The Vampire Within

 

Dark Vampire Fantasy
Date Published: March 2018
Publisher: Story Bound Publishing
 
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Brandon Cass is not your average teenager. He has a taste for blood—human blood. For sixteen years, he stumbled through life without a hitch until the enigmatic aroma of blood awakened something dark within him. Visions of a beautiful young woman with chocolate brown hair and ocean blue eyes haunt his mind, yet her identity is a puzzling mystery.
His hunger for blood strengthens, and the cravings become too powerful to control. No one is safe, not even his family. To safeguard all he once found dear, Brandon sets out on a quest for answers. In an unfamiliar city, he comes face-to-face with the beautiful young woman, confronts the dark force which controls him, and learns what he must endure to reclaim his soul.
Other Books in the Immortal Kiss Series:
Immortal Kiss
Immortal Kiss Series, Book One
Centuries ago ten powerful vampire gods first walked the earth; their blood thirst knew no boundaries. The destruction of mankind was inevitable. Recognizing their weakness, they selected twelve wise human beings to transform with their godly blood. These twelve, known as The Old Ones and The Council, govern The Ten. A blood lottery appeasing The Ten’s hunger was set forth into the human world and passed down every fifth generation, continuing into the present day.
All of Beth Ryan’s life a mysterious mist has watched over her; a mist she believed to be a vampire. On a cold winter night, Philippe Delon, a 700-year-old vampire walks into Beth’s life. She is drawn to him, certain he is the vampire behind the mist…but is he?
Beth and Philippe cannot deny their love for each other, nor do they try to fight it. Within days of their encounter, Beth accepts Philippe’s invitation to move into his mansion. The mansion unlocks the door to the vampire world and exposes secrets from Beth’s past. Within its walls, she learns the true identity of the mist, her link to the blood lottery, and betrayal of her loved ones. Surrounded by lies, Beth stands before The Council begging for resolution.
Bound by Blood
Immortal Kiss Series, Book Two
Five years crawled by at a painfully slow pace for young vampire, Beth; each year more agonizing than the next. The powerful unyielding spell which masked Amon’s whereabouts showed no signs of weakening.  Influenced by the binding ritual and Amon’s blood surging inside her, Beth will stop at nothing, and risk everything, to find him and turn the tables on Osiris, Isis, and Hathor.  In foggy streets of London, lives are threatened by a new breed of hunter, and nothing is what it seemed.  Beth once again finds herself surrounded by betrayal.  In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between Philippe and Amon – knowing that her decision will change one life forever. But whose?
Excerpt
CHAPTER 1
              
