Just because…

Third time just because! LOL LAst Hump of the Day… How Not to Date a Centaur! WOOT! Cause it just came out and it was a hit at Balticon!

 

How Not to Date a Centaur by Stephanie Burke

http://changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=2048

How Not to Date a Centaur
Stephanie Burke

How to date a pair of Centaurs? Get a good grip and hope for a long, bumpy ride.

Good girl Kiara Stone only wanted to have a little fun for once in her life, and parachuting over Cambodia seemed like a thrill. But crash landing through a mountain and landing in the land of the centaurs was almost too much.

Now she is their goddess and under the protection of two very regal male warrior partners, Zeethan and Xaylu, and struggling to learn a new culture as foreign to her as her ways are to them. Hopefully she can learn fast enough not to start a war, destroy their whole belief system, and learn to date a pair of centaurs, because it looks like there is no returning home.
Chapter 1

“Good Lord, I’m gonna die!”
The wind stole her words and her breath as Kiara gripped the steering line and the toggle, desperately trying to control her descent.
This was what she got for buying into some bargain basement parachuting course. Her instructor had bailed on her at the first sign of high wind trouble, leaving her on her lonesome to navigate her way down the side of an Angkor mountain. Hell if she knew which one, she’d been blown so far off course. The last thing she remembered was watching the yellow and blue parachute of her instructor just before he cut the fucking line that tethered her to him.
And now, instead of enjoying the view of the lush green jungle being swallowed by the amazing temples that dotted the terrain, she was in free fall, struggling not to pass out, vomit, and well… die.
“Lord, save me, and I swear I will never –”
What the hell did she have to bargain with, anyway? She didn’t smoke, didn’t drink to excess, never had indiscriminate sex… the most wild thing she had ever done was take this trip and go on the fucking parachute jump her friends had recommended.
“I won’t lie, Lord,” she muttered, holding in a scream as her body began to twirl like a top as her stabilizer line snapped. “I don’t have much to bargain with here, but I swear I will try to be a better perso — oh, fuck!’
The side of a mountain was heading for her face at an alarming rate.
Closing her eyes, not brave enough to face her own untimely death, she began to scream her way into the afterlife. Only… only she didn’t die. Instead she felt her ears pop, her body compress, and white light flash behind her eyes. But there was no painful slamming into the top of a mountain, there was no gut-wrenching pain, there was nothing but a sudden lurch and the worst wedgie she had ever experienced.
“Son of a bitch!” she roared as she came to an abrupt stop, nearly biting her tongue in half as the jolt shook her whole body.
Kiara Stone was a lot of things, but today made her a believer in a higher power and assured her there was some truth to the old adage “God looks out for drunkards and fools.” She was not drunk, so that would make her —
“What the hell,” she panted, her heart nearly in her throat along with her stomach as she peeled her eyes open, unashamed of the tears that rolled down her cheeks.
An odd sound captured her attention. She looked down and groaned. There were people down there. She was safe.
She looked up and noted she was hung from a strange tree about thirty feet in the air. She looked down and realized the sound she heard were shouts of agony and war cries.
Had she stumbled into some kind of reenactment? It had to be, because she was looking down at a group of men riding their horses so well they almost seemed to be one body. Maybe it was a movie, she reckoned. And as much as she would hate to ruin their shot, she wanted out of this tree.
