The latest hot paranormal erotic romance
By A.J. Llewellyn
A middle-aged man, looking as if he’d been woken from a nap, peered out at them from a two-inch wedge. Cavan saw the glow of a TV illuminating the man’s halo of disheveled hair.
“Sir, may we come in? I’m Officer Ortega. This is Officer Carmichael. We’ve had a report of animal abuse.”
The man looked stunned. “Animal abuse? Who from?”
“I’m not at liberty to say, sir. May we come in?”
“Probably that asshole next door. He really needs to get a life.” The man jerked his thumb to the reporting neighbor’s house.
“Sir, may we come in, please?” Ben asked a third time.
The man held the door open about an inch. Cavan heard a dog growling.
“Buster, quit it,” the man yelled. The dog started barking.
“You can tell he’s real obedient.” The man gave an apologetic half smile as he opened the door wider. “But as you can see, he’s healthy as an ox.”
Buster was an overweight basset hound who rushed Cavan and Ben with licks and frantic pawing.
“What is your name, sir?” Ben pulled out his report book. His tone was frosty. He was bad cop, Cavan was good cop. He bent to pat the dog’s head.
“Luke Masterson. Are you writing that down? Why?”
“I have to file a report. How many animals do you have here, sir?”
Cavan straightened and took in the man’s T-shirt. The breast pocket read, Parr Lumber: Go where the Builders Go!
Luke Masterson showed them around. He wore jeans that were either really old or expensive new ones made to look that way. His flyaway gray hair was thinning on top and scraped back into a scraggly ponytail. He shoved his feet into loafers and he introduced them to another, smaller dog that sat on the sofa and thumped his tail happily. He seemed fine, too.
The house was overfilled with movie memorabilia, DVDs, videos. The rooms were simply stuffed. Cavan noticed every type of horror movie stacked floor to ceiling on one wall. He shuddered when he saw the title I Spit on Your Grave. Cavan had never been able to watch horror movies after his older brother made him sit through The Exorcist when he was nine. He’d never gotten over the experience.
He and Ben went through every room, one of which was entirely devoted to werewolf movies and memorabilia.
“You ever been to Comic-Con?” Luke Masterson asked. “I met the makeup artist Rick Baker. He did all the special effects makeup on An American Werewolf in London. He transformed movie makeup with this film. He said the whole process took sixteen hours a day and that the actor David Naughton had to have all his meals blended so he could drink them through straws. He could hardly move his mouth with his wolf fangs.” Masterson’s nose seemed to twitch in excitement. “Rick admitted that the scenes where David transformed into the werewolf were sometimes painful. He said he tried his best to make the werewolf’s limbs comfortable…”
He moved right in front of Cavan for a moment, so close, Cavan detected a familiar and very pleasant smell—sawdust.
“I bought all these signed behind-the-scenes from him.” Masterson pointed to a series of framed photos on the wall. “I think his werewolves are great. I love his gorillas, too. Oh, and my pride and joy is my Dracula room.”
Masterson kept up a nonstop patter about loving “creature features” and his animals. His bedroom bore a huge painting of Frankenstein over the bed. It was creepy. Really creepy. Cavan must have telegraphed his revulsion, in spite of saying nothing and trying to process the house like a professional.
“What can I say?” Masterson asked, cuddling one of his dogs. “I simply adore monsters.”
There were four dogs in all, and each one seemed in good shape.
“Rescued all of them. This one here is called Roo. He’s a Jack Russell terrier, but I always say he’s part kangaroo.” The little dog sprang five feet into the air to lick the police officers’ chins. He kept bouncing. The guy wasn’t kidding. He picked up the dog on the sixth bounce.
“Do you have any outside pets?” Ben asked.
“Absolutely not. We get coyotes in this part of town and nighttime. Why, that’d be like ringing a dinner bell. I like blood, officers, but only in the movies.”
“Mind if we look?” Ben asked. “Then we’ll be on our way.”
Masterson looked as if he did mind them going outside, but he undid the many locks on the door and opened it. Buster bounded out, but returned on command.
Ben walked down the few short steps to the grass, walked outside and looked around. There was a jungle-like feel to the trees towering across the property’s borderline and the plethora of plants everywhere. Cavan and Ben walked around. It wasn’t easy with so little light.
