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Etopia Press e-books.
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Cover Art: Annie Melton
Genre: Literary Erotica/Dark Erotica/Historical
Hell hath no fury like Marietta Kensington…
John Paul had suffered dearly for loving me halfway. Did I want him to suffer? Yes, I did, apparently, and I have often asked myself, is this true love? I don’t know, but it’s how I do it. My heart will not be toyed with by uncertainty or cowardice. You are either ready to love me or you aren’t, man enough or not. No games. No halfway measures. Or you shall reap the whirlwind…
As is well known, every October the city of Liverpool holds a wild, all-night revel and masquerade to commemorate its founding, and the legendary deal our founding fathers had made with the devil to settle the place—a myth lost in the fog of time but celebrated all the more wildly for that. Mother and I decided to dress as courtesans, both with piled and dyed wigs of unnaturally red hair, much too much face paint, and no tops to our dresses. To cover our breasts we would wield devil’s masks on the ends of wands, a funny game of hide and seek in total keeping with the revel. We practiced with each other and found we could manipulate the expressions of our chests as if they were faces. What fun it would be to flirt in this fashion.
As fate would have it, that was the night John Paul returned from the sea, early because of favorable winds, and knocked on my door.
The second I saw him, my face flushed and my heart beat wildly. I knew at once that neither time nor grief nor pain had cured me and that I loved and wanted John Paul Cobb just as much as before. He was the light of my life, the fire in my soul, the heat in my body. His beckoning eyes, his plush sweet mouth, the various tastes of him, the strong line of his jaw, his beautiful form, and the dreamer in him, all his ways, especially the way he knew how to make me love him—he was the man I was made for, yet he was also the man who had abandoned me and caused me so much pain. I was furious at him for what he had put me through and for proving himself so stupid and undeserving of my love. I was also furious at my own heart for being so stupid in choosing John Paul. Though I loved and wanted him, my pride and my pain wanted to avenge what he had done to me. You can say this is not love, but it is how I love. Be warned, you faint of heart, to stay away from women such as me.
I tumbled into the street and into a light drizzle, my heart aching as if someone had taken a hammer to it, just as it had when John Paul left me the year before. The gas lights were lit and the street shone like a street in a dream, the lamp posts festooned with ribbons and streamers, with rabbits, ducks and stray cats strung upside down, with paper mache masks of the city’s demon, three-eyed, hook-nosed, with hundreds of square little infant’s teeth.
I stumbled around so, it must have looked to all the world as if the street was a storm-tossed ship. I tore at my hair and smacked myself across the face cursing. I threw myself into a wall, rose and threw myself into it again and again. I fell off the curb and sobbing, crawled in the gutter, my knees scraped to bleeding by the cobblestones. I was insane with the opposite of grief, a love that can’t be borne. Grief drives a woman insane, and the opposite of grief drives her insane in the opposite way. Grief requires the long mourning I had already done over John Paul; the opposite of grief needs exorcism.
I heard the sound of the sea and then distant singing, a sailor’s song, roughly and badly sung, coming closer. The world seemed to be conspiring
against me with the noises of the ocean that had taken John Paul away. I turned to the singing, expecting to see sailors’ ghosts, but no, it was two early revelers out in the drifting fog. I rose to my feet, laughing at my fate, mocking the mocking world.
Across the street, the men, each with a bottle, continued their asinine song. I rushed over and accosted them in the drizzly shadows, holding my cape tight around my body to conceal my nakedness.
“Give me a drink, lads,” I commanded…
Cover Art: Annie Melton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: short story
Hunting your own kind can be a dangerous proposition…
In the modern world, werewolves must find the balance between their human and animal natures. When this balance is broken, the Hunters step in to police their own kind.
Sarah is a wolf who has chosen to join the hunters, turning her back on friends and family alike. She’s certain her mission is just—to protect humans from the wolves who can’t control their animal natures. But Sarah finds that hunting her own kind is fraught with danger–not all of it physical—and that success could lead to unimagined consequences…
There is a smell in the air on a night like this. Cold and acrid, threaded with human smells, some of them so strong she cannot find the scent of blood under them. It is difficult for her to sort it out, anyway, her human nose lacking the sharp clarity of the wolfen olfactory senses she would normally use to hunt. But she is not a wolf tonight.
Above her, the moon is full. Her body aches, burns, a sensation she’s grown accustomed to. Everything within her wants to shift, to take the wolf form and run. But the tattoo on her chest, the ink laced with herbs and magic, the tattoo that burns below her collarbones like a hot brand pressing into her skin, stops the transformation. She will Turn at the new moon. At the full moon she hunts.
What blood smell she can make out is sharp, sweet and fresh. Even without the transformation, her senses are sharper at the full moon. Sharp enough. She follows the smell.
She finds what she expected to find. What she hoped she wouldn’t find. The alley that leads behind the medical marijuana dispensary is dark, not a place anyone with any other choice would go. It smells of garbage, urine, pot. But a woman working that corner who had been asked—or more likely ordered—to go on her knees there in the darkness to earn her cash, she would go there. And had.
