I thank all of you who helped out with your votes!
The prize was a featured chapter preview in the November Affaire de Coeur.
I picked HEAT WAVE, Book 4 of my SLEEPY HOLLOW 1Night Stand series. The chapter needed to be G-rated. And that was not easy!
Here's the full chapter excerpt:
Zena had not been to Duyvil Tand in ages and had forgotten how intimidating Devil Tooth could be.
Upon their arrival outside the Grand Hall of the Queen's court, twin heralds blew an unsettling fanfare on goats' horns. Bhyrne escorted her through the enormous double doors hacked from granite and inlaid with carved ore and semi-precious stones in a mosaic of cryptic demon symbology.
Banners embroidered with the devices of the noble families hung from the ceiling. Tapestries depicting scenes from the Antynonium, the underworld book of history and theology, graced the walls. Torches burned in sconces set like sentinels at uniform intervals. Acrid hints of sulfur and brimstone masked by vague perfumes of incense wisped up her nostrils.
The dark, majestic effect intimidated and inspired awe. But most sinister and hideous of all were the scores of demons lining the cavernous room, undisguised by the veneers-sometimes called glamours-of the human forms they so often adopted. Their expectant gazes riveted upon her with something akin to bloodthirsty glee. And arousal. In more cases than she had the fortitude to count, several demonic hands grasped groins, jiggling erections that tented robes and other creepy underworld attire.
Upon a raised dais that increased her dominion and authority over the gathering, Queen Velda perched on a throne constructed of skulls, iron spikes and, a bit incongruously, jewels.
That can't be comfortable.
"Approach." Velda beckoned her closer with an imperious gesture, but held up her hand when Bhyrne also stepped forward, Zena's arm tucked securely within the crook of his. "Not you, savaghy. Your service with regard to your current assignment is, for the moment, concluded."
"I would stay, My Queen." He inclined his head briefly.
Her sharp gaze narrowed as she examined him from head to toe. "Your state does not escape me, savaghy."
A muffled titter from the cluster of demons ringing the room confused Zena. She tamped down her gag reflexes and shut her eyes to the pool of drool disgorged onto the marble floor by an expectoritus demon, apparently overcome with lust. Gah. She sidled away from the growing slick of slobber and stepped closer to the sweating fire-sex demon beside her.
Her action drew a pointed frown from the queen, who fixed her attention on the enforcer once more. "Attend to yourself," she rebuked him. The pitch of her voice lowered an octave. "Or I will." The husky quality of her tone left no question as to the form the queen's ministrations might take.
"I will remain until this audience is over." The guardsman's voice, deep and iron-willed, rose above another ripple of titillated amusement from those in attendance, defying the direct order. "Your Majesty."
"You will be disciplined for your disobedience, savaghy."
"So be it."
"Go, Bhyrne," Zena urged in a soft whisper. "Whatever this is, I can handle it. I don't want you punished because of me."
"Too late for that, princess. You'll torment me for eternity."
She barely heard his murmur as the queen once more raised her hand and compelled her forward. Zena's hand slipped away from the enforcer's forearm, as if it had a will of its own. She took three steps forward. The same compulsion forced her to her knees before the throne, her face bare inches from the spread thighs of the queen's consort, a forest demon whose wood bulged beneath loose trousers.
Despite the charmed hold, she managed to crab-creep backward, putting more space between her and the royal consort before she raised her head to look at the queen.
The other succubus, once insanely beautiful and possessed of the ability to drive mortals to madness, remained a handsome female still. She'd aged well, but wore her history like an ermine robe. Her dark eyes drilled knowingly into Zena. Power encased her.
"Your ingenuity, creativity, energy, and drive have pleased us in the past, moshula. You have been a credit to the family, beloved get of my late sister."
Great. Maybe she'd survive her present circumstances and the queen's summons didn't portend something so bad after all. Although the reminder of her mother, the former queen who had more than dabbled in evil, and whose fate had not been pretty, served as a cautionary tale. Had Zena not been sent to the Nights for fostering, and had the Nights not adopted her and raised her as their own, along with Lily and Dagney, she might have been wasting away in demonville for decades, searching for her lost shaker of salt. And hell knew what might have become of her then.
"Thank you, Majesty," Zena whispered, momentarily chastened, presenting the picture of a respectful subject.
"But you've done nothing to fortify or ensure the future of the royal line. You are aging. You have no consort. No one will lie with a succubus grown so long in the tooth. You will be unable to provide me with the mortal souls and energy I require to survive."
Long in the tooth! Why, I'm barely-Zena shut her eyes, suddenly certain what would come next.
"You thirtieth birthday fast approaches."
She nodded dumbly, uncharacteristically robbed of words. A faint rustling came from somewhere behind her, as if the fire-sex demon shifted his weight from foot to foot.
"Have you taken a mate?" The queen's words fell like thunder.
"You know I have not, Your Majesty," she said, her mouth drained of moisture, so dry her ability to achieve speech remained a mystery.
"Then you must choose."
"From one of the males now assembled in the throne room."
An eruption of shouts and applause thundered from the peanut gallery, battling for ascendancy with the hissed inhalation of breath from the enforcer behind her. Somehow, he had stepped forward without notice during the explosion of excitement greeting the queen's pronouncement.
Zena dragged her gaze around the grand hall, resting her eyes on the assembled demons, one being more repulsive than the next. So that explained their excitement, the barely contained evidence of their arousal.
"They have come far and wide, from every corner of the demon realms, to vie for your hand, you lucky girl."
