To Harvest Lavender

Very honored and excited to announce that my short story “To Harvest Lavender” won 3rd place in Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest 2022. This story is very much a product of quarantine and my real life experience with the passing of a loved one. I hope you enjoy...

To Harvest Lavender

I saved her from the oven all those years ago, only because her death by fire would have been a calamity for the rest of us. Of course, she couldn’t tolerate me in the house, so I slept in her wilderness. For years. To protect her.

No, to watch her die.

Well, that job is done. All that’s left is to clean.

I steal in her doorway, like she will come with thunder in her fingertips. Like she will scream at me for dawdling.

She never once welcomed me. Even when I came to the door, a child in a red bramble-torn cloak, pursued by a savage furred terror, she’d sneered. “You should’ve sent the wolf to eat me. It would have been kinder.”

I light the sage to consume the magic she left behind.

One must be of strong will to command magic. It’s difficult for two strong wills to coexist, harder when one is learning the art. She hated teaching. She bragged of the worlds she’d slain, the princes she’d conquered, the dragons she’d seduced before I made her an unwilling mother.

The dust caking her books, the shelf of rotting potions, the filthy cauldron remind me of her broom striking my back, of the foul taste of her ladle in my mouth, of the dark places she’d abandoned me. The pain sits like a rock in my belly. Unforgiven. Made small by newer memories.

In the end, she was fragile as spun-sugar, weak as broken teeth, and soft as wet dough. I never beat her or tested potions on her, and the only dark place she wandered was her own mind.

It’s hard to hate a woman who can’t chew her own gingerbread.

I scrub the ancient and sticky residue in the oven, stooped over inside the black maw. This oven hasn’t been cleaned for decades— not since a girl with a stronger spine than me pushed—

No, I mustn’t be unkind to myself. Not when I won’t be unkind to her and just burn the whole house down. That girl had a brother, another heart to protect. She wasn’t alone with this confusing love for someone she hated…

Or do I feel hatred for someone I loved?

I can’t tell. Not surrounded by the damp and sticky muck of her life.

When the oven blazes clean, I burn the scraps of her life. The chocolate rotted in a bowl. The licorice glued to the page of a book. She’ll never finish reading that book.

Do I actually smell burning flesh, or is that just her ghost?

I scrub the chalky cauldron. She hasn’t been able to clean this terror for centuries. It isn’t fit to conjure soup. When the fresh water stays clean, I brew a potion to drink the magic. While it bubbles, I rest in her chair.

The aroma of stale cookie fades into the clean scent of fresh ash. Soon the walls will only be wood. I breathe deeply to preserve that sweetness in my lungs, already missing it.

Her lungs never were right after the oven. And at the end, it was her gasping that called me from the woods. I meant to ease her passing, but when I found her sitting by the water, exhausting herself with breathing, she’d already eaten her own poisoned apple. Self-sufficient. She didn’t have the teeth to break the skin. Had waited for it to rot so she could scoop out the mush.

By the time the rattling croak of her breaths had stopped, her eyes were glazed and sweet. She didn’t curse me. But only because she didn’t recognize me.

That hurt far more than any beating.

Her golden rings litter the table below the cloth-draped mirror, a lure for greedy crows and dutiful daughters. I gather the treasure, uninterested in the shine, respectful of their recovery.

Such a vain old toad. Here’s the powder to cover wrinkles. Here’s the ointment for smooth skin. Here’s a flaking paper to remind—

Harvest lavender.

Lavender wouldn’t have prolonged her life, only soothe her lungs.

But the lavender grows just outside her door. She used to grab handfuls from the window, gleefully flinging them into the cauldron…

To need to harvest…

To need a reminder…

How mad was she at the end? How lonely? How lost?

I catch her scent. Not in the perfume. In the mirror. Saying goodbye? No. Not her. She’s lying in wait.

If I were clever, I’d catch her in my pocket mirror. If I were cautious, I’d light more sage.

I tear the cloth away, confront the ghost.

I was never clever nor cautious; I was bold.

Her smile is honey. She reaches from the mirror to embrace me. I know it’s a trap, but I sink into the softness of her arms… one last time. She sinks her claws in my back… one last time.

