I'm thrilled to say Blade of the Wolf is a Passionate Plume finalist and a finalist in the FF&P Prism! Winners of both will be announced at RWA national conference. Blade of the Wolf is a paranormal erotic romance.
Here is an excerpt (PG rated):
Syrena’s mouth turned parchment-dry when she noticed Ronan Graeme on the street, sliding out of a silver luxury car. Black clothing, including a black leather trench coat, lent him a dangerous, compelling air.
Heat rushing over her despite the chilly wind, Syrena halted, mid-stride, unsure whether to make her presence known or let him go about his business. After all, he was far more man than she could handle. But something in her yearned to handle him…every inch of him.
He headed in the opposite direction, then glanced back, his gaze fastening on her. A slight smile on his sexy lips, he strode toward her. Was he limping?
“Syrena. I’m glad I ran into you again,” he said in that tongue-rolling accent.
Wind stirred his sun-streaked hair, enticing her to comb her fingers through it.
“Hi, Mr. Graeme.” Syrena swallowed convulsively. The wicked dream from two nights ago flashed through her consciousness for a heart-jerking second. She wanted to rake her teeth over his square, stubbled chin and feel the short whiskers above his upper lip rasping her skin.
Ronan removed his black leather driving gloves. “Please, just Graeme. How have you been?”
“Good,” she said, trying to leash the erotic imagery taking over her mind. “I didn’t expect you to still be in town.” But she was glad he was. Inhaling the cold air, she studied him. The powerful force of his presence struck her again. He was so tall and enigmatic. Hot and disturbing. Exactly what she craved at the moment.
“I haven’t been able to conclude my business as of yet,” he said.
“Were you injured the other night in that fight? I thought I noticed a limp.”
His amber gaze sharpened on her, the penetrating intensity causing her heart to skip a beat.
“Nay. Old football injury. Or as you Americans say, soccer.” He quickly scanned the buildings around them, displaying his square jaw to perfection, then motioned to the left. “Ah, a coffeehouse. Allow me to buy you a coffee.”
“Why? I mean…” She clamped her mouth shut. What was his deal? First a drink and now coffee? Again, the sensation that he wasn’t telling her everything passed over her. She couldn’t allow her attraction to him to cloud her common sense. But she didn’t detect any malevolent intentions. In fact, her intuition told her that he had a protective nature.
His expression turned serious. “After what happened two nights ago, I’m concerned. I think you have a stalker.”
“A stalker?” She held back an impulsive laugh. “Me? Please,” she said doubtfully.
“Indeed, lass. This is most serious.”
His yummy accent and the endearing way he called her lass almost distracted her from the grave issue at hand. “What should I do? Call the police?”
“Why don’t we go inside, out of this wind?” He gestured again toward the coffee shop entry.
Okay, maybe she would get lucky and he’d seduce her in the restroom. Dream on, Syrena. She proceeded into the almost deserted establishment where she bought coffee every morning. The appetizing mixed aromas of flavored coffees swirled through her senses. They placed their orders and took seats at a back corner table.
“I’m buying,” she said. “After all, I owe you one for the other night when you fought that man following me.”
“Nay. I insist.”
Nay. How charmingly Old World he was.
He fixed his molten gold gaze on her and consuming heat rushed over her skin. Breathe, Syrena, breathe. His appeal was complete. He was both edgy and elegant. Rough and cultured. Far out of her league. How would his deep voice sound whispering wicked, sexy words in her ear late at night? Intoxicating. A frisson of delight skittered through her.
But she couldn’t jump his bones right now. She needed to get to know him better first.
“What kind of work do you do?” she asked, wondering what would require him to be so deliciously athletic.
“Security, which is why the man following you concerned me a great deal.”
“Security? Like a bodyguard?”
“More or less. I work with a large firm and I’m scouting out the area to see if we might expand here.”
“A Scottish security firm?”
“International. We protect people all over the world.”
Should she believe him, or trust him? “What did the guy following me that night look like?” she asked.
