“So I don’t get to come?” Korum was lounging on the bed and watching her get ready for the party. His golden eyes gleamed with amusement, and she knew that he was teasing her.
“Sorry, sweetie,” she told him mockingly, twirling in front of the mirror. “No cheren allowed. Charl only.”
He grinned. “Such discrimination.”
She wore the necklace he’d given her and a light floaty dress with a swimsuit underneath – just in case the party involved any swimming in the ocean.
“Yes, well, you know how that goes,” she said, grinning back. “We’re too cool for all you Ks.”
She loved that she could banter with him now. Somehow, almost imperceptibly, their relationship had assumed a more equal footing. He still liked to be in control – and he could still be incredibly domineering on occasion – but she was beginning to feel like she could stand up to him. The knowledge that he loved her, that her thoughts and opinions mattered to him, was very liberating.
“All right,” she said, bending down to give him a chaste kiss on the cheek, “I have to run.”
Before she could pull away, however, his arm snaked around her waist, and she found herself flat on her back on the bed, pinned down by his large muscular body.
“Korum!” She wriggled, trying to get away. “I’m running late! You told me yourself it’s an insult to be late –”
“One kiss,” he cajoled, holding her effortlessly. She could see the familiar signs of arousal on his face and feel his cock hardening against her leg. Her body reacted in predictable fashion, her insides clenching in anticipation and her breathing picking up.
She shook her head. “No, we can’t . . .”
“Just one kiss,” he promised, lowering his head. His mouth was hot and skillful on hers, his tongue caressing the inside of her lips, and Mia could feel herself melting on the spot, a pleasurable fog engulfing her mind. Before she could completely forget herself, however, he stopped, lifting his head and carefully rolling off her.
“Go,” he said, and there was a wicked smile on his face. “I don’t want you to be late.”
Frustrated, Mia got up and threw a pillow at him. “You’re evil,” she told him. Now she was extremely turned on, and she wouldn’t get a chance to see him for the next few hours. The only thing that made her feel better was the fact that he would suffer equally.
“Just wanted you to hurry back, that’s all,” he said, grinning, and Mia threw another pillow at him before grabbing Maria’s gift and heading out the door.
Soon he’s going to be coming out with a couple of books where he is the primary author. He’ll be publishing them as Dima Zales. Why that pen name? Well, that’s a long story. Suffice it to say, his books are going to be much more PG-13 than anything produced by Anna Zaires, and they will also be lighter on the romance (it will be a subplot, rather than the main point of the story).
There was a naked woman on the floor of Blaise’s study.
A beautiful naked woman.
Stunned, Blaise stared at the gorgeous creature who just appeared out of thin air. She was looking around with a bewildered expression on her face, apparently as shocked to be there as he was to be seeing her. Her wavy blond hair streamed down her back, partially covering a body that appeared to be perfection itself. Blaise tried not to think about that body and to focus on the situation instead.
A woman. A She, not an It. Blaise could hardly believe it. Could it be? Could this girl be the Object?
She was sitting with her legs folded underneath her, propping herself up with one slim arm. There was something awkward about that pose, as though she didn’t know what to do with her own limbs. In general, despite the curves that marked her a fully grown woman, there was a child-like innocence in the way she sat there, completely unselfconscious and totally unaware of her own appeal.
Clearing his throat, Blaise tried to think of what to say. In his wildest dreams, he could’ve never imagined this kind of outcome to the project that had consumed his entire life for the past several months.
Hearing the sound, she turned her head to look at him, and Blaise found himself staring into a pair of unusually clear blue eyes.
She blinked, then cocked her head to the side, studying him with visible curiosity. Blaise wondered what she was seeing. He hadn’t seen the light of day in weeks, and he wouldn’t be surprised if he looked like a mad sorcerer at this point. There was probably a week’s worth of stubble covering his face, and he knew his dark hair was unbrushed and sticking out in every direction. If he’d known he would be facing a beautiful woman today, he would’ve done a grooming spell in the morning.
“Who am I?” she asked, startling Blaise. Her voice was soft and feminine, as alluring as the rest of her. “What is this place?”
“You don’t know?” Blaise was glad he finally managed to string together a semi-coherent sentence. “You don’t know who you are or where you are?”
She shook her head. “No.”
Blaise swallowed. “I see.”
“What am I?” she asked again, staring at him with those incredible eyes.
“Well,” Blaise said slowly, “if you’re not some cruel prankster or a figment of my imagination, then it’s somewhat difficult to explain . . .”
She was watching his mouth as he spoke, and when he stopped, she looked up again, meeting his gaze. “It’s strange,” she said, “hearing words like that in real time. These are the first real words I’ve heard.”
