31 October 2007

FREE READ! Dunvegas 2007 is here!

Welcome to Dunvegas 2007, the brainchild of the paranormal authors of the Beyond the Veil blog. Offered as a free Samhain gift to our readers, we hope this anthology will be the first of many return visits to Dunvegas, an out-of-the-ordinary Las Vegas casino/resort modeled after an ancient Scottish castle.

Dunvegas is unlike any other casino on The Strip. It caters to a decidedly preternatural crowd and plays host to the annual ParaPleasures Expo, the largest trade show on Earth dedicated solely to the pampering and pleasuring of vampires, weres, dragons, Fae, mages, wizards, and everything in between.

So pack light (Dunvegas has everything you could ever need) and confirm your reservation. The concierge desk is just beyond the fangs and hellhounds that guard the portcullis. Just keep your arms and legs inside as you cross the moat—the mermaids and the Kracken aren’t just for show. They’re real.

And it’s feeding time.

Enjoy your stay!

Click here to download FREE!

30 October 2007

Space Aliens at Dunvegas? Surely not!

Don't forget -- if these partials of Dunvegas stories have whetted your appetite, you can download the free PDF in just a day or two! Now, welcome to my interpretation of the Dunvegas phenomenon: "Dunvegas: Alien Attack!"


“If I were an alien who’d escaped Area 51, where would I go?” Miranda Mellons raised the binoculars to her sweaty face and inspected the military base from atop Tikaboo Peak, the closest legal vantage point to the Groom Lake facility. All she could see was a cluster of white warehouses encircled by the thin, tan lines of desert roads. Nothing else but twenty-six miles of sand, bushes, and mountain ranges. No signs of life, much less the military masses searching for alien life.

But there’d been no mistaking the signal she’d picked up with her dad’s old radio less than twenty-four hours ago. Her father, an ex-military survivalist, had taught her well, and she knew what the coded message meant.

Loose foo.

An alien had escaped.

It was the day they’d all been waiting for. She was determined to be the one to locate the ET, to prove herself to the other Dream Team members who humored her out of respect for her father’s memory.

She had to decide on a plan of action. Others might be hiking up Tikaboo even now, at least the ones spry enough to handle the terrain. She’d beaten them here because she’d neglected to relay the message until she’d been en route. Hey, they’d pawned off the shit Nevada outpost job on her while they handled the exciting aspects of extraterrestrial hunting--anything besides monitoring a radio. She should benefit at least a little. After all, it was her father who’d started the Dream Team, a faction of ET hunters and conspiracy theorists that had spanned the globe since before the Internet.

They’d all thought Area 51 was a dead zone. No way would the government hide anything or anyone here since it was so well known.

They’d been wrong.

What to do, what to do. Miranda buzzed with excitement, and also the several energy drinks she’d consumed on the trip. The others had more contacts than she did, more resources. But she had two things they didn’t have--the first and most relevant being proximity.

Not that it was doing her any good. She didn’t see anything unusual. Didn’t smell anything. Didn’t hear anything. She’d been up Tikaboo enough to know what was usual, too.

Her second ace in the hole hadn’t helped yet, either--her souped-up gamma wave scanner. The others had scanners, but not like hers. She didn’t plan to tell them about the modifications until she confirmed they worked. Unfortunately, the main unit was too heavy to carry up the mountain, and she hadn’t detected anything on the handheld.

Hell, if she were an alien who’d escaped Area 51, the first thing she’d do would be blow the place. Barring that, she’d hightail it as fast as she could towards the closest human establishment where she could blend in. Might that be Rachel? No way. Only 100 people lived there and half of them were crazy. Alamo? Nope, still too small.

Well, of course. By hook, teleportation, pick-up truck or crook, the alien would head for Las Vegas. Let the other Dreamers scour the desert around the ET Highway. Miranda was going straight to Sin City to extend the hand of human friendship to their stellar kin.

* * *

What the heck was going on at Dunvegas? Miranda dragged her heavy luggage behind her through the parking garage, dodging a pile of horse crap. Horse crap? In Vegas? It was one thing for the garage to be full, but it was another for it to be full of such a freaky assortment of vehicles. Everything from Jeeps to chariots filled the spaces.

Ahead of her, two winged women squealed and glittered as they raced to catch the elevator, one practically flying into the air in her haste. They noticed Miranda trudging behind them and held the doors.

“Nice costumes,” Miranda said. With her interest in electronics and extraterrestrials, she’d never worried much about her appearance, but suddenly she felt conspicuous in her dusty hiking gear. She set the hard case of scanning equipment on its end and leaned the suitcase, also full of equipment, against the wall.

“Oh, yah, sure,” one of the women said. She had a distinct Wisconsin accent and lavender wings. “Costumes.”

“Is there a comic book show here?” Miranda asked. A small contingent of Dreamers routinely monitored anime and other conventions for evidence of alien life.

“ParaPleasure,” the other woman cooed. She glanced at her companion and they both giggled. Again. “You’re not here for Pleasure, are you, hon?”

“Business.” How sad that random costumed strangers could tell she, Miranda Mellons, had little or no pleasure in her life.

Well, that would end as soon as she and her revolutionary scanner located the ET. She’d have the pleasure of the Dreamers’ respect. She’d have the pleasure of guiding first contact with the world outside the military. She’d be famous, no longer a joke to everyone outside the Dream Team, where she was a joke anyway.

Imagine, being a joke among the people everyone else laughs at.

The elevators opened into the back of Dunvegas’s huge casino, and she dragged herself and her suitcases through the glitzy hustle and bustle to the front desk. Apparently this ParaPleasure thing attracted an even weirder crowd than anime conventions, because everywhere she looked, Miranda saw features, appendages and skin tones not found in nature. Earth’s nature. The Dream Team had proof ETs looked as human as the next human, being their distant ancestors and all, so maybe not found in alien nature, either.

“I called about a room,” she said to a harried man at the desk once he’d finished checking in a guy dressed all in black and wearing shades. And a cape.

“Name?” He started tapping away at his computer keyboard and didn’t meet her eyes.
“Miranda Mellons. M-E-L-L-O-N-S. I’ve stayed here before, and I have a DV Discount Card. Like a VIP card, only for Dunvegas.”

“Yes, I know what the DV cards are.” The man tip-tapped some more.

The Dreamers always stayed at Dunvegas. Its location was geographically compatible with their equipment, with less interference than the Excalibur, MGM Grand or Luxor, the other prime locations. The air conditioning was cranked to arctic, but they got affordable rates and two bucks off at the buffet. The owner, Mr. Fritz, was rumored to be a backer of their society.

“Miss Mellons, I’m afraid we don’t have any rooms available.” The man glanced up, and Miranda was disconcerted to see the skin around his eyes and nose was as wrinkled as a raisin, even though he appeared to be young. Freaky. “The Luxor across the street would be happy to honor your DV card.”

“When I called, I was told you had space.” She couldn’t conduct the field test of her new equipment at the Luxor! The pyramid would deflect the gamma waves and ruin everything.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the clerk repeated.

Beside Miranda, a tall, good-looking man wearing a ratty black T-shirt barked something at another desk clerk about his room smelling of cat and demanded to be comped a suite on the executive level.

The other clerk bobbed her head. “Of course, Mr. Lupin. We’ve several openings on the executive level. So sorry for the inconvenience.”

Why did he get the helpful clerk? Miranda wondered.

“It’s going to take a full moon for my nose to recover.” The man leaned on the counter and intimidated the small employee. “Putting cats on the wolf floor. Are you new at your job or did you not manifest until you were brain-dead?”

Miranda glared at the hateful man. The poor girl he berated looked as transparent as wax paper. “It’s better than being an asshole,” Miranda muttered.

Mr. Mean didn’t turn to her, but he muttered back. “I have excellent hearing, lady. Mind your own business.”

Miranda dragged her attention back to her own clerk. More waspishly than she’d intended, she snapped, “I know you have rooms. He got one on the executive level and gave up one on another level.”

“Madam, your DV card means we can only offer you accommodations on certain dates.”

“Is there a problem here?” A tall woman with long fingernails and hair as golden as, well, gold strode from the far end of the desk and placed her hand on the clerk’s shoulder. She pinned Miranda in place with a sultry, heavy-lidded gaze.

“No, Ms. Bast,” the clerk said. He appeared to shrink next to the statuesque Ms. Bast. “Ms. Mellons has a DV card and it’s ParaPleasure this weekend. I’m not supposed to--”

“I’d advise you to make an exception. Ms. Mellons is expected.” The woman smiled at Miranda and licked her lips. Her tongue was pale pink. “Mr. Fritz asked that we accommodate Ms. Mellons and any of her friends. Call him and ask if you like.”

She winked at Miranda, as if they knew something nobody else did. Was this woman a Dream Teamer? Did she know about the loose foo? Ms. Bast gave a shimmy and stroked her hair behind her rather pointed ears.

The clerk shrank some more. “A room on the wolf...ah, floor thirty just opened up.”

“Will you be having it cleaned first?” Miranda lowered her voice. “That guy said it smelled like cat.”

Ms. Bast’s eyes narrowed, flashing as green as a fluorescent T-shirt. “What have you got against cats?” she asked, her voice a purr of anger.

Miranda stepped back. “Nothing. Really. I like cats, but if the room smells like pee, I’d rather not sleep in it.”

The jerky man who’d complained about the room butted in on the conversation. “I doubt someone with your nose could detect the stench. Though unfortunately it’s all over the hotel. Cat. Wonder why?”

“Misssster Lupin,” Ms. Bast said, her voice an odd hiss, “did you not enjoy the little treat I put on the pillow?”

“You’re the one who put that there? You crazy bitch!” Lupin threw his head back and howled. Miranda thought it was a laugh. The clerk beside Ms. Bast deflated further, his face actually seeming to become more wrinkled. His head barely reached the top of the desk now.

