Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Blog tour for Death Mask by Lexi Ander and a giveaway

Title: Death Mask

Series: Black Harbingers MC

Author(s): Lexi Ander

Cover Artist: Kirby Crow

Categories: Gay, Urban Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Roughhouse Raiders

Length: 43,000 words

Release Date: November 9, 2016

Grim Misery, the President of the Black Harbinger Motorcycle Club, discovers a wounded warlock and four werepups aboard the club's LSD shipment. And the news kept getting better and better. Not only is the warlock sitting on the edge of death, he's illegally bonded to the werepups, which could trigger a war with the werewolves—and he turns out to be Misery's estranged husband.

Years ago, Griffin turned Misery away to be with another warlock by the name of Marcheso Aldo. Misery left everything behind, even his family, but couldn't shake the heartbreak Griffin caused. With Griffin thrust back into Misery's life, he discovers things aren't as they seem... and everything is about to get much, much worse.


Chapter One

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." ~Norman Cousins

"Prez, you're gonna want to take a look at this." Nightingale, Sergeant in Arms of the Black Harbingers MC, called to me from the tail end of the box truck that recently arrived from the docks. The products the vehicle carried included the much-awaited shipment of LSD for the city's elder vampires. The goods were late by one week, and I had some agitated parasites on my hands. If someone so much as fucked with the shite, they would be in a world of hurt, because I had no qualms feeding the arseholes to the bloodsuckers.

The clubhouse for the MC was a repurposed three-story library. The block had been slated for demolition after World War II to make way for a strip mall or some such. I loved the building, with its Grecian columns, marble floors, and the liberal use of dark woods. She had character, and after I greased a few palms, she became our clubhouse, our home.

On the ground floor, to the rear of the building, were two bay doors. Semis could back up to one of them, allowing people to walk into the bed without using a ramp. The second bay, vehicles drove directly onto the dock. Granted, unloading the boxes was harder, but we didn't have to worry about prying eyes and for this shipment, we needed complete privacy.

By the tone of Night's voice, I wouldn't like what I'd see. One of the prospects had been sent to retrieve the truck from the docks. Not quite members of the MC, prospects were initiates working through the probationary period. Simply put, they were the club's gofers. They did anything and everything the brothers asked of them. They guarded the bikes in public places, manned the doors at the parties, and made sure no one unauthorized entered the clubhouse. If a brother's old lady needed to go somewhere, a prospect escorted them. The list of shitty duties was endless. At the end of the probation period, the brothers voted the prospect in or out, but until then, the prospect did what they were told, without complaint. Our newest prospect, Tinman, who'd picked up the box truck, stood off to the side looking concerned, but not afraid.

"The truck was where you'd said it'd be, Misery. There weren't any problems and no one followed me," he said, without prompting.

When I rounded the rear of the non-descript vehicle, the door was rolled up, exposing the back of the compartment, stacked with boxes. Nightingale stood with his arms crossed over his chest, his cut hidden by the muscular bulk of his arms. At one time, he'd been a Noble Fae. From which court, I'd never asked. When most preternaturals came looking to join the Black Harbingers, they left behind who they once were. The brothers only cared about the here and now, content to leave whatever hell they'd escaped in the past. We all carried secrets best left undisturbed, and we let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak.

Those who didn't know of Nightingale's origins wouldn't have believed he belonged to that waif-like race. He'd shed his litheness, becoming a motherfucking powerhouse of strength and muscle. Even his unnaturally-white hair, which many people assumed the poor bastard had gone gray early, didn't soften his appearance. Most bikers didn't have facial piercings because they stumbled into too many fistfights, but not Night. He wore a ring in the right nostril and two in his bottom lip that he fiddled with when something bothered him, like now. When he met my gaze, his green eyes were troubled. Then the scent hit me.


When I went to ask what the fuck he was waiting for, Night placed a pale finger over his lips, biding me to listen. The sound was faint, but the soft whines of some kind of dog or… Well, fuck me sideways.

"Someone find Hog and Lalios." My request was made in a low voice, but the brothers jumped to it as if I'd yelled. Perhaps they felt my tension or they, too, scented the blood wafting from the back of the truck, now that the door had been raised.

More than one person drew a weapon. Grabbing the handrail on the side of the door, I readied to climb into the back.

"Misery," Night called to me softly, but I ignored him.

Even if werewolves had hidden in the truck, I didn't worry about my safety. The sound of the pitiful, tiny snarls and growls intensified when my heavy boots struck the bed. Pausing to listen, I couldn't hear an adult voice among the pups. With the scent of blood heavier in the confines of the cabin, I surmised the parent was severely injured. A werewolf in pain was a dangerous creature, more animal than man. Blinded by the agony, instinct would take over, and he, or she, would attack first to protect their young. If that were to happen, then I was the one equipped to handle the werewolf. Sure, I could be hurt like anyone else, but I was hard to kill. Living for almost two hundred years had proven that.

