One kinky doctor + one indecent proposal = one life-changing week in Paris
One kinky doctor + one indecent proposal = one life-changing week in Paris
"If you love Alexandra Ivy, Lara Adrian, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynsay Sands, Laura Wright, and all those other amazing paranormal authors that I absolutely love with all my heart...then you will LOVE Renea Mason and her brand new "Symphony of Light" Series." - Book Reads and Reviews
Magic is no match for love…
In a night of passion, two lost spirits find solace in an impostor's kiss: one longing for a love that doesn't yet exist, the other drowning in pain and guilt over love lost. Neither is what they seem...but what they learn will change them forever...
“It was need, Linden. I don’t want to need anything. I can make. I can destroy. Need implies something controls me and nothing controls me.”
“Please, always look at me this way. Stare into my eyes and see me for who I am and know that there is nothing more than this. When the world calls things into question, you need not question me because I will always be here for you.”
“The future be damned. Because right here, right now, I almost lost you. I won’t waste another moment.”
“I want so bloody bad to be your constant—what you cling to. But I want it to be because it is what you want and not because there is no other choice. If you’re truthful about not living for tomorrow, then prove it. Allow yourself to feel what you’ve been denying.”
“Make no mistake, Elaine, I am a king. Kings command and conquer. They are brutal and uncompromising. You don’t want a king. Face it; you came here expecting a saint.” - Dr. Xavier Vincent
"Did you know there is a connection between the shape of a woman's mouth and her ability to orgasm?"
Produced by Beckey White – In the Pages Designs
Produced by Beckey White – In the Pages Designs
Produced by Anne Lange, Erotic Romance author.
Enjoy a sample from the Symphony of Light Series and The Good Doctor Trilogy.
Secret Hungers Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Curing Doctor Vincent
The Good Doctor Trilogy – Book One
Copyright Renea Mason 2015
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form (print, electronic, audio or any other format), in part or in entirety, without the express permission of the author. This ebook is not transferrable.
This includes uploading the book in part or in whole to Internet sites that distribute pirated materials. In these cases, perpetrators may be subject to penalties for copyright infringement and other laws intended to protect the integrity of published works. Stop book pirating by only purchasing and downloading books from major reputable retailers.
Cover art by Alchemy Book Covers
Editor Nancy Cassidy – The Red Pen Coach
Beta-edits by the Mad Mason Beta-readers – Tiffany Dover, Lisa Errion, Elizabeth Robbins, Ashley Bodette, Beckey White, Sky Tillery, Crissy Sutcliffe, Amy Habel, Nicole Ulery, Robin Malone, Debbie Willis, Sharie Robinson, Libby Sinclair, and Amanda Miller.
Reviews of Curing Doctor Vincent
“Renea Mason has once again stripped a genre and built something completely unique and magnificent!” ~ Robin – Book Reads and Reviews
“This book is SO MUCH MORE than an erotic romance. Of course, the sex is smokin’ hot, and kinky… but the story behind it all? THAT is what kept me reading page after page. I couldn’t put it down.” ~ Ashley – Book Junkie: Not so Anonymous
“The Doctor will consume you, leaving you breathless, with an insatiable need for more. The story is well crafted, the mystery of the doctor is compelling, and the men are mouth-watering. Another five-star read from Ms. Mason.” ~Nicole – Books N Pearls
“Fast paced and interestingly HOT.” ~ Beckey – In the Pages of a Good Book
“Hot and sizzling… move over Mr. Grey… Dr. Vincent is in!!… This story, while very hot and at times unconventional, is at its heart about love, healing and growth. If you enjoy any of these elements, along with a healthy dose of spicy eroticism, then this story is very much for you.” ~ Amy – My Crazy Book Addiction
“Renea Mason has a way of taking the erotic and turning it into a spectacular story. There is plenty of hot sex in this one, but it is more about self-realization and life-changing discoveries. It is beautifully written and the Parisian backdrop only enhances the eroticism. If you like your smut with a little more substance, this book is perfect!” ~ Amanda – A Bookaholic’s Fix: Feeding the Addiction
Acknowledgements and Dedication
This book is dedicated to the Mad Masons—the most wonderful group of friends and supporters an author can have! It takes a book this naughty to honor a group this nice.
As always, thank you to my wonderful family, who make it all possible.
I’d like to thank the ladies who worked so hard to help me breathe life into Doctor Vincent and who have continually showed their support—The Mad Masons beta-readers – Tiffany Dover, Lisa Errion, Elizabeth “the fabulous” Robbins, Ashley Bodette, Beckey White, Sky Tillery, Crissy Sutcliffe, Amy Habel, Nicole “hooker” Ulery, Robin Malone, Debbie Willis, Sharie Robinson, Libby Sinclair and Amanda Miller. This story wouldn’t be the same without them!
“This change will make a huge difference to physicians prescribing the medication. Are there any questions?” With a quick sigh, I placed the laser pointer on the table, crossed my arms and wiped the sweat from my palms. It should have been an easy presentation, not unlike the hundreds I had given before, but this one was different.
Seated less than three feet away, in his expensive, dark gray suit, black tie and silver cufflinks, sat Dr. Xavier Vincent—company icon and legend. It’s not every day the man who developed the cure for your sister’s cancer shows up unannounced. His unshakable stare caused butterflies to stir in my stomach.
“I have a question.” The doctor sat forward, raising his hand.
I swallowed hard. “Yes, Dr. Vincent?” And to think, I had thought of patting myself on the back for holding it together. He wasn’t supposed to be in the meeting. He really should have abstained from asking questions.
“How long did it take you to compile this research?” I couldn’t read his expression, but that didn’t undermine the intensity of it.
“About six months, Sir.” I rolled the seam of my jacket between my fingers. So many things ran through my mind. I should have worn that dress I pulled from the hotel closet earlier that morning and discarded, instead of a drab brown blazer and pants. I should have gotten that stylish haircut and highlights last week, instead of sticking my auburn mane in a messy up-do. I shouldn’t have eaten that cheesecake on Tuesday. Had I only known he’d be here, I would have changed everything.
“Are you happy with your job?” He folded his arms on the table and sat up straight.
It was an unfair question, especially given the audience. I wasn’t happy with my job, but refused to disrespect him with a lie. “It’s important work that needs to be done.”
He reached for his aluminum tumbler, took a drink, and licked the water from his lips. “That’s not what I asked.”
Distracted by the sweeping of his tongue over his full lower lip, I forgot to engage the filter on my mouth. “I…I’m sorry. I find fulfillment in my work, Doctor. That’s the best any of us can ask, isn’t it really? I think true contentment impedes progress. Shouldn’t we all strive for something more? Happiness leads to complacency. So no, my job doesn’t make me happy, but as I said, it is important work.”
Several gasps echoed through the room. The doctor raised an eyebrow, paused, and then stood. “Well…thank you for your honesty, Elaine. If no one else has anything more for her, we can call it day. It was great to meet everyone and you are all invited to dinner at the Cornerstone Bistro at six-thirty. I hope to see you there.”
Shit. How could I be so stupid? My mouth got me into this mess. Some say the truth is best unspoken, but not for me. My convictions left me incapable of lying.
I started the shutdown process on my computer and opened my bag to tuck away my notebook. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
The room was a flurry of activity as everyone vied for the doctor’s attention. I couldn’t blame them; the man was intriguing. Dark hair, laced with only trace strands of gray, betrayed his youth. In magazines, his young age and good looks always contrasted his accomplishments, securing him celebrity status among his peers. I remember seeing him on the cover of Forbes Magazine – Fabulous under Forty edition. He couldn’t be that much older than me. In reality, the sharp angles of his face, and the light dusting of silver, gave him an air of sophistication beyond his years. It seemed unfair for a man with his beauty to also be gifted with such intelligence. Nature should be careful to balance such things. I had never thought of him in those terms before, but he was handsome beyond compare—untouchable, god-like even. And I’d just told him I hated my job.
It only took a moment to remind myself that this was a medical conference, not a singles bar. Besides, he wasn’t even on the market, the ring on his finger spoke of his commitments. But God…he was gorgeous. And every time he folded his large hands during the meeting, I had to will myself not to shiver. He had such long fingers. What the hell was wrong with me?
I looked up from my bag and the notebook slipped from my fingers. His steel blue eyes and strong jaw line made him look like a model, not a man capable of curing cancer. I needed to focus on something else, like a list of companies to submit my resume to. I cleared my throat. “Yes…Doctor.”
“You are coming to dinner.”
“I hadn’t planned on it. I’m not part of the team. Just a guest speaker.” I bent to collect the notebook from the floor, but he beat me to it. Our uncoordinated approaches caused me to smack my head into his.
“Ouch… Oh, I am so sorry. Are you okay?” I rubbed the sore spot on my head.
He laughed. “I’m fine.” He handed me the notebook.
Laughter was good. At least I hoped. I reached for the book, recognizing for the first time just how tall he was. I halted for a moment at the intoxicating scent of his cologne. He smelled like spiced-chocolate. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m not usually this nervous.” But if I had to venture a guess, it was the combination of being ill-prepared for his surprise attendance and my increasingly horny single status.
