March 10, 2015
Erotic Paranormal - Fantasy - a witch, a minor god, potions and magic
Taming the Beast, Book 1
Magic is Becca Salt’s business, but it ain’t happening in her bedroom. The half-witch proprietress of From Crud to Stud performs miracle makeovers for paranormal creatures. Once she’s done with them, they’re out the door hunting for hot babes, not hanging around for a too-curvy, plain Jane like her.
Her newest client is hot, hung, mouthwatering perfection. What could she possibly improve upon?
Eric Diletto. Descendant of Cupid, bred for courtship, courtesy, and all that other gentlemanly junk. What has it gotten him? Dumped time and again for bad boys. He needs Becca’s help for an entirely different reason—regression therapy to release his inner beast. Grrrr.
Two potions later, they’re crawling all over each other. Becca aches for a man who loves her as she is, not because he’s under the influence. But Eric isn’t as impaired as she thinks. And he intends to take Becca here, there, and everywhere—anything to convince her his desire isn’t just the potions talking.
A witchdoctor’s nightmare. Contains potions with weird side effects, a sorceress with limited magical skills and a yearning heart, plus a minor god who wants to get down and dirty. Bad, bad boy!
“He’s still not here.” Zoe stood in the doorway of Becca Salt’s office looking like a waif from Hell…which she basically was. A demon who’d crossed over to the lighter, mortal side and had taken to dressing like a Catholic schoolgirl. A green plaid skirt that landed mid-calf, anklet socks, saddle shoes and a long-sleeved white blouse with a Peter Pan collar. Sweet. Except for her facial piercings. Four studs in her lower lip, two across the bridge of her nose, a ring through her nostril and several in her dark eyebrows.
She raised her eyebrows expectantly. All that metal glittered in the glow of the streetlights streaming through the windows. “The photographer’s been waiting ten minutes already.”
He was here to shoot a demon’s “after” pictures to advertise Becca’s makeover business for male vampires, shifters, zombies, genies, demons, you name it. Every night, Zoe and the rest of the staff whipped those poor slobs into shape so they could suppress the worst of their otherworldly natures, along with the problems that created, and present to the normal world as hotter-than-hell guys. For the most part.
Restraining all that evil and supernatural power wasn’t easy.
Not even for a trooper like poor Zoe. Irritation smoldered in her black eyes where two pinpoints of flame continued to build. So at odds with her pale skin and demure demeanor.
Before she had a literal meltdown, Becca talked fast. “Do we know where he lives?”
She could send one of their zombie clients to haul him in. Those guys could give an IRS agent a run for his money. No matter what obstacles they faced, they kept coming and coming and—
“He gave us an address not too far from here.” Zoe cleared the gravel from her throat that made her sound like the centuries-old demon she was. She crossed her skinny arms over her chest, no doubt to further control herself. Didn’t work. Wisps of smoke rose from the ends of her long raven hair. It smelled faintly of sulfur. “I’ve called his cell twelve times. It keeps going to voice mail.” She huffed. “He was my best freaking success.”
“And we’ll get him here.” In a cage, if need be. “Tell the photographer to chill. We’ll pay overtime. Then work your magic on one of our other clients.”
They had filled every treatment room tonight. The hissing, growls and howls were mild compared to the raucous outside sounds. Despite being ninety degrees with equally high humidity, this street in New Orleans’ French Quarter boomed with life. Tourists, musicians, locals and businesspeople, all unaware of what went on in here.
“Okay.” Zoe’s narrow shoulders slumped. “Sorry for losing my cool.”
“Not a prob. It’s a very human trait.”
Zoe showed her teeth. For her, that was a grateful smile. Batting smoke away from her face, she headed for the photographer.
Becca buzzed Heather’s desk. No answer. “Heather!” she shouted, wanting her to work on getting the guy here.
Where in the hell… Becca hurried down the hall, searching for her receptionist. Heather wasn’t in the break room. There, two vampires guzzled bottles of imported blood, their normally pasty skin almost rosy from the workout they’d been through.
