#Promo: Love After Dark Anthology
1.Reveal by Brina Courtney
Lastly there was the firefighter. He was hot, no pun intended. But when my mom found out he was in a firefighter calendar called Hold the Hose, she stopped taking his calls. I, on the other hand, purchased the calendar immediately. Mr. October is still hiding under my mattress. Yum, yum.
Sometimes I miss my dad and I know my mom does too. Some nights I sit on one of the Adirondack chairs on the wraparound porch with my coffee and look at the stars. When she joins me, I know we’re both thinking the same thing, where is he?
My dad disappeared when I was six. Chad was just a toddler at the time so he doesn’t remember anything. To be honest, I don’t remember much either, just my dad not coming home from work one summer night. I remember it was summer because I had been swimming all day, without floaties, and Mom said I could wait up to tell Dad about it. That’s the night I started talking to ghosts and I have ever since.
2. Here by Ella James
I knew I was being evasive, but what could I tell her? I had no access to whatever part of me knew whatever there was to know. I could feel things going on behind the scenes—Like knees and elbows poking through a stage sheet as the company changed set—but it was all vague, unreachable…
Until the rock. I’d felt…like someone else. Something else, because I wasn’t anyone. Somewhere else, but not any place I could understand.
And whoever or whatever I had been, I knew Milo. Not only did I know her… I had some kind of weird… thing for her.
Even now standing in the grass by her house, I could feel the power of the memory. And I could almost remember something else. A cold purpose, lurking somewhere behind it.
3. Elfin by Quinn Loftis
Lorsan stood and began to pace. “We need to move things forward. If Tamsin is dealing with your human,”
“—Chosen,” Trik growled. “My Chosen.”
Lorsan waved him off. “Yes, yes, your Chosen, then. If he is dealing with that little issue, then he won’t have had to time to move forward with the land purchase, which means that we should have time to contact Leon and tell him to get it done.”
Leon was the human realtor that the dark elves had hired to help them find the land. Trik didn’t care for the sleazy little man, but it wasn’t up to him who Lorsan employed.
“I’ll go see him.” Trik stood to go.
“What are you going to do about your Chosen?” Lorsan asked.
“You aren’t going to tell me what to do?” Trik raised his eyebrows at his King.
“Would you obey me?”
Trik’s face spread into a callous smile. “Not when it comes to her.”
Lorsan rolled his eyes. “Not when it comes to anything is what you really mean. Do what you must, but at some point you will have to tell her who and what you are. Will she be able to handle it,
Trik shook his head with a low chuckle, “I’m the assassin and spy for the Dark Elf King. I kill without remorse. I live for myself and my own pleasure. I come from a dark people with dark hearts.
What do you think?”
4. Illumine by Alivia Anders
The nerves returned once more, and I shifted in my shoes, uncomfortable. “You do know what you’re doing, right?”
“Of course,” he said, sounding assured. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“I’ve never seen anything like this. What if we accidentally open up a portal to Hell, or summon a demon, or curse me with boils for life?”
Chase laughed. “Relax. I read about this in a book I picked up from a little Wiccan shop outside the city. You won’t come out with boils on your face.” He came to a stop near the end of the circle, leaving a small patch free of salt. He set the bag down and stepped into the circle with me. Gently he took one of my hands, and I watched as he pressed a kiss to the palm. “You’re going to be just fine.”
“We’re going to be just fine,” I corrected him, smiling nervously. “After all, this is happening to both of us, right?”
He nodded, rubbing my palm with his thumb in slow, lazy circles. “More or less, yes.”
I started to ask what he meant when I felt the pain pulse in my palm. Immediately I yanked my hand back from his and cried out. “What the hell, Chase?” I looked at my hand, stunned to see a bubble of blood that began to run along my wrist like a ribbon. It was then I noticed the small, silver dagger in Chase’s hand, the blade tip coated in blood. My blood.
My head began to spin, and I swayed in my spot. Chase backed away with remarkable speed, and by the time I found focus, the circle had been closed in completely.
“Chase,” I said, hearing the weakness in my voice. “You’re scaring me.”
