Authors give back to readers!

NEW YEAR NEW YOU GIVEAWAY
RUNS 01/10/20 to 01/30/20
Prize: $220 Amazon GC
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Good morning, my friends. I always like these giveaways because it gives one lucky person a chance for a wonderful prize. Please take the time to enter. You get a chance to win for every author you follow on Bookbub. We appreciate your support as our readers and we want to give something back!

And another great deal is here for you as well. This is an opportunity to check out new authors. This promotion is chock full of authors with a free book for you if you sign up for their fun newsletters that keep you informed. If you don’t like the book and feel that author isn’t for you, you can unsubscribe anytime. It’s easy! That includes my book, Voodoo in the Bayou! It’s available for a free download in this freebie list!

Remy Renquist wants to discover the mysterious treasure her great grandmother has left behind on her island in the Louisiana Bayou. What she didn’t expect to find was that the property is now inhabited by the biggest, grouchiest man in the swamp! She also didn’t expect to find herself attracted to such a golden bear of a man, or that he would take an instant dislike to her and her determination to fulfill her self-imposed mission of discovering the secrets of the old voodoo priestess she was named after.

Cork Renoir is bone weary, disenchanted with the music business, and determined to find peace and solitude in his bayou paradise. But when a frustrating and annoying pipsqueak of a girl disturbs his commune with nature to hunt for treasure, he sees red. And when he is forced to become her guide and protector, he is sure she has deliberately set out to annoy him, and he is determined to straighten her out with a few well-deserved trips across his knees.

Mystery, enchantment and voodoo are in the air, though. Will it weave its spell on the young couple as Remy finds the answers to the past buried on the property?

Disclaimer : Voodoo in the Bayou is a wonderful mystery that takes place in Louisiana swamp country. Complete with a resident ghost and all sorts of strange happenings, it also contains adult spanking, so if this is not to your liking, please do not buy this book.

You can get this book, and many others, for free in the following giveaway until the end of January. Even if you’re already on my newsletter list!

Sealed with a Kiss Giveaway

Vamp wants to wish you all a great new year and happy reading!

She is plotting mischief for the dog, I suspect. She really enjoys annoying him.

Hope you all have a wonderful 2021, and thanks for reading my books. I super appreciate all of you!

Brandy Golden

Trust doesn’t come easily to Eileen

?Now available! TRUSTING HER HIGHLAND LAIRD

When Eileen Glencairn is forced into marriage for the second time, she finds her new husband is completely different from her first experience. The love and kindness Gallagher has shown her is teaching her to slowly trust again. It’s Christmas in the Highlands, and she has plans for Gallaher’s first gift from her. But if she can’t control her deeply rooted fears, how can she ever gift him her complete trust and submission?

When Gallagher finds his father’s interesting and well-stocked play room in Castle McCrae, he is delighted and immediately wants to plan some fun there with his new young wife, Eileen. But Eileen isn’t cooperating. When he finds out the room is a source of nightmares for her, he immediately drops the whole idea…until she brings it up again at Christmas. The holidays may prove to be very interesting after all!

Publishers Note: This historical romance contains elements of power exchange.

                                        Prologue

Castle McKenna of the MacAlister clan in Scotland’s Highlands, the 1760s

“I’ve returned to claim my inheritance, Leenie,” Morgan MacAlister stated flatly, his vivid green gaze studying Eileen’s face and body as if he didn’t recognize her.

And in truth, she knew she was very different from the twelve-year-old he’d left behind eight years ago when their half-brother, Canton, had cheated him out of his inheritance. His use of her nickname from childhood softened her somewhat.

“I can see that ye’ve been treated badly whilst I was gone, and I’m sorry for that, but I intend to have what’s mine,” Morgan said.

          Defeating Canton and taking back their home had been Eileen’s goal for the past four years, and she’d finally been successful. Revenge against all the men in her life, including her brother, had been a powerful motivator, and she’d been sated with the sweet taste of victory.

What she hadn’t planned on was Morgan returning just when she’d defeated Canton to reclaim his inheritance himself. Nor had she planned on him bringing back Gallagher Glencairn, the rightful heir to the clan she now led.

She panned the beautiful rose garden they were standing in, the one their mother had loved, and her gaze finally came back to rest on Morgan. They were within the soft-colored, outer yellow walls of Castle McKenna where they had grown up. She’d been so hurt when Morgan had left her behind and at the mercy of Canton. And he hadn’t been there for her when Canton had sold her to Donald Glencairn, the Laird of Castle McCrae, in return for gold to fill Castle McKenna’s coffers.

 As her gaze traveled up and down the changes in his physique, she realized that although Morgan had left a bitter and disillusioned young boy, he’d returned a powerful man, fully capable of leading the MacAlister clan.

Eileen sighed. Canton had manipulated them both, and she wasn’t the only one who’d been hurt. It was time to let go of the bitterness she harbored against  Morgan and make things right. After all, she was a mother now, and she had her son to think of. Morgan and his new wife, Kat, were his family too, and she wanted Soren to know them both.

“I’ll give ye back control of Castle McKenna, Morgan, if Canton has left anything worth claiming,” she agreed wearily. “‘Tis yere inheritance after all. I can try to help ye if the coffers are empty again. Canton has spent through them twice over now.”

Morgan flashed her a gentle smile, some of the tension seeming to leave his strong muscled frame. “I don’t need yere money, Leenie. I have plenty of my own to take care of things.”

