Eighty-One Nights

Title: Eighty-One Nights
Duet: Beautiful Illusions Duet #1
Author: Georgia Cates
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 9, 2019

 

Beautiful, penniless American girl meets handsome, wealthy Scotsman.
Sounds like the beginning of a fairy-tale romance?
It’s not.
 
This story begins with a contract. 
And an exchange of money.
A lot of money.
 
An angel perches nervously on one shoulder.
A devil lounges smugly on my other.
And even that dark little bastard is leery of what I’m doing.
 
Maxwell Hutcheson wants the girlfriend experience.
All of it.
And I’m going to give it to him.
 
I’m not supposed to enjoy being his whore.
I’m also not supposed to fall in love with him.
But I do. Both.
 
When our contract expires, I will walk away.
Because I have to.
But he’ll always have a piece of me.
 
I’ll mask my sorrow with a smile.
I’ll hide my love with indifference
… all while it’s killing me softly.
 
A fairy-tale romance.
It isn’t mine to have.
And this man I’ve come to love so dearly isn’t my happily ever after.
About Eighty-One Nights: 
While the characters from Eighty-One Nights are entirely new, their storyline is a combination of fresh material and carefully selected themes, scenes, and settings from The Beauty Series, The Sin Trilogy, Dear Agony, and Indulge. This is intentional. I chose some of my favorite elements from previous releases and interjected them into Hutch and Lou’s story. Let’s call it a “story fusion” between our old favorites and new material. This work was briefly released under a pen name and was titled The Girlfriend Experience.

I’m standing on a platform, the wall in front of me covered with a floor-to-ceiling mirror. I feel like I should be trying on wedding dresses in a bridal boutique, waiting to say yes to the dress so that I can be jacked up with a veil and jewelry.

Cora taps the center of my back directly between my shoulder blades. “Stop slouching.”

She walks down the steps of the platform and looks up at me. “What is your European shoe size?”

“Thirty-six.”

“Valerie, bring the seventy-five-millimeter black peep toes in her size.”

Good Lord. This woman has an assistant for everything, even shoe fetching.

“We’ll begin your stride training with lower heels and work our way up to the higher ones.”

Cora is short like me, but you don’t notice until you look at her tall heels and see that four inches of her height can be attributed to her shoes.

Valerie returns and places the black pumps on the floor in front of me.

“Louboutins.” I didn’t intend for that to come out. And I definitely didn’t mean for it to sound so covetous.

“I understand. You’ve never had shoes like these, but your closet is about to be filled with countless pairs like them along with designer clothing and handbags. You represent Inamorata. You represent me. It’s crucial that you always look your best, but your job right now is to be my student. Listen to me and you’ll learn how to entertain some of the wealthiest and most influential men in Scotland.”

That’s a frightening thought.

“You aren’t at all concerned that your clients won’t like me?”

“You’re going to be a polished gem when I finish with you. No part of you will be unlikable.”

I’m pretty sure that she’s wrong about that.

“Not everyone loves Americans.” I’ve lived in Scotland for six years, but I still consider myself American—my first sixteen years were spent there.

“Inamorata clients are going to love that about you. You’re a different flavor from my other girls.”

I hear what she’s saying, but I look at myself in the mirror and can’t imagine any high-class Scotsman who would be willing to pay big bucks for my company. I’m nobody.

“What’s wrong, Caitriona?”

“I’m afraid.”

“Don’t be. I do background checks on every man before accepting him as a client. I reject anyone with even a hint of a questionable past.”

“That’s not the kind of afraid that I’m talking about.”

“Well, I need you to explain what that means before we go any further.”

It’s embarrassing to admit my fears. “What if they don’t think I’m pretty enough? Or smart enough? Or interesting enough?”

Cora claps her palms together twice, making a high-pitched slapping sound. “Everyone out. Now.”

Her three assistants scramble to get through the door, nearly running each other down. I truly believe that if Cora told them to jump, they would ask how high.

She comes up on the platform, standing behind me. She grasps my upper arms and looks over my shoulder at my reflection in the mirror. “Look at the woman staring back at you. Who is she?”

“Caitriona Louden.”

“You’re stating the obvious and it’s a waste of my time. Look deep inside of the woman in front of you, and find the wee lass beneath her surface.”

