Coming Soon: A Wolf’s Hunger Series

Promotion PosterI was invited by NY Times Bestselling Author A K Michaels to participate in her new project, A Wolf’s Hunger, and I’m very excited to see this new world coming alive thanks to the contribution of a group of a very talented novelists. Besides yours truly and the great A K Michaels, the list include several NY Times, USA Today & Amazon Bestselling authors: Julia Mills, Desiree A Cox, Cathy Jackson, Bella Roccaforte, and Kristina Canady. Cover by Sassy Queens of Design.

Stay tuned for more!

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Coming Soon: A Wolf’s Hunger Series

The Fifth Moon’s Wolf: First Chapter

The Fifth Moon’s Wolf will be out April 19th, but here is the first chapter and a teaser to whet your appetite.

TFMW Mirella

His wolf pacing in his head, Valentine left the bed with an exasperated sigh and walked to the liquor cabinet by the arched window.

Outside, the Fifth Moon shone pale blue against the purple night sky. Sidera Prima, the orbital station, cast a long shadow over the mountain ridge of the Caucasum, reminding everyone on Lupine of their terrestrial origins.

“Are you pleased with me, Sir?” Ronda purred from the tangle of linens.

The dark four-poster canopy took most of the wall opposite the window, dwarfing the redhead at its center. The burgundy drapery matched the long curtains framing the arch. The fabric was heavy damask silk salvaged from his private quarters on Sidera Prima.

“You should talk less.” Lifting the heavy barrel with the H and M black letters etched on the wooden staves, Valentine poured a good two fingers of Laurum into a frosted glass goblet.

The viscous drink sloshed inside the walls of the chalice, coating the surface with a deep, powdery red. Aged seventy-five revolutions, the Laurum was a wedding gift from House Martelli. After the Brotherhood of the Wolf, his own house, the vampires had been the first sending congratulations for Valentine’s impending nuptials.

“Would you require my service after the ceremony?” Ronda moved sinuously on the bed, prowling on all fours like a hungry cat.

“You know I won’t.” With a flick of his wrist, Valentine dismissed the courtesan, who, still naked, jumped off the high bed and scampered toward the back door that led into the servants’ passages.

Hungry, he rang the bell to call his majordomo. Aldo’s steps echoed throughout the main hallway and stopped before Valentine’s bedroom a moment later.

“What can I do for you, Master Lobo?” Aldo asked from the door.

Lanky and lean, the majordomo was an example of how humanity had adapted to Lupine’s low gravity, whereas Valentine’s massive build was the epitome of a Terran. Although he had not been born and raised on ye olde Earth, Valentine shared all the traits of his werewolf ancestors: tall, muscular, with an unruly mane, and a propensity to rage.

“I want to eat something before I leave for the ceremony.” As he walked to the breakfast table by the fireplace, Valentine grabbed the black kimono he had thrown to the floor. He put on the garment but didn’t tie it around his waist, letting the silky fabric flap around his back.

“Refreshments will be ready in ten minutes.” Aldo bowed but didn’t leave.

Passing his hand through his long, dark chestnut hair, Valentine made a mental note to ask his barber to trim it to shoulder length. “What is it?”

“If I may say something—” His eyes facing the floor, Aldo bowed lower.

“Say it already.” Valentine plaited his mane in a thick braid.

“Your spouse is young and innocent.” Aldo’s voice trailed as he stepped backward, retreating into the safety of the hallway.

“And?” Valentine asked.

One of the mechanical dusters worked its way through the leather-bound tomes resting on the fireplace shelf. Their wrought-iron spindly legs and the black, round bodies always reminded him of the spiders that had once populated the space station. Their constant whirring and humming could be heard throughout Lobo Mansion and had become the sound of home to Valentine. He could spend hours watching their inner clockwork gears rotate, intersecting in a constant loop that created energy.

Stirring Valentine from his thoughts, Aldo continued, “And her life will be short compare to yours—”

“And?” Valentine repeated.

If only Aldo knew how short would be his bride’s life… but that was Valentine’s personal burden to bear.

Everyone on Lupine knew of what being a Fifth Moon’s Wife entailed. It was an unparalleled privilege for the family who raised the bride, and her sacrifice for the greater good of the Brotherhood was widely recognized. Statues would be erected in her honor. Valentine’s mother had her effigies displayed in the Goddess’ Temple, and every day women lit votive candles under the bronze sculpture.

Only a few people knew that his wife wouldn’t survive the year.

