by Teal Ceagh, guest blogger and author of Destiny's Trinities trilogy.
Today, you might be curious to know, is Miranda Otto’s birthday. She’s the Australian actor who played Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings.
I’m a huge The Lord of the Rings fan – I’m one of those strange people who reads the book once a year from cover to cover. Well, I used to. Now, I trek through the extended Director’s Cut of the movie every year around Christmas time with anyone in my family who’s mad enough, or who has enough spare time to sit through the twelve to fifteen hours it takes to watch all three movies with meal breaks and repeats of the really good scenes.
I really like my fantasy stuff. Surprisingly, The Lord of the Rings is about the only high fantasy I like. The rest of it I prefer in real time – a.k.a. urban fantasy. I like the way high fantasy characters play off against shopping malls, city streets and common everyday situations we all know and deal with ourselves. It gives context to the characters and situations we meet in new fantasy and a way of instantly orienting ourselves in a new fantasy universe, which is one of the biggest headaches about high fantasy. I don’t actually enjoy having to learn a new language and a dozen different character names, race names, and a twelve letter word for something that is just a knife, in the end. I’m more interested in the way the characters interact with each other and how the plot moves forward.
For the same reason I like including a decent romance in my own urban fantasies, one that includes the sexual side of the romance. As I wrote here on Love Romance Passion on November 24, we’re all sexual creatures in the end...it’s natural to include that side of our natures.
I’m at the end of what ended up being a surprise tour, and a surprisingly long book tour for not one, but two, books – the last two books in the Destiny’s Trinities series for Ellora’s Cave. I’ve been honoured by Love Romance Passion to not only start the tour here (November 24) but also to end it here. I started here when Mia’s Return was released and I end the book tour here as more or less as Sera’s Gift has been released (December 9). I thank them for the double dates and hosting me. Having a loud erotic urban fantasy author on the premises can’t be easy!
Ten years ago, Alexander hungered for Mia Menendez and for a single day they had indulged that passion before tragedy struck. Now Mia is back, but she thinks Alexander died ten years ago and no man has been able to stir her heart since. The truth could kill her.
Wyatt Whitacker, demon hunter, hates Alexander and all his kind. But one look at Mia and her pulse-stopping curves and his scarred, angry heart begins to melt and his body to rouse in ways he’s long forgotten.
The bonding has begun…
Mia found the Starbucks he’d directed her to without trouble. By the time she reached it, the snow was falling heavily, making everything muffled except the traffic, which was a constant even in the snow. Even though it was barely six the night was dense, still and silent.
He was sitting in a big wingback chair and she was unable to believe he’d actually kept his word. After she’d hung up she’d realized that he could have agreed to meet just to get her off the phone and she’d fallen for it because she was so green at this sort of thing.
But he was here and she didn’t know whether to kiss him, or crawl into his lap. So she sat in the other chair and put her hands on the table to still their trembling. “You don’t have to tell me what happened,” she said. “But I do want to say I’m so glad that what I thought happened ten years ago, didn’t.”
There were too many people too close to them for her to speak of it more plainly.
Alexander tilted his head to one side. “So am I.” He gave an awkward smile.
She stared at him, at his wonderful blue eyes. “God, you look so good,” she said wonderingly. She reached out to touch his face and his hand covered hers as she cupped it. Warmth, heat…and he was trembling too. She pushed her hand so that her palm brushed over his lips, inviting a kiss. His lips seared her palm and his hand stilled her wrist, keeping her hand steady so that his tongue could swirl over her palm. His eyes speared into her as he did it.
She gasped, her nerve endings sizzling to life, her clit pounding with energy. “Oh my god,” she whispered. “No one but you has ever been able to do that to me.”
Alexander lowered her hand and began to stroke the inner wrist. Little delicate strokes that made her toes tingle and curl and her pussy grow moist. “No one?” he said, with a smile.
“No one,” she said flatly. “Alex, can we go somewhere? Your place? Even just for a while?”
He reached over and drew her bangs out of her eyes. “In ten years, you’ve had a string of miserable lovers who’ve all failed to take care of you?”
He sat back and she could see that he had given up trying to avoid her question. He looked at her directly. “I can’t take you back to my apartment,” he said simply.
“A hotel then,” she said. “Mine.”
He looked out the window at the falling snow.
“What is it I’m missing?”
“What is it you’re not telling me?” He looked at her.
