Poisoned Kisses

Poisoned Kisses

by Stephanie Draven

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373618453
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 09/28/2010
Series: Mythica , #3
Edition description: Original
Pages: 284
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Stephanie Draven is a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives with her favorite nocturnal creatures, three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. When she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books. Stephanie enjoys re-imagining myths for the modern age. She doesn't believe that true love is ever simple or without struggle so her work explores the sacred within the profane, the light under the loss and the virtue hidden in vice.

Read an Excerpt

Kyra was dressed to kill. Literally.

Just beneath her short red skirt and only inches above her high-heeled boots, a small but deadly hunting knife was strapped to her thigh. A gun might have been more useful, but Kyra preferred the weapons of an older, less complicated time.

A knock came at the nightclub's bathroom door—probably another gaggle of drunken Italian socialites—but Kyra wouldn't be rushed. She stared at her reflection in the mirror to steel her courage. She might not be able to thwart Daddy and his bloodthirsty minions, but she could do this one heroic thing for humanity. This was her destiny.

But the mirror reflected a distorted image. It was cracked, as if the thumping club music burst through the wall from the other side. Still, she could see that her plunging pearlescent halter top complemented neither her black tresses nor her ghostly pallor. No matter. Kyra never let mortals see her true form, anyway. Tonight, her prey would see her as she wished him to see her: with blue eyes and cropped platinum hair; after all, she'd studied Marco Kaisaris long enough to know his type. And she was ready. Hydras like Marco were dangerous, but surely not to someone like her. She just had to kill him. Like Theseus and Perseus of old, she had a monster to slay.

With that thought, Kyra gave the bathroom door a shove and it swung open like a gate to the underworld. She stepped into the nightclub's press of bodies and people made way for her, as if they sensed her power. As the dance beat drummed at her pulse points, she brushed against the crowd, and it excited her because she had a nymph's nature; she found the vitality of humans to be infectious and distracting. This was, of course, one of the many dangers of getting too close to mortals.

The club was dark but for the strobe lights that shined spots on the walls, purple as evening shade, purple as wine. The grape kaleidoscope illuminated the writhing bodies on the dance floor, flashes alternating with pitch-black. But the darkness posed no obstacle for Kyra. Like all nymphs of the underworld, she carried an internal torch. Her eyes could penetrate the darkness. She could see through a crowd, through clothes, through flesh. Her eyes could even breach the barriers around men's souls.

And from the bar, her quarry's soul lit up like a flare.

She knew Marco Kaisaris even though the face he wore was not his own. He was dark, brooding and slightly unkempt. He wore an expensive dress shirt open at the collar, the glimmer of a gold chain at his throat. He didn't look like an arms dealer, but then he was almost as good at disguises as she was. He wasn't just a mortal man, after all. He was also a hydra.

Kyra slipped into the standing-room-only space next to him at the bar, pretending to dig for money in her purse. She felt his eyes on her—an intense, wary stare. Fortuitously, a group of revelers pushed her a little closer to him. She pretended it was his fault.

"Do you mind?" she asked in Italian, grateful that the club was quieter here.

Marco shrugged, taking a swallow from his glass, which was filled with amber liquid and ice. "I was just sitting here."

Oh. His voice. It was baritone and beguiling, with a hint of a New World accent. American or Canadian—she couldn't be sure. Either way, it was the kind of voice that'd make a normal woman swoon and it weakened even Kyra's immortal knees. Gods above and below, Kyra thought. What justice was there in the world that such a voice could belong to a monster?

Recovering herself, she brushed his leg, but his expression betrayed nothing. Everything about his posture was guarded. Sexy, but guarded. That's when Kyra noticed he held a picture of an older man and was tracing the edge of it with his thumb. Naples was known for its criminal element, so the photo was probably of some contact Marco was meeting tonight. A supplier of munitions or a thug looking to buy an arsenal. Someone in Marco's violent business. "Friend of yours?" she asked in English, motioning with her chin toward the picture.

"My father." A look of melancholy passed over his face as he slipped the photo into his shirt pocket, but that's all he said. He didn't want to talk. And that was a problem because she'd planned to lure him somewhere private with the promise of a steamy encounter; she couldn't kill him in the middle of the club with everyone watching. To make matters worse, her cell phone was vibrating. It was probably her father calling to rage at her for destroying his arsenal. Daddy thought it was Kyra's destiny to join him, but she had no intention of being a part of her family's legacy of war. If anything, she wanted to make up for it.

Renewing her resolve, Kyra turned the phone off and flashed Marco Kaisaris her most charming smile. "Mind if I sit here?"

Marco motioned toward the distinct lack of empty bar stools. "Sit where?"

Okay, she'd have to be a little more aggressive. "How about if I sit right here?" Before he could do a thing to stop it, Kyra slid into his lap. It was a crucial moment. There was a good chance he'd thrust her away, alarmed at her forwardness. But as the backs of her bare thighs pressed against the weave of his linen slacks, his breath caught, and it wasn't just with surprise. He liked it.