His eyes had turned to the small bowl of water in front of the circle, where he dipped the blade tip into until the water turned a light shade of pink. “Sorry, love. I should have said it might hurt a little bit.” He glanced up at me as he crouched before the water dish, and in the candlelight he looked possessed. “You know what they say. The best things in life come with a little pain.”
“Who the hell said that?” I challenged back, shaking. I started to move toward the edge of the circle, keeping pressure on my hand. The blood had started to run over my fingers, the sticky liquid nauseating. “This is sick, you know that? I’m not doing this, I take it back. I don’t want to bond with you.”
A figure stepped out from the shadow, all glitter and beauty. Her voice was charming, even when she was cruel. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“Cassie?” I practically cried. “Oh my gosh, Cassie, go get the hotel staff, call for the police! Chase is out of his mind over here—” I paused, repeating her words in my head. “Wait, wouldn’t do what?”
Her eyes flickered to Chase, and she crossed the room to him, cupping his face lovingly. “I’m sorry it took me so long. You really hurt me, you know.”
“I always hurt you,” he said, practically sneering. “You get too sensitive when we linger around mortals. I like you better when you take my heat and fire it back at my heart like you used to.”
“Funny. Last time I did that, you whined that you’d find another Necromancer to keep your sagging excuse for a body alive.” She pinched his cheek, tsking. “How’s that working out for you, darling?”
Chase pushed her aside and muttered something under his breath, and Cassie cracked a dark grin. Her eyes turned back to me as she folded her arms across her chest. “Don’t take this personally, Essallie. We’ve been sacrificing people for decades. It comes with the deal we made forever ago.” She stepped closer to the edge of the circle, and I inched closer. “I’d chalk it up to bad luck. Normally, we’d just pluck some drunken idiot off the street or from a homeless shelter. But once Chase found out what you were—”
“Cassandra,” he said warningly. “You are forbidden from telling her.”
She sneered back at him. “I know, I know. Always the party-pooper.” Cassie flicked her eyes back to me, smug. “Let’s just say, your blood is worth all the riches in the world.”
They continued to bicker back and forth, lighting candles and pulling out various small bags from different corners of the room. I didn’t know what to think at this point. My ex-boyfriend and best friend had to be insane. They thought magic was real? That they had to sacrifice someone? I thought back to Cassie’s words about picking up drunks from bars, and started to wonder if the men she had taken to her place after our nights out ever made it back home. They were mad, absolutely out of their minds. And I wasn’t going to stick around for them to kill me in their insanity.
I spotted the dagger at the edge of the circle and moved for it, reaching out to grab the hilt. As soon as my skin hit the edge of the circle, the salt lining it erupted into a wall of fire, striking my skin. I screamed and fell back onto the ground, cradling my burnt arm against my chest. What the hell was going on?
5. Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand
I felt the air in the car begin to change as I stared back at him. It felt warm and thick, like a humid, post-rain summer day. And even though we were already touching, palm to palm, I suddenly had an intense desire to be closer to him, pressed to him. My muscles ached with it and I had to restrain myself from scooting across the seat, and wrapping my arms around his shoulders, and burying my face in his neck.
The image wouldn’t remove itself from my mind and I finally had to wrench my gaze from his to keep from acting on the impulse. I was breathing heavier, partly because of the thickness in the air and partly from wanting to touch him. I wondered if he was affected, too, but I couldn’t look at him again or I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.
His hand slid free from mine, and he started the car and busied himself with checking the rearview and easing us out of the lot. I pressed the button for the window, letting in a gust of cold air. For once, I didn’t curse the cold, and was relieved when I felt the tension melt away.
When we were on the road, Wes cleared his throat. “Well, that was …”
I lifted my head from where I’d been leaning closer to the open window and looked over at him. He was running a hand through his hair, still searching for a word to describe what had happened. He’d noticed it, too. “Different,” I finished.
He sent me a half smile. “Yeah. Definitely that.”
6. Anna by Julia Crane
Tommy folded the canvas bag and placed it on a chair at the table. “So, how have you been? I’ve been counting the days ‘til I’d see you again.”
“You have?” Anna asked, surprised. “You could have called or texted you know,” she blurted, and then regretted it the moment the words flew out of her mouth. Didn’t she learn anything from the movie How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days?