“You’re confusing me with your mother,” Ms. Bast said. She rubbed the heel of her hand across her lips and then her ear, again smoothing back her shiny hair. “Oh, Martin, quit shrinking. Nobody’s going to get in a catfight. I swear, goblins make terrible coworkers.”

Jeez, the clerk wasn’t attractive, but calling him a goblin was nasty. Ms. Bast was a piece of work herself, what with the lip licking and winking and rudeness. What had been on Lupin’s pillow? Cat turds? Miranda hoped it would be gone when she got to the room. She didn’t have time for hotel politics; she had sensitive equipment to set up and an ET to find.

The clerk’s wrinkled face turned red and he swelled back to his full height. He accepted Miranda’s credit card without another word.

“That time of the month, huh?” Lupin asked Ms. Bast. He loomed too close to Miranda for comfort, invading her personal space and bumping her precious equipment case.

“Better me than you, Rover,” the blonde retorted.

Both of them laughed. Miranda took a deep breath and said, “Sir, you’re touching my stuff.”

“So?” He eyed Miranda up and down in a way that made her wonder what the hell he was thinking. How could a man in an ancient Pink Floyd shirt look like he owned the world?

“You’re safe unless he lifts a leg,” Ms. Bast advised.

Lupin scowled.

“You’re really a jerk,” Miranda added. Men like Lupin bugged the crap out of her. Aggressive buttholes who thought they could push others around because they were bigger. Or had more money. Or whatever made them think they were so hot. She’d run into her fill of them in tech school amidst the other gizmo nerds like her. “You shouldn’t eavesdrop.”

“You think?” The man leaned forward and took a deep whiff of her hair. “Wow. Very nice. Too bad you don’t belong here. You need to leave, little girl.”


Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Winter 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/

29 October 2007

The Big Bad Wolf

“Leave her alone, Dimitri.”

The voice was deep, masculine, and rough in a way the other man’s hadn’t been. It freed Sherry from the spell that had kept her immobile and she stepped back, away from the man called Dimitri. She looked over his shoulder to see an even taller man stepping forward. He had brown hair and the warmest, chocolate brown eyes she’d ever seen. Where Dimitri was slick and suave, this man was all rough edges. He seemed more genuine to Sherry, and much more likable, though he looked every bit as dangerous.

“You dare challenge me, pup?” The first man turned on the newcomer.

“She’s not part of the entertainment, old friend. It’s obvious she doesn’t know what she’s stumbled into. I’ve been watching her since she stopped in front of the moat.”

“Moat?” Sherry asked with a puzzled frown.

“See?” the new man said with a raised eyebrow.

Dimitri shook his head, frowning, but moved off. But now the second man was facing her, a forbidding frown on his face.

“You just had a close call, little lamb.”

“My name is Sherry.” She didn’t know why she felt compelled to tell him that, but the words were out before she could censor her thoughts. “Thanks for your help, but I’ll be fine now.”

“What are you doing in Dunvegas, Sherry? This is no place for someone like you.”

She took exception to his tone, preparing to stalk off, but she’d give him a piece of her mind first. “I’ll go where I damned well please. I’m sick of being told where to go, what to do, how to dress, and how to speak, so don’t you even try. Who the hell are you, anyway?”

The man reached into his pocket, then flipped open a badge. “Chet Davis, head of Dunvegas Security, ma’am. Like I said, I’ve been watching you since you stopped outside the moat.”

“I didn’t see any moat.” The badge seemed legit and the man was big enough to be a professional football player--or a cop. He was tall and muscular, like many of the other men she’d seen in the casino, but he seemed a cut above the rest. A little taller, a little broader, a little sharper-eyed.

His smile almost stole her breath. “Why don’t I escort you to the front door and you can see what I mean?”

“Are you throwing me out?” Something about him riled her, though she was usually a quiet kind of person, not given to confrontation. But this man dared her to say no, just for the fun of it.

Strange, she’d never thought of confrontation as fun before, but the sparkle in his dark brown eyes made her shiver, and it wasn’t from cold. No, this was a shiver of awareness of her own fragility next to this giant man’s strength. He could crush her, or weigh her down in the most delicious way possible.

Where were these scandalous thoughts coming from? She was a librarian, for goodness sake! She wasn’t one to ogle strange men, even if they did look good enough to eat. She did her best not to blush, but she could feel the heat of a flush rise to her fair cheeks. Chet smiled in a way she could only term wolfish.

“On the contrary, I wouldn’t throw out a pretty little thing like you, Red.”

Suddenly, Sherry was glad of her dark red hair that refused to be tamed. Normally it was the bane of her existence, but this man seemed to like it if the searing appreciation in his gaze was any indication.

“But we’ve got a convention going on here and you stick out like a sore thumb,” he continued. “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t keep an eye on you. So tell me, why did you come in here of all the casinos on the strip?”

Something told her he really wanted to know. She shrugged. “I was walking. It got dark and I realized I was hungry, so I stopped and I was outside the castle. I didn’t really look at the place before I came in. I was just seeking some warmth, a change of clothes and a meal.”

“Clothes? That’s why you were in the Bondage Boutique?”

She blushed again. “I didn’t realize what kind of store it was ‘til I saw what was inside.”

“But some of those outfits intrigued you.” He didn’t phrase it as a question and the dancing light in his eyes told her he really had been watching her finger a few of those outfits longingly.

A lump formed in her throat despite his warm expression. “I guess so, but I have nobody to wear them for now.”

“That sounds like a story I need to hear.” He crossed his arms, shifting his weight back to regard her. “How about you tell me over dinner?”

* * *

Chet silently prodded her to accept. He’d scented her the moment she’d passed the casino on her lonely walk. He’d left it to fate as to whether she’d come in, but when she had, he’d known fate was on his side. Destiny had finally brought his mate to him.

To say he was surprised by the little red-haired mortal would be an understatement, but he was infatuated with her every move and her scent was ripe and luscious. Ambrosia. She would be his and he wouldn’t hear anything against it. The trick was getting her to agree. He wasn’t a vampire like Dimitri, able to spin veils of enticement over his prey. What he was, was an alpha werewolf, with only natural pheromones to call on and the certainty that this fragile little creature was his destined mate.

He could tell by her scent. She probably smelled just like any other female to the rest of the were population, but to him, she was the finest of aphrodisiacs, the rarest of vintages. She was his. Plain and simple. She smiled at him and his heart skipped a beat.

“I am kind of hungry,” she admitted.

“Well, we can fix that easily enough. I’m off duty for the night, so we can order up a feast. Why don’t you finish your shopping while I make the arrangements?” He pointed her toward a more vanilla clothing boutique while he tapped the small headset that connected him to his team and the rest of the hotel. The first thing he did was put his beta in charge for the night, and then he contacted room service and ordered a meal sent up to his suite.

He also contacted Sadie, who ran the Bondage Boutique, and had the outfits Sherry had lingered over gift wrapped and sent up. Those would be gifts for later--after they’d had a chance to get to know one another and he’d put his mark on her. He’d enjoy seeing her in those skimpy leather numbers, knowing they’d reveal his bite marks once he got the chance to put them on her shoulder. That would come…later tonight if he had any say in the matter.

Little Red Riding Hood didn’t know it yet, but she was definitely on the menu. Chet couldn’t wait for desert.

(c) 2007 Bianca D'Arc
Come over to the D'Arc side... www.biancadarc.com

28 October 2007

Klahdaghoscopes Oct 28th 2007

Welcome to another week of Klahdaghoscopes. May love, health and prosperity rule your lives.


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Work: Etoi - The Woman. Work will be undergoing an invigorating change. You'll find renewed energy to help you cope with the bourgeoning ideas and new contracts/tasks you've been lined up to do. There may be a merging of some sort, or a new member to your team.
Love: Vali - The Window. Looking ahead in your relationships has a favorable turn for this week. Don't be afraid to plan for the future, but while you do so do it with a detached awareness of your partner (or future partner) since their plans may not follow the same path as yours.
Weath: Nyi - The Void. Lots of things are happening behind the scenes this week and not much of it in your favor. Keep your head down and your opinions to yourself until you can figure out what the Hell is going on. Not a good week to take chances financially.

Work: Colmiga - The West King. Distancing yourself from events and colleagues this week might be necessary to make a fair judgement call on a plan or problem that is occurring at work. Don't try to take sides, this will lead to disaster.
Love: Telora- The West Page. Take a look at your relationships from the outside, as an observer. Things might not be quite what you think they are.
Wealth: Shax - The Axe. A clearing of paths. This is a good time to make strides with investments and other financial plans. Clear away any conflicting policies and get it all wrapped up in one easy package.

Work: Lianch - The South Page. Communication with those in authority is indicated this week. Don’t underestimate yourself, you are well able to deal with things.
Love: Sleti - The Ear of Wheat. This is a time of patience. Bide your time and don't rush things and love and all its rewards will come to you in due time.
Wealth: Kelm - The Time of Spring. Look out for changes and new opportunities. When they come you will have to snatch them before they wither away.

Work: Pice - The Kite. Flexibility and adaptability are essential regarding your work plans this week. On the other hand there are also ample opportunities to develop your creative side. This should be a fun week.
Love: Kwa - The Cow. Nurture and care for yourself and your family/friends this week and the love will grow.
Wealth: Kle - The Babe. Time to sit back and relax, financial plans and money will be coming into line and you'll be able to bask in the knowledge of a job well done.

Work: Banil - The Ring. Be wary of who you talk over your plans with this week. Someone is using your words against you.
Love: Delg - The Cage. You may be feeling hedged in or held back by your loved ones this week. Take what opportunities you can to find some free space for yourself. Don't let them limit your choices.
Wealth: Chon - The Tomb. Things seem to be changing when it comes to your livelihood. Don't worry about it, you'll be moving on to better things.

Work: Jhud - The East Page. Good news is forthcoming in the workplace, and there's a chance to look back over your efforts and reap the praise.
Love: Phel - Element of the Storm. Events and people will bring you closer to your loved ones this week. This is a good time for family gatherings and outings.
Wealth: Velinus - The East King. A time of prosperity. Things are going well, enjoy it while it lasts.