I jumped out of bed at the very last second, took a quick shower, threw on some clothes and raced downstairs. As my mom nagged me about the time, I shoved a piece of toast in my mouth, washed it down with some OJ, then dashed out the door seconds before the school bus pulled up. As usual, my fellow classmates were taunting the new kid, Roger, and Mr. Gilbert, the bus driver, was yelling out his customary, “Knock it off!” at them. I flopped down in an empty seat at the back of the bus and let out a frustrated groan. Could my life be any more boring?
I dragged my feet as I made my way into Mrs. Clark’s history class and claimed my usual seat.  Whose bright idea was it to make history first period? Staying conscious while Mrs. Clark rambled on about a bunch of dead people who changed the world was near impossible. I slid farther down in my chair and was about to initiate full zone-out mode when Sam walked into class.
An electric jolt zapped me upright—I could smell her. The scent quickened my pulse and sent my heartbeat skyrocketing. My mouth watered as a feverish hunger growled in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t her perfumed skin or freshly shampooed hair. No, it was musky and unpleasant. It got under my skin, and I found it terribly distracting.
As Sam caught me staring, a proud smirk washed over her face. She tossed her golden-blonde hair over her shoulder and slid her slender body into the wooden desk in front of me, then turned around and locked eyes with me, her smug grin widening.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her distracting aroma swiftly traveled up my nose, lighting up my brain. Shivers scurried down my spine, spinning my head…what was that smell?
As Sam tugged playfully on my hair, she whispered, “I’ve been waiting forever for you to notice me, Brandon.” She paused, looking me up and down. “Meet me after class on the front steps.”
I didn’t hesitate to agree. “Okay.”
She winked. “I have a surprise for you.”
My stomach flip flopped and my palms grew sweaty. Surprise? I had no idea what she meant, but I sure as hell was gonna find out.
Sam’s smell manipulated my brain, blurring Mrs. Clark’s words together. Once, I got wasted at one of my parents’ Christmas parties. I’d chugged down every half-finished glass of beer, wine, or hard liquid abandoned on the table to the point where my head spun out of control. Sam’s scent mimicked that same effect. I wanted to gorge on it, whatever it was. The sudden ring of the school bell, announcing the end of first period, snapped me out of the muddled fog.
Sam touched my shoulder and whispered, “You go first and I’ll meet you there.”
I obeyed and headed straight for the front steps with my heartbeat throbbing inside my throat.
The breeze carried her fragrance. She was behind me; I knew it. My knees wobbled as I turned around.
Sam was inches from me, batting her eyelashes and smiling. She giggled and seized my trembling hand. “Come with me.” She steered me toward the park and away from the vigilant eyes at the school. Within the boundaries of the trees and their interlocking branches, we sat, facing each other.
“What’s my surprise?” I asked, my breath speeding up.
“A kiss.” She grinned sheepishly, then planted her lips over mine.
That smell of hers hammered at the inner walls of my brain. Every muscle twitched, and heat spread over my skin. I pulled away and blurted out, “What’s that smell? It’s driving me crazy!”
She flinched, and her cheeks flushed bright red. “You can smell me?”
“Yes.”
“I…I don’t know what to say. This is so embarrassing.” She looked away from me. “I’m on my period,” she whispered.
That was it—blood! Rich, dark, delicious blood! Wait, blood?  Delicious? Was it? I jammed my fingertips into my temples. Her scent was screwing with my head, but I had to taste her. Cupping her face, I kissed her hard and bit her tongue. Warm, coppery blood spilled into my mouth, bringing to life a slew of delightful shivers. 
Her high-pitched squeal struck my eardrums, but I didn’t care. Her fluids overpowered all my senses. I swished her blood between my teeth, like mouthwash, before spitting it into the palm of my hand. A thick, gooey, red substance coated my fingers. Its power hypnotized me and…altered me. I hungered after it. My tongue darted out of my mouth and snatched up the blood staining my skin. Upon my virgin swallow, I released the low growl swelling in my throat. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of her. Her face had turned a shade of ghastly-white, and her eyes bulged out of their sockets. She opened her mouth wide, blasting out another petrified shriek. It echoed inside my ears, yanking me back to reality. I held my hands up and backed away from her, shaking my head. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me…I’m so sorry.”
She scrambled to her feet, gave my shin a swift kick, and shouted, “Freak!” As she ran away, she threatened, “I’m going to tell everyone what you did.  Everyone!”
I wandered the park aimlessly with my thoughts spiraling. I bit her! Why, why, why? The blood…it made me do it! My feet stumbled to a grinding halt. Her blood coerced me; I knew it with every ounce of my being. Was that even impossible? Was I losing my mind? I had to get away from the school. I grabbed my cell and called my mom.
She picked up on the second ring. “Brandon, why aren’t you in class?” Her voice sounded strained. “Is something wrong?”
“I’m sick, Mom.” My voice cracked. “P–Please come get me.”
“Of course, honey.”
“Hurry.”
“Ten minutes, if that,” she answered in a lulling tone. “Don’t worry.”
My shoulders quaked, threatened by a wall of tears building behind my eyelids. For the second time that day, I waited on the front steps of the school, a different person—a person who craved blood—a freak!
As my mom’s car turned into the parking lot, I bolted toward it. The car hadn’t even come to a complete stop when I yanked on the handle and slid inside.
She gave me a heartfelt look, then immediately placed her hand to my forehead. “No fever, so that’s good. How is it you don’t feel well?”
Looking into her eyes made me want to ball like a baby. I looked away, then shuddered. “I ache all over.”
Again, she touched my forehead, then each cheek. “I’ll make you some soup when we get home.” She paused, then added, “Your sister’s going to be jealous.”
Soup wasn’t going to fix my problem, and I certainly couldn’t tell my mom I’d bit a girl’s tongue. I couldn’t tell my sister either. I couldn’t tell anyone. I forced a smile and glanced at her. “Soup sounds good. Better make enough for Lindsey or she’ll be really jealous.”