“She’s only twenty-five years old—” Aldo paused as if to gather his thoughts. “And she must be scared. You might remember that… when you are alone with her later tonight—” As soon as Aldo finished his halting speech, he left.

Valentine pushed away the chair with more strength than it was necessary, sending the furniture against the opposite wall. He was annoyed by his majordomo’s words because, without knowing the whole extent of it, Aldo had just pushed one of Valentine’s buttons.

Soon after the majordomo left, one of the house servants deposited a light meal onto the breakfast table. The girl kept her eyes low the whole time and retraced her steps out of the bedroom, being careful never to show her back to Valentine.

Still disgruntled, he sat and grabbed a spongy loaf dusted with black sesame seeds. “Bring me more sweetbread.”

The girl nodded and hurried outside, her wooden clogs soon echoing in the hallway. His request was carried out by a second servant.

He had finished his repast when Aldo knocked at the arched entryway. “Doc Balenus is here.”

“Let him in.” Valentine placed the ornate knife on the ceramic plate.

He knew his medicus would visit him before the ceremony, but his most recent appointment was only seven days ago and his health hadn’t changed in the short time passed. Yet, his wedding required a strict protocol to be followed, and even Valentine was to obey the ancient canon of the Brotherhood.

Holding the big leather bag typical of his trade, Balenus entered the bedroom followed by two of his ancillae. The girls carried between them a large bronze vessel that was pearled with dew. Valentine noticed how the chosen nurses seemed to look younger with every visit of the middle-aged medicus. Balenus had a receding hairline and anachronistic paunch. On a planet where gaining weight was difficult, appearing not-athletic was a feat, but his status as Valentine’s medicus clearly gave him social clout.

“Are we ready for the big night?” Balenus asked, voice loud and jovial as always.

“It’s a night like any other.” Valentine didn’t stand but waited for the trio to walk to him.

“Your life is going to change forever, Master Lobo.” The medicus chuckled, then motioned for the ancillae to come closer to Valentine. “Wash him,” he ordered the girls.

Wearing white tunics, the ancillae knelt before Valentine, their heads low, their hands raised high, waiting for him to give them permission to touch him.

“Go ahead.” He relaxed his back against the chair, opening his legs wide to give the girls easy access to his body.

Hesitant hands poured the perfumed water from the vessel into a decorated basin, then the same hands cupped some of the water and dripped it between Valentine’s legs. He suffered through the ceremonial ablution in silence, wishing for the feather light touches to end. But the sooner he gave the medicus his fill of Vital Essence, the sooner he could go through the farce of his wedding night.

When the hands weren’t able to coax the wanted reaction from his body, soft lips took turns on Valentine. Finally, he shuddered his release into a crystal ampule the medicus had promptly produced from his leather bag.

“Excellent.” Balenus raised the flask high, studying its milky content against the amber light from the suspended brazier. “Flawless. As I expected from such a splendid specimen like yourself.” He stored Valentine’s Vital Essence inside a velvet pouch, then nested the pouch on a damask pillow with the Lobo’s insignia—a stylized wolf howling at the moon. “Dress him,” he said to the girls.

Standing, Valentine opened his arms to facilitate the ancillae’s job. The kimono was removed and a high collared, burgundy shirt took its place, followed by black, wide-legged pants with the ceremonial slit on the front. The girls then helped him into a tight-fitting, gilded vest that completed his wedding uniform.

“His hair.” The medicus pointed at Valentine’s mane.

The girls waited for Valentine to sit, then worked dark-violet flower oil through his hair, setting his plait free, only to braid it again, starting from the front and adding thick strands toward the back of his head, creating a big ridged braid.

“Shave him.” Balenus opened his bag and presented the ancillae with a golden razor, shave brush, bowl, and scented soap. The kit would then be cleaned and stored in the Goddess’ Temple alongside the crystal ampule.

Valentine’s clothes would be stored and preserved as well as a memento of the night. He didn’t like all the pomp and ceremony surrounding what would be a procreation ritual, but he could understand the need for it. Far away from Earth, both in years and astral distance, his people clung to the old ways in a desperate attempt not to lose their identities.

Lupine was different from their original planet in so many ways, it was easy after a generation or two to forget what it had meant to walk on grass or swim in the sea. With their obscure rituals and strict laws, the elders made sure to preserve the collective memory of a bygone era. Valentine had never been a religious person and suspected most of tonight’s ceremony was made up by the elders and didn’t resemble its Earth equivalent at all.

Perfumed, anointed with the holy oil, dressed up, freshly shaved, and coiffured, Valentine was ready to do his part as the only remaining descendant of the House of Lobo. He wished he could still shift like his ancestors had done, so he could avoid the spectacle awaiting him.