Find the wee lass beneath my surface? No way. That’s stupid.

I shake my head. “I don’t want to do that.”

“I don’t care if you want to do it or not. You’re going to if you want to work for me. The choice is yours.”

I contemplate walking out. I want to so badly, but I can’t. I need money.

“What do you want from me?”

“Start by taking a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and think about what you see.”

Long brown hair, thick and often unruly. Hazel eyes, more green than brown after I’ve had a good cry. Fair skin, a few scattered freckles across my nose and cheeks. Short and small-framed.

“Are you pretty?” Cora asks.

“According to others, I am. But I never was in my mother’s eyes.”

“What did your mother say to you about the way you look?”

God, you look just like that Scottish bastard. I heard that from her so many times that it became as much a part of my DNA as the X chromosome that he gave me. “She said that I looked like my father.”

“Did she hate him?”

“She did eventually.” His marriage to Heidi changed everything. My mother couldn’t take his being happy with another woman.

“She saw him when she looked at you?”

“Yes.”

“We grow up and become women, but no matter how old we get, we always have a wee lass living inside of us.” 

I’ve never heard anyone say anything like that, but I suppose it’s true at least to some degree.

“Tell me about the wee lass inside of you.”

Little Caity Louden. She’s not someone that I like to think about. Her story isn’t a happily-ever-after fairy tale. “Her father abandoned her before she was born. She was raised by a single mom in the trashiest part of New Orleans. Her mother worked at a bar on Bourbon Street, but she drank more cocktails than she served.”

“Keep going.”

“She learned at a very early age how to fend for herself because no one took care of her.” No one loved her. It’s hard to admit, even to myself only in my head, that the one person in this world who was supposed to love me unconditionally didn’t.

“And?” Cora says.

“Her tears ran dry and her delicate, soft heart hardened. It turned to stone.”

Cora nods. “Stone is strong and resilient.”

My eyes move to hers. “Stone is cold and resistant to penetration without being broken.”

“Also true.”

I look back at myself. “I’m damaged. Something’s missing inside of me. A piece of me is not here.”

Cora walks around and stands in front of me so that we’re face-to-face. “Strong people don’t have easy pasts, and the scars they carry prove that they are stronger than whatever tried to hurt them. You’re a warrior and a beautiful young woman who is deserving of good things and happiness. You’re special, Caitriona, whether you realize it or not. Our pasts aren’t all that different; I understand you far better than you can ever imagine.”

Cora’s words are… empowering and soothing at the same time.

She crouches, unnecessarily repositioning the shoes in front of me, and I see the act for what it truly is. She’s lowering herself and elevating me. “Toes go in first, beautiful warrior.”

I grow three inches when I step into the shoes. She stands upright, and it feels good to look this powerful, independent woman in the eyes. She makes me want to be stronger.

“Diamonds are beautiful. And they’re also flawed. They don’t crack but they do cut.” Cora places a finger beneath my chin, lifting it slightly, and looks directly into my eyes. “Be a diamond, Caitriona.”
Georgia resides in rural Mississippi with her wonderful husband, Jeff, and their two beautiful daughters. She spent fourteen years as a labor and delivery nurse before she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an author.

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Sea of Scars

Title: Sea of Scars
Author: Frances Paul
Genre: Military Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Cover Design: Deranged Doctor Design
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
I lost everything. 
 
My job. My family. My life…my sanity. 
 
How does a man come back from that? How do you right so many wrongs when the choices you’ve made caused those around you so much pain? 
 
My determination to prove I was strong enough and that my mind and spirit was unbreakable, tore my family apart. By refusing to accept the help I so desperately needed, I caused irreparable damage to the people I loved the most.
 
After everything I’ve done I didn’t think life would give me a second chance. But then I met Courtney. A beautiful woman with a troubled past, and scars that mirror my own. A woman who somehow manages to breathe new life into my soul.
 
Now I can’t help but hope that this might be my chance to make things right.

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Born and raised in Accra, Ghana and now living in Cincinnati, Ohio. A banker, wife and mother of two amazing kids. She finds writing to be a great passion of hers and a path she was born to follow. She began by writing short stories at a young age but deviated from the plan. Now, she has three published books and working on a few more projects. Besides writing, she’s a crazy tea lover, loves to travel, eat, and enjoys learning about different cultures. Authors she is inspired by are James Patterson, Nora Roberts and Sarah Pinborough. Hope you enjoy her books as greatly as she enjoyed producing them.

