Read an excerpt

Star Haven 1: Sinful

by Anne Kane
cover art by Karen Fox
ISBN: 978-1-60521-328-6
Genre(s): Futuristic, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi
Series: Star Haven
Length: Novella

When Breanne is captured by an interstellar bounty hunter, she is furious. Her mission is to rescue a fellow Stargazer who fell prey to pirates, and she can't do that from the brig of Roark's spaceship.
When she convinces him that they should join forces, though, they find out just how powerful they can be together. The pirates don't stand a chance against their combined wrath.
Star Haven: Sinful
Anne Kane
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Anne Kane

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

Breanne twisted and turned, attempting to loosen the man's grip. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" She let out her breath in an exasperated hiss. "I'm not some little station bitch you can pick up and use for your pleasure." Her legs flailed helplessly in the air as she dangled from his broad shoulder, his arm wrapped around her midsection like an iron band.
The man just laughed and shifted his grip a little higher, his biceps pressing hard on her ass. "Feisty little thing, aren't you?" He pointed an access card at the barricade, pausing for a brief moment while the computer scanned the card. The barrier dissolved to allow them into the outer ring of the space station that housed the docking rings for travelers' spaceships. "I can see how you managed to get this far. You bluff better than a moon-cat trying to scavenge food for her kits. Your bond-master warned me about your acting skills."
"My bond-master?" Breanne stopped squirming and tilted her head to look over her shoulder at him. If he wasn't busy kidnapping her, he'd be just the kind of man she drooled over. At least six and a half feet tall, he had the broad shoulders and wide chest of a man who didn't spend his days riding herd on a desk. Long and luxurious, his dark hair brushed his shoulders in thick waves. She let her gaze slide down to his groin, where the skintight uni-suit stretched over the thick bulge of his cock. Possibilities danced through her mind and she felt heat staining her cheeks.
She gave her head a mental shake, and met his amused gaze. "You've got the wrong person. I'm a free woman. I don't have a bond-master."
"Right. You just happen to be a dead ringer for an escaped bond-servant who was last seen heading for this station aboard a stolen flitter craft." He chuckled, the sound deep and rich. "We'll see what Mr. Keiro has to say about that when I call to collect the bounty on you."
Oh great. Breanne rolled her eyes in exasperation. This Keiro person would confirm the mistake, but not before she lost precious time. And time was not on her side.
She'd hoped to meet up with the Stargazer she'd been tracking before Talia was whisked off-station again by her dubious crew. Rumor had it that Stargazer Talia was not with the crew of the Alpher of her own free will. As a member of the ruling Triad of Star Haven, it was Breanne's sworn duty to protect all Stargazers, and she took her duty very seriously.
"Perhaps you can contact this Keiro by vid-call and have him identify me?" That should end this little farce in a hurry.
"Nice try. You know he abhors the use of vid-tech." The behemoth ran his hand across her thighs in an overly familiar caress. "He set up the bounty by remote server-bot. You'll be home soon enough. You might want to consider how you plan to work off the reward he offered for your return. Bond-masters generally aren't the generous type."
Breanne groaned. She could see her chance of intercepting the Alpher and talking to Talia slipping away. She twisted her wrists, hoping to loosen the plas-tek he'd wrapped around them. No luck. The damn man knew how to tie a bond. Frustration flared in her. "You're not listening, you jerk. You have the wrong woman!" She shrieked, more in surprise than pain as the idiot had the audacity to bring his hand down on her ass in a stinging slap.
"You need to learn some manners, Breanne. Calling me names is not going to put you on my good side."
"I don't want to be on your good side." She glared at him. "I don't want to be anywhere near you."
The man took a sharp right turn and headed down one of the access corridors. "That's too bad, because I'm the only person you're going to see for the next ten solar cycles. You might want to reconsider your attitude. Life could be a lot more pleasant if you cooperate."

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Magical Forest: Snowflower's Bear by Marteeka Karland

The Magical Forest: SnowFlower's Bear by Marteeka
Read an excerpt

The Magical Forest: SnowFlower's Bear

by Marteeka Karland
cover art by Marteeka Karland
ISBN: 978-1-60521-463-4
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy, Hot Flashes
Theme(s): Ménage, Bisexual and More, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures, Gay and Lesbian
Series: The Magical Forest
Length: Hot Flash

Snow and Rose, two Faeries from the Magical Forest, are chased back to their earthen home by lightning witches during a late spring storm. When they run into an injured bear, the last thing these lovers expect is to get to know the bear a whole lot better...
The Magical Forest: SnowFlower's Bear
Marteeka Karland
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Marteeka Karland

