Dariel's World

Hi. I'm Dariel Raye, an interracial/multi-cultural paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and psy/suspense author, and every day of this journey is a learning experience. I'm also a counselor, musician, and animal lover. My stories are about all-conquering love and romance, and I enjoy hosting other authors as well. Enter a world where werewolves, vampires, multi-shifters, vamp-like Nephilim, Vodouin Fey, and all things paranormal capture our hearts...

You might also like to visit my website.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dariel's Bewitching Book Feature: "Prima" by Annie Nicholas

The Vanguards Book 6
Annie Nicholas

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Number of pages: 150
Word Count:  44, 000

Cover Artist: Hailey Edwards

Book Description: 

One year ago, Sugar survived a wolf shifter attack but it had left her broken.  Paralyzed on the left side, she fights for independence in her day-to-day life. Her worst injuries are the scars on her soul. She can’t bear who she has become and it drives her to push her vampire lover, Daedalus, away. How could he still love her when she is just a shadow of herself? But a new threat on Daedalus’s life yanks away her veil of self-pity and she resolves to help him.

The vampire council sends an emissary to Daedalus. His clan brother, another Nosferatu, hands him an ultimatum. Return to his post as Prime in Pal Robi or he’ll kill Sugar and her shifter friends. Daedalus has brought enough trouble into Sugar’s life. He won’t be responsible for more, so he agrees to leave Chicago.

To both warriors surprise, Sugar’s not willing to remain behind, and with her own shifter guards she’s ready to assist Daedalus regain control of Pal Robi.

giveaway is one ecopy of Prima at each host site.

As soon as he closed the sliding glass door shut, Daedalus would bet his bank account that his conversation with Pallas would only have a pretense of privacy. Shifter hearing could be miraculous, especially when pressed to cracked-open windows. The distant sound of a chair clattering to the floor in the dining room reached his own sensitive hearing. He could picture his housemates scrambling to find the best places to eavesdrop.
Pallas strode to the center of the moonlit garden. “So the rumors are true. You’ve lost your mind.”
Daedalus chuckled. The other Nosferatu hadn’t changed. They’d been close once. “Maybe. I wish the one about you was true.”
Pallas spun around. “Which one?”
“You being dead.”
“That would be too convenient.” A familiar crooked smile bloomed on his ugly face.
Daedalus laughed louder and shook Pallas’s hand, squeezing his fingers together as hard as he could. “You’re such an ass.” Bearer of bad news or not, he was still a brother, a tie to his past, and a comrade at arms.
Pallas returned his strong grip. “I learned from the best.” His clan brother, and he used that term loosely since they weren’t born from the same parents, bore the trademark appearance of their people—bald, pale, and deadly. “You’re creating quite a stir in the council, enough for them to coerce me to wake and seek you out.”
They released the painful handshake, and Daedalus shook his numb fingers, grinning as Pallas did the same. “You can tell them, for once, I’m happy.”
He snorted. “Like they care. I can’t believe you’re living with shifters again.” He made a distasteful noise.  “Nasty habit. They said you left your post.”
“I did, and I left it in good hands.” Then the fools were killed and the traitors who took over tried to have him assassinated, but Pallas didn’t need to know that.
“Your company is in chaos. I went there before arriving here.”
“No.” Pal Robi Inc. was his private security company, hence it being named after him. What better than hiring an almost indestructible vampire as a guard? The company also served as a front for the vampire political structure in his area. Vampires had revealed themselves, with the other supernatural creatures, to humans fifteen years ago. Vampires were expected to follow human laws and their government, but vampire society had had these things in place long before humans had figured out how to organize themselves. The Vampire Council didn’t expect their people to follow human laws, but Pal Robi Inc. was developed to give his people legal jobs and to police their hunting. In other words, if a vampire couldn’t feed without killing, it was his responsibility to stop that person before humans were aware of it. “I didn’t assign those who presently think they are running my company.” 
Pallas sighed. “Are they under your command?” He gave Daedalus a pointed stare. “Currently.”
“No.” Daedalus shrugged. “How much damage can they do? The last thing they want is to draw the Council’s attention. I haven’t truly lost control.”
“Your estate is abandoned.”
“It’s not abandoned. I dispersed my staff to other tasks, and there’s a shifter house sitter. You probably scared the shit out of him.” He’d have to call Stephen and check on him. The young shifter didn't like company, let alone drop-ins from hell.
“A little scare never killed anyone. The council wants you to straighten things out at Pal Robi Inc. and return to your post as Prime. Things are falling apart in the area.”
An alien sourness curdled his stomach. He examined the odd sensation and decided he didn’t like the source. “Or what?” This visit was expected. Not Pallas himself but someone the council would send. The Prime kept the peace among vampirekind in his area. Sort of like a sheriff. If those traitors hadn’t been so greedy and tried to kill him, things would still be fine.
“They’ll make me kill everyone at Pal Robi Inc…” Pallas’s gaze wandered to the house, “…and here.”
“Do you think you can defeat me?” It had been ages since he’d fought one of his own kind. Living among the Vasi pack had softened him.
A hard shield fell over Pallas’s eyes. “Yes.”

