So, with all this POSSESSED BY PASSION love, here's an excerpt from #BlankSlate. You guys will love this guy - pure realist trying to make sense of a shifter....
He's snarky as hell, an ex con, and HOT. Meet James:
Death surrounded me. I tried to look her in the eyes, but it was hard to hold eye contact when all I could see was the knife to her throat and the bulbous, greasy hands of her reaper. I could smell it too – the familiar coppery mix of blood and sweat. She rambled away like it would never happen to her; too concerned that I knew to check in with my parole officer twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays by noon. I wondered if it’d be an inmate who killed her. I wondered more why I cared. She was just another bitch in the system making a living off of tracking guys like me. Frankly, she was a pain in the ass and if I told the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if I recognized those hands as my own.
Squinting, I tried to get a better view of them. There were no tattoos. It wasn’t me. I exhaled, nodding like I gave two fucks about checking in with another nark. His nails—they had to be the hands of a man—were cut too short. He wore a thick black ring on his right hand. The cuticle on his left thumb was bleeding. It didn’t stop him. Instead, he squeezed harder.
“You need to sign here,” she said, shoving the forms at me.
Grabbing a pen from her dingy metal desk, I quickly scrawled J.T. Maynard next to her babysitter-style ‘X.’ Pushing the paper back at her, I leaned back in my chair waiting for a lecture about not hanging with other cons, not going to bars, and signing up for the job program. It wasn’t like I didn’t know the drill. I’d been here before and I’d be here again. That bitch didn’t have my abilities, but she knew it too. All of it was quite monotonous.
While I couldn’t see my own fate, I was pretty clear on how getting out of this last stint in the joint would go for me. I’d give it three or four days before I was on the run again. Rules and check-ins had never suited me. It wasn’t that I minded authority. What I resented was people making assumptions about me.
It was a curse, this thing that I lived with. No matter how many shrinks, doctors, and specialists they sent me to see, they’d never really get it. Instead, they sent me off with one diagnosis or another. It was easier for them to write me off as a quack than to listen to my warnings and motivations for doing the things I did. It was funny how they never took note of the provocations but only the reactions. It didn’t matter. None of it did. It wasn’t like I could change things. If there was one thing I had learned about fate and death, it was that it comes for you no matter how you or a guy like me tries to change it. Still, it was impossible to avoid.
“Initials here,” she said, moving her eyes to her watch.
Back at it, I went through each ‘X’ and threw down the mandatory ‘JTM.’
On cue, she launched into the rules. I felt my eyes glaze over and managed to straighten my back to make myself appear interested. The hands came back and this time I was able to keep eye contact. Something about the way her own looked as she faded out of this world was too darn cold. I hadn’t seen it before. She didn’t just fade. She lingered. I hoped to never see it again. Sadly, I knew I would.
Like I said, death chased me. It had been that way since I was a kid. First time it happened, my parents ditched me with Granddad. Said I should be excited to go fishin’. I might not have minded the lake and the shot at a record-winning perch if the trip hadn’t been stained by watching Granddad death rattle through to his final breath. But that’s how it was. It would stick with me from the age of eight until my own last days. I just didn’t know it then.
Twenty bucks, the clothes they booked me in, a ride to the main bus terminal, instructions to check in with my parole officer to piss in a cup within twenty-four hours. That’s what they left me with. That and a bus ticket to Ray Warner’s place on the corner of Brown and Reed Avenues. It’s not like I’d expected much more. It was the same as the evil eye Ray would shoot me when I showed up, again, to crash at his place until I could get back on my feet. It wasn’t like this was the first time, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. Ray knew it too.
I sat on Bus 201 waiting for a pot-bellied driver to finish his smoke so we could just get on with it. I was surprised at how few passengers there were. Then again, at 7:50 am, most of the burbs weren’t up yet. It’d be nice to get back to the city, where I could easily blend in and try to stay out of trouble for as long as possible. The bus guy would die of a heart attack. It was no surprise. I’d have put money on lung cancer, the way he sucked that cig down ‘til the very end. Watching him from the window, I saw him sleeping only a year from now. In a stained white tee-shirt with a hole under the right arm, he’d just pass. There wouldn’t be enough time for pain or him to even take off his apnea mask. He was one of the lucky ones. In a way, I was jealous of him. While I couldn’t see it, I was sure that my own death would be much less pleasant than his. At the same time, I looked forward to it. Being dead would lift the curse. Dead, there’d be nothing for me to stop.
