Thursday, October 26, 2006

Aftershocks, Storm Lords 4 by Marie Harte

website: www.marieharte.com
group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/M_Hgroup
Excerpt from Aftershocks, Storm Lords Book Four//paranormal erotic romance
The muted glow of everdark hovered over the deep blue grasses of Foreia’s rich fields. The black bark and flaming red leaves of giant firn trees framed the surrounding area, the scent of sweet scythia flowing through the warm air like a blessing of welcome. Jonas Chase, leader of the rebel Djinn army, grinned with pleasure. Lavender clouds covered the pink-red sky, a sight that never failed to impress him, and made him want to bask in his homecoming.
A muffled curse and angry words, unfortunately, drew his attention. Jonas stared at his responsibility, Prince Cadmus Storm, the Earth Lord, and uttered a loud, drawn-out sigh. Surrounded by a dozen Djinn warriors and the Dark Lord who’d promised them freedom, Cadmus nevertheless made an impressive sight as he commanded Foreia’s terrain to aid him against his “enemy.”
Why couldn’t the damned Light Bringer do anything the easy way?
Golden soil erupted, crushing navy grass into muddied chaos. Quakes of rock shifted, and the air reverberated with the threat of Storm Lord vengeance.
“Fine, be a dick.” Cadmus snarled over his shoulder, catching Jonas in a brown-eyed glare he found impressive for its sheer ferocity. “Kill me if you want. But I’m taking as many of you to the Next with me as I possibly can.”
Of the remaining Storm Lords, the Royal Four--more commonly referred to as The Tetrarch--promised a life that Jonas’ people had been dreaming about for centuries. The princes didn’t know it yet, but once one of the Royal Four became overking of Tanselm, life in their rich, magical world would change, and for the better.
Tanselm, a realm of infinite power and splendor. In addition to the fruitful fields, pastures of green and forests of rich trees and earth, Tanselm housed a sentient majesty, an overwhelming center of magic that called to Light and Dark beings with equal intensity. The few times Jonas had been privileged enough to “visit,” i.e. spy, he’d felt vastly more powerful standing in that magical plane of existence, even more so than in his homeworld of Foreia.
Surprised at Tanselm’s acceptance of himself, a Darkling, he’d begun to recognize his Dark Mistress’ words as truth that Tanselm existed to accommodate more than just Light Bringers. Which wasn’t to say the future Tetrarch wasn’t needed to destroy the evil ‘Sin Garu and his hated minions, the Netharat. Those vile wraiths, ice demons and monsters would happily feast on creatures of Dark and Light, if only to perpetuate the chaos that salved their undying hunger. The Dark only knew how many overlapping worlds in existence would fall should ‘Sin Garu take Tanselm. Such pure magic in evil hands would destroy Foreia, Aelle, Earth, and so many other worlds not able to withstand such power.
No, despite the differences between the Djinn and the Storm Lords, Jonas knew they shared a common purpose--to live and prosper without Dark Lord oppression.
Studying Cadmus, Jonas shook his head. Four identical princes with the power to command the elements. Light Bringers and Storm Lords all, yet each brother was decidedly different. Darius, the Prince of Fire, had a temper and little patience. Marcus, the River Prince, possessed an annoying tendency toward arrogance, but thankfully his affai, his new bride, was wearing him down. Aerolus, the Wind Mage, controlled the winds as easily as he ruled magic, a young sorcerer with the potential of his legendary uncle, Arim, Tanselm’s notorious Killer of Shadow.
And Cadmus. Jonas still wondered at the Earth Lord, a brown-eyed royal who could charm the scales off a dragon. Keeping an eye on Marcus had been tedious but easy in comparison. Cadmus, on the other hand, protested the measures to keep him safe at every turn. While Jonas could feel for the independent royal, he found Cadmus’ quirky sense of humor and annoyingly clever escape attempts vexing, not to mention exhausting.
