#CoverReveal – Fae Bound @AuthorDulce @changelingpress #fantasy #GayRomance #elves #shifters

DD_Fae Bound

PRE-ORDER AT AMAZON

Captured by the Dark Fae Dirian and kept in a spelled cage, wolf shifter Navarro wonders if he’ll ever see freedom again. Being imprisoned takes an interesting turn when his mate steps through the door at Dirian’s side, his torso and back scarred from years of abuse. Navarro wants nothing more than to save the both of them, but he doesn’t know how.

When the Wood Elf Tabor first touches the red wolf in the cage, he knows the two of them share a special connection. Dirian gives Navarro to him as a pet, but the shifter is so much more. For the first time in three hundred years, Tabor wants to bind someone to him with Fae magick, a commitment not taken lightly by his kind.

The two make the best of their captivity, but when an opportunity to escape presents itself, Navarro knows they must take it — and in doing so, free everyone Dirian has enslaved.

COMING OCTOBER 13th from CHANGELING PRESS

Available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and Kobo October 20th

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Spotlight: Crazy Little Spring Called Love

Crazy Little Spring Called Love

Crazy Little Spring Called Love: Eight Magical Stories of Fantasy Romance

This delightful fantasy romance anthology features eight magical stories inspired by the awakenings and renewal of springtime. If you like fairies, djinn, gods and goddesses, druids, mermaids, magic, and true love, then this is the anthology for you.

Pre-order on Amazon!


Featuring: L.J. Longo – “Seaweed and Silk”

Seaweed and SIlk
Svildna is not the type of mermaid who suns herself on the ice all day. She can kill a shark, scour a keel, and patch a sail as easy as they comb their hair. So she’s more than capable of escorting The Apple Jack and its crew to the warmer southern waters. When a storm blows the ship off course, she finds herself in dangerous waters, under suspicion, and falling in love with the last man she’d expect.

Excerpt from Seaweed and Silk

“Gonna be a bitch of a storm.” Gekko grumbles at the bow over my head.

I can’t see nothing but sunrise water from my station below the bowsprit of The Apple Jack. The sky, redder than shark’s blood, bathes the ice flows and barely penetrates the black ocean. The breaking water flares around my tail in icy splashes, and I lean out of the merrow shelf, holding the metal bar. High above Gekko stands shivering on deck, bundled to her long green nose in her over-sized quilt.

“Well, look who’s here! Morning, Ms. Wizard. I never saw you up so early. You gonna disappoint the wolves and take your share of breakfast for a change?”

I’m not entirely sure what a wolf is. When I asked they said they could turn into wolves, that it was a kind of animal. Something like a shark only on land and in packs. Four men in our little eight-person crew are wolves.

The wind-chill reddens the tip of Gekko’s nose and floppy long ears. A goblin from the tropics, even a wizard like her, has no business being this far north. “Can you feel that storm, Seaweed?”

“I’m a mermaid, ain’t I?” I’ve given up on getting the crew to say my name. Svilnda is apparently too hard for land-dwellers. “Told Captain about it last night. By the course he set, he means to barrel under it before it breaks.”

“Hope we’re fast enough.” Gekko clutches her blankets tighter.

Hoping it will sooth her fears, I make a show of my magic and move a chunk of ice noisily away from the bit of metal, canvas, steam that keeps her afloat. “Captain knows what he’s doing.”

“More than you do certainly.” The goblin plops down at the bow and looks out at the wild water.

The waves chop across the horizon. Little mountains of white foam with only occasional towers of ice to break the endless ripple of the sea. Below the waves, a blue whale keens for her calf; I hear it in my mind. They’re running from the storm.

“Did you talk to Tan about this storm?” Gekko calls down.

Instantly, thoughts of the storm disappear, as if the danger of tumultuous skies cannot coexist with Tan and his warm smile.

It’s a funny thing about how his smile changes his face. He’s fierce ugly when you don’t know him. The fellow ‘s enormously tall and made of stone. I don’t know what race that makes him. Not one I’ve ever heard of, though I suspect stone-people don’t make a habit of swimming in deep water. With the pebbles across his face and arms grating when he talks and a bare chest that’s just a wide swathe of sheets of sliding stones which he only covered with a weird half-dress thing called an apron, he looks strange and hard. Until he notices you and he smiles. Then you hardly notice the pebbles and certainly when he start chatting in his deep voice or whistling soft, sweet melodies it’s hard not to like him.