Work: Comniga - The West King. Time to get the thinking cap on and really think deep about the latest problems at work. The obvious answer is too superficial and will only delay the solution, so take your time and get it right this time.
Love: Chobe - The Time of Summer. Take time to share you life and loves with your partner and those you love around you. Find new things together and experiment with life to reap its benefits.
Wealth: Pice - The Kite. Freedom, creativity and an openness of plans. Go enjoy yourself.

Work: Tiall - The Scroll. This is a good time to learn from those who are more experienced than you. If offered a chance for training or a course, go for it.
Love: Lieg - The Cat. Curiosity and patience at juxtaposition with each other. Don't rush into things and if you feel there's a problem in your relationships make sure you look into thoroughly before jumping to conclusions or making any decisions.
Wealth: Ematis - The West Queen. This is a time of opulence, luxury generosity and magnificence. Enjoy.

Work: Brica - The Element of Fire. Work may be difficult this week. You may have to make a stand for getting your due or making policy fair and just.
Love: Etoi - The Woman. A time of fertility and healing. Damaged relationships will come back together, and those trying for a child should see their efforts rewarded very soon.
Wealth: Amb - The Cup. Finances may be a little confused. Find someone you can trust who can give you a bit of advice but don't relinquish control of the money. Make the final decision yours.

Work: Kamen - The North King. Overtime and extra hours are necessary to protect your position and projects. Hard work is needed to overcome the plans of a rival.
Love: Cisica - The North Queen. A loving and loyal partner will be your joy and haven this week. Treasure them, they are precious.
Wealth: Fatala - The Time of Winter. Hardship and industry, you will need to work hard to make a living this week, but things will ease up towards the end and family companionship will help you through.

Work: Delg - The Cage. Feeling cornered and trapped, try not to struggle too much, these sensations will change soon as you adapt to the new colleagues and events in your life.
Love: Elant - The Sword. You are in control of your life at them moment, the ultimate decisions are yours and friends and family will abide by them. Choose wisely.
Wealth: Mga - The Sun. Fortune brings good surprises and windfalls to you this week. Time to celebrate.

27 October 2007

Vegas Magic

Rain was pouring from clouds every bit as dark as her mood when Mia Tarone dashed through the heavy doors into DunVegas. Bright flashes of lightning were answered with snarls of thunder. The storm had sprung to life in an otherwise clear Vegas night sky when she was only feet from the entrance, triggered by any one of the many paranormal battles being waged for fun and sport inside the resort.

With demons and druids, witches and warlocks, shifters and succubi all sharing the convention grounds there was no way for her young mage senses to tell what forces from this world or any other had triggered the meteorological outburst. She would have to take down her meta shields to tell, an act akin to bathing in blood before dining with a vampire. Going unshielded into the ParaPleasures convention would be literal suicide for her.

Mia was many things – desperate, unschooled, furious, and at times over the past year she’d flirted closely with the idea she might not be totally sane. Suicidal had not yet appeared on her radar.

Shaking the water from long black hair dampened by the downpour, Mia paused by the matched pair of shockingly green hell hounds frozen statue-like by spell lock at the front door. They looked pissed, a natural state for a hell hound even if he weren’t currently decorating a lobby. Their irate expressions were probably due to the unsophisticated attempt at Emerald City humor someone had forced upon them. She bit back a grimace and murmured a phrase in the ancient tongue. Letta heluta.

The hounds’ skin shimmered faintly, then the green color bled to deepest black. Mia saw a glow of what she hoped was gratitude in their crimson eyes. Briefly she considered freeing them from their stone-like prisons.

“You were always a soft touch. Kept you from being the top baccarat dealer that your hands could have made you.” There was both affection and scorn in Amanda Bast’s voice. The curvy blonde had snuck behind her on quiet cat feet.

“I was the top dealer on the DunVegas staff for two years. I’d still be here if –“

“Still thinking in if’s and could-have-been’s? I thought you’d had that scared out of you months ago. I never would have called you to let you know Xin Li had checked in if you hadn’t convinced me you were past that kind of thinking Mia.”

“No worries Amanda. Momentary lapse.” Mia forced herself to hold the unblinking gaze of the suddenly doubtful hostess, hoping that she was managing to look more sincere than pissed. And that the smell of her lie wasn’t even now being picked up by Amanda’s sensitive shifter senses.

An uncomfortably long moment later, Amanda nodded. “All right then. But don’t let your anger rule your actions, little one. Mr Li was not in a peaceful mood when he checked in this evening. He’s not a man I’d like to see the bad side of.”

“I’ll be careful. I don’t have nine lives to try to get this right.”

She was rewarded for her attempt at a joke with a sultry chuckle. “You only need one life if you play your cards right. Xin was entranced with you a year ago. I’ve never known him to look twice at a woman when he’s here on a trip, before he laid eyes on you. He’s shut me down more than once.”

Even knowing the hostess could no more help her sensual nature than she could avoid an attraction to cat nip, the very thought of the passionate, demanding lover she’d known so briefly passing a night with her very sensual friend brought a snarl to Mia’s lips.

Amanda gave her an unapologetically seductive smile. “I’m just saying. Deal him a straight hand, with no deceptions, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to answer your questions Mia.”

Mia bit back a snort of disgust. If there was anything she had learned in the last year, it was that mages never played anything straight. She was putting an awful lot of trust in what had been a one night stand with the powerful fifth level mage. “I have no doubts about exactly what Xin Li is. What I need to know is what I am, what I’ve become. And I know with complete certainty that I won’t last another year if I don’t get some answers from Xin Li before he disappears again.”

If she didn’t get on the good side of Lady Luck soon, she’d be lucky to last another week.


The employee access card Amanda slipped her, along with a spell of distraction, allowed Mia to slip unnoticed into the staff corridor. Quickly she followed familiar halls to the elevator bank, careful to use a repetition loop to disguise her presence on the security cameras. Her magic might still be mostly wild and dangerously unpredictable, but she had learned the basics of defense and deception the hard way – do, or die. So far she’d kept death at bay.

Minutes later, she stepped off the elevator onto the thirty fourth floor and stopped in front of the oversized closed door. Xin had been given the Jade Suite, one of the half dozen high roller accommodations the resort kept for its most preferred guests. Her stomach clenched at the memory of her only other visit to the room.

One year ago, during the Fourth Annual ParaPleasures Convention, she had done the unthinkable and allowed herself to be seduced by one of the guests. Or maybe she'd been the one doing the seducing. Either way her life as she'd known it had ended. One truly earth shaking night had changed her forever.

When she’d walked away from the baccarat table after her shift a year ago, she had thought nothing of her future. Caught up in the power of the moment, she had thrown every personal principle and DunVegas employee rule to the winds and jumped for what she’d thought would be a fleeting taste of paradise.

Instead, she had landed in a hellish world she’d never dreamed she would be a part of. A world where she was hunted for her power, where only her wits and a bit of luck had kept her ahead of the mages who would drain her of both life force and magic force and think nothing of it after the act was done.

Now Xin Li was back in Vegas. She had every intention of making sure he tasted a bit of her personal hell before this night was through. He had been her ticket down to the depths; because of him, she’d spent weeks walking the edge between sanity and dementia, afraid of every shadow. If Amanda hadn’t found her cowering in the DunVegas maze one desperate night she’d likely have ended up dead long ago.

Amanda had been hiding her from the power hungry mages that flocked to the city for months now. Slowly Mia had learned to hide her powers, even if she couldn’t quite master their use. Now Xin Li was going to give her back her life, or give her a damn good reason why he couldn’t.

Whatever Xin had done to change her, there had to be a way to fix it and make her normal again. Human again. Damn it, she couldn’t even get close enough to another mage to ask a basic question such as “Is it possible to get rid of these powers besides dying” without ending up running for her life. She’d never met such a greedy, grasping, murderous bunch before- and that was saying something, considering the vamps and death demons that used to literally haunt her table in the card room.

With one last check of her mental shields, she straightened her shoulders and took a deep, centering breath. Hand raised in the air to knock, Mia felt the brush of power as the double doors swung open before she could make the first touch.

Xin Li. He stood framed by the open doors. Tall and slender, his body was a lean mass of muscled perfection.

Gorgeous. Mia’s breath froze in her chest. For an instant, the memory of how that skin had tasted rushed through her senses, a haunting symphony of mouthwatering spice flavored by the slightly bitter tang of salt. Nothing had ever tasted so sweet on her tongue.

He was built like a runner, with not an ounce of fat to mar the sculpted lines of strength. Dressed in nothing more than a pair of black trousers that rested low on his hips, it was all too easy to picture the body beneath. The taunt skin of his abdomen teased Mia with its smooth hollows, and her fingers itched with the hunger to trace delicate lines across the silky surface.

She barely had the impression of shocked gray eyes before she heard the spell he whispered. Ganla draumela.

It hit the walls of her shields and passed through with the ease of a sword cutting through a silken veil. In the space of a heartbeat the world faded to black, leaving nothing but the taste of defeat and the fear of death to follow Mia into the darkness.
To find out what happens next, come back on Halloween and download the full BtV Round Robin for FREE.

26 October 2007

NightMare in DunVegas

What in Hera’s name was a ParaPleasure Expo? And why was it happening in his favorite casino?

Nicolas Hippotakis strolled through the dungeon-like atmosphere that pervaded the DunVegas resort, eyeing the conference attendees askance. They were easy to spot, actually. Aside from the leather and chain lanyards holding their conference badges, they were draped with lengths of condom packets and gleefully carting around boxes featuring plastic penises in varying sizes and colors.

Then there was the couple copulating on the floor of the lobby. That was a big clue.
ParaPleasure? It was a sex convention!

He snorted. Just what he needed. All he wanted to do was close the deal and get the hell back home.