She looked around and saw one man below her. “Hey!” she shouted as loud as she could, but the riders seemed to be making too much noise for him to hear her. “Up here, buddy!”
She didn’t even know if he spoke English — very few did here outside of tourist areas — but she had to try.
Wielding a spear, he seemed to be creeping up behind another warrior who looked to be pulling on a young man trapped under his horse.
She knew that if she couldn’t get his attention, Lord only knew how long she would be trapped in this tree. She began to twist and jerk in the tree, praying he would look up — that something would happen.
What happened wasn’t what she expected. The branch that prevented her from slamming into the ground began to creak and whine. She looked up just as it gave a loud crack.
“Fuck!” she wailed as once again she was plummeting to the earth.
Hard impact broke her fall, and she realized she had landed on top of the spear guy. They both tumbled to the ground in a mass of hair, horse, and parachute.
“I’m sorry,” she babbled in the sudden dark.
A rending sound cut through the parachute and brought back the light. She blinked as she looked up and saw a man with white-blond hair and the most curious green contacts staring down at her.
“Hi?” she offered.
“Goddess,” he breathed, a look of awe crossing his face. “You have broken the back of my enemy.”
A shout beside her made her jump as the sound of racing hoofbeats filled the air.
“Xaylu.” Blondie turned to call to the man who approached. From her spot beneath the horse and the suddenly still man, all she could make out was black hair. “She has slain the warmonger and murderer Xexis. This war is ended.”
There was a loud blast of some kind of horn and a lot of the noise disappeared. The sudden silence was as disturbing as the fact that the man she landed on was not moving.
“Slain?” she asked, but her words were drowned out as a righteous cheer filled the air.
“Retreat, you fools!” Blondie bellowed, his voice projecting well. “Your leader is slain. His mad desires perish with him. Continue to attack, and we will have no choice but to slay you all!”
There was some murmuring, some shouts of disbelief, and Blondie began to speak again. “He fell sneaking up behind me in dishonorable combat. A goddess has fallen from the sky to prove our might and ensure our victory.
Blondie bent over, and suddenly she was hefted from beneath the fallen horse guy and triumphantly thrust up into the air like a war prize. Her “hey!” was drowned out as several men retreated and others cheered.
And it was right about then that she realized that she wasn’t being held up by a man on horseback as she’d supposed. She found herself speechless as she stared out on a sea of men who were their horses.
“Centaurs,” she breathed, as Blondie spun around, his compact horse body moving gracefully as the black haired Centaur next to him, the one he’d called Xaylu, blew the horn again.
“Victory!” he was screaming. His back tail and mane flying around his brown body, he danced about on black-stockinged feet.
She looked down into the green eyes of the Centaur that held her aloft and realized he had a compact black body, his tail and stockings were a metallic white gold, and he was looking worshipfully up at her.
“Goddess, I thank thee,” he intoned and Kiara found herself nodding, though she had to fight the numbness that held her body in its grasp to do so.
Centaurs. She was surrounded by centaurs. She had fallen on a Centaur.
“You’re — you’re welcome?” she stammered, and again a roar of victory filled the air. For the first time in her life, Kiara wished she was the type to faint because she could not believe what she was seeing. Centaurs. She had landed in a bunch of fucking centaurs.
She wanted her money back.

