Mona Lisa Three
PRISM Award winner, best novella
New York Times bestseller, extended list
USA Today bestseller
Release Date: January 2, 2007
Monère, Children of the Moon Series#2
When it comes to sexy werewolves, fairies, and magic, there’s only one place for readers to go this winter: Over the Moon.
Angela Knight ventures to the borders of Mageverse, a land ruled by vampire knights.
MaryJanice Davidson returns to the wicked lair of the Wyndham werewolves.
Virginia Kantra finds magic and wonder in a strange fairy kingdom.
And Sunny discovers a Mixed Blood Queen in command of a new realm in Mona Lisa Three.
“Hot passion and the paranormal are expertly intertwined in this seductive new anthology….Picking up this anthology will be money well spent.”
—Romantic Times, 4 Stars
“OVER THE MOON is four enticing, titillating, scintillating tales of danger, sex, lust, and love. From Angela Knight’s Alpha wolf Lucas, who is way too sexy, to Sunny’s Gryphon and Amber, hunks the both of them, these four ladies give readers what they want and keep them coming back for more. Head on over to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of OVER THE MOON today.”
—Sinclair Reid, Romance Reviews Today
“What a combination! All four authors easily keep the reader entertained with their sexy stories brimming with paranormal romance! Curl up on a moonlit night and enjoy these hot novellas!”
—Tracy Marsac, Romance Junkies, 4.5 Blue Ribbon
“OVER THE MOON shares four very different takes on the worlds of werewolves, vampires and fairies. It’s a must- read for fans of the individual authors and those who enjoy tales of the paranormal.”
— Paula Meyers, Fresh Fiction
“What an anthology! It’s always quite a treat for me to find an anthology in which I enjoy all of the stories. This is one of those anthologies! It is my fervent hope that these ladies will get together and write some more of these awesome stories!”
— Katy Boswell, The Best Reviews
“Sunny provides a breath of fresh air to the more erotic paranormal field. Mona Lisa Three is a part of her series featuring the Monere and has certainly whetted my appetite for this new series…Readers who like their stories dark and spicy should enjoy Mona Lisa Three.
OVER THE MOON is an enjoyable anthology that offers readers several different slices of the paranormal genre. Each one of these very talented authors brings a slightly different perspective to OVER THE MOON, practically guaranteeing that there will be a bit of something for everyone. OVER THE MOON is definitely one hot read!”
— Debbie, CK2S Kwips and Kritiques
It was the beginning of December in Manhattan, smack dab in the Christmas season, and we were shopping. But not for presents. Oh, no. For something far more practical—clothing. In a couple of days time, we were heading to Louisiana, my new territory.
The men had insisted that I meet my new constituents dressed like the Monère Queen that I was. Well, three-quarters Monère, at least. That last quarter was comprised of human blood, making me the first Mixed Blood Queen ever; I’d just been officially recognized by the Court. But given that most Monère considered Mixed Bloods to be mutts, mongrels, and the like, I could see my men’s point that I dress like a Queen. T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers wasn’t quite the image of authority they were used to. Oh, well.
The Monère, my guys included, were quite backward in their tastes, actually. Long dresses and loose hair for their women. The plan was to break them in slowly, gently. If I had to wear a long black dress, I could do that. For now.
But since they’d insisted on torturing me, I decided it was only fair to torture them right back. I made them get new clothes as well. For Gryphon, well, the torture was more on my part. He was a vision of masculine beauty with ebon-black hair falling to his shoulders, his long, lean and delicious build, the white alabaster purity of his skin. The red, red brightness of his cupid-bow lips. So beautiful that you wanted to reach out and touch him, prove that he was real.
He was the first Monère I’d ever encountered, the first man I’d ever loved. He’d come to me a few weeks ago, injured, alone, fleeing his Queen. In saving him, I had really saved myself.
He was my heart. And that vital organ that he claimed pitter-pattered within me as he stepped out of the fitting room dressed in the black Prada slacks I had chosen for him. The vibrant blue shirt he wore brought out the stunning cerulean richness of his eyes. Devastatingly lovely.
Another fitting room door swung open and Amber emerged, the other man who held my heart, roughly handsome in a mahogany-brown dress shirt. His straight chestnut locks looked tousled as if he had run a careless hand through it, and his deep sea-blue eyes were narrowed in a fierce frown.
