Title: Happily Ever Alpha: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Publication date: January 26th 2016
BLURB supplied by Xpresso Book Tour
When Once Upon A Time Isn’t Enough
Happily Ever Alpha – From Twenty-Two NY Times,
USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling Authors
*TWENTY-ONE FULL-LENGTH NOVELS AND NOVELLAS! NO CLIFFHANGERS!*
Professionally Edited and Formatted.
Limited Edition. Sale Ends Soon!
HAPPILY EVER ALPHA
With twenty-one novels and novellas and over one million seductive words of fiction, this paranormal romance boxed set will leave you Happily Ever Alpha.
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Every selection in this rare, limited edition paranormal romance boxed set are full-length novels and novellas!
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I woke the next morning in a cold sweat, jolted from my bed by a nightmare. I dreamed I'd gone into the forest to perform the rite, only instead of conjuring a man, great buboes grew all over my body, and the skin on my hands grew black and flaked away. It was just a dream. You don't have the pestilence.
I clutched my chest, waiting for my pounding heart to return to normal. My wool blanket was dripping with my sweat. With shaking hands, I lit my candle and checked every inch of my body – running my hands over the flawless skin, searching for the buboes or rash that announced the arrival of death. Nothing.
It was only a dream, I told myself again. But I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. My aunts, as seasoned witches, placed much importance on the contents of dreams. Was my dream a prediction, or a warning? Is it telling me that death waits for me in the grove?
I sat down at the table as Aunt Aubrey cut thick chunks of bread, and gave me a wooden bowl containing a foul-smelling tea. "Drink that," she patted my shoulder. "And do not fear, Ada. I have mixed it perfectly. It is not dangerous."
"How long until it takes affect?" I lifted the bowl to my lips with shaking hands, stealing myself to gulp down to foul liquid.
"A few hours. Are you ready? You will need to hurry to the grove."
The grove was a long distance from the village – nearly a full day's hike, even from someone as young and fit as me. The women in my family had used it for centuries as a safe and secret place to perform rituals. The last time I had visited the grove had been for my ritual of initiation into our family coven – two summers ago. Now I had to return on my own to ask the Goddess for a man.
I nodded, threw my head back, and drowned the bowl in one gulp. My stomach twisted in protest as the foul concoction wound its way through my body, but I managed to keep it down. Aunt Aubrey handed me a walking staff and a pouch with some food, a knife, and the other implements for the ritual. She wrapped her warmest fur cloak around my shoulders, and strapped my bow and a quiver of arrows across my back.
"Where's Aunt Bernadine?" I demanded, my voice hoarse from the burning tea.
"She's by the stream, performing a ritual of her own," Aunt Aubrey hugged my shoulders. "Do not mind her – she cares for you deeply, in her own way. May the Goddess protect you, Ada." She kissed my forehead, and pushed me out the door.
The morning air was crisp, and a light pattern of crunchy snow dotted the forest floor. As I walked I kept my eyes on the ground, searching for the herbs and ingredients I would need to complete the spell. Patchouli, juniper, myrtle, white oak bark … Aunt Aubrey assured me the walk to the grove and the searching out of the herbs were an important part of the ritual – my movements now would help the magic become stronger.
If I wanted a man, I needed all the help I could get.
Minutes turned into hours, and I covered the ground quickly, unhindered by my elderly aunts and their weak bones. I found the patchouli easily – it grew wild in this part of the forest. I knew there were juniper bushes near the edge of the grove. Now all I needed was some white oak bark. I scanned the forest for the right tree, twisting my neck one way, then the other, searching for the familiar thick trunk and rugged branches. I could feel the potion churning in my belly, a strange warm sensation that spread out into my limbs.
Finally, I saw a white oak tree, down at the bottom of the gully. I descended the slope slowly, gathering my skirts in my hands so they would not drag in the mud. As I stepped around a fallen trunk, my foot slipped on a pile of wet leaves and I fell forward, sliding on my hands and knees, drenching my clothing and satchel in mud and snow. I sighed, pulling myself to my feet. "Just look at yourself," I muttered. "You're a mess. No wonder you need magic to find a man."
