Monday, June 6, 2011

Upcoming Releases

My Upcoming New Releases for Summer 2011






 What happens when you leave everything you know behind for the man you love?

Nefari, an  African princess, discovers this for herself when she falls in love with a foreign king, Raja Tanji Ranjit Singh of Sharavati, India and leaves her family behind in West Africa to become India's first black rani or queen. She has a tough time with the language and the people, who are angry with the king for making this foreign woman their queen. The biggest threat she faces is from the king's younger brother, Sanji, who secretly plots against them.  Will he succeed in overthrowing the king and his new bride?



Excerpt:


West Africa



"As her dark brown skin baked in the noonday sun, her lovely dark eyes concentrating, she stood knee deep in the waters of the Ivory Coast.  She had been out all morning, it being her day to do the fishing.  Her mudcloth skirt tied just above her knees, her chest bare as the sweat dripped down her neck and in between her breasts.  Her muscles tensed as she patiently watched the fish in the clear water beneath her, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.  Though not her usual fishing spot, something told her the fish were gathering in this place and relying heavily on instinct, she distanced herself from the other tribal women to this remote spot.  Much to her delight, she found many fish and skillfully used her spear to capture about eight or so and thanked them for their sacrifice.  Suddenly, she heard a commotion that broke her concentration.

The sound of an elephant, men yelling in a language that Nefari had never heard before.  She turned around and walked back toward the shore.  She placed the caught fish on her spear among the rocks and ran up from the shore to road.  She marveled at the sight of a rather large elephant weighted down with a white and golden howdah with canopy and rails embedded with jewels and pearls.  Beneath the howdah was a large golden fabric decorated with various jewels that hung on the elephant to its knees.  Around the elephant’s legs were large gold rings.  Its tusks adorned with jewels and it wore a large headpiece that made Nefari wondered if the poor creature could even see in front of him.  Riding in the howdah was a man who wore a small blue and white turban wrapped tightly around his head with a peacock shaped brooch at the center.  His clothing was luxurious, blue silk embroidered with silver and gold, but what intrigued Nefari the most were his piercing dark brown eyes that caught sight of her and smiled.  Nefari froze where she stood, slightly shaking from head to toe.  

Four men also dressed in turbans and silk garments, though not as lavish as the man who rode the elephant, were guiding the elephant.  The elephant was now stalling and the men began to beat it with the narrow rods they carried.  The elephant cried out again and raised its trunk in protest.  Nefari’s eyes drew away from the man on the elephant to the elephant who cried out in pain.  Nefari heard the elephant’s thoughts, a gift she had since birth, speaking to and understanding animals, and felt pity for her.  It is a silent exchange that most humans cannot hear, but Nefari read their thoughts and in turn, the animals could hear hers. 


She yelled at the men to stop beating the poor elephant, but the men did not understand her as she spoke in English.  However, the man riding the elephant understood her and ordered the men to stop.  The foreign king looked sternly at the sweaty, bare chested young woman who dared to give his men an order.  “Who are you and why have you ordered my men to stop beating this beast?” The king demanded.
“I am Princess Nefari of the Cote d’Ivoire, daughter of the tribal chief, Muammer Al-Gaith and I will not standby and watching such cruelty to an elephant who has slowed because the calf she carries has made her weary and hungry!”  Nefari shouted back defiantly." 








 Will it be love or duty?

Annika, an Indian princess in the small province of Sharavati, India is living a wonderful life full of adventure and riches.  That is until a declaration of war from a neighboring province with a vast army causes her father, King Tanji, to seek support from the High King, the Maharaja of Rajasthan.  The Maharaja, having heard of the exotic looking princess Annika, asks for her hand in marriage in exchange for lending his support to the king.  The king agrees since no other offers of marriage have come for his daughter, who is part African, and feels this would be in their kingdom’s best interest as well as Annika’s, who could become India’s first Black Maharini.  However, Annika is in love with her childhood playmate, Ramai, who is now captain of her father’s palace guards.  Will she defy her father, risking treason for Ramai and herself or will she marry the Maharaja to save her father’s kingdom?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Upcoming Releases

My Upcoming New Releases for Spring and Summer 2011





Spring 2011 Release 




What happens when you leave everything you know behind for the man you love?

 Nefari, an  African princess, discovers this for herself when she falls in love with a foreign king, Raja Tanji Ranjit Singh of Sharavati, India and leaves her family behind in West Africa to become India's first black rani or queen. She has a tough time with the language and the people, who are angry with the king for making this foreign woman their queen. The biggest threat she faces is from the king's younger brother, Sanji, who secretly plots against them.  Will he succeed in his plans against them?


Excerpt:


"
As her dark brown skin baked in the noonday sun, her lovely dark eyes concentrating, she stood knee deep in the waters of the Ivory Coast.  She had been out all morning, it being her day to do the fishing.  Her mudcloth skirt tied just above her knees, her chest bare as the sweat dripped down her neck and in between her breasts.  Her muscles tensed as she patiently watched the fish in the clear water beneath her, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.  Though not her usual fishing spot, something told her the fish were gathering in this place and relying heavily on instinct, she distanced herself from the other tribal women to this remote spot.  Much to her delight, she found many fish and skillfully used her spear to capture about eight or so and thanked them for their sacrifice.  Suddenly, she heard a commotion that broke her concentration.
The sound of an elephant, men yelling in a language that Nefari had never heard before.  She turned around and walked back toward the shore.  She placed the caught fish on her spear among the rocks and ran up from the shore to the road.  She marveled at the sight of a rather large elephant weighted down with a white and golden howdah with canopy and rails embedded with jewels and pearls.  Beneath the howdah was a large golden fabric decorated with various jewels that hung on the elephant to its knees.  Around the elephant’s legs were large gold rings.  Its tusks adorned with jewels and it wore a large headpiece that made Nefari wondered if the poor creature could even see in front of him.  Riding in the howdah was a man who wore a small blue and white turban wrapped tightly around his head with a peacock shaped brooch at the center.  His clothing was luxurious, blue silk embroidered with silver and gold, but what intrigued Nefari the most were his piercing dark brown eyes that caught sight of her and smiled.  Nefari froze where she stood, slightly shaking from head to toe.  
Four men also dressed in turbans and silk garments, though not as lavish as the man who rode the elephant, were guiding the elephant.  The elephant was now stalling and the men began to beat it with the narrow rods they carried.  The elephant cried out again and raised its trunk in protest.  Nefari’s eyes drew away from the man on the elephant to the elephant who cried out in pain.
I cannot bear this anymore! I must eat and rest, my rider is too heavy and my swollen belly is too much in this heat! Why do they beat me?  Can’t they see that I must stop?
Nefari heard the elephant’s thoughts, a gift she had since birth, speaking to and understanding animals, and felt pity for her.  It is a silent exchange that most humans cannot hear, but Nefari read their thoughts and in turn, the animals could hear hers.  Don’t worry, I won’t let them beat you anymore.  The elephant slowly turned to Nefari.  You can understand me?
Yes, I can and I will help you.
Oh, a thousand blessings to you!
Nefari yelled at the men to stop beating the poor elephant, but the men did not understand her as she spoke in English.  However, the man riding the elephant understood her and ordered the men to stop.  The foreign king looked sternly at the sweaty, brave young woman who dared to give his men an order.  “Who are you and why have you ordered my men to stop beating this beast?” The king demanded.
“I am Princess Nefari of the Cote d’Ivoire, daughter of the tribal chief, Muammer Al-Gaith and I will not standby and watching such cruelty to an elephant who has slowed because the calf she carries has made her weary and hungry!”  Nefari shouted back defiantly. 
“I see, well I am His Highness Raja Tanji Ranjit Singh of Sharavati, Rajasthan, India.  You may call me King Tanji if you like.  So why do you trouble yourself for such a stupid beast?” said the king as gave Nefari the once over, stopping briefly at her bare breasts with its dark pointed nipples. 
“She is not a stupid beast, your highness!”
“I see, and how is it that you know all of this about her?”
“I can sense these things, about animals, it’s a gift, or so my father told me”, Nefari smiled.
She was beautiful to the king, the rarest of gems and the most exotic of flowers with her dark braided hair that hung just past her shoulders, deeply bronzed skin and golden eyes.  The tribal markings, beads and shells she wore around her neck and head only enhanced that beauty and told the king that she was indeed the daughter of a chief.  
He knew Africa was a country of beauty and precious gems.  He knew of the various tribes of peoples here in West Africa, but he had never spoken to one directly.  The British referred to them as savage natives, but then had they not also referred to his own people the same way?  The king had been educated at Oxford in England and spoke English quite well and he attended classes at the London College of Africa and Asia Studies. 
Nefari had never been ashamed of her body and though she was accustomed to the passing glances of the village warriors, she blushed under the bold scrutiny of the man riding the elephant.  However, she never looked away from the king, staring boldly back at him. 
One of the king’s servants whispered to the other something about Nefari’s breasts in Hindi and the king’s instant jealousy darkened his face.  He shouted at them in Hindi and forced them to look in the other direction.  When he turned back to face Nefari, his face immediately softened though his thick mustache still twitched angrily. 
“Is it your custom to run around half naked?  Cover yourself immediately!” He growled.
Nefari laughed, “Yes, it is, but I am not yet a married woman and in my tribe, only married women cover their breasts”. 
The king’s anger subsided as he listened to her melodious laugh and smiled at her once again before turning to bark orders to the four men below." 