About the Author:
Annie Nicholas hibernates in the rural, green mountains of Vermont where she dreams of different worlds, heroes, and heroines. When spring arrives the stories pour from her, in hopes to share them with the masses one day. Mother, daughter, wife are some of the hats she happily wears while trudging after her cubs through the hills and dales. The four seasons an inspiration and muse.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

From Good Story to Awesome: Choosing the Right Editor For Your Manuscript

So, you woke up with a great story. All you have to do is get it down on paper. You've read through it over and over, checked it for errors and inconsistencies, and it looks fantastic. Right? Uh, no. First of all, remember your English teacher telling you to never proof your own writing? Long story short, you are simply too close to it. The more times you read it, the more errors you overlook. You know exactly what you want to say, exactly what you mean to convey, but it takes another pair of eyes to determine how clear your message really is - a well-trained pair of eyes. That, my friend, is an editor. No one can take your work to the next level faster than the right editor, so let's talk briefly about some things to consider when choosing one.

First, how accurate is the editor's website and blog. This is often your first impression, and errors in the editor's post are indicative of carelessness. You know what that translates to - the same carelessness with your work.

A few other things to consider are whether the editor enjoys reading or writing in your genre or sub genre. How many books have they read in your genre? Experience is the best teacher, and in order to know what is expected, editors have to read lots of books. Go figure!

Another step I'd suggest you take is to read some of the editor's work. If you don't like their style or enjoy their story, well, you get the picture.

Finally, consider the time frame, cost, and editing style. Yes, there are styles involved. Some editors try to write your book for you, some have absolutely nothing positive to say, and others have learned the age-old art of offering healthy doses of encouragement to help you swallow the constructive criticism without developing an ulcer or giving up. Let's face it. Most artists have to deal with quite a bit more criticism than the average Josie. We live most of our lives under scrutiny, and everybody everywhere is a critic. The last thing you need is a cocky, condescending editor. You need your editor to be in your corner and have more positive things to say about your potential, even if they can't honestly say it about your work at the moment.

Finally, can you communicate with your editor easily and in a timely manner? Is s/he able to explain things to you so they are clear and you don't keep making the same mistakes? Your writing should get better every time you work on a project together, and I don't mean just that particular story. Long-term improvements should be your goal.

So, with those few things in mind, here's a sampling of a few freelance editors. You can sign up for my newsletter for a list of 45. Their links and Twitter handles are included in most cases so you can peruse their sites and take a look at the services they offer. Some even have testimonials from satisfied customers. I only have online connections with a few of them and even my list of 45 is far from conclusive, but the ones I've talked to are great people to know. Please feel free to offer the names of other editing experts in comments. Happy shopping!

Editors (Sample)

6.@Swiftinkeditor (Jessica Swift Eldridge)

7.@Autiej (Autumn Conley)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fields, Flocks, and Fire: The Romance Troupe is Having a Beltane Blitz!

Fields, Flocks, and Fire: The Romance Troupe is Having a Beltane Blitz!
Beltane celebrates flourishing fields, fertile flocks, and joining together to create life. Traditionally celebrated on May 1st, many of us came to know it as May Day. Nearly every culture has celebrated the day throughout history with a number of titles, traditions, and ceremonies. 