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Hump Day Supplemental…

Cause I love you all so much… here is another Hump for your day! How Not to Date a Bear Too… an unedited two chapters….

How Not To Date A Bear, Too!

Chapter 1

“Unnnn—that feels so good…”
Theodore Bazanov, Keeper of Heritage and second in command of the Great Bear Clan if Manitoba shifted his ass just soo and groaned in pleasure he could not hide.
His whole body shuddered as it hit the perfect stop. He squeezed his eyes closed and prayed he wouldn’t be too sore after, but this hardness, this thick mass… it was too good to stop. Almost there… almost there… almost–
“Ohh, look at what we have here—“
The lascivious tone made Theo’s eyes open with a snap, bringing him back to a sudden and angering awareness.
Snarling, he turned from the tree he was using to try and reach that infuriating itch in the small of his back, to glare at the-
What the hell?
It was female, that much he could make out.
But she—um… She had bright red hair that glowed in swirls and curls around her head, giving her an almost bloody halo in the noonday sun. Her skin was a strange orange tan color, the shade of some old leathers he once owned… usually a tone not found on healthy human skin. Her eyes were a vibrant unnatural blue that seemed to have laser intensity.
Something in him recoiled at the sight of her; his flight or fight instincts taking a definite turn for fight. For the first time in his life since he reached adulthood, Theo felt like prey and his bear didn’t like it one but.
He shuffled back, lumbering on two powerful hind legs, his black eyes never leaving the face of the she-beast who was moving closer.
“Come back, little bear.” She walled, waving her arms, her unnaturally large brass not swaying at all with her movements. Then her voice got deep, a unmistakable sexual overtone taking over. “I only want to pet you.”
Fuck no, he thought before he turned tail and ran. There was only so much a male in his position was supposed to put up with and degenerate middle-aged women were not part of the plan.
“I’m gonna get ya, catch ya,” she said merrily as she gave chase. “And then I’m gonna eat ya.”
Not if I can help it, his mind yowled as he sped up, putting more distance between him and the woman. How could she run so fast in five inch heels?
“Come back, little polar bear,” she panted, gaining ground. “I want to talk to you.”
Fuck no, his mind supplied and he doubled his speed once more.
But the she beast was not giving up. In her tight Capri pants and the red/orange lace tank top, she was gaining. She was moving so fast that her feet became a blur of crystal shoes and ten tiny lights from the red/orange toe nail polish she was sporting. She reached out for him, her fingernails like black talons and he suddenly broke right, hoping to dodge her.
“No fair!” she wailed, skidding to a halt, tossing up torn vegetation and soil into the air. “Momma doesn’t like her pets to play games.” The bitch wasn’t even out of breath.
Shaking his head in dismay, Theo raced ahead, using the small pause his sudden direction change had given her to extend the distance between the two of them. And still, she was not giving up.
“Frisky,” she growled, bending low, almost like a cartoon character or an animated ninja as she ran, rapidly closing the distance between he two ofß them.
Fuck this, his horrified mind screamed as he tossed off all façade of a real bear and began to use his preternatural strength.
His four paws pounded the ground, eating the terrain before him as he scouted the best place to run and hide. He was on Clan land so him using his bear abilities would not shock an of the natives.
“That’s my bear!” he heard and looked over his shoulder, agog as the strange female was catching up… in her high heels… and her blinding bright toenails.
He was so distracted by the sight that only instinct had him swirling around a figure that suddenly appeared before him.
He automatically dodged, nearly tripping over his hind legs as the man… beast… creature… mountie, his dwindling facilities supplied, jerked on his reins to control his rearing horse.
Oh, and what a mountie, he decided as he regained his balance and spied the man and horse.
He was beautiful, his long black hair flowing in the breeze like in some Hollywood western. This thighs, thick and muscular clamped down on the saddle as he rose to stand in the stirrups. His was rounded perfection and he could see the muscles strain under his tight red jacket.
Dark brown eyes held his for an impossibly long second when the earth seemed to stand still and…
“Fuzzy Wuzzy!”
The bitch was back,
He was about to pour on the speed and get out of dodge when a deep gravely voice halted him in his tracks.
“This is protected land. You do not belong here.”
Say what?
Theo spun around to see the Mountie placing himself between him and the crazy lade, stopping her in her tracks.
“What?”
“Protected land,” he spoke again, his horse dancing in agitation. “You don’t belong.”
“But I only wanted to pet him—“
“Ma’am, these are protected shifter lands. I am going to have to ask you to leave or bring you in on violation of Statute 557 of the Manitoba Shifter Agreement. The lands they hold are private and only with the proper authority may anyone other than the clan shifters of said land, be allowed to roam without impunity.”
And the crazy woman pouted.
“But I—“
“Get!” he snapped, leaning down to growl at her.
She got. She sniffed at the Mountie then turned on her heel, in a slow hog back the way she came.
Theo turned to look at his savior and felt his heat pound as the man winked at him before spinning around on his horse and riding off into the sunset.
Theo blinked his eyes and shook his head to clear it form any and all impure thoughts about naked horseback riding and its effect on the male ass before turning to lumber his way home.
The attack of the crazy lady was already fading from his mind as new fantasies involving leather and reins began to take hold. Maybe it was time for him to get laid?
Okay, that was the plan. He had been far too long in the company of Palm-etta and her five sisters. And now that Clan lands were established, the Clan Alpha was settled, and no one from he was some Theodore time.
He would get cleaned up and head out to a haunt he hadn’t seen in some time, the Bear With Me, club, have a little drink and maybe pick up a little something for his empty bed at home.
That plan firmly in mind, Theo moved faster towards the Clan House, ready to get his evening started right.

