Hi guys! We have E.J. Russell visiting today with her brand new release Cutie and the Beast, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic giveaway so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! <3 ~Pixie~
Cutie and the Beast
Temp worker David Evans has been dreaming of Dr. Alun Kendrick ever since that one transcription job for him, because holy cats, that voice. Swoon. So when his agency offers him a position as Dr. Kendrick’s temporary office manager, David neglects to mention that he’s been permanently banished from offices. Because, forgiveness? Way easier than permission.
Alun Kendrick, former Queen’s Champion of Faerie’s Seelie Court, takes his job as a psychologist for Portland’s supernatural population extremely seriously. Secrecy is paramount: no non-supe can know of their existence. So when a gods-bedamned human shows up to replace his office manager, he intends to send the man packing. It shouldn’t be difficult—in the two hundred years since he was cursed, no human has ever failed to run screaming from his hideous face.
But cheeky David isn’t intimidated, and despite himself, Alun is drawn to David in a way that can only spell disaster: when fae consort with humans, it never ends well. And if the human has secrets of his own? The disaster might be greater than either of them could ever imagine.
Welcome to the Fae Out of Water blog tour, phase one–Cutie and the Beast! I’m so looking forward to introducing you all to the Kendrick brothers and their guys, starting this month with Alun and David. As you follow along on the tours—phase two, The Druid Next Door, in August, and phase three, Bad Boy’s Bard, in September—please leave a comment and your contact information for a chance at a $50 Riptide gift card. The drawing will take place after the last Bad Boy’s Bard blog stop. Thank you so much for stopping by!
A beast loomed in the stairwell, hulking and monstrous and far too savage to be contained by the glass door panel with its flimsy safety mesh.
Alun Kendrick’s pulse bucked like a frightened mare. He grabbed the door handle, teeth bared in the battle rictus of a Sidhe warrior.
Undeterred, the beast mirrored him, grimace for grimace, scowl for scowl, glare for glare.
Oak and thorn, not again. He released the doorknob with a groan. It’s been two hundred years, Kendrick. You ought to be accustomed to your own reflection by now. But intellectual acceptance didn’t trump his instinctive revulsion at the sight of his grotesque features.
Beauty was a prerequisite for admittance to the Seelie Court, a tenet so basic he’d never thought to question its fairness. There’d been no need—he’d met that restriction for millennia—but he bloody well violated it now.
As long as he wore this face, the gates of Faerie were barred to him. He’d have preferred a death curse to this exile and all-consuming guilt, but he’d not been given that choice.
He shoved the stairwell door open and took the stairs two at a time, down the six flights from his top-floor flat to his clinic offices. With the curse robbing him of nearly all his former abilities, he knew better than to take the elevator. He could pass unnoticed as long as he was moving, but his paltry glamourie of not-here couldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of a bored human in an enclosed space.
Stairs were by far the safer choice.
When he emerged from the stairwell into the corridor that led to his clinic, his nerves flared again.
Stomach jolting toward his spine, he rushed halfway down the hall, reaching reflexively for his sword. Fool. You haven’t worn a scabbard in two centuries. He stopped and rested his hand against the wall, willing his battle reflexes to stand down. You carry a briefcase now, not a broadsword.
Besides, this intrusion, while not welcome, was anticipated. His office manager, a werewolf expecting her first child, had taken early maternity leave, collateral damage in the F1W2 flu that had approached epidemic proportions in the shifter community. Although it only affected the big cats, her father-in-law had demanded she retire to their compound to await the birth. Something about impending grandfatherhood had turned the normally tough and pragmatic alpha of the Multnomah wolf pack into a skittish old hen.
Alun opened his clinic door and slipped into the reception lobby. While the need for a temp irritated him, he had no intention of frightening her senseless before she brewed the coffee. He might be a monster, but he wasn’t an idiot.
“Hello? It’s Dr. Kendrick.”
A narrow band of sunlight spilled through open blinds, gilding the carpet with a stripe of gold, and Alun rethought his don’t-frighten-the-temp-senseless policy. Damn it to all the hells, hadn’t she bothered to read the office procedures manual?
Blinds must remain closed during daylight hours.
Throughout most of the year, the north-facing windows wouldn’t admit enough sunlight to injure any but the most helio-sensitive of his clients, and his clinic hours—midafternoon through evening—were arranged to further minimize exposure. This close to the solstice, however, the sun’s angle was acute enough to bleed into the room. She should know that. Every supe in the Pacific Northwest knew that.
A growl rumbling in his throat, he yanked the cords, plunging the room into soothing shadow. He stalked down the hallway, searching for the temp. No one was cowering in the break room, nor the restroom, nor the supply closet that housed the copier and printer.
Where the bloody hells was she? As a rule, people didn’t run until after they’d gotten a look at him, although few supes had cause to balk. Many of them looked nearly as bad at certain phases of the moon or after an ill-considered blood bender.
Cursing under his breath, he threw open the door to his inner office and came face to posterior with the most perfect arse he’d seen since the day he left Faerie.
A human arse.
Flaming abyss, had everyone at Fischer Temps run mad, or only Sandra Fischer herself?
The slender man in indecently well-cut trousers and a fitted dress shirt was standing on Alun’s desk atop the latest Physician’s Desk Reference and two of Alun’s heftiest old text books, arms stretched overhead as he fiddled with the light bulbs in the track lighting. His shirttails, partly untucked, displayed a tantalizing arc of skin over one hip.
