“Full of sex, magic, and turmoil...poetic and utterly beautiful. I can't remember the last time a book made me stop and think, wow.” --Meredith Wild, #1 New York Times bestselling author on Dutch
JUMA is the second book in The Keeper Series and continues the thrilling, sexy urban fantasy saga that began with DUTCH.
I work for Death; helping her cross the dead back to the living. I am the best at what I do, and I fear no one.
Then I cross paths with Dutch Mathew and all I hold sacred is turned on its head.
Dutch is an uncontrollable force of nature, and I want nothing more than to wrap myself around him for all of my lives. Our love is desperate like a sickness, blinding in its madness, suffocating in its intensity. Together we are light and laughter and all things beautiful, but we are no fools. We know darkness looms. Dutch has tried to topple an entity he cannot hope to wrangle alone. Death is ever-demanding in her quest to control and bend me to her will. And a new, darker threat has erupted and runs amok, bringing with it dread and terror and a fight like no other; one where the stakes are high and the winner takes all. In this game of lives, Dutch and I need each other to stand strong. But first we must be strong enough to stand together.
"Absolutely addictive!" --Helen Hardt, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author on Dutch
"Dark. Sensual. Unputdownable. I devoured this book and can't wait for the next!"--Kate Baxter, author of The Untamed Vampire on Dutch
Publisher's Note: Juma is a scorchingly sexy, romantic urban fantasy, full of forbidden love, romance and very hot love scenes.
About the Author
Madhuri Pavamani is the author of the paranormal romance trilogy, THE SANCTUM. A Southern girl with Northern sensibilities, a slight twang, and who still uses the word y’all, but never fixin’, she has an affinity for writing twisted love stories and dark poetry. A graduate of Barnard College, and incapable of leaving the bright lights of New York City, Madhuri works in Manhattan, but rests her head in New Jersey. She loves whiskey, tattoos, Bukowski, and yoga.
Read an Excerpt
The Keeper Series Book Two
By Madhuri Pavamani
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Madhuri Pavamani
All rights reserved.
I died twice. The first time, when I was five, at the hand of a stray bullet, and then again when I was thirty-five, of my own volition. Neither death prepared me for the random and brutal agony of living.
He was sad and bitter and caustic. The tortured anger rolled off him in waves as his eyes caught mine and held them for a moment that was both too short and eternal and I was trapped in all that was him. He was light and dark and all kinds of shades of grey that should have set off alarm bells, but I ignored everything and saw only him.
The brown skin that spoke of warm summer nights and ocean breezes and begged for my touch despite his insistence that he detested anything of the sort. The hair like raw silk, the eyes like fire, and that voice. The clipped syllables that suddenly curved around my name, sounding like pure sex, making me think all sorts of dirty shit, even when I asked him to never again speak it.
But that was before he allowed me to graze my fingers across his skin in exchange for his name crossing my lips.
A soul for a soul.
Tit for tat.
You own me and I own you.
Dutch and Juma.
Juma and Dutch.
No matter what.CHAPTER 2
Or so I thought.CHAPTER 3
That was before Death and her lies came to light. Before her laughter. Before her offer. Tendered again. Just like before, only different.
The first time, I was five with a bullet hole ripped through my tiny throat, dying on a gurney in an Atlanta emergency room. She came to me then, full of love and power and laughter and promises. Promises to keep my da safe, to make sure that truck wouldn't sideswipe him off Interstate 85 late at night, that he wouldn't die so long as I helped her, joined her, became hers.
The chosen few, handpicked by her and her alone.
Now, instead of my da, I could save my ma. Only problem was I never knew my ma's life was up for negotiation. Death failed to mention that all those years ago, when she seduced me in that hospital with tales of protecting my family from certain devastation.
Or she flat-out lied.
And that was how I came to be standing in a room with the woman who had owned my body for longer than I cared to admit — whose touch set me on fire, whose lips knew every inch of my skin — and the man who owned my soul. His dark eyes and brown skin, his lean body and full mouth, his tatted arms and furrowed brow, his sharp cheekbones. And his hands.
God, his hands.
