Haunted Halloween Spooktakular, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Uncategorized, Urban Fantasy

The Darkest Gateway Booke of the Hidden Book Four Jeri Westerson

Erasmus
Dark
by Jeri
Westerson
 
This is not an excerpt from the Booke of the Hidden
urban fantasy series, but an exclusive and sexy little slice of subtext just
for you.
                                                                       
Erasmus Dark skulked around the
perimeter of the house now known as Strange
Herbs & Teas
. He glanced up at the sign in the moonlight, eyes tracing
over the engraved letters inlaid with gold. The herbs he could manage. The tea
was another thing. The smell of the stuff made him sneeze and he wondered how
he could stand to be in the same room with those dreaded cannisters filled with
tea of every stripe.
But it was the “Strange” part
that was the most unfathomable. She
was unfathomable. Humans he had known. Thousands of them over the many
centuries. And Chosen Hosts, too. But Kylie…
“It must be some sort of magic
charm,” he wondered aloud. Some sort of…spell. None of the other Chosen Hosts
had ever intrigued him as much. Oh, there were a few in Babylon, in Egypt, and
some in medieval Britain, but he had never felt so invested, so out of sorts,
so…
He touched the place on his neck
where his amulet used to be. Maybe that was it. Almost the first thing she had
done upon meeting him was steal his amulet. And then she ordered him around
like he was her minion, for Beelze’s sake, making him fetch the chthonic
crossbow. How had it happened? Why hadn’t he been on his guard? It was
ludicrous having a mere human lord it over him like that.
He frowned and glared at the
moon. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He just wanted to do his job and be
done with it.
His sharp eyes turned again to
the dark woods. He picked out forest creatures, saw their life forces shining
brightly, almost too brightly to look at. Fox, vole, owl, cricket, frog…and
other creatures so old that the earth scarce remembered them.
When a light came on inside the
shop, his head jerked toward the window. He could see her moving about, doing
Beelzebub-knew-what. Making that damned tea, no doubt. He moved closer to the
window to peer inside.
The Booke of the Hidden had
followed her and hovered near the chair she had curled up in. She tucked her
legs under her and was wearing those ridiculous sleep clothes of thin,
long-sleeved shirt and some sort of baggy trousers. Women in trousers. There
was a time she would have been burned at the stake for that.
She pushed her hair back from her
face. Women wore it shorter now. In past times, a woman with shorn hair meant
she was being publicly humiliated. Twenty-first century. Bah! He could pull a
better century out of his—
What was the woman doing now? Her
shoulders shook, her face was hidden in her hands—all indication that she was
crying. Erasmus frowned. He sensed her distress, even from outside. Without
even thinking about it, he walked forward through the wall, feeling the atoms
of wood and plaster pass easily through him.
He stood behind her, watching,
listening to her wrenching sobs. She pushed her hand over her ruined face. It
was red and folded into a grimace, with wet streaks across her cheeks. For some
reason, even in her sudden ugliness, his heart twitched.
“Why do you weep?” he said
softly.
It startled her anyway. She leapt
from her seat, all ungainly legs and arms flailing. She spun to face him.
“Don’t DO that!”
“Do what?” He
meant it as a jibe, but she wasn’t having it.                   
“You know very well! Sneaking up
on me.” She turned away, dug a well-used tissue from her trouser pocket, and
blew her nose into it. “You’re always doing that,” she muttered.
“I’m sorry. It is my way. I can
sense other beings around me and so I assume humans can do it too.”
“We can. Sometimes. When we
aren’t vulnerable.”
He peered into her face nearly
hidden by her hair. She glared back at his close proximity.
“And are you…vulnerable?” he asked.
She held her arms out, with an
expression on her face that would seem to say, “Are you insane?”
He thought hard. Yes, he supposed
she was. Vulnerable. Creatures coming from the book to plague her, and one
mystery after the other, what with her friends in danger and other emotional
turmoil. He could see where she could well be considered vulnerable. “I’m
sorry,” was all he could think to say.
She blew her nose once more,
stuffed the disreputable bit of tissue back in her pocket, and dropped back
into the seat. “It’s not your fault. I guess.”
He sauntered around her, studying
her from different angles. “It isn’t
my fault. I am as much a captive of the book as the creatures that emerge from
it.”
“I know. And I appreciate your
helping me.”
He lurched to a halt behind her. She
appreciated him? What sort of devilry
was this? Humans ran in fear of him, prostrated themselves before him, even
submitted unwillingly to his desires…but none had ever appreciated him. He scowled. It was likely some sort of trick.
He said nothing, continued
walking around her chair, and stopped before the other chair opposite her. He sank
slowly into it. Measuring her for a long while, he watched as she raised her
gaze and settled it on him. Then she smiled.
His heart did that twitching
thing again.
“I’m over it now.” She sighed and
