Meet three men without boundaries, hell-bent on satisfying their deepest desires--and those of the women who drive them wild...
The Howling by Erin McCarthy
When Liv Lugaru's boyfriend Sebastian disappears, she finds comfort in his brother's arms. But Sebastian is much closer than Liv realizes...and he'll stop at nothing to protect her from the feral danger that comes alive only when she sleeps...
Smoke On The Water by Bianca D'Arc
In the misty fog of a lakefront village, zombies are roaming wild--and zombie hunter John Petit must stop the carnage. John is also fighting a different kind of battle: a forbidden passion for his new partner, Donna. With her help, killing zombies is a walk in the park, but keeping his desire in check is making him sweat...
Redeeming The Wizard by Jennifer Lyon
Gage Remington was once a powerful wizard; now he's a recluse who keeps the world at bay. But when Mira Tate arrives at Gage's door, she stirs in him an attraction he can't deny. Soon, Gage will risk everything to keep Mira close--even the secret that may be his ruin...
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August 31, 2010
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Excerpt from The Beast Within by Erin McCarthy
The first howl off in the distance barely registered to the bride, since she was so filled with joy and flushed anticipation as the sleigh sailed forth over the light dusting of snow.
The second mournful cry was closer, causing a small pause in the laughter of the six people crammed in together among the furs and robes.
The third voice, a response to the first two, was more feral than sorrowful, more aggressive than beautiful, and the bride reached for the arm of her new husband as the horses threw back their heads nervously and pranced, disrupting the sleigh's rhythm.
Uneasiness crept over the party as the driver whipped the horses, and the sleigh leapt forward, the crisp wind tossing the ribbons in the bride's hair and sending an unpleasant shiver through her. The groom squeezed her hand in reassurance, but the group had quieted as the sound reached all of their ears, the unmistakable bounding footsteps of the wolves falling into line behind them in pursuit.
Her fingers dug into the lace of her wedding dress beneath the fur laid so tenderly across her lap by the groom, as the faces in front of her reflected unease, fear. They all knew how fierce the wolves were, they all knew the stories of those who traveled these woods and disappeared, their sleighs overturned, bodies mutilated beyond recognition. She pressed her eyes closed and swallowed hard, trying to gauge how far the pack was from them.
Close. So close that she could hear the snarls and snaps of at least three wolves, maybe more, and she opened her eyes again in panic, head whirling around.
She wished she hadn't.
Under the harvest moon, the same lustrous white orb she had just been dancing beneath an hour earlier, giddy with love and happiness and the well-wishes of all those around her, she saw them.
Great beasts, wild wolves, snow flying behind them as their paws ate up the ground, narrowing the distance between them and the sleigh. They were enormous, snouts long, eyes pale and intelligent, teeth gleaming in the moonlight, fur thick and rich. There were six of them, the number of the devil, all running together as one, working in tandem to capture their prey.
Her groom let go of her hand and ducked down, then sprang back up. Startled, she watched him hurl the stones overboard from the bottom of the sleigh, stones that earlier had been heated and placed at their feet to warm them for the ride home. The first two thrown missed their mark, and a third barely clipped one wolf on the shoulder. The animal growled and snapped angrily, his eyes locking onto the bride's as she gripped her lace dress tighter.
The wedding party was all yelling now, moving around, dumping the stones, the furs, unceremoniously ripping the one the bride was wrapped in off her shoulders and lap and tossing it over the side as they tried to lighten the load. The horses snorted, the driver cracked his whip and yelled for them to go faster, and the sleigh jostled unsteadily as they picked up speed.
And still the wolves came.
She couldn't look away, mesmerized by their terrifying beauty, by their rhythm and speed and determination. There were better creatures, meatier, to feast on than humans, yet for survival the wolves would take down what they could. And maybe, just maybe, they did it for the challenge, for the right to know they had bested another animal of intelligence. The pack was so close now that the angry snapping of their jaws was like gunfire in the quiet night, their fur so near she could stretch down and slide her fingers through its soft thickness.
