The Erotic Romance Scavenger Hunt is a blog hop featuring nineteen authors, a ton of exclusive material and fantastic giveaways, and an amazing grand prize for one lucky scavenger hunter.
Just joined the hunt? Click here to start from the beginning.
RULES: Hidden within each post on the hunt will be a single letter that is red. Jot those letters down because they're part of the following mystery phrase you'll need to unscramble:
_ _ _ _ I _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _ _ _ _
At the bottom of each post will be a link to your next stop on the hunt. Once you've completed the hunt, read all the fantastic exclusive material and entered all the individual giveaways, unscramble the letters you collected to reveal the mystery phrase. When you've uncovered the phrase, fill out the entry form in order to qualify for the grand prize. Grand prize is open internationally. You must be 18 or older to enter.
The hunt will only be open for 72 hours so play fast! Entries sent without the correct phrase or without contact information will not be considered. All entries must be received by May 28 at noon Central Time.
On with the hunt!
Hey, all! My name is Rowan McBride, and welcome to my blog. Today I have the pleasure of hosting Angel Martinez, who has a gift for writing fairy tales and sci-fi. She also rocks at seamlessly fusing the two genres to create something new, which blows my mind. So far my favorites from her book list are “Boots” and “Vassily the Beautiful.” Here's a bit more about her:
Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres. Her experiences as a soldier, a nurse, a banker, and an underpaid corporate drone give her a broad view of the world and a deep appreciation for the astounding variety of people on this small planet.
She currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband of over twenty years, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.
To learn more about Angel, please visit www.freewebs.com/angelwrites/.
NOW FOR ANGEL'S EXCLUSIVE MATERIAL!
A new M/M Science Fiction Novella by Angel Martinez
Coming September 2012 from Amber Allure
Major Aren Dalsgaard's newest assignment is to investigate a series of murders on the frigid planet, Drass, where relations between the Treaty settlers and the natives have taken a nasty turn. A linguist and trained xenologist, Major Dalsgaard should be comfortable with the case. So why is this assignment the hardest he's ever faced?
Drass is where he died, over a hundred and twenty years ago.
Excerpt (from Chapter Two: The Goblin Problem):
As they passed through the security doors, Aren pulled Sergeant Wickstrom back a step to murmur. "Earpiece in, Emma, on my personal translation channel. It's possible I might not want our local friends to understand every word I say, but I don't want you to miss a syllable."
The lights grew brighter as they rounded the corner into a corridor lined with the cell viewing windows. Captain Underwood stopped at the third on the left, with a nod to its occupant. "There he is, Major."
Oh, yes, he looks like a dangerous character to me. The dangpo male lay on his side, hands cuffed behind him, cheek pressed to the plasticrete floor. Slender, with delicate features, he appeared hardly more than a boy. His chest rose and fell in uneven pants. His long, white hair lay plastered against his skin in damp strands.
"Captain, what's the temp in this cell?" Aren fought to keep his voice soft and even.
"A little warmer than it is out here, sir."
"I assume you know that's not healthy for him."
The captain gave him another of those odd, bland looks. "Helps soften them up for questioning, Major. We don't believe in coddling criminals here."
"Lower it, please. I'd prefer to have a conscious suspect to question." He stripped off his coat and gloves, which the sergeant retrieved with quick efficiency. "Ice. Water. This boy looks a bit past 'softened' to me."
To their credit, his escort didn't grumble over his orders. The lieutenant returned quickly with the requested items and a report that the cell temperature was dropping.
"Have the door opened for me, Captain," he ordered and then held up a hand when the whole delegation would have followed him. "I need to do this alone, please. He won't say much of anything with a whole squad looming over him."
"But he's dangerous, Major!" Mr. Cisneros protested. "He's killed four people!"
"Allegedly killed four people, sir. He's cuffed. He's half my size. I think I can manage."
"Sir?" Sergeant Wickstrom broke in. "If you—"
"I'll signal if I need you, Sergeant. I assume these are standard viewing panes? One way?"
"Then you all can keep an eye on proceedings and rescue me if our desperado gets out of hand."
The young man barely twitched when Aren stepped into the cell. Not good. He pressed the ice pack to the prisoner's forehead and waited for his eyes to open.
"Good afternoon. My name is Major Aren Dalsgaard, and I'm here to ask you a few questions."
"Registered," came the faint reply. "Jack Waters. Registry band. Please..." Frightened black eyes stared up at him. "Registered."
"Yes, I know." Aren slid an arm under the young man's shoulders and helped him sit up. "Here, drink. It's just water. Nice and cold."
"Jack" drank in desperate gulps, and then sat back, staring at him from behind his curtain of disheveled hair.
"Do you know why you're here?"
The young man shook his head, though whether that meant he didn't know or that he didn't understand the question was unclear.
Aren sat cross-legged on the floor facing him and switched to dangpo. "You're name is not 'Jack Waters,' is it?"
The dark eyes narrowed and he persisted in answering in standard. "Registered. Have band."
Talk to me, please. God, I've missed hearing the language. "Child, you are too young to be chilok khyimtshang."
"I am not a child!" the young man shot back in his native language. "I have seen twenty and four summers!" He scooted back, derision coloring his soft voice. "Did you learn to speak dangpo from old tapes? You sound like my great-grandmother."
"It's possible that I knew your great-grandmother."
A toss of his head cleared half the hair from his face. "You are not so old."
"I am somewhat older than I look." Aren placed his hands on his knees, palms up, hoping it still meant he wished peaceful negotiation. He jerked his head to the cell door. "The chigyel, they think you killed that woman last night."
