Excerpts

Chade, Elemental Paladins: Book Three

Chade cover

Cali groaned as she rolled over, her face coming into contact with a flat, hard surface. She reached out to poke and prod at the offender. It didn’t move but it was strangely cool … and strangely enticing. Her fingers seemed to have a mind of their own as they wandered over the smooth expanse of – shit! It was the smooth expanse of a naked muscled back! She went statue-still as she ordered her brain to play catch up with the last few hours.

As promised, Max had given her and the new love birds the weekend to themselves. Said lovebirds had driven into the city for a night of good food, good wine and no doubt, even better sex. While she had decided to drive just a little further north up the coastline to a slightly larger town with a big tourist population. It was only an hour or so drive from their own little slice of heaven but it had much more diversity by way of nightlife; had to keep the tourists happy after all. There was a funky little bar that had a decent DJ and dancefloor that she liked to frequent … and liked to get lucky at. Max had been right; it had been far too long since she had indulged in the simple pleasures of a whiskey, a dark hotel room, and the company of a mysterious but hot stranger. Not that she was easy, she assured herself, but ever since the fiasco of her old liege, she much preferred to choose the who, the time, and the place for her sexual endeavours.

As such, whenever she felt an itch she made sure she kept all her liaisons casual. Sometimes she would see a guy a handful of times for a mutually beneficial relationship but more often than not, she would venture out and find herself a willing looker to spend a few steamy hours with. She would then hightail it out of there before she had to give out a fake phone number and even faker conversation. It was only one or two times a year – it’s not like she was a slut or anything. Besides, if it was good enough for the male species it was damn sure good enough for her.

But this here was very strange. She never fell asleep next to a stranger despite the fact that she could kick most anyone’s arse. She had her fun and then poofed before the sun rose, just like Cinderella … or okay, more like a vampire, whatever. So why was she still sitting here stroking a leanly muscled back as the sun began to peek over the horizon? She had to have drank some bad whiskey … or bad vodka … or bad tequila. No matter what is was, it was clearly bad to have made her brain so fuzzy and her hand so wandery.

The back moved and Cali held her breath, praying to the Great Mother that he didn’t wake. Surely Mother Nature was on her side – she was a chick after all. Seems girl power was in the air for the back didn’t move again and she was able to slip out of bed and drag on her scattered clothes, sans bra – she had no clue where that was. Easing the door closed behind her, she sucked in air like a dying woman. She must have been holding her breath the entire time. Close call, Cali. Picking her way across the hotel carpark, she found the Order’s car easily enough and slid into the driver’s seat. Instead of turning the Dodge over though she simply bashed her head against the steering wheel as the previous night’s adventures returned with a vengeance. She didn’t suffer the same affliction as her buddy Darius did when he drank to excess. She didn’t lose her memory completely but sometimes it took a while for her fuzzy brain to catch up. Although, that could also be due to the lack of caffeine in her system.

Coffee. She needed coffee like she needed air. Starting the car, she eased out in search of the closest McDonalds. An image of herself throwing her unsuspecting victim against the hotel room wall as she practically shredded his shirt burst into her cerebral cortex. Goodness – she had been a little wild. Maybe she had waited too long to scratch that itch. Or maybe it had been due to the insane chemistry she seemed to have with the sexy stranger. The moment she laid eyes on him she had felt heat spark between them, almost tangible in its intensity. Now she’d felt sparks before but nothing to this degree. Perhaps that’s why she had taken him back to her room despite the fact that he hadn’t even been at the bar.

Copyright 2016 Montana Ash. All rights reserved.

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Paladin, Elemental Paladins: Book Two 

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“We should start getting ready for tonight.” Diana announced.

Max turned to her from Ryker’s arms where she was securely snuggled. “Tonight? What’s happening tonight?”

“We’re hitting the town! Karaoke baby!” Lark crowed.

Max’s initial full wattage smile dimmed and froze in place as the colour leached out of her face. “What did you just say?”

Lark paused, eyeing Max warily. “Um … karaoke?”

“Why do you hate me?” Max looked so forlorn it was almost comical.

“What? We don’t hate you! What are you talking about?” Poor Lark.

“Why else would you want to take me to such dens of torture? Why else would you want to punish me in such cruel, horrific ways?” She spouted dramatically. Diana could see Ryker rolling his eyes from behind his small love.

“I take it you’re not a fan of karaoke …” Diana took a stab in the dark.

“Absolutely not! Lucifer himself dreamt up that little peach of a nightmare. And it won’t die! It just won’t die I tell you!”

“Lucifer isn’t real, Max.” Darius argued, rationally. As if that was going to help.