I stopped fidgeting with my items and fixed him with a perplexing stare. “I’m sorry?” Great, now I was even more unsettled.
“I saw you at the convention in Kansas City last year. You were quite confident.”
Shit. Of all the things he could have witnessed. Kansas City wasn’t my finest moment.
“Look, that convention…it was…I mean—”
“You don’t owe me an explanation.” He reached over and closed the lid on my laptop and handed it to me.
“Thank you, but I don’t want to hold you up from dinner.” And I didn’t want to rehash Kansas City, so I jumped on his easy out. The disappointment of presenting marketing data at conferences, rather than representing the company as their spokesperson, was reminder enough.
“It wasn’t a question. You are coming to dinner.”
I pulled the zipper closed on my bag and then brushed the hair from my eyes, to be sure that I wasn’t dreaming. “OK. Where is it? I’ll meet you there.” I wasn’t accustomed to feeling so inadequate, or discombobulated. He set me on edge. My skin tingled with sexual attraction and I wanted to throw myself at his feet for saving my sister. Dr. Vincent was making one fine mess of me.
He crossed his arms and his eyes narrowed. “Where are you staying?”
“At the Marriot.”
“Perfect. I’ll meet you in the lobby at six. Is that enough time?”
“Good.” He turned and walked to the doorway. “Oh and Elaine…I don’t like being stood up.” With that he walked away.
The lobby was crowded at dinnertime. The bustle of patrons strolling through the common area with luggage made it hard to navigate. When I turned the corner, I ran into the good doctor’s chest.
He maintained his balance and clutched my upper arms, stopping me before I had the chance to topple him. “There you are.”
I knew in that moment this was not a good idea. My thoughts regarding him were anything but professional. Even the slightest contact with him set me on fire.
“Elaine, are you okay?” He leaned down and stared into my eyes.
I smiled at him. “Yes. I’m fine. Just a bit distracted.”
I wouldn’t lie to him, but there was no way I was giving him the detailed truth. “I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
He returned my smile. “Well…let’s go get you a drink. The restaurant is only a few blocks away.” He motioned toward the exit.
Through the revolving door and down the uneven slate sidewalk, we walked side by side. I tucked my hands into the pockets of my wool coat. Chicago was chilly this time of year and the wind caused me to shiver.
“So when did you start working for Western?” He stopped in front of a building that resembled a tavern, but with a French flair. The amber lighting from inside spilled through the windows, turning the walk a golden hue. He opened the door and motioned for me to enter.
Voices, cheering and laughing, engulfed me, and I turned my head to respond to him over my shoulder. “Right out of college. So it’s been a few years.”
The feel of his wide-spread hand on the small of my back, chased away the bite of the Chicago night.
He approached the host podium and a man with gray hair and a black apron said, “You with Western?”
The doctor, with his hand still on my back, answered the older man, “Yes.”
The man scratched out something on a notepad and said, “Right this way.”
At the table sat several of the meeting attendees. I didn’t know anyone since I was only in town to present my research findings and was then headed back to New York. The doctor returned the many greetings he got from the team members with a quick wave.
I stopped breathing when his fingers brushed my neck. He hooked them around the collar of my coat and coaxed it down my shoulders. The doctor took two good strides in front of me and pulled out a chair. “Please, have a seat.”
I did as he requested and he pushed in the chair for me. I willed myself to stop trying to find more in his actions than a sophisticated man being polite.
I took a deep breath and let out a long sigh as he disappeared with our coats. When he took a seat beside me, I wasn’t sure if I’d survive the rest of the evening. He smelled so good. I knew it had to be my imagination, but I swore I could feel heat radiating from him. God…I needed to get laid.
The waiter, a man in his early twenties with red hair and a bright smile, approached the table. “Can I get you something to drink?”
The doctor’s shoulder rubbed against mine and then his hot breath brushed my ear. “What would you like to drink?”
Alcohol was not a good idea. The doctor wouldn’t take kindly to being accosted by a horny, drunken co-worker and his wife would be even less happy.
I faced him and with one look into his eyes, I knew there could be no alcoholic drinks. “I’ll have a water.”
He raised an eyebrow and turned back to the waiter. “Two glasses of your best pinot noir.”
It was my turn to give an incredulous glance.
Without hesitation, he responded, “Ms. Watkins, you have nearly given me a concussion, run me over in the lobby, and you have been distracted since our time in the conference room. Water is not what you need.”
“Since when do doctors advise the use of alcohol?”
He leaned in closer. “When he thinks that the patient needs to forget her worries.”
I huffed. “And I suppose arguing my point would get me nowhere.”
“Are you allergic to alcohol?”
“On any medications that are contraindicated with alcohol use?”
“Then yes, you are quite correct. There is no use arguing.”
The waiter returned with two glasses and a bottle. He poured a small amount of wine in one glass and presented it to the doctor. Dr. Vincent took a sip and nodded to the waiter, who then topped his glass and poured a second one, placing it in front of me before leaving.
The doctor lifted his glass and said, “To new and wonderful experiences.”
I lifted my glass and it clinked as it touched the side of his. He raised his glass and stood. Over the sound of the big-screen TVs in every corner blaring the news broadcasts, various sports and music videos, the doctor made a toast. The twenty plus executives, salespeople and clinicians seated at the table, gave the doctor their full attention. “Thank you all for coming out tonight. But mostly, thanks to all of you who’ve worked so hard to get Lyenstat into the hands of the patients who so desperately needed it this past year. Even though I wanted to come here personally to thank all of you, my gratitude pales in comparison to the thanks that comes from the thousands of brain cancer patients who now have a second chance. Everyone raise your glass…” He paused and waited until all hands were outstretched. “To health, happiness and all you truly desire.” He lifted the glass to his lips and took a drink.
The clanging of glasses and chatter of joyful tidings surrounded the table. The doctor sat beside me.
“What do you desire, Elaine?”
I choked and started to cough.
He placed his hand on my back. “You OK?”
My shock turned to a laugh. “Yes, I’m fine.” I took another drink to wash down the one that had stuck in my throat, sat the wine on the table and turned to him. “I desire…” God, I needed to be careful. “…To tell you how much I appreciate you.”
His eyes grew wide and he rested his hand on my leg. Just a friendly gesture. Stop reading more into it.
“What exactly do you appreciate?” There was a teasing tone to his voice.
I smiled to myself, thinking of all the possible answers, but settled on, “That you saved my sister. She almost died of that horrid disease. But you…you finished the cure just in time. She was one of the first patients to take the drug. I can’t thank you enough.”
He clutched my hand in his. “Oh, Elaine, I don’t know what to say, but I’m so thankful she’s going to be OK. So thankful we got it to her in time.” He looked away.
He still held my hand, but there was an obvious discomfort with my words.
“Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
He turned back. “Oh, I’m not. It’s just my turn to be a bit distracted.”
Out of the corner of my eye I caught an image that flashed across the TV screen and my stomach heaved. Shit. I had been traveling so often, the usual deluge of reporters banging on the door failed to alert me that it was time again. They hadn’t caught up with me in time.
Before I could make a graceful exit, a bald-guy named Pete, who worked in physician sales, hollered from several seats away, “Hey, Elaine, isn’t that your dad?”
Fuck. I grabbed the wine, took a large gulp and turned to the doctor. “Thank you so much for the drink, Doctor. It was very nice to meet you, but I have to go.” I pushed my chair back, stood and paused, along with everyone else including the doctor, staring at the TV flashing images of my father. On the screen in the closed-captioning—the country’s most notorious serial killer continues his game of cat and mouse with detectives for the third straight year. In order to extend his stay on death row, Daniel Simon Watkins reveals one victim per year to authorities, on the anniversary of the murders. Tonight, police are still searching for the complete set of remains belonging to Margaret Marie Smith of Omaha Nebraska, Watkins’ second victim, while family members of missing women from all over the world gather outside the New York State Penitentiary awaiting the name of his third. Police expect the “Basement Killer’s” announcement this week.
I didn’t answer Pete, but turned and headed to the host podium. I spotted my coat on a rack nearby. I yanked it from the hanger and threaded one arm into the sleeve as I pushed the door open with my hip. The uneven sidewalk stifled my gait, but I wanted to get back to my room and lock the door. How could the man who gave me everything—the perfect childhood—become my biggest nightmare? He was the reason I could no longer have a career in public relations. No company wanted a PR rep with my kind of baggage. What was it with sales people and their nosey questions?
About three feet from the Marriot threshold, someone grabbed my arm. Fear sent a rush of adrenaline through me. Ready to fight, I screamed, “Let go of me.”
“Elaine, it’s me, Xavier, I think you’ve caused me enough bodily harm tonight. You don’t need to try to kick my ass, too.”
I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself. I couldn’t face him.
Finally I managed, “Thanks for checking on me. I’m fine. You can head back.”
He grabbed my hand and laced his fingers between mine and pulled me toward the entrance. He looped his arm around my waist and held me against his body as we navigated the revolving door.
Once inside he guided me to a corner of the lobby with a loveseat and a fireplace, away from the prying eyes of the hotel guests.
“Sit down. And note: it’s not a request.”