Stories of satyrs, centaurs, fairies, maidens, gods and goddesses making love under the scorpio moon, believed to be the most powerful aphrodisiac and fertility inducer, abound. Apparently, Bacchus, Aphrodite, even Poseidon got in on the action, so we will share some of our stories, sneak peeks, excerpts, and fun games with you from May 1st to May 3rd.

Some of the books featured for scavenger hunts include: Book one in Angela Rose’s “Land of Giants” series, “Once Upon a Highlander,” books one and two in Jinni James’s “Immortal Shifter Series,” “The Wolfs Maine” and “Aspen’s Vamp,” Kathryn Loch’s “Heart’s Ransom” and “Demon Laird,” book one of her “Legacy of the Mist Clans series,” and books one and two of my “Dark Sentinels series,” “Sable” and “Torin.”

Again, we’ll also have sneak peeks and excerpts from some of our works in progress (WIPs), games, and prizes. First grand prize is a $50 visa gift card, second grand prize is a $30 gift card to Target, and each participating blog will choose a winner from commenting blog visitors. Make sure to include your email address with your comment so we can reach you if you win ;-)

Join us on May 1st – 3rd for The Romance Troupe Beltane Blitz! Where? My blog and the blog of seven more Romance Troupe members will be part of the hop.. Click here to visit The Romance Troupe blog. Hope to see you back with friends on the first!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dariel's Bewitching Book Stop: "Creatures of Fire" by J.B. Brroklin

Creatures of Fire
Sariel Baldwin Series
J.B. Brooklin

Genre: Fantasy

ISBN: 1230000109442

Number of pages: 212
Word Count: 69836

Cover Artist: J.B. Brooklin (Cover copyrights: Ring of Fire © dvarg #34150031 – Fotolia.com, the dancer © Alexander Yakovlev #34413982)

Book Description:

She is a half demon, oblivious to her true nature.

He is a demon set out to avenge murder.

Together they are hunted by the one person she thought she could trust.

Separate they may be able to save each others lives.

“Creatures of Fire” a tale about power, ambition, responsibility and trust.

New York – Paris – Dschinnanya (the world of the demons)

Nobody knows how they come into existence. The Ifrit; also called demons or ghosts of the dead.
Fire is their element.
It is said they appear as a column of smoke where murder has happened.
That may be.
It is certain they move with the silence of smoke.
It is certain that human beings can only see them if the Ifrit allow them to.
It is certain they only appear to avenge murder.
It shouldn’t have happened. It was supposed to be impossible. And still, she had seen him, although he was invisible to the eyes of humans.
            “Are you a friend of my uncle?” Her question confirmed his suspicion. With a smile he turned to face her. At the same moment he made sure that the people around them could see him. It would be strange if they noticed her talking to thin air.
            “Yes, but I haven’t met him in a long time. Which is probably why you do not know me.” He offered a short bow. “May I introduce myself? My name is Alexander. And you must be his lovely niece, Sariel.”
            “Nice to meet you.”
Enchanté.” He released her hand with an inner curse. He had no idea what had possessed him to give her a kiss on the hand. Hell! These courtesies had been out of fashion for several decades. And why had he responded in French?
“You are French?” He had drawn her interest with his unusual behaviour. It was the first time in years that he had talked to a human being. Clearly he was out of practise.
            “I am sorry, but I must beg you to excuse me. I have business to attend to with your uncle.” With this rude remark he turned and vanished into the crowd.

Without paying attention to where he was going he found himself in a room, or rather a sanctuary, which offered respite from the crowded terrace where he had met Sariel.
            Sariel. A name out of a fairy tale. And the woman was absolutely... Girl, he corrected himself silently. She was just a girl. Not older than seventeen or eighteen. Whereas he was more than one hundred years old. His interest in her was ridiculous.
With a wry smile he directed his attention to the treasures that surrounded him. The walls were covered with masterpieces. All originals from the greatest painters the world had seen. Here, just to his right, he discovered a Picasso study. Next to it, a Chagall. And there...
“The Tizian!“ He spoke the words aloud in his surprise. Madonna with her child and the holy Lukas and Katharina. It was one of the painter’s few large canvases owned by private collectors.
Against his will he was impressed. Harold Baldwin, the man he had come to kill, obviously had impeccable taste when it came to art. Too bad that he was also an unscrupulous human being who had yet to be punished for his crimes.