The garden door slid open and they both turned. Kat ushered Gallagher Glencairn through it. Eileen watched the approaching man warily, not liking the way he was looking at her. She couldn’t say what it was that made her uncomfortable…unless it was the appraising look in his silvery eyes. Or perhaps it was the square jaw that bespoke of a stubbornness to equal her own. There was a determined air about him, and his lips were set in a grim line as if he had a bone to pick with her.

She lifted her chin in defiance, her back stiffening as he neared. She’d seen Jamie and Dungally dragging him off to the study earlier, and they must have given him the bad news that he was no longer his father’s heir. Apparently, his dispossession of the title and lands of the Glencairn legacy wasn’t sitting well with him. Not that she could blame him. It was too late though, Castle McCrae and the Glencairn clan was hers now, her and Soren’s’.

Gallagher stopped in front of them, his avid gaze never leaving her. She stood there proudly, growing angry. He inspected her from the feet up, his attention lingering at the curve of her breasts then finally resting on her flushed face.

“Do I pass yere inspection then?” she mocked scornfully, somewhat unnerved by his sensual appraisal.

“Aye, ye’re quite beautiful, lass. No wonder my father wanted to wed ye. He always had an eye for a buxom wench.” His own eyes were contemptuous, as if she’d seduced Donald Glencairn.

“Yere father was a bastard,” Eileen snapped back at him. “How dare ye insinuate I had anything to do with this farce of a marriage? I thank the Gods that he’s been dead these past four years. He was a despicable excuse for a man.”

“I’ll not pretend a mock sorrow. I had no use for my father myself,” Gallagher responded grimly. “The real problem is how to get my inheritance back.”

“That’s not possible. Donald made his decree before the clan leaders and the village. It canna be broken.” She almost felt sorry for him, but not quite. He was Donald Glencairn’s’ own son after all.

“There’s always a way.”

He stepped forward and reached out to bring the knuckles of his hand along the side of her chin, and she drew her breath in quickly.

Flinching, she stepped back. “Don’t touch me!”

His hand dropped. “I was just going to tell ye there is a way. Dungally MacMillan, as clan leader, has made a decree himself.”

“And what might that be,” Eileen asked, suspicious, her heart beating faster. Her jawline tingled where he’d touched her and she hated the feeling. She didn’t want to react to him, nor to any man. And what the devil was Dungally up to?

“Ye can marry me.”

Eileen’s face surely paled. She couldn’t have heard him right. “M…marry?” she whispered, fearful.

“Aye, marry me,” he replied, watching her closely.

Morgan looked thoughtful. “Now that’s an interesting proposal, Gallagher. I don’t believe Dungally, even as clan leader, has the power to go over the law of the land. Besides, isn’t it a bit improper, considering the child?”

“It…it would be indecent,” Eileen stammered in agreement. Her face flushed, then grew cold again, her eyes stormed darker than before. “Even if I wanted to get married again, which I don’t, I can’t marry my dead husband’s son. Being married to a Glencairn was hellish enough the first time.”

“I knew my father, lass, so I can appreciate yere feelings. However, I am not my father.” He turned to Morgan. “Would ye leave us to discuss this ourselves? I will fill ye in later regarding the legalities.”

“Aye,” Morgan agreed with a slight frown. “As long as everything is legal, I’ll leave ye to it.”

“I have no intention of discussing this, now or any other time. I will not marry ye.” Eileen stepped around him with the intent of leaving.

He reached out and grasped her arm.

Quick as a wink her right hand came up of its own accord and she slapped him across the face. “Take yere hand off me,” she said, trying to jerk loose.

Gallagher held her easily while she squirmed to pull free. When she couldn’t, she screamed in frustration and attempted to slap him again.

“Stand still and I’ll release ye,” he said calmly, stopping her swing and holding both arms as she struggled wildly.

“Gallagher,” Morgan began and started back towards them, concern for Eileen in his green eyes.

Gallagher stopped him with a look. “I won’t hurt her, Morg,” he  assured him, reverting to the casual use of his friend’s name.

The two men studied each other.

Morgan finally nodded and stepped back. “I’ll just be inside if ye need me, Leenie.”

Gallagher’s warm hands on her arms created strange sensations, and Eileen didn’t like it at all. Why was his mere touch having this effect on her? She stopped struggling and was rewarded with her release. She quickly folded her arms beneath her breasts again, her chest heaving with exertion. She stared at him, defiant, hating him for the reaction he’d incited in her unwilling body.

“Don’t ever hit me again, lass.” His gaze bored into her eyes with a deadly warning.

“Or what?” She eyed him, contemptuous. “Ye’ll hit me back?”

Gallagher’s brow curled upward. “Nay, I don’t hit women. But ye won’t like the consequences, I can guarantee that.”

“Keep yere hands off me and I won’t have to,” she replied derisively.

The door to the garden closed, making them both aware that Morgan had left, leaving them alone. Suddenly, Eileen felt trapped and at a distinct disadvantage. Although she knew Morgan was within earshot if she chose to call to him, she couldn’t help the feeling of abandonment once again. Shaking it off, she backed up until she was well away from Gallagher’s physical aura and felt like she could breathe normally again.

“I’ve been giving it some thought, and I have a proposition for ye to think about.” He folded his bare brawny arms across his wide chest as he spoke.

“Go on,” Eileen ordered disdainfully, although she had no intention of agreeing to any outlandish offer. Not even for Dungally MacMillan, who had treated her like the father she still mourned the loss of, or Jamie McCann, who had been her staunch friend, would she accept it.

