Today’s feature For Your Reading Pleasure isn’t your typical paranormal. But you don’t have to take my word for it–Renee has brought an excerpt and if you’re anything like me, it’ll hook you but good.
Thanks for visiting, Renee! 🙂
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An Excerpt From: KISS MY ASH
Copyright © RENEE GEORGE, 2014
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Mathias was a korrigan, a fairy dwarf, and to his detriment, he’d been born male. An abomination amongst the korrigans, who were always female. Even his own mother had wanted him dead, but you can’t kill an immortal.
When he finally strolled out from behind the counter, his height no more than four feet, he held a red clay pot filled to the brim with a dark, loamy soil. Carefully, he handed it to Romy. “Here.”
She stepped away. “And what the hell am I supposed to do with dirt?” Maybe Mathias was tired of her bringing back dead plant after dead plant. It didn’t matter how much she watered the damn things, fed them, or even talked to them—none survived. She’d stopped giving them names after a while, awash with guilt and shame over each death.
His red eyes sparkled with excitement. “In this soil, there is a very special seed, my girl. Very rare and unique. I’m entrusting you with its care.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. There is no way in hell I’m taking on a ‘rare and unique’ plant. No. No. No. Give me a hardy shrub or weed. Better yet, maybe a cabbage. I won’t feel so bad about a cabbage when it croaks.”
Romy was a dryad; specifically, an ash tree nymph. Which meant, in theory, plants should flourish around her, but she couldn’t even keep her own tree alive. Her mother had postulated it had something to do with the sperm donor, aka Romy’s biological father, but the elder dryad had refused to say more on the subject. Tree nymphs were traditionally a love-’em-and-leave-’em race of females. They didn’t get involved with beings they considered no more than means to an end. Males born to tree nymphs always developed into the same race as the male halves of the couplings, while the females were always dryads.
Unfortunately, something had gone very wrong in the making of Romy. It hadn’t taken long after the dryad equivalent of puberty set in before her people had decided she was toxic.
She pushed the pot back to Mathias. “Uh-uh. You’ve seen my track record.”
When her “birth defect” had eventually started to affect the trees of her forest six months ago, Romy had been summarily kicked out by the other dryads. Of course, her people had called it a “long, extended respite” and sent her to the town of Fortunate, Missouri.
The moniker, over the years, had become a joke. The town had been named after the Fortunate Isles, also called the Isles of the Blessed, and had been used for more than two hundred years as a dumping ground for the “paranormally challenged”. Those who didn’t fit in with their own kind were sent to Fortunate to finish out their days. For immortals like Mathias, the end of days was a long-ass time.
For Romy, well…without a tree to tend, she wouldn’t live another year, the chlorophyll drying in her veins. The plants were test subjects for her, to see if she could sustain life. So far, they’d served only to help ease the ache of dying. But as far as tending plants and making them flourish, she failed constantly.
For Mathias to trust her with a “special” plant…no way was she taking on that kind of responsibility.
It was one thing to kill a common houseplant, but a whole ’nother thing to be responsible for something “rare and unique”. Was Mathias crazy? Romy shook her head again. “I can’t. Don’t you have an air plant or something? Hell, those suckers don’t even require watering.”
He patted her hands, his fingers soothing and gentle. “Ah, but my dear, I hope this may be the answer to—”
Mathias’ explanation was cut off by a barking baritone. “Ah, shit!”
Romy put the pot on the counter as she scooted around Mathias to see who the unfamiliar voice belonged to.
In the greenhouse area beyond the main shop, two long, well-muscled legs and a firm ass, all packaged in perfectly tight jeans, stood nestled between two rows of plants.
“Hello,” Romy said.
The owner of the legs and ass straightened, making him a foot taller than Romy. And oh goddess, did he have an upper body and face to go with the lower half—thickly muscled chest and broad shoulders crowned by a face with bow lips, a Roman nose and the brightest green eyes. All framed by messy, shiny black hair that fell about his shoulders. It was as if the gods had decided to create perfection.
Ridiculous though—they would never do that. But hot damn, they’d come pretty close.
“Uh, hello yourself,” he said back, dusting his palms against his jeans.
His really low voice, which would have better suited a grizzly bear, sent a humming through Romy that made her body sing.
“What have you done now, Lucien?” Mathias asked when he walked into the back. His presence was enough to break the harmony, and Romy snapped out of her new-guy-induced daze.
“What a great name.” She smiled. It made her feel foolish, but she couldn’t punch down the giddiness.
“It’s a name.” He shrugged then leaned over again, which gave Romy another clear shot of his fabulous ass. When he stood once more, he held a small plant, cradling the roots carefully. He looked at Mathias. “I broke the pot, but the fern is fine.”
Lucien had a slight accent, but Romy couldn’t put her finger on the origin. If possible, it made the young man even more exotic and mysterious.
Mathias shook his head, making his red beard sweep his chest. “Where’s Sol?”
“I’m here!” Sol Winter, who’d been working for Mathias long before Romy had moved to Fortunate, stepped out from behind the last row of plants. He wore a baby-blue polo shirt that matched his light-blue eyes. It also complemented his tan, a deep golden bronze. Natural, according to him. Strange for an elf, but who was Romy to judge? His long blond hair was pulled into a ponytail. He often wore it down and spilling over his shoulders, but generally had it tied back for work.
Sol was taller than Lucien by several inches and a little broader. His smile brightened when he saw Romy. “Hey, you.” His mouth turned down in sympathy. “Kill another one?”
They’d had a strange relationship ever since Romy had arrived in Fortunate, which generally involved spirited banter and sarcasm. Even when the conversation turned a little mean, Romy was still thankful for Sol. He was the closest thing she had to a friend.
“Shut the fuck up.”
“Nice.” He raised a brow. “Bitchy much?”
Even though she was certain Sol was gay, it didn’t stop her from having some wicked fantasies about him. After all, the man was hot-hot and knew how to dress. “Takes one to know one.”
“Someone woke up on the wrong side of the oak this morning.” Sol scooped a handful of topsoil and pitched it at her.
“Oh no you didn’t.” In retaliation, Romy grabbed a nearby hose and squeezed the nozzle trigger, dowsing Sol where he stood.
“Stop!” Lucien yelled.
Too late. At Lucien’s shout, Romy turned, the spray of water slapping across the man’s face—and Lucien instantly melted into a clear puddle on the greenhouse floor.
Mortified, she dropped the hose. “Oh no!” She shook her head and stumbled forward. “What have I done?” Not only was she a plant killer, apparently she was a man killer as well.
Two lips formed in the clear pool. “I’m fine. Really.”
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About Renee: Multi-published, best-selling author Renee George has been a factory worker, an army medic, a nurse, a website designer, a small press editor, an artist, and a teacher, but writing stories about sexy alpha men is the BEST job she’s ever had. When she turned thirty, she went back to college and earned her BA in creative writing. She has been married to the love of her life, a wonderful man who supports in every way, for over half her life (and that is a VERY long time!). She happily lives in a small, Midwest town with her husband, two needy dogs and a very independent cat. Anything else you want to know, just ask. She’ll give you all the nitty gritty dirt.
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave