And now for an excerpt for the VERY soon to be released, Forbidden:
Forbidden, Copyright 2014, Zoe Winters
Angeline felt his eyes on her. She should leave. It had taken everything in her not to flee when he’d called her little angel. It was what Linus had called her. The endearment had always been followed by something terrible when it had come from the mouth of her sire.
She’d had to mentally remind herself that she’d watched Hadrian for years. She knew him. He wasn’t Linus. A pet name wouldn’t change that. And further, she’d seen plenty of reasons over the years to trust Hadrian. Most evil acts for him occurred in a gray area in service to a greater good.
She wandered the basement. The decor was mostly modern. Sharp lines and hard planes. Cold marble statues watching her and documenting all her sins. Only a little comfort or warmth here or there… a comfy leather chair, a rug, a large, ornate bed with sheer black curtains around it. Lots of white candles and Gothic candle stands.
Everything was black and gray and white with a few flourishes of gold here and there. The only thing that didn’t fit the bland color scheme was a wardrobe and trunk in the corner made from rich dark oak. The other corner had racks and racks of wine.
A familiar piece of fabric peeked from behind the trunk. It was the bag she’d left behind years ago. She tensed, afraid the rosary would burn when her fingers brushed over the cross, but of course it didn’t. Instead, when she held it, she felt herself glow.
“You kept this?”
She jumped when his arms closed around her waist. He’d moved across the room so quickly and quietly she hadn’t noticed him behind her.
“I never bothered throwing it out. It’s not as if I live here all the time.”
She put the rosary and drawing back into the bag and placed it on the trunk. It felt wrong to keep it. It only reminded her of things she wanted to forget.
“Do you want absolution, Angeline?”
“I know that you’ll never…”
“You know I do.”
“Even if the penance is difficult?”
Angeline nodded. He released her and went back to the chair, and she could finally breathe. When she turned around, he was studying her again. She couldn’t decide what his new mood was about. He’d hated her from the moment she’d turned him. It was disconcerting to see this sudden change. She didn’t trust it.
Something about him still frightened her. She knew he couldn’t hurt her. As an angel there was nothing that could hurt her, except a higher-level angel. And yet, it was so easy to forget all of that while captured in his dark gaze, his punishing grip, the hard lines of his face that said he would never waver in his judgment.
“If I’m to avoid Anthony, I’ll need to stay indoors for a while. You will give me your blood until I decide I’ve had enough. Even if the threat to me has passed. In time, I may choose to forgive you.”
Of course, that would be what he wanted. He had no idea the risk he asked her to take on. For an angel to lower herself to feed a vampire… It wasn’t done. Her hand rose to her throat where he’d bitten her.
“Too much for you little angel?”
“N-no. It’s not too much.” She didn’t think there was anything he could ask for that she wouldn’t give him. He was her loose end, the one sin that couldn’t lay buried in the past. She wasn’t sure she’d ever forgive herself for doing exactly as Linus had done to her. Even if Hadrian never forgave her, she’d feed him as long as he wanted her.
His eyes lit with malice she hadn’t seen since her sire, and she took a step back. The night she’d met Father Hadrian, she’d sensed the darkness in him, the darkness that would echo hers. He’d been her perfect match. But now she searched, hoping for bits of goodness instead.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. He’s not Linus. Even if he were, no one can hurt you now. She felt the tingle of her wings inside her back, reminding her of the power she had now. She was safe. Everything would be okay.
When she opened her eyes, he still watched her.
“Undress and lie down in the bed. I want you to sleep here tonight. I don’t sleep until the sun rises.”
“I…” He was messing with her mind, pushing to see how vulnerable she’d allow herself to be around him. Linus had played those games, too. Only he’d hurt her every time she’d shown the least hint of weakness, whenever she’d offered the smallest amount of open trust.
Hadrian turned away. “I won’t watch you. I won’t touch you.”
It wasn’t as if he could hurt her, at least not while she was conscious.
“I can’t miss prayers. I’ll be in trouble if I’m not back in time.”
“They keep you on a tight leash up there, don’t they?”
“Mine would be tighter. I’ll wake you in a couple of hours.”
I now have Cover Art and the Book Trailer for Forbidden.
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Cover by: Robin Ludwig Design, Inc.
Book Trailer by: Me. :)
Angeline knows Father Hadrian will never forgive her for their ugly history. When the king of the vampires seeks vengeance for Hadrian’s recent betrayal, she’ll risk everything to protect the vampire she still loves.
But when she agrees to give Hadrian her blood, all of Heaven will break loose.
Ready for an Excerpt? Just a couple more days til release! Read more…
It’s only about 6 weeks or so until the release of Life Cycle. I now have cover art and a description for you:
Immortality can be a bitch…
Tamara has lived nearly two thousand years, trapped by a spell of her own creation. Hunted by her enemy and former lover, she knows there is only one man strong enough to release her from the curse. But will Cain honor her death wish, or keep her for himself, whatever the cost?
Two ancient souls. Two weary fighters, torn between love and hate, forced to decide if the other could be worth living for.
Heat Level 3 of 5.
