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Incubus Desires Series

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Blurb

A seduction most deadly…

Incubus Damon Cubins is running out of time. He must find a coveted crystal or face an eternity as the thing he hates most: a full-fledged demon. And while he’s tempted by the charms of Renee Maxwell, his curvy assistant, he has no time for desire and even less for love.

But when he finds out his future is literally in her capable hands, he must choose between romancing the stone from her to save himself—or walk away to save her life and turn his back on everything he never thought he wanted.

Incubus Desires Series is created by Arya Karin, an eGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

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Chapter 1: To Dig Or Not To Dig VOLUME ONE: CRAVED
Renee The thrill Renee got whenever she sank her trowel into a new patch of ground was almost better than s*x. Unless that was s*x with her new boss, Damon Cubin. Last night at the bar, she was sure he was going to take her somewhere private and kiss her until she forgot all her inhibitions. But that had been a far-fetched fantasy. Why would handsome, intelligent Damon want her in any capacity other than professional? He'd shown how much he was into her by ignoring her half the night, after they'd had a tangible connection that charged the air between them, then picking up a random woman he met at the bar. And he brought that other woman here with everyone . . . moved her into his tent. Now Renee was faced with reality and if she didn't get her s**t together, her dream job was on the line. "Hey, hitting the ground early, aren't you?" one of the guys on the dig asked. His hair was cut military-style and he had deep, brown eyes. "Someone has to," she said a little too eagerly, her gaze flicked to Damon's tent wishing she could make him come out and do his freaking job. "I hear you." He sat a few feet away, dragging a stiff brush through the dirt. His tool belt was full of bright, shiny tools. "Got talked into coming from my boyfriend Michael as a bonding experience for us. I'm Gary." "Renee." She glanced around, but only two women milled about as the sun stretched low on the horizon. "So where is he?" "Sleeping." He shook his head. "Drank way too much last night. I can drink beer forever and not faze me. One shot of his fancy, expensive dessert wine and I was on the floor during his sister's wedding. That didn't go over too well." Renee chuckled. "Sorry. Sounds like it didn't." "Nope, but Michael forgave me." He winked. "After I promised never to drink anything but beer again." "And you're okay with that?" "Sure." He flashed her a smile. "Relationships are all about compromise." Renee nodded and scooped out another bucket load from the archeological site. Her past relationships had gone nowhere. Was it because she was too hard-headed and didn't bend like Gary had with Michael? She wiped her brow. Her thoughts shifted back to Damon. His extensive knowledge of ancient Phrygian culture, almost as if he'd experienced it firsthand, drew her to him. Didn't hurt that he was gorgeous as sin. Not to mention, he was the first archeologist to give her a chance as an assistant; for every other excavation, she amounted to nothing more than a volunteer. This was her chance to work with someone who valued her skills. Further her career and she could go full-time instead of cramming her passion into three short summer months when she wasn't teaching. "You look like you know what you're doing." Gary motioned with his chin. "Yeah. Been doing this every summer since I was sixteen." She dumped more soil in the shifter. "Other than that, I'm teaching." "Always wanted to do that." He put his brush away and took out one of the small trowels. "Me and Michael are boring accountants." "Got a card?" she joked. "Might need some help on my taxes." "Anytime." He smiled. Gary was nice and easy to talk to. Why couldn't Damon be polite like him? Instead of pushing her away when she'd felt the chemistry between them. She exhaled, air seeping through her parted lips until her lungs screamed. The breathing exercise did little to take her mind off Damon. Let it go, Renee, he's not interested. Sifting through dust and rock was what she craved-the careful, almost artful search to discover a piece of lost history. The tan-colored tent several yards away mocked her, and she gritted her teeth. For God's sake, she was in Turkey, her dream spot to excavate religious artifacts, not get upset that Damon had brought his girlfriend with him. What did she think? That he was going to be some celibate hunk who would see her and fall instantly in love? She snorted. Dream on, princess. When he met her and the rest of the team at the airport, he offered them a meal and drinks. His easy-going nature and archeological knowledge enamored her. Not only was he living her dream, but the few pictures she'd scoured online didn't do him justice. She had to admit, she'd fallen for him, giving in to mild fantasies about him. Intelligence radiated in his blue eyes, and Renee swore they peered into her soul. That was until the blonde bombshell in a size two dress flounced over to him. Then he showed his true colors by sleeping with the woman. Never mind that Renee would've jumped his bones if he'd asked. That was until she realized what a hard-to-please boss he was. Did he hire Renee for the summer because few could tolerate his arrogance and demands? Like how he must be the one to strike the ground first and the team had to provide daily reports, rather than the standard semi-weekly. She kept reminding herself: this was for her own future. Didn't matter Damon's morals or that he was now doing God knew what in his tent with a woman he just met. A moan sounded from behind Renee and she glanced over her shoulder. Dressed in yellow, silk pajamas stood a man with tousled dark hair. "Morning, sunshine." Gary stood up, dusting off his hands. "Nice talking with you, Renee." "Same." Gary strode over to Michael, pulling him