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Sarelle’s return to her loved ones brings a brief measure of solace, even as she mourns all that changed in her absence. Rene’s presence and Sar’s pact with Shaker add as much tension as comfort, as the delicate balance of Sar’s life threatens to collapse under the weight of all she endured as Michael’s prisoner. Determined to reclaim her life, Sar fights back, inadvertently sparking Danial’s memory as an unseen ancient enemy prepares to strike a fatal blow.
I dreamed I was walking in a field. Then I heard a bark, and turned. Ghost was there. Darkness, my Darkness, was with him!
I threw myself at her, hugging her as she licked my tears. But when I began to walk with her at my side, as we always had before, she nipped me, not enough to draw blood, but enough I yelped.
I looked down at her in shock. She wagged her tail at me, and gave me an uncertain look.
“It’s okay,” I said gently. “Come on, let’s go look for a mouse.” We’d gone only another few steps when I felt her nip me again. And this time, she growled a little.
I spanked her, and said “no” loudly. With a final growl, she turned and ran, disappearing into the woods in seconds.
I looked around, but Ghost was gone, too. What had happened? Feeling awful, I woke up at Hayden. As I wiped away a tear, something nuzzled my leg.
Darkness was lying at the bottom of the bed near my legs. She was looking up at me, her tail wagging a little.
Part of me wanted to hug her. But what if she bit me? What if this somehow wasn’t Darkness?
I grabbed my courage with both hands, and reached down and touched her. Her soft fur was thick and familiar under my fingers. She let out a gratified sigh.
“Is it you?” I whispered, tears threatening again. “Darkness?”
“Yyyyeeeesssss,” a dry voice rasped. I looked down with horror. The words had come from Darkness’s mouth, which was lolling open near my bare legs.
With a shriek, I began flailing and screaming. Suddenly Shaker was there, pushing me back as he grabbed hold of what had been Darkness. It was molting and melting into something with shiny black skin. Shaker dug his talons in and ripped it in two. With a supernatural shriek of grinding metal, grey-black smoke, and splintered bone, the thing vanished.
I was in the throes of hysterics, sobbing, flailing, and screaming. Shaker turned to me, and grabbed hold of me. “Calm down, Mistress.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down! What the fuck was that thing?”
“A Taker, a low level demon. They are attracted to loss, and can invade dreams, turning them sour. They feed on pain, especially emotional pain.”
“Why did it come to me? How did it get in here?”
“That is my fault,” Shaker rumbled. “You are bound to me, and your dreams are fair game because of that. Do you have a symbol of your faith?”
“I have a cross.”
“Wear it to bed. And it wouldn’t hurt to put a cross over your bed, or under it. That will keep any scavengers away.”
“I should’ve taken the drugs,” I whispered. “This is the first night I
“Take one, and go back to sleep,” Shaker rumbled. “I can come to you at once, Mistress. Don’t fear to call for me if you need me. There is little I can’t either kill or send back to Hell.”
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/web-of-memory-tara-fox-hall/1124480716
Tara Fox Hall's writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children's stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published children's stories to date are free reads on www.childrens-stories.net.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tara-fox-hall
Melange Books: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/tarafoxhall/index.html
Promise Me SERIES Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Promise-Me-13-Book-Series/dp/B019DYL6RY/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/108597284890507251806/
Let's welcome author Claire Gem to the blog today! Thanks so much for allowing us to interview you, and readers, you definitely need to check these books out they all look like great reads!
HFP: What inspires you to write?
CG:Several things, really, depending on where I am in the writing process. If I’m in the middle of a project, reading another book in the same sub-genre as what I’m writing—by an author I admire and enjoy—can be very motivating. I’m particularly inspired by audiobooks. I listen on my commute, and some days I can’t wait to get home to get back to my keyboard.
Other times, a place, or an event, that moves me emotionally will inspire a brand new story idea. I was visiting Binghamton, N.Y. not long ago and visited the Phelps Mansion. The intriguing story about the house, and the curious and tragic events of the family’s lives, got my creative juices flowing. I wouldn’t discount the possibility that Binghamton, N.Y. could be the setting for my next paranormal/ghost romance.
HFP: What is your favorite sub-genre within romance to write?
CG: I write in several: contemporary, paranormal/romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. I can’t really tell you which one is my favorite, as I love them all. The best part is having a variety—I don’t think I’ll ever tire of any particular sub-genre.
