Seduced by Innocence
by Kimberly Kinrade
Until she meets Derek O’Conner.
Derek challenges everything Rose believes and forces her to see the secrets hidden beneath the whitewashed walls of her idyllic country life.
Rose knows she should walk away, that the sexy martial arts instructor is bad news bred to create discord in her tight community… but the animal magnetism between them is impossible to fight.
Caught between the passion of first love, and the steady beat of the life she’s always known, Rose must choose between the innocence of her youth or the pleasures of womanhood—but lost innocence comes at a price, and Rose harbors a dark secret that could destroy everyone she loves—including Derek.
Submit to the Seduced Saga as Derek and Rose face their future while unraveling the mysteries of their past.
Look for these books in 2013.
January -Seduced by Innocence
February -Seduced by Power
TBA-Seduced by Pleasure
TBA-Seduced by Pain
TBA-Seduced by Love
*** Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below to win Amazon $$ & awesome swag! I’ll also be giving away a custom made rose pendant if Seduced by Innocence gets 1,000 adds or more before the launch at the end of January (date to be announced soon… )
Add Seduced by Innocence on Goodreads now!
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Gif cover art and regular cover art done by the amazing and talented Dmytry Karpov of Daring Books Design & Marketing.
Liquid fire poured into me, filling me with the intimate sense of him as he leaned in to claim my lips with his own. I reached for him, needing him closer, needing to feel his flesh against mine, but my arms couldn’t close the distance between us, which grew wider with each hitched breath. So close to finally feeling something real, something carnal and deep, I cried out in frustration, dropping my hands as he disappeared. My cries deepened into a frenzy of panic and my eyes flew open. I clutched my blanket and stilled myself to calm my racing heart.
Just a dream. Always just a dream. It could never be more than that. Not with my dream man, not with any man. Knowing this did nothing to dampen the disappointment that weighed heavy on me each time I entered that one moment where dreams and reality co-existed and I forgot who I really was and what would happen if I ever experienced that level of surrender. But fear replaced my self-absorption when the alarms penetrated my foggy mind. Outside my cottage, footsteps raced through the cold night, crunching on newly fallen snow. Through my frosted window, flashlights wavered back and forth, looking for something, or someone. It’s happening again!
The floor under my bare feet felt like ice as I slipped out of bed and fumbled in the dark for my clothes. Sandy, my loyal Alaskan Husky, whined when I moved to leave the cottage without her. I ran a hand through her thick white fur. “You want to come? I have to go make sure all of the kennel dogs are taken care of.”
The alarm shut off, leaving us both in a stunned silence that filled the room. Sandy licked my hand and stood by the door waiting as I pulled on my boots and coat and braced myself for the cold. I rummaged through the basket next to my door, looking for my warmest gloves. At least in the winter I had a ready excuse for covering my hands.
Outside, the black pitch of night greeted me. No one had turned on the flood lights yet, which made me wonder if they’d been damaged. Flashlight in hand, dog by my side, I headed to the main house on our coven’s 50-acre property as I sent my magic ahead of me to sift through the energy from the attack.
Before I could get more than a few steps, Blake ran up to me and laid his hand on my arm as he fought to catch his breath. He ignored Sandy’s low growl as he pushed me toward the door. “You should go back in. They’ve broken onto the property again and slashed the tires of three vehicles and left a deer carcass as a gift.”
My heart thumped with extra force at the news. “That’s horrible. Whose cars?”
“The property truck, Darren’s car and Lauren’s.” His jaw hardened and he narrowed his dark eyes, squeezing my arm tighter in his anger. “Bastards will cost us hundreds in new tires. They even smashed out the windows. We’ve got to strike back. Teach them a lesson.”
Using my gloved hand, I eased his fingers off of me. He flinched at the touch, despite the layers of protection. Good thing I had a thick skin, sort of. I kept my voice calm, even through my own rage. “That’s not a decision you can make on your own. We’ll all talk about it when we meet tomorrow morning.”
He waved his flashlight over his watch and smirked. “More like a few hours. It’s 2 a.m. The meeting’s in two hours.”
“Then I’d better check on the dogs and try to get a bit more rest.” I stepped around him to continue walking, but he blocked me with his large frame made of the kind of muscle you get, not from the gym, but from manual labor day in and out. He smelled of pine needles and snow, a scent that would have been appealing on anyone else but him.
“Rainbow wants everyone inside except the security team. The dogs are fine,” he said.
I’d thought about it a lot, what it was about Blake that revolted me so much. Easy on the eyes, dedicated to our coven, though lacking magic of his own, he would have been a safe choice, if I’d had any choice at all. He’d even indicated an interest on more than one occasion. But his touch made my skin crawl, even through clothing. I shifted away from him. “What about my sister? She must be scared.”
“She’s fifteen, Rose, not a little girl anymore. She’s not as helpless as you think. Just go back inside. We’ll handle this.” He smiled to soften the command in his voice, and I sighed and walked back into the cottage.
I’m not a little girl anymore, either, I thought with a touch of bitterness. Guess no one got the memo.
