My Sexy Saturday

#MSS

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Here are 7 sexy sentences from EVERLASTING, the second novel in my Descendants of Ra series. Meet Reign Nicolis and Detective Alexis Lever.

Alexis led the way upstairs. Inside her bedroom, she guided Reign to a rattan chair, which groaned under his weight. She backed away and toed off the soggy sneakers, then grabbed the tab of the zipper on her sweater. Slow and steady, the whiz of the descending tab was the only sound in the room. Hands gripping the arms the chair, Reign leaned forward, lips parted, eyes glazed. His gaze traveled with the zipper and then shot to her face.

A wicked smile answered his unasked question. She turned, showing him her back. She shrugged one shoulder free and peeked over it, making sure she had his full attention. His gaze hadn’t left her. Another shrug and the sweater slid to the middle of her back.

The chair creaked.

She didn’t turn around. She let the sweater fall. The pants followed, pooling at her ankles. Maybe she should thank the NYPD for not confiscating her lacy underwear. Bending over, she stepped from the pile of clothing. When she straightened, she knew Reign no longer sat in the chair on the other side of the room.

Heat radiated from him, warming her back. The straps of her bra dangled. She reached behind and with a pinch and twist; the bra fell to the floor. She hooked her thumbs into the sides of her string bikini and shimmied out of them.

Heavy footsteps followed her into the bathroom and stopped when she entered the shower stall. The strip of frosted glass on the shower door hid enough to let the imagination run wild. By Reign’s strained stare, tense body, and the vein pulsing in his neck, he imagined a lot.

Alexis crooked a finger and invited him inside. She didn’t want him to imagine. She wanted him to see.

MediumEverlasting

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Kill the beast.

Save your brother.

Win your freedom.

No problem.

Falling in love with the cop trying to arrest you?

Problem.

To save his twin from death, Reign Nicolis will have to bargain with Goddess of the Dead, and once more become what he despises, El Mortem, The Scourge, a killer trained to show mercy to none. But he is haunted by those who have fallen beneath his blade. Their ghostly shapes dog his footsteps, relentless in their torture to make him suffer for what he was put on this earth to do two thousand years ago. Saving his twin ensures Reign’s enslavement to the Goddess. She may own his body, but never his heart.

Detective Alexis Lever’s career is in shambles. Her only chance at redemption is to discover what happened to the body of Daniel Nicolis. To do that she’ll have to thwart two men: Reign Nicolis and Roman Nicolis. Both belong in jail. But one has stolen her heart.

MY SEXY SATURDAY

Sexy Me Up ~ @MySexySaturday #MySexySaturday #Saturday7 #MSS83 #MSSAuthors

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Here are 7 sexy paragraphs of my latest novel Evermore Descendants of Ra book 3. Emeline doesn’t want to get addicted to Avery. But it is a losing battle.

Emeline always sucked as a sifter, but she counted the deficiency as a plus. Who wanted to wear gloves the rest of their life to avoid random contact and the transfer of unwanted emotions? Occasionally in the heat of passion, she had caught a few emotional threads: horny, macho guy speak about how great he was.

Yeah, she had lousy taste in men. With Avery, everything was different. He touched a place inside her heart she’d never known existed. Palm to palm, her skin tingled where they touched. The pain in her side faded and his fragmented thoughts filled her head. Worry mixed with desire which warped into lurid images, tantalizing in detail, then dipped into a deep well of hurt all centered on her. She’d done this.

Except for brief splashes of streetlight, the back of the dim cab kept his features shadowed. Not his desires. Those flowed through him and into her. Her nipples tightened and her body hungered. She caught glimpses of his green and black eyes. Their intensity didn’t startle her. The corresponding heat surfing her blood and the receding pain, did.

Had he leaned closer? Or had common sense completely taken a vacation and she’d leaned in? His free hand touched her cheek. This was the last thing she needed. So why didn’t she pull away when his lips slanted urgently over hers?

Shutting down the heat between them—closing the door on any chance of them being together—that’s what she should be doing, not inching her way closer to disaster. Not dying for another taste of him. Not aching for him to take her in his arms, stripping her down to her marrow and take her any way, every way he wanted.

He kissed her as if this was the last kiss they would ever have, using lips, teeth, and tongue to hammer her resistance into biddable acceptance. He kissed her until all she knew was that she was a woman and he was a hot, hard man. And all hers—if she was woman enough to reach out and take him.

