by S D Simper
Genre: Adult Dark Romantic Fantasy (LGBT)
Publisher: Endless Night Publications
Date of Publication: September 14th 2018
Number of pages: 400
Word Count: 102K
Cover Artist: Jade Mere
Tagline: The cost of love is always high.
“When faced with monstrosity, become the greater monster. The sting of victory will fade with time.”
When Flowridia, a witch granted power by an unknown demon, deceives an alluring foreign diplomat, she is promoted to a position of power to conceal her falsehood. Thrust into a world of politics and murderous ambition, she has her gentle heart and her Familiar to guide her – as well as a drunk Celestial with a penchant for illusion.
Meanwhile, Lady Ayla Darkleaf, Grand Diplomat of Nox’Kartha, smiles with predatory charm and wields her blades with a dancer’s grace. Flowridia falls into a toxic love affair, one she knows will end in heartbreak. But as Ayla’s legacy as a vampiric creature unfolds, Flowridia begins to see the broken woman behind the monster.
When a foreign emperor dies at the hands of a mysterious interloper, one who seeks to collect the greatest sources of power in the realms, Flowridia’s kingdom is charged to stop him. But Flowridia’s devotion becomes torn between duty to her own and the woman whose claws grip her heart.
In the ensuing clash of Gods, Flowridia must choose her loyalties with care – the fate of kingdoms rest in her hands.
The next morning, twelve roses sat in a bouquet on her bedside table. Flowridia steadily blinked into wakefulness, smiling fondly in the dim morning light.
The scratching of a pen on paper alerted her to the presence beside her. She turned over, only to see Ayla sitting in her bed, legs under the covers. The lithe woman, still fully dressed and hair well-kempt, glanced down from the nondescript book in her hand. The other held a pen. “Good morning,” Ayla said, and she turned the book toward her.
Flowridia saw a detailed ink drawing of her own sleeping image, her breath leaving her as she studied the near-perfect likeness. Each individual strand of hair seemed ready to burst from the page, her lips glossy, and even the gentle blemishes of her face – her faint freckles and hints of scars – held a delicate beauty about them. A stunning image, and Flowridia felt heat color her cheeks.
This was how Ayla saw her. “It’s beautiful.”
“You can have it. I have others like it,” Ayla said, and she ripped the page from the book and leaned over to place it on Flowridia’s table. She set the book aside and slid down next to Flowridia and the little wolf who slept beside her.
“I didn’t expect you to be here,” Flowridia said softly, and when Ayla pressed their lips together, she smiled wide.
A vicious grin tugged at Ayla’s mouth as she pulled away. “What’s the worst Casvir can do? Kill me?” She chuckled and snaked her arms around Flowridia’s waist, keeping their bodies flush together. “Besides, I got carried away with drawing. After you fell asleep, I realized how peaceful you are to watch.”
An odd statement, and Flowridia raised an eyebrow. “I would have thought you already knew that, with how often you’d snuck into my bedroom.”
“Clever girl,” Ayla said, and she planted a kiss on Flowridia’s cheek.
Feeling brave, Flowridia dared to add, “And you have other drawings like it, you said?”
A wide and dangerous grin spread across Ayla’s face. “Most are from memory. But it’s been a long time since I’ve had as pretty a subject as you.”
Somewhere in the depths of Flowridia’s sense of self-preservation, she suspected she ought to object to this, yet this sudden change in Ayla’s decorum, while jarring, wasn’t unappreciated. Instead, she said, “How did you learn to draw so well?”
Ayla chuckled. “When you’ve lived as many centuries as I have, you pick up a few hobbies.” Her hand moved up to stroke Flowridia’s hair, her neck, and as she traced down, Ayla flinched at the scar. She glanced down and leaned in to place a kiss at the top, above the collar of Flowridia’s dress. “Give it time. It will fade.”
By Flowridia’s side, the small wolf stirred, perhaps awakened by their conversing. In clumsy motions, Demitri approached Ayla, even as she leaned away, visibly wary.
“It’s all right if you touch him,” Flowridia said, smiling softly. “You don’t need my permission; only his.”
In tentative motions, Ayla offered a hand forward, but Demitri ignored it. Instead he settled into Ayla’s lap, curling into a ball while she kept her hands up, oddly stiff.
But before Flowridia could comment, Ayla lowered her hands, letting one settle onto Demitri’s back with a quiet smile.
Flowridia watched them fondly, the peaceful scene warming her tender heart. “Ayla, last night . . .” Her breath hitched when Ayla glanced up. “I shouldn’t have told you to leave. I’m sorry.”
Ayla held her gaze, her smile fading as she shook her head. “We both said terrible things.” When she returned her attention to Demitri, Flowridia knew Ayla would say nothing more.
“You mentioned something else,” Flowridia dared to push. When she hesitated, Ayla reached over to cup her cheek, softness returning to the vampiric woman’s expression. “Are you The Endless Night?”
“Oh, Flowra,” Ayla said, amusement in her words. “I promise, I am no demon.” She scattered kisses across Flowridia’s forehead, and with each one Flowridia felt her body relax. A firm kiss pressed against her lips. “No need to worry yourself.”
Ayla said nothing more, instead continuing those sweet gestures. Each kiss brought a deeper blush to her cheeks until, giggling, Flowridia dove in to return the favor. Their lips met, and when her tongue parted Ayla’s lips, she reveled in the soft moan her cold companion released.
With an apology, she sent Demitri away. Alone with Ayla, Flowridia savored every unmapped curve of her body, before finally settling at the valley between her legs. Bitterness, she discovered, was the sweetest taste of all. Ayla’s pleasure rose with the sun.
About the Author:
S D Simper has lived in both the hottest place on earth and the coldest, spans the employment spectrum from theater teacher to professional editor, and plays more instruments than can be counted on one hand. She and her wife share a home with their two cats and innumerable bookshelves.