Not for the first time I wished for a lock on my house, but none of us had locks, despite the recent string of break-ins. I shed my winter gear and gloves and toweled off the snow from Sandy’s paws. Knowing I’d never get back to sleep, and frustrated that I’d been dismissed by Blake like some kid, despite the fact that I was nineteen and he was only twenty-one, I searched my one-room dwelling for something to occupy my time until our daily pre-dawn meeting.
My favorite romance novel sat on the dresser next to my bed and I reached for it, grateful that I could at least breathe in vicarious passion through the lives of others, if not my own. My hands stilled on the book as shivers of energy traveled through my body, connecting me to the earth, to my coven and to my family. Mother’s voice called out to me through one of those lines. “Rose. Help! Hurry!”
We almost never communicated telepathically. The drain on energy and resources was just too much, and, with the modern convenience of cell phones, unnecessary. Besides that, most members of our coven didn’t have enough power to do it. Heart racing in my chest, I ran out the door and through the dark with Sandy at my heels, straight to the lower level of the main house where Mother lived. The air crackled with fear and desperation and the ramped up emotion of it all forced my gut into uncomfortable knots.
As leader of the coven, my mother commanded the most power and respect. She’d never reached out to me for help before, which made this all the more alarming. I forced my legs to pump faster, Sandy running at my side, as I navigated through the icy paths masked with shadows of the night.
There should have been others out with flashlights, checking the property, but I didn’t see or feel anyone. Perhaps the mental cries of Mother drowned out everyone else, I couldn’t be sure.
When we reached her door, I hesitated. Mother didn’t like people barging in on her. While everyone else in the coven had a default open door policy—meaning literally anyone else here could walk into your house without knocking—Mother was immune from that. To some extent, so was I, but only because my coven feared an accidental touch. Only in my own home could I go gloveless, which is also why I got to live alone while others were forced to share housing.
Sandy whined and clawed at the door, jarring me out of my thoughts. Inside, something clattered to the ground and Mother screamed. I pushed the door open and tried to mentally ready myself.
But nothing could have prepared me for what I found.
A giant brown wolf stood before Mother, baring his teeth with a low, throaty growl that sent shivers of fear up my spine. Mother cowered in the corner of her couch, eyes like saucers as she backed away from the wolf with her hands in defense position. She made eye contact with me as I walked in. “Help! Rose, help! He attacked me.”
Sandy growled and the pups in the kennel barked and yipped. Feeling utterly useless, I shouted at the wolf. “Get away from her!”
It turned its head to me, large golden eyes glowing in the dim light. For a moment I felt a connection to the beast, as if he was trying to tell me something, but the moment shattered when Mother shrieked at me. “Do something, Rose.”
What did she want me to do? I didn’t know self-defense, no one would let me study it. I had no weapons… other than myself. Mother, who—even cornered by this magnificent beast—looked in control and poised, with her midnight black hair in an up-do and her face made up with flawless makeup, glanced down meaningfully at my hands.
This couldn’t be. She couldn’t possibly want me to use my power on the wolf. It didn’t even work on animals.
But this wolf, he felt more than animal. He was three times the size of even a large wolf, and at any rate what was a wolf doing in this area in the first place? Something tickled at the back of my mind. Something I should have known but had forgotten. It hovered on the edge of my memory, teasing me with knowledge just out of reach.
The wolf howled, his head high in the air, and responding howls coming from the woods outside echoed through the cold night.
Then it all clicked and I took a step back in reflexive anxiety. So it was true. All the stories and rumors. The O’Conner clan really could shapeshift… and they were here, on my land, attacking my family.
For months they’d been terrorizing our coven, trying to drive us out of our rural home in Washington. We refused to be bullied by the wealthy shamans who commanded the public favor in the local, and even international, spiritual communities.
We didn’t have the money to fight them legally.
We didn’t have the power to fight them magically.
And we had no idea what they wanted from us.
But they’d attacked relentlessly. Sabotaging our cars, destroying our property, leaving dead animals for us to find. Now, they’d sent someone to hurt Mother. Maybe kill her. Anger boiled inside of me, reaching through me and around me, and I could feel the steel traps around my power uncoiling as I took measured steps toward the wolf.
Reason left me. Fear abandoned me. Only rage sustained me as I reached out with bare hand to touch the flesh beneath the thick fur of the wolf.
With a final push, it flooded out of me. My darkest secret. My cross to bear. It pooled into my hand, turning it into the worst kind of weapon. My flesh turned to a fire only I could withstand, and the wolf howled in agony as his mind or soul, or whatever part of him made him ‘him’, turned to ash and left him forever.
I collapsed to the ground, vision blurred, body cold, hardwood floor beneath me shifting and dipping. Blackness pressed in on me, but before it could claim me entirely I saw the wolf shift back to human. A naked young man, no older than myself, lay in a heap of skin, muscle and bone, staring vacantly at me, eyes glazed over with a white haze that indicated he’d never be himself again.
His body still lived, but I’d essentially killed him.
A new kind of darkness squeezed my heart as I faded into nothing.