into a tender hug. She turned away and swallowed down the lump in her throat. Up until the moment at the bar, she'd thought she and Damon had a chemistry between them. Concentrate on the dig, not on a guy. She didn't need a man. She scooted to another area in the grid, closer to the post mold. Damon believed this edge was once part of a goddess-worshipping temple. Last week, the Turkish government approved their expedition outside of Cappadocia, Turkey, and she was ecstatic when she received Damon's phone call to attend the dig. Now to focus on the archeological side of the job and not worry about her mentor vanishing again. As the sun brightened the sky, the other team members and volunteers emerged from their tents and began their tasks of making breakfast and setting out the tools for the day. The camp lay in a valley surrounded by sloping cliffs on two sides, a river, and sparse trees on the other. Gorgeous. Geological volcanic towers called Fairy Chimneys rose in the distance and pointed the way to Göreme. Holes littered the area; Damon must have begun searching for artifacts before the entire team had arrived. When she became a rich and famous archeologist, she wouldn't create rules just to prove herself a big shot if that was why Damon had done this. She knelt beside the closest hole. Scholars believed the Phrygians worshiped the Great Mother, and in the mountains, she was called Mountain Mother. Finding proof of a goddess revered together in unity with a god gave Renee hope that perhaps men and women could be equal in all nations and religions. The idea of god as a woman appealed to her more than a stern old man killing everyone who didn't agree with him. Exhilaration surged through her at the possibilities. And yet, Damon had not stirred from his tent. Did he care about this dig or not? Last night, his lantern flickered after everyone, except Renee, went to sleep. Moans drifted from Damon's tent until late. Who makes love for that long? But she had to admit she'd been envious. Wishing she were the one with him. A few paces away, several of the other team members talked while Sarah, on cooking duty for the week, warmed a pot of oatmeal over the fire. Renee's belly grumbled. "You want coffee or orange juice?" one of the women asked her. Renee didn't want to stop to eat or drink. "Nothing, right now, I'm fine." "It gets hot here quick." The woman frowned. "You got water on you at least?" Renee patted her canteen. "Sure do. Thanks." When the woman went to the next volunteer to take their order, Renee leaned over the ground. Using her flat masonry trowel, she scraped a layer of dirt. Her handpick, looped through her belt, was available if the ground became too hard. Soon, she would shovel the soil she dug up and run it through the sieve before dumping it into the soil heap. First, she ensured no artifacts hid in the dirt. The sieve would take care of small pieces, but she shifted through the pile for anything larger. Nothing. Renee inched closer to the hole. A sharp stone dug into her knee, and she cursed under her breath as she tossed it. Damn it. She wiped away the drops of blood. Not too deep of a cut. Later, she'd get the first aid kit for a bandage. She glanced over at Damon's tent. No movement or sound. Where the hell is he? Still asleep? She would be passed out too if she'd spent all night making love. Stop it! Concentrate on your work. Perspiration rolled down her spine, and she straightened, pushing her shoulders back for a few seconds to ease the tension. Kneeling forward again, she thrust the trowel in a little too deep and struck something hard. Shit! She eased the tool out, then grabbed one of her small brushes and a dental pick. Please don't be damaged. This is why she shouldn't have let Damon distract her no matter how handsome he was or how he made her heart pound when she was near him. Her hands shook, and she took a breath to steady herself. She drilled at the hole with the trowel, then wiped away the debris. Something reflected the light, and her pulse raced. She'd never forgive herself if she broke an artifact. Biting her lower lip, she used a smaller dental pick to widen the hole. As she fished with her fingers, a smooth slip of a surface hit her fingertips, then a rougher one. Excitement zinged through her. Better than opening presents. She retrieved a toothbrush from her tool belt and slowly swept away the soil and debris. Now the object looked like a piece of jewelry or a gem. Realizing blood remained on her fingers, she rubbed them on her shorts. Careful to avoid any further harm to the object, she tried to ease the piece out. "Breakfast is ready," Gary said, startling her, which caused her hand to slip and the trowel clanked against the item. "Thanks. I'll get some in a bit." No time for food. Hopefully, she hadn't inadvertently cracked the object. Her goal of running her own dig soon would be struck down if she had. Sure, everyone made mistakes, but she'd been careless. Please don't be damaged. There were too many people around the excavation for her liking, and half of them didn't know the first thing about how to handle archeological equipment. Yesterday, Damon told them he sent the resistivity detector for repairs after one of the men dropped it when they set up camp. Renee's fingers wiggled the item to extract it. If she could get a bit more leverage . . . She dug around the item. The piece released with another tug, and she held it in her hand. A rock? Dark quartz with a smooth reflective surface on one side and a chunk of granite embedded in the other. For a moment, her vision darkened as if the stone hypnotized her. Despite blinking rapidly to focus, the tunnel narrowed. Was she passing out? Don't panic. She took several deep breaths and relaxed as the blackness faded, and finally her vision cleared. What the heck just happened? Disappointment pierced her heart. Not an artifact at all, but a smoky quartz that had grown out of the granite and would be sent to the midden, the site's area used for disposal, as trash. Still, the quartz was pretty enough. She could have