The guy on the left reminded Becca of a young Brad Pitt. He gave her a thumbs-up. The other one, who resembled Colin Farrell, gave her the finger.
Becca pushed out her lower lip. “Tough night, huh?”
He hung his head. “This shit is so hard.”
“But worth it, right? You said you wanted that babe who lives down the street from you.”
A groan of hard desire poured from him, followed by a gentle sigh. “Unfortunately.”
Aw. “Who said love would be easy?”
“It could be.” He straightened, hope shining in his pale gray eyes. “All I have to do is turn her and—”
“You wouldn’t be playing fair,” Becca interrupted.
That’s why these sorry souls came here. Although they could easily force mortals to their side for whatever they wanted, especially adoration, that love wasn’t earned. It never satisfied for long. Doing it the mortal way—wooing the girl, winning her over with nothing more than their innate charm—was more intoxicating than all the powers in the world.
Becca had seen it first hand with her parents. Her mother, Rowena, was a crackerjack witch from an esteemed coven. Her dad, Wade, was a lifelong Democrat and Teamster, clearly mortal. Years ago, Rowena could have cast a spell to snare him. Wisely, she had let nature take its course. Next month, they’d celebrate their thirtieth anniversary.
“I would hope you’re not thinking of turning a woman against her will,” Becca added.
The vamps looked quickly guilty.
Clearly, they needed more intensive workouts. Becca made a mental note to have Heather book them every night next week. She pointed at their bottles. “Don’t waste a drop of that crap. It’s expensive.”
The one on the left read the label. “Little wonder. Comes from European aristocracy.”
Sure. And Becca was Chaz Bono and Paris Hilton’s love child. “Only the best for you guys.”
She headed back down the hall. Emblazoned on its walls was her company’s name—From Crud to Stud—and the advertising motto, “Suppressing the Beast”.
One creature snarled from behind a door on the left.
“Please just try to relax,” Heather pleaded.
The client made snapping noises.
Given the skittering sounds that followed, Heather had put distance between herself and his teeth.
“Stay over there,” Zoe barked from inside. “I’ll handle him.”
Nice to hear. Heather was a good fairy whose only power was healing. She knew to wait until Zoe had muzzled the guy before fixing whatever he’d hurt.
Wanting Heather out of there, Becca raised her hand to knock just as the office’s front door swung open, drawing her attention down the hall.
Heat and humidity poured inside, along with the racket from the street party. Drunken voices mingled with throaty laughter, pounding drums and trumpets reaching then holding their highest notes. Becca’s pulse thumped in her ears, drowning out the other sounds.
The guy who’d come inside was something. At least six-three, he had the build of an athlete, lean and muscular with broad shoulders, narrow hips and powerful thighs. Without meaning to, Becca stepped closer, drinking him in. Classically handsome, he wore his hair preppy style, longer on the top, shorter on the sides. It was a warm chestnut brown streaked by the sun and slightly tousled, begging for a woman’s fingers to smooth it back.
Becca brought down her hand, suddenly realizing she’d lifted it.
His golden complexion spoke of days spent outdoors, possibly skinny-dipping in a pool, water streaming over his firm pecs and abs, being trapped in his nest of dark curls…his rock-hard cock jutting from it, inflexible as iron, sleek as a spear. Suppressing a shiver of delight, Becca took in his leather loafers, beige khakis and white shirt opened at the collar with the sleeves rolled up to mid-forearm.
Masculine yet civilized. Very nice.
Zoe, you did good. Aw, sweetie, more than good. She deserved part ownership in this place for having done such a fantastic job on him. This guy had been made over to the nth degree from…
Becca wasn’t certain what kind of demon he was, or his level in Hell, never having met him before the makeover. Maybe that’s why he’d taken so long to get here. He couldn’t pull himself away from the god he now saw in his mirror.
While Becca ogled him, he regarded the reception area’s feathery ferns and potted plants as though seeing them with different eyes. A mortal’s eyes. The room’s faux brick floor, coral walls and gas wall fixtures radiated warmth, an earthy, sensual feel in keeping with the area’s culture.
It was also decidedly romantic.