Her vivacious laugh filled my ears. “You’re probably right.”
As the car pulled away from the school, the knot twisting my stomach relaxed; though, the gruesome act of biting Sam was less forgiving. The image was forever etched into my brain. I sank deeper into the seat and shuddered.
My mom glanced at me with a line of concern pinching her forehead. “Are you all right?”
That was the million-dollar question. I heaved a sigh. “My head’s pounding. I just want to lie down.”
“Thank goodness we live so close.” She shook her head and her frown deepened. “This came on so sudden. When you dashed out of the house this morning, you were fine.”
I shrugged my shoulders.  I was fine, until Sam changed things. Turning onto our street, she added, “I hate it when my kids get sick.”
“I’ll be okay.” I lied, but my mom needed the reassurance.
“Of course you will.”
As my mom pulled into our driveway, I pushed open my door. I didn’t even wait for her to kill the car’s engine before I was hurrying into the house with large strides, running up the stairs and into my room. I flopped onto my bed and buried my face in my pillow. The sobs I’d been fighting all day gained on me. My eyelids gave way to the mounting pressure behind them, spilling hot tears down my cheeks and drenching the pillowcase. My mom walked in during the height of my waterworks display. I quickly swiped at my face, brushing away the tears before sitting up.
“Brandon, honey, take a sip of 7UP,” she said, sitting next to me and handing me a can of soda.
I shoved the soda aside on the nightstand, then latched onto her, letting my tears flow again. “Tell me I’m not a horrible person,” I cried.
Her arms came around me in a loving embrace. “Why in the world would you say such a thing?” She cupped my face in the palms of her hands. “You’re my prefect sixteen-year-old son.”
My breath hitched inside my chest as I thought of the why. “I don’t know. I just…I just need some sleep.”
My mom pulled two round white pills from her sweater pocket, then reached for the 7UP. “Here’s two aspirin.” She stroked my head, then rose from the bed. “I’ll start the soup. Try to rest while it’s cooking.” She quietly closed the door, leaving me alone.
I washed down the pills and fell back onto the pillows, my gaze drifting toward the ceiling. Sam’s horrified face spread across it and I jerked my eyes away, burying my face into a pillow. Sam, I’m so sorry. She’d never forgive me. I couldn’t forgive myself. There was no forgiving what I’d done. What kind of person bites another person? A freak, that’s who.
A Google search could pinpoint what was wrong with me. I glanced at my laptop resting on my desk and shivered. Bad idea. Searching the internet for reasons why someone craved blood might uncover something far worse.
A rock of fear landed in the pit of my stomach. I bolted into my bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I caught my reflection in the mirror as I toweled off the clammy sweat and stared hard, searching for the slightest change—same hazel eyes, sandy-brown hair, and dimpled cheeks looked back at me. I didn’t see a freak or a monster, just me.
I wandered back to my bed and sank deeper into the pillows. The feather-down cradled me, programming my brain to shut down and summon sleep. My eyelids grew heavy, sliding down over my eyes like curtains.  I didn’t fight it and drifted off.
The creak of my bedroom door sounded inside my head like an alarm. My eyelids fluttered and slowly opened, my vision coming into focus. My sister stood in the doorway, her school books tucked under her arm.  “What do you want, Lins?”
Lindsey bounced into my room, unloaded her books on my desk, before sitting on the edge of it.  As she twirled a strand of her brownish-blonde hair around her finger, her big green eyes studied me. “You really sick or just faking?”
What I wouldn’t give to be faking the whole mess. I rolled my eyes. “I’m not faking.”
She plastered one of those ‘I don’t believe you’ looks on her face and heaved a sigh as her shoulders sagged. “I hate high school.”
That was so Lindsey; everything was always about her. I leaned against the headboard and folded my arms. “Why?”
“I was so popular in junior high. Everyone knew me or wanted to know me. Now, I’m at the bottom of the fish bowl, like scum. My social status is non-existent.”
I couldn’t help but smirk. “Social status, really?  Lins, you’re fourteen.”
She turned her nose up at me. “Like sixteen’s old. Besides, I happen to like being popular.” She pouted. “Ninth grade sucks.”
“Eleventh grade isn’t any easier,” I pointed out. “The twelfth graders have all the power.”
“Hmph. It just isn’t fair.” She paused, scrunching her eyebrows together. “Something’s really wrong with you, isn’t there?  You’re doing that thing with your forehead.”
I swiped a hand across my brow. “What thing?”
“Pulsating the vein in the center of your forehead.” She shuddered. “Gross. You always do it when you’re stressing out.”
I waved her off. Truth be told, though, I was in major stress mode. A whiff of chicken turned my head toward the doorway. Mom entered, carrying a breakfast tray.
“Ready for some soup?” She set the tray of steaming chicken noodle soup, soda crackers, and another can of 7UP next to me on the bed. “I came up earlier, but you were asleep.”
I licked my lips. “So ready.”
She touched her hand to my forehead. “Still no fever. That’s good, honey. Eat your soup and get some rest.”
Lindsey leaned in and took a deep breath. “Mom, that smells delish.”
“There’s plenty more downstairs.” She smoothed Lindsey’s hair and gave her a smile. “Why don’t you join me downstairs for a bowl.”
Lindsey jumped off my bed and scooped up her books. “Totally.” She glanced back at me. “Feel better.”
“Thanks, Lins.”
“I’ll check in on you later,” Mom said, then followed Lindsey out of my room and shut the door behind her.
I scarfed down the soup and crackers, then chugged half the can of 7UP. I pushed the tray aside and let out huge sigh. Once more, I fell back onto the pillows and closed my eyes.
****
I woke to a dark room. A shaft of moonlight cut through the curtains, stretching across the room and shining right in my face, letting me know it was still night. I rolled over to the opposite side of my bed and pulled the covers over my head, blocking out the light. An empty feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t hunger, it was the thought of school. I dreaded staring into Sam’s unforgiving eyes, and all the pairs of eyes of the people she’d told. I’d tell her I’d contracted a disease, and maybe I had. The creak of my bedroom door shattered my thoughts. Mom entered and flipped on the light, causing me to flinch. I can’t go to school tomorrow. I just can’t.