“Yes, Sir.” I begrudgingly followed his instructions and hoped that appeasing him might end the discussion sooner. This is not how I wanted him to remember me.
“Look at me.”
I stared at the fire. There was no way I could look at him.
He huffed. “Fine, have it your way.” He turned so that his leg rested against mine. “You are not your father. Elaine, I was a practicing psychiatrist for many years.”
I laughed, but the sound wasn’t formed of humor. “So I finally get to meet the great Dr. Xavier Vincent and of all the embarrassing situations I could ever dream up, having him provide pro bono psychiatric help in a hotel lobby has to top them all. Reality really is more screwed up than fiction.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Another chuckle escaped and I turned to him. “Doctor, I really do appreciate your offer. It’s very nice of you to come here to try to help me, but this is not the picture of me I wanted you to leave with. I’m not frail and I’m not weak. I am raw, and need to heal. As a shrink, you know that.”
“How do you want me to see you?”
I inhaled, considering, then on an exhale I said, “A confident, decisive woman, who knows who she is. Not this mess you see tonight.”
I looked at him. “What?”
“That’s exactly how I’ll think of you. I always have.”
I buried my head in my cupped hands, and I peered out to the world through my spread fingers, trying to not read more into his words than he could possibly mean.
His hand moved to rest on my knee. “Answer one question for me and I’ll leave you for the night.”
I sat up. “What do you want to know?”
“You said you know who you are. What I want to know is, who you are going to be? I mean after all, shouldn’t we all strive for something more? Happiness only leads to complacency. At least that’s what I was once told by a very wise colleague.” He squeezed my leg, as he echoed back my words. “Tell me, Elaine, what more are you striving for, what are your desires?”
I took a deep breath and sat up. “That’s hard to answer. It changes. Some days, it’s simply to make it all go away. Others it’s to keep focused on the good in things. Most times, it’s being able to dream like I once did. I had a career, a future. Now I have a psychopathic dog and pony show that kills my ambitions every three hundred and sixty-five days. And times like tonight…”
He leaned in closer. “What about tonight?”
“Sometimes…I wish the distractions were enough.”
“Perhaps you need bigger distractions.”
I took a deep breath.
He patted my leg. “I’ll keep my promise. Please, get some rest. I’m happy that we got to meet.”
I chuckled, “Shouldn’t that be my line?”
“Trust me, the honor is all mine.” He stood. “I’m sure we will see each other again. It’s a small world.”
He turned and walked through the lobby. I watched him until he disappeared behind a pillar. What a mess of a trip. All I hoped for was a good night sleep.
The next morning, I gathered my things and headed to the lobby to turn in my room key and catch the shuttle to the airport. The receptionist took the key. “How was your stay?”
I leaned my luggage against the counter. “Good.”
“Oh, Ms. Watkins, I have a package for you. One moment…”
The tall, blond gentleman set a small package on the counter.
I figured I’d left something at the conference center. I tugged on the brown paper and it revealed another package, this one wrapped in gold foil. Careful not to tear the wrapping since it was so beautiful, I released the tape and slid a small box from inside.
The silver box, adorned with tightly woven knotwork, was empty.
On the inside of the lid were the words,
“When Pandora opened the box and released evil onto the world, suffering became our burden. But in this story, most fail to recognize her gift—hope. For if the box can be emptied, it can once again be filled. Anything is possible if you believe hard enough. Lock away all that haunts you to find all you’ve ever hoped for.”
It wasn’t signed. There was no author acknowledgement, but the gift could have only come from one person—Dr. Vincent.
Copyright 2014 Renea Mason
Published by Etopia Press
Symphony of Light – Book One
Paranormal Erotic Romance
18 Years + Only
There was no warning. No ambiguous fortune in a cookie, no wrinkled blind woman who answered to the name Oracle, no chain letter in my e-mail predicting the disaster my day would become. Nothing.
Yet by the end of the day, I would ruin my reputation, doom my career, and be forced to reevaluate my entire existence. But only after being thrust back into a world I had always believed was nothing more than a delusion.
“Damn! You look like a leprechaun’s wet dream.” Clarence’s slight Southern drawl emerged when he teased. “Are we so far behind you had to take up hookin’?” Gesturing at my far from typical attire, my accomplice, employee, and friend took a seat beside me in the Mezzanine Lounge. The final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony resonated from beyond the red double doors of the concert hall.
“Very funny. It’s not the goal. It’s the target.” Glancing down at my plunging neckline, I realized the diamond necklace, a gift from my late husband, was the only thing I wore in good taste.
My objective was simple—convince two wealthy businessmen their financial contributions were key to the orchestra’s survival. After weeks of poring through hundreds of files and identifying the perfect prospects, I had selected esteemed guests for the night’s reception.
Clarence reached over and tugged on wispy strands of my hair. “The green shirt really sets off your fiery mane.”
“The lady at the salon did her best to tone it down.” I patted the locks, pinned in a loose bun. My brilliant copper-red hair was inspired by a documentary on South American tree frogs. Their vibrant cloaking cautioned predators to stay away. Fearing I had something in common with the frogs, I broadcast my own warning. Our secret? Venom. Waking next to a corpse on my honeymoon had been a pretty big omen. I could take a hint.
Unfortunately, this job called for a different strategy. Attraction was essential. I slid a folder toward Clarence.
“So you’ve decided on our final victim, Ms. Senior Director of Fund-raising.” He opened the front cover. “Martin Willoughby. That explains everything. Well, if anyone can loosen his pockets, it’s you.” Clarence stroked his impeccably trimmed goatee, which accented a hard-to-forget smile.
I glanced at the file and tapped a finger on the cover. “I’ve tried to avoid him, but Willoughby is our best chance. We only have a few more weeks to make our goal.” I looked down and adjusted my shirt. “The outfit ensures I’ll keep his attention long enough to make the ‘ask’, but it’s not without risk. Do you remember what happened to Allison last year?” I shifted on the slippery bar stool and tugged my short skirt, making sure it covered my ample bottom.
“How could I forget? She moaned for days about how hard he pinched her ass.” Clarence laughed, and the lights hanging above the bar highlighted small wrinkles on his smooth-shaven head.
I slapped another folder against the bar, harder than I intended. “Our second prospect is Stanton Overton. He’s bringing a guest.”
“Is Overton the one who wore the black pin- striped James Bond suit to the gala?”
I nodded. “I didn’t get a good feel for his giving potential because he kept refocusing the conversation on me.”
“Linden, the man is so fine he can keep his money. I’ll take his phone number.” Clarence cracked his knuckles as he let out a sigh, but I noticed the blush in his coffee-colored cheeks.
I needed to keep him on task. “I’m depending on you. I’ll get things wrapped up with Willoughby as fast as possible so I can see if Overton’s guest has potential.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll make sure it’s all business.” He winked.
I shot back a suspicious half smile and leaned across the bar, stowing the folders out of sight.
The bustle of patrons exiting the concert hall filled the corridors. A few musicians arrived and assembled a string quartet in the corner of the lounge, adding to the ambience of the evening’s event. I waved to them and mouthed thank you from across the room.
From behind, a large hand snaked around my waist, causing me to slide off the barstool. I stumbled. Martin Willoughby steadied me, and then pulled me hard against his chest. He kissed me first on one
cheek and then the other while his eyes lingered on my cleavage between kisses. “Ms. Hill.”
I stared at him for a moment, trying to regain my wits. “So nice to see you again, Mr. Willoughby. Did you enjoy the performance?”
“Yes.” He pulled back and let his gaze roam the length of my body. “You look delectable.”
I blushed, tilted my head, and flashed a seductive smile. “Thank you. Can I get you a drink? Scotch, double malt, if I remember correctly?”
He beamed. “My dear, you certainly have a good memory.”
I smiled, hiding the truth—the subtle nuances my research had revealed about this man.
“One moment.” I steadied myself in my three- inch heels. When I turned to flag the bartender, Willoughby cupped my left butt cheek and squeezed. Even though I knew to expect it, the pinching took me by surprise. I stiffened.
He probably did too.
Nothing quite like Viagra bravado. He brushed a hand through his graying hair and gave a toothy grin.
I reminded myself how much the orchestra needed the money. Masking a grimace behind a coy smile, I mouthed oh, my. He may have been attractive in his day, but the liver spots and deep-etched lines on his face confirmed years of hard living.
I nudged Clarence, who still stood at the bar waiting for Overton, and motioned for the bartender. Clarence grinned, then leaned in whispering,
“How’s your ass?”
He snickered, leaned forward on his elbows, and took a drink.
I elbowed him in the side.
“Two scotches, double malt.” To hell with the girlie drinks. I needed the good stuff.
Schubert’s String Quartet no. 14, Death and the Maiden played as I accepted Willoughby’s outstretched arm and he guided us to a quieter spot in the room. When I offered him the scotch, he snaked his arm around my waist. “So where were we, Linden?”
“The performance.” I didn’t give him time to interject. “Next year, if I can raise all the necessary funds, your seats will have improved acoustics. We’re also adding a few private boxes for our patrons who like…discretion.” I shouldn’t have, but I threw him a tempting smile.