“I was such an idiot; I lost my phone and wasn’t able to get my contacts back.” He smiled sheepishly.
He lost his phone? That sounded like something that would happen to her. “Well, I’m glad you
remembered how to get here.”
“Actually, Rourk remembered. I think he has some kind of freaky photographic memory. I swear he never forgets anything.” Tommy opened the lettuce and washed it in the sink, and then turned to grab the chopping board that was hanging on the wall.
“I’ll have to remember to thank him.” Anna felt heat rise to her cheeks. “I wasn’t sure I would ever see you again.”
Tommy glanced over his shoulder, and his clear blue eyes met hers. His gaze was serious. “Anna, I would have found you if I had to knock on every door in Seattle.”
7. Forged By Greed by A.O. Pert
“Prince Jatred!” The Winter Goddess’s voice sounded angry. She marched fast toward him. A deep frown settled between her brows.
Watching her, the wolf lowered his head between his shoulder blades, his tail between his hind legs. A quiet growl rumbled in the back of his throat. Freezing gusts whipped at her hair and clothes. The Goddess’s long black dress trailed behind her, loose sleeves flapping in the wind. Her nails were painted black and matched the series of complex black tattoos covering her face. She appeared as the Celtic goddess Morrigan.
“You know why you’re here.” Crystal’s voice reverberated in the wolf’s head.
Her lips were pressed together.
He didn’t answer but kept his eyes on her. The Goddess stood in front of him, glowering, her hands on her hips. Her body stretched and grew until she was over ten feet tall, muscular and commanding. The wolf crouched down, baring his teeth.
“You are going to leave her today!” The Goddess’s voice boomed in the air. It echoed several times, bouncing off the mountains. Her face contorted in anger. She waved her hand, and a wave of freezing air hit him like a tornado. He tumbled uncontrollably, clawing at the snow. Crystal moved her hand again, and Jatred stopped rolling. He tried to stand up but he felt too dizzy. His body ached as if it was bruised all over.
“Prince Jatred,” the Goddess hissed. Her eyes were furious. Jatred got up and stood, panting, his legs wobbly. He took an unsure step forward, testing the ground. A low snarl escaped him, his ears flat.
“No,” he said with his mind, growling louder.
Crystal flicked her wrist once more, and the wolf flew back several feet, as if hit by a truck going at full-speed. He yelped and fell, sliding in the snow on his side.
Gasping, Jatred snapped his eyes open and bared his teeth. He growled and wrinkled his muzzle. The Goddess walked up to him. She stopped and folded her arms over her chest.
“Stop resisting. I don’t really want to hurt you.”
“We have a different understanding of the word ‘hurt’,” he wheezed with his mind.
“You will obey me this time, my Prince. Don’t make me summon you here again to remind you of your duty. Or it will be more than physical pain that I will inflict on you. Think of those you love that are my Shifters.” The Goddess’s voice was calm, barely above a whisper. “Now go back to the Human World.”
Crystal stretched her arms, palms flat over Jatred. Shimmering dust rained from her hands down to his fur. The pain in his body subsided, and calmness enveloped him.
He squeezed his eyes shut and forced himself to shift into his human form, before she let him return to the Human World.
8. Golden Blood by Melissa Pearl
Harrison is running from some school bullies and crashes straight into Gemma. They decide
to hide out in a clothing store change room.
Gemma’s eyes rose to meet his.
He kept his smile in place. “I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to talk to you.”
“Is that a line?”
“No,” he chuckled and ran a hand through his hair.
Her eyes went stormy and she bit her lip. Flustered, she pushed him away and jumped down. She collected her bag and reached for the lock. “I gotta go.”
“No wait.” He grabbed her hand and froze. His skin was on fire. Looking down at his fingers, he felt the warm licks of flame curl up each digit and spread over his hand.
Gemma’s eyes were huge as she jerked away and rubbed her thumb over her fingertips.
“What was that?”
She shook her head with a frown and backed away from him, crashing into the door. With fumbling fingers she undid the lock and burst out, weaving around the clothing racks and shooting out the door.