HFP: Okay, I have to ask, do you still have the Camaro that your now husband fixed?
CG: Unfortunately, I do not. It’s been over thirty-eight years since he fixed up that car and got me as a tip! And boy, if we did still own it, in the condition it was in, it might be worth a fortune. But after we got married, and then my daughter arrived a year later, life got expensive. We sold the car to help with the down-payment on our first house together.
HFP: Since you were once a bridal dress designer, I'm curious did you ever meet any bridezillas? Inquiring minds want to know! LOL
CG: No bridezillas—but plenty of MOM-zillas! LOL The brides were so starry-eyed, basking in the attention of their own, personal “designer,” they were usually no problem. Plus, it was my job to make sure they got exactly what they wanted, so they had no reason to complain. The problem was, what the bride wanted, and what their mothers wanted FOR their daughters, were sometimes at complete odds. It was never about the cost, but about the style. Many moms had a specific idea in mind for how they wanted their daughters to look on “the day,” which seldom coincided with what the brides wanted. Yet in most cases, Mom was the one toting the checkbook. Put me in a tough spot. No, I have to say, it wasn’t bridezillas that chased me out of designing—it was Momzillas!
HFP: What is your favorite part of being an author?
CG: I’m a control freak, in many aspects of my life. So my favorite part about being an author is that I can control each and every aspect of what happens in my stories. I can create heroes I swoon over, heroines I admire. I can ensure there will always be a happy ending.
I also love, love, love promoting the books. Since Hearts Unloched came out in April of this year, I think I’ve been at some sort of book event almost every weekend—a signing, a panel for a writing group, a talk at the local library. I even did a signing on a Dinner Cruise ship floating on Lake George this month!
HFP: Who are your favorite authors and why are they are your favorites?
GC: I love Nora Roberts for her versatility—she writes in so many sub-genres I lose track! I’m also a big fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips for her quirky yet incredibly sexy beta heroes, Kristan Higgins for her humor, and Simone St. James for scaring the bejesus out of me! I have a new favorite I recently discovered—Rosalind James. She knows how to establish a believable friendship between her hero and heroine that slowly builds to more. She’s also a master of dialogue.
HFP: What is your favorite fictional universe and why is it your favorite?
CG: Well, the problem is, it’s not really fictional. After reading Nora Roberts’ Boonesboro Trilogy, I am in love with that town in Maryland—and I’ve never even been there! Those three stories made me feel as though I’ve not only visited, but didn’t want to leave. I hope to schedule a trip to Roberts’ Boonesboro Inn sometime in the near future.
HFP: Out of all the cities you've lived in which do you enjoy the most and why?
CG: We lived just north of Ft. Worth, Texas for two years in a town called Denton, and I loved it. My husband and I are both horse-crazy (we raised and showed horses most of our lives) so Texas is definitely the place to be for horse events. Never seen a more beautiful sunset in my life. And you’ve never had a steak dinner until you’ve eaten one in a Texas steakhouse—in Texas. It was the people, too. They were so welcoming, so down-to-earth—I do miss living there.
HFP: Who is your favorite character that you've written and why that particular person?
CG: I’d have to say my hero from Hearts Unloched, Marco Lareci would be my favorite. Marco was born in Brooklyn, like me. His heritage is Italian, like mine. So I can relate to his way of thinking, and his high-strung yet compassionate nature. And he’s a gentleman: when he swears, it’s only in Italian. I actually had to sit down with an Italian-speaking colleague to learn how to curse in Italian! I had a lot of fun creating Marco. So far, he is my favorite.
HFP: Here's a fun question. LOL If you had a choice between chocolate and coffee which would you pick and why?
CG: Coffee. I drink it black, and that means it’s guilt-free—no calories! Even if I cheat and get chocolate-flavored beans 🙂
About the Author:
Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of emotional romance—contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. Her heroes are hot, her heroines strong and brave: a combination lighting the spark to fan the flames of your most intense romantic fantasies. Claire's characters are human—they make mistakes, get clumsy sometimes, and they're not too proud to laugh at themselves and each other.
Her paranormal/romantic suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. Her latest release, The Phoenix Syndrome, won the women’s fiction division in FCRWA’s TheBeacon Contest.
A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.
Visit Claire on the web:
Amazon Author Page
We have author Sloan McBride in the house today! Welcome Sloan, and thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. 🙂
Personally, we love time travel romances, and we will definitely be reading her Time Walker Series!
