Sticks and Stones
Sticks and Stones
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Gargoyles are not what you think...
A thousand years ago, a Khargal scouting party left Duras, only to crash on a planet called Earth. Injured and outnumbered, the stranded Khargals hid among stone effigies and observed the slow evolution of the planet’s primitive inhabitants. With no means of returning to Duras, they watched from their shadowy perches and faded into legend, becoming the mythical gargoyles.
- Gargoyle Hero
- Ancient Aliens
- Hidden Identity
- Forbidden Love
- Evil Organization
- Fated Mates
Sten's ship crashed on Earth centuries ago, and since then, he's been hiding in plain sight, awaiting rescue. But a thousand years is a long time to go without companionship, even for a long-lived alien, and the human female he's guarded since childhood has grown into an alluring woman.
When a mysterious man offers to buy the "statue" in Angie's garden, Sten knows he's been discovered. The Rose Syndicate has hunted his kind for centuries, capturing and torturing his fellow Khargals in the name of science. But simply fleeing isn't an option; Angie has a secret. One he's sworn to protect.
Forced to reveal himself, Sten is confronted with a new truth. Impossible as it seems, Angie is his mate.
And the urge to claim her may be his undoing.
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
Angie was up to her elbows in potting soil when a man’s voice forced her to turn around. As the owner of one of Old Turnbull’s historic houses, she was expected to be pleasant to tourists, even when they trespassed on what was clearly private property. She took a calming breath and pasted a smile in place. A man with salt and pepper hair and wearing an expensive business suit was running his palm along one of her life-sized gargoyle’s wings.
“Can I help you, sir?” She didn’t bother to brush her hands clean as she moved toward him. Tourists in the historic ghost town seemed to get more entitled every day, and while she appreciated the boost they created in the local economy, it sucked living in one of the most prominent landmarks.
“Just a moment, if you please.” He didn’t look at her, just moved closer to the statue, one polished shoe crushing the marigolds edging her garden bed.
The gargoyle had garnered more than its share of attention, but never as rudely as this. In the form of a perfectly sculpted man, at first glance it could be taken for a crouching Adonis with wings. But closer inspection revealed the wings to be more like a demon’s than an angel’s, with claws at the upper joints and tips. The figure also had small horns buried in the hair curling over his temples and a long tail tucked against the back of one leg. Angie wouldn’t have been surprised if the statue’s fisted hands had claws. Her father had once said it’d been guarding their family for generations. If only it could defend itself against this creep right now.
Scowling at the man crushing her heirloom flowers, she cleared her throat. “Sir? This is private property.”
With obvious reluctance, he pulled his attention from the gargoyle and reached into his breast pocket, producing a business card. He held it out to her. “Winston York the Third, dealer in rare antiquities.” As she accepted the card, his gray eyes flicked over her stained jeans and plaid button-down shirt. “I’m interested in purchasing your statue.”
Without looking at the card, Angie pointed to the sign on the tall, wrought-iron fence surrounding her yard, hoping the guy would take a hint that he was unwelcome. “In case you didn’t notice, this is a historic site. The statue belongs to the house.”
“Then I’d like to buy the entire property.” He turned his gaze to the Victorian style brick building with its covered wrap-around porch and small turret. The scrolled trim needed new paint and one of the windows on the upper level was still boarded up after a spring storm had dropped a tree against the house, but she’d been forced to funnel her limited funds into fixing the roof. Even so, it was in far better condition than the rest of Old Turnbull. Her home was no Frank Lloyd Wright, but the antiquities dealers and national historians always seemed to be knocking on her door.
York finished his perusal and arched a brow at her. “You are the owner, correct?”
That’s it. She was done being polite; the ladies at the Historical Society could go jump in a lake. “I am. But I don’t recall putting up a For Sale sign.”
A condescending smile lifted the corners of his mouth. “Everything is for sale. How does ten percent over market value sound? I’ll have an assessor here tomorrow.”
Looking at York’s slick suit and manicured fingernails, she was reminded of her father’s stories about the mining town during the boom, when big investors had moved in to buy out all the little claims. The house was one of the few pieces of her heritage she’d managed to keep after her dad died.
Her chest grew tight thinking about her father, and she shifted her focus back to the moment. Just who did this York fellow think he was? The asshole hadn’t even bothered to ask for her name.
Taking a step forward, she stood toe-to-toe with the man, eyes level with his. “This house is my home, Mr. York, not some fixer-upper for you to buy and flip. It’s not for sale.” She thrust the card back into his suit’s breast pocket. “Now please remove yourself from my property.”
