xakara: (Drow)

 Greetings, Kittens!

Blessed Solstice! If you're just joining me, this is an official post within the Sexy Summer Solstic Bloghop and you can just click on the link to dive in for a chance to win ebooks, gift cards and even a Nook.

We have a very diverse offering this hop, from excerpts, to eyes candy, to an interconnected story. For your reading pleasure, I've done an offshoot of the wonderful starter chapter from the lovely Alanna Coca, that was fabulous fun to write! Please leave an email with your comments and I'll choose a winner of my July 4th release DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT. In the meantime, take a look at what else is happening around the Crimson Dawn Ranch.

Enjoy.



QUEEN MAKER

“They’ve arrived. A rather eclectic bunch this year from the look of things.” Chemere waved a hand in front of the mirror and the images froze.

“Is Jessie there?”

She turned and looked at Feredrik a long moment. “As opposed to where, Rik? Who else would be greeting visitors to Crimson Dawn in her place?”

Rik shrugged, an amethyst hue taking his cheeks as blood rushed beneath his cobalt skin. “She doesn’t own it in that dimension, I couldn’t be sure.”

“Oh, sweetie, you really need to go and talk to her about how you feel already—in any dimension.” Chemere kissed her brother’s cheek. “It’s your turn. That dimension had Lindee Penton and Will Treadworth, so we’re close. But he came alone.”

“Treadworth?” Rik sighed. The gossamer loincloth swirled around his knees. He brushed his hand over the hem of his vest and touched the mirror. “Could it be a paperwork error, or a professional use? I mean how close are we?”

“Pretty close, Zoe is there but I don’t know the depth of her abilities. Try a few parallel’s to the left. We have a good time window, so go forward as far as you can too. We need Will to have taken his mother’s maiden name after the divorce, it shapes his entire approach to Lindee as well as his willingness to listen to Zoe’s prediction and take the plunge. Aim for dinner time, he’s always more comfortable around food.”

Rik brushed his fingers over the smooth surface, flipping through the onion layers separating the worlds that bordered Fairie. “What if we can’t get exacts? He was hiding his attraction through overcompensating disregard, that can be worked with, right? Maybe we’ll just have to make due.”

“Maybe, but not on that world.” She tucked a strand of hair behind a delicate, pointed ear. “First, the overlap is a concern. Liana has a claim there in John. If that wasn’t enough, Will has already thoroughly ticked Lindee off. Her anger might translate to arousal and receptiveness somewhere down the line, but not enough for our purposes. I can’t turn her fantasies of disemboweling him with her dessert spoon, into a happy conception of a future MoonWeaver. I’m not that talented.”

“You are.” He disagreed. “But I won’t make you work that hard. I know I have them both going in this direction, what are the secondary details I need?”

A deep breath drew wisps of the silver fog swirling around their feet, down into her lungs. “We need a Betweener. If Will’s collegue doesn’t show up, a Betweener can do all of the heavy lifting. Also, we need a better catalyst. A Dr. Santorini showed up for that one and he simply won’t due. I think we have a better chance if we go with the television contest over the radio.”

Rik laughed. “Because universities and corporations tend to send someone photogenic and pretty people who dig around in the dirt for a living are more likely to make great catalyst and even be Betweeners. Two for the price of one, I like your thinking.” He backtracked and enlarged the first image with a camera crew. They were packing up in the twilight, a few were eating. “Got it. The local television station is on the scene, Will and Lindee are talking.” He placed his hand flat and closed his eyes. “Dr. Santorini still won, but he’s not the only geologist on site. Colorado University pulled strings and sent Dr. Erik Lever.” His breath rushed out of him. “Chemmy, come look. I think Erik is dormant.”
Chemere touched the mirror, closed her eyes and looked out into the Wyoming expanse. 
* * *

“Yes, that’s right.” Lindee leaned in the doorway connecting the two rooms and smiled at the incredibly handsome and vaguely familiar face she’d been trying to place in the hours since meeting him on the bus. “I’m the astrologer for the New York Century magazine.”

Will gave an enthusiastic nod. “I read your column ever day, you have a real talent. Most are just vague rambling, but you go into such depth and you’ve been spot on more times than not.”

“Wow, thanks. Most people think it’s nonsense or they believe, but only in a very general sense.”

“Oh no, I know that there’s real influence. Just like the tides are swayed by the heavens, our inner cycles react as well. We have free will of course, but we make those decisions based on the influences.” He stuck his hands in his pockets. “Sorry, I must sound a little, well, something. My mom is into all of this, so I grew up with very particular views.”