Segueing into the pitch early was risky, but if I didn’t get started, he might need to be surgically removed. Overton would be arriving at any moment. Time was not a luxury if I wanted any chance of hitting up his guest for a donation too.
“Is that so?” He pulled me into a tight hug. “And what would be required to get on the list for one of those boxes?”
I stood several inches taller than Willoughby, and his embrace positioned his face far too close to my not-so-well-contained cleavage. I held my glass in front of me, putting distance between us. “If you are
able to make a sizable donation this season, I’ll make sure you are first in line.”
He leaned in, his breath smelling of scotch, cigar smoke, and bad teeth. “Oh sweetheart, you can put me second in line behind you and I’ll show you how sizable my donation can be.”
I grimaced, willing my stomach not to heave as I struggled to laugh at his disgusting joke. Before preparing a forced flirty comeback, I glanced toward the door and saw Overton and his…oh God.
Electricity ignited my skin as the stranger entered the room. The hairs on my arms tingled. My heart halted beating. Words stuck in my throat and mind. My chest tightened. All motion slowed as if the world were suspended in liquid.
Overton’s guest removed a pair of dark glasses, tucked them into the inside pocket of his jacket, and stared directly at me. From the corner of the room the music crescendoed, and his penetrating gaze caused the glass to slip from my hand. The caramel-colored liquid made large wet splotches all over Martin Willoughby’s dress pants. Motionless, I returned the man’s scrutiny.
It was him. Impossible. Ten years ago, I held Overton’s guest as he bled out onto the snow. He died. This could not be real.
“Damn it!” Willoughby’s exclamation and step backward pulled me from my stupor.
“Oh! I am so sorry. Let me get that.” Long, clumsy strides took me to the bar for a stack of napkins, then back. I dropped to my knees and wiped
at the amber liquid. Anything to break eye contact. My hands shook, making the task difficult.
I mumbled apologies to Willoughby and looked up to see him staring down at me. The mischievous grin told me he could see down my shirt. From my knees, I ventured a guess at the fantasy running through his head.
I rose to my feet, careful not to look anywhere but at Willoughby. “I’m so sorry. Please let me pay for your dry cleaning.” Sincerity proved difficult when my mind couldn’t care less about the smelly man or his pants, given the new development.
“Nonsense. It’s just a little scotch. It will come out in the wash. Besides the image of you on your knees was payment enough.” He winked.
I faked a giggle and hid my trembling hands. A familiar heat coursed through my body, disturbing and undeniable. I needed a moment to gather myself. “I should probably go freshen up. I got scotch on me too.”
Willoughby grabbed my arm and looked into my eyes with surprising and welcome concern. I don’t know what he found. Fear? Exhaustion? Confusion?
“What’s wrong, Linden?”
“I feel bad about your pants,” I lied. “I didn’t ask you here to ruin your night.”
“I know.” He reached out and brushed one of the strands of hair from my face. As he did, I glanced up to verify the man who accompanied Overton remained in the room. He had not wavered.
Willoughby seemed to pick up on my emotions. “Ms. Hill, we both know what these gatherings are about. As much as we love the pretense, let me make this a little easier. How much do you need?”
I hoped he had a tight grip on his drink when he learned the amount. I gave him a weary smile. “Fifty thousand.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I’ll be first on the list for one of the boxes?”
He paused and stared into my eyes. His gaze then drifted to my cleavage. He sighed. “Done. I’ll have my assistant send over the check in the morning.”
“Thank you so much.” I extended my gratitude not only for the money, but also for the distraction. “Really, thank yo—”
“As always, Ms. Hill, it was my pleasure. My wife is waiting for me in the car. Call me when the box assignments are made.”
“Certainly. Thank you, again.”
He threw his arms around me and pulled me into a fierce hug, which landed his nose between my breasts. After one last squeeze of my bottom, he turned to leave.
Who would have thought I would be sorry to see Martin Willoughby go?
Overton stood at the bar conversing with Clarence, his guest no longer in the doorway. Exhaling a sigh of relief, hoping I imagined everything, I heard his voice come from behind me. Different accent; same tones. Light tremors racked my
body as he drew near. Even though I could not see him, the pulsing under my skin alerted me to his proximity. His scent, unmistakable.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Green?” The words slid like velvet from his tongue as he approached.
By some miracle, I managed to respond, “Yes?” My back to him, eyes closed. Michael, my late husband, convinced me I had concocted the man’s entire existence. I had always secretly hoped he was wrong, hating to think someone imaginary had affected me so deeply—that I was still in love with a dream. Wait, he called me by my married name? No one knew I was a widow.
“I’d like to introduce myself.” His words were almost a whisper, and so close his hot breath tickled my ear.
I turned to face him, trembling. Our eyes met, and the intensity nearly buckled my knees.
He extended his hand. “Morgan Peters.” Same blue eyes.
Deep breath. In slow motion, I slipped my hand into his. Electric, just as I remembered. A low voltage ran through my body. His touch simmered my blood and I worried my bones might turn to liquid. He was the nexus. My stare drifted to his hand, large and masculine, tightening around mine, then looked up into his wide, surprised eyes.
My tongue felt thick and dry from anxiety; beads of perspiration peppered my skin. I swallowed hard and exhaled. “It’s nice to meet you…Mr. Peters.”
Cyril Aristin was the man I watched die, not Morgan Peters.
He searched my face, his smile holding a hint of snide satisfaction. “Do I make you nervous? You seem a bit… Out of sorts.”
I took a deep breath and shook my head. “No. Ah…not at all, my apologies. I spilled my drink on someone and I feel awful. Can we start again? I’m Linden Hill. Did you attend the performance with Mr. Overton?”
“I did.” My memory, or imagination, had not done the ocean-blue of his eyes justice. So captivating. “Stanton and I are old friends. We’ve conducted many business transactions over the years. He told me of the superb orchestra you have in this city. Since I’ve never had the pleasure, I decided to accompany him tonight.” He took my hand in his once more, raised it, and kissed the back of it. “And what a pleasure it has been.” Even though the contact with his lips was only a quick passing, the sensation branded my skin with delightful heat.
When he released me, I instantly longed for his touch. I breathed in a scent that brought memories of teenage fantasies.
Attempting to reclaim dignity, I cleared my throat. “Di-did you enjoy the performance?”
“Yes, very much. Stanton told me you are undertaking quite the renovation project. Is that true?”
“Yes, we’re updating a lot of the original features, adding the private boxes, and remodeling backstage to help attract better touring companies.”
His brow furrowed and eyes narrowed. The intensity in his gaze frightened me. His hand rose toward my face.
Turning my head toward the bar, I pointed, and in the process dodged his touch. Unsettled by his expression, I broke the silence. “Can I get you a drink, Cy…Mr. Peters?”
“No, thank you. I must be going. Stanton told me on our way here tonight that you made a promise to make sure he upholds his obligations to the arts. He’ll be in touch.” He shot me the first true smile since our introduction.
“I look forward to speaking with him.” I smiled back, hoping my anxiety didn’t show.
“Again, my pleasure, Mrs. Green.” He brought my hand to his lips, but paused before touching my skin. He inhaled and released his breath with a long sigh, and it blew hot across my skin.
Dumbfounded, I managed nothing more than a stunned stare.
Placing his lips lightly against my hand, with deliberate slowness, he lingered. I hoped he didn’t notice my shiver, but the sly smile pulling at the corner of his mouth told me otherwise.
He released my hand and tucked his behind his back, gave a slight nod, and walked toward Overton. I watched as Peters whispered something to him.
I didn’t move.
Overton glanced at me and placed his drink on the counter. “Peters” stole one last look over his shoulder. His brow furrowed one last time when our gazes connected. Finally he turned, and they made their way down the hall to the exterior doors as the musicians completed the final stanza.
I watched him until they were out of sight. I moved to the far wall and slumped on the red leather bench.
I needed Clarence’s confirmation. Or Olivia’s. I refused to cry over a delusion. My closest friend, besides Clarence, and the daughter of our wealthiest patron, Olivia spent a lot of time hanging around the office. I thought for sure she would make an appearance. She loved crashing my gatherings.
Clarence took a seat beside me. “So, how’d you do? Did you land Willoughby? What about tall, dark, and dangerous? That man should be illegal.” Clarence tried to hide his grin, but failed.
That confirmed he was real at least. “I don’t want to talk about it. Have you seen Olivia? I thought for sure she would drop by.”
“I saw her in the lobby before the performance. She said she was going to stop by to see you.”
“I haven’t seen her, but I really need to talk to her.”
“She came with her dad. It’s possible he had to leave. He is a busy man, with City Council and the company.”
“Yeah…you’re probably right. What about you? How did you fare?”
“Overton seemed distracted. He told me Peters is a business partner. Said he’d donate something, but he kept watching Peters. I’ll follow up with him midweek.”
In the corner, the musicians packed their instruments. I waved. “Thank you for the beautiful performance.” A few free hands raised in acknowledgment.
“Well?” Clarence prompted.
I put my face in my hands and spoke through widespread fingers. “I got the fifty thousand from Willoughby.”
“Fabulous news! You didn’t have to get naked!”
