Wicked Hot

St. Martin’s Press – ISBN-13: 978-0312369460

Two immortal warriors attending to her every need… The struggle between good and evil is about to get…Wicked Hot!

Edana is a succubus—a breathtakingly beautiful demon who offers men their most decadent fantasy in exchange for their souls. No one can get close to her without being destroyed..until she meets Eli and Dal. Both men are Nephilim, immortal warriors who bind and banish demons.

Edana’s mission is to arouse their lust and steal their souls before they can destroy her—she never expects to fall in love. Shared by two virile lovers and lost in a world of sensation, Edana begins to fall for one of the warriors, jeopardizing her mission. Only he has power to save her, but first she must give him power over her heart—and her destiny…

  • Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read

WICKED HOT cannot be relegated only to the category of ‘erotic romance’. It is that, but so much more. Charlene Teglia delivers a deceptively simple plot with complex nuances that explore the balance of good and evil, and offer unexpected salvation.” – Wild On Books

Charlene Teglia has turned something old into pure gold with her unique voice and talent at characterization. I highly recommend this sensual feast to erotica lovers everywhere.” – Fallen Angel Reviews

Charlene Teglia has introduced us to a hot new alpha male. Move over vampire guys, step aside werewolf men, enter the Nephilim. Charlene’s vision of angels and demons is something completely new…this book is a keeper.” – Night Owl Romance

Scorching hot, enticingly erotic, and devilishly wicked, WICKED HOT held me spellbound.” – Romance Junkies

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this page.

Copyright 2008 Charlene Teglia St. Martin’s Press, July 2008 All rights reserved

Chapter One

“I wasn’t sure you’d come.” He stood in the moonlight with his hands in his pockets, looking almost bashful. Which struck me as laughable, considering our reason for being here.

“I’m here. Whether or not I’ll come remains to be seen.” I gave him a wide smile and let my trench coat fall open, showing off the black lace bra, panties and nothing else underneath except my belly button ring winking in the moonlight.

Garrett, if that was really his name, seemed very interested in what wasn’t under my coat. I let him get a good long look at ample cleavage and a sleek, bare midriff. Men are visually stimulated and the more aroused he became, the better my night would be. The dogging event hadn’t drawn too much of a crowd, less than a dozen onlookers. I could easily pick out the ones who’d want to do more than watch.

Ah, dogging, how easy you’ve made my job, I thought. “Walking the dog” was the popular euphemism for a pre-arranged meet for one purpose; having sex in a public place. A big draw for voyeurs and exhibitionists alike, dogging events were frequently advertised, recorded, and broadcast on the internet so the show could be witnessed by the broadest possible audience.

For me it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

I shrugged off my trench coat and let it drop to the grass. I’d agreed to meet Garrett at this park after sunset, and I noted with some pleasure that the lawn offered a lot more room to maneuver than the inside of a car in a public parking lot.

Those cramped encounters so tended to discourage audience participation. The choreography required for front seat group action gives new meaning to the term cluster-fuck.

I settled my perfect ass on the fabric of my discarded London Fog and smiled all around. “Who’s first?”

A tangible rush of lust filled the air and just like that, I had them all.

Fish in a barrel.

Garrett was first, of course. I let him touch me because it was the best way to hook the ones who liked to watch. They watched his hands unfasten the black lace bra that pushed my cleavage up to heights no mortal woman could aspire to, and there was an almost audible sigh as the lace fell away and nothing but Garrett’s hands covered my twin peaks.

Garrett was a little clumsy and had no idea what to do with a body like mine, but he was fully aroused and his sexual energy fed me until I was damn near orgasmic. But far from satiated. Never satiated. The more I fed, the more I hungered, and the circle of men watching us was only going to whet my appetite.

I feasted on their lust, expertly playing them, pulling them into my field and draining them and they never saw what was happening. Garrett’s eyes grew glazed and a confused look came over his face as he approached the threshold.

“What—?” he asked. It was an incomplete question, but I answered him anyway.

“You’re a pervert, Garrett,” I informed him in a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental voice.

“And now you’re a damned pervert. Thank you for your soul. Welcome to hell.”

“You’ve been a naughty girl, Edana.” Nick’s voice was deep and approving when I joined him in his office later that night. “Ten men at once. Want a spanking?”