Harrison leaned against the frame to watch her. He curled his fingers into a fist then flexed them straight. The warm lick of flame was rapidly cooling. His disappointment surprised him.
9. Set In Stone by Anna Cruise
Noel pressed me against the wall and covered my mouth with his hand to silence me. He leaned closer and, for one panicked moment, I thought he might kiss me. But his mouth whispered past my lips, scenting the air with evergreen and peppermint, past my cheek until it rested just above my ear.
“Don’t.” His breath tickled my ear, sending shivers to the tips of my toes. “I’m telling you the truth. I can’t tell you anything yet.” He straightened slightly and uncovered my mouth.
“I’m scared.” I hated myself for admitting it. Especially to him.
Noel leaned in once again but this time his hands cradled my face, his blue eyes troubled. He studied me for a long time. “I know you are.” Regret flavored his voice. “But don’t be.” His lips did brush my ear this time before moving softly to my cheek, leaving a trail of soft, stinging kisses. “I’ll protect you. I’ll keep you safe. I promise.”
Reveal by Brina Courtney
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Shay could be the key to ending a war that humans don’t know exist. Of a race of beings that aren’t real, or are they? Shay Tafford’s childhood has been fatherless, filled instead with memories of speaking to the dead. She is forced to hide her unique ability from those living around her. That’s why it’s been comforting to have Jeremy, a child ghost, as her confidante. But recently he’s been absent, perhaps lost as her father is. When Shay meets Hugh, the guy she’s had a crush on for weeks, and finds he can speak to ghosts too she’s just starting to find a normalcy in her life. But as Hugh reveals the truth to Shay, about who she really is and about what it is she can do, he erases all chances she had at a normal existence. Turns out talking to ghosts is just scratching the surface of her genetically engineered gifts. Shay learns she may be part of an age old prophecy that could save the entire race of cryptids. But can she?
Here by Ella James
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Milo Mitchell’s life used to be charmed, but that was before her family dissolved, she went a little crazy, and her best friends started acting more like strangers. Spending Saturday morning in a treehouse with a stun gun for company and a herd of deer for friends is the only exciting thing in her life…until she shoots a fawn and finds her dart stuck in a guy. Her gorgeous victim is dressed in a Brioni tux and armed with a hanky. He has no idea who or where he is. Afraid her dart caused his amnesia, Milo takes him in, names him Nick, and vows to help him solve his mystery. Soon the pair find Nick’s face in a newspaper obituary, and Nick beings to have strange, ethereal memories of Milo–who is sure she’s never met him. Suddenly Nick knows things he shouldn’t know and is doing things he shouldn’t do. When the Department of Defense shows up, Nick and Milo run–toward a shocking conclusion that could destroy both their worlds.
Illumine by Alivia Anders
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For the past five months Essallie Hanley has been trying to forget about the frightening murder of her boyfriend. Haunted by vivid nightmares and hallucinations of the event she does anything she can to pretend she’s like every other normal girl in High School. Only Essallie is far from normal. Able to conjure blue fire and a shimmering silhouette of wings from her body, she seeks the only known solace left to her name; her first home in Belfast, Maine. But she soon realizes that her return home is only the beginning of a long and twisted road taking her as far from her humanity as possible, with Kayden, the demon originally summoned to slaughter her, leading the way. Unable to touch her but oddly curious, he joins Essallie in her search to find out just what she is. But neither of them were prepared for the secrets they’ve begun to unravel, secrets that will change Essallie and everyone around her forever.
Elfin by Quinn Loftis
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Before tonight Cassie Tate’s biggest concerns were whether she could pass Algebra and how she was going to keep Elora, her best friend, from dressing her in a skimpy fairy costume for Halloween. Her feet were firmly planted in suburban reality and she had no reason to believe her life would be anything but that of a typical teenager. That is until tonight, when Cassie saw something that no human was ever supposed to see; in the blink of an eye she was thrown into the world of the Light and Dark Elves.
He comes from a realm where light and dark have fought for millennia. He is of a race known to humans only in myths and legends. The darkness that lives inside him is a part of both who and what he is and it makes him the most gifted spy and assassin in the history of his time. His life is not his own; he lives in the service of the Dark Elf King. He slays who he must, has mercy on no one, is relentless in his hunt, and never tires of seeing his prey fall. He is Triktapic, assassin, spy, most feared of the Dark Elves.