The car stopped. “We’re here.” The driver said.  The spell broke. She yanked her lips and her hand away. Pain flared, bright and awful. Somehow, she managed to open the door and climb out of the car without becoming a part of the pavement while he paid the fare. Getting away, far away from everything she wanted seemed like a brilliant idea.

TS-Evermore-KLM-wo

 

There is no such thing as a chance meeting.

There’s no room in Avery Nicolis life for an obsession, yet why else does he stalk Emeline Gamble. Lurking in the shadows, he hungers for a woman he can’t have. Between the secrets he guards and anarchy roiling in his soul, his only solace are his glimpses of Emeline. He will resist her, protect her from himself, and deny his desire to claim her heart.

Emeline Gamble was a Watcher for the Order—a secret society of women charged with monitoring the offspring of the gods. For months, she observed Avery Nicolis, an elite mercenary, Descendant of Ra, and enemy of the Order. Never knowing he had her in his crosshairs.

Trapped in a lie, Emeline is forced to accept Avery as her bodyguard. Compelled to spend time with him, she learns to care for his tortured soul and see the hero lurking beneath the assassin’s façade.

But every word out of her mouth is a lie. Every action a betrayal. Because to save her family she is forced to accept a new assignment, deliver Avery Nicolis to the Goddess of Chaos, alive…

And do not fall in love with him.

Click here to find more My Sexy Saturday Authors.

WEEKEND WRITING WARRIOR

#8Sunday

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Welcome to my Weekend Writing Warrior post. Today, I’m sharing eight sentences of my Eternity, the first novel in my Descendants of Ra series. 

After only a few hours of sleep, Stella was sitting up, her head tilted back to catch the whiffs of air generated from the ceiling fan.

Roman closed his laptop, retrieved a bottle of water from the kitchen, and handed it to her. Perched on the edge of her coffee table, he waited while she rubbed the bottle across her sweaty brow and gave a throaty sigh before twisting the cap. Completely unaware of the sensual picture she presented, Stella tossed her head back, tipped the bottle to her lips and gulped until she drained it.

He ignored the lengthening poke of his cock and leaned closer to her. “We need to talk.”

Her eyes shifted around the room as she took a deep fortifying breath and squared her shoulders. “Go ahead.”

 Click to find more Weekend Writing Warriors.

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Cursed for 2000 years, Roman Nicolis has tracked his lovers’ soul through each reincarnation only to lose her horribly every time. Reclaiming their love is his only salvation. He’s been her friend, her father, her neighbor, but never again her lover . . . until now.

A late night walk home throws Stella Walker into the path of a killer. The last thing she remembers are the deep blue eyes of the man trying to kill her—and the first things she sees after a seven day coma are the same blue eyes in the handsome face of the man hired to protect her. Is he truly the owner of a security firm or the man who wants to finish her off? Is it fears she feels when Roman touches her or the memory of something sweeter?

 Past secrets haunt them. An angry demon stalks them.

Roman will do anything to recover what they once had. Though Stella’s ruined childhood has made her close her heart and body to any man, he must get past the walls around her to gain her love and trust, for it will take their union to defeat an unexpected enemy sent from the Egyptian Gods. A man Romans respects and Stella trusts.

#MWTEASE

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It’s the holidays and everyone is busy, hopefully not too busy for a sexy Mid Week Tease! When last we spied on Avery and Emeline, they were in bed. She’d said “No. Sex.” But does that still apply after he has taken her to the edge of passion?

Emeline visibly shook in his arms—and inadvertently rubbed her body all over him, nipples scored his chest, her knees rubbed the inside of his thighs. Somehow, he quelled the raging need and simply held her.

“I’m sorry. This is all so much.” Her breath fanned his skin.

This was too much, too soon. She wasn’t ready and he’d just ruined any chance he may have had. “Never apologize for what happens between us or how you feel.”

Her brow quirked and rose with surprise. “Us? Is there an us?”

No. There isn’t. Push her away, his conscience ordered. Avery dropped his hands. He let her go. Tomorrow he would call McIntosh again and hand over her care. But for too many minutes, neither of them moved.

She squared her shoulders and raised her chin. “There’s a lot about me you don’t know.”

And there was a lot he already did. Her secrets couldn’t be worse than his. “Then tell me.”

She pushed her hair out of her face and looked away “…You may not like it,” Emeline murmured.

He smoothed his thumb over her cheek, trailed it to her jaw and down her neck to the vein pulsing wildly. “…Are you a mass murderer?” A sigh stroked his skin, kept his blood humming.