Chapter 2

“Archer,” Theo called out as he walked into Bear With Me, a grin on his face and a plan in mind. “I need vodka!”
Phase one of his plans, get pleasantly buzzed. He was due. He had made sure his assigned duties had been handled, his package form home would be arriving in two days, and it was time to, as they say in the States, get loose.
Phase two, find something fresh and tender to sink his teeth into. Screaming and crying optional, but he must be a hard fun ride.
“You seem like a man with a lot on his mind.” Theo leaned back against the bar as Archer walked over, a tall frozen glass in his hand. He placed the vodka beside him and leaned his elbows on the varnished wood bar top, staring at him intently. “Want to talk about it?”
“My day,” Theo wrinkled his nose and gestured wildly with his hands for a moment, before shaking his head and reaching for his glass. “It started out with business,” His Russian accent was growing more pronounced as he relaxed in his friend’s company. “Business is good.”
“No repercussions from the Great Clan?”
“We are a Great Clan, Archer,” he shook his head and lifted his glass to his lips and tossed back half the clear cold liquid. “We remain a Great Clan, just one removed from stupidity.”
“No word?”
“Bah,” he waved his hand. “They are too busy practicing gorilla warfare on each other. You fear they will come here?” She chuckled at Archer’s shrug, watching as his long tail of hair slid over his shoulder to pile on the bar. He had the pleasure of Archer’s company on more than one occasion. It was an easy complications free arrangement they had. And as sure as he was that Archer would be up for another go, he was looking for someone different. “They wish us well, but silently pray we will fail. We are the first branch of Great Polar Bears to leave so completely. We are what we are.”
“That’s good,” Archer relaxed, tossing his tail of hair behind him. For a moment, Theo was long in thoughts of how the man growled when that rope of hair was pulled just so.
“You worry we bring war to your doorstep?”
“Nah,” Archer turned his head and winked at him. “Just wondering if I was gonna have to call in more back up and a lot of handcuffs.”
“Handcuffs would be good,” Theo nodded. “Undoubtedly, all the bears no matter the breed would wind up here seeking pleasure. You would need more help to keep the liquid cheer flowing.”
“You are a mess,” Archer laughed, tossing back his head, letting the rich deep sound roll through the room, relaxing Theo even more.
“And I would make one of you, my friend, if I had not come here thinking to spread my wings a bit.
“Is that right?” Archer purred, leaning close enough that Theo could inhale the scent of his spicy cologne and the underlying scent of strong healthy male.
“You know I could,” Theo murmured softly, a growl rumbling thought his voice.
“Oh I know you can,” Archer leaned back, his face flushed as arousal began to flood his body. “But that is not what neither you or I want. And there is someone I want you to meet.”
“Hmm?” Theo tiled his head to the side, his long black hair spilling in a silken fall over his shoulders. “Someone new?”
“New to you,” Archer chuckled. “Richard!” he stood upright and called. Theo got a glimpse of a person turning towards them, brad shoulders, trim waist, hair neatly braided in a long tail that touched the healthy curve of a nicely rounded ass. To Theo, Archer continued, “My friend and fellow—“
“I know you are here and I am not leaving to I find you.”
Archer’s words were interrupted by the club’s door slamming open and Theo was almost blinded by a mass of red.
“Miss—“ one of the bouncers walked over, but the lady in question started waving a membership card like it was a weapon. “Back you. I know my Fuzzy Wuzzy is in here and I’m going to find him.”
Theo’s mouth dropped open as the woman began sniffing at the shocked men in the club.
It was the same red orange lace tank top, the same tight dusty white Capri’s… the click of five inch heels— It was the crazy lady from before.
“Fuzzy Wuzzy!” she called, invading more than a few people’s personal space as she called out.
“Fuck,” Theo whimpered. “Hide me!” He turned and grabbed Archer’s thick forearms. “Get me out of here. The back way—“
But it was too late. The woman jerked to a halt, her nose tilting in the air as if scenting him.
“There,” she growled and started moving towards him with purpose.
“What the hell?” Archer gasped, backing away from Theo as if suddenly his friend picked up a particularly noxious smell.
“Don’t leave me!” Theo nearly whimpered, pushing aside that he was the second in a Great Clan of Polar Bears. There was some things that his mental facilities could not take.
“Man, you are on your own.” Archer was struggling to get away. “I don’t do cougars.”
“Fuzzy!” She was now close enough for Theo to see the odd golden eyes that seemed to glow.
“Uh—“
“I found you,” she cackled, her eyes narrowing where she saw his hands gripping Archer desperately. “You are mine,”
“I don’t even know you,” Theo whimpered as Archer nearly knocked himself off his feet jerking away.
“I can change that.”
“But—“
“No buts, Fuzzy Wuzzy. It took me all day to track you down. You are not getting away that easy.”
She lunged and Theo’s flight or flight instinct kicked in hard. He broke right, dodging as the strange woman nearly stuck the bar in her eagerness to get to him.
“Stop playing hard to get and come to momma,” she purred, spinning around and pinning him with a glance.
Theo looked around and none of the men and women in the place were offering him safe haven. Half of them weren’t even paying attention to what was going on and those that were had cell phones at the ready, taking video of his utter humiliation.
He wanted to knock the bitch out and run away, but instincts regarding females were clear. If you do not want to engage, run away fast. His bear would allow him to do no harm to a female.
“Stop fighting sugar,” she leaped for him again, painted back nails looking like talons as she literally sprung at him.
Panicking, Theo grabbed the first warm body beside him and suddenly was grateful for the concept of a meat shield that playing so many videogames had instilled within him.
He ducked down and peeked around the leather clad shoulders just as a thick braid of hair slapped him in the face.
He looked up, shock on his face as he scented something unique and utterly delicious.
He slowly rose to his feet and peered around the body to see the face.
What a beautiful glorious face.
His cheekbones were high, his skin a very creamy tan, like someone had added a bucked of yellow cream to a vat of red earth and lovingly blended the two tones. A pair of deep brown eyes looked back at him and a slow smile spread across a set of deep rose lips.
He was leaning in closer, his eyes at half mast, sniffing like a hound dog and unashamed of it when he felt something painfully grip his arm.
He lurched back, human hands with bear claws extended, ready to swat away the thing that was causing him pain when he was blinded by red.
“Mine.” The crazy bitch had him in her grasp and there was no way he could shake her off without causing her harm. He was so screwed.