When rough hands grabbed her shoulders and her legs, she didn't realize what was happening. She turned and saw a fist plow into her husband's face, saw him struggling, a body pinning him down, and then she knew.
There was barely time for a kick, a shove, a scream, before they had her petite body up and in the air, their panicked eyes looking not at her, but behind the sleigh.
And as the bride grabbed desperately onto their fancy dress jackets, the moon casting a perfect shadow over the sleigh on her wedding night, they threw her to the wolves.
Liv Lugaru sat up in bed, sucking in on a silent scream as she tore herself out of the nightmare. As she clutched the thousand-thread-count sheet, her eyes raced around the dark room, reassuring her she was in her bedroom, not in the cold sleigh in the ominous forest.
Wiping the sweat off her upper lip, she swallowed hard and waited for her heart rate to slow down. That was the fourth time in as many nights she'd dreamt of wolves, a nocturnal theme that had first appeared six months ago very sporadically, and now seemed to have taken over her sleeping thoughts completely. The dancing glow from the doorway and the mumbled voices told her the TV was still on in the living room. She knew Scarborough would be up working, doing mysterious things on his computer that somehow turned his vast amounts of money into more money. He was a financial genius and, unlike her, he only needed four hours of sleep a night.
He appeared in the doorway, still wearing his blue shirt and black dress pants. "You okay?" he asked, his face in shadow. "I heard you call out again."
"Just a nightmare," she said, voice scratchy, lips dry. "Sorry to disturb you."
Moving forward, he brushed the damp hair off her forehead. "You've had a lot of bad dreams lately."
Fighting the urge to pull away from his touch, she shrugged. "I'm fine."
Grateful the room was dark, she stared at him, dredging up a reassuring smile. She owed so much to him, she didn't want him to know that the thought of marrying him was terrifying her.
"Are they about him?" he asked, his voice even, curious, but with an underlying edge to it.
Liv didn't pretend not to know who he was referring to. He meant Sebastian, his brother, her former lover. "No," she told him honestly. Nothing in her recurring nightmare reminded her of the man she'd loved so deeply, so wholly, the man who had refused to marry her, the man who had disappeared six months ago, leaving her destitute and heartbroken. "They're running dreams. You know, where you run and don't go anywhere."
A lie, but she didn't want to describe the wolves, the chase, the fear out loud to him, and she didn't want him to think she was hiding something about Sebastian. She didn't want to hurt Scarborough.
Plus the nightmares were so intense, raw, disturbing.
To describe them out loud would only remind her of their intensity.
"Do you want me to come to bed?" he asked, dropping a light kiss on the top of her forehead.
Shaking her head, she touched his chest briefly. "No, I'm fine. I know you have work to do." She gave a small smile. "Besides, you'll just wind up sitting here wide awake and I'll be out in five minutes."
"That's true. And then my tossing and turning will wake you up." The corner of his mouth went up. "We're not exactly perfect bed partners, are we?"
She wasn't sure if he meant that to sound as loaded as it did, considering they'd yet to have sex. She just hadn't been able to let go, to relax, to feel passion again, and he had been very understanding of that.
It was wrong and she knew it, but she had agreed to marry him out of devastation and gratitude. He'd picked up the shattered pieces of her heart and life, offered her a real future, and she'd said yes.
Now she knew he fully expected they would finally have sex on their wedding night, that their marriage would be real.
And she did care about him. Loved him.
Just not quite in the way she was supposed to, and God help her, their wedding was only ten days away.
"We muddle through," she told him, hoping it would sound lighthearted, afraid it was their truth for the foreseeable future.
They were supposed to exchange vows in a week and a half and she was dreaming she was a bride who had literally been thrown to the wolves.
"Remember I'm leaving tomorrow for a business trip. Four days in New York."
"Oh, I forgot." But it was the best news she'd had in days. "Make sure you wake me up when you leave so I can say goodbye."
And maybe when he walked out the door she'd finally feel like she could breathe again.