by Cera Daniels
Relek City Book Two
For small-town girl Emily Barton, running her animal-assisted therapy clinic in the big city is mayhem enough without slotting gun-toting kidnappers, a talking owl, and a half-naked, masked criminal into her planner. Unfortunately, that's just what this animal empath has to do when sensationalist headlines catch a deranged syndicate boss’s attention. He won't be denied: Emily will heal his son's terminal cancer, or she will die.
Good thing her masked protector won't be denied either: Jay will keep Emily safe, even if the cost is her heart.
Jay McLelas, a.k.a. Ninja, has done more crime than crime-fighting lately. He’s convinced he's too far over the gray line to be anything close to the white knight Emily deserves--the sweet, sensitive one he can only allow himself to be by the light of day. But a scorching, soul-binding kiss proves she’s the key to stabilizing his supernatural night vision. He can't afford to let her go.
If Jay can’t keep the syndicate from hunting her, if he doesn't dare trust her with who he is and what he's done...how can he be worthy of her at all?
Genre: Paranormal RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon ARe Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Suspense, Superheroes, Superpowers, Dystopian, Telepathy
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Publisher: Man and a Muse Ventures
Excerpt & More
"You should be home, Emily. Not sleeping on the couch."
Emily bolted upright and her forehead slammed into something with a sharp crack. With a yelp, she backpedaled on the cushions until her spine hit something solid. The slats of the front windows were open and the solitary lamp down the street flickered like a windblown candle. Spots were fading from the edges of her vision but her head throbbed as she struggled to identify the man now crouched beside her makeshift bed.
"Sorry." He rubbed at the bare strip of forehead above his mask and threw her a rueful grimace. "You okay?"
He's alive. She sagged against the arm of the couch, relief striking as cool and fast as the dream had. And it was a dream, after all. Just a dream.
His eyes lit up as if encouraged by her expression, and he pushed himself off of his knees. "Shall we?"
"Shall we what?"
"Go back to your apartment." He held out a hand. "Look, the motel last night was pushing it. Shiv won't buy the two of us on a couch."
She frowned and batted his fingers away. "I'm not sleeping on this couch with you."
"It wasn't exactly my plan. But if you insist." The masked man gave an affected sigh and slid onto the blankets she'd laid out, settling against the cushions. Silver eyes focused on her still-pulsing forehead. "I can't let your coworkers think someone beat you. Come here, Emily."
She glared at him, and his cheeks creased in an apologetic grin. That smile . . . Her insides responded with a slow flip. "Tell me your name."
"They call me Klepto." He inclined his head toward her, a small, bemused frown marring the handsome planes of his face.
Not that name. Her nose crinkled, but she eased out of her crouched position and into the seat beside him.
"What's wrong?" His index finger snaked out to trace the bridge of her nose. "Aside from the obvious."
"That's what they call you. That's what the psycho with the knife calls you." It wasn't real, and it wasn't . . . him. Late night whimsy took hold. "How about 'Midnight Marauder'?"
The corners of his mouth twitched. "That's a terrible name."
"Well, it's nicer than Klepto. Less . . . " Emily waved her hand in the air, searching for an explanation. "Creepy criminal-like."
"Less creepy criminal-like?" he repeated, staring.
"You don't like it?" A teasing grin crept across her lips as she thought of how she'd considered his appearance earlier in the day. "Let's try: 'Nighttime Ninja'?"
The masked man leaned over her body, his lips brushing her ear. "I'm not a ninja," he whispered. His fingers feathered over her skin, kneading slow circles over the tender spot on her forehead.
"You wear all black, have a mask, sneak around in the dark, and make no noise when you move. Ninja." She ticked off a finger with each point. In her dream, he'd also been agile as one—but he was cocky enough without knowing he'd invaded her subconscious.
"I don't use a sword—"
"Who said all ninjas use swords?"
"You're not calling me a ninja." Ninja's insistent words held an edge of warning even as they took on a low, seductive pitch.
Emily closed her eyes, leaning into his gentle touch. "Thank—" She swallowed the second word because otherwise it would have come out as a groan. The warmth of his lips closed over the injury then took a detour toward her left temple. A jolt of desire spiked down her spine, settling between her thighs with a vengeance. This cannot be happening. Again. She shifted against the cushions, losing a silent war against the blast furnace of a blush.
Ninja pulled away. "Better?"
The look of smug, male satisfaction on the visible half of his face made her wonder if he knew exactly how much he affected her.
He stood, extending his hand once more.
"I do need clothes." She already knew his opinion on that front. Rephrase that before you end up naked in his lap. Emily held up a finger to counter the sly look in his eyes. "For work tomorrow."
He grinned wider.
How is it possible for that to still come out wrong?
"So," Ninja said, dragging out the word, "are you coming with me, or do I get to dig through your underwear drawer unsupervised?"
Half an hour and one blindfolded car ride later Emily lay curled under a sheet in a tank top and a cute pair of pajama shorts. Trying not to think about the average criminal's salary. With gas over $20 and the roads troublesome for even emergency vehicles, who even bothered to own their own car anymore? She sighed. Maybe that was it. Maybe the thief heading for her bedroom window had stolen one to get her home and hadn't wanted her to see.
It was a cooler night and her AC had been making hideous rattling noises, so off it went. Ninja pushed her bedroom window open and drew her bedroom curtains shut, a trickle of light playing over his dark form. Her eyelids lowered a fraction to watch his approach to the bed. About a foot away he stopped, his masked and cloaked head cocking slightly to the right.
"Are we rolling into act three, or have you just decided to spend the night for fun?" She caught the gleam of his teeth as he unraveled the hood and discarded the fabric and his trench coat on the ground.
He hadn't said a word, hadn't made a sound since they'd left Partner Paws. Even after she'd thanked him for replacing the splintered doors in her apartment. Nothing more than that sexy smile lit by moonlight as they'd entered her bedroom.
Ninja slipped out of his boots with more grace than a man should possess. Then he tugged off his shirt with slow, deliberate ease. Wind played against the curtains and shed flashes of light across one heck of a firm, muscled chest; that set of stunning abs good enough to nibble. Her eyes were suddenly wide, unable to pull away from the utter maleness on display. He unhooked his belt, a loop of small pouches and leather containers, discarding it on the pile of clothing already gracing her floor.
If he continued down this road, she'd have to toss him dollar bills. My whole wallet.
The accentuated, slow ripple of muscle as he gripped the corner of her blankets and slid underneath tore her emotions between fear and excitement. They lay there in the silence, his arms wrapped around her, her heart beating so fast and so loud—How could he miss its thumping pressure against his chest? He rubbed the back of her neck, setting her nerve endings on fire, stoking the heat in her body until it matched the intensity in his silver-touched eyes.
She was a realist. She could take care of herself, and had, in the pre-Murphy reality. Her brain kept her out of trouble, her strength rescued animals, her persistence helped others survive. She relied on herself first and friends she'd known for years second. Yet here she was, staring into the eyes of a man right out of the comic books, a man who'd somehow become her own personal protector. Mystery drew her in and surrounded this masked contradiction, a man who exuded danger but shielded her like a precious gift.
She burned for more.
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Be on the lookout for Cera Daniels' future release(s): Step on It coming Fall 2016 and A Relek City Christmas coming December 2016
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