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>Welcome Dale Mayer with Two Releases!

>Welcome, Dale Mayer!!

Freelance writer Dale Mayer lives in the beautiful Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Canada. She’s multi-pubbed in nonfiction but her true love is the stories that weave through her mind. For the past nine years, she’s written around the daily responsibilities of being a single mother of four and still squeezes in time to produce new fiction manuscripts each year.

In fiction, she writes taut psychological suspense with romance and paranormal elements. She has recently branched out into both mystery and urban fantasy books for young adult with the occasional vampire book thrown in just for fun.

Dale is here today with two releases in two different genres: romantic suspense and young adult.  She is providing excerpts from both as well as one Ebook of each as a giveaway to two random commentors.  Contest ends midnight 7/3/11.  So tell us which genre you prefer, what you liked best about one of the excerpts or ask Dale a question — any comment to qualify for the giveaways!

Young Adult: DANGEROUS DESIGNS

Description:

Drawing is her world…but when her new pencil comes alive, it’s his world too.

Her… Storey Dalton is seventeen and now boyfriendless after being dumped via Facebook. Drawing is her escape. It’s like as soon as she gets down one image, a dozen more are pressing in on her. Then she realizes her pictures are almost drawing themselves…or is it that her new pencil is alive?

Him… Eric Jordan is a new Ranger and the only son of the Councilman to his world. He’s crossed the veil between dimensions to retrieve a lost stylus. But Storey is already experimenting with her new pencil and what her drawings can do – like open portals.

It … The stylus is a soul-bound intelligence from Eric’s dimension on Earth and uses Storey’s unsuspecting mind to seek its way home, giving her an unbelievable power. She unwittingly opens a third dimension, one that held a dangerous predatory species banished from Eric’s world centuries ago, releasing these animals into both dimensions.

Them… Once in Eric’s homeland, Storey is blamed for the calamity sentenced to death. When she escapes, Eric is ordered to bring her back or face that same death penalty. With nothing to lose, can they work together across dimensions to save both their worlds?

Excerpt:

When she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer, she dropped the book to the floor beside her, clicked off the light and dropped into a deep sleep – a sleep full of weird dreams and voices calling to her.

“Storey, come and get me.”

“Storey, come.”

“We need you, Storey.”

Disturbed, she bolted upright gasping for breath as she stared wildly around the room. Who said that?

No one. She was alone – and clearly losing it. Her heart banged in her chest as a film of sweat covered her skin. She took several deep breaths and tried to calm down. Talk about nightmares.
She shuddered and lay back down. It took several minutes to get her breathing under control and when it did, she started to get pissed.

“What the hell do you want with me?” she snapped in the direction of her backpack, the drawing safely secured inside. “Crap. This is too freaky, even for me.”

“Storey, is that you, honey?”

Her mother knocked on the door and poked her head around, the light from the hallway lighting the silver streaks in her otherwise dark hair. “Can’t you sleep?”

“Sorry, if I woke you, Mom.” Storey sat up, brushing her own jet black hair back off her face. “Just a bad dream.”

“That’s because you didn’t have any dinner. I checked up on you after the meeting finished only you’d fallen asleep.” Her mother’s fingers twisted around a dangling lock of dark hair, stepping further into the room, her Wiccan robes dragging on the floor. She bit her lip. “Storey, you have to eat. You’re already skinny enough.”

Bone rack is what a jock had called her last month. Looking down, Storey realized they could be right. Her hip bones stuck out to match her big elbows. And her body had developed to the point she just barely missed the skinny scarecrow look. Too bad. She might have been able to make that work.
“I’m eating, Mom. They had pizza in class today, so didn’t need my lunch. Ate that on the way home.” She had more important things to worry about anyway.

Relief washed over her mom’s pretty face. “Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Sometimes, I worry about you.”
Sometimes? Didn’t she mean all the time? Was that was normal for moms? Then again, there was a world of difference between normal moms and hers.

“What time is it?” Storey looked out the window. Blackness stared back.

“It’s just about 12:30 am. Please get into your pajamas. You don’t want to be sleeping in those jeans.” She backed up to the open door. “If you’re alright, I’ll say good night. It is witching hour after all.” With a carefree grin, her mom closed the door.

Witching hour. Right. Only in her house. Sighing at her mother’s antics, Storey collapsed down on her covers and fell into a light, troubled sleep.