HFP: How did you come up with the idea for the Time Walker Series?
A: I really can’t give you an exact answer to that question. I have always been fascinated with the idea of time travel. I read gads and gads of paranormal romance and fantasy romance books. One day this thought popped into my head about an army who could walk through different eras in time to battle evil and save humanity. It kind of grew from there. Once I had the idea, I wanted to find the mythology to go with it so I started researching different mythologies. I settled on Sumerian Mythology because it had stories that meshed with my idea.
HFP: How many books will be in this series?
A: I will go on and on as long as readers like them and as long as I can keep coming up with new material. I don’t want to get to a point where it seems like the same story again and again.
HFP: What time periods are you going to cover? Will they all take place in modern times?
A: The nice thing about these time walkers is that there are no limits to what time periods I use. I will pick what interests me and start down the research road. (I actually love doing research.) They will not all be in modern times. Book 1 and Book 3 are in our time, but Book 2 – “The Treasure” is during pirate times, the year 1718. Book 4 is in the rough planning stages and it will be set in an apocalyptic future.
HFP: Tell us a little bit about the heroine in The Fury.
A: Reese Whittaker is an archeologist. She has a small team and they do fairly well with finds and digs. Her mother died of cancer three years ago, and her dad still mourns. Her sister, Riley, couldn’t handle seeing her dad like that so she went to Europe. Reese has tried different relationships that never work out which she blames on her occupation. She is reliable, stubborn, and takes her job seriously—including the one of taking care of her dad. She doesn’t cower in the face of the danger. Not that she isn’t scared, but she will let no one control her.
HFP: What is the hero like in The Fury?
A: Dagan is the son of the Air God – Enlil. He has been a time walker for centuries and he is used to having things his way. He tries to use a tad bit of mindful suggestions on Reese, which does not work. He is constantly ordering her to do things and that creates a spark of anger in Reese. His reactions to Reese are causing some headaches. One because it is against time walker law to interact with the humans unless absolutely necessary, and two the more time he spends with her, the more out of control his desires become.
HFP: Why does Celeste from The Treasure decide to be a pirate?
A: Celeste becomes a pirate to get close to Blackbeard so she can kill him. There is some bitterness there.
HFP: When will The Treasure be available? Can I pre-order it anywhere else besides Amazon?
A: The Treasure is due out on April 11, 2016. It is currently up for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks. You can also go to Smashwords.com and get any of the ebook formats too. The pre-order price is $2.99, but will go up to $3.99 when the book is released.
HFP: Will the books in this series be made into paperbacks at some point?
A: Absolutely. All my books are available in print through CreateSpace (which is an Amazon affiliate). So, you can find the print books on either my website: www.sloanmcbride.com or you can order them on Amazon.
HFP: I get the sense these books are going to be more than time travel romances, that they will also have quite a bit of the supernatural in them. Is this true?
A: Yep. I love the supernatural. In the time walker novels you will be dealing with not only the time walking, but the time walkers battle the demons from the Underworld to save the human race. The leader, Kur, has a definite agenda to destroy the gods, and he’s using human descendants of the gods as a weapon. Depending on what time period I’m writing in, you will also see various people from history.
HFP: Okay, now for the fun question. LOL. What’s your favorite desert?
A: Ginormous hot fudge sundae with peanut butter and chocolate ice cream from Baskin Robbins with loads of whipped cream.
Available from Amazon, Leap of Faith Publishing
In a small village over the mountains surrounding Kyoto, the villagers prepare for an annual tradition. All seems to go well until the village is stormed and all the inhabitants are taken prisoner, except one. Simple village girl, Osei, finds herself alone in the misty mountains on her way to the city. A run in with a near death experience brings her to Kilik, an extremely powerful samurai who vows to keep her safe. Their ventures pull them both into a war beyond imagination, and Osei finds herself gradually transforming into something that she grew up to fear…a samurai.
“Who sent you?” Kilik bellowed. “Who is the traitor? Tell me or you won’t live to see morning!”
“I’m already a dead man,” the man laughed, he was no longer resisting as he knew Kilik was way too strong. “I tell you what I know…then Tenshin kills me. I stay quiet…you kill me. I personally think that torture at the hands of Tenshin is far worse than anything you can throw at me…do your worst, you worthless dog!”
“Very well…” Kilik sighed, bringing the man up to his feet. “I’ll offer you another option. Go to whoever it is that has betrayed Suzuki, and tell them that I am coming for blood.”
