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Love's Hiding Place (MF)

Siren-BookStrand, Inc.

Heat Rating: STEAMY
Word Count: 37,561
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[BookStrand Rubenesque Fantasy Romance, HEA]

Museum guide Stacey Lucas confides her thoughts about Aren Harinthar, the mysterious man she is falling for, to the painting in the gallery above the stone gargoyle, and sometimes the painting talks back! Or at least she thinks it's the painting.

Sadly, Aren disappears one day before she can tell him she's pregnant. She trudges on over the next ten years with her two mildly disabled daughters, and even starts to form a new relationship. But then Aren suddenly comes back and complicates her life again.

It doesn't take him long to work out whose children they are. He wants to be a part of their life. But he is worried with his own secrets about their changing bodies, and time is running out, especially as he's not the only creature that knows how to slip through the portal into Stacey's world. Only Aren holds the key to everyone's future happiness and safety.

A BookStrand Mainstream Romance

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The museum’s stunning new tour guide caught Aren’s attention the moment she stepped into view. And what a tour guide. Her auburn hair shone like a polished nut, storms gathered in her gray eyes, and she had a figure to die for. His tongue was hanging out. Aren watched her with admiration as she led a group of tourists through his section of Rubenesque paintings, past the Orb of Isis, and below the stone carvings, one of which he was hiding in.

The people talking called her Stacey. He had not seen such a woman in many years. For a long time now he had thought all Earth females had disappeared, almost like on his own home world. But he had later come to realize the stick-thin creatures with short hair who hung off the arms of men were in fact not young boys after all, but females. How times had changed. He’d been embarrassed by his discovery. His brother Sabe had teased him with great glee.

“I miss the age of man when women looked like women...and not young men!” Aren had mourned grumpily at the time.

“You could always time travel,” Sabe had replied.

“And risk turning inside out?” Aren had snorted at the very idea.

“I did it, and I’m okay.”

“You were sick for two years after you got back,” Aren had reminded him. Sabe hadn’t been able to argue with him. It was true.


* * * *


Stacey Lucas was so hot in her stuffy suit. Damn it, the women here looked cool as cucumbers. It had to be her weight. God knows she had tried every diet out there, but her body refused to give up a single pound. She remained stuck this way. What she hated most about her size was the lack of desirable clothing she managed to find in stores. She glanced quickly at the Rubenesque paintings and felt a stab of jealousy. Why couldn’t she have been born in those times? She felt completely undesirable in this age of stick-thin, catwalk-type models.

Huffing, she sped up as the little group swarmed around a skeletal replica of a baby T-Rex, their cameras snapping. She had told them not to take pictures in here, but nobody listened. She glared at the young women in their halter neck tops and little miniskirts. Could she wear something like that? Not likely. Even underwear was hard to find these days. She had to shop in the specialty shops. And did they make her size in sexy lace or satin with hearts and sequins? No again. She had to buy bras that looked like chest harnesses for battle weary matrons from the dark ages. Well, maybe not. Bras were a relatively new invention, weren’t they? She leaned forward to examine a lady in a painting, scrutinizing her bustline.

“They didn’t have bras in your day, did they?” she spoke her thoughts aloud.

“No, they did not.”

Had somebody spoken, or was she imagining things? Startled, she looked up. The tour party was some distance away from her now. It couldn’t have been one of them. She glanced back at the painting. Either paintings had started to talk...or she was going mad. She looked up at the stone gargoyle above herself and the painting. She could have sworn it had just moved a fraction. She was feeling a little fuzzy-headed today. Must be the heat. Perhaps some unknown illness had caught up with her? Her eyes roved over the statue. The creature appeared taller and heavier than a mortal man. She found it intriguing, beautiful, captivating even. She kept her eye on it as she backed away a few paces.


* * * *


Aren watched her, excited by the attention she gave him. He sensed no fear emanate from her, only curiosity. Perhaps he shouldn’t have spoken to her. Now she would think she was going mad. But he hadn’t given it much thought at the time. It had just seemed so natural to do it. He hadn’t been able to stop himself. And she had been talking about things pertaining to her bosom, too.

Heat threaded lazily through him. Damn it, sun, go down. He was impatient to enter her world, but he had to wait until the night air relaxed and expanded the portal wide enough to safely transport his mass through to the other side. He didn’t want to get stuck again, and neither did he want to accidentally let anything else through from his or one of the other worlds. It wasn’t only lonely males from Harinthar who wanted to leap through to the Earthly plane.

He exited the statue and dashed back to his home world. Mist shifted under a dark sky as he arrived. He almost bounced out of his skin from the anticipation of his return to Earth later.

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