Monday, November 18, 2013

Wednesday Hump-The Mega Book Cometh

I'm a fan of all things large. Large coffee. Large beds. Large book series (my favorite is Stephen King's THE DARK TOWER). Still, it was a pleasant surprise when Torrid offered to put all three of my Humania stories into one mega volume. That's right. Three stories in one. BIG. BOOK. 

You know you want to add this to your collection of hot urban fantasy stories. My personal favorite is The Oynx Scion, but honestly, I love all three.

Check it out at


Here is an excerpt from one of the stories in the collection, DESIRE INTO GOLD, the first book. It received four stars from Romantic Times. 

“Turn it out, Frank,” growled Howie the Hand, as he racked the white and blue chips toward his overlapping gut. His sweat-stained shirt, rolled up to the shoulders, revealed pink slabs of upper arms that barely moved as his forearms did all the work. “You got to be the most unluckiest bastard human this side of Humania.”

Frank Miller just let it go. Roll off his shoulders as it were, because Howie the Hand may be a troll—that alone would have forced Frank to keep his mouth shut—but toss in the fact he was Kingston Jones’ bodyguard, well, that settled any debate over whether or not to reply.

“ Come on,” Howie waved a hand the size of a carriage tire. “Give me the rest of your chips…”

Frank swallowed the now gigantic-sized lump in his throat. He tried to move the emotional chunk down to its rightful place, but discovered his mouth had gone too dry to do so.

Larry the Licker glanced at him, his eyes round and without eyelids. He licked his right eye, dampening it with acid green salvia, and said, “You deaf?”

Frank, unable to utter any type of answer, shook his head. He stared at the empty spot in front of him on the table and pondered again how he could have gone through his entire savings within a mere three hours of Humania Hold ’Em.

He hastily looked around the table filled with goblins, trolls, and humans. There were only six of them, and Frank knew he’d definitely come out the worst. Had there been a fairy or pixie playing a game, he would have sworn he’d been cheated.

But with this crowd, he wasn’t going to argue.

Howie leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his even bigger midsection. Across the smoky wisps, he peered at Frank, his lips pressed into a fine line of complete irritation.

“ You ain’t got it, do you, human?” he sneered, barely moving his lips.

Unable to form any words, for the lump seemed to be the only thing barring Frank’s stomach contents from rushing in the wrong direction, he could only nod in fearful agreement.

The other players fell silent and the deafening quiet felt to Frank like he had entered a tomb—which didn’t bode well for him. He needed to do something—no, he needed to say something. If he was good at anything, it was talking.

“ Listen…” Frank stuttered, coughing to dislodge the cold rock of terror in his throat. “We can arrange something—right?”

Across the steamy, body odor-infested air, Howie’s egg-shaped face nodded slowly, his poofy lips breaking into a grin.

Frank shivered.

Weren’t grins supposed to comfort people? That sure wasn’t a look of friendship. Dragons must give unicorns that look before they attack them…

Without warning, just as Frank’s thought ended, Howie reached casually across the table and snatched a mountainous fistful of Frank’s tunic. He opened his mouth to protest, but already, Howie had lifted him into the air as he stood up.

Howie the Hand stood nearly eight feet tall—small by troll standards, but he was still growing.

Swinging like a horribly mistreated doll, Frank’s legs weren’t even close to the floor as they made their way through the throngs of thirsty, greed-chasing customers. The Slots of Fun Castle Casino patrons barely gave them a fleeting look as Howie dragged him from the darkly lit poker room and out onto the crowded casino floor, past security headquarters, which consisted of several more massive trolls with matching blue tee-shirts that read SECURITY in black, bold lettering, and on to see “The Man.”

Howie wasn’t gentle with Frank and he banged Frank into machines, poles, and patrons who weren’t watching where they were going. Frank howled in pain and Howie laughed.

Up the center staircase and to the top tier of the six-floor hotel and casino they went, with Frank’s mind whirling on how he’d get out of this fix and Howie mistreating him with each opportunity he received.

“ You don’t screw over Mister Jones,” Howie grunted, nearly out of breath, as he reached the top of the sixth floor landing. “You gonna get it from him.”

He dropped Frank unceremoniously to the red-carpeted floor with a thump.