The name Seaweed is Tan’s fault, but I’d never hold it against him. He was only teasing because I wear woven kelp instead of seashells. Seashells are for the mindless rich maids who sun themselves on the ice all day and comb their hair and flirt shamelessly with sailors and other idle fools. I’m not pretty, or rich, or idle. I’m a merrow who can scour your keel, weave you a seaweed shirt, or patch your sail. I can tan a seal skin and kill a shark better than I can comb my hair.

And sailors like Tan and the wolves never give me a second glance. In a way, I’m proud to be above their leering—means I’m part of the crew, not some pretty thing to look at—but I’m sometimes a little ashamed too. Everyone likes to be beautiful now and then.

Though Tan, when he smiles, can make anyone feel special.

“Seaweed! Did you—”

“Why would I talk to the ship cook about the storm?” Of course, that’s no reason to sit and smile thinkin’ about him when there’s a goblin wizard waiting for your half of the conversation. “What’s he gonna do? Bake it away?”

Gekko snorts. “Don’t be nasty, mermaid. Tan’s got more experience with ships than you ever will. Captain only hired you because you bid cheaper than any other merrow in the job auction. It was a mistake and I’m not much interested in being aboard the ship that suffers from a water-witch’s learning curve.”

I stare hard at the sea until I’m sure I’ve swallowed my pride. No sense in annoying the wizard. Not when she’s right.


Find the anthology on social media and online:

STARS AND STONE BOOKS: http://starsandstonebooks.com/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34686292-crazy-little-spring-called-love
FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY: https://www.facebook.com/events/2062183134008615/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/starsstonebooks
ANTHOLOGY WEBSITE: http://starsandstonebooks.com/crazy-little-spring-called -love

SPOTLIGHT: Goddess by Chance

 

GODDESS By CHANCE

DEMI-GOD DAUGHTERS, BOOK 2

goddessbychance1m

Arienne Marcos is a librarian with a secret. She has superhuman strength, a genius level IQ, and a goddess mother who is never satisfied. When Arienne lands on the radar of a god determined to use her for revenge, she has no idea what she is in for.

When Chris Triton enters her life, Arienne is unprepared for the long dormant feelings and blazing passion he arouses, but while basking in her budding new relationship, Arienne is equally unprepared for the shattering event that nearly destroys her town and her entire life.

In time, Arienne will discover that her new lover harbors secrets of his own, secrets that could be deadly. Along the way she will find herself caught in the center of an eons old grudge between gods with a thirst for revenge.

INSPIRATION FOR THE NOVEL 

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love all things Greek mythology. After I completed my first novel, Goddess of Legend, I started to wonder could there be more Demi-god Daughters out there that needed their stories told. To start with I had to decide what Greek goddess would be a good candidate to have a half mortal daughter. I’m sure who I chose will surprise many.

After that I thought about what kind of heroine I would have this time around. Since I’d created such a take charge, kick your butt heroine in the first novel in the series, I wanted to go for a much softer and more vulnerable heroine and thus Arienne was created. As for the god in this story, I wanted somebody a little rougher around the edges with more of a dark side. I’d say he’s more of an anti-hero than a hero and as a result he was a lot more interesting to write.

EXCERPT 

Triton’s eyes opened in the darkness as a soft hand wrapped around his cock. He didn’t move as Arienne continued to fondle him in the dark. Her innocent fascination with the part of him he was so proud of made him bite back a chuckle. As her thumb rubbed over the head, he couldn’t help the way his breath hissed through his teeth. Her hand left him immediately.

“Arienne,” he said in a soft tone.

She remained silent. His hand moved to lie between her breasts where he could feel the frantic pace of her heart beating.

“Sweetheart,” he tried again.

She sighed. “I didn’t mean to wake you. No, I did, but I…”

“You know you can tell me anything. Just say it.”

“I want to make love again.”

In the dark, Triton smiled. He shifted her in his arms until her head was on the pillow next to him. Even in the dark, he could see the expectant look on her face.

“I’d like nothing more,” he said.

