Title: Beastly Curse
Author: Selene Drake
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 30, 2020
Love was never meant for a man like me until she stumbles into my forest. Isabella Rose, with her jet black hair, mahogany skin, and intoxicating scent, called to me from miles away.
Blade is a beast of a man, a towering presence, a chiseled body, sharp fangs, and he runs with a pack of wolves. Wolves, my father, killed. And I’m willing to trade my life for his.
My Bella…My Enemy…Our Love.
Is it possible that she’s the one to break the curse? That she can feel anything, other than fear, for a man like me?
But the moment I sense enemies lurking to reclaim my Bella, our differences don’t matter because there’s no way I’ll let them harm her. And I’m prepared to fight, hoping the solution isn’t to let her return to the real world leaving me to remain a beast forever.
An unseen magnetic force draws me closer to the edge of Keyan Forest. The feeling of something hiding out there amidst the sky touching trees and thickets of bushes has me eager to investigate. But after six months of continuous labor and unpredictable obstacles I need this crew to transfer the furniture from the truck into Paradise Falls Resort.
I hear the crack of a branch and I sweep the area at eye level. After surveying thick trunks, a couple of squirrels jumping from tree to tree, I scan lower, searching the pockets of darkness. This forest serves as the home for all forms of wildlife—salmon, eagles, hawks, bears, deer, and wolves.
I had the resort build adjacent to the forest to have luxury and nature combined. I’m not sure how the wildlife is adjusting to me moving in. I don’t pay it much mind. But the sighting of a wolf in town earlier this week has me concerned, because that wolf had to cross through my land to get to Paradise Falls, Alaska. A small town near the southern coast of the state. Having the CEO of a Fortune 100 company attacked by a wolf on my land would ruin me, so I need to fix the problem before the first guests arrive at the end of the month.
I glance at my watch then the sun and holler at the crew to move their asses. We have less than an hour before we won’t be able to see the end of our noses.
I guess I could inquire in town about fencing or how to establish perimeters around the facility, but the people in town are giving me the cold shoulder, except the owner of Belle’s Book Nook.
Isabelle Joseph still served me coffee this morning with a smile brighter than the sun. I lean against the tree, giving myself permission to let her kind eyes resurface, the color of cappuccino that managed to be both innocent and sad at the same time. The kind of eyes that see the good in people, even the likes of me.
I guess fucking with Paradise Falls’ royalty placed me on the town’s shit list. But Cesar Cox, that traitor, had it coming. I took this land right from under his nose.
“Every dog has his day,” I say, chuckling beneath my breath. I guess winning the land that he stole from my father is amble payback.
Old Cox folded over the moment he realized his greedy son, Kingston Cox, lost their precious property to Wesley Mallory’s rich bastard son.
The people of Paradise Falls showed their distain by snatching up their red carpets and withdrawing their dinner invitations. They were ready to run me from town until they learned not only had I won this land, but I bought Keyan Forest too.
I’ll hold on to the satisfaction of seeing Cox fall to his knees begging for the return of the title. But I won the land he stole fair and square in a card game.
It took ten years to make this happen and soon I’ll open the doors to my multi-million-dollar resort. We’re booked with a two-year waiting list for corporate retreats, weddings, and people wanting a luxury wildlife experience.
I light a cigar and puff and exhale the fragrant smoke. I think a parade was in order. I saved this land, and I’ll increase the exposure of this town. Oh well, it’s not the first time I’ve pissed people off, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
The sound of wood shattering behind me claims my attention. I turn to berate the idiot responsible when I spot glowing red eyes about a hundred yards out staring at me through the dense foliage.
I anchor my cigar to the side of my mouth and slip my revolver from the holster. I sidestep crossing the line between the developed portion of my property and the untamed acreage still populated by the unknown.
Stories about Keyan Forest rush from my childhood memories. Stories told to keep children from venturing too deep. Stories told about special creatures protecting the land.
“I don’t want to hurt you. We can share this land peacefully,” I say, snarling with my finger resting on the trigger. I plan to send a warning shot when I notice the distance from the ground. I figure at least four feet tall. “What the hell…”
“What?” I reluctantly glance over my shoulder and freeze at spotting the pile of wood. I groan in frustration at the ten-thousand-dollar dresser that that’s now firewood. Yes, I have all the pieces insured but it took the craftsmen months to make the one-of-a-kind dressers, nightstands, and headboards.
I spin a trained gaze back to the forest. Adrenaline kicks in, causing my heart to race. I press my hand toward the ground, telling my foreman to keep it down. He nods as I drop my cigar, crushing the lit tobacco under the heel of my boot. I toss my hat to the ground, since I can’t have it blocking my line of sight. I flick two fingers, letting the foreman know I’m going in.
I lead with my revolver, crossing into Keyan Forest. The temperature feels twenty degrees cooler, and I blink several time forcing my eyes to adjust to the darkness. My eyes pan the landscape, searching for my uninvited guest.
Each step calculated to account for the overgrown roots and crazy vines. The rapid pump of my heart rises to my ears, drowning out the sounds of the animals around me. I force my mind, intentions, and barrel on the red glow, and my heart slows to a deliberate crawl.
“Mr. Mallory…” I glance to the right.
“Blade Mallory…” I face the left.
Are the trees talking? I rake my surroundings to measure the time it will take to clear the brush and the path has disappeared.
