A Faery Story Beast -- Out now from BookStrand
Fresh from his latest scandal, vampire playboy Dante Dellacourt has been given an ultimatum – take a consort and settle down or be disowned.
Exiled by her pack, the werewolf Kaja is stolen from her frozen plane and awakens in a foreign world. Frightened and alone, she savagely fights for her freedom.
When Dante and his Fae cousins are called to defend the gnomes of the marketplace from their feral prize, he discovers that Kaja glows like no other consort he has ever seen. Exotic and wild, her body calls to him in ways he had not dreamed possible.
In order to claim his werewolf, he must first tame this ferocious beauty. But to earn her submission, will Dante be forced to unleash his inner beast?
A Siren Erotic Romance
(The following excerpt is for adults only!)
The Werewolf Plane
Kaja looked up into the eyes of the woman who had raised her. She had not been a kind mother. Helga wasn’t her mother at all. She had been designated by the First as her keeper when she’d been orphaned. But Helga had been the one to ensure Kaja survived. Helga had given her food and grudging shelter when the weather was too cold for any wolf to stand. Helga had only beaten her when there was no other option. Kaja was aware that she was far too thin for a woman of four and twenty, but that was only to be expected. She had no mate, and Helga must think of her own children first.
“What does it mean?” Kaja asked.
She could hear the fear in her voice. Her hands shook as she pulled the thin shawl around her shoulders. She thought about changing. She always changed when she felt this anxious. Fur and fangs and four strong paws seemed more solid than her two-legged body. She held fast to her human form since she needed to understand how her life had changed following the wise woman’s pronouncement.
The wise woman, a large, sturdy wolf, had stood up in the middle of the evening meal and spoken. Kaja had been at the edge of the dining hall. She knew the wise woman had spoken of her. Though she hadn’t been able to hear everything that was said, Kaja had felt the eyes of the pack turn, seeking her out. They had stared, some with open sympathy, most with sneers. She did not understand what was happening.
Helga’s eyes were anything but kind as she looked at Kaja. “It means you are outcast. Do you understand the word, girl? You are no longer welcome in the pack. I risk the First’s anger by even speaking with you, but you are too stupid to be expected to understand on your own.”
“Why?” Her voice was as small as she felt.
She ignored the insults. They were as ordinary to her life as breathing. She had never been particularly welcome in the pack, but it was the only home she knew. The world was a cold place. How would she survive on her own? It was winter, and there was barely enough food to feed the pack. She couldn’t compete with the warriors on her own. If she was outcast and they caught her poaching in their territory, they would kill her.
Sven would kill her.
Tears pooled in her eyes at the thought of the handsome Second. He was every inch his father’s son. He would be First someday. She’d fought him, but he hadn’t taken no for an answer. She’d hated the mating, but somewhere in the back of her mind she’d wondered if Sven wouldn’t help her. He desired her. That had to mean he cared about her. She had always known that Sven would not ask her to be his permanent mate. He would select a much more suitable she-wolf for that honor. But he had promised her the role of concubine. It was not without its benefits. She would be respected as the Second’s mistress. She would be the she-wolf who held his heart.
“Sven will not allow it.” Kaja felt her face firm as she said the words.
He’d said she was beautiful. He wouldn’t allow her to be thrown out of the pack. He couldn’t. He’d been the one to pursue her. Surely that meant he cared.
Helga sighed. “He’s done with you, idiot child. He’s going to permanently mate with the wise woman’s daughter. Did you think she would allow her daughter’s future husband to keep you as a concubine? That is an embarrassment she could not endure.
You should never have given yourself to the chief’s son.”
“I did not realize I had a choice,” Kaja said bitterly.
She remembered that first night. She had not been given a choice. Sven had come for her with his friends at his side. His friends had held her down as Sven took her. She had fought, and she had lost.