She means to trap my soul in the mirror, to crawl inside my body. Once she has my hands, she will bake something sweet and crunchy.

That’s all I am to her. Good teeth. Strong hands. I’m disappointed. Disappointed to find I still care what she thinks.

Her ghost pushes at my heart. It’s too hard for her to invade.

“You had to harvest your own lavender, because you’d rather have me howl in the wilderness than tolerate me as your daughter.”

It’s difficult for two strong wills to coexist, but I have learned my art, and she is dead.

“I love you, baba, but you’ve taken all I’m willing to give.”

The scent of the ghost— carrot-cake and candied plums— wafts away, dragged into the cauldron with the rest of the dead magic.

My soul tremors. Relief? Grief?

There is freedom in death and longing in life. I will never visit her again.

The tears only come now. I feel guilty they have not come sooner. Resentful that they come at all.

She will give me no new hurts.

No matter how hard I seek them.

October Surprise: Inspiration

Reluctant Groom: Manlove, Evernight’s latest LGBT anthology, is an collection of stories celebrating May/December romances between two men… and, you know, forced marriages turning into happily-ever-afters.

What a perfect way to celebrate Pride Month!

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBooks

My story in Reluctant Groom is “October Surprise”

Image is everything to Whim, a stoic mayor who is also an openly gay, black man running for governor of a Southern state. So when the blackmail letter arrives, Whim knows there’s only one person in his city he can trust. Sunshine, raised in Whim’s aunt’s foster home, has idolized Whim since he was a kid. The young man is as brilliant as he is free-spirited, and his solutions to Whim’s troubles will either save the campaign or destroy them both.

October Surprise: Inspiration

Evernight released the call for Reluctant Groom just before the 2020 elections. So I had politics on the brain. The initial plot-bunny that hopped through my head was about a gay politician who covered up a scandal by claiming the sex worker in those dirty pictures was actually his fiancé.

And that was all I had.

In my first attempts to carve out a story, I thought maybe the politician was the sort of rake who’d make Bill Clinton blush while the younger man was a college student who could barely speak in public. Or maybe he was a secret war vet? Or maybe a born-again Christian… that wasn’t working. Then I thought, maybe the politician was super corrupt and the young fellow was the victims of a sex trafficking thing and… that fell apart very quickly.

With the deadline for the submission getting closer and no idea who I should be writing about, I took drastic measures.

I made a playlist.

I love Spotify because it lets me like any damn song I want and keeps that song in a positively enormous list for me. When I get stuck on a character or a conflict in a Romance book, I shuffle it and let the first three songs dictate where I go from there.

The first song I came to was Johnny Cash’s cover of Eagles, Desperado. It’s an absolutely legendary song, made even more heart-breaking by Cash’s lonesome vocals. It was the perfect starting point for the December in my story. A cowboy type, trying to save his city. Thinking he had to do it all alone without letting anyone see his weaknesses. Whim Deluth became a paragon of his community, obsessed with appearances and haunted by his own virtues.

The second song was so wildly different I nearly skipped over it on instinct. be steadwell’s “What I Want,” is a glorious ode to lesbian seduction (like most of her songs). Lines like “she is a reoccurring dream/ and she came back just like I knew she would” and “I don’t wanna hear you scream/I wanna hear you whisper “Please don’t stop” coupled by the raw sensuality of the song are the reason I’m a huge fan of be steadwell. The May of my story was not going to be a wilting flower, or a soft, inexperienced victim. With that one song, Sunshine became a young, gender-fluid man who knew who he was, who he wanted, and how to get his way. Is it any wonder, the young man became the more forceful of the two?

The final piece to the puzzle came with another less known artist, Rebecca Angel, and her song “Again.” It’s a deceptively simple song. Here are the lyrics without repetition.

Touch me again
like you did before.
My skin cries out
with the memory of you.

I was tempted to include the repetition and the stresses. Half the magic of the song comes from the singer’s pleading, playful, forlorn longing. There’s a lovely spareness and mystery to those few words and the light touch of the instrumentation. It evokes a rich history between these two lovers, hints at something deeply broken, and offers hope that this time will be different, better, and more satisfying.

