In case y'all weren't aware, Monster Mate goes live TOMORROW! That's right. For those of you who pre-ordered (thanks for that, by the way), it'll show up like magic on your Ereader tomorrow. It's also available in paperback now, and WILL be available in audio in the next few months. But for those of you who can't wait until then (and please know that I LOVE that about you), here's a little taste:
Monster Mate, Chapter 1 sample:
He was going to force her to break his arm.
That wasn’t hyperbole, either. She’d do it.
After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.
Roxie Rowe set her tray of champagne flutes on the bar to keep from spilling them as her boss made another not-so-subtle grab for her ass. She bared her teeth at the bastard and snarled, “The next time you touch me, you’ll lose a fucking hand.”
The gargoyle snorted.
That wasn’t hyperbole, either. He really was a gargoyle. Here in Sanity Falls, monsters were welcome. Even assholes like Carl, the walking sexual harassment lawsuit.
“Oh, don’t be so sensitive. You should lighten up and smile more, Rox,” Carl said, reaching down to adjust his dick in his trousers, not even trying to be discrete.
That did it. She was never working another bartending gig at a Monster Match speed dating event.
See, the thing no one ever mentioned about monsters was how horny they were. It seemed like half the creatures who showed up at one of these events hadn’t gotten laid in eons (literal eons for some of them), and if none of the human women who’d signed up to date a monster wanted them, they were perfectly happy to hit on the wait staff.
So far tonight, she’d been grabbed by a gargoyle, propositioned by a pseudo-dragon, and flashed by a fachan.
Roxie shuddered. She’d probably have nightmares for the rest of her life about that last one.
But she decided to set her emotional trauma aside for the moment, because it was time to quit yet another dead-end job. It didn’t matter that her rent was due. It didn’t matter that her car was running on fumes. It didn’t matter that she had less than $30 in her bank account, no food in her fridge, and two dependents waiting on her at home.
She’d get a new job. If there was one thing she’d learned over her thirty-two years on this craphole planet, it was that you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a dozen crappy minimum wage jobs.
So, with as much dramatic flourish as she could muster, she whipped off her apron, tossed it in Carl’s fat face, and said, “I fucking quit.” Then she gave him her biggest, craziest, feral smile (he had suggested she smile more, after all) and flipped him the bird while he angrily sputtered and threatened to withhold her paycheck for the night.
She snorted. Right. Like he was ever going to pay her after she threatened him. That paycheck was long gone.
The one thing she’d miss from these events was the venue. The Spellman manor looked like the set of a Jane Austen novel movie adaptation. And not a cheap one. Like, a high-end adaptation on Netflix, not some CW Network crapfest. There was probably a picture of this manor next to the word “dramatic” in the dictionary.
Other than the parlor where the speed dating event was being held, Roxie had only seen the kitchen (which looked like Gordon Ramsay had personally selected every utensil and appliance) and powder room (which had a richly colored, patterned wallpaper that probably cost more than her car), but it was more than enough for her to fall in love with the place.
She’d live and die in that powder room if the owners would let her.
At first, Roxie didn’t think too much of the sound coming from the nook under the grand staircase. There were at least a dozen half-snake monsters in attendance tonight. But when it was accompanied by a tiny hand (a human hand), peeking out of the shadows and gesturing to her, she couldn’t ignore it any longer.
Cautiously, she inched toward the nook, but relaxed when a short woman with pale green eyes and a mass of ginger-speckled dark curls stepped out. This person wasn’t a threat to her.
Roxie wasn’t proud of the fact that she tended to size people up and evaluate them at a glance based on whether she could take them in a fight. But she did. Foster care (and her recent dating history) made sure of that.
“Hi, I’m Lucy. My husband owns this place.”
A growl that raised the hair on the back of Roxie’s neck crawled out of the shadows. Lucy rolled her eyes. “My husband and I own this place,” she corrected.
OK, so maybe Lucy wasn’t harmless, after all. Clearly, she was married to an angry bear. Great. “I’m Roxie. Nice place you have here.”
Lucy sighed dreamily. “Yeah. It’s awesome. But I didn’t call you over here to brag. I saw what was going on at the bar.”
Ugh. Now she was probably going to get sued or something for wrecking their event. “I…apologize for not finishing the night. I hope your guests will understand.”
“Oh, honey, no. We’re not mad. We’re impressed you didn’t hit him!” Lucy laughed and dug a wad of cash out of her skirt pocket. “I figured he was going to stiff you, so I emptied the tip jar when he wasn’t looking. And I’ll make sure the rest of the staff gets tipped out of that asshat’s salary. He’ll never work here again, I promise you.”
“Wow.” Roxie took the cash and stuffed it into her pocket, fighting the urge to sniffle. Unexpected kindness from strangers always got her a little misty. “Thank you so much. This will really help me. I appreciate it.”
She shrugged. “No big deal. You earned it.” Then she pulled out a business card and handed that over. “That’s my husband’s card. Call his office when you’re ready to start looking for another job.”
