Nurture Book Tour – Relic Defender: Key of Solomon + Excerpt October 13, 2011Posted by Jaidis in Book Tours, Books, Nurture Your Books.
Tags: Authors, Books, Giveaways, Nurture Your Books
In a job that pays the mortgage and allows her to indulge in her real passion, writing, Kim Wollenburg, writing as Cassiel Knight, works for Clackamas County in the beautiful state of Oregon. Crazily passionate about the writing industry, Kim published a paranormal romance with Samhain Publishing and has a post-apocalypse novella coming in early 2012 from Lyrical Press. She writes paranormal romances with kick-assitude that blend archeology and mythology – just a few of her favorite things. Kim is the proud current president of Rose City Romance Writers, a feisty bunch of talented writers who are just as passionate about writing as they are about helping each other succeed.
When she’s not writing or doing writing-related things, Kim enjoys spending time with her patient and loving husband of 20 years and thrives with the adorable companionship of her three Shih Tzus, Ginger, Abby and Chloe.
Anthropology PhD candidate Lexi Harrison never bares it all when she belly dances for a strip club crowd. She doesn’t have to—she’s that good. Every performance earns money toward her degree, and restores the sense of power that her painful childhood ripped away.
Something is different about tonight. A man whose silver gaze seems to touch her skin beneath her veils. When a rowdy customer crosses the line, he comes to her rescue with the speed of a falcon—complete with wings.
Mikos Tyomni has never seen anyone dance the raqs sharqi like Lexi. Trust his tormentor, Archangel Michael, to put him in close contact with the cause of his downfall: a mortal woman. Particularly this mortal woman. The Defender. He has only thirty days to win her trust before Hell’s deadliest demons attempt the mother of all prison breaks.
No matter how sexy the messenger is, Lexi’s career plans don’t include some crazy idea that she’s the last line of defense against the forces of evil. Until her university mentor’s murder leaves her holding the key to Hell. And fighting a losing battle against a passion with the unholy power to bring down Heaven…
Clad only in her bra and panties, her hair bouncing wetly against her neck, Lexi padded back into her bedroom. She picked up her discarded clothes then automatically put her hands into the right pocket of her jeans. At the stinging pain, she hissed and jerked her hand from her pocket bringing out a small white card, which fluttered to the floor.
A freaking paper cut. With her aching finger tucked into her mouth, she bent and picked up the card. She frowned.
Oh yeah, the business card Gary gave her. And the one from her professor’s office. She touched a finger to the surface. Thin black lines formed on the surface, shaping into a familiar, if unknown, sigil. She pulled her hand back. The lines held for a few seconds then faded. Damn it, both cards were the same.
Caught off guard, Lexi jumped, the card fluttering from her fingers. Again. Her lips thinned.
The grating voice was unfortunately familiar and totally unwelcome. With both hands on her hips, she turned around. Rocky stood on her coffee table, humor glinting in his silver eyes. Good grief. Was he wearing a zoot suit?
“Fantastic. Just what I need. I thought you were a twisted figment of my imagination.”
“Nope. Sorry to disappoint you.”
Yeah, right. The trace of laughter in his sandpaper voice said otherwise.
“Although, I’ll give you twisted.” His lips twitched. “But a figment of your imagination? Nah.”
Rocky tilted his head and slanted her an admiring look. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” He gestured at her. “Not that I’m not enjoying the show, but don’t you think you should put some clothes on?”
She jerked her head down. The semi-transparent silken bra and bikini-cut panties provided protection in only the most dubious sense. Shooting him a withering glare, she stomped to the dresser and yanked out a pair of black jeans and white thermal hoodie.
How did one go about incinerating rock, anyway?
After slipping into the clothes, she slammed the drawer shut. At the sound of porcelain rattling on wood, she paused and stared at the top of the dresser.
Once bright red roses sagged in their vase, silky heads bowing toward the wood. She needed to pick some more up next time she was at the store.
Her gaze moved to the item the flowers shaded. Trailing her finger along the picture frame’s edge, she stared at the two people who meant the world to her. Two people she barely remembered.
A somber dark-haired man, his arm around the slender form of a laughing, blonde-haired woman. Even through the graininess of the picture, she could see the equal amounts of tenderness and pain in her father’s pale brown eyes.
Sadness twisted in her chest, the sharp ache always present, but muted with each passing year. A tiny, one-dimensional picture. All she had of her parents.
Forcing the pain deep, she finished closing the drawer, this time much more gently. She still felt grief’s razor edge, a reminder of the hurt that came with having feelings. With caring.
Casting a glance back at Rocky, she said, “What the hell do you want?”
Ignoring her question, he winked and walked over to the edge of her table and peered at the cover of a National Geographic.
“Hey, can I borrow this? I haven’t seen this issue.” He looked up at Lexi, his silver eyes brimming with anticipation.
“What. The hell. Do you. Want?” she repeated, a silken thread of warning in her voice.
Rocky placed a small hand over his forehead and staggered back. “Is that any way to welcome your guide?”