The array of eligibles horrified her. Without their veneers, they were a cornucopia of scales and wings, webbed feet and horns, plates and scabs, oozing sores and festering blisters, of slaver and other filth, of slime and slither, and fangs longer than the Washington Monument. She'd retch if she had to touch one of them. Bed one? Mate one? Never. She'd never survive.
The air sapped out of her lungs, depriving her brain of oxygen, making her light-headed and dizzy. Please don't let me faint. Please don't let me faint.
"I've got your back, princess." Bhyrne rose like a monolith behind her. A hot, living wall of security separating her from the gruesome collection of would-be suitors. "Always."
His words-and the recollection of his own recent defiance of the queen-lent her sudden strength. Could she take him at his word? Could she outwit Velda somehow?
Bhyrne is one of the males in the room.
Could she mate him? Make him her own? Would he be willing? Could she convince Velda to let her try?
"I still have a little time then, don't I? My birthday is not for two days."
"Yes, yes." The prime leader of the succubi waved her hand with impatience. "That is my point."
"So you will allow me two days to choose my consort?"
Velda sighed, as if she'd been deprived of her evening's entertainment. "Forty-eight hours. But you'd better make it snappy. You're not getting any younger, Zena."
***Zena paced the length and width of her luxurious suite in the royal apartments of Duyvil Tand, her teeth worrying her lower lip in panic.
Where had they taken Bhyrne?
Immediately following Queen Velda's decree, two of her regal guardsmen had seized him, dragging him from the throne room. To his credit, he'd struggled and shouted, but even a male of his generous size could not overcome the strength of the soldiers, each even brawnier and beefier than he. Plus, they were fully armed. Even if the fire-sex demon had hidden an entire arsenal beneath his damp and wrinkled Hugo Boss suit, they'd bent and twisted his arms behind his back, restraining him so he'd never be able to reach any weapons. She did not want to think about the punishment they might be inflicting on him.
Goddess. The way he'd stepped up to the plate for her and defied the queen, knowing, as an enforcer, the full consequences of his disobedience...such an absolutely worthy male. So incredibly, effin awesome.
Her own predicament faded as she contemplated his. She'd never met anyone like him in her life. Solid. Strong. Dependable. Protective. Sexy. And gorgeous. Hotter than a blazing inferno.
She had to find him. Save him, if possible. Have him whiff them both the hell out of Demon Central. She would not rest until the massive doors of Duyvel Tand thumped them both in the ass.
After pacing back and forth a few more minutes, trying to concoct a game plan, she decided to contact her sisters. Cell phone service in her room, deep within the mountain, faded in and out at best, but she dared not stroll around the palace seeking more bars and a better connection-and encouraging sex-crazed demons to pop out of the woodwork and jump her bones. After a few fits and starts, dropped words here and there, she managed to get Lily on the line and communicate her circumstances.
"Let me patch in Dag and call you right back," her youngest sister said.
The return call came a few minutes later, with both succubi on the line.
"Here's what we're going to do," Lily said. "Remember how you and Dag staged that ‘intervention' in my office and signed me up with the 1Night Stand agency? Thanks to you guys and Madame Evangeline, I found Campbell again. Well, Dag's contacted Madame Eve. We've registered you with 1Night Stand. Because this is an emergency and time is of the essence, and because Madame Eve was so successful with Dag and Max, and me and Campbell, and because we've vouched for you, Madame Eve has agreed to forego some of the details in the questionnaire. We've already filled in the parts we could for you. You're all set up. It's a definite go. The date will happen ASAP. We know you'll find a mate."
Okay. Not exactly what she had in mind, but...Dagney and Max, and Lily and Campbell, were outstanding together, the best evidence that the exclusive dating service worked, no matter how grave or complicated the problem. In all matters of love and sex, Madame Eve came to the rescue. Results guaranteed. Zena heaved a sigh of semi-relief.
"Thanks, you guys. Best. Sisters. Ever." Pausing, she took another breath. She might be set...but the enforcer remained in danger. "Is Max there?"
His deep voice rumbled in her ear. "Right here, Z."
"Ran down some connections and found Bhyrne for you. As luck, fate and happy coincidence would have it, he's in the same wing, on the same floor."
This time her sigh held every grain of hope she'd ever dared dream.
"Though they did have him in the dungeon awhile, according to my sources." Max's voice wavered slightly. "He's been worked over pretty good, Z. So take it easy with him. Here's the passcode for the door." He murmured a series of numbers, which she scribbled onto a gum wrapper she found in her purse.
"And Zena?" Max cleared his throat. "I don't know if you've noticed how hot he is...."
"Oh, hells, yeah. I've definitely noticed that."
"Not what I mean. I'm talking about his actual body heat...not his, um, looks. Because of what he's going through, I set him up with 1Night Stand when you guys visited us. I'll let Bhyrne tell you why. Madame Eve just texted us. You've got a date."
"With Bhyrne?" Her heart suddenly ran through an Olympics gymnastic floor routine.
"Listen to me, Z. He's in a fragile state."
"Bhyrne is?" Yeah, so a parrot had apparently taken up residence in her mouth. But the idea of Iron Man having the vapors, no matter what his physiological or mental condition, seemed too ludicrous to require a laugh track.
"Yeah. Bhyrne. My cousin. It's important you don't mess with him now. So if you don't think he's the one, you'd better decide that pretty fuckin' quick. And get the hell away from him if it's a no-go."
HEAT WAVE ©Taryn Kincaid 2013
HEAT WAVE is available as a single title ebook or as part of the SLEEPY HOLLOW anthology, available in paperback and digital editions
HEAT WAVE: Decadent Publishing | Amazon: US | UK | Canada | ARe | CTR |
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SLEEPY HOLLOW: Amazon US | Canada | UK | DE | Decadent Publishing |
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