“Storey.”

She sighed. “What now, mom?”

No answer. She sat up and glanced at the closed door. Weird. She could’ve sworn she’d heard someone call her. Lying down again, she pulled her blankets over top, not bothering to get changed.

“Storey.”

She bolted upright. That’s it. Who the hell was playing games with her?

“Storey.”

Throwing back the blankets, Storey kneeled on her bed. “Who said that?” she hissed into the early morning air. Not trusting the gloomy light, she flicked her bedside lamp on, quickly scanning the room. Empty. “I am so losing it. This is nuts.”

Her gaze landed on the backpack on her floor. Her gaze widened. Oh no.

‘No, no. Hell no.” She shook her head, slowly at first then more wildly. “This can’t be happening. It’s a picture. Nothing more. Nothing less. I created you. I can destroy you.”

That’s exactly what she was going to do. She dragged the backpack onto her bed and opened it. The knot defied her first and second attempts, before she managed to pull the laces apart and yank out her book. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but enough is enough.”

She flipped to the last page she’d been working on and grabbed it at the top left and ripped. It wouldn’t tear off. She tightened her grip and tried again. It refused to budge. Scared now, she threw it on the floor and in a fit of defiance, she jumped on it.

And fell through the picture, through the floor even.

She went right through the doorway in her picture.

Romantic Suspense: TUESDAY’S CHILD

Description:

What she doesn’t want…is exactly what he needs.

Shunned and ridiculed all her life for something she can’t control, Samantha Blair hides her psychic abilities and lives on the fringes of society. Against her will, however, she’s tapped into a killer—or rather, his victims. Each woman’s murder, blow-by-blow, ravages her mind until their death releases her back to her body. Sam knows she must go to the authorities, but will the rugged, no-nonsense detective in charge of tracking down the killer believe her?

Detective Brandt Sutherland only trusts hard evidence, yet Sam’s visions offer clues he needs to catch a killer. The more he learns about her incredible abilities, however, the clearer it becomes that Sam’s visions have put her in the killer’s line of fire. Now Brandt must save her from something he cannot see or understand…and risk losing his heart in the process.

As danger and desire collide, passion raises the stakes in a game Sam and Brandt don’t dare lose.

Excerpt:

The shepherd’s low growl warned her halfway.

“It’s okay, boy. It’s just me. I’ll be taking care of you. Give you food, fresh water, and friendship. The things that help us get along in life.” Although she kept her voice quiet, warm, and even toned, the growl remained the same.

She couldn’t blame him.

He might be able to get along without friendships, but she wanted them. She’d never had that elusive element that others took for granted.

Sam approached the dog’s cage with care. According to his chart, he’d had surgery to repair internal bleeding and to set a shattered leg. On top of that, he’d suffered several broken ribs, a dislocated collarbone and was missing a huge patch of skin on both hindquarters. Written in red and circled were the words – aggressive and dangerous. The growling stopped.

Sam squatted down to stare into his eyes. The dog should have a name. He didn’t give a damn. But a name gave the dog a presence, an existence…an identity.

“How about…” she thought for a long moment. “I know, how about we call you Major?”

The dog exploded into snarls and hideous barking, his ears flattened, and absolute hate filled his eyes.

“Jesus!” Sam skittered to the far corner of the room–her hand to her chest–sure her heart would break free.

“Is everything okay back here?”

Sam turned in surprise to see one of the vets standing behind her, frowning. “Sorry,” she yelled over the din of the other animals that had picked up the shepherd’s fear. She waited for the animals to calm down before continuing. “I’d thought of a brilliant name for the shepherd, but from his reaction, I think he hates it.”

The vet walked over and bent down to assess his patient. “It could have been your tone of voice or the inflection in the way you said the name.
He’d been abused even before this accident.” After a thoughtful pause, he added, “I’m not sure, but it might have been kinder to have put him down.”

“No.” Sam stared at him in horror. “Don’t say that. He’ll come around.” At his doubtful look, she continued, “I know he will. Give him a chance.”

That she seemed to be asking the vet to give her a chance hung heavy in the room, but she didn’t think he understood that.

He stared at her, shrewdness and wisdom in his eyes.

Then again, maybe she’d misjudged him. She shifted, uneasy under the intense gaze.

“We’ll see. We’ll have lots of opportunity to assess his progress as he recuperates.”

