For Sergeant Severins Bouvier, silence means tactical planning and a large death toll, and he can’t shake how danger threatens him on the beaches of Miami, especially after seeing one of his associates in a local sandwich shop. Worse, the enemy seems fascinated with the woman he can’t stop thinking about—a woman determined not to trust him.
Everything about Sev crashes through Kaia’s carefully placed boundaries, traps, and avoidances. Regardless of her lack of interest in the majority of men, the ones that did catch her off guard left a lot of collateral damage. Who better than a soldier to understand that?
The problem is that she trusts him. Just not with her heart.
“Something feels different about this place,” she said, voice soft but spreading across the grounds like an earthquake.
“It’s protected. That’s what you feel.”
A short, frail-looking male swung open his front door and appeared on the square wooden porch. His skin marbled like the bark of an old oak with tints of green. Long and wide eyes assessed Severins and Kaia before his gaze slashed to Kaia’s vampire friend, Kalib. The performance was rather dramatic.
“You said one—a single, human female. Human. That is not human.” The dryad’s twig-finger pointed to Severins with further flair.
“We were lacking in our information. The wolf is no harm to you.”
“No harm. No harm!” His hair sprouted green and miniature ivy fell around his ears. “At best, he’ll piss on my plants. At worst.” The small man’s voice squabbled high and fluttered through the leaves above. “At worst!”
Kalib rolled his eyes, and Severins shook his head. Kaia, however, seem entranced with the dryad’s tirade.
“Eilon. Fucking wood nymphs. Eilon.”
“Oh no, sir. You can stay in your pretty little metal box for that.” Eilon slammed his door again in a giant huff.
Kaia jerked and came back to the small clearing. Her eyes took on a darker green in these woods. “He did not like either of you very much.”
“Tree-folk aren’t group friendly unless there’s a ceremony or an orgy, although they’re practically the same thing to them.” Kalib pulled two long swords from behind his seat—long enough they shouldn’t have fit back there. He strapped them into holsters hidden beneath his loose cotton shirt. “I’ll take first watch.”
“Dryad’s don’t like wolves too much—territorial and all that. Piss in the wrong part of the woods once, and it’s like you killed their elder.”
“Did you tinkle on one of his plants?”
Severins snorted in delight at hearing the word tinkle come out of her mouth. “No, I’m house-trained, beautiful.”
Alisha Costanzo is from a Syracuse suburb. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she currently teaches English. She’s the author of BLOOD PHOENIX: REBIRTH and BLOOD PHOENIX: CLAIMED, and co-editor of DISTORTED. UNDERWATER, her new anthology, is undergoing serious edits for its 2015/16 release. In the meantime, she will continue to corrupt young minds, rant about the government, and daydream about her all around nasty creatures.