“All set,” he huffed to no one in particular as he finally climbed the five steps into the bus and melted into his seat behind the gigantic wheel. Using a lever to pull the door shut, he checked the rear view mirror, his eyes landing on me for a moment, before finally taking off. I watched as the bus pulled out. I wanted to wave to Leroy Reed, but decided I probably shouldn’t. With my luck, someone would see and get me on communicating with other felons. After nine years for armed burglary—first offense—I suspected Leroy would also rather I didn’t risk a goodbye either. He, unlike me, had family to get back to and any con knows never to trust the cops.
Rows and rows of green trees, tiny houses with immaculate yards and mailboxes in every color marked the first part of our journey back to the Big Apple. But it didn’t take long for the pretty neighborhoods to run out and the roads to cling to more lanes. Soon, we were in the city’s fingertips and traveling underground in tunnels with lights that came in long rectangular patches that blended into one another, giving us the illusion of travelling faster than we were. The driver, who clearly had taken this trip millions of times before, deftly navigated the lanes and increasingly heavy traffic. I had been right, the city I’d come to love was bustling. It was good to be back – or close.
I prayed Ray would even be home when I got to his place. I didn’t want to think about the shape it would be in. A guy I’d known since high school, I was all too familiar with Ray’s flaws the same way he was mine. Ray was a hoarder who kept his tiny studio apartment so jam-packed with newspapers the city had twice tried to evict him. He was constantly fighting his landlord, the board of public health, and even the state marshals. Yet, somehow, Ray managed to hang on to the tiny home.
I can’t say I was looking forward to another month of arguments with the guy about how he needed to throw shit out. Frankly, I was tired. And if I didn’t know Ray would die by fire, I’d probably keep my mouth shut. But it was my job – a moral obligation that came with the curse. Somehow, I’d have to try to convince the stubborn fuck that his days of hoarding were over. Whether he did it or not? Well, that was up to his own free will. I was tired of being a goddamned superhero.
For as lazy as the dude was, he was also a loyal fuck. The only one of my friends or even relatives who agreed to let me stay at his place on a condition of my parole, I at least owed the guy a shot. From our days as middle linebackers on the varsity football team at Theodore High School, the guy had never really moved on. He’d never married. He’d never even dated for as much as I knew. And most certainly, he hadn’t turned in his old friends for new ones. No, the guy’s life was static. He still worked at the same coffee shop he did in high school. By now, he was managing the place and pretty well liked by employees. I guess it’s easy to like a guy who doesn’t notice when you show up late. Me and Ray, other than loyalty, are really nothing alike.
I thought about walking the five blocks to the coffee place instead of going straight to his house. But then, I thought better of it. I didn’t know if he’d mind. I doubt it’s good for business to brag about hosting a con. At the same time, if he wasn’t home—you don’t keep doors unlocked in his neighborhood—I supposed I could walk around. That was the great thing about the city, there was always something to do or a way to occupy your time. I’d spent enough time homeless after Jenn died to know that too. Better than L.A. Better than San Diego too.
I told myself it would be different this time. For starters, there would be no girls. I had a right hand and knew all the best sites to go to. That would be plenty for now. There was no need to get another woman involved or to even attempt a relationship. Sure, I was lonely and wouldn’t have minded a quick one night stand. I’d been locked up five years. But I’d gotten over it by the first year and had long ago made peace with the fact that I was destined to be a one man band. The curse was too strong to allow it not to be so.
I closed my eyes and tried not to think of Jenn or the motion of the bus. A few transports to court and back in nearly sixty months had me all thrown off. My stomach whirled and head pounded as the vehicle lurched forward after quick stops; all the while the lucky driver whistling. As a kid, my mom got car sick. I remember trips to my grandparents’ place on the lake where we’d have to stop three times just so she could throw up. For the first time in years, I missed her.
The loud screech of brakes then the door told me we were at our first stop. I opened my eyes and looked out the grimy window to my left. It had to be around nine and the pace well-dressed executives walked along the pavement told me they were chasing the clock. I prayed Ray would have a watch. An old phone, maybe, too. I’d stop counting time and days years ago but knew that part of acclimating would be knowing what day it was. A job, the parole officer, finding a place of my own: These things felt more daunting that the idea of returning to my 6x8 cell. I watched a woman in five-inch spikes pull them off and hold them in one hand by the heels as she barefoot ran to make a pedestrian light. I scolded myself for thinking she was hot. I knew better. I also knew she was a New York native. She appeared entirely unbothered by the chilly weather which was even getting to me. I refused to watch her run anymore. If I stared too long the curse would come.