She kissed him then, her lips soft and eager against his, and he pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her. Arienne’s erect nipples brushed against his chest and he grew harder. Her tongue slipped inside his mouth, making him groan. The sweetness of her kisses was nearly enough to undo him. Easing Arienne onto her back as her kisses became feverish, his hand reached between her legs where the evidence of her readiness couldn’t be denied.

Nudging her legs apart, he slowly he thrust inside of her and her tight, wet channel gripped him like a vise, stroking him. His hips pumped into hers at a languid pace, enjoying the velvety softness of her. She moaned against his mouth before her tongue slipped to tango with his. Every slide into the welcoming warmth of her body made him pulse with increased desire.

 

NOVEL TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lj11CShn5c

 

BUY LINKS:

http://www.amazon.com/Goddess-Chance-Demi-God-Daughters-Book-ebook/dp/B00PI792E0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1415826187&sr=8-3&keywords=Goddess+by+Chance

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-goddessbychance-1674378-340.html

http://www.bookstrand.com/goddess-by-chance-mf

http://www.evernightpublishing.com/goddess-by-chance-by-erin-ashley-tanner/

 

AUTHOR DETAILS: Erin Ashley Tanner is a proud alumni of Florida State who is currently embarking on the journey that is nursing school. In the rare free time she has, she enjoys leisure reading in all genres and writing whatever stories come to mind. She dreams of a long life filled writing many more stories. To learn more about Erin, swing by her website at www.erinashleytanner.wix.com/erinashleytanner or find her on Facebook at Author Erin Ashley Tanner or on Twitter @erintheauthor.

An Ashton Grove Thanksiving is available for Pre-Order!

 

An Ashton Grove Thanksgiving

Ashton Grove Werewolves

Thanksgiving Cover

Can a brokenhearted wolf find love a second time?

Autumn O’Roarke joined the Ashton Grove pack in an effort to change her destiny. After being mated to abusive wolf, she isn’t sure another mate is in her future, but she does want a place where she can be happy and made to feel welcome. But when she’s sent to the alpha’s house, things take a turn she hadn’t anticipated.

Gabriel Andrews has shut himself away in the old Victorian since the death of his mate and child. Having turned the pack over to his cousin Connor, he’s surprised when Connor’s mate sends a woman to his door with a problem. One sniff tells Gabriel there is something unique about the human woman standing in front of him, and the secrets she will reveal are enough to bring him to his knees. Determined to do the right thing, he swears to watch over her and protect her.

Two broken souls, Autumn and Gabriel face more than their own fears. A darkness surrounds Autumn as she faces a threat she can only overcome through love. Her love for Gabriel. But having been battered and bruised by her previous mate, can she learn to trust again?

Available for Pre-Order!

Amazon  Bookstrand   ARe   Smashwords

wolf howling

Excerpt

Autumn stared at the man in front of her. She’d heard the whispers in the pack and knew he’d gotten the scars on his face and arms from the demon attack several months before. The Ashton Grove pack had reached out to other packs seeking both men and women to grow their numbers after losing so many. Having lost her mate to a drunk driver, Autumn had taken the chance for a new start.

“Do you know why you’re here?” Gabriel asked.

“Aislinn told me to come here,” she answered softly.

“She seems to think you have a problem. If that’s true, why didn’t you go to Connor with the issue?”

“I don’t have a problem. I pay my rent on time and attend the pack functions. I promise I haven’t caused any trouble.”

His gaze softened. “No one said you were troublesome. They just think something is wrong. Have you had problems with anyone in the pack? Maybe a male who’s being too persistent?”

She shook her head.

“Perhaps one of the females has taken issue with you?”

She shook her head again.

Gabriel sighed. “Well, something has to be going on. Aislinn wouldn’t have sent you here if she didn’t have a reason.”

“I don’t want to cause any problems. I’ll pack my things tonight.” Autumn fought back tears, but one slipped down her cheek.

“Hey,” Gabriel said softly. “Easy, Autumn. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

He placed his hands on her shoulders, but she needed more comfort than that. She couldn’t remember the last time a man had touched her so gently. With a broken sob, she melted against him, wrapping her arms around his waist. At first, his arms held her loosely, as if he didn’t know what to do with her. But after a moment, he tightened his embrace and held her close. A hand stroked her hair.

