Crow City #1
by Cole McCade
Genre: Dark Adult Romance
The first book in the new Cole McCade: After Dark erotica imprint; a darkly haunting erotica with the taboo appeal of V.C. Andrews.
"If the romantic character study is a genre, this fascinating contemporary novel is its exemplar." - Publishers Weekly
There's something wrong with Leigh.
She's known it her whole life. She knows it every time she spreads her legs. Every time she begs for the pain, the pleasure, the heat of a hard man driving deep inside. She's a slave to her own twisted lusts--and it's eating her alive. She loves it. She craves it. Sex is her drug, and she's always chasing her next fix. But nothing can satisfy her addiction, not even the nameless men she uses and tosses aside. No one's ever given her what she truly needs.
Until Gabriel Hart.
Cold. Controlled. Impenetrable. Ex-Marine Gabriel Hart isn't the kind of man to come running when Leigh crooks her pretty little finger. She loathes him. She hungers for him. He's the only one who understands how broken she is, and just what it takes to satisfy the emptiness inside. But Gabriel won't settle for just one night. He wants to claim her, keep her, make her forever his. Together they are the lost, the ruined, the darkness at the heart of Crow City.
But Leigh has a darkness of her own. A predator stalking through her past--one she'll do anything to escape.
Even if it means running from the one man who could love her...and leaving behind something more precious to her than life itself.
Crow City 1.5
Reconnect with Gabriel, Gary, Maxi, and Crow City in this companion novella telling the story of THE LOST‘s Gabriel Hart before Leigh entered his life – and get a sneak preview of the sinister Priest, hero of THE FOUND.
Gabriel Hart is a broken man.
And everyone close to him dies.
His military unit. His sister. His parents. Everyone he’s come to care for has been taken from him, leaving him with nothing but a crippling war injury, a Vicodin addiction, and a scraggly, chewed-up rag of a cat. It’s enough to make anyone want to check out. And when he holds his service pistol in his hand and presses it against his temple, for the first time in a long time the world feels right.
But he’s not as alone as he thinks. And when grizzled bar owner Gary challenges him to honor his sister’s memory by repairing her houseboat before he gives up on life, he discovers she left more for him than her belongings. And her letters lead him on a trail through discovering himself, discovering what he truly wants…and discovering that he has the strength to choose his own path.
Crow City #2
Witness to a murder. Kidnapped by a monster. Life hanging on a whim. Willow Armitage’s world was already falling apart; between getting fired and caring for her chronically ill father, she’s had little room for anything but survival. But that survival hangs in the balance the night she stumbles into a back alley – and watches a stranger die at the hands of the most beautiful man she’s ever seen.
Crow City #2.5
For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. – Leviticus 17:11
Before he was a mysterious, silent killer stalking the streets of Crow City, the strange man known as Priest (THE FOUND, Crow City #2) was a lost and broken soul—and part of Willow Armitage’s world in ways she could never have imagined. Shattered by the Afghanistan War, left with no companions other than fellow survivor Gabriel Hart (THE LOST, Crow City #1), ex-Marine Priest turns to his lost faith for answers when his life has lost all meaning…but in searching for his God, he finds a new religion. A religion of blood. Of pain.
And from that religion rises a mission to replace everything he had lost, to set right just a few of the small wrongs in the world…and to ease the constant bleeding of his broken heart, filled with sins without number.
Revisit Crow City and meet Priest as he was before the fateful night that brought him into Willow’s life…and reconnect with beloved names and faces as we discover what—and who—set him on his dark and merciless path.
Crow City #2.75
There are worse things in life than loving a man who hates you.
Unfortunately, Walford Gallifrey can’t think of many.
Ever since a ghost from his past kidnapped his niece, Willow (THE FOUND, Crow City #2), Wally’s life has been nothing but grief, turmoil, and loss. With no idea if Willow is dead or alive, Wally’s only comfort is in caring for his grieving brother-in-law and Willow’s father, Joseph Armitage. For the past twenty years, Wally has never hoped to be anything but the backdrop to Joseph’s life; between marrying Wally’s sister and decades of mistakes building walls of enmity and resentment between them, Joseph has been firmly cemented in Wally’s mind as unattainable.
But the pain of Willow’s loss forces them to face the demons sleeping between them, find common ground—and more. Together, they explore mutual grief. Shared memories. Quiet respect. Warmth. Camaraderie. The joy of learning to live again.
And an unspoken attraction, buried beneath the scars of hurtful words and terrible missteps.
Yet even as they work through the thorns and tangles of old wounds, Joseph has his own struggles to face. The struggle to leave his ex-wife in the past. To let his daughter go. And to trust Wally to love him, to see him as more than just his multiple sclerosis, when so many have treated him as less than a man. The only way forward for them both is forgiveness. Trust.
And a second chance to discover what it means, to truly be in love.
Note: This novel, while a standalone, follows in the aftermath of the events of THE FOUND (Crow City #2), and ties in to the events of THE SAVED (Crow City #2.5), which detail--respectively--the events of Willow's kidnapping and Walford’s prior relationship with her kidnapper, Vincent Manion.
Slender. Angry. (Part) Asian.
Yeah, that about sums me up.
