Beautifully Burned The Dreamcaster SeriesBook Two
By C.J. Burright
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Grandma warned me to resist him.
I know what he is. Even if he doesn't sparkle in the sun, hiss at holy water, or go by the traditional name of vampire, I know.
He doesn't want or need my blood. He wants my dreams...more specifically, my nightmares. And I've got oodles of those, so many they leak.
He's emotionally scarred, growly, dangerous, and kindles all my senses. Love isn't on his agenda. Having him for a guardian isn't on my list of fun, either. My touch sends him into darkness.
I shouldn't want him.
I can't want him.
But I do.
If I surrender instead of escape, I'll lose everything--my sister, my will, my life. Gran forgot to tell me the most important detail of all: how am I supposed to resist him when he's everything I've ever dreamed of?
Beautifully Burned is told in a dual, third person POV, and may be read as a standalone.
“Leaving so soon, bartender?” asked a gravelly voice.
Daxen leaned against an iron lamppost several feet behind her, a plate of pie in one hand, as if he’d been watching her from that location the entire time. He leisurely licked the fork.
She ignored the responsive swirl in her belly. “Don’t you have anything better to do than spy on innocent people?”
“Not really.” He wiggled his plate. “Brought you some blueberry pie.”
A flutter awakened in her heart. He’d brought her pie, and not just any pie. Gran had baked blueberry pie every year for her birthday. She hadn’t eaten a single blueberry since the incident, which was enough of a reminder to resist.
“No thanks.” She made her tone full-on frosty. “I don’t accept pastries from people who threaten me.”
He shrugged and took another bite. “More for me.”
She huffed. Not even an apology. Resistance grew easier every second. “Unlike you, I have a life to get back to, a bar to manage. As you said, I’m not one of your precious dreamcasters, and I can’t pop monsters out of my mouth, ears or butt, so I’m leaving. Got it? Good.”
He worked his jaw, as if battling a smile. “Shame. I’d trade half my library to see nightmares pop out of your cute little rump.”
She drew herself up straight. How dare he compliment any part of her? And bring up his sexy love for books? “Well, I’d auction off my bottle of Kauffman Luxury Vintage Vodka to see your glossy hair on fire, Dingleberry.”
His eyebrows rose. “Dingleberry?”
“Don’t make me taunt you a second time.”
“What’s next? Dunghill? Vile worm?” Daxen shooed at a black fly buzzing near his nose. “Or perhaps lump of foul deformity?”
“All of those apply.” Ella crossed her arms. Of course he’d love Shakespeare too. “Take your pie and poetry and find someone else to pester.”
“I can’t figure you out.” He scratched his chin and his eyes narrowed. “I went after you to save Kalila the trouble and keep her away from Izzy. Now you’re here, the danger to her has passed, you have no value to the V’alkara, and yet…”
The fly landed on his pie, and he absently waved it away. The insect disappeared, swallowed by the black night.
He looked up into the star-studded sky, his brow furrowed. His intense gaze returned to hers. “You kissed me.”
Heat invaded her cheeks. “Obviously, a moment of stress-induced insanity.”
“I think I liked it.”
Her mouth opened, closed. He liked it? Or wasn’t sure, and if he had to think about liking it, not exactly a compliment.
Quick as a heartbeat, he cut the distance between them and leaned over her, so close the small mole below his eye stood out. The sweet scent of blueberries infused the air. “Why would I like it?”
Well, if that wasn’t a moment killer. She stepped back, and her shoulders hit the solid gate. “Might want to brush up on your flattery skills, sport. And for the record, I’ve never had any complaints before.”
His eyebrows slashed down. “You’ve kissed others?”
Sure. A sloppy peck on the cheek from Clark Johannsen in kindergarten, an awkward ten-second exchange of gum with Adam Parker beneath the bleachers during a middle school football game, and a best-forgotten moment with Dan the Band Geek. He didn’t need to know the extent of her inexperience. “That’s none of your business.”
“Who? I want names.” He crowded her against the gate, eyes icicle sharp, the pie still balanced in one hand.
“Why? And no.” Panic boiled in her breast, rising fast. The closer he got, the more she wanted to mold her body to his. “Generally, my lips are well-behaved and keep to themselves. You must have confused them with your V’alkara hocus-pocus. Back off.”
Instead, he eased nearer. His warm, sweet breath fanned her mouth.
Frick. He was going to kiss her, and that was the point of no return. She had to do something. Her pulse lurched into a jackhammer rat-a-tat. The gate’s metal latch dug into her right shoulder, a reminder of her goal. If she failed, Ginny would be alone. She had to resist. Ella sucked air and whipped up some much-needed oxygen to her brain.
“If you think I’m going to pucker up for you now, your brain’s malfunctioning. Besides, you don’t like to be touched.” She poked him in the chest for emphasis. “Remember?”
His shoulders stiffened. His throat worked, and he averted his gaze. The sweep of his long, midnight lashes above his cheeks gave him the impression of a forgotten child, lost and broken.
The painful summary of his adolescence surged to her memory, squeezing her stomach. Cages, torture, chains. She might want to break his straight nose for threatening her, but she hadn’t meant to rip the scar off a buried wound.
He stepped back before she could apologize, not that she had any genius words of emotional healing to offer anyway. As though suddenly remembering the pie, Daxen stabbed his fork into the unfortunate pastry and ripped off a ragged chunk. “Run if you wish, bartender, but you won’t get more than a mile away before a V’alkara on guard duty catches you.” His eyes gleamed silver in the overhead lamplight. “And most of them don’t have my tact and charm.”
“Let me guess, valedictorian of the Howard Stern Charm School? I totally see it.”
His smile flashed, there and gone.
The small gesture had the same effect as if he’d dumped her off in the gardens of Versailles Palace or at the top of Machu Picchu. Mind-blowing. Dizzying. Knee-shaking. She had to leave now, before she jumped on him.
Don't Miss the First Book In the Series!!
DREAMS CAN BE DEADLY Kidnapped by the man of her dreams, she must embrace the darkness within to save her life … and her heart. She’s an ordinary girl with a nightmare problem For as long as she can remember, Kalila Montgomery has been tormented by creatures from her nightmares. Doomed to a solitary life with her cats, she’s determined to go down fighting. Until the man of her dreams— literally— kidnaps her and claims to know a cure. If only she could believe him. He’s no ordinary hero Lydon v’al Endrian will stop at nothing to be free of the V’alkara, a dangerous brotherhood who feed on dreams. But the key to his freedom, sassy dreamcaster Kalila, might be his toughest challenge yet. No matter how much she protests, he intends to keep her safe from the V’alkara, even if it requires the ultimate sacrifice. But a girl can dream … can't she? Now on the run with a man she can’t quite trust or resist, Kalila must decide— fight for her dreams of a normal life … or embrace a power she doesn’t want, to save Lydon.
C.J. Burright was born and raised in Oregon and loved it so much she never left. While she has worked for years in a law office, she chooses to avoid writing legal thrillers and instead leans toward urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or—since all things medieval and magical fascinate her—fantasy romance. A member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapter, C.J. also has her 4th Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and believes stories should always include a fight scene, gratuitous or not. In what spare time she has, she enjoys working out, gardening, all things musical, Assassin’s Creed, and rooting on the Seattle Mariners (preferably with wine to curb her outrage when they lose). She shares a house with her husband, daughter, and a devoted cat herd.