My snippet today is from The Art of Domination (book 2 of Pain and Pleasure). This is a BDSM erotic romance serial, but this snippet is rated PG.
At the time Taren didn’t realize it, but the day he pulled a half frozen, hungry, scared twenty-something kid out of a wrecked car during a blizzard was the most significant day of his life. The ironic thing was Taren had lived in Idaho all of two weeks and Ian had been born here. If anyone should’ve been stranded in that blizzard it was Taren.
What started as a rescue ended as a first date. Two years later Taren married the guy. Ian was not his usual type, but wasn’t that the way love worked? Ian was young, much younger than Taren, but not immature. He was a smart, interesting man who knew exactly what he wanted. A little bit of a perfectionist, but that was what made him a superb CEO and likely got him through Warton with honors and an MBA. After they’d come to know each other, Ian confessed he’d wanted Taren as a lover and as a Dom, from that first blizzardy day.
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The Art of Domination and the entire Pain and Pleasure series is available from JMS Books LLC, Amazon and other booksellers.
I'm very excited that several of my books and The Sleepless City series (co-written with Anne Barwell) have been nominated for the Paranormal Romance Guild Awards. Congratulations and good luck to my fellow contestants!
LGBT/SCI-FI/FANTASY/HORROR/EPIC FANTASY/DARK FANTASY
MULTICULTURAL/HISTORICAL/SPORTS – SERIES
LGBT/ROMANCE/PARANORMAL/VAMPIRES & SHIFTERS/WITCHES & WIZARDS/GHOSTS/PSYCHICS
LGBT/ROMANCE/PARANORMAL/VAMPIRES & SHIFTERS/WITCHES & WIZARDS/GHOSTS/PSYCHICS – SERIES
The Sleepless City
I've been working on getting the second book of The Vampire Guard, Quarry, re-released. So far I've decided to add some scenes to one of the earlier chapters. Here's a little bit...
Vampires might be able to withstand tremendous damage to their bodies, and recover, but that didn’t preclude pain. Declan could honestly say his recovery from some injuries were worse than the injuries themselves. And he’d never suffered anything even close to Blair’s current wounds.
Thanks to his empathic-near-psychic-connection to Blair, poor Jonas was feeling almost as much pain and fear and whatever else Blair was experiencing. Jonas needed assistance to walk, twice Declan carried him. He was breathing erratically, which supported Lucas’s thoughts about a punctured lung, and at times was incoherent. Blair was his friend and Declan was quite fond of him, but he and Jonas had a damn near two-hundred-year relationship. For Declan, his priority became Jonas. With Kai and Ori’s help, Lucas tended to Blair.
They loaded Blair into the surveillance van, laying him in the back and rolling him to his side so Lucas could clean and dress the rebar wound. Jonas collapsed in one of the seats, his head tipped back against seat and his arms flopped limp at his sides. His breath hitched and he made a half-hearted attempt at rubbing the right side of his chest, opposite where the rebar had pierced Blair’s back. He dropped his hand to his side again and mumbled, “Can’t breathe.”
Jonas reached for Declan’s hand, which was freely offered, and squeezed, his grip was feeble at best. Declan kept a firm grip and that’s when he heard an odd sucking, wheezing sound coming from Blair’s chest.
Kai was navigating the van through the streets at the highest speed they dared. Ori had some medical training and already pulled their field kit, normally used for injured humans, from one of the compartments and was handing supplies to Lucas. They must’ve been the correct supplies because Lucas wordlessly took what was offered and applied something to Blair’s back. The odd sound died away, Jonas pulled in a deep breath and relaxed ever so slightly but didn’t let go of Declan.
Blair moaned and mumbled something then was unconscious again.
“We’re hours from home,” Jonas choked the words out.
“No. We’re not.” Kai talked but never took his eyes off the road. “There’s a chopper meeting us to transport all of you back to your safehouse.”
“He’s going to need help getting over this unscathed,” Ori said and sat back. He looked from Jonas to Declan to Lucas. “Vampires that experience such excruciating injuries heal physically, but sometimes not emotionally or mentally.”
“Not without help,” Kai added. “I’ve seen it before. They can become very different people. And not in a good way.”