“I’m not that kind of girl.” I gave him a wide-eyed innocent look and dropped into the seat across from his desk. I was still wearing the panties and while I’d put it back on, I’d left the trench coat hanging open to provide a nice peep-show effect.

I wasn’t wearing anything else. I’d left my bra in the grass at the park. I like to leave souvenirs and they’re not docked from my pay. Actually, since it counts as littering, and could stir impure thoughts in the mind of whoever finds my discards, I get bonuses on top of the amusement factor the habit gives me.

“You’re my kind of girl.” He patted his lap. “Take off the trench coat and come sit.”

“You’re the boss.” I shrugged out of the trench and strutted around to him, then gave him a little lap-dance action. I got a light spank on my ass for my trouble. I sat down then and heaved an aggrieved sigh. “Is this all the sexual harassment I get? You’re not even trying.”

“I want you to conserve your energies. I have a special job for you, Edana.” Nick kissed the side of my neck and toyed with my nipples as he spoke so I wouldn’t feel ignored. I responded to the gesture, even though I knew I wasn’t going to be favored with anything that might feed my need.

“Who?” I asked. I didn’t expect an immediate answer. I knew he’d tell me the details when he was good and ready.

“What,” he corrected and I felt something other than my nipples stiffen.

“Not human?”

“Partially.”

I swiveled around to face him and hooked my legs over each side of the chair so I straddled his lap. “Tell me more.”

He shook his head. “None of your tricks. You’ve fed well enough tonight.” Since my thighs were spread wide, he gave me a light spank on my mound and I hissed at the mixture of arousal and denial. “I want you to seduce a Nephilim.”

“A Watcher?” I quit trying to play-seduce Nick and sat up straight. The Nephilim had once been a wide-spread race, the half-breed results of intermarriage between human women and angels who’d abandoned both heavenly and hellish realms in favor of life on earth.

The Nephilim had been called many things. Watcher was one of the more innocuous terms. They’d also been known more accurately as the Terrors and the Weakeners. “I thought they were extinct. Either they killed each other off fighting or drowned in the Great Flood.”

“They’re strong. And persistent.” Nick flicked my clit, overly hard on purpose and I scowled at him.

“That wasn’t necessary,” I protested.

“I’m evil.” He shrugged and let his finger travel up to toy with my belly button ring. “This particular Nephilim is a problem. He’s giving me headaches. He conjures and binds. He banishes.”

At the b word, I went ice-cold. “I thought you liked me,” I said with a quaver in my voice. “You’re sending me out to get banished?”

“I’m sending you because I have confidence in your skill and abilities, darling Edana.” He leaned forward and kissed me, filling my mouth with a thrust of his forked tongue and a smoky flavor that was distinctly Nick. “Seduce him. Steal his soul. I want this troublesome Watcher in hell.”

I wasn’t comforted. I may have large breasts but words like bind and banish do stick in my feather head and while flattery is always nice, I really would have preferred some kind of weapon besides supernatural sex-appeal. “You suck as a motivational speaker.”

“Nevertheless,” he breathed the word against my lips. “You’ll do as I say. Because you’re mine and I send you where I will.”

Well, he had me there. But that didn’t mean I’d just rush off to my doom. “Come on, Nick,” I wheedled. “Wouldn’t you like a presidential candidate instead? A televangelist? An engineer?”

“I want him,” Nick said. He placed three fingertips on my belly and when he drew them away, three little brands in the shape of his fingertips remained. The burns would heal almost instantaneously, but he’d made his point.

“Fine,” I said, getting up. “I’m tired of this afterlife anyway. It’s all sex energy and no actual sex.”

“Fiendish, some would call that.” Nick actually smiled at me when he said it, the smug, evil bastard.

“Whatever. It’s like a cosmic joke that in my human life I died a virgin and after centuries as a succubus I can’t ever get a human to punch my ticket because my demonic powers drain him before he can do the deed.” I felt genuinely aggrieved over that, and let it show in my face. “And now, after all I’ve done for you, all the souls I’ve stolen, all the men I’ve led to their downfall, you’re sending me out to be Watcher bait. I hate you.”

“Everybody hates me. I’m the devil. It comes with the job description.” Nick stood up and patted me on the head. I kicked him in the shins with the pointy toe of my strappy come-fuck-me shoes. He just laughed. “I like your style. I always have.” He turned serious then. “You’re capable of this, Edana. I am not setting you up to fail. I want him stopped and I want him stopped now, before I lose any more demons to him.”