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

Spring in the Magical Forest was no less ferocious than it was anywhere else in the world. The storms each year brought much needed rain, but sometimes even the forest Faeries had to take cover when the wind gods and thunder titans came out to play.
"Still think building the house in the bloody tree was a good idea?" Snow, the winter Faerie, huddled under a table with Rose, her best friend and lover. She shook so hard her teeth chattered together. Snow was pretty sure she'd never been so scared in her life. Where the thunder titans were, so were the lightning witches.
Snow had always been convinced the lightning witches had a taste for winter Faeries. Especially for brunch. True, no one she knew had actually been fried by a lightning witch, but in her mind, it was better not to take chances.
"Sure. It's just not a good idea to live here in spring."
The two Faeries had been together since they were children and were pretty much inseparable. Strange, considering they were so very different, not only in magic, but in appearance. Snow's ivory white skin was contrasted sharply by Rose's lovely ebony complexion. Where Snow was lithe and almost scrawny in body, Rose was voluptuous and lush.
Another flash of lightning was followed by a deafening crash of thunder, and both women squealed. Rose giggled almost immediately afterward.
"Wow! That was a close one!" She continued to giggle, and Snow would have ground her teeth in frustration if she hadn't been so scared.
She punched Rose in the arm. "You're completely nuts! The lightning witches will get us for sure if you keep mocking them."
"Lighten up, Snow. They're not going to cook you for dinner."
"Do you really want to chance that?"
Another sharp flash and another deafening crash punctuated her question. The floor actually shook, and Snow was sure she could feel the little house swaying in the branches.
When Rose didn't answer, Snow responded to her own question. "That's what I thought." She waited a few heartbeats before scrambling up from her hiding place under the table. "I'm getting out of here and back to the earth house. Stay if you want, but don't expect me to come after you when the lightning witches cart you off."
"I'm not saying you're right --" Rose followed her just as quickly. "-- but I'd hate to leave you to brave the wind gods out there by yourself."
The two climbed down the tree quickly -- they didn't dare try to fly in the strong winds for fear of ripping their delicate wings to shreds -- and clung to each other as they ran the few hundred feet to the little hill where they'd originally carved out Snow's house. Rose had said she'd wanted to live in the treetop and overlook the forest in all its glory. Snow had replied that she was sure Rose just wanted to look out over her domain like a queen. Rose had scoffed, but winked at Snow, never truly denying it.
Now, they squealed with each clap of thunder and darted through the rain to the shelter of the earthen house. Just as they reached the door, a soft growl stopped them. Snow sucked in a breath and gripped Rose's arm tightly.
"Ohmigod! A bear!"
"I know it's a bear, Snow." Rose clutched at Snow, but sounded irritated even through her fear. Snow knew her friend well enough to recognize she was trying to hide what she perceived as weakness. Besides, Rose trembled as violently as Snow did. "He looks like he's been hurt. Look." She pointed to the bear's front paw, which was blackened around the snow-white fur. "His paw is burnt."
The great bear held it off the ground, favoring it. He didn't make any move toward them, or even growl at them again. If anything, he studied them curiously.
"You think the lightning witches got him?" Snow glanced at the sky, wary of the deadly bolts the witches spun.
"Maybe…" Snow recognized the pensive look on Rose's face and sighed.
"OK. Come on. Might as well help him inside now. I don't want to waste time arguing about it. I just want away from the lightning witches. They make me nervous."
Rose raised an eyebrow at her. "Really? I hadn't noticed."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prowleryns: Dimitri's Devil by Kate Hill

Prowleryns: Demitri's Devil by Kate  Hill

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Prowleryns: Demitri's Devil

by Kate Hill
cover art by Reneé George
ISBN: 978-1-60521-334-7
Genre(s): Paranormal
Theme(s): Shapeshifters
Series: Prowleryns
Length: Novella

Patricia walks the line between life with her Prowleryn tribe and life with humans. Unfortunately times are desperate for her people and she agrees to mate with the leader of a foreign tribe that is far more traditional than her own.
Demitri believes in discipline and expects those around him to obey his commands. His new mate is the most impossible female he has ever met, yet he can't resist her.
Patricia can't understand how she can be attracted to such an unbearable man, yet no one has ever made her feel like Demitri. She soon realizes her arguments with Demitri are only mating games. When he's threatened by a power-hungry Prowleryn, nothing and no one will keep her from standing by him, regardless of the danger.
Prowleryns: Demitri's Devil
Kate Hill
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Kate Hill

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

"Patricia, he's cute," Ivonne said with a smile.
The women gazed at a photo of the man Patricia had agreed to marry. He wore his dark blond hair short and even in the picture his wide-set blue eyes pierced her soul. His angular face, with its strong nose and neatly trimmed beard, was both handsome and rugged. Though his body wasn't visible in the photo, Patricia knew it to be tall and well-muscled. In his Prowleryn form he looked like a strange but compelling combination of a lion and a tiger -- long and powerful with huge paws and a dark gold coat faintly streaked with brownish stripes.
Patricia's stomach tightened with a combination of apprehension and attraction. Ivonne's description of Demitri was the world's biggest understatement. Her betrothed wasn't merely cute. He was the most gorgeous hunk Patricia had ever seen, and that's what bothered her. She knew she'd jumped at Demitri's proposal for stupid reasons. He was the worst possible choice for a mate, but he aroused her like no man she'd ever met.
Turning her attention to Patricia, Ivonne studied her carefully and finally said, "There's one thing I have to ask. How does it feel, knowing you're going to marry a man you've never met?"
"Oh, we've met."
Ivonne lifted an eyebrow. "Really? Kane is under the impression this is a traditional Prowleryn matched marriage."
Prowleryns, a race of shapeshifting cats, now lived secretly among the humans who had hunted them to near extinction. Patricia had grown up among the Prowleryns of Colorado, daughter of the tribal leader. As a rare Prowleryn female, she had been raised to understand that her duty was to marry and mate in the customary way, but Patricia had other plans. She had learned not only to appreciate humans, but to enjoy living as a modern American woman. That meant selecting her own mate when she was ready. At least that's what she'd thought until she'd met Demitri.
"It'll be traditional all right. Everything about the bastard is traditional." Patricia sighed deeply. It felt good to finally talk about this. She'd been hiding her obsession with Demitri for so long. "He and I met a year ago. His tribal leader had a meeting with my father."
"But you never told Kane?"
Kane, a Prowleryn male who had come to live with her tribe ten years ago, was like an older brother to Patricia, and she considered him her best friend. A few years ago he had moved to Alaska to open a resort. He and Ivonne had recently fallen in love and Patricia was happy for them. At least they had chosen each other with no strings attached. She almost envied Kane for this freedom.
"I thought if I came way out here to Alaska I might be able to forget about Demitri. That's the main reason I took the job as resort manager when Kane offered it."
"Patricia, if you haven't been able to get the man out of your mind for over a year, then you're making the right decision."
Patricia snorted and kicked back in the chair by the desk in the resort office. "You don't know Demitri. He's inflexible, arrogant, chauvinistic, and has no sense of humor."
"So his only positive quality is good looks?"
"Apparently," Patricia said, her voice just above a whisper. She drew a deep breath as she recalled looking into his intense blue eyes. Even after so much time had passed she could still smell his wonderful, sexy scent and feel the warmth of his callused palm against hers when they'd shaken hands. He was so tall and powerful. Patricia was a statuesque woman who spent hours exercising. She was quite strong, even for a Prowleryn female, and could even hold her own among the males on a hunt. But Demitri made her feel so feminine and --

