Thursday, July 30, 2020

#52WeeksofGratitude - week 31

Core Values

Easy…says it all right here:

Love and Peace,

Kay


Why do this?

To exercise fingers on the keyboard.

It’s only one post a week.

Positivity is a great energy conductor.

I have lots to be grateful for!

It’ll be fun! (maybe?)

Join me, if you dare.



Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Author M.C. Solaris



Calypso’s Heart
An Orion’s Order Novel
Book One
M.C. Solaris

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: M.C. Solaris LLC
Date of Publication: Print Book 5/15/20
Date of Publication: eBook 7/20/20
ISBN: 978-1-952655-00-5 Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-952655-01-2 E-book
ISBN: 978-1-952655-02-9 Hardcover
Number of pages: 665
Word Count: 180,000
Cover Artist: Mayhem Cover Creations

Tagline: Sexy Shifters. Hot Vampires. Intriguing Immortals.


Book Description:

If you enjoy Psy-Changeling and Black Dagger Brotherhood, this new series is right up your alley!

Sexy shifters. Hot vampires. Intriguing immortals. Strong heroine. Sizzling romance. Page-turning plot full of emotion and excitement. Modern and fresh take on fated mates.

Caly

Do you dream of ridiculously hot men? Okay, maybe you do. (And yes, I'm well aware I should lay off the romance books before bed.) But do you actually ever meet those men you dream about in real life? I didn't think so. That's probably a good thing though because I have... And these men from my dreams have done nothing but pull the rug of reality out from under me... which was how I fell and ended up in a world that I thought only existed in romance books.

My name is Caly (AKA Callie) and I'm just an ordinary single woman living the LA dream... paycheck to paycheck. Except whose dream is it? I'm not really sure... but it's not my dream. Especially because I have really weird dreams... like really weird. Then again, everyone has weird dreams, right?

Blake

I am an alpha wolf shifter and leader of Orion's Order, a pack of... well, not wolves. We're an unconventional pack of highly skilled specian hunters that do one thing: hunt the evil in our world. And we were hired by SILE (Species Investigative Law Enforcement) to hunt a bloodthirsty criminal who is infamously untraceable. That was until an irresistible female brought an unexpected twist to our hunt and set things in motion... a motion that has left my pack and our world forever changed.

Welcome to The Order and a secret world of magic and mystery, where a pack of unlikely friends find love and fight against an ancient evil force.

Devour this addictive series at your own risk…

+ Happily Ever After

+ Steamy Paranormal Shifter Romance

+ Multiple POV

+ Mature Content

----------------------------------------------

CALYPSO’S HEART is an adult paranormal wolf shifter romance. If you like swoon-worthy males, heroines with feminine strength, an engaging plot, satisfying relationships, steamy love stories, happy ever afters, and getting sucked into a supernatural story, then you’ll want to immerse yourself in the world of species! 

You’ll feel right at home if you’re a JR Ward, Nalini Singh, and Dannika Dark fan.


Amazon      BN





"It has the elements you need - love, pain, heartache, action, revenge, some light comedy, etc. I thought the sex scenes were SPOT ON! Like damn those were great. I really felt immersed in it at times and I felt transported into the story." ★★★★★


“The descriptions and imagery are on point. It’s easy to picture the characters and scenes. I like the multiple POV shifts to better understand and immerse myself in the character’s mind. The sex scenes are steamy and kept me turning the pages." ★★★★★


“...if you are looking for a book that punches you in your face, right out the gate, with unrealistic action, tasteless sex scenes, and emotional turmoil, this won't be it. Go watch Shameless instead. But if you are looking for something that unfolds at a pace that gives you time to decipher the characters, setting, and complexities of the story that is to come, then this is for you...” ★★★★★

“...at one point in the book, a group of characters are all introduced in a short amount of time. While this might not be standard protocol for fictional stories, it's realistic. Trust that it was done with purposeful intent. Without giving away too much about the story, you get to learn about a pack of males in their environment, doing what males do...” ★★★★★