Summer 2011 Release


Will it be love or duty?

Annika, an Indian princess in the small province of Sharavati, India is living a wonderful life full of adventure and riches.  That is until a declaration of war from a neighboring province with a vast army causes her father, King Tanji, to seek support from the High King, the Maharaja of Rajasthan.  The Maharaja, having heard of the exotic looking princess Annika, asks for her hand in marriage in exchange for lending his support to the king.  The king agrees since no other offers of marriage have come for his daughter, who is part African, and feels this would be in their kingdom’s best interest as well as Annika’s, who could become India’s first Black Maharini.  However, Annika is in love with her childhood playmate, Ramai, who is now captain of her father’s palace guards.  Will she defy her father, risking treason for Ramai and herself or will she marry the Maharaja to save her father’s kingdom?

Excerpt:

"
Like a bird in a gilded cage, she sat solemnly staring out the shielded window of her palace bedroom overlooking her formal courtyard garden.  Despite the beauty and opulence of her surroundings, her spun silk garments, ornately carved furnishings, plush pillows in colors of rust and gold, and marble tiled floors, she cared nothing for them.  
“You refuse to eat or even leave your room. How long will sit and stare out the window?” Her mother, Queen Nefari, gently patted her head.
“Until my father changes his mind!” she groaned as she pulled away from her mother.     
“Annika, your father has made his decision, you must accept it.  You are a princess and must do what he commands.  It is your duty to marry the Maharaja.” 
Annika sighed heavily as she turned back to face her mother in defiance.  “It’s not fair!  I’m not ready to be a bride and I want my husband to be someone of my choosing!  You were not forced to marry my father, you loved each other!”
“It is not the same, things are different now!  The Maharaja is a powerful ally to us, we need his support, and his only request was that the Maharaja marries you to seal the agreement.” 
“Don’t you want me to be happy mama?” Annika pleaded, her eyes brimming with tears.  
Queen Nefari gently rubbed away an escaped tear that spilled down her lovely daughter’s cheek.  She wanted nothing more than her daughter’s happiness, but there was nothing she could do ease her pain.  She knew all too well about the duties of a royal wife and Annika had been raised as such, but she had also been indulged by her parents.  She had a literary education, taught to hunt along with martial arts training, and allowed to play with the children of the servants, learn dance, and learn craft working and the arts, including the erotic arts or “love lessons” of the Kamasutra in order to please her future husband." 



Monday, July 12, 2010

PASSION'S PRIDE: LEONESSA

The first book in my shifter series, Leonessa, will be released soon.  Set in the Sierra Leone, West Africa, an erotic paranormal tale unfolds.... 






Read the first two chapters here:


CHAPTER ONE


     The air held the scent of her prey as she crouched in the darkness, her three-foot long tail curled around her right side. She waited silently, patiently lulling her prey, a young male zebra grazing alone, into a false sense of security. Why it was out alone, she didn’t question, just thankful she would be able to kill and return it to the village for food. She took shallow breaths as each muscle in her body tensed, like a tightly wound spring that was ready to pop when she caught another scent, human. The sound of an approaching engine and the strange illumination of headlights spooked the zebra and it ran off into the distance. There goes my dinner. She thought regretfully.


Incensed at her prey’s hasty retreat, she slowly turned to where the noise and light came from. Thirty yards or so in the distance, she spotted a human male. He was sitting alone in the jeep that came to a slow stop as he wiped the sweat from his brow with a red bandana. He held a map in one hand and a flickering flashlight in the other. His smooth pale skin and glowed eerily in the light of the flashlight and his sweat soaked curly blonde hair clung to the sides of his face and neck. She inched closer, sniffing the air as she studied him. His scent, a light musk, was pleasing and seemed familiar to her. His hazel green eyes looked confused as he studied the map he held tightly. He had to be lost; he was twenty miles from any of the roads, deep in the Sehki lion’s pride territory. She could practically taste his fear and frustration it was so thick. She observed quickly that he was no hunter; he had no weapons from what she could see. He was not a threat to her well, other than making her lose her dinner.

Why doesn’t he carry anything to protect himself? He’s a sitting duck, the fool, if I actually liked the taste of human flesh. She shook her head in disbelief thinking this man must have a death wish or he was crazy. Why else would he be out here alone with no protection?

Leonessa inched a bit closer when she felt the presence of two of her sister lionesses as they approached the area. They also spotted the human, whom they would surely kill for sport and food. Finding and killing a human was a prize to her village, a sort of retribution for the human hunters who had killed her kind for sport over the centuries. However, this man was not a hunter and something about him moved her, from his scent to his gentle looking eyes. She acted without thinking of the repercussions as she let out a warning roar to the other lions, making her way to the terrified human who began to wave his flickering flashlight nervously about him in the darkness.

She could hear his heart pounding; smell his fear and sweat as it dripped down his face and chest. He tried to start the jeep, flooding it in his haste. He panicked and cursed as Zabari, despite the warning roar, continued her pursuit of the human, striding curiously closer behind him in the darkness, her tail switching eagerly behind her. Keri, the other lioness, ran off as Leonessa padded in front of the jeep on four powerful legs and roared once more.

Zabari’s focus remained on the human male, but his was now on the large female lion before him. He blinked in disbelief as he noticed something different about this lioness; her eyes were a cool blue color instead of the usually golden eyes of lions. He was unaware of Zabari as she stealthily inched closer behind him. Zabari and Leonessa have never particularly liked one another, but have hunted together many times. She was not thrilled at Leonessa trying to claim what she considered her prize prey. Zabari loved human blood and flesh; it had been a long time since the sweetness of it touched her mouth and she salivated at the thought of tasting it once again. Unlike Leonessa, who never acquired the taste for human flesh, Zabari relished it. Many humans did not travel out this way so she wondered what sort of game Leonessa was trying to play by interfering.

