Author: Stacey Rourke
Genre: NA Paranormal Thriller
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours
An infamous love, destined nevermore,
For death could not claim, the enchanting Lenore.
Cursed by the malevolent spirit of the Headless Horseman, Ireland Crane ventures to Manhattan in search of a way to break her soul crushing bond. Instead, she discovers the lines between fact and fiction are blurring once more. Croaking ravens. Telltale hearts. Could the works of Poe be coming to pass with handsome Wall Street Midas Ridley Peolte as their unwilling target?
She walks the Earth, a plague on mankind,
searching for he, her rotted heart doth pine.
Together, the two unknowingly release a dark force death itself could not tame. Surrounded by the unrelenting violence and mayhem they’ve unleashed, Ireland feels her control over the Horseman slipping. Before the beast within consumes her, she and her crew must follow the clues of the dead to right a centuries’ old wrong. Will it be enough to sate the Horseman’s appetite?
Hell hath no fury like a ghoul scorned.
Lifting her skirt enough to allow herself movement, Ireland ventured further down the line to those patiently awaiting her attention. Her breath caught, the next two faces turning to her like flower petals meeting the rays of the sun. Rip Van Winkle, not the decrepit shell of himself she knew but the man he had once been, knelt before her. Strong, strapping, and staring up at her with a level of trust and admiration that made a flush of guilt stain her cheeks. Forcing her troubled gaze to travel farther still, she found her heart seized in desire’s iron fist.
His name escaped her parted lips in a breathless sigh, “Noah.”
A crooked smile meant just for her curled the corners of his lips. “You know what we want and why we’re here …” his words trailed off as he tipped his head, offering her his throat.
Beside him, Rip matched the gesture.
Ireland stumbled, her heel tangling in the hem of her skirt. “No! I-I could never hurt you! You know that! You know me!”
Catching her hand, Noah reeled her body back to him. One strong arm hooked around the rise of her hips and pinned her to him. “Your gift is beautiful. Don’t ever doubt that.” Turning the inside of her arm skyward, his mouth teased the tender flesh of her wrist. The heat of his breath and delicate caress of each dotted kiss sent waves of desire coursing through her. Hazel eyes, warmed to molten gold by palpable desire, locked with her own and refused to falter. “Please, don’t deny me.”
The adoration in his gaze, and the seduction of his touch made Ireland feel like the most beautiful being on the planet … until she caught sight of Rip out of the corner of her eye. He was wearing that matching mask of longing. It wasn’t her they wanted—it never had been—but a taste of what she could do. To be near death, and delve into the darkness. Their own twisted yearning to thumb their nose at mortality led them to follow her.
Clamping her eyes on the wash of tears that threatened, Ireland ignored the wailing of her heart … and laid a palm to each of their cheeks. One lone tear snuck between her lashes at the cascade of tingles seeping up her arms.
“You can’t blame them for not understanding,” a familiar voice drawled behind her.
She spun as he neared, leaving Rip and Noah wheezing for breath—or, more likely, completion of her task.
Techno-colored flowers bloomed in a colorless world each time the sole of Ridley’s shoes met the earth. The crisp cut of his white, tailored suit was accented by a burst of color from the button-down shirt beneath that changed in hue to match the species of flowers that sprung to life. Hydrangeas blue. Orchid purple. Lily fuchsia. Rose coral. As he neared, Ireland noticed his eyes morphed to match as well. The result hypnotic.
His haggard and troubled façade was a thing of the past. The man before her exuded confidence and a zest for life from every pore. The draw of which was so magnetic Ireland had to fight to keep her feet planted while her body insisted she close the distance between them.
“To them this is a thrill, a game of chicken against the Reaper himself.” Ridley paused beside her, his shoulder skimming hers. Even then he didn’t grace her with a glance, his attention fixed on Rip and Noah. Tipping his head toward her, the warmth of his breath teased over her breast bone. “For us, it’s destiny.”
The moment he stepped away from her, the chill of solitude lashed at Ireland’s soul and cut deep. Bending eye-level with her withering subjects, Ridley pursed his rose petal lips to blow a soft, healing breath over both of them. Wan complexions of the dying were ripened to plump apricot. Both men blinked away their disappointment before dipping in a low bow—foreheads to the ground in a show of respect.
“No need for that, boys.” Ridley smoothed the front of his suit coat, a self-depreciating chuckle playing over his lips.
Neither humbled servant budged.
“You’re like me?” Pacing in a slow circle around him, Ireland’s eye narrowed.
He matched her steps, leading them in an intimate waltz normally reserved for predators—or lovers.
“Like you?” He tsked. “Oh no, my darling flower. There is no other like you. Our only similarity is being pawns in a game that began centuries before either of our fathers got an amorous gleam in their eyes.”
Ireland’s gaze lingered over the soft curve of his mouth, wondering if his lips could possibly taste as delectable as they looked. “How do we play?”
Curling one finger into a ruffled tuft of her skirt, Ridley pulled her to him. Bowing his head, he brushed his cheek over the delicate curve of her collarbone. “The game is already in motion,” he murmured. “The rule sheet not meant for our eyes. All we can do now is stay alive.”
Ireland weaved her fingers into his hair, yanking his head back with a passion driven force that bordered on violent. “I’ve taken lives. I’m a monster,” she snarled against his lips, tormenting them both with the agonizing veil of energy that denied their touch.
His hand snaked up her arm to find her fingers and loosen her grasp. Palm to palm. Fingers entwined with fingers. “Does granting it make me any better?”
Ridley didn’t give her time to answer. With one hand pressed to the small of her back he crushed her to him. Their lips met with a desperate urgency that caused Heaven and Earth to quake in nervous anticipation of what was coming …
Crane is the fifth full length novel written by award winning author Stacey Rourke. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant, drooly dogs. Stacey loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.
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