He watched Cadmus take on more than he knew he could handle and had to hand it to the Storm Lords. They had been born to royalty, but their parents had not raised whiny and weak monarchs. These men, and especially Cadmus, possessed strength and stubbornness in spades. From what Jonas’ cousin had affirmed, Cadmus’ reputation as a charmer and ladies’ man had been well-earned. Lighthearted but kind, he had seemed to be the easiest of the four brothers to turn.
Staring at him now as he tried to bury half a dozen Djinn under Foreia’s life-giving earth, Jonas found it hard to reconcile the easy-going Cadmus with the Light Bringer warrior before him.
“Enough,” the Dark Lord, the Djinn’s Dark Mistress, said in a soft voice. She took several steps closer to Cadmus but shook her head when Jonas attempted to intervene. “Earth Lord, the vision you saw was a message from me.”
“Bullshit. I saw you die, you and your bastard brother, B’alen.”
Her ice-blue eyes narrowed, and her smile, when it came, was as effective a weapon as her dark flame. “B’alen is indeed dead. And you Storm Lords owe me a debt of gratitude for it.”
“Gratitude?” Cadmus snorted and threw several approaching Djinn from him with bursts of energy that visibly swelled from the ground. “If not for you Dark Lords, Tanselm would be in one piece.” Cadmus blasted another group of Djinn, his power growing with his rage. “My father, my uncles and aunts and cousins, would all still be alive.”
A large tree groaned as it shuddered under a massive force, its roots reaching through the ground for the Dark Mistress’ legs.
She glided as if on air, stopping a few feet from Cadmus. Jonas could feel the tension filling the space between them with chaotic power. Tendrils of negative energy snarled at him, and he flashed into the natural form of the Djinn, in truth, unable to help himself. He didn’t even try to fight it, knowing he was much more powerful in his energetic state. His physical form blurred, keeping a man’s outline while consisting not of flesh, but of white, blazing energy surrounded by a black aura that danced like flame.
He was Djinn. He was powerful. And he had been born to return his people to their homeworld, to Tanselm, where they rightfully belonged.
“Hear me, Earth Lord,” the Dark Mistress uttered in a low voice filled with bleak promise. “You know nothing of true pain, of torture and worse at the hands of those you love. So carry the regret of your loved ones’ passing close to your heart, and be content that you will once again join them in the Next.”
The Earth Lord stared at her, quiet but wary, his eyes fixed on hers. Jonas expected her to thrall him, at the very least, to punish him for his disrespect. But she surprised him.
“You look so much like Arim.”
Cadmus blinked, puzzled but cautious. “What do you know of my uncle?”
“I know everything about Tanselm’s greatest sorcerer,” she said with disdain. “A pity he still breathes when a fine man like your father is dead, hmm?”
Cadmus stilled, but Jonas could see the fury pooling in his gaze as he stepped closer to her. “I owe you my thanks, you said? Then allow me to thank you for my father’s passing.” He looked around him, his glare hot enough to burn. “You and all your Djinn friends. Without their poison, my father would still be alive.” He glared at the Dark Mistress, his gaze as black as night, and raised his arms, his fingers reaching for her. “Accept my gratitude, on behalf of the Storm Lords.”
“Cadmus, no!” Jonas yelled, alarmed at the inviting expression on his Dark Mistress’ face. Cadmus had no idea of the power she wielded, and Jonas had come too far too lose the Storm Lord because of his rash temper. Unfortunately, he couldn’t aid Cadmus because she wouldn’t allow it. She held him still with a thought, welcoming Cadmus’ touch.
The minute Cadmus’ finger touched her shoulder, the very second his power hit hers, he froze. The Dark Mistress, Lexa Van Nostren, ‘Sin Garu’s sister and traitor to his cause, froze as well. Together they stood like statues, locked in a war of wills, a soft blue nimbus of light blanketing them together. And then Lexa took a deep breath and pulled away, leaving Cadmus in a frozen haze.
“Very good work, Jonas.” She turned to him and smiled, her grin sincere and dangerously alluring. “He’s filled with a Darkness that compliments his Light. I believe this Storm Lord will solve all your problems.”