“Brandon, how are you feeling?” Mom asked, touching her hand to my forehead for the hundredth time.
Her warm fingers pulsated with thick, rich, tasty blood against my skin. No, not again!  I jerked away from her and scrambled to the opposite side of the room, sinking to the floor. She hurried after me, a thumping vibration following her. The suffocating hum wrapped around my brain, growing louder and louder. I slammed my hands over my ears and wailed.
“Brandon, what’s wrong?” Mom dropped to her knees in front of me, her hands latching onto my arms. “Oh my God, you’re shivering.”
The thumping was coming from her—her heartbeat! Every crushing thud swelled inside my chest, sucking the air from my lungs. I squished a hand between us and pried her away, but she only clung tighter as she screamed for my dad.
With her cry for help, his footsteps pounded against the carpeted stairs as he rushed to her aid.  As my dad charged into my room, the thumping magnified. I sat there, imprisoned on the floor, convulsing with each beat of their hearts. The room grew fuzzy as my vision blurred. Lindsey’s panicked squeal filled my ears, then all sound faded away to nothing.
The next time I opened my eyes, I was back in bed. A shaft of light from the hallway penetrated through the opening of my bedroom door, while multiple heartbeats sounded off inside my ears. I rolled over to face the doorway. My mom and Dr. Erickson, our next-door neighbor, stood just outside my room, wearing green hospital scrubs. She must have caught him either going to the hospital or just getting home. They spoke in hushed tones. I couldn’t make out every word, but I caught something about oxygen to the brain and low blood pressure.
This wasn’t any kind of illness. This was some sick craving for blood, and the second time it had manipulated me. Would there be more? How far would I go to satisfy the need? Would I resort to violence again? Would I hurt my parents, or Lindsey? A thin layer of sweat coated my skin as I twisted the sheets between my clammy fists. “Never!” I shouted.
My mom popped her head in. “I’ll be right there, Brandon.” She faced Dr. Erickson and squeezed his hands. “John, I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and checking on Brandon.”
“No need to thank me, Diane, but keep that appointment.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Goodnight. Call me anytime.” He gave her a nod and went on his way.
She hurried to my bedside, that motherly look of concern tugging at her eyebrows. “Honey, how are you feeling?”
“Tired…weak.” Scared I’m turning into a bloodthirsty monster.
She patted my hand. “Dr. Erickson reached out to Dr. Stewart. We’ve got an appointment with him tomorrow morning at nine.”
I heaved an exaggerated sigh in protest. “Do I have to go? You know how he is. He’ll run every test in the world.”
The motherly look intensified. “You gave me and your father, not to mention Lindsey, quite a scare. The subject is not up for debate. You’re going.” Her face softened, and she planted a kiss on my cheek. “Close those gorgeous hazel eyes and get some rest.” She stared at me for several seconds before leaving my side.
As she closed my door, I shuddered. If she knew the truth, she’d haul my ass to the nuthouse instead of the family physician.
Once more, my door opened halfway. Lindsey peeked around the frame. “Can I come in?”
That was a first. She never asked. I must’ve really freaked her out by fainting. “Yeah, sure.”
She approached my bed, stopping inches away. Her face twisted like she was in pain. “You scared me.” Her voice was gentle and soft, lacking its usual self-centeredness.
I put on my most thoughtful expression. “I didn’t mean to scare you, or Mom, or Dad. Mom says I’ve got to go to see Dr. Stewart tomorrow.”
“That’s probably a good thing. He’ll go all test happy and find what’s wrong.”
I busted out laughing. “That’s what I said.” I let myself get serious and lowered my voice. “I’m kind of scared. What if there’s something wrong with me, something that can’t be fixed?”
She nudged my shoulder. “It’ll be okay. Don’t worry.”
“What if it’s not?”
She locked her gaze on me. “It will. You’re my big brother, and I need you.”
I cracked a smile. “You mean, you need someone to boss around.”
A giggle escaped her, and more seemed to struggle to get out before she shook them off and held her chin high. “Not true.”
I let out a bemused huff. “Yeah, right. You’ve been bossing me around since you learned to talk. When we lived in that tiny apartment and had to share a room, you claimed top bunk and ordered me to sleep on the bottom bunk. Remember?”
She shuddered, then rubbed her arms. “That bedroom was haunted. I’ll never forget that girl’s voice humming that lullaby. No way was I sleeping on the bottom where she could pop out from under the bed and grab me.”
I rolled my eyes and waved her away. “I told you then and I’m telling you now, it was Mom.  She was probably standing outside our door, trying to get us to go to sleep.”
“That voice had come from inside our room, and it wasn’t Mom. It was a ghost,” she insisted with a firm nod.
My gaze drifted toward the ceiling as I conjured up the past, then I faced her. “It didn’t sound ghostlike or creepy to me. It had more of a calming effect as I remember.”
She jutted her chin in my direction. “Maybe for you.”
I released a low sigh. “Well, right now, I could use that calming lullaby.”
“Everything will be okay,” she said again, then hugged me.
I hugged her back, and longer than normal before releasing her. “Thanks, Lins. It’s late, go back to sleep. I’ll be fine.”
She searched my eyes. “You’re sure?”
I waved her toward the door. “I’m sure.”
“Okay.” She kept her gaze on me as she backed up into the doorway. A half-smile came to her lips before she closed the door, leaving me alone.
After staring at the ceiling for quite some time, sleep finally took over and Sam entered my dreams. She lay motionless beneath me as I hunched over her like a crazed animal. I’d ripped her apart, limb by limb, my face buried inside her open wounds, guzzling mouthfuls of blood.
My eyelids flew open and I scurried off my bed, flipping on the light, the nightmare still fresh in my mind. My heartbeat throbbed inside my throat as I skimmed over my room. Familiar surroundings fell into my sightlines; my guitars, rock-n-roll memorabilia, skateboards, and gaming equipment. I wiped the sweat off my forehead, trembling, and sank to the floor. Tears rushed forward and spilled down my cheeks as I feared the significance behind my nightmare.
About the Author