Lindee hoped her face wasn’t flushed and her smile wasn’t too big. “No, you sound fine. I mean I believe in the influence completely, but I’m totally Team Free Will!”

“I love that show.” He replied.

She didn’t quite know what to do with that. Either he was into monsters and bloodshed or he was into hot guys, or worse, he watched with his girlfriend. None of those sounded particularly promising. Maybe if he’d arrived with said girlfriend, but Lindee hadn’t done something like that since college. A blush tried to form. “It’s a great show.” She said quickly.

“I know, it doesn’t get the credit it deserves. I cover it in my column, The Best TV You Probably Missed.”

Oh thank goodness, he watched for his column. There was still hope. He didn’t have a ring, he was interested in her work and although a little hard to tell, she felt pretty sure he was flirting. “Treadworth, yes, I read that column. It’s in Entertainment Today, right?” Of course she recognized him, his picture was on the website next to his article every Saturday.

He shrugged. “Will GreenTree actually. I used Treadworth for the magazine to keep it separate from my other work.”

“As an astronomer.” She interrupted. “You did a companion piece to one of my seminars last year.” How had she missed it? It was like a veil lifting from her memories.

“You remember that?” He stammered through an incomplete sentence and took a deep breath. “It was a great time.”

“It was a fabulous time.” She gave him a playful punch in the arm. “What happened to you? I looked for you afterwards and you just disappeared. You said all of those kind things about me and I wanted to take you out for a drink.” Lots of drinks in fact and to let it lead where tequila often does. How had she misplaced the face that stalked her dreams for months when it stood right in front of her now?

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disappear. I had some things to settle. It was the first time I’d been back stateside in a while and I needed to catch up on some things and uh, see some people.” He looked at his feet and took a breath. “If I’d known, I’d have looked you up when I was done.” He met her gaze. “Since we’re here and all, maybe I can take you up on that drink when we go down to dinner.”

“That would be great!” She looked down at her hands and the bits of red soil still clinging to them. She’d made a wish for her life to have more excitement before tossing the soil into the bonfire with everyone else. This had a lot of promise. “Just let me wash up and we can head down.” The dining hall would probably have everyone in it. She’d loved all of the attention during the ceremony from the geologist, Eric, or as she and Zoe had dubbed him, Professor Nice Ass; but he was just being polite. It was a professional passion not a real interest, she could tell by how quickly he’d left to his room. This with Will could be something real and there was no need to share it if she didn’t have to. She cleared her throat. “Or if you’d like to see if they have room service.”

“Uh, well, I.” He crossed his arms. “Yeah, that, yeah, um, it.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets. “It would be nice, sure. Sounds good.”

Lindee pinched the skin between her thumb and forefinger to keep her smile from becoming a laugh. “My co-worker said the foods amazing here, he came up last year. Just order a few things that seem interesting and I’ll jump in the shower.”

He froze a second. “Do you want me to close this door?”

“Um, that’s sweet, Will. I’m sure the bathroom door has a lock. You don’t plan to kick it in or anything and put my twelve years of self defense to use, do you?”

“Oh dear god, no. I wouldn’t dream, I’m not that kind of, I mean.”

She slapped her hand over her mouth at his look of shock and horror. “Oh no, it’s okay, I’m just kidding, Will. It’s okay. I know you’re a good guy. I talked to three dozen people about you, trying to figure out where you went or where to send a thank you note. I’m not worried. Let’s just keep it simple. This door open. Bathroom door closed. It’s all good.”

He let out a breath and nodded. “Okay. As long as you know and everything. In fact,” He walked over to the main door. “I’ll open this and wait for room service and everything will be great. Sound good?”

Eric Lever stood on the other side of the door, one hand poised to knock. “Well that’s great timing. It’s good to see you, Will.”

They knew each other. Lindee didn’t know what to do with that, but all sorts of interesting thoughts cropped up to keep her company in the shower.

Will just stood there. “What can I do for you, Eric?”

“ Come on, I gave you the entire trip here and the ceremony to adjust to me being here. Invite me in. I have a proposal.”

“Is it the indecent kind?” Lindee asked before she could stop herself.

“It can be. I didn’t know I’d be getting a two-for-one special with this visit.” Eric answered. “Initially, however, I’ve come for your hands.”

“What?” They asked in unison.