They took their flashlights off their tool belts. Cavan took in the gigantic plants along the right side, some of which were in plastic pots.
“Are there outside lights?” Ben asked.
Masterson put all the dogs inside and flipped on a light over the door. The bulb didn’t illuminate much. The yard appeared small, but it was hard to see in the dark. Masterson came back out and closed the door behind him. He stood on the top step as Cavan joined Ben, who could see the neighbor’s house to his left. The kitchen had a clear view of the backyard in spite of the high fence and a lot of foliage from a long trail of bougainvillea topping it.
Ben asked Masterson to open his garage.
“There’s nothing in there,” he grumbled, but he went inside and got his keys.
“He’s been building,” Cavan said, keeping his voice low. “I smelled sawdust. He’s got traces of it in his hair and on his shoulder. And that T-shirt. I know that lumber company. It’s from Klamath Falls, in Oregon.”
Masterson came outside and unlocked the garage. He yanked a long cord above him and fluorescent lights flickered to life. The garage was filled with even more videos in bookshelves lining the walls. Some building materials stood in boxes. Ben looked at Cavan, who had detected a whiff of something else.
Under the canopy of a dark, starless night, Cavan stepped into the backyard. He could hardly see, but he kept up a sweeping arc of the flashlight.
He could hear Ben talking to the man now. Cavan concentrated. He had figured out the plants looked jumbled together but the farther he walked, the more they created a small, narrow path to the back of the property. Something made him swing his flashlight to the left. He almost missed it, except the smell of new wood was so strong.
He turned and caught Ben’s eye. Ben came right to him, tripping over a stone.
“What is it?”
Ben arced his flashlight in the same direction. It was very well hidden.
“There’s nothing in there. I don’t keep my dogs in there.” The man kept babbling. “You can’t go in there. That’s private.”
They inched toward it, the big silver bolt on it glinting under the flashlights’ beams. Cavan saw a dark stain on the door. He was sure it was blood.
“Unlock this please,” Ben insisted.
“No. There’s no dogs in there. Come back with a search warrant.”
They reached the shack, Cavan touching the lock. The padlock had not been pushed all the way down.
Inside the house, the dogs started barking like crazy, as if sensing something was very wrong. Cavan pulled out his iPhone with his free hand and surreptitiously began recording.
“The lock,” Ben said again.
Unbelievably, Luke Masterson took off running.
Cavan heard Ben shouting something to him, but he didn’t respond. He wondered what horrors awaited him as he lifted the lock off the hinge, slid back the bolt, and prepared to enter the shack. He heard Ben running and realized he’d gone after their suspect. Cavan braced himself as he got the door open and, flashlight in one hand, camera phone activated, began searching the small room.
There in the corner sat a huddled creature chained to the wall, shackles on…his feet. It wasn’t a dog. It was a beaten, shivering, shaking, bloodied man. Cavan would never forget how the man tried to make himself smaller. Defenseless. Petrified.
Suddenly, his head came up. His swollen eyes looked right at Cavan.
“Don’t worry,” the man said. “I’m tame.”
Cavan Carmichael has just transferred to LAPD from rural Oregon. It’s Halloween and he’s expecting…well, the unexpected. It’s the spooky time of year, and this is LA.
But nobody could have predicted an animal abuse call that reveals a beaten man, chained in a garden shed.
Then come the words that Cavan knows will haunt him for life: “Don’t worry, I’m tame.”
Nothing about this handsome stranger adds up. Nothing he says makes sense. He insists on being called Ludo, and bears grievous Every medical test only raises more questions.
When Ludo, as he insists he be called, is admitted to the hospital, he has grievous injuries inflicted by antique torture instruments. Somehow, he heals fast, and Cavan is astonished to find he is attracted to the man. But can Cavan overlook the oddities, such as bristles under Ludo’s tongue? The strange wolf hairs in his wounds? Is the most beautiful man Cavan has ever seen really…tame?
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lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep this writer refueled.
A.J. never lacks inspiration for writing erotic romances but has many other passions: collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with family, friends and animal companions.
A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.
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