It’s Time for you Hump Day Hump….

This is from the upcoming… as in I am still writing it, novel, How Not to Date a Changeling! I blame Barb Hicks and her Writerspace Chat Crew for this one too! LOL HEre is Taylor having a bad day….

“Life in the fast lane,” Taylor sang, tossing his head back and shaking his hips.
He was baking. In the last four days he had tried everything he could to get into that house. The note he left tapped to the door was found the next in the same envelope, torn to its bitty little prices and the noise was more intense that night. He tried sending flowers only to find the bouquet decapitated in their vase when he went back. The hello card was corrected for grammatical errors in red ink the next day and the noise sounded smug and spiteful that night. And his last attempt, a basket of breads was taken in and the mangled basket left on her front porch. It was a game to him now, to get his house unpacked and get to meet the strange neighbor. Baked goods was the closest that he had come so he was going to continue on that track. It was a personal goal to get ingot hat house and he was not above pulling out the hard stuff to get his way.
He swiveled his hips, all stripper sheik, his hips moving on point, and- hit the ground… hard.
“Fuck!” He bellowed as his bad knee clicked as it gave away, and he collapsed onto his side. If this pain had a color, it would be bright red with radiating white streaks of fire shooting up his thigh and down to his ankles. Hissing, he leaned over and gripped his knee with both hands as he writhed on the kitchen floor. Some abstract point of his mind was grateful that he decided to keep his living area on the first floor, reserving the second floor for guest rooms. And never was he more grateful when he realized that he didn’t have to navigate the stairs to get to his pain meds.
When the bright red of his knee dulled to an angry purple, he forced himself to move. Flipping over onto his back was e ought to make him curse again, but he refrained and forced himself to sit up.
It was a blessing that his heavy butchers block kitchen table was strong enough to hold his weight as he struggled to get upright and on his feet. Silently, he blessed his theorist who insisted in indoor athletic shoes for traction because if he slipped again, he was going to wind up on his ass for the rest of the night.
Using the walls for balance, he ignored the deep throbbing that add itself to his knee party and the hot spot his left leg had become as he made his way to his bedroom.
The hope trunk at the foot of his bed was his goal. It had been a gift to him by his grandmother years before she passed and he treasured the trunk made of oak and dreams. Even now he loved the damn thing even thought it would never be used for its original purpose. Instead of being filled with baby clothing and tangible memories of the love of his life, it now held souvenirs of his battle to remain ambulatory and the gear needed to control his pain. There were no silks and stains, but there was a to get garment made of neoprene and steel that offered support and balance that was more powerful than any relationship he could have chosen to have,
He stumbled to the bed and sank down on the foot of it as he flung the trunk open. His knee brace, one of many, waited to embrace his leg and knee and offer what support it could. It took a few seconds to get the Velcro straps just right and then he signed as the swelling was checked as the cold neoprene surrounded his leg and thigh, keeping his knee cap centered while allowing motion.
Once he was properly strapped in, it was only a matter of making his way back to the kitchen for….
It was about them that the alarm on his oven went off.
“Fuck,” Taylor struggled to his feet, moving a fast as he could, which was not very fast considering, and tripped his way down to the kitchen. With every step, anger grew. He was out of a job, stuck in this house, and inundated with noise every night…. And now his knee was done and the fucking cake was burning. Moving so fast he nearly stumbled a time or two, he made it to the kitchen and over to the oven. He nearly burned himself on the oven door before He remembered to slip on his oven mitts. He ripped the chocolate mint cheesecake out of the oven and barely prevented himself from throwing it against a wall and watching it splatter in a bright beautiful mess… Just like his knee… Just like his life.
