DARK AND DANGEROUS: Six-in-One Hot Paranormal Romances Boxed Set featuring six books by six best-selling authors is out now in ebook and for a limited time only, it’s just $0.99 / 99p!
That’s right, you can get these 6 hot paranormal romance books by Felicity Heaton, Jennifer Ashley, Bonnie Vanak, Caris Roane, Laurie London and Erin Kellison for under a dollar right now.
Here’s your next excerpt from one of the books in this fantastic boxed set of paranormal romances.
Today, we have an excerpt from HARD MATED by Jennifer Ashley.
(Coming soon to Apple iBooks Stores)
Hospitals sucked. Myka hated them. Their pale rooms were filled with soft electronic sounds that told you that the person in the hospital bed, the person you loved, was dying. Plus, the overriding scent of antiseptic never could quite mask the mixture of bodily odors and illness.
Broke Mykaâ€™s heart to see Jillian in that bed, her body that once had enticed every male in Hill Country wasted, her red hair thin and dry against the white sheets. Her blue eyes were washed out under the fluorescent lights, her skin tinged with gray.
Jillian smiled at Myka over the foot of the bed as Myka led in Spike, which couldnâ€™t be his real name. Spike, tall and Shifter, in jeans and T-shirt, his black hair buzzed into almost nonexistence, tatts of wildcats marking him up and down his arms, gazed down at Jillian in shock and grief.
Grief? Jillian was nothing to Spike, was she? Heâ€™d had to dredge her out of his memory when Myka had said her name. Jillian hadnâ€™t mentioned Spike at all until their shocker of a conversation this morning. Sheâ€™d sent Myka to Shiftertown to find him, and hadnâ€™t that been fun?
Shifters. There was a reason they were Collared and made to live in Shiftertowns. Myka couldnâ€™t understand the women who longed to sleep with them. Too much excitement for this girl, thank you. Training horses gave her all the time she needed with animals, had taught her enough about animals that she didnâ€™t much want to be around ones that could turn human.
Shiftertown had been almost deserted, Spike not at home in the modest bungalow to which Jillian had sent her. Casual conversation with some humans in a little bar outside the perimeter of Shiftertown led Myka to the abandoned hay barn out east of town, and there sheâ€™d found the Shifters in all their wild glory at their so-called fight club.
The way Spike had beat the shit out of that bear Shifter was evidence enough of why humans wanted to contain them. They werenâ€™t even supposed to be able to fight like thatâ€”the Collars were designed to stop them. If Myka had been a good citizen, sheâ€™d report the illicit three-ringed fight club and all the Shifters there betting on their favorites.
But she hadnâ€™t been a good citizen since the day the system had given ten-year-old Myka into the custody of Randall, the stepfather from hell. Randall had been very good at charming judges, social workers, and anyone else who came along. Couldnâ€™t bear to be separated from Myka, heâ€™d said, after Mykaâ€™s mother had died, in a hospital room just like Jillianâ€™s. Randall had gotten himself appointed Mykaâ€™s legal guardian, and nine long years of hell had ensued, until the day of Randallâ€™s death.
Jillian produced a thin smile as she looked over the foot of the bed at Spike. â€œYou came. Thank you.â€
That was the first word heâ€™d spoke since heâ€™d followed Myka out of the barn into the cool of the night so she could drive him here. Not What happened? Why is she asking for me? Just stone silence in the cab of her pickup.
Silent, sure, but his presence was weighty. This was a Shifter, for crying out loud, big, tough, able to break tiny young women like Jillian in half with one hand. Yet he stood there looking down at Jillian in the bed as though someone had sledgehammered him between the eyes and he hadnâ€™t remembered to fall down yet.
â€œI donâ€™t have a lot of time,â€ Jillian said, her voice a faint whisper. A far cry from the girl whoâ€™d balanced on top of a rail fence at the rodeo a year ago, screaming for her favorite bull rider. Sheâ€™d slept with him too. Men usually took one look at Jillian and became her devoted slaves.
â€œI have a gift for you,â€ Jillian said.
She held out her hand, and Spike reached down and took it. He didnâ€™t hold her hand awkwardlyâ€”he closed it between his two big ones, as though trying to comfort her.
â€œWhat?â€ he asked, his voice a quiet rumble. Even a Shifter could feel the dampening presence of the hospital room.
â€œMyka will show you. Myka and my mom. I donâ€™t know what else to do, all right?â€
Jillian pressed down on his hand, the movement so weak that Myka saw it only because a tendon moved on Jillianâ€™s wrist.
Spike nodded. What was in his eyes, Myka couldnâ€™t see, because his gaze was fixed on Jillian.
â€œMyka, go get my mom, okay? I asked her to wait down the hall.â€
Myka didnâ€™t want to leave Jillian alone with the Shifter. Jillian let her stare go steely, which she was good at, even while dying. â€œMyka? Okay?â€
Spike turned his head and looked at Myka, and for the first time, Myka got the whole connection of his Shifter gaze. Spikeâ€™s eyes were dark brown, his pupils black, windows into nothing.