Saturday, July 24, 2010

No Turning Back by Mikala Ash

No Turning Back by Mikala  Ash
Read an excerpt

No Turning Back

by Mikala Ash
cover art by Reneé George
ISBN: 978-1-60521-444-3
Genre(s): Futuristic, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Theme(s): Vampires
Length: Novella
Katie Crusoe has an unusual career: for a fee she'll protect you from vampires.
But what if you're a vampire and there is someone special, a mortal, you want kept safe from a marauding vampire elder?
That's the predicament Anton Beziers faces. So he hires the brash and overly confident Katie, and that's where it all goes wrong. The billionaire industrialist unexpectedly falls in love with the vampire killer.
From the penthouse suite of the world's tallest building, to the refloated island of Neo-Tuvalu to the slopes of the Himalayas, Katie will do what she gets paid for, even if this time her payment is lust and for the first time in her life, love.

No Turning Back
Mikala Ash
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Mikala Ash

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

A drop of crimson, dark and cold, oozed sluggishly from the pale flesh of Algernon Gasgoyne's wrist. He held himself steady over Dominique's heaving breasts, bringing his wrist slowly, inexorably, toward her mouth. Her wanton tongue snaked out, oh so eager to taste eternity. The drop swelled, quivered and prepared to fall between her luscious kiss-bruised lips.
That's when I struck.
"I warned you," I yelled. "No turning!"
Gasgoyne stiffened and threw his arm out to fend me off, sending the drop of blood spinning across the room. I held him at bay while Dominique writhed beneath him in frustration. She desperately wanted his blood. She wanted to be turned, but her wishes did not concern me. Besides, she was under his sway, a victim of his oxytocin-saturated pheromones and the psychic power of his mind. She'd jump off a cliff if he told her to. So her moans of frustration, which quickly turned into growls of hatred, were simply an annoyance and nothing I'd not seen before.
Gasgoyne shot me a baleful glare before his beguiling features froze in agony and he toppled over, crimson flowing around the carbon fiber stake I'd thrust through his ribs and into his cold heart.
With a snarl, Dominique lunged at me, and I laid one on her jaw that put her lights out.
"Bitch!" Gasgoyne muttered before his lights dimmed as well, though permanently, I hoped.
I'd been called far worse and I could, at a stretch, forgive him for being peeved at my penetrating intervention. He should have listened to my warning. He was over a hundred years old and should have known better than to not take a woman like me seriously. It's the twenty-first century, for goodness sakes.
I pulled my beautifully crafted Sumatran machete from my bag and quickly lopped off his head. His eyes glared at me as I placed his heavy cranium into a large plastic baggie I carry for such purposes. I would have to dispose of it elsewhere to remove all possibility of him reconstituting himself in some weird Hollywood fashion.
As I closed the bag's zip lock, the head and the rest of his body, spilled fluids and all, crumbled into light gray dust. Natural, I guess, for a vampire that old. It was a relief in any case. If he'd been younger, like a normal mortal age, he would have remained like any corpse and would have taken some explaining. As it was, five minutes vacuuming would remove all trace of his foul existence, and the hotel robo-maid probably wouldn't even notice. Well, maybe it would, but it'd have no idea what the gray talcum-like silhouette really was.
I wiped the dusty machete on a kitchen towel, and then retrieved the stake from the floor -- good carbon fiber is expensive -- and with an emphatic snap, I collapsed its telescoping shaft into a convenient five-inch length. With the satisfaction of a job completed bubbling up into a self-congratulatory smile, I dropped it into my bag along with the machete and baggie of skull dust.
I hefted the comatose Dominique over my shoulder and was halfway to the door when it burst open and two exquisitely dressed vampires strode into the hotel room. The male was an attractive blond-haired surfer type dressed in an expensive Italian business suit. The female was a stunning raven-haired Asian. She was likewise dressed in an immaculate business suit of European design, and I guessed she was Thai. She was my height but more athletic, whereas I'm, as they say, waifish in a runway model sort of way. "Put you in a strong wind and you'll blow away," my mother used to say. She could talk. She did one day, blow away that is.
I can spot vampires anywhere. Their oxytocin makes love to your nostrils, and if your senses are tuned to it, their scent is like the sweetest chocolate. On top of that, their psychic emanations are like a pulsating aura of lust.
With my hands full carrying the unconscious Dominique, I decided I'd have to talk my way out of this one. As far as I knew, none of Gasgoyne's get (vampire offspring) were nearby. I'd have to deal with them eventually, but from what I hear he wasn't well liked so the probability of a vendetta against me was slim. If they didn't belong to Gasgoyne, who were they?
The male beat me to it and spoke first. "Katie Crusoe?"
"That's me," I said. "And you are?"
"Bjorn," he replied through a lopsided smile that I bet got him everywhere with young women.
"I'm Dao," the girl added in an accented but lyrical tone, her eyes alive with salacious intent.
That information was, of course, of absolutely no help to me. With the possibility that these were in fact Gasgoyne's get bent on revenge, I felt the need to explain myself before they launched themselves into an attack. "Listen, I'm sorry about Gasgoyne, truly, but I warned him that he was not to turn Dominique, that she was under my protection. He ignored me."
Dao glanced at the pile of dust. "A mistake, obviously."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hot Blooded by Lizzie Lynn Lee

Hot-Blooded by Lizzie Lynn Lee
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by Lizzie Lynn Lee
cover art by Lizzie Lynn Lee
ISBN: 978-1-60521-456-6
Genre(s): BDSM
Theme(s): Ménage, Gay and Lesbian
Length: Novella