Autumn knew she needed to pull herself together. It wasn’t the alpha’s fault she was crying. Living with her mate had broken her in some way. She’d thought his death would free her, but she couldn’t have been more wrong.

With a sniffle, she eased her arms from around him and took a step back, wiping the tears from her cheeks. Gabriel reached out and caught a stray tear as it dropped from her eyelashes.

“Better now?” he asked.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” She didn’t even know how to finish that thought. She didn’t mean to be so weak? To cry all over him? To disturb the solitude she knew he wanted? Maybe she was apologizing for all of it.

“It’s okay. Sometimes you just need to let it all out.”

Fire Within – Romance in Moonspell #2

I have a cover reveal and an excerpt for you today!

Reika Woods is everything a fairy should be — on the outside. But when it comes to magick, things tend to go a little bit wrong. Okay, more than a little. That doesn’t stop her from wishing the man of her dreams would take notice of her, without running in the other direction. After a bit of friendly mischief calls the fire department to her home, she has her wish. Her very hunky fireman is at her beck and call. But Jax Donohue is more than just a fireman, he’s a werewolf, and what Reika doesn’t realize is that she’s his mate — and he will do anything to protect her.

JCS_RomanceinMoonspell2_ReneeAvailable September 19th!

 

“Truth or dare?” Maya said.

Reika narrowed her eyes and bit her lip. “Dare, I think.”

She took a sip of her margarita. “Yes, definitely a dare.”

Maya gave her a Cheshire grin, her eyes glinting in a mischievous manner. “I dare you to set off the fire alarm.”

Reika nearly choked on her drink. She knew exactly what her friend was up to. Why had she confided in Maya about the super hot fireman? Reika had seen him outside of the fire station just last week and had all but wrecked her car as her head had swiveled in a near 180-degree turn to get a better look. With his navy blue M.F.D. tee fit so snug, every muscle in his arms and chest had been clearly outlined. She’d wanted to reach out and touch him to see if he was as strong as he looked. It had taken everything in her to keep driving and not turn around and go introduce herself.

She’d driven past the fire station more than once since then, in hopes of seeing him again. She’d only seen him one time, and only at a distance. Since then, he’d been scarce, or maybe he just hadn’t been at work. Whatever the case, she hadn’t seen him, and oh how she’d wanted to!

“All right, but it has to look like an accident.”

Maya gave her a gleeful look. “What do you suggest?”

“Well, you know how horrible I am with potions. Who’s to say I don’t accidentally mix the wrong things and KABLOOM! Instant fire starter. Or maybe just something to create a lot of smoke. I don’t care to actually set fire to my home.”

“I should make you set if off without props,” Maya said. “It’s kind of like cheating, doing it your way.”

Reika wrinkled her nose. “I want the guy to actually speak to me. If he finds out I set off the alarm on a dare, he’ll never talk to me. I’ll just be another flighty fairy to him.”

“All right, fair enough. We do it your way.” Maya rubbed her hands together. “So, what are we going to mix?”

Reika tucked her wings away, the green and violet shimmering appendages folding away neatly, and stared at the different vials out on the counter. Some were blue, some green, a few were purple or pink. Only one was yellow and she had yet to figure out what it did. She’d mixed it quite by mistake the other day. No time like the present, she supposed.

Grabbing the yellow vial, she paused. She could barely remember the ingredients in the tube. How was she going to pick something that would react with it? Preferably without blowing her up. With a hesitant hand, she selected a blue vial and a green one. Mixing the three together in an empty test tube, she watched the mixture roiling, with bubbles foaming up the sides of the glass. The liquid turned colors, from yellow, to green, to pink, to orange. Smoke started pouring from the tube and billowing up toward the ceiling. An acrid stench filled the room, causing Reika to cover her nose and bat at the air.

A loud beeping began as her fire alarm sounded, one she knew had a direct link to the fire department, courtesy of a local security company. She knew it could take the Moonspell Fire Department anywhere from three minutes to thirteen minutes to respond. It just depended on how busy they were, or how prepared. She imagined they spent a great deal of time sitting around playing cards while they waited on the alarms to go off around town. With Moonspell being so small, they probably responded to more calls about cats in trees than actual fires.

