I am so excited tonight - I've got the new cover for "In the Devil's Arms" to show off! I mentioned some major changes to The Magiste Chronicles last time around, and this is the first one I have to share.
Isn't it gorgeous? Created by the lovely and talented Winter Bayne, it perfectly captures Devlin and Helene, as well as the feel of the story. I really, really love this cover. In fact, I love it so much, I spend way too much time staring at it! lol
Here's the blurb, and a little sneak peek to hold you until I have firm pre-order and release dates:
Helene Gaudet finds the perfect Dom in an internet chat room. When they agree to meet, Helene realizes why he knows her so well – he's Devlin Marchand, the man who, years ago, handed her over to a dark sorcerer – to be killed.
She wants to forget the past, including badly impaired magical powers and an ex-husband who cursed her, leaving her infertile. At first fearful of Devlin's intentions, she finds her passion for him is so intense after each encounter, she can't bring herself to leave.
Devlin's guilt over past betrayals grows when they learn the curse dogging Helene was created by the trove of magic by his very own family. Devlin fears for their tentative relationship.
Will he be able to keep his vow to heal her, in every way possible, or will their enemies succeed in tearing them apart?
And here's that promised excerpt, the night when Helene comes face to face with her internet Dom, and it is most definitely not who she expects:
Returning the mirror to her purse, she took a deep breath. This could turn out to be the biggest thrill, or the biggest mistake of her life. A quick pat to the inner chest pocket of the coat assured her the amulet rested safely inside. Keeping it concealed gave her an edge, should the situation turn dangerous. While Magiste and Mortal citizens usually co-existed peacefully, there were plenty of Mortals who feared and loathed anything related to the Magiste community. Her amulet assured of the ability to make a quick escape, even cast a quick memory spell, if necessary, ensuring no one remembered she had been here at all.
Lifting her chin, she took the last few steps toward the door, still wondering how he'd gotten her to agree to this.
Upon stepping inside, she blinked several times, her vision slowly adjusting to the dimly lit décor, which was sorely in need of update and repair. Why had he wanted to meet here? The dull rust-colored walls, and sconces that looked to be from the Dark Ages gave the bar an ominous aura. She suppressed a shudder to think of just how much dirt the muted lighting concealed.
Willing her racing heart to calm, she made her way to the bar, taking careful note of the occupants. The place was practically deserted, and her wariness spiked. Two old men sat at the bar, pausing in their conversation when she walked across the room. One other man, turned away, sat huddled at the opposite end. Judging from his position, he looked like he'd had too much to drink. Frowning, she returned to perusing the small room, the bartender the only other person present.
Warning bells went off, but she remained calm. A burst of energy speared her, the risk, the danger, adding to the cacophony of emotions. She squared her shoulders. She wouldn't back down now. If any true danger presented itself, she had several ways to make a quick escape.
While her one year of Enforcer Training had ended badly, she'd learned several techniques to combat her weakened powers. If only she'd been able to utilize them when Rafe had... she forced the thought aside. How could she possibly be thinking of her ex-husband now?
She forced thoughts of failed marriage and her ensuing reclusiveness out of her head and lifted her chin. She glanced at her watch. Right on time. She approached the bar.
"Can I get you anything, miss?" The bartender hadn't moved from his position in front of the taps.
"White wine, please." She slipped a few bills from her purse. She needed the drink to steady her nerves. And bolster her courage.
The bartender placed the glass before her. She left a tip and took the glass to the corner table, just as Dragonslayer had instructed. She would give him ten minutes to show, no more. With careful movements, she slid into the booth, grimacing as her legs came in contact with the cracked vinyl covering, sharp against her skin. She had to be crazy. She sipped her wine and drummed her fingers on the table. A shadow fell over her.
"Waiting for someone, Gaudet?"
She knew that voice. She turned, her heart slamming into her throat to meet glittering silvery eyes and a self-satisfied smirk. No! Impossible! What the hell was he doing in this bar? Tonight? Now? His voice echoed in her head. Her throat tightened. It couldn't be. Ridiculous. There was no way he could be ... she refused to allow the thought to finish.