I moved my hands away from my eyes enough to glare at him. “But I did indulge his oral sex fantasy while on my knees wiping scotch from his pants.”
“You’re lucky he didn’t ask you to help him take them off.”
“Did you get money from the Peters guy?” “No. Long story.”
He shot me a puzzled look. “What’s wrong,
Taking a deep breath, I tossed my head back and
stretched my neck from side to side. “Nothing. I’m tired. Go ahead and take off; I’ll close up here. We can talk about everything on Monday. Have a good weekend, and be careful on your way home.”
Giving a sympathetic smile, he patted my shoulder. “You too.”
I willed myself not to cry. A long night’s sleep was in order, courtesy of the sleeping pills Clarence gave me after a bad string of nightmares.
Exhausted from dealing with Mr. Undead, I removed my shoes, letting the plush carpet comfort my tired feet, and made my way to the restroom. The concertgoers and staff were long gone, making the hall eerie. Under normal circumstances, I would be reveling in the fortunate events of the evening, but encountering Cyril—rather, Mr. Peters—caused an old wound to fester. I wondered what the hell he was. A ghost? Long-lost twin? Or had I finally gone crazy?
I reached behind my neck with both hands and unclasped the necklace irritating my skin. Using my behind to bump open the bathroom door, I slipped inside.
The restroom was left over from a time when women escaped from overbearing men to powder shiny noses and gossip about how much other women gossiped. The walls were covered in a garish color best described as grandma-was-a-whore pink. I placed the necklace and my shoes on one of the worn sea-green velvet benches as the door on its pneumatic hinge creaked closed.
I shivered from a resurgence of the strange current that radiated through me earlier. Maybe Cyril wasn’t the cause. Maybe I was getting si—
He held me against the wall with such strength my feet no longer touched the ground. Supported by the crushing force of his body, the compression caused my breasts to escape an already bulging
blouse, and mashed my nipples against the horrid paint. His chest rose and fell against my back. He spoke, not with the same American accent he tried to deceive me with earlier, but rather the tones of the British Isles mixed with something ancient and familiar. “Who are you?” His breath, hot against my ear, and a soft, rich voice contrasted with the violence of the leg wedged between my thighs.
He restrained my hands above my head in the steel grasp of his fist. I attempted to answer him, but couldn’t force enough air into my lungs. He growled. His chest rumbled.
The intense heat of his body was a dramatic contrast to the cold wall on my exposed skin. My nipples hardened to painful peaks. He brought his free hand to my throat, cradling it in warning. The next moment he spoke in low, punctuated notes. “Who…the…fuck…are…you?” The words reverberated, sustaining the menace.
I managed only a whimper, too shocked to form complete words. His grip loosened, but he did not release me. I swallowed hard. “Lin—”
“I know your name, Mrs. Green. Don’t take me for a fool. Now tell me why you have seen fit to steal from me?” He inhaled a sharp breath. “How dare you take what was not freely given. Do you have any idea what you have done…” His last words were uttered on a groan as he lowered me, shifted, and then rubbed his swollen arousal against my ass.
The friction of his body did strange things to me. My head clouded with images of our earlier life
together, making it difficult to form rational thoughts. Flashes of a fantasy I once had of him where he took me against the glass wall of his cabin penetrated the fear.
I mustered as much air as possible and issued my indignant response. “You don’t have any right to complain about things that aren’t freely given. Hypocritical of you given our current position, isn’t it?”
He growled and moved his leg, still seated between mine, in a slow and rhythmic friction against my sex. It was a dare. He was egging me on. He wanted me to defy him again; it was evident in his every movement.
I groaned and slammed my eyes closed, trying to ignore the heat building in my stomach. Another deep inhalation made it easier to speak. “What exactly do you think I stole from you?”
He moaned as he slowly licked my neck from nape to ear and whispered, “Everything. You, my little thief, need to convince me that I shouldn’t take it back.”
Never had anyone touched me in such a way, and my traitorous body couldn’t care less about right or wrong, good or bad. It was need. The need to be touched. To feel alive. The need for him. Damn the consequences. I shivered as his breath blew cold across the wet trail his tongue left on my searing skin. He shifted, wedging his clothed erection firmly into the cleft of my ass, while his heat penetrated every place he touched.
He grabbed my chin with the hand he once had at my throat, and turned my face. In the mirror, our reflection was a disturbing yet erotic sight. Seeing myself pushed against the wall made the vision terrifying, but at the same time arousing.
As his body blanketed mine, a voice in the back of my mind whispered, Surrender. His height, broad shoulders, narrow hips, and well-defined muscles were all discernible through his custom-made black suit. His hair framed the sharp angles of his masculine face—straight nose, square, shadowed jaw, and full, sensual lips.
My red locks had fallen free from the pin, and my skirt had worked its way around my waist. With three small freckles exposed, the lacy strap of my thong highlighted my bare ass.
His body cocooned mine, but it was the ever-so- slight swirling motion of his hips rubbing his cock between my cheeks that precipitated my groan.
I raised my eyes to make contact with the brilliant pools of blue. Finally he broke the silence, but not his gaze.
“Are you going to start explaining, or do I need to find other means of persuasion?” He thrust his hips in warning.
I moaned. Somewhere deep in my mind, beyond the fear and intense lust, I knew I should start talking, but another part of me wanted to feel, more than anything, what it would be like to be fucked into submission—to be possessed by him. I had been cold
and alone inside for so long. He was life, sex, and death in one dangerous package.
Fortunately, the sensible side of me won the battle. I forced myself to think as clearly as possible. “Cyril, I…I…mean Morgan, ah…shit… Whatever your name is, tell me what it is you want. I’ll give it to you.”
He laughed, low and mocking. “You can’t give it back. Did you not consider the consequences?” He lowered his face to my neck and nipped gently. “Was it your goal to weaken me? I will not suffer weakness!” He bellowed a whisper, his mouth close to my ear. “The Awakening was wrong. I thought it might have been the ritual, wondered if the magics were incompatible. Then I felt you tonight and all the pieces fell into place. Your attempts to compromise me will not work. The question now is what to do about it? Perhaps I should kill you?” He blew a soft stream air into my ear, sending shivers through me. “Or I could take my time and savor you first?” He paused and ran his nose along my throat. His rough stubble scraped my skin, leaving behind a sinful burn. “Oh, the possibilities. I bet you’d even thank me for it.” He placed a kiss under my jaw. “But before I decide, I need to know how you did it? Are you one of Myghal’s? Tell me!”
I had no doubt about his conviction. He was dead serious.
I trembled. Wetness flowed freely from my eyes as anger consumed me. Like a woman possessed, I couldn’t stop myself. Sealing my fate, I rambled,
“What about me, you bastard? How dare you demand answers? It’s been ten years. I watched you die! I would have given my life to save you.” I panted. “What are you?”
He shifted and his grip softened.
My body shook. I sucked air through my teeth. “They found me covered in blood, with no explanation. The police thought I staged everything for attention, assuming it was a suicide attempt, because all evidence, including your body, disappeared. The only thing they saw was my sliced wrist. If not for Michael, they would have taken me to the psych ward.”
He showed no emotion, but his attention remained focused on my lips.
“The coma lasted seven months. Not one doctor could explain it. A psychotic break, they called it.” Tears cascaded over my cheeks and landed on the tops of my breasts. “Michael tried to convince me you didn’t exist. I suffered your death in silence. No one believed me, but in my soul, I knew you were real.” A sob caught in my throat, but I choked it back. My body stiffened, steeling my resolve. “So, fuck you! Go ahead. Kill me. I don’t care. Because what you did to me makes dying the lesser of two evils. You cursed me. Anyone close to me dies. You stole my future, you son of a bitch.” I tilted my head to give him better access to my throat.
He inhaled a shaky breath.
Rigid, I awaited his response, wanting it to be over. “Take what you want because the only thing I own is my regret at ever meeting you.”
He didn’t move and remained expressionless.
“But I should warn you, if you fuck me, it might not end so well. The last man didn’t live to regret it.”
He said nothing while watching my cleansing tears expel grief, anger, and regret. My chest heaved with rapid breaths, bracing myself for his strike.
His hold loosened, releasing my hands from above my head.
My arms hung limp at my sides in defeat. He bent, placing tender kisses along my neck. He grasped my chin, turned my head, and captured my lips. His kiss started soft, but built as he rocked against me. He kissed me like a long-lost lover, the lover I had always wished him to be. There was no doubt about it now. He was Cyril.
His kiss was nothing like our first. Full, soft lips laced with electric sin traveled straight to my depths. I had dreamed of experiencing him as much more. Not the chaste kiss he placed upon my lips while dying, but rather a man desperate to affirm life.
I inhaled. His scent intoxicated me, clouding my head and igniting the liquid heat between my legs, welcoming him.
He paused and tilted his head as if listening for something, then resumed his kiss. His teeth tugged gently on my lower lip as he caressed the edge with the tip of his velvet tongue.
His mouth met my lips, neck, cheeks, and shoulders, in a shower of passion-filled caresses.
I expected sharp teeth to pierce my skin at any moment. Instead, he ground his erection against me. He moaned, sighed, and panted rhythmically in my ear. His knee seated between my thighs became saturated with my arousal as he rubbed sensitive flesh, keeping time with his breaths.
