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by Jessica Schlenker
In this short story by Jessica Schlenker, a beautiful and curious heirloom is entrusted to a new family line when Cassandra's sister purchases a particularly well-chosen gift for her. Still, even daydreamers require time to adjust their notions of reality when confronted with a variation of their dearest desire.
Set among a bed of pretty, expensive baubles, a pair of faceted sapphire eyes caught her own, drawing her attention from the contented haze of viewing pretty things she had not the means nor the inclination, to purchase, however nice they were to look at. Sapphires set in a skillfully designed gold and silver - or perhaps white gold? Yes, it was white gold, the hues too warm to be mere silver - dragon's face. They flickered with light, and she was entranced. A cautious glance at the proprietor showed he was paying court to the much more expensively attired couple looking at the wares two cases away. She gently ran a finger along the tiny dragon's jaw line, admiring the workmanship. A European sort of dragon, and such a pretty little thing, with its wings arched delicately up and back, its tail curled partially around as balance. It could fit in the palm of her hand, if she were only bold enough to pick it up. She feared to glance at the price tag.
"See anything you like?" asked the antiques dealer who minded the shop while the usual caretaker was off at lunch.
She tried to not snatch her hand back and she hoped she didn’t blush guiltily at being caught handling the wares. "Just looking." She politely disengaged herself with a smile. She couldn’t help the wistful glance at the little dragon as she moved on.
* * *
(Book 1 of Hunter's Moon Series)
by Ellie Ferguson
When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha's desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what.
Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?
They were here.
I knew it the moment I stepped outside. Despite all the precautions I’d taken, despite all the times I’d moved and left no forwarding address, they’d found me--again. It didn’t matter that I’d done everything possible to live off the grid. All it took was one small mistake and there they were.
Damn it. I really liked it here and now I had to move and move fast.
Assuming I lived long enough to do so.
Just moments before I’d been thinking about the upcoming weekend. A couple of days off sounded good. I didn’t even mind the fact Dana had set me up on a blind date with her cousin. Not that I expected anything to come of it. Nothing ever did. Either my demons interfered or Michael’s trackers did--like now. Damn it, what’s a girl got to do to have a nice dinner and maybe some good sex?
Without breaking stride, I melted into the early afternoon foot traffic. A quick glance right and then left didn’t reveal my pursuers. But I knew there were there. I could feel their eyes on me. The back of my neck prickled. There was that itch between my shoulder blades. Instinct had kept me alive this long. Would it be enough now?
God, I was an idiot. I’d actually started believing Michael had forgotten about me or had decided it just wasn’t worth the effort to keep looking for. I’d known better. I’d embarrassed him when I refused his advances in front of the others. But that hadn’t been the end of it. He hadn’t let it go.
Bile rose in my throat at the memory of that long ago night. I’d learned what it meant to fight for your life then. I could still feel his hands on me. If I closed my eyes, I could smell the scent of him as he’d pulled me close. I’d fought then. That’s the one thing he hadn’t expected. It was over almost as quickly as it had started. I’d fled the only home I’d ever known that night, leaving him bleeding on the floor.
I’d run. I might not have looked back but I had kept a look out. I’d known Michael wouldn’t just let me go. But I’d never expected him to keep up the chase this long. God, would I never get my life back?
A Flaw in Her Magic
Sarah A. Hoyt
In A Flaw of Her Magic, Sarah A. Hoyt gives us her take on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. This time, Austen’s England is populated with weredragons, werewolves and magic.
Monday Morning Blues
Julianna swore she'd never move back home. For more than ten years, she kept that promise to herself. Then came the phone call that changed everything. Her oh-so-socially conscious mother was found standing over the body of her lover, and one-time enemy, with bloody knife in hand. Worse, at least in her mother's point of view, was that she was in her nightie. After all, what would the women at church and the country club think? Jules has no choice but to come home and try to sort out this latest mess in her mother's life. What she doesn't plan on is the prosecuting attorney's determination to right old law school "wrongs" at her mother's expense or the very handsome contractor working on the house. Then there's the way her grandfather seems to be manipulating things from beyond the grave. It really is more than anyone should have to deal with.
A Deadly Paws
This is the first of the Orphan Kitten Mysteries by Hyatt.
A litter of kittens in a bag getting dropped on the lawn of any family can be expected to create some stir. But when the litter is dropped on the devil strip of the Goldport, Colorado,home of a creatively eccentric family, what ensues is a murder investigation, a fun romp, and a new all absorbing passion for kitten rescue.
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