"Juma," and I think he wanted to say more but he stopped himself because after living so long with so little, he believed asking for more, at this moment, from me, was beyond his right and as I watched him suffer with that realization my heart broke and whatever wall I had built up in seconds flat to shield myself from him and all of his tortured love and darkness and danger came crashing down in a heap around my feet.
"Dutch." I reached for him because I could not help myself, I had to touch him feel him hold him. And despite his instinct to recoil from touch and tenderness, he melted into my embrace, we fit together as one. I cried as my arms snaked around his neck and pulled him close, the salt of my tears mingling with his. "I am so very sorry. I love you, I love you, I love you," words choked into his chest strangled from my lips mingled with my sorrow.
It was inadequate, I knew, but I had nothing more to offer him because the fact remained, I would not change my mind. The offer was laid at my feet to reclamate my ma — she was dead and being a Poocha whose job it was to cross the not-so-alive back to the living, my ma was to be my next assignment — and I would to do it, no matter the consequences. No matter the ease with which someone else could handle her case. She was my ma and only I would handle her. There was little more to say.
"It's okay. Shhhh. Please, Juma. Shhhhh."
He pulled me close and held me as I cried, and I felt more loved and more wretched than I could have imagined possible. Where were those two people who just hours earlier had laughed and joked at dinner, who shared memories and food and time, touching and tasting and teasing each other? Where were those two people who just moments earlier stood outside this apartment lost in love and lust for each other, clawing and kissing and almost-fucking against that wall? Where were we — Dutch and Juma, Keeper and Poocha, boy and girl so deep in love — and how did we land in the middle of this mess?
I wondered at the cruelty of all of it. Everything. My lives and Death and Dutch and The Gate, and how each piece was part of the whole, interwoven, and had been for time immemorial but now in ways the gods and monsters of these worlds had never imagined.
Because we decided that this time the Keeper would not kill the Poocha, the Keeper would lay his life on the line to save all of hers. Dutch promised himself to his psychotic tyrant of a father, Khan, and the family throne of The Gate, to maintain their stranglehold of death and destruction, in exchange for me and a promise that I would cease crossing back those in my care from death to life. An ex parte proceeding, one in which I had no say but understood and accepted its terms.
Because yes, Khan and Dutch reached an understanding that guaranteed one power and control and the other the lives of those he loved, and those men reached an agreement that sold me down the river, but neither of them owned me. No one owned me, not even Death. So Dutch and Khan made their deal and then Dutch and I made ours, and now, with a few choice words, Death rendered everything we planned and plotted and promised each other in the madness of our love moot.
I had never felt so foolish and small.
I had never felt so devastated.
So I let Dutch wrap me in his arms and whisper meaningless words into my skin because I needed his comfort and care to hold together all the pieces of myself threatening to rip at the seams.
And all the while, she watched.
A strange look in her eye, my behavior the obvious cause of the barely controlled anger that coursed through her veins. It rolled off her in tsunami-sized waves and threatened to drown all of us with her fire and rage. And of course she was angry, having just gifted me my ma, allowing me to reclamate Mimi Landry and make my family whole again — the gift of all gifts, the gift she alone could bestow. But instead of adulation and joy, fawning and love, Death's gift was met with my tears.
But Death did not know the deals Dutch and I had made with others and ourselves, that cursed exchange with the devil himself. She did not know that Dutch had promised himself to his father and the bloody throne of The Gate. She had no idea he had promised me, too, swearing I would cease all reclamations. And she most definitely had no idea I had agreed to such terms.
Death knew nothing about anything, and I needed it to remain that way if I wanted to keep him alive because she'd made it quite clear that should Dutch do anything she didn't like, she would kill first and ask questions later. I didn't know if his devil's deal would qualify as something worthy of a death sentence, but I wasn't willing to test her limited patience.
So I stepped from his embrace — warm and loving, tender and protective — and shot him a look to suggest he follow my lead. I prayed he understood what I was about to do, then I turned to her and smiled.
My beautiful Mistress.
So deadly and dangerous.
So loving and true.
"Apparently, I'm missing something here." Death didn't give me a chance to speak. She didn't care what I had to say. "Something between the two of you that isn't being shared with me, because I don't know who the fuck gets to reclamate their own family member with no questions asked and then doesn't even have the decency to say thank you."