Helga frowned, and for the first time there was sympathy in her dark eyes. “You didn’t, child. You haven’t had a choice in anything. It would have been kinder if the chieftain had left you on the mountainside to die as I suggested. Now, go. I will not risk my place for you. I am fourth among the women now. I am the keeper of this long house. I eat well and have good shelter. I will not lose my standing for the daughter of a traitor. You must go.”
Kaja turned. There would be no moving her foster mother. When Helga had mentioned Kaja’s father’s perfidy, Kaja knew there was no argument that could sway the older woman. Her father had challenged Sven’s father and lost. That was what made him a traitor. Kaja knew if she had been born male, she would have been slaughtered along with her father. Perhaps that would have been easier.
As her father’s female pup, she’d been allowed to live, but never given a place in the tribe. Now that Kaja thought about it, she had been outcast all of her life.
She looked around the long house. She had lived here for many years. She was allowed to sleep in the back where they kept the cattle. Kaja never told them that she didn’t mind. It was warmer near the cattle. Where would she sleep this evening?
She was pulled from her misery by a rough hand. Kaja looked up and saw it was Sven’s closest friend, Stellan. He looked a little sad with his unkempt beard and dark eyes. Though his hand was tight around her thin arm, it was not painful. “Come, little one. You must go now.”
He began to drag her along. She saw the door to the long house. It was dark outside, and she could feel the cold from here. Once she left, she knew she would never be allowed back in. “Please, take me to Sven. He won’t let this happen.”
Stellan sighed. He stopped and looked down at her. “Oh, little one, who do you think ordered me to escort you out?”
Kaja felt sick to her stomach. All around her the pack was watching with judgmental eyes. She was weak, and they hated weakness.
“Out!” one of the women shouted. She tossed a rancid tomato at Kaja’s face. Stellan hurried them along.
Others joined in on the fun, and Kaja was covered in food and bruised by the time Stellan maneuvered her out. She shivered in the cold. The snow was deep, and she had no shoes. Shoes were a luxury. She was barely allowed food. When she turned, she saw the light glowing from inside the long house. Her heart ached. She had not known an ounce of real kindness there, but it was safe. It was warm.
“Sven is an ass, little one,” Stellan said, not unkindly. He shrugged out of his fur-lined coat. “He never keeps a mistress for long. You were just an easy one to get rid of. I would offer to keep you myself, but he’s made it impossible.” He held out the coat, easing it around Kaja’s shoulders. “You have to run. If they find you, they will tear you apart.”
“I have never been on my own,” Kaja muttered, feeling the cold seep into her bones. Though she had not been particularly welcome in the pack, she had never been without them. She had always been surrounded by wolves.
“Perhaps Freya will be kind. Perhaps she will show you the way to a better place as she showed the People when we left the first plane. There are other planes with other people.”
Kaja felt her eyes go wide. “That is sacrilege. There is only this world.”
“No, they just want to keep you ignorant. This is a barbaric world, but it is home. My father travelled to other planes. He went to many worlds, some in which he should not have gone.” Stellan smiled a bit at the thought. He pointed to a place far in the west. “Beyond that mountain, that is where he said the door is. If you can find it, Kaja, a whole new world waits for you. Do not waste yourself trying to get back into favor with the pack. They will never accept you. Find a new pack.”
Kaja stared at the mountains to the west. Could she make it? Were the stories real? She shook her shoulders and let Stellan’s coat slide off into her hands. She gave it back to him. She wouldn’t need it.
In a blink, she changed. Her limbs neatly adjusted themselves, and she was wolf. Her senses were a thousand times sharper, and she no longer felt the cold as keenly.
Stellan shook his head as he looked down on her. “Sven thinks the wise woman ousted you for her daughter’s sake. I believe differently. You are strong, little Kaja. If they ever fed you properly or gave you a moment’s training, you would be First among the women. Go, little wolf. Your destiny is not here.”
Kaja ran, her wolf legs eating the distance despite the thick snow. She ran, and she did not look back. Stellan was right. There was nothing for her here.
