Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Series: Concilium, #1
Release: July 27th 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal, Romance, Horror
Length: 338 pgs
Buy: Amazon | MuseItUp
“A tale of deadly creatures and forbidden romance”
Leslee hit a strange animal with her car. Now she’s marked for death.
It was a simple car accident – the animal didn’t even die – but it drew the attention of the Cruor Imbibo. Driven by their insatiable need to feed, the secret society of Imbibo has devoured the dregs of civilization for centuries. Afraid Leslee will expose them, and put an end to their meal ticket, the Imbibo want her dead.
The Concilium is Leslee’s only protection. Guardian of the ancient secret and the protector of humans, the Concilium fights to control the Imbibo and end their feeding frenzy. Miller works for the Concilium. Keeping Leslee alive is his next assignment.
Now Leslee is on the run, and the only thing between her flesh and the snapping jaws of the Imbibo is Miller. He and Leslee quickly form a bond, but will falling in love make Miller’s job more difficult? Because if he fails, Leslee will be next on the Imbibo menu.
The Cruor Imbibo are coming, and they’re coming for Leslee.
Why We Like To Scare Ourselves
In the first chapter of Concilium we learn that the main character, Les, reads horror novels and prefers to drive on isolated, dark country roads rather than the safer freeways where she’d have cellular service. Why? Does she like to scare herself? Possibly.
Do you like to read horror novels? Do you crawl into the corner of your couch with a quilt pulled up to your eyes and watch a scary movie? Do you like to scare yourself? Rollercoasters? Haunted houses? Have you ever stopped to wonder why?
I asked a few friends why they thought they liked the feeling of being scared. They all had a few different reasons, but two were constant. The feeling gave them a rush. It made them feel alive. It made them feel…good.
The feeling we get from watching a scary movie or reading a horror novel is different than the type of scare we’d feel if, say, we were faced with a home intruder, but our body’s initial reaction is the same. Our brain tells our body to flood our system with adrenaline and by the time our brain catches up with what our eyes already know—the fear is not a legitimate threat—our system is already reacting as if it were.
Now if you were listening in biology class you already know what comes next. Adrenaline stimulates the production of pleasure producing endorphins. Yes, the same endorphins that are produced during sex. Now we’re getting somewhere good. As long as the fear response shuts down—your brain realizes the ax wielding psycho is only on TV and not in your living room—those endorphins can ramp up some very pleasurable feelings…and experiences.
Adrenaline also speeds up one’s metabolism, making a person feel more alert and alive, and possibly more aroused in the process.
So when I asked a good friend how she felt when she watched a scary movie and she shyly told me, "Um, I’m probably not the person to answer this. Sometimes, the rush from my own fear can be exhilarating. And, well, it’s a nice excuse to get all cozy with someone." She was describing the way most people react to the sense of fear we create when we scare ourselves.
The bottom line? Many of us like a good scare because it brings with it a degree of pleasure. So the next time you’re headed out on a hot date, skip the romantic comedy and head for the slasher film. Th
e date might just end on a high if you do.
One of Les’s scares and the pleasure that comes after…
I scrubbed the blood out of Miller’s shirt, the soap bubbles turning red. Pink-tinged water dripped into the laundry tub. I hoped if I rubbed hard enough, the sight of him bleeding would be washed from my memory and follow the water swirling down the drain. My fingers were covered in his blood, the tips burning from the scrub brush scraping against them. I didn’t realize I wasn’t alone until Miller took his shirt from my hands.
“Give it to me,” he said, poking his fingers through the three slashes where the Imbibo’s teeth sank into his flesh, “It’s already ruined, Leslee.”
“Miller…” I started, not really knowing what I wanted to say.
“It’s okay. I’m fine,” he interrupted, his tone dismissive.
“It isn’t fine. That’s just it, Miller. It isn’t fine. What were you doing? What possessed you to go running out there like that?” I was quickly losing the calm I’d worked so hard to maintain.
“I had to—”
“Yeah, you had to change out some gizmo in the tripwire thingy. What a crock of crap! There are two more tripwires!” My voice rose with each word, amplified by the small laundry room.
“Everything okay?” Brooks asked, peeking around the door.
“Fine,” Miller snapped over his shoulder, walking past me to the dryer.
“No! No, it’s not, fine!” I yelled. “You could have been killed tonight!”
