We’re over half way in the story…. Desert Orchid, Chapter Sixteen.

desertorchid16

KOBO    iBOOKS  NOOK  GOOGLE PLAY 

AMAZON USA  AMAZON UK

 

Hello, my darlings,

You know, sharing these chapters has brought the original story back to life for me in a way that’s been amazing. I wrote this in 2012-13 and published the story in 2014. My writing has come a very long way since then…. The next chapter has intimate scenes, but I’ve left it as I wrote it….. enjoy…..

 

 

Copyright © C C MacKenzie 2014

Chapter Sixteen

Khalid couldn’t tear his eyes away from hers.

Blue eyes shone into his filled with compassion and complete trust, with total faith, in him.

And his heart torpedoed into his mouth.

She was delusional.

What the hell had he been thinking, declaring himself like that? And because he loved her so desperately it hurt, he knew he couldn’t do this to her or to himself.

Earlier, they’d agreed to have nothing but the truth between them. But the girl standing before him—and she was a girl—could never be woman enough for him.

With her past, how could she be?

For too many years, he’d had sex whenever and wherever he wanted it. Plus, he’d only had sex with experienced, beautiful women; models, actresses and socialites who shared his sexual appetites and needs. But having sex with the woman he loved would be so very different. Even though he’d only touched her once, it had been amazing.

Wonderful.

Unbelievable.

However, he had needs.

Dark desires that Charisse, so sheltered and protected, had no conception of.

The flat of her hand slapped his bare butt, hard.

And the feel of it, the sound of it shook him right out of his introspection.

His eyes found hers and she slapped him again, harder.

Or did she really have no conception of dark desires?

His eyes narrowed on her flushed face as she gazed up at him. And he remembered the silver scars on her bare bottom. The memory of how mortified and embarrassed she’d been when he’d seen them slid like a snake into his mind. It struck him that his wife was ashamed of her body. She was ashamed of what had happened to her. And because Khalid lived with shame every single day and understood the agony of it, he found it intolerable that Charisse should suffer, too.

He could do nothing about his own shame, but he could do plenty about hers.

She trembled as she kept perfectly still with her arms wrapped around his waist, her big eyes on his, and he could almost see that clever brain of hers working out her next move.

Was it possible he was being played?

Being manoeuvred by an expert into exposing the black heart that lived at the core of his being?  If true, then she had no idea who she was dealing with here. He could almost see the white puffy clouds depicting her dreams of a happy-ever-after in her poor deluded little mind. Charisse wanted a fairytale happy ending and it seemed she’d cast him as her prince.

In truth, he was her worst nightmare and she didn’t even know it.

Anger with himself, but mostly with her, for making him wish for something he could never have, roared into his psyche.

A harsh laugh almost escaped from his throat and he shook his head.

She loved him, did she?

He took a step back, and her hands dropped to her sides.

She cocked her head and narrowed her eyes as she watched him.

Khalid could see by the stubborn set of that chin that she was prepared to fight for him, and with him, until he came around to her way of thinking. To persuade him that he was the man she thought he was.

Well, whatever she wanted would never happen.

Time for a wake-up call.

He kept his voice dangerously low. “You think you’ve got me all worked out. Don’t you, darlin’?”

He strolled around her.

She didn’t move so much as a muscle as the atmosphere in the room plummeted and grew too tense.

She turned her head, looking over her shoulder as he stood behind her. Those big blue eyes appeared confused as she frowned.

Then she opened her mouth as if to speak.

Christ, the scent of her made his mouth water.

He bent his head to growl in her ear, “I haven’t finished speaking.”

Her shocked gasp had him nod.

Oh yeah, he knew why he was so stunningly furious with her.

The little fool wanted to change him.

She’d decided to mould him into the man she wanted, rather than accept him for the man he was.

Well, it would be a cold day in hell before that little fantasy happened.

She was trembling.

But she wasn’t afraid of him.

Not yet.

“These clothes make you look about twelve.” His hands gripped the tissue thin silk of her top and ripped it in two. The fabric floated to her feet. “I don’t want a girl as a wife. I want a woman,” he whispered in her ear.

The matching panties went the same way.

Her response was a convulsive shudder, as a tidal wave of goose bumps rose over her clear skin.

Walking slowly around her naked body, Khalid took a good long look at the woman he was going to make his in ways she’d never dreamed of.

And his body went rock hard.

To torture himself even more, he stood behind her and counted each silver scar on her tight little bottom. Twenty-three. And his heart ached as he imagined what she’d gone through. Dear God, how much she had suffered. But she didn’t need his sympathy. No. What she needed was her own… acceptance.

The sly voice, a constant companion who resided deep within his psyche, now rose to whisper the words, ‘You did that.’ And God help him, his hand trembled as he swiped perspiration beading on his top lip.

And then he studied the raw flesh where the bullet had grazed the bottom of her ribcage. The black, purple and green bruise, already turning yellow at the edges, as it stretched up towards her armpit and down in a path of pain to her jutting hipbone.

Again the sly voice taunted, ‘Where were you when she was shot?’ And bile rose into Khalid’s throat. His eyes then counted the bruises on her arm where the nurse had injected her, where the doctor had fought to save her.

Yet again the sing song voice in his head spoke, ‘Love? You don’t know the meaning of the word.’

Now the room spun as his heart rate spiked.

Lastly, he absorbed how terribly thin she’d become, and that voice in head showed no mercy. ‘You did that.’

Khalid’s jaw clenched so hard to stop his moan of pain it was a miracle his teeth didn’t shatter. A slimy worm of sweat slid down his spine.

He stood in front of her, about three feet away.

Her big blue eyes were wary now as they searched his.

He read a cocktail of emotions, including confusion and a growing dismay. But the biggies were arousal and lust.

Oh yeah, Charisse liked this.

She liked being dominated.

Even if, intellectually, she knew she should stand up for herself and calling him to account for his behaviour. Khalid read precisely how she felt by the expressions crossing that fabulous face and by the way her eyes flicked over his body lingering between his legs, and by her body’s response to his tone, to his words.

Her nakedness hid nothing as he studied her with the eyes of the artist, of the connoisseur.

That beautiful face was flushed now.

Those sweet nipples budded so hard they actually pulsed as her breath came out of her throat in hot little bursts. Her heart was beating so fast against her ribs, it reminded him of a tiny trapped bird he’d held in his hands once as a boy. But it was the arousal glistening between her legs that had him nod once in satisfaction.

Well, well, well.

Who’d have thought it?

She pressed her thighs together as the tip of her tongue licked her full bottom lip.

Her hands clenched into fists at her sides as she stood absolutely still under his intense gaze.

Now he narrowed his eyes.

“You need to be taught a lesson. Why do you think I didn’t come to you after the night I broke your hymen, Charisse?” Before she could speak, he interrupted, because he could read her thoughts running across that wonderfully expressive face. “That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. I didn’t come to you again after the night I made you mine. And that annoyed you, frustrated you, and pissed you off. Didn’t it? It didn’t occur to you that I was giving you time to heal, did it? I know exactly what you were thinking, because I know women. And I understand how you tick.