He was interesting. Though a bit old-fashioned!
            Sariel tried to catch a glimpse of the hastily retreating figure, but failed. This Alexander was the best-looking man she had ever seen. And not only that, he looked exactly like the one; the lover she had always envisioned in her dreams. The man who would sweep her off her feet. Who would make her forget the tragedy and sadness that were her life.
            But apparently the one had no interest in her.
            “You are just being stupid,” she murmured, careful not to be overheard by the people surrounding her. Not that they seemed to notice. She could have been invisible for all the attention she got. Usually that didn’t bother her. Since her parents had died two years ago she preferred to be left alone. Tonight was no exception...or maybe it was. She would have been glad to talk to this Alexander for a while. He was not only good-looking. Something about him fascinated her, but she couldn’t say what it was. She would have liked to find out what it was about him that gave him this special aura.
            One thing was for certain--he didn’t feel the same way about her. And he was older than she was. Somewhere in his mid-twenties.
            With a sigh she turned around. She would leave this “party,” as her uncle liked to call it. This social gathering was one of the most sought-after events for the upper class in New York. Or rather the whole of the United States. Politicians, actors, writers, and the wealthy loved to mingle at the yearly gathering her uncle held in his Manhattan penthouse--five floors of the most expensive real estate in the city.

“Wait!” The single word was spoken in a low voice. A male voice. Even before she saw him, Sariel knew that it was him. Alexander. All of a sudden she felt a chill crawl down her spine. It was not an uncomfortable feeling; rather it was one of anticipation. Of...she was being stupid again. That much was for sure!
            “I am sorry. It was very rude of me to just leave you like this. Will you forgive me?” Alexander stepped in front of her and smiled apologetically.
            “It’s alright...I...Anyway, I was about to leave.” Her stammering voice sounded horrible in her ears and her face felt hot. God, he must think I am an idiot.
            “I am sad.” He pressed his hand over his heart as if to keep it from shattering. “I was hoping that you would find the time to show me around. Talk to me...and make this evening more pleasant.”
            “No! It...I must leave. Right away.” And with that she left, confused and, at the same time, mad at herself for not staying. For not being brave enough to talk to him; flirt with him. Whatever it was that a woman did when she was attracted to a man.


She was running away! From him! With a puzzled expression on his face Alexander watched Sariel as she wove her way through the crowd. He wasn’t used to women turning him down. In fact, it was usually the other way around. As an Ifrit his appearance changed according to the image a human woman would have of the perfect man; the man to whom she would be most attracted. Usually it wasn’t hard for him to use this to his advantage.
            But not with her. Apparently his normal charms and demon magic didn’t work on her. With a bemused smile he remembered the past. It had been years since he had last tried to seduce someone of the opposite sex. Obviously he no longer knew how to do that. She is just a girl, he reminded himself again. Good for her that she left. Girls didn’t do affairs. They wanted love. And that was one of the many things he wouldn’t give her. Besides, he had work to do. He came to kill her uncle, not to get Sariel Baldwin into his bed. Hell. She was distracting him. Again. He should be focused on the task at hand, not wondering about the actions of some teenager.
            When he exacted revenge he was concentrated, zeroing in on his goal. Not like the confused fool Sariel had made of him.
            Harold Baldwin was going to die.
            But not tonight. His niece had bought him some time. He would return when...
The thoughts of another being invaded his mind. Black pulsating energy was closing in on him. With a sudden clarity that had evaded him before, Alexander knew that he was trapped. Among the many errors that made up this day he had been careless and arrogant. Too sure that Baldwin would not be prepared.
            It was too late to escape now.

Tour wide giveaway is an $25 Amazon Gift Card

Giveaway display link : Click the link below to enter giveaway

About the Author:
J.B. Brooklin is a German author. Having lived abroad for several years in the US (Oregon, California, Florida, New Jersey), Spain and the Seychelles the writer recently returned to her home country and started writing mystery and fantasy novels.