I started to speak give voice to my thanks acknowledge her grace but held my tongue when I caught sight of her eyes. Her quiet anger scared me far more than when she yelled and raged and brought the pain. This — the steely gaze tight set of the mouth twitch of her jaw — terrified me into silence.
Dutch watched her as she addressed me, his stare casual, but I sensed he was taking stock of our situation and his predicament in light of my refusal to acquiesce to his sensible request and allow someone else to reclamate my ma. I wondered if the reality of my decision, my rejection of him for my ma, was beginning to settle in his bones. The hard line of his jaw tensed as he briefly clenched it and then just as quickly released the muscle, a tiny flare of emotion. Based on what, I could only guess.
It worried me, not being able to speak to each other talk things through strategize. I needed to know he was okay we were okay, but Death, she wasn't having it. And I knew her well enough to know she cared little for our needs and thought only of her own.
"I'm going to assume the reason for your bad behavior, Juma, your lack of manners and total disregard for me and everything I've done for you, is the shock of losing your mother." Then she turned to Dutch and my breath stilled because I had no idea what she was going to do to him but I knew exactly what she could do to him.
"And you. The golden-dicked Keeper who couldn't touch a soul until he found my platinum-pussied Juma — my Juma, my Poocha — and then he couldn't keep his goddamned hands off her," she hissed, studying him through slitted eyes, her countenance black mamba–like, ready to strike without cause or warning. "Did you kiss her, Dutch? Have those lips that refused hundreds moved over every inch of Juma's stunning body? Has your tongue tasted her pussy?"
Dutch shifted and Death laughed.
She stepped toward me and smiled, never taking her eyes off him, and I saw his pulse flare in his throat. But he remained rooted to the spot, watching her move around me slip her arm around my waist while her other hand rubbed my nipple.
And here she paused and studied and surmised and for three seconds of my existence everything stopped and I prayed I would not have to kill her. Because if she made a wrong move, a move in his direction, I would kill her. And perhaps she was the unkillable but I would maim and it would be horrific. That was what I swore to myself during that tense silence.
"Keep your panties on, Juma." Death snickered as she left my side and walked a circle around Dutch, peering at me from behind him, a wicked smirk on her face, "I'm not going to hurt your precious Keeper ... yet."
"Mistress." Dutch finally spoke and I detected a hint of amusement in his voice, such a strange tone to take when both he and I knew Death was unpredictable. "Stop fucking with Juma like that."
I shot him a look, wondering what the fuck he was doing, why was he charting new territory instead of following my lead? But he wasn't paying attention to me, he was focused on her, and so I waited.
And I watched.
Death came to a stop at Dutch's side and the way they fit next to each other, both so tall lanky dangerously beautiful, gave me pause and for a second I wondered at them their shared history their togetherness and for the first time in my life, I felt envy.
I felt full-blown all-consuming green-eyed-monster jealousy and in that moment, I couldn't help but hate them. All that brown skin, tightly wrapped musculature, full-lipped fuckability made me sick as I thought of the two of them doing things to one another that I did with both of them. And just as the bile rose in my throat and I felt constricted by my discomfort a memory came to me, of another man, one filled with untouchability and distance and rage, and just like that, I knew.
He never needed her the way he did me. He never looked at her with eyes that begged mercy and tenderness and love. He never touched her across the places on her skin undiscovered fallow hidden. He never pressed his full lips to hers slipped his tongue into her mouth tasted her with yearning and trepidation and desire. He never spoke her name in a low rumble that sounded like the wickedest sexiest dirtiest shit ever.
He never did any of those things with her because he only did them with me.
No one else.
And so I tamped down my jealousy, that new monster raging under my skin in such a strange and foreign manner calling attention to things I never before deemed important raising insecurities I never knew existed, and waited for Death to finish her little show and leave so I could collapse into Dutch's comforting safe protective arms and we could go see my da. That was my plan.
"You and I both know you're not going to hurt me," Dutch continued, shooting a wicked grin at Death, pulling her close to him, melding their bodies together as her breath hitched and her eyes flashed wild. I watched as he leaned close and whispered something in her ear and she laughed low, biting her lip, looking positively fuckable, and something in my space shifted. I watched as they carried on together as if I didn't exist.
And right then I stepped outside of myself and looked down on us, this threesome of power and beauty and sex, and I wondered at myself at them at everything, because I knew.
