Chapter 19 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.
It’s the height of summer where I live, and the evenings especially are filled with golden sunshine, kids having fun, and the music of ice-cream vans.
And, I mean ‘vans’, plural.
Because usually, there’s just one van going around a particular neighbourhood, and they’re all very careful not to jingle on each other’s turf (might set off ice-cream cold war three). But it’s a little different in my area.
You see, there’s a rather large grassy field near my house which the local kids turn into their summer playground during the holidays. And for ice-cream vans, a field full of kids is like a lake teeming with salmon for bears. They really can’t stay away. And while they can’t poach on each other’s turfs, this magical field solves that problem by being bounded by roads on two sides.
So on particularly hot evenings, Mr Whippy* will roll up on one road, tune chiming loud and ice-creams at the ready. And as soon as they hear him, all the kids stop their games and rush towards him. But within seconds, Nutty Kone* will screech up on the other road, ting-a-linging his head off, and all the kids who hadn’t quite made it past the middle of the field will make a smart about turn and rush towards him instead.
And it seems to me that for the next few minutes my usually peaceful neighbourhood descends into a cacophony of off-key jingling and passive-aggressive seething as two white-smocked ice-cream men growl at each other across a green field. Though in all probability, these two could be best of buddies and go for a cool beer after work; you never know.
Still, it’s a story that livens up the summer that I miss during winter. And yeah, the ice-cream is pretty good too, like this one…
And that pic was to whet your appetites and brainwash you all into rushing out for some soft serve (because I’m evil like that, teehee).
But hey, don’t forget to read Luca’s chapter before you go 🙂
* Real names not used (simply because I can’t remember them).
“Shush…” Belle whispered, holding up a finger.
‘Be with me…’
“Who said that?” Belle near squeaked.
“Said what?” Hero looked around, his eyes widening in panic. “I didn’t hear anything.”
Belle listened again, but the feeling and the voice were gone. “I heard it.” She gave Hero an insistent look. “I heard a woman speak.”
“Okay…” And taking her by the elbow, he hurried her away from the staircase. “It’s just the wind. It always whistles through the chimneys when you’re on the top floors.” His anxious babbling sounded more like he was trying to calm himself than her.
But then again, maybe he was right. Belle looked around the bright corridor they’d just entered. The place didn’t look scary, which was quite an incredible feat for a gothic mansion. Maybe she’d imagined things?
They came to a set of elaborately decorated white doors, and Hero seemed to have calmed down. “Your room,” he announced with pomp and pushed the doors open like a showman.
Belle’s jaw almost dropped. She’d been expecting an attic cupboard, but this was a room fit for a princess. The walls were a soft pink, and the tiled floor had a subtle silver and pearlescent sheen. Cushiony wingback armchairs waited in front of the fireplace, and velvet curtains edged the tall windows. But the most striking feature in the room was the ornate four-poster bed hung with gauzy pink-and-white curtains.
“Are you sure you have the right room?” she asked, awestruck.
Hero grinned. “Yup.” And he ushered her in. “Hasn’t been used in a while though, so we had some preparing to do when the alpha said he wanted you to sleep here.”
Sleep here. And for some reason, it only now registered that she was actually going to stay at Fairfall. She glanced around the room again. It was no prison, that was certain, but it wasn’t home either, no matter how hard it tried to be.
“The en-suite’s through here.” Hero opened a nearby door. “It’s got everything you’ll need.”
“Thank you. So… um… where does Luca sleep?”
“A corridor down.”
So Luca hadn’t placed her next to him. Belle chewed her lip, unsure how to feel about that. Strangely, it kind of hurt that he hadn’t wanted her nearby.
“Nearly forgot…” Hero dashed to a white wardrobe tucked into a tall alcove. “You’ll want to change.” And he opened the wardrobe doors to reveal an array of colour and cloth that left Belle gasping.
Dresses made from silk and lace, satin and velvet, called her. Belle went to them and stroked her hand over their soft folds and fine-stitch embroidery. “These are just stunning,” she breathed.
“Yeah, the alpha said you’d like them.”
