Words That Bind
Releasing Oct. 10, 2014
Social worker Tam Kerish can’t keep her cool professionalism when steamy client Mr. Burns kindles a desire for more than a client-therapist relationship—so she drops him. However, they discover she’s the talisman to which Burns, an immortal djinn, has been bound since the days of King Solomon…and that makes it difficult.
Ethical guidelines are unequivocal when it comes to personal relationships with clients. However, the djinn has a thawing effect on the usually non-emotive Tam, who begins to feel true emotion whenever he is near. Tam has to make a difficult choice: to stay on the outside, forever looking in…or to turn her back on her entire world, just for the chance to finally experience what it means to fall in love.
“So. You’ve destroyed a stereotype for me. A genie who lives in a library. Different.”
“When in Rome, no?” He stirred his cup before setting down the spoon with a light clink against the saucer. “Or, I suppose it is more accurate to say when in human form. When I am Burns, I prefer here.”
“Human form.” It didn’t sound right. Who said things like that, and meant it? “Can you change into anything you want? Any shape at all?”
He stretched out his legs and cocked his head, sliding his gaze up and away. “I suppose I could. I’m getting old and set in my ways. There’s this…” He swept his hands down the line of his body.
Her eyes were unable to keep from following, not even when he lingered over his midsection. Even lounging, his shirt was tightly tucked into his beltline. No belly fat there.
He tilted his head and gave her an upper-teeth smile, nibbling gently at his lower lip. “And apparently this form is pleasing to the eye, so I wear it often. But there are others. Tiger, a favorite. Savage and regal and the colors of flames in the night. Fearsome to behold, but very useful when dealing with physical conditions in which a human form may be outmatched. Plus, I can lash my tail.”
His voice took a teasing, conspirator’s tone. “I love my tail. You’d love it too, if you saw it.”
She trained her eyes firmly upon his. No way would she give him the pleasure of checking out his tail.
Damn, but this was a miserable city.
A miserable city, in a miserable season, with a miserable chilly dampness oppressive enough to put out the hottest of fires. If he didn’t have to be here, he’d be reclining on a low couch surrounded by silken-clad women and the open sands of the high desert.
If he didn’t have to be here, he wouldn’t be standing in a cramped parking lot in an East Coast city (really. East Coast. The very thought made him curl his lips in disdain) staring up at a balcony three floors up.
If he didn’t have to be here, he wouldn’t. But it was here, and it was close, and he wouldn’t have to put up with this permeating on-again off-again rain much longer.
The thought of it being so close made him dizzy enough to sway on his feet. Ah, well. Wearing a human form had so many limitations. Take skin, for instance. And this ridiculous human obsession with trousers.
A loud argument erupted on the balcony above, catching his attention.
Women. Of course. Emotional, volatile, dangerous, loud…sometimes, good qualities. Especially where low couches could be found.
On balconies, peppered with vulgar language…just annoying.
Still. It was here, its presence burning like a dull itch in the back of his brain. That particular sensation, too, was annoying, but after so many decades of not feeling it all, it was a good kind of annoying. One that soon would be quenched.
Suddenly, the sensation brightened, became sharper, clearer, like the full moon sliding free of the clouds. The argument stopped.
Ah. Finally. He turned up the collar of his overcoat against the nip of a sudden breeze and tilted his head, scanning the balcony, watching. Waiting.
A young female with tousled purple hair hunched over the railing, resting on her elbows, trying to light a cigarette. Repulsive things, cigarettes. Lacked elegance. Why not a hookah, or even a slender golden pipe? This modern age was all substance. No style.
He unfocused his gaze and looked through the girl. Nothing remarkable about that female whatsoever. She had nothing to do with the object of his desire and so was of no consequence to him. He disregarded her completely.
Another figure appeared at the rail. Another female. This one seized his notice, snapping his spine ram-rod straight.
Long chestnut hair swept in waves over her shoulder, hiding her face. He zoomed in on her and almost fell flat backwards, buckling under the smacking impact upon his heart.
Her. She had it.
Suddenly, the low gray clouds burned off in a blaze of summer brilliance, so great was the feeling in his chest. Hope. Hope eclipsed centuries of despair in that single moment.
She had it!
He side-stepped the BMW behind him, wanting a better angle, wishing to see her face. So intent was he upon the other woman that he nearly missed the cigarette that sailed past his cheek to land on the car. He curled his fists, an oath on his lips. He should be used to the crude behaviors of mortals, but still, how it bristled against his insides. Obviously, they’d been raised by very different mothers.
But then woman turned, and his scowl melted from his face. Her dark eyes met his, a split-second connection that felt like the bite of an electric current. His heart tripped on a beat and he gaped.
Remarkable. This noisy, chaotic city where all was a tangle of technology and confusion and those odd diagonal streets—she stood out: a straight line, a calm constancy, the eye within the storm. He was confounded by the impression of her psyche. Unique was too commonplace a word.
A place to sit. He rubbed his mouth, staring up at her. To sit would be good right now. He didn’t want to end up on his knees, not here amidst the puddles and wet leaves.
The young girl twisted around and hopped up on the rail. Odd. The railing didn’t look wide enough to make a comfortable seat. Well. Considering her choice of hair color, he wasn’t surprised by her action. Obviously, she was a little off.
He thumbed the edge of the business card in his hand, one that bore the address and the name of the counselling center to which the balcony belonged. Of course, she was. Why else would she be visiting a therapist?
Apparently, the bird reconsidered her perch, because she disappeared in the next moment. A piercing shriek sounded, loud enough that he had to cover his ears. It only lasted a few seconds, however, followed by a few more desperate shouts.
And then there came no sound at all, except for the traffic and the sparrows making a racket in the hedges bordering the parking lot. The women and the mental itch had retreated back into the building.
He stood a few moments longer, watching the balcony, hoping for another glimpse of her. But the remarkable woman and that wonderful sensation did not return.
He brushed his fingers together and tugged his suit jacket straight. No matter. She may have that which he sought, but she did not need to come back out.
Because he was going in after it.
And this time, he was going to get it.
About the Author:
Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction author from northeastern Pennsylvania. Krafton’s first novel, Bleeding Hearts was published in 2012 as part of a three-book urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). An urban fantasy novella, Strangers at the Hell Gate, was published by Wild Rose Press in 2013. Her latest book, Words That Bind, won first place in the HeRA RWA “Show Me the Spark” 2013 competition; it is also available through Wild Rose Press as an October 2014 release.
Krafton also writes New Adult speculative fiction novels under the pen name AJ Krafton. Upcoming titles include The Heartbeat Thief, Face of the Enemy, and the award-winning Takin’ It Back. She is part of a YA/NA collective known as the Infinite Ink Authors.
In addition to novel-length fiction, Krafton enjoys writing poetry and short prose, some of which earned distinctions in various writing competitions. One of her poems was also nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She’s a proud member of Pennwriters, Romance Writers of America, and Pikes Peak Writers. Krafton is also a staff blogger for the Query Tracker Blog.
Genre: Paranormal Romance, sensual heat rating
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press