05 December 2008
It's been a long time coming -- but finally! My first full-length paranormal romance is out. :)
DREAM WALK(c)2008 Meg Allison
Some nightmares are deadly real.
The Sentinels, Book 1
Camille Bryant is a gifted medium being slowly driven insane by terrifying dreams. When she is forced to accept help from a Sentinel—a mysterious warrior of her race—her comfort zone is quickly invaded. Try as she might, she can’t seem to stop the erotic visions that fill her mind when her rescuer is near.
Ian Spain is a dream walker who’s been assigned to banish the dream demon from Camille’s restless nights. But complications quickly ensue. This is no ordinary demon and Camille is no ordinary woman: both are far stronger than anyone realizes. So strong, Ian suddenly isn’t sure he has the power to vanquish her demon—not when his own hound his every step.
Their passion ignites even as the body count rises and their courage is put to the test in a battle as old as time. Winner takes all.
Warning: Scenes of leather-clad hero may induce spontaneous drooling, erotic fantasies, and unfair comparisons to spouse or significant other.
Excerpt from a nightmare:
Heart pounding a staccato beat, Camille rushed down the dark alley. If she could just find the little shop again, she would be safe. Madame Virginia would give her shelter—she would know what to do.
A sound grabbed her attention and she almost stumbled as she glanced behind. Shadows moved, slithering over the sidewalk toward her. They extinguished the glow of the street lamps one by one as they drew closer. Like a massive storm, the darkness would soon blot out all light. She would be stranded. Alone.
This time the dream brought her to a different place, but the demon followed, its form concealed in the heavy shroud of black fog. Something hissed. A misty shape reached out of the shadows to touch her skin. A cold, sharp object pricked her arm and she bit back a scream, her feet moving faster. Could she outrun a nightmare?
She jerked to a stop, scanning the alley before her. She was alone. Something fluttered by her ear and she screamed. Instincts took over as she ran into the alley. The blank brick wall rose up before her, barring the way to any kind of safety.
Oh God, he had her cornered. She had always escaped before, had always been able to hide long enough to pull herself from the dream. Heart pounding frantically, she braced her back against the wall and faced her dragon.
Instead of the dark, mythical beast, Ian stood before her. Tall and unyielding, feet planted shoulder width apart, he gazed at her with such intensity she couldn’t draw air into her lungs. He wore a black leather jacket that hung open to reveal his bare chest, and skin-tight pants of the same material. A gleaming saber clutched in one hand, his mane of dark hair blew about granite features. His gaze held hers for a moment before he looked down at the clothing. With a twist of the wrist, he lifted the weapon and turned it so the faint light glittered off the blade. He frowned.
“Is it a knight you’ve conjured, Camille, or a vampire slayer?” He looked at her. “I’m not quite sure I fit the part either way.”
She shook her head. “I didn’t summon you. I’ve never been able to summon help before.”
One corner of his full mouth quirked into a half-smile. A dangerous smile.
“It seems I’m here now, whatever the reason.” He bowed slightly at the waist. “Where is your demon, my lady?”
A hiss filled the air and orange flame shot between them. The rotten-egg smell filled the alleyway. Camille choked on the rancid fumes.
“Please, Ian…” A sob ripped through her. She swallowed and blinked back tears. “I can’t do this again. Make it leave. Just make it go.”
He gazed at her silently and she wondered at the wariness in his expression. “I thought you didn’t need me.”
“Please…” His features softened at her desperate plea. Then he nodded, stepped toward her and turned.
“Stay behind me, Camille. Whatever you do, don’t run. Demons thrive on fear and you cannot outrun a nightmare.”
All Camille could think of was hiding behind his broad back as darkness descended around them. The flutter of wings and a snarling growl echoed off the tall brick walls. Her body shook. Blood pounded in her ears. She could smell the brimstone mingling with sweat and the musty mildew of the alleyway.
Ian stood at the ready, sword clasped in both hands, blade pointed straight up. “Who is it, Camille? Who is your demon?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered, clutching at the leather coat. “It can’t be real. It must be symbolic—”
She jumped at the sound of her name whispered from the shadows. Ian went rigid, but she couldn’t see his face.
“Camille, come to me.”
She shook her head even as her feet seemed to follow a will of their own and stepped around her protector.
“Get back,” Ian commanded, his gaze never wavering from the writhing shadows before him.
Another step and he turned, his weapon clattering to the cement below as he grabbed her arms with both hands and pushed her back against the wall. Rough brick pressed into her spine, Ian’s chest against her breasts. She looked up into his eyes, feeling only the rise and fall of their lungs in unison as they stood crushed together.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured. His eyes darkened to pitch and his gaze slipped to her lips. He swallowed hard.
“Don’t let it control you. Think, honey…who is it? Who is trying to drive you insane? Is it someone from your past? An old boyfriend or lover?”
“I don’t have anyone like that.”
They stood in the churning darkness, hearts pounding as one. Ian held her pinned to the wall, his body hard and shaking. She wondered at the panic she saw flare within the dark depths of his gaze.
“I’m not prepared. Camille, I’m not ready for this. You weren’t supposed to see me this first time.”
A roar shook the building at her back. He spun around, keeping his body between her and the shadows. She could see devilish-red eyes gleaming from darkness now thick as tar. Sulfur made the air hard to breathe and the heat pushed down upon them, coming closer with each rumbling breath the great beast took.
“I’m not ready,” Ian murmured as if talking to himself. “This was not a good idea.”
He grasped her by the arm, all the while his attention centered on the dragon. The beast seemed to grow, its silhouette undulating higher and broader with each snarling exhalation. Ian’s grip tightened until she winced in pain.
“Take us out of this, Camille, I can’t focus. End the dream.”
“I can’t!” Panic gripped her by the throat.
“You can, and you must,” he insisted. “Think…where are you? Feel the sheets…feel the mattress beneath you…hear the sounds of the house, the traffic outside. This is not your reality, Camille. Send the beast away.”
She shook her head frantically. The fear held her in place. It couldn’t be just a dream. Bile filled her throat; her body shook in seizure-like tremors. It was vivid and horrifyingly real.
“Try,” he entreated more gently. “I can’t protect us both.”
She didn’t think she could die in her own dream, but could the Sentinel?
“Leave! I-I’ll be okay,” she insisted. “I’m always okay. I don’t want it to hurt you.”
“No. Leaving you alone is not an option.”
The dragon roared, the sound making her ears ring.
She shook from head to toe but fought to subdue the fear. It filled her so fully she knew this had to be the end. A clawed foot reached from the darkness, cutting Ian from collarbone to navel. He dropped to his knees, a groan of pain the only sound he made.
He looked up, teeth clenched, his color fading quickly as blood trickled from the gaping wound.
“Take us…out!” His head drooped forward and Camille closed her eyes. Tears coursed down her cold cheeks.
She could feel the hot rancid breath of the beast fanning her hair. But she reached past that, past the malevolent image to the reality that would provide refuge. And then she began to remember…a vague sensation of her body pressing into a firm mattress, the cool linens caressing her heated skin. A familiar hum rumbled beneath the noise of the growling demon. The sharp retort of a car horn sounded.
“Awake!” Ian’s strangled command sent a jolt through her and in the next moment, Camille sat straight up in bed, blinking at the soft gray light that filled her room.
She looked down at her sweat-soaked nightgown, the gauzy material transparent where it clung to bare skin. Breathing as if she’d run a marathon, she sat there and shivered as wave after wave of unspent fear coursed through her.
She was whole. She was awake. The dragon had gone.