Authors: Cheyenne McCray
Tags: #sex, #cheyenne mccray, #Erotic Romance, #paranormal suspense, #sexy, #Erotica
Table of Contents
Copyright © 2011 by Cheyenne McCray
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
E-book conversion by Bella Media Management.
Published Pink Zebra Publishing
First Edition e-Book 978-0-9834827-6-5
Why hadn’t she ever noticed it before? Loni Stanfield frowned as she shoved light brown waves of hair behind her ear. She had lived here for some time now, yet had never seen the little bookstore tucked away between an art gallery and a jewelry store in Old Scottsdale. In fact, she had never noticed that there was even space for a store between the other two shops.
The bookstore looked like it had been there forever. Yellowed sales flyers and book posters papered the windows and dust had accumulated at the corners of the glass of the old red brick storefront. Paint had started to peel off the green door and she could just see through its smudged glass panes.
was stenciled across the large display window in white.
Bookstores, old bookstores, were one of her favorite places. Ever. The moment she saw one it was like a magnet drew her into the store so that she could search the shelves for treasures. Like dusty old books with pages so old and almost brittle that she had to take care not to harm them as she read.
The magnet-effect was no exception today, and she was glad to let it pull her straight to the green door. After the week she’d had, she needed some kind of escape and was more than happy to lose herself in a bookstore and then a good book.
It wasn’t easy pushing aside the pain and disappointment that she’d experienced over the past week, but she would manage. Her boyfriend of two years, Barry, dumped her and the next day she learned that the aerospace company she worked for was downsizing and she might be out of a job.
Well, she wasn’t going to think about any of that right now.
Loni brushed her palm on her jeans, adjusted the strap of her purse, then reached for the worn brass door handle. The weight of the door surprised her as she opened it. The squeak of its hinges was almost drowned out by the tinkle of bells that were attached to the top of the door with frayed brown rope. How on earth had she never noticed this place before?
The mystical smell of incense flowed over her as she entered. To the right of the door was a rectangular table with a variety of dragon and faerie incense holders on staggered wooden boxes as well as a big wooden box with slots that held twelve different types of incense.
On the left side of the door was another table filled with pewter and crystal figurines of more dragons, along with faeries, elves, princesses, and castles, also elevated at different levels on wooden boxes. Three different sizes of crystal balls were on the far end of the table, light seeming to be absorbed by them as they remained dark with no reflection on their surfaces.
As fun as those things were, what she had come for were the books. There were rows and rows and rows of used books, so many that the store looked bigger inside than it had from outside.
Loni walked along the row on her left, her hands itching to touch the books. Shelves filled with classics, some of the spines worn and separating at the creases. She went to a large book that was face-out and picked it up. When she flipped through it, she saw that it was a book on shifters. On the cover, a huge jaguar perched at the top of a cliff, the sea crashing against the rock face below.
What would it be like to be in a world of shifters? She smiled as she let her imagination run wild like she had as a child. Imagining paranormal beings had always been one of her escapes as she read—vampires, werewolves, witches, and shifters were among her favorites.
She set the book back on the shelf and continued perusing, lightly skimming spines with the pad of her finger. When she neared the end of the first row she came up to an old wood and glass case. On top of the wood surface was an antiquated cash register with a receipt book and a pen lying beside it. Beneath the countertop was a display behind glass of old books and a stack of shirts. One was upside down with a logo and
in script on the backside. Another one was face up with “fictional character” on the front.
Oh, she definitely needed one of those. Sometimes she felt like a fictional character, as if she wasn’t real and her life was a storybook.
“May I help you?”
The melodic voice startled Loni and her elbow hit the glass of the display case as she turned to face the woman who had spoken. She winced but the pain was immediately forgotten as she met the most beautiful sea green eyes she had ever seen and a face so lovely she belonged in one of the books about fae from another world.
“I am Selena.” The bell sleeve of the woman’s white blouse fell back to her elbow as she extended her hand to Loni.