Excerpt 1: Attraction — Caly/Blake Underwear Scene

With her hand hovering over the door handle, her mind was flooded with thoughts of how she hadn’t really thought this through. She jumped ten feet up in the air when the door suddenly swung wide open.
Blake. Blake was standing there... in nothing but red boxer briefs. She swallowed at the unexpected male underwear model scene. Meanwhile, she was only adding to the scene by standing there in nothing but his white T-shirt which barely covered her butt. Nope. Not awkward at all.
He inhaled and immediately said, “Caly, what’s wrong?” His voice was low, morning gravel.
“I… I had a nightmare,” she admitted on a shy whisper.
Both Blake and his wolf liked that she ran to him when she was scared. He would protect her from anything and anyone. But he didn’t like that she was scared to begin with.
Still half asleep and on autopilot, he picked her up and held her close to his chest.
“You’re safe, Caly,” he reassured her and felt her body relax as she curled in closer. It wasn’t until he was a few steps into his current mission that it hit him. Walking Caly to his room in nothing but his boxers while all she wore was his T-shirt, which he most definitely approved of, was so not a part of the gentlemale plan. Fuck it. She needed him. Quietly shutting the door behind him, he made his way to his bed and gently laid her down.
Now what, genius? he thought, as his sleepy state faded away a bit more. He was just standing over her in nothing but his boxer briefs. Yeah, real gentlemale of you.
“Blake?”
“Yeah, Caly?”
Christ. He wanted to punch himself. Maybe that would knock some sense into him instead of standing there basically naked.
“Will you… Will you stay? Please?”
Okay... So, he wasn’t expecting that. But then again, she did come to him for comfort. He wanted to say, Caly, I will never leave you. But that probably wasn’t the brightest idea at the moment, considering the boxer brief situation.
“Of course," he said as his eyes automatically flicked toward the couch. Before he could command his feet to move, she peeled back the covers next to her and looked at him in question.
Gentlemale. Remember your gentlemale plan, he thought, sliding into the bed next to her and keeping a respectable distance.
That was when he noticed the light coming from the bathroom. Remembering what Caly said about it being complete darkness where she was held, he wanted to go round two with the punches. He was so used to being able to see in the dark that it didn’t register how dark his room was at night. He inwardly cursed. He should’ve thought of that. He decided he was going to rectify the situation and get her a night light. Actually, make that plural: night lights. Yeah, he was going to light up his room like it was a Christmas tree.
What are you doing? Caly thought. You’re now in bed next to him practically naked. Again, notice how he is keeping his distance? Congratulations. You’ve just breached the clinger scale and are now off the charts.
Laying on their backs, with eyes glued to the ceiling, they both stayed silent for several minutes.
“Blake?”
“Yeah, Caly?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I…”
Just come out and say it, McClinger Queen.
“I just feel safe with you.” She paused. “I had a nightmare about…” Suddenly, she had a lump in her throat. She swallowed.

About the Author:


M.C. Solaris’s life took an unexpected turn during the super blood moon eclipse on January 20, 2019. She woke up and began writing bios for her imaginary friends that she met that day. As soon as the pen hit the paper (or fingertips to the iPhone), she couldn’t stop. It was kind of like one of those fire hydrants, spewing copious amounts of water all over the place. The characters and their stories just flowed out of her. She is honored to be the scribe, getting to share her friends’ stories. You can read all about her gifted friends in the Orion’s Order series (Book 1 is Calypso’s Heart).

On a personal note, M.C. Solaris is actually the pseudonym of Marina Schroeder, women’s health enthusiast and lover of all things paranormal romance (PNR) and happily ever after (HEA). When she is not curled up on the sofa with her partner’s oversized hoodie, a PNR novel, peppermint tea, and one of her three cats, you will find her either at the ocean with her toes in the sand or in a forest hugging a tree. Well truthfully? There is one more place you might find her: trolling the aisles of Whole Foods for a satisfying combination of salty and sweet while hiding in her partner’s hoodie… like any proper PNR-writing introvert.