The man sat frozen in terror, eyes wide, unable to move as Leonessa jumped onto the hood of the jeep, looking over his shoulder at the lioness behind him. She let out a roar that seemed to echo in the darkness.

“N…n…nice kitty,” he stammered and swallowed hard. He summoned the courage to look her directly in the eyes; she was beautiful, strong, and proud. From what he knew of lions, they didn’t roar before an attack and he thought it strange that she would do so.

Lance closed his eyes, thinking this his last moment alive but, Leonessa sprang over him as Zabari leaped for her attack. The two lions met in mid air and tussled to the ground, growling and biting. Leonessa bit into Zabari’s left shoulder, her weak spot from an old wound that didn’t quite heal, so she’d get the message. It forced a high-pitched wail from her and she released her hold on Leonessa.

“Go home,” Leonessa growled.

Ah saw im fohs!”

“Go home Zabari, this human is no hunter, there is no need to kill him,” Leonessa warned with a low growl, pressing her forepaw deeper still into Zabari’s shoulder causing her more pain.

“Ok Leonessa, a de go naw (I am going now)!” She winced. Her golden eyes gave Leonessa a defiant look. Though Leonessa was the pride king’s daughter, she wasn’t untouchable. Yu gbana (difficult) uman (woman), yu will regret this! She fumed to herself.

Leonessa stepped back and let Zabari get up, with one last look at the human; she limped away into the darkness. With Zabari gone, Leonessa turned back to the man who sat in the jeep staring wide-eyed at her. He thought he heard the name Leonessa in the midst of the growling, snarling lions. Of course lions can’t speak, so he put it off as his imagination. The blue-eyed lioness who won the match, turned to face him, blood dripped from her mouth.

“I…I suppose now you’ll eat me,” he whispered to himself. He kicked himself for not bringing a weapon. He been terrified to know there was another lioness behind him. He shivered; his breath shallow and his heartbeat erratic, his pulse was weak and rapid as he closed then opened his eyes in confusion.

Damn, he’s going into shock. Leonessa quickly assessed. He needed treatment, but in her lioness form, that would be impossible. Panting and near exhaustion herself, she moved slowly, cautiously to the side of the jeep and sat down on the cool ground, her front paws stretched lazily before her as she stared at him, willing him to slow his breathing. After a few moments, his breathing slowed and he continued to blink as he stared at the beautiful lioness. He was surprised that she didn’t move to attack him. Was she toying with him in some way or was she actually protecting him? The thoughts in his mind began to fade and the last thing he saw were those hypnotic ocean blue eyes looking up at him before his world turned to darkness.

Leonessa began to shift into human form; the golden fur receded as smooth dark brown skin took its place until she lay on the ground completely naked. The ground beneath her belly and breasts were cool. She stood up slowly, her muscles aching and sore from shifting and dusted herself off, wiping the blood from her mouth and chin. Her dark brown skin glowed in the soft moonlight. She strode quietly to the place where she’d hidden her clothing, khaki pants, black underwear and a white buttoned shirt.

She dressed quickly and returned to the jeep. The man sat slumped in the driver’s side. She touched the man’s face, lifting his head to look at him. His creamy white skin glowed in the moonlight; it was cold and clammy to the touch. He was still in shock and she needed to get him to the hospital right away, so she lifted him, ever so gently, and moved him into the back seat, laying him flat and elevating his legs to restore blood pressure. She loosened his clothing and used water from his canteen to wet his bandana, cooling him. He looked peaceful and handsome to her, as perfect as the Greek and Roman sculptures she’d seen in art books. She’d never seen this man before, yet his scent was unmistakably familiar. After making sure he was stable, she started the jeep effortlessly and drove him to the hospital in Freetown.

The hospital was quiet, the hour being so late. A few nurse’s aides were on staff and only one doctor. She parked his jeep outside and quickly carried him in. She placed him in a small private room she used to sleep in at times when it was too late to travel back to her village. After settling him onto the metal framed bed with a thin mattress, she began to clean him up. She stroked his face, chest and arms gently with a cool, wet cloth. His skin was soft and the cat within her wanted to strip him bare and lick his smooth skin that took on a slight tan in the dim yellowish light of the small room. She fought this feeling of course and prepared his arm for the IV needle, she thought surely he would awaken but he only stirred as she started the flow of the saline drip. She smoothed back his curly hair from his face and studied him. He was indeed beautiful with his eyebrows that were slightly darker than his hair, thick, full, his long lashes, and slightly crooked aquiline nose. She paused at his mouth as she felt a strong urge to kiss his pink hued lips that were slightly fuller on the bottom, but she would never be so forward with a man and had never kissed one before.

Who is this man? She thought to herself as she leaned over him, listening to his heart with her stethoscope.

He stirred and awoke to a warm sensation that seemed to move over his body with purpose. He looked sleepily at the woman leaning over him, her concern for him evident on her face as she listened to his heart and lungs. He moved to touch her, but the IV immobilized him, pulling at his arm. She looked up at him, smiling. He gazed for a moment at the captivating Caribbean blue eyes that stared back at him. Her dark brown skin was a magnificent contrast to her beautiful eyes. Her hair was black and she wore it in a natural afro style, with braids stemming from her forehead and stopping where the afro began, resembling a crown. Her dangling earrings were large and round and shimmered like mother of pearl. Her cheekbones were high and regal and he thought she was the most enchanting and most exotic looking woman he’d ever seen. He wanted to caress her lovely dark skin and hair, kiss her soft full lips, parting them with his tongue. He wanted to hold her, gazing into her lovely eyes as they beheld his.

“Where…where am I?” He finally managed to whisper.
“This is Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in Freetown. I’m Dr. Leonessa Kamara, but you can call me Leonessa if you like,” she smiled at him. It was a smile that warmed him; he was intrigued and felt a stirring in his nether regions. She spoke perfect English and her voice was soothing and calm. She looked too young to be a doctor but then he surmised that she must be an intern or medical student. She wasn’t wearing a lab coat, only a white button down shirt and khaki pants, which showed off her curves and round bottom nicely. She was there alone with him, with no other resident in attendance. Most resident doctors in America would never have given their first name or be caught without a lab coat unless they were a surgeon in scrubs. This country was so very different from his, but if they had doctors who looked like Leonessa, he would be at the hospital everyday!

“Leonessa…that is a beautiful name,” he whispered his voice raspy from dryness. He could have sworn he’d heard that name before, maybe in a dream he thought. He’d been out for hours and yet his eyes locked onto hers in a stare that threatened to lay bare her soul. She looked away quickly placing the stethoscope around her neck and placing her hands nervously inside her pants pocket.

Tenki, (thank you). I see you are American, would you like me to contact the U.S. Embassy mister….?”

“Lance, Lance Harrold, and no darlin that won’t be necessary,” he gave her a weak but sincere smile.

“Is there anyone we can contact for you, a friend, wife or employer?”

“No, I’ll call my group leader later. Say, how did I get here in the first place?”

“Well Mr. Harrold, you were in shock and passed out when I found you a few miles north of here on my way to the hospital. I brought you here and treated you. You should be fine with some rest and fluids and may leave the hospital tumara, (tomorrow),” She assured him with a slight pat on his arm. He covered her hand with his and his touch vibrated through her body, a feeling she’d never felt before. She pulled away quickly as if his touch had stung her.