Three songs that I doubt have ever been put near each other before, but they came together, and suddenly, I had a story to write.

October Surprise: A Bit Odd

Reluctant Groom: Manlove, Evernight’s latest LGBT anthology, is an collection of stories celebrating May/December romances between two men… and, you know, forced marriages turning into happily-ever-afters.

What a perfect way to celebrate Pride Month!

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBooks

My story in Reluctant Groom is “October Surprise”

Image is everything to Whim, a stoic mayor who is also an openly gay, black man running for governor of a Southern state. So when the blackmail letter arrives, Whim knows there’s only one person in his city he can trust. Sunshine, raised in Whim’s aunt’s foster home, has idolized Whim since he was a kid. The young man is as brilliant as he is free-spirited, and his solutions to Whim’s troubles will either save the campaign or destroy them both.

October Surprise: a little bit odd

October Surprise: not exactly the story I thought I would be writing

I don’t usually write contemporary realism stories. My mind tends to run more towards the thriller and speculative sides of the romance genre.

I don’t usually write May/December romances. The power dynamic of a much older partner and a young person ‘groomed’ for the role always freaked me out when I was a teenager, and I never got over that.

And I never thought I would be asked to write a Forced Marriage between two men. I’m a little like Whim, and my old-fashioned ass is still tickled pink and a bit unused to the fact that gay marriage is legal in the U.S.

But one of the fun things about anthology calls is that challenge to get outside yourself and write something specific to a theme.

Like every other person on the planet, 2020 was a tough year for me. I’d left my apartment in NYC to teach abroad in Shanghai, China, just as the pandemic shut everything down. Abruptly, I was thrown out of my comfortable life with an enriching career and the luxury of my own home and pushed back into life as a cashier, living with my in-laws. I spent most of 2020 joking that quarantine was a writer’s dream, but in truth, I was worn out by fear. Fear of the pandemic, fear of my nation’s negligence, fear of the racial strife that seemed just as dangerous to my family as the disease.

Evernight released the call for Reluctant Groom just before the 2020 elections. I was so wound up in these thoughts that a politician forced to marry to quiet down a scandal was the only story I could dream up. Thinking about a gay, black, uber-responsible Democrat running for governor was therapeutic for me.

Partly because I wished for a real-life Whim so much, I couldn’t bring myself to make him the sort of fella who would coerce his lover into a marriage. So, it ended up being Sunshine, the younger man, who was applying the pressure. It’s a little bit odd, so is Sunshine, so I wrote the story the way I needed to and hoped for the best (more on this in another post).

By the time I submitted it, my nerves were back. I knew I was walking the line of the most important part of the theme, and kicking myself for being cavalier with the rules, with spending months on this story with such an obvious flaw at the very heart.

I fully expected a rejection.

So when Evernight’s email came back, I was devastated but not surprised. It read: “Thank you for your submission. The story doesn’t fit the anthology requirements (almost opposite with the younger man being the forceful party)”

And then I stopped reading and wallowed for a while.

It wasn’t until a day later when I received a follow-up email asking for my response, that I went back and finished reading the initial email.

“… but the acquiring editor really enjoyed your story and is willing to bend in this specific case.”

So moral of the story, kids, finish reading your emails.

I hope you enjoy “October Surprise” even if it’s a little bit odd.

October Surprise

Reluctant Groom: Manlove, Evernight’s latest LGBT anthology, is an collection of stories celebrating May/December romances between two men… and, you know, forced marriages turning into happily-ever-afters.

What a perfect way to celebrate Pride Month!

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBooks

My story in Reluctant Groom is “October Surprise”

Image is everything to Whim, a stoic mayor who is also an openly gay, black man running for governor of a Southern state. So when the blackmail letter arrives, Whim knows there’s only one person in his city he can trust. Sunshine, raised in Whim’s aunt’s foster home, has idolized Whim since he was a kid. The young man is as brilliant as he is free-spirited, and his solutions to Whim’s troubles will either save the campaign or destroy them both.