When she is not writing, her husband, twins and her cat are keeping her busy.

Twitter: @JB_Brooklin

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dariel's CBLS Feature: "Celine" (The Night Touched Chronicles #1) by Maegan Provan

Celine (The Night Touched Chronicles #1)
by Maegan Provan
New Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Self-Published/Indie
Heat Level: Sensual
Word Count: 50,000

Buy Links



and War

Created by the First Born, The Night Touched created the bloodlines from which all modern day vampires descended. Different because of their incredible powers and advantages in the human world, The Night Touched were a special kind of vampire. However, they were believed to have died out centuries ago, and had been reduced to little more than whispers in the vampire world.

Until now.

Harper Kemp was the only modern Night Touched in existence. The reasons behind her creation were unknown and she had been abandoned during her change. Eventually she was found by Lily and Jason and taught how to handle what she had become. She learned how to blend in with the human world and even made herself in to quite the socialite of the New York City elite scene.

After a plea for help in her dreams and the dangers of a forbidden love, Harper is sent down a path to discovery; not only is she not alone, she’s about to face her worst nightmare – a devastatingly handsome slayer named Silas with a finger on her non existent pulse.

“CELINE is the first book in the Night Touched Chronicles. This is a series I’m very excited about because the author takes us back to the roots of vampires from old horror movies, while still adding a modern twist. Provan's vampires are sophisticated, intelligent, and calculating. But, make no mistake--there is nothing tame or vegetarian about these vampires, particularly the Night Touched … This fast-paced story is full of tension, passion, and surprises. Once I began reading, I couldn’t stop and read it within a matter of a few hours. This is easily one of the most engaging vampire stories I've read in a long time and I would recommend it to both old-school vampire fans and to Twilight lovers alike.”--triciaATW (Amazon)

“I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book from the very beginning. The cover is stunning! This book had a way about it. It was an easy read because it was action packed and kept the reader interested. I liked how there are two types of vampires and I found the background about each type very interesting. I also liked how the author incorporated other supernatural beings, but they didn't take away from the vampires. … All in all, this was a great start to the trilogy. I can’t wait to read more and find out where the story leads. I would recommend this book to vampire lovers. I look forward to the rest of the series.”--Justine (Goodreads)

Excerpt  Celine (The Nigh Touched Chronicles #1)
by Maegan Provan

She took Lily by the arm and I quietly followed out to the outdoor lounge area. As we sat around the fire pit, a ruggedly handsome man caught my eye. He was leaning on the ledge, smoking a cigarette and staring out over the city. His ash blonde hair was spiked forward in a messy faux-hawk. He seemed as though he was deep in thought, his brow furrowed like he was trying to think of a question he wanted to ask but he couldn’t quite remember what it was or who the question was meant for.

“Oh good, Silas is still here. Harper, I simply must introduce you to him.” Misty must have noticed my staring. “Silas! Come here, darling, I have someone I want you to meet.”

He sighed heavily and flicked his cigarette over the side. Straightening up, he turned towards us. Our eyes met in a moment of fireworks, bells and chimes. I had never seen a more handsome man in my entire existence. We smiled at each other. For that moment the world seemed to melt away. I could almost feel my heart start to beat again.

“I guess they like each other.” Lily commented with a giggle.

“Seems like it,” Misty chimed in.

The snarky commentary snapped us out of our trance. He cleared his throat and I looked down at my dress, trying to smooth a nonexistent wrinkle. I had never experienced an attraction to any one like that. It was definitely something different, but I liked it.

“Silas, I’d like you to meet Lily Buchannan and Harper Kemp. Both of you, this is Silas Foster.”

There was an awkward exchange of hello’s and then an even more awkward silence that followed. Lily and Misty started up some boring conversation about something that they had seen at Bloomingdale’s earlier in the week, leaving Silas and I to ourselves. We looked at each other then quickly looked away, I hugged my arm and he kicked his foot back and forth across the ground.