Sam had to be satisfied with that. She knew the dog was worth saving and so, damn it, was she. Her salvation and that of the dog’s were tied together in some unfathomable way. She could sense it. She’d fight tooth and nail to keep him safe.

In so doing, maybe she could save herself.

Dale is a talented multi-genre author. Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a free Ebook of either DANGEROUS DESIGNS or TUESDAY’S CHILD.
  • Contest entries end midnight 7/3/11.
  • International giveaway (Ebooks)
  • MUST leave an email contact address

Welcome Dale Mayer with Two Releases!

>Welcome, Dale Mayer!!

Freelance writer Dale Mayer lives in the beautiful Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Canada. She’s multi-pubbed in nonfiction but her true love is the stories that weave through her mind. For the past nine years, she’s written around the daily responsibilities of being a single mother of four and still squeezes in time to produce new fiction manuscripts each year.

In fiction, she writes taut psychological suspense with romance and paranormal elements. She has recently branched out into both mystery and urban fantasy books for young adult with the occasional vampire book thrown in just for fun.

Dale is here today with two releases in two different genres: romantic suspense and young adult.  She is providing excerpts from both as well as one Ebook of each as a giveaway to two random commentors.  Contest ends midnight 7/3/11.  So tell us which genre you prefer, what you liked best about one of the excerpts or ask Dale a question — any comment to qualify for the giveaways!

Young Adult: DANGEROUS DESIGNS

Description:

Drawing is her world…but when her new pencil comes alive, it’s his world too.

Her… Storey Dalton is seventeen and now boyfriendless after being dumped via Facebook. Drawing is her escape. It’s like as soon as she gets down one image, a dozen more are pressing in on her. Then she realizes her pictures are almost drawing themselves…or is it that her new pencil is alive?

Him… Eric Jordan is a new Ranger and the only son of the Councilman to his world. He’s crossed the veil between dimensions to retrieve a lost stylus. But Storey is already experimenting with her new pencil and what her drawings can do – like open portals.

It … The stylus is a soul-bound intelligence from Eric’s dimension on Earth and uses Storey’s unsuspecting mind to seek its way home, giving her an unbelievable power. She unwittingly opens a third dimension, one that held a dangerous predatory species banished from Eric’s world centuries ago, releasing these animals into both dimensions.

Them… Once in Eric’s homeland, Storey is blamed for the calamity sentenced to death. When she escapes, Eric is ordered to bring her back or face that same death penalty. With nothing to lose, can they work together across dimensions to save both their worlds?

Excerpt:

When she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer, she dropped the book to the floor beside her, clicked off the light and dropped into a deep sleep – a sleep full of weird dreams and voices calling to her.

“Storey, come and get me.”

“Storey, come.”

“We need you, Storey.”

Disturbed, she bolted upright gasping for breath as she stared wildly around the room. Who said that?

No one. She was alone – and clearly losing it. Her heart banged in her chest as a film of sweat covered her skin. She took several deep breaths and tried to calm down. Talk about nightmares.
She shuddered and lay back down. It took several minutes to get her breathing under control and when it did, she started to get pissed.

“What the hell do you want with me?” she snapped in the direction of her backpack, the drawing safely secured inside. “Crap. This is too freaky, even for me.”

“Storey, is that you, honey?”

Her mother knocked on the door and poked her head around, the light from the hallway lighting the silver streaks in her otherwise dark hair. “Can’t you sleep?”

“Sorry, if I woke you, Mom.” Storey sat up, brushing her own jet black hair back off her face. “Just a bad dream.”

“That’s because you didn’t have any dinner. I checked up on you after the meeting finished only you’d fallen asleep.” Her mother’s fingers twisted around a dangling lock of dark hair, stepping further into the room, her Wiccan robes dragging on the floor. She bit her lip. “Storey, you have to eat. You’re already skinny enough.”

Bone rack is what a jock had called her last month. Looking down, Storey realized they could be right. Her hip bones stuck out to match her big elbows. And her body had developed to the point she just barely missed the skinny scarecrow look. Too bad. She might have been able to make that work.
“I’m eating, Mom. They had pizza in class today, so didn’t need my lunch. Ate that on the way home.” She had more important things to worry about anyway.

Relief washed over her mom’s pretty face. “Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Sometimes, I worry about you.”
Sometimes? Didn’t she mean all the time? Was that was normal for moms? Then again, there was a world of difference between normal moms and hers.