“We’ll have a marriage in name only and for the period of one year. After that, I’ll set ye free with all ye need to live on and see to it that the child is well taken care of. What do ye say?”

Eileen was astounded at Gallagher’s words. “And just why should I agree to this peculiar scheme? I’ve got it all now, and my son’s future is assured. He will have everything his father had to offer him. Donald Glencairn owed me that, so why should I turn it all over to you and retire on a stipend? It’s a ridiculous offer, and the answer is no.” She glared at him, daring him to refute her.

“Two reasons. One, the child is not my fathers.”

Eileen felt horrified and sick at heart beneath his disapproving scrutiny. “Dungally told ye about Soren?” she asked, disbelieving. 

“Aye. He said ye were forced against yere will and that my father decided to take the babe as his own.” A brief flash of sympathy played across his face but was instantly gone.

“Something like that,” she agreed and then laughed bitterly, knowing it was Donald who had forced someone to breed with her. He was certainly no hero, taking Soren on as if she’d actually been raped. The old man had planned it.

 “And two, the clan is unhappy with a woman leading it. They want me back, and I intend to have my rightful place back as well. Dungally and Jamie have insisted we be married to put things right.”

“As far as the clan is concerned, Soren is Donald’s son, and I don’t have to marry ye. No one knows any differently,” she declared.

“Nevertheless, ye will marry me.” He stared down into her rebellious face, imposing his will upon her own, and Eileen felt helpless suddenly.

“But…it’s against the law to intermarry. The king himself has decreed it.” She watched him carefully, his regal bearing lazily sensual as he studied her, gauging her reactions. A pull tugged at her senses in spite of herself. He was a handsome brute.

“We are not related by blood, lass,” Gallagher replied. “And knowing I’d be back one day, Jamie took it upon himself to request an exception from the king’s own lips, should it prove a viable situation. He has the paperwork with the king’s seal on it authorizing our marriage.”

Eileen was stunned. She’d been outmaneuvered and she hadn’t even seen it coming. Curse Jamie and Dungally for not telling her, and damn them for their well-meaning machinations.

“Nay! I won’t do it,” she yelled furiously. Despair filled her heart as she saw her well-ordered, hard-won world crumbling about her. “They can’t make me marry ye, they have no right!”

He moved in closer. “If ye refuse to wed me, then ye leave me no choice but to come against ye in war. I’ll win, but it will cost many lives, some of whom will be our friends. They will have no choice but to support ye, even if they don’t approve of yere position, and some will die for that loyalty. Do ye want that on yere conscience?” His gaze locked with hers. “I have no wish to do that, but ye leave me little choice. Jamie McCann is my cousin, and Dungally is the clan leader, and they want me back. But they will not support me if I declare the child an illegal heir. Also, because of the great respect I have for yere brother, I have no desire to shame his sister. So war would be my only recourse.” His head dove down and he looked her straight in the eye, his expression fierce as he made his declaration. “Make no mistake, I was born to rule the Glencairn clan, and rule it I will, with or without ye.”

“I can’t believe yere own conscience would allow ye to wage war,” she whispered painfully, her face undoubtedly deathly white at his words. There was no denying he meant every one of them.

“I’ll do what I have to do,” he replied with a grimace. “If ye agree to marry me and we find that we suit one another after the year is up, we’ll make it a real marriage. Soren will be my heir and have his place amongst our children.”

Eileen could have sworn regret and kindness lingered in that silvery gaze, hiding somewhere behind determination. If she had, his next words destroyed it.

“But if ye make me come against ye in war, when I defeat ye, I’ll turn ye out with a mere pittance and no inheritance for the child either.”

“Ye are a bastard then, just like yere father,” she hissed, swinging in reaction to land a vicious slap across his face once again. She put all her pent-up frustration and fury into that slap and immense satisfaction coursed through her at the immediate red handprint that blazed across his lean jaw.

Her satisfaction was short-lived as his eyes tapered to slits. He  grabbed her arm and whirled her around. His long arm was a steel band around her middle, and he pulled her against him and quickly divested her of her armor, sword, and belt. Then he dragged her, angry and kicking at his thick calves, over to a stone bench inside the shaded arbor.

“I said, don’t touch me,” she yelled, fearful. What was he going to do to her? Would he rape her? She’d been caught off guard, not expecting any requital, and that had cost her.

It was a shock of a different kind when she unexpectedly found herself face down over his hard, muscled thighs. She fought desperately, suddenly aware of where this was going. “What are ye doing? Let me up!”

Just in time for Christmas, with enough spice and sexy sweetness to keep you warm and entertained!

Please like me on my FB author page, thanks loads! It really helps us authors when we have likes on our page.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Much love of the seaon,

Brandy Golden

Romance is a great gift for Christmas!

As the lovely fall days wind down and Christmas is around the corner, it’s time to think of warmth and holidays. Vamp has been loving her outside activities this fall, but now she is spending more time in the house. Maybe she will pose for some Christmas pictures this year. Hard to catch that darned cat in good pose! But this one is not bad!

What to give for Christmas is always thought provoking. I had a wonderful, life long friend who loved to read. I sent her some great books over the years for her birthday and Christmas. She loved it! Maybe some of your friends would too.

“His gaze slid over her and drank her in. He wanted to swallow her laughter into his mouth and store it in his memories against future dark days.”