“You were angry because I left you aroused and alone night after night. Weren’t you, my little queen? You were so angry that you kept the truth from me about Omar. You went out into the desert at night. You met with a man without me and without my permission. You kept secrets from me about your childhood, about who you are and what happened to you. And for that you will be punished.

“And I can tell by the look in your eyes that you still do not quite understand what I’m saying. So let me spell it out for you, my little queen. You belong to me. You are mine. When I say jump, you say, How high.”

Her splutter of choked laughter broke the tight chain he’d kept on his self-control.

She found the situation funny, did she?

Not for long.

“Lie on the bed on your stomach. Now,” he ordered.

Temper flared in her eyes, scorched her cheekbones.

It took her a couple of beats, but she lifted her chin and staring straight ahead, walked past him with a sexy sway of her narrow hips. Her scarred bottom, the buttocks high and tight reminded him of a perfectly ripe peach. He caught the floral scent of her shampoo, her skin and her warm, womanly arousal.

She lay on her belly in the middle of the vast bed, her faced turned towards him.

Picking up a small bottle of essential Bergamot oil and a couple of pillows, he knelt on the bed beside her. Big eyes, wary and watchful, flicked between the oil, the pillows, and back to his face.

The way her fabulous brows rose an insolent fraction made his hand itch to warm that pert little bottom.

He enjoyed sex play. And he enjoyed rough sex. But Khalid realised that he could never, ever, physically hurt the woman he loved. There were other ways to show her who was in the driving seat in this relationship.

His body ached so hard for her that the pain of it had him take a deep breath.

He tipped the oil into the palm of his hand, and all the while her small white teeth gripped her full bottom lip. The scent of citrus spun in the air. And he was delighted to see that insolence was now replaced with interest. She didn’t have a clue what was about to happen to her, and he kept his desperate need to take her hard and fast under tight control.

She was so slight and fragile. He counted the bones of her vertebrae, and suppressed a crazy desire to press his mouth to each one from her neck to her tight little backside. But he refused to permit himself to be distracted by what needed to be done here and now.

Later there would be plenty of time to play.

“Lift up your hips.”

She did as he asked and he placed the pillows underneath her pelvis, which elevated her backside to just the right angle.

“You have a hang-up about your scars. Am I right?” He poured more oil into the palm of his hand, and placed the bottle on a bedside table.

Charisse turned her head and gave a low mewl sound in her throat as she watched his hands warm the oil. And she couldn’t look at her scars. He could tell by the way her eyes flinched, by the infinitesimal nod of her lovely head.

Well, he wasn’t having that.

Tonight was going to be a steep learning curve for his stubborn little queen.

“You have a pretty ass,” he growled.

Indeed, it was very pretty. He should know, since he’d seen and painted hundreds.

He continued in a conversational tone, “Now, let me lay out the ground rules. You will tell me if anything hurts. This position should keep pressure off your wound. But if it hurts, you tell me immediately. Say, “‘Yes, Khalid.’”

Heat scorched her neck, her face. And he wasn’t sure if it was temper or mortification. Probably a mixture of both.

“Yes, Khalid.” Her voice was the merest whisper as she closed her eyes.

“Eyes open, Charisse. You’re need to learn how watching me what I do to you will give you pleasure.”

He didn’t give her a chance to prepare or give her a hint of what was coming.

His hand itched to spank her until that tight little bottom glowed.

Lifting his hand to swing, he stopped, and shook his head.

He couldn’t do it.

Not while she was recovering from being shot.

She jerked at the initial touch of his fingertips on her pert bottom. But then he carefully added pressure as he massaged her buttock cheeks with firm fingers, soothing, pressing the oil into the scars which were now bright silver against the glow of her skin.

The low growl deep in his throat brought her shimmering eyes to his.

“The animal who did this to you is a walking dead man,” he swore.

Her voice was the merest whisper, “Why are you doing this?”

“You are not comfortable with your body. The scars shame you. By the time I am finished with you tonight, you won’t care. And you’ll realise that what evil did to you does not define you as a woman.”

The entire time he spoke, his fingertips kept massaging the taut muscles of her bare bottom. He wasn’t gentle. And then he felt her relax as her body pulsed with a different type of tension. Arousal. His thumbs became tender as they stroked down the slippery cleft between her legs, and she trembled.

“On your knees. Use the pillows to cushion your chest,” he said softly.

A tiny sob, quickly swallowed, was the only sound she made as the love of his life did as he asked. Her face had gone radioactive, and his heart nearly broke for her and for everything she’d been through.

His fingers slid over her perineum through the slick flesh of her labia and around the hard swell of her girl boner, ensuring he never once touched the frantic pulse of her clitoris. She would orgasm when he allowed it and not before.

For many minutes he tortured her with pleasure, all the while denying her that ultimate release.

She groaned before turning to look over her shoulder, to watch him stroke and massage her flesh. And she no longer cringed, but her eyes burned with arousal as they stared into his. He took a deep breath of relief at what he saw in those vivid blue depths.

Acceptance.

Trust.

Love.

Result.

“Put your shoulders on the pillows and turn your face towards me. Does your wound hurt?” All the while his fingers, slick with oil and her juices, explored the slick heat between her buttocks.

“No,” she breathed the word.

“You’re doing great, baby,” he told her in a soft voice. Her full bottom lip trembled in a way that made him feel like a complete bastard. “I’m going to make you come now, darlin’.”

Charisse couldn’t believe what was happening to her body.

“Oh, God.”

Khalid’s fingertips never stopped their firm rhythm as they pressed relentlessly into the muscles of her buttocks, circling in a hypnotic way that made her want to close her eyes and simply feel. The merciless pressure of arousal deep in her womb was a combination of pleasure and pain. With every inhale the scent of his body, clean and healthy and male, and mingling with the citrus scent of the oil, only added to the pleasure.

She took a deep, shuddering breath.

Her nipples were throbbing, so screamingly sensitive, and yet he hadn’t touched them. Her body was so aroused that she knew as soon as he touched the slick flesh of her secret places she would orgasm. The man knew exactly how to warm her bottom without hurting the too tight flesh. Yes, she’d nearly wept in stunned mortification to have herself exposed to him like this. She felt too vulnerable. But just enjoying the sensations of his touch made her womb clench and release a fluid that made her moan long and loud.

Khalid gave a deep laugh that made her make the sound again.

How on earth did he do that to her?

“That’s it, baby,” he whispered softly. “Just let yourself go.”

His thumbs gently slid between the lips of her swollen flesh and shamelessly she opened her legs wider to give him better access to the spot that throbbed and swelled for his attention. His thumb snaked around the hood of that screaming little bead and she shuddered as every single muscle from her toes to her scalp spasmed.