Viktor Adamovic. Jesus, the beast of Spellman manor and his wife (why she hadn’t put that all together before now was a mystery) were going to help her get a new job? What kind of weird fever dream was she having? “Again…thank you so much. I’m not sure what else to say.”
Especially since she’d started this conversation by evaluating whether she could take Lucy in a fight.
Lucy giggled when a giant hand shot out of the darkness of the nook and dragged her back inside. “Bye, Roxie! It was nice meeting you.”
She was still reeling from the high of meeting nice people who did nice things for her rather than shitting all over her when she made it to the parking lot across the street from the mansion. That’s when someone restored her total lack of faith in humanity. Or monsterdom. Or whatever.
Roxie swallowed a startled shriek when a giant, beefy arm clamped around her throat and yanked her back against a rock-hard chest.
“Hello there, little human,” he whispered in her ear, his hot breath fanning across her cheek. “I think you and I are going to have some fun tonight.”
Clearly, his definition of fun and hers were very different. She slid her hand up and wedged it between his arm and her throat to give herself a little breathing room. “I’m going to give you a chance to walk away, asshole,” she said as calmly as possible. “Trust me, you do not want to fuck with me. Not after the night I’ve had.”
He chuckled. “Oh, trust me, I very much want to fuck with you.”
She would’ve sighed in exasperation if he wasn’t holding her so tight. She’d been so polite to him. Had even offered him a chance to walk away, unharmed. This was why being polite was totally overrated.
It was a lesson she’d learned long, long ago. When she was six, her teacher told her the bullies who picked on her for wearing thrift store clothes and living in a group home would leave her alone if she ignored them. The woman who’d hired her to tend bar at the gentleman’s club when she was twenty told her to smile and indulge the patrons who tried to grab her—even the one who slapped her when she refused to blow him on her break—and that no men of their caliber would ever do anything to really harm her. She’d heard many times that if threatened with a weapon, she should submit.
They were all liars.
Bullies never stopped. Smiling at a man and politely telling him you weren’t interested didn’t always stop him from following you home and trying to assault you. “Boys will be boys” was a load of complete and utter horseshit.
And she’d be damned if she was ever going to submit to anyone who threatened her.
Roxie Rowe was no one’s victim.
Not anymore, anyway.
She hoped he realized everything that was about to happen was his fault.
Before he could make another move, Roxie let her body go limp. That was something attackers usually weren’t ready for. Jerks like this one were used to overpowering women and dragging them to isolated locations or vehicles. But they were rarely ever prepared to carry dead weight.
Her friendly neighborhood attacker had no choice but to let her go when she dropped to the ground like a stone. While she was there, she scuttled back far enough to shift, twist, and deliver a punch to his balls that held every bit of the frustration she’d kept inside all night.
With a wail, he hit the ground next to her, cradling his bruised balls. “You bitch!”
Roxie leapt up and turned around, just out of his reach, to get her first good look at the guy who’d fucked around and found out she was not to be messed with.
She recognized the guy. He wasn’t at the Monster Match as a dater, but he’d been parking cars for the event.
He was probably 5’10” or 5’11”—not huge, but still taller than her. And he weighed close to 225 if she hadn’t missed her guess.
His skin was a mossy, grayish green color that reminded Roxie of scum on a stagnant pond. The jet-black mullet he sported was impressive. Not in a good way, but rather in a I-can’t-believe-someone-was-brave-enough-to-do-that-outside-an-80s-music-video kind of way.
An orc, she decided, based on the large, boar-like tusks popping up from underneath his bottom lip. She’d seen a few attractive orcs around town. This orc was not one of them.
And he was wearing a nametag that said, “Hi, I’m Guy.”
The idiot hadn’t even bothered to take off his nametag before assaulting someone. See, this was how people ended up on shows about dumb criminals. She shook her head. “Well, Guy, I’m guessing this isn’t your first foray into attacking unsuspecting women, is it?”
“Fuck you,” he snarled, still clutching his balls.
“Hmmm. I think we already established that’s not happening. What I want to know now is how many other women you’ve hurt?”
If possible, his ugly face got even uglier. “What does it matter? You human women don’t mean anything,” he spat at her. “Monsters are stronger and better than you in every way. Why shouldn’t we take whatever we want whenever we want it?”
Here’s where she had a decision to make. Every self-defense instructor she’d ever had—and she’d had a lot of them—told her to run once her attacker was on the ground. She’d already ignored that advice by questioning him.
She supposed she could call the police. Of course, with him on the ground and her standing here unharmed, that tactic might not end well for her. Or she could pepper spray him for fun. She had a canister in her pocket.
But before she could make up her mind, the decision was taken out of her hands. Permanently.
That wasn’t hyperbole, either. Something had literally stopped her from doing anything to her would-be attacker.
It was a giant red hand, so huge the fingers could wrap around her wrist at least twice, with two-inch-long, pitch-black talons straight out of a dystopian nightmare.
Another fucking monster. Just…hell.
What an absolute clusterfuck of a night she was having.
Like it so far? You can grab your copy right here.
Sign up to get the latest scoop on all things IzzyJo HERE.