Ignoring her reaction, he sighed. “I had the most incredible dream, or maybe it wasn’t, this lioness, I thought she was going to attack me, but she protected me from another lion. She had the most unusual eyes…I could have sworn they were blue….”

“Mr. Harrold,” she interrupted him gently, “you were suffering from shock and dehydration, you were delirious and it isn’t unusual to become confused. I can assure you there are no lions near the area where I found you; they are in Kilimi National Park, a large wildlife reserve. As for a lion with blue eyes, well, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Perhaps you should just rest now. I put your shirt, watch and keys in the chair next to the bed. Your jeep is outside and though it sounds like an interesting dream, if you will excuse me, I have other patients to attend,” she smiled warmly.

“Of course doc, you know speaking of eye color, your eyes sure are pretty if I may say so myself. Do blue eyes run in your family?”

Leonessa blushed and caught her breath before quickly straightening her composure, “tenki, but you really should rest now Mr. Harrold, I will check on you later.” She avoided his question as she couldn’t explain the nature of her eye color to him. The truth is she didn’t know herself. She never experienced any of the local humans asking her directly about them before. Most assumed she was of mixed heritage. Everyone in her village had tawny golden eyes, including both of her parents. Many of the villagers thought their enemies had cursed her, but the wise old crone woman, Panthera, who delivered her, told them that the goddess of waters, Mami Wata, marked her for a special purpose.

“Leonessa?” he called to her softly, his voice barely above a whisper. The sound of her name on his lips hit her hard. She inhaled sharply as tsunami waves of shock and heat slapped through her nerve endings.

Why am I reacting like this? This feeling was new to her and she hadn’t even felt that way about her fiancĂ©. Theirs was an arranged marriage of course, as is their custom and she’d only met him once at the betrothal ceremony a few months ago.

“Yes Mr. Harrold?” She turned briefly to him, her cool composure slowly slipping away.

Tenki…for saving me Leonessa,” his smile was more confident, knowing.

He was unconscious when I changed, wasn’t he? She wondered. His gaze was unnerving to say the least, but the man had been delirious, even if he saw anything, who would believe him in this condition? Her family has been living for centuries, hidden away from the humans and the hunters of the past hunted them as lions; never knowing they could take human form. Only one human knew of their secret, a registered nurse who worked at the hospital, Olivette. She was Leonessa’s best friend and her sister-in-law, the first and only human allowed to marry into the tribe after she and her younger brother were able to wear their father down.

“Oh…you’re quite welcome. Just…don’t venture out alone again, OK?”
“Ok, I’ll tell you what, how about you be my guide from now then?” he flirted as his hazel green eyes shimmered in the soft afternoon light coming from a nearby window.
“I’m afraid that isn’t possible Mr. Harrold, I’m much too busy. Have a good rest now,” Leonessa smiled and walked quickly toward the door. He was a very handsome man, but there was something in his eyes and his scent, his very voice that caused a deep stirring within her. She’d never reacted this way with anyone, human or shifter. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been around human white men before, some had even flirted, but she had no interest in them. However, Lance Harrold seemed different. She actually wanted to accept his invitation. What makes this man so special?

 
 

 
CHAPTER TWO

Ten Years ago…


Leonessa held her mother’s hand tightly as they stepped off of the boat, which docked in the lagoon of the Banana Islands, off the North Atlantic coast of Sierra Leone. She breathed in the ocean air deeply and admired the beautiful color of the water and sandy beach. It was her first time away from the Sehki village, which was located in a remote part of Sierra Leone in West Africa. It was a special outing for her and her family and they would be here for a week before returning to the village.

The village and Leonessa’s family were lion shape shifters. Five full blood West African lions, two males and three females, lived in the pride and the females of that pride sometimes hunted with them. All other lions lived within the confines of the Kilimi National Park. Eleven years of civil war from 1991 to 2002 had practically left the county in ruins, save the Sehki village and other shifter villages which were cloaked by magical means and thrived for centuries unspoiled and unaffected by the outside world. Thousands of humans died and millions displaced but many lion tribes felt along with their chiefs that it was not their place to interfere in human affairs. They possessed a few modern things like clothing, shoes, coca-cola, cigars, and radios, but telephone, cell phones, televisions and computers did not exist in the village. They would venture into Freetown and other surrounding towns for such things after the war as they wanted their village to remain hidden from humans. The ability to shift or “go thru the change” as they called it, didn’t usually occur until a child became thirteen years of age and with it their powers or special abilities. Until that time, the children remained safely inside the village.

Leonessa was thrilled to be away from the village, she felt fortunate to accompany her family outside of the village as she had shifted for the first time last year, at the age of ten. She had been terrified. She remembered how her head ached and how she thought she would vomit at any minute, trembling as sweat glistened on her skin.

Her body felt as if something were trying to rip its way out. She twisted and turned on the floor of Panthera’s clay/mud hut. Panthera, the wise witch woman of the village, knew instantly that Leonessa was shifting much too soon. She began to chant immediately to the goddess, walking in a circle around Leonessa. She had not been the first child to shift at such a young age, it happened a few times before with some of the girls, due to the hormones in their bodies and early onset of puberty. However, they did not survive the change and usually died within minutes, stuck in half-animal form. Their bodies burned and their ashes spread among the trees so that humans would not accidentally discover their remains.

As Leonessa writhed feverishly in agony, calling for her mother, Panthera continued her chanting. Leonessa’s mother came running into Panthera’s hut and screamed at the site of her daughter in the throes of shifting on the ground.

Please, non, mi pickin (my child), NON!”
Lef (Stop) mi kween, eh yu mus go! Le mi ep una titi (let me help the girl)!” Panthera shouted.

Lenore stopped instantly and stood watching helplessly, silently praying, her tears soaking her rust colored mudcloth blouse. Panthera continued chanting as Leonessa jerked with pain and an ever-increasing body temperature. Her bones and joints shifted and formed new patterns. Her eyes opened and shut frantically as she rolled onto her stomach, her arms and legs no longer human. She opened her mouth to scream only to hear a strangled growl that grew into a roar. A rush of power filled the hut, knocking Panthera and several other women, who’d run in when they heard Leonessa’s screams, to the ground.

Leonessa felt dizzy for a moment; she opened her eyes one last time to see the women staring at her in amazement, their eyes a little wider than usual. Fur swirled about Leonessa’s body; her hands, now paws with sharp claws. She wanted to speak, but couldn’t. She felt confused, scared and frustrated all at once. She knew she would change into her lion form one day, but it wasn’t supposed to happen until her thirteenth year. She shook her now lion shaped head frantically. Leonessa stood before the women a tawny young lioness with blue eyes. The women grew more amazed, yet worried about her eye color even in lioness form. They feared she would not be able to blend in with the other lions, but Panthera didn’t worry, Leonessa would stand out either way, for she was special indeed.

Yu vos cum soon mi pikin, don worri,” Panthera spoke as she gently rubbed Leonessa’s head.

Lenore, who had been silently praying, fell to her knees giving thanks, “Tenki Mami Wata, tenki.”

