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SamskarasSamskaras by Melissa Lummis

When the universe conspired to bring Loti and Wolf together, it was just getting warmed up. After surviving Modore’s attempt to kill Wolf, the lovers want nothing more than some peace and quiet. But the universe has other plans. And Loti and Wolf are done waiting to find out what they are. All too aware there will be no happily-ever-after for them until Modore is dealt with, they form a dubious alliance with untrustworthy forces from Wolf’s past. While searching for clues to the homicidal vampire’s whereabouts, they uncover secrets that begin to unravel reality as they know it. Tangled up in the chaos of black ops conspiracies and fae treachery, they make a fatal mistake—overlooking the enemy in their midst. Can love and light survive a downward spiral into darkness?

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Enjoy this excerpt from Samskaras

Once on stage, she was grateful to slip into the zone.  Raul announced her and the curtain rose. Heather was a mere shadow cast on blue silk stretched between her upraised hands.  Sensual music urged her to life as the veil wavered in her hands around, over, and behind her in figure eights, big sweeps and tight turns.  It slipped over her head and down her body, hiding the slow sweep of her hips.  Swirling around, she exposed glimpses of smooth shoulders and soft belly.  She took a moment to search the crowd, reaching out for Christian with both her eyes and her magic, but he wasn’t there.  Almost missing her cue, she packed the disappointment deep down in her stomach and carried on.

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As the veil part of her routine came to an end, she exposed her back to the cheering crowd.  Dropping the veil so that it pooled at her feet, she flicked her hips to each measure of the drum.  When the beat quickened, so did her hips. That’s when she felt him.

Her heart kept pace with the music as she turned to find him.  His electric blue gaze grazed her skin like a physical touch, and her shiver fueled her belly’s undulations.  How had she gotten so hung up on him?  And what did she think was going to happen?  And where had he been for three weeks?

“Be careful, puddin’.” It was her mother’s voice.  Dead for over two years, she still managed to nag from the grave.

Christian smiled at her and her dance became more playful.  All thoughts fell away as she beckoned to him with her arms, her hands, her legs. Her hips took on a life of their own, pulling her first in one direction, then the other.  Spinning in circles, snapping her head around, careful to find him at each turn, she used him like an anchor.  He sat just inside the haze of lights, so she could make out his face and his mildly amused expression.  She stretched out with her magic.

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I missed you.

He rewarded her with a sultry smile. She flipped her long, red hair over her head, bowing to him.  Her hips gyrated as she lifted up, wiping the hair away from her face as if waking from a deep sleep.  The music thinned until all that remained was the sharp slap of a distinct beat, her torso flexing and jumping with it.  The drum quickened and so did her hips: tick—flip tock—flick. The coins dangling from her belt made their own music.  Christian’s gaze intensified and so did her dance.  She grasped an invisible rope one hand at a time, dragging herself across the stage, her hips slinking as if they had a life of their own.  She tossed her hair side to side as the crowd cheered, her feet stepping out in the opposite direction, legs stretched long.  The dance became all about the shimmy as she turned her backside to the crowd, gliding upstage, coins jangling.  The drums spun her to the right, then to the left, and she ended with a flourish: chest thrust forward, head back, arms over her head.  Applause and hoots from the crowd crescendo-ed as she stepped off the stage, trailing the veil after her.

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“Our beautiful Heather!”  Raul clapped his hands over his head and then introduced the next act as Heather prowled through the crowd, exposing the gold garter belt around her firm thigh.  One of the bouncers walked with her, a watchful wrinkle between his eyes as men tucked bills into the garter. Heather’s heart pounded in her ears as she approached Christian, but she curled her lips into a seductive smile.

“You didn’t do the sword dance tonight.”  His blue eyes smoldered as he rose from his seat.

She ran the veil through her fingers, letting it glide down her thigh.  Without looking up she asked, “Are you disappointed?

He lifted her chin with a finger—a move the bouncer would never have allowed if it wasn’t Christian Harris.  His smile liquefied her insides while his eyes had their way with her.  Maybe that was why her dance became so effortless when he watched her, why she flowed like water.

“Not at all.” Dropping her chin, he held her gaze as he sank back into his chair.  His fingers trailed down her thigh until they met the garter.