“No. Not lately.”

“I know you don’t abuse the elderly. Don’t know about children, though.” He got her to smile. A warm grin that caused her cheeks to slightly dimple and quelled the churning sea in his soul. He would have another. “Are you a thief?”

“Nope.” She laughed and lay her head on his chest. “I never expected you to have a sense of humor.”

He rubbed her back, touching the shirt instead of her delicious skin. “And I never expected you.”

Her fingernails traced an excruciating pattern on his pecs. If only she would trail lower, to where he needed her touch the most.

“Is it too much to ask for you to hold me? It’s been a long time since someone held me without wanting something.” She sighed.

Anything for this to continue. Carefully, he wrapped himself around her. Seconds stretched. RockGate may be his residence, the loft doubled as his apartment and escape zone, but Emeline—she felt like home.

Soft lips grazed his neck. Then his jaw. He didn’t move, didn’t dare frighten her away. Hands circled his head and brought him to her.

She nuzzled him, brushed her cheek along his neck, and purred. A throaty sound and so damn sexy it took everything he had to remain still.

Forehead to forehead, he gazed into her eyes. “I don’t want anything you’re not willing to give. I’m here. And I’m not going anywhere.” cropped-mediumevermore.jpg

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON 

There is no such thing as a chance meeting.

There’s no room in Avery Nicolis’s life for an obsession, yet why else does he stalk Emeline Gamble. Lurking in the shadows, he hungers for a woman he can’t have. Between the secrets he guards and anarchy roiling in his soul, his only solace are his glimpses of Emeline. He will resist her, protect her from himself, and deny his desire to claim her heart.
Emeline Gamble was a Watcher for the Order—a secret society of women charged with monitoring the offspring of the gods. For months, she observed Avery Nicolis, an elite mercenary, Descendant of Ra, and enemy of the Order. Never knowing he had her in his crosshairs.
Trapped in a lie, Emeline is forced to accept Avery as her bodyguard. Compelled to spend time with him, she learns to care for his tortured soul and see the hero lurking beneath the assassin’s façade.
But every word out of her mouth is a lie. Every action a betrayal. Because to save her family she is forced to accept a new assignment, deliver Avery Nicolis to the Goddess of Chaos, alive…
And do not fall in love with him.

Eternity (Descendants of Ra: Book 1)
Everlasting (Descendants of Ra: Book 2)
Evermore (Descendants of Ra: Book 3)

#MID WEEK TEASE

MidWeekTease2

When last we saw Avery and Emeline they were in bed. So let’s  continue from there!

“Why did you agree to be my bodyguard? The truth.”

Heat traveled from her to him, straight to his cock. He leaned into the touch, seeking more. “Because I couldn’t take my eyes off you. Still can’t.” The fevered edge to his voice startled him.

Her mouth dropped open with a silent ‘Oh.’

She had to know what she did to him. And even though it was a mistake, and went against reality, Avery shifted and let her feel the proof of his desire. She blew out a sharp breath. Her eyes fluttered closed on a groan, and her pelvis arched. The towel blocked her heat from reaching him, but not his imagination. In his fevered mind, her slick flesh surrounded him as he glided inside her core. Her palms brushed his nipples and stroked the pebbled points.

He fisted his hands in her shirt; his shirt—desperate to view the hidden treasure—he dropped his head into the crux of her neck to keep from taking what he’d wanted from the first moment he stumbled upon her in the park. Plush lips caressed his temple. Her breath fanned his ear and arms circled his neck. His resolve shattered.

Their lips met in a duel of lips, tongue, and teeth. Butterscotch, that’s how she tasted. Butterscotch laced with liquor. Exotic and sinful as hell, so intoxicating he would soon be drunk. He licked and sucked and drank and gave up a bit of his soul.

Her breath swept through him like lightning striking the ground. It filled his lungs and spread to every inch of him, destroyed any resistance. He belonged to Emeline as if she’d owned him before, lost him, and had just found him again. Desire and desperation crashed through him in a blistering, undeniable wave.

His hand slid along her thigh, aimed at palming her tight rear. Her head dropped back on a long gasp and she rubbed herself against him. He licked his way down the column of her neck—savoring her skin, the silk under his tongue—to her cleavage and the curve of her breast. His hand glided up to her ass. No panties. Jesus!

He throbbed.

The towel loosened.

