Books 1 & 2
by N.D. Jones
Genre: paranormal romance
Before trust and love can take hold, grow solid roots, and blossom into a reality larger than self, fear must be conquered and faith embraced. Yet fear of an ancient prophecy, of burning magical power, and a broken heart, Sanura Williams, psychology professor, is unprepared when Special Agent Assefa Berber enters her life, hunting a preternatural serial killer. Assefa’s intelligent, chocolate eyes and intoxicating aura signature stirs her fire spirit but frightens the woman.
In a world where all is not as it seems, Sanura and Assefa must battle the gods’ first creations – vile predators who threaten the safety of humans. Each confrontation, each bloody clash, will bring Sanura and Assefa closer to fulfilling the prophecy of being the Fire Witch and Cat of Legend – the ones who will save humanity from the Water Witch of Legend. Death, godly magic, and physical attraction draw Sanura and Assefa to each other, but fear and faith will determine their destiny.
Sanura rushed off the elevator and down a bright corridor with pink, blue, and yellow balloons decorating the walls of the children’s wing, bordering a mural of happy children in a park, the sun above affirming their special place in the world. An illusion, she thought, a beautiful illusion of how life should be for children. The truth, however, rested behind the closed hospital doors, where reality had long since claimed their innocence.
Her heels clicked with each long stride she took, her pace hurried, purposeful. Mike only sought her counsel on cases of a unique nature, counsel that was off the record. And she was late. She hated being late, and Mike would worry. Mike constantly worried. He’d probably already called her mother or Cynthia alerting them to her MIA status.
Sanura made a right onto another colorful corridor. At the end of the glistening hallway sat Mike, cell phone in hand and an all-too-familiar scowl gracing his aging features. As if sensing her presence, he looked up from his phone, and their eyes met. His face softened, reminding Sanura of the soft heart encased within the detective’s tortoise shell of a body.
“I’m sorry I’m late. The beltway was a beast.” She bent to give Mike a heartfelt hug, her long arms circling his taut shoulders.
“It’s all right. I was just beginning to worry about you, but you showed up before I had a chance to call Cynthia.”
“You always worry about me, and I’ll tell you the same thing I told Dad and I tell Mom, I can—”
“Take care of myself,” he finished. “I know, but that won’t stop me from worrying, so you might as well accept it.”
She kissed Mike on the cheek and sat beside him in one of the wooden chairs lining the hallway, conveniently serving as a family waiting area.
“So, tell me about this case of yours, the girl, and what you need me to do.” Sanura leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs, seeking a comfort she knew wouldn’t last once Mike began.
Sanura listened to the detailed, unabridged facts of the case, having already read reports of the slayings in the Baltimore Sun. The gruesome murders headlined every local news program from the early morning news to the eleven o’clock evening news.
She nodded, listening intently to details about Elizabeth Ferrell’s horrific night. While Sanura enjoyed using her training to help Mike, she hated when the case involved children, which didn’t make any sense since she was a child psychologist. Perhaps that was it, she reasoned, as Mike regaled her with one morbid piece of evidence followed by an even more depressing fact. Perhaps it took a person who detested even the thought of an injured child to be such a strong advocate for their rights and protection. Sanura wanted to help those lost souls. No, she needed to help them, free them from their pain, their misery.
So she sat and listened and fought the urge to cover her mouth and squirm in her chair when Mike described the crime scene photos his temporary partner had shown him earlier in the day. And just when she was about to tell him she didn’t need to know the coroner’s findings, a wave of energy slammed into her, shredding her concentration, dissolving all thoughts of the child and the case. The energy rode Sanura hard, forcing her eyes to close, mouth slightly parting, aura open and alert, searching for the source.
Deep breaths, Sanura. Deep, calming breaths.
With embarrassed concentration, she slowly opened her eyes. And a smiling stranger stood before her, a chilled bottle of water in his right hand.
Their eyes met, and another blast of energy assaulted her senses. She didn’t close her eyes this time and refused to look away. No, Sanura simply absorbed the magical energy, opening her senses and pulling the scent to her. It swirled about her, strong but gentle. And while it should have felt strange, as if her body had been invaded by a foreign substance, it simply felt—right.
The man’s eyes widened, almost as much as his nostrils when he inhaled deeply. Still he only stared, gaze unwavering, eyes sparkling with unasked questions. Yeah, she had questions of her own, like, had he experienced the odd sensation too? Sanura didn’t know. But she had felt it, as strongly as she now felt the heat of his gaze roaming her body, slow and sensual, ratcheting up the indescribable energy between them tenfold. Damn.
Mike stood and placed himself between Sanura and the fine stranger with the most tantalizing aura she had ever sensed. Mike faced the man, his head craned up to meet the taller man’s eyes, a snarl seeping through his lips when he said, “We talked about this, remember what I said.”