“Your hands. The soil has a special reaction with natural body oils, I’d like a chance to collect samples before you wash your hands if it’s not too late. Also, samples from your clothes where you might have wiped your hands would be invaluable.” He opened the messenger bag slung across his body and pulled out a bottle of scotch. “It’s single malt, expensive and a clear bribe to be indulged. I’ve also taken the liberty of calling room service and ordering. I hear the food is amazing. It’s all on me. Just let me in.”

“Fine.” Will stepped aside. “Eric, you’ve met Lindee. It was her seminar I spoke at last year for the record.” He closed the door and leaned against it. “Lindee, this is Eric, the reason I disappeared last year.”

“Wait, he’s what you had to do last year?” She asked.

“Wow.” Eric laughed. “The two of you went to intimate conversation quickly. What kind of details did you share, should I be embarrassed?”

Damn! Damn, damn, damn! He did watch the show for the hot guys. She’d been making a complete fool of herself—with both of them no less. Damn! “I can go. I don’t want to get in the middle if the two of you need some personal time.” She said.

“Really?” Eric asked. “The indecent proposal was your idea. Besides, we’ve always had such great compliments from people in the middle of us when we shared personal time.”

Her mouth hung open. She closed it. “Um.” That was all she had. A knock at the door saved her from admitting it.

“That’s room service.” Eric smiled. “Let me swab your hands, we can drink, eat and work out the details along the way. Sound good?”

It sounded very good. Intense, titillating and completely crazy, but definitely good. She was the one that asked for the proposal and the one that wished for excitement. “Sounds good to me.”
* * *

Chemere let go of the mirror and laughed. It was all perfect. “With that combination I can do better than a MoonWeaver, brother. I can make a Monarch. There’s a High Queen or King in their genes. This is beautiful.”

“It’ll be a perfect cascade, yes? Monarchs and MoonWeavers in all touching dimensions. We found the exact one we need.” Rik said.

“No, not we, you found it. This is all do to my perfect other half.”
She pulled the scene back and moved through the rest of the ranch until she found Jessie. She stood near the stables, looking up at the night sky, lost to her thoughts in the descending darkness.

“Perfect.” Chemere kissed her brother’s cheek and placed her hand on his back. “You know I love you don’t you, Baby Brother?”

“Chemmy, what are you doing? You only use those eleven seconds to make me your baby brother when you’re about to do something.”

She touched the mirror with her other hand and smiled. “Every Queen needs a consort, right? Go talk to her, make me some options.” With that she pushed him through.

Rik stumbled in the grass. The loincloth billowed around his legs and conformed in a feather soft covering of denim. The matching vest became a t-shirt in the same hue as his cobalt skin. Skin that took on human tones of chestnut and copper. The crown, nestled in intricate Fae braidwork, became a Stetson covering his usual emerald tresses that now fell to his shoulders in deepest black. Dwarven sandals grew into the well-worn cowboy boots that Rik knew well.

He looked behind him, the portal long gone. “Chemmy.”
“Rick?” Jessie said.

“Uh, hey, Jessie.” He gave another look over his shoulder and walked over.

“I didn’t know you were coming up. It’s good to see you. You missed the ceremony though.”

“Yeah, I had work to do. We got in some new breeding stock, I had to help go over some things.” He said.

“Did Kim come up with you?” Jessie asked.

“I’m sure she’s getting into something around here somewhere. I’ll find her in a little while. She and I have some serious things to go over.” He leaned against the stable wall. “How have you been?”

Jessie shrugged and looked up at the sky again. “I missed you. I’m glad you’re here.”

He glanced over to the empty clearing. Chemere met his gaze from the other side of the veil and nodded encouragement. “I missed you too, Jessie. How about we get some food and talk?”




xakara: (GoCP)

Greetings, Kittens!

Welcome to the Luck of the Irish Blog Hop! For those of you who joined us for the New Year's Hop and Valentine's Day Hop, you know that there are lovely free reads that await your lovely attention. Our St. Patrick's Day Hop is going through March 19th and our lovely grand prize is a Kindle 3! Yes, a Kindle 3 so enjoy the stories and leave comments to enter to win.
 
Readers from the New Year's Hop will recongnize the characters below from that free read. If you didn't get the download or are new to the blog hop you can read the first installment HERE. The download for all of the New Year's stories is HERE. If you fall off the hop, just click on the banner at the end of the post. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Enjoy.