it cut out of the rock, polished, and crafted into a necklace. From her experience she knew none of the archeologists, including Damon, would care about a piece of quartz. A wave of nausea cascaded through her. She should eat breakfast. Soon. Once she thrust the crystal into the pocket of her shorts, she speared the dirt with her trowel, careful not to strike too deep. If anything, the necklace would be a souvenir of her time here in Turkey. Cappadocia, once part of ancient Greece until the Ottoman Turks took over, was a country she loved. How she wished the ancient temples stood in all their glory and weren't heaped in piles of rubble. Sarah tapped her on the shoulder. "Your oatmeal is getting cold, dear." Behind Sarah, the others laughed around the tents at the campsite and a few hiked toward Renee with their tools rattling on their belt loops. "Thanks." She accepted her bowl. "This heat is ruining my skin." A woman whined to Renee's left. Damon and his girlfriend emerged from their tent. Her thin figure contrasted with her enormous breasts, making her look as if she would topple over. Wish I could pull off wearing short shorts like those, but they'd climb up my butt. "I hate it here with all this dirt and sand. Let's go to a hotel or something," the girlfriend pouted. Damon, dressed in khaki shorts that showed off his golden, muscled legs didn't answer as he scanned the dig site. Renee took out her earbuds from her back pocket, and after stuffing them in her ears, cranked the rock music up. Much better. Nothing was worth hearing Damon's conversation with his picture-perfect girlfriend. With her breakfast finished, Renee rose to set the bowl among the others near the cooking fire. Stumbling, she caught herself before she toppled. Did she get up too fast? The dizziness subsided, so she shook off the feeling and after the metal bowl clinked with the others, she returned to her location and bent over her work. Even after two additional full shovels out of the pit, nothing but dirt and more rocks. Not even another crystal. When a shadow darkened her work area, from her crouched position, she took out her earbuds and glanced up. "Anything unusual?" Even though Damon's words were casual, annoyance filled his expression. Her breath caught. Sure, she thought of male models whenever she saw him, even down to the pouty full lips and stubble on his chin. This time, he looked like a god. Like he would make Michelangelo smash his David sculpture and use Damon instead. She swallowed. His skin appeared to capture the light as if in a photoshoot. Even his eyes . . . Good God, they were a swirling mix of twilight and indigo. A hallucination? Have I been in the sun too long? What is wrong with me? "No nothing yet." She nearly drew out the quartz weighing guiltily in her pocket. Except, he'd probably laugh at her. "I'll let you know if I find anything worthwhile." "Who gave you permission to dig?" His tone was condescending. How dare he insinuate she went against protocol! "The holes all round-" "Didn't you read your contract? It specifically says nothing is done outside of my approval." Now he frowned. "Even shovels of dirt after they go through the sieve, I must inspect before anything is added to the soil heap." An undulating movement like a heatwave shimmering on a burning road, glided across the ground between them and she blinked several times to clear the image. She couldn't get sick now or they'd send her packing, afraid she could be contagious and compromise the whole dig. It was probably jetlag or something. She'd be fine after a little rest. "Renee," Damon asked, "Are you okay?" She had to show him that she was fine and not feeling weird. Blowing this opportunity wasn't an option, and she wasn't going to let him intimidate her either. "I know. You have rights to break ground first, and you have." "Have I?" A breeze lifted the edges of his golden hair. "How do you know I dug these holes and not local treasure hunters?" "Since you've been here a week before us, I assumed you did this." His brow furrowed. "Don't assume again. If you uncover something, anything unusual, bring it to me immediately." He shook his head. "I thought I could trust your judgment, but perhaps I was mistaken." Rather than aiming her trowel at his feet, she stood. Clenching her jaw, she forced the words. "Sorry. You're in charge. It won't happen again." Your holy highness. Without another word, she stomped off toward her tent, her legs nearly buckling. Travis, balding even though he appeared only to be in his late twenties, blocked her path. How had she not noticed his hair loss before? He was one of the site stewards who watched for looters. A volunteer if she remembered correctly. Her mouth tasted as if it were filled with sand. Was she getting sick? "Damon's under a lot of pressure," Travis said. "Probably another layer or two before we reach the assemblage." Thank goodness he didn't patronize me by defining an assemblage like the last archeologist I worked with the previous summer. How many times had she told him, 'I know an assemblage is when a group of artifacts are discovered together'? Each time, the man had blinked hard, then grumbled. Nodding, she tried to focus as Travis merged between human and something gnome-like, similar to the ones Paracelsus, the Swiss alchemist, drew in the sixteenth century. The same pointy elongated ears, squat body, and white beard stretching to his belly. Geez, I'm losing it! When her knees wobbled this time, she lost her balance. "Easy there. Are you okay?" Travis grasped her elbow, steadying her. Yes, the heat is definitely getting to me. Need to lie down before I fall. Just great if everyone remembers me because I fainted. "I'm fine, low blood sugar or something." The oatmeal in her stomach churned. She didn't bother to explain herself further but stumbled into her tent. The two steps to her cot seemed miles away and beneath her the ground bobbed. Dizzy, she pushed her legs forward. Except they refused to listen to her commands, and she collapsed.

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