His gaze dropped toward her chest. Great. If this guy turned full creepster on her, she was going to shove her garden trowel up his ass. But his focus lingered at the hollow of her throat where her mother’s antique pendant hung.
She pulled her collar closed and stepped around York toward the gate, motioning for him to leave. “I have work to do, so please move along. I’m sure you’ll find other things to interest you in town.”
York narrowed his eyes, and her whole body tensed. She’d never been to a big city, but this was how she expected someone felt just before a mugger grabbed their stuff. Slowly, he readjusted the hem of his suit jacket. “My apologies if I’ve offended you, Miss—?” He stepped through the gate and paused on the cracked concrete that had once been a sidewalk, looking at her expectantly. “I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name.”
“You didn’t ask.” She pushed the gate closed, gritting her teeth against the nails-on-the-chalkboard screech. Getting the rusty hinges open again in the morning when she left for her shift at the diner was going to be interesting, but she wanted to make her point.
“Ahem, well, again, my apologies. I hope you will reconsider. I’ll have my lawyer draw up papers and send them over. I’m sure you’ll find my offer more than generous.”
She met his gaze between the bars. “And I’m sure you’ll find my refusal just as firm.”
Turning on her heel, she stalked back to her pots, feeling as if her gargoyle’s gaze followed her with pride.
* * *
Angie lay stiff beneath the covers, unsure if the sound she’d heard was a dream or her half-stray cat, Sally, getting rowdy with the dust bunnies. She was used to the creaks and groans of the old house, and usually slept like a rock, but she could swear she’d been woken by the awful sound of her gate hinges. Exhausted from a long day in the sun, she didn’t want to get out of bed to check. The sound came again. Definitely the hinges. Ugh. Was that York guy back to fondle her gargoyle? The statue was too heavy to steal, but if that asshole was crushing more of her flowers, she might just shoot him.
Slipping from beneath the covers, she set her bare feet onto the chilly hardwood floor and tiptoed to the open window. The honey-almond scent from the bed of heirloom night phlox wafted in on the night breeze. Her bedroom was in the turret, its leaded glass panes overlooking the garden. She sometimes liked to just sit up here and admire her flower beds and the monstrous yet strangely sexy gargoyle that dominated the foliage.
She squinted over the shadows of flowers and leaves. The moon was a mere crescent hanging low in the sky, but she knew right where to look to see her gargoyle’s broad shoulders.
The space there was empty. She rubbed her eyes, pressing her nose against the glass. Where was he? The darkness must be playing tricks on her.
A creak and a thud came from downstairs. She jumped, twisting away from the window and pressing herself into the heavy damask curtain. Was someone inside? Turnbull had zero crime, and she’d never worried much about locking up. They didn’t even have a police station, relying on the county sheriff for the few incidents that arose. If she called 911, it might be an hour or more before someone arrived.
She tiptoed to the shelf where she kept her father’s old rifle. Her father’d taught her to shoot from an early age, and the gun was loaded in case a bear or mountain lion decided to come sniffing around. She hadn’t fired it since she’d purchased it back from the pawn shop a few years ago, and she hoped she didn’t have to tonight; blood on her carpet and holes in her walls were the last thing she wanted.
Hoping to chase the intruder off, she moved down the narrow hallway to the stairwell and called, “Whoever’s down there, I’m dialing 911.”
Breaking glass tinkled in the parlor, and a man’s voice said, “Oh, shit!”
Oh, hell no. What’d just broken? Maybe she’d rather shoot the bastard after all. She’d been buying back heirlooms as she could afford them and the few things she’d managed to acquire were precious. The sound of something heavy toppled below. “Fuck,” she muttered. Clenching her teeth, she started down the stairs, not bothering with the lights. She knew every inch of this place, and right now, darkness was her friend. “You’d better leave now! I have a gun!”
She rounded the corner, heart in her throat. Against the dark backdrop of the parlor windows a huge silhouette of a man lunged toward her. Before she even thought about it, she fired, the stock slamming painfully against her shoulder and driving her backward. She’d forgotten what the kick of a rifle felt like, and the report left her ears ringing. Had she hit him? It took her a moment to reorient herself and bring the weapon back up. God, she hoped she didn’t have to shoot a second time.
To her relief, the door to the porch wrenched open and whoever had been inside fled into the night.
“That’s right, asshole!” She took a few steps after him but was forced to pause when her bare foot met broken pottery. Dammit, that better not be from her curio cabinet. She backtracked and flicked on the light switch.
The sight of her ransacked parlor was sickening, but that’s not what froze her in place; across the collapsed remains of her Queen Anne sofa lay her gargoyle.
And he was getting blood on her carpet.