She could feel her cheeks heating. “Specifics then. I’ve had two lovers since you, Alexander. Both of them total disasters. No man so much as raises my pulse. Except you.”
She could see his breath shorten beneath the overcoat as he stared at her. “Christ,” he whispered, looking stricken.
“Is it too much to ask for a night, Alexander?” she added gently.
“There are things you don’t know about me,” he said.
She almost laughed. “Worse than before?” What she had not known in San Diego had got him a bullet in the head…or almost had. What could possibly be worse?
“These things could kill you,” he said softly. “I’d rather you live.”
He was trying to tell he wouldn’t give her the night she so desperately craved. Disappointment flared in her like a thousand fire ant bites. Suddenly she needed to move, to be away from all these people that were lapping up her rejection like the day’s soap opera installment.
“Can we at least walk?” she said, trying to blink away her tears.
“It’s safer here. Among people,” he said cryptically.
There was to be no relief, no softening of the rejection. She averted her head and staggered from her chair, out of the store and into the muffling quiet of the snow, letting it enfold her. Across the road was the park. Dark, quiet and lonely. Away from everyone who had witnessed her humiliation.
* * * * *
Alexander ran after her, dismayed at her reaction and alarmed at her direction. There were plenty of human predators in Central Park as well as vampeen drawn to his vampire traces.
She was just ahead of him and Central Park had lights along the paths. He caught up with her quickly and grabbed her arm. She was crying silently.
He pulled her to one side, onto the snow-covered grass, their boots kicking up the thin layer. He wiped her tears. “Don’t,” he said softly.
“What else should I do? I’m out of options.” Her voice was thick with more tears.
He remembered when her voice was husky with lust rather than tears and his body tightened, strumming with that remembered moment. Why was he refusing her now? He could go back to her hotel room, fuck her until she was spent, that was all she asked for. There would be no complications. What was stopping him?
Because he knew he wouldn’t have the strength to let her go in the morning. Diego could do it. But he had been doing it for centuries and had a powerful motive to keep him moving from one woman to another, over and over again.
Alexander knew he could not.
He realized he was staring into Mia’s eyes and she was holding her breath, waiting for him. He was holding her to him and she had felt his tension, felt his ramrod stiff cock against her. She knew as well as he did that everything he’d said in the coffee shop was a pretext and that this moment was the real one.
He kissed her and it was like kissing honey and peaches. He swept his tongue into her mouth, tasting her sweetness, while his hands slid inside her coat, under her clothes and found her flesh. She was guiding him, as frantic as he and he groaned as his hand found the swell of her breasts, bereft of a confining bra.
She cried softly, arching hard against him, her pelvis grinding into him. His cock was throbbing now, his balls aching with growing tension.
“More,” Mia whispered. Her hand was on his wrist, guiding it under her skirt. He found the stop of her stockings—stockings! His heart fluttered—and smooth thighs, then lace panties, moist with her juices. It gave him an erotic charge to realize she was aroused enough to soak through her panties. He slid his fingers under the edges of them and found the heated lips of her pussy and pushed inside. She clenched around him, as she gasped, her hands clawing at his shoulders.
“Harder,” she whispered.
“You know, I can smell your woman’s scent from here,” came a drawled comment from behind him.
Alexander felt his animal instincts go into overdrive. He disengaged from Mia and whirled, reaching for the Glock. He pushed Mia behind him, his incisors trying to descend. He fought to tamp down his instincts and ride them out until he had the measure of the situation.
A man in jeans and denim jacket stood ten paces away from them. Sandy hair, wrinkled skin. Impossible to tell his age. Maybe mid-forties with hard living. Maybe early sixties. Rail thin. His clothes hung off his frame.
Alexander had been so caught up in Mia’s body that he’d failed to notice the man’s approach. “Move on,” he told him. “The gun is loaded and I’m not afraid to use it.”
The man laughed. “That so?” He moved closer, reaching into his jacket and withdrew a long, strangely curved knife. “I don’t need to load this and I’m not afraid to use it, neither.”
Then Alexander caught sight of the man’s eyes in the lamplight and became afraid. They were all black. No irises, no whites. Nothing but black. Evil eyes.
The man sprang with a sideways leap that looked animalistic. Alexander shot him three times, directly in the chest. It dropped him to the ground and if he had been human it should have killed him instantly. But the creature simply stood up and shook it off.