“I know,” Declan said softly. Lucas looked up, shock all over his face. “Jonas does as well.”
Jonas had been watching Blair, but now he shifted to look Declan in the eye.
“I’m not sure a TENS machine will help much. He’s too badly hurt,” Lucas said.
Code Name Jack Rabbit (book 1 of The Vampire Guard ) was released on January 12, 2021. It's available on Amazon in eBook and in Kindle Unlimited. This series is a spin-off from The Sleepless City, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance written with Anne Barwell.
The Vampire Guard is an urban fantasy series with romantic sub-plots but is not a romance.
We have The Sleepless City Facebook group dedicated to this shared universe and would love to see you there!
My teaser is from romantic/suspense/thriller, Bait.
The door to Tyler’s apartment was a nondescript wooden door that many people mistook for an entrance to a supply closet. He pulled a small ring of keys from his pocket and unlocked the door, opened it and pushed it wide for Linden to enter.
Linden stopped and glanced around the inside of the lodged. “Is anyone else here?”
“Then why lock your door?”
Tyler shook his head and motioned at the door. “It’s right next to the kitchen doors and looks like this is where we keep the brooms and mops. If I didn’t keep it locked, I’d have all sorts of unwanted guests. It’s a habit. If you’ll feel better, I can crank up the boilers in one of other buildings, but you’ll be damn cold and no hot shower for a good day.”
The way Linden looked him up and down was unnerving. The word intense was the only thing that came to Tyler’s mind as he watched Special Agent Bourne. Linden’s expression and the way he observed Tyler with deep, very dark eyes were unwavering and unsettling.
“I have a hunting knife in a drawer in the coffee table and a shotgun under the couch. It’s not loaded—feel free to check. There is a handgun in my dresser. Both guns are registered to the inn owner. I only have them because I’m out here in the middle of buttass nowhere alone for a few weeks, and the closest help is the park ranger’s station near Devils Tower and the one in Custer.” He tossed the key ring to Linden, who caught it and held it loosely in his hand. “Those keys are to every door in this entire place. Search anything you’d like. Just know I have the liquor inventory memorized.”
Linden chuckled and stared down at the keys in his palm for a few seconds before closing his fingers around them. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again to meet Tyler’s gaze, shaking his head slightly and extending his fist. Tyler held out one hand, palm up, and Linden set the keys in it, letting his hand rest in Tyler’s for a split second. The gesture, and Linden’s hand, was warm and oddly comforting. In the next instant, Linden opened his fingers, released the keys and pulled his hand away, stuffing it in his pocket.
“Let me give you the five-cent tour,” Tyler said for something to do. He’d spent three hours with this man four months ago and hadn’t stopped thinking about him since. Now Linden was about to camp out on his couch.
Linden nodded and smiled, making the corners of his eyes crinkle in a pleasant way that Tyler definitely liked. He studied his feet for a few seconds before lifting his head to be met with soft, warm, very dark eyes. “I’d like that.”
Marc returns home from London to his isolated Welsh cottage for good, having found his ex boyfriend shagging someone else in their bed. Who’s the thin, freezing cold man with the bruised face he finds in his barn? Will the tenuous connection between them grow, or fade away?
A 9,000 word short story to mark the Welsh St Valentine’s Day, St Dwynwen’s Day, the 25th of January. With chickens.
Excerpt – Rudimentary First Aid
His first aid kit was rudimentary but covered the basics. Antiseptics, dressings, butterfly strips. It should do the job. He hauled it out from under the driver’s seat, eyeing the squeezed-in boxes disfavourably. That was going to be today’s job, he supposed.
He was so taken up with his mission that he forgot there should have been a chicken in the porch until he turned back toward the house. He blinked in disbelief. She had a friend. Two friends. They were sat in a row on the back of the garden bench underneath the parlour window. As he watched, they jumped down, one by one and stood in a line, as if waiting for him. The two new ones were very clearly the same breed as Chicken Number One. Big, fluffy, orange. One had more exciting headgear than the other two and was a bit bigger, so he guessed that was a boy-chicken. Cockerel. Cock. He sniggered quietly and then stopped himself as the first chicken…he could tell it was the original one because it had a bit of black in its tail and the others didn’t…looked at him disapprovingly.