His thrusts against my body suggested the need for release. Thinking of his impending orgasm brought me closer to the edge. I closed my eyes, feeling the escalating warmth. To feel him shudder and groan from absolute pleasure would be too much. “Oh, Cyri—”
A loud female gasp stunned me. Margie, the orchestra assistant, stood with her mouth gaping at finding me nearly naked and pressed against the wall by a commanding stranger. It didn’t help that Margie had the well-earned title of office gossip.
He peeled away and turned me to help right my clothes, positioning himself between Margie and me as if to shield my modesty. I tried to steady my breathing. Slapping his hands away, I peered around him to glare at Margie, who remained frozen in place. I tucked in my breasts, pulled down my skirt, cleared my throat, and attempted to speak through gritted teeth. “Something you need, Margie?”
“Oh… No. Sorry, Linden.” She headed for a stall. Wait. She wasn’t leaving? Bitch!
His disheveled appearance, accentuated by a light coat of sweat and a large wet spot on his right knee,
made my breath catch. His pupils dilated and his breathing labored as he stared back with eyes ringed in sapphire.
I blushed and shook my head to dislodge the lust. I stared at him and whispered, “I guess you’re going to have to kill me quietly or increase the body count?”
His gaze raked over my body before he bent to place a light kiss on the top of my head. Searching my face for a moment, his lips pulled at the edges in a wicked smile.
He bent, speaking close to my ear in an overly formal tone. “Mrs. Green, nice to make your acquaintance. It certainly has been a pleasure meeting you. Good evening.” He turned and left, his departure a blur.
Too stunned to follow, I stood transfixed.
Margie vacated the stall, pushing past my motionless form, and began to wash her hands. I wanted to slap her and thank her at the same time. Exiting the restroom, she appeared rattled, but the smirk didn’t go unnoticed.
Standing still, trying to gather my wits, my body trembled from overstimulation and fear. So much deserved contemplation, but my mind kept repeating the same words over and over again.
What the fuck?
Copyright 2014 Renea Mason
Published by Etopia Press
Symphony of Light – Book Two
Paranormal Erotic Romance
18 Years + Only
“Linden…take your clothes off.” Cyril’s voice, low and commanding, laced tendrils of seduction through my mind. Even without his six feet five inches of supernatural perfection looming, he had control.
“Absolutely not. You’re not talking me into that again.” A world away, he still commanded my body. My stomach filled with warmth, and hairs raised on my arms with the cadence and tone in my mind. Damn it.
“How was I to know the man would be walking his dog so late? If your inferior senses had detected his presence, you could have hidden instead of running naked through the streets.” He snickered. “Look at it this way…you were lighter without clothes, and Michael’s
power infusion gave you the ability to outrun the beast. Important knowledge, even if your hearing sucks.”
Ever since the accident, which left Cyril in another plane of existence, tormenting me remained his main form of entertainment. He took great pleasure in my uncertainty. Being separated from his body left him with metaphorical idle hands, and my brain the only thing within reach. He blamed his actions on not knowing which abilities I inherited when I destroyed Michael—my short-lived husband and all-around supernatural nuisance. The moment I plunged the knife into Michael’s back, something in me changed. Beyond the branching pattern of raised skin covering my back, the experience also altered my soul, but how was unclear. With Cyril as my guide, I never knew if I’d end up the victor or the prey.
“My hearing is fine. Besides, I couldn’t hear around all the bullshit you were spewing in my head.” I crossed my arms, still not quite comfortable speaking to him out loud. A delay occurred between my thoughts and his access to them. His interpretation of them was accurate about sixty percent of the time. Verbal communication allowed for instant understanding, when it worked.
“You’re not questioning me, are you? Do you want to learn or not?” The huskiness surrounding his words accented power and his centuries of experience. Since he was at my mercy until he once again inhabited his
body, desperation for control led him to push boundaries.
As much as I hated to admit it, I needed him too, but letting him know was not an option. He was cocky enough. Another ounce of ego would make him unbearable.
“Mr. Aristin, do not think for one moment you are going to manipulate me. There needs to be trust.”
“I couldn’t agree more. Had you trusted me, we wouldn’t be in this mess.” He sighed and in a soft tone wrapped with demand said, “Now take your clothes off.”
“Can’t I just stick to releasing souls? That was easy, and I could leave my pants on.”
“No. You have much to learn.”
Cyril had let me know that he was not sure why, but the mixture of his blood in my veins and my proximity to Michael’s destruction gave me the ability to release souls. He had said that mankind should be damn thankful I was there to take his place as the gateway to the afterlife. Freeing their souls for the journey to heaven or hell saved them from an eternity in purgatory. But apparently that was only part of it.
“As long as you don’t start calling me Grim.” Maybe it wasn’t fair to forbid the nickname I bestowed upon him for his role as the soul deliverer, but I was beyond worrying about his sensitivities.
“I have far better names for you. Would you like to
hear how you inspired them?”
“No. Let’s get this over with. It’s freezing.”
“Magic is more than an ability. It’s a skill. Surely our previous lessons have taught you that. Channeling the energy takes practice.”
“But you say it’s equal parts will and magic. Some situations require an influence and focus—spell component and chant. Like how you told me you created your family with the souls of three men, your blood, magic, and focused will. What does any of that have to do with getting naked?”
He growled. “Stop talking and do it. Trust me.” His use of trust as a trump card to win arguments was getting old.
I inhaled the crisp night air as the moon shone bright in the night sky, outlining everything in a strange, opaque aura. Its shadows appeared astral. It was almost midnight, and the night was cold. I looked behind me to make sure I was alone. Cyril’s lessons had brought us back to the cemetery where we originally met. The energy resulting from the intersection of two powerful ley lines would make it easier for me to learn. I moved my hands to the zipper on my coat.
“They are magical; the moon shadows, I mean.”
It sucked having him in my mind. A few seconds after a thought crossed he had full access to it
as a memory. I was never alone except when he grew too weary to maintain the connection or when it dropped like bad cell phone reception. His presence was always a surprise. During rare merciful times, he’d let an embarrassing stray notion vanish without comment, but that was a rarity most days. The constant focus on controlling my thoughts wore on me. It was impossible to stop them from forming without thinking of why they shouldn’t be formed in the first place. Either way, I was screwed.
He must have sensed my turmoil because he changed tactics. “If you’d be so kind as to oblige my request…” But his attempt at manners was undermined by the growl reverberating between my ears. I couldn’t even roll my eyes in peace.
“Request, my ass. Besides, it’s cold.” No matter how much I wanted to resist, the guilt that gripped me for trapping him outside his body softened my response to his bullshit every time.
“You won’t be for long. Now get on with it; we haven’t got all night. I’m growing tired.”
Another quick look around revealed row after row of headstones. The crisp nip of winter air and the moon-bathed landscape awaited me. I shrugged off my coat, removed my shoes and socks, shimmied the jeans over my hips, and pulled the sweater over my head. Standing next to a pile of clothes in only panties and bra, I wrapped my arms across my chest. With
the temperature near the low thirties, I shivered and looked up to the sky. Closing my eyes, I grumbled, “Now what?”
He laughed. “Oh, my dearest Linden, open your eyes and look down.”
Busted. I looked, but focused several feet away, avoiding my body. I focused on the grass trimmed in tiny white crystals of frost. So fucking cold.
“You naughty girl. When I told you to take your clothes off, I meant all of them. Do it. Then let me see.”
I huffed and reached around to unfasten my bra. The task proved difficult as my hands shook from the temperature, anger, and anxiety. Working the panties down my legs, I complained, “I’m going to die from hypothermia.”
Standing on a hill overlooking the Laurel Mountain range, in a cemetery, at midnight, talking to nothing but the night air while taking orders from a voice in my head was all the evidence I needed. I had finally gone insane.
“Show me.” The menace gone, seduction in its place.
I sighed and complied. My nipples were so puckered and hard they could have chiseled ice. My skin reddened from windburn.
A sound in my head like air being sucked through teeth echoed between my ears. “You are so
beautiful. When I’m back, I’m going to dedicate a week to savoring each part of your body. I’m going to wrap my lips around each of those rosy buds. Without touching any other part of your body, I’ll make you writhe, pant, and moan for me.”
Damn him. The breeze blew, but I was immune. The heat that grew from within, negating its effects. “Cyril, please…” I intended a warning, but he interpreted my words as a plea.
“I feel your need. If I was there, I’d bend you over the bench, watch your red hair drape over your back, and fuck you until you screamed my name. When the echoes of your passion stopped filling my ears, I’d sit you atop me and bury myself inside you and lathe the milky white skin of your breasts with my tongue. When those beautiful green eyes told me you surrendered, I’d bite and consume you as you consumed me.”
“Stop. Cyril, please. I am on edge. I’m ready to ignite. You can feel it. Please don’t make it worse.” He held a switch to my body’s thermostat. The only thing chilled was the place between my legs where moisture pooled. What other woman could say that she bedded a god made for sex? The goddess who created him, to see to her every physical need, perfected every detail. The man was a Titan in bed, and damn my luck, the universe gave me a taste before taking him, just so I’d know what I was missing. Fucking fates.