“Oh my god, Alex…” Mia whispered.
Alexander handed her the Glock. “Just keep shooting at it,” he said. “There’s twelve more bullets in the gun and they slow it down at least.”
“What about you?” she said.
He triggered the armguard and gripped the knife as it jumped into his hand. Mia’s eyes got very large. He was going to have to explain things later. Or invent things.
The creature came at him and he shoved Mia behind him again and swiped. He nearly decapitated the creature and it barely slowed it down.
Running footsteps from his right. Alexander didn’t bother looking. Friend or foe, he couldn’t afford to look. But the creature did and howled in frustration.
“Yeah, you fucking prick. Your time is up.”
The creature turned to face the newcomer and threw his hands up across his face. Alexander looked just in time to see the other man bring a shotgun to his shoulder and fire.
The shot was muffled, not explosive but the creature fell to the ground, writhing and kicking. The man fell on top of it and buried a black knife in its chest. With a black cloud of smoke, the creature disappeared, leaving oily plumes of black fumes tracing an outline of where it had lain.
The man stood up, dropped the black knife back into his coat and brushed off his hands. He was about five foot eleven, which put him only an inch shorter than Alexander but he seemed shorter because of the width of his shoulders. He was very thick across the chest and shoulders and the heavy winter-lined denim coat just exaggerated them. His black hair was once short and tidy but hadn’t been trimmed for a while. In the dim glow from the park lights it glinted blue-black. He looked at Alexander with angry black eyes that reminded him of Diego. “You’re a fucking vampire,” he said in disgust.
Mia, Alexander thought and winced.
“Only reason I don’t cut your heart out on the spot is because we’re not supposed to these days. Can’t believe you’re the good guys now. Fuck.” He picked up the shotgun. “Can’t you tell a demon when it’s coming at you, for chrissake?”
“That was a demon?” Alexander was stunned. “What did it want with Mia?”
“How the fuck would I know? It’s been in the Jersey area for three days, then suddenly veered toward New York yesterday like it had a noose around its neck. What is she? Something special?”
“You’re a hunter,” Alexander concluded.
“No shit,” the man said.
“Oh, I think I’m going to be sick,” Mia muttered.
Alexander whirled. Mia was bent over, her hands on her knees.
Sera’s Gift by Teal Ceagh
Letting go is sometimes the only gift love has left to give.
Release date: December 9, 2009
Sera arrives in New York to help Lindál, but a vampeen attack brings her face to face with two men and changes her life forever.
Diego Savage lives up to his name. Cynical, rebellious and a womanizer, he doesn’t believe in the trinities at all. Only a handful of people know the truth about his scarred heart and terrible past, and it would take a miracle for him to change. A miracle, or someone like Sera with her special gift.
Blake Harvey, dedicated NYC police lieutenant, takes one look at the tall, supple woman with the crystal blue eyes and glowing skin and knows his life is about to change in ways he can’t even define, but his body is already responding to with a power that is hard to deny.
The bonding has begun…
Blake jumped and realized he’d fallen asleep in his chair, the same moment he realized it was morning already. He glanced around at his office door. Anna Maria had her head around the door, looking at him. “You clocking off?” he said, glancing at his watch. Six a.m. Her night shift was over.
“You okay, boss?” she asked.
“Long night,” he said, trying to make it sound like he did this all the time. He stood up, stretching carefully, feeling the bones in his neck.
“’Kay. Night, boss.” She let the door shut itself.
He looked out the window. Daylight was trying to break through thunderclouds outside his windows. A soggy, fetid, miserable August day that matched his mood. He glanced at the three in-trays on his desk, all of them overloaded. They stood next to his computer, which was another two hundred and sixty gigabytes of hell screaming at him for attention.
What was happening in his city? Twelve years in the department and he no longer thought he understood New York and its denizens. He’d spent all night doing basic regression analysis. And the numbers frightened him. If things went on this way, New York would turn into an uncivilized all-out crime zone in about six weeks. The police department was slowly losing ground. It just didn’t have the numbers to cope. Rape and murder were the top two favorites, with decapitations being numero uno on the hit parade. But number three on the New York Times Best Seller List right now was Missing Persons. People were vanishing without trace in numbers higher than six hundred percent more than any time in the last three centuries…and that included two world wars, famines and plagues.
And the police couldn’t do a damn thing about it, except record particulars and wait. They were overtaxed by the murders and rapes already. A missing person was a lesser concern.