“What?” the man shuddered. The attacker let out a sigh of relief after Kilik moved over to his clothes that were on the floor and put on his trousers and jacket.
“Or better yet…” Kilik continued, clutching his spear tightly. The man jerked forward in agony and blood began to pour from his mouth after Kilik thrust his spear into his abdomen.
“You’ll achieve…nothing…by killing me!” the man stuttered as Kilik lifted him into the air with his weapon.
“I disagree…” Kilik growled. “After you…”
“Fuck…you!” the man screamed. Kilik let out a roar and catapulted the helpless assailant through the door and halfway down the corridor. The hole that appeared at the expense of an enemy life had revealed the sounds of clashing steel and battle cries rushing into the room from the courtyard. We rushed to the balcony to find that men dressed similar to the one Kilik just killed were attacking Atari soldiers in the mosaic courtyard.
About Craig Kimber:
Start of Career: I started writing as a hobby at the beginning of February 2011, and my love for samurai stories led me to begin writing "The Rose Warriors: Uprising." Originally named "The Five Rose Warriors," its main influence was the video game, "Way of the Samurai." When playing the game I found that a single samurai building a faction to take down a vast empire was simply exhilarating, so I decided that I need to make that my aim. The story started as a simple village girl learning to be a samurai, but the idea just wasn't special enough. I asked myself "What will make this book different to every other book I have read?" So I did some research and I found that there were hardly any stories written about the historic fall of the samurai, which the movie "The Last Samurai (Tom Cruise)" is revolved around.
After the first four chapters I let my friend read it, and I was told it was the best story he had ever read. I passed it around to get some further opinions, and I was asked every time "What happens next?" with the upmost enthusiasm. I thought up some ideas for how to make the story different to every other samurai rebellion story, so I called upon another genre passion, fantasy. I took the end of the samurai era, and transformed it into a war filled with magic and supernatural beings.
I spent every single night coming up with ideas of how to make it better and all I could think about while living life was the story, and it was from that moment I discovered my calling was to make a living of my newfound passion. More ideas for stories started to fill my head and began to make plans for future novels, including the sequel to "Uprising," "Revival."
A chain of tragic events cumulating in the shattering of the magical "dream bond" between Theo and Sar turns the lovers against one another, as Ulysses attacks from all fronts, hoping to destroy Devlin for good. The return of Lash reignites the fire between he and Sar, even as he saves her daughter Elle from certain death. Finally joined under Oath, Lash, Devlin, and Sar face the storm of Ulysses's wrath, knowing it will take their combined strength and courage to save all they love from his tempest of vengeance.
“You need to come with me now,” Devlin said. “Teleport us to Davy’s.”
I knew why instantly. “No,” I said, trying to walk away and getting nowhere. “I don’t want to see him.”
“I don’t care what you want,” Devlin said forcefully. “You are taking us there, and making up with him.”
“Fuck you, I’m not!” I yelled.
Devlin shook me hard, making my teeth rattle. “Listen, you bitch!” he growled. “Ulysses challenged me for my territory an hour ago. I need to fight him in a week. And I need you and Lash focused, because you need to help me prepare.”
I was quiet now, listening to his words and trying to process them.
“Teleport us there now,” Devlin said stridently. “Then just tell him you love him—”
“He doesn’t love me!” I screamed.
Devlin ignored me, and kept talking. “—and that you want him back.”
“You’re just like him, you know?” I said viciously. “Always trying to make me give another chance to someone who doesn’t deserve one!”
Devlin stared at me, looking so hurt I trailed off into silence. “You came back to me because he asked you to?” he whispered. “Not because you wanted to?”
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tempest-Vengeance-Promise-Me-Book-ebook/dp/B00W35X3X6
Melange Books (PDF and HTML): http://www.melange-books.com/authors/tarafoxhall/tempest.html
Tara Fox Hall is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She received her bachelor's degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University. Her writing credits include over twenty short stories published in the nature magazines Catnip Blossoms, Meanwhile, and On The River. Her short horror stories have appeared in Deadman's Tome, Flashes in the Dark, Halloween Alliance, and Ghastly Door. She also coauthored the essay "The Allure of the Serial Killer," published in Serial Killers – Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). She divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals of all species, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
Tara’s Other Links:
Tara's Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5286654.Tara_Fox_Hall/blog
Tara's Facebook Page:
I flipped the bacon and the sausage just in time, and told Lash to mix up the pancake batter. He gave me a blank look.