Loni took Selena’s hand and the woman gently squeezed her fingers. A warm, tingling sensation of pleasure traveled through Loni, gentle heat that seemed to relax her. Strangely, she didn’t want to let go of Selena’s hand. The warm sensation surprised her and she wondered if it was her imagination or the woman’s mesmerizing eyes that drew her in.
Selena was tall, about six inches over Loni’s five-four. She was mature, aged, but had held her beauty. She released Loni’s hand and pushed back her long, silver hair over her shoulders and it tumbled down her back to the waistband of her flowing multi-colored skirt.
“I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for.” Loni smiled at the beautiful woman, somehow feeling calm, happy even.
“I have a gift for these things.” Selena returned Loni’s smile. “I can help you. Why don’t you tell me what you like most in a book?”
“When I read, I like to get lost in worlds and become part of them. To experience them.” Loni tilted her head to the side as she thought about it. “Sometimes it’s hard to find authors who write like that. I don’t want to read about reality. When I read paranormal and magic written by a good author, I lose myself in the book.”
“What else?” Selena asked.
“I love adventure.” Loni pushed her hair behind her ear, imagining what it might be like to actually live an exciting life instead of such a dull one. “I would love something that makes me feel like I’m right there.”
“Adventure. Wonderful.” Selena nodded. “What kind of man interests you?”
Loni blinked. “There’s not a man in this world I can trust. I’d have to say that a man who can be trusted, a man with integrity and heart, is an ideal man.”
“Ah. You don’t think there’s a man you can trust and you love adventure.” Selena inclined her head toward the back of the store. “I like you and I do believe I have something special that you will enjoy.”
Intrigued, Loni followed Selena through the store to the far back. The store was deeper than Loni could have imagined. She looked at all of the books and gave a happy sigh. Like a kid in a candy shop, that was how she felt in a bookstore.
As they walked through the shop, Loni didn’t see any other customers. Other than Selena, she must have been the only one in the place.
“Do you live in the Phoenix area?” Selena asked as they went through the store.
“In Scottsdale.” Loni glanced at a shelf of thick books with worn red spines and wondered if they were a collection of stories or an old encyclopedia set. “I moved here a few months ago because I needed a change. A fresh start.”
Selena glanced over her shoulder. “Do you have family here?”
Loni shook her head. “I don’t have any close family. My parents passed away before I moved and I’m an only child. I imagine I have distant relatives somewhere, but my parents never kept in contact with them.”
When they were at the very back of the bookstore, Selena opened a door and they walked into a small room. Loni looked in wonder at the lighted glass cases filled with books.
“This is where I keep the most special books.” Selena produced a set of keys from her pocket then unlocked a wooden case near the center of the room. She pulled out a thick volume and handed it to Loni. “These are reserved for women who feel as you do, who want what you want.”
The book’s weight surprised her.
was the title and an A. L. Connor was the author. A man and woman were on the cover. The man held a sword in one hand while he had his other arm around the woman’s waist. The woman held one hand behind her back and she was holding a knife where the man couldn’t see it.
The woman had fair skin that was pale against the man’s tanned flesh. Her long dark brown hair fell away from her face and she had bewitching green eyes.
With a taut and muscular body, the man was just plain hot. His black hair had fallen over his brow and his brown eyes were fierce, almost unnervingly so. The characters were so lifelike, so real looking, that Loni could imagine them stepping right off of the cover.
A sense of déjà vu swept over Loni and she blinked. Had she seen this book somewhere before?
“It will be perfect for you.” Selena interrupted Loni’s thoughts. “I think you will find this book magical. You will be transported away from this world and into the next.”
Loni met Selena’s lovely eyes and she held back a smile. “Promise?”
“I promise. And I promise you will be left wanting to read more of them. That’s what a good writer does. She makes you want more.” Intrigued by the solemnness of Selena’s expression and amused by her words, Loni handed the book back to the woman. “I’ll take it.”
They walked to the counter with the old cash register, Selena moving behind it and Loni standing in front. The price was surprisingly low for such a large book. She asked for one of the “fictional character” shirts and Selena added it to the total.