“When you bring me back to you, where I belong, I’ll make it up to you. You have my word. Are you still cold?”
“No.” In fact, I was surprised I didn’t combust.
“See, you should trust me more often.”
“Now your lesson…Light, close your eyes.”
Lowering my lids, I did as he asked.
“Can you feel the pulse?”
I focused, blocking out the whistle caused by the breeze blowing across my ears. The cold numbed my skin once my Cyril-induced inferno extinguished. It shook the hairs on my arms, tickling.
“Walk to it.”
I did. As I got closer, it thundered in my brain. Cyril’s identity, my anxiety, and the strange sensation caused something akin to a headache to take hold. “It’s making my head hurt.”
“That’s expected. The pulse has increased. Now, find the place where it’s so fast, it’s sustained. The pain will subside when you are in the precise spot. You’ll learn how to pace out the pinnacle, and you won’t need to focus on the feeling.”
“Is that what you were doing the first time I saw you here? You were counting.”
“Yes. The lines shift with the season, and winter is two paces to the left of summer. It’s easier to count since I’ve been here before. Better than getting naked and risk
“I never would have attacked you!”
“You may have been young, but the hunger in your eyes for me, even then, was unmistakable.”
“You are impossible. Hurry, I’m getting cold.”
“Do you need me to heat you up again? Should I tell you about how, if I was there, I’d drop to my knees, spread your legs and run my tongue up the inside of your thigh, savoring the essence. I’d lick—”
“Stop it. You can’t keep talking about sex.”
“Yes, I can. I’m made for sex. I am inseparable from sex.”
“But you’re not here, and it’s torture.”
“Seems a fitting price for not trusting me with our future.”
“I was only trying to help.”
“By giving yourself to a psychopath in a ridiculous effort to save me? I’m the closest thing to a god that exists here, and you thought to save me? My only vulnerability is you. You will be my destruction. Now that I have you, I won’t be without you. It’s your stubbornness that risks us both.”
“Well, sorry I told you I loved you. I should have left with Michael and kept you in the dark, wondering.”
“I would have found you. Besides, it was your careless disregard of magic that lead to my imprisonment.”
“Imprisonment? Really? Could you be more dramatic? I was trying to protect you.”
A sound that reminded me of a snort resonated. “Yes, and a ridiculous notion it was. Keep moving toward the source.”
“Whatever.” I cracked my lids the slightest bit to look for obstacles in my path. The pulsing stabilized at the center of the large circle of gravestones. The Nester family, I remembered. “Now what am I supposed to do? The frequency is sustained, and the headache is gone.”
“Fuck you.” He knew I wasn’t. Another one of his games was to ask questions he already knew the answer to just to prove his point.
“That’s my girl.” He laughed. “Clear your mind.”
“Easier said than done with the current infestation.” Removing all thoughts of Cyril and his tongue proved difficult. I focused on the grass, taking in the uneven blades.
“Now visualize. Look through the surface of the Earth and picture the energy. Picture pulling it through your body. As I said before, magic is little more than focused will, woven with the forces that sustain this world.”
It took a while to clear my head, and thankfully, he remained silent. Allowing numbness to fill my limbs and seep into my mind, I penetrated
layers of earth, reaching the electric white lights branching under the surface. Each juncture enhanced the brightness. I focused on the nearest point and pictured drawing it toward me.
Soon a surge started in my feet, pins and needles followed, as the energy crept through my nervous system. I closed my eyes. The current continued until I was enveloped in the light, feeling invincible, but only for a moment. The energy started to recede.
“Linden, don’t let go. Use the chant. Remember how I told you to use the words to focus. Say them slowly. Nium parnum omsti narum.”
Mentally I grasped at the light as my lips formed the words. Even though not magical, each syllable helped channel the essence. I regained control and was once again overcome.
His next command caught me off guard. “Do not speak. Think of Clarence.”
Clarence? Why? I thought it odd but didn’t comment. Clarence, my friend and colleague, was the furthest thing from my mind. We spoke the night before. He was still vacillating between being pissed at me for bringing him into all this supernatural bullshit and appreciating me for adding excitement to his life.
Another set of instructions. “Think of how he looks. What he sounds like.”
Clarence. His smooth, coffee-colored complexion, baldhead, swimmer’s build, and slight Southern drawl.
My skin rippled like water and blended with the tingling caused by the energy. A straining from within—stretching muscle, shifting bone—caught me by surprise. It was not wholly painful, as the pulse served as an excellent analgesic.
“Keep thinking of him, concentrate.”
Entranced by the light and Cyril’s words, Clarence’s mannerisms came to mind. The way he fiddled with his collar, the strange way he cleared his throat when we passed a sexy man and how he held my elbow each time we crossed the street. I was all- things Clarence. I held the image, unmoving.
“That’s it. Feel him, know him, become him.”
Another focused thought on Clarence’s wide, mischievous smile and the corners of my lips lifted, mirroring my thoughts of his actions.
“That’s it, become Clarence.”
Deep breaths helped my concentration. I embodied his six plus feet of height. His toes, his large hands, his… “What the hell?” My eyes flew open.
Cyril screamed in my mind, “No, gain focus. Gain focus! Use the chant!”
Oh, dear God. I was a six-foot-tall…African- American…man. Holy shit. I was Clarence. What.
“Linden, you have to calm down. Don’t let the magic snap back. If you do, it will be much worse. It’s going to be bad enough already.”
I turned my hands over and over again, taking in their size, color, and masculinity. Another glance revealed I no longer had breasts and a little lower… I was going to need more therapy.
The hands I scrutinized shook, and the sight disoriented. Rippling started in my skin, and the light began to recede.
“Damn it. Too late. Linden, I’m so sorry.”
Why was he sorry? For turning me into Clarence? But my knees buckled, and I fell to the ground. The energy sucked the last bit of warmth with it as it receded into the earth. My bones gave and muscles cramped in places I didn’t know I had. The pain crippled as I lay writhing on the ground.
“So sorry. Breathe through the pain.”
“Ahhhh…” The scream escaped from between my teeth. My eyes closed from contractions that raked my body. Some kind of grunting pushed through my throat. I was going to die.
“You’ll be OK. I wish I could help you.”
“Fuck you! What did you do?” Another violent spasm and sweat broke out across my skin. So cold.
“It should end soon. Just a little longer.”
Another groan I couldn’t control. I gritted my
teeth from pain and the chill. More perspiration. I wanted to cry, but it would’ve hurt too much.
The jerking muscles quieted, and with that came the ability to move my limbs. I forced my eyes to open. Thank God! I had never been so happy to see my breasts.
“Light, I didn’t do anything. It’s all you.” Because Light was his pet name for me, I both loved and loathed him in that moment.
I formed my mouth into an O, and I steadied my breathing. Something wet slid down my forehead. What on earth? I opened my eyes to find my entire body covered in a thick, clear, mucous substance. It wasn’t sweat after all. I collected some and flung it from my fingertips. “What the fuck is this?”
“That, my dear, is shifting residue. It’s the by- product your cells produce when you take the form of another. You used to be quite found of it. It’s what your dearly departed Michael used to craft those little animal figurines he gifted you. Isn’t it romantic?”
“I would so punch you if I could.” I wiped the sticky disgusting liquid from my cheek.
“Do you have any idea what this means?” Elation sounded in his voice. My body felt like I fell from a thirty-story building, and he sounded like it was his fucking birthday.
“It means I’m bare-ass naked, lying on the ground after midnight, in a cemetery covered in goo.
Oh…and a minute ago I hallucinated that I had a penis.”
“That was no hallucination, Light. Isn’t this wonderful?” He was excited. Cyril didn’t get excited. Even when we first met and he discovered my immunity to his curse, he never let his enthusiasm show.
Another sweep of goo from my arm, I breathed heavy, rising on all fours. The slime dripped from my body, leaving tiny pools. “You’ll excuse me if I don’t see the wonder in all of this.”
“Linden, you mimicked Clarence. You changed shapes. You became him. I can’t even do that. I always envied Michael. Think of the possibilities.”
“Became Clarence? I feel like I gave birth to him.” The substance coating my skin started to harden. My clothes lay in a pile about ten feet away, but it felt more like ten miles.
“The process is a bit messier than I expected, but do you know what else this means?”
Right hand, left knee, then left hand, right knee. Each movement required thought, conviction. I needed to get to my sweater before the stuff hardened. “I.” Breath. “Don’t.” Huff. “Know.” Grunt. “What. Does. It.” Hyperventilate. “Fucking.” Growl. “Mean?” I fisted the sweater and rubbed at the small crystals forming on my skin.
“It means you are much stronger than I thought. Of
course, you’ll need practice.”
I shrugged on my coat. Screw the underwear. Wiping down my legs, the residue splintered and flaked to the ground like small snowflakes. “Great. I can be Clarence. You know, one Clarence is more than enough.”
“You can do something I cannot. I wonder what else you can do.”
“Hell. No. We are done with your experiments.” I leaned back, wiggled my bottom into my jeans and eyed my car. Another ten feet. Fuck!
