QSFer C.M. Torrens has a new MM paranormal out:
After years of abuse in his old shifter pack, Dante found a new life with Alpha Victor. He would do anything for Victor. Anything but stay away from Jesse, the half-blood stray. But when Victor names Dante his heir, he has no choice but to accept the duties given to him even if it means relinquishing the possibility of love. He owes his life and sanity to Victor, and that’s a debt Dante can never fully repay.
But Dante should have known the good life couldn’t last. His former alpha, Caster, is not a male who lets anything of value slip through his grasp. When rumors fly of Caster’s return, Dante knows the man will stop at nothing to possess him and his talent once again. When Jesse is kidnapped and Victor falls victim to an untimely death, his worst fears are realized. His old alpha has finally returned to reclaim him. Dante must use his fears and nightmares to save Jesse and his pack, even if it means sacrificing himself.
WIND BLEW the overshirt off Dante’s shoulder, exposing old scars down his back and arms. The summer heat radiated off the pavement, and he kept the shirt on despite the heat. A twist of nerves hit his gut, and he pulled the collar up to cover the scars. Several passersby turned to stare, and he bit back a snarl. He loathed the looks, especially from a bunch of humans.
Dante cringed as bodies pressed around him along the busy street. His shopping bags jostled under the assault of pushing people. Ripe human musk and the bitter tang of exhaust added to his growing headache. He pressed his hand to his temple, trying to will the pain away.
A flash of red caught his attention, and Dante looked up from his shopping bags. An uneasy smile tugged the corners of his mouth at the sight of Jesse across the street. Ash-brown hair fell across his face as he fidgeted with the red ball cap in his hands. Half his face fell in shadow, hiding hazel eyes.
Jesse was a half-breed. A stray. Forbidden, beautiful, and everything Dante wanted and couldn’t allow himself to have.
Jesse smiled back, and Dante slipped through the crowd. Squat buildings lined the city street of Boulder’s downtown area as he scanned the intersection. Darting around traffic, he followed Jesse around the corner and into an alley.
The ripe scent of urine and stale alcohol clung to the surrounding brick. Spray paint covered the walls behind him, framing Jesse’s lean build in graffiti.
“Hey,” Dante said. “I haven’t seen you in… weeks.”
“Something came up.”
Dante hesitated, peering through the shadows to get a better look at him. Jesse kicked at an old pop can, and the rattle echoed off the walls. Despite his long hair, Dante could make out the fresh bruises on his deeply tanned face. His left eye was almost swollen shut.
“What happened to you?” Dante asked.
Dante frowned. “I can see that.”
He moved closer, smelling the air around him. Jesse didn’t move, staring at the ground. His light musk lacked the sour odor of drugs. He didn’t smell like he’d been using. He smelled like blood.
Worry clenched at him. Dante moved with speed and snatched Jesse up by the jacket. With extra care he pulled the thin windbreaker open. Dark blood stained Jesse’s shirt in long thin streaks.
“What happened to you?” Dante asked.
Dante looked up at him. Jesse’s eyes were creased with worry and pain. Frowning, Dante kissed his forehead. His hands twitched, resisting the urge to stroke Jesse’s swollen cheek.
“I’m okay, Dante. It was just a fight.”
Jesse pulled his gaze away and glanced around before moving them farther behind the dumpster.
“All right. Take off that shirt. The jacket too.”
“I’ve been waiting for you to ask me to strip for a while now,” Jesse said with a grin.
Dante smirked, then pulled the long-sleeve shirt off his back and handed it to Jesse. Jesse unzipped his jacket and shed the bloodstained clothes. Dante winced, his eyes falling on the deep purple marks across Jesse’s ribs and back.
Dante rearranged his groceries and new clothes into one bag and shoved the rags into an empty one. He reached out to touch the bruises. “Who did this?”
He ran his fingertips over soft, faded purple skin. The firm contours of Jesse’s chest marked with vicious bruises enhanced Dante’s worry. They had clearly healed from something much worse. He hated seeing things like this.
Jesse shook his head and pulled away. “I’m fine. I just need somewhere to stay. Just for a day or two.”
“Are you in trouble?”
Jesse shook his head again, staring down at the ground. “No. Just a little brawl. Dante, please, don’t ask. I can handle things.”
“Jesse, I can help. Just tell me—”
Jesse broke away from him, throwing on Dante’s dark flannel shirt as he dodged out of reach. “I’m fine!”
Dante took a step back, putting a little space between them. He reached into his pocket for his wallet. “If you don’t want me to fix it, here’s some money to get a room for a couple of days. You call me if you need me.” He pulled out a few bills and handed them to Jesse.
Jesse stared at the money as he crushed the red cap back on his head. He sighed and took the bills and the bag of clothes from Dante’s hands. “I’ll pay you back.”
C.M. Torrens lives in the Midwest with her wonderful family, two furry canines who think they’re human, and a pet snake who wishes he were human. The warm chaos of her house not only keeps her on her toes, but often reminds her of a zoo at feeding time.
She spends her days torn between chaining her muse to her desk and wanting to beat him for his lack of cooperation when she needs him most. She enjoys the quiet mornings when it’s still dark with a hot cup of coffee and her dogs cuddled at her feet like a giant fuzzy blanket. Those quiet mornings give her time to dwell on the dark worlds and passionate characters drifting in her head.