Just that touch triggered the most intense orgasm of her life.

Charisse buried her face in the pillow and screamed so long and so loud that it echoed through the high ceiling carved out of sheer rock.

Khalid lifted her in his strong arms.

He sat on the edge of the bed and held her tight.

Her body was still shuddering with aftershocks.

She held on tight to him and wept into his naked chest.

The self-loathing she’d clung to and how she’d never been able to look at her scars without feeling physically ill, along with the ultimate betrayal by the person who’d brought her into this world, a person who was supposed to protect her, all those complex emotions exploded through her system and threatened to devour her very soul.

She wept for the girl she’d been before death had robbed her of her sister, of her mother.

She wept for the broken girl who had arrived in Onuur.

And God knew she wept for the woman she’d need to become for the husband she loved with all her heart.

All Charisse could do was to hang onto the man who’d forced her to confront and accept the physical consequences of the darkest time in her life.

She had no idea how long she wept.

It could have been minutes or hours, but when she raised her head to look at the man who’d refused to let her hide from her demons and still held her tight, the expression of self-loathing on his fabulous face nearly stopped her heart.

With unsteady fingers, she swiped the tears from her face.

“Khalid. Look at me.”

He did and she’d never seen eyes so bleak as they stared into hers.

“Do you see what kind of man I am? Even though you’re sore and still healing I can’t keep my hands off you. Do you know what I want to do to you? I want to ride you hard, and ride you fast. This is why I didn’t come near you.” He pulled her into his body, rested his cheek on top of her head. “I can’t trust myself around you.”

His voice shook with something like desperation as he rubbed his cheek on her hair. His erection, rock hard, dug into her hip. And even though she’d had an amazing orgasm, her body still ached from a lack of completion she now knew only he could give her.

“I want you. I need you inside me,” she whispered.

His big body shuddered as he inhaled the scent of her hair. “It’s too soon. I’ll hurt you.”

And Charisse knew she had to find the courage to do what must be done.

With a shaky breath she rose to her feet to walk with a sinuous swing of her hips to a low backed couch.

As she bent over the wide arms of the couch, she heard him groan.

Praying to God that her voice didn’t wobble, she looked at him over her shoulder.

“Khalid. Do your husbandly duty.”

Husbandly duty?

For a stupefied moment, Khalid could do nothing but stare at her.

What had happened to the sobbing woman in his arms?

Hadn’t he opened her eyes to the kind of man he was?

But no, yet again she had taken control.

The little witch.

Then the naughty girl wiggled her bare bottom, rolling her hips in a way that electrified his groin. Even more blood surged between his legs, tightening his boys so hard he thought he was going to disgrace himself.

Perhaps he could do this?

Perhaps he could take her from behind, taking care not to thrust too deep?

He stood and moved to stand between her spread legs.

Bending over her, his arousal pressed between the cheeks of her buttocks.

Taking the long plait of silver hair in one hand, he wrapped it around his wrist.

Gently bringing her head up, he brought his mouth to her ear and immediately the scent of her had him close his eyes tight.

She smelled fabulous.

“Husbandly duty?” he purred.

His erection nudged the slick heat between her legs.

“Yes! I want your child in my belly, my husband,” she whimpered.

Her words made something in his chest squeeze tight. They almost unmanned him as he found her hot, wet, entrance and slid inside, inch by inch.

She gasped, and turned her head inviting him to take her mouth.

He didn’t need to be asked twice. His mouth, and tongue, and teeth erotically plundered hers, and she gave as good as she got. And he shuddered. She was so unbelievably tight, so hot.

“Am I hurting you?” he panted, fighting a war of attrition to stay absolutely still.

“No,” she gasped again and tried to push her bottom back against him.

He kept a firm grip of her hip to hold her firm. Then bending his knees, he pushed his pelvis forward and back, forward and back, until he went further, deeper, and he hit the sweet spot deep in her channel. She screamed with pleasure as she tried to arch her back but his grip held her fast.

“More, harder,” she cried.

But Khalid gritted his teeth. He dare not let himself go. In his determination not to hurt her his big body tremored. Her body was pulsing, fisting around him to squeeze so hard he sobbed out a breath. He’d never, ever, felt anything like it. Through a brute force of will, he kept the pace slow and steady. It nearly killed him. Hard sobs broke from his throat with every single shuddering thrust of his hips. And Charisse was in just as bad a state. A part of his brain registered the amazing fact that their breathing had synchronised.

The abrupt clench of her core muscles contracted around him so strongly his eyes crossed. And an orgasm so deep, so powerful had her catch her breath before she came apart with a wail that triggered his own release. His own orgasm had him roar like a bull as his boys tightened too fast and her body gripped him even tighter drawing him further into her slick heat to milk him until he had nothing, nothing, left to give.

How the hell he lifted her and carried her to their bed he never knew because his legs were boneless.

He was shivering, as if gripped by fever.

Laying her carefully on her uninjured side, he stroked a trembling hand gently down her hip before tucking his arm under her breasts and holding her close, spooned against him.

Pulling the comforter over them, he inhaled the scent of her hair, of her warm, sexy body, of Charisse.

Emotions, too many to deal with, stung his eyes, burned the back of his throat.

Christ, he found it hard to think, hard to speak.

He cleared his throat. “Tell me I didn’t hurt you.”

Alarmed, at first he thought she was crying, then he sighed in relief when he realised she was laughing. “It’s been a big day. I drank champagne. You carried me in your arms. A nurse tried to kill me. I got married. Flew in a spooky helicopter to James Bond’s holiday home. You gave me a massage. And if I’m not pregnant with triplets after that it will be a miracle.”

A huge wave of emotions battered him again.

But as he inhaled the scent of his woman, Khalid knew he must be nothing less than honest with her. “I am not an easy man to live with,” he admitted in a gruff voice.

She wiggled her bare bottom against his groin in a way that made him groan.

Then she gave a tired but happy little sigh to settle snugly in his arms.

“It’s been a breeze so far.”

 

 

Copyright © C C MacKenzie 2014

 

LOL!

I’d forgotten how much fun, in spite of everything life had thrown at her, Charrise could be!

Tomorrow, Chapter Sixteen……

Christine X

THE GIFT THAT JUST KEEPS ON GIVING….. It’s the LH sneak peek…

 

 

The gift that keeps on giving

Hello, my darling readers,

It’s Friday and it’s the Ludlow Hall sneak peak time. Yay!

The Dower house…

Bronte was having a bad day. It’s half-term. And the children were driving her crazy.

She’s way behind with a mountain laundry—thanks to a washing machine Armageddon. The consequence of a blocked waste pipe, which she fixed herself. One of life’s great mysteries was how a sock had managed to find its way into the waste pipe. Smaller mountains of assorted dirty laundry littered the floor. Whites. Dark colours. PE kits. And baby clothes. Plus, a huge pile of bedding. Eve had thrown up last night. The child’s projectile vomit like something out of a horror movie. Which meant Bronte stank to high heaven of disinfectant, baby puke and sweat.