Landing on his rear, Frank got slowly to his feet. His backside screamed in protest.

“ On the other side of that door is your worst nightmare,” Howie said, his voice booming in the rather small foyer in front of the office. He drew his index finger across his neck and pointed at Frank.

Frank didn’t need words to know what that meant.

Howie roared all the more in laughter at the expression on Frank’s face. “Serves you right, deadbeat!”

With that, he pressed the doorbell and within moments, a throaty voice asked, “What is it?”

“ Sorry to bother you, sir. But this guy here can’t pay his tab.” Howie jerked his thumb at Frank, as if the door could see him. “Thought you’d want to handle it.”

“ How much is he in for?” the voice asked calmly, with an undercurrent of hostility. “Be accurate.”

“ Four treasure chests full,” Howie said, the mocking tone draining from his voice and a fine thread of terror crept into his substantial facial features.


Frank looked at Howie, but Howie’s eyes were on the two oak doors. His hands anxiously moved in circles. The massive being had hunched over as if anticipating the scolding to come.

Finally, a crackling sound and the voice spoke again.

“ Send—him—in.”

Although a command, the voice held the same calm tone that contained a lightening current of rage snuggled inside the comfy tenor.

“ Yes, sir!” Howie replied and ran off, back down the stairway—each step took four stairs at a time with ease.

“ What the heck am I going to do?” Frank asked aloud. His stomach rolled into a tight knot of protest. He swore to himself as he heard the voice beckon him to enter. Visions of his former glee as he traded chests of gold coins for pails of blue and white chips flickered to the forefront of his mind.

This was unlike any office Frank had ever seen. He didn’t really know what he expected to reside on the other side of the doors, but it surely wasn’t this. He walked through the foyer, with its creamy washed ceiling that contained round skylights the size of carriage wheels. Tones of red, black and ivory dominated the area, from the rugs to the accessories of vases, sofas and chairs.

There was no desk to speak of.

The space resembled a lounge, complete with a miniature bar, glass, stylish sofas and satin and silk fabrics all tossed together in Humania hip.

Seated beneath a life-sized painting of a nude nymph with sleek sea-green hair, sat none other than the legend himself, Kingston Jones.

Frank stopped abruptly, his mouth opened in surprise.

No wonder the voice was so smooth. Kingston Jones was like a force of nature. He didn’t have to shout, scream, or yell. He was just there, and things got done with quickness, speed, and respect, for he wore power like expensive cologne. Frank had seen photos, paintings, and magical spheres of him, but never did Frank expect to meet the man in person—an underling or manager, never “The Man.”

But nothing had gone as expected today.

“ Ah, you know, I do enjoy visitors,” Kingston said with a wide, sharklike grin. “I am Kingston Jones.”

“ Yes,” Frank said, swallowing loud and hard. “Yes, you are…”

“ You owe me gold—a lot of it,” Kingston said. He stood up, and his dress slacks, the color of fairy wings, fell unwrinkled into place. “I don’t like thieves, Mister…”

“ Miller.”

“ Miller,” Kingston said as he came around the coffee table, carefully avoiding knocking over an ivory vase that made Frank think of his wife’s rolls of chunky flesh.

“ What do you do, Mister Miller?”

Again that tone which suggested everything was fine. Frank knew it wasn’t. He’d better start talking and fast, or he wouldn’t make it out alive or worse, with his freedom.

“ I can explain, sir,” Frank rambled out with a flash. “I am a merchant…I sell Pixie Peppered Potions…”

This tidbit made Kingston grin—a genuine one. “Oh, not a good seller on the market. Though initially, I’m sure you made quite a bit of gold. A dietary supplement that melted away unwanted fat was its claim. Didn’t the Human Potions Agency issue a warning about Pixie Peppered Potion last month?”

Frank let out a slow breath of relief. He might make it out of here alive yet.

“ Yeah, it seems some humans came down with black measles or Pixie Pickin’ Pocks…”

Kingston interrupted with a chuckle. “I remember, yes. Ugly black pocks covered the entire body—everywhere. The effects were itching, burning, cracking and bleeding. The cure is a week’s worth of tomato baths…nasty business. Highly contagious disease…”

Frank’s head nodded so often as Kingston spoke, he thought it would fall off and roll across the perfect pale-red rug. The guy isn’t so bad after all. Surely he’d understand the situation Frank was in and perhaps even offer him a job. Witches knew he needed the work.

