Marteeka's Dreams

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hump Day... A Dad for Sebastian

They say love strikes when you least expect it. It’s certainly true for Ares Grayson and Honey Love.

Honey knows there are no knights in shining armor. As a single mom walking a bumpy road alone, the light in her life is her son, Sebastian. Her world revolves around him, and she’s determined to give him the opportunities she had, but threw away when she took a gamble with her heart.

Ares has more than enough to give any woman in his life, but there’s only one woman he’s interested in. When he sees her for the first time in seven years, he realizes just how much he needs to protect her…and the special package she brings with her.

The past and present collide in a hurricane of emotions and memories. As Honey and Ares unravel the wreckage of the past, a new storm rolls in. Apollo. Ares’s brother…and Sebastian’s father.

EXCERPT:

Ares stood from where he’d been sitting in a darkened corner of the hall just inside the stairwell. He had a good view of Honey’s door and was still in the shadows. Which wasn’t saying much. Most of the safety lights were out. 

Well. Ares was about to give someone a reason to not be in this particular hall harassing this particular woman. As the lanky bastard in a dirty wife beater sporting wood through his thin pants knocked at Honey’s door, Ares crept closer. He was about to pull the guy into the shadows and make him piss himself when he heard Honey’s resigned voice. 

The conversation didn’t last long, but it was enough for Ares to see red. The fucker was hitting her up for money, padding the rent. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what he was working toward. It stopped tonight. When Honey closed the door and had every lock clicked into place, Ares pounced. 

Her landlord turned around, a sickening smile curling his lips, and ran straight into Ares. Literally. The man’s nose hit Ares’s chest hard enough to cause him to tear up. “Awfully late to be shaking down tenants for money, don’t you think?” 

The little man -- Mr. Hooper, he’d heard Honey call him -- backed up a step before standing his ground. “Her rent is due today. If I don’t come to collect when I know she’s home, she won’t pay. I’ve had trouble with her in the past.” 

“You didn’t argue when she told you she’d never been late in the three years she’s lived here. Are you saying she was lying and you didn’t call her out?” 

“They all lie. What’s the use arguing? Besides, she didn’t pay me everything, even with me tracking her down at this ungodly hour. If she’s not careful, I’ll get social services involved. Any mother who would keep her child up this late doesn’t deserve to have him.” 

Ares only thought he’d been angry before. With a growl, his hand shot to the other man’s throat. Ares spun them around so that Hooper landed on the opposite wall from Honey’s apartment. “This is the last time you come here when it’s not daylight. If I see you anywhere near this woman when it’s not full sun out, I will gut you like a fish.” Ares was in the man’s face, his hand clamped like a vise around his throat. “Take the money you have and go. Do not come back for more. Is there anything about what I’ve just said you don’t understand?” 

When the man shook his head, Ares released him. “Go.” Ares didn’t have to tell him twice. 

The locks to Honey’s apartment clicked open slowly, as if she were trying to open the door without anyone noticing. Ares stepped back to put his large frame in front of the door while Hooper beat feet down the hall, just in case he decided he might try to take Ares on to get to Honey. Unlikely though it was. “What are you doing?” she hissed, finally undoing the last chain and opening the door for him. 

Ares didn’t take time to protest her unlocking the only defense she had against people like her landlord. He shouldered his way inside and locked the doors soundly again. “I decided to watch over you tonight,” he whispered, aware that Sebastian was in the same room and not wanting to disturb the child more than he already had been. “Is Sebastian still asleep?” 

Honey looked over her shoulder. The light spilling in through the kitchen window from the street lamps bathed her face in a golden glow. “I think so. He’s usually a pretty sound sleeper.” 

“Good. Go to bed. I’ll stay by the door in case you have any more late-night visitors.” 

“Ares --” 

“No, Honey,” he said gently. “That guy is setting you up.”

 “I know,” she said. Ares was sure her voice broke. Before she could turn away from him back to the sleeper sofa, he snagged her arm gently and pulled her to him. The light on her face now illuminated the tears drying there. Ares felt like he’d been gutted. 

With a groan, he pulled her into his arms, palming her head with his hand to hold her against his chest. “God, baby. Please don’t cry.” As if his broken plea were her permission, Honey let out a little cry against his shirt. Her hands bunched in his shirt and fisted there as she used the material to muffle the sounds as that one cry turned into body-racking sobs. Ares could do nothing but hold her to him. Resting his chin on her head, he squeezed her to him tightly. 

