New Libra coming from Ann Gimpel


Zodiac Shifters

PREORDER NOW!! RELEASE DATE: 10/2/2018



A collection of books with an astrological spin on love. From Aries to Virgo… discover all-new tales of paranormal romance and urban fantasy.


Zodiac Shifters features New York Times, USA Today, and other bestselling authors. Each month expect new releases based upon the twelve astrology signs.

Libra


Unbalanced, Wylde Magic #3

Sparks ignite
Flames turn hot
Scorching hot
But what would you expect from two dragons?

Zachary Marston, dragon shifter, hasn't done a whole lot of shifting lately. Nope, he spends his time buried in law books as he presides over Superior Court in Denver. He's convinced himself things are great, but his dragon has other ideas. His bondmate is a tough adversary. After it threatens to abandon him, Zachary gives in and agrees to a meeting with a few other shifters. Maybe he can help out—before returning to his cushy courtroom.
Chloe's always longed for a bondmate of her own. After her twin brother links with a lion, she ups the ante, casting every spell she can think of, but none of them work. Even the smoking-hot dragon shifter who crosses her path can't ease the sting of remaining mateless.
Vampires are gaining strength, draining mage magic to augment their own. Shifters and mages—the good ones—have to mobilize fast. Libra to his bones, Zachary slings words Chloe's way, but she's a Leo and not intimidated by anyone. They're an unlikely pairing, but destiny won't be denied. Like it or not, a shifter's mate is in the stars.



https://www.anngimpel.com/?portfolio=unbalanced-wylde-magick-book-three (all buy links can be found on the landing page)




