Hold MeBy: J. Kenner
A Stark Ever After Novella
Hold Me: A Stark Ever After Novella
By Julie Kenner
My life with Damien has never been fuller. Every day is a miracle, and every night I lose myself in the oasis of his arms.
But there are new challenges, too. Our families. Our careers. And new responsibilities that test us with unrelenting, unexpected trials.
I know we will survive—we have to. Because I cannot live without Damien by my side. But sometimes the darkness seems overwhelming, and I am terrified that the day will come when Damien cannot bring the light. And I will have to find the strength inside myself to find my way back into his arms.
About J. Kenner
J. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over eighty novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five-time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy).
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a lawyer in Southern California and Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.
One Thousand and One Dark Nights
Once upon a time, in the future…
I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.
I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and
the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast
library at my father’s home and collected thousands
of volumes of fantastic tales.
I learned all about ancient races and bygone
times. About myths and legends and dreams of all
people through the millennium. And the more I read
the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered
that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually
become part of them.
I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher
and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I
would not be telling you this tale now.
But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off
One afternoon, curious about the myth of the
Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to
see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar
(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then
sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written
and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,
the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand
Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived
in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged
places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had
never occurred before and that still to this day, I
Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have
taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can
protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to
protect herself and stay alive.
Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.
And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a
point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.
And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that
he might hear the rest of my dark tale.
As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new
one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before
“See?” I say, balancing on the edge of my daughter’s bed as I close her favorite book, Goodnight, Sleep Tight, Little Bunnies. “All the animals are asleep, and now it’s time for Lara to go to sleep, too.”
“Kitty sleep?” She holds up her stuffed cat, its once plush fur now matted and dull, a reflection of its status as the best-loved animal in her menagerie.
“Kitty and Lara can both go night-night, okay?”
She wraps her arms around Kitty and nods, her thumb going into her mouth.
“I love you, Lara Ashley Stark,” I say as her eyes start to flutter closed. Honestly, mine are a little fluttery, too. Who would have thought that taking care of an infant and a two-year-old could be so exhausting?