Feb 17, 2014

Cupid Inc Giveaway: Letters to Julian by Zayne Michaels

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Despite being a dragon shifter, Ridley Dragos doesn’t lead a life of adventure or excitement. Instead, he prefers the quiet solitude of his bookstore and the brief interaction with his customers. He has no aspirations of falling in love or living happily ever after, but all of that is about to change.

When he walked into The Book Attic that morning, Julian Haell harbored no expectations other than finding a new book for his ever-growing collection. Ridley intrigues him, though, and challenges everything he thought he knew about friendship and desire. A simple chat over tea turns into a comfortable, weekly routine, but as the months pass, Julian can’t help but want more.

It’s not every day a guy realizes he’s fallen for his best friend, but unfortunately, Ridley’s window of opportunity is closing fast. When Julian visits the mysterious Cupid Inc in search of a date for Valentine’s Day, Ridley finds himself facing an impossible decision—either seize the moment and confess his feelings, or let the love of a lifetime disappear forever.

“Okay, how much do I owe you?” Julian reached for his wallet, but she waved him away.
“On the house.” She cast a sideways glance toward the front of the store and giggled as she lifted her hair away to reveal a small earpiece. “Boss’s orders.”
“Then I guess I’ll have to thank him.” Rapping his knuckles against the countertop, Julian turned away and went to find an available seat with a clear view of the front desk.
Ridley’s beige T-shirt hugged his torso like a second skin, and his artfully ripped designer jeans showcased the most magnificent ass Julian had ever seen. His dark hair spiked out in disarray, but not as though he’d spent hours in front of the mirror with a comb and a bottle of styling gel.
When the barista brought his tea, Julian thanked her with a polite nod. He tried not to read too much into the free beverage, though. Possibly, Ridley bought everyone a drink as a kind of welcoming to the store. It would definitely be good for business. On the other hand, no one had ever given him so much as the flu before, and though it made him feel foolish, the gesture touched him. “Just stop it,” he muttered under his breath. “He’s probably straight and married with three kids at home.” Even if Ridley batted for the same team, a guy who looked like that didn’t stay single for long.
Lifting the single cut tulip from the vase in the middle of the table, Julian twirled it absently by the stem while he warred with himself. Maybe he could find a subtle way to inquire about a wife or partner. Then again, he doubted he really had a chance with the man anyway. Julian didn’t consider himself unattractive, but he had a tendency to come on too strong, and the intensity he brought to the table had driven away more than one potential lover.
Jerking out of his thoughts, Julian nearly toppled over in his chair, and he probably would have if Ridley hadn’t caught him. “What did you say?”
Ridley patted him on the shoulder and rounded the table to slide into the chair across from him. “Elf.” He pointed to the flower still pinched between Julian’s thumb and forefinger. “Am I right?”
The tulip had grown to twice its original size and even turned from red to almost completely white. “Crap.” Julian dropped the flower to the table top and jerked his hand away. “It was already like that.”
“It’s not a broken cookie jar.” Sighing, Ridley picked up the tulip and tapped it against his lips. “I set these out this morning, I did. Look around. All the others are the same.”
“I really don’t know what you mean.” Gods, he couldn’t believe he’d been so stupid as to let his emotions run away with him in public. “I should be going.”
“Julian, sit.” Ridley didn’t speak loudly, but the chill to his voice held Julian immobile in his chair. “Did you ever stop to think that if I know what you are, then maybe I have a secret of my own?”
“No, I guess I didn’t.” Once he’d realized his mistake, the fight or flight instinct had taken over, and he’d just wanted to get as far away as possible. “I don’t want any trouble, okay?”
“Well, I’m thinking that’s not such a bad thing, because I don’t want you to have trouble.”
Julian wanted to believe him, but he didn’t know why else Ridley would bring up his heritage if not to use it against him. “What do you want?”
“Believe me or not, I only want to talk.”
Weighing the risks, Julian decided he had nothing to lose by engaging in conversation. “Okay, let’s talk.” Be cool. Don’t be a complete nerd.
“Who’s your favorite author?”
“Excuse me?” He’d expected more questioning about elven culture, his background, or maybe even an interrogation about his abilities. “Do you really want to talk about books?”
Ridley swept his arm from left to right in a gesture that encompassed most of the store. “When in Rome?” When Julian didn’t respond, the storeowner actually laughed. “Humor me.”
So they talked. They discussed books, movies, sports, art, and everything in between but always safe, innocent topics. Neither of them brought up religion, politics, or anything to do with the paranormal world until Julian’s curiosity finally got the better of him, and he just had to know.
“I feel like I’m at a disadvantage.” Glancing around to make sure no one was eavesdropping, he lowered his voice and leaned in closer. “You know I’m an elf, but I don’t know what you are.”
“Fair enough.” Ridley linked his fingers together on the tabletop and leaned closer as well. “My last name is Dragos.”
“Dragon,” Julian breathed. When he spoke, a plume of vapors billowed from between his lips, and the hairs on his arm stood on end as the temperature around their table dropped at least forty degrees in a matter of seconds. “Neat trick.”
“I have more.” With a devilish grin, Ridley drew a figure eight on the side of Julian’s tea cup with his fingertip.
Popping the lid off the paper cup, Julian peered inside and frowned at the frozen block that had once been his Moroccan mint tea. “Hey, I was drinking that.”
Ridley snorted as he leaned back in his chair and folded his arms over his chest. “I’ll buy you another, mate. I’m guessing you’ve gotten the idea now, or would you like another demonstration?”
“No, no, I get it. Ice dragon, correct?”
Julian had heard all the stories about the various families of dragons, but he’d never actually met one in the flesh before. While he had a range of questions, particularly concerning the bits of truth within the legends, he contained his enthusiasm and steered the conversation back to more mundane topics. He’d never want anyone to treat him like a specimen under a microscope, so it seemed only fair he offer the same courtesy.
Another hour passed in easy dialogue until Julian finally had to say his goodbyes or risk running late for his afternoon meeting. “I really enjoyed talking to you, Ridley.”
He reached out to shake, but Ridley captured his hand and brought it to his lips. “Charmed.” Then he brushed a soft, tender kiss over the knuckles.


  1. Sounds like a fun read. Thank you for the excerpt.

    I don't really have a fond memory of Valentine's Day. I've always spent the day like I would any other day.

  2. I have been waiting for this series! So excited it's finally here. :)