I blinked at that. How many had this bad-ass Nephilim tagged already? It had to be pretty bad for Nick to get personally involved. He might be the devil, but he didn’t micro-manage. If he wasn’t leaving this matter to one of his lieutenants to handle, if he’d taken on the task of assigning me to deal with it himself, matters were serious.

It was like a bad joke. Hell had a serious problem, and I was the one getting sent to deal with it. Armed with my Frederick’s of Hollywood wardrobe.

“Do silver bullets work on Nephilim?” I asked.

“No.” He tweaked my cheek. “Arm yourself with feminine wiles. They’re more powerful and much more lethal. Go shopping.”

“Damn.”

“That’s what you are,” Nick agreed in a cheerful voice. “Go damn him, too.”

“Right,” I said, my lack of enthusiasm palpable. I didn’t even wiggle my ass at him as I left the room. I was too depressed. Instead, I peeled out of the panties, kicked off the spike heels and left the items scattered behind me as I headed for my computer terminal. Since the ambient temperature in the office was always measured on the Kelvin scale, clothes were the last thing I needed.

Hell’s internet crashed frequently and without warning, and if that didn’t cause me enough aggravation the computer would blue-screen periodically. Shopping for this job could take a while. Which was fine with me. My afterlife as a succubus might not be perfect, but it beat non-existence. I wasn’t in a hurry to cease to be.

Although arguably non-existence isn’t really possible. I’ve heard enough theologians going on about this one to have heard all the points and counter-points on that debate. Demons can assume physical form, but in our native state, we’re energy. Energy can’t be created or destroyed. So how can we cease to exist?

I don’t know the answer, but I know nobody’s been able to contact a banished demon to find out if they’re still self-aware and if they’ve retained consciousness. My best guess is that energy can be used up, and the prospect of a blast from a powerful Nephilim aimed point-blank at me didn’t fill me with positive thoughts.

My best hope was to strike first. Get him before he got me. Do unto others and all that. Before I started browsing for battle armor in the form of my chosen undress uniform, I did some research to see what I could dig up on the Nephilim. What little I knew wasn’t nearly enough to help me spot possible vulnerabilities I could exploit. Still, all men had their weaknesses and I’d had a lot of experience in using those weaknesses to my advantage.

I learned they’d been known as giants among men, much taller and stronger than their purely human counterparts. Their race had also been credited with bringing the knowledge of magic to humans. The epic of Gilgamesh documented the heroic exploits of one member of this not-so-lost race. Those recorded deeds were enough to make me feel chilly despite my location. Gilgamesh had been one historic bad-ass and he’d gone after the first succubus, Lilitu. She’d survived and escaped, but he’d come out the clear winner in that contest.

Great. As far as I could tell, I was going up against a sorcerous warrior giant. A powerful being with supernatural abilities and human form with far greater than human strength.

And due to the mixed nature, a soul.

The soul and the human form might make him somewhat vulnerable to me, but I didn’t like the odds.

“Seduce him,” I said out loud. Right. Because he wouldn’t see through a succubus and know it was a trap.

Done with my depressing search through the pages of history, I switched my attention to my current files. Nick would have sent me the information on my target and I wanted to know my enemy.

His name was Eli Moss. His face…well, his face would have made me take notice even if I wasn’t a being who subsisted on sexual energy. I can’t really say he was handsome in the classical sense of the term, but he was certainly compelling. He had animal magnetism and it showed even through the computer’s display.

The mixed heritage altered features in a way that would look exotic to human eyes but not abnormal. Just more rugged, harsher, more beautiful in purely a masculine way. More jaw and cheekbone than your average man, deep set hazel eyes that seemed too aware, too knowing. He wore his black hair shoulder length with two small braids on each side and the rest flowing loose, an unusual style in modern times. The hairstyle emphasized his features.

Oh, and he really was big. All over. A giant among men, indeed. I couldn’t help it, I felt my nipples tingle and a distinct flare of heat in my midsection as I considered the total package.

And that was just the effect of graphical rendering. What impact would he have in the flesh?

I licked my lips and considered my mission. He was either going to be a feast for my demonic senses like no other, or my downfall. If I allowed him to distract me, guess which was more likely?