Blake pushed his hand through his hair. God, what a fucking nightmare.
The other lieutenants in the other departments across the boroughs made light of it. They were mostly older and had seen tough times before and while they all heard the same unsettling rumors about the cults, the gangs, the animalistic behavior, they were in denial. They didn’t want to look at the big picture.
The figures Blake had projected last night didn’t lie, though. Something was going on. But right now he couldn’t see what it was. Despite all the information flowing into his desk, it eluded him. Sometimes, like now when his energy was low, it felt like there was someone else out there manipulating the information that reached him, so that he couldn’t see the truth. Not all of it, anyway.
He bumped his forehead against the window and felt the chill spread across his flesh. It reminded him of how hot and tired he was. He’d been in these clothes for over twenty-four hours. He needed a break. So did his mind. He was slipping into paranoid delusions.
He picked up his jacket and logged off the computer. A few hours sleep, a shower and food, then he’d head back here. Things would look different, then. Maybe.
He clocked out and walked home to his apartment, feeling at odds with the day. Manhattan was just firing up for a busy day of commerce, while he was going home to sleep. He glanced up at the skyscrapers as he passed them. It all looked so innocent and normal.
Who’d’ve thought there was such a time bomb ticking away in her guts?
* * * * *
When Mia came bustling into the boardroom, Alexander felt his heart jump. Even after a year, she still managed to make him pause to catch his breath when she arrived after a small absence. She was here in his life. And she was never going away again.
He kept reminding himself to be thankful to whatever entity or force designed the trinities and chose him to be part of them. Him, Mia and Wyatt. How had he got so lucky? He was careful never to question that good fortune, but to grasp it with both hands and to work his ass off in service of the trinities and Seaveth, in gratitude.
Mia came up to him with the small smile she kept for him and Wyatt alone. “You’re brooding,” she said.
“I’ll shake you about it later,” she said. “Right now, we need to head to the keep for the assembly. The car is waiting.” She looked at the huge watch on her wrist. “And Wyatt still hasn’t shown up. Did he call you at all?”
“No call. No text. But he knows he has to be here. He’ll show, Mia. In a year, has he never not shown up for an assembly?”
“There’s always a first time,” she said darkly, thumbing through her Palm Pilot. She had become the staffing agency’s chief executive officer and completely indispensable, running both the private and public personas of the agency like clockwork and liaising with the Earthwing clan’s seniors and Seaveth’s portfolio with seamless efficiency.
Wyatt had returned to hunting but even there, Mia had left her mark, organizing and commercializing his ventures and bringing recruits to his doorstep. Now Wyatt’s hunting was an organized trade, with tools, equipment, partners and income. Wyatt had been stunned that demon hunting could raise revenue in a human world but Mia had shown him how to bring in profit for himself and make it attractive to other demon hunter and vampire investors and just like that, Wyatt had found himself an entrepreneur.
Mia glanced at her watch again. “Time to go. I’ve texted Wyatt and told him to go straight to the keep.” She chewed her lip. “I hope he’s okay.”
Alexander took her face in his hands. “He’ll be fine,” he said softly. “Stop it, Mia.” He kissed her to stop her fretting and slipped his tongue against her lips. He drew back when he tasted blood. “You just fed?”
She blushed. “Sorry, yes. I should have warned you.” This was one of the changes he’d had the hardest time accepting. As a result of the bonding, from time to time, Mia had to feed on blood, like a vampire. She ate normal food and excreted it like a human but every few months or so, like a vampire, she hungered for blood. Alexander had been devastated by the knowledge. Instead, Zachariah and the other vampires had taught Mia how to ingest the artificial blood developed by the clan.
At least she had no incisors. He was spared that.
Alexander hugged her, instead and let her go. “We were running late, I believe?” he reminded her.
“Damn, yes.” She straightened her business skirt back into place and threw him a dirty look. “I wish you would stop kissing me at work. You know I hate that.”
“While I can make you look like a cat on catnip, I’ll keep kissing you whenever you’re within reach,” Alexander growled softly as they hurried through the office to the elevator bank. The armored stretch limousine would be waiting for them in the lower basement. Max, the driver and one of the Earthwing clan, would have the engine running and his bolo tucked between the seat and the door, watching the street ramp. “Zack and Diego aren’t coming with us?” Alexander asked as they passed the other two partner offices without pausing.