Hi. I’m Cole. Xen. Whatever you want to call me; both are true, and both are lies. My pen names are multitudes, my nicknames legion. Tall, bi/queer, introverted, author, and of a brown-ish persuasion made up of various flavors of Black, Asian, and Native American. I’m cuter than Hello Kitty, more bitter than the blackest coffee, and able to trip over cats in a single half-asleep lurch; I’m what happens when a Broody Antihero and a Manic Pixie Dream Boy fight to the death, and someone builds a person from the scraps left behind. Beardless, I look like the uke in every yaoi manga in existence; bearded or not, I sound like Barry White. About half my time is spent as a corporate writer, and the other half riding a train of WTFery that sometimes results in a finished book. Romance, erotica, sci-fi, horror, paranormal; LGBTQIA and cishet; diverse settings and diverse characters from a diverse author.
Sometimes I shout about things on the internet. Usually intersectional feminism and marginalized voices, and whomever’s punching down in those directions today. Sometimes human sociology, the psychology of sex and gender, and my own gender non-conforming arse (he/him, by the way). Sometimes I get really mad at Stephen Hawking and nerd out all over the place about hairy black holes, and believe it or not, that’s not a terrible pun or even worse innuendo.
That’s it. I’m a huge dork. My humor’s so dry it could empty oceans. I’m a native Southerner from the New Orleans area with zero Southern accent; I’m a mess of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual influences; I have two cats. I wake up at daft hours of the morning to go running. I crochet terrible, lumpy things that never really turn into anything. I’m older than you think I look. I’m much more shy than my fury makes me sound (signifying gods only know what, but probably nothing). Recently I decided, at 36, that I needed to restart my life and move cross-country, so I tossed 75% of my possessions in the trash and randomly trucked it to Seattle. I’m in love with books and music and technology, and they war with each other for dominance and sometimes come together in a beautiful confluence. Most of the physical books I own are strange, obscure, out of print, overseas imports, or any combination of the four. Most of the physical books I used to own were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and have been replaced with the infinite library on my Nook. My wallet has a dangerous attraction to anything with pages; it flirts and teases and gives its all, until there’s nothing left but emptiness and ruin.
There will always be things you don’t know, and I won’t tell.
But ask me late at night over live music in a seedy bar, and you might just get an honest answer.
...or you can poke me via:
THE LOST (Crow City #1)
A pair of worn combat boots stuck out from under the Impala like the Wicked Witch’s ruby slippers. Leigh smiled to herself, tugged her earbuds out, and tip-toed closer, listening to the scuff and clang of rough hands at work. She stopped next to a pair of long legs in dirty, frayed jeans, rested her hands on her knees, and bent to watch, holding her tongue.
“You do know I can see your shadow.” A low, gritty voice drifted from beneath the Impala. Dry, coolly masculine, inflected with a certain cultured, exacting articulation, yet rough about the edges—as if he spoke so rarely his voice was rusty, ill-used. That roughness brushed over her skin like chill breath, and she shivered. That voice didn’t belong in the light of day.
“Ghosts aren’t supposed to cast a shadow,” she said.
“Is that what you are?”
“That’s how I live. Somewhere between the world of the living and the world of the dead.”
A humorless, mocking chuckle slid from beneath the Impala, followed by a long, ferally graceful body: a stark man, defined by absolutes and keen edges. Chill gray eyes, pale as cracked ice. Hair as black as the sea at night, sharp-cut and falling over one eye, spilling against the cracked wood of the creeper beneath him and touched with thin threads of shooting-star silver at the temples. Older, she thought, from his hair and a certain dignified elegance to his stubble-shadowed jaw. Tanned, scarred skin stretched over broad shoulders. Sweat and grease stains darkened his thin white A-shirt. His tattoos said ex-military, jagged silhouettes of fierce-sweeping wings and a pointed beak in the stark style of the Arapaho, turning his right arm into a canvas from shoulder to wrist, slick black oils painted on burnished gold. He stretched out atop the creeper in a long, lazy sprawl and looked up at her, guarded and impenetrable. Something about him spoke of cold precision. A gunsight in human form, locked on and ready to kill.
And when he looked at her as if he could see right through her, see through the transparent empty pointlessness of her, Leigh didn’t just feel like a target.
She felt like prey.
She straightened and looked away, tucking her hands into her pockets, her stomach shivering and light. “This your place?”
“One witch, at your service.”
“She’s contrary as a very witch herself,” she quoted, a smile trying to creep over her lips if only she’d let it. She bit it back and studied the Impala—watching him only from the corner of her eye. “You done working your magic on Gary Mitchell’s car? I’m supposed to pick up.”
“You’re Leigh, then.” He rolled to his feet with easy grace. He moved like an animal, something savage under his skin, behind those unreadable eyes. Something wild that pulled at Leigh like the jungle calling to a beast that had spent its entire life behind bars. She lingered on his hands, large and cruel and rough-cut as raw granite, as he wiped his fingers clean on a rag. “Just finished final inspection. You sure you’re big enough to drive her? She’s a brute.”
“My feet reach the pedals, Daddy.”
A forbidding stare pinned her. “Cute.”
Nothing else. Just that hard, steady stare while he stood over her, feline and powerful as a black-spotted leopard, lazy strength looming tall until she was a child in his shadow, beneath the weight of his gaze. He didn’t look at her the way most men looked at her. Like they were eyeing her pale pretty thighs and tiny skirt and slight, girlish body and wondering if she was street-legal, wondering if she’d let them go for a test drive to find out. There was a certain kind of man who went for the dirty grunge princess look, pure heroin chic, all smeared eyeliner and kiss-swollen lips, and normally when she made eye contact she knew with a certain click of rightness that she’d found a place to sleep for the night. Even the ones who didn’t want to fuck her, she could still tell what they were thinking—but not him.
He was a glacier, and she found herself wanting a name just to make him human.