Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Available Now: One Night in Denpasar by Eden Walker

City Nights, #36
Eden Walker



(99c through Sunday, 2 Sept)
When Italian Ana Ortensia heads to Bali on a photojournalism assignment, she’s expecting a seriously good time. After all, she’s a sexual adventurer who wears her motto on her T-shirt for all to see—and it’s not Namaste! Within twenty-four hours, she’ll put a carnal spin on enlightenment for Caleb Barnard, a spiritual New Ager with whom she feels safe because he’s so not her type. But Denpasar is about to surprise her. Ana really doesn’t need someone to see through her defences, bring her to her knees, and make her eat, pray, love—or does she?

• • •

Hundreds of tiny fish nibbled my feet. Soft strokes, baby touches. The last time I’d felt anything as pleasurable was with a guy on the London Eye one night. We’d been alone in a pod. And it wasn’t my toes he was interested in.

I snapped several shots of the tank with my camera. Aquamarine water, backlit, with the fish massed blackly against it. Yeah, a good picture. Not in my brief—way too touristy—but maybe I could still do something with it.

In a corner of the patio ceiling, a toy-like portable fan whirred uselessly against the oppressive humidity. Sighing, I rolled my head on my neck. Mio Dio, was I tense. I’d dashed into the Bliss Warung because I needed a break. The place suited my needs perfectly: a quirky walk-in treatment centre and curio shop in one, where you could get a foot massage or exfoliation by live fish at a reasonable rate.

The cool water of the footbath did a nice job of soothing my soul after several hours in the city. Sure, Denpasar was in Bali, the world’s most beautiful island, but it was chaotic, and about as far from the idea of a tropical paradise as you could get. Trust Stack to send me here. They’re always seeking something edgy. Like I do.

As I lowered the camera, I caught sight of my reflection in the water. Waves of thick, red hair cascading down my shoulders. Rope, the man in Reykjavik had called it. And then he’d begged me to tie him up with it. My eyes, which were like pools you could drown in—or so Fernando had claimed, in Barcelona. Or was his name Luis? I laughed.

“Share the joke?” someone said near me in a mellow voice.

I’d been so busy with my own thoughts, I hadn’t noticed the bench on the other side of the footbath fill up. I looked into a tanned face. Nice hard jaw, feathery stubble. My age, maybe a bit younger. Unkempt white-blonde hair. A small shell on a leather thong around his neck. Oh-oh. New Age alert. So not my type.

I wanted to say: The joke is, mio amico, all men are the same. “Ticklish.” I shrugged, glancing down at the fish.

He shifted, and out of the corner of my eye I observed an imposing thigh muscle tensing against the fabric of his sand-coloured cotton pants. So, he was built under there. His fish scattered and regrouped. Well-shaped feet, I noted. Perhaps I could think about them while we sixty-nined each other?

I gazed up at him and smiled. His eyes were an azure colour not unlike the water our feet were in, and equally sparkling with a certain something. He regarded me with a thoughtful expression, a slight frown creasing the part of his forehead above his nose.

Here it comes. ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere? Disneyland?’ People often tell me I’m princess material when we first meet. Little do they realise I’m more like Prince Charming without the charm. I extended my feet, splashing slightly, enjoying the moment. A few drops of water darkened his trousers. Then I sat back, resting my weight on my palms, and stuck my chest out. For a split second, his gaze roamed over my T-shirt. In answer, I looked at his crotch.

Okay, the T-shirt thing. It started in high school. I had this favourite old T that said, I want you to know someone cares. Not me, but someone. My mother gave it to me. I loved it. So did the boys. It became my trademark thing. I had some variations printed. And guess what? The meaner the shirt, the more attention it got. When I went to parties, I wore Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come. Stuff like that. But I came all the time…

“Is that a Nikon?”


“Nice. I’m Caleb.”

“Ana,” I said, extending a hand. He shook it. His palm was warm and dry in a strong, square grip, his handshake firm and sincere. I liked him, despite the fact he was Mr Earth Hour.