The Vampire Plane
Dante Dellacourt watched his family and friends as they stared at the floor-to-ceiling projection from the comfortable seats of Dellacorp’s media room. The room was done up for a party, but Dante was worried no one would want to celebrate at the end of the show. His whole family and several key members of the corporation were rapt with attention, watching everything that happened on this final episode of the most popular DL in the states.
Dante tried not to laugh at the image of himself pondering the decision he was about to make. The producers made sure he thought about the intensely important life decision he was making via reality television in various states of undress. He had spent an awful lot of time with his shirt off, but Dante had to admit, he looked good in a tux, too. He stood at the edge of a lovely, romantic pond, surrounded by greenery and flowers, waiting for the helicopters that would bring the two final women to him.
Dante took a long drink of Scotch as he watched the drama play out. He hoped the alcohol would relax him fairly quickly. He hadn’t had much of an appetite. He desired neither a meal pill, nor an actual warm-blooded dinner. His gut was not in a good place. On an empty stomach, the Scotch should work fast. He had the feeling that he was going to need it once his parents saw the way the final stock ceremony ended.
On the high-definition screen, the luxury helicopter landed, and a gorgeous vampire stepped out showing off her long legs and perfect figure. She wore a designer gown and looked like a woman on a mission. Veronica. Even her name made him shiver just a little.
“I knew it.” Susan practically shouted at the screen. Dante had to grin slightly. His big sister was a high-octane, type A version of himself, right down to her red-and-gold hair and green eyes.
His sister hadn’t liked Veronica at all. It had been a mistake to put two alpha females in the same room together. They’d practically had a knock-down-drag-out when he’d brought Veronica home to meet the family. The producers had been thrilled. It made for excellent television.
“They always dump the first one,” Susan said with a vicious fist pump. “Take that, bitch! I knew my brother would pick the consort.”
Susan’s husband, Colin, gave his wife an affectionate pat. He nodded Dante’s way. “Thank you. She would be impossible to live with if you brought that one home again.”
Dante noticed his mother was crying slightly. It made him a little nauseous at the thought of disappointing her. Her manicured hands came out to pat Dante’s shoulders. “I knew you would make the right choice. The consort is lovely, Dante. I can’t wait to begin planning the wedding. I know you’re contractually obligated to stay apart from Shelia until after the final airing, but I wish she could have been here. I can’t wait to welcome her into our family.”
On the screen, Veronica was rolling her eyes and vowing corporate vengeance. Her long red nails reminded Dante of talons. She’d actually scared the crap out of him. He’d been afraid to dump her before the final ceremony. More than one corporate war had been started because of this particular series.
His father walked up behind him and gave him a hearty pat on the back. Dante could feel the satisfaction coming off his father in waves. “I didn’t think this was a good idea, son. Your mother had to convince me this wouldn’t ruin our corporate image. Playing around in hot tubs is no way to find a wife, I say. You should have done what your cousins did. You should have bought a consort at the marketplace. Still, I liked Shelia. You did good, son.”
There was a loud snort from the back of the room. Dante looked up and saw his twin cousins sitting in the small crowd with their market-bought wife between them. Six months of marriage had only brought the three of them closer together. Cian, the more sarcastic of the two, was watching the screen raptly. It didn’t stop him from making his opinion plain.
“I think you’re all crazy,” Cian said, his musical Fae accent filled with humor. “Do any of you know Dante? Seriously? I bet you all a thousand gold that he dumps them both.”
“Shut up, you bastard,” Beckett Finn said, slapping at his brother playfully. “You don’t have a thousand gold.”
“He won’t need it. Let him make the bet,” Meg Finn pronounced, her eyes narrowing on Dante. “He dumps them both.”
On the screen, a second helicopter was setting down on the top floor of one of the most luxurious high-rises in Manhattan. Dante had been happy the producers of the DL had chosen to film the end in New York rather than his own hometown of Dallas. Romantic music was playing. Shelia, a consort from the Faery plane with an amazing backstory to go along with her sweet good looks, got out of the helicopter. Her face beamed as she looked up at him.