Obviously cock jokes were out. The telepathic chicken didn’t like it.
“Sorry,” he said. “I was just getting the first aid kit for Mal. I’ll stop.”
He performed a shuffling dance around them to get back indoors. “You’re like the Midwich Cuckoos,” he told them. “You are not coming into my house. Stay outside. It’s bad enough having a porch full of chicken shit.”
Mal was on his feet looking at him in alarm when he stepped through the parlour door, and the dog was standing beside him, hackles up.
“Who were you talking to?” he asked in a panicked voice. “Is someone out there?”
Marc shook his head. “Chickens,” he said. “I seem to have chickens living in the porch. It’s fine. He narrowed his eyes. “What makes you think there might be someone out there? Who hurt you?”
Mal sat down on the edge of the chair and ran his hands over his cheeks, pulling a face. The dog sat beside him and put her chin on his knee, staring up at him, and he absently began to pet her ears. Marc knelt beside him and opened the first-aid box.
“My ex’s dad,” he said, quietly, after a moment or two. We’d split up anyway. Ages ago. But he saw me in Welshpool a couple of days ago and wanted to drive the point home.’ He shivered. “I’d only gone down into town to pick up some food and bits.” He winced as Marc turned his face toward the light and began to wipe the cut against his hairline with antiseptic. “I’d left Anghared up here, else he wouldn’t have got near me.”
The dog gave a small woof as she heard her name.
“Would he, girl? Stupid man.”
“So how did you end up in my barn?” Marc said, gently fixing butterfly strips over the cut. It had come open again and was bleeding a bit, but it looked like it would be fine. “Come on, let’s look at your ribs too, while I’m at it.”
“They’re fine, honestly. Only bruised.” Mal pulled away and Marc just looked at him. Mal sighed. “All right, all right.” He began to unzip the big hoodie he was swamped in and winced again. Marc raised an eyebrow, silently asking for permission and then reached out to help when Mal nodded. There were a lot of layers to get through and it took a while to gently extract him. The cold was still coming off him in waves and he was shivering badly as he said, “I’ve been staying up in the woods. But I felt too bad to get home. Anghared found me, didn’t you girl? And we needed somewhere out of the cold. I’m freezing, still.”
He was shuddering, which was probably a good thing in retrospect, Marc thought. He hadn’t been shivering at all when he’d first come inside. Incipient hypothermia. He had a quick look and a gentle feel of the ribs. They were badly bruised but he couldn’t feel anything shifting around, so he’d call that good. Mal’s skin was icy cold under Marc’s fingers.
“Bath?” he said. “Or body-heat?”
“Ugh,” he screwed his face up. “Do I have to?”
“Yes,” said Marc firmly. “I don’t want you to die on my first day home for two and a half years. If that’s all right.”
Meet A.L. Lester
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens. Likes gardening but doesn't really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn't much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.
Todd opened his mouth, closed it, turned to Nick, and drew in a breath. Then he let his chin drop to his chest for a few beats. “No, Nicky. I don’t want to get rid of you. I just need to know how well they taught you to fight.” He shrugged, lifted one hand into the air, then let it drop to hit his hip. His chin jerked at Jimmy. “Hit him, then.”
“I can’t hit him.” Nick pointed to Jimmy. “He’s old.”
Jimmy barked, “Hey!”
Nick cringed and Todd laughed.
“Nick, you’re gonna have to hit one of us,” Todd pointed out.
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Marked Yours is available from JMS Books as well as Amazon and other booksellers.
Nick snapped out of his thoughts and back to the here and now when Todd pushed a knife into his hand. Todd stepped away and waved one hand at a target.
“Okay, Nicky. Let me see what you can do.”
“I like knives the best,” Nick announced while he hit the target with every weapon Todd handed him. “They’re quiet and stealthy.”
Jimmy’s grin got wider and brighter. While Nick saw the pride in Todd’s eyes, he sensed other emotions lurking below the surface. It was as if Todd had been hoping Nick wouldn’t be so good. Although Nick wanted very much to please Todd, he couldn’t shake the feeling, by pleasing Todd, he was also letting Todd down somehow. Nick liked the glint of pride in Todd’s eyes when he watched Nick use the weapons, and Nick wanted to see it more often.