When she showed no signs of stopping any time soon, he scooped her up and slid down the wall to sit with her across his lap. It was clear her heart was breaking. Whether from the past or what she saw as an uncertain future, Ares didn’t know. He just knew he wanted to kill his brother for hurting her. True, Apollo had been just as young as Honey, but he’d had seven years to realize his mistake and make up for it. Instead, the little punk had run as far from Greenville, Kentucky as he possibly could.

 As her tears continued, Ares vowed he’d make this right, no matter what it took. Finally, when he could stand no more, he brushed the tears from her face and encouraged her to look up at him. “Shh, baby. Shh. Nothing bad is going to happen to you and Sebastian ever again. I swear on my life.”

 “Apollo swore to me he loved me.” She sniffed. “Why should I believe you when your own brother lied to me?” 

He swore softly. “Tell me what he did to you, Honey. I need to know.” So he’d know exactly what he was beating Apollo’s ass for.

Tasty Tuesday with Teeka

Cheeseburger in Paradise

from justapinch.com


Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 dash(es) worcestershire sauce
1 c shredded cheese
1 c milk
1/2 c bisquick mix
2 eggs
Directions
1. Heat oven to 400°F.
2. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray
3. Cook beef and chopped onion in a skillet over medium about 10 minutes or until beef is brown. Drain excess fat.
4. Stir in salt, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce and then spread in pie plate. Sprinkle cheese on top of meat.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and Bisquick. Make sure you try to get as many lumps out as you can. Pour over meat mixture.
6. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hump Day Goodness

COMING SOON...
A Dad for Sebastian

(UNEDITED EXCERPT)