Alun’s mouth went dry, an unexpected surge of want sizzling from the base of his outsized skull to his bollocks.
No, damn it. He’s human. Humans were off-limits for so many reasons, not least of which was that heavy sedation and years of therapy lay in store for any unlucky enough to see his face. No non-supe was allowed knowledge of the supernatural world without the express permission of the all ruling councils, under pain of . . . well . . . pain.
Excruciating, never-ending pain.
He thrust his unwelcome desire away, which his strict century-old vow of abstinence made more difficult than he wanted to admit. He tossed his briefcase on the love seat next to the door and stalked across the office to stand behind the human.
“What in all the bloody hells do you think you’re about?”
“Dr. Kendrick.” Despite Alun’s less than hospitable words, the man’s mellow tenor held welcome, not alarm.
He turned. Eyes widening under a slash of dark brows, he inhaled sharply and his smile faltered. Alun caught a brief impression of an upper lip shaped like the longbow he had last held the day he left Faerie. Enchanting.
Then the man lost his footing on the teetering pile of books, and stumbled backward, slipping on a stack of Psychology Today. His feet flew out from under him, along with a spray of magazines, and he toppled right into Alun’s arms.
Merciful Goddess. Alun hadn’t been within intimate-touching distance of a man since 1898. No wonder then that his breath sped up, his blood burning like molten silver in his veins. His cock suddenly hard behind his fly.
He inhaled, slow and deep. This was what a man’s skin smelled like when he was fresh from the bath and not the battlefield. Vivid and forest wild, with a faint undertone of salt and a hint of musk. This was what a man’s hair looked like, shiny and flyaway, gold threads glinting among the peat brown, finer than any pelt yet coarser than a woman’s or child’s. This was what a man felt like in his arms, alive and warm and—
To the human’s credit, he didn’t shriek or faint, nor did he struggle or try to escape. Instead, he remained cradled in Alun’s arms, tilted his chin, and blinked eyes the color of a storm-clouded lake. An erratic pulse beat in the angle of his jaw, betraying that he wasn’t as calm as he pretended, a bright—and undoubtedly false—smile curving that tempting mouth.
“How do you do? I’m David Evans, your new temp office manager.”
“I don’t think so.”
Alun set the man on his feet and escaped behind his desk before the state of his trousers could reveal his inconvenient reaction. Thank the Goddess he no longer wore doublet and hose.
The human, David—although despite endless years in exile, Alun mentally translated the name to its Welsh form, Dafydd—sidled away under the guise of picking up the scattered magazines and reshelving the books he’d used as an impromptu stepping stool.
“Yes, indeed I am.” He didn’t lift his gaze to Alun’s face, and who could blame him? “Don’t worry. Tracy filled me in—”
David shook his hair out of his eyes. “Sandra’s out with that bug that’s going around, I’m afraid, but you know she trusts Tracy to fill in for her or she wouldn’t employ her. Sandra insists on the best.”
She did, and she’d hear about this outrageous infraction, flu or no flu. Supe business, supe temps. That was the foundation—the absolute guarantee—of her company. She was a panther shifter, damn it, with the responsibility to adequately brief her staff.
“You’ve no business in here. My office is off-limits.” Especially to humans, however beautiful they might be.
“The lights above your desk. They . . .” David cast a brief glance at him from under unfairly long eyelashes and swallowed, his Adam’s apple sliding beneath the honey-smooth skin above his collar. “They were failing. I wanted to change them before they burned out so—”
“Did you not consider that I keep them dim on purpose?” Alun thrust his head forward into the merciless light. Flinching, David stumbled back, the unmistakable tang of fear tainting his seductive clean-man scent. Good. He should be afraid. He should be afraid, and he should be gone. “You think anyone wants to look at this face too closely while they’re spilling the secrets of their soul?”
David pressed his lips together, no doubt to hide their trembling. Alun should have felt gratified that he’d succeeded in intimidating the man. A necessary evil, for his own sake as well as for the safety of the supe communities. But a whisper of regret, the shadow of sorrow for something he could never have again, raised a lump in his throat and tightened his chest.
Yes, the human must leave, no matter how much Alun’s awakening libido regretted the necessity.
Instead of bolting out the door, however, David took a deep breath, a mulish cast to his pointed chin, and stared Alun straight in the eye. “If you prefer to remain in the dark, that’s your choice and privilege. After all, you’re the doctor.”
Read more at: https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/cutie-and-the-beast (just click the excerpt tab)
Fae Out of Water series!
Once upon a time, there were three brothers, nobles of the Seelie Court of Faerie, who set out to seek their fortunes. The eldest—
Scratch that. Rrrrrewind.
Nowadays, when tales are told in 140 character bursts on tiny LED screens, rather than spun out by the glow of a midnight campfire, even Faerie’s elite have to get with the program.
The Kendrick brothers have traded longbow for briefcase, battle steed for Harley, and enchanted harp for electric guitar. But while they’re finding their feet in the modern world, instead of finding their fortunes, they stumble straight into love.
Check out the Fae Out of Water series!
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
Connect with E.J.:
- Website: ejrussell.com
- Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/
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- Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell
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