Have you ever set out to have a one night stand with a sexy stranger?
No? I’m the only one?
Just kidding, I would never.
But then I figured, why not? My entire life I’ve been good and it’s gotten me nowhere.
I’m owed a little fun, aren’t I? A reward for being good.
Sure, a new pair of shoes would be more appropriate, but Mr. Sexy Stranger is more appealing. And when he speaks—in that British accent—it’s a done deal. Every American woman has a hot British guy fantasy. Well, most do. I haven’t taken a poll or anything, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fact.
You know that saying about best-laid plans?
Good, because I don’t either, but I assume they go awry.
Like my one night stand…
The moment I laid eyes on Kyle Kingston I knew he was a mistake. A satisfying, toe curling, hair pulling, best night of my life mistake, but a mistake all the same. I didn’t yet know his name, or who he was, but I knew he was a bad idea.
I take comfort in that, because it means my instincts are still good. Too late, but it’s something.
Because, FYI, I’m pregnant
… and did I mention my baby daddy is both heir to a retail empire and impossible to get ahold of?
I do what any girl would. I break into his Grandfather’s retirement gala by telling the prissy gatekeeper Kyle’s my fiancé. It was a halfway decent plan at the time, trust me.
But it blows up in my face, disastrously so. You see, Kyle Kingston is all about representing the family values his family’s retail empire was founded on. At least in public. In private- well I’ll tell you about that later.
He proposes – a marriage of convenience.
Convenient for everyone but me, because while I’m falling in love with my convenient husband, he’s keeping a billion-dollar secret. From me.
Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she’s ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.
Madison Fox just learned that her ability to see souls is more than a sight: It’s a weapon for fighting evil. The only problem is she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.
On the positive side, her money problems are over and her coworker is smoking hot. On the negative side, evil creatures now actively hunt her, and deadly experiences are becoming the norm.
When she thinks it couldn’t get worse, a powerful evil sets up shop at a local hotel’s video game convention, and it’s got its eye on more than the gaming geeks—it’s hungry for Madison’s soul. Madison needs to become an expert illuminant enforcer overnight to save her job, her region…and her life.
Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, but if her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.
But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.
As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.
Madison Fox is determined to reform Jamie, her half-evil pooka, but the bond linking her to Jamie works both ways. Already, it has manipulated her into bending the rules. If she continues down this path, she could doom her soul. Since her judgment can’t be trusted, a high-ranking inspector now dictates Madison’s every interaction with Jamie, and each directive drives them further apart.
Unfortunately, Madison has bigger issues than the potential degradation of her soul. Winter has struck with a vengeance. Frost moths plague the entire state, reinforcing the artificially frigid temperature. Worse, cold-blooded, soul-stealing enemies are flocking into her region from the north—creatures Madison has little defense against.
With the inspector scrutinizing her every misstep, Madison is in for the battle of her life. If she hopes to survive, she must make an impossible choice: save herself and her region or save Jamie.
An imaginative urban fantasy filled with heart, humor, and plenty of butt-kicking action—A Fistful of Frost is a book you won’t want to miss.
I expected the inspector to look like an Army Ranger, tall, muscular, and radiating an “I could kill you if I wanted to” vibe. The woman who stepped from the car shattered my assumptions. Midfifties, petite, and pale, with a slash of bright auburn in her chin-length white-blond hair, Inspector Pamela Hennessey didn’t look authoritative until her assessing gaze landed on me. Then I fought not to squirm.
“Madison Fox and the pooka Jamie,” she said, not quite a greeting and not a question. It would have sounded rude if not delivered in her posh British accent. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“All good, I hope,” I quipped.
She eyed me up and down, giving me a noncommittal, “Mmm.”
My smile froze at the corners.
Rose climbed from the driver’s seat and shut the car door with more force than necessary. The Latina empath gave me a curt nod, as if we were strangers and not coworkers and friends. What the hell? I stopped pretending to smile. Jamie shifted closer, brushing his gloved hand against mine, worry crinkling his eyebrows as he read the tension of the group. I gave him a shoulder bump to reassure him, pretending to be relaxed. Pamela’s gaze snapped from our touching hands to our shoulders to our faces, and I fought the urge to leap away from Jamie as if I were doing something wrong.