Huge was the word that best described Amber. Big and brawny, bounded with muscles, he was toweringly tall, majestic like a mountain. A mass of bulges and mounds—bulging biceps that strained the cloth, a mounded, muscular chest, a hard flat belly, powerful haunches, and thick-muscled calves. With his harsh features bold and craggy, Amber was beautiful in his own unique way—in his great warrior strength, in his unexpected tender care of me. He’d saved me. Brought me back from the brink of death.
My two warrior lords. My two lovers. It was hard to believe that I wouldn’t have to give up one or the other. That I could keep them both. That they would share me, as they put it, alternating in my bed and in my body.
Other sighs were heard around the store, not only mine. Looking at the two of them, one with the grace and beauty of a fallen angel, the other menacingly big and brawny, with the strength of a towering oak…who would not sigh, given this vision?
“The pants are too tight,” Amber muttered, redness darkening his broad cheeks.
Actually, he filled out the tan-colored slacks quite nicely—impressively. I circled him slowly, front to back, appreciating the snug fit that showed off the leanness of his hips, the powerful heft of his thighs, and the tightness of his lovely muscular butt, among other things.
“I have to disagree. I think they’re perfect,” I murmured, unable to resist stroking a discrete hand down the enticing curve of his bottom. Beneath my light touch, his buttocks tensed to rock hardness, making my heart skip a beat. Oh, my.
“What do you think, Chami?” I asked, turning to the third man with us. Chami was one of the three other men recently sworn to my service. The deadliest among them. My assassin.
He was tall like Gryphon, almost six feet, but with whipcord leanness, slender like a Greyhound. Sprawled on the couch in limber disarray, dressed in the light green cashmere sweater and olive pants I had chosen for him, with his soft curly brown hair waving across his smiling blue eyes, I was sharply reminded of how deceiving appearances could be. He looked nothing like the deadly killer that he was.
“I agree with Mona Lisa,” Chami said, a smile tugging the corner of his mouth. “The clothes show off all your…masculine attributes to nice advantage.”
Amber growled and Chami laughed outright.
“What do you think, Gryphon?” Chami asked, mischievously turning to the other man to share in the blame.
“If it pleases our Queen,” Gryphon replied softly, “that is all that matters.”
“You’re out voted, Amber.” Reaching up, I wrapped my arms around his thick, brawny neck and pulled the big man down for a kiss.
“Does it please you?” Amber whispered when our faces were only a caress away.
“Yes,” I breathed against his mouth.
“Then I shall wear them.” A soft press of lips, chaste in action but oh so vibrant in emotion, and he released me. From that one light touch between us, I watched as his blue eyes slowly changed to that extraordinary golden clarity for which he was named—Amber. The eyes of his beast. The color of his eyes whenever he was moved with passion or power. They swirled now with love and devotion, feelings he didn’t bother to hide, so different from his normal stony faÃ§ade.
“Does my clothing meet with your approval?” Gryphon asked, pulling my attention back to him.
I ran my appreciative gaze down his lovely form. “Yes,” was my husky reply. “Very, very much so.”
Pleased, Gryphon smiled with a quick flash of dimples, here then gone like a tender flickering tease that made one want to entice them out again. “Good,” he said, “then it is your turn now.”
I groaned. Amber perked up. They changed back into their regular clothes and we made our way to the women’s section of Bloomingdales. The formal wear.
“This one,” Gryphon said, holding up a long gown. Black lace overlying black silk.
“This dress,” insisted Amber, holding up another glittering, sweeping black confection.
“And this,” said Chami with his choice. Sleek, narrow, long and, of course, black.
I tried on all of them, to the men’s vast appreciation. At five feet eight, I was tall for a woman, with a lean athletic build and a modest bosom, far from lush. My eyes were my best features, dark like my hair, tilted up exotically at the sides. Other than that, I was average. But beneath my men’s heated, approving eyes, I felt beautiful, desirable…cherished. A novel sensation.
I ended up buying all three gowns. There. Torture, I mean, shopping all done. Now it was back to work, packing and closing down my apartment.
Under a black velvet star-studded sky, with the first quarter moon lending its slender slice of light to the night, we walked back with our purchases to my lower Westside residence down in the Village.
The other members of our group were at The Pierre. And I was suddenly very, very glad we had decided to stay there, notwithstanding the hotel’s hefty expense, when I opened the door and found a demon in my apartment.
Demon dead was perhaps a more accurate description. They are not creatures from hell as we think of them, although they did live there, in Hell, that is. Demon dead are Monère who died, yet retained enough psychic energy to sustain their existence in another realm—a forever twilight one where no life, no colors, existed. They were dead but not gone. And not really dead, although not really alive, either, as we knew it. Their hearts did not beat, they did not breathe. But they felt, they yearned, they bled. And they could kill.