Blaise felt a chill go down his spine. Getting up from his chair, he began to pace, trying to keep his eyes off her nude body. He had been expecting something to appear. A magical object, a thing. He just hadn’t known what form that thing would take. A mirror, perhaps, or a lamp. Maybe even something as unusual as the Life Capture Sphere that sat on his desk like a large round diamond.
But a person? A female person at that?
To be fair, he had been trying to make the object intelligent, to ensure it would have the ability to comprehend human language and convert it into the code. Maybe he shouldn’t be so surprised that the intelligence he invoked took on a human shape.
A beautiful, feminine, sensual shape.
Focus, Blaise, focus.
“Why are you walking like that?” She slowly got to her feet, her movements uncertain and strangely clumsy. “Should I be walking too? Is that how people talk to each other?”
Blaise stopped in front of her, doing his best to keep his eyes above her neck. “I’m sorry. I’m not accustomed to naked women in my study.”
She ran her hands down her body, as though trying to feel it for the first time. Whatever her intent, Blaise found the gesture extremely erotic.
“Is something wrong with the way I look?” she asked. It was such a typically feminine concern that Blaise had to stifle a smile.
“Quite the opposite,” he assured her. “You look unimaginably good.” So good, in fact, that he was having trouble concentrating on anything but her delicate curves. She was of medium height, and so perfectly proportioned that she could’ve been used as a sculptor’s template.
“Why do I look this way?” A small frown creased her smooth forehead. “What am I?” That last part seemed to be puzzling her the most.
Blaise took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing pulse. “I think I can try to venture a guess, but before I do, I want to give you some clothing. Please wait here – I’ll be right back.”
And without waiting for her answer, he hurried out of the room.
If you’d like to know when the book comes out, please connect with Dima via his website and social media through the links below (and sign up for his newsletter!).
There’s one Krinar book that I’m particularly excited about, and it will probably be the next story in this series. It’s a prequel of sorts, set right before and during the Krinar invasion. It will feature a rather dark & tortured K hero and a human girl who finds herself in a difficult situation with him. Working title: The Krinar Captive. I will include a small teaser from this story (along with samples of my other works) at the end of Close Remembrance.
I’m also getting ready to share more with you about my next book, a contemporary dark erotic tale that may shock and disturb many of you. It’s going to be part of my “Heed the Warning” line of books and won’t be a romance in the traditional sense. If you enjoyed Captive in the Dark and like Kitty Thomas’s works, then you might like this one too. Please stay tuned; I’ll be revealing more about this one soon.
When a ruthless enemy finally strikes, Mia and Korum will face the biggest test of their relationship yet. But it’s Korum’s own secrets that may ultimately tear them apart.
From the beaches of Costa Rica to a planet in a distant galaxy, theirs is a love story that may change the world . . .
Warning: This book contains strong sexual content and explicit language and is not suitable for readers under 18.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of the book, and it was unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s a a dark and fascinating take on Norse mythology. The gods have fallen, and they live among us . . . in all their brutal glory. Dark Deceit is a story of revenge – Loki’s revenge against Odin. Lauren doesn’t pull any punches with this one; the violence and suffering depicted in the book seem very real, made even more so by Lauren’s beautifully descriptive – almost poetic – turn of phrase. Her words are powerful, and her imagery is so vivid that I almost felt like I was there, caught in the crossfire between the gods. If you enjoy dark, well-written fantasy with some steamy elements, then you will love this book.
And now, here’s Lauren’s guest post!
I just wanted to start by thanking Anna for having me write a guest post on her blog. This is actually the first time I’ve written a post for someone else. As some of you may or may not know, I’m releasing my book Dark Deceit very, very soon. In the book trailer it says it’s “mythology, but not as you know it.” Dark Deceit is based on some Norse gods that I found particularly interesting. Some of their names you may already recognize from movies like The Avengers and Thor. But I must tell you my characters are nothing like those portrayed in the movies.
So, to get your acquainted with them all, I thought I’d do a little Norse Mythology 101 with you. Before I begin though, I must say there are a lot of variations on Norse Mythology. I have simply chosen one of these variations to talk about.
I’ll start with the structure of the Nine Worlds. These were believed to be nine separate mini-worlds where certain ‘species’ of gods and immortal beings could be found.
Starting from the top we have:
Asgard is the world of the sky gods called the Aesir. They rule the worlds, and are generally hated by everyone else in the Nine Worlds.
Vanaheim houses the ‘old gods’ call the Vanir. These gods who ruled before the Aesir took over. They are the gods of nature and elemental magic.
Alfheim is the home of the light elves. Light elves are believed to be kinds of guardian angels.
Nidarvelli is the home of the dwarves. They (naturally) lived underground and were master craftsmen.
Midgard is the human realm. They are constantly exposed to the gods.
Home of the giants (Jotun). Jotun are the sworn enemies of the Aesir.