Listening intently, I heard three, perhaps four distinct voices, which was surprising. Nowadays, werewolves lived longer than they did five hundred years ago. When they became the stuff of folklore, people stopped hunting them. Since they lived a more peaceful existence, the number of litters they birthed dropped off to where pups were now born singly to couples every hundred years or so. The young were precious to the packs and there being four here made my skin crawl with foreboding. The day kept getting better and better.


The giveaway will run through midnight on November 25th.
Must be 18 or order to participate.
Giving Away Two (2) Signed Paperbacks of Death Mask

A huge thank you to M.A. Church for hosting me on the blog today. My new release, Death Mask, came out on November 9th. It's a part of the Roughhouse Raiders collection from Less Than Three Press. I thought I'd entertain you today with a bit of flash fiction. How Grim met his best friend Lalios, Part One.

Opium and Lung

Boston 1910

The blue-gray haze of pipe smoke clouded the air, coating my tongue with every inhale. Three days ago I entered the docks searching for a particular ship. I'd heard a vessel from Chinese Empire was sitting in the harbor and it took only a couple of well-placed questions and a bit of money to find a boat that would take me to her. The ribbed red sails had stood out like a beacon in the light of the dying sun.

Normally, I wouldn't give a damn. I'm no ship lover. The only vessel I'd been on was the one that set sail from my homeland to the Americas. But the rumor was this particular ship had hosted a Chinese Lung, a fabled wyrm and type of dragon shifter that didn't often leave the lush forest of their birth. The handful who did were known far and wide for the quality of their opium stash. I was more than interested in tasting the seed that was rumored to make a man forget. Oh, God above, how I needed to forget.

But as I lay on the mound of silk cushions staring at the faded wood of the ship's rafters, already the blessed numbness was receding and the crisp pain crushing me returned. Nothing I'd taken part in for the last ten years had relieved the agony of being rejected and betrayed by my husband. Neither drink nor food nor tonic nor smoke, no matter how potent or mind twisting, gave me relief for long. The open wound in my chest where my heart was supposed to be was hallow, never healing the interminable ache left in the wake of abandonment. Fucking warlock. The opium had been my last hope at oblivion and yet again I was denied. Perhaps my fate was to walk alone, a punishment for putting my faith in a person of gray magic. I only wanted to forget his face, his scent, and the touch of his skin against mine, but it seemed my desire would never be fulfilled.

The silk drapes fluttered and the meager candlelight flickered even though I felt no draft. "I see you are lucid, Irishman. I would encourage you to take another toke or two but—" When I'd first arrived, I'd expected accented English but had been surprised by the fluidity in which the dragon spoke.

The shadow of my benefactor moved behind the sheer material, the only barrier that separated him from me, never quite giving me a peek at the shifter. I'd been in the belly of his ship for three days and I'd yet seen him face to face. Come to think of it, neither had he shared his name. Not that I cared. I wasn't there to partake in social niceties. I paid for my opium and he'd watched me imbibe. More than once, I heard scales slide along the planks as he moved, pacing back and forth as if waiting for something. Still partially floating in the clouds, I wondered if he couldn't look fully human. Perhaps that was the reason he didn't show himself. He didn't need to hide from me but he didn't know that. Shifters only scented the human in me, nothing else. I didn't want to encourage familiarity between us, so I kept what I was to myself, allowing the dragon to draw his own conclusions even though he was wrong.

The shifter stopped his pacing behind the panel nearest my feet. Futilely, I squinted attempting to see through the gauzy material. "You have a strong will and body." His pleasure was obvious in the tone of his voice. "I've seen men bigger than you who were unable to handle the quantity you consumed in an hour, never mind what you smoked these past several days." The shifter took up pacing again, his movements fluid, like a rolling marble across a smooth surface.

Even though my mind was clearing, my body was lax, a dead weight when I attempted to move. "I paid good coin for the smoke." My voice came out raspy, as if dried out by all the heated air I'd inhaled.

"Your coin is no what I wish to speak of." The sound of clacking teeth, as if the dragon gnashed the air, caused me to halt my attempt to rise.

All the time I'd spent in the shifter's company he'd only been calm and curiously watchful, until now. I didn't know much about Lungs or dragons in general, only what I'd heard and that was sorely little.

"Be at ease." The last word was more of a hiss, barely recognizable. "I'm merely excited. I haven't met one as strong as you in centuries. There have been rumors… but I didn't imagine I would cross one of your kind who wasn't attached to a family."

Alarm bells sounded in my head. That more than anything else burned the lingering stupor away, leaving me stone cold sober. I sank into the cushions, schooling my expression into bland indifference. The shifter wasn't fooled and he gave a hissy laugh. I surreptitiously scented the air, attempting to get a whiff of my opium benefactor.

I threw away caution, needing to know what the shifter wanted of me. "You know who I am?"

"Oh, I know what you are. I've heard tell of a child of your ilk who'd wandered into the western wilderness nigh ten years ago. Some said he searched for his heart's desire, other claimed he ran from the calamity that swallowed his hearth and home after the deepest of betrayals. Fewer still spread rumors that he sought to meet death. But here you sit in my lair, numbing a pain so deep I easily sense the poignancy and depth."