Jonas brightened, his aura black with joy. “Truly, Lexa? This one would see the Djinn welcomed back to Tanselm?”
“The Sarqua Djinn, yes,” she corrected softly, and he nodded. “Those who fight alongside my brother, ‘Sin Garu, are too tainted to appreciate Tanselm’s grace.”
Jonas bowed his head in deference. “Unfortunate, but true.” He looked up, willing her to read the sincerity in his soul. “But we won’t make those same mistakes. We may live in the Darkness of existence, but our hearts are pure.”
She nodded. “Light and Dark are sides of the same coin. It has ever been about balance. In time all will see what you and I know.”
“And Cadmus?”
She smiled, a grin that would have looked quite menacing had Jonas not understood and supported its cause. “He’s one of us already. He just doesn’t know it yet.”
And if I can add another, an excerpt from the first Storm Lords book, The Fire Within. (if not, just delete this, thanks.)
The Fire Within
Samantha Brooks shifted a hunk of drenched hair out of her eyes and sneezed. She hadn’t been back through Seattle in months and now thought she should have postponed this trip until the weather warmed.
February usually brought snow, but on this unfortunate early Friday morning the weatherman correctly predicted freezing rain. Too bad she hadn’t unpacked her heavy winter coat or even an umbrella.
Shivering in a thin leather jacket, not in the least waterproofed, she sighed and stared at the blazing neon sign of Seattle’s newest nightspot, Outpour.
“Catchy title,” she murmured and banged on the front door. Checking her watch, she noted the hour had passed closing time, almost four a. m. Damn, she’d wanted to see the club in full swing but her flight had landed later than expected.
A rivulet of water managed to sneak under the collar of her jacket, sending a frission of cold down her spine.
She knocked harder. Surely the staff remained behind to clean up. She thought she heard music. After withstanding another minute of slushy rain, she pushed on the door, surprised when it opened.
Once inside she felt instantly warmer and wandered down a darkened hall to the low hum of music and the dim glow of lights.
Stripping out of her sodden jacket, she carried it to the nearest bar, looking for a hint of anyone present.
Her only answer was the muted thrum of Prodigy pulsing through surround sound speakers. Someone had been cleaning, she noted, seeing the massive trash bins staged at various points in the overlarge room. The smell of stale beer lingered in the air, mixed with a hint of citrus cleanser that made the stench almost pleasant.
Chrome tables and matching chairs with neon colored cushions littered the main floor that surrounded the dance area. Throughout the room several higher platforms housed booths and tables, designed, she imagined, to hint at exclusivity.
Staring around her, she spied a second bar across the room. She gathered her jacket and approached the barstand, looking behind it in hopes of finding someone to talk to. This area appeared recently cleaned, the countertops shining and devoid of debris. Leaving her sopping jacket and satchel on a barstool obscured by the bar, she resumed her study of the area.
Someone had to still be here. She wandered around looking for signs of life and noticed a door reading “employees only” cracked open.
She entered cautiously, feeling like the dim-witted victim in a horror movie who searches an abandoned warehouse only to find death in the arms of a deranged serial killer. Samantha despised those films for portraying the victims as so hopelessly stupid. But as she descended step after step, she wondered at her own intelligence.
Maybe I should just come back tomorrow. Her footsteps sounded like thunder on the cold concrete of the basement floor, and she hesitated as she reached the end of the stairwell light’s perimeter.
“Hello? Is anyone here?” She flicked the lightswitch at the bottom of the stairs, not surprised when nothing happened. “Damn.” There was no way she was going to tramp around a dark basement, especially one that felt this eerie. She couldn’t be sure if her imagination ran wild, but she swore she could feel someone, or something, watching her from the dark.
“I’m outta here.” She turned around and put one foot on the steps when the stairway light flickered and died. Goosebumps crawled over her skin, making her shiver with more than just cold.
Reaching for the railing, she had ascended the second step when a hand settled hard over her shoulder, pulling her back into something large and rock solid.
She shrieked and flailed, trying to free herself from the strong arms suddenly caging her to a steely male frame.