Some sexually explicit content and innuendo.
And here’s the cover art, the ebook cover, followed by the full cover wrap for print. You can click on the full wrap to enlarge it to fit your screen.
Finally, The Catalyst is here. This is book 3 in the Preternaturals Series (behind Blood Lust and Save My Soul) it introduces a new couple: Fiona and Z but also heavily features Jane and Cole (from Blood Lust) and Cain (from Blood Lust and Save My Soul)
Buy links, description, book trailer, and excerpt below the cut… Enjoy my Lovelies!
Copyright 2012, Zoe Winters. All rights reserved.
Just have to make it to the mailbox. Everything will be okay. Fiona Patrone stared out the window at the lonely box at the end of the driveway. Her house was surrounded by trees in a heavily wooded area of Golatha Falls—so far out it was amazing the mailman delivered. And yet it felt so open and unknown out there. It was safer inside.
There probably isn’t any mail. Just check it tomorrow. Nothing important. Not worth going out. The thoughts tunneled through her mind like vicious moles. If she didn’t venture out, she’d be even more a prisoner of her own mind and fears. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone past the mailbox. If she got to the point where she couldn’t even get that far…
The birds outside screeched then, chattering warnings, screaming the same awful things they screamed at her every day. If you go out there, something bad will happen. She believed them. Birds had no reason to lie. They were excellent seers, so much so, that for centuries people had read bird entrails, not realizing that you needed a live bird to get any knowledge of value.
Something bad. They could at least give her a little detail, some clue as to what she should fear, but the threat remained the same—vague and foreboding as ever.
Fiona had been able to understand the language of animals before she could understand that of humans—a rare and special gift for a witch to inherit. Though she’d always seen it as a curse. If not for those damned birds, she’d be outside living her life. Maybe she would have found love, a job, something.
Well, she had a job—on the Internet. Her money was direct-deposited. She ordered her clothes online and had her groceries delivered. Thanks to the web, agoraphobia had never been so easy. At least from a logistics standpoint.
She took in a slow, measured breath, her hand poised over the doorknob. You can do this. You can do this. You can do this. Fiona mentally repeated it like a subliminal message she prayed would take hold. The doorknob clicked in her hand. She moved through what felt like invisible molasses as she forced herself out the door and into the throng of screeching, angry birds.
The wind had a new crispness. Almost Halloween. As a witch, shouldn’t she be in her element right about now? But the idea of ghosts and goblins and veils thinning served to make the whole ordeal seem more dangerous.
Fifty-five steps. She counted them every day because counting them was the only way she could make herself get there. It wasn’t far. She could run back into her house if the birds were right.
The mailbox held nothing of interest: an electric bill that could have waited until tomorrow. On her way back, step twenty-four, she became aware of the eerie silence. The birds had stopped their squawking, and a stillness blanketed the yard. She would have run straight for the front door except for the plaintive cry coming from somewhere nearby.
Ignore it. It’s not your concern, she told herself. Thirty-five. But the noise happened again. So sad, scared. Her heart softened at the sound. She’d want someone to help her if she were in distress. Fiona tucked the electric bill into the waistband of her jeans and struggled through the wild growth of the front yard. She hadn’t worked on the garden in five years, and it showed.
When she reached the side of the house, she found a wolf pup with wide, brown eyes, crying. He was old enough that he should have started learning the language of his kind, but he hadn’t. There were no words she could pick up and decipher. She could still get emotions and basic information, especially if those emotions were strong. In some circles, this made Fiona dangerous; in others, it would make her a pawn of those who might want to capitalize on such information.
The pup was lost, hungry, scared.
She didn’t sense a mother wolf nearby. Had he been abandoned? Her mind screamed at her to leave him there. But he was so hungry and pathetic. She couldn’t stop herself from scooping him up and taking him inside.
She sat him on the kitchen counter, and he stared curiously at her, turning his little wolf head to the side. He was reddish-brown and white, the cutest thing she’d seen in forever. At least he seemed old enough to be weaned.
She’d made a roast the previous night and wasn’t sure how that would fly with the little guy, but it was what she had. She cut some meat up and put it on the counter. The pup’s tail wagged as he gobbled up the food. She placed a bowl of water down, and he took care of that, too.
He stared at her from the top of the counter as if to say What next? Oh wow, yeah. She hadn’t thought through that part. If he was just lost, his mother would be coming soon. If he was all alone, she couldn’t have a wolf in her house. Even understanding what he needed, it was just insane. And probably illegal.
He positioned himself on the edge of the counter, shifting his weight from paw to paw, negotiating the drop to the ground. His full concentration was on the jump. When he made it to the linoleum floor, he looked up at her, all pleased with himself, and she melted. So cute.
“Well, maybe you can stay for a little while. Until I figure out what to do with you.” Those words had barely tumbled past her lips when the window over the breakfast nook shattered, and a large ball of black fur leaped into her kitchen.
It must be the mother. But no. As her confusion cleared, she could see it was a large, angry black panther.
