Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Date of Publication: September 27th 2013.
Number of pages: 112
Word Count: 54k
Bayou Country, 1834. Aubert Marston awakens on the eve of his twenty-seventh birthday to discover he’s undergone some disturbing physical changes. His body is bigger, stronger and hairier than it’s ever been, and burns with the lust of a beast. To make matters worse, a hundred guests are about to arrive for the plantation’s annual ball.
A mysterious young woman named Corrine appears in his home, temping Aubert to unleash the inner lycan, and family secrets from a medieval past surface. Corrine lures Aubert to a bayou camp of Cajun Loup-Garous—werewolves, But Aubert’s wealth and good looks are no advantage here. He must surrender to his feral nature and fight tooth and claw against another male pack member to claim Corrine as his own.
Inside Scoop: This story contains mild bondage, southern hospitality, consensual sexual torment, f/f, m/m, anal play, cage fighting and unfettered animal lust. Enjoy!
A Romantica® historical paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
With clockwork precision, in the restless hour before dawn, the oppressive leviathan of a nightmare rose from the depths, grabbed Aubert and yanked him down.
Once the dream captured him there was no hope of being spared. Aubert’s heart pounded and sweat broke on his brow, but all he could do was endure the inevitable as it unfolded behind his closed lids. He willed himself to wake but there was no escape from the anguish that insisted on being relived each morning.
This had happened so often in recent days that it was more of a ritual than a dream. Aubert remained alert but helpless as a strange trancelike state dragged him along an unrelenting storyline seemingly written in stone.
He heard the familiar crunch of frost beneath his boots and felt the chill of a howling gale as he crossed a rugged mountain pass. He glanced down and saw the same sight he saw every morning—a rough woolen tunic covered in chain mail, bloodstained leather leggings and a dagger strapped to his hip. The details never varied. A jolt of insight raced through him that this wasn’t merely a dream, that this limbo realm was as solid as anything he’d ever known.
The rocky pass descended into a steep valley cleaved in two by a turbulent green river. Against an amber sunset a rustic cottage with curved walls and a conical thatched roof perched near the river’s edge. The cottage appeared neglected, without a trace of candlelight within or a comforting curl of smoke rising from the hearth.
He knew what came next and it didn’t lessen the emotional impact in the slightest. He’d memorized this part of the dream. Tortured thoughts tumbled through his mind.
She must be freezing. Why didn’t she light a fire? I left her enough wood for winter...
And indeed a well-stocked woodpile sat unused beside the cottage.
At that moment, true panic set in.
He had to reach the cottage and find her. There would be no peace until he knew. He ran so fast he slid and toppled on the icy path. The hilt of his heavy broadsword struck and bruised his leg. He stood and limped forward but he wasn’t moving fast enough.
He cast the sword aside in frustration, stripped away his clothing and fell to the ground on all fours. He scraped his fingers into the frozen earth, relishing the biting sting of ice beneath his fingernails, and watched as his hands transformed into gripping paws and his arms and legs morphed into the lean limbs of a wolf.
He sprang to his feet in the agile body of a wolf and loped down the path at great speed. As he approached the cottage, he stopped to sniff the air. Snow flurries stung his eyes as he squinted with suspicion through the cottage’s unlatched door. He sensed no movement in the shadows, nor did he catch the faint whiff of a freshly extinguished campfire, all disturbing signs that he was alone in this desolate place.
He padded inside the cottage, sniffing everything in frantic agitation, but only a faded hint of her hung in the air. In a crushing instant he knew she’d deserted the cottage weeks, perhaps months ago while he was on crusade.
Aside from a bed, table and a few practical things, the cottage was bare. Her colorful silk scarves, painted bowls and endless jars filled with dried herbs and magical talismans were missing—including her sacred book of truths, the possession of which was a virtual death sentence if discovered by the royal court.
Before he had left on the king’s errand into Saracen territory, she had warned him it would have to be this way when he returned and he had refused to believe her.
The harsh facts soured in his soul. The love of his life and his secret wife was gone. He knew she had fled east to distant lands, where his liege King Charlemagne forbade him to follow. By now she was far beyond his reach. Bitter emptiness unlike any tragedy he’d ever tasted sliced deep into his heart.
He hated her for leaving and wanted her back but he also understood why she had done it. She’d saved her life and his, and most likely the life of their unborn child. After the enchantment she’d cast on him, she couldn’t remain in France and expect to live.
For everyone’s sake, the secret had to remain hidden. In his heart of hearts he knew she had done the right thing, but it didn’t ease his grief. Now that she was gone he’d never again have what he desired most. Bleak days lay ahead. True love, passion and a piece of his soul were lost to him. There would be no replacing her. Any woman who followed in her wake would merely be a shadow of what had been.
He threw back his head and howled the low, mournful wolf wail of an abandoned mate.
There was no answer within the valley’s icy solitude.
In that abysmal moment he locked his heart, trapping loneliness and anger within, and pounced on the bed they had shared as lovers. In a vicious storm of flying straw and feathers, he tore into the mattress with fangs bared and shredded it, guaranteeing no one would ever lie on their wedding bed again.
Louisiana, plantation country, August 1834
Aubert stirred half-asleep on the bed and kicked a restless leg free of the covers. It was far too warm for even the weight of a sheet on his bare skin. He lay trapped in a strange dream about shredding a mattress. The muscles of his jaw ached from grinding his teeth. The exhausting dream caused extreme agitation. No sleep at all might have been better.
The shrill screech of a peacock jolted him awake, freeing him at last from the dream’s oppressive grip. He flipped sideways and shouted out of the open bedroom window, “Stop the holler’n!”
The peacock ignored his pleas and shrieked louder. Its sharp cry yanked Aubert’s nerves taut and punished his ringing eardrums.
“I don’t want to hear that damn racket.” He covered his ears with his palms. “Between nightmares and squawking birds, a man can’t sleep a wink. It ain’t right. It can’t be morning already.”
But he clearly saw it was. A golden ribbon of light glowed on the horizon. Aubert squinted out of the second story window of the stately Marston plantation house and saw the other sure sign of morning, the emerald flash of peacock feathers fluttering atop the horse stables.
The beautiful but irritating bird hopped across the roofline of the stable, continuing to shriek a nerve-grating welcome to the rising sun.
“Do you have to do that?” Aubert glared at the noisy bird. “You’re killing me, you fancy piece of poultry…”
About the Author Katalina Leon:
I’m an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id Publishing and a couple new publishers to be announced soon. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe there’s a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.