the cover of AITA?You ever read those Am I the Asshole (the AITA? of the title) posts on Reddit–where the internet goes to let other people judge whether or not they’ve been a bad person, and wonder, gee, what would happen, if I had to write in?


Dear Schmedit:

This past weekend my fiancé (24 M) and I (23 F) were at a party at a friend’s and I’ll admit we both got pretty wasted….

Apparently sometime that night he asked me if it was okay to summon a demon for a threesome before our wedding, and according to him, I told him, “Yes.”

I don’t actually remember this happening so clearly? But his friends must have heard me—because a week later, they’d all pitched in to have a Delectably Demonic ™ summoning kit delivered to our house for him.

I want to put my foot down, but that would make him sad. I think he was really looking forward to it after I told him it’d be okay—and his friends really did spend a lot of money on this thing. It’s top of the line, and they can’t return it. You know how demons are.

So I kind of feel like a jerk. I mean, I did say yes, and I don’t want to let him down.

If I tell him no . . .

AITA? is a sizzling sapphic romcom based on instantly recognizable internet lore.

Basically, this book comes from the world’s cutest idea — what if your fiance wants a 3-some before your wedding? What if you say yes?? And then what if you fall for the extremely hot demon??? It’s a really delightful fun and silly book with some strong emotional underpinnings for anyone who remembers what it was like to be in their early 20s and make bad decisions…and then turn them around in the sweetest way.

It’s live now, on Amazon, and in KU up through early Jan, whereupon I’ll make it live everywhere else.



Dragon’s Captive: Playlist Chat pt 1

Dragon’s Captive is out now! (It’s out under Cassie Lockharte, Kara and I’s new pen-name!)

And as y’all may or may not know, I listen to a tonnnnn of songs when I’m getting ready to write a book, and oftentimes right before the writing. (Actually writing? I can only listen to ocean sounds or white noice, the lyrics get too distracting.)

But I rely really heavily on the right music to get me into the mood, so I thought I’d share some of those songs with y’all because making a massive playlist is half the fun ;).  Here’s the full playlists on Spotify, Pandora, and Youtube, and I’ll be linking to youtube here because videos are fun :D.

First off! Beautiful Crime by Tamer!

I must have listened to this song roughly…one thousand times when I was writing Dragon’s Captive.

No, I am not kidding.

You see — I need to be in a certain mood for whatever I’m writing. Like, my job (as a nurse) is stressful, real life is stressful (right now, everyone’s is, I know) but when I want to speed-write (which is always!) I need to downshift and get the eff outta my own head and into the world of the book. So most books eventually have their own Theme Song for me, and this is Dragon’s Captive’s.

It’s got everything I love in a rock song — it’s a tortured as hell bombastic ballad, the words are great, the rise and the fall — it’s so melancholy and embodies so much longing, which are part of the feelings I really wanted Dragon’s Captive to convey.

(As an aside, I super fell in love with this song and…this is literally the only song by this artist, with the exception of an instrumental that I also like. It’s so strange, I expected them to have an album or tours or something, all I want to do is give this man more money to sing…but no. Just one perfect song and done. So sad, but sometimes art is like that.)

Next up!

So this is such an obvious choice, I mean it’s called ‘Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea’ and everything, and Rax is a sea dragon…and its lyrics are also super perfect. A tortured man, a captured girl, and it still has all that aching and longing that I always want my books to have. Sometimes perfect songs just fall into your lap, and you’re all, “Yes, I am accidentally writing this book” and here we are.

Onward! SYML – Where’s My Love (the alternate piano version):

So Rax has lived for 800 years, right? He’s had ample time to get good at doing basically anything he wants, and I love it when characters with the capacity for violence have a softness inside of them, which is why I gave him a piano. I think, too, that having a way to express yourself in a non-threatening fashion is good. I imagine if you were tightly wound and lonely, playing an instrument would give you a safe outlet for your emotions.

A ton of SYML songs have great piano lines, so it was kind of a tough choice to pick the one that was most perfect for this book (and there are other ones on this playlist) but the piano version of this song, I can so totally envision Rax playing it and Sammy listening to it down below, wondering if it’s safe to come up or not.

Okay, time to get to this current book’s playlist, and get writing — more later!

— Cassie

Dragon’s Captive — Chapter 2!

Dragon’s Captive just came out yesterday and is already getting amazing reviews!

If you’re still on the fence about buying it, hop back and read chapter one here, and then come back to THIS VERY PAGE to read chapter 2!!! :D


Getting paid to be nice to rich people was exhausting.

Andi had warned her about that—actually, she’d said, “Try sick, rich people, they’re twice as bad” —but now that Sammy didn’t have to pay rent, she’d decided to job hop a little. And when a friend of a friend had told her about an opening at Belissima’s, she’d mentioned it to Andi, who’d almost certainly had Damian put a good word in, and the hostessing job there fell into her lap.

She circled the block in her Subaru WRX looking for parking, and Ernesto, working the restaurant’s valet stand, took pity on her, flagging her down when she’d made her third loop.

“Need a hand?” he asked as she slowed and lowered her window.

“Yes, please!” She was already fifteen minutes late and who knew what mood Bastian was in tonight.

He whistled up the next valet and made a gimme-motion for her keys. She practically leaped out of the car and tossed them to him. “You’re a life-saver!”

“Yeah, I know,” he told her with a grin, handing her keys off to the next uniformed man.

She paused right outside the restaurant’s tall glass doors to compose herself. At first, hostessing had seemed interesting and fun. Challenging, even, to get used to a whole new workflow and way of being. And getting to dress up every night was nice—she had to admit that working downtown was a whole lot snazzier than the car shop. She could have manicures now that lasted even.

But over the past month, the dark reality of the situation had begun to settle in.

Because if the naysayers at the car shop talked to her long enough, they’d eventually realize she knew what she was saying. Sometimes it was like she could feel them finally acknowledge she was there after she talked about torque or turbo lag.

But at Belissima’s…there was never going to be any equality. Not really. She was paid all right, but she saw the cars people brought up to the valet stand. (And not for the first time had she thought she might be happier out there, driving around other people’s expensive vehicles, except for the fact that she knew she probably shouldn’t be trusted with them. Just because she’d never gotten arrested when she’d done dumb shit with Danny didn’t mean she hadn’t deserved it….)

