Kimberly Loth Paranormal Romance Bundle - Featuring The Thorn Chronicles
Kimberly Loth Paranormal Romance Bundle - Featuring The Thorn Chronicles
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Tears streamed down my face as I tore the buds off and ripped away the leaves. I upended the pot, and the rich soil poured over my feet and skirt. I shredded the stalks as sobs fought their way out, and blood trickled down my palms. I welcomed the hurt. The punishment.
I continued to destroy my beloved Kaisers until a bloom from the hanging Dream Weaver fell in front of my nose. I inhaled deeply. I calmed, and a wondrous sleep fell over me. Everything was blessedly quiet, and I tasted honey on my lips. In my head, visions of faraway places with huge, roaring waterfalls played like a movie.
But I wasn’t quite asleep. My eyes would not open, and my hands would not move.
Footsteps shuffled around me. The agony in my head disappeared, and my trembling stilled. Thoughts raced through my brain, but no emotion came. Only peace. The swishing of a broom distracted me. I wanted to move, but not even my pinky toe would budge. My eyes refused to listen to my commands to open. Hours passed.
Eventually, a finger traced along my jaw. It tingled a bit but didn’t burn. How strange to be touched but not be hurt. The skin was rough, like someone who worked with his hands. A gardener perhaps. Someone who shared my love of roses. I waited. This must be a dream. A fantasy that my unconscious mind thought would be a good idea of a sick joke.
A warm cloth gently cleaned my wounds from the rose thorns. The pain disappeared, and the gardener left my side. I tried to sigh, but nothing happened. Then, a hand picked up one of my feet and slowly washed away the dirt with such gentleness. I wished to awaken and see who would take such care of me. No one had done so in the last eight years.
Strong arms slid under my legs and neck and picked me up. My head rested against his heart. It beat fast. His muscles rippled underneath my cheek, and he whisked me silently out the door. I instantly missed the smell of roses.
A door creaked open, and the whoosh of an air conditioner sounded loud in my ears. We moved with complete silence, and he laid me down with care on my bed. At least I hoped it was my bed. He put me under the blankets and placed my hands across my chest.
Then, he kissed me.
Continue Reading The Thorn Chronicles if you like:
- Arranged Marriage
- Fish out of Water
- Forbidden Love
- Love Triangle
- Woman in Peril
- He falls first
★★★★★ “I simply couldn't put them down as I wanted to know what was going to happen next!” – The Thorn Chronicles Reader
WARNING: This series contains books that you can't put down.
- Midnight Angel
- Destroyer Angel
- Fallen Angel
- Guardian Angel
- Days of Hunger
- End of Hope
- Chasm of Eternity
- Skies of Fire
The Thorn Chronicles
Naomi has never questioned her strange upbringing in her abusive father’s cult — until she’s told she must marry a terrifying man. When mysterious Kai shows Naomi how to unleash her own supernatural powers, can she escape fate and change her future?
Sons of the Sand
Liv arrive home from a trip with more than she bargained for. When she opens a pretty bottle and finds a genie in her room three hours later, promising to grant her every wish, it's a good thing right?
He's going to kill her.
First Chapter: The Thorn Chronicles
First Chapter: The Thorn Chronicles
The sink propped next to our front door didn’t belong. My mother had it installed after I kept tracking in dirt and fertilizer from my greenhouse. I washed the soil off my hands with the warm water and used a file to clear the dirt out from under my nails. Then I exchanged one filthy pair of ugly tennis shoes for a pair of clean ugly tennis shoes and made my way into the kitchen. Mother didn’t allow a speck of soil from my greenhouse to dirty her home.
Paint on the cabinets peeled in white curls. A single light bulb gave enough light to cook but not enough to read a recipe. My mother stood by the tiny window, her bottle-blonde hair twisted in a bun on the back of her head. She wiped her hands on her apron, then smoothed a stray hair from my braid. I knelt down to tie my shoes, anything to avoid her touch. Physical touch burned, even something as little as a finger brushing my forehead. Mother knew it too.
“Wash your face. We have guests coming for dinner.”
My stomach knotted. I tied and untied my shoes three times, wondering how to respond. Years ago, my father closed our home to visitors. No one crossed our threshold. I was allowed to leave only to go to school and church—well, if you want to call it that. In school, I watched movies, and while I went to the Baptist church until I was eight, our new church was hardly a church.
“Why?” I asked and waited for the slap and a lecture. I’d been slapped so many times that I was all but immune to the pain. My curiosity overrode my memory of the last question I asked. Grandma died, and I wanted to know why I couldn’t go to the funeral.
Mother smiled like she was hiding something important. This was not good at all.
“For your birthday. They’re friends of your father’s from church. We have a big surprise for you.”
Of course. Friends of my father. Nothing happened in our house unless he was the center of attention, even on my birthday. At least they remembered. The surprise concerned me though, as the last surprise was a drastic lifestyle change complete with long denim skirts and strict obedience. Oh, and no more birthdays. For eight years, I was only able to mark the passing year by checking the calendar.