“You seem a decent fellow,” I said to his image. “I hate to kill you.” The line from The Princess Bride earned me a reprimand in the form of Barry Manilow’s hit Mandy pouring from a hidden speaker. I scowled in the general direction of the source of the music, if you could call it that. I knew better than to complain out loud, though. I’d only get something worse.

I wouldn’t actually be killing him, I thought, as I studied Eli’s face. He was half angel. The loss of his human soul would mean what, exactly? I couldn’t find any precedent in the records. As far as I could tell, angels and demons alike had left the Nephilim alone. I didn’t even know they still existed, which meant at some point they’d passed into the collective realm of myth despite the fact that they demonstrably were still around.

Why?

Whatever the reasons, the centuries-long agreement to ignore each other, to live and let live, had ended with this Eli. By binding and banishing demons, he’d forced Nick to take action.

And lucky me, I was the official response. Too bad I wasn’t being sent as an ambassador for peace. I didn’t think there was enough underwire in the world to distract this man from my nature. He’d see me coming and I’d be toast.

I started shopping for the perfect outfit to wear to my funeral. If I was going out, I planned to go out fighting and dressed to kill.

For reasons possibly known only to him, Eli lived as close to the middle of nowhere as it was possible to get in America, in a tiny Washington town of three thousand people surrounded by Olympic National Park. Oh, and it was also the wettest spot in the continental United States, with an average of one hundred and forty inches of rain a year.

I hated rain.

Fortunately, the black leather mini skirt and matching bustier I wore would shed water, and I had a black leather trench coat to help keep me dry. My thigh-high boots would sink up to the heels in mud if I had to do any walking. I made a mental note to avoid that.

I would stand out like a sore thumb among the loggers who made their home in Forks. I also wouldn’t pass for a visiting hiker. Tourists might come from all over the world to visit the Olympic Peninsula, but they dressed for camping and fishing, not seduction.

I wasn’t trying to blend in, though. I wanted to get Eli’s attention. If I couldn’t arouse his sex drive, I wanted to arouse his curiosity. He would be smarter than the average human with his mixed heritage, and while that probably meant better physical self-control, it also might mean he’d get overconfident in his ability to put mind over matter, so to speak.

None of the demons who’d fallen to this Watcher had been a succubus. It was actually a smart move on Nick’s part. Send a seductress who might slip under his guard instead of a warrior whose presence could only mean a direct challenge.

Besides, he might hesitate to hit a girl. You never could tell.

That’s right, think positive. I parked my jeep on the private road that led to Eli’s sprawling log cabin retreat in the woods, popped the button that opened the hood and counted to one hundred. Figuring I’d timed it about right, I shrugged off my trench coat, climbed out and went around to bend over the hood.

With any luck, Eli would be along right about now. I planted my feet shoulder-width apart and dipped my lower back to emphasize the curve of my ass and make the short skirt ride up higher. I wasn’t wearing any underwear. The odds were stacked against me as it was, so I didn’t see the point in pulling my punches.

I heard the low growl of an engine coming up behind me. I resisted the urge to turn around and look. The motor stopped, and booted feet crunched in the gravel. A rough voice that sounded as gravelly as the drive said, “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

I suppressed a frisson of fear, turned my head, and gave him a slow, knowing smile over my shoulder. “Who said I was nice?”

Eli Moss was even bigger in person than I’d expected. He was at least seven feet tall, and built to scale. Even with towering heels, I was a shrimp next to him. I wasn’t a true demon, after all. I’d started out as human and in my current form I was still human small.

He tilted his head and considered my answer. He took his time looking over the picture I made, my skirt showing off the lower curve of my ass and the soft flesh between my thighs.

“Naughty girl, are you?”

“Yep.” I arched my back to give him a tantalizing display of pussy before I grasped the leather hem and pulled the skirt up higher to bare one side of my butt in invitation. “Very naughty. Want to spank me?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” He smiled at me and I felt it like a punch in the gut. I actually sucked in a breath. How could he be terrifying and still make me want to get closer at the same time?

“Yes.” I figured I might as well be honest. I was lust incarnate, after all. And he was something I’d never expected to encounter. My hunger stirred. He would feed me and feed me, able to last longer than any human male. Unless he destroyed me first. Eli laughed and walked up to me. Up close his eyes looked more green than hazel. The loose length of his hair with the twin warrior braids framing his face created an effect that was simultaneously sensual and barbaric.