But he restrained himself. He dragged his bad leg behind him as he made Hiawatha to the cabinet that held his meds. He slammed the door open and stared at his unending supply of narcotics and pain meds while he decided how dumb he wanted to be that night. Was it a Percocet night which would numb his mind but not the pain, not really…. Or would Vicodin be the drug of the hour? It would numb the pain…and his mind, but that was a small price to pay for the ability to walk upright, right? Then there was oxy… Good old oxy, made you tremble likes rack head and drool in the corner, but he would feel nothing at all. That was good, right? Well, at least he still had a leg. Fuck the fact that the pain meds made taking a shit a bloody nightmare, literally. No, he could actually exist in a drugged haze until they threw his ass in rehab… Never mind his lack of a sex life, at least he had his health, somewhat. Forget about ever finding someone to sleep over for the night let alone start a relationship. Who wanted to sleep with a man who had flashbacks and nigh terrors that inevitably brought him awake standing whoever had the misfortune of being beside him. Who wanted to endure his scared up body and tendency to fall down when least expected? Who wanted a fucking cripple as their significant other? So instead of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that he damn near died fighting for so others should have a normal life, his life now consisted of goals. To get out do the bed in the morning, he had to have a goal. Too keep fitting, he had to have a goal. And now, his motherfucking goal was to get into that god-damned house.
Taylor slammed the cabinet shut and absently grabbed the really nice cheesecake with his oven mitt and stormed towards the front door. Ignoring his usual outdoor shoes, he slung the front door open, his pain and anger carrying him forward. Limping, damn near dragging his leg behind him, he stormed up the path to the mad woman’s door. The setting sun told him that he had an hour or so before she would start her caterwauling. He had to hop on one leg to move up the two stairs that led to her front door.
Blam Blam Blam
“I know you are there!” He bellowed, pounding the door so hard it shook on its mooring. “Look, you pitiless monster. For a week I’ve been playing nice, dealing with your fucking noises and bringing you gifts.”
“No!” He heard from behind and the less angry part of his brain recognized Miss Winnie.
He ignored her and pounded on the door again. “I bust my ass trying to be kind and you throw it up in my face. You take what I give and act like a feckless bitch. So you know what?” He hefted the cake pan high, eyeing her door. “You like my baked good so much you had to eat them all and fuck up my basket as a thank you. Well, I got something for you now. You’ve got five seconds too pen this fucking door or so help me I’m gonna smear this chocolate mint cheesecake that I so neighborly prepared for you all over your front door and then fuck you!”
“It’s not going to work and you… you’re going to get yourself killed,” Mis Winnie screamed and he slammed his hand down on the door once more.
“Five seconds! One…two… Three… Four… Fi-” and the door clicked open.
Taylor stood there, mouth hanging open, hand raised to strike the door. It was an obvious invitation, but dare he take it?
He looked over his shoulder at Miss Winnie and her purple tinted poodle that was glaring at him in abject disapproval, down to his swollen throbbing knee, and then back to the open door.
Goals needed to be met.
Slowly, he limped into the house.

Its time for you R rated Hump Day Hump!

This one coming soon from Changeling Press… meet Kiara, from How Not to Date a Centaur! WOOT!
SB_DateCentaur_large