Want to get the latest scoop, sneak peeks, and short shares all about her imaginary friends? Go to www.mcsolaris.com  and sign up for the newsletter.

Welcome to The Order!





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 23, 2020

#52WeeksofGratitude - week 30

Your Current Age

Oh my GOODNESS! Well, there it is… my age.

I’m thankful for the life I’ve lived so far, with all its twists, turns and unexpected surprises and blessings. I’ve seen not one but two active volcanoes in person, traveled to some amazing destinations, and been picked out of audiences to do crazy things on stage. I’ve also jumped out a plane, and am looking forward to doing it again whenever I can!

My numerical age is irrelevant. I feel 26 and I haven’t aged a day since.

I’m sticking to that.

Love and Peace,

Kay


Why do this?

To exercise fingers on the keyboard.

It’s only one post a week.

Positivity is a great energy conductor.

I have lots to be grateful for!

It’ll be fun! (maybe?)

Join me, if you dare.



Monday, July 20, 2020

Author Avery Kilpatrick



A Stream of Darkness
Crymsen Crescent
Book One
Avery Kilpatrick

Genre: Urban Fantasy, New Adult with a dash of romance
Publisher: Avery Kilpatrick
Date of Publication: July 31, 2020
ISBN:
ASIN:
Word Count: 62,358
Cover Artist: Warren Design

Book Description:

A reformed killer, a dragon agent, and a lone shifter must work together to investigate four abductions…

I've always had a close relationship with death.

Six years ago, I was the Renegade, the Wolf of Eden, terrorizing the streets of a small town in Mississippi. Now, after a plea deal that saved my life, I work for the police as a consultant and unofficial cop.

Obsidian Moon, the Underworlder police agency, isn't doing anything about the disappearances of four college women. It falls to my shoulders while I'm stressing over my college assignments and the new transfer who thinks testing my control is a great pasttime.

Then there's him. The mystery shifter who danced with me at a club and reminds me of home.  And he seems to be more than just a random stranger who walked up to an ex-murderer and danced rather than fight.

But I have bigger concerns than two sexy men on my tail as a stream of darkness hangs over Paradise Grove.

The opening of a new series, A Stream of Darkness, will have you guessing at every turn and turning the pages to learn more.

Excerpt:

I sidestepped the ramming bull—well, technically, he was a werewolf—and watched with growing amusement as he slammed into the bar.
As one of the more prominent clubs on the Quad, Mirage was filled to the brim with writhing bodies hypnotized by the pulsing music that resounded from the DJ’s throne. The walls thrummed with the powerful beats and siren acoustics coaxed people into drowning themselves in alcohol. Flashing lights of gold and sapphire, of ruby and amethyst, of emerald and topaz, cast colorful shadows on the clubbers who watched the growing brawl in amusement and fear.
I cocked my head to the side and ebony-gray curls swayed to the left as mint eyes burned like a raging pyre as I watched him stumble to his feet. A Cheshire Cat smirk pulled my lips back over elongated canines that gleamed under the colorful neon lights. “OlĂ©!”
The bar, a mix of black quartz and wood, won this round as it remained unharmed. The werewolf shook his head, the tightly braided red curls bouncing lightly against the left side of his skull. His jade eyes were glazed in confusion and there were flecks of pale yellow from the wolf peering through his gaze as his temper grew shorter. He held a hand to his side and attempted to take a deep breath only to hiss quietly. Though wolves, like most Underworlders, could heal themselves through either magic or blood, it took time to fix fractured bones. His linebacker build didn’t help matters either as he held out another hand to grip the bar to steady himself.
He snarled, a rumbling sound that probably caused him more pain than he let on. Our audience murmured as the less than sober patrons realized that the scar dominating my face wasn’t just any old scar from a run-in gone awry. Flowing from my left jaw to the bridge of my nose, the puckered, jagged scar was as much a moniker as a reminder of my “sin.”  
“Mind givin’ me another shot, Izzy?” I drawled, my gaze never once leaving the wolf in front of me as we circled each other.
Izzy was already working on my drink before the last word left my mouth. Her hands flashed after working for years as a bartender on the fast-paced Quad, and she wasn’t at all bothered by the brawl in front of her. “I should be cutting you off, Luce, but since alcohol doesn’t effect you—what the hell, right?”
Pink eyes remained amused as she watched the crowd around us groan while money exchanged hands. She had her long, straight platinum locks pulled into a ponytail as two square strips caressed the sides of her sharp cheeks. Placing the shot glass on the tabletop, she placed a fifty-dollar bill beside it with a good-natured grumble.
I chuckled, and the redheaded wolf took the momentary distraction as a chance to tackle me. Sidestepping him, I placed my hands on his back—barely a brush of my fingertips—and slammed my knee into his abdomen. The crunch of bone and the wheeze of air as a rib punctured his lung reached my ears, and my glittering eyes narrowed as he collapsed at my feet with a groan. Either he was truly a newbie with fighting a petite woman like me, or he was attacking with emotion rather than logical reasoning.
As my father would say, he was fighting for his pride and not for survival.
Heading to the bar to collect my shot, I tossed it back with a hearty sigh as the burn slid down my throat. Without me asking, Izzy refilled my glass, and I repeated the action before slamming the shot down on the bar as stumbling steps reached my ears over the roar of the music and drunken crowd. Sighing, I glanced over a narrow shoulder to see the wolf clutching his side as blood dripped from his bottom lip. He just would not accept defeat, no matter how much bigger a predator I was.
“Look, sourpuss,” I adjusted the fingerless gloves on my hands and rolled the sleeves of my leather jacket to my elbows. Pulling my thick, ebony curls behind me, I continued, “I’d hate to kill your pride in front of all these people, but I’ll gladly do it if you’re raring for a good ol’ fight.”

Glaring at me, he clenched his teeth at the calm indifference in my voice as I was not at all intimidated by his hulking form or the flecks of gold in his eyes. He towered over my five-two frame and I looked like a sixteen-year-old girl with a blunt mouth that got me into trouble, but I wasn’t joking around this time.


About the Author:

Avery Kilpatrick was born in Flowood, Mississippi, in April 1996. Raised in a small town in the Mississippi Delta, she has a fondness for nature and the cotton fields that create Southern snow pastures in the fall. After writing her first novel when she was thirteen, Avery decided to pursue her dream as an author at a young age.

An alumnus of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, Avery graduated with a Bachelor’s in English. She also worked on the student-run newspaper, The Delta Statement, during her four-year career at Delta State as copy-editor and Editor-in-Chief.

Avery currently lives in a ranch-style home in her hometown in Greenwood, Mississippi. The mother of three fur babies, Cinnamon the spoiled cat, Ginger the rambunctious old lady, and Remington a.k.a. Remi the service dog, Avery has enough fur from shedding animals to make a fourth pet. When Avery isn’t busy writing her next novel, she goes on walks with her mother and dogs, watches Outlander or Criminal Minds on Netflix, or can be found curled up on the couch with Cinnamon reading a good book.







a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 16, 2020

#52WeeksofGratitude - week 29

Your Favorite Memory

Funny this post should come on this day, because it’s almost the 12th anniversary of my favorite memory ever…the first time I saw my son.

Love and Peace,

Kay


Why do this?

To exercise fingers on the keyboard.

It’s only one post a week.

Positivity is a great energy conductor.

I have lots to be grateful for!

It’ll be fun! (maybe?)

Join me, if you dare.



Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Author Douglas Kent






Helplessly Hoping
Douglas Kent

Genre: Memoir
Date of Publication: May 8, 2020
ISBN: 979-8641132112 (Paperback)
ASIN: B088CQZSD8 (Kindle)
Word Count: 114,000

Cover Artist: Shawn Burkett

Tagline: When Love is All You Have Left

Book Description:

High school sweethearts Mara and Douglas are young and in love, but they’re about to discover that the nightmares of the past have a way of haunting us in the present. Together they will face the demons of Mara’s childhood…but will either of them get out alive?

A true and hauntingly candid look into the tragedy of sexual abuse and mental illness, and the struggle to stay afloat when everything seems hopeless.



Excerpt:

One night we were lying in bed watching television. As a general rule at this stage, I would fall asleep hours before Mara would. She’d stay up until 2am or later watching television, unable to sleep, and instead would sleep until 10am or later in the morning, waking up only for a moment to take the handful of pills I’d give her before leaving for work.
Mara had been strangely quiet all evening, neither laughing at the TV nor complaining of any discomfort. I rolled over, gave her a kiss goodnight, and started to settle in to fall asleep. At that point, Mara reached back and opened her own bedside drawer, pulling out the Bowie knife and showing it to me.
“Tonight, when you are sleeping,” she said in an emotionless monotone, “I am going to stab you to death.”
“Okay,” I replied calmly. “And why would you want to do that? Did I do something wrong?”
“No, but I’m tired of living. And if I kill you, I won’t have a reason to live anymore. So I will be free to kill myself. And that’s what I am going to do.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t take it anymore. And I don’t want to kill myself and leave you behind to deal with the guilt and the mess.”
I could actually see the warped logic of what she was telling me. But I didn’t know what to do, or what to say. Life had been dragging us both down, and for a long time I’d had no hope of things getting any better. At any rate, I was tired too, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I felt completely helpless in my life. I didn’t see how anything would ever really get better. Sure, there would be better days and worse days, but the trend was set: downwards.
I rolled over on my side and faced away from Mara. I didn’t want to look at her. I just put my head down on the pillow, said “I love you,” and closed my eyes. Death has always been a huge fear for me; trying to fathom the concept of nonexistence makes me shake all over, and when that happens, I have to snap out of that quickly. I knew Mara was serious, and I felt fairly certain she would follow through with her plan. But in my state of misery, it didn’t matter. The fear of death, and the thought of that knife plunging in and out of my body, barely moved the needle. I simply didn’t care any longer. In only a few minutes I was asleep.

About the Author:


Born in Danbury, CT, Douglas Kent now makes his home in the Dallas, TX area with his two black cats. While he still dabbles in fiction and satire, his published works have focused on personal experiences in the form of memoirs.

He is also an avid supporter of independent film and music, and a lifelong animal lover.






a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 9, 2020

#52WeeksofGratitude - week 28

Your Past

Hahaha, and I repeat, hahaha! My past is just that.

Mine.

Locked up with no key.

But, here’s a picture from my childhood.

Love and Peace,

Kay



Why do this?

To exercise fingers on the keyboard.

It’s only one post a week.

Positivity is a great energy conductor.

I have lots to be grateful for!

It’ll be fun! (maybe?)

Join me, if you dare.



Monday, July 6, 2020

Author Melody Johnson




Beyond the Next Star
Love Beyond Series
Book One
Melody Johnson

Genre: Sci-fi Romance
Publisher: Incendi Press, LLC
Date of Publication: June 23, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-7351499-0-5 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-7351499-1-2 (hardback)
ISBN: 978-1-7351499-2-9 (ebook)
ASIN: B0897S23JN (ebook)
Number of pages: 392
Word Count: 91, 815
Cover Artist: Robin Ludwig Design Inc.

Tagline: An intolerable order. A desperate charade. A deadly secret.

Book Description:

“She wasn’t dreaming, in a coma, having a mental breakdown, or in hell.
She was abducted by aliens.”

Before Commander Torek Renaar can return to active duty, he’s ordered to purchase an animal companion to help relieve his PTSD symptoms. But having been a caretaker for and lost a loved one, keeping even one little human alive is a challenge he feels doomed to fail. It doesn’t help that his animal companion is the newest, most exotic breed on the market, demanding constant attention, daily grooming, and delicate handling. If she doesn’t die first in his incompetent care, she’ll be the death of him.