No, the people who came to Belissima’s were just better than you, and they generally weren’t afraid if you knew it. Most of them were pleasant…it was just that the ones that weren’t, the ones who treated Sammy like surprise gum on a Jimmy Choo heel, were so tragically awful that it wiped the memories of the relatively decent vast majority away.

It felt like someone yelled at her at least once a night. The first week, she’d assumed the problem was with her; the second week, she realized the problem was with them.

Men would schedule their anniversary dinners on the wrong day and it suddenly became her fault, or a party would get upset that you couldn’t accommodate an extra three people in the fancy room—which had limited seating! It was in a refurbished bank vault! You literally could not squish extra people in there, it was illegal! Or someone who she very clearly remembered double-checking their entire menu for their allergy considerations would still show up and, she didn’t know, pull a shrimp from home out of their Birkin and pretend that it’d magically appeared in their salad. It was weird. Rich people were weird. And everyone was unhappy when they didn’t get their way.

At the car shop when someone was an asshole, she could generally give as good as she got. Her old boss didn’t mind and he’d never heard of Yelp. But Bastian was a restauranteur. He actually gave a shit, and Sammy knew he had a reputation to maintain. People weren’t going to pay twenty-two dollars for shrimp-less salads at a one-star kind of place.

And he was also a yeller, which Sammy just didn’t like. Camaraderie yelling was fine; like in the bleachers during sports games or checking in to see if everybody was getting their shit done, that was okay. But four drinks by the end of the night yelling…was not.

Which was probably why, subconsciously, she’d started running a little late to work each day this week. Like her feet were smarter than she was and just didn’t want to put her body through the rest of the drama. Feet that she rewarded with flats, although Andi’s Danskos were looking comfier by the day….

“You’re late, again,” Jeanine told her as she checked in. She was Bastian’s floor manager and had a seemingly psychic ability to avoid getting yelled at. In fact, Sammy wasn’t sure she could ever remember seeing Jeanine and Bastian together in the same room—maybe they had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation going on.

“I couldn’t find parking, I’m sorry,” Sammy said, not really sorry at all. There was glassware to polish and a stack of menus to fold, and Sammy started in, dodging around Jeanine’s disapproving presence for the menus Bastian had printed off for tonight.

“Look, if I could get paid to avoid all this crap, I would, but I can’t, and neither can you, so, adjust your schedule to allow time for parking—or else your pretty little accent and your pretty little ass won’t be able to save you.”

Sammy bit back a retort and nodded. “Got it.”


The doors opened at 6 p.m. and the first wave of customers came in, older people who liked to eat early and go home to bed. It was easier then; no one had to wait for tables, so everyone got seated quickly and usually they just made small talk. It was nice and Sammy made sure to keep her Irish accent ‘on’ because she reminded them of past vacations, which led to fond memories and higher tips, even though at least once a shift someone would start to ask questions.

“What part of Ireland are you from, dear?” asked a woman with perfectly coiffed white-as-a-Q-tip hair.

Sammy smiled at her. “I’m not. I live in the Laurel district. My parents were from a small town in County Mayo.”

“Oh, that’s so nice! It’s so beautiful there. We used to go there every few years, on vacation, didn’t we, Charles?” the woman told her husband, expecting him to chime in.

He cupped a hand behind his ear where Sammy could see the tiny pigtail of a hearing aid. “What was that?”

“County Mayo. On vacation! Remember?”

“Oh! Yes. Lovely place! So many sheep everywhere!”

Sammy’s smile ratcheted a few microns tighter. “So I hear,” she said. But hearing’s all she’d ever done. She’d never put a foot on Irish soil herself. Her parents had always planned to take her when she was older, but it was always easier for her grandparents to visit her in the US, since they didn’t have jobs and her parents did, and then one by one they died and flying “back home” as a family for funerals was always too expensive and possibly too sad until everything went to hell and it was too late.

Because after one family trip to the beach, she and her parents had had a horrific encounter with a mysterious, violent stranger—and an eight-year-old Sammy was the only one who’d come back alive. She’d gotten a brief flash of notoriety and then been turned over to the foster system, where the kids had made fun of her until her accent had mostly faded away. And now that she was twenty-six, she only used her ‘pretty little accent’ because it felt like all she had of her past, but even then she knew it was a relic unless she was being silly, emotional, or drunk, or playing on the sympathies of elderly white people.

The woman who’d just sat down cleared her throat, waiting for Sammy to hand her a menu. “Thinking of the Bunratty Castle?”

No. Only castles made out of sand. “Yeah,” Sammy said, with an apologetic headshake.

“No problem, dear,” the woman said, putting a warm hand on Sammy’s arm, as Sammy blinked herself back to the present and handed them their menus.

“I hear the salmon is really amazing today,” she told them before quickly excusing herself.


At eight, the ‘grown-ups’ came in, people who might spend as much on alcohol as they did on the food, considering Belissima’s vast wine cellar, and Sammy was glad she wasn’t the sommelier, Salvatore, although she did find the man unbearably snooty.

She hadn’t quite figured out how snoot adjacency worked. Like how long did one have to work here before you thought you were rich yourself and started looking down your nose at Applebee’s and saying things like, “Two-thousand-seven was a great year for pinot?” She knew if she stayed here, it was coming for her; it seemed to have afflicted everyone else who worked here, with the exception of the valet team, and that, she thought, was because they were lucky enough to be working outdoors.

She had enough money to afford to look nice, but other hostesses definitely looked nicer and, what, did they do nothing but shop on Poshmark for deals on designer stuff all morning? Or did they just let more of the clientele hit on them and wind up dating people who could give them gifts?

Speaking of, she fished the little peridot ring out of her blazer’s inside pocket and slid it on because here they came—guys from the financial towers downtown, maybe even some who worked for Damian, rolling in to visit the bar and bullshit about their days, raking her with their eyes. The ring was for them so that in addition to looking professionalish, she always looked a little bit taken.

And it helped with the attached women who came in for their fancy dates, anniversaries, or birthdays—the fake engagement ring made her look safer to them, too. Samantha O’Connor was not lonely, and she was not here to steal your man, no-siree, she was just here to safely guide you to your table.