 

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Mason

Title: Mason
Author: Apryl Baker
Genre: Security Romance
Publisher: Crave Publishing
Publication Date: April 16th, 2019
Blurb:
Mason
Things were finally going right for Mason Kincaid—until everything went sideways when his father informed him he was going to stop his cancer treatments. Knocked off balance by that curveball, Mason might have said something impulsive, and now he’s in hot water.
He’s engaged. His girl just doesn’t know it…yet.
But as it turns out, that might be the least of his problems. He pissed off the wrong people and finds himself on the wrong side of the law, all while trying to deal with a threat to his girl, which is quickly spinning out of control.
Josephine
Josephine Maxwell is used to being in the spotlight, having one of the most popular gaming channels on YouTube. So when a package shows up with a cryptic note inside, she assumes it’s a joke.
Only it doesn’t end with a package. Gifts start to arrive for her at her sorority house with threatening notes, followed by emails and texts from an unknown and increasingly frightening caller.
What she assumed was a twisted prank turns potentially deadly for her and Mason, and the clock is quickly winding down on their chances for survival.
Jo’s had enough challenges in her life, and now she must fight to stay alive while the Kincaids rush to identify the threat and find her before it’s too late.
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Kade | Viktor | Mason
 
So who am I?
Well, I’m the crazy girl with an imagination that never shuts up. I LOVE scary movies. My friends laugh at me when I scare myself watching them and tell me to stop watching them, but who doesn’t love to get scared? I grew up in a small town nestled in the southern mountains of West Virginia where I spent days roaming around in the woods, climbing trees, and causing general mayhem. Nights I would stay up reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the covers until my parents yelled at me to go to sleep.
Now, I live in a small town in West Virginia where I entertain my niece and nephew and watch the cats get teased by the birds and laugh myself silly when they swoop down and then dive back up just out of reach. The cats start yelling something fierce…lol.
I love books, I love writing books, and I love entertaining people with my silly stories.
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Crafting Love

 
 
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Crafting Love
by A.E. Gamrat
 
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Series: Wine & Furniture; Book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 
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I, Kelly, am a small-town girl and love my small-town world. I get to work with two amazing, entrepreneur women. One makes wine, the other makes furniture, and I help to sell it it. On a sad, lonely night I bought myself a Cricut machine and I haven’t looked back. Now people call me the Cricut Queen. I even have a YouTube channel with a few thousand followers. Some friends and family can’t grasp my need to stay busy. Nights can be very lonely and quiet.
 
A night of Karaoke changes everything.
 
Kirk draws me in at hello and I don’t want to look away. He’s everything a girl could want. Nice, funny, could dance alongside the boys in Magic Mike. Yes, that hot. He is also very good with his hands and offers to help fix my leaking basement with his cousin. A friendship is born.
 
Love is a touchy subject, but a relationship can’t be ignored.
 
Between my crazy girlfriends, a budding relationship, and a jealous woman, this decade is starting off on a wild ride. The real question is: who will make it to the end?
 
 
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About the Author
 
Growing up writing was second nature that soon become a distant memory. Turning 30 (not saying when) that memory was going to be brought back to life. Lover of all books I try to grab my audience in and never let go. Hoping to get all these thoughts and ideas down for everyone to enjoy, even if it’s a moment or a life time.
 
This is the new chapter of my life story. Hope everyone enjoys!
 
 
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Renegades

Title: Renegades
Series: Badlands, Next Generation
Author: Natalie Bennett
Genre: Erotic Dark Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2019
Cover Design: Darqi Bernardo

 

𝘖𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘭’𝘴 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘯𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴.
I want power.
Cam wants penance.
I’ve got a black cult religion backing my decisions.
He’s got demons hungry for carnage.
Everything was going smoothly.
And then she found us.
Now we’ve got an angel locked in a cage.
She’s the forbidden fruit we’re supposed to beware of, but something carnal is growing between us, and the snake was always the best part of that story.
Now war is brewing on the horizon, and we’re preparing for the hellfire that will rain down around us.
Fresh blood will spill across the Badlands, secrets will be taken to early graves, and we’ll be the ones paving the way for the next generation.
𝘍𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦.
𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘸𝘰 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯. 𝘐𝘵𝘴 𝘣𝘳𝘶𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘸𝘰 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮.