A light illuminates the shadowed core of the forest, and I’m momentarily blinded by the brightness. I blink, using my peripheral vision, and see I’m surrounded by animals, some I recognize and others I don’t.
The red eyes are attached to a woman with porcelain skin, and her hypnotizing orbs blaze with rage. I swear they’re level. How’d they hike up another two feet? Should I go back?
Hell, no. I’m not taking my eyes off whatever she is.
Her black hair flows around her like a halo. She can’t be more than five feet. Then the slight point of her ears captures my attention.
She nods and an enticing smile crosses her face—she’s reading my thoughts. The corners of her mouth tip up and a surge of energy, equal parts seduction and sin, flows through me. The curves of her body visible even with the fabric floating around her feet, as they levitate several feet off the ground. Which explains the shift in height.
I need an exit strategy. I grind my teeth, prepared to shoot my way back when she floats closer. My body, my head, my heart and my loins war with the tight grip I have on the gun pointed at this little hellion. Then she stops with the barrel of my Blackhawk Revolver against her thin skin, and her chest is hollow.
I cock the hammer, facing her without an ounce of fear. The two wolves flanking her growl, stepping closer.
Her faint laugher vibrates off the trees and she expands. Blade Mallory, that gun won’t help you. Not in here. Not now. The sound surrounds me, but her lips aren’t moving.
“For the record, I’m an excellent shot.” I focus the fury stirring in my blood on the elf. I’ll take her down then her bodyguards. I narrow my eyes, knowing she can read my thoughts.
I’ll kill them all. Try me, I challenge in a private conversation taking place in my head. Her perfectly arched eyebrows bunch as if mulling over my offer.
“This is private property. Leave and no one will get hurt.”
I learned to fish and hunt and live off the land right here with my father until I learned his secret. So, every happy moment I shared with my parents was baked into this soil before he changed our lives forever. So, I’m not letting Keyan Forest go without a fight. Demonic elf or not.
“But it’s not yours to own,” she counters, expanding before my eyes.
“Tell that to the State of Alaska. I own it.”
“That’s the problem with people like you. You have cold hearts and deep pockets, buying your way through life.” Her tone reminds me of nails scraping across a chalkboard, agitated, strained, and in need of being heard. “Killing the land. Killing the trees. Killing the animals. All because you own it. Well, I’m not buying it.”
he little elf is not so little. With an irritated huff she floats higher, expanding, and I take several steps back. The edges of the forest grow darker and the animals rumble in a cohesive growl.
A ball of red matter thunders and crashes in the palm of her hands. The ring glows white and it occurs to me, this elf is gearing up for trouble. But I don’t want to hurt her or these animals.
“I could just kill you and be done with an arrogant prick like you. And we could notify the State of Alaska that this land isn’t for sale.” She draws back to her hollow chest as if passing a basketball, aiming that mass of fiery matter at me.
I’d rather shoot her than have that ball hit me. I raise the barrel, aimed to kill.
“Leesa… Leesa. Stop!” A man steps through the darkness, walking closer.
“Tristan…” Her voice trembles and she trains her deadly gaze on the man walking towards us. “I thought you… What are you doing here?”
“I came back for you.”
The elf has a name. Leesa’s eyes jerk back to me and I don’t like the smile on her face.
“Love…for you.” Tristan offers Leesa a medallion resting in the palms of his hands like an offering.
Leesa rests a hand on her chest and her face softens. I take a few steps back, keeping my mind void. The last thing I need is her reading my thoughts again. The blue-green gem is bright and the rage in her eyes is replaced by love.
She’s back on the ground, and he slips the stone over her head. And like magic it disappears and the space in her chest radiates a pure white light.
I blink and her black hair is white blond. I’m a logical man but nothing about this episode makes sense. The sun is setting, and the temperature drops another ten degrees.
I take another step back. The last place I want to be is inside this forest after nightfall. She’ll have to zap me because my gut tells me there’s more than this elf with a wild hair up her ass in this forest, and until we clear more of the land…
“And you’d still clear this land?” Her hand clings to the man, who beams with love.
“The back end of this land will have private cabins and a playground for the kids. And over there will be a dog park. Over there…” I point to the right. “A pool with a large winding slide.”
“You don’t get it. You really don’t get it.” She steps forward, and I wish I got what she’s talking about.
“Good night.” I turn, walking back in the direction I entered.
“Blade Mallory, the forest will be your cage and the moon will be your god. Nature will be your teacher and the cure for your callous heart will be love.” My body faces her, and I have no control, no matter how hard I strain to break Leesa’s hold on me. She steps forward, holding her hands out, and heat flows from my heart through my limbs. “May the beast in you rule until you learn the power, and capacity in you to love prosperity, people, and respect nature.”
Leesa places a hand over my heart. “They broke your heart and only true love can save you.”
Leesa… Leesa… Get back here, you bi—
“Say it!” The forest shakes beneath my feet. “Please, say it…think it and I’ll take you out of your pathetic misery. Now sleep, you’ll have a tough road ahead. I’ll see you soon, Blade Mallory.”
Leesa touches my forehead and my world goes black.
Selene Drake writes romantic adult fairy tales laced with love, legacy, fate, and undeniable passion. Her novels feature culturally diverse characters and she hopes to renew or deepen your love for magic, shifters, and romantic imagination.
Selene resides deep in the heart of Texas with her adult children near and her demanding dog at her feet.
Learn more at http://www.selenedrake.com