Cursed (The Vitruvian Man #1)
by Cate Masters
Publisher: Decadent Publishing (new TEASE line)
Release Date: April 21, 2013
Heat Level: Steamy
Word Count: 30,000
Ten days of freedom. That’s all Fate had allotted me each year. In the streets of Venice, I could walk among them. Mingle. Belong.
During Carnevale, they had no idea who I was. What I was.
For ten days, it didn’t matter.
Until I met her.
Bruno diCesare lives alone by necessity, not choice. An experiment performed by Leonardo da Vinci, who believed having a dual DNA would grant a person immortality, used magic to render Bruno a chimera – the head of a lion, body of a dragon. The only time he can mingle with people is during Carnevale, ten glorious days of masked anonymity, frivolity and intimacy.
Melina Weaver learned fire dancing to enliven her dull existence. A scientist, her long hours at the lab leave no time for a social life. For ten days at Carnevale, she can pretend to be someone else. Someone sexy and daring, who lives on the edge.
Once she meets Bruno, her wish comes true, but everything goes terribly wrong. Beneath Bruno’s costume lurks an alpha male, but is he dangerous? Worse, can she return to an employer who sells her research to the military to make an army of efficient killers? Her only hope may lie with the man she’s just met and never seen.
Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.
Melina should have stayed in her room. Finding him had seemed like such incredible luck. Now she wondered whether luck had turned against her.
That sound—almost an animal sound—had that come from him? Had she imagined it? Strange things went on during Carnevale, her online friends had said, some so inexplicable no science could explain them. She’d laughed when they warned her she might get in over her head.
The sheer strength of his muscles, the raw power beneath his clothes, thrilled her. His pace conveyed the same urgency.
Pressed to his side, nerves jangling, her foot slipped on the stone step.
In one fluid motion, he scooped her into his arms and continued hurrying along. “Are you all right?”
“Unless embarrassment leaves a mortal wound. I’m normally not so clumsy.” She settled against his broad chest. Such incredible stamina. An image pierced her mind: his muscular, naked torso above her, his hips rocking against hers. His presence overwhelmed her, and she was acutely aware of every motion, every breath.
At the bottom of the stone stairs, he set her on her feet but maintained his firm hold. “Dampness has a habit of lingering here. You’d best allow me to assist you.”
“Please.” She fitted herself against him, acutely aware of the way his body moved against hers.
“In these calle of San Samuele,” he said, “Giacomo Casanova spent his youth.”
“Calle?” She should have brushed up on her Italian.
He dipped his head closer. “Narrow alleyways.”
“Narrow and dark. I wonder how many trysts Casanova had in these alleys?” And Casanova had nothing on Bruno. Women probably flocked around him constantly. Acid flashed through her at the thought.
“Too many to recount.” He paused, then added, “If one believes the writings in his diary. His mentor, the poet Giorgio Baffe, lived just down there.”
“Mentor?” She didn’t recall Casanova writing poetry. Did Bruno as well? Or was he not romantic that way?
“Of a sort. The man who introduced Casanova to worldly pleasures.”
The way the last two words rolled off his tongue, so enticing. She glanced at the dark steps that led to deeper shadows beside the canal.
She surprised herself by steering him down there, tugging him to an abrupt halt. “Do such mentors still exist?”
He whirled her against a wall. “Why? Would you be interested?”
She let her hands wander across the contours of his chest. “You did offer to introduce me to the delights of Venice.”
The same growl as earlier rumbled in his throat, unmistakable this time. “You do like to play with fire, don’t you?”
And he knew how to ignite one.
Welcome Cate Masters! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Hi Harlie! Thanks so much for having me here. I’m your basic dreamer. I love to write, and do it as often as I can. Luckily, my dear hubby is also my biggest supporter and cheerleader, and enabler (writing’s an addiction after all). He’s also my rock and life raft when life throws us curve balls, and we’ve stuck together through 35 years. Our three kids had three kids, and the grandboys deplete my energy but are great fun.
Is Cursed a single title, or part of a series?
It started out as a single title, but kept growing, lol. The Vitruvian Man series is now three books – Cursed, which launched Decadent’s Tease line in April; Charmed, which just released from Decadent Publishing last month; and Claimed, soon to follow.
What were your inspirations for the story?
My muse is devious. She loves to throw ideas at me too fast. Sometimes several ideas will join together for one story, and that’s what happened for Cursed. I read about Carnevale, the ten-day masquerade festival in Venice, and thought it would be a great setting for a story, especially because you never know who or what might be hiding behind those masks! And though I never was much of a History student in school, I love researching it, especially when odd facts pop up. An article about a sketch of The Vitruvian Man that predated Leonardo da Vinci’s really caught my attention, and made me wonder who the other illustrator was, and why we’d never heard of him. And though I likewise was a terrible student in Science class, I love reading about weird scientific findings – like the article about oxytocin, also called The Love Drug, a strange hormone that caused either extremely passive, or very aggressive, reactions in people. All those elements somehow came together in Cursed.
Please share your setting for Cursed. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
I wish! I’m more of an armchair traveler. Someday I’d love to visit Italy (authentic Italian pizza? Oh yeah, I’m there). Venice has history imprinted on every inch of the city, and I’d love to explore the surrounding islands too (and I take readers to two – Torcello and Murano — in Charmed and Claimed).
When did the writing bug first bite?
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away… or so it feels like. 🙂 I was a bored kid who liked to play with words, and it turned into a lifelong love of creating new worlds and characters I’ve grown to love like friends, and visiting places I probably will never travel to myself.
Who are your favorite authors, book/series?
Honestly, I have so many it’s difficult to list them all, but current favorites include J.R. Ward’s Fallen Angels series, Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld and Richelle Mead, whose Carnival of Souls I’m reading now.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
Oo, fun! I love getting together with other writers and talking about stories. 🙂 It’s actually one of the things I plan to do when I win the huge jackpot lottery (hey, it could happen lol) – start a writer’s retreat. I’ve already made a list of fantastic authors I’d love to have: Neil Gaiman, T.C. Boyle, Alice Hoffman, Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Mead, Michael Chabon, and the list goes on and on.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time’s pretty much reserved for writing, but sometimes I sneak in some gardening, photography, playing with the grandboys and my dog Lily. On clear nights when stars fill the sky, hubby and I like to sit out on our deck, listen to the frogs serenading us and relax.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
Oh, tough question. The only thing I can think of is the scary sound we heard one night. We live in the boonies, and love it because it’s so dark at night, the stars appear very brilliant. But it can also be creepy sometimes – like that night. My daughter insisted it was a girl screaming, and almost had me believing it but thankfully my hubby’s the voice of reason and sanity. He recognized it as a coyote’s bark. Something you don’t want to hear on a dark and moonless night, believe me.
Thanks so much for the fun interview, Harlie! It’s been a real pleasure.
Multi-published, award-winning author Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web. Cate loves to hear from readers! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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