“Give me a net and let’s get your purity test out of the way, Madison,” the inspector said.
“Pardon me?” Wasn’t a purity test a medieval way to judge a woman’s virginity? Not only had that ship long since sailed, but I also didn’t see how it would be relevant—or anyone’s business. I checked Brad’s neutral expression. Did details about my sex life fall under the impress her or don’t embarrass me category?
The inspector rounded on Brad, wispy-fine hair flaring on either side of her pink headband earmuffs. “She doesn’t know what a purity test is? You haven’t tested her once in the last five days?”
“Madison’s purity has never been in question.”
A warning frizzled down my spine at Brad’s bland tone. She’d put him on the defense. I glanced to Rose for a clue, but she only grimaced and looked away.
“Don’t let your recent victories make you arrogant, Brad,” Pamela said. “Of course her purity is in question. She’s bonded to a pooka.”
Aha! This wasn’t about virginity; this was about Jamie’s dual nature and the metaphysical bond he’d placed on me. I’d been warned—repeatedly—to be careful of Jamie’s darker half; more than one bonded enforcer had been corrupted by a pooka’s morally ambiguous influence. No one had mentioned purity tests.
“This is to see if Jamie has . . . changed me?” I asked, choosing my words carefully in deference to Jamie. Nothing in his expression said he took offense to the insinuation that our link might have tainted me. He saw nothing wrong with wielding atrum as readily as lux lucis, and if I failed a purity test, it’d probably make him happy.
“Changed you?” Pamela echoed. “No. I need to know if the pooka’s bond has sullied you.”
So much for being tactful. I peeked sideways at Jamie, but he hadn’t reacted, his gaze focused beyond Pamela on the people walking by.
“Is there a problem?” the inspector asked.
“No. Of course not, but, Inspector Hennessey—” I shot Brad a desperate look.
“Call me Pamela. Never Pam.”
“Got it. Um, Pamela—”
“She doesn’t know how to make a net,” Brad said for me.
“Why not?” Pamela demanded, spinning to confront my boss again, the hem of her wool coat flaring to reveal the calves of her pale leather boots.
“I haven’t had the luxury of instituting a methodical training regimen with Madison.”
“Mmm,” Pamela said.
I was starting to hate that noise.
“And if she encountered a frost moth?” she asked.
“She has a lighter.”
One I’d purchased this afternoon at Brad’s insistence. Shaped like a small blowtorch, with a trigger to ignite the flame, it was the fanciest lighter I’d ever owned. It also had the distinction of being the only lighter I’d ever purchased with the intention of using as a weapon—or at least I thought that was the plan. I pressed my lips together. Now wouldn’t be a good time to confess that after reading Val’s entry on sjel tyver, I’d completely forgotten to ask the handbook about frost moths—what they looked like, where to find them, or how to kill them.
“I can instruct Madison on nets now,” Brad offered.
The inspector shook her head. “Let’s get the inquisition out of the way.”
REBECCA CHASTAIN is the USA Today bestselling author of the Madison Fox urban fantasy series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles fantasy trilogy, among other works. Inside her novels, you’ll find spellbinding adventures packed with supernatural creatures, thrilling action, heartwarming characters (human and otherwise), and more than a little humor. Rebecca lives in Northern California with her charming husband and two bossy cats.
“He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” ― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
A new job, new city, and new friends seem like the perfect solutions for healing Zack’s broken heart. A fiery red-head, with passion for all of his favorite activities couldn’t hurt either. She seems perfect for him, and he’s immediately drawn in. The romance blossoms, but Zack is side-swiped when he learns she’s hiding things. Is the relationship worth salvaging or do her scars run too deep? Don’t miss Zack’s story in this Being Me series stand-alone companion novel!
“So, we didn’t get to catch up today. How was your Fourth?” Mitchell asks as I slide my backpack over my shoulders.
“I was working.” We walk out of the physical therapy room, dodging incoming patients.
“Did you even get to see fireworks?”
“No, we had a couple injuries, so I was there till late.” I find my keys and sunglasses in a side pocket of my bag.