About the Author
Maegan Provan was born and raised in Texas. She is married to a great guy. They have a dog and two cats. When not writing, Maegan spends a lot of time on social media sites as well as playing a lot of computer games. Her love of vampires is what brought her into the urban fantasy/paranormal genre.

Celine is her first novel, as well as Book 1 in the series The Night Touched Chronicles

Connect with Maegan Provan

Giveaway Info:Prizes are (1) Autographed Copy of “Celine” and (2) Kindle Copy of “Celine”.
Link to Schedule:
a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dariel's Feature: Sneak Peek: A Notorious Prologue - #Be Notorious Blog Tour Day Five by Katie Jennings

Post title:  Sneak Peek: A Notorious Prologue - #BeNotorious Blog Tour Day Five
Sneak Peek: A Notorious Prologue - #BeNotorious Blog Tour Day Five
Welcome to Day Five of the #BeNotorious Blog Tour! We are revving up to the release of the highly anticipated sequel of Katie Jennings’ family drama When Empires Fall, aptly named Rise of the Notorious!
Follow along on this notorious blog tour from April 2nd till release day on April 23rd, and be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win some AMAZING prizes!
Today’s stop is a sneak peek at the prologue of Rise of the Notorious. Set in the “City of Sin,” this enticing snippet is sure to whet your appetite! Enjoy!
* * *