“Ready?” the medicus asked.

Valentine nodded and followed the trio outside.

The Fifth Moon’s Wolf: First Chapter

Friday Snippet, Valentine’s Day Edition

 

Love is Love AlwaysHappy Valentine’s Day, everybody.

I am halfway through writing my first paranormal romance novel and in the best spirit I’ve been in a long time. Changing my method, I have outlined the whole story, down to writing what went in every chapter. My productivity has increased tenfold and I have had days where I reached 5k words without having a brain stroke. Soon, I’ll be starting working on the cover and the blurb.

In other news, Marie’s Journey has gathered two 5 stars reviews from two readers who are loyal to The Ginecean Chronicles.

Linda of the Night’s free promo is still on, and several people told me they enjoyed the short read.

Now, for this romantic day, I’ve chosen a small excerpt from The Last Centurion:

“Did I do something wrong, little thing?” He brushed her eyes with his lips, his hands caressing her body in long soothing caresses.

She lowered her head to his chest, too overwhelmed to find the words to answer him.

“Diana?” He raised her chin with a finger, then left a chaste peck on her closed lips. “Are you okay?”

She nodded and he lowered his head to kiss her again. When he gently pushed at her lips to coax them open, a rush of pleasure made her lightheaded, and she anchored herself to him, grabbing his arms circling her.

He misunderstood her gesture and leaned his upper body away from her. “May I kiss you?”

Diana saw the intensity in his stare, and heard the pleading tone in his voice. She knew he thought he would perish if she denied him that kiss and so she had to tell him her secret. “It was my first kiss.”

It took a moment for him to react to her statement, but his eyes became liquid.

She had to lower hers. “I’ve never been kissed before.”

Without letting go of her, Marcus fell on his knees and pressed his face against her belly, his strong back shaking, his arms tightening around her waist. She passed her fingers through his hair and let her tears flow, then kneeled before him and laid her forehead against his. “Kiss me as you’ve never kissed a woman before.”

Friday Snippet, Valentine’s Day Edition

Friday Snippet #45

Summer Turmoil

Sunny, exceptionally sunny in Seattle. Therefore, I have little to say about this past week other than I walked miles and miles and  got sunburned. Rewriting Elios is hard and I’m struggling through the process, but I am working on it every day. Conversely, drawing with Fresh Paint is easy and I’m having fun with it. Summer Turmoil is one of my latest drawings.

From Elios (working title)

“Are you up for a session?” Kam had the uncanny ability to check on me whenever my mental defenses where at my lowest.

I closed the window, stepped inside and sat on the lonely chair. Breathed in and out and let the rest of the room disappear one item at a time. First the wall in front of me, then the one on my right, next the one on my left. A blank screen engulfed my vision. The mosaic marble tiles with their floral pattern followed the walls. I was sitting on a floating chair. Then, I was simply floating and the blank screen zoomed toward me. A slow moving tunnel sucked me in and I emerged at the other end to face a smiling Kam.

“You made it.” He raised an eyebrow. “You look horrible.”

“Thank you.” Next time, I should be more careful in composing my mental appearance. I had been successful so far to keep both Kam and Areel unaware of my inner turmoil. “Where is Areel?”

“Unexpected session with his Guide.” Kam materialized the furniture in the astral room as he strolled toward the center.

I had to move out of the way to make space for a chair and two cabinets. “Why do you bother?” I regretted my words as soon as they were out of my mouth.

“You know why.” He blinked and the old, battered couch we had spent so many hours sitting on appeared before him. “I like our dig to be lifelike. It makes our shared time here all the more enjoyable.” With a tilt of his head, Kam gestured for me to join him on the soft cushion he was patting.

The fabric let out a fine cloud of dust that reached my nose. I waved my hand to dismiss my earlier statement. “You’re right of course.” I added a few pillows and rugs to the floor and went to lie there instead. “So, is Areel having problems again?” Our friend was still healing after the trauma of his first mission’s end.

“It takes time to adjust to the idea you had to doom an entire species to oblivion.”

Friday Snippet #45

Friday Snippet #44

Finestra sull'Umbria SketchedGray outside. Gaia is in the hands of the editor once again. It took me a long time to implement his corrections and add my changes. Hopefully, this second time around it will go faster. Meanwhile, I’m working on Elios. A nightmare. I must rewrite the whole 90k words. The first 80 pages are mostly inner monologue. Although there’s a good reason for that—Elios is an Observer—the story can’t stand on its own the way it is written now. I don’t look forward to the task ahead.

