Chapter 18 sneak preview of my current work-in-progress:
Luca – Book 1 of the Demon Born Series (paranormal romance).
Pre-edit version. May change before publication.
Covers. Covers. Covers.
I’m back on my hunt for an appropriately hunky guy (model) for my ‘Luca’ cover. He has to be a perfect fit for the image of Luca that I have in my mind. But, good grief, it’s been a tough hunt so far. Maybe I’m too stubborn about my choices and ought to just take the next chiselled stud I come across, lol.
In other story-related news, I’ll be getting some extra writing time in a week or two (yay!), so I’m really looking forward to that. Who knows? With the right push—aka: minus food and sleep—I might even finish writing up Luca’s story (#optimistic).
In the meantime though, here’s the next chapter for you to enjoy 🙂
And some extra eye candy 😉
Photo credit: George Desipris
She was better dressed for the cold night. Her shimmery cream dress hugged her curves all the way to her knees, and its soft cashmere kept the autumn breeze at bay. Belle tugged the matching shawl tighter across her shoulders, and leaning on the balcony railings, gazed out at Fairfall’s dark forest.
After what had happened between them last night, she’d expected a tense dinner with Luca. But she needn’t have worried. He hadn’t come to dinner at all. And after eating Hanson’s dry roast chicken and turnip chips all alone—she’d talked him out of the mash, here she was on the balcony, exactly as she’d stood with Luca, and missing him.
The cheery town lights caught her eye. Fairfall town glowed like a nest of fireflies in the dark, and at just past eight o’clock, people were likely eating dinner or settling in for the night. She glanced out into the forest again. Some werewolves might even be hunting. Perhaps Luca was out there with them.
Her sense of loss grew, and she smiled wryly at herself. How strange to be missing him. He was her captor and dangerous to her sanity, and yet all she craved was to be with him. She’d even dressed to impress again, albeit with a touch more modesty.
Her gaze turned to the part of the garden where she’d seen the ghostly white glow last night. But all was dark. Belle frowned. What with a garden full of turnips, the weird feeling when she walked the house corridors, and the unearthly light coming from the grounds, Fairfall was a massive jumble of questions. And she got the impression Luca wasn’t about to answer any of them.
With a sigh, she glanced up at the moon overhead. A wisp of grey cloud crossed its white face, but nothing else hid its pale light or the twinkling stars studding the inky sky around it. Soon the moon would be full, and it would be Samhain night. Magic would be at its peak. And if Luca had his way, she’d belong to him—body, mind, and soul.
Strangely, that no longer felt like such a terrible fate. If only they could give each other their hearts too, then everything would be perfect.
Suddenly, the sense of Luca standing nearby overwhelmed her, and she spun around. But the balcony was empty, and the wide French doors leading back into the dining room were still closed. Belle tugged her shawl around herself again and turned back to the garden… and froze.
A huge black wolf stood on the grass below, staring up at her.
Her eyes rounded. She’d never seen an animal like it before. Its jet-black coat was luxuriously thick, and as for its size… an easy guess said it stood almost as tall as her. But what caught her attention and held it was its eyes—eyes that glittered electric blue in the reflected moonlight.
“Luca?” Her voice was a mere whisper, but the wolf cocked its pointed ears and stared on.
Again the feeling of Luca standing right beside her intensified. The wolf was him. There was no doubt. Breath hitching with excitement, Belle gripped the balcony railing and gazed down at the wolf. A question hung in the air between them, but she couldn’t decipher it. “What are you asking me?” she whispered.
Again that feeling. But her mind couldn’t catch it. And exasperated with herself, she shushed her frantically searching mind and found the feel of him in her heart instead.
‘Accept?’ It wasn’t a proper word her ears heard, but the meaning was clearer than words. He wanted to know if she accepted this other form of his.
Belle’s breath left her in a whoosh, and she stared back at the unblinking wolf. This was Luca, as solid as the man who’d stood before her until now. And slowly the reality of his wolf form settled on her. Yes, this was Luca. And she gave him a tentative smile. “You feel the same.”
The wolf’s alert expression didn’t change, but the sense of him relaxed as if he’d been on edge and her words had reassured him.