Goddammit, I knew.
Even before it happened I knew it was going to, I just didn't believe that shit was going to happen to me. And I sure as hell didn't think Dutch was going to be the one to do it to me.
"There are quite a lot of things you want to do to me, Mistress." He spoke low as his full lips nuzzled her neck, and for one insanely surreal second, I cocked my head to the side and watched as his mouth traced heat down her throat and her eyes closed in mild ecstasy. And I knew how good she was feeling because I knew exactly how it felt to have those lips on my skin.
"But none of them involve pain. At least not of the grievous kind." Dutch continued his seduction and Death's lips quirked and it was as if I no longer mattered because the world consisted of Dutch and Death and their smoldering desire for each other and how could this possibly be happening? kept running on a loop in my head.
"She did say I could have you," Death replied and I detected light laughter in her voice, like when she was feeling playful and flirtatious, and had it been any other moment, any other situation, I would have right then found my voice, interrupted their fucked-up display of bizarre affection, and shouted, "What the fuck!" Instead, I watched as Dutch cupped Death's ass and I thought about how hers was so small and perfect and fit right in his palm so different from my full hips and thighs that demanded so much of his attention and spilled from his hands hardly fitting in the palm of anything. I tore my eyes away from his hand and my breath caught in my throat as our eyes locked for a moment — brief and fleeting and painful — and I hoped to see softness and pleading and a hint of hold-up-I've-got-something- up-my-sleeve-and-every-second-of-this-is-an-act-and-you-know-I-hate- touching-her-I-hate-touching-anyone-but-you, but all I got was steel and cold.
"Dutch?" His name spilled from my lips without me being aware of the sound the action the formation of the thought.
"Juma." So cold and final and detached. None of the passion and fire from that night so many nights ago in the bar when he spat daggers and barbs aimed at all my vulnerabilities as if he knew them without needing to know me at all. But at least then he expressed some emotion some humanity. Now he showed nothing of the kind.
Death pushed away from him having grown bored with our silent face-off and turned to me. "Juma, be with your dad, handle your business, and then come find your mom. She will be in Marina's suite." As if it was no big thing that my ma was dead and my da was slowly dying with her in what I could only imagine would be his bottomless grief.
She sauntered past and despite my better self my smarter self my ego I grabbed her around the neck my fist full of her hair and yanked her down to her knees. The movement was so sudden and swift she had no time to defend my attack and found herself at my mercy.
"Juma! Jesus fucking Christ!" Dutch pushed me out of the way, forcing me to lose my grip as I stumbled across the room before righting myself and meeting his glare with one of my own. I wanted to shout at him to stop that I got the joke and ha ha but enough was enough and could we return to Dutch + Juma darkness + light him + me because fuck this new shit. But instead he growled "get a goddamned grip" as he helped Death to her feet and then without a backward glance walked toward my door as if preparing to leave.
"Where are you going?" I asked, and then because I couldn't help myself, "Are you mad because of my choice, Dutch? You of all people should understand, I have no choice!" I threw those words at his feet in desperation tinged with anger, knowing he'd tossed out something similar when explaining himself and his family and his decision to sacrifice himself and me at the altar of The Gate. It seemed quite fitting to hurl it back.
Excerpted from Juma by Madhuri Pavamani. Copyright © 2017 Madhuri Pavamani. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great addition to this paranormal series. Dutch and Juma have a battle ahead of them can they truly win? This read is filled with steamy sex, loads of suspense and drama. I was hooked from beginning to end, this series just keeps getting better and better. I look forward to finding out what happens next.
Word love. The author has the ability to craft exquisitely formed sentence, that I found myself mouthing the words to see if the motion felt as beautiful in action as they were to read, and think. The story is a complex mosaic of characters and positions, but at the same time is very basic, raw, and primal, lust, love, need, want, and violence. Juma is wonderful character simple, vulnerable, fearful, and yet forced to become strong, violent, and fearsome. Dutch is beyond complicated a man of words and a multitude of thoughts and less action, while Juma is all action and a single thought. At 90% I found myself looking at the percentage screaming in my head no it can't be near the end, every page I looked at the percentage thinking there has to be more needs to be more, right until the end.