It had been that way since Granddad. Only, as I grew, the visions became clearer and happened faster. Sometimes, it only took moments of looking at a person. Other times, it took days. With strangers, it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t claim to be something I was not. I knew there were only so many deaths I could prevent after seeing McKenna Carson die of cancer in fourth grade, five years before she was diagnosed. When I’d told my mom, she’d laughed. She’d called me a dreamer and told me my imagination was out of hand. Two years later, when I wouldn’t give up and had predicted the deaths of six of my peers and two of her estranged relatives, she took me to a shrink.
I’ve been diagnosed with it all. I’ve been called paranoid, delusional, and even psychotic. It’s funny how they threw labels on me, but when I stole a car trying to save a kid from being killed by her stepfather, they ripped them all off. Suddenly, I was sane as hell and facing another round of ‘time out’ at the big house. I could never say I regretted it at all. I didn’t give a fuck what they thought I had. I knew what I saw. I knew my visions were real and that I saved that little girl. I wasn’t about to take that back.
It took four more stops before the sign for Reed Avenue told me my memory had been correct and this was my cue to get off. I nodded at the lucky driver before descending the steps of the bus. I kept my head low and pulled my too-tight sweatshirt down on my wrists and stepped out for the first time in years into open, unsupervised air. And for a moment, it almost felt like death might finally fuck off....
✦•••✦ NOW ON PRE ORDER ✦•••✦
Possessed by Passion: A Dark Romance Paranormal Collection
Releasing: March 16, 2021!
#PNR #Darkromance #Writingcommunity #Possessedbypassion #Possessed
✦•••✦ TWENTY-ONE NOVELLAS ✦•••✦
Humans, angels, and demons alike are possessed with a common bind—desire.
Experience exquisite and sultry seraphs, demonic witches, a hellfire phoenix, a vengeful gargoyle, ordinary humans with dark sides, vampires, werewolves, ghostly spirits, and other creatures of the night, who will whet your desire for romance and seduction. Travel with them into their worlds as they lust for love, romance, and pleasure.
Will they find what they are searching for? Will you?
Find out in this twenty-plus, limited time paranormal and dark romance collection by USA Today, international bestselling, and award-winning authors.
Experience the passion.
Readers of Anne Rice, Debbie Paterson, Linda Howard, Dean Koontz, Kristen Ashley, and Paul Tremblay will love this dark collection! One click now to become POSSESSED…
✦•••✦ ONE PASSION ✦•••✦
Featuring the works of USA Today and International Bestselling Authors:
Bella Emy – USA Today Bestseller – For Better or For Cursed
Alyssa Drake – USA Today Bestseller – For Better or For Cursed
Erin Lee - USA Today Bestseller – Blank Slate
Lorah Jaiyn - USA Today Bestseller – The Immortal Stone
Cora Kenborn - USA Today Bestseller – Cast Stones
Catherine Wiltcher - International Bestseller – Cast Stones
Diana Register – International Bestseller – Electric Man
Rena Marin - International Bestseller – The Arisen
John Watson - International Bestseller – The Hollow-Eyed Girl
Rita Delude - International Bestseller – Driven by Desire
Stephanie Ayers - International Bestseller – Blood White
Yolanda Allard - International Bestseller – Gargoyles: Stone Curse
Sian B. Claven - International Bestseller – Neutral Ground
Olivia Marie - International Bestseller – Blood Bound
M W Brown - International Bestseller – Under the Moonlight
LJC Fynn - International Bestseller – Blank Slate
Tiffany Carby - International Bestseller – Meet Cut(e)
Michelle Edwards - International Bestseller – Demonic Destiny
Tracy A. Ball - International Bestseller – Blood Like Rain
Eve Corso – International Bestseller – Spellbound
Marie Ahls – International Bestseller – Villainous
Rheanon Nicole – International Bestseller – His Soul to Keep
Cloud S Riser – International Bestseller – Queen of Stone
Lexi Swann – International Bestseller – The Tormented Maiden
✦•••✦ GET POSSESSED ✦•••✦
Like our page:
Possessed by Passion facebook.com/PossessedbyPassion/
Join our party room:
Join the madness
Follow my journey through the crazy world of indie publishing, writing and growing a business. Here, you'll find news on releases i am excited about, support for other authors through blog tours and blitzes because #Sharingiscaring and more!
Erin Lee, who also writes as EL George, is a USA Today Bestselling multi genre author unafraid to chase the madness. Author of more than 100 titles and creator of Crazy Ink Publishing, LLC, she'll try anything once and never turns down a dare.