Selection from “October Surprise”

A blackmail letter sneaks onto my desk in early spring. I’m on a call with a local school board member who needs to be reminded he’s essential, and I open my mail with indifference until the handwritten lettering peeks through. Chisel-tip marker, quite beautiful, if I’m honest. I look at the envelope again—good forgery of City Hall’s seal.

The message reads: I know your secret. When we meet, you’ll give me what I want. No questions asked.

The fellow from the school board pauses, so I mirror enough of what he’s said to make him continue on.

There’s a tiny part of me that’s pleased to receive a blackmail letter as the mayor of a mid-sized city. Death threats, I’d grown accustomed to during quarantine two years ago. But to be blackmailed … that’s proper validation.

The greater part of me is confused. Do I have a secret worthy of extortion? I’ve spoken openly, though not frequently, about my sexuality. I’m not exactly proud of my time in the Army, but there’s nothing to publicly shame me. As far as I know, I’ve never been successfully bribed. Maybe something from before. Before the military. Before my political ambitions.

Sunshine will know which of our old friends sent this.

I return the letter to its envelope, tuck it into my jacket pocket, and focus on my phone call.

After I’ve soothed the school board official, I sit in the silence. City Hall is a tomb after hours, a pristine echoing place, especially my office. The clean empty walls are cool and crisp as snow.

The last time I talked to Sunshine—not so much talking as moaning and panting, if I’m honest—I hadn’t returned his calls. He knew I wouldn’t. I’m the mayor of a mid-sized city, aiming to be governor, and he was … is … a strange kid. Feral, lawless, but not in a mean way. Boy’s heart is pure gold, just … unpredictable. He’s magic to kiss, heaven to hold, and impossible to keep. For me, anyway. Someone with less ambition and a softer heart might tame him. But he’s too fragile for my strength, too odd for my world.

Still, he answers the phone when I call. As usual, he doesn’t speak first.

“Sunshine, it’s me.”

“Who?”

“William Duluth.”

“Naw, it ain’t.”

I smile to spite myself. “It’s Whim, then.”

“Shame on you, Whim, forgetting yourself.”

Considering the blackmail letter filling my pocket, is there shame in forgetting what deserves to be forgotten? “I’m glad you remember me. How’ve you been, son?”

Sunshine bucks against the small talk. “What color’s the sky where you are?”

“Black.” Then I look out the window and consider the darkest part of this southern sunset. The springtime heat floats in a haze above the asphalt. Rows of city-approved palmettos and oaks sway in the glow of streetlights, and the skyscrapers hemming in the historic district reflect the peaceful twilight. The glowing dome of City Hall dims the stars. “Hazy gray.”

“I’ve been where the sky is purple in the night.”

“You outside the city?”

“Yup. Just ’cross the river. I like your town, Mayor Whim.”

His endorsement means more to me than a dozen donors. “Proud to hear that. Listen, I’d like to—”

“Where and when?”

“Sunshine, you don’t even know why I’m calling.”

“You sound lonely.” I bet he’s smiling to hide his own aloneness. “You know I’ll keep you out of trouble.”

In more ways than one. “Nothing has changed, son. If I’m honest—”

“I know it.” He has no patience for my defenses.

“Let’s—as a thought experiment—keep it professional. Set some boundaries.”

He laughs at my attempt. “Come and fuck me, Whim.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose, frustrated by his transparency and by the excited energy zipping through my spine. “I’d rather meet in public.”

“How’d that work last time?”

Last time. Winter. He’d worn a pink scarf from a street vendor, a long trench coat, and— I learned when he’d sauntered into my condo later—nothing else. The brightness of cheap cashmere on his mysterious dark skin … the platinum blond cloud of his shoulder-length afro … the memory burns my blood.

“It was a good effort.”

“We know how this goes, Whim. It’s like playing with matches in a pile of newspapers.”

Or a flamethrower in a weapons bunker.

“Come on over and start a fire.”

Beautiful Chains

Billion Dollar Love: Manlove is Evernight’s newest anthology about, as the title suggests, billionaire bad boys.