“I’ll take that bet, Cian,” Dante’s father replied, his Texas accent thick with pride. “There’s no way my son lets a consort that beautiful get away. She saved twenty children from the civil war. She’s a healer and a philanthropist. She’s everything a vampire could want in a consort. Sheila reminds me of my wife. She’s quiet and elegant. She’s a true lady.”
“Now, you see editing can really change a person’s perception. They leave out all the bitchy parts,” Dante said, feeling a bit hot under the collar.
He thought Shelia had been reading far too much of her own press material. She was stuck-up. When the cameras weren’t rolling, she’d barely talked to him except to ask about his cousins. She was very interested in the true kings of the Seelie Fae. Not so much in him.
It didn’t matter. He knew what was coming. At the time, it seemed like a funny little adventure. He hadn’t expected everyone to get so caught up in it. He certainly hadn’t expected his parents to get invested in a made-for-DL relationship.
His sister was standing now. Her mouth thinned as she studied him. “You asshole! Ci’s right. You dumped both women. How could you?”
Dante pointed to the screen where the quiet, demure consort was slapping him silly, completely forgetting that oath she had taken to do no harm. She pushed him back until he fell ass-first into the romantic koi pond that would have made an awesome place to propose had he actually fallen in love with someone. “Does that look quiet and elegant? They don’t show you the fact that she tried to throw one of the cameras in that pond with me. She tried to electrocute me. And they totally made her look like she wouldn’t put out in the fantasy suite, but she did.”
Susan gasped. “You slept with her?”
Dante shrugged. It should have been obvious. He’d spent six weeks shooting a reality DL. What the hell else had he had to do?
“I slept with all of them, sis. Haven’t you read the tabloids? My point is she’s nothing like mother. Mother would never try to electrocute a man.”
Alana Delacourt stood. Her gray eyes were stormy as she took in her son. “Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think, son. You wouldn’t like what’s going through my head right now. I have to make sure my clothes are ready for tomorrow’s luncheon. I will have many questions to answer.” She brought herself up to her full regal height and sauntered out of the room with dignity.
The room was buzzing all around him as many of the corporate attendees followed his mother out. Some stopped to shake his father’s hand, their sympathy utterly apparent. Damn, he was truly fucked. He was going to have to charm the hell out of his parents.
Susan followed their mother, giving Dante a look that made him take a step back.
“Man-whore,” she accused as she stalked past him.
Colin hurried to catch up, but not before throwing his brother-in-law a slightly sympathetic look.
“We’re breaking up?” Cian asked, sounding disappointed. “But I wanted to watch the episode where all the women yell at each other. It’s my favorite part. I still can’t believe they found twenty women who would actually fight each other to date Dante.”
His lovely wife took his hand. She seemed to understand that the evening had taken a distinctly bad turn. “Come on, baby. We’ll watch it in our room.”
Beckett stood with them. Dante didn’t miss the way he slid his hand playfully across his wife’s curves. Beckett Finn was a happy man. Beckett Finn was a man who wasn’t about to get his ass chewed out by his father.
Dante sighed as the Finns left, and he was alone with his father. The room, which had been alive and full just moments before, was now as quiet as a tomb. Someone had been smart enough to turn off the sound, but the video still ran. Dante saw pictures of himself and the women he’d turned down one after another.
Dante felt his stomach sink as he looked at his dad. He loved the man, he really did. He just didn’t understand him most of the time. Alexander Dellacourt had taken Dellacorp from a small-time cattle farm to one of the largest conglomerates on the plane. A few years back, he had handed over the daily operations to Susan. Dante didn’t blame him. Susan was a better CEO. He just wished his father could see that he had something to provide, too.
Like tabloid scandals and a constant stream of mistresses.
“This is the end, son.” His father didn’t yell. It was a bad sign. Alexander Dellacourt was a larger-than-life man. He yelled. He screamed. It almost never meant anything. When he was quiet, that was when Dante knew he was in trouble.
