Authors: Nico Rosso
Tags: #Demon Rock#1
Heavy Metal Heart
By Nico Rosso
Rock Star. Front man. Demon. A descendant of satyrs and the lead singer in a band that feeds on the energy of its audience, Trevor Sand is growing weary of the constant need to perform. He needs the legend of the Muse—a woman destined to be a demon’s eternal companion and only source of sustenance—to be true.
Misty Grant has never been bold, but when Trevor singles her out among hundreds at a concert, she takes him up on his explicit offer. During an erotic night in his hotel room, she learns that his touch is as electric as his lyrics. But when Trevor’s demon is aroused, her desire turns to horror and she runs.
Knowing that he’ll die if he loses her, Trevor must find Misty before his enemies do. But even if he can save her, he knows that regaining the trust of his fated Muse will be his greatest challenge.
Usually I begin these letters with some chatty information, but I’m departing from my norm this time to give you the opportunity to talk to me. At Carina, we’re always discussing our books and making sure we’re meeting your needs—not just with story and content, but also in the way they’re put together. This month, I’d like to reach out to you and ask your opinion on how the Carina Press books utilize the front and back matter. Do you like having the dear reader letter in the front? Would you prefer if it were in the back? Is there something more—excerpts, book lists or other information—we could be providing after the books? We welcome your comments and hope you will reach out to us with your thoughts at
In the meantime, it’s business as usual here at Carina Press headquarters, and that means a lineup of excellent books (no bias here!) for the month of September. We welcome author Jael Wye to Carina Press with her science-fiction fairy-tale retelling,
, in which the tale of Snow White plays out on the deadly and beautiful planet Mars 300 years in the future. Joining her in launching a new series is return author Nico Rosso, who grabbed my attention the first time he pitched this series to me as “demon rock stars.” Misty is thrown into rock star and immortal demon Trevor Sand’s supernatural world of music, monsters and passion in
Heavy Metal Heart.
More unique voices this month include urban fantasy author R.L. Naquin’s newest Monster Haven novel,
Fairies in My Fireplace
, as well as
Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships
, book two of Kim Knox’s male/male science-fiction trilogy.
Sandy James wraps up her Alliance of the Amazons series with
The Volatile Amazon.
The Water Amazon leads the Alliance as they face their archenemy in their last and greatest fight. Veronica Scott joins Sandy in the paranormal category with Egypt-set
Warrior of the Nile.
We have multiple releases in the erotic romance genre this month, including
Love Letters Volume 5:
, in which the Love Letters ladies strip away everything but the hot truth, and four couples see each other in a tantalizingly revealing new light.
by Jodie Griffin features Bondage & Breakfast owner Gabe McConnell, who finally gets his chance at love when he meets a novice submissive who touches a part of his dominant heart no one else ever has. In Lynda Aicher’s
Bonds of Hope
, former America’s sweetheart Quinn Andrews has an opportunity to revive her career by playing a sexual submissive in a highly anticipated new TV series. Quinn is ready to throw herself into the role, and sex club The Den is the ideal place for a crash course.
Also in the erotic romance genre, we’re pleased to welcome author Lise Horton to Carina Press with
Words of Lust.
A career spent teaching erotic literature does not prepare brainy Professor Serafina Luca for NYC construction foreman Nick Stellato, but his lessons in lust promise to fulfill her wickedest desires, and his promise of love, her wildest dreams.
For historical romance fans, Alyssa Everett offers up
Tryst with Trouble.
The arrogant heir to a dukedom and a blunt-spoken spinster take an instant dislike to each other, but must join forces to solve a murder mystery in this clever regency romp.
Kaylea Cross returns with another edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense novel,
An air force pararescue jumper and a female security forces officer are locked in an intense battle of wills, but when they’re captured by an enemy warlord, it takes everything they have to survive and fight their way back to friendly lines together. Check out the other books in this series,
We’re excited to present
, the next book in Karina Cooper’s St. Croix Chronicles. Now fixated on revenge, bounty hunter Cherry St. Croix must bend all her intellect on catching a murderer—no matter whose help she must ask, and to whose demand she must submit.
