After escaping an abusive marriage, Lila Hayes never dreamed she'd fall into bed with a tall, dark and domineering man like Arthur. He's a stranger, he's cocky as hell, and...he seems to have emerged from the painting on her wall. From the second she feels his touch, Lila knows she's found the lover of her wildest fantasies.
Arthur of Sefyll is an ancient Druid, a man cursed for thousands of years to grant the wishes of those who summon him from his enchanted rest. He's had enough of serving mortal whims, until he spends a night satisfying Lila's every carnal fantasy and losing his heart in the process.
But soon, the new lovers' happiness is threatened by a monster from Lila's past and a horror from beyond the grave.
Now Arthur and Lila must convince sexy Sheriff Sam Walker to succumb to his desire for them both and help them form a mystical threesome. Wishes are no longer enough to keep Lila safe. Only the love of two special men can save her life -- or maybe just as importantly, mend her heart.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from As the Lady Wishes by Anna J. Evans
French fries, ice cream, cheesecake. It all went into the freezer, all of the previously forbidden goodies she'd bought and couldn't wait to eat later in an orgy of freedom still exciting, even after two weeks. In the cabinets of the rustic kitchen were jars of popcorn and packages of candy bars.
Not that she was going to eat them all at once. Lila smiled as she pulled a bottle of vodka from the now-full freezer and poured some into a glass, then added cranberry and orange juices. No, she didn't have to eat it all at once anymore. She didn't have to shove food into her mouth, hunched over the sink, terrified that at any moment Clayton would come home on one of his surprise check-ins and...
No need to think of that now. Her drink was sharp and sweet on her tongue as she left the kitchen and headed out to the screened-in porch. It was the kind of soft Missouri dusk that seemed to last forever, hours of faintly golden light fading into soft green. In another hour the lightning bugs would be out, and she would stay here, hidden in the shadows, safe from voracious mosquitoes, watching their tiny lights dance in the trees.
Lila kicked off her flip-flops and sat down, her bare legs touching the cool wood of the rocking chair. Strange to feel the chair against her skin, against shoulders that could be shown in public now that they no longer carried souvenirs of Clayton's anger. Against thighs that could be bared without fear of being beaten for wearing a skirt too short for Clayton's taste.
She made a face. Why waste time thinking about him? He's not here. He'll never be here again. Tonight I'm going to eat French fries for dinner and have ice cream for dessert and not worry about my weight or anything else. I'm going to drink a little too much and laugh at nothing.
I'm going to have fun. I'm going to live my own life. Finally.
She raised her drink, toasting the trees and the lake beyond. "Here's to you, Lila Richards," she said, then paused. "No. Lila Hayes. Here's to me, Lila Hayes."
Her maiden name sounded so good, she decided to have another drink to celebrate it.
Lila loved the tiny rented house. She'd found it through a rental agency in town, the day she arrived in Burlin after serving Clayton a steak dinner and an Alabama Slammer heavily laced with painkillers. It hadn't made her feel good to drug him...but it hadn't made her feel bad, either. It never had, from the first time she did it, when she'd been desperate for one night of peaceful sleep.
As she poured more cranberry juice into her drink, Lila let herself imagine the look on Clayton's face when he woke up and realized she was gone, leaving nothing but a few of her light brown hairs on the bathroom floor in defiance of his obsessive need for cleanliness. It made her smile, but it also broke her heart. It was unfathomable that something that had once been so good had soured so drastically. But whatever demons chased her husband had destroyed the sexy, dynamic man she had fallen in love with, twisting him into what he was now--a monster more frightening than anything she'd imagined hiding under her bed as a child.
He had no doubt been furious when he realized what his meek and mild little Lila had done. He was probably trying to trace her right now, doing his best to seek some sort of violent retribution.
