Release Tour & Giveaway:
Gothika by Eli Easton
Tales of Love & the Supernatural
Just in time for Halloween! Immerse yourself in four tales of love and gothic horror in this anthology by Eli Easton. Each story is novella length.
Colin Hastings is sent to Jamaica in 1870 to save his father’s sugar cane plantation. If he succeeds, he can marry his fiancée back in London and take his place in proper English society. But Colin finds more than he bargained for on the island. His curiosity about Obeah, the native folk magic, leads him to agree to a dangerous ritual where he is offered his heart’s most secret desire—one he’s kept deeply buried all his life. What happens when a proper English gentleman has his true sensual nature revealed and freed by the Obeah spirits?
On the harsh planet of Kalan, weakness is not tolerated. When young spore farmer Edward suffers a carriage accident that kills his mail-order bride and his factory manager, Edward has little chance of survival, until Knox—an enormous “reconstitute” slave—plucks him from disaster.
Recons are part machine, part human remains from executed Federation prisoners. But Knox is different from other recons. He can read and has flashes of brilliance. With no one else to rely on over the bleak winter, Edward forms an alliance with Knox, and against social taboos, they become friends. Edward struggles against his growing lust for the large humanoid, and while Knox thrives in his new life, memories of his past torment him.
A twist of fate brought Knox and Edward together, but there will be a price to pay in blood when they learn how deeply their lives truly intersect
“Among the Dead”
Ever since his accident, Neil Gaven sees dead people. He’s isolated himself, unable to bear the constant barrage of sadness and grief. But a gentle ghost grabs his attention on the bus one day. He seems to understand, to have some secret to impart. Neil works to interpret the ghost’s clues. Then they lead him to Trist, a homeless young man who is also tormented by spirits. Are they two of a kind? Maybe together they can find a way to live among the dead.
“The Black Dog”
Constable Hayden MacLairty is used to life being dull around the tiny hamlet of Laide on the north Scottish coast. They get occasional tourists, “monster hunters” interested in the local legend of the Black Dog, but Hayden thinks that’s only a myth. A rash of sheep killings, a murdered hiker, huge footprints, and sightings of the Black Dog force Hayden to rethink the matter. With the help of Simon Corto, a writer from New York doing research for a book about the Black Dog, Hayden tries to figure out why the enormous hound is reappearing. Hayden finds himself strongly attracted to another person for the first time in his life. But between the danger stalking the hills, Simon’s inevitable return to New York, and Hayden’s mother’s illness, true love may be more of a phantom than the Black Dog.
From The Bird – by Eli Easton
Fear was beginning to trickle in, despite the drums, despite the smoke and the surreal feeling of the whole evening. I’d lost my hold on dear old Hodgets somewhere along the way, and perhaps myself too. I was intoxicated, and I was not among friends. Indeed, I had no idea where I was. I’d also lost sight of Tiyah, and I felt vulnerable and exposed.
Had I really expected anything from this ritual but humiliation? Making up my mind, I turned to go. I’d find my way home one way or the other.
I pushed my way through the writhing bodies toward the forest until suddenly I found myself directly in front of the center pole once again. Tiyah stood before me, legs spread wide, her skirt rucked up to her knees. Her eyes were still rolled back in her head, and her mouth was open in an “O” like a silent scream. She turned her palm up and shoved it, hard, on my stomach. We both froze.
“It is here,” she whispered in French. Il est ici. “That which you swallowed. That which you buried.”
“W-what?” I stuttered.
“Bring it!” she ordered the man at her side. He left and stepped back a moment later with a cage. It was an old gilded bird cage, made in England or France and repaired crudely with wire where it had begun to fall apart. Inside the cage was a bird. It was large—at least the size of a very large crow. But it was not a crow. Its body was white underneath and topped with blue-black feathers. The top of its head was the same deep blue, and its eyes were perfectly round and a brilliant red. It was an exotic thing, like Jamaica herself.
Were they going to sacrifice this bird too?
“Ici,” Tiyah-who-was-not-Tiyah repeated. The tips of her fingers dug into my stomach over the stiff cloth of my trousers. “Ici.” Here, here.