“But I wasn’t.”
“But you could have been…and Alex could have been killed the night he was attacked.”
“Leslee, you need to calm down. We’re fine. We are all fine,” he said in a patronizing tone.
“And stop saying, ‘fine.’ Do not treat me like a child, Miller. It isn’t okay. We all aren’t fine. I’m not.”
“I—” he began.
“No, I’m not done. You know, this may come as a big surprise to you, but most people have emotions. We have feelings. We can’t all walk around like some testosterone-filled buffoon, like an emotionless idiot. I was scared, Miller.” My outburst winding down, I was suddenly exhausted. “I’m still scared,” I whispered.
Not surprisingly, he didn’t say anything. He wasn’t equipped to deal with people and their emotions. He calmly opened the dryer door and bent to grab a clean T-shirt.
Even after the stress of the night, the sight of him took my breath away. But it was more than that. It was more than just physical, and that is what I couldn’t understand. Maybe it was the whole not-being-able-to-have-what-you-want thing.
My fingers ached to touch him as I watched his muscles stretch and contract beneath his tanned skin. My gaze trailed across his shoulders and over his chest.
I’d been in relationships before, a couple even serious, but no man had affected me like Miller. My glance skimmed down his chest to his belly, and lower still to the faint dusting of hair that trailed into the unbuttoned jeans riding low on his hips. Slowly, I looked up. He was watching me. His full lips twitched, pursing slightly. I could see his jaw tightening. My gaze rose further, taking in each of his features, memorizing them.
My eyes met his. Usually a liquid green, they were dark, his brows pulled together above them. I saw an emotion in them I didn’t recognize, and I held my breath, waiting for him to say something harsh and break the spell. Instead, he took two strides toward me.
Expecting him to brush past, I moved to give him room. His arm darted out and jerked me against him. He grabbed the back of my head, wrapping my hair around his hand, and pulled me against his chest. His lips roughly took mine, his tongue forcing its way into my mouth. He kissed me intensely, deeply, before ripping his lips away.
“I’m not emotionless, Leslee. I’m not an unfeeling, uncaring robot. I wish to God I was, because this isn’t what we need, and it isn’t what you should want,” he whispered.
My breath came in small, shallow gasps. Combined with his scent, it made me slightly dizzy. One hand still tightly grasped my hair while his other pressed the small of my back, pulling me against him. I watched his lips move as he talked, nodding my head absently. I didn’t hear what he said. I didn’t want to. I wanted him to kiss me again.
He bent his face hesitantly to mine, giving me time to change my mind. I couldn’t have if I’d wanted to. Moving his hand from my back, he gently kissed me, holding my face in his hands. I sighed my pleasure, and he groaned at the sound, pulling me closer, kissing me deeper.
Slowly, he raised his head and looked at me. Wondering why he pulled away, I panicked that he was changing his mind—that he would stop. How I must have looked to him! My desire colored my plain face, a red hot blush crawling across my features. We stood looking at each other, not speaking, for what seemed an eternity. It could have been seconds, it could have been minutes. It didn’t matter.
His hands framed my face gently, his eyes probing mine. Was he trying to find a way out of what he started? Was he trying to judge my reaction? Or was it his own actions he was judging?
His hands dropped to the buttons on my blouse. He bent his head and kissed my neck, trailing down to my shoulder. My skin burned wherever his lips touched and I clenched his hair in my hands, holding him to me. Slowly, he unbuttoned the top buttons of my shirt and slipped it off one shoulder, his lips moving over every inch of skin his hands touched…
Michelle has been an avid reader since a young child. She began writing for personal enjoyment in college, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting. Deciding sitting in a cubical all day was her form of cruel and unusual punishment, she decided to do what she really wanted to—share her passion for reading and writing with others.
She wrote her debut novel Concilium in 2010. The sequel, Concilium: The Departure soon followed. Both will be published by Muse It Up Publishing with scheduled released dates of July 27th and November 2012 respectively. Her Debut young adult novel, PODs, will be published by Spencer Hill Press and is scheduled for release in paperback June 4th, 2013.
Michelle was born and raised in Michigan. She now resides in a small community outside Houston, Texas with her husband, four children, a 125-pound lap dog, a very grumpy cockatiel and a cat that thinks she’s queen.
Michelle writes adult and young adult Sci/Fi and urban fantasy romance.