Strangely though, she wasn't as afraid as she had thought she would be. Clayton didn't know about Burlin or the vacations her family had spent in the sleepy lake town when she was a child. He didn't know she'd ever been to Missouri, and with both her parents dead, there was no one to tell him. She had no credit card, no bank account. She had paid the three months' rent on the cabin in cash, and when the registration on her car expired, she would sell it. By that time, she planned to have moved on to a big city where public transportation was plentiful and she could easily teach yoga out of her apartment for cash. Getting her certification to teach the spiritual exercise she loved had been one of the few freedoms Clayton had granted her in the past few years, but even if that didn't work out, she had a few other marketable skills. She still knew how to cut hair, had six years of housekeeping for an anal-retentive husband under her belt and, of course, she still knew how to tend bar.
Lila finished pouring her second drink and walked slowly through the house, letting her fingers run over the faded wallpaper and the heavy, functional furniture that came with the place. The rag rugs spread around on the pale wood floors looked like colorful puddles and cooled her bare feet as she wandered around. It was a beautiful, soul-comforting place, and something deep inside her knew that it was the perfect setting for reclaiming the strength and peace she had lost touch with years ago. There was nothing to distract her from becoming the woman she wanted to be, a woman who was complete without a man, who would never be ruled by her desires or won by something so empty as a handsome face...except that portrait.
The entry to the bedroom beckoned and Lila couldn't help but answer the call. She seemed to find no end of excuses to come in and out of the small, cool room. She had even managed to change her clothes three times today just to sneak a glimpse at him, the man who had found his way into both her waking and sleeping fantasies. The Portrait Man.
She'd noticed the painting the day she moved in. How could she not? It wasn't every day you walked into a small house in rural Missouri and found a painting of an angry-looking, scantily clad hunk brooding in front of a group of standing stones. She'd loved the time she'd spent in Burlin as a child, but a hotbed of culture and art appreciation it was not.
Still, it would be a lie to say it was only the "out of place" aspect of the portrait that attracted her attention. Something about the man himself drew her. Called to her. She'd stand in front of him for what felt like ages, memorizing every curve of his strong body, marveling at how perfectly he fit in with his surroundings. He seemed almost a part of the stones, though obviously separate. It was as if the painter had called forth some kind of guardian spirit, managed to give form to a soul that had none.
Whatever he was, whoever he was, he was sexy as hell. Just looking at him turned her on, made her body ache with a hunger she had almost forgotten she could feel.
The dream she'd had the night before came back to her in a flash. The Portrait Man, his naked chest raised above her, blocking out the moon. The glow of it caressed his shoulders and sides, outlining him in silver.
He'd been speaking a language she didn't understand, the words falling from his lips like jewels as he stroked her body, his fingers gliding across her skin and leaving trails of heat.
She'd moaned beneath him, her body moving of its own accord, urging those fingers lower, down to the mound of soft hair between her legs and even farther down to the slick, wet skin of her pussy. She didn't speak, though. It was almost as if she were afraid to. Even in her dream, she'd known that to speak might be to wake up, and she didn't ever want to wake up. She didn't ever want to leave him or the hands that touched her with a reverence that made her weep.
But she had awoken, of course, with the sheets damp against her hot skin and her pussy throbbing with unquenched desire.
Just as she had the night before.
Glancing at her watch, she realized she'd been standing and staring for a good fifteen minutes. The ice in her drink was melting, the condensation from her glass dripping onto the floor.
Strangely conscious of her actions, almost as if her dream man were really watching, Lila closed her eyes and brought the glass to her lips, slowly licking the beads of moisture away from the outside. As her tongue caressed the cool surface, her nipples tightened and a rush of heat pooled between her thighs. She suddenly wondered what it would feel like to take a piece of ice from her glass and glide it over her tightened tips and down to press inside where she was already slick and aching. Would the man in the portrait enjoy watching her penetrate herself with the swiftly melting cube? Would he wish it was his own--
"Time to lay off the vodka, and break in that vibrator." Lila laughed, her breath rushing from her body as she forced her eyes open and lowered her drink from her mouth with shaking hands.
She'd better get some food in her stomach before she let this interlude go too far, she thought with another slightly drunken giggle. Besides, she couldn't deny she was hungry for supper as well as sex. French fries, with French fries and a side of French fries. Yum.
Portrait Man would have to wait...at least for a little while.