“What time is it?” Storey looked out the window. Blackness stared back.

“It’s just about 12:30 am. Please get into your pajamas. You don’t want to be sleeping in those jeans.” She backed up to the open door. “If you’re alright, I’ll say good night. It is witching hour after all.” With a carefree grin, her mom closed the door.

Witching hour. Right. Only in her house. Sighing at her mother’s antics, Storey collapsed down on her covers and fell into a light, troubled sleep.

“Storey.”

She sighed. “What now, mom?”

No answer. She sat up and glanced at the closed door. Weird. She could’ve sworn she’d heard someone call her. Lying down again, she pulled her blankets over top, not bothering to get changed.

“Storey.”

She bolted upright. That’s it. Who the hell was playing games with her?

“Storey.”

Throwing back the blankets, Storey kneeled on her bed. “Who said that?” she hissed into the early morning air. Not trusting the gloomy light, she flicked her bedside lamp on, quickly scanning the room. Empty. “I am so losing it. This is nuts.”

Her gaze landed on the backpack on her floor. Her gaze widened. Oh no.

‘No, no. Hell no.” She shook her head, slowly at first then more wildly. “This can’t be happening. It’s a picture. Nothing more. Nothing less. I created you. I can destroy you.”

That’s exactly what she was going to do. She dragged the backpack onto her bed and opened it. The knot defied her first and second attempts, before she managed to pull the laces apart and yank out her book. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but enough is enough.”

She flipped to the last page she’d been working on and grabbed it at the top left and ripped. It wouldn’t tear off. She tightened her grip and tried again. It refused to budge. Scared now, she threw it on the floor and in a fit of defiance, she jumped on it.

And fell through the picture, through the floor even.

She went right through the doorway in her picture.

Romantic Suspense: TUESDAY’S CHILD

Description:

What she doesn’t want…is exactly what he needs.

Shunned and ridiculed all her life for something she can’t control, Samantha Blair hides her psychic abilities and lives on the fringes of society. Against her will, however, she’s tapped into a killer—or rather, his victims. Each woman’s murder, blow-by-blow, ravages her mind until their death releases her back to her body. Sam knows she must go to the authorities, but will the rugged, no-nonsense detective in charge of tracking down the killer believe her?

Detective Brandt Sutherland only trusts hard evidence, yet Sam’s visions offer clues he needs to catch a killer. The more he learns about her incredible abilities, however, the clearer it becomes that Sam’s visions have put her in the killer’s line of fire. Now Brandt must save her from something he cannot see or understand…and risk losing his heart in the process.

As danger and desire collide, passion raises the stakes in a game Sam and Brandt don’t dare lose.

Excerpt:

The shepherd’s low growl warned her halfway.

“It’s okay, boy. It’s just me. I’ll be taking care of you. Give you food, fresh water, and friendship. The things that help us get along in life.” Although she kept her voice quiet, warm, and even toned, the growl remained the same.

She couldn’t blame him.

He might be able to get along without friendships, but she wanted them. She’d never had that elusive element that others took for granted.

Sam approached the dog’s cage with care. According to his chart, he’d had surgery to repair internal bleeding and to set a shattered leg. On top of that, he’d suffered several broken ribs, a dislocated collarbone and was missing a huge patch of skin on both hindquarters. Written in red and circled were the words – aggressive and dangerous. The growling stopped.

Sam squatted down to stare into his eyes. The dog should have a name. He didn’t give a damn. But a name gave the dog a presence, an existence…an identity.

“How about…” she thought for a long moment. “I know, how about we call you Major?”

The dog exploded into snarls and hideous barking, his ears flattened, and absolute hate filled his eyes.

“Jesus!” Sam skittered to the far corner of the room–her hand to her chest–sure her heart would break free.

“Is everything okay back here?”

Sam turned in surprise to see one of the vets standing behind her, frowning. “Sorry,” she yelled over the din of the other animals that had picked up the shepherd’s fear. She waited for the animals to calm down before continuing. “I’d thought of a brilliant name for the shepherd, but from his reaction, I think he hates it.”

The vet walked over and bent down to assess his patient. “It could have been your tone of voice or the inflection in the way you said the name.
He’d been abused even before this accident.” After a thoughtful pause, he added, “I’m not sure, but it might have been kinder to have put him down.”