And the reason most of these guys signed up. They were having problems with babes and wanted a solution, even if it was painful.
Hissing noises came from behind a door on the right. On the left, a muffled groan sounded faintly sexual.
Could be that was why this guy was late. He’d already seduced a babe and had been reluctant to leave her.
Becca glanced at his fly, the thick ridge behind it. Some women had all the luck. She, on the other hand, had a business to run.
Reining in her desire, she joined him in the reception area. “Do you have any idea how late it is?”
He turned. His attention zipped from her flame-red hair, cut in a chin-length bob with bangs, to her dramatic makeup. Heavy black liner surrounded her blue eyes. Her maroon lipstick was just a shade lighter than black and quite a contrast to her pale skin.
He lifted his eyebrows slightly, then regarded the black silk top tied beneath her breasts, her silver navel jewelry, black harem pants, anklets, toe rings and high-heeled sandals.
Even at five-seven, and with the extra three inches the shoes gave her, Becca felt positively dainty next to him. Quite a feat considering she’d always been too tall and curvy. In school, they’d called her the f-word.
Well, fuck ’em, right? So she’d never be skinny or a beauty. Not like her mom. Unfortunately, Becca took after her dad. A great guy, but no hunk in the looks department.
“We can’t wait forever,” she said. “Let’s go.”
She headed down the hall. Hearing only her footfalls, Becca stopped and looked over.
He hadn’t taken one step in her direction. He was far too busy studying her ass. Intently. Appreciatively…if his crooked smile was any indication. How awesome was that?
Was it something Zoe had taught him?
“You coming?” Becca asked.
He actually blushed beneath his tan. What appeared to be carnal hunger blurred his expression as he regarded her. “Where?”
His voice was even deeper than the howlers that came here for treatment. Way huskier than Zoe’s when she got riled. Becca moved toward him again, drawn by his potent masculinity, until she forced herself to stop and pointed over her shoulder.
He approached with the grace of a well-behaved panther. Loose limbed and composed, not cocky or predatory. Shit. Zoe was a miracle worker.
“Sure,” he said.
Becca swallowed. His eyes were the color of honey with flecks of green. Given his laugh lines, he looked to be in his early thirties—if she was using mortal time—just a couple of years older than her.
Not that their ages mattered. Why should they? Once his photo shoot was over, he’d be gone. Back in bed with his babe.
“There.” She pointed to the side, trying not to drool over him.
He kept checking her out too and gave her another crooked grin. “There what?”
Damned if she knew. His adorable smile continued to tangle her thoughts. Becca lowered her head and took a deep breath. “Door on the right. Go in that room. Take off your clothes. I’ll get the photog—”
The rest of her words and all the spit in her mouth dried up as his fingers curled around her wrist, keeping her from moving away.
He murmured, “What?”
That voice. His touch. Her knees sagged. With great effort, Becca turned back to him.
He gave her a questioning look and waited.
Becca wanted to ruffle his long, dark lashes, kiss his silky eyebrows, then suck his lower lip into her mouth while she crawled all over him. “Briefs or boxers?”
He pulled back slightly, but didn’t let go of her wrist. “What?”
She cleared her throat. Her voice still jiggled and rasped. “What are you wearing? Briefs or boxers?”
He looked down as though to check. “Boxers.”
“The stretchy kind or the baggy ones?”
He let go of her wrist. “They’re not that baggy.”
Hmm. She’d hurt his feelings. A nice human touch Zoe must have taught him. Like having him stare at a female’s ass, rather than simply grabbing it, to make her feel sexy and desired. “I’m sure they’re not. Still, we prefer the snug ones.”
The kind that would hug his fleshy balls and caress his rigid cock. On wobbly legs, Becca went to the hall closet and pulled out a navy pair.
“Here.” She flung them at him.
They landed on his deliciously broad shoulder.
Becca backed away. “Strip down, then put those on. We can’t screw around any longer.”
“Sure about that?”
She turned away before he could see her smile. “Completely. Now get—”
A snarl stopped her.