“You’ve got to get a better job, so you can have a social life.” Mitchell shakes his head.
“Are you kidding? I’m living the dream. Fame and fortune.”
“Right, well”—he offers his palm out to me—“I’ll catch you next time.”
“Yep.” I shake his hand and slide my sunglasses on. Stepping through the sliding doors the sun sears my skin, and I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it. Heat rises off the pavement, and hot wind engulfs me as I cross the parking lot. A volleyball rolls out from between two cars. I dip and scoop it up with one palm. Scanning the rows, I spot an open trunk and jog to it. I stop a couple feet from a girl rummaging in the back of a small SUV. “You lose this?” I hold the ball at arm’s length.
She glances at me and then back to her open car. “I’d lose my head right now if it weren’t attached.” Her accent is melodic, almost twangy, and I note her New Jersey license plate. Running her hand through her thick red hair, she turns to face me. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Ball extended, I take a step closer to her. “You play?”
Her eyes land on mine and then cut to my chest where my ID card hangs. Grabbing the sphere with both hands, she tosses it into her SUV. “Yeah.” Shaking her head, she fishes in the closest bag.
“Me too. There’s a league at the JCC if you’re interested. That’s the—”
“I know what the JCC is.” She spins to face me.
I take a step back. “Okay, I wasn’t… I just thought—”
“What? Since I have out-of-state plates, I’m fresh meat? A new chick to take out once and never call again?”
“Whoa.” I raise my palms. “I was just returning the ball.” Shaking my head, I turn and walk away. I should have known. She’s the redhead I saw with Lydia and Rose in the cafeteria. They hate me. Why? I have no clue. I accepted an invite to hang out with them my first week on the job. We’d spent three hours at a bar, them spouting off all the hospital gossip. Drama isn’t my thing. I’d been nice about it, nodding and agreeing where appropriate. The next time they asked me to join them, I had volleyball, fortunately for me, as I am horrible at lying. The third and fourth times, I had a string of twelve-hour shifts and declined them again. They have been shooting daggers and giving me the cold shoulder ever since. I’m not sure what to do about their hostility. Mitchell said to ignore them, but now they’re bad-mouthing me? I’m barely at the hospital two days a week, and they think they know me?
“Hey.” I hear her call out and turn around. “I’m sorry about that. Thanks for saving my ball. This is my first day at work, I moved here two days ago, and everything is out of control. Lydia and Rose said that you…” Shedding her sunglasses, her eyes cut to the pavement and back to my face.
I shake my head and shrug. “That I did what exactly? Did they mention how long they’d known me? I moved here a month ago and only hung out with them once.”
“Oh.” She looks to a passing truck and then back up at me. “They were trying to help, I think.”
The sun has my skin flaming. “We good?”
“Yeah, thanks again.”
“No problem.” I resume my path, hoping my reply wasn’t too rude. She lashed out at me first though. Plus, with the twelve-hour shift and heat, I was done.
“Zack, my man!” Rabbi John greets me by gripping my hand and bumping his shoulder to mine the next night at the JCC gym. “Wasn’t sure you were going to make it.”
“Traffic was bad. How’s the count?” I ask as I secure my laces.
“Good, Kara from team two is sick, but Liz showed up, so we’re good to go.”
“Redhead, said you invited her?” His eyes grow large as if to urge me to remember.
“Long red hair?”
“Yeah, red, it’s back, so maybe? You want to switch to be on her team?”
I shake my head.
“Okay, well I won’t ask about that then.” He looks back to his clipboard.
“Yeah, you don’t want to know.” I pat him on the back and, eyes focused on the floor, make my way to our court.
Jeff approaches. “Who’s the chick?”
“Redhead. John said you invited her.”
“Don’t know her.” I throw my bag on the stands and retrieve my ball. “Let’s warm up.”
Copyright 2018 Tricia Copeland All Rights Reserved
Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in sunny Colorado with her family. Her novels include the award nominated contemporary romance series, Being Me, Best Book Award finalist urban fantasy series, The Kingdom Journals, Lovelock Ones, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, and Drops of Sunshine, a YA paranormal novella. Find Tricia and her books at www.triciacopeland.com or on your favorite social media.