Laura Daleo was born and raised in San Diego, California where she majored in Fine Arts at Mesa College. She is best known for her love of animals and shares her home with three humorous Basset Hounds, Stuart, Morgan, and Dexter, her toughest critics. Laura has held positions in several industries, Restaurant, Telecom, Biotech, Research, and Retail. Throughout Laura’s professional career, she furthered her writing skills by taking courses and by joining writer’s critique groups and Writers Digest. She is now the owner of Story Bound Publishing, a fresh voice in the supernatural realm of ebooks and traditional print, committed to publishing unearthly tales of Aliens, Angels, Demons, Fairies, Ghosts, Shifters, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Zombies and all other creatures that go bump in the night.
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Rascal

 

 

Title: Rascal

Series: Rascals #1

Author: Katie McCoy
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 30, 2018
Blurb
My new neighbor is irresistible, and he’s keeping me up ALL
night long…
Emerson Hayes is sexy, arrogant, and has abs that would put
a Hemsworth to shame. He’s also opening a bar with his buddies right below my
apartment. Goodbye, peace and quiet, hello sleepless nights fantasizing about
my hot new landlord…
But when my stuffy workplace makes it clear I need a
plus-one for our events, I have the perfect way to even the score. Emerson is
A+ arm-candy… as long as I can resist taking a bite. Our arrangement is
supposed to be just for show, but Emerson is like that fifth shot of tequila:
tempting, intoxicating, and liable to leave me flat on my back with my panties
around my ankles, begging for more.
Maybe I should stay for just one more round…
Sparks fly in the hot new standalone series from Katie McCoy.

 

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Available at other retailers soon
Coming Soon
Releasing June 25, 2018
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Heartbreaker
Releasing August 20, 2018
Soulmate
Releasing October 15, 2018
Troublemaker
Releasing December 10, 2018
Author Bio
Katie McCoy is a self proclaimed sushi addict, Cardinals baseball fanatic, and lover of all things theatrical. A St. Louis native transplanted to Brooklyn, she acts, sings, and shakes her booty when she isn’t writing books about hot men and the girls who love them.
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Creole Moon

 

Fantasy
Date Published: February 2018
Publisher: Toplink Publishing
 
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Creole Moon Book of Roots by S T Holmes is a fantasy fiction set in the early 1900s.  Mamuska, the voodoo priest, needs to return to his home in the Louisiana swamp to renew his strength and vigor, but Ayida, serpent goddess and mother of the demi gods, forbids him to take his wife, Ophelia.  They argue until Ayida becomes angry and conjures a storm as a warning to Mamuska, but he doesn’t heed the warning and slips his wife out of their cosmic home and back into the swamp.
It is Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the year of the Luperci festival, a time for forgiveness in the magic world and correcting wrong doings from magic to right. Unite with our hero, George Genois, from Creole Moon The Betrayal, as he finds his way back into the city at just the right time. He is befriended by a witch named Sephora who gives him shelter and protection, and in return is looking for help from the Luxican, George’s alter being in her quest for the source of all magic. He reluctantly agrees to help her as long as it doesn’t interfere with his plans of revenge and setting things right again, but unknown to him, she is in a battle with her goddess sister who wants to find the coveted Book of Roots first.
The treasure hunt ended in the swamp at the hut of the voodoo priest and priestess. Ophelia had control of a portion of the book of roots but she had no idea of its value as a whole.  She only wanted to keep it away from everyone including her husband, Mamuska. As hard as the others tried to resurrect the book, Ophelia was working equally as hard to keep it hidden, but her powers were no match for the Luxican. Finally, the Luxican was able to succeed in breaking through the magical portal and the precious book dropped to earth next to the heads of the Luxican and Sephora.  Before the purification ceremony could take place, the witch’s sister intervened and a fight broke out between them. This is sibling rivalry at its finest as the sisters fight to win control of the book, but only one will prevail.
George is pulled into the middle of a turbulent battle that draws him deeper into the realm of magic with exceptionally powerful wizards and high priests as allies fighting against dark spirits and other forces of good and evil.  The pagan purification ceremony begins but is fraught with a number of interruptions from Drumangos, dark spirits from the tombs to Sephora’s royal family. It is not until the end of the ceremony that the Luxican realizes he is the key to finding the book of roots and saving the world of magic and all of it must be done before Mardi Gras day ends and the last toll of the midnight cathedral bell is sounded.
This Mardi Gras festival is like non ever seen before or will ever see again in the future.
Other Books in the Creole Moon Series:
Creole Moon: The Betrayal
Publisher: Xulon Press
Published: September 2015
Sgt. George Francis Genois is an officer in the Confederate army. He returns to his hometown in Louisiana to celebrate the wedding of his twin brother Gerald. Mystical events throw him in the path of Jewella Du Viller, a fiery rebellious young woman standing at the river bank stirring the slaves to fight for their freedom. George whisks the woman away from perceived danger and escorts her to her carriage. He discovers later that she is the sister of a childhood friend. He falls madly in love with her and proposes marriage. Before the wedding can take place, she is arrested for treason. George is forced to abandon his military aspirations in order to save the woman he loves. He seeks the aid of a sorcerer, Mamuska and his wife Ophelia. Under a creole moon, the fates of George and Jewella as well as Mamuska and Ophelia are sealed.
Excerpt
Chapter 1
A Small Corner of Mt. Olympus
 It was a picture perfect day in the eastern corner of Mount Olympus.   Giant white clouds lazily drifted pass each other flashing peeks of a brilliant blue sky in between each cloud puff. The sun’s rays provided welcomed warmth to the residents from the previous night’s chill.  It was otherwise, a beautiful, serene day in the region of the demi gods, with the exception of a heated conversation that ensued between Ayida, goddess of the demi gods and mother of the great serpent god Dumballah, and Mamuska, the voodoo high priest of the swamp.  Mamuska always went to Ayida for guidance. Usually, she was supportive of his activities, but this time she was angry with him and argumentative. Nothing he could say would improve her disposition.
“You can’t take her back to the ssswamp with you.” Ayida hissed. Her serpent traits were more pronounced when she was upset, and right now, she was not happy with a number of issues in the demi god’s world.  Mamuska’s insistence of taking Ophelia with him was adding to her discontent.
“Ophelia isss uncontrollable, essspecially in the mortal world.  You promissssed me you would control her and you have not fulfilled that promissse,” Ayida replied.
“I-I know,” Mamuska said, “I really have tried to rein her in, but she has ways of making me do what she wants.” He held his head down and shook it from side to side.
“If allowed to accompany you, ssshe will only bring more unwanted attention to usss. We can’t have that.  All of the magical creaturesss are under a watchful eye right now.  Thisss isss too sssignificant of a year for the magic world.  We ssshouldn’t have to deal with her ssshenanigansss, too.  Ssshe mussst ssstay here.” Ayida said softer now but still forceful enough to get her point across, but Mamuska was determined to sway her to his way of thinking.  Without much thought or concern for his own safety, he continued.
“You know I have to go back.  Look at me.  I am weak and I need to be rejuvenated.  Only Dumballah and his wife Aeida Weido can make the exchange when I am in this depleted condition.  Ophelia can help speed up the process if they don’t want to spend too much time down there among the humans.  We won’t have to be there for very long. Once the transfer takes place, we will return here, to our celestial home where you can keep an eye on her.”
Before Ayida spoke again, dark clouds lined overhead, a crack of lightening flashed through the sky and low sounds of thunder rumbled through the air.  Her long, silky white hair flew out and around her head and face with the rhythm of the wind.  The sky-blue eyes that once looked at him in admiration were now turned into dark, black pools of fury.  Mamuska knew he had pushed too hard and had angered her beyond control. He decided to remain silent before she unleashed her full power on him. When she finally spoke, the cloud that was her home began to dissipate.
“YOU are allowed to return to the mortal world, but your wife, Ophelia, must remain here with usss. No further discussion and NO negotiation. I am unyielding on this point.”
The words were said with such force and vileness that even Mamuska began to shake a little. Ayida flew away from him before she did something she would regret later.  She had always liked Mamuska, but he was weak when it came to THAT woman, and it disgusted her.  It would take some time but she would reveal her true self to him and when she did, he would be free of her forever.
About the Author