Last, I’m thrilled to announce the release of three debut authors this month. Rebecca Crowley’s contemporary sports romance,
The Striker’s Chance
, gives us passion on and off the pitch when ambitious PR manager Holly Taylor has to revamp the playboy image of sexy, stubborn professional soccer player Kepler de Klerk. Michelle Witvliet breaks onto the romantic suspense scene with
She can’t let go of a tragic past; he faces an uncertain future; so they live in the moment and discover all they really need is each other. And in our new adult lineup, debut author Melissa Guinn offers a new adult romance novel about first love, second chances and learning to let go in
I hope you enjoy this month’s releases as much as we have, and find them satisfying, remarkable and memorable!
We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to
. You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.
Executive Editor, Carina Press
The same fucking question from some fucking reporter for the last seventy years: “You guys are always touring, always on the road. Don’t you get tired?” The reporter flashed his polished teeth, as if he knew what life was like rolling from town to town.
Before there were TV personalities with bulletproof hair, or newspaper hacks with ink-stained fingers, there were intrusive townspeople who weren’t there for the music. Just to steal some of the glow.
Trevor Sand swirled the bourbon in his glass. The lights from the small television studio caught the ice, sparkling like heavy rain pierced by lightning. The TV man, Roger Toms, still smirked, waiting for an answer. The other uptight guest scowled in an ageless look of mocking disapproval. Morning talk shows. Little bumpers of relief for news channels that normally spread fear and images of lurid death. So maybe Trevor could give the viewers of this local LA station some relief. A little rock and roll to spike their coffee. And promoting the latest tour wouldn’t hurt either. Bigger audiences brought more power.
Toasting Roger with his glass, Trevor gave him a wink. “I’ll sleep when I’m facedown in a shallow grave.”
He downed the bourbon in one gulp. As long as his guitar was strung and the crowd jumped as he lashed the music over them, he would never die. Some rock legends lived on in lore and recordings. Trevor and his supernatural brothers were near immortal.
“It’s nine a.m.” Roger glanced from the glass, then into the camera lens, where his audience probably didn’t give a shit.
“Never wear a watch.” Trevor set the glass down and ran his fingers along one of the leather necklaces he wore. Calluses from guitar strings dulled the sensation. “And morning’s just a little sunlight if you haven’t slept yet.”
Roger shuffled some papers, searching for his next question. The other guest to Trevor’s left, Mr. Carter or Mr. Cockblock or something like that, shifted in his seat uncomfortably like an unwilling visitor in a disease ward. Trevor had been through it all with these types before, but it was worth an awkward morning if it meant giving his fans a little thrill to see him on TV. After all, they kept him alive.
Finally, Roger found his inspiration. “Many of your songs are quite romantic.” Clearly this fake-tan-coated television personality hadn’t heard any of Trevor’s songs. But he listed them anyway. One of his interns must’ve done the research. “‘She’s Incoming,’ ‘Love’s Edge,’ ‘Spellcaster.’”
Mr. Cockblock made a small groan, as if he’d been run through with a broken sword.
Eager anticipation glinted in Roger’s eye. The trap he’d set was about to be sprung, right there at the round table and three chairs of his live morning show segment.
Pressing, Roger continued. “Sounds like you’re looking for true love out there. There’s a woman with green eyes in more than one of your songs. Anyone in particular? With all this touring and gigs on the road, how is a rock and roller like Trevor Sand supposed to find the one?”
Damn it to hell. The drink was empty. The question inspired a cold thirst only the burning bourbon could sear away but the bottle was in the tiny greenroom, too far away.
. What did these humans know about it? If the legends of the Muse were true, finding a soul mate wasn’t just a matter of sex and love and heartbreak and marriage. It was literally life and death. High stakes for one who’d lived for thousands of years. And if the myth was somehow true, his Muse would no doubt have the same green eyes that haunted him whenever he wrote a love song.
“True love?” Mr. Cockblock nearly spat. “People like Trevor Sand aren’t interested in true love. They’re spokesmen for the devil.”
Was the guy dangerous, or just stupid?
“Never met him.” Trevor grinned. At least this was a distraction from thoughts about the Muse. Or lack thereof.
“But you speak for him.” Mr. Cockblock was just warming up. “Destruction of the family unit, sex with no responsibility.” He tapped his knuckles against the table, punctuating his point. “Moral decay.”
Might as well fuel his fire. Trevor held up his hand, extending his first finger and pinkie in the classic devil horns. His silver and gold rings winked like imps. None of the fools in this room would recognize the jewelry was thousands of years old, crafted by Greek and Etruscan smiths. And no one would guess that Trevor acquired the rings when those civilizations had been alive. When he had a different face. Each time he reinvented himself to suit the next audience, he created new features. Like molding the clay of flesh. A fresh look, young enough to bring the fans and scare their parents. “Rock and roll.”