“You’re a photographer?”

“Mmm-hmm. National Geographic,” I lied. It’s a thing with me. I make stuff up when I’m bored. Which is quite a lot of the time. I lifted the camera and took a pic of him, too quick for him to smile. I knew instinctively I’d caught something essential about him. “Got you.” He frowned again. It made him seem perturbed, studious and sweet in a nerdy kind of way. But in his photograph, which I flicked to, he radiated innocence, all pure of heart. “Wow, Mr Photogenic.”

“And is that an Italian accent?”

“It is.” I raised an eyebrow. “They say once you’ve slept with an Italian woman, you’re never the same again.” I spoke from experience; I had dated Stella Di Ser Piero in Venice and Florence last spring and all through the summer. Our romance only cooled with the weather, when we went on tour with her brother’s exhibition—and then Paris happened. A cocktail waitress named Lola, to be exact, at the famous Moulin Rouge. I know, it’s so sexist: French girls in costumes. A weakness of mine.

Caleb levelled a look at me, giving nothing away.

“Sorry, I can’t help it, I’m Neapolitan. Naples is an ‘in your face’ part of the country.”

“They gave the world pizza and ice cream. Can’t be all bad.”

“I thought I’d say the Italian-woman-in-bed thing before you came up with it. I’ve heard it so often.” Then again, maybe hippies didn’t speak that way. “You from Australia?” I added, when he said nothing.

He shook his head, watching me. It was impossible to read his expression. “Cape Town. They say once you’ve bedded a South African, you never want to have sex again.”

• • •

Eden Walker (nicknamed Aziza, or Beloved) worked as an actress and a psychologist before committing to writing full-time. She began writing love stories on a little blackboard as a young teen, the advantage being that she could rub the risqué bits out before anyone saw them! But now she is having fun going public. She has two books, The Seeing Place and its sequel, This Crazy Paradise, with another house. She is a keen blogger and would love to hear from readers.

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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Available Now: Black Moon by Tegon Maus

The Chronicles of Tucker Littlefield, #2
Tegon Maus



99c through Sunday, 19 August
Every twenty-eight years, the reign of the old Shalic comes to an end with the arrival of the Black Moon. The symbol of the law is a spear that holds sway over the whole of the Kindred, and is passed onto the old Shalic’s successor with the passing of the Black Moon.

When the old Shalic is murdered, war between those who carried the spear and those who were to receive it divides the Kindred bent on settling old scores.

Only one man stands between them...Tucker Littlefield, and he holds the spear.

• • •

"Damn the luck," Jack said, throwing his cards in disgust to the table. "If I didn't know better, Tucker Littlefield, I'd say you were cheating."

"Why, Jack, what a terrible thing to say, and we've been friends for so long," I answered innocently, raking the pot to my side of the table.

Few things pleased me more than a quiet drink on a Saturday morning and a friendly game of cards. Jack's Tavern had always held that contentment for me for as long as I could remember. There is something comforting in the smell of well-worn wood, stale beer, burnt food, and the dust of an energetic broom.

"I know you, Littlefield, and no one wins this much without cheating. I don't know how you're doing it, but you're doing it right enough."

"Jack, you were dealing; how could I possibly cheat?"

At that moment, the door flew open with a loud bang, startling me, not to mention Jack.

"You'd better come quick, Mr. Littlefield, they're looking for you," a young man called, breathing heavily as he leaned against the door.

"Who's looking for him?" Jack asked, standing.

"They are," he said, pointing nervously down the street.

Slowly, I stood, moving to the door.

"Soul bearer," a deep, angry voice boomed.

"Who the hell?" Jack asked.

"Littlefield," a second voice shouted, almost as annoyed, adding itself to the first.

My heart sank at the sound of it. I was certain who it was before I stuck my head out the door to confirm it.
"Damn it," I said softly, slipping back inside.

"Littlefield!" they shouted again.