Maya tugged her out of the kitchen and out the back door. They stepped through the gate and walked around to the front yard to await Reika’s hunky fireman. Oh God! She hadn’t even thought about it, but what if he wasn’t working tonight? She would be so embarrassed if all of this was for naught.

A minute or two later, she heard the sirens coming, and soon the street was bathed in the red glow of the flashing lights of the fire truck. The first man to jump off the truck and head their way was tall with a lean build. The greenish tinge to his skin told of his elven heritage. His dark hair spiked about his head and he wore a concerned expression on his rather handsome face. If she hadn’t already set her sights on the other fireman, she might’ve been tempted.

“Are you both okay?” he asked.

“We’re fine,” Reika said. “It’s just a lot of smoke, no fire.”

“My name’s Elm. Bevin Elm. Me and the guys are going to just take a sweep through the house and make sure everything’s okay before we let you go back in, okay?”

She nodded and watched as he and the others went through the front door. It seemed like they were gone forever, but several minutes later, they returned, smoke drifting out through the front door on their heels. A certain set of broad shoulders in the group caught her eye and her breath caught in her throat as she realized he was here. The man in question turned her way, his gaze capturing hers. From a distance, she could tell his eyes were light, but not the color. He lingered a moment, as if he wanted to come to her side, she willed him to move toward her. Her blood sizzled in her veins under that intense stare, she even took a step forward, more than happy to make the first move. But one of the men slapped him on the back and broke the spell. With a shake of his head, he followed his men to the truck, but not before glancing over his shoulder one last time.

The elf returned to her side.

“Miss?”

“Woods. Reika Woods.”

He smiled. “Miss Woods, everything looks safe now. Might I suggest in future turning on the vent over the stove before working with potions? Or better yet, bringing them outside?”

“Yes, of course, Mr. Elm.”

The elf tipped his head to them and walked off. Maya, still at her side, snickered.

“What’s so funny?” Reika demanded. “I still don’t know who that scrumptious fireman is. Or what he is.”

“Elm and Wood.” She snorted.

Reality Hero by Ashlynn Monroe

Thank you so much for hosting me!  I loved writing this book and I hope that readers will enjoy reading it as much as I adored the process of writing it.  I am working on a novella sequel to this novel, Ella’s story.  Enjoy Reality Hero, I can’t wait to hear what you think.  I love reader email at authorashlynnmonroe@gmail.com!

Blurb: Can reality TV handle a reluctant superhero bachelor, ten attention-seeking women, and one evil villain?

Dina Dell’s career as a television producer has hit bottom. Desperate to save her job, she comes up with the idea for a reality show called I Want to Date a Superhero. But the only superhero bachelor she knows is the only man she’s ever loved—Zane Blair.

Zane was once a normal human, but a traumatic childhood incident mutated him, along with Dina’s sister and their friends. Dina was the only one who escaped without any superhero abilities. And while she might be the “normal” one, that only left her feeling like more of an outcast.

Her lack of powers put Zane in danger. Knowing that it was only a matter of time before someone used her to get to him, she left, breaking both their hearts in the process. After all the pain she caused him, will he be willing to help her now?

Then an old enemy emerges, putting Dina’s plans on hold. When her superhero friends are the ones who need help, Dina just might learn that sometimes little Miss Average can be a hero too.

Content Warning: graphic sexual content

RealityHero_Medium-200x300 (1)

Release date: 6-17-13

Sub-genre:  Fantasy/Superhero Romance

Buy Links: http://beachwalkpress.com/reality-hero/

Website Link: http://www.ashlynnmonroe.com/

 

EXCERPT

Zane looked at Dina in disbelief. Before he could stop himself, he was crushing her to him in a desperate kiss. His mouth ravished her with primitive savagery. Dina melted against him. Her lips parted and he slid his tongue into her mouth. She tasted so damn good. Feeling her body against his was an incredibly heady sensation. He never wanted to let her go. Her tongue slipped inside his mouth and explored. Zane growled and held her close for a second longer.

He pulled back, searching her expression for any sign that she was ready to admit they belonged together. Her wide eyes gazed up at him, and her lips parted slightly. She flushed, looking incredibly sexy. Just looking at her made his cock stiffen.

She put her forehead against his chin and closed her eyes. “You’d better go before someone comes to investigate how I am.”