S. T. Holmes was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and began creative writing in high school. She has a master’s in Business Management from St. Edward’s University of Austin, Texas, a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Biology from universities in North Carolina. She is currently working as a chief financial officer in Texas but finds time to indulge in her passion for writing.  She says that writing provides a creative outlet and stress relief for her. To share your comments or ask questions about her books, you may write to Suzon via e-mail at suetropez@yahoo.com Creole Moon The Betrayal published October 1, 2015 by Xulon Publishing.
Under the name of Suzon Tropez, she has published: Dynamite Resume Your Calling Card to Success – August 17, 2011 – Dorrance Publisher and High Waters  – October 24, 2005 – Publish America.
Visit her social media pages at Facebook, Tweeter, Tumblr and website, www.stholmes.com.
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Best Evidence

 

Poetry
Date Published: January 2018
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Evocative, deceptively straightforward and wry poetry that delivers a shock to the system.
Poet Mark S. Osaki covers a number of poignant topics in Best Evidence. Each poem in the four sections gives you a glimpse of a formative moment in Osaki’s life or expands your viewpoint on conflicts in the world. Some poems, like the powerful “Chinese Camp, California,” speak of a larger cultural experience and the nuances of navigating identity as an Asian American. Others still, like “Gun Song,” show the psychological and cultural impact of war. In each new work, Osaki captures powerful moments of longing and loss.
Praise for Best Evidence:
 
“Mark Osaki has shown himself to be one of the best poets of his generation.” – David Rains Wallace, Author, The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution
 
“I have found the poetic voices of Asian Americans to be among the strongest and most original in contemporary English literature. Among those writers, none impress me more than does Mark Osaki.” – Joseph Bruchac, The Greenfield Review Press
 
“Mark Osaki belongs to no school, follows no master, and has stayed on the far margin of the business part of poetry. His spare style is a vehicle for an outsider’s view of our world. His poetic toughness is not for those who regard poetry as comfort. He is paring his experiences closer to a powerful reporting, as only poetry can report.” – Leonard Nathan
 
Mark S Osaki undertakes to illuminate the difficulty of  establishing one’s home in a nation not one’s own. These often soulful poems speak to us as members of families, as lovers, as travelers, journeys a reader is rewarded for taking. – Carole L. Glickfeld,  Author, Swimming Toward the Ocean.
 