She said no sex. No. Sex. While the darkness inside of him chanted Take! Take! Take! He groaned in sweet anguish, couldn’t stop the sound. Her leg hooked his hip, brushed his waist. Her damp core kissed his lower abdomen and he tilted her hips to rub her wetness into his skin. It took everything he had not to yank the towel off and bury himself inside her.

Avery returned to her mouth, possessed her as he would her body with sweeping thrusts of his tongue. Emeline shuddered; she writhed in his arms. Both of her legs locked around his hips and her chest heaved, stabbing him with her nipples, while her gaze, those hazel eyes, never left his face.

“Let me see you.” He begged, not caring how hungry he sounded.

Her lips parted and she bit the corner. He was certain no would be her reply, but then—one button opened, then two, her fingers took their damn time. She didn’t part the two halves, but dropped her hands and waited with an expectant stare.

Avery gripped the edge of the shirt, a lifeline to his desires or an anchor to drown him. Either way, he would have this moment.

He parted the shirt and drank in the sight of her chocolate-kissed nipples, balanced on top of her pillowed breast. Her flat abdomen stretched like a caramel lake waiting for his tongue to sample. The curves of her hips begged for a man’s hand to stroke and hold on. Close cropped, curls covered the vee at the juncture of her thighs. He skimmed his hand down the center of her body, fanned his fingers over her ribs. Quivers rippled her abdomen as he brushed the back of his hand over her warm skin on his way to the soft curls at her core.

No. Sex.

She didn’t tell him no taste. Avery drew one nipple into his mouth and rolled the other between his thumb and forefinger. Emeline arched, giving her full breasts over to his care. After he’d laved each nipple, he eased his tongue down the center of her exquisite body and swore butterscotch coated her skin.

 

cropped-mediumevermore.jpgNOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

DISCOVER MORE GREAT AUTHOR BY CLICKING HERE.

RELEASE DAY IS FINALLY HERE!

EVERMORE DESCENDANTS OF RA

MediumEvermore

Available on AMAZON

There is no such thing as a chance meeting.

There’s no room in Avery Nicolis’s life for an obsession, yet why else does he stalk Emeline Gamble. Lurking in the shadows, he hungers for a woman he can’t have. Between the secrets he guards and anarchy roiling in his soul, his only solace are his glimpses of Emeline. He will resist her, protect her from himself, and deny his desire to claim her heart.
Emeline Gamble was a Watcher for the Order—a secret society of women charged with monitoring the offspring of the gods. For months, she observed Avery Nicolis, an elite mercenary, Descendant of Ra, and enemy of the Order. Never knowing he had her in his crosshairs.
Trapped in a lie, Emeline is forced to accept Avery as her bodyguard. Compelled to spend time with him, she learns to care for his tortured soul and see the hero lurking beneath the assassin’s façade.
But every word out of her mouth is a lie. Every action a betrayal. Because to save her family she is forced to accept a new assignment, deliver Avery Nicolis to the Goddess of Chaos, alive…
And do not fall in love with him.

Eternity (Descendants of Ra: Book 1)
Everlasting (Descendants of Ra: Book 2)
Evermore (Descendants of Ra: Book 3)

 

MID WEEK TEASE

#MWTease

MidWeekTease2

AVERY AND EMELINE GET DIRTY!

 

One hundred feet to the front door, soon she’d be home free. She dodged the drunks, the stoners, the lovers, the dancers, and had almost made it to the exit when Lincoln stepped into her path.

Emeline rolled her eyes, sucked in a deep breath, but choked when an unexpected laugh erupted. She doubled over, holding her side, from the sudden hysteria carrying her away. “Of course I would run into you. It’s been that kinda night.”

Lincoln didn’t return her humor. He stood there, arms folded over his chest, trying to appear intimidating. “I was going to let you go. Leave you alone to live your life after seeing you at the club. Then you show up here, to see me.” He signaled to the DJ and the music ended. “You miss me, baby? Came to apologize? Kiss and make up? Start on your knees.” He pointed to the hardwood floor.

A circle formed around them. Emeline scanned the crowd, checking for Ridley and the mysterious goddess. Lincoln whistled, snapped his fingers in front her face. “Don’t have all day.”

What did I ever see in this morally bankrupt, egotistical man? Definitely not her finest moment. He opened his pants. Unzipped his fly. Took out his less than impressive, erect dick and stood there with a stupid grin. He chanted ‘knees’ and the crowd joined the chorus. Her blood boiled at him, the drunk crowd, Ridley, Avery, everything. The crowd wanted a show. Tonight, they came to the right place.