No, not nothing. An intense something. Myka saw wildness inside him, the beast that had charged a bear four times his size and sunk his teeth into the big animalâ€™s neck. Spikeâ€™s throat was singed where his Collar had shocked him, but the shocks hadnâ€™t slowed him down a millisecond. This was an animal who looked for his preyâ€™s weakness and went for it.
Myka did not want to leave him alone in here with Jillian.
But Jillian had hours to live, not days, the cancer taking away the last of what she had been.
Myka made herself turn around and leave, walking rapidly down the corridor to the little room where Jillianâ€™s mom Sharon waited, surrounded by vending machines, a television that blared a news channel, and other tense people whoâ€™d come to see their families.
Sharon got rapidly to her feet and followed Myka out. â€œDamn, I need a cigarette. Jillian kicked me out when you called from the parking lot, but I couldnâ€™t go outside with â€¦â€ She wriggled her arm, jostling what she was pulling.
â€œI donâ€™t like this,â€ Myka said.
â€œI know. But itâ€™s what Jillian wants, and I think sheâ€™s right.â€
Myka had to shut up, because theyâ€™d entered Jillianâ€™s room again. Spike swung around, inhaling sharply.
His eyes changed to Shifterâ€”brown tinged with gold, the pupils slitsâ€”as his gaze riveted on the small boy Sharon gripped by the hand.
At four years old, Jordan had lost his baby chubbiness and was turning into a sturdy, strong-boned lad. He had dark hair brushed with blond and brown, and dark brown eyes framed with black lashes. Until Myka had seen Spike looking at her with the same eyes, sheâ€™d doubted Jillianâ€™s claim.
Jillian drew a breath to speak, but Sharon shook her head, seeing it was too much for her. She walked Jordan forward.
â€œThis is your son,â€ Sharon said, her voice heavy from too many years of smoking. â€œSo says Jillian.â€
â€œHe is, Mom,â€ Jillianâ€™s whisper came.
Jordan stared up at Spike, who filled the room not only with his presence, but with the bulk of him. Though smaller than the bear-man heâ€™d fought, Spike was still bigâ€”six and a half feet tall, arms as big as a wrestlerâ€™s and covered in tatts that disappeared inside his T-shirt, shaved head on a muscular neck encased by an inch-thick Collar. Jordanâ€™s soft mouth hung open, his small teeth white in the moisture behind his lip.
Spike stared back at Jordan just as hard, the shock mutual.
â€œJordan,â€ Jillian said from the bed. â€œDo your trick for Mommy.â€
Jordan, caught in the spell of Spikeâ€™s gaze, remained frozen for another moment. Then he looked away and stripped off his shirt. Almost proudly, he shoved down his pants and underwear and stood without clothes, as unashamed as the Shifters had done at the hay barn.
The little boy lifted his arms over his head, closed his eyes, then gave a little squeak as his body changed shape.
His legs bent and became haunches, his little feet morphed into awkwardly big paws. Jordanâ€™s hands became paws before his arms did, the smooth spotted pelt sliding down to join the one that rose up his chest. His face elongated into a catâ€™s nose, ears popped up on his head, and his eyes became rounder, fuller, eyelashes and whiskers growing swiftly. The fur that covered him was dark yellow with the broken black bands of a jaguar.
In only a few seconds, Jordan dropped to all fours and let out a tiny wildcat yowl.
The suspicion on Spikeâ€™s face turned to amazement then a hungry longing. Before Myka could stop him, he bent down and scooped up the cub between his big hands.
He lifted Jordan to his eye level, staring at the cub, who wriggled and squirmed but not in alarm.
They studied each other, Shifter and cub, the big manâ€™s eyes wide, the cubâ€™s unworried. Jordan opened his mouth and emitted another little growl.
â€œI named him Jordan,â€ Jillian said. â€œHeâ€™s yours. Take care of him for me, all right?â€
Spike didnâ€™t take his eyes from Jordan. Myka saw the pulse in Spikeâ€™s neck, the hard beats pressing under the Collar.
Sharon waited, her fingers playing with the clasp on her cigarette case. Myka waited too, for Spike to deny it, to tell Jillian to prove it, to bail the hell out of there. Men didnâ€™t like suddenly to be told that they were fathers, didnâ€™t want to be held accountable for whatever grew from their sperm.
Spike lifted Jordan higher. Jordanâ€™s paws hung down from Spikeâ€™s giant hands, his tail snaking around Spikeâ€™s wrist.
â€œMy cub,â€ Spike said. â€œMy cub.â€ His voice rose to a deep roar that shook the window across the room. â€œMy cub.â€
Did you enjoy today’s excerpt?
(Coming soon to Apple iBooks Stores)