“Oh yes he is! I’ve met him. And do you know where I met him?” She pointed an accusing finger to the sky. “That’s right! It was in a karaoke bar! Never again! Oh no, never again …” She muttered, shuddering from head to foot.

Axel was eyeing Max, deep in thought. “Does this have something to do with the donkey and the train thing?”

“Hush! Quiet you! We do not speak of such things!”

As amusing as this was – and it was very amusing – Diana was keen to get the show on the road. “Fine. No karaoke bar. But we are still going out.” She could do with a few stiff drinks herself.

“Definitely! Let’s go to Dave’s Dive.” She offered with enthusiasm.

Ryker grimaced, “Dave’s? Max that place is filled with degenerate humans and smells like body odour, sweat and failed dreams.”

“I know! Perfect right?” She smiled cheekily, “Besides, it’s where I first met you guys. It has sentimental value.”

Diana looked around at everybody and received various nods and shrugs. Looked like they were going to Dave’s Dive.

“Oh, and …” Max added, “… let’s invite Caspian, Leo and Lawson. And maybe Fawn and her paladins – they seemed nice too – a little reserved, but that’s nothing a bottle of tequila wouldn’t cure. Oh, and the triplets! We’re definitely inviting the triplets!”

Uh oh, Diana thought. What had she done?

*****

“Dance with me.” Max demanded to her lover. They were about hour four into their evening at Dave’s. The human bar owner had raised his scarily hairy monobrow when he saw them enter but hadn’t said anything and had continued to serve them drinks as the night progressed. He had even plugged in the sad excuse for a jukebox in the corner. Diana couldn’t believe the thing even worked, it was so old. But it did have a great mix of old school tunes on it. Ryker seemed to have some kind of relationship with the owner, if she wasn’t mistaken, so she was sure that helped too.

“I don’t dance.” Her captain responded flatly to Max. He wasn’t drinking – half of them weren’t. Some of them had to ensure they were protected.

“Not even sexy dancing?” Max cajoled.

Although his brown eyes lit up at the word sexy – typical male – he still shook his head. “Not even.”

“I’ll dance with you, honey.” Beyden volunteered. He had been drinking, but only a little and was a far cry from tipsy. It was good to see him so relaxed. He jumped up and steered Max towards the dance floor. The beast paladin then proceeded to lead Max in an intricate series of steps, his hips and shoulders moving with a fluid grace as they glided across the ‘dance’ floor.

Ryker raised his eyebrows, “I didn’t know he could dance!”

Diana rolled her eyes, watching her fellow knight’s hips move appreciatively. “The man is Spanish, Ryker. He could Pasa Doble before he could walk.”

“I’d be careful, Captain.” Cali smirked, cheekily. “You know what they say; a man who can move his hips on the dance floor, can move them off the dance floor.”

“Dip me! Dip me!” They all watched as Max’s thick, long red locks brushed against the floor before Beyden righted her again, leaving her breathless and flushed.

Diana was really enjoying herself. It was nice to see everyone relaxed and enjoying each other’s company. As promised, Caspian, Leo and Lawson had been invited as well as Fawn and her paladins. The latter had declined due to duties, she assured them, not because she hadn’t wanted to come. But the triplets were here, much to Ryker’s displeasure. The three identical gorgeous specimens were proof there was in fact a God or a Goddess in Diana’s opinion. She watched as they talked with Leo and Lawson and saw the appreciative gleam in Caspian’s eyes. Sure he was very much in love with his partner, Lawson, but he wasn’t dead. He gave her a wink when Lawson wrapped an arm around him, pulling him closer to his side. Diana winked back, appreciating the playfulness of the Warden of Water.

Ten minutes later, a breathless Max and a flushed Beyden re-joined them. Their numbers at the table had dwindled to Axel, Lark and Cali. Ryker and Darius had begun talking shop and Cali had firmly moved them along with Leo and the triplets, saying; ‘This is the fun table!’

“Thanks, Bey. If you could set it up, that would be great.” Max was saying as she took her seat and picked up a waiting shot of vodka. Diana shuddered as Max downed it in one healthy swallow.

“Set what up?” She asked, curious. She hoped Max wasn’t up to anything too bad.

“Bey is going to introduce me to his sister.”

“Ivy?” Diana asked, a little surprised. Beyden didn’t talk about his sister too often. She thought maybe he was worried mentioning the Ranger would make them uncomfortable.

Max nodded her head. “Uh huh. She’s a Ranger so I expect she is one of the leading experts on the chades.”

Diana felt the others go still at the same time she did. Max frowned at them and gave them a serious look despite the bright blue drink she was now currently holding. “Did you think I was just going to let it go? I can be circumspect when I need to be. I have been giving Darius time but this is not an issue I am willing to drop. I will be conducting my own investigations – beginning with Ivy.” She stated.