From Gaia (still a working title):

It was Wednesday afternoon, and Sara was checking the weather to see if we could finally go for a hike somewhere nearby. I was trying to focus on something on TV while Pallino had decided to sleep on my lap.

“Spending a few days away from Seattle is going to help you reconnect with the rest of the world,” Sara said.

“Is that so?”

“Yes, it’s been proven that open air is beneficial for the health of the gray matter. In your case, there isn’t a lot left to save, but still.”

Suddenly, the doorbell rang, and I jumped, surprised because we weren’t expecting any of our friends. Pallino woke up, irritated by my lack of manners.

Sara went to see who it was when I felt it. I felt him.

I knew exactly who was behind that door before she reached the other room. I sat down on the first chair I found because I couldn’t stand up, couldn’t breathe. I just wanted to scream.

Elios had come back.

Friday Snippet #44

Friday Snippet #41

Sunny DayI survived my lecture and came back to say everything went well. If the video turned out fine, it will be posted on YouTube, otherwise you’ll have to take my word for it. In that case, I’ll declare I was fabulous.

Meanwhile, in the green land of the never ending rain there was sun. Like a lot. I got freckles all over my face since I was out for long walks every day.

In other news, I decided to put Smashwords to work and made Linda of the Night free there. If somebody will report the lower price to Amazon, eventually the short will become a perma-free. I’d rather have readers taking a chance and sample my work than having the short sitting there, collecting dust.

This Friday’s snippet is brought you by my antihistaminic. At the moment, there’s more pollen than breathable air outside my room.

From Green Grass and High Tide, a science fiction novel I wrote two or three years ago and that might see an editor in the near future:

A soft orchestra of machines sounds, hissing, chirping, and the unmistakable regular thumping of a frail heartbeat, welcomed them inside Mother’s sleeping chamber.

“Come closer my dears.” A feeble voice came from the center of the room.

“Rya, my love—” Tyo’s voice broke.

Jules looked at his father and she saw etched in his face that he missed his companion more than he wanted to show.

“Mother, how do you feel?” Lucia walked past Jules and bent on the big bed that was the point of origin of every sound in the room.

Jules stood at the door petrified, barely breathing.

“I’m happy to sense you. I think I was sleeping before you entered. Tyo, how long has been since last time you talked to me? I have troubles understanding time…” Rya painfully dragged the words one after the other.

“You had an accident several years ago, and we’re keeping you in cryonic sleep until we find a way to reconnect your mind to your body,” he answered.

Jules thought that Father could have sweetened the pill, but Tyo would have never denied his beloved Rya anything, not even a harsh truth.

“Why did you wake me now?”

“Happy second century, my dear Rya. We’ve gathered to celebrate your birthday, love.” Tyo’s eyes were clouded with unwanted moisture.

Friday Snippet #41

Friday Snippet #40

Koi out of waterI won’t comment on the weather. It’s raining now, but I can’t remember about the rest of the week.  Other than editing, and waiting for some more editing coming my way, I spent the last seven days working on the lecture. I’ve been recording myself and I have mixed feelings about my performance. I tend to eat words a lot and I haven’t been able to recite the whole speech without humming and hemming between one slide and the next. Yesterday, I stopped making any sense after the seventh try. Also, after a spell of insomnia, I decided to avoid coffee for a week and see what happens. First day of the experiment. So far, I’ve tried to put clean dishes in the fridge, ate three five times what I would have any other day, and I have a huge headache. Also, I took a break from writing this post to go downstairs and eat some more…

From All the Rainbow’s Colors,

My day ends as it started, with my nose against the cold window’s panel. The apartments in the building complex in front of mine are all illuminated. The lady in pink hasn’t come home yet, but there is a man I’ve never seen in her living room. He’s arranging long stemmed red roses in a tall vase. The man is so pink he’s almost red like the roses. Who knows what it feels to be that shade of pink? I have no clues.

In the next apartment, a family of five, mother, dad, and three small kids, is preparing for the usual reading time ritual before bed. Every night, the father tucks the kids in their tiny beds, and read a tale from the same old, battered book. He must know every word of that book by heart. He smiles, always. The man is lucky, because he’s not cursed like me. He doesn’t see that his youngest child has the same green shade of his mom, but his orange comes from a family friend, who visits the house a lot. And so the dad is happy.

I am forced to know. Since it started, two years ago, people’s feelings are no secret to me. And what it makes this whole situation even worse is that I can’t do without colors. Literally. I hate them, and I can’t survive without them.

Friday Snippet #40