There was a brief lull for no good reason around eight-forty and a well-dressed couple came in, looking like they’d already pre-gamed a little down the street, giving her unreasonably expectant smiles. Sammy tensed. She knew that look.

“Do you have any tables open tonight?” the man asked.

“Just the bar,” Sammy said, glancing back. “We can serve food there; there might be some seats, let me check?”

“No,” the woman told her. “We need a table. It’s important.”

“I’m so sorry. All of our tables have been booked for weeks.”

And this was where the snoot would’ve come in handy because if she just could’ve acted somehow like they belonged here less than she did, she might have been able to deflect them, but—

“I see one, right there,” the woman said, pointing an exquisitely manicured nail through the semi-frosted glass behind Sammy.

“Yes, well, are you….” Sammy began, consulting the books, and then remembered what a bad idea that was, because people were not above lying sometimes, and once they were seated, it was impossible to gracefully kick them out, things were sure to end in tears. But then she saw an annotation in the reservation book in Bastian’s thick, blocky handwriting.

Rax Janviersingle top. Give him anything he wants.

‘Give him anything he wants’ was underlined. She licked her lips as the man in front of her in the bespoke suit waited expectantly, perhaps hoping he could be a Smith.

“Mr. Janvier?” Sammy asked, trying to say the last name right and having no idea if she was accomplishing it or not. At this point, she was more curious to see if these people would just boldly lie.

“Yes, of course. And that’s my table,” the man said, giving the woman with him a look.

What was this to them—some kind of game?

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to need to see ID,” Sammy said.

The man’s eyes widened. “Who are you? Are you a cop? Are you carding me?” His voice stepped up in volume with each phrase, and Sammy knew it was only a matter of moments before it carried back to Bastian, who was surely hitting drink three by now.

Then, behind the couple, through the tall glass doors, she spotted a man getting out of a 1972 dark metallic blue E-type Jaguar at the valet stand—legitimately the world’s sexiest car. Garrett, one of her foster brothers who’d gotten her into cars, would’ve wept to get to see one in person, and as it was, she was having a moment. And then the owner got out of it. He walked into the restaurant alone with the kind of stride that said he had places to be, and even through the glass, there was something about him. His hair was dark and wavy, barely tamed by whatever he’d put in it, his skin was the kind of brown that came naturally and stayed that way, and his eyes were—she looked away before she could see them, because if she saw them, then he’d catch her staring and—she returned her attention to the couple in front of her, even as her hands found one another and she slid the peridot ring from her left hand to her right hand quickly.

“I refuse to show you ID until you show me to my table,” the man in front of her went on.

“Mr. Janvier?” Sammy guessed as the man from outside strode forward, giving him a look that said, rescue me? He frowned at her lightly, maybe not a frown, more of a pensive look like he was wondering if he’d ever seen her before. Sammy was very sure he hadn’t. But now that she could stare a little, his eyes were a shade of rich amber.

“Yes,” he said, coming up to the side of the host stand, looking impatient.

She glared at the two people who’d just lied to her, picked up a menu, and said, “Right this way.”




Rax sat down at the table the woman directed him to, which had been conveniently set to face a nicer view toward the back of the room and the windows, and he didn’t like that.

First off, because he wasn’t comfortable not having his back against a wall—and the windows counted as a wall, more so than the rest of the space in the room did, and secondly, the hostess. Whom he didn’t recognize. But he hardly ever ate out, although this was the only restaurant he went to when he did, on the rare occasions he had events to celebrate and felt like dipping into someone else’s wine cellar. There was no reason for him to remember Bastian’s prior hostess, or the one before that and so on.

Except—he rearranged his seat to be on the other side of the table, moving all of his place settings until the windows were at his back and he’d given himself a view of the hostess stand. The lightly frosted glass couldn’t hide her from him; in fact, it made him feel freer to stare, as though she were an exotic animal trapped at a zoo. From his new position he could easily make out her disappointingly sensible flats, which led up to creamy calves dotted with light freckles, and those led up to her possibly pert ass—and as if hearing his mind’s silent plea, she pulled off her blazer and folded it neatly, tucking it onto the shelf with the menus beneath the stand.

Pert indeed.

He drummed his fingers on the white tablecloth in front of him.

Who was she?

And—why did she radiate magic?

He didn’t take his eyes off of the woman as the server took his order. He knew what he was having, the same thing he always did when he was here to remember the anniversary of his release from imprisonment. If it wasn’t currently on the menu, he knew Bastian would make it for him.

He folded his hands in front of him, still considering the girl. Anyone wandering through life with that much magic on them should know better. Know to stay shielded. Hide it when they were out, lest they attract unwanted attention.

Like his, he thought darkly.

She was beautiful, yes, even though her dark blue eyes were set a little too wide, and her chin was a little too narrow. Freckles dusted her pale peachy skin, and her red hair was barely tamed by the bun she’d wrapped it up in; there were licks of curls springing free by her ears and against her neck. So he might have even found her entrancing, regardless, despite the fact she smelled entirely human when she’d led him to his table—but the field of power practically pulsing off her guaranteed she’d intrigue him. And what was more, her magic had a familiar tinge to it. He licked his lips…he’d been alive a very, very, long time. He’d encountered all sorts of energies. Of course everything felt vaguely familiar. There wasn’t much in this world that could surprise him anymore. Or in any of the others.

But she seemed familiar somehow, even though that was impossible.

“Can I interest you in a glass of wine, Mr. Janvier?”

Salvatore, Belissima’s obsequious sommelier, came over with his hands folded behind his back and blocked his view. Rax’s gaze flickered up at him. Here was a man who made his living by recommending rarified gastronomic experiences, which was in a way, Rax supposed, like what he offered at his casino, except the experiences he recommended there were more costly and occasionally violent.

Rarified nonetheless, though.

“I’ll take a bottle of whatever you think pairs best with my order,” Rax said, instead of asking for what he really wanted: a bottle—and the woman.

But he could just as easily drink and contemplate her from his table. She wasn’t going anywhere else until close, and maybe between now and then he could figure out why it felt like he knew her.