Leonessa strode to her mother’s side and licked the salty tears from her cheeks, grateful to be alive. She nuzzled at her mother’s neck as her mother’s smooth brown skin began to give way to her own golden fur, her clothes dropping to her feet. She shifted much to Leonessa’s delight and proceeded to lead her daughter out of the hut for a run around the village proudly showing off the miracle of her daughter’s lion form as other mothers had done before her. Her child, blessed by the goddess, no mother could have been more proud. Gradually, Leonessa learned to control the changes, control her power. She became faster than most in the village. She could also make herself invisible. Her roar was loud enough to wake the dead, literally. The newly dead in most cases, if the body was still warm. No such luck if they’ve been dead a day or so more. Leonessa smiled at the memory of that day now as she watched her father in the lagoon.

Her father, Leondre, was the king of their pride and he stood tall and proud as he surveyed the lagoon with caution. He was a man of few words, thickly muscled, his voice, when he spoke, deep and commanding. All who knew him respected him and he loved his family deeply. Leonessa, his only daughter, had been born in September on the day of the Fall Equinox, healthy and normal in most respects, the only unusual thing about her had been her blue eyes. He thought that surely his wife had been unfaithful till he studied the child and found that she looked exactly like him in every way except for the color of her eyes. She had no other special markings, not even a mole or birthmark. Leonessa developed quickly, speaking clearly and walking before the end of her first year of life. She excelled at everything she did. Her brothers were both impressed and jealous of her at times. Especially in regard to their father, who began to call Leonessa his ‘little jewel’ because of her blue eyes.

Leondre sighed as if satisfied with the lagoon. “Non won is here, so yu ken play fri mi pikins, but don go too fah.” Leonessa immediately let go of her mother’s hand and ran to join her brothers as her father and mother, along with a few of the village men set up camp.

Her older brothers always impressed her with their shifting ability, as a small child, it was a game they would often play with her. Her brothers would dance for her, making silly faces by only changing their faces or their eyes before shifting completely into their animal form. Leonessa was the youngest of three children. The youngest of her brothers, Leokai, was fourteen. The eldest, Leoken, was eighteen. Their mother, Lenore, didn’t expect to have any more children until she conceived Leonessa.

Leoken is the only one whose lion mane was almost as full as their father’s was. Though he was the eldest, he was not the strongest or the fastest of her brothers, but he was certainly the smartest. Often teased by the other children as well as by Leokai, the laughter would soon cease when he out witted them in games of chance.

Leonessa was skilled at hunting and had a natural talent for the healing arts though she was only a child. She became an apprentice of Panthera, working closely with her each day learning the names and uses of each herb, tree, grass, fruit and vegetable. Because of this, the others in the village began to trust her. At one time, the people had been afraid of her, now they practically worshipped her as the living embodiment of Mami Wata. They loved her power for healing and “waking” the newly dead.

Panthera and Leonessa usually stayed busy traveling from their village to other tribes of lion shifters, helping to heal those who were sick; women in labor and sometimes Leonessa would bring back from the dead those who died of sickness at a young age before they could reach them in time. Panthera would not let Leonessa bring back all who died; for some, it was just their time to go. Leonessa didn’t like it, wanting to save everyone, but she trusted Panthera’s wisdom.

Leonessa is engaged to Leonis, the son of a chief from a neighboring tribe of lion shifters since the age of five. It is the way things of things to secure peace among the lion tribes. Her father was king of all the tribes, but each tribe had their own chief and they all reported to King Leondre. Since she had survived her first shift, the excitement of all the tribes grew. Leonis, the best and strongest alpha male lion from the tribes chosen by Leondre to marry his daughter. Leonis won the tournament against all the strongest young male lion tribesmen when he was fifteen and was to wed Leonessa when she turned twenty-one. He is ten years older than she is.

Leonessa chased her brothers along the lagoon and swam in her new one-piece blue swimsuit that her mother bought for her in Freetown. At the edge of the lagoon, Leonessa smelled something unusual. She peered through the tall grass and trees that separated the lagoon from the coastline of the Banana Islands. She saw a young boy around her age building something in the sand. She sniffed the air. His scent was unlike the others in the village and his skin, though tanned, was not dark like she or the others. His curly hair was light and hung wildly past his ears. He was shirtless and barefoot, wearing only olive green shorts. Leonessa became more curious by the second as she inched closer.

“Who’s there?” the boy stood suddenly, he felt as if someone were watching him. He glanced at the trees and grass, he was sure something or someone was there.
Leonessa shrank back and quickly made herself invisible, afraid to answer. She didn’t know if this boy were an enemy or a friend. She watched him in silence, longing to touch his skin, run her fingers through his hair that looked softer than her own with its larger, looser curls, but she dared not leave from where she stood watching silently.
After a few moments of looking about and receiving no reply, the boy went back to building his castle. He soon became bored and decided to explore the nearby trees. He began to climb a low-lying palm tree with great skill, right next to the one from where Leonessa was watching! He sensed movement, but again saw nothing. Leonessa held her breath, her heartbeat faster at being so close to him that she could reach out and touch him. He smelled of water and sand, but not of lion.

He must be a human. Leonessa thought to herself. Her mother and Panthera had told her of humans but she’d never seen a human before and his skin had the most unusual coloring. She thought that surely everyone had the same dark skin as she and the people in her village. This boy was even lighter than her mother, whose light brown skin was lighter than anyone in the tribe was. Still invisible, Leonessa stealthily followed the boy as he climbed higher in the tree. When he stopped short and turned, she nearly lost her balance but held on tightly to the tree.

“I know you’re there, I can hear ya breathing,” he said with a smile. He was even more beautiful when he smiled and to Leonessa’s surprise, she suddenly became visible.
Kushe (hello),” she laughed. However, the boy was so surprised to see her materialize before him that he fell backwards off the tree with a yell. He landed hard on his left ankle, breaking it before collapsing onto the sand. Leonessa scrambled down the tree as fast as she could and ran to him.

A beg pardon (I’m sorry), yu OK?” Her blue eyes beamed at him.
“I’m ok…ow, ow…my ankle,” he said suddenly feeling a sharp pain as his hazel green eyes began to well up and big teardrops slipped down his face before he could stop them. He wiped them hastily, he felt afraid, embarrassed, as his ankle throbbed in pain. His father had told him he should never cry, especially not in front of girls. Nevertheless, when he looked into Leonessa’s eyes, his fear suddenly began to subside. She didn’t mock him for crying or look on him with pity, but with compassion. Leonessa stared at his tear-stained face and thought him beautiful with his golden curly locks and green eyes that seemed to sparkle like jewels wet with more tears that welled up and threatened to fall. She immediately turned her attention to his ankle that was beginning to swell and looked somewhat deformed.

Ah ken ep, yu trus mi?” She gazed at him kindly speaking Krio.

He stiffened at the question not knowing anything about who she was, but something inside him said to trust this strange, magical beauty that lay next to him in the sand. He relaxed a bit.

“Ok, what are ya gonna do?”
“Be still, OK?” She smiled reassuring him.
“Ok.”

She placed his left leg gently across her lap and slipped off his sandal, holding her hands slightly above his leg, she closed her eyes and moved her hands back and forth, scanning his foot and ankle. It was something she watched Panthera do so many times before and begged Panthera to teach her. “Yu brek won bone, but Ah ken fix,” she opened her eyes and beamed at him before quickly setting his ankle back in place with a sharp snap.

“How do you know that…OW!” he yelped, as the pain was worse than when he’d fallen. Leonessa held his ankle firmly as a cooling energy flowed through her small hands, in a few seconds, he felt better and the sharp pain became a dull ache.
Yu need to stay off it fah a few weks,” She said trying to speak proper English like Panthera was beginning to teach her. She gently touched his foot with two fingers, feeling his pulse, which was strong and steady. She touched his toe and asked if he could feel it. He nodded yes. Leonessa smiled, “ken yu move yu toes?” He winced, but was able to wiggle them. She gazed at him with her biggest smile. He would be just fine.