Mr. Cockblock reddened. “If only it were that simple—”
“You’re just a broken record.” Trevor wished he could give this guy the middle finger, but it would get him kicked off the show and he was just beginning to rev higher.
Roger Toms bounced a little in his seat, watching the conflict he incited.
“Let’s talk about records.” Pulling a prepared index card and a silver pen from his navy blazer, Mr. Cockblock glared at Trevor. “This is from your latest:
Three days until your husband’s home/Three days
don’t answer the phone/Three days we’re all alone
Trevor nodded and checked his glass. Still empty. “You can get a lot done in three days.”
Downloads of the song would probably spike in the next few minutes.
“Yes, like ruin a marriage, a sacred pact between a man and a woman.” Mr. Cockblock kept throwing daggers, hoping one would stick. He had no idea how durable Trevor was.
Trevor shrugged it off. “She probably screwed the hell out of her husband when he got home.”
Roger Toms maintained a nervous smile. The red in Mr. Cockblock’s face deepened. A vein appeared along the edge of his forehead. He couldn’t be a Philosopher. There was no aura of magic around him, but he could be one of their human allies.
A quick chuckle echoed out from the darkness beyond the set lights. At least a cameraman was on Trevor’s side.
It might come down to a fight. Mr. Cockblock’s hand tightened on his metal pen. Silver worked on entirely different kinds of demons than Trevor. But that didn’t mean he wanted to have holes torn in his skin, or even his leather shirt.
No one in the room could see it. Not even the high-definition cameras would be able to detect the change in Trevor’s body. He thought of the rites of the sea. Bonfires along the coast, where the songs melded with the sound of the surf. The pounding of the waves matched the rhythm of the revelers’ bodies. The sea slammed into the stone and the stone was unaltered. His arm became as hard as that rock. He could almost smell the salt spray.
Instead he was still in the stale television studio. No revelers or music to move him. The hunger began to ache. It would be hours before he could feed. And he still had to get through the TV show and the uptight crusader who wielded his pen like Excalibur. Trevor extended the essence of stone through the whole left side of his body. He still looked like flesh and moved like a man. But he was as solid as granite, like stone come alive.
Mr. Cockblock gathered his outrage into breath. “That’s a perfect example of my point. You people—”
Trevor casually swiveled toward Mr. Cockblock, knocking against one of the man’s chair legs with his boot. A normal human wouldn’t have moved the chair. But the weight of Trevor’s stone limbs and his strength snapped the chair leg in half.
The man yelped and sprawled into Trevor. The two of them slid sideways until Trevor stood and let Mr. Cockblock hit the floor. The silver pen slipped from his grip and hurried into the shadows like an insect. That fool wasn’t going to attack anyone. The man rolled and gasped until Trevor extended a hand for him. Reluctantly, Mr. Cockblock accepted the help to his feet.
Roger looked on with concern. “Are you all right, Mr. Carling?”
The man let go of Trevor’s hand and dusted himself off. “The chair leg broke under me.”
“Take mine.” Trevor slid his chair over for Mr. Cockblock. “I’m on my way out, don’t need it.”
“Well, we still have a few more minutes.” Standing, Roger organized some of the scattered papers on his table. “And the issue still stands—”
Trevor turned directly into the camera. “One night only. The Rascal Room on Hollywood Boulevard.” People watched, somewhere on the other end of the camera. But it wasn’t enough to feed him. It only drew a bright outline around the vastness of the hunger. “Nine o’clock. You be there. I’ll be there.”
He kicked through the broken pieces of chair and off the small stage. On the way toward the exit, he pointed at the cameraman. “You get in free, brother.” The man smiled, then quickly got back to work, taping Roger and Mr. Cockblock collecting themselves behind the table.
Trevor let the door to the set slam behind him. Who gave a fuck what they said about him behind his back? Nothing that hasn’t been said for the past six thousand years. The stark TV studio hallways stank of damp carpet. He skipped the greenroom and the rest of the bourbon. A hunger this great never succumbed to the gift of Dionysus.
Sunlight assaulted him. He gave a wave to the building security man outside and kept walking.