“Good Lord, I’m gonna die!”
The wind stole her words and her breath as Kiara gripped the steering line and the toggle, desperately trying to control her descent.
This was what she got for buying into some bargain basement parachuting course. Her instructor had bailed on her at the first sign of high wind trouble, leaving her on her lonesome to navigate her way down the side of an Angkor mountain. Hell if she knew which one, she’d been blown so far off course. The last thing she remembered was watching the yellow and blue parachute of her instructor just before he cut the fucking line that tethered her to him.
And now, instead of enjoying the view of the lush green jungle being swallowed by the amazing temples that dotted the terrain, she was in free fall, struggling not to pass out, vomit, and well… die.
“Lord, save me, and I swear I will never –”
What the hell did she have to bargain with, anyway? She didn’t smoke, didn’t drink to excess, never had indiscriminate sex… the most wild thing she had ever done was take this trip and go on the fucking parachute jump her friends had recommended.
“I won’t lie, Lord,” she muttered, holding in a scream as her body began to twirl like a top as her stabilizer line snapped. “I don’t have much to bargain with here, but I swear I will try to be a better perso — oh, fuck!’
The side of a mountain was heading for her face at an alarming rate.
Closing her eyes, not brave enough to face her own untimely death, she began to scream her way into the afterlife. Only… only she didn’t die. Instead she felt her ears pop, her body compress, and white light flash behind her eyes. But there was no painful slamming into the top of a mountain, there was no gut-wrenching pain, there was nothing but a sudden lurch and the worst wedgie she had ever experienced.
“Son of a bitch!” she roared as she came to an abrupt stop, nearly biting her tongue in half as the jolt shook her whole body.
Kiara Stone was a lot of things, but today made her a believer in a higher power and assured her there was some truth to the old adage “God looks out for drunkards and fools.” She was not drunk, so that would make her —
“What the hell,” she panted, her heart nearly in her throat along with her stomach as she peeled her eyes open, unashamed of the tears that rolled down her cheeks.
An odd sound captured her attention. She looked down and groaned. There were people down there. She was safe.
She looked up and noted she was hung from a strange tree about thirty feet in the air. She looked down and realized the sound she heard were shouts of agony and war cries.
Had she stumbled into some kind of reenactment? It had to be, because she was looking down at a group of men riding their horses so well they almost seemed to be one body. Maybe it was a movie, she reckoned. And as much as she would hate to ruin their shot, she wanted out of this tree.
She looked around and saw one man below her. “Hey!” she shouted as loud as she could, but the riders seemed to be making too much noise for him to hear her. “Up here, buddy!”
She didn’t even know if he spoke English — very few did here outside of tourist areas — but she had to try.
Wielding a spear, he seemed to be creeping up behind another warrior who looked to be pulling on a young man trapped under his horse.
She knew that if she couldn’t get his attention, Lord only knew how long she would be trapped in this tree. She began to twist and jerk in the tree, praying he would look up — that something would happen.
What happened wasn’t what she expected. The branch that prevented her from slamming into the ground began to creak and whine. She looked up just as it gave a loud crack.
“Fuck!” she wailed as once again she was plummeting to the earth.
Hard impact broke her fall, and she realized she had landed on top of the spear guy. They both tumbled to the ground in a mass of hair, horse, and parachute.
“I’m sorry,” she babbled in the sudden dark.
A rending sound cut through the parachute and brought back the light. She blinked as she looked up and saw a man with white-blond hair and the most curious green contacts staring down at her.
“Hi?” she offered.
“Goddess,” he breathed, a look of awe crossing his face. “You have broken the back of my enemy.”
A shout beside her made her jump as the sound of racing hoofbeats filled the air.
“Xaylu.” Blondie turned to call to the man who approached. From her spot beneath the horse and the suddenly still man, all she could make out was black hair. “She has slain the warmonger and murderer Xexis. This war is ended.”
There was a loud blast of some kind of horn and a lot of the noise disappeared. The sudden silence was as disturbing as the fact that the man she landed on was not moving.
“Slain?” she asked, but her words were drowned out as a righteous cheer filled the air.
“Retreat, you fools!” Blondie bellowed, his voice projecting well. “Your leader is slain. His mad desires perish with him. Continue to attack, and we will have no choice but to slay you all!”
There was some murmuring, some shouts of disbelief, and Blondie began to speak again. “He fell sneaking up behind me in dishonorable combat. A goddess has fallen from the sky to prove our might and ensure our victory.
Blondie bent over, and suddenly she was hefted from beneath the fallen horse guy and triumphantly thrust up into the air like a war prize. Her “hey!” was drowned out as several men retreated and others cheered.
And it was right about then that she realized that she wasn’t being held up by a man on horseback as she’d supposed. She found herself speechless as she stared out on a sea of men who were their horses.
“Centaurs,” she breathed, as Blondie spun around, his compact horse body moving gracefully as the black haired Centaur next to him, the one he’d called Xaylu, blew the horn again.
“Victory!” he was screaming. His back tail and mane flying around his brown body, he danced about on black-stockinged feet.
She looked down into the green eyes of the Centaur that held her aloft and realized he had a compact black body, his tail and stockings were a metallic white gold, and he was looking worshipfully up at her.
“Goddess, I thank thee,” he intoned and Kiara found herself nodding, though she had to fight the numbness that held her body in its grasp to do so.
Centaurs. She was surrounded by centaurs. She had fallen on a Centaur.
“You’re — you’re welcome?” she stammered, and again a roar of victory filled the air. For the first time in her life, Kiara wished she was the type to faint because she could not believe what she was seeing. Centaurs. She had landed in a bunch of fucking centaurs.
She wanted her money back.