Las Vegas, Nevada
July 1, 2004

They say that only clever creatures can survive the desert heat. After all, the desert is nothing more than a sweltering wasteland that has claimed more victims than it has given life, which makes it more of a graveyard than a flourishing habitat. But, regardless of this fact, at some point in time man had either been foolish enough, or maybe greedy enough, to build a playground in the middle of Hell.
Then they’d had the audacity to call it a fertile plain.  Las Vegas
What a glorious contradiction.
Madison Vasser despised the desert with all of her being. She was a creature made for colder climates, for snow drifts and icy streets. Her ivory skin welcomed a cool winter chill, and scornfully burned under the red-hot desert sun. But, like many others, she had learned to adapt to her new home, for the reward for staying was much too great to relinquish.
She was nineteen, she was ambitious, and she was in love.
Her smile was instinctive and more than a little wicked as she sauntered through her family’s lavish casino, her golden dress fitted to her curves and cropped short above her knees. Men in the casino faltered and stared as she passed, stunned by her radiance, moved by the passion so clear in her expression. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and was taking it without reservation. There was no asking, no begging. No, there was only ambition and victory. And she was the master of both.
She’d come to Vegas a year before to serve her family’s empire. Now, as she walked through the casino, she had to marvel at her grandfather’s brilliance to build in the godforsaken desert in the first place. Despite appearances, it really was a powerful city. The money that traded hands there was layered thick with hopeful sweat and anxious tears, but, damnit, the people loved it. They flocked to it, never having fully sated themselves with the escapist thrill of bright lights and lost inhibitions. 
 The hotel itself thrived, rising like a glittering beacon of refuge out of the dusty sand and drier-than-hell rock. It towered over its neighbors, both larger and taller than anything else within several hundred miles. Cyrus had insisted upon it, had purposely designed it so the sapphire and gold “V” shone boldly and brilliantly from atop the glass walled building for all to see. No one entering Las Vegas would have any doubt who was the top dog in town or who ruled the landscape like a king rules an empire.
The Vasser name was as powerful as it was timeless. And, as her grandfather was apt to say, it was the tower of strength.
She made her way out of the bustling casino and passed by the hotel’s premiere French restaurant, Soleil, thinking she’d grab a bottle of wine for later. After all, it was somewhat of an anniversary. It had been exactly one year since she had arrived in Las Vegas. 
Oh, and how things had changed since then.
She may have hated the desert, but there was no denying that it had given her an incredible gift, one she would have gone to Hell and back for had she known of its existence. Well, his existence, really.
Wyatt Bailey, the man who’d come from nowhere and shamelessly set fire to her heart. 
He’d been virtually nothing when she had found him, just a blackjack dealer working for her uncle with a mysterious past, no car, and a crappy apartment. Despite his shortcomings, she had taken him under her wing and given him everything. 
Within a couple of months, she’d gotten him promoted to Pit Boss, moved his meager belongings into her suite at the hotel, and bought him a brand new Mercedes SLR and new designer clothes. Most importantly, she had given him her heart, and in return, he had changed her entire world.
She had never loved any man the way she loved Wyatt, with a fiery passion and a crushing need that consumed her every waking moment until she couldn’t stand it unless she was at his side. He was intense and fiercely obsessed with her, emotions she knew only too well as she possessed them herself. They were such similar creatures, which was why it had been so easy to fall in love with him. It had taken barely more than a touch and they were mesmerized by each other, which was exactly how she had always hoped love would be.
Smiling again, she swept through the service entrance and into the restaurant’s kitchen, her amber eyes catching sight of Raoul, one of the cooks at the hotel. He was busy whipping up eggs in a large, stainless steel bowl at a furious speed, his dark hair falling into his eyes as he worked. 
She and Raoul had become fast friends the moment she had begun working for her Uncle Duke because, like herself, she recognized in him an ambitious and restless spirit. He craved status, power, and the finer things in life as much as she did. Once she had her way, she would see to it that they both got what they wanted in this life. Success.
“Darling, I hope that quiche is not for Grant and Erin.” Madison smiled as she came up beside him, one hand sliding over his shoulder companionably. “You know she’s lactose intolerant.”
Raoul stopped whisking and glared down at her, his mouth set in a firm line. “, but your brother likes it, no? I will make something else for his woman.”
She leaned in to kiss his cheek, coaxing a small smile out of him as she did so. “I can always count on you.”
“It’s nothing.” He brushed her off, reaching for the bowl again to pour the egg into a shallow glass dish layered with pastry dough. “You should go prepare for your brother, cariño.”
She glanced down at the slim gold watch on her left wrist, pursing her lips. “I have a few hours till they fly in. Enough time to have a glass of wine and take a hot bath.”
He chuckled and shook his head, sprinkling cheese over the quiche. “There is a nice Moscato in the fridge.”
“Fantastic idea.” Madison swept over to the kitchen’s large wine fridge, opening the glass door and reaching for the Moscato. She checked the date on it and smiled. “Excellent. Wyatt enjoys a good white.”
Raoul said nothing as she shut the door and wandered back to him, bottle in hand. “I’ll be down in a couple of hours to help you finish with dinner.”
Hasta siempre,” he murmured without looking at her, his eyes focused instead on the quiche as he finished preparing it. 
She paused, her eyes softening as she watched him. It was only when he was feeling emotional that he used that phrase of endearment with her. Just what was bothering him now, she didn’t know. But whatever the reason, she would be there for him when he needed her, just as he was always there for her. Loyalty was everything.
