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The funeral was a typically sombre affair, alive with soggy tissues and streaky make-up. I stood at the back, letting the vicar’s voice wash over me, and spent the whole time staring at the flower-laden coffin, wondering if the lid would suddenly flip up and a fanged monster would escape to reap its vengeance on the congregation.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen, and as the mourners dispersed in the direction of the pub, I quietly snuck off home. I wasn’t in the mood for crowds and needed time to think, time to try to make sense of at least something, but as I turned to close the door, it was obstructed by a perfectly polished black shoe that belonged to…
“Seb, please,” he said, easing his way through. “Only my father calls me Sebastian.” He checked down the backstreet and closed the door securely. His eyes scanned the flat. “Nice place.”
“I like it.”
“It doesn’t bother you? Living over a funeral parlour?” he asked.
“Why would it? The neighbours are quiet.”
He didn’t laugh at my joke; neither did he comment. He simply stood silently, staring. It was very unnerving and made my legs go all wobbly. Perhaps if I turned away from him, he’d disappear again? It was worth a shot. I forced my jelly legs over to the front window and stared out at nothing in particular. The light was subdued, and the sky had darkened to an air force grey. A low mist was beginning to carpet the distant fields, and I wondered if snow had been forecast.
I knew my little experiment hadn’t worked. He was still there. I could feel his presence and smell his scent, a musky, inviting aroma that filled my senses and sent my head into a whirl, and it was getting stronger.
“Your friends interrupted us the other day. Can we talk now?” he whispered softly into my neck, and his fingertips traced a fiery trail down my spine.
“What’s the point? There’s nothing to say. I wish you’d just leave me alone,” I said, lowering my head in time to see Lara leaving the newsagents. She glanced up with a look of fury contorting her face as Sebastian’s hands reached around either side of me and grabbed the window frame.
“I can’t do that. I’m not that strong,” he said.
I studied the arms now imprisoning me, with their perfectly formed muscles straining against the rolled-up sleeves of his white shirt, and seriously doubted his statement. His stance was predatory and made me feel uncomfortable. I ducked under his elbow to escape, but he caught me around the waist and pulled me against him. Our bodies moulded together perfectly, and the strength of his grip made me feel like a china doll that he’d be able to crush in an instant. He was almost a full head taller than I was, and the warmth of his breath caressed my forehead. How easy it would be to reach up and taste those lips. I imagined the feel of them, and my own parted in an involuntary invitation.
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through that fog now, the streetlights casting cones of luminescence
that capture swirling mist. I should go straight home, but I really want
a bottle of wine. J.J.’s Market is only two blocks off and I walk
toward neon signs advertising beer and cigarettes, drawn like a moth.
Not long ago, I was newly married, looking forward to finishing my MFA
in Design with the hope of someday starting my own business. I barely
drank and rarely got drunk. Now, I’m wandering around out here at night
trying to avoid ghosts and unwilling to go home without alcohol because
I’m afraid I won’t sleep. My eyes start to prickle and I wipe the back
of my hand across my face.
sound again. All the same, I feel her there and soon she walks beside
With any luck, she’ll veer off and find some other lucky person to latch
She’s also crying and I just can’t ignore her—it’s not about me
Not to me, anyway. Some are more translucent while others appear
basically the same as you and me, give or take the glow around them.
That’s not guaranteed either. People are all different,
whether dead or alive. One of my new theories is that we all start out
as “dead” before becoming “alive” again. Like a lightbulb switching on
and off again here in this realm. I think it’s a circular system. It
seems an efficient use of energy. In this theory, ghosts are glitches.
But this girl next to me isn’t interested in hearing about my theories,
which change daily anyway. She just wants to know what’s going on.
situation. I look at her young, beautiful face. Trusting eyes stare back
you grounded. You cause that kind of pain and you just can’t move on.