 
 
Free Read Ahead.... )

 
 

xakara: (GoCP)
Greetings Kittens,

Welcome to the New Year's blog hop. We changed things up this time around and chose to offer you a taste of our talents to send you into the New Year right! I hope you enjoy the stories inspired by the picture and the characters we created, (both found within the picture and those avoiding it). May you have a wonderful 2011 and many more New Years to come!

Enjoy.


 

Alia leaned over Jordan’s shoulder and smiled as dark molasses waves tickled her cheek. She scanned the digital camera screen and let out a sigh of relief. She hadn’t been got caught in the photograph. Great, but that had been too close, it was time to duck out before the inevitable happened.

“Happy New Year, Beautiful!” Jordan turned and kissed her on the cheek. He lifted the camera. “I confiscated it to check for you, we’re good. And Clark is drunk enough that he won’t notice if I keep the camera. If anyone asks we can say you were sitting in the chair in front of Jess when they kissed. She’ll never know the difference.” He looked at the picture again. “I mean damn, is Matt trying to lick her tonsils?”

“Well it is Matt. Maybe he’s got a thing for tonsils.” She kissed his cheek in return and stepped back. “I should head out. You have everything in hand here and cabs will be scarce in an hour.”

“No, you can’t leave yet.” He slipped the camera into his pocket and took her hand. “Our time zone is coming up next, you’ve got to stay til midnight.”

She looked down at their hands, avoiding his eyes to make it easier. “We’ve done five New Year’s countdowns already. I think I’ve got the gist of it.”

“But it was brilliant to start the countdown in Paris and move through the time zones! I’ve kissed five different people and the ball hasn’t even dropped in Times Square yet.” He pressed their clasped hands to his chest. Even in the bar lighting his olive complexion was made paler against her dark vanilla bean skin. “You’ve got to stay until it’s ours. It’s not New Years until it’s New Years in New York.” He gave her puppy dog eyes and pulled her into a hug. “Please, for me? Kyle, Mark and Linda already bailed on me. Like always you’re the only one I can count on.” He leaned and whispered. “Not to mention, you’re all I’ve got left before I’m stuck with only a bar full of people I’ve never slept with and who are therefore less entertaining to be around. I’m sure there are city codes against that happening.”

Alia pressed her forehead to his shoulder and laughed. “That is the most ridiculous thing you’ve said today—and you’ve thrown out some gems!” She lifted her head and smiled at him. “If I stay you’ll want to hit after parties and I’m not up to that.”

Jordan pursed his lips. “Not even if I promise it’ll be a small, private gathering talking about books and projects for the New Year with nary a drink in sight? Afterwards we can grab a cab back to the condo and I’ll come up and make you breakfast. French toast, you know you love my French toast.”

“I think Kyle might be expecting you to come home before we get to French toast.”

Jordan shrugged. “If he cared what time I came home he should have stayed to make sure I got there. Just one more countdown and we’re gone.” He pulled her closer and kissed the curve of her ear. “Only you would stick out five hours in a bar for me when you don’t even drink. Give me one more hour until the ball drops and I’m yours until you want to get rid of me, promise.”

Alia’s body tensed. “You know better, Jordan. You should be careful what you promise.”

“Why? You’ve been my forever since you pulled me out of Lake Meade when I was fourteen.” He leaned back and looked into her eyes. “You haven’t changed since the day I crossed out of the darkness and looked up to the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen.”

“You were dying, that makes you biased.”

A smile stole across his lips. “Very biased, it was my first kiss too.”

“It was CPR.” She corrected.

 Jordan shook his head. “It was a kiss for me and it sealed my fate, as they say.” He ran his hand over her hair and captured a curl. “I’ve always known what was coming. I’ve always known I’m just on loan to the rest of the world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” A grin broke free. “So I’ll promise anything I damn well please because I mean it.”

Alia’s throat constricted. “You know, don’t you?”

Jordan kissed her forehead. “I figured by starting with Paris and going all the way to Los Angeles, I can get in a good nine New Year’s celebrations. Seems like more than enough to carry me through. By the time I start to miss this kind of thing, I’ll be able to come back.”

“Jordan.” Se touched his cheek.

“No, don’t. Don’t make it sad. I’m not sad, Alia, I’m excited. I’m a Vegas kid and I bet on you a long time ago. I’ve been waiting for this since I opened my eyes on the lake’s shore and realized my life wasn’t over but just beginning.” His squeezed her arms and bounced on his heels. “Just promise that we’ll go back to Lake Meade. That we’ll take a boat out under the stars and do it there; a whole dramatic, full-circle moment.”