He pushed back from her. She was a damn stubborn woman. He must like to suffer, because that was part of her appeal. He’d always loved a challenge. “Someday, I won’t obey your every command, Di.”

He had no idea just how much those old feelings still lived inside of her. She opened the door, this time he didn’t get it for her, and she ran up the stairs and into her building like the chicken she was. Her inner voice made clucking sounds the whole time she fled. Nothing terrified her quite like her longing for him. She wondered if he knew it and hoped he didn’t.

She’d never get any rest and she had a mountain of work so she sat down and started going over everything. There was a lot more to putting on good TV than just turning on a camera. The phone rang and she jumped. Her hand slapped around on top of all the papers on the desk until she found her cellphone buried under them.  Her eyes were so blurry that she didn’t even bother to look at the caller ID.

“Hello,” Dina said.

“I’ve never been ashamed of you until today. Dina, how could you? You know Zane would never let you down. You used his feelings to abuse his good heart. I’m so angry with you that I don’t even know the right words to express it. If you needed something, why didn’t you talk to me first? I could’ve helped you. We could’ve come up with something different.”

There was a pause. Dina didn’t know what to say. It was a small relief when Ella continued.

“He hates the media, and now he’ll not only just be on your show, but the tabloids will eat him alive too. They’ll do all they can to find out his secret identity. You know the lies those rags print. This will start a feeding frenzy.”

Dina knew she deserved the tongue lashing, so she said nothing. She had no defense, because her twin was right.

“Call this off. Please, as my sister, do this for me and save the best man in the city from this horrible mistake. I know how you feel about him, and you know how I feel about him. We both know how he feels about you.”

There was another pause. Dina’s throat closed. She knew, and it tore at her heart.

“Are you still there?” Ella sounded annoyed.

“Yes,” Dina whispered brokenly.

“When you left, you ripped out his guts. Don’t destroy his life. He still loves you.”

“I know.” That was what made asking him to be on the show so damn hard.

“I don’t know why you turned your back on us, but you owe him. We all do. He’s the best of us. We’ve lost Aaron. Don’t take Zane away too. If he’s exposed, God only knows what will happen to him—us. Don’t do this, Dina.”

She bit her lip. She wanted to tell her sister she’d come to her senses, but it was too late.

“Ella, I’m so sorry. I hate myself, but it’s too late. They’re already airing the promos on the network, and the casting call went out. In the morning, I’m going to have dozens of women begging me to be on this show. Zane and I have been over for a very long time. We both know which one of us is in his life. You should be with him, not me. I’m his Achilles heel.”

“Being in his life isn’t the same as being in his heart, sis. He’s always loved you, and while we look alike, I’ll never be you. He wants you.”

Want more?

Dina Dell sat in the conference room waiting anxiously. A huge lump began forming in her throat. She knew things weren’t going to go well, yet she held hope old Ervin might be feeling generous. Her past hip and innovative programming ideas had once made her his most valued employee. Now she was hanging onto her job by a thread. That’s how the television business is: unforgiving. She was the mastermind behind top rated shows such as Kid Exchange and Please, Someone Marry my Mother.

Unfortunately, the wellspring of creativity had run dry. For the last year, every show she’d produced had been ratings disasters, if her productions had even been lucky enough to air at all. Dina saw the writing on the wall, and with the network making major cuts to combat the economic slump, she knew the axe was coming down…on her head.

Watching the wily old codger walk toward the room through the opaque glass, even without seeing his face, she knew he was on the warpath. His body language said it all. His fists were clenched and his shoulders were tight. He lumbered down the hall as if he were preparing for murder—the murder of her career. Ervin threw open the door with dramatic flair.

My Cat is in Charge? Really? Really and truly? Dear God, Dina. You honestly thought this was going to make good television? Who’d ever watch this? What happened to that brilliant brain of yours? Did you have a head injury? Did you have a stroke? Did someone hit me in the head, and this is all some coma-induced nightmare? What could possibly keep me from canning your sweet little ass right now?”