While Jimmy gathered up the weapons and set them to one side, Todd stood facing Nick. He dipped his head side to side and shook his arms out, then did a little running in place before he reached out, tapped Nick’s arm and completely caught Nick off guard by saying, “Hit me, Nicky.” He bounced on the balls of his feet and held his fists up. “C’mon, give me your best.”
“Huh?” Nick couldn’t help it; his reaction was immediate and surprising. His skin turned to ice, his chest constricted, tears appeared unbidden in his eyes and spilled out, and he started to shake. “You want me to…but why? I thought…You don’t want me anymore? Want to kill me?” Could he have been so wrong about Todd?
Todd stopped moving and blinked at him. “What? Why?”
“You’re a moron, Todd.” Jimmy stepped up next to Nick, resting a hand on his shoulder.
“Why would you think that?” Todd asked Nick, clearly stunned. He turned to Jimmy, his voice rising. “Why would he think that?”
“You fool. Why wouldn’t he? A slave hitting his master is punishable by death.”
Todd opened his mouth, closed it, turned to Nick, and drew in a breath. Then he let his chin drop to his chest for a few beats. “No, Nicky. I don’t want to get rid of you. I just need to know how wel they taught you to fight.” He shrugged, lifted one hand into the air, then let it drop to hit his hip. His chin jerked at Jimmy. “Hit him, then.”
“I can’t hit him.” Nick pointed to Jimmy. “He’s old.”
Jimmy barked, “Hey!”
Nick cringed and Todd laughed.
“Nick, you’re gonna have to hit one of us,” Todd pointed out.
“Why don’t ya two just wrestle instead?” Jimmy grumbled.
“Uh, no, Jimmy. I don’t think that’d be a good idea.”
Rubbing his neck, Todd’s gaze dropped to the ground. Nick felt the heat rising in his cheeks.
Todd turned his head to one side and gave Nick a wink, making the younger man laugh softly. “Okay. Come on, Nick. Hit me.” He started hopping around again, this time jabbing at the air.
Nick flinched, jumped, and punched Todd, sending him stumbling backward a few steps before landing on his rear in the sand with a thud.
“Oh…I didn’t… Todd…”
Rubbing his chin, Todd shook his head, cracked his neck, and climbed to his feet, grinning like a loon. “That was perfect, Nicky!” Nick blinked at him, not sure what to do, until he found himself landing hard on his back in the sand, pain blooming along his shoulders. Todd grinned down at him, held out one hand, and when Nick grasped it, hoisted Nick to his feet.
Then Todd flipped him over onto his back again. “It’s on.”
Nick rolled to his feet, smirked and a few minutes later, he and Todd were in a mock battle.
Unlike the training matches in the village, where slaves were punished for missed moves, cuts and even broken bones were unattended and ignored, and whips were used for corrections, this was fun. Sparring with Todd wasn’t a competition and Todd wasn’t trying to hurt him or beat him to win bonus points with tutors. Todd wasn’t a competitor, jealous that Nick’s future master sent him gifts, extra food, and letters. Each time Nick managed to take Todd down—and he had the feeling Todd let him—his master’s smile was broad and pleased.
I hope everyone had a good week. The weather here in northeast Ohio has been a little up and down which makes my joints a bit achy.
This week's snippet comes from Shifting Chaos, the final installment in The Sleepless City series that I wrote with Anne Barwell.
Forge motioned to the painting Declan sat near. “You’re painting something new!”
Declan glanced back at the painting before turning to Forge and nodding. “Um hum. I thought you didn’t like my paintings.”
“No,” Forge corrected, “I never liked the counterfeits, I love your paintings. Is that Kitchi?”
The canvas was long and narrow. The left most third was of a tall, brown man with deep, dark eyes and thick, black hair hanging to his waist. He stood on a riverbank in front of a thick forest of trees.
In all the years Forge had known Declan, not once had Declan so much as sketched Kitchi, not that Forge was aware of at least.
“That’s how I imagined him,” Forge said gently. “I like it.”
Declan smiled softly. “Thank you.”
“What is going on the rest of it?”
“Now you know very well…”
“The artist never reveals his art until it’s ready,” Forge mimicked Declan’s voice perfectly then chuckled.
