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Gothika
Author: Eli Easton

GOTHIKA: TALES OF LOVE AND THE SUPERNATURAL by Eli Easton

If you’re in the mood for romance with a tinge of darkness, immerse yourself in these four tales of love and gothic horror in this anthology from Eli Easton. Each story is novella length.

Reparation

On the harsh planet of Kalan, weakness is not tolerated. When young spore farmer Edward suffers an carriage accident that kills his mail-order bride and his factory manager, Edward has little chance of survival, until Knox—an enormous “reconstitute” slave—plucks him from disaster.

Recons are part machine, part human remains from executed Federation prisoners. But Knox is different from other recons. He can read and has flashes of brilliance. With no one else to rely on over the bleak winter, Edward forms an alliance with Knox, and against social taboos, they become friends. Edward struggles against his growing lust for the large humanoid, and while Knox thrives in his new life, memories of his past torment him.

A twist of fate brought Knox and Edward together, but there will be a price to pay in blood when they learn how deeply their lives truly intersect

“The Bird”

Colin Hastings is sent to Jamaica in 1870 to save his father’s sugar cane plantation. If he succeeds, he can marry his fiancée back in London and take his place in proper English society. But Colin finds more than he bargained for on the island. His curiosity about Obeah, the native folk magic, leads him to agree to a dangerous ritual where he is offered his heart’s most secret desire—one he’s kept deeply buried all his life. What happens when a proper English gentleman has his true sensual nature revealed and freed by the Obeah spirits?

“Among the Dead”

Every since his accident, Neil Gaven sees dead people. He’s isolated himself, unable to bear the constant barrage of sadness and grief. But a gentle ghost grabs his attention on the bus one day. He seems to understand, to have some secret to impart. Neil works to interpret the ghost’s clues. They they lead him to Trist, a homeless young man who is also tormented by spirits. Are they two of a kind? Maybe together they can find a way to live among the dead.

The Black Dog

Constable Hayden MacLairty is used to life being dull around the tiny hamlet of Laide on the north Scottish coast. They get occasional tourists, “monster hunters” interested in the local legend of the Black Dog, but Hayden thinks that’s only a myth. A rash of sheep killings, a murdered hiker, huge footprints, and sightings of the Black Dog force Hayden to rethink the matter. With the help of Simon Corto, a writer from New York doing research for a book about the Black Dog, Hayden tries to figure out why the enormous hound is reappearing. Hayden finds himself strongly attracted to another person for the first time in his life. But between the danger stalking the hills, Simon’s inevitable return to New York, and Hayden’s mother’s illness, true love may be more of a phantom than the Black Dog.

 

 

Acknowledgements

 


These four novellas were originally published in Dreamspinner Press in four volumes of the Gothika series. Those volumes also included stories by Kim Fielding, Jamie Fessenden, BG Thomas, and Sue Brown. This volume collects all four of my GOTHIKA stories into a single volume.

The idea for a series of gay romances with gothic/horror plotlines came about as Jamie Fessenden and I, both gay romance authors, discussed our love of horror books and movies. Thanks to Jamie for the inspiration, to Kim, Sue, and BG for sharing the adventure, and to Dreamspinner Press for their work in publishing this series.

I have loved horror ever since my brother-in-law handed me Carrie by Stephen King when I was twelve years old. It was such a treat to write stories that merge my love of romance and my love of gothic horror. There are bits of many of my favorite books here, from Frankenstein to Wuthering Heights to An American Werewolf in London.

Don’t be afraid. These tales have more of a gothic setting and tone than any real gore or scares. So cuddle up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and enjoy a dollop of darkness with your romance.

Eli

 

 

Reparation

 

 

Chapter 1

 


Edward opened his eyes and looked up into a hazy purple mist that was struck through with flickering tongues of lightening and swirled into eddies by the wind. A storm. I’m outside and there’s a storm coming.

That was his first conscious thought. And then he remembered everything. He was lying on the rocky ground and he tried to sit up, but his right leg screamed in pain. His hands curled into fists at the agony, and he dropped back to the ground. He turned his head, looking for….

The coach. It laid its side like a dead beetle, its shiny, cream-colored fiberglass splintered and cracked, its undercarriage still smoking from where something—probably a rock—had struck it. Oh gods. Please, no.

They’d been on their way back from a wedding, that of the Carlson’s firstborn son and heir. The Carlson farm was two hours away by coach, and they had lingered overlong. Anese had been reluctant to leave. She’d clung to the rare social gathering like a child to a favorite toy at bedtime, and guilt had robbed Edward of the will to force her out the door. On the way home, the storm had come up from nowhere. Signis had pushed the coach too fast, trying to outrace it. They’d nearly been home, and then—then there’d been a terrific grinding crash as something hit their undercarriage and—

Anese. Edward gritted his teeth and forced himself to move. He crawled on his elbows toward the carriage, dragging his howling agony of a leg behind. The wound was pumping out blood. He could feel it, hot and slick, soaking into his pants farther and farther down his leg. Moving only made it worse, but what did it matter? Whether he moved or not, he was a dead man.

The rocky surface of the road dug brutally into his elbows and knees as he crawled. Kalanite, the lovely lavender rocks that made up the planet’s surface, were harder than a priest’s conscience. No wheeled vehicle could survive long; only hydraulic hovercraft travelled the roads of Kalan—or crashed here.

He reached the coach and pulled himself up the undercarriage, then pried open the door that now faced the sky. He’d been flung from inside, so the door must have opened and snapped shut again, ejecting him into the air at some point in between. It might have been an amusing image, were it a children’s game. It wasn’t.

The emergency face masks hung inside the door. Edward felt for one and grabbed it, pulling it off the wall. He got it over his head and breathed deep, feeling the sick lightheadedness caused by the spores begin to fade.

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