The shock of seeing him ignited a knee-trembling panic; she gave a silent prayer of thanks for being already seated. Forcing herself to stay calm, she responded to his question, hoping to present an aloof picture.
"Marchand. This is the last place I would have expected to find you."
She straightened her spine, proud of the steadiness of her voice, even if her insides squirmed like jelly. Mon Dieu, even after all these years, he looked so damn hot. He had grown from an attractive boy to a devastatingly handsome man; broad shoulders and a powerfully solid chest clad in a silky white shirt tapered to narrow hips and muscular thighs encased in black denim. His large hands rested on his hips, the casual stance belying the tightly leashed power she sensed just beneath the surface. The image of her fantasy captor sprang to mind and his current self replaced her remembered image. She swallowed, but couldn't dislodge the lump in her throat.
"Usually I wouldn't be caught dead in a dump like this, but circumstances required it."
His eyes gleamed in the dim light, and for a moment, her fantasies thrust into her consciousness, fantasies where he moved above her and ... No! She wouldn't go there. She held his gaze steadily, hoping she put enough ice into her expression to make clear she wanted him to leave.
Seemingly unfazed by her scowl, he waved a hand, indicating she should move over and let him in.
She shook her head and looked away. "I'm meeting someone, Marchand." Hopefully, he would realize he'd been dismissed. She wanted him gone before Dragonslayer showed up.
Her stomach rolled over. The ridiculous notion she'd forced aside resurfaced. Denial rose, sharp and jagged, the pieces of the puzzle coming together despite her attempt to refute it. Her gaze once more snapped to his, realization of the truth leaving her too shocked to resist when he pushed in beside her. Jamming her against the wall. Trapping her. His body, enticingly warm, pressed hard against her. She tried to ignore the heat rushing through her, the tremor of excitement barely held in check by apprehension. Recollection of the way he'd made her come while on the phone last week worked against her resolve to ignore her body's reaction.
"So tell me, Submissive Goddess, why are you here?"
"Batard!" She picked up her wineglass, intending to empty it in his face, but his hand on her wrist stilled the motion.
"Don't." His eyes hardened to steel, his tone heavy with warning.
"You are still the same rodent you always were. Why couldn't you just leave me alone?"
He leaned in close, his fingers tightening further on her wrist. The touch roused sensations far more delightful than she cared to admit, the reality of facing him in the flesh after all these years of fantasy scattering her thoughts. She needed to stay sharp, but focus eluded her.
"You don't really want me to leave you alone."
He smiled, the lazy curve of his lips jolting her heart to skip a beat.
"And I'm going to torment you, my little goddess. If you think the other night was intense, wait until you see what I have planned for you tonight."
She swallowed a gasp, flashes of their phone episode coming at her with blinding speed. She reached into her coat. Panic stole her breath when her fingers encountered an empty pocket. Her amulet had vanished! How the hell had he disarmed her? She didn't want to waste time figuring it out; she had to get out of here.
"Give it back, you loathsome prick."
"Now, now, no need for name calling."
"I'll do worse than that!"
His lips quirked again, sending her anger spiking. Her hands itched with the urge to slap the smile from his face. She turned toward the bar, but when she called for the bartender, her voice failed. Horror that Marchand had silenced her chilled her blood. How?
"I don't have to be loud enough for you to hear me cast, sweetheart."
Had he used a mind-reading spell as well? She needed to concentrate, maintain her barriers and keep him from entering her thoughts. Doing so grew complicated, with his face so close to hers and her amulet out of her reach. Without the pendant, defending herself against his magic would be difficult, if not impossible. His warm breath fanned her cheek and she suppressed a shiver. He smelled of mint and musk, and if he had been anybody else, she might just turn her face into his neck and inhale deeply.
Before she realized it, he captured her mouth. She responded, despite her attempt to fight the delight he stirred. His lips, soft and full, meandered over hers, and her resolve to resist melted as her mouth melted against his. He kept kissing her in that languid manner and her heart pounded. Oh God, already her wits had crumbled, her entire body ablaze from just a simple kiss. Her nipples strained against their lace covering. He drew away.