Sammy felt Mr. Janvier’s gaze on her, tracing down the back of her body like a lover’s hand, and she hoped she was far enough away from him that he couldn’t see the prickles of her gooseflesh.

Had he really just switched his place setting around to see her better?

No way.


At first, she assumed she was just making it up for her pride’s sake—he was the hottest man she’d seen in months, and she was bouncing back from being cheated on. She would’ve been lying if she’d said she hadn’t wanted him to look.

But as she sat table after table of Belissima’s patrons she realized her fever dream was, in fact, reality. His eyes had a dark amber fire as they narrowed, watching her with intent, his chiseled jaw that was shaded by just the right amount of stubble clenched periodically, and his lips were pursed in contemplation.

As he stared.

At her.


She wasn’t sure how she felt about that. She’d taken off her blazer because it’d gotten hot—all right, she’d gotten a little hot and bothered there for a moment, right after he’d come in. But that could have been because of his car! And now she felt like she couldn’t put it back on without….

What, being rude and interrupting his show?

A show that a tiny part of her was all too willing to give him?

In fact, right now, she found herself comprised of too many parts to count. There was the common sense part of her, fueled by her childhood, past bad decisions, and her obsession with serial killer documentaries, and it was all: RUN GIRL RUN! But some other parts—just as loud! —were remembering the shock of seeing her so-called-boyfriend railing some other chick over a desk a few days ago, and as unfeminist as it was to welcome male attention at work, it felt good to have someone be interested.

Especially someone who looked like him because fucking hell.

Oh, Andi, I’m going to have such a story for you—

But then she remembered Andi was off in Italy.

Which was possibly where Mr. Janvier was from.

Or was the name French?

“Sammy?” asked Jeanine.

“Yes!” Sammy said, snapping to, as the manager gave the group of people coming through the door a meaningful look—and then ditched her.

She realized why a moment too late, as the person in charge of the group—a waif of a girl, all smiles and cheer, not much younger than Sammy, although it was clear she’d led a very different life—leaned over and happily exclaimed, “We’ve got the vault for nine-thirty!”

“Is everyone here in your group?” Sammy asked, hoping her quick headcount was wrong.

“Yes! Some friends came in from out of town and—”

This was why her manager had run off. So that they could play good-cop bad-cop—forcing Sammy to be the bad one. “I’m sorry, but that room only has space for eighteen people.” There were twenty-five tightly clustered people in the entryway right now, a group of swan-like young women and a few middle-aged-adults.

A ripple of horror moved through the group. Sammy could already feel the weight of their disappointment—and burgeoning anger.

“But my friends!” the girl protested with a pout as a man in a wool suit jacket trundled up, obviously the bad-cop of this group.

“Some of us flew all the way from Chicago for this!”

“That’s very far, and I’m sorry—”

“We’ll need another table then.” He was gruff and Sammy could feel him looking for an excuse to yell.

“That’s impossible, sir. We’re fully booked. All night. Every night. You have a room here—but it can only seat eighteen.”

“I won’t eat!” the original girl volunteered.

Sammy winced apologetically. “That doesn’t change things.”

“Then we’ll all go someplace else!” the man demanded and Sammy inhaled, bracing.

“You can do that. But—someone in your party,” she said, looking at the books, “a Donna Breeland, reserved that room with a credit card. You’ll be charged a thousand dollars for—”

“You’ll charge my wife for a room we can’t use? That’s preposterous!” The man slammed his meaty fists on the stand. “It’s my daughter’s birthday—” he began, inhaling to go on.

She’d met less entitled people carrying guns, back in her chop-shop days. “Is your daughter in charge of fire codes?” Sammy said, with an ‘I’m not even bothering to hide how fake this is’ smile. “I’m just trying to keep us legal, sir.”

The man’s jaw clenched and his eyes widened. “Get Bastian, now.”

“It’s not going to change anything—”

He planted a hand on either side of the hostess stand and leaned in. “Did you hear me?”

Yes. Unfortunately.

Jeanine chose that moment to swan in. “What’s going on?” she asked, ever-so-innocent, and Sammy had that wood-chipper feeling in her stomach like she was about to be ground up and fed to the wolves.

“This woman here was telling us that we can’t be accommodated!”

“Oh, no,” Jeanine said, looking at the reservation book over Sammy’s shoulder and then swinging her hips to get Sammy out of the way. “Mr. Breeland, there must’ve been some mistake, I’m so sorry!” Jeanine glared at Sammy for effect, and Sammy knew exactly what was going on.

She’d just become a human sacrifice.

“Let me go talk to Bastian right away and in the meantime, I’m sure Sammy can show eighteen of your guests to their tables.” Jeanine snapped her fingers twice like Sammy was some kind of dog. “Menus!”




Rax watched the scene playing out in front of him with intense interest.

No one as magical as she was should’ve tolerated being treated so.

He watched the red-haired woman’s spine straighten as she took a verbal jab at offense. He could tell by the way she held herself that she was pissed but she wasn’t doing anything with it. He neither felt her energies swirl nor increase like they might if she were going to strike a magical blow.

She didn’t use her magic to shield herself from their hassle, either.

Someone that radiated the kind of power she did shouldn’t have to work here, much less put up with bullshit.

So what was going on? He circled an idle finger along the rim of his wineglass as the scene played out and the woman turned, ducking down beneath the stand to grab a stack of menus. Her scarf fell forward and a red stone on a necklace swung out behind it.

His finger stopped and he curled his hand into a fist rather than smash the glass on the table.

It couldn’t be.

The red gemstone on her necklace…it was a third of the key to the Gate Below.

One of a set of gems created when he’d shattered the original key in its lock.

One was lost in the lock itself, he guarded one, and the other had been buried with his brother’s wife, eight hundred years ago.

And now some human girl was just…wearing it. Out and about. Without any shielding, and apparently without any knowledge of what it was or why it existed.

Here, of all places.


It was on a human!

Rax stayed seated, thinking hard, as she took half the group downstairs, followed by a flock of women, and he knew as she disappeared around the corner that he shouldn’t let her out of his sight. The necklace she was wearing was more valuable to him than the combined total of anything that’d ever been kept inside the decommissioned bank vault below.

He stared at the doorway she’d gone through as memories he thought he’d pushed down forever—as far away from him as his dragon now was—wracked through him like waves hitting rocks in a storm.