With a sultry grin plastered on her face, Emeline clasped his dick. She stroked up from the base, circled the head, and let her hand slide down. Lincoln’s head fell back and he groaned, deep and throaty. Catcalls swept through the room along with flashes from cell phone cameras as he thrust his hips out and began rocking. “You remember how I like it.” He panted.

How he liked it was pretty much how every man liked it and nothing noteworthy to remember. That was Lincoln’s problem; he thought he was special because of his family’s influence and because his genitals dangled.

She’d fallen for it. So what did that say about her standards? Not much, but tonight wasn’t about reminiscing. After what happened to Belinda, Emeline had a taste for vengeance and Lincoln volunteered to be on the menu.

She cupped his balls, rolled them in her hand. He moaned, gave a throaty laugh and high-fived the dude standing next to him.

Yeah, enjoying it bastard? She tightened her hand, ready to strike.

Awareness pricked her senses. Darkness swirled at the edge of her mind, drowning her in waves of fury. She fought it, retreating would allow the sensation to swallow her. Unconscious at Lincoln’s mercy, and the crowd was not an option.

She shook her head to clear the fog—and collided with Avery’s feral glare.

Though her insides squirmed and urged her to tuck tail and run, Emeline couldn’t move. Avery’s furious glare rooted her to the spot. His lips were peeled back and he growled. She actually heard it. Swore she felt the sound reverberate in her chest. He shoved two people out of his way and broke the circle, just as she twisted Lincoln’s junk three hundred and sixty degrees.

He screamed, went up on his tip-toes, “Get her off! Get her off!”

Emeline jabbed her elbow into his throat and the heel of her palm into his nose. His head snapped back, blood gushed and splattered on her. All the while, she kept his dick and balls in a vise grip. A fist from one of Lincoln’s friends came flying at her head.

Avery blocked the blow and tossed the guy into the nearest wall. Another came at him. A quick jab and an uppercut knocked his opponent senseless. “Wanna let go of his shit or do you plan on taking it home for Christmas?” he shouted over the din while putting a guy in a headlock and flinging him into the wall.

“I don’t want this under my tree.” Emeline kicked Lincoln’s knee and released his parts. He collapsed, cradling his crotch. She picked up a bottle of whiskey next to the punch bowl, doused her offending hand, and dried her palm on her jeans.

She hadn’t come here to start a brawl, but—oh well.

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COMING IN NOVEMBER!

There is no such thing as a chance meeting.

There’s no room in Avery Nicolis life for an obsession, yet why else does he stalk Emeline Gamble. Lurking in the shadows, he hungers for a woman he can’t have. Between the secrets he guards and anarchy roiling in his soul, his only solace are his glimpses of Emeline. He will resist her, protect her from himself, and deny his desire to claim her heart.

Emeline Gamble was a Watcher for the Order—a secret society of women charged with monitoring the offspring of the gods. For months, she observed Avery Nicolis, an elite mercenary, Descendant of Ra, and enemy of the Order. Never knowing he had her in his crosshairs.

Trapped in a lie, Emeline is forced to accept Avery as her bodyguard. Compelled to spend time with him, she learns to care for his tortured soul and see the hero lurking beneath the assassin’s façade.

But every word out of her mouth is a lie. Every action a betrayal. Because to save her family she is forced to accept a new assignment, deliver Avery Nicolis to the Goddess of Chaos, alive…

And do not fall in love with him.

 

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Love of Mythology Giveaway Hop.

 

 

Welcome to the Love of Mythology Giveaway HopFTLOMBanner_zps33192fbd

ETERNITY is part of the giveaway!!

 

Why did I choose to write about the Egyptian Gods?

About five years ago, I decided I wanted to write a series. I’ve always loved paranormal romances, vampires, werewolves, the fey, shape shifters, novels about other worlds inhabited with different species. Naturally, I gravitated to what I enjoyed reading, but I was tired of the usual books populating the genre. Fangs, claws and fur, oh my. I considered writing about the Greek Gods, but I had recently started reading a popular series about the Greeks and I felt I had no new ideas to offer.

Then I thought of the Egyptian Gods. Ancient Egypt is one of the most well documented cultures. Although the Egyptian Gods have a wealth of history and folklore, there aren’t many fiction books about them. Their story remains untold.

With hundreds of deities to choose from, I settled on the four: Nu, mother of the pantheon. SET and Nephythys, estranged spouses and their unwanted son,  Anubis. I added two humans, twin brothers Roman and Reign. As their stories unfold, so does the treachery, avarice and lust of the Egyptians gods. I’m having a blast writing discovering these fascinating characters.