Until now, apparently. Maybe the surprise would be that my father finally found his sanity. That would be an amazing birthday present, but I doubted I’d get that lucky.
Dinner took place in the dining room. The cheap chandelier struggled to fill the room with light, as two of the bulbs were out, and nobody bothered to replace them. Our mysterious dinner guests turned out to be familiar. And not the good kind of familiar, either.
Dwayne Yerdin sat at the table. He was a senior but ended up in quite a few of my classes even though he was two years older. I probably shouldn’t judge him. But with his heavy-lidded, half-closed eyes, buzzed head, and classic bully laugh, I disliked him the moment I met him three years ago. Seated next to him was a pudgy man in a suit. He wore a tie, but his neck was too thick to fasten the top button. He had the same heavy-lidded eyes as Dwayne.
My father nodded to me as I waited in the doorway.
“Naomi, it’s about time. Come and meet Dwayne and his father. They go to church with us. Here, sit.”
My father indicated the chair next to Dwayne, but I sat across from him instead. My head hummed with the act of disobedience, and the air smelled faintly of wisteria. I almost smiled. Irritation passed over my father’s face, but he didn’t say anything. Next to my father, the pudgy man stared at me with piercing gray eyes. My father ran a hand through his thick blonde hair and introduced me to our guests. I dropped my eyes and murmured, “hello.”
My mother served us pot roast and baked potatoes. She piled every plate high but hers and mine. Hunger kept me humble. And skinny. I focused on my food most of the dinner, not wanting to meet Mr. Yerdin’s gaze. Or Dwayne’s. His eyes shifted rapidly around the room as if searching for the nearest exit. His eyes met mine, and he smirked, like he knew something I didn’t.
My father and Mr. Yerdin talked of politics and religion, not once acknowledging that anyone else sat at the table. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised since more than one sermon had been preached about the place of women and children. We were inferior and didn’t deserve an opinion that differed from our husbands’ or fathers’, so it was best we didn’t say anything at all.
As the conversation shifted to the complicated surgery Father had to perform on a dog that was dumped in our yard—he was a veterinarian—I tried to think of what I would get if I crossed an Iceberg rose with a Sunsprite. A nice pale yellow and only a few thorns. Could be interesting. If Grandma were still alive, she’d appreciate it.
A quick glance at the clock told me they’d only been here forty-five minutes, but it felt like days. After another excruciating hour, Mother presented the cake. The carrot cake—my father’s favorite—had sixteen candles on it. I had not had a cake with candles since my eighth birthday. On that day, the cake was chocolate, my favorite.
I missed those days, the ones before my father went crazy. When he would come home and take me canoeing and fishing. When we would wake up early on Saturdays and go to breakfast at Sheila’s Café. I blinked back tears.
After the cake, I moved to help my mother clean up, but Father put a hand on my wrist. The skin burned where he touched it.
“See,” my father said, “she’s obedient.”
Mr. Yerdin grinned. “Yes, of course she is. I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Dr. Aren. Dwayne, what do you think?”
Dwayne shrugged and shifted his eyes. I kept my mouth shut and listened.
Mr. Yerdin eyed me up and down. “Well, she certainly has the required blonde hair and pale skin.”
“And she’s a virgin.” My father spoke this a little too loudly, and I flinched. My mother paused before picking up Mr. Yerdin’s plate. She met my father’s eyes and nodded. Then the corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly.
My chest tightened at the thought of what my birthday surprise would be. Although part of me wanted to escape back into the quiet world of flowers and dirt, another part of me needed to know what my future would hold, why being a virgin was important.
I cleared my throat. Dwayne smiled a wide, toothy smile, and my father glowered like I’d done something wrong. Which I had, but it would be worth the punishment if I got the answers I needed.
“Could someone please explain?” There. I asked the question, so out of character for me, and yet, satisfying in a strange way. I bit my bottom lip and tasted butterscotch, which was weird because the cake we ate contained nothing of the sort.
I took a sip of my water. Asking questions was not an act of disobedience, but I recognized the power in asking. I was taking control, even if that control was small.
Father hesitated for a moment and then frowned. He glanced up and saw my mother standing in the kitchen, her eyes boring into his. He answered me, his eyes never leaving hers.
“You’ll be marrying Dwayne.”
First Chapter: Sons of the Sand
First Chapter: Sons of the Sand
Ty was going to die. I would see to it. This was my last day in Egypt, and I still hadn’t bought a single souvenir. In fact, we spent most of spring break on a boat or at the beach. Not that there was anything wrong with the beach. The Red Sea was gorgeous, but I was in freaking Egypt, and we’d spent only one day checking out the pyramids. One. And now Ty was MIA with a note that told me to catch a cab to the market and buy my junk. His word, not mine.
I flopped onto the very hard mattress. This was so unlike Ty. He rarely left me to my own devices. Certainly not in a foreign country that had scored number one in sexual harassment rates. And pepper spray was illegal.
Where on earth did he go?