leaned back, resting her head against the cushioned chair. “Every now and then
a good cry is what’s needed.” When he failed to answer her, she leaned forward,
hands curling on her thighs. “I haven’t seen you all day. What have you been
doing?”
“This and that.”
“Really. Nothing that can help?”
His eyes flicked for only a
second toward his amulet flashing from its place on her chest. “Nothing.
Sorry.”
She sat back again. “That’s all
right. Maybe I don’t want to think about it tonight.” She glanced once at the
book that persisted in hovering. “Will you sit down!” she yelled at it.
Strangely, it complied, slowly lowering to a side table. “Thing makes me
jumpy,” she said with a shiver.
“Kylie, you mustn’t fret yourself
over this. You will conquer these creatures. I will be beside you when you do.”
“But I worry about you, too. I don’t
want you to get hurt.”
And again, that strange squirmy
feeling in his gut and in his chest. He was a demon. No one cared if he was
hurt or not. Not for thousands of years. Not on earth, not in the Netherworld.
Not ever.
He studied her again, wondering
what she meant by it. She continued to gaze at him under increasingly droopy
lids. No, not droopy. She was looking at him from under her lashes. Those long,
dark lashes and those penetrating brown eyes that seemed to wear such a tender
expression…
“Do you want some wine? Or some
brandy?”
She had asked it so suddenly that
he almost startled.
“Brandy,” he answered before he
could think about it.
“Okay.” She sprang up as if her
earlier melancholy had been a mere trick of the light. His ears pricked as he
listened to her rummaging in the kitchen and soon she brought out two glasses. Handing
one to him, she sat again, tucking her bare feet under her. She sipped, looking
up through her lashes again over the rim of her glass. At the same time, she
was absentmindedly stroking his amulet. “I was wondering,” she said quietly.
“Yes?” It wasn’t very good
brandy, but he enjoyed the slight burn in his throat when he swallowed it.
“I wondered…if you wanted to
stay.”
He coughed, choking on the drink,
but he easily recovered and lowered the glass to the table beside him. “I am
always here to guard.”
“I don’t mean…to guard.”
All his senses suddenly chimed
together and he found himself standing. She followed suit to face him.
The many times he had engaged in
sexual relations with the male and female of her species, it was always done
quickly, fervently. Sometimes they welcomed him as an interesting stranger.
Sometimes they simply felt obligated or succumbed from fear. The few Chosen
Hosts with which he engaged did it with wariness, perhaps thinking erroneously
that it would compel Erasmus to help them. But not her. Not Kylie. She even
raised her chin to look at him with unabashed yearning.
He sensed her breathing, how it
sped up and equally her heart, with its rapid beating that spoke of the life
and spirit throbbing within her. When he stepped closer and touched her neck,
fingers skimming up to her jaw, her pulse jumped on his fingertips. Pheromones
billowed off of her and her aura gave off a distinctly reddish-orange glow. Those
brown eyes with their pupils blown had no fear in them. He was surprised each
time he looked at her, and how trusting she seemed to be. This was not like any
of her species before her.
He breathed in the scent of her.
Some of the herbs she kept in her shop and something flowery, perhaps perfume,
mingled with the underlying earthy fragrance of her mortality. That in itself
was intoxicating to any demon, but more so to him. He flared his nostrils,
taking it in, before he leaned in closer and could no longer resist opening his
lips over hers.
The taste of her mouth—the brandy
with the bitterest perception of tea—could not hide the taste of her, and his mouth lingered, enjoying
the feel of soft, warm lips, tongue, the essence of her breath. His lips left
hers for an infinitesimal moment to breathe her name, “Kylie,” with a roughened
voice. He hadn’t meant to say it, but it had spilled out of him, drenched in
all the confusion that possessed him the moment his lips touched hers.
His shoulders gave off wisps of
smoke that mingled with her pheromones, an intoxicating combination.
Suddenly, he yearned for privacy.
The shop had windows where prying eyes could peer in, where the beasts of the
forest and of the book could smell and see them. Through the Dark-In-Between,
he instantly transported them both to her bedroom. She made a little sound of
surprise but didn’t seem bothered with the change of location, continuing to
kiss him with as much fervor as when she started.
He thrilled to the moment.
Because he knew—for now, at least—he
possessed her. Not that bumbling constable, not any past lover of hers, but him, the demon. And he had needed no
coercion, no charm or spell. She gave herself willingly, and the fire of that
knowledge burned hot in his chest.
Her arms reached up and encircled
his neck, and she tilted her head to kiss deeper. He obliged and wrapped his
arms around her, pulling her close. He burned their clothes away leaving a fine
layer of ash that soon sloughed off of them. She made a concerned sound. She
didn’t like him to do that. Apparently, hers never reappeared again like his clothes, but it was the most
expeditious method to get at what he wanted. He didn’t want to take the time.