Declan stood up and patted the side of Forge’s neck. “It’s good to hear you laugh,” he said.
Got a taste for snippety goodness? Check out the Facebook group Rainbow Snippets.
Shifting Chaos is available from Amazon in eBook
and is in Kindle Unlimited.
Jeanne Marcella has a new MM/MMF dark fantasy out: "Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs." And there's a giveaway!
Her past is postage due and centaurs are ready to collect.
Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs is a dark fantasy most daring and eccentric. A tale not for the faint of heart. Pony is a bipedal half-breed centaur with no desire to waste tears on a past she can't remember. She's busy enough with her mail routes and package deliveries, and of course, floundering through hot-cold love affairs with the high class courtesans Mardyth and Lullaby.
The mundane drudgery of her life shatters when Konstantine Bywater takes over as Lightfoot Delivery's new boss. He asks questions she can't possibly answer, and stirs up a tragic past better left dead and buried.
But running away is no longer an option. Not when Kon and his minions accuse Mardyth of an unspeakable crime. With her lover's life at stake, Pony won't stop until she uncovers not only the truth of Mardyth's innocence, but the truth of the past as well.
Jeanne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:
Saddle-sweating, horse-humping, gods-cursed bastards! The rumors were true. Shit! Bad luck must be in love with me or something. Maybe it could give Mardyth lessons.
Arms pumping high and heart hammering in her parched throat, Pony pushed to reach her top speed. The rumble of centaur hooves behind her vibrated both earth and air. She absorbed those rumbling shock waves into her svelte, bipedal runner’s body. And knew her two human legs—versus their four equine ones—would not be enough.
Still, she would try.
The sweltering heat weighed heavy. Her ratty brown and tan courier’s tunic clung like a starving tick. Rocks and pebbles further split the threadbare soles of her worn-out boots as she pounded down the rutted road. She grimaced at the sweaty slap of calloused arches sliding around in rotted footwear that could fall apart any day now.
Pony squinted at the onslaught of bright blue sky. Her brain cooked in its own juices as the summer sun withered the forest corridor. Her brown hair slipped from its limp topknot; stray strands plastered her sunburned cheeks. It was almost too hot to breathe. Too dry to live. And the damn fools giving chase wanted to die of heatstroke right alongside her.
As it always did in situations like these, Callum’s unfavorable input surfaced to harass her. Stupid, gods-damned centaurs—worthless scraps of horsemeat to toss to the dogs. Her former guardian’s mantra, though crude and offensive, might hold slivers of truth. It was most certainly stupid to be running full-out in this blistering heat. At any other time, she might’ve been curious about this, her first ever centaur encounter.
Just to say she’d finally met one.
Give a lecture about overexertion in extreme weather.
Maybe engage in some harmless flirting.
To finally decide, once and for all, that Callum was right about them.
But not when this chase proved that they were hunting for courier blood.
Any courier’s blood.
Keep running. Don’t look back.
She looked back.
Six tall shapes, the merging of man and equine. Hooves kicking up clouds of rising dust. The whip of long, flashing manes. The distance between them shrank with each passing second.
Her mail satchel, empty except for the meager bait of Escape Plan Number Two, bounced against her spine. Slung across her chest and anchored into the strap of her mailbag, a dozen small throwing blades awaited use. The large knife hanging at her hip, anchored at her thigh, allowed slight consolation.
Escape Plan Number One took the form of the few coins she couldn’t spare; the bits of metal jingled in her trouser pocket, muffled by a scrap of cloth.
Your job is to run, but hold strength in reserve. Callum’s voice echoed in the back of her mind. If cornered, kill without hesitation or remorse.
Okay. Good advice. She was good at running. That was all she ever did.
Pony crushed dry cracked lips between her teeth. Escape Plan Number One never failed. But would this tactic work on centaurs?
Wait. She had to revise that. Would Escape Plan Number One work on murderous, marauding centaurs who’d probably noticed she was a half-breed suffering through the last few days of her estrus?
If Callum were alive, he would’ve wagered against her.
Might as well give the plan a go, Horsemeat.
She sensed the distance closing between them. Imagined their hot breath blowing down the back of her neck. Their tall, bizarre forms hovering over her. Their hands tearing at her tunic to confirm the hidden tail braided and wrapped around her waist like a belt…
Pony shook off the terror. No time to panic.