After witnessing the murder of her domestication specialist, Delaney McCormick allows her new owner to treat her like the pet he believes her to be. If anyone suspects she’s more intelligent than a golden retriever, her murder would be next. She endures the humiliation of being washed, the tediousness of being trained to “sit” and “come,” and the intrigue of hearing private conversations. But in Torek’s care, she finds something unexpected on this antarctic planet, something she never had in all her years on Earth while house-hopping between foster families: a home.

As companionship grows to love, must Delaney continue the charade, acting like an animal and hiding from the murderer waiting on her misstep? Or can she trust Torek with her secrets, even if the truth threatens everything he holds dear—and both their lives?




Excerpt:
When the lorienok abducted Delaney—after she’d finally accepted that she wasn’t dreaming, in a coma, having a mental breakdown, or in hell—she’d given them a fake name: Jane Smith. Not an exceptionally creative or unique pseudonym by any stretch of the imagination, but having come to grips with the fact that she’d been literally abducted by aliens, her imagination was stretched dangerously thin. Intergalactic kidnapping wasn’t a chronic illness, but for a time—a longer time than she was comfortable admitting to now—wasting away had seemed a preferable fate.
She didn’t accomplish much by hiding her identity. She didn’t have any blood relatives to protect, a criminal record to hide, or a trust fund to safeguard. Delaney Rose McCormick had about as much value associated with her name as did the fictional Jane Smith and left nearly as small a void on Earth. But all Delaney had in those early days directly following her abduction was her name and the hope that everything—the abduction, the tests, the training—was just a big mistake. Which, as it turned out, it was. Her abduction had been the biggest technological mistake in lorienok history, but that didn’t change her circumstances. Days turned to weeks turned to months turned to the abandonment of tracking time. Hope died. She had nothing to her name, but her name, at least, was her own, and she would keep it for herself.
By the time her domestication specialist, Keil Kore’Weidnar, discovered Delaney’s capacity to learn and taught her Lori, his native language, the issue of her name had become moot. He’d already renamed her Reshna, a spiral-shaped handheld tool used to drill into ice. He’d shown her a hologram of it, pointing to the spiral and then to the wild frizz of her unconditioned curls. They had a similar-looking tool on Earth, but they used it to open wine bottles. He’d named her “corkscrew” for her crazy hair.
She’d been called worse names in high school.
She couldn’t say she’d lived in worse places, though. Most of her foster families, with the exception of the Todd household, had been decent people who’d given her clothes, a bed under a roof, and regular meals. Besides clothes, those basic necessities were still being met, so a little gratitude was probably in order. But only just a little, because she also had a cage. And a collar. And if she’d just translated the words and growls of the pet store manager correctly, she had a new owner.
Like most lor, her owner had thick, curved ram horns jutting from his head, and like all lorienok regardless of gender, he was covered head to toe in brown fur. Sasquatch did exist after all; he just wasn’t native to Earth. He was roughly the same size and shape as a human bodybuilder, and in addition to the horns, his nose and mouth protruded slightly into a blunt muzzle, two rows of sharp predator teeth filled his overly large mouth, and pointy bearlike claws tipped each finger and likely each toe on his boot-shod feet.
Unlike most, this male wore his hair long. His locks were tied back from his face in a messy bun with a forest-green elastic band. His beard was also long and came to a point at the end, hanging a few inches below his chin. But his eyes were his most striking feature, assuming that one had already become accustomed to the ram horns, claws, abundance of muscle, and close-cropped body fur. His left eye was the same doe brown common to all lorienok—a smidge rounder and larger than human eyes, like calf eyes with those thick lashes and soul-deep stare—but his other eye was ice blue. A thick scar bisected his right brow, eyelid, and upper cheek, slicing directly over that unique, penetrating gaze.
His bearing was regal and confident, the sharp cut of his jawline proud, but his eyes betrayed him. He was sad—horribly sad—and he glowered at Delaney through the wire door of her cage like he was the Greek king Sisyphus and she his boulder, resigning himself to an eternity of labor over an impossible, futile undertaking.
Or maybe Delaney was just projecting because she couldn’t imagine anything more impossible and futile than her current existence. I am not a pet! she wanted to yell. But after witnessing Keil’s cold-blooded murder, she knew to keep her mouth firmly shut. If anyone suspected her more intelligent than a golden retriever, her death would be next.
Accomplishing impossible feats while enduring debilitating injury and sensory deprivation were challenges both expected and anticipated by the young cadets training to enter the combat and strategic intelligence division of the Federation. Qualifying exams were brutal. Training was rigorous. But for the few who didn’t fail, drop out, or obtain an infirmary discharge, the rewards were astronomical. Torek Lore’Onik Weidnar Kenzo Lesh’Aerai Renaar had certainly reaped those rewards many times over, as evidenced by the four property titles bestowed to his name. He’d never been one to flinch when facing a challenge, but this order—the court-mandated appointment of an animal companion to “facilitate mental recovery”—was the challenge that finally made him flinch.