“No.” Sam stared at him in horror. “Don’t say that. He’ll come around.” At his doubtful look, she continued, “I know he will. Give him a chance.”

That she seemed to be asking the vet to give her a chance hung heavy in the room, but she didn’t think he understood that.

He stared at her, shrewdness and wisdom in his eyes.

Then again, maybe she’d misjudged him. She shifted, uneasy under the intense gaze.

“We’ll see. We’ll have lots of opportunity to assess his progress as he recuperates.”

Sam had to be satisfied with that. She knew the dog was worth saving and so, damn it, was she. Her salvation and that of the dog’s were tied together in some unfathomable way. She could sense it. She’d fight tooth and nail to keep him safe.

In so doing, maybe she could save herself.

Dale is a talented multi-genre author. Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a free Ebook of either DANGEROUS DESIGNS or TUESDAY’S CHILD.
  • Contest entries end midnight 7/3/11.
  • International giveaway (Ebooks)
  • MUST leave an email contact address

Friday Free: Free Book w/ Excerpt

>Author Poppet
Poppet provides us today with both a free read in the form of an excerpt from her recent release, DUSAN, and a link the the free book!

Poppet loves jelly beans and has a closet Lamborghini fetish. She also writes under the name Gemma Rice, and has the following books published: Tart Shorts, Blindsided, Dusan, Strike, Clawback, Darkroom, Seithe, and the non-fiction book The Celtic Tree Zodiac.

Visit Poppet at www.gemmariceandauthorpoppet.com

DUSAN is currently FREE for download on Barnes & Noble : http://alturl.com/h2mnj

Cover Blurb:

Dusan is on a feeding frenzy after twenty-five years of hibernation. As a soul eater, he cannot kiss without killing.

He crosses paths with Aine while being hunted by the Phoenician priest Gregori, and soon discovers Aine is also on the hit list. Falling for her fast, while trying to discover why she’s also marked for death, the ultimate soul eater’s Armageddon is about to happen.

Excerpt from Dusan

The firs are tall, like giants from another age. She phantoms between them over dropped needles.

Pausing, she looks around, sure she’s alone, she begins to sway. Moonlight waxes her arms as she begins to dance like a feather gusting on a breeze. Wafting gently to the right like a sapling stretching for light, gliding, her arms flowing around her, her skirt answers, moving like a sail on the high seas.

Glossy hair sparks with moonfire, flickering Morse code through the shadows, calling to me. Skipping to a rock, on tiptoes soothed with moss, my waif twirls a tantalising spell, weaving entrancing magic before my eyes.

Spellbound, I watch her swoop to the ground, a triumphant arm rises with a hand clutching a flower. Movement snatches my attention away and I observe a deer peer cautiously through foliage, watching the earth spirit communing with her nature. Riveting my focus back to her, my body adopts rigor mortis, winding the coil around my heart tighter as every muscle tenses like a spring desperate to release.

Skyclad she swirls, cartwheels, and prances around trunks, playing hide and seek with her own shadow. Except, I get the impression she’s not alone, that these magnetic trees do commune with her. Her movements are seductive, like a mermaid in water. This is her element.

Sprinkling petals she tilts her head back, spine bowed for the archer, thrusting undulations outward and into prominence like the carving on the bow of a Phoenician ship, then she swans forward, into the brook.

When she disappears behind rocks, I do a quick survey again, watching more shadows in the woods moving toward her. A mouse rushes up the rock to peer over, worried his mistress is in danger. A flirtatious laugh blows over me. The mystery in this forest is enjoying taunting me, echoing her voice between boughs and trunks, gathering her followers to h

The Sidhe stands, glossed from head to toe with crystal mountain water. She belongs in God’s gallery.

She glows from within. I’ve never seen a soul reaching out like hers does. The corners of her mouth are permanently curled up, like a pixie with a secret. I came so close to kissing her and she must surely wonder why I didn’t pursue the kissing when she initiated it. Does she think she was shunned?

Fuck, I hope she doesn’t think I rejected her.

The deer rushes forward, skittish it bolts. Aine halts like a mime, eyes drawn where I cannot see, arms wrapping defensively before she dashes to snatch up clothing and return her modesty.

A presence tenses the air. Like a foreboding wind it sucks out the sound and life before it the way a twister does. The owls, insects and creatures hold their breath, waiting.