Adam longs for a Dominant. And not just any Dominant, he has his eyes on Jacques "Jake" d'Allemagne, a man as sexy as sin who has made Adam's blood boil ever since he first laid eyes on him. As the owner of a fabled club in the French Quarter, Jake is a hot catch. Many compete for his affection and a night in his bed. When Adam finds out Jake's lover has been cheating on him behind his back, Adam sets his mind on attracting Jake's attention. Maybe what a Dom needs is a submissive who can love him unconditionally. A sub who is as hot-blooded as the Dom himself...
Lizzie Lynn Lee
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Lizzie Lynn Lee

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

He burned Adam like no other. From the moment Jake set his eyes on him the flirtation had started, and by the time he decided to take Adam into the coat closet of his club, Adam felt as if someone had set him on fire.
Jacques "Jake" d'Allemagne was the owner of Club Clover; a man so sexy he should be branded a sin. But Jake was so much more than just a walking, talking, modern-day Adonis. The man was hypnotic; from the way he carried himself, haughty and proud with an air of dominance that oozed from his every pore, and the way he spoke in his deep, French-accented dulcet tones, everything about him sent shivers down his spine. Adam Jones had longed for him ever since he stumbled into the club a few months back.
Each time Adam visited Club Clover, he tried to attract Jake's attention. But Jake hadn't responded until now. Pure luck? Maybe. Adam liked to think he was an opportunist. A close friend of his had confided Jake was in a rocky relationship at the moment, and Adam saw this as his chance to lure him into his bed. Devious? Kind of. Jake was a hot catch, and the man Adam wanted more than anything else in the world.
The closet was dark and more spacious than Adam had expected. Each wall was lined with rows of empty wooden hangers, giving them ample room to move. The cacophonous noise from the main floor was muffled as soon as Jake slammed the door closed. A strip of filtered light peeked through the crack of the door, illuminating the enclosed space like an invitation to a dirty game. Here they were. Alone. Just the two of them, hidden from the world. Adam's heart pounded hard. Feverish heat came rushing to his head. Jake didn't speak a word after he closed the door. He looked at Adam with an unmistakable hunger in his eyes, making Adam shiver. Excited. Several heartbeats of silence passed between them before Jake pounced. He grabbed Adam's arm and pushed him against the door.
Adam's breath caught in his throat. He wanted to protest about his rough treatment, but before he could get a word out, Jake was there, plastering his mouth on Adam's, suffocating him with a greedy kiss. Adam tensed. His cock hardened under his briefs. Fire seared in his veins, awakening the realization that what he'd been craving for a long time had finally come true. A soft moan escaped him when Jake's tongue pried his mouth open. Jake seemed impatient.
Jake pressed his body against him, trapping Adam between the door and his solid bulk. His cock hardened to the point it hurt. His balls swelled against the teeth of the zipper while his shaft throbbed in cadence with his beating heart. Jake kissed him deeply, making his lungs feel like they were about to burst from his rib cage. Jake was so possessive. He didn't give him any chance to breathe. Adam trembled. No one had ever made him this frisky by simple kisses. No one.
Just as Adam thought he was about to faint from the lack of oxygen, Jake broke the kiss and slammed his hips against his, grinding his hard erection on Adam's. Adam swallowed a lungful of breath, and his mind muddied. Jake's kiss had wiped his coherent thoughts blank for a moment. He might have forgotten his name for a second too.
He stared at Jake, a creature so perfect it hurt his eyes. Standing over six feet five with ripped muscles encased in a simple tee, Jake d'Allemagne was a delectable sight. His caramel-colored skin made Adam's mouth water. He wanted to sink his teeth into his flesh, sampling the salty-sweet taste of his skin. Wanted to know how it felt to have his body against him, naked with nothing in between. Wanted to kneel before him and worship him as the center of his universe -- one he couldn't live without.
And most of all, Adam wanted to know how it would feel to have Jake fill him, stretch him, pound him, and fuck him to oblivion.
Wanted. So fucking wanted.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gemini Rising (Collection) by Eve Vaughn

Gemini Rising (Collection) by Eve  Vaughn
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Gemini Rising (Collection)

by Eve Vaughn
cover art by Sahara Kelly
ISBN: 978-1-60521-439-9
Genre(s): Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi, BDSM, Collections
Theme(s): Interracial
Length: Collection


The Reluctant Concubine

When Callie is sold into the harem of a wealthy king, she must entertain her new owner... but she doesn't have to fall in love with him. King Blaze has grown bored with the women in his harem. He wants something new, something different. He wants... Callie. His pride will not allow him to beg for the favors of a mere concubine, and he's never taken a woman against her will. Still, the more she resists, the more determined Blaze is to win her. Can he find a way to bridge the chasm that separates them?

London Falling
London will do anything to avoid marriage to General Zahn. She dreams of a man with a gentle spirit who'll nurture and love her without trying to force his will on her. Sci-fi geek Matt Taylor can't believe a hot alien babe has crash landed in his back yard! She's in quite a predicament and he's more than willing to help her find her lost sister, no matter how dangerous the quest. Trouble is he's falling for the gorgeous London. But can this beautiful woman ever find it in her heart to return his love?

Paris Burning
Humiliated when his intended flees their betrothal dinner, Zahn promises his king he will find and bring her home -- but not before she's been properly punished. It doesn't matter that he doesn't love London. What Zahn doesn't count on is the instant lust London inspires when he finally recaptures her. Maybe their union won't be so dull after all! Paris Randall doesn't believe there's a man out there who excites her enough to make a commitment, but when a tall dark hunk whisks her on his spaceship she changes her attitude. The attraction is instant, but the only problem -- he keeps calling her London.
This collection contains the previously released novellas The Reluctant Concubine, London Falling, and Paris Burning.
Gemini Rising
Eve Vaughn
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Eve Vaughn

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

"Great, this is just what I need," Callie Randall mumbled to herself as the sky opened up to release a torrential downpour. She absolutely hated driving in the rain, but it couldn't be helped. One of her babies was sick, so she'd risk a hurricane if that's what it took to get her little one to the doctor. She hoped her neighbor would be all right with Paris while she was gone.

