Excerpt: Emergence

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An excerpt from Emergence, a Red Hot SF-futuristic from Samhain Publishing

Someone was staring at me. I could feel it as a warm, easy slide over my skin, and it forced me to suck in a quick breath. I straightened, pushing my shoulders back, and my nipples peaked. It was an unexpected reaction. My gryphon-half barely reacted to sexual stimuli; power in all its forms was what got her hot. I glanced to my left and found the heated, amber gaze of a man at the end of the long bar.

A ghost of a smile lifted his mouth, and he raised his bottle of lager. Light sparked gold in his dark hair and over the sharp beauty of his face. The shadow surrounding him melted into the darkness. There was a hint of wings and horns, a mythoi shadow even more nebulous than my own. I had to wonder if a full gryphon would be able to see his complete glory. This man was something truly ancient, and the half-gryphon in me wanted that intensity.

He pushed himself away from the counter and walked towards me with a slow, measured gait that made my heart pound. This wasn’t me. I didn’t react to men like this. I reacted to wealth, position, the promise of power. It was why dragons owned us, after all. They’d supplied mythoi energy to the countries of the world for the last century, found for them by the gryphons who craved it. Was that it? The inherent power in the man, in his mythoi, was unlike anything I’d ever felt before.

“What are you?” Inwardly, I groaned. Great way to look like a complete idiot.

He leaned an elbow against the counter, and the brush of his shadow against mine rushed a prickle of gooseflesh over my skin. “A lowly hybrid,” he murmured, and his hint of self-mockery pricked at me. “But you,” the tip of the bottle followed the blurred edges of my shadow in a lazy, skin-rippling caress, “golden and so, so strong.” The quick, unconscious wetting of his lips with the tip of his tongue had the urge to taste him, to sink my teeth into his firm, bottom lip, flushing heat under my skin. “Truly beautiful.”

“Are you a regular here?” He eased closer, the slide of his shadow over and through mine making my breath short and my chest tight. I turned to him, unable to stop myself. My question had been little more than a squeak, and I willed more strength into my voice. “Because really, if I’d known, I’d have come here more often.”

His finger brushed over my cheek, and the contact was electric. “Semi-regular.” He threaded through to my hair, holding me, his lips only inches from mine. “And I think we should take…this…away from mere mortals.”

“This?” The question came out on a little burst of air. “We’re at a…this…already?”

His quick grin warmed his amber eyes to a deep, intoxicating gold. “Aren’t we?” He put his beer bottle on the counter and took another step closer to me. The heat of his body brushed over me now, his spiced scent sliding into my lungs. “And there’s enough of the mythoi in both of us to have those pure-bloods falling on each other.” He paused, and my blood pounded in my ears as he focused on my mouth. The soft, rich murmur of his voice made me wet for him and nothing, nothing else mattered.

“And I don’t think that’s what they came for.”

“Is this what you came for?”

“Me? Yes.” His unhurried smile eased through me. “You’re irresistible.”

“So much flattery.”

“I am far from insincere.” The first brush of his lips against mine forced a gasp, maybe from both of us. “Trust me.”

“Who are you?”

“Kaden Rhodes.”

It wasn’t one of the family names I recognised, yet he sounded British…which didn’t make sense. Every one of the mythoi was catalogued—

“Thinking too much,” he murmured, and his mouth hovered over mine, so close everything else simply fell away. “Who I am isn’t important right now. What I want to do is.”

Kaden’s cooled fingers teased along my bare thigh, and the need to take his mouth fired through me. I’d come to the club for this, to find a man with whom to lose my final hours of freedom…but it felt too fast, and there was something else that had my nerves straining. Something about him burned as hungry and dangerous as the karkadann.

He lifted an eyebrow. “Second thoughts…?”

“Jaime.” Only the wild thud of my heart echoed in my ears. I didn’t want second thoughts. I wanted to be naked with this man as soon as possible. Hell, I was half gryphon. Having that much of the beast in my genome meant I could shift my shape and my mythoi came with a razor sharp beak, talons and wings. A smile curved my mouth. “I have a suite at the Waterfront Hotel.”

Kaden’s smile deepened and his eyes shone. His finger traced over my bottom lip, and the urge to tease him with my tongue tip rioted through me. “You’re rich?”

Was there something of the gryphon in him? The need for wealth, we couldn’t help it…but unfortunately, he was wrong. The First Dragon had liquefied all my assets, as meagre as they were, and taken them for himself, but not before I’d splurged on nights in a luxurious suite. It hadn’t made me forget that, in a few hours, he would own everything about me. “I’m treating myself on my last night of freedom.”

His eyes narrowed. “A final fling?”

My gut tightened, but he wasn’t pulling back. And really, it was best that the attractive stranger understood that our…this…could go nowhere. The First Dragon would choose my mate, if he let me take one at all. Only profitable gryphons bred after long service. Anyway, mythoi didn’t cross species to find a mate. I really had no clue what Kaden was.

I pulled in a slow breath. “My only fling. My life will get complicated tomorrow.”

“Then tonight will be simple.” He stood back and held out his hand. “Shall we?

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