Fiona edged back, afraid he’d pounce if she made any sudden moves. What she wouldn’t give right now to have a few handy incantations at the ready. For spells, she needed all the proper tools: sage stick, herbs, candles, salt, etc. She could incant a little if she was very focused, but now, with her heart pounding so fast, wasn’t one of those times. Her own name was a blank—forget coming up with a snappy protection chant.
She grabbed at stray pots and pans and emptied a whole drawer of utensils as she threw everything she had at him. But he batted the objects away, prowling closer, his growl low and menacing. Within seconds, he had her backed into a corner, claws out, swiping at her.
She screamed and grabbed her arm, which was starting to bleed. Her side burned as well. All at once, her brain snapped into sharp focus. She was going to die in a matter of seconds if she didn’t figure something out right now.
He’d stopped clawing at her for a minute and was growling, something about her taking the pup, wanting to hurt him, people after him. Oh, wait. Wait! She could feel the magic crackling around the panther. Therian! That meant there was a person in there. Somewhere.
She called on every reserve of courage she had to form words. “I wasn’t trying to hurt him. He was lost and hungry. I brought him in to feed him. That’s all. I’m not whoever you think I am.”
The panther stared at her hard and growled again.
“Yes, I understand you.”
How is that possible? He growled.
“Rare gift. I meant the pup no harm. I swear.” She held her hands out defensively, hoping he believed her. An insane panther therian in her house wasn’t how she wanted to go out. Blood dripped in a steady flow down her arm; her shirt was torn near her ribcage where more blood was pooling. Oh God. That swipe alone could have killed her.
Breathe, Fiona. He’s calm now. Everything will be fine. Thank God he was a therian and could understand her as well as she understood him.
She still couldn’t figure out what a panther’s concern with a wolf pup was. But really, all she wanted was to get the both of them out of her house and call a window repairman. She was trying to forget the bleeding part. She vowed she’d listen to the birds next time.
So you can understand him? The panther’s gaze shifted to the pup who gingerly stepped around the broken glass, sniffing things.
“Well, he doesn’t have language like you have yet, but I know what he needs. My gift runs a little deeper than just speech.” Not to toot her horn or anything.
He shifted—–right in the middle of her kitchen. Her eyes didn’t know where to go. Tanned, muscular legs. And… oh dear, skip that, skip that! But her brain had already processed parts of a man she’d never seen outside of television or the Internet, due to her phobia. There weren’t a lot of opportunities to hook up with men when you never left your house.
Farther up, there were very nice abs and pecs—–and those arms. Oh boy. She swiped the back of the hand that wasn’t bleeding across her face, afraid she might be drooling. She wanted to lick him, but under the circumstances that seemed a little weird. Her arm and side burned like fiery hell, but damn, he was pretty. So sleek and lithe, just like what he shifted into.
When her gaze made it up to his face, a boyish smirk graced his lips. There was a twinkle in his brown eyes. His dark hair was longish, but somehow still masculine. Oh yes, there wasn’t an unmanly bone in his body.
“So,” he drawled, moving closer by mere centimeters, “should we just get it on now?”
Her mouth dropped open. He couldn’t have just said that.
A strange look crossed his face. “Sorry. Wild animal here. A little amped up. That was inappropriate.” He extended a hand, attempting to move past the new awkwardness. “Let me look at you.”
The pain in her arm and side flared fully to life as she processed everything that had just happened in her kitchen. When she didn’t respond to his request, he pulled her toward him and lifted her shirt to inspect her side.
He frowned. “Not as bad as it could have been. Nothing major harmed.”
She was about to get angry and indignant about his flippant attitude toward what he’d just done, but then his eyes met hers, warm and honest.
“I’m very sorry about your injuries. I was afraid for the pup and sensed the magic on you. I thought you were one of the ones who tried to take him. I’m all he’s got.” The pup, as if sensing he was being talked about, clomped through the kitchen debris to sit between them, his little wolf gaze going back and forth.
Fiona looked back at the man standing in front of her, so sincere and intense… and attractive, and then the waterworks started.
“Oh, no, don’t cry,” he said, almost in a panic over the concept of female tears.
It wasn’t pain that had brought forth the tears; it was the fact that this was what it took to get near a hot guy for her: a near-death experience, and him breaking into her kitchen: the idea that he was going to take the pup and go on his merry way, and she’d have the memory of him emblazoned on her brain, but that would be all. Her close brush with maleness. Inches from her, but no dice.
It wasn’t that she wanted to take him up on his carnal offer. He was a stranger. And, as he said, a wild animal. And she wished he’d cover himself with something, because judging from outward signs, he was all raring and ready to go. Like most therians, he was unaffected by his own nudity or arousal. Something she wished humans shared in common with them, so she wouldn’t feel so freaked out by his nearness… or so much longing for something she wasn’t going to ever have since she couldn’t make it past her own mailbox.
His smooth, deep voice interrupted her mental hysteria. “Do you have bandages?”
“Bathroom, down the hall,” she said absently, feeling stupid for going all blubbery on him. Thank God he couldn’t read her mind and know why she’d been crying. That would have been too mortifying for words. Better for him to think she was just a big wimp who couldn’t take surface abrasions than to know the truth.