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, or Bookstrand

My story in Billion Dollar Love is “Beautiful Chains”

In this “Phantom of the Opera” meets “Moulin Rouge” m/m romance Harper Brosh, a dancer with a fledgling theater company seduces Mr. Ito, the theater’s mysterious patron. While the sparks fly with the eccentric billionaire (who Harper has never seen unmasked), Harper is surprised as anyone to find himself falling for timid stagehand, Carlos.
As Mr. Ito get more possessive and demanding, Harper must make a choice between his passion for theater and his heart.

Selection from “Beautiful Chains”

Outside New York City, people’s heads turn when I pass—with as much confusion as admiration, as if tall, blond, and skinny is a new breed of humanity. But in NYC, no one stares when I get on the uptown B, no one points me out to their friends. No one tries to strike up a conversation or suggests with cheerful ignorance that I ought to be a model.

The doorman to the condo tower notices me. But doormen in historic apartments on 5th Ave. are as subtle as the gilding on the ceilings; they blend in with all the dizzy little details. They recognize who belongs and know when they want attention and when they want to slip past unseen.

But somebody is watching when I enter the penthouse suite.

It’s not a true penthouse, not in the sense of being the very top of the building or having the rooftop terrace. But with the decorative beams on the ceiling and the sunken marble floor, it’s damned close. Central Park peeks between other luxury apartments, and across the room, I can look slightly down on Rockefeller Center.

I unwrap my red scarf and peel out of my fall jacket, slinky as a showgirl. After all, there’s a genuine silver hook to hang it on. I bend to politely remove my shoes, then rake my hands through my curls to settle them. Putting on a little show for the man I can’t see yet.

The room is lit only by the city’s false starlight and the blinking lights of hidden electronics. The darkness purrs with machines. A smart tower to command the lights and heat and music. At least one camera and God knows what else this dark, minimalist décor is hiding.

The centerpiece is the kabuki mask on the far wall. Even in the darkness the silver and gold catch the light. It’s a demon face. Black and hollow-eyed, the lower half is carved away to let the performer rant and roar, but the cheeks and eyes and brow are extravagantly detailed. Inlaid with precious metal to give that inhuman face the impression of an ever-changing expression. The glowing big screen TV hangs beside it like a caption box.

“Welcome Home, Omocha.”

I freeze at the steps, poised to walk down into the sunken den, but helpless before that mask. My heart taps a ghoulish Bob Fosse routine, one frenetic pulse inside an ocean of darkness and calm. If I could remember free-will, I’d turn and flee, but he’s here, and he’s watching.

So, I stand tall and dignified, in a casual first position, and watch the mask and the screen for further instructions.

The text does not change.

It ought to be a command. Half-riddle. Half road-map. A precursor to tonight’s torture.

Once, it read: “Ice. Cool down in the kitchen.” And I’d found a bowl of ice in the freezer. I’d spent fifteen minutes gliding it over my lips, around my nipples, into my ass. Playing by myself while he watched from … somewhere. He’d emerged like a phantom, faceless in the shadows, but hot as the sun. He’d burned away the chill, stolen more than my breath and sanity as he fucked me.

Once, it read: “Ropes in the bedroom.” And I’d found a silken rope and a kimono to match folded on his huge bed. The light in the room transitioned to an eerie blue light when I changed into his costume. But my lover didn’t come until I looped my hands in a noose. Wearing only that strange mask, he’d more than explored my body that night, tying me down in a dozen different ways, opening and shutting the robe as if debating whether he preferred me to look more lascivious or innocent while he fucked me.

Tonight, the empty mask leers, as if it also remembers every time I’ve come.

“Welcome Home, Omocha.”

The flickering smile on the mask isn’t real. Just the product of an overworked imagination that’s already on high-alert and one hard shove from a drop into madness. Welcome home? What the hell do I do with that?

Nominated for Evernight’s Best Paranomal Romance 2019

Freeing the Witch is nominated for an award (it was already an Editor’ Pick!)!

I’m so ridiculously thrilled about this. If you liked the book, please vote for it here:

Evernight’s Best Paranormal Romance 2019

Freeing the Witch is the hardest romance novel I’ve ever written since it’s about two people who are very different than me. They are shy and self-effacing and the kind of folks you want to get a happily-ever-after. Even though one a wolf and the other is a witch. So really its an Enemies to Lovers story, but with genuinely sweet people.