Available in print, ebook, and free on Kindle Unlimitedhttps://www.amazon.com/…/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

In case you missed the freebie giveaway for Marlie’s Christmas Keeper and many other authors, check out this link at Holiday Romance.

If you enjoy chatting about books, finding new authors, and just all around good fun, come join us in my Facebook group. Stevie MacFarlane and I have teamed up and created a fun new group. If you’ve never read Stevie you are in for a treat.

Check out Stevie MacFarlane on Amazon!

The Storytellers with Stevie and Brandy

If you love Victorian Romance, which I do, you need to check out Vanessa Brooks. I’ve read many of her books and she is an excellent writer and well versed in the Victorian area. Her stories are steamy (and I know you love steamy), and full of delightful alpha males and feisty heroines. She has a new book out for Christmas that is really unique.

What a wonderful story about a Lord with a decision to make. Take a look….

The Master of Michaelmas Hall

A Lord in despair. A damaged woman. A bewildered child. 

Can the icy Yuletide gales drive a Christmas miracle? Will the season’s magic heal all three?

Gabriel St. Nicholas is preparing for yet another lonely Yuletide. The loss of his beloved wife at the start of the French revolution left him devastated.

Can he force himself to take the step required and marry again in order to secure the succession to his ancient family blood line?

The arrival of a mysterious woman dressed in black disrupts his solitude, and causes unease. With falling snow making travel impossible, Gabriel is forced to offer her hospitality at Michaelmas Hall, but at what cost?


PUBLISHER WARNING: This steamy feel good tale contains strong power exchange content interpreted from the history of the era. If such material is likely to offend you, then please do not purchase this book.

One last thing, if you enjoy reading my books, please take a moment to like on the links in my Linktree. It would mean a great deal to me. I know it seems like a hassle, but for us authors, its really important to have your input, likes, follows and reviews when you can. So, love an author today by stalking them! lol!

https://linktr.ee/brandygolden

My friends, I hope you have a warm and wonderful Christmas season. Take a little time to enjoy the blessings we’ve received in spite of the crazy year we’ve had in 2020. And stay safe, where ever you are!

Much love of the season,

Brandy Golden

Cyber monday free book!

ONE DAY FLASH FREEBIE FOR CYBER MONDAY!

I decided to run a one-day giveaway for my latest release! Pick up a copy today. 🙂

“Poe” MacColloch is like a brooding raven no longer able to fly. Daring to mock the dominant man, Kellina learns the hard way that the raven bites!

Available free today only on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/…/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Have a wonderful holiday season, my friends, and enjoy!

All the best,

Brandy Golden

Win a $170.00 Gift Card!

Authors are giving back to our readers with this amazing opportunity. Don’t miss out!

And here’s another fun freebie!

This story, along with others of different genres, is available for the Christmas holidays in a HOLIDAY GIVEWAY. Pick up as many as you like today and through the holidays!

Get the book of your choice here!

My new book is now available on Amazon in print form! Check it out!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08L8G5QZH/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Review by Peggy Moser “I don’t want to give any of this beautiful story away, so that you can enjoy reading it, with each turn of the page. I absolutely loved this book. I loved the setting. The characters are wonderfully portrayed, and the storyline is beautifully written. I must say that this is the first book that I have read by author, Brandy Golden, but it certainly won’t be the last. I gave this book 5 well deserved stars. Treat yourself to this book, and, I really hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.”

Enjoy the holidays, my friends,

Brandy Golden

Now Available in paperback

Ready for a feel good story? A Lass Worth Fighting For is now available in paperback and ebook download on Amazon!

Paperback is listed at 6.99 and that’s a great deal for a print book!

Vamp, my black cat, thinks you should pick up your copy of choice today!

Like me on Facebook and follow me everywhere for new releases, sales, and updates on my Link Tree!

Happy Autumn!

Brandy Golden

My Scottish story is live on Amazon!

An unlikely hero, a feisty Scottish lass, what more does a story need? Available for free on Kindle Unlimited!

A Lass Worth Fighting For

“I said come here,” Forbes demanded, giving no quarter to the woman in front of him. His naked command sounded harsh, even to his ears, and he wasn’t sure she would obey him.

         He was right—she laughed at him instead.

         “Come and get me,” she taunted. Her eyes danced merrily as she tipped back and forth on her toes, her hands stuffed in her back-jean pockets.

         “I dinna need to come and get ye; I gave ye an order,” he insisted, standing up and glowering down at her laughing face.

         “Aye, but I dinna take orders from the likes of ye,” she said, not moving one inch towards him.

         “If I have to come after ye, lass, ye’ll be over me knee and squalling like a baby when I’m finished with ye,” he promised savagely. “And then I’ll make love to ye until you can’t stand up anymore. Ye are mine.

         Images of him pounding into her from behind filled his head, the mounds of her reddened bottom warm where he touched her. He’d make her scream with pleasure after he punished her for disobeying him.

Why wouldn’t the bloody woman just obey him?

         She waggled her forefinger back and forth in denial. “Oh no, ye dinna get yere way that easily,” she promised, her beautiful eyes mocking him. “Ye’ll have to fight to get me over yere lap, or in yere bed for that matter.”

         She turned away when he reached for her, the chocolate brown waves of long hair flying away in the salty sea air. They seemed to move in a very slow circular motion.

He grabbed for those silken strands and missed.

She laughed back over her shoulder as he started after her. “If I’m worth fighting for, then come and get me,” she taunted. “Come and get me, Poe.”