He planted the palm of one large hand on my butt cheek. “Then I’ll have to find another way to punish you.”

His words sent a shiver of ice through my veins that the heat of his touch couldn’t counteract. There were far too many ways he could punish me for me to mistake the threat for a joke. “Wouldn’t you rather spank me?” I asked. My voice dropped into a lower register.

“No.” He stroked the soft skin of my butt, not lusting, just contemplating the options. His hand felt warm against my skin in contrast to the cold rain. Opposing impulses simultaneously told me to pull away and to press into his touch. I resisted both and held still. “I think maybe I’d better bind you until I figure out what to do with you.”

Oh, hell. “If you’re not sure what to do with me, I have lots of suggestions.” I knew it was hopeless, but I had to try.

“I’m sure you do.” He gave my bare ass an almost affectionate pat that didn’t comfort me in the least. Then Eli spoke in a language the world hadn’t heard since before the time of the great flood, when all the earth’s languages were one language and the Nephilim lived openly among humans.

The words reverberated through me like a shock wave. When he fell silent, I was bound.

Animal Attraction

St. Martin’s Griffin – ISBN-13: 978-0312537418

Chandra Walker has a secret hidden in her genes―she’s a rare female werewolf. Now that her all-male pack has located her, it’s her destiny to sample each man’s pleasures and choose a mate from among them―a mate who will become pack leader. Soon the strongest alphas are competing to bring Chandra the most ecstasy, but only one man will claim her. Find out who in Animal Attraction

Place awards here.

Animal Attraction is a sizzling hot erotic paranormal romance form Charlene Teglia. Last year I reviewed her paranormal Wicked Hot which I characterized as – “… a scorcher so put on your asbestos gloves before reading.” Animal Attraction is even better – sexier and smarter.

SciFiGuy

Fans will relish this fine version of sexual Survivor as time is running out on Chandra and her retinue.

– Harriet Klausner

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this page.

Copyright 2008 Charlene Teglia St. Martin’s Press, coming 2009 All rights reserved

Chapter One

It’s amazing how much can change in the space of a heartbeat.

One minute, I was alone in the Tysons Corner leather store organizing stock. Rehanging jackets that had been tried on and decided against, or more likely tried on for no better reason than to get me to turn around and reach up to unhook them. It had been that kind of afternoon.

And then the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My first thought was, oh shit, I’m going to be robbed. In which case I would calmly and quietly open up the register and let the crackheads clean it out. There are some things worth fighting for, but a minimum wage job in a mall store isn’t one of them.

“I want…that,” a voice said far too close to my ear. The voice was deep, masculine, and sort of growly. The owner of the voice exhaled and warm breath moved over the exposed skin at the nape of my neck. I wished I hadn’t cut my hair so short. A strange man’s breath on my skin made me feel far too vulnerable.

I turned, putting a little space and the brown leather bomber jacket I was holding between us in the process. Now I could see who I was dealing with. His eyes were dark brown lit with amber. His hair matched his eye color and fell just to the tops of his shoulders although the natural curl made it look shorter. He had an uncompromising expression on features that looked vaguely Slavic, and while he wasn’t much over six feet he managed to give the impression that every inch was formidable. He wore blue jeans and cowboy boots and a white long-sleeved tee shirt with a Harley Davidson logo that couldn’t possibly be warm enough in the dead of winter, even in Virginia.

Maybe he really had just come in for a jacket. The hackles he’d raised coming in didn’t lay down, though, so I remained on guard. I have pretty good instincts for trouble, and they’ve saved me too often for me to ignore them.

“I don’t think it’s your size,” I said, continuing to hold the distressed leather between us. Not that it made much of a barrier, but it was something. “There are more over there.” I tilted my head to indicate the rack. My hands stayed right where they were, at about middle height where they could block low or high without having to travel the full distance either way.

He gave me a measuring look, and then obligingly moved to the display of bomber jackets. I breathed a little easier when he put a couple of feet between us.

“Chandra,” he said, drawing the word out. He lifted a sleeve for closer inspection as he said it. “That’s your name?”

“Says so on my name tag,” I said. I smiled, but my lips were tight over my teeth. I didn’t want to encourage any familiarity. He’d come into my store while I was alone, he’d stood too close, he’d breathed on me, and now he was using my name. That was a good tactic for getting somebody to relax and trust you; use their name. It had the opposite effect on me, coming from him.