This shouldn't be too difficult, she thought. Her nymph's charm made it easy to seduce mortals—even special ones like him—and she felt him respond, his breath warming her neck. Encouraged, she shifted wantonly with her hips, precisely timed with the music, careful not to let him feel the sheathed knife on her leg. He liked that, too.

She could tell because he wrapped one arm around her waist and inhaled the cheap perfume she wore. It smelled like overripe passion fruit and candy and he reacted as if she were just a confection—one little taste wouldn't hurt. His teeth grazed her neck beneath her choker where a glowing peridot stone hung like a tiny lantern in the dead of night. She tilted her head for him and felt him go hot all over.

"You're shameless," he finally whispered, the scent of expensive alcohol on his breath.

But I'm not shameless, she thought. There were many shameful things in this modern world, but her sexuality wasn't one of them. How was it her fault that men were so easy to arouse? "I'm shameless? What about you? You look guilty of something."

He let the cool glass in his hand slide wetly over her shoulder. "And what do you think I'm guilty of, Angel? Give it a shot."

Angel? Oh, she was going to enjoy killing him. "Are you telling me to guess?"

"No," he said, his mouth finding the soft spot behind her ear. Then his voice lowered. "Unless you want me to tell you what to do."

Her stomach fell away with arousal. Yes. Absurdly, she did want that. Just for a few minutes. It wasn't sex with mortals that was dangerous for nymphs, after all. Just all the emotions that came after. Still, best not to let him get the upper hand. "If you tried to tell me what to do, we'd only end up engaged in a fierce battle of wills."

She felt him smirk against her neck. "Mine is hard as iron."

His will. He meant his will was hard as iron. Trying to steady herself, Kyra fanned her fingers over the bar. They came to rest on an unopened pack of cigarettes. Marlboro Reds. Old school. "Yours?" she asked, and when he nodded, her lips curled in mock disapproval. "Bad addiction to have."

"I'm not addicted," he countered, one hand stroking her arm. She loved the callused feel of his fingertips on her smooth skin. "I only smoke when I'm trying to come to terms with something." Kyra almost asked him what he was struggling with. But she didn't dare. She shouldn't care. Couldn't care. It'd only make it harder for her to kill him. "I can quit anytime," he said.

"How about now?"

He paused, then crushed the whole pack in his fist, tossing it behind the bar like so much trash. He looked smug at her openmouthed stare of astonishment. "Like I said. Iron will."

He might think so, but he couldn't resist her. She was sure of it.

Marco called to the bartender. "A drink for the lady."

"And what if I'm not a lady?" Kyra asked, with a provocative smile.

"That's okay," Marco murmured, grasping the nape of her neck. "I don't plan to be a gentleman tonight."

* * *

She let him bring her back to his penthouse; even from the marbled foyer she glimpsed just how well the monster was living off his ill-gotten fortune. If he'd chosen any of the artwork here, he had exquisite taste. But this probably wasn't his penthouse, just like the face he wore wasn't his own. He was a hydra of a thousand faces—an impostor—which made it all the more remarkable that he didn't seem suspicious of her; he apparently brought women home with him all the time.

No, Kyra thought. Killing him wasn't going to be difficult at all.

The only problem was that he was an astonishingly good kisser. His mouth was on hers, dizzyingly warm. It surprised her how much she actually liked the way his stubble scratched her cheeks and the animal way he bit her lower lip every time she pulled away for breath. He wasn't shy about touching her, and he wasn't taking his time.

He pushed her back against the door, a rapid strike, all strength and speed. Caged in by his strong arms, she saw that his eyes were stormy with challenge. She felt her insides quicken in response. Oh, he so didn't know who he was dealing with.

Kyra gripped a thick handful of his dark hair and when his hands snaked up under her top, thumbs brushing over her nipples, she thought he was rather daring for a creature that could be killed; he'd been wary in the bar, but now that he'd committed himself to having her, there was no hesitation in him at all.

The heat of him delighted her. The roughness of his touch. The bestial sounds he made, as if he meant to devour her. Kyra's heartbeat crashed in her ears, as if the thumping roar of the club music had followed them here. She told herself it was just the allure of his mortal energy, the dangerous deception of a man's desire. But had it felt this good the last time she'd taken a mortal lover?

Maybe Marco was different. The clues in the file she'd stolen led her to believe that in addition to being an arms trafficker, Marco Kaisaris was a war-forged hydra, a mortal man, a monster that could be killed. Now she wondered if he was actually some shape-shifting trickster god, which would excuse her attraction to him and relieve her of guilt for what she was about to do. Stabbing an immortal, after all, wouldn't cause any lasting harm.