Frowning, the stranger gave Mike a hard you’re-not-worth-my-time look before gazing over Mike’s shoulder and at her. His smile returned and settled firmly on her still-seated form. Angling from behind her godfather, the stranger extended his right hand.
“Hi, I’m Special Agent Assefa Berber. I assume you’re Dr. Williams, the child psychologist and professor.”
Sanura stood and returned the smile. She took the offered hand and shook, trying—futilely—to ignore his unique masculine scent. The scent went straight to all the right places, subtly finding her genetic code and adding his. Impossible. “Yes, it’s nice to meet you, Special Agent Berber. Mike’s told me so much about you.” But not everything. Not nearly.
In a world of mystery and magic, sometimes old bonds must be broken before new ones can be formed. Who knew that finding one’s soul mate would test bonds and unleash beasts?
Mami Wata and Oya are now free from their watery prison and ready to wage a battle five hundred years in the making. Special Agent Assefa Berber and Dr. Sanura Williams are the prophesized Cat and Fire Witch of Legend. To save the world from Mami Wata, a water goddess with a bloody thirst for power and an insatiable appetite for death and destruction, they must defeat her beasts and the Water Witch of Legend.
Assefa and Sanura are fully in love but possess only a partial mate bond. While Sanura has merged their auras, bonding Assefa’s cat spirit to her, she has yet to accept his claiming bite. Their incomplete mate bond and their new relationship are tested when Mami Wata sets her malevolent eyes on them, manipulating beasts, sacrificing humans, and creating heartache. Can their bond survive, or will they drown under the vicious tide of godly might?
With focused golden eyes, alert gray ears, and keen black snout, the Mngwa took in his surroundings.
The prickly grass under his large, wide paws.
The heat of the midday sun beating down on his thick black-and-gray fur.
The scent of mullah bamyah—garlic, tomato juice, minced beef, okra, salt, and pepper.
The four snarling big cats stalking him.
Scanning each strong, lithe, and ferocious cat, the Mngwa cataloged their stance, their position, and the distance between each other and from the Mngwa. They flanked him, a large cat to his front, rear, and sides. If the Mngwa could smile, he would have. Foolishly, they thought their numbers a strategic advantage that would fell the undefeated Mngwa of myth and legend. Instead of a smile, he snarled, a baring of elongated teeth.
The four cats attacked, their bestial response to his bait.
Four sets of paws struck the ground, claws digging into grass and dirt, brawny legs propelling them forward. Razor-sharp teeth bared, husky growls cut through the muggy June air, and feline eyes glowed with a premature win.
The leopard reached the Mngwa first, snapping and going for the bigger cat’s neck. Not wasting time with the youngest of the four attackers, the Mngwa sidestepped the snarling, snapping leopard. To only pivot, turn, and ram the side of the too-slow feline with the Mngwa’s massive head. Away from the Mngwa the leopard flew, sailing through the air and crashing to the ground several feet away.
The three other cats spared no pitying glance to the downed leopard, who lay on his side, breathing labored and ragged. A sure sign of broken ribs.
More growls and snapping, each cat trying for a different part of the Mngwa’s massive body. The Mngwa was having none of it, so he went on the offensive. Leaping over the biggest threat, the Bengal tiger, the Mngwa landed nimbly, then ran straight at the cheetah. Taking the speckled feline by surprise, the Mngwa powered over the cat, knocking him down before hauling him up by his scrawny neck and shaking. The cheetah’s fragile neck was held firm between the Mngwa’s curved saber-shaped teeth.
When the Mngwa no longer felt resistance, he opened his deadly jaws and allowed the cheetah to fall from his brutal clutch and slip, nearly unconscious, to the waiting grass.
The lion and tiger claimed simultaneous strikes on the Mngwa. A swipe across his hindquarters and a bite to his side. The lion latched onto the Mngwa, his lethal teeth working to find purchase in the cat of legend’s winter dense fur and even thicker hide.
Like the predator he was, the Bengal tiger charged while the Mngwa grappled with the formidable lion. A mix of yellow-and-orange with wide dark-brown stripes, the 510-pound tiger landed on top of the Mngwa. His weight hefty, his claws long, sharp, and dangerous. The maw that threatened his nape even deadlier.
The lion kept up his offensive, kept clawing, kept sinking his teeth in deeper and deeper.
The Mngwa roared, reared back on his hind legs, forcing the tiger off him and to the hard ground. With a side dive, the Mngwa dropped the entirety of his 695 pounds onto the 380-pound lion. His long, dark mane shot up and out with the force of the attack.
The downed lion snapped and snarled but didn’t get up. No, with the Mngwa looming over him, golden eyes marble hard, paw raised, claws out and within striking range of the lion’s throat, the feline had only two choices.
One would see him dead, while the other …
The lion lowered his eyes, and then his head.
Pleased, the Mngwa shifted his gaze to the tiger, his other senses having tracked the big cat the entire time.
He knew it would come down to this—the Mngwa versus the Bengal tiger. It always did.
