CAPRIOLE is out!
I’m excited to annouce CAPRIOLE, an M/M Paranormal Romance is now available from Loose Id! And for fun, I put together a behind the scenes video so you can meet me and the horses who inspired the book. For an added bonus, visit my post over on Here Be Magic for a chance to win a copy of CAPRIOLE!
After fleeing a brutal mental hospital in Barcelona, Felipe Camarena is trying to forge a new life as a psychology student in San Diego. Trouble is, he has a knack of knowing things he shouldn’t about people, and the all-too-real demons from his past are coming back to haunt him.
Professor Lukas von Rainer is a Warden—someone who hunts incubi and tames their sexually ravenous and dangerous offspring. As a fellow Sensitive, Lukas is the only one who can help when Felipe is severely injured by an incubus. He takes Felipe to his ranch in hopes that his Lipizzan horses will help him recover, but Felipe refuses to face his past and attempts to seduce Lukas instead. Lukas fends him off, surprised to find himself falling for the young man he’s vowed to aid. For years, he’s believed a physically satisfying and truly loving relationship is impossible because of his abilities, but is it?
He may not get the chance to find out. Even as he and the horses work their magic to heal Felipe, the incubus tracking them means to kill him and anyone who gets in its way.
Once he’d left the dorm, Felipe simply ran. He had no goal, no destination beyond going somewhere he wasn’t. The afternoon passed in a haze of dream and delirium punctuated by the smooth white trunks of eucalyptus trees as he went by them. He might have stopped for a while. He might have slept as he walked. Nothing gave him any sort of marker.
Leaves crunched beneath his feet. He dreamed. Or hallucinated. He was never sure which. A breeze caressed his cheek, a chill promise of terrible things to come. The pale white trees morphed into other shapes. Some were terrifying, like Not-Rafael, its presence smothering as it whispered promises of death into Felipe’s ear. Others were comforting, like Lukas, handsome and strong, guns in hand, banishing the creature, or a horse, white and round and proud, just staring at him.
And as always, the voice from the hospital. “Demons aren’t real.” Click.
His own scream of terror stirred his consciousness enough for him to take note of himself and his surroundings. He had no idea where he was. Sweat soaked his shirt, yet he shivered uncontrollably. A sharp, lancing pain cut through his cheek. His shirt rubbed against the scratches on his chest, and his ankle burned. When he bent in the light of a streetlamp to pull up his pant leg and look, he saw livid red splotches that could have been the size and spacing of fingers had they not been swollen.
“I’m not crazy,” he told himself, yet it was the only explanation he had. That or delayed withdrawal of some sort. Whatever these symptoms were, they weren’t going to go away by themselves. Much as he hated to admit his weakness, he needed help.
He recalled the phone number Padre Rafael had given him before he’d left Barcelona. “If your life is in danger or if you have nowhere else to turn, call this number. Give him my name, and he’ll protect you.” He’d gripped Felipe’s shoulder and said with utter seriousness, “He’ll help you fight the demons.”
Demons. How strange they’d suddenly returned to his life. He’d spent too much time putting his mind and his life back together to lose everything he and Padre Rafael had worked for. Dead eucalyptus leaves crackled beneath his feet as he struggled to stay upright. Phone. He had to find a phone.
He staggered along, stopping as often as he could to lean against a tree for support. Every step left him weaker than the last. Down the way, bright lights illuminated a gas station and garage. They would have a pay phone.
By the time he reached the gas station, he was breathing hard and barely had the strength to stand. He always kept change in his shoe in case of emergencies. He pushed coins into the slot, where they fell with a reassuring clink. His fingers slipped out of the holes in the dial, and he had to eject the coins and start over.
The phone rang once. Twice. Three times. Felipe began to lose hope anyone would answer. Then—
The voice was low with a faint German accent Felipe recognized. Impossible. It couldn’t be Lukas.
“Hello? Is someone there?” Lukas sounded more irritated.
He couldn’t hold back his shock. “Who the hell are you?”
“Who is this? How did you get this number?”
The sweat on his palm made the receiver difficult to hold. He rested his head against the phone casing. The cool metal soothed his fever. “Padre Rafael told me to call. He didn’t say it would be you.”
“Ramon.” Lukas’s voice had lost a little of its edge but not its wariness. “What’s the matter?”
“I…” He hated admitting weakness, but he’d run out of options. “I need your help.” When Lukas didn’t reply, Felipe swallowed his embarrassment. “Padre Rafael said…he said you would know how to deal with…things.”