Mia shook her head. “Zack is…he wanted to be with Seaveth today. Diego just didn’t show up this morning.” She frowned. Diego’s dedication to playing the role of a normal human was flaky, at best, despite the combined pressure Alexander and Zack tried to exert upon him. Diego had spent centuries unfettered. He was taking a longer time adjusting to Seaveth’s demands for assimilation than most. But they both knew he would be at the full assembly. Even he would not dare risk Seaveth’s wrath by missing that.
“He’ll come around,” Alexander assured her. “Diego is just…” He tried to find the right world.
“Savage,” Mia said succinctly. “I’ve heard the gossip. There’s a reason for his last name.”
“There is,” Alexander said flatly. “But whatever you’ve heard, it’s wrong.”
She glanced up at him, a furrow between her brows but she couldn’t ask him a more direct question for they had reached the foyer and were surrounded by strangers for the ride down to the basement.
In the elevator car, Alexander was swamped by memories of the day Mia had reappeared in his life, here in New York. She swiveled her head to look up at him and smiled and he knew she was thinking the same thing. She pressed closer to him in the crowded car.
She was getting many admiring glances from others in the car, who skimmed her high heels, smart skirt and jacket, silk shirt and shoulder-blade-length hair she refused to either cut or wear up in a bun despite the weather and the hourglass figure that the suit did nothing to hide.
She’s with me, Alexander thought. At last. And he curled his hand around her hip.
The car was empty by the time they reached the last basement and they looked out cautiously. The limousine was waiting as promised. Mia swapped her briefcase over to her left hand and they stepped out, heading for the limousine.
There was a rattle of metal to their right and Alexander turned, his animal instincts flaring. Max was already leaping from the driver’s seat, his bolo in his hand.
But Mia was faster. She had the gun pulled from the holster at the small of her back and out, ready to fire, before Alexander had completed his turn.
Her reactions were faster than his.
She dropped her briefcase and threw her arm out across Alexander’s path to prevent him from moving forward. “Stop. It’s Wyatt,” she said, putting the small caliber gun away again. She ran forward into the shadowy basement and was enfolded by the dark figure there. Alexander could not make out the details but she had been able to. This had been another of her changes. Not only were her reaction times faster than his, she could see and hear better than a vampire.
And Wyatt was stronger than one. She was leading him forward now but he did not look like the strong hunter who had gone off the day before to Quebec to hunt a gargoyle. He was hunched over, an arm to his stomach. Alexander felt his heart seize. He hurried forward.
“What happened?” He and Mia between them bundled Wyatt into the limousine. “The keep, Max.”
“Aye.” Max climbed in and got the long vehicle rolling with minimum fuss, pulling out into the traffic without delay.
Alexander was grateful for the smoked windows and air-conditioning. He and Mia stretched Wyatt on the seat. “What happened?” he repeated again as he tried to pull aside Wyatt’s shirt to see his stomach.
“Demon was working with the gargoyle. The damn things are ganging up together these days.” Wyatt rolled his head back.
“Why aren’t you healing?” Mia cried.
Alexander winced and leaned over to the back of the driver’s seat. “Sorry, family business, Max.” And he hit the button for the privacy screen, which slid up behind the driver’s seat, a blacked-out window of total privacy between them and Max. It was soundproof and bulletproof.
Alexander turned back to Wyatt and looked at the long crimson gashes on Wyatt’s stomach.
“You’re supposed to have vampire healing powers now,” Mia said, tears rolling down her face.
“He does,” Alexander said quietly, studying the wounds. “These were much worse, twelve hours ago.”
Wyatt swallowed and nodded. “A mate drove me down from Ontario through the night. I had trouble convincing him not to take me to hospital in Toronto but when I didn’t die on him right away and was still talking when we hit the New York border he was starting to put it together. He was happy to get rid of me, I think. I scared the crap out of him. And he hunts demons.” He tried to laugh and it turned into a series of coughs that looked painful. He finally took a deep breath and opened his eyes. “God it’s good to see you both.”
Mia threw herself on his chest and Alexander kissed his forehead. Wyatt held Mia to him and eyed Alexander. “I’m guessing the war ain’t over, if the ass-kicking I just took is any measure. No sign of the infamous third trinity?”
He shook his head.
“Fuck.” Wyatt sighed. “The elves are going to eat Seaveth for dinner at the assembly.”
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