The wolf has the prostitute cornered but has not yet leapt. It is huge, as big as the man he is when he is not a wolf, six feet from the tip of his nose to the root of his tail and about four feet at the shoulder. Two hundred pounds, she guesses, perhaps a bit more. His low, rhythmic growling sounds almost like words. The woman stands shaking, hunched over her bleeding arm. The wound doesn’t look like a bite, but more like an abrasion, as if she has fallen while running from the beast chasing her.
As the hunter approaches on silent feet, gun at the ready, silver bullet nestled in the chamber, the wolf leaps toward his prey.
Shit. She’s too late. But the prostitute lifts her own hand, and the wolf convulses backwards, howling in rage and pain. He’s taken a shot of pepper spray to the face.
The hunter almost laughs, then scrambles back in case the noxious fumes come her way. The hooker takes the chance to get away, scampering past on quick feet. She is pretty, almost, her face hard-edged and relatively free of makeup.
Why she notices this, the hunter is not certain. But she takes the moment to watch the other woman depart, casting a prayer for continued safety after her. When she turns back, the wolf is clawing at his face, still growling and whimpering. She levels her gun. A shot through the heart will be impossible at this angle, but she can incapacitate him and take the kill shot once he’s on the ground.
The wolf wheels and leaps straight at her…
Cover Art: Annie Melton
With knowledge comes a dark destiny…
A whole new world beckons inside the mind of mentally challenged Welsey Henson, a world that offers him a gift he can’t resist: knowledge. He carries these bits of knowledge back to the physical world, unaware of the dark instincts that come with them. The knowledge builds Wesley’s intellect, giving him abilities he’s never had before—to know the world around him, to heal…but these new instincts thrust him into an evil contest he can’t understand, much less win, against opponents who are trained to kill. The more Wesley understands, the harder it becomes to tell good from evil, and the more difficult his choices become. What must he sacrifice to save the world from his dark knowledge…his life, or his soul?
Bobby sat on Wesley’s bed and wondered how much Wesley understood. It was hard to tell. Wesley sat quietly in his chair. Bobby bent forward and placed his elbows on his knees, leaning closer to his friend.
“So you understand I’m sick?”
“Yeah,” Wesley answered.
“I’ll be going away but not right now. We have plenty of time to talk more about this, okay?”
Wesley stared at him without speaking. Was he understanding or drifting off into his own world?
“The color?” Wesley finally asked. “Is it the color?”
“I don’t understand, Wes. What color?”
“You saw it outside, when you were sick. When you urped.”
“I don’t know what you mean about color, but yes, the tumor is what made me throw up.”
Wesley nodded vigorously. His face was strained. He looked very old. He looked very…mentally retarded.
Wesley continued nodding. It was becoming a rocking motion.
“Wes, listen to me now. Nothing is going to happen right away. We have time to get used to this. All right? Do you hear me?”
It had been years since he’d seen Wesley rock. Was it a mistake to tell him about the cancer so directly? Why was he making so many bad decisions lately? Wesley rocked harder and faster. Bobby needed to stop it before the rocking became a pattern, a retreat, a thumb-sucking gesture for the mentally challenged. He needed to stop it for himself as much as for Wesley. He couldn’t bear to see the regression.
He grasped Wesley’s arm and lifted. Wesley stood. “Let’s take a walk outside,” Bobby said. He led Wesley into the hallway. Wesley shuffled along for about twenty feet then stopped. He gaped at Bobby as if he suddenly remembered today was his birthday.
“You okay?” Bobby asked.
Emotions flashed across Wesley’s face, but Bobby couldn’t read them.
Wesley started down the hallway again, no longer shuffling. In fact, Bobby had to lengthen his strides to keep up. Once outside, Wesley continued leading. They always headed south on the trail near the building, but today Wesley abandoned routine. He headed up the path that was normally the last leg of their return route. He trotted to a patch of grass off the trail, the place where Bobby had thrown up, and stopped.
“Do you see the bad color?” Wesley asked. “Are you sick?”
It occurred to Bobby that he had described seeing colors before becoming sick the other day. Dr. Simms said the tumor triggered migraine headaches. Light sensitivity and seeing colors and spots were often a prelude to the headaches.
Wesley was trying to understand the tumor in any way he could, making associations to the day he saw Bobby sick. Returning to this spot and asking about the colors was his way of understanding an abstract idea. At least Bobby now understood a little of what was going through his friend’s mind.
“No, Wes, but this is where I saw the colors before, you’re right. But they’re in my mind. Do you understand? They’re not really colors I see around me.” He shielded his sensitive eyes with his left hand and repeated, “They’re in my mind.”
“I understand,” Wesley said.
Bobby almost grinned at the level of comprehension in Wesley’s voice. He couldn’t possibly grasp such a subtle concept. Bobby lowered his hand to see Wesley’s expression. The green eyes that met Bobby’s looked intelligent, deeply intelligent. The impulse to grin left. Looking in Wesley’s eyes made Bobby think there was true understanding there, not just the illusion Wesley often gave off.
Bobby started to cover his eyes again, but he noticed Wesley searching them. Wesley’s stare penetrated, probed.
He’s trying to see inside my head. Bobby’s first impulse was to recoil at such unaccustomed directness, but he held his gaze.
Wesley blinked twice, and his eyes returned to normal. Bobby’s heart raced. He didn’t understand why.
“I understand,” Wesley repeated without looking away.
He just might.