“Mr. Hippotakis.” The voice was a sultry purr. Not surprising, considering that the speaker was his casino hostess, Amanda Bast. Her feline heritage was obvious in the tip-tilted eyes and erotically languorous walk. She glided closer and placed her claw-tipped fingers on his arm. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea you were coming in today. I’ll arrange a suite for you immediately. Perhaps you’d like a private table for Blackjack?”

“Sorry I didn’t give you any advance warning, Amanda. This business trip came up suddenly. I don’t think I’ll have time to play.”

“Mr. Hippotakis, there’s always time to play.” Aphrodite’s apples. If that voice didn’t get his engine running, nothing would.

Nope. Not a single piston fired.

And damn if that wasn’t annoying. He was surrounded by people with sex on the brain. He had a black book full of women who would just love to service his needs. But lately, those needs had been seriously flagging. He was pretty sure he could perform if he really wanted to – he just hadn’t wanted to lately. With any of them. Blonde, brunette, redhead. Tall and lean or small and curvy. None of his usual ladies intrigued him anymore.

Thank Hera that business was occupying his time at the moment. The letter he’d received from Mr. Fritz, the mysterious owner of DunVegas, had catapulted him from his Colorado mountain ranch to this parched cityscape in hours. In fact, he still had no clear idea what exactly Mr. Fritz was offering for sale.

All he had gleaned from the note was that this item was something he'd been seeking for a very, very long time.

“Not this time. I need to find the stables, though.” He looked at his watch. “Now.”

The gold suit she wore shimmered as she led him through the lobby. The elevator doors closed and the noise of the casino was abruptly silenced. Amanda slid her employee card into the panel and they descended. For a very long time.

Suddenly, the unmistakable refrain of “What’s New, Pussycat?” jangled from Amanda’s cell phone. Nic eyed the suit that fit her like a second skin. Where did she have room for it?

She drew the slim phone from what had to be her bra. If she wore one. Damn. She raised an eyebrow as she answered, but Nic just shook his head.

“Yes? Hello, Will. A package delivered? Certainly. I’ll meet you at your suite. Ten minutes? I’ll be there.”

As she hung up, the elevator dinged. The doors opened to the suffocating scent of rot and death. The last time he’d smelled something like this, he’d been on a pig farm where all the creatures had been poisoned with anthrax.

Nic and Amanda both recoiled at the stench, the elegant hostess pressing a manicured hand over her nose. Her large eyes widened, the pupils thinning to vertical slits as she arched her back and hissed.

Nic’s head went up and he snorted – trying to get the reek of filth and flesh out of his head. “Stay in the elevator, Amanda. Go back up and do not return. You’re out of this now, you hear?”

She hesitated. “Mr. Fritz will be very upset if I lose one of his high rollers. Do you need me to send security?”

“No. I can handle this.” At least he was fairly sure he could handle it – as soon as he figured out what it was. “Go back. Be safe.”

This time, Amanda nodded and punched a button on the panel. The door slid shut, leaving him in hell.

The unmistakable sound of a horse’s scream short circuited most of his brain and he fought to retain reason. An urbane voice reached through the chaos.

“Mr. Hippotakis, I presume?” A dapper, elderly gentleman in a designer suit stepped out of the shadows.

Nic’s nostrils flared. Evil. It wasn’t dead, rotting meat he smelled. It was evil.

“Are you Mr. Fritz?” He needed to know his opponent, but he had never met the reclusive and mysterious owner of the casino.

“In a manner of speaking. It’s one of several names that I’ve found useful. I’m very pleased with your prompt response to my note.”

“You implied I didn’t have much choice if I wanted to obtain the…item.”

“An accurate assumption. Would you like to see it?”

Nic’s entire body was on fire with the effort not to charge the man. If he was right about Mr. Fritz’s true identity, it wouldn’t do any good anyway.

He allowed the older man to lead the way. Dim light flickered, barely penetrating the murky darkness. Had the place been cleansed of filth on several planes, it would have been an ideal place for horses. The stalls were large and well-equipped. It occurred to Nic that the disgusting state of the stables might be an illusion, designed to drive him to fear and fury.

Mr. Fritz laughed abruptly. “You’re smarter than I gave you credit for, Mr. Hippotakis.” He waved a hand and the dungeon brightened. The scent of fresh hay and clean water replaced the reek of evil, although not entirely.

They reached the last stall. Inside stood one of the most beautiful mares Nic had ever seen. Sleek and lean with a heavy chest and masses of mane and tail, the golden bay held her finely sculpted head with pointed delicacy, nostrils flaring to show the bright red lining of panic. Her dark eyes rolled and she danced back as far as she was able.

At her movement, the metal clanged. She was chained to a bronze manger by a manacle around one slender hock.

“What the hell is this, Fritz?” He stepped into the stall and turned on the man, who smiled back with a mouthful of teeth.

“It’s your destiny calling you, Mr. Hippotakis. I mean to take you back to your roots and recreate your ancestors.” As he spoke, his gnarled hands made swift signs in the air, each stroke of his fingers leaving a fiery trail.

Nic reached out to knock him back, get him out of the way so he could lead the terrified mare out of this stable of the damned, but he couldn’t. A wall of invisible power had slammed into place between him and the wizard, locking him in the stall with the horse.

Fritz laced his hands behind his back now that the task was done and nodded, apparently satisfied with his work. “Alcippe here is a very, very distant cousin of yours. A descendant of one of the four wild mares of Diomedes, just as you are. Gifted by Hera with the ability to shift from horse to human."

"And Hera would be beyond pissed off if she discovered what you were doing here." So where was she, he wondered.

"She would be...If she found out. Hera does not see what happens down here. Her power is limited under the earth's surface. And since Alcippe here has been in my care below ground since she was a mere foal, she's not even on Hera's radar."

"What do you want with us?"

"Ultimately, my goal is to breed a few more like you. Rebuild a herd of vicious, man-eating horses. Untamable and savage. It appeals to me.”

“It would, you freak. We no longer eat the flesh of men.” The mare whinnied in agreement.

“Then I suppose you’ll be here for a very long time. At least until…” Fritz let the words die off and Nic followed through.

“Until what?”

“Until one of two things happens. Either you provide me with a foal I can mold to my wishes. Or until Alcippe learns to talk.” With that, he spun on his heel and walked away, humming the tune to Mr. Ed.



25 October 2007

13 Things about the Dunvegas Hotel and Casino

Thirteen Things about the Dunvegas Hotel and Casino

1) Dunvegas is located at the site of the former Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino when Dunvegas's owner and backers hounded the unfortunate Mandalay Bay folks out of town -- perhaps literally, as in when they were in canine form. Puts a new spin on "nipping at their heels".

2) Dunvegas is owned by the mysterious Mr. Fritz, mastermind and evil wizard extraordinaire....at least when the ParaPleasures Convention begins. By the time the fifth annual wkpo is over, Mr. Fritz may or may not have received his comeuppance!

3) Dunvegas has a set of stables hidden below the parking garage, even though it is located on the Vegas Strip -- how else are you going to provide comfortable accomodations for centaurs and randy stallion shifters? However, the stables have the reputation of being a bit...damned.

4) Dunvegas has over 3000 luxurious rooms, most soundproofed enough to muffle the noise of an angry dragon, a werewolf's howl or a gnome party. Well, maybe not the gnome party. That's what management gets most of the noise complaints about.

5) Dunvegas boasts the best steakhouse on the Strip, according to local sources. What else would you expect from a restaurant frequented by vamps, shifters of all stripes, and really picky succubi? (Of course...it also serves Rat on a Stick.)

6) Dunvegas hosts an annual ParaPleasures Convention, devoted to all things that bring pleasure to the paranormals that hide in plain sight among us. This includes but isn't limited to Turn Me On and Deathly Buzzings Marital Aids, horticultural creations, massages, chocolate, leather apparel (which can be custom made from your enemies!), and catnip goodies of all types.

7) When it's in need of additional security, Dunvegas management contracts the best help in the business: PMS. No, that doesn't mean hormonal women with guns, that means the Paranoramal and Magical Security company.

8) Dunvegas's primary attraction on par with the dragon show at the Excalibur (contracted from Dunvegas), the pirate ship at Treasure Island or the fountains at the Bellagio is a gigantic aquarium featuring a kraken and merfolk who engage in some very interesting activities. Tourists are amazed at the lifelike qualities of the "animatronics"!

9) In addition to slots and table games, Dunvegas has another game section that includes lifesize chess, a video arcade, a small bowling alley, and an S&M dungeon.

10) Dunvegas provides a unique shopping experience for the adventurous consumer. Their retail stores include Bondage Boutique, The Chocolate Cave, Clothes for Nerds and Norms, Haunting Melodies, Sirenne Day and Night Spa, The Smoking Dragon, Wand Emporium, CurseMart, Nightshades, and others.

11) Dunvegas slots and table games are strictly monitored to prevent manipulation from magic spells, luck charms, vampiric hypnotism, Jedi mind tricks, and other invisible assistance. Play with confidence!

12) Dunvegas is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against the normal or noncorporeal.

13) Dunvegas, in case you hadn't guessed, is an entirely fictional creation by Samhain Publishing authors Sela Carsen, Ember Case, Bianca D'Arc, Carolan Ivey, Jenna Leigh, Jody Wallace, SJ Willing and Xakara. Come see what they have in store for you!


Jody Wallace
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--Winter 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com

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24 October 2007

I Dream of Desi

Desdemona Arnez hurried under the long white fangs poised in perpetual bite that marked the entrance to the Fifth Annual ParaPleasure Expo. She skirted a group of people who seemed to be watching an a couple writhing on the floor. She wasn’t sure but she thought they might be attempting to demonstrate how to have sex with their clothes on. It wasn’t an easy feat, but it wasn’t impossible either, she’d done it before. She heard someone say, ‘Mom!’ and winced. She’d never done it with her parents watching though.

Sparing a smile for Amanda Bast, the well-dressed hostess of DunVegas Hotel's casino, she kept walking. She didn’t have time to stop and gab with the other woman about who had gotten more catcalls that week. Bast always won, because she whistled at herself.