Taking a quick look in the rearview mirror to check on London, Callie smiled. The little girl was sleeping without an apparent care in the world. Sometimes Callie wished she could be two all over again, with no cares or worries instead of being an unwed mother with twin daughters, a heavily mortgaged house and struggling dance studio.

Though she didn't regret having her beautiful daughters, she often wondered what might have been if she hadn't fallen for Terrell's bullshit. She'd believed that he'd stick by her, but the minute he learned of the pregnancy, he couldn't dump her fast enough. On top of that, he was living out her dreams in Europe with the dance troupe she'd worked so hard to be a part of.

Life wouldn't be such a struggle if he occasionally sent child support, but that sorry bastard always had an excuse. He'd only seen his daughters twice in the two years since their birth and then completely disappeared from their lives.

When she found herself alone and pregnant, Callie had left New York to go back home to the small North Carolina town she'd grown up in, only to hear her parents say they told her so. The first year had been a struggle, but when she got a small inheritance from a distant relative, she used it to get her own place and open up a dance studio. She had a few students and hoped that she'd eventually have more, but until business really picked up, she moonlighted as a waitress on the weekends.

Breathing a sigh of relief when she pulled into the doctor's office, she shut off the engine. Once she got an umbrella out and shrugged back into her raincoat, Callie walked to the rear passenger side to unbuckle London. "Baby, we're here."

London opened her big brown eyes, a dazed expression on her face, before she started to cry. "Hurts, Mommy," she whined, cupping a small hand over her ear.

Callie suspected her daughter had an ear infection. Paris had had the same problem just a couple weeks before. "I know it hurts, baby. That's why we're here at the doctor's office. Now hold on to Mommy's neck while I lift you up."

"Do I get a lollypop?"

"Only if you're really good. Can you be Mommy's big girl today?"

London nodded, her pigtails bobbing. "I want a red lollypop."

"We'll see."

With her daughter in one arm and her umbrella in the other hand, she raced to the big stone building, trying not to get wet. Once it was London's turn to see the pediatrician, it was just as Callie had suspected -- an ear infection. Not only did London get her red lollypop for being such a good girl for the doctor, she got a blue one to take home to Paris.

Callie felt a lot better once she and her daughter were back in the car, although the rain hadn't subsided a bit. London sat strapped in her car seat happily licking her red lollypop while gripping the blue one tightly in her other fist. When Callie had suggested putting the extra lollypop in her purse, London adamantly refused, wanting to be the one to give it to her sister.

London was the younger twin by ten minutes, but she was the nurturer of the two, always making sure her sister was taken care of and content to let Paris take the lead. Paris was the more assertive twin, but just as sweet and caring.

Callie didn't realize she could love two people as much as she did her twins. People often asked why she chose to name them after European cities, but in her mind, they seemed to be the most logical choices. After all, had she not gotten pregnant she'd be in Europe, dancing. She might as well have the next best thing, and Callie knew she wouldn't trade her little treasures for all the trips to Europe in the world.

Callie couldn't wait to get home to see Paris. When she was away from her kids, she always missed them. Halfway home, she decided to take a shortcut on a back road. Just then the rain let up. "That's good at least," she muttered to herself. It was getting dark and driving at night was bad enough without the slashing of water on one's windshield.

"How are you doing back there, London?" she asked, looking into the rearview mirror again to check on her daughter.

"Good," London answered between licks.

Callie glanced over her shoulder to make sure London wasn't making a mess, and when she looked straight ahead again, she was surprised to see a blinding white light. It was so glaring, in fact, she couldn't see where she was going and ended up swerving off the road. Panic sliced through her as she lost control of the vehicle. The more she tried to right the wheel, the more out of control the car went.

In the backseat, London began to cry, obviously sensing her mommy's plight. "Hold onto your seat tight, baby." Just as she got the words out, she felt a falling sensation. Callie didn't know exactly what happened, but as the little economy car landed with a loud crash, she thought about her beautiful baby girls.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Soul Bound by Brannan Black

Soul Bound by Brannan  Black

Read an excerpt

Soul Bound

by Brannan Black
cover art by Bryan Keller
ISBN: 978-1-60521-466-5
Genre(s): Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Theme(s): Ménage, Bisexual and More, Vampires, Werewolves, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures
Length: Novella

Tag Line: Can Ilario and Wulf claim Raven for their own before she gets them all killed?

Soul Seeker: A true immortal. Although Raven can’t die, she can suffer. Six hundred years ago, a sorcerer captured her. She’s been his prisoner ever since. Transported to the new world in an iron coffin, she lies buried and forgotten for nearly two hundred years -- until a construction crew digs her up and inadvertently sets her free. Starving, lost and lone, Raven staggers through a strange city filled with wagons that have no team, lights without fire -- and then there’s the clothes. What exactly is the point of a thong anyway? Or shoes that hurt her feet and make her totter around like a drunken barbarian at midsummer’s festival?

Mercenaries for Hire: The vampire Ilario and his werewolf companion Wulf are partners in every sense of the word. Wulf likes variety in his bed and Ilario will do what ever it takes to keep his mate happy, even if it means tapping a female now and then. But this latest woman brings far more trouble than expected. Can they claim Raven for their own before she gets them all killed?