The sheer material rippled again, the shifter's shadow darkening the silk the closer he came to me. Fingers curled around the edge of the cloth and for the first time I glimpsed a part of the shifter. His skin was the color of gold bullion; dainty scales covered the length of his fingers between the joints. A thick, black braid longer than my arm dangled in view when the shifter peered around the fabric. His golden-brown eyes flickered between human and reptilian as if the shifter struggled to hold his shape.

"I search for a… companion. Someone to stand by my side as guardian and lover."

I snorted out a laugh and was mesmerized how the shifter's eye crinkled as he shared my unbecoming mirth. "I am not the strong man you believe me to be."

"I beg to differ Grim Misery. If you've carried this level of pain with you for as long as the rumors suggest, then you are indeed immensely strong. You would father fine children. Even if you didn't wish to stay with me forever," he hurriedly added after a brief pause. "Our offspring would be the envy of our world. Imagine a Lung with your coloring being able to take flight. No longer the wyrm relegated to the ground but with wings and able to take to the sky."

The wistful quality of the shifter's voice told me he wanted a family desperately even though he'd offered an out. I couldn't be who or what he wanted. A warlock had worked his way under my skin and I couldn't get rid of him. Besides what the shifter spoke of—a flying drake—they had died out long ago, before the human population exploded over the Earth. Where would no place for such in this new world, but for some reason I couldn't tell him so. I blamed my softheartedness on the linger effects of the opium.

"I cannot." I struggled to sit, suddenly feeling ridiculous amidst the mound of brilliantly colored pillows. I looked around, finally seeing what I'd been oblivious to when I'd entered seeking relief. He'd called this place his lair and indeed it was. Luxurious, decorated to appeal and seduce and I hadn't noticed any of the subtle hints, didn't question why a shifter would allow me onto his vessel with no questions asked. I'd been lucky the ship wasn't operated by brigands. If I'd been captured and sold underground to someone who could suss out who and what I was, such as the dragon had, then… I didn't want to think about the consequences. I wouldn't be luck enough to be saved again.

The shifter was diminutive but suddenly, he seemed to loom as if he was twice my size. My blood ran cold and I watched his every move warily. "Cannot or will not?" he asked, steel in his tone.

"Cannot," I reaffirmed. Watching as the silk in his grip tore when his claws unsheathed. "You search for someone to share your life and bed with. I won't mislead you. I'm tethered to another, whether I like it or not."

The dragon released the bolt of cloth and he moved away. I didn't know why I spoke but there was something itching to be released and I gave into the impulse without thinking it through. "There is another like me, without a family. He helped me, sobered me up about a year ago." And kicked my butt for the selfishness of my pursuit of oblivion. Shame swamped me at the thought of what he'd have said if he saw me now. "He lives out west in South Dakota, a Ute by the name of Iron Lightning. He lives on a butte on the Cheyenne River Reservation. He's not… not broken like I am."

I glanced away from the shifter's shadow, wondering if giving this dragon Iron's location was a mistake. It didn't feel like one but neither did I feel as if I bumbled when handfasted a warlock.

"He is like you? And would be open to my request?" The shifter pressed close to the sheer curtain, his slender frame definitely not ending in a pair of legs.

"I'm not going to court him for you. Besides, you might take one look at him and how he lives and walk away. If you truly want a partner, then you're going to have to put in the work. I can tell you right now, if you try to win him with opium, he'll walk away from you." Deciding that I needed to leave before I said anything more, I rolled woozily to my knees and carefully climbed to my feet. Once I'd ascertained I wouldn't topple flat on my face, I brushed down the buckskins I hadn't bothered to exchange for eastern duds when I reached civilization. Slowly, I headed toward the stairs that led to the deck.

"My thanks, Grim Misery," the dragon called after me almost cheerily. "If you are ever in need, give my name to the ruling snake shifter clan and I will come."

I scowled over my shoulder. What he offered as a boon beyond measure, especially after I'd shunned his advances. "You never gave me your name."

"You are one of a few who will have it." The statement was followed by a weighted pause that warned me to keep what he would reveal to myself. "I'm called Jian Chin. For the information you gave me, I will give you some in exchange. I'll have my man drop you off near Eastern Avenue. There is… someone there who you need to meet."

I was tempted to throw the curtains aside and follow Jian Chin as he retreated. I wasn't sure I wanted to meet this person he spoke of. But as I contemplated my course of action, the sound of a door closing and the bar set in place told me that avenue of action was closed to me. Grumbling under my breath, I climbed the steep steps and was unsurprisingly met on deck by a grizzled old man who ushered me off the vessel into a long boat.

As the half dozen men at the oars rowed, I glance back at the ship to see someone in red silk robes standing on deck watching me being taken away. I had the sudden feeling this would not be the last time I saw Jian Chin.

Author Bio

Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Blog Tour Stops

November 14 – Alicia Nordwell, Jamie Lynn Miller
November 15 – MA Church
November 16 – LM Brown
November 18 – Tali Spencer, Sharita Lira