“ So you understand, sir, that my income’s been reduced. I-I came into the city to try to win some more gold to ensure my family’s survival.”

The warm and friendly smile on Kingston’s face drained away as if someone had turned off the cheeriness tap. Something beneath Kingston’s flawless brown skin twitched as if the very act of polite conversation required remarkable restraint.

“ No, I don’t understand,” Kingston replied coldly, his eyes burrowing into Frank’s. “I don’t understand why a merchant would gamble his last bit of gold, nor do I care. You owe me four chests full of expensive change, Mister Miller…”

“ Yes,” Frank said hastily. “And I plan to repay you. Can we set up some kind of loan? I am seeking employment, here in Humania…”

One look at Kingston’s face told Frank that a loan was out of the question.

Horror rode up Frank’s back, forcing him to shudder, for he’d heard stories from other merchants about doing business with Kingston. Cross him and many were found dead in the moat outside Humania, or worse—never found at all. As these images shot through his mind, Frank strained against the impulse to run. He had to use the only weapon he had—his mouth—to get out of here, for he had nothing else. Kingston would take his money out of Frank’s hide. Heck, he might even sell Frank off to one of the goblins as a human slave.

They were known to eat humans.

An image of the Larry the Licker wetting his eyeball caused Frank to dry heave and take in rapid breaths.

Kingston strolled over to his dark, wooden buffet where a fantastic sword, complete with an ebony handle, was displayed. Its silvery blade gleamed in the overhead lights. Kingston’s inky-black braid swung down his back as he lifted the instrument with all the love and care of a treasured artifact.

He whirled around with it in his hands. He held it up and turned it this way and that, admiring the workmanship and craft. “I received this after I defeated an ogre over in Olden Hills. He’d stolen a princess, and when I worked for the former king, he sent me, and me alone, to retrieve his daughter. As a gift, the elves of Graimere fashioned this for me. It will slice through anything…”

“ Sir, sir! Oh, but hear me out!” Frank shouted, his teeth chattering now in raw terror. “I-I can pay you back!”

Kingston laughed again—a casual, but cold sound as if he bit into something frozen. “I have heard many excuses, Mister Miller. What is yours? Say it quickly before I kill you.”

Frank’s mind whirled. He wanted to live. If Kingston had heard a lot of stories already, then Frank needed to come up with something he hadn’t yet.

Kingston crossed the distance between them with fluidity and grace. His caramel leather shoes fell in a hush as he crossed the carpet. It was much too quick for Frank’s taste. Without warning and with amazing strength, he snatched Frank’s head back and smiled down at him as Frank struggled not to fall backwards. The position caused Frank to collapse onto his knees, his back burned as Kingston pulled backward. Kingston held a fistful of Frank’s graying hair in his hand.

It was all so suave.

“ Say good night to your life, Mister Miller,” Kingston whispered, as he gazed down into Frank’s frightened eyes.

It was then that Frank Miller offered the only thing he had left to give…

His daughter.

“ Don’t! Please! My daughter is very beautiful, desirable!” Frank cried as tears spilled and leaked down his sallow cheeks.

Kingston said icily, “I have enough women…”

He raised the blade to Frank’s throat, and momentarily watched as a vein in Frank’s neck beat wildly in the blade’s reflection.

“ No! No! My—my daughter can spin desire into gold! You could reap all the gold you wanted…”

At this, Kingston removed the blade and forced Frank to stand. He dropped the sword to his side. With cool, dark eyes, Kingston glared at Frank as if trying to read him—to see if he told the truth.

“ That is an art that pleases me well if it bears truth. If your daughter is as seductive as you say, bring her to my office tomorrow so I may put her to the proof.”

“ Thank you! Oh, your nobleness knows no limits,” Frank said, bowing repeatedly while his heart sank into the pit of his stomach.

“ Do not thank me, Miller. For if she does not do as you say,” Kingston smirked, his eyes glistening like black beetles, “she will die in your place.”

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