Even a crowd of hundreds might not feed him the life he needed. His sunglasses dimmed the Los Angeles day to barely tolerable. He strode out of the parking lot and onto the street. Either a cab would take him or he’d walk all the way to the tour bus.
He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket and lit up. Smoke. That was all he was filled with. For how long? Two hundred years. Two thousand. More. Singing about women was easy, but he couldn’t remember their faces. They weren’t the answer to this hunger. The green eyes of a woman he’d never met shook him like a distant storm that never arrived. If he didn’t find something to feed this ravenousness, his thousands of years walking the earth would be over. The catch, the beautiful curse of the Muse. She could feed him, keep him alive forever. But if he truly found her, nothing else could sustain him. Only her.
. It was a myth.
. Green eyes. She didn’t exist. How could a mortal transform into what he was?
. Or he would find her, lose her and then finally die from starvation.
* * *
Misty Grant had been captured in his gaze before. Blue eyes like razor-sharp sapphires. Trevor Sand stared at her. He looked at her and into her. Even before she’d ever seen his face, just hearing his music had given her the sense that he was singing only to her. But seeing him look at her like this was different. His confidence was never in doubt. Castle walls would crumble and panties would drop for his crooked smile or sexy sneer. Today, though, his look didn’t command her. Somewhere in those eyes was a deeper need of his own. Somehow, for the first time, Misty thought he looked lost.
And you got all this from a video still off a crappy morning news show
. She gave herself a mental wakeup bucket of ice water, right in the crotch.
If that wasn’t enough to cool her morning mental make-out session with a rock star she’d never met, her coworker Jesse came into her office and brought her completely back to the real world.
His fit chest perfectly filled out his medium polo shirt. “You’ve got to see what your boy, Trevor Sand, did on Roger Toms’s show this morning.” He glanced at her computer monitor, where the image of Trevor staring into the camera remained frozen. “But of course you’ve already seen it, captured the video and isolated the best frame.”
She punched a couple of commands on her keyboard. “And I’ve sent the screen grab to my phone.” Now she could stare at Trevor’s eyes, his perfectly mussed jet-black hair wherever she went. That was healthy. “You want it too?”
“I’m good, thanks. He doesn’t do it for me like he does for you.” Like a lot of people in Los Angeles, Jesse’s very white teeth contrasted against his tanned skin. “But it’s got to be driving you nuts, knowing he’s doing that surprise show tonight.”
Was Jesse needling her? Payback for those two times she gently declined dating him. One rejection should’ve been enough. But it didn’t matter what he thought, or what he might say about her in the break room. There was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity out there. She had to grab it. “I’m going to that show.”
He scoffed, waving his hand over the array of computer monitors and controllers on her desk. “You’ll never make it. Got to feed the puppy. We’re on deadline, remember. There are at least sixteen sequences that need full FX compositing. In HD.”
Fucking talking puppy movie.
“These damn movies are like watching cover bands. Not an original thought in any frame.”
Jesse shook his head with patronizing smugness, as if he’d seen it all, even though they were the same age and she’d been at the job longer. “We’re post-production, Misty. It’s not about creativity. It’s about delivery.”
Trevor’s eyes still bored into her and she had to click off the window. The walls to her small office seemed to close in. “Did you know Trevor Sand’s band never covers another band’s song? Not even when they’re playing live. It’s all them. Lyrics, musicianship. Totally legit.”
Sometimes she felt like a teenage fangirl, rather than a grown, twenty-seven-year-old woman. There was more than idol worship in her connection with Trevor Sand and his band, though. It started a couple of years ago, when she’d heard him on the radio as she drove into Los Angeles for the first time. He was just a few years older than her, but the depth of his words always resonated. Somehow, his lyrics always felt achingly relevant to moments in her life. Of course, not the sticky dirty images of “Jam Session,” but the more emotional lyrics of other songs draped heavily within her.
Jesse shook his head and took another step into her already cramped office. “You’re too much of a fan. Putting Sand up on a pedestal like that means no other guy will be able to measure up.”
Even without Trevor to compare him to, there was no way Jesse and his white belts and candy-colored polo shirts was going to get to the head of the pack of men trying to date her. Not that it was a crowded field. Over the last couple of years, she’d learned that the men of Los Angeles—in the movie industry specifically—didn’t quite know what to do with a woman who had a mind of her own. She shied away from workplace romances, anyway. Besides, Jesse was too soft to spark off of.