“Did you know it means ‘the moon shining’?”

“No,” I lied. I knew what the books said, but I was pretty sure it really meant my birth parents were liberal arts students with more romantic ideas than money or sense. They’d put me up for adoption and stuck me with the name as part of the adoption requirement. Although part of me had always wondered if that was so I could be tracked down eventually. There aren’t a lot of redheaded American women in their early twenties with Sanskrit names.

“Do you dream of us?” He raised his head as he asked the question, his eyes intent on mine.

“I have lots of dreams. Everybody does.” I shifted my feet, preparing to fight or run if I needed to. I didn’t like anything about this encounter. “One of my dreams involves making sales and staying employed. Do you want to buy that?”

“I haven’t tried it on yet.” His lips curved in a smile I didn’t like, even though I had to admit it looked good on him. He looked like he was laughing at me. Toying with me.

“I’m not sure it fits.” He took it off the hanger and put it on. It seemed to me that he drew the motions out deliberately, like he was putting on a show for me.

I watched the way he moved, but not because I was taken in by a nice body. I noted the harnessed power in his movements and mentally upgraded his strength significantly over my initial estimate. If it came to fight or flight, I’d run. I was too likely to lose a physical confrontation, no matter how many dirty tricks I knew. He was solid and graceful and he knew how to use his body to advantage.

“I’m Zach,” he said, smoothing the front of the jacket. My eyes followed his hands. The jacket looked good on him. I suspected pretty much anything would.

“Nice to meet you.” My tone was flat and unfriendly. The gleam in his eyes told me he wasn’t discouraged.

“Now we’re on a first-name basis.” Zach the stranger took a step forward, and I stepped back to maintain our distance. He quirked a brow at me. “Running away?”

I ignored the question. “Bombers are on sale this week. Twenty per cent off. Would you like to wear that out?”

“Yes.” He grinned at me. “I suppose you’d like me to buy it and leave now.”

“You might also want something to protect the leather.” I waved at the counter by the cash register. “You should treat it before it’s exposed to rain.”

“The cow this came from stood outside and got wet,” Zach pointed out, his lips twitching with what looked like a barely-contained urge to laugh.

“The cow wasn’t a fashion garment.” I walked around and behind the register, managing not to turn my back to him in the process.

“Already you’re changing how I dress, and we haven’t even had our first date.” Zach the outrageous flirt took the jacket back off and handed it to me so I could remove the security tag and scan the price. His flirting didn’t reassure me at all. Everything about him screamed stranger danger, no matter how hot he looked in tight jeans and boots and a leather bomber.

“Then you’re getting off lucky, since we aren’t going to have a date.” I charged him for the leather protector and told him the total. Zach gave me a gold card that didn’t improve my opinion of him in the least. So he had money. That didn’t make him safe. It might conceivably make him an even greater threat.

I gave him the jacket to wear out of the store and bagged the bottle I didn’t think he’d ever use. Which made me even happier about selling it to him.

“You don’t trust me.” Zach’s smile vanished as he donned the garment.

“Mom warned me about guys like you.”

“Then you should have expected me.” He looked so intent and determined as he said it that I had to fight the urge to take a step back. “I’ll be seeing you, Chandra.”

After he left I stayed still, focusing on breathing until my heart rate settled down. What was that crack about my mom? I’d meant my adoptive parent, but was he in some way connected with my mysterious all-records-sealed birth mother?

I finally went back to organizing the stock, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. When two other store employees came on and my shift ended, I was glad to leave. I wandered through the large shopping center on a random route just in case I wasn’t simply jumpy and paranoid after meeting Zach-I’ll-Be-Seeing-You.

Most guys didn’t rattle me, not even bullies. Zach had not been most guys. But I didn’t see anybody who matched his height and shape, didn’t glimpse a brown bomber or curling hair when I paused and turned to look around me from time to time under the guise of browsing. So I made my way to the entrance nearest my car and headed towards my parking spot. I walked quickly but steadily, head up, eyes forward, the keys ready in my hand.

A trio got out of a car near mine, two men and a woman. I didn’t make eye contact, just noted their position and adjusted my angle so that our paths wouldn’t intersect.