“Well, the sexual harassment lawsuit over your ‘sweet ass’ comment for one, and two, I have an idea that’ll blow your mind. I swear it. This one will put the network on top again. When the big boys hear the premise, neither of us will ever have to worry about our jobs again.” She paused and took a deep breath. Sweat ran down her face, but she resisted the urge to swipe at it, just in case he didn’t notice. Oh God, can he see that I’m lying? “That whole cat thing was just to get your attention for this. I swear the network will be kissing your ass after this airs.” Dina was lying through her teeth. She had nothing that she could produce. Her only idea was one she could never actually use without destroying people she cared about. The cat thing  was the most creative idea she’d had in months. Plenty of people loved cats. Someone would want to watch a show about families letting their furry feline make major life decisions. Oh fuck, that is awful. Crap. Hold it together, girl. The old man can smell fear. She gulped in another lungful of air.

He cocked a bushy, gray eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest. Waiting. She took a breath. Folding her hands, she put them in her lap so he wouldn’t notice them shaking. Closing her eyes, she exhaled slowly. It was time to pull out the dramatics. She’d been around enough TV personalities to have picked up a thing or two about acting. Okay, maybe if I lie well, he won’t send me to spend the rest of my life living on the street and rambling incoherently about my glory days working in television. The desperate thoughts sent her heart racing. She opened her eyes and regretted it. Ervin was staring at her. He still hadn’t said a word, but she could see curiosity in his expression. Good. He’d taken the bait, too bad she had nothing to reel him in with.

“I respect you, Ervin, but I’ll take this idea to another network if you don’t want to hear it.”

His eyebrow rose. “Okay?”

He was giving her one last chance. She opened her mouth to condemn the one person who really mattered to her. Her mouth went dry and she shut it. Biting her lip, she closed her eyes. There was no more waiting, she had to do it, even if this idea cost her what was left of her soul. She looked up at her mentor.

“What if I told you I had a superhero who was willing to star in a new show? Would you want me to run with that?”

His watery eyes bulged, then he recovered and a scowl replaced his shock. “You’ve made this network some serious money, but that’s in the past. For the last year, you’ve been a harbinger of series death. Whatever you’ve touched around here has turned to steaming piles of…crap. Your ideas stink. Once upon a time, I called you the Queen of Reality TV. What happened to my amazing, rising star? Why are you pushing terrible, idiotic, horrible programming? Everything you’ve done lately makes me want to stick sharp pencils in both my eyes so I can’t see them, and scratch off my ears so I can’t hear them. Then I’d rip the hair out of my head so the pain can distract me from the memory.” His face was turning from red to purple. She cringed. This graphic assessment of her talent left her queasy. He glared at her before  opening his mouth, as if to speak, then closing it again. The old man ran a hand through what was left of his straggly gray hair and pinned her with a less than friendly look. She tried to stand her ground, but under the weight of her mentor’s ire, she crumbled. Her shoulders slumped, and she couldn’t meet his eyes.

“If I didn’t respect you so much, and love you like the daughter I’m glad I never had, I’d have put you out of here six months ago. I put my sweet ass on the line for yours this morning with the network, so don’t screw me. I swear this cat thing made me want to stick a firecracker up my nose and blow my head off.”

She winced, Ervin was never one to spare feelings, but ouch…harsh. His dramatic criticism felt completely deserved. He was right. She did suck. The old coot’s face was still red from his tantrum.

“If this thing works out, I’ll be the queen again. So cool off before my only supporter has a massive heart attack and dies. Just think about your wife, and how much she’d like to spend your life insurance money.” The words seemed to calm him down, but not much.

“You’re giving your only supporter the heart problems, so last chance, kid. Turn the dung into gold or you’re fired.” He whirled around, leaving the same way he came in: abruptly. She could almost see him wiping her self-respect off his shoes as he marched away. If she screwed up this time, her career was finished. Dina genuinely worried about his health. For all his bark, he wasn’t a bad guy. He’d given her a good start in the industry. She’d been the one to screw it all up.

Dina sat quietly looking at the blank, smooth tabletop. She nibbled her lip and fought back tears. She had the perfect idea, but it was going to be a hard sell. Oh, it’d be easy to get the network interested, they’d love it. Old Ervin would respect her again. Masses of television viewers would praise her. Yet she’d hate herself…probably until she died. The only person who could star in this thing was the one person she loved the most. He was the only person she’d ever intentionally hurt. The person who could save her was the one who’d given Diamond City almost everything, and now she was going to ask for one last thing—his heart.

 

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