“Short, beastly looking bloke with black hair and a beard.”
Ronan scowled. “Aye. Ugly.”
She snickered. The whole situation sounded too ridiculous. “Damn, why can’t I be stalked by a hunk?” Like him.
The corners of his mouth crooked up. His smile gentled his face, but at the same time she noticed his eyeteeth were a little longer than the others and slightly pointed. Not like the exaggerated fangs of vampires in movies. Much shorter. In fact, they were barely noticeable, but she found them unusual and a bit dangerous. Exciting. How would those teeth feel if he nibbled on her neck?
“Sorry. It isn’t funny, I know,” she said, trying to focus on the gravity of the situation. “I just don’t understand. I mean, I don’t usually capture men’s attention.”
Growing serious again, Ronan gazed deeply into her eyes, delving, disorienting her. “Why not?”
Her face heated. “I don’t know. I’m not exactly a vamp.”
“Nay, you are no vampire, thank the saints.”
Oh god, he was priceless. She held back a grin. “I meant I’m not, you know…sexy.”
He frowned. “Says who?”
“No one has to say. It’s simply a fact.”
“It is not a fact. You’re a great beauty, Syrena, incredibly sexy, and don’t let anyone be telling you any different.”
Giddiness tapped on her chest and she could hardly draw breath. Her whole body tingled with the need for him to touch her. Who was this man? And where had he come from? Scotland, sure, but what had caused their paths to cross?
“Thank you,” she mumbled, almost speechless at such a compliment from him. Their coffees were served, but she was too dazed to appreciate the fragrance of her mocha cappuccino.
Ronan—she liked thinking of him as Ronan. The name was more personal and intimate than Graeme. Ronan sipped his black Arabica.
She tried not to stare at his mouth, but couldn’t help herself. His lips were neither thin nor full, a man’s mouth, nothing feminine about it. The trace of dark beard stubble only enhanced his masculinity. How would his lips feel against hers? Smooth, hot, firm? He was probably a masterful kisser, seducing a woman in five seconds flat.
“Have you sensed someone following you?” he asked.
She forced herself to focus on his words, not the way his lips moved. “Sometimes.” Because I’m psychic. No, she couldn’t reveal that. Her weirdness was one reason guys steered clear of her. She didn’t want Ronan to think she was weird.
“Have you seen anyone?”
“No, I just have a vague feeling of being watched.” And not only by the earthbound spirits of Asheville’s former residents.
“I have an eighth-degree black belt in aikido. Perhaps I could teach you some self-defense moves.”
“Eighth degree? My lord, I didn’t know there were eight degrees. I’m sure I can’t afford your fees. You probably guard movie stars and Fortune 500 CEOs.”
He shook his head. “I’m thinking you can afford free. And I have never guarded a movie star.”
“But you seem so capable. Surely you could make a lot of money guarding rich and famous people.”
“The money’s not important. When would you like to practice self-defense?”
“You’re serious about that?”
Why was he so insistent? Though his emotions were a blank wall to her, for the most part, and she was still unsure whether to fully trust him, she again sensed a protective quality deep within him, as if it were the most basic and innate component of his personality.
“If someone attacks you, you need to protect yourself.” He studied her, his gaze probing and prying into the core of her psyche. “You’re afraid, Syrena. Why do you fear me?”
“I don’t know you. I can’t…”
A new sensation poured through her—comfort, trust, friendship.
What’s going on? Her insights never came to her with this clarity and sudden rush of emotion. Her pulse roared in her ears. “Are you psychic?”
She shook her head, unable to explain. “It isn’t important.” Her psychic abilities were wonky around him, as if she didn’t have complete control of her own thoughts. Maybe her reawakened libido was wreaking havoc on the rest of her mind.
“Please believe me when I say I only want to help you.”
His expression was so sincere, how could she not trust him? But the friendship angle of the sensation that flowed through her was wrong. The lucid dream she’d had would never allow him to be only a friend. Nope, she had a crush on him, dammit.
Nicole North - Blade of the Wolf