Summers spent going on adventures with his older brother, Tarian, sailing across the sea in grand loops under blue sky and golden sun. Stopping only to dive down to pull up ornate shells off the seafloor to gift their mother, laughing as they speared fish to eat raw over the side of the boat, both of them slicked with shiny scales until they swam again and knocked them free. Knowing that they were safe because they were both dragons, and that everyone else who sailed their Realm was safe because the Gate was locked.

If he could’ve ever traveled to any point in time, it would’ve been back to that impossibly perfect summer. Back when everything was simple and pure, and well before Tarian met Seris, the human girl that would go on to become his brother’s mate and his family’s downfall.

The woman reemerged—jogging, almost—at the top of the stairs, and he felt a visceral sense of relief at seeing her there. Her hand seemed to dive beneath her scarf without thinking, to grab hold of the stone for strength, and strong emotions flashed across her face. She was angry he could tell, and he read shame and embarrassment in the slope of her shoulders and the way she held her body, her blood pumping not just from the short run up the stairs but because she was seething. He shoved his memories away and returned to the present.

What had happened to piss her off so?

Who’d pushed this little human up to the edge and then over it?

How could he get back what was rightfully his?

She frowned and looked over, catching him staring, and he didn’t look away as she stormed up.

“I know that face,” he told her, rather than ask any of his questions.

Her light pink lips fell into a tiny pout. She had a smattering of freckles over her cheeks that she hadn’t bothered to try to hide with makeup. “You do, do you?”

And she had the slightest hint of an accent. He’d noticed it all night. He nodded at her. “Yes. That’s the kind of face an employee makes before she quits or does something to get fired.”

She huffed, perhaps embarrassed to be so readable.

“I’m not wrong, am I?” he pressed.

She shook her head before she answered, “No.”

The red stone peeked out from beneath her scarf, calling to him, just a few shades darker than her hair. There was no way she knew what it was or what it was worth. It had to have come into her possession by accident—all the better to let him steal it from her.

It was as if fate had shoved her into his path—on this day of all days.

Rax pushed himself back from the table. He no longer trusted in fate but he completely trusted in himself. She’d been alone all night, and what was more, she seemed lonely. And he…he knew exactly who he was. All he had to do was get her by herself. He kept his eyes on hers while moving to stand. He was taller than she was by over half-a-foot and while his greater size frightened some women, he knew others welcomed it. Which was she? She didn’t step back. He had to stop himself from smiling. So close, already, yes. His dark brown eyes traveled her delicately boned face and watched her fathomless blue ones widen in curiosity, helpless and fearless in equal measure.

“Did you want to do something worth getting fired for?” he asked her in a suggestive tone.

She swallowed before her lips parted and asked, “Like…what?”

“Like meet me in the wine cellar in three minutes,” he told her in a low voice, full of promises. He heard her gasp softly as he dropped his napkin on the table, turning to go down the stairs she’d just come up.




Sammy watched him go. He didn’t turn around to see if she’d follow or even give her a second look. It was like he knew that she would at least consider his offer.


Because right after she’d gotten that huge party seated downstairs, Bastian had torn her a new one, yelling at her for not recognizing Donna Breeland or her daughters and their friends, all of whom they were now shoving into the vault below, fire codes be damned. The only reason she hadn’t quit at that moment was because he’d stormed away too fast, and the whole thing was bullshit. She didn’t really need-need this job right now, she had enough savings to coast a little, and even if her quitting would embarrass Damian, maybe, she knew Andi would totally understand.

She’d raced upstairs, ready to just go straight out the door and Bastian could mail her last check, two weeks’ notice be damned, and then she caught Mr. Janvier staring at her, again, with his hot eyes, like someone was holding a piece of amber up to a bright flame, with his fucking perfectly fitted suit that showed off his wide shoulders, and his stupid handsome-like-an-ancient-statue face—she’d been pissed and had stomped over to see what the hell it was he wanted…only to find out that he wanted her.


Did it matter?

She stared at the path Mr. Janvier had taken. He’d already been downstairs for a minute, which gave her two minutes left to decide. She hugged herself, then saw Jeanine coming her way. She grabbed her blazer from the stand and went for the front door at a jog, flagging Ernesto down outside.

Dragon’s Captive IS OUT!!!!

Dragon’s Captive IS OUT!!!!! (This is under Kara and I’s new combo pen name! ;D)

Sammy O’Connor didn’t mean to steal a dragon’s necklace…she just kind of did.

Little did she know that viciously hot and muscled Rax Janvier would come to claim it — and her — and that he would be willing to do anything to get it back. It’s a fragment of a key that opens up a lock to his past — and hers.

Can she survive being kidnapped by a sea dragon who’s obsessed with her? And what happens if she starts to want him back?

Like all women of a certain age, I imprinted heavily on Beauty and the Beast — brunette girls who liked books, taming kinda-jerky-monstrous-men, and becoming princesses? Sign me up! But after growing up (and going through one older ex-husband) I knew personally that it shouldn’t be #lifegoals.


Then Kara and I started to kick around ideas for a new book in our series. I was on a road trip, prime thinking-time for me, and I started making a mental list of things I hadn’t gotten to write about yet, things that I (possibly shamefully!) still loved…and Beauty and the Beast was right there at the top.

I knew I couldn’t pull off the same ol’ same innocence the original had about it’s situation — I’ve lived too much life for that.

But I realized I could write a version of it as my own, and suddenly these characters just started unspooling in my mind: Sammy, with her love of cars and obsession with serial killers (so much so that she’s pretty sure Rax is one, when he abducts her.) She’s stronger than Belle, tougher, and she’s been through a whole lot more — her parents were murdered when she was a child, an incident she still has PTSD from. And Rax, the dragon-shifter, who isn’t as beastly as he used to be, because his dragon was magically torn from him as a punishment, to guard a Gate holding back monsters below the sea.

When Sammy accidentally finds a necklace that belongs to Rax, that’s a long-lost piece of the key to the Gate his dragon guards, Rax knows he needs it back — even if it comes with the girl. A girl who unabashedly hates him, and tries to kill him more than once…which is something he grudgingly has to respect.