Outside, two Jonda, each dressed in nothing more than loincloths, walked down the center of the street as if they did it every day. They stood well over seven feet tall, with long, black hair pulled into a tail at the back of their heads and tied with a thick, red string. Around their necks they wore a small string of blue and white shells. Their near-naked, copper colored bodies had been painted with thin, dull yellow paint in misshapen circles, giving them a turtle-like appearance. Hanging low from their hips were the overly large knives I had seen in action far more than I cared to remember.

It had been two years, and I still trembled a little inside at the sight of those knives, not to mention the men that knew how to use them.

"You better go see what they want before they set fire to the whole damn town," Jack said sternly, stabbing a meaty thumb at the door.

I gave him a distasteful look but knew he was right.

"Here," I shouted. Standing half in and half out of the doorway, I waved an arm to get their attention, bidding them to come this way.

"Better bring some cheese, Jack," I said dully.

His face contorted with concern at my words.

"So help me, Tucker, if they break one–" he began.

"Cheese, Jack, quickly," I interrupted, turning him by his shoulders toward the kitchen.

I straightened my clothes quickly, determined not to let my nervous concern show, and turned toward the door to wait.

After a few moments, both Jonda came to the door, bending slightly to peer inside far more tentatively than I would have thought. The larger of the two was first to enter, bowing slightly to clear the doorway. The second followed his lead to stand next to him. They turned their heads from side to side with distaste as they inspected their surroundings.

At that moment, Jack reappeared with a large wedge of cheese on a cutting board, a knife stuck in its surface quivering next to it.

Jack, not a small man by any measure, stood mouth gaping widely, staring up the length of each man until he tilted back dramatically then passed out, falling with a loud thump.

"Gentlemen," I said, trying desperately to balance the offering I caught from his failing grip. "Nice to see you again."

Without a word, the larger of the two picked it up, sniffed at it hesitantly and then broke it in half, handing one piece to his counterpart. Each sniffed at it several times before devouring it in three or four bites.

"Daneba say come," the largest intoned.

"So, she's still alive," I said with no small level of relief. I owed my life to the woman, hands down. Her fate had kept me up more nights than I cared to count. "Well, give her my thanks, but I'm afraid my schedule doesn't allow me to be–" I began to lie.

"Daneba say Black Moon coming, Soul Bearer must come."


"Daneba say Black Moon…Tucker come in two days or all Jonda come here for Soul bearer," he said, folding his arms across his chest.

"All Jonda?" Jack asked from the floor, looking up to me. "Tucker, that can't be good."

"I'll think about it," I returned, waving him off. It had been two years, and I was determined I wouldn't risk my life in the outlands again for anything in the world…not for anything.

"Soul Bearer come…two days…Black Moon comes soon," the larger of the two men said again, pushing my shoulder to make his point before turning to leave.

I folded my arms in defiance but said nothing.

"Bring more this," the shorter one whispered harshly, before pushing the now empty wax cheese rind into my chest.

I stood there unmoved as they made their way outside.

"Tucker, you have any idea what a black moon is?"

"No, and I have no desire to find out," I said, moving to look out the door. I hadn't realized it until this moment, but I had been holding my breath.

By the time I reached the opening, my Jonda friends were nowhere to be seen.

"You know you have to go, right?" Jack asked, getting off the floor and pushing lightly past me to look outside.

"Yeah, I do," I said in resignation.

• • •

Married forty-three years to a woman he calls Dearheart, Tegon Maus lives a contented life in a small town of 8,200 in Southern California. By day, Tegon is a successful home remodeling contractor, but his passion is storytelling.

Tegon's progatonists are frequently wedged between a rock and a hard place, but manage to work things out through the story. Like most when pushed into a corner, it only brings out the best in his characters and become the unstoppable force of a reluctant hero. Tegon's signature style is creating characters who are driven and believable, and who strive to find happiness.

Tegon is the author of The Chronicles Of Tucker Littlefield series.

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