 

  

Natalie Bennett is the creator of erotic stories that always come with a warning label. She writes about depraved alpha a**holes and women that love to hate them. Her books don’t follow any specific tropes, have no set word counts, and tend to deviate from traditional HEA’s.
 
When she isn’t in front of her computer she’s spending time with her husband and their three little boys.
 
Natalie is an avid fan of caramel frappes, horror movies, Shameless, and of course, reading.
 
You can find Natalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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The Pieces that Built Him

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The Pieces that Built Him
by Amber Lacie
 
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Series: Pieces Collection; Book 2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
 
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The world was at my fingertips and I lost it, leaving my heart shattered as everything slipped through my fingers. But I had to let it all go. In truth, I am my own worst enemy.
 
Revenge was the only thing I cared about until her. It consumed me. It also pushed the only good thing I had away.
 
Now I’m fighting for the life of the woman I love, all because of a past I wouldn’t walk away from. Like I said, I’m my own worst enemy. The pieces I’m made of are bent, broken, and sharp. I cut everyone I love. But I won’t lose her.
 
Her life is on the line, and I’m going to save hers with mine …
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Irresistible

Title: Irresistible
Author: Tara Vasser
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Cover Designer: Dawn Til Dusk Designs
Models: Chase and Mandy Borst
Publisher: Winter Musings LLC
Publication Date: April 11, 2019
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb:
Buried as punishment for a crime he didn’t commit, Endre has nothing but time to plot revenge on his betrayer. Salvation arrives when an archaeology student unwittingly exhumes his coffin and provides him with the first blood he’s tasted in nearly a century.
Upon awakening from an attack by a creature she never imagined actually existed, Nora discovers she is now his hostage. Forced to accompany Endre from Italy to Paris on a quest for vengeance, she is thrust into his dark and forbidden world where she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the Vampire. Lust runs rampant throughout the course of their journey and Nora begins to question if the irresistible connection between them is more than mere biology.
Tara Vasser is a wicked writer who lives in the frozen north in Minnesota with her wonderful husband and two rambunctious little dudes. She is an engineer during the day, a crazy mom in the afternoon and a writer at night. She enjoys spending her time playing in the dirt when her gardens aren’t covered in snow and listening to a wide variety of music that inspires her writing – sometimes doing both at the same time.   

