A series of Exclusive Excerpts from my backlist – which always needs some extra love *wink*. Today it’s HIS GIFT: paranormal (very) erotic romance, with an ending that you may say is HFS (happy for some…).
BLURB: Steven Macklin wakes up in a ditch one morning in foul, wet weather with no idea where he is or how he came to be there. Seriously injured, he struggles across bleak heathland to find shelter. The only house he finds is weather-beaten and deserted, although he’s too sensible a guy to fall for the cliche of a haunted mansion. Isn’t he?
When he collapses and is taken in by the handsome Eliot, Steven finds himself in a very disturbing situation — and in the bed of this strange, possessive man.
EXCERPT: I stumbled over the edge of another path that wound away from the road, and that’s when I saw the first sign of habitation, the remains of a barn half hidden by the trees. For a second, my hopes were raised, but then I saw that the roof had fallen in and most of the walls were broken. There was no shelter for me there. I took a few steps onto the new path, regardless—where else was there to go? My body ached and my mind was thick with misery.
The vegetation thinned out as I faltered on, the smell of pine and damp soil getting stronger in my nostrils, the uneven surface gradually easing beneath my feet. Then the road twisted around to the left and stopped being a country path, transforming instead into a driveway leading to a large country house.
It was totally unexpected. Was I hallucinating? I was light-headed from my efforts and still confused about what had happened to me. But even after blinking several times, the structure was still there. I was a few hundred yards away, and obviously, until my path had changed direction, it had been hidden by the trees. A rough stone wall ran around its perimeter, and a large iron-barred gate was set into the brick, right ahead of me. It was wide open.
I wandered through onto a surprisingly smooth and well-tended walkway, the small stones of its gravel crunching under my feet. The house was built of dark stone, with narrow pillars at either side of the door, framing its two storeys. The windows were many but small, the entrance door high and thick.
It was imposing rather than attractive, and I approached cautiously. Parts of the building were shrouded in shadow from the nearby trees, and its bricks seemed uneven and ragged in many places, as if they’d hurled defiant protest at the weather a few too many times. I assumed it was deserted, like the barn had been, but it was an astonishingly stately and incongruous building to find way out here.
I looked around for any sign of industry but there was nothing else in sight: no other buildings, no vehicles, no people. Had it been someone’s house? A school? An institution? Something made me hesitate to go further, though I didn’t see how I could trespass when there was no one to trespass against. This was my only chance for rest and some kind of recovery while I worked out what to do. I was struggling too much with pain and fatigue to carry on much longer.
I encouraged my exhausted feet a few more steps, and reached the door. I leaned on it, almost half-heartedly. It’s bound to be locked up. I didn’t know if I was up to breaking in, however much of an emergency this was…
And then the door—heavy, wooden, strapped with metal studs—swung ajar.
I stood there for at least a minute, frozen in place. I needed to lie down. I needed a lot of help. But I also knew from somewhere deeper than my misery and discomfort—much deeper—I was scared to go in.
For God’s sake, Steve, what’s up with you? This was an abandoned house, not some bloody horror story! I needed heat and blankets, and access to a phone, and there was a serious lack of that kind of stuff outside. Anyway, I’d never believed in spooks or vampires or whatever…all those stupid teenagers, in those even more stupid movies, screaming at a scrape on a windowpane.
But I felt cold and suddenly fearful, and I couldn’t blame it all on my soaking, chilled body. All it takes is for a guy with a hunch to appear, and some wacky types in Transylvanian transvestite gear to dance past…
And then I saw movement behind the door in the darkened lobby. Heard a soft whispering and noticed a disturbance of the thin film of dust on the front step. My heartbeat sped up, and I tried to keep calm. Hell, I was in no state to run away.
“I—is anyone there? Can I come in?”
Was it just a wild animal? Then I realised I’d seen none of them during my long, miserable walk. No rabbits, no birds. Maybe the rain had scared everything into taking cover.
The movement became a shadow, and the shadow took a familiar form. It was a person, though still too far back in the dark to identify. Every nerve I had was telling me to turn, run, get away. But whoever it was, a person meant food and warmth and clean clothes and communications—
Did it speak? The sound was soft, though low and strong enough. It sounded like a man, a young man. I peered into the hallway. “Have you got a phone? I…think I need help…”
I took the first step through the door, and in that instant everything got the better of me. The cold and the wet, the dreadful exhaustion throughout my body. Everything combined to create a hideous, bewildering mixture of numbness and hurt. I retched, and my body shuddered as if the ground under me were slipping away. There was a sound in my head like metal tearing—a terrible shrieking—and an escalation of the agony in my side as if someone had slipped in a thin sword and sliced upward with all their strength. My eyes couldn’t focus in the dim light, in fact they hurt like hell, and so did everything else. My head rocketed with shards of vicious pain and explosions of red light.
“You’re here now,” came soft syllables, echoing around my shattered mind. “Enter.”
I passed out on the threshold.