Sunday, September 29, 2013

Souls Around the World October Blog Hop

Welcome to Souls Around the World October Blog Hop - October 1st through the 31st!

 Things that go bump in the night ...
It's that time of year...shorter days, chillier nights and the countdown to one of my favorite holidays...Halloween!
I've been fascinated with the paranormal for as long as I can remember and in particular, ghosts! I'll be the first to admit I've had some interesting encounters that have left me to wonder if there is truly life after death. I've always been curious about what happens to us after we pass from this earth. Do we go to Heaven? Are we reincarnated? Do we cease to exist?

Everyone has their own beliefs. I won't get into a lengthy discussion on religion or theology but I will admit I am beyond curious. Personally, I cannot believe we cease to exist. There has to be more, but if so, what? 

Perhaps these questions are what stoke the fires of my curiousity and feed my need to research all things paranormal. Do we 'cross over' and if so, do we ever have the chance to 'come back' and visit loved ones, or see to unfinished business?

I indulge in the guilty pleasures of every ghost show available...Paranormal State; Psychic Kids; Ghost Adventures; and my all time favorite, Ghost Hunters! I read anything and everything I can get my hands on and I wonder...

My weekly FREE read for Secret Cravings Publishing, My Soul to Keep, explores the possibility of life after death and what happens when one's soul refuses to cross over.


Special Agent Analiese Valentine – aka "Val" – lived and died for her career. Possessing a sixth sense for as long as she could remember, Val always knew she was different – and so did everyone else. So different, in fact, her own mother – apparently unable to tolerate her daughter's unusual gifts – abandoned her, forging internal scars so deep most relationships, if any, were cultivated at a safe distance. A near-tragic accident opens unexpected doors – some otherworldly – changing her life in ways she'd never imagined possible.

Dr. Maxwell "Max" Thornton, a psychologist, lives an almost reclusive life except for his practice. Although his empathic abilities allow him to help his patients in ways most practitioners never could, the effort is taxing, at times debilitating. Keeping a limited and selective clientele, he manages to pursue a career and maintain his sanity, convinced normal relationships are out of the realm of his reach.

When a guarded agent and a reluctant empath cross paths, unexpected revelations occur and a delicate thread binds them to one another as a predetermined Fate begins to unfold, sending them plummeting into a war between good and evil.

Here's an excerpt ...

At three o'clock in the morning, Val awoke to the sounds of voices in the other room. "Damn it Theo. This isn't a frat house," she mumbled, climbing out of bed.

Padding down the hallway, the voices stopped suddenly, a cold chill creeping up her spine. "Theo?"


"This isn't funny Theo. I have to be at work early and-"

Her half-hearted tirade was cut off by the sound of a deep growl behind her. Whirling around, she expected to see something but the room was empty, lit only by the streetlights outside. Pale fingers of light reached across the hardwood floor, tiny specks of dust swirling within. Shadows shifted in the far corners of the room and the faint sound of whispers had her turning in circles.

"Who the hell is here? Come on…show yourself."

The echo of a sinister laugh came from behind her and she whirled around again, the air within the apartment growing heavy; dark.

She'd never encountered a ghost that didn't want to talk to her. Knowing she could see and hear them was the reason they sought her out in the first place.

This had to end now.

"Whatever. You don't scare me and I'm going to bed." Before she could turn towards the hallway, something pinched her hard on the back of her upper arm, eliciting a surprised yelp. Instinctively, she grabbed her arm, turning away from the source of the attack.

"Hey! Keep your damned hands off me!" For the first time, fear crept into the picture. No other ghosts had ever touched her, no less tried to hurt her, during an encounter.

As she moved towards the light switch, a sharp slap to the side of her face almost sent her tumbling to the floor but she managed to reach out, grasping the top of a chair with trembling fingers. "You son of a bitch!"

Her first instinct was to get her gun but the realization she didn't have it anymore – and the obvious reality of trying to fight something you can't see – left her feeling unusually vulnerable.

Backing out of the living room, she moved towards the phone then stopped. Who the hell was she going to call? Surprisingly the first person that came to mind was Max, not Riley. Why not Riley first?

Maybe because he abandoned you Val, turning his back on you, leaving you to fight this thing alone. Anger began to replace fear and she used it to her advantage.

"What the hell do you want?" she nearly screamed.

An eerie silence followed the echo of her demand before she heard a spine-tingling whisper in her ear.

Your soul.

Feeling as if she were going to be sick, she ran to the bathroom, a silent scream trapped in the back of her throat when an unseen hand grasped her ankle.