I cracked up laughing, and he laughed too, even though it was at his expense. I got the ingredients in a bowl, and handed it to him, and he mixed. Then we traded again, and I gave him some bacon and sausage to eat.
“Put in the bagels or toast, please,” I said, pouring the pancake batter into the hot frying pans. Lash did it, and then he was easing up behind me again, putting his arms around me.
“You make me so happy, Sar,” he said softly, moving my hair with one hand so he could kiss my neck. “I never thought—”
I heard a low growl, and looked up to see Theo and Terian in the doorway.
Theo’s eyes were yellow, and Terian’s were red, as they beheld Lash and me in our robes, him holding me as I made us breakfast. I could smell the scent of sex on myself, and I knew they could both smell it, too, and also probably that it had been only minutes before they arrived.
“I told you we should have driven here, not teleported right in,” Terian said, rolling his eyes. He didn’t look surprised, likely because I had just asked him for that potion.
Theo seemed unable to take his eyes off Lash and me. I went crimson under his steady gaze and looked down, but Lash just gave them both a wide grinning smile.
“Sorry, we didn’t know we had company,” Lash hissed gleefully, resting his head on my shoulder, holding me as he looked at them. “As you can see, we weren’t expecting any visitors.”
Available from Extasy Books!
Lord Christopher Templeton: Angel or Demon? Angel and Demon! Two faces. One fucking gorgeous man! And only two people to switch him either way. Now Lord Christopher Templeton is going to prove himself to the entire universe. The past in his power. The present in his lust. The future in his temper. Because he is The Lord. Because us is sex!
It’s Christmas time, and Eriah Jameson has returned home to restart his family’s business. Due to his wild child past, no one is friendly or welcoming to Barrow Haven’s black sheep.
Aylin Myers lost her job when Eriah’s father took ill. She knows Eriah needs her help getting his business up and running again, but she doesn’t trust him. If he fails, she knows it will dishonor his father’s memory. And Aylin knows that at Christmas, it’s the right thing to help your fellow man—no matter how wretched he might be.
As Aylin gets to know Eriah, she sees a side of him Barrow Haven never saw. That perhaps the black sheep has changed for the better. Still, can she be sure this side of Eriah is real, and not just a facade he’s perfected over time to get his own way?
He took her hand firmly into his, and looked down into her eyes, his own blue eyes almost transparent in the light of the streetlamp above them.,
“I want to walk you home,” he insisted.
“Okay, let’s walk then.”
As they trudged through the newly fallen snow, Aylin held tight to his hand. The ice beneath her feet was absolutely treacherous. She’d never thought to put on winter boots before she left home that afternoon.
Most of the houses on both sides of her street were gaily decorated with multicolored strands of blinking lights. In the windows were wreaths or other festive decorations. It was truly a beautiful sight.
There were so many things she wanted to ask him as they walked, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answers, so she kept silent until they reached her front door.
She pushed the key into the lock, and turned it until it snapped open. As she turned the doorknob, there was a sudden bang, almost like a gunshot, and everything went dark around them.
The shock was so acute, she grabbed on to Eriah in the darkness, and felt his arms close around her. Her heart beat double time in her chest.
“Power’s out,” he said.
Of course. It was just a power outage. Probably from the winter storm that besieged them. Her heart began to slow to a more normal rhythm, her face still pressed against his shoulder.
After a moment, she stepped away, stomped her sneakers clean of snow, and stepped inside the warm house. Eriah remained on the doorstep. She couldn’t allow him to try to find his way home in complete blackness, and she did agree to talk with him. “Come on in.”
“Thanks, that’s nice of you.” She could hear the gratefulness in his voice, as she closed the door behind them.
“I guess this is one time I’m glad I’m in the candle business.”
She groped in the darkness until she felt the edge of her worktop and felt around the various objects until she came upon a lighter. She flicked it on, and her eyes adjusted to the dim light. A medium-sized snowball candle sat nearby. Quickly, she lit the wick before the lighter had a chance to burn her fingers, and a soft glow grew from the candle.
When she turned around, his lips came down upon hers. Soft, searching, her hand went to his cold cheek. Almost instantly, she reminded herself of what transpired between them the day before. But her heart her heart…overrode her mind’s stern warnings, until her mind won out and broke the kiss, and turned away from him. “I’m not starting this all over with you. I won’t get hurt again.”