PG excerpt:
Zachary Marston glared at the lawyer standing in front of his bench. “You’re wandering, counselor. Get to the point. Now.”
The youngish man shifting from foot to foot colored. His dark hair was cut short, and his polyester suit practically screamed Men’s Wearhouse. Despite his obvious discomfort, he didn’t look away. Zachary—Zee to his few friends—offered the newly minted lawyer points for that.
“Sorry, Judge Marston. But I wanted to make sure the jury fully appreciates how valiantly my client struggled when her estranged spouse—”
Zee made a chopping motion. “Enough. Court is in recess until one o’clock.” He eyed both attorneys, the one in front of him and a smooth, slick operator sitting next to his equally smarmy client a few feet away. “Have your closing arguments ready when we reconvene. Ten minutes max.”
Mr. Slick surged to his feet. “But, Judge. My arguments are prepared, and they’re far more extensive than—”
“Cut them.” Zee rose, judge’s robes billowing around his tall frame, and turned. The bailiff held a door open, and Zee entered his chambers behind the courtroom.
“Do you need anything, sir?” the bailiff asked.
“Yeah. Solitude.”
The corners of the bailiff’s mouth twitched with suppressed amusement. “Easily arranged. No one will bother you through the noon hour.”
Zee clapped the bailiff on the shoulder. “Thanks, George. Appreciated.”
The bailiff turned liquid dark eyes on Zee. Gray stubble covered the top of his mostly bald head, and his face was a mass of wrinkles. As always, his beige uniform was crisp and pressed. “No worries, Judge. You and me, we go back a long way.”
Before Zee could respond, George backed out the door, pulling it firmly shut behind him. Zee eyed the thickly padded black leather chair sitting behind a massive mahogany desk, but he was too keyed up to sit in it. He shrugged out of his robe and loosened his tie before crossing the room to large windows that looked out on the Rocky Mountains.
Denver’s main courthouse was an enormous structure, complete with Doric columns and extensive lawns. The flower beds were empty this time of year, though, and the lawn had lost its summer lushness.
Deep within him, he sensed his dragon, his bondmate for the past 600 years. The creature was restless. He didn’t blame it. He wanted to fly too, but his current life circumstances didn’t offer much in the way of opportunity.
“Why are we doing this?” The dragon’s question caught him by surprise.
“Doing what?” Zee kept his voice low. Not that his office lined with bookshelves and law books wasn’t reasonably soundproof, but it paid to be prudent.
“This,” the dragon repeated. “Wasting time while you preside over small-minded wretches and their petty problems. Nothing you do changes anything. They walk back out into the world and do the same thing all over again. I liked it better on the other side of the big sea when you cut off hands or burned out tongues. Now those were deterrents.”
A smoke plume curled from Zee’s mouth. He blew it aside and hoped fire wouldn’t materialize next. Damn near everything in his office was flammable.
He had an uncomfortable hunch his dragon was right—it almost always was. “What would you have me do?” he asked, keeping his tone mild. “The world has changed—a lot. Nowhere to go, really. Certainly nowhere we could fly free.”
Thicker smoke billowed from his mouth and nose. “Stop that,” he said. “If you set off the fire alarm, my office will turn into a zoo. I do not want the fire marshal and his minions racing in here with extinguishers.”
“If it’s the only way to pry you out of here, it’s a grand idea.”
More smoke. Zee batted it away and opened the window to offer an escape route.
“Okay. So we walk away from court in the middle of the day, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Shit-All-Over-One-Another without a judge to play Solomon. Where would we go?”
“You haven’t been listening,” the dragon huffed.
Zee didn’t bother to tell his bondmate that he talked so much, sometimes Zee relegated it to background noise. “Which thing didn’t I listen to?”
“The part about vampires on a rampage.”
Zee sucked in a tight breath and gripped the polished wooden window sill. He had heard that part, but it felt enormous, daunting. Problems without evident solutions didn’t appeal to him.
The dragon went on. “The renegade mages who joined with vampires didn’t help matters. But because of them, shifters and mages are finally working together again after pretending they barely knew one another since crossing the sea. Our place is with them. Fighting vampires. Not here.”
Heat pressed against his chest from the inside, and he opened his mouth to let steam bubble out. He’d kept to himself forever, mostly because his life was cleaner that way, less complicated. Hell, he’d been a judge in one capacity or another since the 1500s. And it had been a far simpler job back then, before the law became so complex it tripped over itself.
“I propose a compromise—” he began.
The smoke morphed into flames. He jumped back from all the wood surrounding the window and clapped a hand over his mouth.
“Goddammit,” he swore and stuck singed fingers in his mouth to cool them. “Hear me out.”
Without giving his bondmate another opportunity to intrude, Zee kept rolling. “We will finish today’s case. Won’t take long. We should be out of here by midafternoon. Then we’ll go visit Angus O’Reilly at the feedstore. He always knows what’s happening.”
Zee frowned. A crusty Scot with a temper to match his red hair, Angus was as likely to chase him out of his store as to talk with him.
“And after that?” the dragon pressed.
Thank the goddess, no more fire billowed from his mouth on the heels of the dragon’s question.
“After that, we take stock and see if this is even a problem where we could do any good.”
“It is!” The dragon’s words thundered through Zee’s head, beyond the point of pain.
Zee shook his head briskly until his ears quit ringing.
“Let’s listen to what Angus has to say before we get all spun out about this.” Zee didn’t add it was fifty-fifty Angus would toss him out on his ear. No love lost between dragon shifters and their kin who took other forms. He was fairly certain he was the only dragon shifter in North America. They were few in number, and the others preferred the northern reaches of the Asian continent.