Luca had chosen these dresses for her. She stared at the fine creations as that realisation sank in. But if he expected her to work as his servant, then he was going about it the wrong way with these gorgeous dresses. These weren’t a maid’s clothes by any stretch of the imagination. She unhooked a red-and-black dress that had caught her eye and held it up for a proper look. Her eyes rounded. The dress was strapless with a sweetheart neckline, a bone-corset bodice, and a skirt that flared to mid-thigh. Sultry black lace overlaid the wine-red silk, and the lace-up back ended in a red bow placed to sit seductively atop the curve of her bottom. There was only one type of work a woman wearing such a dress would be doing.
Her gaze fell on the jumble of colourful silk in a compartment shelf below, and reaching in, she pulled out a set of cream lace thongs. She turned to Hero with a raised eyebrow.
“Uh… yeah.” Hero looked sheepish. “He said you’d like those too.”
“Did he?” Belle muttered. More like, Luca would like them… on her.
“I’ll… um… leave you to it,” Hero said diplomatically and backed away.
Belle ignored him, torn between anger and something else. The thought of Luca wanting to see her in the itty-bitty thongs made her insides curl with hot desire, and she scowled at the offending underwear.
A light cough from the bedroom door had her turning in that direction.
“Hero, I’ll need you downstairs,” the tall man standing there said.
“Sure thing, uncle,” Hero said cheerfully, and with a smile for Belle, he left the room.
“Lord Luca wishes to have your company for dinner, Miss Belle,” the man intoned once Hero had gone.
“You’re Hanson,” Belle guessed. “Well, you can tell Luca that I’d rather starve than play nice with him. I know what he wants, and no matter how beautiful the room or the clothes, he’s not getting it.”
“You’ve had a long and hard day,” Hanson said blandly. “I do believe food and rest will help put things into perspective for you.”
“Are you not hearing me? All I want is for you werewolves to return my aunt so we can go home and pretend none of this ever happened.”
“It’s rather late, Miss Belle. Even if you were to leave Fairfall now, you wouldn’t get far. The forest isn’t a welcoming place.”
No kidding. As if she needed reminding that the forest outside looked ready to make a meal of her. So now she was stuck in Fairfall, for tonight at least. But that didn’t mean she had to spend the evening being Luca’s eye candy at some forced dinner. And she opened her mouth to tell Hanson precisely that.
But he got there first. “I should also mention, Miss Belle, the last part of the alpha’s message was that if you’re not down in the dining hall within half an hour, he’ll come and carry you there himself.”
Belle seethed. But knowing Luca, he’d do just that, and she really didn’t fancy being carried kicking and screaming in front of Hanson and Hero.
“I’ll let you dress,” Hanson said, taking her silence as a ‘yes’. And he quickly backed out of the bedroom and closed the doors as he went.
Belle glowered after him. Oh, what she wouldn’t give to be able to turn the whole damn lot of them into tumbleweed right now. The bloody nerve of Luca! He locked her up like some criminal and then wanted her to dress for his pleasure and have dinner with him. Well, there was no way in hell she was doing anything to please him. And raging, she chucked the dress and thongs back into the wardrobe. The flowery dress she’d arrived in was all battered and bruised and no longer white, but she was going to wear it to this stupid dinner anyway just to let Luca know she wasn’t his to order around.
But her gaze wandered to the door of the en-suite.
A hot shower sure sounded nice. And would it really make a difference in her plan to take a stance with Luca?
And then the sexy dress caught her eye again as it lay in a red-and-black heap where she’d thrown it.
If she were to dress up, it didn’t have to be for Luca. A new plan formed, and she frowned in thought. Luca wasn’t immune to her. In fact, for all his beastliness, he could barely keep his hands off her. Their mate bond had him well and truly trapped. Sure she’d tried to use that to her advantage in the cell and failed, but this time she had powerful ammunition on hand. And picking up the dress, she studied it. She’d never risk actually sleeping with Luca, but what if she could seduce him just enough to find out where he’d stashed Aunt Dee? Then with her aunt’s help, they could escape this place and hopefully find a way to break this damn mate bond. Aunt Dee’s words that only death could break the mate bond came to mind, but Belle uncomfortably pushed that away. No, there had to be another way to break it. But first, she needed to get away from Luca.
And now determined, she quickly began undressing. She was playing with fire, blue fire to be exact, but this might be her one and only chance for freedom.
To be continued next week…