The big cats circled, taking each other’s measure. They searched for an opening, an opportunity to attack with the least probability of an effective and bruising counterattack. The combatants knew each other well—style of combat, defensive and offensive tactics.
Speed, size, and agility were on the Mngwa’s side. Yet, the toxin from an animal no longer than an inch, the golden poison frog could kill a dozen men. Its tiny size and bright colors deceiving. Not, at a length of 120 inches and 43 inches of shoulder height, with a tail just as long, there was anything small about the Bengal tiger baring his gleaming white teeth at the Mngwa.
The Mngwa underestimated no one—no matter the outward appearance of the enemy. Even the cat of legend, if incautious, could taste the bitter tang of defeat. So he watched and waited and plotted the tiger’s downfall.
The tiger charged, all muscle and menace. His long, powerful legs ate up the distance between them, determined copper eyes all for the Mngwa.
The cat of legend braced himself, choosing to face the big cat head-on. He wanted this fight, the primal challenge that only a great beast like the Bengal tiger could give him. A glorious battle of fangs, fur, and claws that would push, force, and compel the Mngwa to prove his worth, his manhood, his undisputed dominance as the predator of predators.
The ground shook – the Mngwa and tiger locked in a feral clench.
Strong. The tiger was so strong. But not strong enough.
The Mngwa opened his mouth wide and clamped down on fur and flesh. The neck of his opponent was thick with rigid muscles and delicate veins. The pulse of the tiger’s life a strong, fast throbbing beat in the Mngwa’s deadly mouth.
The tiger whimpered his pain. Neither loud nor long. But enough, enough for the Mngwa’s ears to detect the effect of his attack. Yet the tiger fought on, as the Mngwa knew he would. As the Mngwa wanted him to, the tiger too stubborn, courageous, and fierce to submit so easily.
No, there was much fight left in the Bengal tiger.
He swiped at the Mngwa, vicious claws finding vulnerable underbelly and drawing blood. It hurt, but not enough for the bigger cat to release his vice grip. The Mngwa sank his teeth deeper into the side of the tiger’s neck, tasting blood and prideful were-cat magic.
Her gardenia scent slammed into his senses seconds before the Mngwa and the tiger were surrounded by a ring of raging fire. Breaking his hold on the smaller cat, the Mngwa turned to see an angry fire witch barreling toward them—green eyes cold, red-gold hair and long striped sundress blowing in a wind that came out of nowhere. Her deadly focus was all for the Bengal tiger who, unlike when he fought the Mngwa, trembled with fear.
And fire witch magic crackled in the blistering summer air.
Dammit, he had to do something and fast. Retreating as far as he could go within the cage of fire, the Mngwa propelled himself forward, accelerating when he approached the heated barrier and jumped. With ease, he cleared the four-foot high ring of fire and landed, with an oompf, on top of a glaring Sanura.
“I can’t believe you just—”
He licked her. From the front ring bodice of her green-and-orange striped dress, up her toned shoulders and around the tie neck, and into thick hair covering an ear, the Mngwa tasted his witch.
“Get off me, you big furball. I can’t breathe.”
Satisfied and comfortable, the Mngwa nuzzled his witch’s face, neck, and her heaving breasts, unfazed by Sanura’s angry protestations. The only part of him that pinned the witch down was his massive head and part of his chest. But, the Mngwa supposed, even that much weight could be heavy on a woman who, while five-feet-ten-inches tall, weighed no more than 140 pounds. With a teasing snort that had a lock of her wavy hair flying upward and out of her eye, the Mngwa decided it best to give the fire breathing witch some relief.
With a single thought from Assefa—I’ll take care of our witch, my friend, go to sleep—the cat gave way to the man. A transformative effect where fur and hide succumbed to hair and skin, paws and claws shrank to hands and legs, and golden eyes, muzzle, and fangs retreated, waning under Assefa’s command.
“Is that better?” Assefa smiled down at his hot-tempered girlfriend, right before settling the whole of him on top of the whole of her.
Very nice. Sanura made for the best mattress—plush, lush and with the right amount of firmness.
“You’re naked.” A huffed complaint that did nothing to encourage Assefa to move off her.
“Of course. My Mngwa doesn’t like clothing.” He shifted on top of her, letting Sanura feel just how naked he was. “He thinks pants are too binding. What do you think?”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I think you need to worry more about that big damn tiger you were fighting rather than your Mngwa in boxers.”
N. D. Jones lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. She is the founder of Kuumba Publishing, an art, audiobook, eBook, and paperback company. Kuumba Publishing is a forum for creativity, with a special commitment to promoting and encouraging creative works of authors and artists of African descent.
A desire to see more novels with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, inspired the author to take on the challenge of penning such romantic reads. She is the author of two paranormal romance series: Winged Warriors and Death and Destiny. N.D. likes to read historical and paranormal romance novels, as well as comics and manga.