And as for Sammy — she’s so pissed at Rax for kidnapping her she can’t see straight — until she realizes that the monsters behind the Gate his dragon guards might have been the same ones that killed her family.

Neither of them could claim to want a relationship, especially not with each other, and definitely not like this, but there’s something about the other’s proximity….

They’re both beautifully broken — and they just might be the right people to put each other back together.

Who doesn’t want adventure in the great wide somewhere?

PS: Dragon’s Captive also includes steamy sex, and an amazing HEA.

Dragon’s Captive, Chapter 1!

Dragon’s Captive  is out tomorrow! Here’s chapter 1!

(REMINDER: Cassie Lockharte is Cassie Alexander and Kara Lockharte’s new combo pen-name! (We decided to take pity on our cover designers and collapse our names for more space ;))

“So, Damian doesn’t know any eligible guys, like at all?” Sammy was sitting across from her best friend and old roommate, Andi, at Jones and Shah Coffee. They were hanging out before their separate evening plans: Sammy, hostessing at a high-end restaurant downtown, and Andi, going in early to the hospital to work into a nightshift.

The small café was lightly crowded, full of the scent of strong coffee and the iced lemon scone Sammy’d bought to wolf down before work tonight. Other people’s conversations wrapped around them, as spinning spoons clanked against glasses and the espresso machine hissed. One woman laughed loudly in a corner as she flirted too hard on a first date—Sammy recognized both the woman’s tone and her date’s slight expression of horror.

First dates always suck, Sammy thought.

“Sammy,” Andi said flatly, giving her a maternal headshake, calling her attention back to the table. “No. You do not want this kind of hassle, trust me.” Her best friend waved a hand over herself. Andi was dressed in purple scrubs and wearing Dansko shoes with a cute checkered print on them, and the blue streak in her black hair was barely visible in her ‘I’m going to work’ bun. Tearing off a bite of the scone to push into her mouth, Sammy had absolutely no idea what Andi was even talking about.

“The hassle of someone giving me a three-carat diamond ring?” Sammy licked icing off her finger and then mimed difficulty raising her coffee with her left hand, even though Andi wasn’t wearing jewelry right now. “Oh yeah, I can see how that must be a really heavy arm workout,” Sammy teased.

Andi laughed. “A ring that I can’t wear to work because, while gorgeous, it’s ridiculous. But no, really Sammy, you know what I mean.” And Andi gave her that look that was all: We’ve talked about this before. You know I’m engaged to a dragon-shifter, right?

Which meant it was Sammy’s turn to give her a meaningful, But why can’t I ever see him as a dragon? stink-eye, back, until both of them grinned.

“Honestly, Sammy,” Andi said, getting real, looking around the room they were in and leaning forward. “There are at least three security cameras in this coffee shop, ever since that attempted robbery. And I guarantee you that right now all of them are pointed at me.”

Sammy pushed a wave of red hair out of her face as she glanced up to see the little plastic bulbs set in the coffee shop’s ceiling, which were new. Andi was right. “Why?”

“Because I don’t want to have a bodyguard. This is our compromise.”

Sammy pretended to think. “So…you’re kind of like Beyoncé, is what you’re saying?”

Andi laughed again. “No. Although I do sing better than you do.” She stuck out her tongue at Sammy. “Damian’s people have better things to do than to watch over me personally—but there’s a trade-off. If I get to pretend to have a normal life, then someone’s going to be low level watching over me all the time. Or listening in,” she said, tapping at her phone on the table between them. “So don’t say anything lewd.”

“Who? Me? I would fucking never.” Sammy put an affronted hand to her chest, laughing as Andi laughed too, before taking a sober inhale. “It’s…just hard to believe that your life’s changed so much, Andi. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe you.” Sammy knew the long term consequences of not being believed—she had known her best friend for too many years and they’d gone through too much stuff together for her not to. If Andi said her man was a dragon, well then, he really was. Somehow. “It’s just different is all,” she said with a half-shrug. “I mean, who would’ve guessed a few months ago that Andi Ngo would become a dragon’s most valuable possession?”

“Yeah,” Andi said, giving Sammy one of those dreamy ‘hopelessly-in-love’ smiles that she’d been prone to, ever since she and Damian had become serious—the kind that made Sammy really happy for Andi, but a little sad for herself. Sammy knew it wasn’t fair, but she was also only human, so she tried not to beat herself up about it. She shoved another tart bite of scone into her mouth.

“Although he doesn’t treat me like a possession,” Andi went on, in her man’s defense. “He’s not an asshole…. Well, actually, he is, just not to me.”

Sammy laughed, then picked up Andi’s phone to talk into it like it was a microphone. “Did you hear that? Damian’s not, I repeat, not an asshole,” she said loudly before setting it back down and grinning at her friend. “There. You’re covered.”

Andi snickered and pocketed her phone. “All right, girlie, so, enough about my relationship. Why are you asking about eligible men? What happened with the smart guy, Mr. Working-on-his-PhD?”

“Yeah,” Sammy began slowly, sinking toward the table to massage her temples with the first two fingers of each hand, bringing her closer to the comforting scent of her coffee. “Remember the research project he was working on so hard? I guess you could say it was a ‘group project.’”

“No!” Andi gasped, already knowing which way this story was going to go. “Don’t tell me that! By which I mean, do tell me, so I can go and murder him!”

“I bet your phone caught that too,” Sammy said with a headshake, although she and Andi had probably watched enough true crime shows on TV together in their time as roommates to get away with actual murders if they put their mind to it.

“How’d you find out?” Andi pressed.

“I drove over to pick him up from campus and because I miraculously found good parking I decided to surprise him—and caught him boning some other grad student on his desk.”

“Ugh!” Andi said, furious on her behalf. “I mean, you’re so much better off without him, obviously, but the gall!”

“Down girl, I know.”

Andi’s eyes narrowed and she frowned. “Sammy, why didn’t you tell me?”

Sammy looked across the table at her best friend and couldn’t really say what she was thinking: Because. You look so happyyou make things look easywhy can’t they be easy for me? Andi reached across the table to grab her hand, reading a little of it on her anyhow, and Sammy squeezed her hand back.