It’s Time for Your Hump Day Hump!!!!

ts time for Your Hump Day Hump!
This excerpt is from The Holy Dark brought to you by me and the fine people of Beautiful Trouble Publishing! Meet Kayla, scientist extraordinair… and the shape shifter Dark *g*

the holy dark TEXT 2 copy
“Stay back!” Kaylla bellowed, looking around for anything to defend herself. “You just wait until my dog gets here,” she barked, backing up the steps slowly. “Princess!”
“First of all, Princess is a name for a female. I am a male. And I am not a dog or a mutt like you presume to call me. I am a jackal.”
“You are going to be dead in a minute! Princess! Princess!”
“Will you stop calling me by that stupid name?”
The man was starting to look angry. Kaylla thought it was too bad he was going to be dead soon, because he was kind of cute.
His hair was wavy and black and it danced around his shoulders as he shook his head at her. There was a chain of some kind around his neck and his hands were resting on his narrow hips. His body was slim but very muscular, very fit, and that con-cerned her. How could she fight him off while buzzing on painkillers with only one arm? And where was her blasted dog?”
“Princess!”
“Oh for the love—” the man snapped at her. Be-fore her drugged eyes, he seemed to melt. As she blinked in disbelief, the man’s form wavered and sank in on itself.
She opened her mouth; but before she could speak there was Princess standing before her, his am-ber eyes staring straight into hers.
Then just as fast, he reverted back and there was the naked man standing in her lab.
“You—uh—you—”
“I am not a dog. I am not a female. I am a male jackal. And most importantly, my name is not Prin-cess.”
Kaylla had to very slowly sit on the steps before she passed out, all the while her eyes never left those of the man who just turned into her dog…jackal.
“My name is Moquaddas Ghameq. It is an hon-ored name, an ancient name that tells of my lineage and my worth as a shifter and as a healer. It is a name that I wear with great pride. Unfortunately, it is also a name that most western civilizations cannot pro-nounce. So you may call me Dark.”
“Dark,” she repeated slowly. “How—”
“Did I find you? Simple,” he explained as he moved closer, stopping when Kaylla scrambled up a stair, almost knocking her stump into the railing in an effort to keep some space between the two of them. “I scratched you when I knocked the zombie—”
“Undead,” Kaylla corrected. “Zombies are the constructs of horror movies, sci-fi books, and video games.” Her voice was shaky, but Kaylla was delighted something coherent came out of her mouth. “They are the undead.”
Dark nodded once, before he spoke again. “When I knocked the undead,” he nodded at her as he modified his wording, “from your person, I purposely scratched your body.”
Her hand went to her chest where there was barely a discernable mark. “It’s almost gone. It was very small.”
“It needn’t be large for me to track.”
“So…you marked me—”
“In order to find you later, Dr. Keller. Once I had dispatched the undead I met with some contacts of mine before I followed you here.”
“Thanks for that, I guess,” she frowned as her mind started whirling with complex thoughts again. “Not that I am complaining or anything, but could you not have attacked a little sooner?”
“A little sooner?” he tilted his head to the side as if puzzled by the response.
“Yes, a little sooner.” She held up her stump. “Sooner, like, before it fucking bit me! I had to cut off my arm, you asshole! You suck as a savior!”
Dark’s eyes widened at her words before he spoke again. “I got there as fast as I could.”
“Not fast enough!” she bellowed, shouting as something else occurred to her. “You know what these things are, don’t you?”
“I was sent by the group of scientists who con-tacted you and—”
“You fucking know what these things are! You all knew!” Anger began to flood through her once more. “Why the subterfuge, Moqad Gamic, or whatever your name is?”
“Dark.”
“I don’t give a fuck what you are called! You knew about those things and you didn’t warn any-body? How could you? How could you all play God like that?”
She pointed to the window. “You could have pre-vented this! This is all your fault!”