Get your copy today!

Follow me on my Brandy Golden LinkTree at all these locations for sales, news and other goodies.

Enjoy Autumn, winter is moving in! Soon it will be time for Santa

All the best, Brandy Golden

Available for pre-order!

“Bloody hell, dinna ye ever forget anything?” Kellina protested, shooting him a fierce glare.

“Not when it comes to ye,” he promised, a big grin splitting his face. “And that is where yere little strip of leather is going to come in.”

A Lass Worth Fighting For

Now available on Amazon for pre-order, and will go live next week! Get your copy reserved now!

Follow me on my LINKTREE for new releases and news regarding upcoming sales and such.

Also, if you still haven’t picked up a free copy of Trouble in Cinnamon County, you can look here for it, along with all these other wonderful giveaways. for fall.

FREE AUTUMN READS IN EXCHANGE FOR NEWSLETTER SIGN UPS!

If anyone would like a free copy of A Lass Worth Fighting For in exchange for a review on Amazon, please email me at storiestolove@yahoo.com.

Thanks for reading!

Brandy Golden

Halloween Treats for you!

Finding a man who could handle her was only a dream for Janessa, until she met the lion of Hawthorne castle….

A special Halloween treat for my readers to enjoy during this lovely Halloween and Autumn season. The following is a one chapter short story that might give you chills. Is he a man or a beast? Read on to find out….

The Lion of Hawthorne Castle

By Brandy Golden

Copyright 10/2009

Janessa’s heart was palpitating like crazy bat wings She could feel the dampness against her palms from the cold stone in the hallway as she flattened herself against the wall. Her fear was smothering; it clung to her clothes, she could taste it in her mouth, and it made her skin crawl. There were moaning noises coming from the room just ahead but it was  the scream of agony that finally broke her. That unholy scream sent her over the edge of fear and headlong into panic. Unable to help herself, she also screamed as the suffocating fear clawed its way up her throat and out her mouth.

            “What are ye doing here?  No one is allowed in here!”

           The apparition that suddenly appeared before her and spoke seemed familiar. It wasn’t the wounded growl of a cornered animal, but the great head with the shoulder-length hair, the grimace of a mouth that bared fangs, and the blackness of the angry eyes that stared at her. Her hand trembled as she grasped the slim white column of her throat. “Julian?” she finally croaked.

           “How dare ye disobey me,” he roared.

            “It is you, isn’t it?” she asked tentatively. He looked the same, yet there was so much pain and anger in those eyes that she could hardly believe it was the same man who had just left her outside her home. He sprang forward and picked her up, threw her over his shoulder, and then strode to the stone bench outside the room he had just exited.

“Julian—please!”

Janessa gasped as he set her on her feet and then took a seat on the granite bench. She didn’t have time to even squeak before she was pulled across his knees as easily as a rag doll. And that was no small feat since she was close to six feet tall herself.

When the pants to her cat costume was ripped down over her buttocks and the nippy castle air invaded the warmth of her skin, she did squeal.

What the hell was he doing?

And then it all came together in a blinding rush of understanding.  When her flesh ignited under the harsh slaps of a very broad hand, she realized that she was getting an old fashioned, over the knee, spanking! The nippy air was no longer a bother as her skin heated up very quickly, and then turned blazing hot in seconds.

“Julian,” she screamed in agony.  “Julian, please stop!”

He didn’t stop. Instead he continued to spank her until every inch of flesh on her bottom and thighs was no longer milky white, but fiery red.  Janessa lost track of time as the spanking went on, the fires of hell seemingly centered in her helpless backside. It felt like forever, but it really wasn’t all that long before he abruptly stopped and pushed her off his lap. She sat on the cold marble floor, harsh sobs tearing at her throat where fear had been earlier. Even with the coolness against her heated flesh. it hurt like hell, and she was still trying to absorb the fact that he had actually spanked her!

“Ye shouldn’t have come here,” he said harshly as a clock somewhere in the castle beat out the strokes of midnight.  “Ye should have obeyed me and stayed away.” 

He stared bleakly down at her as if longing for something he could never have. Janessa saw bitterness and despair in his dark eyes, but the anger was gone. Her Julian was back.

“I…I’m sorry I disobeyed ye,” she whimpered, her words thick with tears. “But I didn’t want the night to end, and for some reason, I felt like ye were saying goodbye. I felt like I might never see ye again, Julian.”

            “Ye won’t after tonight,” he replied, his voice laced with pain.  “Ye should go, Janessa. “ Go while ye still have the chance, and before I change my mind and keep ye here.”

Janessa stared at him, wondering what on earth he was talking about. In her mind, she quickly replayed the evening, searching desperately for anything she might have done that would have driven him away from her.  It had started mundanely, with her staring at herself in the mirror and wondering when, and if, her Prince Charming would ever come along.  That had been in her home on the next block over.

                                                **

            It was October 31st, Halloween night, and once again Janessa Williams was going to be a cat. Her tall, trim figure looked good in a cat costume, for all the difference that would make. She was so tall that she rarely had a date, and tonight was no exception. Everyone at work had already paired off, leaving her on her own. She was used to it—it happened all the time.

Shrugging her slim shoulders, Janessa stuck her tongue out at her reflection. She knew that she wasn’t the best-looking woman with all her freckles and the mop of Orphan Annie red curls that hung to her waist. True, she did have some gamin grin dimples to die for, but so far, no man had seemed inclined to go that far. Add her high intelligence to the mix, and the fact that she couldn’t stand fools, and not many men were brave enough to ask for a second date. Even when she toned her intellect down, they still didn’t come back.