This time shadows fall from the sky. Nylon lines whiz as red beams slice across my mirror princess, shattering her ethereal moment with violent light.

The tension in my body requires an outlet, and Tanit damn him, tonight they will die.

Clawing rapidly through the trees, I drop in front of her, knowing it puts me centre stage for the freak show. “Run. Now.”

Turning toward the threat, I thrust with frustration off the ground, bounding up to the closest cloaked villain. Snapping his neck, I ricochet backward, pinning the shadow behind me to his spruce.

Retracting the blade, I don’t slow down, bounding, thrusting, flying, claws and horns out, my lust for blood is two hundred years overdue.

Projectiles whistle in flight, but I am beyond the physical at this vibration. Their murderous efforts are futile and a waste of decent ammunition.Slicing, impaling, cracking and punching are over before they really began. What a waste of mortal life if this lot are considered professional mercenaries. A throat strike with the claws out is quick and effective. Bodies dangle from zip-lines between the trees like macabre Samhain decorations.

Vacuum thick stillness engulfs the vicinity. Rotating, slowly, deliberately, I wait to see what I’ve missed. Whatever lurks has nature in hibernation, stricken with silence for survival.

The flurry of activity is deafening in contrast. A thick cloud of thousands of moths take flight. A rising mist of Black Witch moths with their ethereal moonstone blue striated wings catch the moonlight, like falling glitter glinting, they ascend to the heavens, when I see more.

I’ve never seen anything like it. Moths which look like hummingbirds, darker, rising like black fog. They elevate, blocking out the light, blanketing the forest in a tomb of dark. I recall now, Sphinx moths.

How many moths is that? A million? More?

The feral scream of a wild cat draws my immediate focus. Scanning with the first tingle of fear, I spy the animal facing off into the dark. Its position is defensive, hackles raised and incisors bared.

The love-phobic prick is right there. His absence of life makes him as obvious in this forest teeming with it as a lighthouse in perdition.
Leaping into the air, propelling myself with reversed polarity, I descend immediately in front him. I have no fear of cats.

“Gregori.”

“Dusan – ”

I’m in no mood for pleasantries, harnessing every atom of anger coursing through me, I dip and bodily thrust him with my shoulder back into the trunk of the Douglas fir behind him. He deflates like an ancient accordion.

Using the moment of his weakness, I question, “What the fuck are you doing here, Gregori?”

“Eshmun.”

“No, your name is Gregori.” The claws spring out making a reverse suction sound and I use them effectively to hold through his arms. Increasing the pressure, “Answer the question.”

“Aine.”

“What about her?”

“Mine.”

Annoyed with his lack of vocal capacity I ease some of my weight off his chest. “Go near her again and I’ll cut out your heart and offer it to Kali.”

His laughter infuriates. Head butting him back into the tree, the satisfaction of the abusive sound cut short gives me a smile. I do it again, rewarded with the crunch of a breaking nose. It’s so dark now as the night turns apocalyptic that it could be blood spurting down between us, or something more sinister.

Withdrawing one hand, the slick skimming of horn and bone is all that warns him, I thrust it deeply into him, again and again, until he slumps to the point where holding him up is hurting the claws.

“Fucker.” I dismiss his unconscious form.

He won’t be following me.

Turning, I survey the cat which hasn’t moved and is watching me. Its eyes glint like fire on chrome, and the unexpected lick of its lip mid-purr unnerves me. That’s when I notice the hand on its nape, softly stroking from within the wildcat’s den.

“Aine?”

Her face appears from the shadow shrouded entrance, she nods, her expression tense, unsure, afraid, guarded, a hundred women at once.

Her demeanour shames me, instantly drained of fight, my knees fold as if I am forced to kneel to her. “I’m sorry.”

I don’t know why I’m apologising, but it seems right. She’s fragile, and if she witnessed what I’ve done, who I am – I’ve lost her before she was even mine to have.

Reaching a hand out to her, “Come with me.” My voice is thick, like forcing dry porridge into the mouth of an infant. I sound foreign.

I just killed the Silkie, the mystery, the moment of innocence. I know I can’t undo this. What she’s witnessed will change her – us – forever. Despairing, my head drops as if my neck no longer has the strength to be proud.

She crawls toward me on trembling arms. Leaning forward I lift her, wrapping arms around the quaking body and holding her tight.