Cali patted her arm. “Good for you. But not tonight. This is the fun table.” She reminded her and took the blue drink from Max, shotting it back. Cali was also drinking.

“Does that mean I’m not allowed to ask something about the bond?” Beyden queried.

“After that dancing, you can ask me anything you want, you sexy beast!” Max guaranteed him, causing heat to flush his cheeks.

“It’s just something I’ve felt through the bond today …” Beyden began a little tentatively.

Max gave her full attention to the man with the smooth dance moves. “What have I done now?”

“No, no! It’s nothing you’ve done!” He was quick to reassure her, “It’s just something I noticed with Ryker …”

“What about him?” She asked with a head tilt.

“Well …” Beyden looked at them but Diana could offer no assistance for she had no idea where this was heading. “Have you actually told Ryker you love him yet?” He finally blurted out. Ah, she thought. So she wasn’t the only one to notice their Captain’s insecurities.

Max’s head snapped back. “What? Of course! I tell him all the time!” She insisted.

Cali rolled her eyes, tipping back her Corona and draining half the bottle. “It doesn’t count if you say it when you’re orgasming.”

“Why? That’s when I mean it the most.” Max pointed out logically.

Axel snorted once, then chuckled, then laughed so hard he had tears seeping from his eyes. “Oh, Max. If only I’d have snagged you first. You’re the perfect woman.”

She blew him a kiss and a wink. “See, Axel’s on my side. Besides, it’s not like he doesn’t know. He can feel it through the bond.”

They all could, actually. And it was genuinely lovely. A pure, non-selfish emotion given and taken freely without reserve or fear. She often had to reprimand herself when a tiny green-eyed monster reared its ugly head.  “Men need to hear the words, Hon.” She enlightened Max.

“Och! Men are so needy!” Max slapped her palm on the table as she rolled her eyes in exasperation. “I’ll fix it.” She assured the table in general, holding up a placating hand.

Copyright 2016 Montana Ash. All rights reserved.

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Warden, Elemental Paladins: Book One

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“Are you going to introduce me?” Max asked Ryker. Although his eyes spoke volumes, his mouth did not. “I’ll take that as a no. Hi, I’m Max.” She smiled widely at the newest primo specimen in front of her as she held out her hand for him to shake.

“My name is Kane. It is a great pleasure to meet you, Max.” Kane practically purred as he took her hand and skimmed his lips over the top gallantly. The way he said the word ‘pleasure’ had Max believing that he would indeed be a pleasure … multiple pleasures in fact!

“Oh, my!” She twittered as she batted her lashes. Ordinarily, Max would think such flirtations were an insult to her feministic side but after the mass rejection of the paladins that morning, she was willing to go with the flow. She heard a low sound, oddly like a rumble or a growl and was just turning to place it when Kane’s brilliant white smile widened and revealed a matching set of dimples. Now that was just plain wrong! That such a masculine, mountain of a man, so rugged and virile would have those boyish little dimples … sigh! Looking around she noticed the band of merry misfits watching the exchange with varying degrees of amusement, shock, censure and approval. The approval, of course, coming from her fellow chica Cali.

Max tried to return her attention to Kane only to be distracted by that grumbling sound again. She pivoted and narrowed her eyes at Ryker. “Are you growling?”

“No!” Ryker growled.

Shrugging off the antisocial, perpetually premenstrual paladin, Max opened her mouth to ask Kane if he wanted to join her for a drink when her brain decided to have a seizure or something. Standing in front of her was not one, but three Kanes! They wore identical expressions of lust and had identical gleams in their eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she apologised, “but I think I may have just had a stroke. You seem to have multiplied.”

The three Kanes laughed in tandem. “No stroke.” Kane the Second assured her. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with your fine self. I’m Kai, and this is our baby brother Kellan.” Kai bowed graciously and indicated the remaining look alike to his left.

Kane the Third tilted his head and flashed his own set of killer dimples. “By baby, he means by two minutes. I promise you, there is nothing babyish about me.”

Max held up hands. “Wait a minute. There are three of you?”

The three K’s grinned devilishly whilst nodding their heads. Not one to believe in such luck immediately, after all, some hallucinations could be very vivid, Max turned to Cali for confirmation, “There are three of them?”

Cali widened her eyes comically and mouthed silently but distinctly, “There are three of them!” Her words held more power because of their silence and just like that, Max believed in Santa Claus again!

With nothing intelligent left to say, she simply twittered another, “Oh, my!” as she battered her lashes once again.

“You said that already!” The snarl from Ryker rudely interrupted Max’s in-brain movie of herself in a sweaty triplet sandwich. She shoved him with her shoulder not even sparing him a glance as she spoke to the trio.

“Don’t mind him. He has some kind of brain disorder that I haven’t quite figured out yet.”