They were incredibly strong and dangerous. Something that even the Monère feared.
My encounter with Kadeen, another demon dead, had almost killed me and my men. Of course, he’d ended up being the one killed, but not by my hand. By his prince’s—the High Prince of Hell, Halcyon, who was sweet on me and courting me in his own way. Who said he loved me. I’d asked Halcyon to find another to love. Because the attention his interest in me engendered was hard wear-and-tear on my body.
This was the third demon dead I had ever encountered. A lot, if you consider the fact that most Monère went their entire long lives without encountering a single one. So far, they’d been either friend or foe. I wasn’t sure which one this was. I didn’t know at all how to react.
My men must have sensed something wrong in the utter stillness I’d frozen into, in the sudden speeding of my heart. Strong arms wrapped around me and pulled me back from the doorway—Gryphon, I knew his touch—as Amber and Chami surged into the apartment.
“No, let me go, Gryphon,” I said, my mouth dry.
Reluctantly, he released me when a few long moments passed and there were no sounds of fighting within.
I stepped into my small apartment and found Amber and Chami standing near the door as frozen as I had been. They were having as much difficulty deciding how to react as I had because the demon dead facing us was a she.
She sat perched on my tiny loveseat, fitting comfortably because she was tiny herself. But she was a small thing in height only. The rest of her was…well, lush. No other word for it, with her full generous breasts and hips, and hourglass waist. Even the golden-hued skin and long nails, sharp as knives, distinctive to all demon dead…even those merely added to her attraction. She was all shades of brown. From her large dark eyes to her full pouty lips that were more mauve than red. Her hair was a color I had never seen before—gold. Bright and glistening, almost metallic in sheen. She was stunning in a soft kittenish way, sensuality oozing from her very pores. Every man’s dream. Hopefully not my nightmare. Because to cross the portal from Hell into this realm, you had to be strong. Really, really strong.
No matter how delicate, how lush, how sex-kittenish she appeared, she was powerful. The good news was that she wasn’t screaming and chasing after me in her demon beast form, trying to kill me. The bad news was that she was here. What did she want? For that matter, how had she found me? Did the demon dead know enough about the human world to flip through the Yellow Pages?
“So, you are Mona Lisa,” she purred. Her voice was as luscious as the rest of her, full-bodied, rich and throaty, satiny smooth. It literally licked across your skin in a tactile caress. The men shivered lightly, almost imperceptibly, but enough for me to know that they felt it too. My nipples tightened involuntarily. Shit. I almost rather that she was trying to kill me. A touch homophobic? You betcha.
I licked my dry lips. “Yes, I’m Mona Lisa. Who are you?” Not quite rude, but not my most polite, either.
“I am Lucinda.” She said it like it should mean something to me, but it didn’t. Her eyes narrowed slightly. “Halcyon’s sister.”
His sister? Halcyon had a sister?
Well, crap. Now we really didn’t know how to handle her.
“All of Hell is abuzz with your name. A woman important enough to the High Prince that he killed another demon in challenge over you. Halcyon has not executed someone like that for…oh, what is it now…a hundred years?”
I flinched because I knew who he’d executed a hundred years earlier. Kadeen’s father. And the son had been trying to challenge Halcyon ever since. The High Prince of Hell had ignored him up till now…until Kadeen had snatched me, mauled me, ripped into my throat and drank down my blood. Then Halcyon had accepted his challenge and had killed him.
Unfortunately, the demon dead do not die—or would that be, die again—easily. Inside, in the deepest part of me, I still trembled with the battle, the horror, so fresh in my memory.
“Well, as you can see,” I said, my voice dry and scratchy with strain, “I am not much.”
Lucinda threw back her head and laughed. A light, melodious, tinkling sound that shivered down your spine in a delighted caress, stroking things inside you that she had no business stroking. I shifted uncomfortably and decided that her laughing was a bad, bad thing. I’d try not to make her do it again.
“How modest. Is that your attraction?” She stood up suddenly and all of us tensed.
But even though my heart raced, my feet remained planted because I’d already decided how to handle her. She was curious about me. Hopefully, once she satisfied that curiosity, she would leave. It was a game plan of sorts. So I stood there as she walked closer. Although walk was not quite the word for how she moved. Swayed. Swayed would be a much better word.
