Alpha werewolf leader Damian Marcel has a small problem. Her name is Jamie. She’s a computer geek who is into World of Warcraft and is dying of a spell turning her into stone. She also happens to be his destined mate, who tried killing him with a poison kiss. He’s faced with searching through New Orleans to find an ancient book of magick to save her life, figuring out what Jamie means when she talks about cosplay, and fighting Morphs that want them both dead.
Here’s an excerpt from Enemy Lover, a November release from Silhouette Nocturne.
Jamie sat on the couch as she typed on a laptop. Damian nearly dropped the fruit. Elongated purple elfin ears stuck comically out of either side of her head.
She glanced up as he set the peaches down on the coffee table. A question in his eyes, Damian sat beside her and playfully tweaked an ear.
“I’m a warrior Night Elf,” she said, yawning. “I’m too tired to wear the rest of the outfit. Cosplay makes me feel better. It’s comforting.”
“I thought women liked dressing in old sweats to get comfortable.”
Her mouth turned down. “When I cosplay, I am Celyndra, my elf. She’s a tough fighter, courageous and doesn’t fear much.”
“Ah, she’s your alter ego,” he said softly in understanding. A frown puckered his forehead. “Such an imagination. Where did you get the idea?”
She grinned at his expression. “Haven’t you ever heard of WoW?”
“World of Warcraft. My avatar is a female Night Elf Warrior. Some who were in my alliance used to meet at the square Saturday nights to hang out and cosplay.”
Jamie’s grin deepened. “Don’t tell me you never heard of cosplay either. Everyone knows what it is. What are you, 100?”
“Eighty,” he muttered, feeling as old as an ancient mage. Merlin, maybe.
“Eighty! You look like you’re in your twenties. No wonder you don’t know what anything is.”
“I know what hanging out is,” he said defensively.
“Cosplay is costume play. You dress as a character from a book or game and role-play. World of Warcraft is an online video game. You pick a character and fight battles. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but…”
“Battles?” he echoed. Damian narrowed his eyes. “You learned to fight and organize an army? This skill you taught the Morphs came from a game?”
“I did learn some skill from it. But that’s nothing compared to some guys I know. Former Marines, Army guys. Friends.”
Raphael’s pack had checked out all her friends in New Orleans. Jamie had few. A terrible suspicion seized him.
“Guys you know from where?”
“Online. I met them on MyPlace.”
Alarms screeched in his head. Jamie was involved in a dangerous world he knew nothing about. “You have a MyPlace page?”
Damian’s glance fell to her opened laptop. He picked it up, rapidly surfed through it. He found her page. Jamie Walsh, in lavender, with beautiful illustrations of fairies in the background. If he weren’t so furious, he’d admire the intricate artwork and the delicate simplicity of the winged creatures. Damian scrolled down, shocked at the personal details. She liked fantasy books, alternative music, designed web pages and was a self-professed geek.
People she’d like to meet. “Anyone with real magick because I need magick in my life,” she’d written. The sentence sounded a little wistful. He scrolled down to her friends. Her top friends were former military types. But… Damian zipped through the last friends she’d acquired. Names like Wolfeater, Draiconhater.
Online predators. Morphs. “You’re an open target with this, Jamie.”
“It’s my page. My friends are there.”
“Friends? Will they come to your aid if you need them? Not these bastards. They used you, Jamie. You don’t need friends. You’re my mate and you have a pack, my pack and my family here as well. They’re much more important. Family will always be there when you need help.” Reining in his emotions, Damian kept his face expressionless.
“Delete it,” he ordered.
“No. And I don’t need your pack. I do just fine on my own. Go to hell” Defiance flashed in her gray eyes.
Damian stared at her as his hands slowly crushed the laptop, splintering it in half. Her jaw dropped as the crumbled pieces fell to the floor. A strangled squeak arose from her throat.
“You won’t do that again. Try defying me and I’ll break every single computer you have. Your enemies, and mine, are on that page. Who do you think infected you with this spell? You’re turning to stone, Jamie. From the inside out.”
“Kane had no reason for it, ” she protested, but her voice shook considerably.
“You’re my draicara, my mate. Reason enough. He used you to try to kill me. He used a safeguard as well. A slow-working spell that would eliminate you.”
“All I wanted was to learn magick,” she said, looking crestfallen. “It’s something I wanted my whole life. Is that so wrong?”