“The end of what?” He heard the irritation in his voice. It was a typical reaction. He had never been one to take punishment well. “I’m thirty years old, Dad. You can’t send me to my room.”
“I can kick you out of your room.”
Dante swallowed once, and then twice. He stared at his father, trying to gauge his mood. This was beyond bad. “You can’t be serious.”
His father poured a couple of fingers of Scotch and took a long swallow. “I am deadly serious, Dante. By your age, I had already founded a company, married your mother, and we had Susan. I have given you all the time you need to mature, and you just keep on acting like an idiot. Tomorrow morning, you’re going to be utterly reviled in the press.”
He was worried about that? Dante had weathered many a scandal. “They’ll find a new story the day after. It’s not a problem, Dad. I’ll go down to the surface and pose with poor children. I’ll donate some meal pills to the homeless shelters. It’ll blow over.”
Alex brought his fist down on the bar, making the crystal shake. “It will not blow over, Dante! All of your life you’ve had everything given to you. You went to the best schools. You’ve always had the best money could buy. You never have to go the surface for anything but a photo op. I lived on the surface, son. It’s harsh, but it makes a man out of you. If I don’t do something about it, you’ll stay a boy the rest of your life. I don’t want that for you.”
Dante didn’t like where this conversation was going. Dante had plans, big plans, that did not involve getting cut off from his inheritance.
Six months before, something amazing had fallen into his lap, and he was very close to a major breakthrough. “Dad, just give me six months. The sunscreen Meg brought back is going to sell like gangbusters. The bio-med guys almost have it reverse engineered. There are some compounds in it that don’t naturally occur on this plane, but we’ll make it work.”
His father sighed. He suddenly looked wearier than Dante could ever remember seeing him. “I have no doubt that the chemists can make it work. Don’t try to sell this as some big job, Dante. Meggie gave you the sunscreen, and you passed it off to the bio-med team. It doesn’t make you a business man. You spend far more time partying than you do in the office.”
Dante felt humiliation flush through his system. Everyone discounted him. Even his own family. “How about all the marketing research I’ve done? I can sell this. I can make this our biggest seller within a year. I’ve done the financials. Sunscreen tech can be the most profitable arm of Dellacorp within five years. Bio-med has been our weak point. I can make us a leader in the market.”
His father looked far past his sixty-five years as he shook his head. His anger seemed spent, replaced with something Dante could only term as disappointment. “No. You’re off the sunscreen project. You’ll bring too much bad publicity. It’s best if you take a break, Dante. I’ll make you a deal. Get married, and I’ll let you back in. A wedding would mollify the stock holders. They’ll think you’re finally settling down.”
“I don’t want to get married,” Dante said, horrified at the thought. Even when he’d accepted the DL gig, he’d known he wasn’t ready to be anyone’s husband. He was barely thirty. He was still a kid.
His father shrugged and scrubbed a hand across his face. “Then I would start looking for a job, son. You have a business degree. I made sure of it.”
His father walked out, leaving Dante stunned in his wake. On the screen behind him, the women were beginning to shout at each other.
Dante slumped into the first chair he found, utterly shocked at the events of the evening.
It had been a stupid idea. He should never have gone on that dumb show. He’d reacted to his cousins’ happiness. He knew his father would never believe it, but he was jealous of what Beck and Ci had found with their bondmate. Meg was a hell of a woman. She was tough and funny, and Dante really liked her as a person. He hadn’t found anyone as interesting as Megan Finn. He doubted he ever would. How was he supposed to get married when he was half in love with his cousins’ wife?
He’d been looking for a connection. He could lie to everyone, but he knew the truth deep down. He hadn’t found it. He probably never would. And his father sure as hell couldn’t force it on him.
Something wicked and angry took up residence in Dante’s gut.
If he couldn’t have love, he decided, he could have the next best thing. Dante pulled out his tablet and dialed up his latest mistress. He was sure his father would disapprove, but he needed to let off some steam.
Copyright © 2011 SOPHIE OAK
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