“Hold,” a deep voice sounded near her ear.
She immediately froze, her heart beating a mile a minute. Her breath caught as the arms around her loosened. A hand tugged at her wet hair, then trailed over her face and down her chest, lingering over her breasts.
Her face heated and she tried to yank herself from his grasp, terror gripping her hard, yet he continued to pat her down. His hands felt uncomfortably warm, stirring both fear and a curious ache in her loins that made absolutely no sense.
“Didn’t I tell you not to come back here?” the deep voice asked. “I’m not your plaything.” His hands returned to her breasts and tightened almost painfully. Odd, but his tight grip only excited her further.
As his words dawned, Samantha breathed deeply and sought some control over her off-kilter emotions. Okay, so the guy wasn’t some psycho killer. He thought he knew her.
“Look, there’s been some misunderstanding. I don’t know who you are, but the owner invited me here.”
His hands slowly left her body, grazing her nipples and shooting sparks through her already overloaded senses. She turned cautiously, ready to run at any moment. A sudden light lit the room and she blinked at the glare of flame in his hand.
Her eyes widened as they took in the dark-haired Adonis standing before her. Black hair grazed his shoulders, framing a face steeped in sensuality. Fathomless black eyes gazed at her, from her head to her toes, making her want to cover herself from his brazen inspection. Yet his study wasn’t the least bit leering. It was full of male speculation, and downright dangerous.
Samantha reminded herself repeatedly that she had no interest in a relationship, a one-night stand included, as she returned his study. The man had surprisingly arresting features, from his straight, aristocratic nose to his stubborn, squared jaw. And his
body . . . tall and muscled, he could have appeared right at home in Muscle and Fitness.
“You aren’t Janet.” His voice oozed sex appeal, dark and husky, like the rumble of thunder that passed overhead.
“No, I’m not.” She took a small step back, needing to regain her senses. Adrenaline coursed through her system, as much from the fright he’d given her as from his luring attractiveness.
He sighed and lowered his lighter. “I thought you were someone else.”
“Obviously,” she muttered and sneezed. She saw his full lips quirk into a smile and her heart beat doubletime.
“As you can tell, the lights are out due to the storm. Perhaps we had should head upstairs, where you can introduce yourself and explain what you were doing down here.” He nodded to the stairs behind her, his words clearly an order rather than a suggestion.
She didn’t care. Samantha wanted heat and a breadth of distance from the man rousing her sleeping libido. As she turned and quickly climbed the steps, she could feel his gaze on her back like a physical caress.
Shaking her head, she reminded herself that too little sleep and this weather had made a muck of her sensibility. Stiffening her spine as she entered the warm atmosphere of the club once more, she headed for her things behind the bar and turned once she had a firm grip on her satchel.
She hadn’t heard him move and gasped to find him standing right behind her. Had this guy never heard of personal space?
She swallowed audibly. Was it her, or did he seem even taller than the six-four she’d earlier estimated? “I’m Samantha Brooks, the assessor Gerry Barnham hired. I take it you work here.”
“Let’s see some ID, sweetheart.”
She clenched her jaw. When he crossed muscular arms over a massive chest and leaned against the back wall, unmoving, she removed her wallet, flashed him her driver’s license and waited impatiently while he examined it.
Finally he nodded. Stuffing her wallet back into her bag, she turned to face him again, disturbed by his arrogance and his larger-than-life sex appeal. “And you are?”
“I bartend here for Gerry.”
Not a bouncer. That surprised her. With his stature he could easily intimidate those not playing by the rules. But if he was one of the bartenders . . . he had to be Darius Storm. Gerry had mentioned the amazing draw his newest employee had, bringing in more women than the club knew what to do with. Seeing him, she understood the attraction.
The man raked her up and down with an assessing gaze, his eyes returning to her face and roaming over her as if committing her features to memory. “I’m Darius.”
She released a pent-up breath, hearing him confirm his identity. He really did work here. Unfortunately, her evil twin, the sexual imp dwelling inside her, lamented that he wasn’t a sexual lunatic bent on ravishing her. She cursed her treacherous imagination and the blush that inexplicably stole over her cheeks and focused on the here and now.