“Wha…what are ya doing now?” He took a deep breath and exhaled loudly as sweat slid down the sides of his face making him more sticky and hot despite the breeze that blew.

“I’m checking to make sure yu foot is OK. I’m going to look for sumtin to hold yu ankle in place while it heals and sum big sticks to ep yu waka (help you walk). A de kam (I’ll be back), OK?” She informed him before heading back through the tall grass into the lagoon. The boy just nodded, no longer afraid and fully trusting the young beauty that spoke Krio mixed with English. He learned the Krio language from one of the native geologists that worked with his parents, Mustapha Turay. He wished he were more fluent but was happy at the girl’s attempt to communicate despite their accents, his southern and hers Krio.

Leonessa returned a few minutes later with a medium sized bag on her shoulder and a small handmade mudcloth pillow with hand painted cowrie shells on it under her arm. On her head, she balanced a small bucket of clear water. She set the bag and bucket of water down next to him before opening the bag and pulling out a roll of gauzy material. The pillow, which was just big enough to fit, wrapped around his left foot and ankle to support it. She then unrolled the gauzy material around the pillow to hold it in place, tying it securely at the top.

The boy watched in amazement, he’d never seen any girl his age like her. She seemed so grown up and knew exactly what she was doing. She even brought him a bottle of water to drink. She pulled out a small piece of handmade mudcloth, dipping it into the bucket of water and began to wipe his face, chest, arms and legs gently, silently as she had done with the injured and sick in her village. The boy blushed and looked away, allowing her to touch him. After a few moments of awkward silence, he began to feel a slight stirring in his shorts and he quickly and gently brushed her hand away. “I du so (enough).”

Leonessa simply nodded unaware of the effect she was having on him. She had been too preoccupied with bathing him to notice his reaction. She rung the cloth out over the bucket and gracefully folded it over the side to dry.

Tenki, you are really awesome…for a girl that is,” he blushed slightly making his tanned face more of a reddish brown as he smiled warmly and Leonessa felt that smile down to her toes.

Yu aw-sum too, fah a bobo (boy),” she giggled, having no clue what he meant, but she assumed it to be a compliment because he smiled again when she said it back to him.

Wetin yu nem (What is your name)?” He asked shyly as he looked her over. She was such a beautiful girl, he just had to know whom, or rather what she was. His first thought was maybe she was a mermaid or some other magical creature from the ocean because of her eyes.

A nem Leonessa,” she held out her hand to him smiling sweetly at his attempt to speak her language.

Mi gladi fo mit yu (I am happy to meet you), A nem Lance. So how did ya…you know, do that thing, up in the tik (tree)? How long were ya watching me?” he grinned with only a slight blush in his cheeks this time. Leonessa blushed, deeply embarrassed.

Misef gladi fo mit you. (I myself am happy to meet you). A beg pardon, Ah neva see anwon like yu befo, Ah follow yu from de san san (sand) up to de tik. Ah wan be padis (friends).” She paused a moment, suddenly looking very serious. “But Ah can’t tell yu how Ah did it, it’s a secret. If anwon sabi (know), mi famili ken be in big trouble. Do yu promise not to tell wetin yu see mi do?” Her eyes held a hint of sadness and fear and Lance immediately regretted asking. He didn’t want anyone to hurt her and he certainly didn’t want her to be afraid.
“Oh sure, you saved my life after all, so your secret is safe with me,” he winked.

Tenki, yu wan Ah take yu to yu mama and papa naw?”
“Oh no, I can manage, our camp ain’t too far from here,” he sighed. He didn’t want Leonessa exposed to anyone and thought it best she stay hidden from anyone who could cause trouble for her or her family. Leonessa looked at him and smiled. She seemed to understand his meaning as she said “ok” and helped him to stand. She gave him the two large sticks she cut into a ‘Y’ shape at the top to serve as makeshift crutches. He didn’t care what her secret was and he vowed then and there to keep her secret always. He felt a bond with her, this marvelous and strange young girl who helped him.

They agreed to meet again the next day at the same beach where he’d been playing. Only Lance did not return the next day and Leonessa thought she would never see him again. Therefore, she went back to the lagoon to help her mother and play with her brothers. Nevertheless, on the third day, Leonessa returned to the beach and found Lance sitting in the sand, a white hard splint on his foot propped up on a pair of wooden crutches, waiting for her. Once he spotted her, he waved her over and she ran to him. They played and laughed for hours as Lance taught Leonessa to how to build sand castles. They played hide and seek and Lance always found Leonessa, though she made herself invisible, he could sense her easily. Their difference in their skin color didn’t matter to them and they vowed to be best friends forever. Over the next four days, Leonessa would slip away from her brothers and meet Lance each day in secret, or so they thought. Someone was watching them from a distance, sighing happily; content to watch over the children as they played and saw to it that no one bothered them.

When it was time for Leonessa to return home to her village, she knew she could tell no one of her secret friend, Lance, except for Panthera, whom she truly trusted. Lance hugged Leonessa one last time, holding her close, feeling her heartbeat in rhythm to his own, and secretly vowed to himself to return again one day to make her his wife.



*****

PASSION’S PRIDE: LEONESSA


Copyright: © 2010 Mahogany SilverRain

Friday, March 26, 2010

Meet the Characters of THE BLOOD ROSE




The Characters of THE BLOOD ROSE

DOMINIQUE ETIENNE LEROY:  A day walking vampire, a former slave, now Voodoo Priestess and Vampire Queen of New Orleans. She kills the old queen, gaining her power of mind control and glamour. She was born Lissette Etienne LeRoy, changing it to Dominique in honor of her father, Dominic LeRoy after he died. In addition to being a vampire, she is a psychic telepath with telekinetic abilities. She is biracial, French and Haitian, looks about twenty-five, her skin tone color being 'cafe au lait', with almond shaped eyes that are green, full lips, jet black curly hair that hangs almost to her waist. Eyes are usually a hazel green, turning darker when her fangs appear. Small waist, wide hips, thick legs with slightly slender ankles, full, but not buxom breasts. She looks more human than vampire. She can be cold and illusive when she needs to, using feminine wiles as well as her powers in given situations. She is loyal and commpassionate to those she loves. A mix of dangerous and sexy with a hint of softness.

HENRI TOUSSAINT:  Dominique's late husband/master. A French vampire that Dominique is sold to as a young girl. He is six foot three, boyishly handsome with soft features, pale skintone, lean and muscular, with golden blonde hair that hangs to his shoulders. His eyes are an icy blue color like a Siberian husky. His slaves are not property to him, but servants. He treats them well and fairly, never beating them or selling off their family members. He uses the young girls between the ages of fourteen and twenty as blood donors only, not sexually, he just prefers virgin blood. He falls in love with Dominique but their relationship stays platonic until he turns her by accident when she was twenty-five, on the night of a blue moon as she was trying to save him. Though interracial marriage was not legal in the states, he marries Dominique in France and remained her husband for over a century as they traveled throughout Europe and Asia.