“Demons.” Felipe broke off. Drawings and images of the creatures flashed through his mind. Terror clutched at his chest. “I can’t get them out of my head. I can’t get you out of my head.”
“Ramon.” The voice grew urgent. “Tell me where you are.”
“At a gas station.”
“That narrows it down. What are the cross streets?”
Blinking hard to clear his vision, Felipe studied the signs barely visible under the streetlamps and read them to Lukas.
“I’ll be there in less than fifteen minutes. Stay there, do you understand me? Don’t move.”
That wouldn’t be hard to do. Felipe let the receiver drop as he leaned against the phone to keep from falling.
* * * *
Lukas brought his Mustang to a skidding halt just in front of the closed garage. He pointed the headlights straight at the pay phone where Ramon hung, white-knuckled, ready to collapse if he let go. From his sweat-shined skin and swollen face, Lukas knew infection had set in. What had been a concern when Ramon was attacked had now turned into a crisis. If he didn’t get Ramon back to the enclave soon, he’d die.
Ramon blinked in the brightness of the headlights as Lukas approached. “Who are you?”
“Why don’t you tell me why Padre Rafael Esparza gave you my phone number? You’ve mentioned demons twice now.”
At the word demon, Ramon’s face pinched in pain. A moment later, he corrected it with a shake of his head, obviously angry at himself. “He told me to call if—” He took a couple of deep breaths before he was able to finish. “If I thought I was going crazy again.”
“Will you tell me why you think that?”
“Who are you? Why would Padre Rafael know you?”
Much as Lukas would have liked to tell him the truth, he decided to wait until he knew more about Ramon. “We’re colleagues. We met at a conference for those employed in the healing arts and interested in alternative therapies.” All of that was true enough and could be corroborated through his publications. “If he gave you my number, it was because he wanted to make sure you had someone to trust and support you if you needed it.” Lukas didn’t know if Ramon had understood or not; he went ashen as his energy fluctuated.
“Yo no estoy loco.”
Great. The kid thought he was crazy. All he wanted to do was see Ramon safely to the enclave before he keeled over, and then he’d worry about convincing the kid otherwise. “I swear I won’t let any harm come to you. I just want to help.” He took off his leather jacket and draped it over Ramon’s trembling shoulders, sensing just how dangerously tangled the kid’s energy had become.
Ramon shrank back. “Don’t touch me.”
Lukas considered simply carrying him off when, to his annoyance, red and blue lights flickered as a police car ambled into the lot.
“I have to go.” Ramon turned, but there was no place to flee and no way he could have made it if there was.
“Easy. I’ll get you out of this,” Lukas said. He guided the kid toward a trash can. “Lean over it and puke like you drank too much. If you don’t feel like it, pretend.” With luck, the officer wouldn’t recognize Ramon beneath the cuts on his face.
A burly officer stepped out of the car, hand on his baton. “Problem here, boys?” He shined a flashlight on Ramon, who was pale and clinging to the trash can as he retched.
“Not a thing,” Lukas said smoothly, erasing more of his German accent than he usually did. While he had a permit to carry the two guns he hid under his jacket, he didn’t want to risk doing anything that would make the cop search him and cause more trouble than they needed. “My roommate had a little too much to drink and wandered off. I came to fetch him. I’d better get him home.” Lukas wrapped an arm around his shoulders as much to keep him standing as to prevent him from running. The kid flinched at the touch but fortunately didn’t try to break away.
“Wait,” the cop said. Both men froze. The officer looked from Lukas to Ramon, then spoke loudly and slowly as if the kid was deaf or stupid. “You don’t look good. You all right?”
Ramon managed a weak smile. “I’m fine.”
“Who did that to your face?”
“A guy who thought my girlfriend was his.” He pulled the jacket more tightly around himself.
The cop gave a wry smile. “Did you win?”
He was spared from answering by collapsing against Lukas in a near faint.
The officer waved them off. “Go on. Take care of him.”
Lukas opened the passenger side door for Ramon, then got in the other side, sliding down the leather seats and breathing deeply. “You did well out there. Thank you for playing along.”
Ramon slumped in the seat and shivered, all reservoirs of strength emptied. He didn’t seem inclined to talk. Lukas started the car and flipped on the radio.
He took a right out of the gas station. In the light of the passing streetlamps, Ramon was pale and struggling to stay conscious. “Hang on, Ramon. We’ll be there soon.”
But not soon enough. Ramon’s head lolled. His trembling turned into a full seizure.
Lukas floored the gas pedal, sending his Mustang roaring up the main road leading toward the enclave.