 Soul Bound
Brannan Black
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Brannan Black

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

Blue eyes stared out at me from the shadows. "Come with me. I will lead you home," the great wolf whispered to me. It turned down another street. Looking over its shoulder, it waited for me to follow. I shoved myself away from the wall and stumbled after it. I lost track of the twists and turns before he stood in front of a wooden door leading into a familiar looking cottage. Its blue eyes met mine before it disappeared through the door. I stepped through the door into blinding light. I heard familiar voices, though I could put no name to them.
"Welcome home."
"You're safe now." Two voices, strong gentle male voices, wrapped me in their soothing warmth, easing the frozen weight of my heart. Strong hands gathered me into strong arms and against a solid male chest. Another surrounded me from the back. I heaved a sigh as the weight of my fear lifted. Peace entered in its wake.
The hands moved, stroking me, stroking away the pain and poison. I looked into brown eyes full of love. His lips met mine in a tender kiss. His hands cupped my chin so gently. A warm tingle spread through me. I parted my lips and let him taste me. His tongue darted in, teasing against mine. A soft moan rose from deep inside me, passion replacing pain. He released me and other hands took their place. Blue eyes, the wolf's eyes, bore deep into mine. His lips devoured mine, his tongue demanding entrance. I opened and met him in a dance as old as time.
I moaned again. Hot desire flooded me and strengthened my weary body. He pulled my breasts tight against his hard chest. My nipples peaked, ready for his touch. My puss awakened to the feel of his hard staff pressed tight to me. The other pressed against my back with his hard staff nestled against my arse, hands slipping between us to cup my breasts and stroke my nipples with his thumbs. Oh, sweet glory! My breath caught, lips covered my face and neck with kisses until I knew naught but pleasure.
I felt myself fall, only to be caught by a soft bed. Their hands and lips covered my naked body in kisses, licks and strokes until my skin tingled with delight, soaking up the power of the passion they offered me. I arched up, begging for them to find my breasts again. A warm tongue swiped a circle around one. I moaned and arched into him. He sucked one nipple in while firmly caressing the other.
Other hands found their way up my thighs to pet my drenched puss. I gasped as a finger stroked me then parted the hair. Fire followed wherever he touched. His tongue licked the length of my slit, then settled to tease my clit in circles. I moaned and pressed into them, seeking more, seeking release. Harder, faster they suckled me.
Fingers entered my slit -- first one, then another -- stroking hard and fast inside me. I writhed under their touch until I reached my peak, crying my ecstasy into the soft night. They released me only to roll me to my side. I felt their bodies pulsing with life and healing, pressed hard against me. I reached for my lover's ruddy staff, caressing its hard, velvety length. Deep moans rumbled from his chest.
The other parted my thighs, teasing the broad head of his staff across my slit. I moaned and pressed back, begging him to fill me. He grasped my hips and thrust hard, our moans of pleasure echoing together. I tugged at my other lover's staff, licking my lips in invitation.
He groaned and swiftly moved closer. I licked the length, then sucked him in. Both men thrust together in a rhythm of pure pleasure. Harder I sucked, thrusting against them. I needed their soul strength spilled inside me, healing my body, my tattered spirit. Together we spiraled up toward that peak. My puss clenched as my body rode the wave of passion they offered me.
I felt the staff in my mouth swell with readiness. I sucked him deeper, rolled his tight sack in my hand. He stiffened, then growled out his pleasure, sealing his life to mine. His seed spilled down my throat in hot streams.
Moments later the other cried out, pumping hot seed inside me, completing the bond and my healing. His wild thrusts sent me spiraling after them as another climax washed over me. Renewed, I opened my eyes...

* * * a dark alley full of strange noises and smells that gagged me. I sagged against the wall, running my pale shaking hands through my tangled hair. Vision or insanity? I knew not which. So vivid had it been, I felt wet between my thighs. If a vision, what did it mean? I felt within for guidance but found only pain. With a tired sigh I pushed away from the wall, only to realize that once more I was somewhere other than where I started. How I made my way here during my vision or hallucination, I had no idea. My stomach growled its protest again. Lack of food hurt me almost as much as the poison that would not clear.
Light, music and food smells spilled from the door across the street. There. I could find what I needed there -- first and foremost, food. I hated stealing, but with no coin, it's that or starve. I pulled the coat I'd "borrowed" tight and shifted the small pack higher on my shoulder. I watched carefully for the great metal beasts as I crossed the street. I'd seen people getting in and out of them, so they must be some kind of horseless wagon. Still, the noise, smell and blindingly bright eyes piercing the dark unnerved me.
I wound my tangled hair into a knot at my neck and slipped inside the beckoning door. A tavern, but unlike any I knew. No torches or lamps smoked the air, yet it was well lit. No great hearth stood ready to warm the room or even to cook on, yet I smelled warm food. Even the music sounded so strange to my ear. People swayed, jumped and jerked to the music in ways better suited to the bedchamber. Did they consider that dance? It served to remind me how alone I was, how lost in a place and time that made little sense. I spotted a long counter with people sitting at it and made my way over.
I ordered what I saw others eating, meat between bread and strange strips of something cooked in hot oil. I was used to beer with substance. This watery stuff served to wash the food down, but little more. The wall behind the counter held all sorts of glass bottles, apparently full of liquor. So many glass bottles! I caught a glimpse of my tired green eyes and painfully thin face in the mirror behind and turned away. At least I had found fresh water to rinse the filth from my face and hands earlier. Even my stolen clothes were relatively clean, though they were too large for my small frame. I'd found a shirt that slipped over my head much like a tunic and trews with metal buttons up the front. I'd had to find something to tie the waist tight to keep them on. I'd rolled the sleeves up on the stiff blue jacket. As the warmth inside filled me, I let it fall open.
A prickle along the back of my neck alerted me to someone's stare. I glanced casually around the room and spotted two men partly hidden in shadow near the corner. Poison and weakness sapped my gift for seeing the heart and soul of others, leaving me to watch carefully from the corner of my eye. I felt blind and deaf with no more senses than a mortal possessed. A glance between them, a touch, made them seem more than just casual friends. Lovers perhaps?
A shiver ran up my back. Or a pair of predators seeking prey such as a lone female. I had seen many women walking alone. So why had these two focused on me? Did they sense my weakness? Even as weak as I was, a pair of mortal males would be wise to avoid my wrath. However, I decided retreat would serve me best, no need to draw attention. I turned to finish my meal quickly.
A body leaned against the bar to my left and ordered a drink. I kept my inspection of him hidden behind lowered lashes; dark hair, olive skin and medium height with a sexy smirk. His friend from the corner half sat on the bar stool to my right. Tall, blond and built, probably a Northman, and randy. Big randy barbarian in a tavern. How typical! Great, just what I needed.
Definitely predators on the hunt, and I their chosen prey.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Black Planet 2: Little Foxes by Belinda McBride