She spotted her booth, which was unfortunately still in sight of the fanged entryway, but there was no help for that because she’d picked this spot. Thinking of what she’d done to snag such a plum location made her right eyelid twitch. An even more annoying side effect was that she now had a new number one fan, who was gazing at her from across the crowded room.

Andre, gave her his best randy goat grin, while smoothing his hands down his long black coat and her eyes involuntary followed the same path. Unfortunately, the coat wasn’t quite long enough to hide the fact that he was indeed a horny little satyr, in more ways than one.

She jerked her gaze away and concentrated on lining up her stock according to size, color, speed, and flexibility, hoping that if she didn’t look up again, he’d get the picture and leave her alone. She couldn’t get that lucky Sure enough, the clatter of his shiny black hooves on the floor warned her that he wasn’t going to give up that easily. “Desi, how long will you make me suffer?” When he whined, his voice sounded like the bleating of a goat.

With an irritated sigh, she tossed her long black hair over her shoulder and gave him a glare designed to wither even the most stalwart of men. However, Andre was made of sterner stuff and simply stared back out of a pair of bright golden eyes that reminded her of a goat. He’d lived up to the randy part the night before. “But Desi, I love you.”

She slapped a whip down on the counter and he flinched. “Look Andre, I told you, I don’t do love, I do sex. That’s it.”

“I could live with that.”

With a low growl, she came out from behind the counter, standing toe to hoof with him. “Go away before I hurt you.”

Instead of running away, Andre took her hands in his, and took a deep breath, his eyes bright with lust. “Ooh, really?”

Sighing, her anger cooled and her shoulders slumped. “No.”


“Is there a problem?” A sexy rumble vibrated along her spine, heading straight into the crotch of her panties with unerring precision. Desi went on her toes to see over Andre’s shoulder and locked gazes with one of the handsomest men she’d ever seen. Her stomach clenched and her knees went weak. Andre mistook her reaction and tightened his hold, but she was glad for it, because she needed help standing up right then.

A pair of green eyes stood out in stark contrast against dark lashes so thick they gave her a pang of envy. His hair reminded her of autumn leaves, in every color of red brown and gold together in a longish shaggy cut that almost reached his shoulders. His mouth was a shade too full, and the lower half of his jaw covered in stubble. Combined with the long lean body packed into the untucked black t-shirt and faded Levi’s, he looked like he’d just rolled out of bed. She wouldn’t mind rolling him right into hers.

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” Mr. Sex on a Stick asked and her hormones, which had been on full alert, came to a screeching halt. Even as handsome as he was, that line wasn’t going to cut it with her.

With as icy a tone as she could muster, she replied, “I doubt it.” and shook free of Andre’s hold. It was the truth; she’d have remembered this man. Unless... Frantically, she searched her memory. Talk about an awkward moment. Well, only for her. After all, none of her victims knew her real identity.

As a succubus, Desi invaded men’s dreams, granting their wildest fantasies, in return, she fed off the energy they generated. She’d survived for three centuries because unlike some of her greedier sisters, she didn’t take too much, which meant she’d visited a whole bunch of men.

However, when she was in the waking world, she preferred wear the face she’d had as a mortal. So, while it was possible that she’d mad a sex pit stop at Sir Studly’s, she wasn’t too worried about him recognizing her, because she’d bet anything that he’d chosen blonde and brainless to be his dream girl. Though she’d never had any complaints in the breast department, she wasn’t blonde and she definitely wasn’t brainless.


Lucian stared at the woman standing beside the counter covered with an array of sex toys, whips and other things he couldn’t even begin to figure out a use for and wondered why he'd gotten a tip about this woman. Those toys didn’t really look very dangerous and she couldn’t be hiding anything in the red leather bustier, because there simply wasn’t room for anything else.

He knew he shouldn’t have asked about seeing her somewhere before, because the moment the words left his mouth, her black eyes went flat and hard. Damn she thought he was trying to pick her up. Not that he’d mind if she said yes.

Her hair was pulled up in a shiny ribbon of inky black, long enough to bounce off her ass when she turned and hurried back to her booth as if someone were chasing her. He stared and a grin stretched across his mouth all by itself. He remembered that ass. Round, soft and firm, he’d had his hands on that, using it to hold her in place as he’d thrust inside...

“Who are you?” The angry question jerked him back to the present. He blinked at the sight before him. The creature had furred legs and hooves and tiny horns, so it had to be a satyr. He wore a long black coat, and on that coat was a tag that read Andre, more importantly it said he was an employee of the expo.

Lucian jerked his head to one side and Andre followed. Thankfully, the woman was distracted. Off to their left, a vampire jumped off a massage table, transforming into a bat in mid-leap. Apparently frightened, his quarry squeaked and ducked beneath the counter, watching as the bat flapped off into the night sky. “My name’s Lucian Ballantine, I work for Paranormal and Magical Security.”

“PMS?” Andre laughed so hard he could barely speak.

“That’s Paranormal Magical Security.” Lucian gritted out, trying to keep his voice down.

“Yeah, but we call it PMS because everyone who works there is so bitchy.” Andre smirked.

“Whatever.” He shrugged, acting as though he didn’t hate the initials. “Look, maybe you can help me.” Lucian nodded in the woman’s direction. “Who is she?”

Andre narrowed his eyes. “Why do you want to know?”

“Someone sent me a note, said I was supposed to watch this booth and the person in it.”

All traces of amusement fled the satyr’s face. “Is she contagious?” He leaned forward, gasping for breath, his naturally golden skin ashen. “We, uh, you know.” Andre bit his lip and danced around on his hooves.

“What’s her name?” Lucian asked.

“Desi, at least that’s what she told me,” He glanced back at Desi, who seemed to be unaware that they were talking about her, then gave Lucian a pleading stare. “Look, just give it to me straight. How long do I got?”

Lucian had been staring at Desi too, taking in the way the light turned her skin the color of caramels. It made him hungry.

“Hey! Will you answer me! I’m dyin’ here and you’re communing with Richard and his two brothers down in pantsville!” Andre snapped his fingers in front of Lucian’s face.

“What in the hell are you talking about?”

“I know you're dazed by the way she looks. She’s hot but watch it or you’ll get burned!” Andre paused for a breath, but before Lucian could correct him, he was off again, “I was once like you until I woke up and smelled the danger.” The satyr gave him a piteous look that lasted a split second before changing to fear once more. “Now, tell me what’s wrong with her or I’ll—” As if a suddenly thought occurred to him, he stopped in mid-sentence, and gagged. Lucian obligingly slapped him on the back until he held up a hand for him to stop. Swallowing hard, Andre took a deep breath and started babbling. “She is a she, right? I haven’t suddenly started playin’ for the other team without knowing it have I?”

Lucian let him wriggle on the hook for a second or two before he set him free. “Naw, she’s a she,” Then, “As far as I know.”

“Ack!” At that, Andre scuttled off with a quick, “See you later, Desi!” over his shoulder.

“Not if I see you first.” She muttered, then gave Lucian another glare. He wondered if she had another expression, and found out a second later, when her eyes lit with a smile. For the first time, he noticed that they weren’t really black, but a deep blue, like the sky right before dawn. She also had a dimple in each cheek, not something he thought a dangerous creatures had. Her smile got wider and his dick stood up straight and took notice. Tingles slid along his skin, starting at the top of his head, getting very friendly at all the good spots on the way to his toes.

“Hello, welcome to the ParaPleasure Expo. Oh, wait.” She stopped and pulled a lanyard out from under the counter, looping it over her head. “Sorry, I forgot my nametag. I’m Desdemona, but you can call me Desi. How can I help you?” She touched the man’s arm and an arc of blue fire visible only to Lucian, and more than likely Desi herself slid from her hand onto the man's fingers. Almost immediately, red came from his hand and melded with the blue, tinting it a deep violet shade. Ah, shit, his anonymous tip was good, however, it didn’t seem to be harming the old dude, on the contrary, he looked mighty happy to be there, so Lucian got just close enough to watch, and stop it, if necessary.

The little bald man stared up at Desi in adoration. “I’m looking for something for uh..”

She fluttered her lashes at him. “Let me guess, your wife?”

“Oh, ah, how did you know?”

The man’s question made Lucian roll his eyes toward the ceiling. How about that ring on your finger, you old fool?

“I can tell when a man is in a satisfying relationship.” Desi leaned on the counter and the man’s eyes almost popped out of his head at the view. “You have this glow about you,” She cooed.

“I do?” Beads of sweat popped on baldy's head, so she was half right. “I mean I do! Yes, of course I do.”

“What’s your name?”


“Well, Fred, I think you and your wife need this.” She picked up a small purple device that had a little rabbit ears on the end. “And this and oh, yes, this.” Now here’s what you do. She leaned close and whispered in his ear.

Fred jerked back and stared at her with wide eyes. “I don’t think Jackie would like that.”

“Trust me, Fred. I’m a woman and I like that, a lot.” Desi smothered a giggle behind her hand. Lucian wanted to gag at her little act, but he wasn’t too surprised when Fred walked away with a black bag with pink hearts and Turn Me On written in red.

With married men, she got them to buy a toy for themselves or their partners. The single guys, she sold a DVD with promises that they’d be satisfied. With the women, she was either a confidant, a co-conspirator against a man who didn’t understand their needs, or just a girlfriend who knew they didn’t need a man if they had batteries. Almost every customer walked away with a bag. But more importantly, they left a tiny bit of their aura behind with Desi. Each time her aura flared, he smelled something that made him crazy! His psi-talent was visions but he'd never had scents become involved before. Yet, when she’d started using her magic, the teasing smell of jasmine, roses and some indefinable sweet scent wafted past his nose. It was addictive, making him feel hungry, horny and pissed off all at the same time.

Desi laughed with one of her female clients and he inhaled sharply. The was so strong it fogged his senses breaking down his shields, triggering a vision that was more vivid than he'd ever had before.