Damian cupped her chin in one strong hand. “Then look, little one. Look and learn. I will teach you magick. Good magick.”
Releasing her, he waved his hand, summoning a ball of white light. Iridescent sparks glimmered from it. It hovered in the air, danced as Damian created patterns with his palm. Jamie gasped in delight. A wide smile touched her smile. Damn, he’d do anything to keep her looking like that. Happy. Young. Carefree.
She leaned forward to study the orb, her slender arm stretching out. Her expression turned to awed wonder as she touched the ball with one finger. The light flashed, turned gray, then black. Before his astounded eyes, it shriveled, then vanished.
“Oh! Oh… I killed it,” she whispered.
Her mouth wobbled precariously. Jamie seemed to shrink inside herself. Moving closer to her, he clasped her hand in his. Cold, so damn cold. Like blue ice.
“It’s not you. It’s what’s inside of you,” he said gently. “When the dark magick is gone, the light won’t vanish from your touch.”
A tremulous smile touched her mouth. “I wish I could believe you.”
I wish you would as well. He picked up the bag of peaches. “Eat. You need your strength.” Damian frowned as he glanced around. “When did Renee leave? I asked her to stay with you.”
“Said she had to get back to the shop.” Jamie dug into the bag and withdrew a peach. “Thanks. I’m so hungry, I could eat an orchard.”
She brightened, a smile touching her pixy face. The sight lifted his own spirits. He steeled against the temptation to kiss her again. “Why did Renee go back?”
Jamie went into the kitchen. Her voice trailed out to the living room. “You should know. She said you’d called, asked her to bring another gris-gris to the house.”
Damian went utterly still, the hair on the nape of his neck rising. “I’ll be right back. Don’t move from here,” he ordered.
A horrible suspicion crested over him. Damian raced out of the house. Sprinting down the street, he reached the voodoo shop.
The door was ajar. Cautiously he stepped inside. The scent slammed into him with the force of a hurricane. Blood. Death. Lacing through it was the faint scent of honeysuckle.
A black cat greeted him, mewling pitifully. Damian crossed the room, started for the back and ground to a halt. Anguish spilled through him like acid.
“Oh damn. Damn, I’m sorry,” he said softly.
Mama Renee lay in the corner, her eyes wide open in terror. Blood splashed over the pretty flowered dress, splattered the walls.
Someone had torn her heart out. Morphs. They reserved the act to lick up each last drop of fear.
Grief and rage twined together. Damian closed his eyes. Renee had been a last connection to his parents. How many more of his people must die, sliced down by evil? His family. Members of his pack back in New Mexico. How could they ever hope to stop this and protect those who looked to him to keep them safe?
He pushed aside sorrow. Grief was for later.
The stench of death made him gag. Damian murmured the ancient Draicon blessing for a departed soul. He spotted the altar to Marie Laveau.
Darkness had extinguished the candles.
The police would question, snoop around. Couldn’t risk them finding out about his world. He needed a motive. A hate crime, and robbery. Damian withdrew all the money from the cash register and stuffed it into his pocket to later burn. He left the drawer open. He glanced around, found a permanent marker and scrawled on the wall.
The mewling at his legs grew louder. The cat held the scent of an ordinary feline. Picking it up, he studied the animal. “You already used one of your nine lives. Let’s get you somewhere safe.”
Tucking the cat in his arms, he looked around. Waving his hand, he dispelled all evidence of his fingerprints. The cops would question Jamie, though and…
Jamie. He’d left her alone.
Damian tore down the street, frantic with fear for his draicara. He unlocked the gate, banged it shut behind him. Releasing the cat, he took the stairs two at a time.
She was sitting on the couch. His knees went weak with relief.
Then he took a closer look. Terror shaded her expression as she stared at her hand. Seeing him, Jamie thrust out her palm at him. It trembled violently.
“Damian, look at me. Look at me, oh God, what’s wrong with me? I can’t bleed. I can’t bleed!”
Shock filled him as he looked at her hand. A knife and fruit slices lay on the coffee table. She’d been cutting a peach. Then the knife slipped and hurt her.
Peaches scented the air, but he smelled no coppery scent of blood. A shallow laceration on her palm showed no crimson. Instead, a sluggish gray matter leaked out.
Gray, like granite.
She was turning to stone before his horrified eyes.
Enemy Lover is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online.