Standing, her lush shape was displayed even more obviously. She wore a silk shirt like her brother, only it was the color of deep burgundy, the color of blood, instead of the white that Halcyon usually favored. And it molded to Lucinda’s shape in quite a different way than it did to him. Her black leather pants looked as if they had been painted on her. Now here was tight. Amber’s pants, in contrast, had merely fit him well.
She brushed against Amber, who was standing protectively before me. And even though she reached only halfway up his massive chest, he almost jumped when she touched him. His fists clenched, unsure of what to do.
“How big and tall you are,” Lucinda purred, looking up at him, a smile curving her full lips. Her gaze trailed down his face until her glance fell like a loving caress upon his neck, on the slow pulse that beat there strongly at the base of his throat. She looked at that bounding pulse like a woman looked at chocolate, as if imagining how it would taste. How it would melt in her mouth. Only it wasn’t chocolate she was craving.
“It’s okay, Amber,” I murmured. “Let her through.”
At my soft command, Amber stepped aside and let her approach me. She seemed blissfully unconcerned with the fact that Chami and Amber flanked her on either side now. Either she knew they posed no threat to her unless she tried to harm me, and she was not planning on harming me. Or she was arrogantly sure of her own power and ability to protect herself. She stopped directly in front of me, her head reaching only to my chin, and then did something that no human would have done. She smelled me.
“You smell like the night,” Lucinda said, her nostrils flaring delicately as she took in my scent.
“We were walking outside,” I said a bit breathlessly, my heart pounding at having her this close to me. Close enough to touch. Close enough to rip out my heart or slice off my head with those lethally sharp nails—two of the ways to kill a Monère. Of course, I wasn’t a full blooded Monère, so I was probably even easier to kill.
She examined me from head to toe in a thorough scrutiny, a thorough scenting. “You smell of power. And the smell of two others cling to your skin.”
She turned, a dainty demon, and stepped up to Gryphon. He’d frozen into that unnatural stillness that they were all capable of holding themselves in, as if they were carved from stone. Only his eyes moved, following her as she leaned in close, took in his scent.
“You, Warrior Lord,” Lucinda said softly, her eyes running appreciatively over his stunning loveliness before moving on to Amber. “And you,” she said, looking up once more at the giant. Slowly, she reached out and stroked her hand just above Amber’s arm, as if caressing something solid but unseen. “Two powerful Warrior Lords.”
She flowed with sinister grace on to the last of my men, Chami. Laughter was not in his eyes now, nor was the boyish charm he usually sported evident upon his lean face. That boyishness was as deceiving as the rest of his appearance. It had been long since he had been a boy, over a hundred years at least. Monère lived up to three hundred years of age. They were considered mature at a hundred, seasoned at two. There was a coolness to Chami’s eyes now, a seriousness much more in keeping with his deadly nature as he let her smell him.
“Ah, but this one…” Lucinda turned her unsettling gaze back upon me. “This one you have not claimed. His scent is not upon your skin. Nor yours upon his.” Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “I smell Halcyon’s scent upon your neck, but nowhere else on your body.”
Gee, all that from one sniff. My hand lifted to my neck, the skin tingling where Halcyon had bit me and tasted me. The wound had healed, was no longer there, but the remembered feel of where he had pierced my skin lingered still like a phantom memory. And the memory was not one of fear.
“Halcyon has not even taken you to his bed,” Lucinda murmured with surprising realization, shaking her head. “And yet you hold him as if in thrall. Is that your allure for him? The tease, the chase? The anticipation?”
“I am not teasing Halcyon,” I said. “I do not wish to be his lover. As you can already tell by smelling me, my bed is full.”
“Ah, yes. Your two lovers.” Lucinda smiled, sauntered over to Gryphon, and brushed the back of her fingers down the side of his face in a light caress as he stared impassively down at her.
An unfamiliar feeling swept over me. Hot, sharp, like taloned claws. Jealousy.
Slowly, carefully, I pulled Gryphon away from her touch. “Mine.” I bared my teeth at her. Said succinctly, “Don’t touch.”
She laughed again with wicked delight. “Oh. Now I glimpse your attraction to my brother. A little cat showing her claws.” She swayed seductively back to Chami. “What about this one? Can I touch this one?”
I looked at Chami but could read nothing in his carefully blank eyes. “Only if he wishes you to,” I finally answered.
Lucinda leaned forward and pressed her soft full curves along Chami’s long slender length. One hand ran down his chest in an almost touch, brushing again just above his skin. “Such lovely thrumming power,” she murmured, looking up into Chami’s eyes. “So, my delicious one. Do you want me to touch you?”