The cat growls at me, hackles raised, spitting.

Aine drops her head heavily on my shoulder and it’s instinct to smooth her hair, “Shh.”

Keeping my voice even instead of begging, “Will you come home with me?”

She doesn’t respond and I lift my head off hers to look into her eyes. They aren’t focusing.

“Aine?”

Alarm thrums through me and I begin inspecting her. The black of her shirt masked the wound. Lifting my hand from her waist, it’s painted with the colour of war.

Download the full on Barnes & Noble: FREE!

>Friday Free: Free Book w/ Excerpt

>Author Poppet
Poppet provides us today with both a free read in the form of an excerpt from her recent release, DUSAN, and a link the the free book!

Poppet loves jelly beans and has a closet Lamborghini fetish. She also writes under the name Gemma Rice, and has the following books published: Tart Shorts, Blindsided, Dusan, Strike, Clawback, Darkroom, Seithe, and the non-fiction book The Celtic Tree Zodiac.

Visit Poppet at www.gemmariceandauthorpoppet.com

DUSAN is currently FREE for download on Barnes & Noble : http://alturl.com/h2mnj

Cover Blurb:

Dusan is on a feeding frenzy after twenty-five years of hibernation. As a soul eater, he cannot kiss without killing.

He crosses paths with Aine while being hunted by the Phoenician priest Gregori, and soon discovers Aine is also on the hit list. Falling for her fast, while trying to discover why she’s also marked for death, the ultimate soul eater’s Armageddon is about to happen.

Excerpt from Dusan

The firs are tall, like giants from another age. She phantoms between them over dropped needles.

Pausing, she looks around, sure she’s alone, she begins to sway. Moonlight waxes her arms as she begins to dance like a feather gusting on a breeze. Wafting gently to the right like a sapling stretching for light, gliding, her arms flowing around her, her skirt answers, moving like a sail on the high seas.

Glossy hair sparks with moonfire, flickering Morse code through the shadows, calling to me. Skipping to a rock, on tiptoes soothed with moss, my waif twirls a tantalising spell, weaving entrancing magic before my eyes.

Spellbound, I watch her swoop to the ground, a triumphant arm rises with a hand clutching a flower. Movement snatches my attention away and I observe a deer peer cautiously through foliage, watching the earth spirit communing with her nature. Riveting my focus back to her, my body adopts rigor mortis, winding the coil around my heart tighter as every muscle tenses like a spring desperate to release.

Skyclad she swirls, cartwheels, and prances around trunks, playing hide and seek with her own shadow. Except, I get the impression she’s not alone, that these magnetic trees do commune with her. Her movements are seductive, like a mermaid in water. This is her element.

Sprinkling petals she tilts her head back, spine bowed for the archer, thrusting undulations outward and into prominence like the carving on the bow of a Phoenician ship, then she swans forward, into the brook.

When she disappears behind rocks, I do a quick survey again, watching more shadows in the woods moving toward her. A mouse rushes up the rock to peer over, worried his mistress is in danger. A flirtatious laugh blows over me. The mystery in this forest is enjoying taunting me, echoing her voice between boughs and trunks, gathering her followers to h

The Sidhe stands, glossed from head to toe with crystal mountain water. She belongs in God’s gallery.

She glows from within. I’ve never seen a soul reaching out like hers does. The corners of her mouth are permanently curled up, like a pixie with a secret. I came so close to kissing her and she must surely wonder why I didn’t pursue the kissing when she initiated it. Does she think she was shunned?

Fuck, I hope she doesn’t think I rejected her.

The deer rushes forward, skittish it bolts. Aine halts like a mime, eyes drawn where I cannot see, arms wrapping defensively before she dashes to snatch up clothing and return her modesty.

A presence tenses the air. Like a foreboding wind it sucks out the sound and life before it the way a twister does. The owls, insects and creatures hold their breath, waiting.

This time shadows fall from the sky. Nylon lines whiz as red beams slice across my mirror princess, shattering her ethereal moment with violent light.

The tension in my body requires an outlet, and Tanit damn him, tonight they will die.

Clawing rapidly through the trees, I drop in front of her, knowing it puts me centre stage for the freak show. “Run. Now.”

Turning toward the threat, I thrust with frustration off the ground, bounding up to the closest cloaked villain. Snapping his neck, I ricochet backward, pinning the shadow behind me to his spruce.

Retracting the blade, I don’t slow down, bounding, thrusting, flying, claws and horns out, my lust for blood is two hundred years overdue.

Projectiles whistle in flight, but I am beyond the physical at this vibration. Their murderous efforts are futile and a waste of decent ammunition.Slicing, impaling, cracking and punching are over before they really began. What a waste of mortal life if this lot are considered professional mercenaries. A throat strike with the claws out is quick and effective. Bodies dangle from zip-lines between the trees like macabre Samhain decorations.

Vacuum thick stillness engulfs the vicinity. Rotating, slowly, deliberately, I wait to see what I’ve missed. Whatever lurks has nature in hibernation, stricken with silence for survival.

The flurry of activity is deafening in contrast. A thick cloud of thousands of moths take flight. A rising mist of Black Witch moths with their ethereal moonstone blue striated wings catch the moonlight, like falling glitter glinting, they ascend to the heavens, when I see more.

I’ve never seen anything like it. Moths which look like hummingbirds, darker, rising like black fog. They elevate, blocking out the light, blanketing the forest in a tomb of dark. I recall now, Sphinx moths.

How many moths is that? A million? More?

The feral scream of a wild cat draws my immediate focus. Scanning with the first tingle of fear, I spy the animal facing off into the dark. Its position is defensive, hackles raised and incisors bared.

The love-phobic prick is right there. His absence of life makes him as obvious in this forest teeming with it as a lighthouse in perdition.
Leaping into the air, propelling myself with reversed polarity, I descend immediately in front him. I have no fear of cats.

“Gregori.”

“Dusan – ”

I’m in no mood for pleasantries, harnessing every atom of anger coursing through me, I dip and bodily thrust him with my shoulder back into the trunk of the Douglas fir behind him. He deflates like an ancient accordion.

Using the moment of his weakness, I question, “What the fuck are you doing here, Gregori?”

“Eshmun.”

“No, your name is Gregori.” The claws spring out making a reverse suction sound and I use them effectively to hold through his arms. Increasing the pressure, “Answer the question.”

“Aine.”

“What about her?”

“Mine.”

Annoyed with his lack of vocal capacity I ease some of my weight off his chest. “Go near her again and I’ll cut out your heart and offer it to Kali.”

His laughter infuriates. Head butting him back into the tree, the satisfaction of the abusive sound cut short gives me a smile. I do it again, rewarded with the crunch of a breaking nose. It’s so dark now as the night turns apocalyptic that it could be blood spurting down between us, or something more sinister.

Withdrawing one hand, the slick skimming of horn and bone is all that warns him, I thrust it deeply into him, again and again, until he slumps to the point where holding him up is hurting the claws.

“Fucker.” I dismiss his unconscious form.

He won’t be following me.

Turning, I survey the cat which hasn’t moved and is watching me. Its eyes glint like fire on chrome, and the unexpected lick of its lip mid-purr unnerves me. That’s when I notice the hand on its nape, softly stroking from within the wildcat’s den.

“Aine?”

Her face appears from the shadow shrouded entrance, she nods, her expression tense, unsure, afraid, guarded, a hundred women at once.

Her demeanour shames me, instantly drained of fight, my knees fold as if I am forced to kneel to her. “I’m sorry.”

I don’t know why I’m apologising, but it seems right. She’s fragile, and if she witnessed what I’ve done, who I am – I’ve lost her before she was even mine to have.

Reaching a hand out to her, “Come with me.” My voice is thick, like forcing dry porridge into the mouth of an infant. I sound foreign.

I just killed the Silkie, the mystery, the moment of innocence. I know I can’t undo this. What she’s witnessed will change her – us – forever. Despairing, my head drops as if my neck no longer has the strength to be proud.

She crawls toward me on trembling arms. Leaning forward I lift her, wrapping arms around the quaking body and holding her tight.

The cat growls at me, hackles raised, spitting.

Aine drops her head heavily on my shoulder and it’s instinct to smooth her hair, “Shh.”

Keeping my voice even instead of begging, “Will you come home with me?”

She doesn’t respond and I lift my head off hers to look into her eyes. They aren’t focusing.

“Aine?”

Alarm thrums through me and I begin inspecting her. The black of her shirt masked the wound. Lifting my hand from her waist, it’s painted with the colour of war.

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