The choking gasp from Ryker could be heard over the several loud snickers and chuckles. Max rolled her eyes, “See what I mean?”

Clenching his jaw, he rumbled, “Would you please try to contain yourself? It’s embarrassing!”

“Who’s embarrassed? I’m not embarrassed. You guys embarrassed?” She asked the triplets and received three vigorous head shakes. She turned to Caspian, “Yo, Cas. You embarrassed?”

“No ma’am,” he replied swiftly, “you could very well live out a favourite fantasy of mine if you continue down this path.”

Lawson gave him a playful swat to the rump, “Watch yourself, brat.”

Max smiled, those two were so cute! She tucked her unruly hair behind her ears and stood a little straighter, causing her breasts to push against her tee shirt. Good posture was very important. It was times like these that she wished she had some nicer and newer clothes, maybe a little make-up or hair product. And wow, was she really standing here lamenting over her lack of feminine wiles? She had truly hit rock bottom but what was a girl supposed to think when she was a frumpy dwarf surrounded by a bunch of beautiful amazons? She was so out of her league, but if Ryker and the others didn’t want her then she would damn well prove that somebody else did. The three hotties in front of her were a good place to start.

“How about I buy you boys a drink?”

The middle one, Kai, smiled. “Drinks are free here.”

Max grinned back, “Even better.”

A giant shadow seemed to suddenly block out all the light in the room. Max craned her head back, back, back, only to see a scowling Ryker directly behind her, his oversize head obstructing the above light. Max could tell by the look in those yummy eyes of his that he was going to ruin all her fun.

He flicked his eyes forward. “Go away now.” Just three little words but it was enough to bring about a flurry of movement. Although Ryker insisted they weren’t the most respected paladins in the room, it looked like they were the most feared for everyone scattered including the three pretties.

“That was not appropriate behaviour.” He intoned.

Max spun around and poked a finger into his hard chest, “Are you kidding? Those three are my reward for being a lone wolf all these years! I totally deserve them! You can’t have them!” Max yelled a little hysterically at seeing her new toys slip through her fingers.

Ryker rolled his eyes, completely unmoved. “You’re being ridiculous. You can’t keep them.”

“Actually, she can. Isn’t that the whole point of coming here today? So she could be introduced to unbound paladins and find those who would share their vitality?” Cali inquired.

“It’s not going to be them.” Ryker stated.

Cali placed her hand on a slim hip, “And why is that?”

“Cali …” Ryker’s low voice held a warning that she was pushing him past his limits.

“Ryker …” Wow, Cali had a pretty impressive growl of her own.

“That’s it. Show and tell is over. We’re leaving.” Ryker actually grabbed Max by the arm and began dragging her from the room. She managed to throw a ‘nice to meet you’ over her shoulder at Caspian before she found herself outside once again.

“Hey! Wait a minute Bullwinkle. You can’t just drag me around like a piece of meat. I heard you lecturing the pretties about respect, how about you start showing some?” Max demanded, hands on hips. The others had followed them out and she noticed they were standing around her in various poses of displeasure. Looks like they were on her side for once.

“Ryker man, she’s right. You can’t be treating a warden that way, especially not in front of the other paladins. It undermines her authority.” Beyden said.

Lark quickly followed up with; “And as a warden – a Life Warden nonetheless – her authority is absolute.”

Max tried not to look smug. It was nice to have defenders. Ryker ran his hands through his hair in exasperation as he appeared to take on board the criticism. She had to give him that at least; he always listened to his fellow knights and weighed and measured their opinions before forming a conclusion of his own. She bet he would have made a formidable Captain.

“You’re right. I apologise.”

Max nearly fell over. “Was that an apology? I don’t believe it.” She turned to a stunned looking Darius, “Can we stop at a newsagent on the way back? I need to buy a lottery ticket.”

“Yeah, yeah. Live it up while you can. I am sorry. I had no right to manhandle you but those three are not what I had in mind when I said you needed to bind yourself to your own paladins.”

“Heck, Ryker. I didn’t want to bind myself to Kane … I just wanted to sit on his face.”

Could someone go into a catatonic state while standing up? Because that’s what Ryker seemed to do. He was standing so still she wasn’t even sure he was breathing, he was no longer blinking, and his face looked like it was carved from granite. Max glanced around at the other paladins and saw various looks of astonishment on their faces; Darius was blushing, Axel was grinning seductively as if he was picturing Max on his face, Beyden’s amber eyes were wide in disbelief, Lark was laughing uproariously, and Cali was giving her a thumbs up sign. Clearly they weren’t quite used to her yet. Too bad they didn’t want to take the time to try, she thought, feeling dejected once again.

Copyright 2015 Montana Ash. All rights reserved.

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