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Genre: urban fantasy
Publisher: Pink Narcissus Press
Date: June 15, 2014
When life gives you lemons, all you can do is try to avoid paper cuts.
Since becoming oracle to the demivampire two years ago, advice columnist Sophie has battled werewolves and survived a vampire attack (or two). However, not only was she powerless to save her lover Marek when he slipped to the brink of evolution, she also witnessed his transformation into a falcon, the symbol of Horus United.
Sophie’s quest to save Marek is further complicated when rock star Dierk Adeluf – who also happens to be the king of the Werekind – invites her backstage after a concert. Just when it seems she will find respite from heartache, Sophie is bitten by a werewolf and Dierk decides she is destined to be his queen.
Sophie is caught between the demivamps she loves and the Were who commands her to love him. Throw in his jealous wanna-be girlfriend and an ambush by witches, and there you have the big mess that Sophie calls her life. And, hello? Her soul mate is still a bird.
She’s supposed to be the girl with all the answers, but Sophie needs more than a little advice--she needs divine intervention.
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“What are you doing?” Dierk sniffed at the air around me, frowning. “You are human, yet you command these demivampire. You wear their power. Are you a succubus?”
“A what?” I knew what a succubus was. At least, Syfy's version. If that's what he meant, I had better be hearing wrong or I was going to club him, superstar or not.
His lip curled. Apparently, that’s exactly what he meant. “A vampire whore.”
A condemnation if I ever heard one. I’d known vampire whores and being placed in the same category as Donna made me want to spit. “Is that what you think I am?”
He shrugged, seeming very comfortable with hurling insults. “Perhaps.”
“How dare you!” I raised my hand, intending to slap off his smug expression.
He grabbed my hand before I could strike and held it firmly. Although it didn't hurt, I still didn't like it. I twisted, trying to pull out of his grasp.
“I do not mean to insult you,” he said. “But I am Wolf. This is our world. Don't blame me because my brethren are not overly fond of your demivampire pets.”
“Look. Let's just agree to disagree. Okay?” I struggled to yank my hand loose. His half-smile made me furious. “You don't like my friends. I don't like yours. Let's just say so long and good night and let me go.”
“I cannot.” He lowered our hands to his chest and I could feel his heart beating. “There is still the matter of the Leni.”
“Which is?” His tone made me wary. I was suspicious of foreign words and foreign traditions. I was still trying to figure out the DV, for crying out loud, even with the Sophia giving me an inside track.
“The Leni is a ritual of destiny. The sensation you experience when we are separated is the sign of the soul-bond. The Leni will determine if it is a true bond.”
“A true bond meaning...?”
“It's a mating ritual, you stupid human. Honestly, Dierk, this one? She isn't worthy of ein König!” I didn't have to see the owner of the ugly voice to know it was my new BFF. “She is an insult to Wölfe. An insult to our Leni. She makes mockery of legend.”
Not that I wanted to agree with the mean bitch, but still. “Dierk, I didn't come back here for a mating ritual.”
“Can you deny what you felt when you walked away from me?” His tone was not bossy. It was tender, soft and gravelly. “I know what I felt.”
“Dierk, you must be mistaken,” Cacilia insisted.
“Cassy.” Dierk's voice raised in dark warning. “Now is not the time.”
“It's never the time,” she said, her words running together in a growl. “I will not abide this.”
Pushing aside the people who stood in her way, she stomped out.
“Look, Dierk,” I said. There was something big going on with that woman. I more than suspected the entire drink-down-the-back thing was in retaliation for Dierk speaking to me at the bar. “I don't want to cause problems with your girlfriend.”
He glanced in the direction she had gone. “Cacilia is not my girlfriend.”
“Neither am I.”
“True.” His half-smile deepened and took on genuine expression. “But you may turn out to be so much more.”
“Do I have any choice?”
“Destiny is not a choice, my dear.”
Ugh. Dear? “This isn't my destiny. I've already got one.”
“We will see.” He half-turned and called out: “Clear the room.”
Immediately, several large men, some of whom I recognized as the lovely gentlemen who’d asked me about a missing wallet, began ushering people toward the doors. Murmurs of disappointment trailed in their wake. Several DV spikes, questioning, suspicious.
It was the DV that were being shown out. The people I’d identified as humans, too, I noticed. Alarmed by this, I hesitantly peeked my power out.
Only Were remained in the room, and me. The sudden vacuum made me suck in a hard breath. When the doors closed with a boom, Dierk turned his attention back to me.
Gently, he raised my captive hand to his mouth and I felt the scrape of new beard mingling with the softness of his lips. It was a very courtly gesture and I didn't appreciate it one damn bit.
“Destiny…” His voice carried to the corners of the room. The gathered people and wolves held collective breaths, me included. “Determines the path of the stars and the cycle of the moon. We can deviate from our destinies no easier than the moon or the stars can from theirs. I, Dierk Adeluf, son of Schatten, der König von Wölfenkinder, invoke the Leni to determine if it is destiny that our soul-bond become life-bond.”
Life bond? My eyes must have bulged with the disbelief I struggled to contain. Oh no, he doesn't --
Before I could protest, he thrust our hands out and down to our sides.
A wolf bit into my hand.
The attack was silent. The pain was splintering. The stars and their destinies exploded behind my eyes.
I rocked on my feet. Heat traveled up my arm, filling my head and squeezing out my breath. My knees buckled once, twice. I tumbled forward into Dierk’s open arms. He’d been waiting for me to fall and he caught me, gently sinking to his knees with me, cradling me to his chest.
As the room and the light and the sound faded into the haze of heat and pain, the last thing I saw was Dierk's face and his damnable half-smile.
Ash Krafton is a writer of all things spec fic. She believes spectacular endings make the best beginnings... Why not? One billion black holes can't be wrong.
Her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde is available through Pink Narcissus Press (http://pinknarc.com). It includes the titles BLEEDING HEARTS, BLOOD RUSH, and the upcoming WOLF'S BANE, expected June 2014.
Her urban fantasy novelette STRANGER AT THE HELL GATE is with the Black Rose line of The Wild Rose Press (http://www.wildrosepublishing.com). WORDS THAT BIND is her first full-length paranormal romance and will be available through TWRP Faery Rose line.
In addition to novel-length fiction, Ash enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, some of which earned awards and distinction in several national competitions. One of her poems was selected as a Pushcart prize nominee. She's a member of Pennwriters, RWA, Pikes Peak Writers, SFPA, and the Maryland Writers Association. She also contributes to Query Tracker's blog at http://querytracker.blogspot.com.
Ash resides with her family in a rural town in the heart of the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region. She'll never leave, either, because coal is just another example of a spectacular ending waiting for a brilliant beginning. (It's kinda fitting.)
And because, like a black hole, once you're in... ...you can never get out.
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