After too much pushy-shovey during and after breakfast, and in spite of their red-faced mother screaming at them at the top of her lungs to desist, the kids were banished to their separate bedrooms. Winter half-term, pouring rain, and bored kids, Bronte decided, was its own special kind of hell.

The sound of a car crunching over the gravel drive had her look to heaven. She hope to hell it wasn’t an unexpected visitor. If it was Rosie that would be okay, ’cause Rosie would sympathise and probably pour her a huge glass of wine. If it was a member of the local mums and tots group, she gazed at her clothes and sniffed her armpit, and decided she wouldn’t answer the door.

In the event it was neither.

Her husband walked through the door carrying a brown cardboard box.

She took one look at Nico, all dressed to impress in a smart dark suit and crisp shirt, silk tie, with not a freaking hair out of place, and she growled low in her throat.

“What are you doing home?” She checked the clock on the wall, just in case she’d lost track of time. “It’s only 2.30 in the afternoon. What’s this, a half-day?”

Nico, his gaze taking in the complete and utter disaster that was the laundry room, and breakfast dishes still littering the kitchen, read the situation easily enough.

His brows lifted.

“I brought you a present,” he said. “Although with that welcome, I’m not sure you deserve it.”

He gave her a huge smile.

She didn’t smile back.

“Piss off,” she hissed.

Nico winced.

“Trust me,” he said. “This will make your life so much easier, cara mia.”

Bronte moved to the sink, washed her hands, dried them, and turned to him.

“Do you want a coffee?”

Nico stepped over the detritus on the floor, placed the cardboard box on the worktop.

Grey eyes twinkling, he turned to her and opened his arms.

“Wanna hug?”

His wife simply gave him a bland stare.

“I stink of baby puke. I haven’t even managed to drag a brush through my hair. In fact, the way I’m feeling right now the last thing I want from you or anyone else is a hug.”

Nico ignored what had turned into a rant, and just grabbed her and held her tight.

His nose twitched.

She was right, she didn’t smell her usual fragrant self.

“Bad day?”

She snuggled into his chest and gave a heavy sigh.

“The worst, she muttered into his silk tie.

He smelled absolutely amazing, freshly laundered shirt, shower gel and the cologne she loved so much.

“I hate half-term,” she said.

Nico nodded.

“Don’t worry, he said into her hair and gave her another quick squeeze. “We will do this together.”

Bronte sniffed, step back and rubbed her hands on the legs of her jeans.

She studied the box on the worktop.

“Okay,” she said, and hoped to heaven it wasn’t some new piece of digital equipment. “Hit me with it.”

 

Nico shifted, opened the box and brought out what looked like a tall black tube.

Bronte just stared at it.

Her heart fell, it was a new piece of digital equipment.

Nico, on the other hand, looked thrilled.

He said, “It’s Alexa. And she is going to change your life.”

Bronte was not convinced.

She scratched her nose.

Folded her arms and cocked her hip.

“Okay,” she said, “show me exactly how that tube of metal is going to change my life.”

Nico took off his jacket hung it carefully over the back of a kitchen chair, rubbed his hands again, whipped out the instruction booklet and set up by linking it to their Wi-Fi and integrating the device from what he called, the mother-lode.

“It’s from Amazon.” He sent her a cheeky wink. “Its voice recognition artificial intelligence. All you have to do is tell Alexa what music you want to listen to, or turn on the radio, or order items from the store, and she does it. It’s like magic.”

Bronte, pouring two black coffees into cups, and lifted her brows.

She sank to a kitchen chair, folded her arms and just watched.

What was it with boys and their toys, she wondered.

It didn’t take long for Nico to set it up.

And within half an hour he had ordered a couple of items from Amazon.

Bronte reckoned she quite liked Alexa’s voice, she sounded friendly. And when Bronte asked Alexa to play rock music and she did, she couldn’t help but laugh.

“That is so cool,” she said. Her temper improving by the minute.

Looking pretty pleased with himself, Nico dropped a kiss on her cheek.

“I’ll have a shower. I’ll be down in a couple of minutes and I’ll help you with all this. There’s nothing we cannot do when we work as a team.”

Well, Bronte had to agree with that sentiment.

She strolled out the door with him, and gave his tight butt a pat.

“Maybe we could shower together and save water?” she whispered.

His strong arm came around her waist. “Just what I was thinking,” he said in a deep, growly voice.

As Bronte and Nico strolled out the door, a little blond head appeared slowly, very slowly, from behind the back of a lilac velvet sofa.

Sophia, dressed in pink leggings that hit above her ankle, and an oversized white hoodie that proclaimed, ‘The Snuggle Is Real,’ and clutching a battered looking Raggedy-Ann doll,  strolled over on bare feet to check out Alexa.

Emerald eyes wide, she placed her arms on the worktop and stared unblinking at the machine.

“Hello, Alexa,” said Sophia.

***

Next morning, Bronte was busy at her twelve burner stainless steel hob, making a full English breakfast for her hungry horde. In a good mood, she shook her booty to a rock song via Alexa. The device was soooooo cool.

The peal of the doorbell had her yell, “Nico! Could you get the door?”

Si,” he yelled back from his study.

She heard him opening the door, and chatting to the postman.

A minute later, he walked into the kitchen-dining-living space, carting at least six cardboard boxes.

Her brows rose. “Good Lord, what’s all that?”

Checking the parcels, Nico shook his head. “I ordered two items.”

Using tongs to lift a pile of crispy bacon onto a plate, she placed the plate in the middle of the table. Wiping her hands on the tea towel tucked into the waistband of her black skinny jeans, she wandered over to find Nico using a sharp knife to open the boxes.

“From Amazon,” she muttered.

When Nico took out a large box of Lego—Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle, she goggled.

“Whoa,” she said.

The next box opened, it was like Christmas all over again, held more Lego—this time a BIG selection of Mighty Micros Spiderman VS Scorpion Street Showdown.

“Wow,” she whispered.

By this time, Nico’s shoulders shook so hard, he needed to take a breath as he opened box number three. A huge box of Mega Blocks for ages 1-5.

“Aww, that must be for Eve,” Bronte said, her eyes going all teary. “What’s in this one, it’s big.”

Nico opened it, and blinked. “Mio dio. It is the iScoot Blaze Tonio’s been after.”

Bronte picked up a receipt invoice, and bit down hard on her top lip. “Alexa ordered it. All of it.”

Her eyes met his as they turned their attention to another box.

A heavy one this time.

“What do you thinks’ in here?”

His grey eyes, twinkling, met hers. “There must be something you’d love to have.”

She shook her head. “I’ve no idea.”

When he opened it, she slapped her hand over her mouth. “Omigod. It’s the Tefal Cook4Me Multicooker. But… it costs a fortune.”