A sudden howl cut into the night from the forest beyond, and Belle’s gaze flew to where the sound might have come from. But all she saw were dark trees in the distance. She looked back at the garden, and the black wolf had disappeared.
Disappointment had her heart dropping. “Luca?” she called and looked around what little she could see of the night-dark garden, but he was nowhere. And leaning out over the railing, craning to see if he’d headed underneath the balcony, she called again. “Luca?”
Strong hands clasped her waist from behind and hauled her back. “Are you trying to fall?”
Belle yelped and spun around in his hold. “I thought you were down there.”
“Well, I’m up here.” His grin caught her off guard as did the way he looked. His dark jeans and t-shirt hugged the muscular contours of his body. His thick black hair was ruffled; his teeth glinted sharp, and an air of wildness lit his blue eyes. The essence of the wolf still hung around him, and it was intoxicating.
Desire ignited deep inside her, and her gaze dropped to his firm lips. “Kiss me,” she murmured and then blazed hot at what she’d just said.
Luca’s eyes narrowed, and tightening his grip on her waist, he pulled her to him. “There’s nothing I want more,” he said softly, his lips inches from hers. “But this is the mate bond talking, not you. Are you sure it’s what you want?”
God, it was all she wanted, to belong to him in every way. The wild fire in his eyes deepened, giving life to the soulless blue, and Belle stared, caught by the pure beauty of him. This was the real Luca. Somehow, in this moment, she was seeing him as he truly should be—full of life, power, and desire. This was the Luca she wanted to belong to. “I—I want it,” she stammered. “I want you.”
A soft growl escaped him, and quickly backing her against the balcony railing, he eased his knee between her legs. Belle wrapped her arms around his neck and tried to pull him closer. But he frowned. “You’re trembling.”
“I’m not scared.” She tightened her hold to prevent him from pulling away.
“But you’re not sure either.” And gently taking hold of her wrists, he easily broke her embrace. “I want you to be sure.” He raised her hand to his lips and kissed her palm.
Frustrated, she curled her fingers against his stubble-rough jaw. “I don’t know how much of what I feel for you is real, and how much is just the mate bond.”
“What if it’s all real, and you don’t need to question it?”
“Is that how you feel? Are you ready to accept me, no questions asked? Or is it the mate bond forcing you?”
A wry smile touched his lips. “If I told you exactly what I wanted to do to you, mate bond or not, you wouldn’t be standing here feeling so safe with me.”
Excitement shot through her. “Tell me.”
He laughed, and placing his hands either side of her on the railings, leaned in. “Sweet, sweet Belle. You’re too innocent for your own good. And I’m a beast who doesn’t deserve you.” He studied her. “But I’ll rein myself in. This bond isn’t giving you any choice. And I want you to give yourself to me willingly, of your own choice.”
“And your choice?”
“I’ve already accepted you as my mate.”
His declaration made her heart soar, but then her mind yelled that it was still only physical lust for him. “I want you to feel too, Luca. Not just accept me as your mate. But feel me.” She pressed her hand to his heart. “Here.”
A tense muscle jumped in his jaw, and a guarded look flashed in his eyes, but he covered it with a quick laugh. “Feel…” He considered the word. “Then make me feel if you can. But I’ll be the one to conquer your heart first.”
Belle sucked in a breath. “Is… is that a challenge?”
“Take it as such. But I’ll warn you… I don’t have much of a heart to feel with.” And pushing away from her, he stalked back into the house.
Belle stood dumbfounded, staring after him. For a moment, he’d looked almost scared of feeling. And then his words. He’d basically said he’d never feel for her beyond the physical, that his heart would never be hers.
Suddenly, a bleak future faced her, a future without Luca’s love, a future she didn’t want. Belle curled her fingers tight into her palm where he’d kissed her. Her own heart was softening to him day by day, and she was now powerless to stop that. But it was impossible that his heart wasn’t touched too. Maybe that was why he was running scared from his true feelings. He’d rather deny it than accept it.
She frowned. All right, challenge accepted. She’d make Luca admit there was so much more between them than just the physical lust of their mate bond.
To be continued…