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PROLOGUE
1923 – Italy
Endre sat beneath the shadow of a massive cork tree in his garden, reading the newspaper as he watched the first rays of sunshine peek over the hills to the east. It was a pity he could not give his full attention to the beautiful view, his mind burdened with the troubling headlines. Folding the paper with a deep sigh, he pushed the paper and his thoughts of Mussolini’s latest moves to overtake parliament to the side. Perhaps it was time to leave Italy and move on to greener pastures. There was an ominous scent in the wind, and it spoke of the death and destruction on the horizon.
Endre was no stranger to war and chaos, having been born a warrior. When conflicts arose in the world around him, his hands always itched to take up sword and shield. But of course, those days of ending wars with steel were over. Now, the weapons of choice were guns and bombs. There was no honor in that. No promises of glory or feasting in the halls of Valhalla when so little skill and preparation was involved.
Valhalla or no, the political climate of this region was no longer hospitable to his research. Secrecy was completely necessary, and the alliances Gregor had forged to provide Endre with supplies for his lab would not stand the threat this new breed of fascism posed. Glancing over at the horizon, he frowned. He had been out here long enough; it was time to retire for the day, and he would allow his dreams to conjure his next moves and put new plans into place when twilight fell. Endre picked up his paper and made his way toward the door when the noise of automobile tires crunching over the gravel drive and shouting stilled his movement.
“Back here! In the garden!” a voice hollered from the garden entrance.
A man dressed impeccably in a suit with a homburg gracing his head stood at the entrance of the sanctuary. Endre did not recall his name, he only knew the man as one of Lorenzo’s bodyguards. The man gestured wildly in Endre’s direction.
Several more of Lorenzo’s bodyguards filed in behind him, posturing menacingly.
Confused, Endre watched the men as they lined the perimeter of his garden, violating his last few moments before the sun crested over the hill. “What is this? Where is Lorenzo?” he scoffed, standing his ground when they surrounded him where he stood, preparing to fight if the need arose.
“I am here,” Lorenzo’s French-accented voice called leisurely from the garden entrance as he strolled forward and casually buttoned his suit jacket.
Sighing with relief, Endre relaxed at the sight of his friend.
Lorenzo sauntered into the garden lazily, stopping to inspect a blossom before meandering his way through his men to stand in front of Endre.
“And to what do I owe this honor?” Endre questioned suspiciously, watching Lorenzo carefully. It was much too close to dawn for them to be conducting business.
“Endre, you have been charged with murder,” Lorenzo recited in a bored voice, placing his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels.
Endre’s head jerked back as if he had been struck. Murder? He was being charged with murder? “And who is it exactly that I am supposed to have killed?” Endre demanded, outrage making his voice boom through the still morning air.
“Count La Rossa.” Lorenzo sighed sadly. “Why did you do it, Endre?”
“You cannot be serious.” Endre balked, sure this was some prank. “Gregor is dead?”
The men surrounding him took a step closer, as if of one mind.
“I did not kill Gregor,” Endre protested, though he found himself falling back on his training from another life and crouched into a fighting stance.
Several more men joined the mob, men from Gregor’s guard, flanking Endre now with more than a dozen men. At most, he could take out half of them before they would bring him down, leaving another half dozen to beat him mercilessly and likely kill him in the process—merely for resisting. Any defiance would be futile, but he would not go down without a fight, especially for a false charge.
Lorenzo shook his head sadly at Endre’s change in demeanor, as if his instincts of self-preservation condemned him of the crimes for which he was accused. Lorenzo raised his voice loud so all the men could hear him. “Endre, you are hereby charged with the murder of Count Gregor La Rossa. Your brothers here will serve as judge, jury, and executioners of your sentence. The traditional punishment for such a crime, as you are well aware, is burial. Your death by starvation will serve as justice by the old laws laid forth by The Council. Guards, seize him and prepare him for his punishment.” Then, turning back to Endre, he taunted, “I think we will bury you here in your beloved garden.”
Several of the guards pulled out pistols and made moves toward Endre.
Cowards, of course, they would not face him without firearms.
Endre lashed out, but he had only his fists. He managed to knock two of the guards to the ground before they had him pinned to the moldering leaves in the dirt.
Fists were no match for bullets.
Watching with one eye—the other caked in blood and dirt—three men began digging his grave beneath the large tree and another two hauled a plain coffin through the garden gates.
At the sight of the coffin, Endre redoubled his struggled to break free. “Lorenzo, this is nonsense. Gregor was my oldest friend and confidant. He was like a brother to me, just as you are. I would never harm him. What is the evidence against me? I demand a trial with The Council. It is my right,” he spoke around the dirt in his mouth.
Scowling down at him disapprovingly, Lorenzo approached slowly. He stooped and picked up Endre’s fallen fedora, brushing dirt from the fabric.
An entreating glance at Lorenzo earned Endre naught but a kick to the face. This man was no friend. Endre wondered if he had ever been. Blood from a gash above his eye poured down his face, but healed almost as quickly as it occurred, leaving dried blood caked to his eyelashes. Through crusted lashes, he watched as Lorenzo stood above him and removed his own hat, placing Endre’s atop his head instead.