At least I was only a mile or so from the grove, and could soon wash away the filth under the waterfall.
I reached the base of the oak tree. Taking my knife from my pocket, I began to scrape away a section of bark. As I scraped, I heard a noise behind me. Just a bird. Or a deer. I kept cutting.
No. It wasn't a deer. It was a larger animal, its steps heavy in the crunching snow. There was a road – not often travelled – not far away. It might be a horse and rider perhaps? Or it could be a wolf, stalking the foolish girl who'd entered his territory? Either could be dangerous. I swirled around, scanning the forest for any sign of life. It wouldn't do to be caught out here by myself, clutching a satchel laden with magical implements. I squinted through the trees around the gully, but could see nothing.
A twig snapped. My heart leapt to my chest.
As silently as possible, I pulled the small bow from my back and removed an arrow from my quiver. Although most women in the village were forbidden the use of weapons, my aunts taught me to use a bow to hunt animals in the forest. I was a decent shot. There's many a winter we wouldn't have survived if it hadn't been for the rabbits and birds I brought home for the stew pot.
Again, I searched the undergrowth, listening for the familiar tread of a wolf's paw, or the faint whiff of rotten flesh that often accompanied them.
I waited for several moments, steadying my breathing, my senses poised for an attack. But there was nothing. It is nothing. My stomach twisted again, Aunt Aubrey's potion working its foul magic. My imagination was getting the better of me. I replaced the bow and arrow and moved toward the grove.
I moved silently now, as if I were approaching an animal. If there was something out there, I didn't want it to follow me. I entered the grove through a line of fir saplings, several of their branches bent or broken from last week's storm. The rain had raised the level of the pool inside, which lapped at the edges of the firs, the stones on the bank submerged under clear water. It was not yet cold enough for the water to turn to ice. I remembered the pool being fed by a peaceful, trickling waterfall, but the recent rains had turned it into a torrent, churning the water around it into white froth.
The grove was empty, and even the birds fell silent as I walked to the edge of the lagoon. Nothing would disturb my ritual today.
Humming to myself, I shrugged off the heavy cloak and arranged my implements at the edge of the water. The walk had warmed my body, causing me to sweat through my thick layers. I was looking forward to cooling down in the water. Using the knife on my belt, I traced a faint circle in the dirt, and sat inside, placing the mortar and pestle, the scrap of parchment containing the spell, the leather thong, and my herbs and bark in a semi-circle in front of me. I dumped the herbs into the bowl and worked them into a paste, speaking an incantation aloud, my tongue slipping easily over the ancient words.
My voice carried great power in the silence of the grove – I could feel the magic tingling in the air. The Goddess is listening.
I set down the pestle, satisfied I had created a fine paste. I stood and lifted my sheath over my head. Naked now, I dipped my fingers into the paste and drew the sigils across my body, my skin tingling under my touch as I traced the lines across my bare breasts and belly.
The magic is working. The Goddess will bring me a man, so that my aunts and I can continue to use our magic.
I twirled around three times, laughing at my giddiness. Now it was time to wash. Speaking a final prayer, I stepped across the circle, moving slowly into the pool. I shivered as the water lapped against my toes, inched up my calves, and splashed against the downy triangle between my legs. When I was waist-deep I dived, enjoying the shock as my body penetrated the coolness. Laughing, I emerged again, lying back and floating on the skin of the water, the sigils smudged across my pale skin.
Divine Goddess, I prayed, closing my eyes and imagining my prayer being carried away on the breeze. Bring me a man to cool my fires as this water cools me, and to restore to my family the powers you have bestowed upon us.
I lifted my head out of the water, and felt a scream catch in my throat. On the edge of the lagoon stood a man, clothed in only a tunic and black trousers. A heavy sword hung from a scabbard around his waist. He was watching me.
The Goddess works fast.