He didn’t want her changing her mind.
 His hands skimmed down her flanks, feeling the
smoothness, the suppleness of her young, mortal skin. His exploring hands
reached further and behind, grabbing the pliant globes of her buttocks and
squeezed at the same time he pressed her against his groin. Yes, he liked the
feel of her more than he had ever
enjoyed her species before. He couldn’t owe it to the long years between these
experiences for he had been in a state of stasis since the last time the book
was opened and it had seemed but a brief time to him when he was awakened again.
But this was different. Somehow.
Perhaps it was her. Perhaps merely this strange new era.
She moved her lips away from his
and attacked his ear lobe, nipping gently down to his neck. Oh yes, he liked
that too, liked that she took the initiative. He allowed her to gnaw on him
before he spread his hands on her ribcage and lifted her.
“Where are we going?” she said in
a husky voice.
“To the bed,” he said, laying her
gently back.
“And then what?” She was in a
playful mood, a talkative mood.
“What indeed. Do you have any…preferences?”
He watched her face as his hand moved below her belly.
She gasped before smiling lazily,
looking down at herself, at what he was doing. He looked too. He liked what he
saw and reached for her with his other hand and kneaded other pliant areas,
until he couldn’t resist bending close and replacing his hands with his lips
and tongue. She tasted like she smelled; earthy, floral, salty.
She threw her head back, closing
her eyes. “Whatever you’d like,” she whispered as he continued tasting her.
That was a big list. But for now,
he just wanted to be inside her. He wanted her to wrap her legs around his waist
and pull him in. He wanted her hands on him, skimming, pinching, clawing with
her nails.
When he reached under her to
close his hands on her bottom again, she didn’t disappoint. He lifted her hips
and she eagerly opened to him, and when he guided himself in, her thighs
clenched his waist, and her heels dug into his backside. Never was a creature
more compliant.
“Kylie,” he growled. She seemed
to thrill at it and moved impatiently and then with him.
He wanted this feeling to go on
and on, but he also wanted his completion in her too. Watching her writhe and
her mouth fall open and her eyes close, sent him higher and higher, until she
snapped open her eyes and watched him,
daring him. And all at once, much to his chagrin, he realized that he possessed
nothing. He never possessed her. It was she
who owned him.
He couldn’t control the growl he
expelled when he gave in to her. His hands were once again beneath her bringing
her even closer, while hers dragged those nails down his chest. For a moment he
spun higher, even when he thought he had finished. The spike in sensation with
her piercing nails drew a sharp breath out of him and he thrust hard in the
waning moments of his peak until finally he could slow, luxuriating in the feel
of her, suspended in the moment that seemed all too brief. Hanging his head, he
hid his eyes behind his hair and gazed at her, and she was still looking at
him, breasts heaving as she breathed deep.
“I don’t understand you,” he said
when he’d gotten his breath back, still poised above her…and within her.
She pushed her sweaty hair out of
her face and offered an impish smile. “What do you mean?”
“You enjoy this.”
She looked down boldly at him as
he finally withdrew and her legs flopped to the side. “What’s not to like?”
“I am a demon.”
“I know. Is there a problem?”
Abruptly, he rolled off the bed
and stood up. “Shouldn’t there be?”
She struggled to sit up and
folded her legs under her on the bed. She drew the blanket up to her chest. He
suspected the room was cold though he could never feel it. “What’s wrong,
Erasmus? What’s going on in that little horned head of yours?”
He swiped his hand over his
forehead…just to check. “Why do you keep saying that? I do not have horns.”
She seemed to be suppressing a
giggle. “Not anymore,” she muttered under her breath. “I mean what is your
problem? Don’t you like…” She gestured awkwardly between them. “Don’t you like this?”
“Of course I do. I thought that
would be obvious.”
“Then why do you question
everything? Can’t you just enjoy it?”
He frowned. This was not what he
expected. She was never what he expected. “I’m going to patrol.”
He vanished from her sight, but
not before he heard the tail end of her, “Wait! I—”
The Dark-In-Between held him for
only a moment. Atoms dissolved around him and he appeared outside below her
bedroom window. At nearly the same instant he began to reappear, the atoms of
clothing formed around him again—leather trousers, black shirt, black leather
duster—and he looked upward. The window framed the light and shadows, and then
there was a figure in the window looking down at him.
He turned away from her frown of
perplexity. He didn’t want to look just now. Instead, his eyes faced the woods.
That was something he could understand. The darkness, the shadows. He ignored
the figure in the window and searched in the dark for each flare of life,
searching for the danger he knew was out there.  
The
Darkest Gateway
Booke
of the Hidden
Book
Four
Jeri
Westerson
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Romance
                           
