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by Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Description: Syntian Cree, an ancient demon brought up from the muck of the Abyss to serve the Ones who call him. A lonely woman's tears. Her desperation brings him forth, and it will be to her and her kin-for generations to come-to whom he will be bound by a blood oath neither can ever break. Were he allowed free reign he would grow harder and harder to control. He MUST be attached to a witch who will hold his reins tightly to keep him in hand. The Book of Shadows has an incantation from which to summon him. Rating: Sensual--not a traditional romance, graphic violence, adult situations
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: July 2008
32 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [466 KB]
Reading time: 308-432 min.
Lauren Fowler's forty-fourth birthday came and went with the onset of the Summer Solstice. There had been no party, no birthday cards, nor wishes, no presents wrapped in gaily colored paper to mark the day of her birth, no bouquet of flowers. No one phoned. No one even noticed. No one cared.
Not the people she worked with who always ignored her.
Not the customers who never acknowledged her presence.
Not the people on the street who overlooked her.
Not her neighbors who barely noticed her existence.
Not her mother who had always neglected her.
Lauren Fowler had no friends, only acquaintances. She had no one with whom she could talk, to whom she could confide her deepest fears and regrets. There had never been anyone in her life who would listen to her troubles, and there had been many in her life. No one ever listened when Lauren Fowler spoke. No one ever took the time to hear what she said. Her voice was drowned out by all the other voices, her words lost in the vast sea of human flotsam that washed around her. Lauren Fowler was as alone in her world as though she were the only inhabitant.
"Where can I find John Sandford's new book?"
Lauren looked up at the elderly woman who was standing in the aisle. She smiled as she stood up from her cramped position on the floor, but the old woman did not return the gesture.
"I believe it's out of stock at the moment, but if you would like to give me your name, I can call you when.... "She stopped as the old woman, mouth pursed in annoyance, eyes rolling, turned and walked away from the counter. Lauren's smile faded and a hard thump of hurt twisted in her heart. She watched until the old lady had pushed through the front door and was gone.
"Those self-help books will not shelve themselves, Miss Fowler!"
Lauren jumped, turning around to face her manager, Mrs. Yelverton. "One of our customers was asking about--"
"I am not paying you to chit-chat with the customers, Miss Fowler. I pay you to work." Louvenia Yelverton frowned and her dark red lips twisted in irritation. Her sharp scrutiny raked Lauren. "There are quite a few names on my waiting list of prospective employees. If you are not willing to do the job, you can certainly be replaced."
Lauren's eyes widened in fear. "I do want the job, Mrs. Yelverton. I apologize if it seemed otherwise."
"Well then," the manager nodded curtly. "We'll see how much you wish to maintain your employment with us. I expect you to have those books shelved and cataloged in short order. Is that too much to ask for the ridiculously high pay you are earning, Miss Fowler?"
"No, Mrs. Yelverton," Lauren mumbled, her face scarlet. "I'll have the section finished before quitting time."
Louvenia sniffed. "If not, you will stay until it's done." she pointed a thin, bony finger at her employee. "And I will not pay one penny of overtime if you do!"
"I understand, Mrs. Yelverton," Lauren answered. She ducked her head, her shoulder-length hair cascading over the sides of her face to hide her embarrassment from the older woman.
"And do something with your appearance!" Louvenia snapped. "It is unseemly for a woman your age to wear her hair in that manner." The manager reached up to pat her own sleek chignon. "One can never recapture one's youth, Miss Fowler."
"Yes, Mrs. Yelverton." Lauren's hands twisted together at her waist. "I'll pin it up tomorrow."
"Are you waiting for an engraved invitation to get back to work?"
Lauren shook her head and sank to her knees before the older woman could ridicule her again. She blindly reached for a book, tears making her vision water, blurring the title. She swallowed hard to keep the sob from escaping, felt the other shop girls smirking at her, heard their muted giggles. Her face flamed as she pushed the book onto the shelf with trembling hands.
"If you ask me," she heard Inez Montes say, "Yelverton ought to fire her. There's not a day that goes by that she isn't in trouble with the old lady."
"Yelverton feels sorry for her," Beth Janacek laughed. "Who else in town would hire Maxine Fowler's old maid daughter?"
"No one in their right mind, that's for sure!" Karla Cooper said in a droll tone and the laughter rang out until Louvenia's harsh shush came from the back of the store.
Lauren wished the floor would open up beneath her, a wide, deep, endless chasm yawn before her into which she could fall, and keep falling, disappearing forever. She knew they watched her--laughing, mocking, hating. She could no longer hear their words, but nevertheless she knew the hushed whispers coming from the other women were about her. A piercing pain throbbed in her soul and her tears slowly crept down her cheeks as she took another book from the box beside her and placed it on the shelf.
"Excuse me," said a soft voice from above her.
Lauren flinched, startled, for she hadn't heard the customer's approach. She looked up and blinked.
"Perhaps you can help me?" he said, his gaze kind, his lips stretching into a lazy smile. "I'm looking for a book on medieval madrigals by Soames. Do you know if you carry it?"
She stared at him, her eyes widening, her lips parting in surprise. She couldn't seem to find her voice and when his left eyebrow lifted in amusement, his smiling mouth twitched, she felt her face flame again.
"I'm sorry," she said, coming so hastily to her feet her heel caught in her skirt and she lurched forward. A tremor of pure shock ran through her as he reached out and took her arm to keep her from falling.
"Easy there." He laughed as he steadied her.
Lauren looked up into his smiling face and felt a quiver go through her belly. The man was looking at her, not through her, and there was a gentle kindness in the way his gaze swept over her face.