I shut my eyes and opened them again. He was still there. A man – a real man – stood before me in the sacred grove.
My spell brought him here. I can perform magic after all!
And what magic it was. I licked my lips as I regarded my gift from the Goddess. He was more handsome then I ever could have wished. Tall, with long hair as black as night, held back from his face with plaits and leather thongs. Beneath his thin tunic, his shoulders bulged – a man didn't get muscles like that working in the village. He was a warrior. The skin on his arms was rough, criss-crossed with the white scars of battle. He had shaved recently, and a thin line of stubble darkened his square, proud jaw. A smattering of black hair ran across his chest, leading in a dark line from his belly button down, down below his leather sword belt. He wore dark trousers and thick leather boots, and leather braces encircled his forearms.
Our eyes met, and he did not look away. His sharp features betrayed nothing, just high cheekbones framing a smouldering gaze. This was the man the Goddess has chosen for me? I could hardly believe my good fortune.
"Why have you come here?" I managed to choke out.
He did not answer.
Mesmerised, I rolled on to my stomach and drifted across the water toward him. A water-skin, half filled, bobbed in the pool in front of him. The sun caught the glint of metal on the rocks beside him – he had laid aside a dagger. His sheathed sword swung menacingly at his side. He was a warrior. I would have a warrior. Wait until Rebekah hears about this-
"Have you come for me?"
Again, the man said nothing. I stopped a few feet from him, unsettled by his silence and that stony, unfaltering gaze. I drew up in the shallow water, my full height only reaching his broad shoulders, revealing the full length of my nakedness. That disarmed him at last, and he glanced away, stepping back across the rocks.
"Have you come for me?" I asked again, suddenly feeling very exposed and nervous.
The man took another step back, glancing at me and looking away again. "You must … clothe yourself, woman."
"Why?" I felt confused. Being naked was an important part of the ritual. "Do I not please you?"
"You …" he turned toward me again, and this time his gaze fell on the two sigils above my breasts. They hadn't completely washed away in the water. He seemed to trace the design in the air with his pupils. "You are … I know what you are. You are a vision come to tempt me from the path of righteousness."
"I am no vision. I am yours." What is happening? Why does he not want me? I tried to fight the tears that clutched at the corners of my eyes. Why can I not even convince this man, whom the Goddess has given me, to lay with me?
The man nodded, still not meeting my gaze. When he spoke again, his voice was tinged with sadness. "Yes, you are mine. But I am a servant of Death. Knowing me could be your doom."
I took a step back, more unsure than ever. At the mention of death, I remembered my dream from the night before. Was it predicting this man? Is this how it is supposed to go? Goddess, help me understand what to do next.
"I don't understand." My heel caught the edge of a rock, and I staggered forward to regain my balance. Warm, rough hands grabbed me by the shoulders, pulling me upright. I stood, panting, gazing up at him. His eyes bore into mine, deep pools of brown with a flicker of orange flame around the iris. The eyes of a fire god.
The warrior broke his gaze and scanned the horizon, his eyes darting from tree to tree before focusing intently on the rock ledge above the waterfall.
"It is safe here," I said. "The nearest village is a day’s hike from the grove. This is why I have come–"
He held his finger to his lips. "You're not safe here," he whispered. "Not while you're with me."
I did not know what to say, or if I should say anything at all. He could break me in two with his bare hands. His gaze was so hard, so cruel. Were the men the Goddess sent always this fearsome? Is it some kind of test? His grip against my shoulder tightened, his fingers digging into my skin. I whimpered.
"You are beautiful," he whispered. He said it with venom, as though it were an accusation. He released my shoulder and raised his hand toward me. I sucked in a breath, half expecting him to slap me, but instead he stroked the edge of my breast, just above my nipple.
My reaction to that simple touch surprised me. Far from frightening me, when he touched my skin it sent a shiver through me, as if every hair on my body stood on end. My stomach contracted at his touch, and my nipple swelled before him. He stroked it again, and my stomach clenched further, my skin like fire beneath his finger. I let out a low moan.