Pretending to swoon, he lurched against her two-foot high black granite statue of Sekhmet, an ancient Egyptian goddess with the head of a lioness and the body of a woman.
Lexi gasped and darted for the statue as it wobbled, then tilted. She righted the figurine and glared at Rocky.
“Sorry, toots.” Suddenly his hand shot out and grabbed the amulet, which had swung free when she bent over. “Hmm, what’s this?”
She’d forgotten about the necklace. At the same moment she lifted her hand to take it from his grasp, Rocky jerked, let go of the amulet and skittered back. One foot went off the edge of the coffee table, but he managed to stay upright.
“Damnosa.” Eyes wide, he stared up at Lexi, silver eyes huge in a washed out gray face. “Mikos didn’t tell me you have the Nativitas.” He spoke in a hushed tone charged with awe and respect.
Surprised by his reaction, Lexi eyed him in confusion. “What?” She held the amulet in her hand. “This?”
He hadn’t noticed it before? When he was drooling over her body?
“What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal? You don’t know what this is?” He cocked his head. “I guess you don’t,” he murmured. “It’s a rebirth stone.”
“Oh. That’s what it’s called.” Lexi looked down at the amulet. Her brow wrinkled. “A rebirth stone?”
Well, that made sense. Little else did. Could she really be having a conversation with a tiny man in her living room?
After she’d received a visit from a demon?
She tapped her fingers on the table. “So, guide, answer this. Why me?”
“Sorry, can’t help you there. That’s for Mikos to explain.”
“You can’t help me?” She frowned. “What kind of guide are you?”
He shifted his stance then pulled at his ear, keeping his eyes averted. “Sorry, not my story to tell. Ask Mikos.”
“Since I don’t plan to see Mikos ever again, I won’t be able to ask him anything, so why don’t you just tell me?”
Lexi stomped into the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. She twisted off the cap and took a deep drink. The cold, slightly bitter taste filled her mouth. She rarely drank—this six-pack had been in her fridge for six months. But this last day deserved beer. Maybe three beers.
When Lexi turned to face Rocky again, she wasn’t surprised to see he had done one of his blinking things and now stood on her kitchen counter.
“Can’t tell you.” He tilted his head. “What do you mean you won’t be seeing Mikos again?” The tire-on-stone tone of his voice revealed disapproval.
“Just what I said.”
“You have to. He’s the one who can help you. Train you.”
“Not interested.” God, she was getting tired of explaining herself. How many times did she have to say no?
Rocky stared at her, speechless. She hoped. Probably few things kept the shapeshifter quiet. She’d only seen him twice but could tell he liked the sound of his own voice. Odd, but she found the little man appealing. Like an exotic pet—strange and unusual, but highly entertaining.
Finally, he shook his head. “Bad idea, Alexandria.”
She winced. Did he just call her by her full name? “Like I told Mikos, my name isn’t Alexandria. It’s Lexi.”
“Lexi,” he tried it out, and then nodded. “I like it.”
“I’m so glad you approve.”
She barely kept the twitch of her lips from becoming a smile. Taking her beer, she headed back to the living room. She started to step over a small square of white on the carpet but then stopped. Oh, yeah. The business card.
“Whatcha’ got there?” Back on the coffee table, Rocky stretched his neck to try and see what she had picked up.
Nosy bugger. “It’s a business card.” She flopped onto the couch and held out the card. “I found it in my professor’s office today.”
Rocky took the card. His lips pursed then he nodded. “Sure, that’s Mikos’s card. I’ve seen tons of them.” He met her gaze. Curiosity glowing in the gray depths. “Are you talking about Professor Xaviera?”
If Lexi hadn’t been sitting by that time, she’d have fallen to the floor. She hadn’t missed the import of what Rocky unknowingly admitted. “You knew Professor Xaviera?”
“Yeah, Mikos does too. The Prof is a really decent guy.”
“Don’t you mean was a decent guy?”
Rocky cocked his head, his expression confused. “Was?”
“He’s dead. Murdered. Two days ago.” Lexi snatched the card out of Rocky’s unresisting hands. “And I found this in his office.”
“Yes, dead. As in not breathing. Dead. Someone came close to cutting his head off with a freaking sword.”
Rocky’s dark-gray skin paled, turning ashen. “A sword?”
Lexi rolled her eyes and stood. “I thought you were a rock, not a parrot. Stop repeating everything I say. Yes, a sword.”
Leaving him speechless, she stalked over to the closet and grabbed a lightweight jacket. In her bedroom, she slipped on a pair of ankle boots with a low heel. Slamming her sanjiegun, a three-section staff into its holder at her hip, she headed for the front door. So much for food.
She looked back at Rocky. The shapeshifter hadn’t moved. While his skin was no longer ashen gray, his silver gaze was shadowed with an expression of worry.
“You coming?” she asked. “I need directions.”
“Where are you going?”
This time, the shapeshifter’s eyes widened in alarm.
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