Mostly, they were like him. Content with their hoards and solitude. Many were mateless, but they lived practically forever, so no one ever got too worried about them dying out.
He tugged on his tie and unfastened the top button of his shirt. His annoyance at the court proceedings faded to a distant spot, and he made his way around his desk to his chair. He thought about ordering lunch but wasn’t hungry.
What kind of a can of worms was he opening if he visited Angus? Zachary was one of a handful of Superior Court judges, a post he’d won via election. He was popular, well-loved. People forgave him his eccentricities since they were harmless. Like no wife or children.
He almost never entertained. What dragon wanted anyone anywhere near his hoard? And he didn’t keep pets.
Shifters sometimes married humans, but not often. He’d fallen in love once, several hundred years before. Watching his beloved age and die had damn near killed him. It wasn’t an experience he was anxious to repeat. People had longer lifespans now, but he didn’t think it would be any easier to watch his partner die after eighty years than forty.
He’d moved to Denver twenty years before. It would be time to leave soon. Maybe five more years. Time to leave and craft a new identity for himself. It was a lonely life, but he had the law. Keeping up with new developments absorbed all the nooks and crannies of his spare time.
He liked the life he’d crafted for himself, but his bondmate didn’t. Powerful, ancient, and canny, the creature hated being relegated to semi-oblivion. It retreated to the animals’ special world from time to time, but that didn’t take the place of spreading its wings and regarding Earth from an aerial perspective.
To smooth the way for later today, Zee picked up his phone and hunted for the number of Angus’s feedstore. A flash of relief surged when he found it. For all he knew, Angus had closed up shop and left.
Don’t get too cocky, he cautioned himself. Angus might have sold the business.
He dialed the number. It rang four times, and then an automated answering machine picked up. Before it ran through the message, though, a series of clicks blasted Zee, and Angus’s gravelly voice said, “Corner Feed.”
Zee sucked in a breath. He’d been preparing to leave a message, but it wasn’t an excuse to be out of words. “Hey, there, mate. How are you?”
“Fine, to be sure, but I’m not recognizing your voice.”
“Zee, here. Long time since—”
“Cut the crap. What do you want? You must be wanting something, Zachary Marston, since I haven’t laid eyes on you once these past ten years.”
Zee tiptoed through a potential minefield, selecting his words carefully. He allowed the music of the Highlands back into his speech—something he’d worked hard to rid himself of—in hopes it would alleviate a few of Angus’s reservations.
“I was hoping you’d have a wee bit of time for me later this afternoon. Mayhap around four?”
A long pause stretched. So lengthy, Zee checked the display to verify they were still connected.
“I might maybe could do that,” Angus growled. “Question is why would I want to?” The wolf shifter had always been feisty and plainspoken, but this was a new level of rudeness even for him.
Zee relaxed his grip on the phone and shoved a desire to strangle Angus to a back burner. He adopted his best conciliatory tone, the same one he’d be using in his courtroom in a short time. “There’s trouble afoot. Time to move beyond anything small that may have gone wrong between us and focus on the bigger picture.”
“I don’t need your fancy words.”
“May I stop by?” Zee pressed. “I promise to leave all my ten-dollar words at the door.”
“No dragon fire, either.”
“I’m sure I can get my bondmate to agree to that.” Zee squeezed his eyes shut and squashed the desire to keep talking until Angus capitulated. The wolf shifter had his number. Probably all his shifter kin did. He wore them down with one well-crafted argument after another until they gave in.
At least, he used to.
“Fine. See you around four.” The phone clicked as Angus disconnected.
Zee stared at the screen before laying the phone on his desk. “You heard that, right?” he queried his bondmate. “No fire.”
“Aye. I heard.”
“And you’ll comply, won’t you?” Zee switched to Gaelic.
“I’ll do what’s necessary. It may include compliance.”
The dragon’s presence retreated, and Zee raked his hands through his hair. He’d always figured his kin gave him a wide berth because of the dragon, but Angus’s antipathy had been real.
They might not care for his dragon bondmate, but his fellow shifters didn’t like him much, either. Why should they? He’d all but ignored them since his arrival in the Americas two hundred plus years before.
He winced. A decent-sized contingent of shifters lived in the Denver region. Not that they broke bread together, but some talked occasionally. At least, he assumed they did since no one ever reached out to him.
Unless they landed in some type of legal jam.
Not much you couldn’t smooth over with magic, though. So, those types of emergency calls had been few and far between. Once the shifter was thinking rather than reacting, they understood they had everything they needed to extricate themselves from whatever mess they’d brewed up.
He ground his jaws together. He’d been helpful, had never hung up on anyone either via phone or telepathy, yet he couldn’t recall anyone ever thanking him. Or even closing the loop to let him know how things had come out. No one had ever ended up in his courtroom, or on the docket in another judge’s, though, so he assumed his well-placed suggestions had borne fruit.
A brisk knock on his door signaled court would resume soon. Breath whooshed from him. Sometimes he enjoyed his job. Today wasn’t one of them. Wealthy, battling couples in the throes of divorce disgusted him. Particularly ones like Mr. and Mrs. Shit-for-Brains whose only goal in life seemed to be screwing one another over.
He wondered what the hell they’d do to pass the time once the divorce was over and then decided he didn’t give a damn.
His door creaked open, and George stuck his head around the corner. “Five minutes, Judge.”
Zee stood and set his shirt and tie to rights. Snatching up the robe, he slipped into it. “Thanks. I’m ready now.”