She sighed heavily and put the mask in place. It would be nice for once, to actually have to crane her neck to look up at a man. Unfortunately, there weren’t many men tall enough for her to do that. In fact, she didn’t know any personally.

And of course, there were her secret desires that she had never breathed a word about to anyone. No one knew that she haunted the Internet night after night, talking with men, wishing she had the guts to meet some of them in person. Online, she could pretend to be dainty and diminutive, all the things that men liked in a woman. 

            But Janessa was a coward, at least regarding blind dates. And she especially balked at meeting someone off the Internet. After all, how many men could handle an Amazon like her? So far, she hadn’t run across any male who had given her the kind of stats that even came close to what she needed. And since she hated lying, she would hate even more for them to meet her in person and realize the whoppers she had told. 

            “Oh well,” she muttered to herself. She shrugged her slender shoulders, and with a last dab of blood red lipstick, she headed out into the Halloween night to keep an eye on the kiddies running up and down her street.  It was something all the teachers at the local elementary school did every year, except she never had a partner.

She felt like a freak—again!  Come to think of, when did she ever not feel like a freak?

“Great costume, Miss Williams!”

 Little Erik Johnson, dressed in a red devil suit, ran by with his friend, Bryan.  And of course Bryan was dressed as some kind of demon or something.

 Leave it to the kids to accept her as she was, she thought. Her height never seemed to faze them; they always freely admired her. Too bad that male admiration didn’t exist in the adult males of her world.

As she walked into the next block, she could see the infamous Hawthorne Castle.  Its turrets reached for the sky, the stone lions on the parapets frozen forever in open-mouthed snarls. Rumor had it that one of the old man’s sons had come back to live there, although no one in town had yet seen him.  When the eccentric old fellow had died, the castle had sat empty for years.  Its foreboding gargoyle statues had haunted many a young child’s nightmares, including hers.

Lately, though, workmen had been busy in the gardens and grounds, repairing the windows where carelessly thrown stones had broken the glass. The castle was starting to take on a lived-in air, although workers came and went without a glimpse of its true occupant. The huge, wrought-iron gates were always locked but automatic gates had been installed to the driveway leading up to the castle grounds. Surprised, she stopped and stared inside the main gates. They were actually open tonight, for the first time!  Avidly, she looked around, drinking in everything she could until she finally saw him. 

“Oh, my god,” she whispered faintly.

                                               **

Julian knew the exact moment she saw him. Her eyes grew rounder and her mouth whispered something he was used to hearing—an exclamation of disbelief.  Tonight, it didn’t bother him. Tonight was Halloween night, the only night of the year that he could be himself.  At all other times, he was a freak—but not tonight.

She, on the other hand, was magnificent! The slinky cat costume fit her sleek figure like a glove. A glorious mane of red curls bounced down her slender back like a comic book version of cat woman. And she was a tall girl!  He almost purred with pleasure as he drank in the height of her. Here was a woman who wasn’t a little slip of something he could break with his bare hands. What a night this was going to be. If her eyes were green, to match that glorious mane, he would be in sheer heaven—for at least one evening.

“Good evening, my name is Julian Hawthorne,” he said throatily as he stepped out of the shadows. 

The pulse in her throat trembled visibly as she found her voice. “As in, the resident of Castle Hawthorne, I’m presuming?”

Her voice was low for a woman’s and pleasing to the ear, musical even, to him.  He stepped closer, his mind screaming yes when he saw her green eyes.  They were glittering like emerald gems through the black mask that completed the figure-shaping costume.

They stood there in the moonlight, each studying the other, sleek black tabby against golden lion. Cats of a different breed, each magnificent, yet complementing the other.  A ferocious thrill shot through him and he felt fiercely possessive. He wanted to take her for his mate, hide her away in his castle, and keep her forever. But he couldn’t.  Taking a deep breath, Julian made a promise to himself that he would let her go when the evening was over.  He didn’t want to hurt her—and he would if given the chance.

“Ye presume correctly, the castle is my home.  It’s been in the family for generations but I’ve never lived in it until now.” 

She smiled then, her white teeth gleaming in the moonlight. “It’s a well-known fact that someone has moved in.  Speculation runs rampant in small towns, of course, so we have all wondered who it was.”

“Well, now that ye know my name, I’m still at a disadvantage. What’s yer name?  Or is it just Cat Woman?”

Janessa laughed.  “A man with a sense of humor, I like that.”  She held out her hand.  “I’m Janessa Williams.”

He nodded lazily, his eyes once again sliding up and down her sleek figure as he took her hand in a firm grip.  “I’m extremely pleased to meet ye, Janessa. Are ye going to a party, then?”  He gestured to her costume.

She shrugged and reluctantly removed her hand. To her satisfaction, he seemed reluctant to let it go. “I doubt it. They’re having one at the school later for the adults, but I don’t like flying solo.”  Her nose crinkled with obvious disdain. “I’ll probably go home after the smaller kiddos go in.”

One shaggy brow lifted curiously.  “Are ye babysitting the streets then?  Isn’t that the police department’s job?”

“The school does it every year.  We like helping out in the community.”  She grinned up at him.  “Besides, it’s fun.”

“Yes, I’m sure it is,” he agreed, his wild mane of hair gently moving in the evening breeze.  “Halloween is the one holiday I actually like.”