ASMODEUS:  Henri's best friend and Dominique's silent partner in The Blood Rose nightclub. A three hundred yr old aristocratic French vampire with the powers of seduction and lust. His look is vintage Goth, preferring velvet, lace and high heeled boots. He looks to be in his forties. Handsome with pale skin, steel blue eyes that turn the color of sapphires when he's aroused and a blue flame when he is angry or about to attack. His hair is almost blue/black it’s so dark, curly like Dominique's, falling to his shoulders. His build is naturally slender, not too muscular, though he is very strong. His lips are thin with the bottom one being slightly thicker. His arrogant, obnoxious, smile can seduce women and men into being his willing prey. Only Dominique is immune to this gaze. He can cloak himself so that he is invisible and able to levitate, almost flying with great speed and strength. He lived and traveled with Dominique and Henri when Henri was alive until a fallout with Henri separated them later. Drinking Dominique's blood gives him more power than he imagines and he will stop at nothing to make her his.


JASON LEBLANC:  Dominique's Cajun animal guardian and one of her lovers. He works as a bartender at The Blood Rose, creating a specialty drink for the human patrons. The Blood Rose Cocktail, as he calls it, five parts tomato juice, one part lime juice, a splash of Bacardi Limon rum, a dash of celery salt, and four parts Bombay Blue Sapphire Gin served with a celery stick. Jason is a wereleopard or rather because of his dark coat when in cat form, a panther. He has yellow-green eyes that look greener during the day. The irises in his eyes turn to slits when he shifts or is truly sexually aroused. Charming and knows it, but not a player, his heart belongs to Dominique. He’s of average height for a male standing at five foot eleven inches, with the body of a swimmer, slender and muscular. He’s also tanned, staying that way from lying out in the sun during the summer and running shirtless in the fall and winter. His hair is strawberry blond with natural highlights and very curly, which he hates, so he tries to keep it cut short but you can still see the wavy patterns. Through him, Dominique learns why she is so different from the other vampires. Jason gives Dominique his beast, making her his mate and giving her power over the wereleopards, becoming their protector. He doesn't trust Asmodeus but doesn't mind sharing Dominique with Azazel.


AZAZEL/RICHARD MONTAGUE:  A half human wizard that Dominique meets online. He is French and Hispanic, thirty-six years old, bald with dark brown eyes, standing at six foot one with a black moustache and a beard he keeps neatly trimmed into a goatee on his chiseled face. He’s masculine, with a thickly muscular body, and a commanding presence. Very strong for a human, even with wizard powers. Richard is bold, always speaking his mind. He can speak both French and Spanish. An accountant who loves baseball, he graduated at the top of his class at the Waleak School of Wizardry. His power has increased to the point that he can wrap it around himself as a shield that sends a shock of electricity to anyone who dares to breach it. His psychic ability is something he and Dominique have in common. To the magical community, he is a powerful pyrokenetic wizard. Azazel is the name given to him by the wizard council when he graduated from wizard school. The only thing he truly fears is being stripped of his powers by the wizard council for some infraction, which he has been threatened with for killing one too many vampires. He is currently on probation for this. He usually provokes a vampire to fight, then he kills them and claims self defense. He is torn by his love for Dominique and his hatred for vampires.  He doesn't want to become a vampire, but knows he will have to make a choice if he wants to stay with her.


AANAR:  The Asian Vampire Queen of New York City and Dominique's best friend, and female lover. She is multiracial, Chinese/Malaysian and British. She speaks with a British accent and can speak Malay and Mandarin Chinese as well. She designed vampire dating website using a code which only vampires can read to keep out the human wannabes. She also owns several companies and abroad. She rules all of New York City, but stays on the Upper East Side. She has vampire generals governing the various parts like Queens, Harlem, etc. She is a lesbian and her vampire lover is Lisa, an Irish redhead she turned two years ago. She is a seductive sadist to men and women, but prefers to torture men. However, she can be a masochist, but only with Dominique. Short and petite, tiny waist, slender frame, porcelain skin, slightly slanted grey-blue eyes. Small breasts, slender legs, small heart shaped lips. Long, straight, jet black hair to her waist, which she usually wears in a high ponytail. Her style is a blend of vintage Goth and fetish wear of latex, vinyl or leather. Preferring black and purple, she wears high heeled boots. She comes to New Orleans to help Dominique when she becomes a vampire queen. She travels with and is protected by two werewolf bodyguards, Antonio and Joseph.


MALAKAR:  Dominique's Vampire General and head bouncer at The Blood Rose club. A very dark skinned vampire; bald, with no facial hair and his eyes are so dark brown they look black as night. His thick neck gives way to broad shoulders and thick muscular arms. His torso is rippled with muscles that look like steel, his waist slender, and his thigh and calf muscles bulge through his pants. He works out six nights a week in the early evenings training his vampire warriors in Aikido, a form of Japanese martial arts, then spends the rest of the night working at The Blood Rose. Though he’s large, he moves with the grace of a gazelle and with the speed of a cheetah, pinning his prey in seconds. He is of the Gazini bloodline of vampires. He intimidates everyone but Dominique and treats her like his little sister. He watches over her and aided her in defeating the former vampire queen. He believes in Dominique and will protect her at all costs.


KAIYANA:  The lesbian vampire queen of Mississippi.  A smart brown skinned beauty standing at only five foot two, with thick legs, chiseled abs, and smoldering amber colored eyes.  She is very sexy with her straight black hair that she wears in an asymmetrical cut that hangs over her right eye and exposes her slender neck in the back. She carries a large whip on her hip.  Her bite is intoxicating and addicting to her victims. They don’t resist long if they resist at all initially. All of her victims, once bitten, float in a sea of warmth, and if they survive, their pleasure soon turns to madness. She wants to make Dominique her mate and joins the rank of Dominique's vampire allies.

Available as a paperback, hardcover and e-book and soon to Amazon Kindle.
The second book in the Blood Rose Series is coming soon!  So stay tuned to learn more of the vampire Dominique and her circle of friends and lovers!

Blessed Be,

Mahogany SilverRain


Monday, March 15, 2010

RIONA'S LUCK



My newest E-book release, RIONA'S LUCK, is now available!


Blurb:
Riona Watkins, a sociologist from New York, always had bad luck with love. When her work takes her to Ireland, the birthplace of her mother, she thinks her luck might finally change. But the bad luck continues when she meets Emrys Kane, a mysterious man with piercing green eyes who comes to her rescue when she is harrassed by a male colleague in a local pub. He tells her the meaning of her Celtic name and seems to be very interested in her, but disappears before she can really get to know him! Will she find him again before she leaves Ireland or will her bad luck continue?


EXCERPT:

The Midsummer festival was among the three largest that the Daione Sidhe celebrated. There would be bonfires on every hill, feasting and dancing in honor of St. John, (John the Baptist). A great time for the young males to choose their brides. Throughout history, many chose beautiful mortals, stealing them away, though it had not been so for over a hundred years. Emrys knew his bride would be mortal and she would possess dark eyes and dark hair. Other than that, he didn’t know what exactly she would look like.


“I’m going into the city of Dublin tonight father, a change of pace is in order I think,” he chuckled. Alphonsus grimaced a bit, “Among the mortals? Whatever will ya find there? Nothing but trouble, I tell ya!” He hoped his son would chose among the females in their clan. Perhaps even Bevis, a lovely fae with long golden hair and large eyes, blue as sapphires, she’d grown up with Emrys and the two had once been inseparable. Mortals were bothersome, most of the old ones believed and still honored the fae, but the young ones showed no interest or respect toward their kind.