 

Emaula Whispel thought she’d be happy if she could live outside her mother’s magical stone tower, but when Emaula starts working as a chef at her friend’s trading post, she becomes smitten with Porter, her co-cook. Now Emuala’s magic is obsessed with possessing this quiet, charming wolf, and the budding witch has to fight to control her powers and her lust, to prevent her new friend from becoming her accidental victim.

If you’ve not read the book, click here to get it from Evernight or contact me. I still have a few author copies to give away!

 

Lea Bronsen has a new series and it’s going to kill me!

One of my favorite fellow Evernight Authors (she’s so deliciously dark) has written a new psychological thriller! Since I love multiple point of views and don’t mind a walk on the dark side, this looks like a perfect series for me. Except for cliff-hangers… But Lea will make the wait worthwhile.

 

 

From Lea Bronsen herself:

I’ve always been fascinated by dark psychological thrillers that mess with your mind and keep you on the edge of your seat. I toyed with the genre writing my debut novel Wild Hearted, but labeled it a crime drama. Its sequel, Carnivora, evolved over six years to become a full-blown hold-your-breath thriller that deals with grave issues such as kidnapping, child sex trafficking, and self-harm.

Telling five parallel stories with as many voices, it gives you the perspectives of a police informant, a hunted gangster, a mad avenger, an inconsolable girlfriend, and a psychotic kidnapper. I pull no punches weaving these stories, so be prepared for a dark, gritty, and graphic read – a little dirty on the erotic side – that I hope will play with your strings and stick with you for a long time.

Please note that this is part 1 of Carnivora and I am currently working on parts 2 and 3, so if those cliffhangers at the end are killing you, be patient. The continuation is right around the corner!

 

 

Blurb

Fight evil with evil.

TOMOR
Crime lord Tomor is serving a life sentence behind bars. Without warning, he’s abducted by mysterious men. A sick manhunt is on, with people around him dying like flies. He will need all his street flair and gangster skills to prevent his loved ones from ending up on the death list.

LUZ
Luz grieves the loss of her lover while striving to take care of their baby. The last thing she needs is to fall for the new neighbor.

DAVID
A year after he betrayed his adoptive father and sent him to jail, David is slowly rebuilding his life. Then everything falls apart again: he learns that Tomor has escaped, and his police connections lead him to a child sex trafficking ring involving cold, powerful men.

The cops are in over their heads with “Project Carnivora” … Perhaps the only one who can help bust the pedophile predators is an equally vicious devil: Tomor, the country’s most hunted criminal.

 

Available from

Books2Read / Amazon.com / Amazon.uk / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks / Smashwords

Put the book on your to-read shelf on Goodreads

See photos that inspired me to write the book on Pinterest

 

 

 

Excerpt

“Time to change your bandage again,” the nurse mutters, voice cool, and pulls my orange-colored sleeve up to the elbow.

She unrolls the long strip of bandage from my wrist and tugs at one corner of the gauze plastered on my wound. It sticks as if glued to the freshly grown skin, and instead of removing the gauze carefully, she tears if off hard, discharging pain through my arm, wrist-to-shoulder.

I open my eyes and lift my head off the pillow. “What the fuck are ya doing, trying to reopen the wound or something?”

“Like you care.” She stops pulling and glares, gauze between her fingers. “I can see who you are inside. You’re playing tough, aren’t you, bad guy? But you can’t fool me.”

“Shut up.” I lay down again, huffing, and stare at the white ceiling above me with its rows of long neon lights.

“You’re a good man.”

I glance back. “I said, shut the fuck up.”

Her eyes shine. She rips off the remaining gauze, ignoring my grunt of pain, and throws it in a bin. “Look.”

No fuck.

“Look at it,” she insists, voice low and demanding.

No. I know what I’ve done, and I can imagine what it looks like. A six centimeter-long deep, reddish, scratched-up ridge along my artery. Layers of skin, fat, meat, and whatnot must be visible and sweating a pinkish liquid from the reborn pores. I don’t need to see it.

I guess the girl wants me to be so horrified, I’ll never attempt suicide again. That’s right. She wants to shock me into acceptance.