“Mark Osaki brings a rich poetic voice to his collection of poems in his recent book “Best Evidence”. He captures past and present moments, expressing hope through pain and personal loss. His work is subtle in nuances, yet possesses a keen clarity of vision and ultimately celebrates life itself.” – Elizabeth Hack, Artist and Editor, San Francisco Peace and Hope
 
 
About the Author

Mark S. Osaki was born in Sacramento, California. He attended the University of California, Berkeley as an Alumni Scholar and went on to do graduate work in International Relations and Security Studies.
His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including: The Georgia Review, Carrying the Darkness—The Poetry of the Vietnam War (Avon, Texas Tech University Press), South Carolina Review, Men of Our Time—An Anthology of Male Poetry in Contemporary America (University of Georgia Press), Breaking Silence—An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Poets (Greenfield Review Press), Onset Review and Báo Gi?y—Vietnamese Poetry.
Mark has received awards for his poetry from the Academy of American Poets, University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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Hunter’s Mark

 

 

Title: Hunter’s Mark
Series: Copper Creek #4
Author: Wendy Smith
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: April 26, 2018

Blurb
No one has
ever said no to Ash Harris—until Constance Shaw. But when the grudge he holds
against her finally comes to a head, Constance must run to save her life …
… right
into the arms of Corey Campbell.
The only
other occupant of the mountain, Corey’s perfectly happy with the life he leads.
Sure, it’s a little lonely, but he does what he wants when he wants.
When
Constance shows up on his doorstep, the gentle giant with the big heart finds
it hard to say no to her.
Turns out
she’s exactly what he needs.

 

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Author Bio
Wendy Smith published as Ariadne Wayne for 3 years before deciding she didn’t want to be someone else all the time. Heavily influenced by stories in the media, she decided to try something new, and the Copper Creek series was born. With lots of love and a touch of darkness, her stories will twist their way into your heart.

 

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A Murder on Wallstreet

 

 
Crime Mystery
Date Published: January 2017
A Joey Mancuso, Father O’Brian Crime Mystery, Book One
 
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Can a priest, his brother, and the brother’s girlfriend solve a murder case and see justice done—or will they be the murderer’s latest victim?
A Murder on Wall Street takes us inside the world of Captain O’Brian’s Irish Pub and Cigar Bar in Manhattan, a legendary hotspot in the Financial District. Investigating the death are pub owners Joey Mancuso, fired from the NYPD for his unorthodox methods, and his brother Father Dominic, who isn’t your typical priest. Also investigating is Marcy Martinez, a Cuban bombshell and FBI agent who’s Joey’s girlfriend. When a customer kills himself after celebrating the night before, the three know something’s wrong. Turns out, the customer’s death coincides with people losing money, and lots of it—and some of those people are very, very dangerous.
The apparent suicide of a hedge fund executive and the hit and run accident of his assistant leads Mancuso, Father O’Brian, and FBI Special Agent Martinez into the underworld of Wall Street. Money laundering, insider trading, and a Ponzi scheme are but a few of the crimes they uncovered, as they try and piece together this crime-ridden puzzle.
Joey Mancuso spent sixteen years in the NYPD earning his First Grade Detective shield and becoming one of the most successful homicide detectives. His last case, the murder of a homeless person in an alley behind the famed 21 Club, went unsolved. Political pressure undermined the case, as Joey’s efforts led him to a congressional candidate and a Wall Street major donor with political juice. His efforts to continue the investigation in spite of the pushback caused his forced retirement from the NYPD. The Internal Affairs Division has sealed his file warning him to cease or else.
Now a half-owner, with his half-brother, Catholic priest, Father Mancuso, of an Irish pub, he continues his quest to solve crimes. Both are private investigators and together with Joey’s girlfriend, FBI agent Marcy, set out to bring to justice perpetrators of crimes, law enforcement is ignoring.
Fast-paced, suspenseful and thrilling, A Murder on Wall Street is one case you’ll want to solve yourself. But the ending is unexpected, as the puzzle finally comes together in this page-turner you won’t want to put down.
Other books in the Joey Mancuso, Father O’Brian Crime Mystery Series:
A Murder on Long Island
A Joey Mancuso Father O’Brian Crime Mystery, Book Two


The Manhattan Red Ribbon Killer
A Joey Mancuso – Father O’Brian Crime Mystery, Book 3
The Case of the Antiquities Collector
A Joey Mancuso, Father O’Brian Crime Mystery, Book Four
About the Author
Award winning author Owen Parr was born in Havana, Cuba, and later growing up in Miami. He enjoys reading fiction to transport himself to another world. And in his writing, he does that for his readers in a very successful way. His readers are fully wrapped in the plots and have fallen in love with his amazing characters. Published author of articles in trade magazines. Hobby painter of acrylics on canvas and middle of the road golfer, Owen spends his day still employed in the financial advice industry. Married at the age of nineteen he pursued a career in electrical engineering until boredom set in. From there he went to own and operate his own multi-branch real estate firm and licensing school. Since 1986 he has been employed in the financial advice industry. During this time, he has written articles for the local paper, blogs and screenplays that he is now converting into fictional novels.
Parr won the Solo Medalist Winner New Apple Literary Services for “Mystery” in 2017 for his A MURDER ON WALL STREET. This follows his 2016 Solo Medalist Award with “Operation Raven -The Dead Have Secrets” in the same category, and the IACM “Best Crime Author-Gold” also in 2016.
Readers have compared Owen’s novels to classics from Robert Ludlum and Michaels Connelly. One reader wrote: “If Ludlum and Connelly wrote a novel together, it would be an Owen Parr novel.”
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I Loved You Then

 

 

Title: I Loved You THEN
Series: Bristol Backroads Duet #1

Standalone

Author: Jen Blau
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance

Cover Design: Cassy Roop, Pink Ink Designs

Release Date: May 18, 2018

 

Blurb

Love was
supposed to protect us… but sometimes, love dies.