Except they did, because they moved towards me and spread out making a sort of loose net. They were too close for me to safely get my door unlocked and inside, so I turned to put the side of my car at my back and drew my feet into the cat stance. It looked like a neutral pose to the average person. If any of these three had enough training to recognize it as a fighting stance, well, it’s not like they weren’t already aggressive.

The back of my neck was prickling again and goose bumps marched up and down my skin. I ignored the distraction and kept the three of them in my field of vision.

Which is why I saw Zach before they did. He appeared behind them, seemingly out of nowhere, and maneuvered himself in front of me so fast I blinked.

“Rhonda. Wilson. Miguel.” Zach nodded at the each of them in turn. “Did you want something?”

“Is she your bitch?”

The woman who I guessed must be Rhonda asked the question. I had a sudden vision of Zach and myself in orange prison garb and swallowed a laugh. His bitch? Was she kidding?

“She’s my business and none of yours.” Zach’s answer was flat.

“She’s on our territory.” This from the big, bald black guy. I wasn’t sure if he was Miguel or Wilson. Neither of the men looked Hispanic to me.

“She has a job in the mall.”

“She should find another one. It’d be better for her health.”

Oh, hell. I went cold. Had I stumbled into some sort of gang-related turf struggle? Thanks, Zach.

“I take her health very seriously.” Zach’s tone intensified with threat.

“As seriously as we take the insult of your presence here?” That came from Rhonda, followed by a round-house kick that proved she wasn’t just a pretty face.

After that, things happened fast and I missed most of it because Zach was hard to see around. But when it ended, the three of them were down. Zach grabbed my wrist, plucked the keys from my hand, and unlocked my car, pushing me inside and following me in one uninterrupted move.

I scooted over the gearshift and into the passenger seat, my back to the door, my fingers reaching for the handle to open it and jump out the other side. Zach caught the arm closest to him in a grip that was hard enough to hurt.

“Stop.”

I froze. Then I saw blood on his Harley shirt that hadn’t been there before. The shirt had a new rip in it. “You didn’t zip the jacket,” I said, staring. That was dumb. Leather might have protected him. “Which one of them had a knife?”

“Rhonda.”

“And she called me a bitch.” I shook my head and reached out a tentative hand, lifting the shirt to see how badly he was hurt. “Do you need a doctor?”

“No. It wasn’t silver.”

I frowned, unable to process why the metal the blade was made out of would make any difference to the severity of his wound. My frown deepened when I couldn’t find the cut on his perfect six-pack that should have been there to go with the damaged shirt and the blood.

“I’m fine, but feel free to inspect.” I looked up and found Zach’s eyes on me, full of humor and a heat I didn’t think the situation warranted.

I planted my hand on his bare skin and ran it slowly over every inch that wasn’t covered by his jeans. Belly, ribs, chest, all of it strong and beautiful and warm to the touch, and none of it marked by any sign of injury.

“I can unzip if you want to keep going.” Zach indicated his lap. I took my hand away, let his tee shirt fall back into place, and sat back.

“No, thanks.” I didn’t know what to think. I still didn’t trust him, but he’d defended me, fought for me. Taken a wound for me. And now it had somehow vanished? “Who the hell are you?”

“Zach.” He lifted the hand he hadn’t released and drew it to his lips. He pressed a warm kiss to the back of my hand. Heat shivered over me. “We have a date.”

“No, we don’t.” The denial was automatic.

“The moon is waxing.” Zach leaned towards me and brought his other hand up to cup my cheek. I didn’t pull away. “It’ll be full in three more nights. If you don’t come to us by then, we’ll come for you. It’s time.”

“What, are you in some sort of gang or cult?” I blurted out the question. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“Trouble wants you.” Zach caressed my cheek, trailed his fingers along my jaw and touched the racing pulse at my throat. “You’d better find another job. We’ve been looking out for you, but nobody likes you coming onto panther turf six days a week. Next time there might be more of them, or they might be quicker.”

Zach had been unbelievably fast, and he’d still been cut. They could be quicker than that? I mentally kissed my job good-bye and wondered how fast I could find another one. Or maybe I should simply move on. Zach’s implication that others were watching me, following me, and planning to move in on me three days from now made greener pastures pretty attractive.

“Don’t try to run.” Zach frowned at me as if he’d read my mind. “It’s dangerous for you to live apart from us, especially now. You need to come home.”