He opened the last box, it didn’t weigh much.

And Bronte collapsed into a chair laughing so hard, she nearly peed her pants.

It was a ‘Man Tin’ (Leads, Screws & Other Pointless Stuff I must keep.)

 

And right then, Tonio and Luca strolled into the kitchen.

They wore below the knee jean shorts and hoodies.

The boys stopped dead, and stared, wide-eyed, at all the goodies lined up on the table.

“Wow!” said Luca, diving on the Lego box. He held it in his hand as if it was the crown jewels. His beaming smile split his face. “This is sooooo cool. Thank you, papa!”

Tonio’s dark eyes flew to Nico as he grabbed the box containing the much-longed-for scooter.

Grazie. Grazie!”

“We’ll need to buy him protective gear for that,” Bronte whispered into Nico’s ear.

Si.

And then, without a word, Sophia slid into the room.

She wore soft blue jeans and navy hoodie.

Her big emerald eyes studied the toys, her brothers’ clear deeeeeelight, and then flicked to her mama and papa’s wide eyes as they watched her face.

“Um…,” she said, her fingers playing with her blonde tail.

“Um?” Bronte said in a soft voice.

Nico crouched down in front of his daughter, took her little hand in his.

“Were you speaking to Alexa?” he asked in a soft voice.

Sophia’s brows flew into her hairline. “She’s nice.”

Luca, carefully unwrapping Lego, glanced at his sister. “Who’s Alexa?”

Sophia, eyes glued to her papa’s, said, “Alexa? What time is it?”

There was a slight delay and then a woman’s voice said from the tall black tube, “The time is 9.20 am.”

Luca’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Wow! That is amazing,” he whispered.

Bronte ran her hand through his dark curls. “Isn’t it?”

“Did you ask Alexa for all of these?” He indicated the boxes on the table.

“Uh huh,” she said in a soft voice.

“Didn’t Alexa say how much they cost?” Nico wanted to know.

“Uh huh.”

“They cost a lot of money,” Nico said.

Sophia went nose to nose with her papa.

“I know.” Then she stroked a small finger down his cheek. “But you’re filthy rich, papa. We can afford a nice surprise now and then. And mama’s always wanted one of those Cook4Me pots because she works too hard looking after all the heathens in this family. So I asked Alexa to send one and she said yes.”

In response to the absolute logic of her statement, Nico grabbed her in a big hug.

“Your heart is in the right place, bambina.”

 

Meanwhile, Bronte couldn’t help but laugh.

Wait until Rosie heard all about Alexa.

Seriously, she couldn’t make this stuff up!

 

FINE

Hehehe!

Real life is stranger than fiction. This actually happened to someone I know. Not on the scale of Sophia. One dozen boxes of cake mix. LOL!

 

Christine X

It’s Monday and an exclusive book deal…

Happy Monday, my darlings.

The lovely people at Amazon have got BREAK THE RULES on #FREE  exclusive deal for a limited time. Come and get it and tell your friends.  (Link below new cover pic).

BREAKTHERULESJPG

GET IT HERE

 

 

Sean Kennedy had a simple rule when it came to women—if they were hard work—he didn’t bother.
Why put himself through unnecessary hassle?And then he met a blonde bombshell…

From the moment Sean Kennedy frisked T.C. he captivated her. The look in the bodyguard’s tawny eyes for her was too intense, insanely sexy and dominant. He was a powerful man who towered over everyone. And a man who believed he could have anything and anyone. Despite T.C.’s reservations, she had a night of passion with him. A night which brought the demons of her past into her present and her future.
Demons that have no intention of ever letting her go.
But Sean was a man prepared to fight dirty for the woman he wanted.
And a man who’d never lost a battle—yet.

 

Enjoy!

I’m working on the second part of the Desert Orchid duet, Desert Captive, coming soon. And beginning tomorrow I’m posting a chapter a day of Desert Orchid to get you in the mood.

Big hugs,

Christine X

Did you know Amazon have Break The Rules on a deal for two days?

 

Happy Wednesday!

We’re recovering from ex-hurricane Ophelia, which battered Ireland and the west coast of Britain. Ireland go the worst of it, poor souls. The storm brought all sorts of weird weather to the UK; twenty degrees with a hazy red sun that was seriously spooky.

Want proof?

My town on Monday 16th October:   unnamed

(HK Carmichael)

 

In other news, the lovely people at Amazon Direct Publishing have one of my Ludlow Nights books, BREAK THE RULES, on a deal for two days only. Remember that all of the stories set in the Ludlow Nights world standalone, so if you haven’t tried one then grab T.C. and Sean’s story now. I’m so thrilled readers LOVED this couple’s journey to their happy ever after as much as I loved writing it.

“I loved this book. The people come right off the page and you can feel every emotion. I can tell I will be re-reading it over and over. I will be sharing this with everyone.xxx”

“Absolutely loved this book,it was brilliant I’ve read all the Ludlow books they make you laugh,cry they are so enjoyable once you start to read you carn’t stop till you get to the end.So looking forward to the next book well done CC don’t keep us waiting to long.”

“Another emotional read from C C, once again laughed and shed a tear, loved catching up with other Ludlow characters.”

“This writer keeps you reading and put twists and turns in. She is amazing.”

Here’s the blurb

Sean Kennedy had a simple rule when it came to women—if they were hard work—he didn’t bother.
Why put himself through unnecessary hassle? And then he met a blonde bombshell…

From the moment Sean Kennedy frisked T.C. he captivated her. The look in the bodyguard’s tawny eyes for her was too intense, insanely sexy and dominant. He was a powerful man who towered over everyone. And a man who believed he could have anything and anyone. Despite T.C.’s reservations, she had a night of passion with him. A night which brought the demons of her past into her present and her future.
Demons that have no intention of ever letting her go.
But Sean was a man prepared to fight dirty for the woman he wanted.
And a man who’d never lost a battle—yet.

BREAK the RULES is the third installment of the LUDLOW NIGHTS series. It can be read as a standalone. But, to fully appreciate Sean and T.C.’s story, I recommend combining the reading experience with HIS RULES and HER RULES.

 

breaktherulesdeal

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE COPY – AMAZON

 

You’re probably all wondering where the hell I’ve been. Well, the bad news is that I’ve been chronically unwell with an arthritis flare, which has seriously sucked. It’s been one step forward and three steps back for months. Pain meds = brain fog. Brain fog = no writing. No writing = a cranky and miserable author. It’s taken months for the flare to burn out. Bleh. To make matters worse, most of my support team are based in the USA and they were impacted by hurricanes, Harvey and Irma. Between my illness and stormy weather everything came to a grinding halt.

The good news is that I’m slowly returning to writing after weeks of binge reading Georgette Heyer’s historical romances. I adore her work. She lifts the spirit. She makes me happy. And you’ll be glad to know that NO RULES is in final(!) revisions before returning to my editorial and proofreading team. Then I do the final(!) fixes. Then formatting. Then on pre-order on all distributors (iBooks, Nook, Amazon) to give readers a chance to grab it for a few weeks before it is exclusive to Amazon.