He’d opened the wrong door. Two of Becca’s female staff held down an alpha shifter they were treating with moonlight therapy. Slobber dripped from his mouth. He growled, battling his compulsion to morph into a wolf.
The staffer on the right panted, “That’s it, baby. Fight it. You can do this.”
The guy’s body spurted unsightly hair even on his balding head.
“No, no, no,” the staffer on the left begged. “Don’t do that. You want to take moonlight strolls with your girl, right? Come on, work with me here.”
Becca shut the door and gave Mr. Stud a smile. “Wrong room.” She put her hand in the center of his back and blew out a sigh at how solid he was. “Next one.” She guided him to it. “In there.”
“If you say so.”
Wow, Zoe had really housebroken him.
For reasons unknown to Becca, she leaned closer. His scent was as heady as his rich baritone. He smelled faintly of cedar, musk, rum. “I do. Go.”
With her hand on the middle of his chest, she gave him a small push.
He backed into the room, his thigh hitting a table. The desk lamp tottered.
She fought a smile. “Careful. Be back in a sec.” Becca closed the door before she surrendered to her lust and slipped inside to watch him undress.
Breathing hard, she pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to get a grip. What in the hell was the matter with her? Although she’d foolishly fallen for weres, vamps, demons and no end of jerks in the past, she’d sworn off all men for the time being, not wanting to get her heart and self-esteem pulverized again.
Zoe may have changed this guy outwardly, but inside he was still a predator. The ultimate bad boy. Charming, seductive and totally into himself. Selfish as fucking hell. Nothing like her dad.
Too bad mortals didn’t appeal to her.
Muttering a curse, Becca strode down the hall and stopped abruptly at a new guy who’d just arrived. His black tee might as well have been skin, it hugged his outstanding torso that well. He wore biker boots and faded jeans slung low. His crotch was nicely filled out, that bulge one of the Seven Wonders of the World. He sported a Celtic tat on his muscular forearm, geometric and powerful in design. His midnight hair hung over his forehead. He gave her an Elvis-type smile, upper lip curled seductively. “Hey there.”
He made it sound like “Let’s screw”.
“Ah…hi.” Frowning, Becca stepped closer and sucked in a breath at the faint flames that suddenly danced in his dark eyes.
“Sorry I’m late.” He edged so close his groin practically kissed hers. “I was delayed with other stuff.” He grinned indecently. “You know.”
Unfortunately, Becca did. She turned to the hall, then back to him as he slung his arm over her shoulder. His fingers dangled perilously close to her right nipple.
“So, what now?” he murmured.
Becca shoved his arm off her and rushed down the hall to the guy she thought Zoe had made over. She hadn’t. Her “best freaking success” was in the reception area behaving like a bull during a rut. More civilized than he’d been before, but certainly not as much as the man she’d told to strip.
Who in the fuck was he?
Not bothering to knock, Becca pushed in the door.
He was naked as the day he’d been born, the boxer briefs mid-thigh, leaving his male package swinging in the breeze. Mouthwatering balls, plump as plums, and a decidedly long cock protruding from a thatch of brown curls.
Becca squeezed the doorknob so hard her palm hurt.
He didn’t move. Wait, one part of him did. His cock thickened and grew even longer, the crown firm, engorged with desire. The damn thing seemed to point at her.
Like a zombie detecting fresh meat, she stepped closer, staring at his goods. Wanting them.
“Becca?” Heather. Of all the times for her to show up.
She leaned into the room until she saw Mr. Stud. “Oh…oh.”
Wow was the word Becca would have used. He’d actually gotten harder, the prominent veins on his shaft bulging.
Becca elbowed Heather out of the room. On a breathy gasp, the fairy stepped away.
“Sorry,” Becca said to him. “I didn’t know…that is…I thought…”
“I was someone else?”
She nodded, then frowned. “Who are you?”
He yanked the boxers up. The elastic waistband caught on his balls.
Ooh. Poor baby.
Sucking air through his clenched teeth, he hurried the underwear past his groin. Before he got it over his tight ass, he lost his footing. Trying to regain it, he turned.
There was a heart, the perfect Cupid’s kind, at the top of his right cheek.