Poisoned Kisses

By: Stephanie Draven

He stalked toward her, eyes locking on hers….


Kyra tried not to stare at his bare chest. It was sculpted like an iron breastplate and gave her vivid memories of having run her hands all over him. “I knew you’d come. After all, we have unfinished business between us.”

His hand came to rest on the wall behind her and he leaned in, his closeness making her nervous and excited at the same time.

He caught her by the chin and lifted it, forcing her to look at him. “I know who you are. You don’t have to pretend you’re demure now.”

The feel of his calloused fingers brought back such sharp memories of pleasure that Kyra felt weak at the knees, just like in all those mortal movies where the fair damsel swoons away. And it wasn’t just arousal. She could have handled that. No, this feeling was something different from lust, and wholly unfamiliar. She felt as if she was being turned inside out and it was more than she could bear.

But nothing had changed. She hadn’t fulfilled her destiny. She hadn’t conquered the hydra within him. She hadn’t killed him. She hadn’t even convinced him to give up arms dealing.

But she knew he was going to kiss her. If she didn’t stop him, he was definitely going to kiss her.

And gods help her, she wanted him to….







STEPHANIE DRAVEN


is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures—three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.

A longtime lover of ancient lore, Stephanie enjoys reimagining myths for the modern age. She doesn’t believe that true love is ever simple or without struggle, so her work tends to explore the sacred within the profane, the light under the loss and the virtue hidden in vice. She counts it amongst her greatest pleasures when, from her books, her readers learn something new about the world or about themselves.





Dear Reader,

I always thought that in Homer’s Odyssey Calypso really got a raw deal! Having saved Odysseus from the sea, she was his lover for seven years before he broke her heart and sailed away without a backward glance. Something about this always stuck in my craw.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against a good mortal woman like Penelope, but I promised myself that if I ever invented a supernatural heroine who saved the hero from a dark fate, she’d get to keep her man. Accordingly, I’ve written a much happier ending for my nymph and her wayward warrior!

I’d be delighted to hear what you think, so please stop by www.stephaniedraven.com. And here’s hoping that, like the heroine of this book, every single one of you blazes a path through the world.

Yours,

Stephanie Draven





To my husband, who is my light in every dark storm and the man who carries me over all life’s thresholds.





In writing this book, I was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Linda Howard’s Death Angel, Andrew Niccol’s sobering movie Lord of War, Elizabeth Hand’s Calypso in Berlin and Megan Hart’s devastating novel Dirty. The latter spoke deeply about abandonment—a theme I adopted for this book, not just in terms of romance, but to our commitment as citizens of the world.

Firefighter Brandon Rice helped me with questions about ambulances and explosions. Recreational pilot Mark Bylok walked me through all things airplane related. Daniel D’Amico was my guide to Niagara Falls. Medical student SarahScott Brett answered every question I had about wounds. And my brother-in-law taught me that he’s never to be questioned in matters involving firearms. Many thanks also to professor Daniel Levine for his expertise in African security issues. He was a generous source of ideas, information and advice.

I’m grateful for my fabulous agent, Jennifer Schober, who pushed me to embrace my dark angsty voice—and for my editor, Tara Gavin, who knew that Kyra and Marco’s love story was not a short story.

I’m also indebted to my friends from FiranMUX and my readers: Lisa Christie, Theresa D’Amario, Rachel Jameson, Kai Lawson, Constance Phillips, Christine Rovet, Susan Rubin, Joey Thompson and Stephanie Wolfinger. Special appreciation goes to Leah Barber, who not only read the manuscript but also helped give me time to write it.

Lastly, I thank my family for their unabashed fandom! When I was sixteen, Dad critiqued my very first manuscript. Mom critiqued this manuscript with an unerring eye for detail. My sister gave freely of her time and technical expertise. And while I wrote this book, my poor husband endured a seemingly endless soundtrack loop of Suzanne Vega singing, “My name is Calypso.”

They obviously love me, and I love them right back. Thanks, everybody!