He gently turned her face back to him. “We started something really good, and I screwed it up. I know that. I just want a chance to explain.”
For a few moments, her mind whipped back and forth, trying to decide what to do, what was right for her, what was right for him.
With no answer in sight, she finally conceded. “Let’s go upstairs. I’ll hear you out, but I won’t promise you anything.”
Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.
Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography. Natalie contributes her uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.
She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.
Visit Natalie-Nicole Bates Online!
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Noel Tierney thought she’d have enough time before the predicted storm to make it to her holiday retreat, but the snow hit sooner than expected. Caught unprepared on a treacherous pass, poor visibility and icy conditions lead to a crash. She lay immobile in her vehicle, stranded in a ditch in the most remote leg of her journey.
A faceless hero comes to her rescue and Noel has no choice but to wait out the blizzard in her rescuer’s unique cabin nestled in the woods. Everything about Grayson James peaks her curiosity—his valor, air of mystery and most of all, undeniable attractiveness.
For three days and nights, passions are unleashed and unexpected emotions are brought to life. When the storm breaks, Grayson vanishes into thin air, but not before revealing startling news that leaves her questioning her sanity.
Fast forward years later and Noel is in the southernmost part of the United States. She’d come seeking solace after her husband’s tragic death, but what finds her in Key West is more than she ever anticipated.
In the sultry summer, her unbridled winter’s ecstasy resurrects.
And so does the Vampire.
"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
Dark yet welcoming, the restaurant pulled them in with its ambiance.
The plastered walls were sponged in color blocks of a deep red and black. The ceilings were painted in a high polish black and stone black tile lined the floor. Striking kabuki masks and detailed silk kimono robes lined the walls
The women shared the restaurant with no one except the spiciness of sriracha seasonings and robust scent of the rich soy sauce that filled the air. They sat on their high top stools at the bar, enjoying the food and the reprieve from the heat.
“Air conditioning is nice, huh?” Noel asked.
“Yes, I’ll give you that. I forgot how sticky this weather can be. I think we have to get used to having bad hair and make up days.”
“I think you’re right.”
Suzanne finished sipping the last of the broth. “The soup is amazing. It’s not the kind of cuisine I had in mind for our vacation in Key West, though.”
“I had no clue this was even here. But, I needed this…helped with my hangover.”
“Absolutely. I think I can tackle a Sandhill Hooker shot or two today. After all, we are on the infamous Duval Street.”
“Okay, pickle juice that way…now you’re talking.”
She looked around the place and smiled. “It’s pretty cool in here.”
Suzanne leaned her head back. “And look at how high the ceiling is. I like all that exposed ductwork. I wonder what this place was before?”
“This used to be a club,” said the waitress as she carried in a case of liquor from the kitchen to the bar.
“This was a club?” Suzanne asked.
“Yeah. You two new to Key West?”
“First time here.”
Noel sat quietly listening to the conversation unfold between Suzanne and the waitress.
“You want a little history on this building you won’t hear about on any tour guide?” The waitress asked as she unpacked the box and carefully placed the bottles on the lighted shelves behind the bar.
“This restaurant and the entire vacant spot next door used to be one big club.” The waitress turned around and pointed towards the ceiling. “There was an entire second floor up there. The owners of the restaurant demolished it since the place is small and narrow. The height makes it feel spacious. You can sorta tell how it looked like the second floor with that small area they kept above the kitchen. The red spiral staircase you see leading up to that area…that’s original to the building.”
“Yeah, taking the second floor out does make it feel bigger. So the club must’ve been packed all the time to have two floors, huh?”
The waitress laughed and leaned against the counter. “They didn’t advertise. And you notice it’s off of Duval right?”
The women nodded.
“Not much foot traffic on this street like Duval. This was the hush-hush place. You had to get invited. Secret door knock and password would let you in—extremely private and exclusive.”
“You ever get invited?”
“Oh, God, no. I have no idea who got invited, but I wasn’t one of them. In fact, I never knew the club existed until a friend told me that the owners were going to put the building up for sale a few years ago. I was like, ‘what club?’ And the thing was, I walked past the place many times and always thought it was an abandoned building.”
“So what was the deal? Why was it private? What went on?”
“Rumors claimed it as an adult playground.”
“If the place was still in operation, somehow I know Suzanne would get an invite,” Noel chimed in.
