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About the author:
E.M. Youman is a freelance writer from Oakland, CA. Some of her short stories have been published by Black Cat Press, S/tick Magazine and IFF. When she’s not writing fiction, E.M. Youman, works at an independent record label and runs a music blog. She has a B.A. and Master in Communication and is currently working on her first romance novel.
What inspired you to write your book?
I was invited into a mutli-author anthology by Demi Hungerford. She’d created a beautiful world where Cupid helps patrons, who visit his bar, fall in love. After reading the first story about Mandy and Val, Karis and Ari’s journey began to take shape.
Here is a short sample from the book:
A slender hand touched Ari’s elbow, sending sparks sliding up his arm. “I can give you a ride.”
“Settled.” Ari tossed Dylan the keys to the jeep. “See you later.”
Dylan and his girl bumped into a chair and stumbled out of the room.
“That’s nice of you, but I don’t want to take you out of your way. I’m staying downtown,” Ari said.
“Where?” the witch asked.
“That quaint Tudor-style place with the bar?”
“You know it?”
“Is it across from the Archer’s Arms Hotel?” she asked.
“Looks like we’re headed in the same direction.” She leaned against a table and crossed her legs, making the tulle of her dress rustle. He wondered if that weren’t an invitation to something more.
Taking her hand, he ushered her past the velvet ropes and outside into the courtyard. Door bells sounded around them, and the moon’s silvery glow, bounced off her lush curls.
“I think by now I should know your name.”
“You want to ruin all the fun. This is a masked event. No identities allowed,” she said.
“The mayor knows who you are.”
“The mayor knows what I show him.” The witch placed a finger across his lips, making him smile at the simple, sensuous act. She spun around, but her heel caught in the gaps of the cobblestone. She pitched backward; and he stretched to catch her. A bitter smile twisted her lips. “Would you believe I am a virgin in heels?”
“You’ve fooled me. You look like you were born in them.”
She grinned, swiping a lock of hair out of his eyes. She rested her hand on the back of his neck, and Ari became acutely aware of how his skin heated to her touch.
“No, I don’t think you’re a spooky photographer. I think underneath this…” she trailed a hand down his shirt, her touch leaving a scorching trail across his abs, “there’s a large, red S.”
Superman? No woman had ever compared him to a hero before. Sexy geek, maybe, but then he’d ditched the glasses for contacts and the herd of geek groupies had dried up.
The witch pulled him into a kiss, her hunger for him apparent as she drew in his lower lip. She giggled as she broke the kiss. “You taste like limes.”
He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, then touched the back of her neck, coaxing her into another kiss.
“Much better.” She breathed against his lips.
He pulled away, happy to find lust filling her gorgeous chocolate eyes.
Before Ari had a chance to counter with a sexy comeback, her limousine pulled up. A short, slim man jumped out.
She righted herself and they slid into the limousine. The witch scooted over to the window, the lamp lights casting a glow against her skin, highlighting her rich bronze color. She arced her neck and placed a finger on her lips as if in deep thought over the surrounding landscape. Ari slipped to the floor and fumbled in his bag for his camera. He changed the setting to a slower shutter speed. Rearing back at the first flash, she looked over to him, her lips parted with an unspoken question.
“Just keep looking out the window.”
Wordlessly she obeyed, and he snapped a few more photos before the car slowed.
“We’re here, ma’am,” the driver said.
“Give me a minute,” she said.
The glass partition that separated them from the driver rolled up.
“Can I see the shots?”
He handed her the camera.
The first shot highlighted her high cheekbones and small, rounded chin. The light from the street lamps glinted off the red lipstick she wore, and her dress sparkled in the dim lighting. Half in shadow and light, the picture had captured her mystique perfectly.
“You’re good. No one’s ever been able to make me look beautiful,” she said.
He frowned, the statement taking him aback. “I didn’t do anything. The camera just loves what it sees.”
She was already gorgeous, and he suspected her attributes didn’t stop at her face.
“Well,” the witch craned her neck to look at him, “are you going to invite me up?”
He grinned. Upfront and straight to business. He liked that about her. Most women he met on the road wanted romance, something he couldn’t provide since he knew nothing about it.
“What for?” He had plenty of ideas, the first of them being to take off that mask.
She blinked and her lips quivered. He wanted her—it’d been so long, his body demanded her—but still something about her made him want to see her squirm a little.
Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders. “I was hoping you could show me what else you could do with a camera.”
“Looking for your own little personal photo shoot?”
The witch placed a hand on his bicep. “If you’re not too busy.”
“It’s tough, but I might be able to clear my schedule. I’ll have to break a few supermodels’ hearts, though.”
“Great. So can you guys get a move on? I’d like to go home,” the driver said.
The witch startled, but then her eyes locked with Ari’s and they giggled.
“I thought this was soundproofed,” she whispered.
“We’re going,” Ari said.
The driver hopped out and quickly opened their door.
“It was a pleasure serving you. Y’all have a good night.” The driver tipped his cap and got back in the limousine faster than they could say their goodbyes.
Ari opened the lobby door of the Bowman’s Inn. The bass thumping music streaming through the place hinted that their own Halloween party was still in full swing. He spotted the bartender, Val, in the hallway, dressed as a Greek warrior. The dim lighting highlighted his tan, bare chest. The owner, Mandy, was leaning into him, and Val chuckled as she whispered in his ear.
The witch raised a seductive eyebrow. “Hey,” she said to Val.
Val gave her one of his swoon-worthy smiles, and the witch giggled in response.
Ari punched the button for the elevator, and the doors popped open. He pulled the witch into the elevator and against him.
Her arms circled his waist, hands moving lower and lower until she cupped his backside. Tilting her chin toward him, she said. “It’s official, Superman is hiding under here.”