“What do you want?” Chami asked bluntly.
“A drink of your blood,” Lucinda replied, an eerie echo of Halcyon’s words to me when we first met.
Chami’s blue eyes glinted like hard diamonds, but his face paled even more than his usual whiteness. “Will you leave us then?”
Her lips curved slowly, lusciously. “Yes, I’ve seen what I’ve come to see.” And the almost touch became true touch as her hand moved that one last inch of distance and stroked his chest.
“Then take your drink and kindly depart.”
“Chami, no,” I protested. “You do not know what it is like.”
“On the contrary,” Chami said. “I know exactly what it is like.”
I shook my head. “It will not be like what you experienced with Kadeen.”
“That can only be considered good, milady.” Kadeen had ripped into him and almost drained him dry. It was incredibly brave of Chami to willingly allow another demon to touch him after that savage experience. And he was doing so to protect me. To get rid of her. But he didn’t know what she could do to him with a simple taste. Nothing like what he was expecting. And I didn’t know how to tell him that.
“It is my wish,” Chami said to me softly and glanced back at Lucinda. “I only ask that you be gentle when you take the drink you desire. A drink, not a draining.”
“Agreed. Gentle…” Lucinda laughed huskily and the sound was like the soft tickling brush of fur stroking over your naked skin, chasing a shiver through us all. “Yes, I can do gentle.”
With an almost tender gesture, she drew his head down to her. And he came to her, trembling.
“So sweet,” she murmured against his lips.
“I am far from sweet,” he whispered harshly.
“Sweet and gallant. You fear me and yet you yield to me…for your Queen.”
My hand clenched Gryphon’s hand tightly as Lucinda turned her mouth slowly into Chami’s throat. One tiny hand held Chami secure behind the neck, the other lightly gripped his shoulder. Lifting up on her toes, with her small luxuriant body pressed against the slender bend of his, they looked like lovers embracing. Until her lips drew back, and her teeth lengthened and sharpened.
Gently, she ran the tip of her long sharp fangs once, twice across the pulse bounding slowly, powerfully along his neck. He shuddered, shook in her arms but did not fight her. Gently, almost tenderly, she sank those fangs down into his flesh until those mauve lips pressed tight against his skin and the strong column of her throat worked, swallowing.
I watched as Chami’s eyes glazed over and then widened in surprise. As the tension that sang in him relaxed beneath her thrall. As she took him over, drank him into her body. And gave him back pleasure instead of pain. Pleasure like nothing else in this world.
And I wondered. Did his groin tingle, ache, throb as sensual tendrils raced like invisible caressing hands over him, inside him? Was almost agonizing pleasure swelling up within him, then bursting from him as he cried out, held her tight? As he jerked and shuddered helplessly against her. As light shone free from his body, called forth by his pleasure, liming him in harsh brilliant beauty. A true child of the moon. What he was. What we all were. Monère. Supernatural creatures descended from the moon, faster and stronger than humans. Descendants of another race from another planet long dead.
The blinding brilliance of the moon’s rays slowly faded back into Chami. Now it was Lucinda who held him. Who laid him down gently on the ground, the scarlet red of his blood brilliant upon her lips like lipstick. And I wondered…did Chami wish even now, sated, almost insensate, for more of that sharp painful ecstasy?
Lucinda licked his blood from her lips slowly, savoringly, her eyes heavy-lidded and languorous.
“A small taste of me,” she whispered. And I shuddered and shivered in remembrance of Halcyon’s words to me. A small taste of me, as I taste you.
Lucinda straightened and her gaze lifted to regard me for a moment. “Let Halcyon fuck you. Maybe then his fascination with you will fade. That fascination endangers you both.” With those words, she walked out the door, closing it softly behind her.
I rushed over to Chami and knelt beside him. “Chami, Chami. Are you alright?”
His eyes, when he rolled them up toward me, were dazzled, his pupils darkly dilated. He was still floating in the glowing aftermath. My eyes lowered to the wetness staining the front of his pants. Tears of his pleasure, liquid evidence of his orgasmic release.
“You knew,” Chami said, his voice languid, dreamy.
I met his pleasure-punched eyes and nodded. “Yes.”
“Merciful Mother.” His voice rolled out slowly, stretched softly. “How can you resist that?”
And though his whisper had been but the barest of sound, his question echoed long and loud and haunting in the sudden silence of the apartment.