by Roxanne Bland
Genre: Paranormal Urban Fantasy/
Romance/Science Fiction Hybrid
Publisher: Blackrose Press
Date of Publication: Oct. 1, 2019
ISBN: 9780996731621 (print)
ISBN: 9780996731638 (electronic)
Number of pages: 376
Word Count: 100,261
Cover Artist: Zelena
Tagline: There’s no room for morals when survival is at stake.
In an alternate Seattle, communities of “exotics”—shapeshifters, witches, elves and vampires—live among the murderous human population and are ruled over by the cruel vampire Master, Kurt.
The powerful alpha male of the werewolf pack, Parker Berenson, is one of the Master’s enslaved servants and he would like nothing more than to hasten the downfall of the vampire overlord who stole his love, the beautiful mage Garrett Larkin.
But in a night city already on the razor’s edge—in the midst of a spate of bloody murders—Parker’s passionate encounter with a stunning interstellar assassin could upset the very delicate balance and ignite a war neither exotics nor humans can survive
“Stay human. Stay human. Stay human.”
Parker Berenson, alpha of Seattle’s werewolf pack, slammed the door to his aging brown Chevrolet Caprice. “Stay human. Stay human.” Hands clenched into fists, his feet pounded the icy pavement leading from the driveway to his blue-gray stucco house. Though the February fourth night was unusually bitter and he wore neither overcoat nor jacket, he didn’t feel cold. Sweat streamed down his face and neck. His white dress shirt was soaked, as were his trousers. Tiny tendrils of steam rising from his muscular shoulders made him look as if he were smoldering.
His wolf’s hard push against the mental bonds that held him inside their shared body and mind made Parker stumble. Fuck staying human. I want out! he roared.
Regaining his balance, he ignored his beast as best he could and kept walking. “Stay human. Just stay human.”
“At least wait until we get inside,” he said through his teeth.
The porch light was out again, but Parker could see by the streetlamps’ ambient glow. He shoved his key into the front door lock and gave it a savage twist. The bolt didn’t move. Using more pressure, he tried again and nearly snapped the key in two. “Open, you sonofa…” he muttered, jiggling the key in its slot.
That’s it, his wolf snarled and gave another hard mental shove. Tear the sucker off—
The key finally turned. Parker threw the door open, stormed over the threshold, then banged the door shut.
One day, I swear-to-God, I’m gonna kill that—
“You and me both.” He leaned against the door, panting. “Now calm down, will you? Calm—”
Calm down? After what he did to us tonight? Again? Calm down my—
“Shut up. We need a drink.”
I don’t need a drink. I need—
“Shut up, I said.”
His wolf didn’t reply. That was a good sign.
Parker strode away from the small patch of faux-slate tiles that served as a tiny foyer. The room he marched across comprised nearly all of the main level. White walls supported glass and metal sculptures with jagged edges sharp enough to carve a holiday roast. These stood in stark contrast to the rest of the sparse furnishings—the clean, straight lines and ninety-degree angles formed by industrial-grade steel pipe. The black leather cushions on the sofa and chairs did little to soften the interior’s threatening appearance.
The decor wasn’t pretty but it had its uses. The lack of furniture allowed enough space for all of his wolves to sit when the pack met at his place. And in case his neighbors discovered what he was and decided to do something about it, the wall hangings and furniture could be broken into makeshift but lethal weapons.
Parker headed for the freestanding bar about twenty feet away. He grabbed the jumbo-sized Jack Daniel’s bottle from the counter and then snatched a double shot glass from a nearby rack. Pouring the glass full, he drank it in one gulp, ignoring the liquid fire searing his throat. He tossed down two more shots.
After his fourth drink, he felt at least some of the tension leave his shoulders. Holding the glass in two large, strong, and trembling—but very human—hands, he set it down on the upper counter. Leaning against the marble, he closed his eyes. “Okay. We’re okay now. Right?”
His wolf remained silent. Another good sign. The last thing he wanted was to morph into his other, a gargantuan man-wolf eight feet tall. A forced morph was triggered in werewolves by the full moon and sometimes, like now, by powerful emotions. And the greater the size differences between the human and were selves, the more agonizing the change. Parker-the-human stood six feet, six inches tall in his stocking feet. Morphing into his eight-foot were hurt like a knife-wielding bitch.
Parker had been just about to let out a sigh of relief when he caught a whiff of cologne clinging to his shirt. It wasn’t his. He ripped the still-wet shirt off and threw it across the room. His broad, hairy chest heaving with anger, he watched the discarded garment land in a crumpled heap about ten feet away.
No, we’re not okay, his wolf growled. Human, when are you going to wake up and smell the blood? That bastard is driving us insane.
“That bastard” was Kurt, the vampire Master. Old and extremely formidable, Kurt extended preternatural protection from Seattle’s human horde to just about every exotic—zot—that lived there. The smell Parker had picked up was the vampire’s favorite scent.
He poured a fifth shot of whiskey into the glass. “Quit calling me ‘human.’ Besides, what do you suggest we do about it? We’re Kurt’s servant. Bound to him by blood. Day or night, he calls, we come, and then we do whatever he wants.” He downed his drink and grimaced. “Like we’re his damned dog or something.”
His wolf’s anger surged. Guess you like it, huh? Like this, maybe? A mental picture flashed in their shared mind’s eye, one Parker would rather not have seen. Kurt’s grinning face was poised above him. He heard the seductive whispering in his ear and felt the sweet ecstasy of fangs piercing his flesh.
Parker’s face reddened. “You think I wanted to go down to Kurt’s nightclub tonight?” he shouted. “You think I wanted his hands on me? No. You know what he does. Takes over my mind and twists my head around until I’m practically begging for it.” He tossed down a sixth shot. “And while he’s doing it I sure don’t feel you trying to stop him.”
That’s bull and you know it.
“Shut up.” He poured himself an seventh shot and drained it, which was followed by an eighth. But Jack wasn’t doing the job. The humiliating images of what had happened to him and his wolf in Kurt’s office beneath the vampire’s Last Chance nightclub refused to fade.
Parker gripped the shot glass harder. His blood pressure skyrocketed. Rivers of sweat burst from his pores and ran down his face and chest. His wolf’s snarling inside their shared mind swelled into a howl. He started grinding his teeth, a sure sign he was going into a forced morph.
About the Author:
Award-winning author Roxanne Bland was born in the shadows of the rubber factory smokestacks in Akron, Ohio but grew up in Washington, D.C. As a child, she spent an inordinate amount of time prowling the museums of the Smithsonian Institution and also spent an inordinate amount of time reading whatever books she could get her hands on, including the dictionary. A self-described “fugitive from reality,” she has always colored outside the lines and in her early years of writing, saw no reason why a story couldn’t be written combining the genres she loved and did so despite being told it wasn’t possible. Today, she writes stories that are hybrids of paranormal urban fantasy, romance, and science fiction. Enamored of Great Danes, she has been owned by several and lives in Maryland with her current owner, Daisy Mae.