Torek stared at the human—at the beautiful, riotous hair that sprang like coils from its head and would obviously need continual cleaning and grooming, at its tiny stature and lean form that probably couldn’t lift its own weight, at the lovely gray eyes and smooth, bare skin that would need layers upon layers of protective coverings to keep it warm—and he seriously considered the merits of simply retiring from the Federation.
No one would blame him after what had happened. He could return to his home in Aerai and resume the quiet, peaceful, unappreciated toil of plant cultivation he’d abandoned so many seasons ago along with his dreams of filling that home with a family.
The store manager hefted a bound book from the counter and plopped it into Torek’s unwilling arms.
“What’s this?” A tingle of cold dread crept across the back of Torek’s neck.
“Why, it’s your owner’s manual, of course.”
“Of course.” The Federation’s policies and procedures manual was the thickest book Torek had ever had the displeasure of memorizing, and it wasn’t even half the size of this tome.
“You’ll be the envy of all Lorien. The first to purchase a human, our newest species. She’s the pilot for her breed, of course, but her domestication is progressing fabulously. They dispatched a harvester while she was still in transit, so until the next shipment arrives, she’s the only human we’ll have for a while yet, six kair at the least. You must be thrilled.”
As Torek flipped through a few of the manual’s pages and skimmed the table of contents, the tingle of dread that had started at his neck devoured the rest of his body and intensified to nausea. An entire chapter was dedicated to heating and insulating the human’s living quarters. If her rooms dipped below a specific temperature—Torek brought the book closer and squinted, but no, his eyes didn’t deceive him—and the human didn’t have tailored, fur-lined coverings to retain heat, she would sicken and die. If he didn’t provide her with private sleeping quarters, she would become lethargic and depressed, then sicken and die. If he didn’t feed her three meals a day, complete with a cooked protein, vegetables, and some grain, she would sicken and die. She was even allergic to ukok, a simple seasoning. If consumed, her throat would swell, cutting off her air supply, and she would immediately die.
He would kill her.
Not intentionally, of course, but despite the wild popularity of owning foreign domesticated animals, he’d never even owned a zeprak let alone something as exotic, delicate, and temperamental as this human. She wouldn’t survive a week in his care.
His throat tightened. His breath shortened. His chest ached, and suddenly, black starbursts shadowed his vision.
Not now. Not in public. Not again.
A loud bang echoed through the store, startling Torek back to himself. He blinked a few times, breathing past the panic and reorienting his mind. The store manager was silent now and staring.
He’d dropped the owner’s manual.
Torek gathered the reserves of his iron will. He was not afraid of domesticated animals. He did not shirk his responsibilities. And he did not flounder. He straightened away from the store manager, stepped over the dropped manual as if he’d intended to discard it so carelessly, and eased his fist through the open petting window of the human’s cage, offering the back of his hand for her to sniff his acquaintance. He didn’t particularly want to become acquainted—acquaintance with an animal companion could all too easily flip to a desire for one—but that’s what a normal, well-adjusted lor not on the brink of hyperventilating would do.
So, he did it.
The human stared at his fist, blinking. She glanced up at his face and then back at his fist before leaning in and brushing her cheek affectionately against his knuckles. Her skin was newborn-baby soft.
His chest constricted with renewed panic.
Torek cleared his throat. “She’s an adult female?”
The store manager nodded. “Her name is Reshna.”
“Fitting.” Torek pulled one of those hair coils and watched with amusement as it bounced back into place when he released it.
Her hair left a grease spot on his finger pads.
Torek narrowed his eyes. Her hair, which he’d already noted would require daily maintenance, needed washing.
“How long has she been in store for sale?” Torek stroked the side of her jaw with the back of his knuckle, peeking under her collar as she shied away from his touch. Her neck was chafed and red.
“She’s been the joy of this establishment for most of Rorak. Eh, about two-thirds of the season.”
Torek stared at the manager, taken aback. “She’s been in this cage that entire time?”
The store manager’s smile was placating. “I assure you, animal companions thrive here under my care.”
The skin on her arms, which had been smooth a few minutes earlier, wrinkled in tiny, raised spots. A slight tremor shook her body.
“Is she all right?” Torek’s heart lurched painfully. “I think her collar may be too tight.”
“Hmmm.” The store manager stooped to pick up the manual, licked his thumb pad, and paged through it, frowning.
“You’ve had her this long, and you haven’t memorized her manual?”
The store manager’s face darkened. “Reshna is the newest, most exotic animal companion we currently sell. The few who considered purchasing her weren’t willing to invest in her care after reading the manual. Like most exotic breeds, she isn’t for just anyone. It takes time to find companions like her a home, and in that time, I assure you that I’ve cared for her as I do all our animal companions. As required by her manual.”
Torek might have apologized for giving offense—he didn’t know the first thing about caring for exotic animals—except that the few words he’d glimpsed from her manual screamed at him: adult humans require private sleeping quarters and washrooms complete with…excruciatingly long bullet list of requirements… Without these necessary living conditions, the human will sicken and die.
And here she was, going on nearly all of Rorak in a wire cage so small, she couldn’t rest without curling in on herself. If she remained here, she would sicken and die.
“I’ll take her.”
About the Author:

Melody Johnson is the author of the “out of this world” Love Beyond series and the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series published by Kensington Publishing/ Lyrical Press. The City Beneath (Night Blood, book 1) was a finalist in the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests.

Melody graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology. Throughout college, she wrote contemporary love stories, but having read and adored the action and dark mystery of vampires her whole life, decided to add her fingerprint to the paranormal genre.

Melody's unique perspective on vampires lends fresh bite to a classic paranormal genre. In addition to a reimagined transformation—the requirement of night blood—vampires have gargoyle-looking, vicious day forms, an orgasmic bite, and as the series progresses to Sweet Last Drop (book 2), a mindless, rampaging, zombie-like breed is introduced. Melody is constantly upping the stakes, and Day Reaper (book 4) is no exception.

Beyond the Next Star is an exciting branch from Melody's paranormal romance roots, keeping the dark grit from her Night Blood Series and taking it to new worlds. Told from the dual perspectives of both human pet and alien owner, Melody's story weaves a slow-burn romance that explores the bonds of love in all its forms, navigating the main characters’ relationship in delicate stages from oblivious ownership to woke, romantic love.

After moving from her northeast Pennsylvania hometown for some much needed Southern sunshine, Melody now works as a digital media coordinator for Southeast Georgia Health System’s marketing department. When she isn’t working or writing, Melody can be found swimming at the beach, reading at the pool, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia.





a Rafflecopter giveaway