Black Planet II: Little Foxes by Belinda  
Read an excerpt

Black Planet II: Little Foxes

by Belinda McBride
cover art by Bryan Keller
ISBN: 978-1-60521-457-3
Genre(s): Futuristic, Sci-Fi, Cyber-Punk
Theme(s): Shunga
Series: Black Planet
Length: Novella


Black Planet II: Little Foxes

by Belinda McBride

There's no doubt in Kitsune Jung's mind that he deserves the hellish punishment he receives at the hands of the Nephris. After betraying Rose Lee, he expects no less. He planned his own capture in a daring mission that went sadly awry. Now all he has to look forward to are long days of hard labor and the occasional appearance of Jahn, the handsome young employee of a powerful Nephris general.
Hu Fei Lee has gone undercover to rescue Kit Jung from imprisonment on the Black Planet. She knows about his past with Rose, but somehow the quiet, courageous slave just doesn't seem to be the venal, cowardly man she expected. Succumbing to a powerful attraction, she seduces Kit, but keeps her true identity a secret.
When the truth comes out, will Kit Jung be able to forgive Hu Fei Lee? And will his own secrets destroy the fragile bond of their love?
Black Planet II: Little Foxes
Belinda McBride
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Belinda McBride

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

Hu Fei Lee never realized silence had a texture, especially silence as uneasy as this one. She stood in the center of the studio, still as a statue, with one arm extended before her, the other down by her belly in a block. One foot was out to the front, and most of her weight was on the rear foot. Sweat trickled down her forehead.
She moved, gliding through Pi Chuan, freezing as her weight shifted to the other foot.
"Uncle Milo, you can't possibly be serious!" Rose Lee's voice cut through the air like a whip.
"Pull. Chaun Sen."
She shifted into the water element, giving a graceful curve to the wrist; her weight more forward now. As before, she froze, focusing everything into perfecting that stance. Mentally, she reviewed her position, and then remembered to put the tip of her tongue to the roof of her mouth.
"I'm completely serious, Rose. Those are the orders from higher up."
"Kit Jung can just roast in whatever Nephris hellhole they've stuck him in."
Hu Fei glanced from the corner of her eye, watching the small cluster of her relatives argue in hushed voices.
She moved through, changing sides. Regardless of how distracting she found the conversation, her grandfather's focus never wavered. A gentle hand on the chin moved her attention forward.
"Kit was..."
"Under orders when he tried to seduce me in front of a camera? Or how 'bout when he pissed his pants on the bridge?"
"Rose, I think every person in this room has either wet their pants or lost their lunch when they've flown with you."
Hu Fei bit the inside of her cheek at her father's words. Rose's piloting skills were phenomenal indeed, but it took a certain fortitude to fly as her co-pilot.
"Thank you, Uncle Aiden. That completely absolves him." Rose's words dripped with sarcasm. "Now there's just that little matter of smuggling the crown jewels of Parsis and drugging me. Oh... and contacting the Nephris ship. No offence, baby, but he didn't know you weren't one of them."
Hu Fei heard Arad's gentle murmur of reassurance.
Absently, she stepped through to the other side.
"There are a few things we need to tell you about Kit Jung. You might not forgive him, but perhaps you'll at least consider helping us plan his extraction."
"Look, Uncle Milo, Uncle Darah, you guys handle the undercover part of this operation. Arad here teaches the recruits what they need to know about Nephris culture. I teach them to fight and take a punch. That's all."
She stepped through, made her turn, and faced the small group that was assembled at the front of the school. Hu Fei focused on her fingertips, but opened her vision so she could watch the action in front of her. Rose sat on the floor, her knees drawn up to her chest. Arad squatted on the floor next to her. His great black wings were extended protectively over her shoulders. Hu Fei's parents were also seated on the floor. Annie Tanaka sat cross-legged. Aiden Chen Lee was seated behind her, allowing her to lean against him. Milo Greene and Darah Lash leaned against the wall, facing the others.
"Kit is there undercover. We... they were hoping he'd eventually win the trust of those in power and move into their scientific community."
Once again, the room went silent. It was broken by Rose's laughter. "He's a scientist? Kit is motivated by two things in life: sex and money. He doesn't have any room in his head for anything more complex than how to put on a condom. You're telling me he's an undercover operative? That he planned his own capture?"
Arad Soheil cleared his throat. "I skin read him. He's... without conscience, without feelings."
"Sociopathic," Hu Fei's mother Annie supplied.
"Yes. It was very disturbing to find such callous disregard for others."
Arad tilted his head for a moment, clearly in communication with the other Thalian present. "Oh, that's what it is then."
Darah nodded his head.
"For those of us unable to read minds?" Rose crossed her arms defensively across her chest, propping them on her knees. Her short black hair was ruffled and messy, as though she'd been dragging her hand through it.
"Darah has informed me that Kit Jung worked extensively with Thalians to learn to block our scans. That would explain the disturbing read," Arad Soheil answered.
"Dr. Jung also agreed to take Thalian DNA material into his body to enable him to develop empathic skills. From the data I've seen, he's able to read nearly as accurately as a full Thalian." As always, her Uncle Milo's voice was smooth and dry like a good wine.
"No. Shit." Rose dropped forward, hiding her head on her knees. "Dr. Jung. He's a freakin' scientist."
Hu Fei nearly missed the cue as she watched the unfolding drama. Arad leaned forward, gently rubbing his wife's slender back. Rose relaxed into his touch. Hu's throat went a little tight as she watched the unspoken interaction between them. They were connected in a way Hu couldn't even imagine. Her eyes flicked to her parents. Like Rose and Arad, they were bound to one another by so much more than love. Though Milo and Darah stood apart, she couldn't miss the occasional brush of the hand that spoke of their need for one another. When Aunt Grace was with them, watching the three of them was like seeing a deftly choreographed dance they performed only for themselves.