He lay on a bed in a strange room with plain white walls. He thought he was alone, then he noticed a woman standing in the shadows. The light was dim, but her blonde hair and bright blue eyes seemed to glow, as did the long red robe she wore. “Did you call me?”


Apparently, this was the right answer, because she let the robe fall to reveal soft white flesh and crawled up his body. Once astraddle him, she braced her arms on either side of his head, leaning down to kiss him softly on the mouth. He shivered when her long silky hair tickled his bare skin. She laughed and shook her head, her lips curving into a mysterious smile. “Don’t you recognize me?” Her blonde hair darkened until it was raven black, and her eyes turned a familiar midnight shade.



It took effort, but he thrust himself out of the vision. Cold rage filled him, killing every bit of lust he’d been feeling for her. She’d been inside his head. He’d seen enough. He walked over to her so he could catch her in case she ran. “You’re good,” He told her once he reached her side.

“What can I say?” She leaned against the counter with a weary sigh. “Sex sells.”

“Too bad I’m going to have to haul you in for magical mischief.”

“What?” Her eyes went wide when he pulled out a pair of magically enforced cuffs. “I did no such thing! How dare …” She stopped talking when he snapped the first one in place and pulled her other arm behind her back, securing them in place.

“Desi, you've got some explaining to do.”

Jenna Leigh

23 October 2007

Things are Popping Up in Dunvegas - part deux

Archibald Horatio Fritz recognized he wasn't particularly a man of patience. Maybe living for a mere seven-and-a-half-thousand years had done that to him. But dammit, couldn’t that clown Igor get this single task done in time. All he had to do was deliver Roger Ing as soon as the tradesman entered DunVegas, before another woman could soil the magic Fritz had planted on the mortal.

What on earth could be keeping them?

This was going to be one of those weeks, he could tell. It started when he'd arrived at his office this morning and noticed the Marfeld Granite had been stolen, again, from his fireplace. The pitch black hole in the hearth's stone surrounding stood out as a sullen marker to its absence.

Fritz wasn't too worried about it. The problem with owning a sentient magical stone was that, when it had the mind to, it vanished at regular intervals by persuading someone to steal it. It invariably found its way back eventually, probably a year or two down the road, having caused much havoc while it traveled. After the first time, when he'd spent six months chasing the damn thing on horseback across medieval Europe, he just let it do its own thing. It was a lot simpler.

Impatiently he glanced up at the door.

Where the Hell are they?

Irritated Fritz shuffled the papers on his desk, then settled back to reading the report he'd ordered on Roger. The fool was perfect for the job, unfortunately. Fritz just hoped Roger was man enough to do it.

Finally, there was a knock on the door. Quickly checking the local aura Fritz recognized Igor's cold blue chill, and the fuzzy puce of Robert's, along with the ghostly aura of Robert's parents.

Good! Now to get down to details.


The concierge carefully stepped back to usher me, first, into the room of gloom and doom. My initial observation, other than the tall, silver haired man who was sitting behind a huge redwood desk staring angrily at me, were the two aquariums embedded into the wall behind him. Or, to be more precise, the dozen or so toads that croaked miserably inside the aquariums, and the brass plaque engraved with a dozen names…

"Sit down, Mr. Ing. We need to talk."

Fritz, I assumed, pointed to a high backed leather lounge chair in front of the desk.

"You're late," he snapped at the concierge. To give him his due the concierge paled only a little at the reprimand.

"Well, talk about rude…" Mom huffed.

"My apologies, sir, but something happened—" the concierge began.

I blushed as the sour faced employee readied himself to expose the most embarrassing moment of my life.

"I haven't got time to listen to your flimsy apologies," Fritz cut the man short.

"Now there's a man who knows how to lead." Dad gave a knowing nod. I groaned inwardly. Why did they have to follow me here?

"Yes, sir." The concierge said.

"Good, you may go."

"Very well, sir, but I should ment—"



"Now, why couldn't you be more like Mr. Fritz, son?"

"Hush, Dad, Chuppypoo always tries his best."

Was I ever so glad no one could see my parents except me. Still, I sat there gritting my teeth as the concierge walked out of that room with more dignity than I felt. I tried sinking back far enough into the seat that Fritz couldn't see me. Sadly, it didn’t work.

"My apologies for Igor's behavior, Mr. Ing, I'm afraid his previous employer only had a bits and pieces job for him—and some very shocking habits, he almost took Igor apart."

Fritz took a twenty dollar cigar from the humidor on his desk, then offered me one.

"Don't you dare touch it!" Mom snapped

"A limited edition Hoyo de Monterrey, very nice," Dad said. "You should try one son, maybe three or four."

"I don't smoke," I said, gently tapping my chest. "Not good for the lungs."

Fritz shrugged and put the humidor back on his desk. I relaxed a little, the interview seemed to be going well, all things considered—if you didn't include mom and dad, that is.

"Well, Mr. Ing," Fritz continued. He cut the end off the cigar and lit it. "I'm afraid I have to kill you."

"What!" Mom screamed.

"What!" I assumed the thing squeaking was me. "Why? What have I done?"

"Let me at him, mother." Dad started taking swipes at Fritz. It was rather comical watching Dad’s wildly swinging fists pass through the wizard. "No son of a bitch is going to kill my son without my permission…"

I looked around the room, wondering if there was some way to escape. All I could see were the mahogany paneled walls and the heavy wooden door I'd come in by. Not even a window I could crash myself through. Somehow I didn’t think I'd have enough time to run for freedom anyway.

"Oh, do calm down. All of you." Fritz, flicked a hand towards me and a glittering ball of yellow webbing flashed out, separated into three and each tiny ball headed towards one of us. The tiny ball-thing smacked into my chest and burst around me, the strands and threads literally sticking me to the chair. Had I been thinking about escape?

Mom and dad, amazingly, hadn't fared any better. I was stunned.

"What? You think I haven't encountered ghosts before?" Fritz looked at mom and dad. "I was exorcising your kind when I was still in diapers."

"Changed your own diapers too, sweetling?" Mom added sarcastically.

"Of course." Fritz agreed. "And to clear things up, Robert, it's not about what you have or haven't done. It's about what you have to do."

"I'm gonna kill him, mother, when I get out of this."

"Oh, shut up." Fritz waved his hand again and suddenly we couldn't hear dad at all, in spite of the fact he was obviously shouting. Damn, I wish I knew that trick. Somehow, though, this didn't seem the right time to ask.

"We'll if I haven't done it," I hedged, "then all I have to do is not do it and you don't have to kill me, right?"

"That's so true, Chuppypoo."

Fritz sighed. Standing up he began to walk around the room, his cigar ash gently wafting over to the nearest ash tray as he moved.

"I have a problem, Mr. Ing," he explained, sounding more like a chastising mother than a huge casino owner and evil wizard. "I am getting old, and my only heir is my daughter, who is extremely young and, so far, unbirthed in her magic. Do you follow me?"

"A daughter?" Uh, oh, I could almost see my mom's mind working. She'd somehow gotten past the "I Must Kill You!" bit.

“How old is she?” Mom asked.

"Uhm, yes, daughter, birthed, magic. Very clear, yes." My mind went blank, I was about to die and my mom was trying to get me a date with my killer's daughter.

Fritz gave me a pained look before continuing. Mom hmmed to herself

"This situation in unacceptable as it would make her easy prey for anyone who wanted to take over my empire and, even dead, I cannot allow that to happen. So, I need her to come into her magic now so that I have time to train her before I die. Do you understand?"

"Unacceptable, prey, die." I nodded, my mind even blanker.

Fritz shook his head like a man in despair. Mom smiled.

"And in order to bring her magic out she has to undergo an ancient ritual in which one specific man, which turns out to be you, makes the ultimate sacrifice and gifts her his 'vital fluid'. Then, and only then will she be able to use the magic she was born to. Does that make sense?”

“Ritual, me, sacrifice. Yup, yup, all clear. May I go now? I have a plane to catch, somewhere in Antarctica I think, yep, my aunt lives there you know. Very sick, very, very sick. I’m her favorite nephew, you know.”

"Liar, you don't have an aunt." Mom said.

“Gee, thanks mom.” Which part of sacrifice, die and ritual didn't she hear—none of them sounded good on an empty stomach.

“Mr. Ing!” Fritz loomed over me like an archetypal Gandalf does to a hobbit. “You seem to misunderstand what I’m saying.”

“I got it alright,” I stammered. “You’re going to kill me in a slow and painful ritual and use my blood to bring out your daughter’s magic.”

Fritz’s laughter echoed dully in his huge office.

“Not at all,” he smiled. “The vital fluids are of a seminal nature, Mr. Ing, I need you to seduce my daughter.”

Mom's smile grew to a grin. “Perfect!”

“Seduce?” God, this guy must be working in cohorts with my mother. I looked at mom. Yep, definitely.

“Yes, Mr. Ing, my daughter needs to get laid to gain her magic, and your DNA, much to my shame, is the best match for awakening it thoroughly. Though, regardless of your name, I really have my doubts in your abilities to do the task.”

“But…how? I mean I’ve never seduced anyone in my life. How could I seduce your daughter? I don’t even know her.” Not to mention I must be the only thirty year old male virgin in existence.

"I've given you a little help there," Fritz admitted. "When you walked into DunVegas, you probably didn't notice, but you were hit with a very powerful glamour lust spell. It will make you virtually irresistible to women."


"Moooom!" Geesh, no escaping it. And that lust spell? I did feel something in the back of my neck as I walked in. Maybe it was more than just the normal edginess I get around para's—it would certainly explain that 'incident' on the foyer floor. "What's to guarantee I'll be able to get to your daughter first? That your spell won't just pull in the first woman I meet?"

Fritz stopped walking long enough to tap some ash off his cigar onto the top of my head.

"You." He said. "If you so much as touch another woman it will taint the magic and I'll have to kill you."

"Oh, dear."

I glared at mother and decided to keep the encounter in the foyer secret. Well, as secret as I could.