Home of the dark elves. Dark elves are called Mares. They were believed to sit on the chests of humans and whisper dark things into their ears while they slept, birthing the term ‘nightmare’.
Niflheim is the home of the dead. In Norse mythology, how you died decided on where you would finally go. If you died honorably (i.e. in battle) you would go to the great hall Valhalla in Asgard to drink mead and eat roast pig with Odin for the rest of eternity. If you died of illness or old age, you would go to Niflheim. This is a dark, cold land shrouded with mist. Niflheim is ruled by Hel—a woman who is half youthful and beautiful, and half dead.
This is the land located furthest away from Asgard. Believed to be the first worlds, it is the land of fire, ruled by Sert. Sert is also the sworn enemy of the Aesir.
Some important players in Norse Mythology:
Odin is perhaps the most well-known of the gods. He’s referred to as The All-Father. He only has one eye having sacrificed his right eye to drink at the Well of Mimir – the great well of knowledge. In Dark Deceit there are numerous references to this. Traditionally he wore a patch over his empty socket, but in my version, Odin has a glass eye made of obsidian glass.
He also had two ravens called Munin (memory) and Huggin (thought). He also had an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir. Odin had two wolves in his possession, too. These wolves were called Geri and Freki.
Loki was the son of two giants. Although he wasn’t technically Aesir, he lived among them at Odin’s request. He was the trickster god. There are many stories about him pulling pranks on people, but his finally prank was his down fall—causing him to be imprisoned in a cave until the end of time. Loki’s most famous children were Hel (ruler of the underworld), Jorgungand (a giant serpent) and Fenrir (a monstrously large wolf).
Frigg is Odin’s equal in every way, much to Odin’s disgust. She is the goddess of marriage, fertility and love. It was said that she also had as much knowledge as Odin did, but Odin never allowed her to sit in on meetings etc… Frigg and Odin had two children together—Balder and Hod.
Their name literally means ‘Choosers of the Slain.’ There were a group of maidens that belonged to Odin, collecting the bodies of the fallen warriors from the battlefield and taken to Valhalla. They had many names including the demi-goddesses of death, swan maidens or wish maidens. It was said that if you could catch a Valkyrie or her feather cloak, you could get one wish from her. And for the men, if you stole a Valkyrie’s feather cloak, she would become your wife for seven years.
For more information on Valkyries, I’d highly recommend this website:
I did a lot of research for this book, and this website really was worth its weight in gold.
At the start of Dark Deceit, we’re witness to a scene where Loki is imprisoned in a cave as punishment for a trick he played. I’d like to share this story with you now so that you may have a better understanding of the history:
Baldr was the son of Odin and Frigg. Most beloved of all the gods, Baldr had a dream that he was going to die and his death would bring about the end of days called Ragnarök. His mother, Frigg, tried to prevent the prophecy from coming true by making every living and inanimate thing in the world to swear an oath that they would not harm him. When she had travelled all the world, she returned to Baldr to tell him that nothing could harm him—not even fire or water.
To celebrate their success at circumventing the prophecy, Odin and Frigg threw a party for their son. At this party, the guests began testing Baldr’s invulnerability by throwing objects at him. The only person who was no joining in was Hod, Baldr’s brother. Loki watched how Hod sat back, and when he asked him why, Hod told him he could not see.
Earlier, Loki had disguised himself as Baldr, and went to visit his mother to see if anything in the world could harm him. Frigg told him only mistletoe hadn’t sworn the oath, but she thought it unimportant and harmless enough not to get an oath from it.
Using this knowledge, Loki produced a sprig of mistletoe and a slingshot, putting it into Hod’s hands. Loki set up the shot, but it was Hod’s strength that drew the shot back. The mistletoe hit Baldr, killing him instantly.
Hod was killed for the murder of his brother, and Loki fled. Frigg was so upset that her son had died that she begged all the gods, light elves, giants, dwarves and dark elves to shed one tear for Baldr. If everyone in the word did this, Hel—the ruler of the dead—would release Hod from her realm.
When Frigg asked a giantess called Thokk for one tear for her son, she refused. Little did she know, but Thokk was actually Loki in disguise, and Baldr stayed the prisoner of Hel in the land of the undead.
As punishment for his role in the death and eternal banishment of Baldr, Loki was tied to a bolder in a cave until Ragnarök. To make sure he felt the pain the world felt when Baldr died, a huge serpent was suspended above his head, forever dripping poison onto his body.
There are many, many stories about Norse mythology that you can research. These were the ‘highlights’ I guess. If you haven’t figured it out yet either, I named my wolf packs in the Half Blood series after their Nine Worlds also. Norse mythology has always fascinated me. I’m just glad I got the chance to write my own version of their story in my book Dark Deceit.