So fingers and toes crossed, I’ll be back on track soon.

Big hugs,

Christine X

 

 

 

 

 

His Rules is free on Amazon for a limited time.

HIS RULES FREE ON AMAZON

GET IT HERE

Happy Friday!

I’m thrilled to bring you HIS RULES free for a limited time on Amazon.

I’m working hard on the final edits for NO RULES, and it’s reading well. Because I want to keep ALL my readers happy, the story will go on pre-order everywhere for two weeks and for one week after release, before it heads over to Kindle Unlimited.

For fans of the Ludlow Hall series, I’m writing Gregorio Ancelloti’s story. This will be the eleventh book set in the Ludlow Hall world – where has the time gone? I love Gregorio soooo much and I’ve found an amazing woman for him. “Honey, I grind my pelvis for a livin’, no way am I the right woman for you.” Hehehe! This book will be available in all digital stores. I’ll keep you posted.

Don’t forget the Ludlow Hall sneak peeks will return at the end of August.

Hugs,

Christine X

Ludlow Nights – new series covers reveal.

twitterheadertherules3

HIS RULES AND HER RULES – READ FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED!

BREAK THE RULES AND NO RULES, COMING SOON!

 

Greetings,

The Ludlow Nights books have new covers. Each book stands alone within the Ludlow Nights world. The stories have a younger, romantic comedy vibe, which the awesome Gabrielle Prendergast of Cover Your Dreams has nailed.

Break The Rules is coming soon. I’m looking at early June. The book will be placed in all distributors for seven days to give iBooks and Nook readers a chance to grab it and then the book be available on Amazon only. As soon as it goes live I’ll let you know.

No Rules will be released at the end of July.

#amwriting #amediting

Hugs,

Christine X

My favorite bad boy becomes a man…

DESERTORCHIDNEWFBBANNER

Hi, guys!

A couple of my readers reached out to tell me they had no idea I had a romantic suspense out there in the digital book world. And that they loved it. DESERT ORCHID was released around the time my mother passed away, so I didn’t do a lot of promotion for it. This story has been a bit of a slow burn, but the reviews are stellar right across all the distributors so I thought I’d give peeps a gentle reminder.

What readers are saying –

‘Regarding the suspense aspect, there were enough twists and turns and heart-pounding scenes to keep me, a mystery writer, intrigued. There are hints at the end of more stories to come about these characters. I cannot wait!’

Kassandra Lamb, author of the Kate Huntington mysteries

‘In this book expect the unexpected it does everything you want, it makes you laugh, makes you cry and the steamy parts are all there. It is the total package. And while you think you make have already read a book similar, let me assure you, you have not!
I won’t repeat the jacket cover as what help is that,you already read that. The Heroine is no push over and she has a thing or two to teach her “rock star”.
If you love romance, laughter some intrigue and HEA then this is not a suggestion, its a must read. 🙂 The book is a total delight and I have read it three times already. Thank you C C Mackenzie’

Amazon reviewer

 

 

 

desertnew2 copy-USA (1).jpg

 

AMAZON USA     AMAZON UK    iBOOKS  BARNES & NOBLE   KOBO

There are plenty of thrills and spills in this one, here’s the back page and a sneak peak:

BLURB:

Think ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ meets ‘Taken’

He doesn’t want a country. He doesn’t want a wife. He doesn’t want love. He wants to forget.

 A young Arabian Queen must marry a wild, wicked and wilful Prince to save her people from civil unrest and protect the wealth of her Kingdom.

Charisse never expected to find love with a darkly brooding man who looks and lives like a rock star.

Growing up as a member of royalty isn’t everything it’s proclaimed to be. Khalid El Haribe learned that heartbreaking lesson five years ago and isn’t interested in ruling a small desert kingdom or marriage but he cannot forget the debt he owes his family. Perhaps doing his duty will atone for past mistakes? Meeting the beautiful and feisty Charisse comes as a pleasant surprise…the attraction between them burns as hot as the desert.

But tragic events in Charisse’s past threaten to destroy her Kingdom and her life, too. Can their fragile love survive?

 

EXCERPT:

Unfolding the stiff pages of the letter written by the fragile hand of her late husband, Charisse El Haribe’s fingers shook with the emotion that squeezed her lungs, her throat, and stung her eyes.

She shivered even though the temperature outside the palace, under a relentless sun, scorched the land at a steady forty-two degrees. Asim’s passing had been a blessed release for the ravaged shell of his body. But she still found it hard to believe he was gone. Poor Asim, his had been a life filled with suffering. His heart condition had been congenital, which meant no heir for the kingdom of Onuur. And Asim had borne his infirmity with grace, with a highly developed sense of humour and with fortitude.

As was the custom in her adopted land, Asim had been buried within twenty-four hours of his death.

Now she wondered how she could possibly carry on her life without him? The phrase was a cliché, but it was nevertheless very true that Asim had been her rock. And it wasn’t overly dramatic to say he’d saved her life, her heart and even her soul from certain destruction.

Had it really been six short years since he’d brought her, a traumatised sixteen year old, to this fabulous white palace? The structure had been built with Asim’s needs in mind, two thousand feet above sea level on the top of a mountain where the air was cool and clear, and where clouds sprinted across a magnificent expanse of a sky so blue it hurt the eye.

The faint scent of Asim’s signature cologne clung to the thick papers and his presence returned to her in an instant. With a deep inhale, Charisse pressed the missive to her lips. The scent eased the unremitting agony in her heart. And an extraordinary sense of Asim standing at her shoulder overwhelmed her. Even as the feeling brought her comfort, she knew he would expect her to face an uncertain future with bravery, with dignity. After all that he had suffered, the way he had courageously coped with the personal insults of a body reduced to skin and bone, the memory gave her strength.

Asim used to say that she’d given him extra years of life and Charisse hoped he’d been right. He’d been like a beloved father to her, a teacher, and most important of all, a true and loyal friend. And she’d loved him deeply with all of her fractured heart.

Ever since Charisse had been handed the letter from her darling Asim, by a stern-faced Minister of the Interior, she’d had the distinct sensation of waiting for an axe to fall.

The two women who sat opposite stared at her with eyes filled with grief and concern.

With a snuffle and a deep sigh, Boris’s immense head rested on Charisse’s knee. Big hazel eyes locked on her face. They were filled with unconditional love and an intensity that had her press a kiss to his shaggy head of fur the colour of tarnished silver. Charisse raised her index finger. The dog moved with a reluctance that made her bite down hard on her lip to lie on the floor beside his brother Rufus. Her raised brow had Boris hide his face in his paws and heave another great breath from his massive chest. Her Irish Wolfhounds were suffering the loss of Amir, too. She’d take them out for a run later with Diablo. Her stallion needed to vent his excess energy, and it would do her good to escape from the palace for a little while.