"And don’t worry about meeting my daughter. She will be far too busy for the next three days dealing with Expo business to meet you, but I'll make sure she gets in touch with you on Tuesday, then all you need to do is let the spell, and nature, take its course."

"So I get to live for three more days, make love to your daughter then die?"

"Oh, my, oh, my. A grandchild! I really shouldn't be listening to this." Mom, again, pretending she'd come over with the pilgrims. I had a sneaky suspicion what she didn't know about sex could be written on the heads of two pins. (I said pins, okay? It doesn't have an e in it.)

"Precisely!" Fritz beamed.

"Why?" I asked. "Why do you have to kill me?"

"I would have thought it was pretty obvious," Fritz looked at me, seeming startled that I couldn't understand. "You really don't think I'd have you for a son-in-law do you?"

To be continued...

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22 October 2007

Of Geeks and Gods

A coworker and I were talking the other night about her new beau. "He's a geek," she said rather apologetically. "I love geeks!" I said. (I believe this came out more like a squeal than an actual sentence.) I'm unrepentant. And yes, even though I write about those tasty alpha-males, why can't an alpha have the mind and soul of a geek?

To me there is nothing sexier than I man who can carry on an intelligent conversation about nanobots, interstellar travel and quantum mechanics. Or more importantly know what I mean when I throw out a rather obscure Star Trek reference. My husband is often throwing out some little tidbit of information about well, just about every subject you can imagine. Brains can be incredibly sexy. Think about it. It's where the chemical reactions occur that make us feel euphoria - or that light-headed rush when we see, hear or smell something that excites us.

I think most of my heroes are geeks in alphas clothing. It gives a character more depth to have him look good with his shirt off and be able to quote the Theory of Relativity and actually understand what it's about. Or to get excited about a newly discovered star. But intelligence doesn't have to come in just the futuristic/sci-fi package. It can also be the portrayal of a hot historian or my God...like Sam Neil's rendition of a paleontologist in Jurassic Park. Yummy! (Of course, Jeff Goldblum's Chaos theory really made me want to look closer at that particular discipline.)

Now that I've pontificated on the geek as sex symbol angle, perhaps I should explain how it fits into the paranormal. Well, really I have only two words: Fox Mulder.

All right...raise your hands if you tuned in every week to watch the antics of Mulder and Scully to drool over David Duchovny searching for the truth that was out there, or chasing some weirded out creature through swamps, deserts, or --egads-- sewers. There's just something about a guy in a suit spouting some obscure Native American legend that clicks with me. Tasty.

So, my friend shows me a picture of her beau. Not only is the man a geek but he's gorgeous. I rest my case.


21 October 2007

Never Too Late

The gothic glamour of the DunVegas Hotel and Casino was lost on Gaelle as she headed toward the private elevator to meet Evan. It had been a long day and all she could think about was the fact that Joel was supposed to be with them. The three of them had planned the trip 18 months earlier when they’d started their business together.

Vivify had been Joel’s baby. Combining Gaelle’s talents with plant life, Evan’s business sense and immortal contacts, and Joel’s love of adventure; the three had launched an entire line of herbal supplements used to increase preternatural pleasure. It touched on everything from drops to relieve depression, to oils that promoted blood flow to erogenous zones, to creams, that when used right, would make even an incubus impressed.

Joel had built their first greenhouse with his own hands, and talked about the day they’d need dozens of warehouses to keep up with the demand once they went national after breaking out at the ParaPleasure Expo. In the first six months, their online business and little boutique shop had boomed to his delight, and it seemed his plans would come to pass. Only Joel wouldn’t live long enough to see it.

They’d all known he was on borrowed time. The heart defect he’d been born with was a product of his mixed human and daemon heritage. It was inoperable, and as an infant, medical science had given him a life expectancy of five years. Alternative medicine and a little preternatural science had added nearly thirty years to that in the end. But finally, at thirty-three, his too human heart could no longer fuel a more than human body and he was gone. It had been a long year without him and she and Evan had finally learned to laugh and smile again, but it would never be the same without Joel. Every smile would be tinged with a touch of sadness.

It was supposed to be the three of them. It had always been the three of them. It should have always been so. They were confidants, and co-conspirators, and best friends, and they could have been even more if Joel had just lived a little longer.

Gaelle slowed and looked at the drooping ficus tree tucked into a corner nook beside the elevator. The one there at the start of the day had been proud and vivacious, but over the course of the day had been traded out for this more humble offering. It wasn’t a bad tree. The braided trunk was healthy and the branches sturdy, but it seemed nearly as down and depressed as Gaelle herself. She walked over and ran a hand across the once vibrant green leaves.

“Hey little guy, looks like neither one of us is quite in the right mindset for all of this. We should try to perk up for Joel’s sake. I know he’s watching.”

She’d felt Joel’s spirit for the last few weeks, his vibration getting stronger each time. It was like that the first year after a death if a soul stayed to linger. There’d be no way to know if he was sentient and remembered her until he could manifest. Not everyone stayed in tact when they remained. He might be no more than a strong memory and until she knew, Gaelle wasn’t getting her hopes up. But she would let the feel of him bring a smile as it always did. She passed that smile on to the ficus and watched as its branches lifted and new leaves emerged and unfurled. By the time it was as lush and lively as she could make it, Gaelle herself felt more alive and ready to take on the rest of the expo.


The elevator chimed and Evan stepped out as Gaelle turned to look at him.

“There you are.” He smiled, looking past her. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist making new friends with all of this foliage tucked everywhere.”

“The little guy just needed a pick-me-up.” She laughed.

He could see the flush of giddiness in her aura from the use of her power. It was also evident in the way her hand lovingly caressed the leaves. She didn’t touch him that way. He pushed aside the small pang of envy and extended his sensory Psi until he could feel the caress on his own skin. The sensation pulled him toward her, growing stronger as he got closer, but he stopped cold just shy of arm’s reach.


He could feel his best friends fingers move along his neck in tandem with the psychic caress from Gaelle. The strong scent of vanilla and sawdust assaulted him. That was Joel completely; if he wasn’t building he was baking, enjoying anything that let him work with his hands. What he was working at the moment was Evan.

“Evan?” The psychic touch became a heavy, warm, physical one as Gaelle placed her hands on his face. “Are you all right?” Her fingers slid down the sides of his neck, overlapping the touch from Joel.

“I’m fine.” He grinned, dizzied and swaying with the pleasure of it. “Joel’s here. Stronger than he’s been before.”

He slid his arms around her and pulled her flush to his front as he felt Joel’s ghostly form mold against his back. Giving in rather than fighting it, he let the press of Joel’s will lead him right where he’d wanted to be for so long—locked in a kiss with Gaelle.

He could feel her surprise, yet she yielded rather than withdrew; soft, full lips parting beneath his own. The black Versace jacket and dove gray silk shirt he wore may as well have been misted to nothingness along with Gaelle’s scarlet silk halter dress and matching jacket, because each place they touched sent a thrill of skin-to-skin contact almost beyond nudity. It was as if they shared the first few layers of cells between them, the nerve endings reaching out and nuzzling against each other in a pleasure cascade reminiscent of Evan’s Vampire heritage.

Each moan vibrated through them from head to toe, and for the first time since late adolescence Evan wanted to drink someone in the way he drank in the kiss. Dormant fangs ached but then no sooner than he acknowledged the desire than the pleasure of her lifeforce flowing into him took them both.

The world consisted of shuddering moans, frictioning bodies, and intertwining minds for a space of minutes that lasted days. A rush of release hit them both and then all at once the connections were gone. They were separate beings again and Joel’s presence evaporated. Unsupported by the burst of ghostly Psi energy they fell against the wall with a heavy thud and Gaelle laughed out loud.

“Well, that was…unexpected. What happened?” She panted.

Evan shook his head and then laid it back against the wall, catching his breath before he spoke.

“Joel happened. I wasn’t expecting him to be so…”

He could only shake his head again, there were no words. That had been Joel. Not a memory or a shadow of him, but Joel the way he’d been when alive. He’d lost the man he was in love with and now Joel was back just as he was reconciling his feelings for the woman in his arms. And then it had all exploded in one big Psi Sensate Orgy. How did you articulate something like that?

“I could feel him too, but it was through you primarily. You must have been wide open for him to sweep into you that way.”

Heavy lids opened in time for him to see her turn toward the tree as if it held answers. Perhaps it did for when she turned back dark chocolate eyes stared up into his bright gray ones with a suspicion and amusement.

“You were wide open weren’t you? You were doing the extending thing.” She grinned.

He shrugged. What point was there in denying it? He’d just kissed her deep enough to tickle a rib with his tongue, too late to be embarrassed about a little vicarious caress action.

“I was doing the extending thing, yes. The tree looked so happy I thought I’d share. I guess I looked so happy, Joel thought he’d share.”

He looked around as if he expected to see his best friend standing nearby, waiting for them to recover. There was only a thankfully empty cove, meaning they’d gotten away with their little public display without an audience.

“We should head up to the suite before he decides to share again. I don’t want to end up making out on the lobby tiles. There was already one floor show for the day.”

Gaelle stood back just far enough to cross her arms. “It wasn’t that guy’s fault. He didn’t see her and it was an accident. And I’m sure he could have done without you laughing in the corner.”

Evan put his arm around her waist and began to walk them to the elevator. “I’m sure that with her lying beneath him, he didn’t even notice.” He placed his key card in the slot and the lift doors slid apart. “But if it makes you feel better I’ll let him know that karma came my way in the south foyer should I find myself in conversation with him.”

She seemed satisfied with the option and let him lead her out of the little cove into the spacious smoked glass and obsidian lift. He didn’t think for a minute that she was really concerned about the unfortunate fellow from earlier in the day. It was just a way to avoid talking about the fact that Joel was there, truly there with them, and what that might mean. A year of mourning, and weeks of wondering, and now here it was and he didn’t blame her for stalling.

“I told Joel I was in love with him at his funeral” He blurted. One of them had to say something, and that worked just as well as anything.