"What's your name, kid?"
"Sebastian Love," he said, holding out his hand to shake Aries's. "Pleased to meet you." The kid's name was, again, setting off all kinds of alarm bells. He should know this kid, but damned if he knew where.
"Aries Grayson."
"Aries?" The kid's eyes got big. "The Greek god of war?"
"The very one," Aries chuckled. That comment about his name usually got his hackles up, but Sebastian was looking at him with something like awe. His glasses seemed to take up half his face and he continually pushed them up on his nose. With the thick lenses, he reminded Aries of the really smart baby chicken from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoon.
"Wow! Are you really a Navy SEAL?"
"Used to be."
He looked confused. "I thought once a SEAL, always a SEAL."
Aries couldn't help but smile. "You know about stuff like that, do you?"
"Well, that's what I read. Was that book wrong?"
"No. That's pretty much the way it is. I hurt a knee, then got offered a job in a different area of the Navy." He shrugged. "I guess when you get old you want away from the action." Aries grinned at the child. He didn't look like he was old enough to read. At least, not a book about Navy SEALs.
"How old are you?"
"Six. How old are you?"
"What book have you been reading about SEALs at your age?"
The kid immediately went fishing in his backpack and pulled out a book. It didn't look like it was geared toward kids his age. In fact, it was by an author he recognized as being a New York Times bestseller. The book too.
"Isn't this a bit old for you?" No way this kid could read and understand something like this. The thing had to be more than six or seven hundred pages long.
"Well, it's a bit violent, but since I've never seen the stuff it's describing it doesn't give me bad images." Was this kid for real?
"I mean," Aries pinched his forehead, "you can read and understand the story?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm advanced for my age." Sebastian talked like an adult. Read adult books.
"What else are you, uh, advanced in?"
"Pretty much everything," he said matter-of-factly. "I have a special teacher for math and science. My reading and spelling teacher just lets me work through the books on my own and tests me when I reach an end of a section." Then he got a down and out look on his face. "But I suck at music."
Aries blinked. "Music."
"Yeah," the kid shook his head as if it were the worst possible failure. "My mom says I'm tone deaf." He shrugged. "She doesn't seem to mind, though. Just laughs and says I have to not be good as something."
"So, music and basketball then?" Aries couldn't keep the grin from his face.
"Pretty much. Well, basketball and every other sport. Mom says I have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time but she loves me no matter what." This kid was just… God, just... to damned cute!
"Maybe we can play ball sometime," Aries said, in no way able to keep a straight face now. "I'll bring some bubble gum along. That way, you'll be able to tell your mom you can so walk and chew gum at the same time."
He giggled then. "I think I like you, Mister," he said. "I bet Mom would like you, too. You want to meet her?"
Actually, he did. Anyone who would leave a kid alone in a public park needed a good talking to like he'd given the young bullies. He'd gone from trying to redeem himself to being this young boy's protector and teacher. How the fuck had that happened? The second he thought it, the more the band around his chest since his brother had left seemed to loosen a little. What he was doing felt right. Necessary. Both for him and for the boy.
"Tell me something, Sebastian. What are you doing here by yourself? This is a great park and all, but it's dangerous for someone your age to be here alone."
Sebastian immediately flush and looked away. Aries thought he might not tell him, but he finally sighed, that defeated posture again tugging at Aries's heart, and confessed. "I told my mom there was after school supervision so she wouldn't leave work early. I heard her boss told her if she left early or brought me there again he'd fire her."
Well, goddamn.
"Sebastian!" A female voice came from behind them, the shrill panic evident. "Get away from him!"
Sebastian turned and grinned, oblivious to the woman's discomfort. "Hey, Mom! Come meet my new friend! He's a Navy SEAL! Can you believe that?"
Aries glanced over his shoulder...and nearly lost his breath. Hurrying toward them was the most exquisite woman he'd ever seen. Strawberry blond was pulled back into a bun but strands fell about her face in unruly curls like they'd escaped during her day. She impatiently batted at one curl doggedly swinging in her eyes only to have it blow right back. And he fucking knew her!
She dressed in a waitress uniform of pale pink, the skirt hitting just above her knees. The V of the collar was low enough to show cleavage if she'd had any, but her breasts were either too small or she wore a minimizer bra. Aries was dying to figure out that little secret. Why had he never noticed her figure before? Probably because she'd still been a kid. Now, her pale skin was a temptation. She sported a generous amount of freckles, but not enough to camouflage her creamy complexion. A thought struck him in the head so hard and the image boured into his brain, refusing to be jostled loose. What it would be like to connect every single one of those freckles...with his tongue.
God! He had to stop thinking like that. The girl was so much younger than he was he didn't even want to think about the difference. She'd been his brother's age but still a couple of years behind him in school. And he'd been eleven years older than Apollo.
Christ!
"You don't know this man, Sebastian," she said as she picked up his backpack, urging him up to hurry him away.
Aries raised his hands in a non-threatening gesture when Sebastian spoke up. "He kept the Rat Pack away from me, Mom. He's cool." He resisted her trying to force him away, as if his explanation were enough to satisfy anyone.
"Sebastian…" she started, glancing at Aries. The wide eyed expression on her face told Aries she remembered him. Which was good since he planned on getting acquainted with her really soon. Then she gently turned Sebastian to her by his shoulders. "We've talked about this, baby. You're not supposed to talk to strangers. And where's your teacher? I thought you said there was a math workshop the rest of the week?"
The kid's face turned beet red as his mouth worked, obviously trying to form an answer his mother would believe. Sebastian looked at Aries helplessly, looking for help Aries couldn't give since he had no idea what was going on.
"Hi, Ms. Love," he said, addressing her in a familiar way so she knew he remembered her, but also for Sebastian's benefit. Also, he wanted to steer Sebastian away from trouble. "I'm working with St. Mildred's Outreach to keep the park clean."
"Sounds like community service to me," she said, not meeting his gaze. There was a becoming blush across her fair cheeks that kind of made the freckles across her nose blend in to her face slightly. "Are you on probation or something?"
"I promise I'm not. Check me out with Father Luke if you think you need to. Though, I suspect you remember me and know I'm not a bad person." That answer seemed to satisfy her a little. At least, didn't look like she was going to bolt.
After a moment or two, she let out a weary breath. "Why are you here, Aries? And don't call me Ms. Love." She scowled. "I hate that," she mumbled.
"Sure," he fought a grin and lost. "Honey."
Aries  couldn't help it. Having been teased his entire life about his name, he should be the last one to smile at an unusual name, but his lips quirked. They always had. In the past, when he'd even thought about her, he'd grinned. Now, when the smile came, Honey Love punched his arm. Hard.
Aries chuckled, unable to help himself. So she punched him again.
"Mom! You don't mess with a SEAL unless you're ready to fight!" Sebastian's eyes were wide as he stood, moving his little body between his mother and Aries to push her away. "He'll clobber you!"
"Relax, little man. I'd never hurt your mom." Aris rested a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Your mom has just as an unusual name as I have. I'm thinking she doesn't like people grinning at her name."
Sebastian turned to Aries. "Wait. You smiled at her?"
"Unfortunately, yes."
"Oh, man." The boy winced. "No wonder she was ready to fight you." He turned back to Honey. "I still don't think it's a good idea."
Her lips twitched even as she went for a scowl. "He grinned, therefore he's taking his life into his own hands. Besides, don't let my size fool you. I can take care of myself."