The impact knocked the breath from her just before her chin hit the floor. The coppery taste of blood filled her mouth. Rolling over, she tried to sit up only to be shoved back down, followed by a heavy weight straddling her chest. She screamed as the air seemed to be pushed violently from her lungs.

"Get off me," she cried, struggling against the suffocating weight pressing her against the floor, fear again replacing anger. She didn't know what to do to fight this thing.

"Theo!" she cried out, desperate for help.

If you'd like to read more, My Soul to Keep is available for download at SCP. It's FREE and each week, a new installment is posted.

I know there are many of blogs to visit and I'm happy you stopped by! As a thank you, I am hosting a contest sof my own!

If you'd like a chance to win a $31.00 Gift Certificate to either Secret Cravings Publishing OR Amazon (winner's choice), all you need to do is leave a comment as to whether or not you've had a paranormal experience of any kind! Feel free to share as little or as much as you want to!

The contest will run through October 31st, of course, and a winner will be announced and notified November 2nd. Be sure to leave your e-mail address at the end of your comment so I can contact you if you're a winner! Winner will be chosen by!

Be sure to visit all of the authors participating in the
Souls Around the World October Blog Hop for a chance to win a Sony E-Reader filled with books from many of the authors participating!
The contest is open to anyone in a country that is participating including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The winner will be selected November 1st! Good luck to everyone and enjoy the blog hop!

Thank you again for stopping by and be sure to tell your friends about the Souls Around the World October Blog Hop! 
XOXO Layla Hunter XOXO
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The 100th Sunday Snog / Sharing a Kiss Fundraiser

Sunday, September 22nd through Friday, September 27th!

In my opinion there is nothing as intimate as a kiss, and nothing more memorable than a first kiss. Today I am going to share with you the first kiss between Emily and Rick from my erotic contemporary novella, Skin Deep. First, here's a little about Skin Deep ...

Emily Monroe, a statuesque high school English teacher, is convinced that getting a tattoo to cover the remnants of her brush with Morphea is the only option left to open the door to self-acceptance, allowing her to finally move on with her life after the devastating diagnosis left more than physical scars in its wake.

Rick Sutton, owner of Skin Deep, a successful tattoo shop, has his own cross to bear. Crippling guilt and the specter of unrequited justice overshadow every aspect of his life, trapping him within the haunted corridors of his heart and soul; until the day Emily walks into his shop.

Instantly, he recognizes a kindred spirit in Emily, and a tenuous bond is formed. When the intimidating yet teddy-bear of a man offers her a glimpse into his passionate side, she is moved by what she sees and takes a leap of faith. Together they traverse the physical and emotional journey of freeing themselves of their perceived flaws, an erotic undertaking that proves to them beauty is only Skin Deep.

If you have a moment to watch the trailer for Skin Deep …

Now it's time to get lost in their first kiss ...

His face changed from confusion to anger. "Damn it Em! What the fuck did this guy do to you?" Stalking towards her, he backed her against the car. "I know you are upset and at the risk of crossing another line…"

He placed his hands against the car, on either side of her face, his lips only inches from hers, waiting for an answer.

The night grew silent. Looking up, she held his gaze, blue eyes searching his for any sign of empathy. He stepped back then, moving his hands to his hips and staring up at the night sky. Drawing in deep breaths, she could only assume he was trying to calm himself.

Granted he seemed an imposing figure in the best of circumstances, but when angry, as he now appeared, he became even more intimidating. She wasn't afraid of him though, just the opposite.

Wanting to answer him, she searched for the words, but they wouldn't come easily. He waited.

"After a seven year relationship during which he asked me to marry him several times, I finally agreed. We set a date, booked a church and planned our reception. We planned our honeymoon, sent out invitations and then…I was diagnosed with Morphea. I tried to keep it hidden from him, afraid of his reaction, I guess…you saw him; he's flawless in an anal, metro sexual sort of way."

Em searched his face before continuing. The dejected look was still there even though he tried to hide it. Reaching out, she brushed a stray lock of hair from his forehead, remembering how he’d come to her rescue tonight.

"One day, he walked in on me in the bathroom and…God, the look on his face." Fighting the urge to look away, she recalled the open disgust clearly etched on Daniel's face. "I had to tell him then and even though it seemed as if he would be all right with my condition, I couldn't erase his initial reaction from my mind."