"You guys must really be paying him a lot. I saw his fees for the courier job we took. I imagine the government sweetened the pot many times over. Little bastard never does anything that doesn't serve his purposes."
Milo Greene sighed, his form long and lean against the backdrop of sunlight. He'd forgone his normal black suit and was wearing loose cotton pants and a tee shirt as a concession to Hong Kong's sweltering heat. His hair was almost completely silver now, and she caught Darah watching him intently.
Did it hurt the big Thalian to know time was running out faster for his lover than for him? Like Hu Fei's mother Annie, their wife Grace had been treated by Thalian medicine. They'd flooded the women's bodies with transfusions from Thalian donors, and now both women had the longevity of the alien species. Their children had inherited that trait as well. Milo had resisted all suggestions that would have extended his life as well.
Gazing at Rose, she saw her cousin still favored her left arm. She'd been badly injured while on duty, and had also received Thalian medicine. She wondered if Rose realized she'd been altered on the molecular level.
"Pull." Hu's grandfather Guo Lee now stood next to her, moving through the slow, linear movement of the form with her. She felt power and energy radiate from his body. The scent of tobacco that always accompanied him tickled her nostrils. Immediately, a sense of peace settled over her, as it always did in his presence.
"This discussion is not to leave this room. Is that understood?" Milo's voice was stern.
"The only people I'd tell are right here, Uncle Milo."
Everyone else nodded. No one seemed to notice Hu Fei and Guo were just yards away.
"Obviously, Dr. Jung did this for the money."
"Surprise! Kit did something for money!" Rose's voice dripped with sarcasm.
Hu Fei's parents choked back their laughter. They'd had a great deal of the burden of raising the rather precocious Rose Lee, and had always enjoyed her borderline bitchy behavior.
Having been at the receiving end of it over the years, Hu Fei wasn't quite so amused.
Milo continued. "He has a twin sister. She's been fighting uterine cancer for many years now. His family has no means to pay for the treatments. In effect, Kit's life revolves around money because it's the only way he's been able to keep his sister alive."
Tears pricked at Hu Fei's eyes. The Thalians had found cures for so many illnesses, but they'd never gotten a handle on cancer. As soon as one type was conquered, it seemed another appeared.
"I didn't know." Rose sounded subdued.
"He didn't want anyone to know, you in particular. It would have jeopardized his entry into the Nephris culture." Darah's voice was gentle and understanding.
"He couldn't have known I would take him into custody. I could simply have had him killed!"
"Arad, he only knew what might happen. He knew the odds were excellent you would intercept Rose because of the data we received from your brother Nomi, and from Sala." Milo looked uncomfortable with that statement, as well he should. Arad would certainly be unhappy his twin had kept information from him.
"So now what?" Rose had clearly been won over and was ready to move ahead. Hu Fei had always liked that about her cousin. Rose had a mighty temper, but she knew when to put it away.
Hu Fei moved another step and froze, her attention never leaving the discussion.
"We need someone with skills similar to yours, Rose: piloting, fighting, the ability to go undercover, and to think and act on the fly," Milo said. "Knowledge of Nephris culture would be good. We were hoping one of your human recruits would be willing."
Rose gracefully rose to her feet, smiling as Arad gave her an arm up. The ink was still fresh on their wedding certificate.
Hu Fei wondered why they'd decided to take the plunge after being together over a year. Automatically, her gaze shifted to Rose's flat tummy. Humans and Thalians crossed easily, as Darah and Grace had demonstrated. It still surprised her that Rose had found a man from another world who was so perfect for her volatile personality.
"I don't really think any of the humans are appropriate. They're good. There's no doubt about that, but none are the whole package." She was still holding Arad's big hand.
A few names were tossed out, both male and female. They began considering some of the Thalian recruits. The dark Thalians were able to fold their wings nearly flat to their backs, an ability that had allowed Arad to pass among the Nephris for seven years undetected. The return of his breeding cycles had almost blown his cover. The risk of discovery was too great for undercover work. Most Thalian recruits were seeded into raids. Few had piloting skills.
"We need someone who can negotiate deep space, and then take a small craft down to the surface. From there, he'll need to pass for Nephris and move through their culture. The Thalians would be perfect with their ability to pick up thoughts."
Hu Fei's parents also rose from where they sat on the floor. In a moment, they were all on their feet, continuing their conversation.
"Pull. And relax."
Hu Fei sighed and shook out her arms. She stretched high to the ceiling, and then low to the floor. Guo Lee remained in the Pi stance, his eyes focused on nothing, though he saw everything.
"Hu Fei will do it." Her grandfather's voice cut through the buzz of conversation. Again, the room fell into thick, uncomfortable silence.
"No. Absolutely not." Annie's voice was quiet, but firm. Aiden looked from Guo Lee to Hu Fei, and then back to his wife.
"No, Grandpa. It's too soon." His voice was tight with tension. Fear?
"I'll do it." Hu Fei bent to tighten the laces of her shoes. She straightened and looked calmly at her parents.
"Hu Fei!" Annie's voice took on an edge of fear.
She sighed, knowing she needed to comfort them, but uncertain how to do so. The ability to interact with others had been just one of the skills she'd lost years ago. Now she remained around the family, but felt separate and isolated. After surviving the attack, depression had settled on Hu Fei's slender shoulders, and only Guo Lee's stubborn insistence on coaching her daily had kept her on her feet and alive. Now it was time to move from existing to living again.
"I'm well. I'm healthy as I've ever been. If you need someone as good as Rose, then you need me."
"Well, maybe you're nearly as good as me..."
She spared a smile for her cousin.
Guo Lee tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned away from her family, ready to resume practice with her Sifu.
There were no other arguments.