“I have a home. You don’t belong in it.” Not that he’d be unpleasant to wake up to, but he did seem to be up to his neck in complications. Anybody sleeping next to him might be sleeping in a danger zone. “Maybe you belong in mine.” Zach’s lips curved, and then his head dipped towards mine. It was more the promise of a kiss than the real thing, a brush of lips, a breath of heat. It was enough to send my heart stumbling and make my blood rush. “Come to us, Chandra. You’ll find us at the place you see in your dreams.” Before I could think of a come-back, Zach was gone and I was left wondering if I’d imagined the whole thing. Just in case I hadn’t and there were more people waiting to spring out at me, I climbed back into the driver’s seat and headed for my nice safe, sane apartment where I hoped there wouldn’t be any surprises waiting.

Claimed by the Wolf

They guard humanity against supernatural threats from the five gateways into the world. The Shadow Guardians: a vampire, a werewolf, a demon, a dragon and a fae are united in brotherhood— and war.
Shadow Guardian Kenrick is an alpha werewolf forever in his prime. When Sybil, a beautiful apprentice witch, unknowingly opens a realm to the Otherworld, there is a sudden influx of demons—and it’s up to Kenrick to help her stop them. Soon their passion flares and Kenrick desires Sybil as his mate. But to form their union, Sybil faces the ultimate test: She must bind herself to the Shadow Guardians by sharing herself with all five warriors.

  • 2009 Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award Nominee, Best Paranormal/Fantasy/SF Erotic Romance
  • Night Owl Romance 5 of 5 Reviewer Top Pick
  • 4.5 Stars Romantic Times BOOKReviews

“This is one of the hottest books I’ve read this year!” – Night Owl Romance 5 of 5 Reviewer Top Pick

“The plot has some innovative twists and the sex is hot, varied, frequent and fun.” – 4.5 Stars Romantic Times BOOKReviews

“Teglia’s prose is snappy; Sybil is a determined, witty heroine; the men are likable and distinct; and their erotic misadventures are a feast for the senses.” – Publisher’s Weekly

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this page.

“Is it getting dark?” Sybil finally asked when she couldn’t stand the silence any longer. It should be if they were still on the same side of the planet; she’d stopped at the estate sale on her way home from work, and while events had moved at a breakneck pace since, it still had to be late evening. The thought that so little real time had elapsed was a little disorienting.

“Yes.”

“Are we spending the night here?”

“No.”

“Should we be walking, then?”

“Not necessary.”

Well, okay. Sybil tipped her head back to watch as the
first pale stars appeared. It comforted her that some things remained constant. The sun still set in the west, stars still shone, the world continued to spin on its axis. It made her feel hopeful.

Ghost flames danced across her vision, then winked out. She frowned. “Tell me about the book.”

“It’s the work of chaos demons.”

“How could it write itself onto me? Into me?”

“The book was merely a container for the spells to
inhabit. The spells are the magic.”

Sybil turned to look at Kenric, careful to keep her eyes on his and not on anything more distracting. “How can magic just be made of words?”

“Words are power. I know you’re untrained, but surely you know that much.”

“Well, yeah. But they’re not alive.”

“Aren’t they?” His expression seemed serious. Sybil felt her throat constrict.

“No,” she said firmly.

“As you say.”

She scuffed the toe of her shoe against the ground. “Okay, fine, words are alive and these particular words came from chaos demons. Why did the book get written in the first place?”

Kenric’s face hardened. “Witches made a bargain. Long ago. The word of unmaking would have been spoken and chaos would have been let loose.”

“Would have been.” She pounced on that point. “Let’s come back to that, but first, what is the word of unmaking?”

“The lost word.” He gave her the sort of look a teacher might direct at a problem student. “Creation came into being with a word. The lost word unmakes.”

“Genesis and its opposite. Huh. Okay.” This conversation was making her head throb. The idea that a single word could undo everything, and that it was currently inside her, was enough to bring on a killer migraine. “So way back in history, some witches made a deal to get the lost word and turn everything into chaos. Their plans went wrong, and ever since
it’s just been hiding out in a book until I found it and bled on it?”

“It hid in many places and forms over the centuries, but yes.”

“Peachy.” Her sour tone said volumes. No wonder nobody
would train her. She could destroy the world by going shopping.