You gotta be fucking kidding me, little thing.

She shakes her head. “I don’t understand why they gave you the life sentence.”

“You mean they shoulda given me the chair?”

Instead of responding to my sarcasm, she pivots to look up at the clock and widens her eyes as if realizing she forgot an appointment. Face tense, she returns to her work, applies some cool, gel-like liquid on the wound, and bandages it with quick routine moves.

What’s up with her? In my three days in this woman’s company, I’ve noted the things that make her tick. Maybe she’s upset because I’m leaving the infirmary soon. Earlier, she said she didn’t know when I’d be ready to go back to my cell. She probably knows now, but doesn’t want to tell me.

The door opens. She jumps.

A uniformed guard pokes his head in, checks the small room, and exits.

She seems frozen in place, features tense. Staring ahead and taking deep breaths as if trying to regain composure.

I cock my head a little. “What’s going on? They gonna transfer me?”

She visibly swallows and fixes her gaze on some point on the wall.

I snicker. “Are you sad ‘cause I’m leaving?”

Ha, I can be so ugly, when the girl clearly likes me.

As she sits there avoiding me, I take the time to check out her tits, and drink in the amazing sight of their pressing against her green blouse with each breath. She doesn’t have a name tag. Come to think of it, none of the personnel do. Evidently, so the inmates can’t identify their ‘caretakers’, and should they by some miracle leave the premises, track them down.

I nod to her blouse. “What’s your name?”

She twists back to me, brows raised, before shaking her head. “I can’t tell you that.”

“C’mon, I’ll never see you again.” I grin, then add with an ironic snicker, teasing her, “They’ll never let me slash my wrists, or hang myself.”

She looks away and busies herself collecting the medical stuff, throwing a quick, almost invisible glance to the door. What the hell is making her so nervous?

Coldness fills my chest. Something’s up.

“Come on, Babe,” I coax with my most gentle, sensual voice, wanting to buy time. “Tell me your name.”

“Why?” she whispers, fidgeting with the roll of bandage.

“’Cause I want a name to your pretty face when I jack off in my cell.”

 

About the author

Lea Bronsen likes her reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After a deep dive on the unforgiving world of gangsters with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between romantic suspenses, dark erotic romances, and crime thrillers.

Meet Lea Bronsen on

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Amazon / Pinterest

 

 

Freeing the Witch

Happy Friday the Thirteenth, Everyone. I know I’m having a good day because I get to announce the official release of Heart of the Mountain 2: Freeing the Witch just in time for Halloween!

*Update: Freeing the Witch won runner-up for Readers’ Choice Best Paranormal Romance. Save 25% off 2019 Readers’ Choice Winners with coupon code WINNERS2019.

Easily the hardest to write and probably the best of the romance novels I’ve written, Freeing the Witch is about Emaula a sweet, shy witch who is trapped by her psychopathic mother who is slowly eating her soul and has cursed her to be poisonous to the touch. She is saved by her friend Jasprite (heroine of Hiring the Tiger) and whisked to the jungle mountains of the south where she meets the effortlessly charming Porter, a wolf she immediately falls in love with but can never touch.
The wolf-pack is deeply suspicious of witches, and Emaula’s curse makes her particularly distrustful, so Porter finds himself for the first time ever disagreeing with his pack. He loves Emaula and he knows she wants him, what he can’t understand is why she’s so hesitant about it. And even if he could get her to admit her feelings, and smooth over the tensions with the wolf pack, there’s still that evil mother to contend with.

Starting today, you can find it online at Evernight Publishing: here.

Or on Smashwords: here.

Emaula and Porter’s love story has been particularly weird for me to write because it’s so sweet (my roommates have been listening to me complain for months about how hard it is for two shy people to fall in love). Generally my characters are as much in competition with each other as they are with the outside world; this is the first time I’ve really tackled a romance between not just one shy person, but two.

Porter and Emaula both have a lot of growing to do before they can acknowledge their own worth and fight for their mutual love.
But that’s also the reason this is one of my favorite stories. Their happy ending, because of course there’s a happy ending, is sooo earned.
So pleased to finally share this with the world.
I hope you guys enjoy Freeing the Witch.

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