“So did I”, she replied.

He started to laugh, stepping over to the side of the elevator and placing his back against the cool glass. His head tilted back and his eyes slipped shut.

“So that’s it, huh? He’s finally strong enough to come back and wants to cash in on what we waited too late to say.”

“Probably.” She nodded, knowing he could still sense her movements. “Although, I think he specifically wants to cash in on number 17 on his list.”

Ebon lashes lifted and he ran a pale hand through short raven locks as an entirely different kind of laugh took him.

“Ah, wonderful number 17, getting the three of us in bed together. I remember the list well. That was also number 23 and 41 if I recall correctly.” The laughter died to a soft, sad, smile. “He never pushed it because he was afraid you’d run away.”
“I know.” She sighed. “I told him at the hospital in those last days that I wouldn’t have run. I love you both enough that the idea never frightened me. But he always saw me as too human to trust in that. With so little time left he was too afraid to mess things up between us and then die without it being resolved. I couldn’t blame him for that.”

Evan just stared at her for a second. Then blinked and cleared his throat.

“I heard everything you said, and I’m sure I have something sage and compassionate to say in reply. But can we go back to the part where you love me enough that the idea never frightened you? I’d like to hone in on the love part until I’m clear.”

It was Gaelle’s turn to shrug. “You were there for the kiss and whatever else we’re supposed to call that.”

“I was going with meta-sex.” He interrupted.

“Okay, you were there for the ‘meta-sex’; you felt what I was feeling. You weren’t projecting, that was me.” She paused, her head tilting to the left. “Well, some of it was Joel, but the part that was me, was definitely me.”

He stared, a smile of disbelief taking him. “You’re awfully forthcoming all of a sudden.”

“I can afford to be.” She grinned. “I felt you as well. I’m not putting anything on the line because I already know your feelings, it makes being forthcoming rather easy. Not to mention I’m still feeling no pain after all of that.”

The elevator ride was so smooth that it took them a moment to realize it had come to a stop but the doors hadn’t opened. Before either of them could speak, the scent of vanilla and sawdust assailed Evan and beneath it was something heady and sweet. The scent of blood. As a Dhamphir he was only part vampire and he didn’t possess the bloodlust of his father’s side. But the drug-like joy of the Drink was something that could still capture him and he could taste Gaelle in the suddenly small-seeming space.

“Gaelle,” he rasped. “Please, stay unafraid.”

It was all he had time to say before he had her pressed against the side of the elevator. Overcome by the feel of Joel as well, she managed to turn her back to Evan and grip the handrail just before he got to her. He pressed his pelvis against the high, taut, roundness of her and lifted heavy mahogany curls to place his lips to the galloping pulse in her throat. He sucked at the molasses-hued skin without breaking it, pulling tiny droplets through her pores.

The press of Joel’s form at his back nearly paused him long enough to ask if they could at least make it to the suite rather than give security a private show via the cameras. But buried beneath the building sensations and enticing droplets of blood, he couldn’t care long enough to form a coherent sentence.

Besides, part of him knew it wouldn’t have done any good. Sex in a private elevator was number 34 on Joel’s list of things he wanted to do before he died. It apparently was never too late to accomplish your goals.

To Be Continued…


The find out what happens with Gaelle, Evan and Joel in "Never Too Late", come back on Halloween and download the full BtV Round Robin for FREE.

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20 October 2007

Touch Not The Ungloved Cat

Touch Not The Ungloved Cat

"They'll fight to the death for their freedom; they epitomize what it takes to be truly free."
Mike Tomkies


“How’s that, Mikhail? Neck feeling better?”

Zee Kirkwall parted the opening of the richly colored Indian silk fabric that formed the tent that surrounded her massage table, and ushered her latest client out into the harsh lights and bustle of Ballroom No. 2.

Too bad she’d had to move her booth out of the relatively quiet corner of Ballroom No. 3, but the varying scents drifting into her space from the Deathly Buzzings Marital Aids booth had proven too much for both her clients and for her.

Massaging the kinks out of a werewolf’s lower extremities wasn’t made any easier when her client went rigid every time someone next door opened up the tester vial of Full Moon Massage Oil.

Not to mention the havoc wreaked on her own concentration by the sex toys impregnated with Eau de Catnip. Roger Ing had tried to accommodate her, sealing all the offending items in ziplock bags, but the damage was done. One of them had had to go.

Mikhail Voskov rotated his neck and shoulders with a sigh of relief. “Much better, Ms. Kirkwall.”

“Remember to alternate sides of the neck when you feed. I know you’re a lefty, but if you need to change it up.”

“Of course,” the vampire nodded as he pulled on his leather jacket. “Allow me to express my gratitude. Would you join me for dinner later?”

Zee pasted an expression of regret on her face. “Er, no. I have plans.” Luckily, this was true. “Rain check?”

Voskov sighed. “Alas, I fly out at midnight.”

Literally, she thought. “Another time.”

He bowed cordially. “Until then.” A soft pop, and Vostov was flying above the chattering crowd that perused the wares offered for sale at the ParaPleasures Expo.

He was her last scheduled client of the day. But instead of relaxing, her body hummed with adrenaline.

Time to put aside her cover as proprietress of Magic Touch Massage, and get down to her real job.

She moved to her display table, intending pack away her brochures and business cards.

“I have a delivery for you, Ms. Kirkwall.”

Zee looked up at the sound of the husky, feline purr. Amanda Bast, Dunvegas’ hostess and right (and left) arm of the seldom-seen Mr. Fritz, stood holding a tiny package between her gold-tipped fingernails. She was a vision of perfection in a matching gold suit that left very little to the imagination. Though standing perfectly still, the woman somehow managed to give the impression of slow, sinuous motion. A fact very few nearby hot-blooded – and a few cold-blooded – males missed.

Feeling a little dowdy in her own purple scrubs, Zee reached out and accepted the package gingerly, just avoiding getting stabbed by Amanda’s lethal looking claws.

“There’s a note attached.”

“Yes, I can see that.”

Amanda’s tip-tilted eyes glowed. “It could be an invitation.”

“Ah, yes, maybe.”

Amanda leaned over the table, generous breasts nearly falling out of her top, and ran a single finger along Zee’s wrist. “If it is, I hope you’ll consider inviting me along, too.”

Zee was running out of time. She caught Amanda’s wrist in one hand and stroked the back of the woman’s hand with the sensitive pads of her fingers. Underneath her polished, cool exterior, Amanda Bast was a seething mass of cat in heat. Zee leaned in close to her ear.

“If it is, I’ll pass it on to you for your own enjoyment. I have other plans tonight.”

Amanda withdrew, lazy smile in place. “Do.” And she slinked away, every pair of male eyes in the area following her path until she disappeared through a set of double doors, which were guarded by two frowning, sunglasses-clad gargoyles.
Zee took the chance to slip inside her tent unnoticed, letting the flaps fall closed behind her.

She turned the tiny, square package over in her hand. It was about the size of a condom packet. With one fingernail she lifted the edge of the folded note taped to the blood-red wrapping.

I hope you will accept this token as my apology for any inconvenience.
–Roger Ing

“Aw.” She smiled and tucked it into the pouch around her neck. Whatever it was, if it was catnip scented she didn’t need to be opening it here.

Within seconds she stripped bare, skin reacting instantly to the chill, damp air of the subterranean ballroom. It was kept that way to keep the odors of various preternatural food samples down to a minimum. Dragon kibble tended to get stenchy after a few hours outside the freezer case.

Her sensitive nose caught a trace of a familiar scent, there and gone in an instant. She froze in place, arms instinctively crossing over her goose-bumped breasts.

William? No, couldn’t be. There was no way her rival in high-end thievery could have tracked her here. Thanks to a well-timed tip and the tipster’s heavily paid-for silence, she was days ahead of him.

She had the stone in her possession, pried from the fireplace hearth of Mr. Fritz’s office itself. The object had come out of its niche easily, as if it had just been placed there and the mortar hadn’t quite dried. She shrugged off the nagging sense of uneasiness at how simple it had been to get past Mr. Fritz’s massive security system.

Within an hour, she’d be several million dollars richer. Rich enough she’d never have to steal for a living, ever again. Rich enough to disappear for good.

Yet just the memory of William’s scent inexplicably made her insides go liquid, made her want to lean against the massage table and stretch like the cat she was, slip her fingers between her legs and tease herself.

Nonsense. William MacGillivray was her rival and the bane of her existence.
She chalked it up to going several months without while she’d tracked the stone’s unusually rapid path through the labyrinth of the black market. The thing certainly had all the characteristics of a hot potato.

She had no idea why a 6-inch cube of Scottish granite was so valuable. It was one of many gleaned from ruins around the world to add authentic touches to the Dunvegas casino and resort. She only knew someone was willing to pay a large fortune to get it back. And that was all she needed to know.

Right now all she had to do was pick it up from its hiding place, meet her buyer, and she’d be out of here one rich-assed werecat.

She closed her eyes, tilted back her head and willed the shift to begin. It never happened without at least a little bit of pain, which she bit back easily as she felt bones melt and reform, skin change texture and develop its thick, black-and-grey striped coat.

The shift complete, Zee smiled to herself and headed for the flaps of the tent, confident no one would notice her passage.

With a muffled poof, the package she carried in the pouch around her neck exploded, shooting grey-green dust straight up her nostrils.

Catnip, her rapidly fuzzing mind observed. And not just ordinary catnip, this stuff was on steroids.

Coughing, every one of her senses rioting from the overdose, she lurched through the tent opening.

Straight into a live-trap cage.

Panic screamed down her nerve endings as the spring-loaded door snapped shut and someone shoved her, cage and all, into an oversized rolling suitcase. The cage was too small for her to shift back, not that she could have done it in her herb-crazed state.

She could do nothing but fling herself against the sides of the cage and yowl.


To read the rest of Carolan Ivey's "Touch Not The Ungloved Cat", be sure to come back Oct. 31 to download the full BTV Round Robin FREE!

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