"Oh, I have no doubt," Aries said, trying his best to keep a smile off his face.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tasty Tuesday -- Perfect Grilled Cheese

I'm on a lifelong mission for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Why? Because it's much easier to write if you rely on a sandwich based diet.



Ingredients:

Two slices bread, white is ok, herb is better
cheddar cheese
mozzarella cheese
butter
salt

Simple ingredients, I know, but the trick is in the grilling, which took a lot of failed attempts until I got it just right.

Directions:

Spread butter on both sides of both slices of bread. Then, heat up frying pan to minimum, melt butter and a dash of salt. This uses a lot of butter. It's not diet food.

Toast each side of each slice of bread lightly. Then add the cheddar to one slice; the mozzarella to another.

Grill as usual.

The double-butter effect makes the bread toastier and the sandwich crisper. It's divine!!!

Follow me, Echo Ishii, on Twitter @mrsbookmark
Or stop by my blog(echoishiizone.wordpress.com) or website (www.echoishii.com)

Purchase Links:


The Excerpt:



Zhang had nothing against London. It was a respectably large city, though a bit on the cold and rainy side. He had to get used to it. The cities in this part of the world weren't like those in the East and certainly not like those in the celestial realm where he did most of his business.
Still, Zhang had a job to do. He was here, by special request, from the Goddess of the Hunt herself. She ruled beasts and fighters and those with the wild nature. Creatures whose lives were ruled around the chase and the hunt. Shapeshifting creatures like himself.
He strolled through the pouring rain, past the shops and the streets and the taverns. Women in uncomfortably long dresses skittered past; orphans with not enough clothes shivered in the dark spaces between alleys.
There were so many more people in the world since the last time Zhang had visited. It was louder, busier, and the air was dirtier. The wild spaces were being encroached upon with frightening speed.
No wonder the Huntress was keen to have someone look after her earth-dwelling patrons. It was far too easily for them to become despondent and lose their way.
Zhang finally found the place he was looking for. It was a stone building, firmly built, but with broken windows and detritus surrounding the outside. If the excessive noise didn't indicate it as a place for a Pack meeting, then the smell of Wolfkin in rut certainly would.
Wolfkin. It had been some time since he'd dealt with any of them.
Zhang pushed open the door and stepped inside.
It was a Pack meeting all right: one part eating; one part fighting; one part rutting. Wolfkin conversed between bites of food and the occasional punch.
The hall was clearly too small for all of them. Rows of tables from one end of the hall to the other with chairs left barely enough room to walk between them. The Wolfkin didn't seem to mind.
The Wolfkin ignored Zhang. His scent gave off no threat, so few paid him any mind. Zhang was just one more figure lurking in the corners. He was dressed down for this event, having traveled for three days in human form. Dragon form was quicker but Zhang wanted to be low key. Besides, people might notice. Wolfkin sightings were easily explained away but Dragons took quite of bit of magical spellwork to conceal. Zhang wasn't in the mood to have to pay some greedy sorcerer just to cover up a sighting.
And then there was the sex. Zhang spotted at least three not so discreet encounters. Couples, triples, even enthusiastic solo practitioners. There was always a dark corner somewhere.
Zhang had no issue with group sexual indulgence.
Voyeurism? Oh those long, heady days in the temples of ancient Egypt.
Exhibitionism? Thank the gods for Persian pleasure chambers and a penchant for extremely accurate conceptual art.
Orgies? There was a time when 'Lord Prince Zhang' was known throughout Rome for his orgies. And in Rome, to be noticed for orgies was really saying something. May the First Fires bless those legions of Roman soldiers, Zhang thought with a sigh.
This public display of affections was not to Zhang's taste. Rolling around on the floor -- especially one of questionable cleanliness -- in a lust-filled fever was not his pleasure.
Besides, his only interest in the world of Wolfkin was sitting in a large chair at a separate table on a dais like a king in his throne. Stephen Skollsgaard, the Alpha of all the Alphas.
Stephen was a handsome bastard too.
Zhang kept close to the walls as he approached the Alpha Wolf. Two Wolfkin, reeking of alcohol, were having a heated argument nearer the front. One of them fell out of his chair at Zhang's feet. Zhang stepped over him with a sigh.
"Aye!" Another Wolfkin grabbed him by the shoulders. He was a large man with thick hands and menacing eyes.
"Do not touch me," Zhang said smoothly and confidently.
"That's my friend you stepped over," the Wolfkin said.
"That's your friend you pushed down." Zhang shrugged the man's hands from his shoulders.
"Are you Omega? A Lower Beta?" The man pushed Zhang again as his voice rose.
Zhang tolerated watching Wolfkin fight, but he had no intentions of being pulled into one.
Zhang pushed back his hood and locked his eyes on the Wolfkin. The man's eyes went wide. Zhang knew he saw the change, the flicker of fires from the First Fires that rose in Zhang's belly and now was simmering deep in his soul.
"Do you know what I am?" Zhang said.
The Wolf shook his head, unable to leave Zhang's gaze.
"Remy, stop," a voice boomed across the hall, and even Zhang looked over.
It was Stephen, of course. He made it across the room in short leaps until he was next to them both.
"Remy, take Cade with you." Stephen nodded toward the Wolf sprawled on the floor.
Remy backed down immediately. He reached over the prop his friend up, and the two shuffled back toward the group.
"Why are you here, Dragon?" Stephen said.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hump Day HUMP