“Until forever, darling.” She squeezed his shoulder briefly before leaving the kitchen, her mind shifting focus from her friend and instead to her lover, who was waiting for her upstairs.
Since she had begun working at the hotel she had lived in one of the suites. Because the arrangement wasn’t meant to be permanent, she figured it was best to be close to the action of the hotel instead of living elsewhere in the city. Besides, it didn’t get any more luxurious than a suite at the Vasser Hotel.
Wine in hand, she made her way toward the hotel’s elevators, her head held high and a smooth confidence to her step. The world was hers for the taking. And boy, did she intend to take. Only what she deserved, of course, but she was going to make her grandfather proud. After all, he had entrusted her with his most lucrative secrets, trained her to be everything he needed her to be. If it wasn’t for him, she would be nothing.
She would never, ever let herself forget that.
The elevator she boarded rose slowly toward the upper floors and she gazed at herself in the mirrored gold doors as she waited. Her long, dark brown hair was meticulously straight, its length falling to nearly her mid-back. Eyes of vibrant amber beneath heavy lids stared back at her, sultry and intense. She was proud of the heritage evident in her appearance, proud that she so greatly resembled the man who she respected above all else.  It was all a part of who she was, and who she was becoming. 
She was a Vasser, and she would go to the grave defending her family and the empire that was her birthright.
When the elevator came to a stop and the doors slid smoothly open, Madison sauntered out and strolled down the long hallway, her heeled footsteps muffled by the ornate gold and sapphire carpet. She reached into the small handbag she carried and pulled out her key card just as she came up to the door of her suite.
She slid the card neatly into the slot and pushed the door open, her smile still in place as she entered the room.
“I brought some wine up, darling.  I figured we could have some fun before Grant flies in.”
She paused, taken aback as she noticed the empty living area and the neatly cleaned bedroom beyond. Frowning, she stalked through the bedroom and into the adjoining bathroom, expecting him to be there. 
When she found it empty, her heart began to race in her chest as frustration and anger surged through her. Where the hell was he?
She tore back into the bedroom, heading straight for the dresser and ripping out the drawers.  When she noticed his clothes were missing, her breathing became shallow and forced, her chest constricting painfully.
No, it couldn’t be. He wouldn’t do this.
She stormed back into the living room, her hand clenching violently around the wine bottle, her vision hazing with red. That was when she spotted the note, written on the hotel’s white and gold stationary, sitting atop the coffee table. Beside it lay the key to the Mercedes she had given him. 
Her handbag fell to the floor as she grabbed the note and hastily read the words, gripping it so tightly that she nearly tore it to shreds.
It read simply:  I’m sorry, sweetheart.
“You godforsaken bastard,” she snarled, her hand shaking as she crumbled the note into her fist. In a fit of glorious rage, she hurled the wine bottle against the wall, her heart panging at the resounding crash as glass and wine spilled hideously onto the floor. 
As the realization that he had left her exploded through her system, she did the only thing that would satisfy the blood lust coursing through her at that very moment. She tore the room to pieces, cursing his name over and over until her throat was dry and her eyes were bright with tears. The fury she unleashed ripped through the suite like a tsunami; its wake leaving chairs upturned, tables pushed over, vases shattered and draperies ripped from windows. Anything she could grab she did, and as she ruined her pretty possessions she vowed to hunt him down and make him pay.
“Stop it, cariño.”
Raoul’s voice shot out at her from the doorway, causing her to falter for the briefest of moments, her chest heaving. In her hands she held a priceless Baroque statue, the weapon she intended to use to shatter the equally priceless antique mirror over the desk to pieces.
She looked up to meet his dark eyes, and in that instant felt her knees crumble beneath her.
Within seconds he was with her, gathering her close, pressing her face into his chest.
“Don’t you dare waste tears on him,” he grunted, glaring around at the destruction she had made, an odd, prideful gleam in his eyes. He knew that, while she may be cool-headed most of the time, she was a vindictive devil capable of catastrophe when provoked. “He is not worth it.”
As hard as she tried, her fury could only carry her so far. Her emotions were boiling up to overtake her, cloaking her in misery and abject humiliation. Because that’s exactly what this was. Wyatt Bailey had used her, led her to believe he loved her, and then left. For as long as she lived, she’d damn him to the darkest depths of Hell for scorning her.
“How dare he leave me,” she spat, despising the crack in her voice as the words sank in and enveloped her in despair. When she spoke again, it was more of a whisper and she hated herself for feeling this awful weakness. “How dare he?”
Clutching at Raoul’s white dress shirt, she gave in to her emotions and let them drain her dry, her tears painful and horrific. 
Never again. Never again would she trust a man with her heart only to have him trample on it this way. She thought of the night only three weeks earlier when she and Wyatt had impulsively gone to a chapel downtown and tied the knot, completely in secret. No one in her family had any idea. Now, it appeared, they never would.
Raoul simply held her, seeking to comfort even as a satisfied smile curved over his lips.
Finalmente. At last. Wyatt Bailey was gone.
* * *
Rise of the Notorious
By International Bestselling Author
Katie Jennings
Coming April 23, 2013

Click HERE to Enter the Giveaway!

* * *
Meet Katie Jennings…

International bestselling Author Katie Jennings is the author of six full length novels, including the popular fantasy series The Dryad Quartet as well as the bestselling family drama series The Vasser Legacy.

She lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and cat, who both think she’s the biggest nerd ever. She’s a firm believer in happy endings and loves nothing more than a great romance novel.

You can find out more about Katie on her official website, www.katieajennings.com.