Eternity is a story of reincarnation and redemption. Roman Nicolis, a mercenary falls in love with the Elyssian, the wrong woman. He seduces her, taking her virginity and cursing them both. For two thousand years, Roman wanders the earth searching for the only woman he can love. Time and again, Roman finds her, only to lose her horribly. Now, in present day New York City, they meet again. And this is his last chance to get things right.

 

Eternity-Final242 (3) (480x640) (225x300)EXCERPT

Curled on his body in the middle of Central Park, Roman let Stella sleep. Holding her wasn’t a hardship as his mind wandered to the future, their future. Foolhardy, definitely, but what else could he do when he held the object of his obsession in his arms?

Remember your promise and let her go.

He stroked a wayward lock of hair behind her ear and slid his fingers down her silky cheek. She nuzzled him, turned her face into his palm and kissed him. Every noble intention evaporated like a bead of sizzling water in a hot skillet. Cock rock hard, he had to kiss her, feel her breath on his skin, in his body. In the deserted park, he needed her now.

The fine hairs on the back of his neck bristled. He froze. Battle instincts surged to the forefront, screaming for action, instead, he listened to the night surrounding him and waited. Though not a hub of wildlife, the creatures of Central Park were silent. They also waited. Somewhere, nearby, a predator stalked.

He nudged Stella. She stretched, making him aware of every curve and hollow she possessed, and purred, a sexy rumble deep in her throat. Before she could say a word, he cupped her head and pulled her into a quick kiss.

“Shhh, we’re in danger,” he whispered against her lips.

Her head popped up and she eased off him. In the gloom, her frightened eyes met his. “What?” She mouthed.

“We have to get out of here.”

Crouched low, he took her hand, together they crawled along next to the hedge. He looked over. His keen eyesight picked up nothing and no one. So why did the same excitement he used to get before a battle race through his veins? Stella squeezed his hand. Her wide eyes sent him a question he couldn’t answer.

He drew his gun from the small of his back and the silencer from his jacket pocket.

“Roman?” Her voice wavered.

He spared her a glance. “Whatever happens, do exactly as I say. Understand?”

Her head bobbed on her neck.

“Walk beside me, not in front or behind. Got it?”

Not far from the nearest road, they stuck to the trees and away from the open expanse of the Great Lawn.

Leaves crunched behind them. He’d never run from anything in his life. Even before the curse and his immortality, he stood his ground and killed everything in his path. Now, whatever stalked him, stalked her. His senses told him only one lurked in the darkness, but with Stella to protect, he couldn’t risk it.

The Delacorte amphitheater loomed ahead. He guided her into the shadows. Stationed behind a statue, he aimed and watched the route they had just taken. Stella clutched his jacket, her shivering body pressed close.

“Tell me.”

“There’s someone out there.”

“It could be anyone, ’kids maybe?”

“Maybe.” He agreed purely to reassure her. But as he spoke, one hundred yards away, something peeled away from the shadows of a large tree and charged.

“Stay.” He ordered. Through his jacket, her nails dug into his back. He pulled away, but she wouldn’t let go. He shrugged out of his jacket and advanced. She called to him, begging him to return, but the blood rushing in his ears drown out her voice. He rushed forward and focused on the attacking foe.

Wait. He skidded to a halt. He had a shot, but . . . something was wrong. The height was too short. Whoever ran toward him must be a child—or running on all fours. He squinted at the slice of darkness closing the distance between them. The tree coverage ended and speckled moonlight dotted the Great Lawn, uncovering the thing barreling forward. For a split second his mind tried to unravel the impossible nightmare quickly shrinking the distance, before he fired three shots between its widely spaced eyes. It roared and charged faster.

“Run, Stella!” He fired running back to the theater. She hadn’t listened. Instead of running away, she met him. He grabbed her hand and ran, but she couldn’t keep up and the thing behind them closed the distance.

“Is it him, The Strangler?” she shouted breathless.

They ran past The Preserve, rounded a column and then stopped. Shrouded in gloom, the outline of the pond appeared in front of the Belvedere Castle. He didn’t want her to see what chased them, but before he could stop her, she turned. Her scream pierced the night. Yards away, a bellow replied. He jerked her around and shoved. She stumbled and fell into the water.

“Go!” This time, she didn’t fight. For a second, he watched her swim. Then turned in time for claws to dig into his side.