“It just happened two days ago,” Sammy said, blowing things off. “And I knew I was seeing you today—now that you’re not living with me it’s a lot harder for me to keep track of whether you’re sleeping or not.. Plus, I’m not wrecked or anything. More just disgusted with the gender.”

Andi let go of her hand but kept staring at her, and Sammy knew she was being nursified.

“I feel bad leaving you all alone, Sammy. What if…you get another roommate? Or—a cat? Or a puppy? I mean now that Damian’s bought the building—”

“Don’t think I don’t appreciate that, Andi, because I do.” Not having to pay rent, thanks to Andi’s bajillionaire fiancé’s largess was pretty damn amazing. “But a cat is not the same as a person—though it can’t just be any person, you know?”

“No, it can’t, can it,” Andi said, agreeing with her—then getting a wicked gleam in her eye. “I mean, I probably am pretty irreplaceable as a roommate.”

“Yeah, I’m not sure how that Craigslist ad would go: ‘Roommate wanted, 20-something woman, must be into serial killer documentaries and cars.’”

“Hey now, I wasn’t into cars.”

“Well, if I’m going to bother replacing you, I might as well aim for perfection.”

Andi laughed. “Actually? Yeah. You should. Hold out for the good stuff, always.” She pulled out her phone to check the time and grumbled. “I’m sorry, Sammy, I’ve got to get going.” Andi got up and navigated to the condiment bar to grab a to-go lid, while Sammy not so subtly tried to see if the security cameras really did watch as she returned. “Dress shopping? This weekend?” Andi asked.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Sammy said. “And you’d better wear your ring then.”

“Why?” Andi questioned, picking up her bag.

“So if we get into trouble, without any bodyguards, you can punch somebody out with it,” Sammy told her, pretending to give someone a left hook.

“I don’t need bodyguards, Sammy, when I have you.” Andi beamed and gave her a careful not-spilling-her-coffee hug. “Talk tomorrow?”

“For sure,” Sammy said, and air-kissed her cheek.


Sammy waited until Andi was off to the bus stop knowing that Andi wouldn’t accept a ride into work unless she was going to be seriously late. Although maybe being on a bus was safer for her than being on the open road, because Sammy was going to have to break a few traffic laws to make it to her apartment in time to change and drive back downtown.

She parked outside her building, jogged up the stairs to the blue door of her apartment, let herself inside, and ran for her closet.

Andi was right—it was a little lonely here. Especially because Eumie wasn’t downstairs in their bakery anymore—they were off doing God knew what. Sammy’d lost both her nearby best friends in the space of a few months.

Andi wasn’t really lost-lost, but she was busy. Hanging out with Damian or letting him dote on her. Sammy had been over for a few awkward dinners at their place, and it wasn’t the same as it had been—and it wasn’t even Damian’s fault. He was an excellent sport, and he played the host nicely. It was just that things were different now, what with Andi living there, was all. The last time she’d gone over and they’d tried to make a girls’ night of it, watching the latest Netflix murder-show, some horrible sounding alarm had gone off in the middle of things. Sammy about peed her pants it was so loud, and Andi wouldn’t tell her what was going on, “For your own safety, I mean it,” and then had been tense until a few hours later when Damian had come back.

From…where? Doing…what?


Sammy supposed Andi knew, and she knew she didn’t have a right to know. But now that they were keeping secrets from each other, things just weren’t the same.

Then again, she’d been keeping a pretty big one from Andi—and everyone else she’d ever met, for the most part—her whole life.

Sammy sighed and tugged down the tight cream-colored dress she’d be wearing tonight, then de-sexed it with a loose pink silk scarf around her neck and a fitted navy blazer. She pushed her feet into matching navy flats—she was verging on stewardess, but that was okay, as long as she looked like she worked for a high-class airline.

It would just take time for their friendship to find a new normal, was all. Sammy knew that, and she could be patient. It wasn’t like she had a ton of other friends besides. Acquaintances, maybe, and a string of disappointing men, for sure. But none of them were as solid as Andi, and Sammy just had to believe that if she waited out this phase in Andi’s life—even if she wasn’t sure of what it was or how long it would last—that they’d be strong again.

In a new way.



She looked at herself in her bathroom mirror, pulling her long curly red hair into a loose bun, swiped some lipstick on, poofed herself with blush, used the same blush for her eyeshadow, grabbed her purse, and ran for the door.

She swung it open to find a small box on her stoop—clearly labeled for their address, but not to anyone in particular.

Seeing as she hadn’t ordered anything lately, it had to be for Andi.

She swiped her phone open and found Andi’s contact in it as ‘Lefty’ because once upon a time when they’d still lived together, pre-Damian, Andi had expressed a desire to date Vin Diesel and Lefty from the Fast and the Furious movies was as close as she could get. (Plus, it was kind of funny, since Andi didn’t know how to drive.)

There’s a mysterious box here for you, she texted using voice-to-text as she brought it inside. Don’t worry, it’s too small to be a body part.

Andi texted back an eye roll emoji, faster than Sammy would’ve thought—she must’ve still been on the bus. D warned me this might happen. That people would send us stuff just because, to try to get in his good graces.

Sammy snorted softly. Well, it’s not a toaster or a shoe rack, so I know they didn’t get it off your registry—oh wait, you don’t have a registry, she said. Sammy had maintained that people would still want to buy them gifts, whereas Andi said that was silly because they already had everything.

Andi sent her back an emoji with its tongue sticking out. If it’s not ticking, and there’s no loose powder, want to open it?

Sammy hesitated—yes, she might be late, but…. What the hell would anyone send someone like Damian Blackwood’s fiancée to try to get on his good side? As Andi’s old roommate, she already knew that Andi’s most useful possessions were an infinite number of pens and sharpies—there must’ve been some nurse version of the sock-eating dryer monster that lived in the hospital basement, subsisting entirely on black ink. Or maybe it was a small box of Vietnamese instant coffee packets….

She set it down on her kitchen counter and opened the packaging. Inside the shipping box was another box—fancy and old, made of very structurally sound black cardboard that was embossed with tiny ripples—and inside of that, she found a dark purple velvet jewelry box.