Clearing her throat, Charisse blinked to clear her vision and read the letter aloud to her captive audience.

“My darling, Charisse,

I am sorry to leave you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me, but God has need of me in heaven.

You brought joy, laughter, companionship and love to a lonely old man. You opened my eyes and my heart to what is possible for our people and for the future of Onuur. Namely, the children.

It is crucial that you continue your work, Charisse. And you must resume your studies! I know – nag, nag, nag.”

Charisse smiled into the swimming eyes of her sister-in-law, Yasmin. And into the brown eyes, sharp with a ruthless intelligence, of Arabella Faulkner, her bodyguard and trusted friend. Then she took a deep steadying breath and continued,

“You cannot return to the land of your birth. HE now wears a cloak of respectability and has become too powerful. You know too much, and that is dangerous. As I await to leave this earth, my greatest fear is that HE will attempt to strike you down. To prevent such an event I have already set in motion plans to secure your future. Plans that even a man such as HE dare not defy.

I have named Prince Khalid El Haribe as my heir. You must marry him within six weeks.”

 

Stunned disbelief had Charisse blink once, twice.

Her heart rammed to an emergency stop then roared too loud in her ears. She shook her head in denial of what she held in her hands written in black ink by that fragile hand.

She read it twice, three times.

Why?

Why on earth would Asim do such a terrible thing to her, to Onuur?

Looking up, she read her incredulity mirrored in the shocked eyes of her companions.

The dogs whined, and she silenced them with the lift of her forefinger.

A deep frown creased her forehead as she continued more slowly,

 

“I know you will be confused, even dismayed, by my choice of a husband for you, child. But please permit me to explain. Yes, Khalid is flawed. Yes, he is a womaniser. Yes, he is wild, wilful and out of control. But Charisse, there is nothing and no one you cannot tame if you can find it in your heart to forgive him and open your clever mind to his potential. Believe me, he has potential to be a great man and a good husband.

Now I am gone the stability of the country and the region is at risk. Greedy eyes are turned to Onuur. They will surely inflame unrest and undo all the good work we have achieved. Bloodshed, pain and loss must surely follow for the people of this land, which is why I have chosen Khalid.

He will bring with him the security and the stability of the house of El Haribe. The King and his sons are powerful and will protect you and our Kingdom. The King is in agreement with my plan. Look upon him as your father. The Queen will come to love you, too, if you give her a chance.”

 

Charisse gasped and jumped to her feet, the correspondence fluttering to a floor of polished white marble.

Two giant heads snapped to attention as the dogs rose as one and their butts hit the floor.

“I will not!” she cried.

The wolfhounds’ eyes, the colour of jet, tracked her as she paced to the open balcony and back. Wearing a loose top and flowing pants of ivory silk, her soft leather ballet pumps made little sound.

With a fluid movement of her long and lean body, clothed in black military fatigues, Arabella picked up the pages from the floor.

She stood and held out the letter to Charisse.

“Read all of it, Your Highness. We can have a nervous breakdown, if we need to, after we have all the facts.’

Charisse took a steadying breath even as her pulse was hammering in her throat and her eyes stung.

Arabella was quite right.

Where was her self-control?

Having a temper tantrum like a child changed nothing.

She wanted to cry enough tears to fill an ocean.

But tears changed nothing.

With a single nod, she took the letter and sank to the edge of the chair.

The dogs didn’t relax and their black eyes, anxious and watchful, never left her face for a moment. She couldn’t help it, her hand shook as she cleared her throat.

 

“Should you find yourself unable to marry Khalid, the White Palace shall remain yours in perpetuity. On your death it will return to the State. A sum of (she gasped) has been placed in banks in Switzerland for your personal use.

There are conditions to the marriage:

Khalid must not take concubines or another wife whilst you live.

He must provide you with a child within one year of marriage.

Good God!

If the marriage is annulled, the child will remain with you.

So you see, Charisse, you have a choice to make. Get to know Khalid. Open your mind. Help him find joy in service to our people. And at all times remember you are a Queen, beloved by the people of Onuur.

I die a happy and contented man, my darling, and for that I thank you.

Have courage.

All my love, Asim.”

 

Eyes stinging and with a hot rock lodged in her throat, Charisse folded the letter with great care and placed it on the table.

She felt the eyes of her companions on her as she stood, shoulders back and head held high. Like an automaton she moved towards open vast doors and stepped onto a wide stone terrace, which soared high above the valley below. Her sumptuous apartments covered the entire top floor of the palace. Asim had spared no expense ensuring her comfort, providing rooms that were light and spacious with the added luxury of private balconies. There was her office, a state-of-the-art kitchen, gymnasium, a lap pool, and covered deck for lazy days.

Not that she had many of those.

Charisse gazed out, unseeing, over the mountain tops and into the sea, miles beyond.

Up here, the climate was never still, never quiet.

A brisk wind toyed with the long tail of her platinum hair, whipping it around her face. The salty tang of the sea mixed with the scent of jasmine and tea roses planted in huge terracotta pots. A cry from above had her look up and narrow her eyes. A single raptor circled, gliding in the updraft of a cloudless sky.

Dear heaven she missed Amir so much.

But why had he never discussed his plans for the future with her?

They’d agreed never to keep secrets.

The ache in her heart swelled into unbearable pain as her face crumpled.

Her delicate fists pounded the top of the balcony.

A sympathetic hand touched her shoulder.

“Why didn’t he talk to me about this? Why am I not given time to grieve?” Charisse turned into Yasmin’s wiry arms and sobbed into her neck.

As she would an infant, her sister-in-law rubbed her back in lazy circles.

Her voice, filled with sorrow, was the merest whisper, “Hush, child. It has always been thus for the rulers of this land.”

Yasmin’s hand, the skin paper thin and wrinkled with age, tipped up her chin. Dark eyes identical to Asim’s stared into hers and Charisse recognised grief and a hideous loss. Gentle fingertips wiped the tears from her cheeks. Yasmin had lost her favourite brother and here she was acting like a spoilt child. And shame for her selfish outburst smacked her too hard. Yasmin kissed one cheek and then the other. “He prepared you for this day. The men have buried him and the women will weep. Asim was revered in this land. Your Prince has large shoes to fill.”

Charisse couldn’t stop the sting of outrage.

My Prince?”

She whirled, blue eyes blazing as she paced back and forth.

Alert, the dogs took positions in the shade and sat on their haunches like sentinels, one either side of the ornate arched doorway. Not once did their eyes leave her face.

“He’s a tom-cat,” she spat the words. “A drunk. A waster.”

“That’s right, your Highness, tell it like it is,” Arabella drawled and added. “Apparently, his art sells for a small fortune.”

Temper won the war of attrition with grief, and surged through Charisse.

She spun to face her friend with wide eyes.