I shouldn’t be upset that he wanted to go out on his own. It’s bad enough that my twenty-two year-old brother had to take care of me when he should be in college having the time of his life. He became my caretaker when my parents were murdered and we were sent to live with Gran.
It wasn’t fair to him. I’d tried to tell him I could take care of myself, but he said sixteen was too young. I had Gran, but he said that didn’t count because she couldn’t really take care of me. Maybe he’d have to come up with a different argument when I turned seventeen. Lots of seventeen-year-olds take care of themselves, right?
I rolled over onto my side. Somehow, living alone with Gran scared me less than being alone in Egypt. Bravery wasn’t my strong suit. Well, I could be brave, but only when I had help. Going out by myself wasn’t something I did. Ever.
I always had my wing-woman, Nora, with me. Or Kole. Or Penny and Scarlett. I never had to be alone.
Knowing Ty, he was probably at a business meeting of some kind. He took his job very seriously. As serious as a diving videographer could. Regardless, he had meetings all the stinking time. I snuck into one once. What a snoozer. They talked about figures and percentages. It was altogether too much math for me.
I opened the curtains and stepped onto the dusty balcony. Below me, cars wove in and out of one another like a school of fish, and the drivers laid on the horns. A lone man in a long gray dress, or galabaya as they call them here, strolled through the chaos. I held my breath for him. He was unsteady on his feet, and the cars brushed by him. He stumbled as a truck piled high with mattresses passed him. He got to the other side and I let out a breath.
I might head to the market today, but there was no way in hades I was about to cross a street. Part of me loved the craziness of Egypt, but I also longed for the logic and calm of my home in Michigan. Well, most of the time anyway. Logic went out the window during the Coast Guard Festival.
I watched the man for a little bit longer. His reward on the other side of the street was a cart with hundreds of oranges. He poked and prodded them and finally plucked out one that fit perfectly in his hand. He glanced over to the woman who ran the fruit stand. She was arguing with another man. I had no idea what was being said, but it involved a lot of hand gestures.
The man who crossed the road tucked the orange into a pocket and waddled on down the street. I smirked. That man had a death wish as the woman who ran the fruit stand was now beating the other man with a reed.
I strolled back inside and steeled myself. I could go out on my own. Be brave.
I couldn’t do this. After a death-defying cab ride to Khan el-Khalili, the market, the swarm of people terrified me. I spoke no Arabic and was a lone girl. One of the only ones without my head covered. This was going to be a disaster.
I imagined what I would do if my BFF Nora were here with me. We’d get back into the cab and go home. Scratch that. Maybe Scarlett. She’d take one look at the group of people and order her driver to haul her to the nearest mall. Maybe not Scarlett. Penny then. Scarlett’s twin. She’d grab my hand and plunge right into the crowd, and she usually had good judgment. She wouldn’t let this intimidate her. Okay, channeling Penny.
I took two steps forward, falling in with the crowd. So far so good. The cars behind me still honked, and the crowd around me buzzed with various Arabic phrases. Body odor hung heavy in the air, but it disappeared when I hit the spice market, and my fear dissipated.
The crowd had dispersed some, and the air was rich with spices. I hurried down the alley, excited for the first time since I woke up and discovered Ty was gone.
I felt like I’d stepped back in time a thousand years. Men and women wore traditional dress, and the spices lay piled into cones on top of large barrels. Colorful lamps hung from the cloth ceilings. Small alleys opened to more small alleys. Every kind of merchandise could be found—from brightly colored cloth to cell phones.
I drained nearly my entire spending allowance, mostly buying magnets and other trinkets. I had no clue where I was in the market, but I didn’t care. As unsafe as I had felt this morning, I was fine now. I still wished Nora had been with me. She would’ve loved it. I took a few pictures and sent them to her.
Some boys at the coffee shop catcalled me, but I couldn’t understand a word they said, so it didn’t feel as ominous as it probably should have. Bravery felt good. I should do this more often. As I wandered the shops, I wondered where else I should channel Penny and take the plunge. Maybe I should stand up to my boyfriend more often or do things that prove to Ty I was responsible.
I ducked into a small shop with ancient trinkets and was drawn to the back to shelves that held hundreds of glass bottles of every shape and size. I crouched down to the bottom shelf to examine what looked like perfume bottles. They might be good for my friends.
I picked up a pretty green one and held it up to the light. A smoke-like substance swirled within, giving an almost magical appearance. It would be perfect for Nora. I could probably get some for Scarlett and Penny too.
“How much?” I asked the wizened old shop keeper in a faded blue galabaya.
“For you, beautiful lady. Five pounds.” Fifty cents? How many were there? I could sell them in our booth back home where Gran and I sold stained glass window ornaments. These bottles were worth far more than fifty cents each.
I could only find ten bottles total. They were all different colors. My favorite was a midnight blue one with a sparkling fog. It was as if someone bottled the night sky. I wanted to open one, just to see what would happen, but I was afraid the man would get mad at me.
Loaded down with my purchases, I wove my way through the throngs of people and flagged down a cab.
I’d done it.
But I was still going to kill Ty for leaving me alone.