Her fingers hurt, but I found I could not pull back. My feet felt rooted to the earth, heavy as lead.
“Ici!” She screamed.
The man who had brought the bird stepped forward. In a moment he had unfastened the buttons of my linen vest and pulled up my white shirt. He pushed down the waist of my trousers, exposing my navel and lower belly to the night. I gasped and tried to move, but it was as if I was paralyzed entirely.
It’s an illusion, the power of suggestion. You can move. You must move!
But I could not. Not even my tongue would work. It lay flaccid and numb in my mouth.
Tiyah muttered in French, too low and slurred for me to make it out. Her fingers returned, digging into the naked flesh and muscle just above my groin. It was excruciating, and I felt a wave of nausea as her fingers pressed deep. I looked down, transfixed. Bright red blood sprouted around her fingers as if she were penetrating my flesh. I tried to scream and could not.
“Il est profond. Très profonde,” she muttered, her teeth clacking as her fingers dug into my belly.
“God help me,” I choked out, as another strong wave of nausea wracked me. I gagged. I was being held up now by two strong men on either side, my arms slung around their shoulders. I did not remember getting there, but it was good they propped me up because my knees had given way.
“Bâtard!” Tiyah cursed angrily, though whether at me or my belly, I couldn’t tell. She hissed and looked into my eyes with those blank whites of her own. “You must bring it up. It is too deep. I cannot reach it,” she ordered in harsh French.
I gagged again as her fingers relentlessly pushed, causing pain unlike any I’d ever know.
“Spit it up, Colin Hastings! I order you! Now!”
She dug even deeper, and my vision pulsed black with agony. I felt the hot splash of blood running down my stomach and soaking through the fabric of my trousers. I retched and retched again. It felt like my bowels were coming up into my mouth—bitter and sour and tasting of death. And then there was something there, in my throat, something thick and slimy, like uncooked liver. It choked my airway.
Tiyah held out her hand, and I spat the horror into it, repulsed to my soul and gasping for breath.
In her hand was a black orb, black as if filled with dark blood. It was the size of a goose egg, and it pulsed. It looked like nothing I’d ever seen, like a badly deformed heart or a half-formed embryo.
“Ah!” she said, cradling it in both hands with a satisfied air. It was then I realized that her fingers were no longer digging into me. I looked down, but though my belly was smeared with blood, there was no wound.
A parlor trick. It’s all a parlor trick. You’ve been mesmerized, like in those theater shows. This isn’t real.
Still, I could not stop staring at the thing in her hands and feeling like it was part of me, both repulsed and attracted to it.
The man who had brought the bird cage opened a little door, and Tiyah reached in with her bloodied hand outstretched.
The bird, dear God!, it ate up the thing in her hand in one greedy gulp.
I retched again at the sight, disgusted.
“There. There. Oiseau doux. Oiseau bon.” She crooned to the bird as she latched the door shut.
I slumped against the arms that held me up. Sweat sprung up all over my body, like when a fever breaks. The breeze was cool against my face, and I felt a rush of giddy relief. My breathing calmed, and my heart soared. It is probably the shock, I thought. But I felt so bloody good.
Tiyah grasped my face in both her hands and looked into my eyes. It was Tiyah now. Her own eyes were brown and a little bloodshot, but they were Tiyah’s eyes. “It is done, Missah. You take good care dis bird. Feed ’im. Treat ’im well. Long as he live, your passion be free. And he live long time, ey?”
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate Eli’s new release, we are giving you a chance to win 1 of 3 e-copies of Gothika! Enter through the rafflecopter below!
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cc0f2a5781/?
About the Author:
Coming from a background in computer game design, Eli has written over 35 books in m/m romance since 2013. The Mating of Michael (2014) and A Second Harvest (2016) both won The William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance, and Eli’s books have won many awards from the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Reader’s Choice Awards. She is best known for her Christmas romances, the Howl at the Moon series of rom coms featuring dog shifters, and her Sex in Seattle series, which revolves around a sex clinic in Seattle.