Steamy excerpt:
They lay panting and gasping for long moments.
He slithered up her body and kissed her long and deep. She returned the kiss, loving how she tasted on his lips. Zachary broke the kiss, offering a sexy grin. “That position you took? The one where you were on all fours?”
She nodded, matching his grin—and his desire—with her own. “Yeah. Why?”
“Now might be a good time for it.” He furled one red brow, regarding her.
“Guess you weren’t kidding about us never getting out of bed.”
“I never joke about what’s truly important.” He drew away, offering her space. “On your knees, my mate, my heart.”
“How could I refuse?” She rolled onto all fours and arched her back, ready when he slammed into her. Even though he was gentle compared with when they were dragons, this was rough and tumble sex.
Just the way she liked it.
He drove into her hard and fast, and she met him with every stroke. When he reached around, taking a breast in one hand and rubbing her clit with the other, she shrieked her delight and hoped to hell no one was close enough to the third floor to overhear them.
They might be newly mated, but discretion never went out of style.
He stopped moving long enough to rock back and forth, maintaining just enough friction to delight her while he rubbed her nub in small, tight circles. Another climax seeded itself from her last one, and she melted around him, totally ceding control to her mate.
He teased her, loved her, brought her close, and backed her off. The next time when she was panting and heaving and doing everything she could to get him to move faster, goddammit, he finally did. The cock she lusted after took her, plumbing her to her core. She couldn’t see him behind her, but she felt his hunger catch fire and willed him to come right along with her.
Magic shimmered around them, his mingled with hers as he made love with her. Her climax, so elusive because he’d held her back from cresting, ripped through her. She was still riding the waves when he juddered inside her, setting off a whole new orgasm.
They ground and strained against each other until the spasms died to ripples. She sank to the bed on her belly, and he turned them onto their sides, still glued to her body with his cock inside.
Warm breath laved her, along with steam, no doubt a gift from his dragon. Steam puffed from her mouth too. Happy little bursts from her very contented bondmate.
“I love you, lassie.” His voice buzzed near her ear. “I vow to care for you, protect you. Our children too, if the world ever settles enough for us to have any.”
She wanted to look at him, so she untangled herself from his body and turned onto her other side. Cradling his face in a hand, she said, “I love you too. We’ll figure this out. Even if we have to pick off every single vampire one by one, we’re bound to reach a place there aren’t any more.”
A wistful smile painted his face. “I don’t want to talk about vampires or evil or darkness. Not today. ’Tis our mating day. Can we banish the darkness until tomorrow?”
“Of course.” It was more than fine with her. She’d like to banish vampires to a distant spot where she never had to think about them ever again.




About the Author (goes here)
Ann Gimpel is a USA Today bestselling author. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in several webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients. Now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over sixty books to date, with several more planned for 2018 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren, and wolf hybrids round out her family.
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