The warrior leaned forward, so close that I could feel the warmth of his body across my cool skin, even though we did not touch. His smell invaded my nostrils – a hearty scent of horse and smoke and sweat and something much darker and forbidden.
He leaner closer, closer … and brushed his lips lightly against mine. The touch sent a jolt through my whole body, and I felt light, as though I might float away. He brushed my lips once more, and before I could cry out, he pressed himself against me, the warmth of his chest burning against mine, and devoured my mouth in his.
SAVING GRACE: THE RYAN CHRONICLES
She smiled and I felt a need stir inside me and it had nothing to do with my heart, or soul, for that matter.
“You really let a demon tie you up?” Dimples appeared in her cheeks and mine bloomed with heat.
I shifted, focusing back on the darkness beyond the glass, suddenly uncomfortable and unable to look at her. I swear my face must be the shade of a bright red kickball. “I wasn’t exactly myself,” I said without looking at her.
The kind of chuckle that was meant as a turn on and I slid my gaze to her. “You like your men tied up?” I raised an eyebrow. It was her turn to blush and she grinned, shrugging and looking back outside. Before I could explore more of this conversation, she paled and took a step back, dragging me with her.
There must have been a dozen pale creatures slinking across the back yard. I gave her hand that gripped my upper arm a gentle pat and she turned her frightened gaze to me.
“They won’t get through.” My voice held confidence, but deep inside, I was trembling just as much as she was. Damian, Steve, and I had wiped out more than this at the cove, but that was three of us and of course Paradise Cove probably had a lot to do with it.
We both focused on the approaching horde and without much thought, I slung my arm around Valerie’s shoulder and pulled her close. It was time to concentrate on the deadly quality of the wall I put up. I wasn’t sure of how much sizzle to put into it.
“I want to see them burn,” Valerie said, answering my silent contemplation and a chill ran up my spine.
She had every right to hate these creatures as much as demons and I concentrated, glaring at the approaching danger. Saliva ran from their lips and their teeth gleamed in the moonlight. My heart pounded in my chest, sending throbbing vibrations through my skin. The harder my heart beat, the hungrier the approaching vampires looked.
“Just a few more feet,” I muttered, focusing on the entire perimeter of the house because I wasn’t as much of an idiot as they thought. This wasn’t the only line of assault. Still, when they advanced, I took a cautious step backwards, pulling Valerie with me. The power inside me grew and I couldn’t tell whether it was the adrenaline or the power raking across my skin like a hundred finely manicured nails. The sensation grew, moving from the land of pleasure into the world of discomfort and I gritted my teeth.
“Come on, you motherfuckers,” I growled, loud enough for their acute hearing to pick up. I moved Valerie behind me and positioned myself in a fighting stance, waving them in with my leading hand. The results were memorable.
They all launched towards the glass slider and the moment they hit my invisible barrier each vampire burst into a ball of flame. The roar of fire drowned out their screams, but I heard them and the dark part of my soul reveled in it.
Valerie let out a high pitched laugh and I glanced back at her, smiling.
She met my gaze with a measure of awe. “The only one I ever saw do something that impressive was Michael.”
Being compared to an archangel was humbling and I glanced outside at the black dust that spun on the wind. “I’m not an angel.”
“Oh, I gathered that,” she said and stepped away.
I turned towards her. “What do you mean by that?”
“You’re more recent activities?”
I shoved my hands into my pockets and stared at the floor, shamed by the fact she was privy to my more decadent actions. Instead of apologizing, I lifted my gaze to hers, studying her memories of past events, especially the times after the more traumatic events. Naomi was right about one thing. The girl never freaked out. Ever.
And therein lay the challenge.
I let a grin slowly surface and narrowed my eyes, stepping closer. “So, you want to try out some of those ‘activities’ with me?”
She laughed. The kind of laugh that bruised a man’s ego and when she went into the gale realm, I crossed my arms, my good humor turning sourer by the second.
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