Now, in the midst of his King’s complicated plans to expand the Dark Elves’ holdings into the mortal realm, for the first time, Trik finds his loyalties divided. For no Elf, Dark or Light, can turn away from their Chosen.
Unbeknownst to the mortal realm, the battle between Light and Dark is being brought to their doorstep. The only one who can keep it at bay holds darkness in his heart like a lover, and the one who can sway that heart must decide if she can look beyond his black past, beyond his evil nature and see the man he is destined to be.
The questions must be asked, does love really cover a multitude of sins? Can true love actually conquer all or will his darkness consume those around him until all that stands is an assassin with the blood of the mortal realm on his hands?
Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand
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I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up. Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And Two, I was born to kill them.
Anna by Julia Crane
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Follow Anna from Keegan’s Chronicles on her own adventure! Seventeen-year-old Anna is an unskilled, natural witch still seeking a way to access her magick. When she moves to Seattle for college, she encounters two powerful witches who need her as much as she needs them. For the first time, Anna believes she’s found someone who can help her explore her own magick. Her dream quickly turns into a nightmare. Creatures of the Light have gone missing, and the witches she admires so well are a part of the mystery. Before she knows it, Anna is knee deep in the disappearances and trying to forge a relationship with a certain soldier named Tommy, all while trying to find her way. Will she have time to save the creatures of the light or will she become the next victim?
Forged by Greed by A.O. Pert
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Two Seattle 16-year-olds, Jatred and Jasmira, are not your typical star-crossed lovers. They are not even your typical Shape Shifters. Sure, they try to live an ordinary life. At least, as ordinary as the Prince and the Princess of the rivaling ancient Races–the Winter wolves and the Summer leopards–can live. But eventually they learn that not much about their existence can be normal. Especially when the Races’ two commanding Goddesses are involved. One of the Goddesses is on a quest to tilt the scale of power to her side. The other will never let it happen, even if it means kicking Jatred and Jasmira’s love to the curb. Nothing is off limits, including removing Jatred’s memories of Jasmira. To complicate things even more, there are the Universe’s powers to consider. They are trapped in an ancient Amulet in order to protect the stability of the world. But the Universe has a mind of its own, and when the powers are unleashed, the forces of nature are disturbed; earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions shake the Earth. All Shifters of both Races are summoned by their respective Goddesses to fight in the name of, or against, the normalcy of the world.
Set In Stone by Anna Cruise
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Fifteen year-old Valerie is used to losing things–she lost her dad to his job ages ago and her best friend moved with no warning…and hasn’t been heard from since. During a weekend camping trip with her emotionally distant parents, she stumbles upon a hidden, mysterious stone and she finds herself desperate to keep it, to possess it. Two strange and beautiful boys have other plans, however. They follow her home–Leo, warm and seductive, who covets the stone and will stop at nothing to get it; and Noel, dark-haired and wise, who pledges to protect her and keep her safe. As she delves deeper into the magic of the stone and the Celtic lore that surrounds it, Valerie realizes that she’s losing. Again. But this loss might involve more than a magical stone – this time, she just might lose her heart.
Golden Blood by Melissa Pearl
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Gemma Hart never knows when her father is going to whisk her back in time. Her toes start tingling and she has a few minutes to find a secret haven where she can disintegrate and appear in another time and place. While “across the line,” her training and skills are put to the test as she completes a mission that will change history for the lucky few her father has selected. Gemma’s parents are adamant that secrecy is paramount to her family’s safety. If people knew what they were capable of, they could be “used and abused”, as her mother always says. Afraid she might accidentally utter the truth and break the ancient oath of her people, Gemma spends her school days as a loner. Only one thing can throw her sheltered life askew… Harrison Granger. Harrison never expected to talk to the strange Hart girl, but after a brief encounter he can’t stop thinking about her. He begins a campaign to chisel away her icy veneer and is met with unexpected consequences. As he slowly wins this girl over, he enters a surreal world that has him fighting to keep his newfound love and his life.