Publisher: JABberwocky Literary
Date of Publication: October 2,
2019
ISBN: 978-1-625674-25-8
ASIN: 978-1-625674-23-4
Number of pages: 301
Word Count: 90,181
Cover Artist: Mayhem Cover
Creations
Tagline: “Whoever said country
life was dull didn’t know Moody Bog.”
Book
Description:      
With the arrival of Samhain, the
supernatural Booke of the Hidden is set to release a barrage of deadly creatures
onto the hapless village of Moody Bog, Maine.
Tea proprietor Kylie Strange
knows the showdown is coming and wants to end the Booke for good. But the only
way to accomplish this is a journey to the Netherworld and get the help of the
only being powerful enough to destroy the Booke: Satan himself. And, though the
brooding and elusive demon Erasmus Dark has captured Kylie’s heart against her
better judgment, she ignores his repeated warnings that the mission guarantees
her doom.
Series Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/vI5d1tFsBYM


Except:
I moved to the
very edge of the road and waited.
The sound grew
louder. It couldn’t be anything except hoofbeats. They clopped, not in a gallop
but in a leisurely canter. And soon, there was the Dullahan coming around the
curve. His head looked even greener and slimier under his arm than it had
before, if that were possible.
His weirdly
roving eyes spotted me easily. He kicked his red-eyed horse’s sides and hurried
toward us. All the while, he swung that spine whip. With each revolution around
his headless neck, the weapon grew longer and longer.
I kept the spear
close to my side. I didn’t want that whip to catch it the way it had gotten the
crossbow the last time.
He was almost
upon me when he shrieked, “Kylie Strange!”
“That doesn’t
work on me, you idiot!” I yelled.
The face frowned
under his arm. It cast its googly eyes toward Erasmus and opened his mouth to
yell his name.
“He’s a demon,
remember? We’ve been through this before. Boy, you sure have a short memory.
Must be because your brain is decaying faster than the rest of you. Looks like
a bad case of melting Roquefort you got there.”
His dead face
either grimaced or it really was melting. “Then I don’t need to say your name,”
he said in a high screechy voice.
He spun the
whip. Before I could get out of the way, it came at me and wrapped around my
body, trapping my arms at my sides. I barely got out a yell before I was yanked
off my feet.
The horse
started galloping and I was flung out behind it almost parallel to the road. I
couldn’t bring the spear up. I was whipping around in the air and getting a
little seasick, but it was better than being dragged behind on the asphalt.
There wouldn’t have been much left of me after that.
The bones of the
spine whip were digging sharply into my skin. I tried wriggling free. If
Headless decided to fling me off a cliff, there wasn’t much I could do about
it. I knew Erasmus must be around somewhere, but this was up to me to figure
out…if I could.
The Dullahan
galloped around a sharp curve and I was thrown and dragged through the limbs of
pine trees shouldering the road.
“Dammit!” I
yelled, spitting out pine needles. “I am so going to kill you!”
He lifted his
head up with his other arm. It swiveled and glared at me. “Not if I kill you
first, Mistress Strange.”
“No need to be
so formal,” I grunted, struggling. I slammed into some holly bushes and OW!

 

The face cackled
and turned away, tucked back under his arm again. Then I looked up and saw what
he was cackling about. The next curve of the road didn’t have any nice prickly
holly bushes or spikey pine boughs. It was just granite all the way up the rock
face. “Shit!”

 

About
the Author:
Los Angeles native JERI WESTERSON
is the author of twelve Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Mystery novels, a series
nominated for thirteen national awards from the “Agatha” to the “Shamus”. Her
fifth novel BLOOD LANCE was named one of the Ten Hot Crime Novels for Colder
Days by Kirkus Reviews, and her sixth, SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST, was named Best
of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. For BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN, her urban fantasy
series, Publishers Weekly said, “Readers sad about the ending of Charlaine
Harris’s MIDNIGHT, TEXAS trilogy will find some consolation in Moody Bog.” The
fourth and final in the series, THE DARKEST GATEWAY, releases October 2, 2019.
Jeri also writes the humorous SKYLER FOXE LGBT MYSTERIES under the pen name
Haley Walsh. Jeri’s short stories were included in several mystery anthologies,
including Shaken: Stories for Japan (for the 2011 Earthquake Relief Fund). Jeri
was also featured on two local NPR shows, “My Awesome Empire” and KVCR-Arts.
She has served two terms as president of the Southern California Chapter of
Mystery Writers of America, twice president of the Orange County Chapter of
Sisters in Crime, and as vice president and California Crime Writers Conference
co-chair for the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime. See more about Jeri
at JeriWesterson.com, BOOKEoftheHIDDEN.com, and
SkylerFoxeMysteries.wixsite.com/novels.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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