Hey, thanks for stopping by my corner of the Paranormal Romance Blog Hop! I’m sharing an excerpt from my new release, Betwixt and Between, an m/m contemporary fantasy set in Seattle. This scene is from Chapter 3. Ian Evers, reporter for The Cosmic Eye, barely survived an earlier encounter with a dark elf (svarta), but the elf hasn’t given up. I hope you have as much fun reading about an evil elf visiting a coffee shop as I had writing it.
“Holy hottie, Batman,” Dijeree said. “Why is it you haven’t fucked him yet?”
“I was wondering if the camera would catch the same thing I saw.”
It did. Ian had taken his film to an associate at the paper who developed film quickly for a steep fee. Ian and Dijeree sat in the corner café and passed the photos back and forth between them over a table littered with coffee cups, half-eaten scones, the weekly copy of The Cosmic Eye, and Ian’s notes.
Most of the photos were too dark and blurry, but not all. In one of the shots, he’d caught the svarta as he looked up, a shaft of sunlight reflecting off his violin. He was every bit as handsome as Ian remembered, with an aquiline nose, high cheekbones, incredibly thick lashes, and those eyes. The photo couldn’t do them justice. As it was, they looked like mirrors reflecting a wind-tossed sea. When the sea started to swirl, Ian looked away.
“Are you okay?” Dijeree asked, placing a hand on his wrist.
“No. I’m hexed.” He struggled to breathe regularly.
“Let’s hope Alistair gets back soon.”
Ian could only nod. He scooped up the photos and stuck them back in the folder. “Maybe these will help identify what he really is.”
“The Eye won’t print them. He looks too much like a regular guy. If we print it and claim he’s an elf, he might show up and sue us.”
“I’m not worried about a scoop.”
She shook her head and tsk-tsked. “You really are hexed. Refill?” She stood and carried their cups to the counter. As she flirted with the barista, Ian leaned back and tried to clear his sleep-deprived mind. Up until he’d looked at the prints, he’d almost talked himself out of believing Cleona’s tale of dark elves. There was no evidence he wasn’t simply obsessed. With a guy this good-looking, it was possible. Strange, but possible.
As much as he’d tried to fight his nature, it turned out Ian was a prude. In order to really enjoy sex, he had to be in love. Well, he enjoyed casual sex, but it always left him unsatisfied, his deepest cravings unfulfilled. Maybe he’d been hiding too long, avoiding involvement for too long. His self-imposed celibacy had driven him mad. Yes, that was certainly it. He had to get over the naive idea that his soul mate existed.
The door opened, a gust of wet wind blew in, and time stopped.
The svarta paused in front of the door as it closed behind him. He’d changed his clothes. He wore black jeans and a close-fitting black leather jacket. Unlike the musketeer coat, it showed off his slim waist as well as his broad shoulders. He wore a black silk shirt open at the neck, and though sunglasses hid the magical eyes, it was definitely the evil elf.
He scanned the shop a bit, then walked straight for Ian’s table. He stopped so close the salt air and deep-woods piney scent wafting off his skin brushed aside the roasted-coffee-bean aroma of the café. He smelled like he’d taken a bath in the ocean and toweled off with cedar bark. His hair looked shorter or more styled, with the bangs hitting the high line of his cheekbone, the back brushing the collar of his jacket.
“Good afternoon. Mind if join you?” he asked in a soft, melodious voice.
“Yes, I do. Go away.” Ian looked around. Everyone else was oblivious to the dark elf in their midst. They tapped on phones, stared at computers, rustled papers. Dijeree and the barista laughed. The svarta sat directly across from Ian. He pushed his glasses back into his hair, unveiling the eyes.
“Why do you resist me?” he asked. He grabbed one of Ian’s hands from the table before Ian could snatch it away.
“Because I… You…you want to kill me.”
The elf laughed. It was a warm, friendly sound. His eyes gleamed under the fluorescent lights and shifted colors—blue, gray, silver. He turned Ian’s hand over, smoothed out his clenched fingers, and ran a finger along his palm. His touch seared Ian’s skin.
“I do not want to kill you. I want to take you away from this ordinary, depleted life. I want to make love to you. I want to fuck you until you can’t walk straight.”
“Um.” Ian checked out the cafe again. No one was twitching or peeking from behind books or otherwise acting like they’d heard this. He felt himself melting, going gooey inside.
“None of these humans can help you. I can help you. I can show you the magic you’ve been longing for. I can unlock you. Only I have the key.”
“And who are you exactly? What are you?” Ian tried to pull his hand away. The svarta clamped down harder. Actual physical contact sent shock waves rippling beneath Ian’s skin.
“My name is Ezekiel Stormshadow. I am what you in your human ignorance might call an elf.”
“A dark elf? A svarta?” Ian asked.
Ezekiel shook his head. “Those distinctions have long since passed away and become meaningless. There is only magic and not magic. The people who surround you are not magic.”
“I don’t know about that. Cleona managed to ward off your hex last night.”