                                                **

Fascinated, Janessa watched him avidly. Even his eyes are golden, she thought.  What an amazing male specimen, not to mention the costume. It fit like it was made for him. And where on earth did he get that wig?  Even his fangs looked real!  Oh yeah—this  was her idea of a man! He sported long, sculpted thighs that went on forever, broad shoulders, and a trim waist. Best of all, he obviously wasn’t intimidated by her size! Of course he was bigger and taller, so why would he be?

“Did ye get yer costume at Kilkenny’s like the rest of us?”  she asked curiously.

He looked puzzled.  “Kilkenny’s?”

“The costume shop in Pencairin,” she replied.  “That’s where most of us get our costumes every year.  I bought this one three years ago, but I liked it so well, I kept it.”

“Oh…err…no,” he replied dryly.  “I’ve had mine for a long time. I just use it on Halloween.”

“That’s probably a good thing,” she quipped.  “Ye’d scare all the kids to death otherwise.”

For a moment, it seemed a fleeting shadow crossed his face, but then it was gone and the lazy smile was back in place.  Janessa shivered.  Had she really felt a frissom of cold anger, or was it just her imagination working overtime on this Halloween night?

“Well, it’s certainly realistic enough,” she said with a laugh.  “Ye did a great job with the fangs and the hair. And that old-fashioned Earl’s wainscot really makes ye look like the Lord of the Castle.  I especially like the snug leggings and the white knee socks.”  Her eyes twinkled up at him.

“Knee socks?  I’ll have ye know this is a genuine seventeenth century costume, Madam.”  His air of mock insult made her giggle.  The pose he struck with one hand holding onto the jacket lapel and the other behind his back was even more humorous.

“Wow, what an awesome costume!”

The childish treble of Erik Johnson captured their attention. They turned to see the lad and his friend staring at Julian. Their eyes were like round saucers, filled with boyish admiration.

“Yeah, way cool.” Bryan echoed.

Julian grinned lazily.  “Yer costumes aren’t too bad, either,” he drawled.

“What’s yer name, Mister? Do ye live here?  My Mom says the castle owner must be a rack… a reek… something that means he don’t come out too often,” he finally finished.

“A recluse,” supplied Janessa, a hint of laughter in her voice.  “And the word is doesn’t.  He doesn’t come out too often.”

“Yeah, that’s it.”  Erik nodded his head eagerly, the questions brimming over. ”Where did ye get that costume? Are ye Miss Williams’ boyfriend? Are ye coming to the party at the school?

Julian held up his hands.  “Hold on there, lad; one question at a time, please!” He ticked off the answers with his lean fingers.  “One, I’ve had this costume for a long time.  Two, whether or not I’m Miss Williams’ boyfriend, is our business.  And three, I don’t know about the party yet. That will depend on Miss Williams.”  He looked at her with a hopeful expression.

Janessa flashed him a cheeky grin, happiness bubbling up inside her like a frothy fountain drink.  “I would consider it an honor if ye would come to the school party with me, my lord.” Then she curtsied, an action that had the boys chortling like devilish minions.

Laughter crinkled the corners of his eyes. “Just ye remember that, my lady.”  He took her hand and kissed it as he bowed before her.  “And the pleasure is all mine.”  He could feel her hand tremble, and he knew without a doubt that she was as affected by him as he was by her.  On one hand, that was a fantastic thing, but on the other hand, not so good for the end of the evening.  For a few seconds, he pondered upon cancelling their date, but then he realized  that it wouldn’t be fair to her.  Besides, he was already hooked.  Selfish lout that he was, he couldn’t deny himself the pleasure of her company for a few hours.

As the boys ran off, he offered his arm to her in gentlemanly fashion.  “Shall we patrol, my lady?”

Her eyes sparkled.  “Aye, we shall.”

                                                         **

It was much later, when the dance at the school finally ended, that Janessa felt a slight foreboding.  As they walked the distance from the school, she was sure it wasn’t just the night air that had cooled down.  She glanced up at Julian in the moonlight. His jaw was set as if he were holding himself rigidly in check for some reason.  His eyes were like dark and mysterious pools, making her feel uneasy. She tried to break the eerie silence with a cheerful question.

“Did ye enjoy the party, Julian?”

His reply was terse—and short. “Aye, I did.”

Janessa bit her lip and looked down at the ground as they walked. Everything had been fine until the end of the midnight dance.  He had been warm and friendly all evening. They had laughed more than Janessa could ever remember laughing with a man, and he had teased her unmercifully between holding her in close, warm embraces.  In short—the night couldn’t have been more perfect.  So, what was wrong?

By the time they arrived at her door, she was close to tears, so it surprised her when he took her in his arms and proceeded to kiss her breathless.  When he released her, she laid her head on his broad chest and slipped her arms around his waist.  Everything was all right after all, she thought blissfully.  But his next words were like a bucket of cold water.

“It’s been a fantastic evening, Janessa,” he whispered hoarsely.  “So let’s just leave it at that and not ruin it. Don’t be coming to the castle, I’ll call ye again—sometime.”  With that, he turned and strode away, his long legs eating up the ground at a very quick pace.

Stunned, she could only stare after him, her brain trying to assimilate the passion of that kiss with the abrupt dismissal of his words.  She just knew he wasn’t going to call her again—she could feel it deep inside. Anguish tore at her!