Smiling, Lorenzo gave a nod of approval at Endre’s taste in men’s fashion and tossed his hat to one of the men standing guard, inciting a round of chuckles from his henchmen.
Fury boiled in Endre’s veins as his ‘friend’ betrayed him and made light of the unlawful punishment he dealt. How could Lorenzo believe Endre capable of such a crime? It was unlike Lorenzo to dole out consequence without following proper protocol.
Unless Lorenzo had something to hide. Something he worried The Council would unearth if the matter were brought to trial.
Realization sunk like a stone in Endre’s gut as he put the pieces together.
When the guards finished digging the grave, the men casually tossed the coffin into the pit at Lorenzo’s gesture. The dull thud sent a chill through Endre. He continued to struggle against his captors, but with three of them now detaining him, he received nothing but a pistol whip to the head and kicks to his ribs.
With a nod from Lorenzo, the guards hauled Endre to his feet and dragged him toward the yawning opening of the coffin awaiting him. At the foot of the open box, two of the guards held his arms while one bound his hands in front of him with thick rope. Endre let out a shout when one man grabbed his hair and held his head back so he gazed directly into the lightening sky. From the corner of his eye, Endre watched Lorenzo pull a wicked-looking dagger from a sheath at his hip. The blade glinted with the light of the rising sun, a shining omen of Endre’s imminent demise.
“Lorenzo, please,” Endre spoke to the man before him, the man he had considered a friend until this day, “I—”
Lorenzo only gave Endre a devious grin and prevented any more words from escaping his lips with a quick slash of his blade across Endre’s neck. Blood cascaded from his neck and he choked as it drained into his throat. Within seconds, the wound had already begun to heal itself, the blood flow stanched. Lorenzo’s blade dashed out again, performing the same motion across the nearly-healed laceration. Again, Endre choked and sputtered on his own warm blood and any words he wished to speak.
Light-headed from the blood loss, Endre fell to his knees. The guards holding him stepped back and left him with Lorenzo glowering down at him. Endre’s head lolled to the side and he was barely clinging to consciousness. All it took was a well-placed kick from Lorenzo and he fell backward into his new prison.
Several of the guards made a move to place the lid on the coffin, but Lorenzo stayed their movement with a wave of his hand. “Leave us. I want to speak to this murderous traitor alone before we leave him to the worms,” Lorenzo ordered, his eyes never leaving Endre’s fading ones.
Several murmurs went through the small crowd. That was not the way. Tradition and adherence to the old laws stated the sentence must be carried out before an amassing of the people, so all could witness what fate befell a murderer of his own kind.
“Leave us!” Lorenzo roared, turning to stare down each man in turn.
The guards filed from the garden, leaving Endre with Lorenzo and his bloody blade.
Lorenzo couched so his face was close to Endre’s.
Endre only wished enough blood had still flowed in his veins so he could reach out and relieve Lorenzo of the triumphant smile gracing his lips.
“Endre,” Lorenzo whispered with a sigh, “I warned you not to approach Gregor to back your research, and yet you did. Not only that, expressing wishes to distribute your cure at no cost?” Lorenzo tsked and shook his head. “He would have done it, too. Threatened to expose me for lack of loyalty to our people. Unfortunately, he miscalculated. The man was too much of a philanthropist for his own good. He never did understand the power his money held. Such a waste. And here we are. Someone has to take the fall for Gregor’s death and justice must be served. It might as well be you. His blood is on your hands as much as mine, all because you could not follow simple directions. We could have profited from this together, you and I. I would kill you now if it would not upset the delicate sensibilities of our people. But alas, I cannot. Perhaps in a century or two, I will come check on you and finish the task when everyone has forgotten your existence.”
Endre glared up at Lorenzo, the lack of blood preventing his wounds from healing and allowing him to foil his new enemy’s plans.
“But do not worry,” Lorenzo continued, brushing dirt from his trousers. “I will not let your research go to waste. I still have plans for the work you have done, but perhaps an adjustment here and there to suit my own needs.”
Endre only had the faintest inkling of what kind of dastardly plans Lorenzo was concocting, but the malicious smile gracing his lips was indication enough that it would not be good.
Rising to his feet, Lorenzo glanced down impassively at Endre once more. “You should have listened to me, old friend. Now, you will have plenty of time to think on your cure and the error of your ways while you rot in your grave,” Lorenzo spat out with a maniacal laugh. Bending over, he slashed out with his blade one last time.
Endre felt the slightest trickle of blood ooze from the cut, so little of the liquid remained in his body.
At a shouted order from Lorenzo, the guards all marched back into the garden.
Endre attempted to alert them to Lorenzo’s treachery, but the only sound from his mangled throat was a pained moan. The lid of the coffin was lowered, blocking out the dazzling sunshine of the new morning, and hammers pounded out the finality of his death sentence. The last glimpse Endre had of Lorenzo was a mocking tip of the hat, his hat.
This box would not hold Endre forever, and when he rose, he intended to rain down retribution, and when he came for Lorenzo, it would be all-out war. The last thing he could hear between his own thoughts of revenge and each shovelful of dirt falling on the wooden box was Lorenzo whistling happily with the belief he had gotten away with his crimes.

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