“A pity. She’s a spell spinner who steals her power. She’s drained you dry, but I could refill you.” The elf lifted Ian’s hand and kissed it. He nibbled on the knuckles and ran his tongue along the fingers.
Ian nearly came then and there, but willed himself to resist. “Forget it. I don’t believe you. I’m not going anywhere with you.”
“I could show you what you’ve been looking for all your life. The magic realm. Think of it, Ian.”
“And why would you want to do that?”
“You are liosa. The realm needs light.”
“So you admit you’re out to suck— Wait, what? I’m not liosa. I’m human.”
“She would tell you that, wouldn’t she? Delve deep and discover the truth.”
Ian found himself leaning closer and closer, his hands now entwined with the svarta’s, their gazes locked. That was how Dijeree found them when she finally returned.
“Ahem. Don’t think we’ve met?” She set Ian’s cup down by his elbow. He sat up straight and pulled away.
“Zeke, this is Dijeree, my roommate. Dijeree, this is Zeke, the evil elf who wants to steal my soul.”
“What? No way. I’ve seen you before, haven’t I? Don’t you play rhythm guitar for the Holy Purple Dogs?”
“Alas, no. I only play violin for myself.”
Dijeree slapped Ian on the shoulder in a joking, flirty way. “See? Zeke’s a real person, not an elf. I’d say he’s all man, eh, Zeke?” She batted her eyes at him and ran her tongue across her lips.
“And you don’t like men, as I recall,” Ian snapped. What the hell was wrong with her? Oh, yeah. Glamour 101.
“Sheesh, don’t be such a granny. Want to come back to our place for a threesome, Zeke?”
“I’d very much like to join you, but I’m afraid Ian here has to invite me, and he’s playing hard to get.”
“He’s on this fear-of-intimacy kick. How long has it been since you got laid anyway, Ian?”
Ian ignored Dijeree’s prods and eye rolls. “I don’t invite you. As a matter of fact, I banish you for all time from any place I might ever be, this café included.”
“I’m afraid your power over me doesn’t extend quite that far. But I can see you will have to come to me. Alone, I’m afraid.” He gave Dijeree an apologetic look. “Tonight. Here.” Zeke snapped his fingers twice, and the air between them warped and rippled. Ian caught a glimpse of a dilapidated houseboat under the Freemont Bridge and knew exactly where it was. “I’ll be waiting for you.” Zeke stood, winked, and left. A gust of damp air from outside replaced the well of heat he’d created.
“Damn, he’s arrogant,” Ian said.
“Who?” Dijeree plopped down and stuck her face into her steaming coffee mug.
“Zeke. The elf. I can’t believe how willing you were to sell me down the river.”
“What the hell are you talking about? All I did was get coffee. Do I need to babysit you every second?”
“Are you seriously going to tell me you don’t remember?”
Ian groaned and looked at the ceiling. He took a deep breath and dropped his chin to his chest. “The svarta was right here, in your chair. You flirted with him.”
“I did not! I… Wait. Now that you mention it.” Confusion rippled across her face. “I remember seeing a really hot guy in a black leather jacket come in. Was that him? I don’t remember talking to him.”
“That’s because he did his magic-elf stuff on you.”
“Damn it! What did he want?”
“He wanted me to go with him to the magic realm. He… Oh, shit.” Ian grabbed the folder and opened it. It was empty. All the photos gone. The envelope of negatives as well.
“Well, on the bright side, going through the trouble of stealing the photos means he was worried about them. So maybe he has a vulnerability Alistair can suss out.”
“If the old drunk ever comes home,” Ian grumbled.
“And you met an elf face-to-face and didn’t give in. That’s something.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” While his soul might be happy about that, his body sure wasn’t. “I might have to find somebody to screw just to relieve the pressure.”
“I have a long list of willing applicants, if you’re serious.”
“Not yet. Maybe. Besides…” Besides, he thought, no real person could come anywhere near to replicating the effect the svarta had on him. The spell on Ian’s body told him anything less than paradise would now be a dismal disappointment.
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Obsessed with magical creatures since childhood, tabloid reporter Ian Evers never experiences satisfying proof that the magical realm actually exists until he falls into an entrapment spell set by a handsome but dangerous elf. Barely escaping with his soul intact, Ian is able to undo the hex, but he can’t escape the very real infatuation he’s developed for the fierce elf.
Ezekiel Stormshadow is a svarta, a dark elf who serves the queen of the dark realm. The realm of darkness needs the power of light to survive, and while hunting the last few magical beings on earth, Ezekiel discovers Ian, a light elf who’s unaware of his true nature and ripe for the plucking. Their brief encounter awakens a great hunger in Ezekiel, and he’s determined to feast on the light elf’s power and body before the queen intervenes and claims Ian for herself.
Driven apart by the ancient imbalance between the dark and light realms, an evil queen starved for power, and their fear of each other, Ian and Ezekiel are relentlessly drawn together even though their union might destroy them both.
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