“Oh let him go husband,” his mother, Avaline, chided, knowing of her son’s true intentions. She too, had seen a vision of her future daughter-in-law. As usual, when his mother interjected, his father conceded. He was a softie at heart when it came to Avaline, his lovely wife, with fiery red hair that matched her temperament. 
“Very well then, go with my blessing, but be careful!” His father warned. Emrys smiled at his father with a nod to his mother. Their home was high in the hills, but it would take him no time to reach the city of Dublin.

*****

Riona nursed her pint of Guinness as she finished off the last of her shrimp when she felt a cool wind at her back. She slowly turned around to see where it was coming from. Maybe the door of the pub’s entrance had been opened. But when she looked at the door, it was closed and no one stood at the entrance.

“What’s wrong darlin?” Jackson asked, noting her turn to the door. Riona rolled her eyes again, “first off, I’m not your darlin, ok? Secondly, I just felt a draft, I thought maybe it was from the door.”
“Well e-x-c-u-s-e me, didn’t mean to offend. What? You think there might be a ghost or maybe a little leprechaun lurkin’ about the place?” Jackson teased.
“Shove it Jackson!” She’d had enough of his school boy teasing.
“Well now, that’s the most tempting offer I’ve had all night darlin!” He laughed.
“Jackson, you son of a…” she began, glaring at him.

“Is this person bothering you milady?” A smooth voice said from behind her as she felt once more the cool wind. She turned slowly to see the most beautiful green eyes she’d ever seen gazing quizzically at her. They seemed to pierce right through her. She took a moment to gather her thoughts as she swallowed hard. “Ah…, no, it’s nothing I can’t handle,” she finally managed.
“Aye, by the looks of him, I tend to agree with ya,” he laughed softly.
“Look here, you mind your own business, she’s with me, ok?” Jackson warned.
“And are yer with him, miss…?” he replied, ignoring Jackson, his eyes still focused on Riona.
“Watkins, Riona Watkins. He’s my colleague, nothing more,” she smiled, beginning to blushing under his steady gaze. Riona looked him over; he was gorgeous with his lightly freckled face and his lean build. Wearing a slightly worn green t-shirt and dark blue jeans with a thick, heavily studded black belt, he was a fine figure of a man. But his eyes are what drew her in most. Riona felt they were the most unusual shade of green.

“Riona, what a beautiful name milady. It means royal. I am Emrys, Emrys Kane. Pleased to meet yer acquaintance, milady,” he took her right hand and kissed it, causing Riona to blush. She liked the sound of that as she hadn’t known the meaning of her name; she never bothered to ask her parents either.

Jackson became furious. There was no way this Irishman was going to get into her pants. Not after he’d been trying to get her drunk so he could do just that!
“Like I said, the lady is with me, so back off!” Jackson warned, stepping in front of Riona.
In a flash, Emrys twisted Jackson’s right arm behind his back. Jackson had no time to move.
“I beg to differ, seems the lady speaks the truth, ya best quiet down before I really get rough, aye?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say man,” Jackson winced, the pain in his arm throbbing so much, he thought for sure it was broken, his pride and ego bruised. As Emrys released him, the pain in his arm quickly subsided. He sat back on the bar stool embarrassed and angry. He looked around to see if anyone was staring, but to his surprise, it was if nothing had happened. Everyone seemed to be involved their own conversations.

Riona just stood in amazement; it was like time stood still. When Emrys extended his hand, asking her to join him at his table, she nodded yes, curious about this man, grateful he’d done what she wanted to do to the annoying Jackson.
“I’ll just be…here…at the bar, when you’re ready to go back to the hotel,” Jackson called behind them. Riona turned briefly to him and nodded before walking away with Emrys.

Once seated at his table in the dimly lit corner, Emrys smiled warmly at Riona. “I do apologize milady; I’m really not a brute.” Riona laughed as she began to relax a bit. “It’s ok, he was workin my last nerves anyway and besides, I think you only hurt his pride.”
“He did not have the best intention; he was planning to take yer virtue, milady,” Emrys beamed and his eyes seemed to glow. Riona laughed again, she loved his accent and being called “milady”, it made her feel as regal as her name meant. He didn’t have to worry about her “virtue”; she’d lost that during her freshman year at NYU.
“I’m not a virgin, but I had no intention of “giving it up” to him tonight or any night,” she laughed. Her laughter warmed Emrys and stirred something deep inside him. He knew instinctively this was his bride. He wanted to steal her away right this instant but decided against it. She must come to him willingly. He would never force her affections.

“Yer American are ya?” He gave her a genuine smile. He found her to be amusing, beautiful, and very charming.
“Yes, but my mother was born here in Ireland. Kinvara, I think, in…”
“A village in Galway Bay, aye, I know of it. That is very interesting.” He excitedly interjected, but stopped when he noticed the look on her face change and he quickly apologized for cutting her off. He was just glad to know that she was at least part Irish.

“It’s alright, just don’t do that again, I hate being interrupted,” she said, half serious. Just because he was handsome, it didn’t mean she was going to let him completely charm her into anything.
“Duly noted milady,” he nodded. She seemed to possess the feistiness of his mother, a fact that endeared her to him even more. They continued conversing with Riona telling him about her job in New York, her family and why she was here in Ireland. In fact, he let her do most of the talking as he listened intently hanging on her every word, but soon she began to yawn.

“Oh goodness, I’m sorry, but I’m a bit jetlagged, I just flew in late this afternoon. I have a long day tomorrow, so I’m gonna head back to the hotel.”
“May I accompany ya? I will leave straightaway once yer safely inside.” He hated for their time to end, but he planned on staying close. Riona thought for a moment, “No, I need to go back with Jackson, he did escort me and we are at the same hotel, the O’Callaghan. I enjoyed meeting you Emrys and I hope to see you again.”
“Aye milady, that you will,” he smiled eagerly, not bothering to ask which O’Callaghan hotel as there were three of them in town, the closest being the Alexander. He stood up when she did, taking her hand and kissing it once more before he watched her walk back to Jackson. When she turned around to see him once more, he was gone.

Just as well, she thought to herself. Maybe she should have let him walk her back. She had been vague about where she was staying, but she had a feeling even in this large city, he would undoubtedly find her. There was something very mysterious and scary about Emrys, but she wanted to see him again anyway. She wouldn’t make it too easy though, after all, her home was in New York and she had no intention of having a long distance relationship. She shrugged and guided Jackson out of the pub. They walked quietly back to the hotel and Riona was grateful for the silence.

The days passed quickly as she and the team made their way about Dublin concentrating on Parnell and O’Connell streets. Parnell being a working class area where an influx of new cultures emerged. There were several African owned shops and she interviewed many who told her of the racial tensions there, beginning in the early 1990’s. Many of the native Irish resented the migration of other cultures who now claimed Irish citizenship. Many stores were vandalized, but still, the shops remained. Suspicion, fear, jealousy and ignorance prevailed as the area transformed in a multicultural space. Although there were other areas of multicultural influence, Parnell Street has by far the largest African population in Dublin.

Riona visited Conway’s daily in hopes of seeing Emrys again, but she didn’t see him there. After a week passed with no sight of him, she decided to stop looking altogether. She kicked herself for playing too hard to get. Even if it would have just been a fling she had while in Ireland, it was more than she had at home. But what did she do? Drive the poor man away. She had always been unlucky where men were concerned. He wasn’t the first man to show interest, but he was the first to actually hold her attention for longer than five minutes. Emrys struck something deep inside her and she couldn’t shake it or him. She dreamed of him, his voice; his eyes. Every part of her longed for him.
 
 
*****
 
 

Mahogany SilverRain's Fan Box