She kissed him, slow and deep. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” She stepped back and took his hand. “Come on, let’s get you another celebration hook up.”

“Wait what’s the plan?”

Alia pointed to the bartender taking a seat at a table alone. “His replacement showed up five minutes ago. I know you only picked this place to see him so I’m going to get you talking and make sure he’s your midnight kiss.”

A dark chocolate laugh rumbled up from his chest. “Best. Wingman. Ever.”

The introduction and starter conversation took moments and soon Alia slipped away to the main bar across from where everyone clustered to watch the television at the smaller drink station. She settled on a stool and ordered cranberry juice, sipping the tart beverage as she watched the two young men inflate their acquaintanceship with the assistance of liquid courage and an air of celebration. By her second drink a midnight kiss was assured and some forty-minutes later they’d practiced several times while she spoke with other friends throughout the bar.

She took a quiet moment to herself and smiled into her glass. The smile faltered as a wave of intimate heat washed over her and her body grew tight and moist.

“They look cozy.”

Alia closed her eyes as the honey and bourbon voice slid over her skin. “Aamon. I’ve been expecting you.” He ordered a drink and settled on the stool beside her, bringing the scent of open spaces, primordial places and sex beneath the stars. “You took longer than I thought you would.”

He sipped his drink. “It took me longer to work up the nerve than I’d like to admit to.”  He stuck his hand into the inner pocket of his worn leather jacket and pulled out a palm-sized velvet box. “I got you something. It’s not much but I thought you’d like it.”

She spared a glance for Jordan and took the box. The brighter lights near the main bar gave a sparkle of gems that shone like Mediterranean seas. “Tourmaline and?”

“And green sapphire, all in silver fittings. I found the raw gems in Tokyo a few years back and thought of you. I didn’t figure out what to do with them until last month. I had it made at that little shop in Sedona you loved when we wintered there. The teardrop cut is still your favorite right?”

Alia stared at the choker a long moment. “Aamon.”

“You’ll wear it won’t you?” He reached out and caressed the curve of her neck with the back of his hand. “You came out unadorned, seems a shame to let it go unseen with such a lovely canvass to show it off.”

Alia stood and faced him. “Of course I’ll wear it. I’d never turn down a gift from you, Aamon.” She handed him the box and turned around, lifting her hair. “And yes, the teardrop cut is still my favorite.” Strong hands slipped around her throat and centered the choker in place. “It’s beautiful, thank you. Happy Anniversary, My Love.”

He let his fingertips glide across her shoulders and down her arms. “Happy Anniversary, Beloved.” Aamon embraced her from behind and held her close. “I didn’t know if you’d want me to come. You’re replacing me with a younger model after all. What is he, twelve?”

She slapped his hand where it rested around his waist. “He’s twenty-four. He’ll miss his twenty-fifth birthday by three days but it can’t be helped. I’ve given him every day of the ten years to decide and he’s made his choice, there’s no more time.” She turned in his arms. “Why wouldn’t I want you to come? I’m not the one that wanted you to leave.”

Aamon traced her lower lip with his thumb. “I’m the one that needed space. The one that wanted to run free, I know. But that just added to the thought I might be unwelcome. That you might want your time with him to be…yours alone.”

“He wants to meet you.” She reached for his face and stopped, caressing the collar of the leather jacket instead. “I’ve told him a lot about you.”

He brought both her hands to his face. “And he still wants to meet me? Brave kid.” He tried to smile but it faltered. “Is he the one? Will he close the circle?”

“He’s one and that’s all that matters.”

The crowd started to count down to the ball drop. Aamon startled but turned his attention back to Alia. “Does that mean you’ll come with me after the change?”

She looked over to Jordan as he snuggled up to the bartender and nodded. “I think he’ll like that. He’s always wanted to travel.” She smiled back at Aamon. “And your each other’s type so it should work out well. We’ll adorn the rooftops of the world.”

The countdown reached one and the bar exploded into applause and song. She leaned in and bit Aamon’s throat with tiny fangs as he did the same to her. The sharp tang of blood zinged through her body along with the soft, distant scent of stone made flesh. They had just under three months before the transformation and then her new Guardian would be ready to stand against the darkness and become a force of light; devoting the decade of life it would take to become a true Stone Warrior. Until then, he had a few more days of freedom ahead and with Aamon's arrival, more sultry endeavors to pursue.

If you have fallen off the hop, here is the link at the end of this post to get you back on track.

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