One bad boy demon for her birthday…
All Layla wanted was to spend her Halloween birthday alone. She never expected a nearly naked man in a red thong to appear out of nowhere in her living room. He calls himself Ink and insists he’s an incubus bound to her. Not about to fall for that, she plans to toss him out on his shiny butt when she remembers her friends kept hinting at a late birthday present. Layla fears they got her one hot session with a man built for sex. And it’s not nice to return a gift without trying it out…
In this steamy prequel to a paranormal reverse harem series, Layla learns that her entire life has been a lie and that sometimes a man who wants to answer her every desire is exactly what he appears to be.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of peril and near-death.
Publisher's Note: This book is a prequel to Claw and the Coven of Desire series.
General Release Date: 20th October 2020
Ten minutes to midnight.
Ten minutes to Halloween.
Ten minutes to my birthday.
“Ah, shit!” I fumbled, my phone slipping to the unfinished staircase. Luckily it bounced, and the three zombie sours sloshing through my system didn’t stop me from catching it.
“Careful, Layla!” my fellow nursing student Fariah called.
Dana stuck her head out of the back window and shouted for the entire block to hear, “Sorry your gift’s late. But I swear, you’ll love it when it arrives. Ten or twelve times a day until the batteries run dry.”
I waved a hand at the girls, which was supposed to insist I didn’t mind the lack of a gift, but that shot of whiskey rebounded and I slapped the mailboxes instead. “Sonnofa…!” The second curse of the night snapped to growling as I inspected the rising red welt thanks to my drunken buffoonery. Luckily, Fariah—our eternal DD—was already slipping off to shuttle the rest of the group home.
If they’d seen me, they’d have pulled out our anatomy books and come up with a dozen different treatments for ‘drunk girl punches a wall’. Not that I was any better, my soggy brain wondering if I had a wrap back in the apartment while I stumbled up the stairs.
Slapping a wall, nearly breaking a phone and making a colossal fool of myself in front of the hot bartender would probably dim most people’s birthdays. But honestly, compared to past ones, this year’s was almost palatable. It helped that I’d stopped celebrating on the thirty-first when I was six. Last thing anyone wanted was to go to a kid’s birthday party when they could be trick-or-treating.
As I rounded the stairs, checking twice that it was the right floor, I thought back to the bartender I hadn’t been able to stop staring at. He’d had that whole ‘I could model for a surf club’ esthetic going on, complete with thick, medium-length dark hair and olive skin. But what’d had me drooling into my vampire bite were the tats. He’d known how to stylize his body, relying on black ink and the right amount of whorls and lines to draw the eye to all his best spots.
Shame that the rest had been covered by his shirt and the chance of me getting a peek had been negative billion. Don’t try to flirt when there’s a pile of latex gloves in your pocket, is all I’m saying. I can’t even imagine the freaky shit he’d thought I was into.
Sitting before my door was a brown package, which was always supposed to be dropped off with the manager to cut down on theft. Not that it stopped him from refusing to keep said packages and just dump them off if we didn’t collect within an hour. I checked the apartment number, thirteen, then the name on the box.
Layla Leeland. That was mine even if it was written in a super curly script my drunk ass had to turn around a few times to read. I’d bitch out the manager tomorrow… No, that’s Halloween. I’ll bitch him out on November first.
With that decided, I fumbled into my apartment. The door rattled open and smacked straight into the pile of laundry baskets I foraged from. Nursing school really took a bite out of everything in my life. Time, energy, the ability to connect with another human being.
I didn’t even have a cake for my birthday. Most years I’d at least pick up a chocolate cupcake with orange frosting and cram a candle in it. But I couldn’t bother this go around. Eh, what was twenty-five anyway but a reminder that a quarter of my life was over?
Dropping the box on my counter caused a trash bag to splatter to the floor. I should really clean this place up. Put away my scrubs and dismantle bra hill. See if my vacuum even works anymore or if the spiders own it now.
A yawn ripped from my throat, shattering any illusions I’d get my life in order. “I’ll deal with it tomorrow,” I declared to my apartment and the mystery box. It was probably more textbooks that cost the same as a new phone.
Shambling like a zombie on its last leg, I stumbled to my bedroom. Without bothering to shed my scrubs, or even wipe the makeup off, I fell face first onto my bed and embraced the ambivalence of sleep.
Word Count: 20,168
Book Length: NOVELLA
Ellen Mint adores the adorkable heroes who charm with their shy smiles and heroines that pack a punch. She has a needy black lab named after Granny Weatherwax from Discworld. Sadly, her dog is more of a Magrat.
When she’s not writing imposing incubi or saucy aliens, she does silly things like make a tiny library full of her books. Her background is in genetics and she married a food scientist so the two of them nerd out over things like gut bacteria. She also loves gaming, particularly some of the bigger RPG titles. If you want to get her talking for hours, just bring up Dragon Age.
You can find Ellen at her website here and also on Bookbub..
Reviewed by Victoria
I really enjoyed this story introducing Ink and Layla. On her 25th birthday (on Halloween) she finds Ink in her apartment and things heat up very quickly between them. A lovely short story with great...
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Reviewed by Bianca M
This is a good intro to what is alluding to be a hot and steamy series. The author does a good job of world building. I’m excited to see what happens in book 1
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