“Have you seen what he calls art? If I want a visual lesson in what the intimate body parts of the female form look like, I’ll refer to a gynaecological compendium for facts, not fiction.”

Arabella winced at the tone.

“To be fair his work in oils has gathered critical acclaim.”

Bullshit.

Charisse wasn’t having that.

“Yes, by men who need to be titillated by Khalid’s so called interpretation of a clitoris, labia and perineum.” Utter fury spiked through the top of her head as her eyes pinned Arabella’s and it took everything she had to stop her voice shaking, to articulate every syllable, “There are children living in this continent who do not know what it is like to live without the unparalleled burn of an empty belly, who cannot imagine a future further than their next meal.” She took a very deep breath. “While he, who’s never known anything but health, wealth and a fawning society, does nothing but piss away his opportunity to make a real difference to his people.

“Oh, they might not have the good fortune to be born within the hallowed borders of Dhuma or Quaram, but our people are nomads. We are all brothers and sisters and we who rule have a responsibility to the hungry, the sick and the vulnerable of this region.”

 

Having heard it all before, and more, Arabella nodded.

“I’m not defending him. But he’s not had an easy time of it…”

Charisse flicked a hand, rudely interrupting her bodyguard and friend.

She wasn’t having any of that, either.

“He needs to get over himself and grow a pair. Onuur needs a real man, not a dick-swinging fool who cannot go six hours without a drink or a woman or three.”

“Charisse!” Yasmin’s soft voice held a censure that had anger leak out of Charisse like a deflated balloon.

God, she felt physically ill at the mere thought of such a man touching her.

She couldn’t do it.

Arabella frowned now, and sat at a stone table in the shade, drumming her fingernails on the table top. “You know we can’t believe absolutely everything they print in the press? Much of it is bound to be exaggerated.”

Charisse let out an unladylike snort that had Yasmin send her a look of mild reproach.

“If it swims like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck.”

Charisse’s temperament was usually easygoing. But now her temper bubbled and brewed quite nicely. And her chin tilted.

“He is not fit to lick my feet. And in my bed?” She hissed out a breath of sheer temper. “Never. I’d rather sleep with a…”

The shrill ring of the telephone, the land line, brought an abrupt end to her rant.

Arabella paused, waiting for her Queen’s nod of assent before picking up the receiver.

“Hello?” The bodyguard listened with a deepening crease on her forehead as her dark brows met over her nose.

Now what? Charisse wondered.

Arabella’s dark eyes flicked to hers. “Yes, I will inform her Highness.”

Arabella replaced the receiver and opened her mouth to speak when the distant whop- whop-whop of helicopters brought their attention to the land to the north of Onuur, to Dhuma.

Charisse stepped into her apartments, covered herself with a white hijab and stalked out to observe the approach of three vast military helicopters.

Vultures, she fumed.

As a mere woman, even as a queen, she had no rights.

The El Haribe Princes and their father would rule her land, her people.

Men who were so called modernists.

If she had to marry one, why couldn’t it have been the elder brother?

At least Sarif appeared to have standards, morals.

Although from what she’d seen on the news and on the internet Sarif’s face appeared to be carved from stone, his dark eyes too hard. Plus, he had a reputation for being relentless, even ruthless, in achieving his goals.

Emotions gripped her throat as a tsunami of guilt for the anger she felt with her late husband washed over her.

“Oh, my darling, what on earth were you thinking?” she whispered.

Her eyes narrowed into slits as the helicopters thundered around the Palace in preparation to land.

The racket, the vibration under her feet, spooked the horses in the stables far below and even from here she could hear Diablo’s frantic screams. The magnificent black stallion was already edgy since he’d picked up her grief and her pain. She’d need to take him out later and give him his neck or he’d be impossible for the stable boys to handle.

 

Helicopters the colour of the desert descended kicking up mini tornadoes, sand devils, in their wake.

And the analogy was not lost on Charisse.

One of them carried the very devil himself.

A man so bent on his own pleasure, on his own self-destructive needs, he’d even turned his back on his country, his people and his own family.

She needed time. Time to think. Time to plan.

Determination filled her heart. “I am in seclusion. I will receive no one,” she said, her voice firm and the tone harsh. And she hardened her heart to Yasmin’s sigh of disappointment.

“They won’t like it,” Arabella warned her.

Charisse kept her burning gaze on the helicopters hidden now among huge clouds of dusty sand as they settled outside the palace walls. Her people were covering their eyes and mouths with cloth to protect themselves from the sting of swirling sand. Since they’d never seen a military helicopter up close and personal, some of the children were holding their ears and screaming with fright and shock.

Anger felt a hell of a lot better than guilt and Charisse gave it free rein now.

Stupid, ignorant, macho fools.

Did they not realise the damage they were inflicting on a people and animals unused to such arrogant behaviour.

How dare they arrive at her home in such a manner.

“I will come to them when I am ready. Not before.”

*Finito*

I hope you enjoy reading Charisse and Khalid’s rocky road through villainy, mistrust and a scorching lust, to true love, as much as I loved writing them.

Christine X

A DADDY FOR DAISY – OUT NOW – DO I HEAR A YAY?

daddy copy1024

 

H and I went to bed last night after placing DADDY FOR DAISY everywhere, and thinking that it might (we’d been told) be a couple of days before it entered the stores. We woke up this morning and the wonderful people at iBOOKS and AMAZON had it up in three hours. Wow. Thank you so much. Without further ado, here are the buy links (we’ll post KOBO and NOOK when we get them):

 

AMAZON USA   AMAZON UK   iBOOKS USA   iBOOKS UK

SHE’S HERE AND SHE’S BAD

 

A wise man once said,

 ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it…..’ 

Pastry chef Rosemary Gordon had worked hard her whole life to be successful… Now the wedding cake business she runs with best friend Bronte was winning awards life should be perfect…

But Rosie has a deep, dark secret…

And the steadily bubbling chemistry with Bronte’s brother, Alexander Ludlow, has suddenly become way too hot to ignore…

 

009 Rosie

 

On Amazon & Smashwords

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most of you will know that I’ve been sweating slaving away editing, revising, editing, revising Run Rosie Run.

Well as of about three hours ago, she’s gone out into the sticky fingers of my readers.

Strangely enough you might think this is a time for euphoric joy and relief. But not for me. I’m feeling sort of sad and bereft, even though I’ll be working on her and the other characters in the first three books over the rest of the series.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is to explore the relationships in Reckless Nights In Rome,  A Stormy Spring and Rosie as they progress. In Run Rosie Run I return to Bronte and Nico from the first book in the series and see how their relationship is coping with life’s little challenges.

So it’s not as if I’ll never see Rosie again. But gosh, I’m going to miss her crazy, zany personality.

Do you guys have fictional characters you’d like to meet again?

If so, who are they?

Share them with us, you know I adore hearing from you.

And going forward we’re celebrating Christmas on this blog!

Christine X