His left eyebrow rose, clearly telling her he’d noticed the blush. “I wasn’t expecting you tonight. Gerry mentioned you’d arrive sometime this weekend.” He leaned closer to her, his arm moving around her and she tensed. He smelled of rain and spice, a scent she couldn’t place but one that made her want to kiss the arrogance from his lips.
Instead of grabbing her, as he appeared ready to do, he pulled his hand from behind her back and handed her a towel with a smirk. “You’re soaking wet.”
Irritated that he made her nervous and that he knew it, she released her satchel and grabbed the towel from his hands, stifling a breath when her fingers touched his. A flare of heat raced up her arm from the contact and she couldn’t help the shiver that passed through her.
He frowned. “You must be freezing.” Moving swiftly, he wrapped her in his arms, much more gently than he had earlier.
“Hey! What the hell--” she paused as heat radiated through her. “Ah,” she moaned, warmed by his unnaturally hot body. Hot in more ways than one, she amended.
With a tenderness she wouldn’t have credited him, he pressed her face against his chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly against her cheek and wondered if she wasn’t the only one affected by their proximity. But he made no other move than to hold her while her shivers passed.
Belatedly, she realized her hair and jeans were drenching him. “I’m sorry,” she said in a voice more husky than she’d like. “I’m getting you all wet.”
He rubbed his hand over her back in slow swirls, making her melt into his rock solid frame. Then he shifted slightly, making her aware of something else rock hard against her belly.
My, oh my, was all she could think of the ridge that seemed to grow as he held her. Before she could say or do anything, however, he released his hold on her, putting some distance between them.
“You should feel better now.” His eyes blazed, a strange hint of color seeming to swirl within the black depths. Then he blinked and the oddness vanished.
“I feel much better, thanks.” Samantha couldn’t stop staring at him, now understanding Gerry’s comments about female droves visiting the club.
In less than ten minutes in Darius’ presence, she wanted to jump his bones. Her nipples ached and her loins throbbed, and he’d done little more than hold her.
Time to go, right now.
She frowned and scooped up her bag and jacket, containing a shudder as the coat soaked through the sleeve of her shirt. “Well, sorry to have disturbed you. I see you’re still busy so I’ll just be on my way.” She looked around for a phone. “I just need to call a cab.”
“I’m about finished here. I’ll take you home.” He made the suggestion sound like a command.
“No.” She must have said it too forcefully for he raised a brow. “That’s nice of you but I don’t want to put you to too much trouble. Just point me to a phone and I’ll be out of your hair.”
He pointed her to a phone and watched her as he finished cleaning the tables in the club. “Do I scare you?” His mouth twisted into a wry smile.
She bristled. “No. But I’m quite capable of taking care of myself.”
“I’m sure you are,” he said with a suggestive grin, his eyes focused on her stiff nipples. “But I’m more than willing to give you a ride . . . home. After all, it’s probably my fault you’re all wet.” He paused and stared hungrily at her body, resting on her groin.
She couldn’t believe his nerve, but when she opened her mouth to blast him, he added oh-so-innocently, “Had I been upstairs when you first arrived, I could have spared you the rain and told you to come inside.” His eyes gleamed, knowing full well she’d understood his sexual undertones.
The jerk! Unfortunately, his words stoked her imagination into almost forgetting her self-imposed celibacy. Despite his comments and his arrogance, she knew he’d make her forget any man she’d ever been with before. It was all she could do not to run for the door when the taxi finally blared its horn.
“I’ll deal with you tomorrow,” she called over her shoulder in a warning, intending to adjust his attitude once she collected her thoughts after a good night’s rest.
“Yes, you will,” came his definite reply.
© copyright November 2005, Marie Harte
Cover art by Kat Richards, © copyright November 2005
ISBN 1-58608-759-2
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636

Marie Harte
Experience the paranormal, the future, and the fantasy of romance

0 comment(s):

Post a comment

<< Home