Sammy knew she probably should’ve slowed her roll, but she also felt the need to just confirm that it really wasn’t any body part at this point, and her get-to-work-on-time clock was ticking. She flipped the lid and inside, cradled in more purple velvet, was a lovely teardrop-shaped red cabochon the size of her thumb, strung on a delicate gold chain.

She pulled it out of the box so it could swing freely. It looked old—and old-timey—because girls her age hardly ever wore jewelry like this.

Then again, could someone her age afford something like this? She honestly didn’t think so.

She snapped a photo and sent it to Andi.

Oh God—gorgeous, but so not me. Who is it from?

Sammy investigated the rest of the box thoroughly. No clue. No card.

Well, I’ll ask around, I guess? Although I don’t think anyone in my contacts list sent that….

Me either. They both knew their friend group was more of the gift-card or booze set.

Your brother? Sammy guessed although she felt it extremely doubtful. The only jewelry Andi’s brother had ever gotten Sammy when they’d dated was a little peridot solitaire ring for her birthday. She still wore it sometimes at work on her left ring finger to detour creepers.

No way, Andi agreed, and then went on: Hey, so, don’t hate me, but…I think I’m going to have to pass on dress shopping.

Sammy stared at her phone, mysterious jewelry and upcoming job forgotten. If you picked a dress out without me, I will not be your best friend anymore, so help me God, she typed, followed quickly by: joking-NOT-JOKING.

It’s not that! Andi protested. We’re taking a last-minute trip to Italy.

But what about your job? Sammy asked, knowing full well that Andi only worked because she wanted to.

We just bought my hospital a new wing. They’ll manage without me for a month just fine. And I’ve been thinking of going part-time, anyways.

Sammy huffed at her phone. That was the first she’d heard of it. But just like she hadn’t run straight to Andi to tell her about Mr. PhDickhead, maybe Andi was pulling back a little, too.

We’ll dress shop the day I get back, I promise, okay? Andi sent her.

Sure. Love you, Sammy sent, with an emoji smooch.

Sammy put her phone in her blazer’s pocket and stared at the necklace for a little bit longer. If no one knew who it was from…and Andi didn’t like it…and if they’d shared clothes all the time back when Andi used to live with her—Sammy’s hands rose, and she clasped the necklace around her neck quickly. The flat back of the cold stone warmed up quickly against her skin as she hid the gemstone with her scarf, and voila, no one would be the wiser.


Dragon Called is free for 48 more hours!!!!

🔥🔥🔥 𝐃𝐑𝐀𝐆𝐎𝐍 𝐂𝐀𝐋𝐋𝐄𝐃 is currently FREE on Amazon! 🔥🔥🔥

dragon called cover for free promo

Dragon Called is F R E E on Amazon for the next 48 hours!!!!! (As a lead in to Dragon Mated coming out on 10/13!!!) Go download it right now if you haven’t yet!!!! :D :D :D

If you are interested in this man’s abs (and who isn’t?) you should know that the book also includes:

❤️ ansgty romance

❤️ brooding hot mysterious billionaire

🐈 his magical talking cat

❤️ spooky castle

❤️ feisty nurse heroine

🔥 HOT sexy times (but not with the cat)

❤️ an HEA worth waiting for

Dragon Fated, live!

I forgot to post here earlier, *facepalm!*

Dragon Fated, the third book in Kara Lockharte and I’s ‘Prince of the Other Realms’ series is now out on Amazon! :D

It’s already gotten a ton of good reviews — and obviously, if you liked the first two, you’ll love it as well! :D

Dragon Destined is out now!!!!!

Hello lovely readers!

Dragon Destined, the 2nd book in Kara Lockharte and I’s Prince of the Other Realms series, is NOW OUT ON AMAZONNNNN!

If you liked the first book or you like the looks of this cover (which this book TOTALLY DELIVERS ON, I SO PROMISE, muhahahaha) then you should click through and check it out! :D

Dragon Called is out in the WILD



hello Cassie RN!

Check it out guys! Dragon Called is out in the WILD and already getting crazy good reviews!

It’s about billionaire dragon-shifter Damian Blackwood and Chinese nurse Andi Ngo (and it’s double own-voices, ’cause I’m a nurse and Kara’s Chinese) and the extreme circumstances that pull them together, despite the fact that their relationship’s unlikely in the extreme, because she’s human — and she knows his secret.

In celebration of this though, our release week, we’re doing some fun things, read on!

I’m gonna do a Facebook Live!


I just tried it out yesterday to make sure the internet would work out there and it totally does. So I’ll show y’all all my plants and talk about Dragon Called (and nursing stuff? if people have questions?) for as long as anyone’s interested and Facebook lets me ;). It’ll be at 11 am PST tomorrow, on my CassieAlexanderAuthor page on Facebook.

Kara’s gonna help me figure out how to give away some paperback copies during it as well! D

Now onto Dragon Destined’s cover reveal giveawayyyyy! :D

That’s right, book one just came out, and it’s already time to pimp book 2, what’s up with that?

It’s because we’re doing a fast release of books 1-3 (and possibly four, if my wrists hold out ;)) with a book coming out every two weeks!

I know some people may be nervous about committing before the whole series is done (there’ll be 6 books total). To that, I say: You need this escapism now, and I totally got you. I love Andi and Damian like they’re part of me, pretty much because they are. These books are what I think about right before I go to bed, and right before I wake up, and I feel so happy and honored to get to work on a project that thrills me right down to my toes. I’ve been writing 5,000 – 8,000 words a day on these on my off days (and managing 2,000 on the days that I’m at work, on break and once I get home.) I am obsessed with these books. I’ve been writing for 23 years now and I’ve never felt like this about a series before, that I’m just writing the thing that I was meant to. It’s spectacular.

I know that sounds weird (unless you’re another creative type, whereupon hello!) — just — trust me that if you like that cover for book 1, you’re gonna like that book. And if you like book 1 you’re gonna want to read alllllll of the rest of them.

And if you’d like someone else to tell you all the reasons you’re gonna like this book, here’s reviewer Margaret Adelle’s youtube review of Dragon Called which is like the best review an author could ask for, honestly :D

Okay — back to it, I gotta put in some more words! Hopefully I’ll see some of y’all on tomorrow’s thing on Facebook, if not though, I’ll link to it in a future newsletter too :D