Tears spilled freely now but she didn't care. "The night of the rehearsal dinner he surprised me with a heartfelt, romantic toast and for the first time, I actually allowed myself believe he was okay with all of this. And then…on the morning of our wedding, I received a text. He was having cold feet and sorry, but he couldn't go through with it." Embarrassment colored her cheeks, forcing her to look away.

"What a son of a bitch! But Em…the minute you thought you had to hide your condition from him should have been the instant you realized he wasn’t the man for you. The guy is a fucking dick! Leaving a woman like you because of what? A few friggin' spots?" Grumbling under his breath, he ran those large hands roughly through his hair, the gentle breeze catching stray strands here and there.

The raw fury of his rant struck a chord deep within, and without thinking she stood on tiptoe capturing his face in her palms and kissed him. The gesture, impulsive and brief, bore the depth and weight of her heartache.

She jumped back, her ass hitting the car door. "I'm sorry…I shouldn't have done that. I crossed the line this time and…"

He quieted her rambling by placing his index finger upon trembling lips. Taking a step closer, he sent her heartbeat racing within her chest. A little flutter stirred in the pit of her stomach, along with something else.

 The moment her lips met his, a jolt of electricity tore through her, an instant response to his proximity. Never had she experienced such a powerful reaction with Daniel.

Leaning forward, he cupped her face within large hands. For what seemed like an eternity, his lips hovered just above hers, his gaze searching for any sign she wanted him to stop.

 It had been years since Emily had kissed someone, no less wanted to be kissed. After Daniel's blatant rejection, she’d shut down, allowing herself to feel nothing.

Until Rick. Admittedly, the interest and curiosity had been there all along, but something about tonight resonated deep within her soul, touching her heart.

"Don't…don't kiss me because you feel sorry for me," she said, her voice barely a ragged whisper.

 "I'm not about to kiss you because I feel sorry for you." His warm breath danced across her lips.  

This is what it should feel like…the earth shifting under your feet… butterflies in your stomach…heartbeat quickening…that shiver in your spine…a stirring deep within your very core?

When Rick slipped his arms around her waist, a shiver coursed through her as their bodies touched, now face to face, chest to chest, thigh to thigh. A slow heat simmered just under the surface and she wanted to feel more. Reaching up, she moved her hands through his hair before wrapping her arms around his neck, urging him closer, melting into him. 

Letting loose a small sigh, she pressed herself against him, lips parting in invitation, one he eagerly accepted by delivering a tender yet hungry kiss that promised of something more, something richer and deeper than she’d ever felt before.

Nothing else existed but this moment, this stolen moment in a wind-blown parking lot with a remarkable teddy-bear of a man who made her feel more like a woman than she had in a decade.  The effects of his lips traversed her entire body, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes and she was lost, in no hurry to be found.

 His hands moved up and down her back, slow, unassuming. In response, she opened for him further, Rick tasting dark and dangerous, the feel of his tongue sliding against hers more sensual than she could have imagined. Drawing in a quick breath, she slipped deeper into his embrace, raising her arms up and over his back, her fingers drifting through his thick hair.

The soft strains of music and laughter drifted towards them on the wind and she knew this moment was just that, a moment. But one not likely to be forgotten.

When his lips left hers, they took with him welcome warmth, leaving behind an all-too familiar chill.

 "Kiss me again?" she whispered and stretched towards him, tentatively brushing her mouth against his lower lip. Laughing out loud, he pulled her close as his mouth covered hers in a searching kiss, waking her body as if from a deep sleep.

 She brushed the tip of her tongue across his bottom lip, eliciting a soft moan from him, and he mimicked her, engaging her in a sensual dance as she lost herself in his arms once again.


I know there are many blogs to visit, so I won't keep you long. I am giving away several prizes including a PDF copy of Skin Deep and a $10.00 Gift Certificate to Secret Cravings Publishing.

All you need to do to be entered for one of these prizes is leave a comment below. In addition to the above prizes, I will donate $1.00 to Doctors Without Borders for EVERY* kiss left on my blog!

The contest will run from September 22nd through September 27th and end at Midnight, Eastern Standard Time. The winner will be announced and notified by Sunday, 9/29.

Be sure to leave your e-mail address at the end of your comment so I can contact you if you're a winner!
(The winner will be chosen by

Be sure to visit all of the authors participating in the Blog Hop at

Thank you again for stopping by and be sure to tell your friends about the 100th Sunday Snog / Kissing Fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders Blog Hop!

XOXO Layla Hunter XOXO

Skin Deep is available at

As well as Amazon, B&N, All Romance Ebooks, and Bookstrand

*Up to $100 USD!