The young man's mouth dropped open on a strangled squeak. "What? No! I was trying to help!"
Aren tilted his head one way and then the other, a gesture of understanding. "Tell me what happened. From the beginning. Perhaps you could start with your name."
"Why should I trust you?" the young man cried out. "You, a chigyel who smells of offworld things, who tries to imitate our speech, our manners! You try to make me think you are a friend, but you are no different from the rest!"
"You're too young to remember, of course. But I had a family, once. I made my home with the Changki pod, adopted as one of their own." He raised his right hand, index finger curled under his thumb to indicate a sworn truth. "I am Serpodom."
The prisoner let out a hysterical laugh. "Now you think me stupid. Serpodom died a hundred twenty and three summers past."
"Yes. I did. In pain and anguish, I died." Aren unbuttoned his uniform jacket and slid out of it as he spoke. "I am Serpodom, the voice of the dangpo. My beloved's name was Akarnyima, the hunter."
The youngster's eyes darted back and forth, uncertain and off-balance. Aren undid his shirt cuffs and continued. "Akar taught me to live here, to speak, to love. He gave me my first hunting knife and a khyi pup named Dawanying. Do you know the story? Do I have it right so far?"
Black eyes wide, the young man nodded.
Aren started on his shirt buttons. "A day came when Akar and I were fishing. The sun was bright. The fish seemed to leap into the nets. We laughed and chattered, distracted by our happiness. We heard the ribul slithering through the snow too late. I killed it, but it had bitten my Akar. He wasn't one of those who survive a ribul bite. My beloved died screaming."
"But before he died, he went mad," the young man said in a breathless rush, obviously caught up in the story. "Raving and half-blind, he struck out with his venom spurs and stabbed his Serpodom in the shoulder."
His hands shaking in the chill room, Aren slid off his shirt. The young man gasped when he revealed the blue circle of the zi chiwa venom site on his shoulder. "And his Serpodom lay down beside him to die. Do they tell what my last words were before I died?"
The white-haired head nodded rapidly.
"I said to the Changki, my family, 'Don't weep. My place is with him.' Is that what they say?"
"Yes." The young man's complexion had faded to an unhealthy shade of gray. He curled over his knees with a little moan. "How can this be? How…I don't feel well."
"Should I help you to the bowl?" Aren asked in a gentler tone as he pulled on his shirt.
"No…I…no. Just…how are you here? Only the Changki know those final words."
Longing stabbed through Aren, sharper than any surgical blade. "You're Changki? What's your name, little one?"
Rocking, with his head against his knees, the young man murmured, "Nyachung."
Little fish. It suits him. "The chigyel have a way of freezing the body, of preserving it so it remains undamaged and unchanged. When they found a way of reversing what the venom did to me, they thawed my frozen body and woke me."
"They ripped you from death? From your rest? From your Akar's side?"
"Yes." Aren finished his buttons and stared at his hands. "Though I don't remember anything about death. So maybe I wandered lost and never was beside him."
Nyachung lifted his head, swallowing hard. "It is an evil thing they did. I sorrow for you, for your loss."
"Thank you. Though I am pleased to meet Changki again." Aren resumed his open palmed position. "Nyachung, I want to help you. To try to protect you. But you must tell me only truth. Why did you come to the city?"
"On family business. The khepa bumé sent me."
All right. Evasion, I think, but not a lie. "Tell me what happened last night."
"I have a room near the stone river. Walking back to it, I saw someone dragging a heavy bundle. He put the bundle down and began pulling things off. As I moved closer, I saw the bundle was a woman. He was pulling her clothes off. I thought…thought he was taking her by force. I didn't know she was dead."
"You had no reason to. Can you describe the man?"
"No. It was dark and he had a scarf wrapped around his head."
Of course. That would've been too easy. "What happened then?"
"I yelled. I wanted to frighten him off. He pulled a long knife from his coat. I was…I was afraid."
"A sensible person would be."
"Yes. And I know it was wrong. We are forbidden to extend the venom spurs in the city. But he lunged at me. I…I had no other weapon."
"Did you strike him?"
Nyachung ducked his head. "No. I tripped and struck a metal post. The man ran off." His white ears turned a pale blue, showing his acute embarrassment. "And then the city guards came and shouted at me and threw me to the ground."
Aren fought against a smile. The situation wasn't at all funny, but Nyachung's mortification was endearing. "You're not a hunter."
"No. I am the pod's third tale-singer."
"And I think you were sent here, to ask questions, to negotiate, to trade, whatever the reason, because you are a good speaker, persuasive and gentle. You speak the chigyel language better than you pretend, don't you?"
That got him another shame-faced nod. Oh, to be so young again. "They speak so fast here, and when I didn't understand, they spoke fast and loud, which only made things worse. I pretended to be stupid."
"It must have been frightening. Be patient. Be brave. I will go speak with the chigyel." Aren clambered back to his feet, gratified that he managed without calling for help.
"I will try."
He made a gesture toward the viewing pane, confident his observers monitored every move, and the cell door clicked open on cue. "Do what they ask. Answer their questions honestly. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear."
While he wished he had more to offer, fervently wished he could order the cuffs taken off, it was the best he could do for the moment. Steady. Stay focused. Empirical evidence. You're feeling protective because of his family associations, and you're not here to be a white knight.
WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
If you'd like a fab 8x10 glossy pic of Spade from the One Good series (and you do-- I mean, look at all the sexy!) just make a comment below. A winner will be drawn at random and announced on this blog the evening of May 28th.
Ready to move on? The next stop on the Erotic Romance Scavenger Hunt is...