Dipping into her trouser pocket, she pulled out several bronze skull coins and flung them over her shoulder. It was back to rummaging through garbage cans when she got home. The currency thudded along the highway and pinged off rocks. On her old southern routes, tossing money always worked with the undesirables skulking around looking for a mark.
The thundering sound of hooves sped up and deepened. Pony ground her teeth. All right, so they weren’t after money. Not typical highwaymen then. Why couldn’t they be greedy bastards like everyone else?
Escape Plan Number Two.
Reaching into the mailbag, Pony pulled out the four carrots she’d pilfered from the company stables. She glanced at the vegetables, shrugged, and took a bite out of one. Then she proceeded to fling the orange darlings over her shoulder in two-second intervals.
High-pitched squeals of disgust and indignation answered.
Oh well. It’d been worth the try. Maybe they weren’t all animal after all. Or maybe centaurs were fussy eaters. Maybe she should’ve grabbed a salt brick instead. Then she could’ve brained them with it.
Escape Plan Number Three then.
The road continued to bend, the thick forest jutting into her direct line of sight. She darted for the ferns and scrub brush. Towering pines blotted out some of the sun’s glare—for a few seconds she was running blind.
Two centaurs armed with longbows jumped out in front of her. The younger one took aim at her heart.
Horseshit! She was speedy, but not quick enough to outrun a flying projectile. Gulping, she dropped into a slide, feet first. Gravel tore open her calloused palms and ripped holes into the back of her trousers.
Great. Bleeding in several places, and now she had clothes to repair. “Arggh!” She slammed slick fists to the ground. “What’s wrong with you swag-bellied tail-waggers? You’d shoot one of your own?”
Jeanne Marcella writes dramatic, and often character driven fantasy fiction not for the faint of heart. Quests, adventure, danger, and the grit of living are foremost, but relationships and mild romance might also share the pages.
Granted unlimited access to books at a very early age via the library, she quickly acquired a fondness for creating her own stories through word and drawing. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Author Website: https://www.aforgeofphoenix.com
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My teaser this week is from my new release, Code Name Jack Rabbit!
Blair sucked in a breath and rubbed one ear with his palm. Lucas grabbed the device and switched it off in a hurry. “So, some sort of ultrasonic signal.” He pulled a small clear-plastic evidence bag containing one of the scales from his pocket. “Can you tell me about this?”
“Where did you get this?” Bronwen asked.
“From the hull of your damaged boat,” Lucas said without skipping a beat. “I saw the DNA sequencing for this thing.”
Bronwen looked from Lucas to Blair. “I can’t…. Mr. Grier….”
“You don’t have to be afraid of him anymore. He’s in jail and staying there,” Blair said. “What did he do that made you so afraid of him?”
“You wouldn’t believe me. It sounds crazy. No one would believe me.” She sat in the seat beside Blair.
“Try us,” Lucas said.
Bronwen focused on him for a second. “Who are you, exactly?”
“Oh, I’m a medical examiner.”
“You know about the genetic sequence for that scale. A medical examiner for who? The NSA?”
Lucas rubbed the back of his neck. “Boggslake PD.” He pulled out his wallet and showed her his police ID.
“You kept asking me if I believed in mythological creatures. Was Grier one?” Blair asked.
“His eyes and fingers would change and he’d get teeth like a wolf,” Bronwen said. “It’s crazy, I know, and I have no idea how he did it, but—” She shook her head. “It sounds insane, and I don’t blame anyone for thinking I’m unbalanced.”
Lucas looked around the dock, assuring himself they weren’t being watched, and turned so his back was to the marina. He began to unbutton his shirt.
“What are you doing?” Bronwen’s voice rose, and she began inching out of the seat.
“Don’t panic.” His voice was deeper, gravelly, and he had to speak more slowly after he changed just far enough he could still talk. Lucas kept his gaze riveted to her. As his facial features changed, long hair sprouted from his hands and chest, and his body shape morphed, Bronwen gripped her seat so hard her knuckles went white. Her breathing sped up, and Lucas smelled sweat more prominently than if it was just from the weather.
Bronwen’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. “You’re like him."
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