Emily’s life defines the American Dream.
She has a husband of eighteen years, two healthy teenage daughters, and
a thriving business. But it’s all a lie.
Happily ever after was supposed to be enough, but her marriage is
tattered, along with her self-esteem. She’s drowning and nobody sees her struggle.
UNTIL Logan, the town playboy breaks down her walls and reminds Emily
who she was before putting them up.
Can she risk everything for the life she wants, or will Emily stay and
continue to live the lie?

 

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retailers until May 18, 2018
 

 

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Excerpt
We both laughed
and clinked the plastic together before each taking a sip.
Licking the
sweetness from my lips, I lowered my glass with both hands, eyes following it.
“Can I ask you
something?”
“Sure, anything.”
Logan drained his portion of champagne and set his glass down. Sticking hands
in his pockets, he leaned his hip against the freezer to face me.
“Why do you care
so much?” I lifted my face, devoid of expression. “I mean about my writing.
About my work. All these years, I thought you were this tough, no feelings kind
of guy. Yet, you’ve shown so much… I don’t know. Emotion. Why?” 
Logan paused, a
soft grin on his face, then tilted his head and moved in closer. “I told you
before. You don’t know me as well as you think you do.”
Squirming, a
little embarrassed, I broke from his gaze and tucked my elbows close to my
side, still holding onto my champagne flute with both hands.
“Well I am glad
that you’re here.” I took in a deep breath and let it out slow, savoring the
moment as I looked to the rich sunset forming outside. Pinks, blues, lavenders.
Like cotton candy.  
I turned back,
Logan’s face only inches from mine.
“Me too,” he
answered. Just then, the breeze whipped in through the door. “It probably
should be Ryan, though. Right?” Logan pressed his lips tight, leaned back some
and looked away towards the sunset. 
My stomach
clenched at the mention of my husband’s name. “Maybe. But he wouldn’t be
toasting with me. That’s for sure.”
Lifting my glass,
I drained what was left in it. Logan didn’t miss a beat and reached for the
bottle, giving me a refill. I took a sip before continuing.
“And, I doubt
he’d care. I don’t think he wants me to succeed at anything; he has no concern
for my passions whatsoever. I’m not sure I’ll even tell him about this.”
I went quiet, my
head spinning, not only from the phone call and the champagne, but also from
the reality of my situation. The thought of Ryan dampened my celebratory mood.
“Hey…” Logan
removed the glass from my hands with the tip of his fingers and set it down.
“Let’s not talk about him right now. Okay?” Taking my arms, he pulled me close,
wrapping them around the back of his waist. Nervous, my heart pounded as I
caught the essence of carburetor mixed with his signature musky lemon cologne
from his t-shirt. He’d come from working at Monroe Auto, but he somehow smelled
good enough to go on a date.
“Okay,” I
murmured and looked up at him. He released his hands to hold my face. Rough and
calloused from working on cars all his life, his touch was still delicate as he
bent, taking my lips in his.
Logan kissed me,
light and gentle at first. Like I might break under his touch. But then, he
dragged me closer, pressing his body to mine and taking more of me into his
mouth, our kiss building intensity.
“I care,” he
whispered against my skin. 
My body wouldn’t
relax fully. We lived on the outskirts of town, but with the garage door open,
anyone could see right in. That would start some gossip.
“What’s wrong?”
He leaned back, picking up on my tension. Noooo,
don’t stop.
I pointed to the
open door, then wiped at my wet lips.
He smirked.
“That’s easy.” He walked to the side of the door and pressed the CLOSE button.
The walk-in door to the outside was still open, but this was enough to conceal
us.
He took back his
place with me, and I let go, running my hand up his back, feeling the warmth of
his skin. A moment later, Logan drew back again, his eyes fixed down into mine.
He kept his hands tangled behind my head in my long hair.
“He has no idea
what he has, Em. The depth of you is incredible. I see it. I see you.”
I squeezed my
eyes shut, trying not to cry again. Logan took notice and pulled me to his
chest in a hug.
With my eyes
still shut, I lifted away. Logan bent, our lips crashing again, before I opened
them.  I wanted to stay like this
forever.
A minute later, a
truck roared outside the garage door. Ryan.
“Shit!” Logan and
I broke from each other. I grabbed my glass, clearing my throat; he grabbed his
bottle of beer, and we composed ourselves quickly. He stayed close, though,
enough to touch the side of my body. We leaned with our backs against the deep
freeze as Ryan walked in the side door.
Everything that
had just happened–everything that has
happened–with Logan had felt right. Unfortunately, that still didn’t make it right.
“What the hell is
this?” Once inside, Ryan planted his legs wide and crossed his arms. His face
tightened, and he glared between the two of them.

 

Author Bio
Born and raised on a cattle farm in
rural Nebraska, Jen still resides in the Midwest with her husband, three
children, two dogs and lots of happy cows. A proclaimed coffee, wine and book
snob, her theory of life is that sometimes we have to get lost to find
ourselves.



She did. And then
wrote about it.



She writes about
women, the choices they make and the depth of their life stories because of
those choices. Even before the so-called “times-up” and
“me-too” women’s movement, bringing a voice to women’s real lives was
an important part of her vision and life purpose.

 

 

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