Impulsively, Janessa followed him into the night, keeping him in sight, but not catching up. She watched him slam the gates of his property together, but one of them bounced back slightly, indicating the latch had not caught.  He didn’t notice it, because he was already halfway up the long walk to the front door. She took that as a good sign.  She was meant to follow him, right?  She sent her thanks heavenward when she realized the front door was unlocked as well. The Gods were surely looking out for her, she decided.  Once she was finally inside, and crouching along the hall corridor, everything changed!

                                             **

Julian hadn’t counted on Janessa following him. The instinct to take her into the study he had just come from and ravish her on the Victorian sofa was so strong that he trembled from the force of his desire. Even spanking her had been a mistake. The sight of those beautiful pale globes over his lap would haunt him forever.

“Go,” he bit out, “while ye still can.”

He watched in disbelief as the fear left her eyes only to be replaced with stubborn determination. He groaned inwardly as she stood up, pulled up her cat pants, and squared her shoulders. Obviously, she was not used to being obedient. Hands firmly on her rounded hips, she glared at him.

 “Just tell me ye really don’t want me, that ye hated the evening we spent together, and that ye never want to see me again,” she replied, her glorious eyes flashing.  “If ye can look me in the eyes and tell me that, then I’ll go.”  She stood her ground, daring him to refute it.

It took an effort of immense proportions, but Julian kept his hands off her and merely pointed towards the door.

“What’s the matter?” she taunted.  “Not man enough to say it?”  Her eyes flashed dangerously.  “Speak up, I can’t hear ye.”

“Do ye need another spanking, lass?” he ground out.

“Is that yer answer?  Is that all ye can do?” she asked, taunting him again. “Or were ye just using me for a one-night stand, so to speak?”

“Ye don’t know what yer mixing up in, lass,” he growled throatily.  “Now, go!”

Julian knew he wouldn’t spank her again.  The memory of those pale buttocks bouncing beneath his broad palm was already driving him insane. No, if he touched her again, he’d go up in flames.

As it turned out he didn’t have to, because she brought it to him.  Quick as a flash she was in his face, her arm swinging upward and her palm catching him in a hard blow across the cheek.  “How dare ye treat me like this?” she raged, the tears beginning to trickle down her cheeks again. She brought the other arm up but he caught her wrist in his palm.  He stared down at her heaving breasts beneath the thin costume.  He could see the outline of their ample portions and he licked his lips as he groaned and shut his eyes against the sight.

“I can’t let ye stay,” he roared painfully.  “Ye would grow to hate me, monster that I am.  Please, I beg of ye, go!”  He dropped her wrist and turned to pound his fist into the unforgiving stone of the wall, anything to stop the desire that was flooding his senses.

She whispered softly, her hand touching his elbow.  “I could never hate ye, Julian, I think I’m in love with ye.  I know it sounds crazy, but I really think I am.  The thought of losing ye is like falling into a dark well. cold and miserable.  I can’t leave.”

He whirled around, a snarl coming from his mouth, his fangs bared.  “Ye see these teeth, Janessa, they aren’t a costume, these teeth are real. These teeth are real!  And this hair isn’t a costume either, it’s my real hair!  Right now my desire for ye is so intense that it’s taking every ounce of strength I have to keep from bedding ye right here on this stone floor like an animal!  Hell, I’m half animal, can’t ye see that?  Ye’ll never want to be seen in public with me, except on Halloween, of course. The rest of the year ye’ll hide behind closed doors, embarrassed to go out with a freak!”

She stared him, thunderstruck—and then she laughed. “That’s it?  That’s what this is all about?”

“How dare ye laugh at me,” he roared, going against his own edict that he wouldn’t spank her again. He picked her up under one long arm and proceeded to pound the seat of her costume unmercifully. The poor cat tail didn’t stand a chance and it was soon decorating the floor while Janessa screeched and kicked like a banshee. Finally, he set her down and she danced around on her tip toes, rubbing her tortured backside. He hoped she had actually learned her lesson this time, but when she finally turned on him, he was afraid she hadn’t.

“Ye idiot,” she sobbed, railing at him.  “Ye can file yer stupid teeth down with any respectable dentist and ye can always cut yer hair!  Haven’t ye ever heard of a barber?  She shook her fist at him.  “How do ye think I feel?  I’m a freak too, ye know.  No man will go out with me more than once because I’m an Amazon compared to normal women. And if my size doesn’t scare them, then my IQ does. They run like whipped pups when they realize I actually have a brain in my head. So don’t give me those excuses, Julian. If ye don’t want me, then just say so and I’ll leave, but don’t give me those pathetic excuses!”

He stared at her in amazement, hope beginning to send a small ray of sunshine through his soul.  “I’ve filed my teeth down, they grow back,” he whispered intently.

“So make a regular appointment,” she flashed back.

“My hair grows super-fast.”

“So make an appointment with a barber on the same day!”

She returned his stare defiantly, refusing to back down.

“I’ll be spanking ye when ye misbehave.”  He was beginning to think this was going to be fairly often at this rate.  But it was only right that she should know up front if she really meant what she was saying. Her next words took him by complete surprise.

“I should hope so!  A man who can actually handle me physically is a bonus I have only dreamed of,” she taunted, flashing her gamin dimples.  “I’ve haunted the Internet for years looking for one, trust me.”

His last objection overruled, the lion of Hawthorne Castle growled fiercely and scooped the recalcitrant tabby up in his arms and strode towards the study.

And the recalcitrant tabby purred all the way to the Victorian sofa.

The End

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