"Dammit, Jake! I can't do this! I can't be your dirty little secret, and I can't be part of this team with you."

"Why? You're one of us. An elite. You belong with our group." Jake looked sincere, she'd give him that. He believed every word he was saying. What he didn't understand, what she couldn't tell him, was that if she let herself become part of his team and let him into her life, when they split, Jake could very well be the kind of man to take her heart with him.

"Because I just can't," she snapped. "I don't sleep with co-workers. It's awkward when it ends, and in this business, awkward equals dead!"

"Haven't you figured out yet I'm in this for the long haul? This thing between us isn't something everyone experiences, and I'm not an idiot. I'm not throwing it away, so no need to worry about anything being awkward at work."

"Bullshit," she spat. "Bullfuckingshit! I've seen the women hanging all over you when we were in Rafe's club. I know the kind of women who gravitate toward men like you, and I know what kind of man you are, Jake Carver. I'm not your type."

He lunged for her, circling her throat with his hand, and pressed her back against the wall. It was like someone punched her in the gut the lust hit her so hard. This was the male she longed for. Dominant. Willing to take what he wanted.

Baring his teeth, he loomed over her, leaning close to look her in the eyes. "What kind of woman do you think I want, Linda? What is it you think will satisfy a man like me?" He seemed to be challenging her. Wanting her to lay out all her reasons they could never be together. She knew it was a bad idea. Knew that, once she did, he'd find a way to refute it, and then what would she do? Still she pushed on.

"A submissive! You'd want a submissive to be at your beck and call in bed. Maybe not out of bed, but you'd demand I submit to you, and it's just not in me to do that!" Once started, she couldn't seem to stop herself. "I'm an aggressive lover, Jake. I take what I want. Any man who can't handle that doesn't have a chance at even one fuck with me!"

She expected Jake to balk, even to back away from her. Instead, he leaned in closer. Closer. Until his lips brushed the tender flesh of her neck. Then he bit down. Not painfully, but a warning nonetheless.

"Understand me, Linda. I want you exactly the way you are." He bit down again on her neck before backing off, laving the small sting with his tongue. "I want a lover who isn't afraid to wake me up in the middle of the night if she needs my cock. I want a lover who wakes me up with head only to demand I eat her in return. My woman will always demand from me what she wants because she'll want the same from me. And, most of all, I want my woman never to be afraid to tell me what she needs because it's the only way I could ever be sure I was satisfying her every want and desire." He framed her face in her hands as he looked into her eyes, holding her gaze. "That's the kind of woman a man like me needs, Linda. Are you that woman? Are you that aggressive of a lover? Because if not, you better stop me now. That's what I'll demand of you."

Almost before he finished speaking, Linda lunged for him, fusing her mouth to his. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she held him to her as tightly as she could. Fingers threading through his hair, she forced him where she could better kiss him. Deeper. Harder.

His tongue met hers aggressively, not put off in the least by her demands. The lust seemed to build and build between them with every sweep of his tongue against hers. Never had she experienced such depth of feeling, such an emotional connection to another. The kiss seemed magical in its intensity, bonding them with invisible ties she knew she'd never be able to undo.

Jake maneuvered his hands between them to find the edges of her blouse. With one hard yank, he ripped it open, scattering buttons everywhere. His hands found and squeezed her breasts through the lacy bra. His thumbs found her nipples and brushed, a seductive touch in the middle of such intense hunger.

"Does this feel like I want a submissive lover?" Jake’s growl sent chills through her. The kind of chills that wet her panties. "I need a hard lover. One who can give as good as she takes."