“You are strong enough to bring me back after all.”
On my hands and knees, I came to a halt. Why I looked up when he pissed me off was beyond me. It wasn’t as if he could hear me any better. “What? There was a possibility I wouldn’t be able to do it? When were you planning to tell me you might be stuck forever?” Five more feet. Never gonna make it.
“Everything is equally possible and impossible, Light. I hadn’t planned to tell you.”
“Oh, save your philosophical bullshit. I’m not in the mood.” My hand slapped hard against the door of my black Pontiac Solstice, and I pulled myself up, leaning against the car, still trying to catch my breath.
“I didn’t think it was possible, but I love you even more.”
“Funny, I didn’t think…that I’d want to strangle you any more than the night I ran naked
through the street while being chased by that beast of a dog. But again, you’ve outdone yourself, my love.”
“Light, necessity is the mother of invention.”
I groaned at the pain and his words and opened the car door, falling into the seat. I grabbed each leg and pulled them inside one at a time. The smell of the leather soothed, familiar. I took a deep breath. “Nice quote. Who said it?”
I slumped against the steering wheel, trying to muster the strength to drive. “No, I mean originally.”
“That’s what I meant. Many attribute it to an old English proverb, but it was in a speech I gave in Greece, around 400 BC.”
Immortals. Bah! “Is there anything you haven’t done? I mean you’re essentially a vampire with your fangs, you’re immortal, you can summon wings, use magic like a wizard, and escort the dead. How does anyone compete with that?”
My groan of frustration surprised even me. I turned the key. The engine roared to life. “Why Clarence?” I cranked up the heat and rubbed my hands together, trying to generate warmth from friction. Finally, I slumped back in the seat and rested my hand on the gearshift.
I had no energy for his games. Enigmatic pain
“I heard that.”
“Good. Now shut up and let me drive.” My teeth chattered.
“Would you like me to warm you up? I could—”
“God help you…” I grabbed the rearview mirror and stared into it. Glaring at myself, knowing he’d see my reflection, I focused my anger. Goo had crystallized in my hair, and faint bruises formed under my skin. “If you say one more word, I will pull over and hack my own head off just to stop your incessant bullshit. Then who will you annoy? Huh?”
I reached up and moved a strand of hair, and they all moved. My hair was so hard an eighties girl would’ve been envious. “And Cyril, if I have to shave my head because of this, I’m not bringing you back. Do you hear me? Never. Coming. Back.”
He laughed. “Did I ever tell you that your feistiness makes me hard? If I were there I’d—”
“Don’t push me.”
Copyright 2014 Renea Mason
Published by Etopia Press
Prequel to Symphony of Light and Winter
Paranormal/Historical Erotic Romance
18 Years + Only
Dying sucked. Not just the pain. Sure, the agony—that moment just before the heart stops—and the uncertainty of how and when I might wake up left an impression. But the holes, those missing points in my timeline aggravated me most. Each time I died, I wondered how much of myself I’d lose. How many of those defining moments would remain forever dead? And most of all, despite being all-powerful, I became powerless to know what I had lost.
My family filled in the gaps, when I read their minds. Seeing my life through their eyes was like watching a movie—always tainted with the director’s perception. The events were clear, but my analysis lost. I’d tried journaling, but given the vast amount of time my existence spanned, it proved impractical. Frustrating to think that in the millenniums I had existed, there were mistakes I was damned to commit again because I had no recollection of the consequences.
From the beginning, only a few prominent memories had stuck with me. Like my time as Emperor in Asia, long before the Great Wall was built. I remember each of my family members’ creations too. And…her. From the moment I existed, her vision has haunted me. I had no idea who she was, only that one day she would come to me. Losing her image was my greatest fear, so I painted her, wrote the words I imagined she’d say, and thought of her often in hopes that the next time I reincarnated, she’d make the journey with me.
It had been three hundred years since my last death, but I sensed that I would soon be facing an important crossroads in my destiny.
Take a moment to check out current and future releases from Renea Mason.
A series of short stories to give readers an appreciation for what Linden endures when she experiences each Cyril Six’s dreams.
A new stand alone short story featuring Elaine, Marco, Sebastian and Dr. Vincent from Curing Doctor Vincent will be featured in a compilation of short erotic scenes set to release in summer 2015.
“If you love Alexandra Ivy, Lara Adrian, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lynsay Sands, Laura Wright, and all those other amazing paranormal authors that I absolutely love with all my heart…then you will LOVE Renea Mason and her brand new “Symphony of Light” Series."
“The book was a fascinating and enjoyable treat to read. It was one book that I devoured in less than a day.”
"The chemistry is steamy. The mystery keeps you turning the pages. I would recommend this to any paranormal lover. It felt well thought out and you would not know this was the author's first book."
“This book will keep you on your toes, and guessing until the very end...and past the end, making you NEED to know what happens next! I was very, very sad leading up to the very end of the novel, but when I got to the last page or two, I was cracking up! I promise, this book will not disappoint!”
“There are a lot of secrets, romance, violence and mystery. Linden and Cyril are wonderful characters you can't help but love. Can their love survive all the secrets surrounding who and what he is? Although he drinks blood he is not a vampire; he is something totally different and unique. This is not your typical paranormal book. There are times as you get to know Cyril more, you come close to tears. Linden is a feisty woman who is not afraid to stand up to Cyril, in spite of not knowing exactly what he is capable of. The book is keeps your interest throughout."
“I love both these characters! They were very dynamic and had a lot going for them but they just clicked and Bam! Sparks and old flames are fired up and ready to bang~ with heads, bodies and hearts!”
"The first book of the Symphony of Light series blew me away! The book hit the ground running and never stopped. This paranormal romance was so steamy hot with all those big bulging men, and heart warming with the love and friendships developed, and action packed with the cat and mouse game played with everyone's lives, it took me deep into the book's world with each page. It's fracking awesome how one book can have you crying, laughing your ass off and lustful! I'm an emotional wreck now, and need a time out!"
"Renea Mason’s book has everything you could want- a unique world, a panty dropping alpha male, a gripping plot and seamless writing that would never let on this was her first novel."
"A great follow up to the first. I loved that the story picked up right where the last left off. there is so much action that it is hard to put down. The comedic sarcasm and witty banner will make you laugh out loud. I like Cyril and his love for linden, but exploring Overton's devotion actually had me switching sides and it broke my heart to think they couldn't really be together. This cannot be read as a stand alone. you have to read the first book for this book to make sense. I cannot wait for the next tale. the ending made me gasp out loud a phrase I will not repeat here."
"The story is a wonderful mix of magic, steamy sex and fast paced action that were well balanced and effortless to read."
“Fast paced and interestingly HOT.” ~ Beckey - In the Pages of a Good Book
“The Doctor will consume you, leaving you breathless, with an insatiable need for more. The story is well crafted, the mystery of the doctor is compelling, and the men are mouth-watering. Another five-star read from Ms. Mason.” ~Nicole - Books N Pearls
“This book is SO MUCH MORE than an erotic romance. Of course, the sex is smokin’ hot, and kinky… but the story behind it all? THAT is what kept me reading page after page. I couldn’t put it down.” ~ Ashley - Book Junkie: Not so Anonymous
“Renea Mason has once again stripped a genre and built something completely unique and magnificent!” ~ Robin - Book Reads and Reviews
“Hot and sizzling… move over Mr. Grey… Dr. Vincent is in!!… This story, while very hot and at times unconventional, is at its heart about love, healing and growth. If you enjoy any of these elements, along with a healthy dose of spicy eroticism, then this story is very much for you.” ~ Amy - My Crazy Book Addiction
"Renea Mason has a way of taking the erotic and turning it into a spectacular story. There is plenty of hot sex in this one, but it is more about self-realization and life-changing discoveries. It is beautifully written and the Parisian backdrop only enhances the eroticism. If you like your smut with a little more substance, this book is perfect!" ~ Amanda - A Bookaholic’s Fix: Feeding the Addiction
Renea Mason writes paranormal and contemporary erotic romances.
When she isn’t putting pen to paper crafting sensual stories filled with supernatural and intelligent, larger-than-life lovers, she spends time with her beyond-supportive husband, two wonderful sons and three loving but needy cats.
Her debut novel, Symphony of Light and Winter, finished second for Best New Paranormal Series of 2013 in Paranormal Cravings’ Battle of the Books and received a third place award for Best New Paranormal Romance of 2013 in The Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Awards.
It is also a finalist in several Romance Writers of America Chapter Competitions.
Second Place for Erotica/Romantica for Write Touch Contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Romance Writers – Romance Writers of America Chapter.
Finalist in the Paranormal category for the Passionate Plume Contest sponsored by the special interest chapter of the Romance Writers of America – Passionate Ink.
Finalist for Best First Book in the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award sponsored by the First Coast Romance Writers – Romance Writers of America Chapter
Finalist in the Heart of Denver Romance Writers of America Chapter’s Heart Aspen Gold Contest for Paranormal Romances. Winners to be announced in October.
Renea is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Paranormal Romance Guild, The Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal subchapter of the Romance Writers of America, and publishes the Symphony of Light Series with Etopia Press.