Suzanne flashed a wicked smile.
“Possibly,” the waitress said. “Get’s your thoughts going, right? Like, what exactly happened in there? Who went there? But the one thing I was always curious about was seeing the place. They say it was like being on another planet.”
Noel awaited a break in the conversation to jump back in with her questions. But movement from out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She snapped her head to look at the loft area and gasped.
“What?” the waitress asked in a concerning tone.
She scanned the area in confusion.
“What’s wrong?” Suzanne asked.
“I-I thought I saw something up there.”
The waitress peered into the kitchen. “Can’t be. No one else is here except Jesse and he’s at sink.”
“What’s that door up there?”
“That’s the access point to the space next door, but its sealed shut from the other side. Trust me. I’ve tried to see if I could get in to sneak a peek.”
“What is it that you think you saw?” Suzanne asked.
She shrugged her shoulders as goose bumps paraded along her skin. The same feeling stirred again—as if she were being watched. “I thought I saw someone looking down on us from that railing.”
Suzanne turned to the waitress. “We partied a bit last night.”
“That tends to happen in Key West.”
“I think we’ll take the check and I’ll get this one out for some much needed fresh air and vitamin D.”
“I’m not crazy, Suzanne,” she whispered as she reached for her purse.
“I didn’t say you were. I just think you need to get outside.”
“Sammy told you right?”
“The boat? Me freaking out that someone was watching me last night?”
“Yes. But, honey, I think you’re just thinking of Dante being in this place and visualizing him. That’s all.”
The waitress slid the check across the counter and Suzanne immediately snatched it up. “My treat. You get drinks tonight.”
Suzanne placed the cash on top of counter. “Keep the change, darling. Thanks for the 411 on this place. Very interesting.”
“No problem. You guys go have fun.”
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About Maya DeLeina:
Maya DeLeina is a multi-published Erotic Vampire Romance Author with Siren , Evernight and Ellora’s Cave Publishing. Her current series includes Ambrose Heights Vampires, My Naughty Vampire and Vampire Architects.
Not only does Maya have theatrical book trailers that bring her vampires to life, all of her vampires were featured in Singer/Songwriter Jill Cohn's music video "Blessing Moon".
Visit Maya DeLeina Online:
YouTube Channel- https://www.youtube.com/user/mayadeleina
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Tara Fox Hall’s writing career began in the pages of a small print magazine, Catnip Blossoms!, that a friend, Harald Moore, put out to promote his catnip farm in Johnsonville, New York. One short non-fiction article followed another, detailing her adventures saving wildlife, her experiences living on an acreage, and more than a few humorous recountings detailing the antics of her wacky pets. Written to delight, fascinate, and move readers, her simple but enchanting stories of country life quickly found a following. Tara kept publishing stories for the next five years, even as the name of the magazine changed to Meanwhile, and then to On The River, when the catnip farm went out of business, and Harald moved with his family to a new home near a river. These previously published stories are collected here for the first time with new added content, in the hopes of bringing a little more hope and inspiration into everyday life.
SET ME FREE
My tiger cat, Kesteral, used to be an indoor cat when we lived in the busy city of Binghamton not that long ago. Since we moved to the country, my once shy and nervous cat has become an avid hunter. It was not very long until he began demanding to go out at night.
At first I tried to enforce a 10pm curfew, which I staunchly believed that all good little cats should be able to follow. After a few nights, “Kester” decided that 6am was too late in the morning to be out looking for “early” mice. 3am was much better. I tried yelling at the yowling monster outside my bedroom door, but as soon as I would begin to drift off to sleep, Kester would take up right where he left off. I next tried threats of punishment. He retaliated by clawing through the carpet at the basement stairs in an effort to get into the basement (a certified mouse haven).
I stuck to my guns, believing when there was no further carpet shredding that the problem was solved. I had cured him of his insanity! Then lo and behold, Kester greeted me one morning when I opened my front door. He had chewed through the plastic expandable partitions at the side of the air conditioner and slipped out! I taped up the ragged hole. Not to be thwarted, my sweet little monster chewed through the tape.
I thought Hey, who is smarter here?and blocked off the sides of the air conditioner with pillows held in place by a table. Kester proved he was smarter by squeezing his way through. In a master ploy, I removed the air conditioner all together (it was late August—fall was practically here. A few days of sweating profusely was worth teaching dear Kester who was master). Ha! I thought triumphantly. He’s not getting out now!