His scent—somewhere between man and musk—drove her crazy. Meanwhile, his kisses had become frenzied as if pleasure was such a fleeting thing in his world he had to consume it before anyone took it away from him. As Marco nipped at her neck, his mouth moving over the luminous gemstone she wore, her own gasps cut through the stillness of the penthouse apartment. Whoever he was, whatever he was, he was rocking her world.

But Kyra prided herself on not being one of those silly nymphs who dallied with mortal men and fell helplessly under their spell. She'd taken plenty of lovers and cast them aside when she was done. After all, she was built for carnal passions, for stolen pleasures in the dark. So, it wasn't Marco's all-consuming sexual prowess that was giving her second thoughts about killing him. It was what she saw inside him, beyond the surface. A looming shape of almost unfathomable grief. Beyond the veils of darkness in which he wrapped himself, she glimpsed a forlorn desperation to know and be known, to understand and be understood.

This, she hadn't expected. Sincerity, pain, need. His vul nerability was subtle but potent sex magic. It made her curious; there was a longing in her to let her eyes open wide and illuminate everything inside him. Unfortunately, that would drive him mad, and that was one thing Kyra would never do to a mortal again. Besides, there'd been a reason she'd tracked him down for months, a reason she'd slipped into his lap tonight, and it wasn't to satisfy her curiosity or to enjoy herself with a sexy stranger.

Like her father, Marco Kaisaris made a profit selling weapons. He was a merchant of death. The underworld was filled with victims of the bullets Marco sold. No matter what her lust-soaked mind wanted to see inside him, he was an evil man and if she wanted to make up for all the pain and chaos her father had caused in the world, Kyra had no choice but to kill him.

The hydra had to be the reason Kyra still had her powers while so many of the old immortals had lost theirs. This was her destiny. Still, it was with true regret that she realized Marco's groping fingers would soon discover her hidden knife. With a long-suffering sigh, Kyra stopped him. Marco pulled back, a slow and frustrated tilt to his lips. "A m I going too fast?"

Gods above and below, his voice just wrecked her. The heat of it seared a path from her belly down to the quivering place between her legs. Oh, how she wanted him to touch her. But when he tried to put his hand under her skirt again, she didn't let him. "Wait. I've got something for you."

She turned slightly and, with one hand, secretly unsheathed the knife beneath her skirt. The motion between her legs must have looked particularly obscene, because Marco's eyes narrowed with desire. "Don't be a tease, Angel."

"Oh, I'm no angel and I never tease." With that, Kyra thrust the sharpened blade at his chest, aiming directly for the heart. But something went horribly wrong. She'd prepared herself for the blood, the resistance of blade against bone and the death grimace. What she hadn't counted on was Marco being nearly as fast as she was. Kyra knew that Marco had military training. Still, she could hardly believe how deftly he blocked the blow with his hand. The knife slashed open his palm from fingers to wrist and red blood sprayed the carpeted floor.

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Poisoned Kisses 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
"Poisoned Kisses". The Underworld Nymph Kyra fears what her father Ares plans to do. Ares wants to use toxic blood to change a man into a deadly hydra. His choice is weapons dealer Marcos Kaisaris. Marcos believes he can save the world from the madness of weapons of mass destruction by arming the oppressed. Like her sire, Kyra seeks Marcos out with her plan being to kill him so her father cannot capture him. When they meet, Marcos' tainted blood burns Kyra, costing her immortality. Still she refuses to quit although now she considers locking him away from her dad. In their second battle, they fall in love so she plans to keep him safe or die in the attempt. "Midnight Medusa". As a child in war torn Bosnia, Renata saw first hand humanity's cruelty. She escaped to New York City where she became a sculptor who made pieces of the war criminals she witnessed performing their horrific cleaning. Once she completed a work, the "model" died horrifically. The son of Ares, Damon kidnaps the artist and informs her who she is and why her art kills. The romantic fantasy Poisoned Kisses is a terrific tale that grips the audience from the moment lead couple meet and never slows down as natural enemies fall in love. Readers also receive a wonderful romantic urban fantasy short story Midnight Kisses with a great paranormal twist though the lead couple is obviously less developed; this was previously an e-tale. With two offspring of Ares entries, Stephanie Draven provides fans with a joyous trip to "Mythica". Harriet Klausner
vampiregirl76 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Kyra is a nymph and the daughter of the god of war, Ares. She has mad it her mission to take down the hydra called Marco Kaisaris. Prideful as she is-- she believes this will an easy kill. She never excepted to fall in love, never taking into account that Marco might be to hard to resist.Poisoned Kisses was a good read. I was actually surprised how much I liked it. The last few Nocturne books haven't been all that great for me, so I was a bit hesitant about this one, but it turned out a very interesting story. I loved the mixture of the modern world and Greek mythology. Kyra and Marco start off as enemies in the beginning and by the end then are much more. Kyra is determined to kill Marco, but when they first meet she slides into his lap -- that one delicious moment you just know that she is a goner. Ms. Draven has created a tantalizing story of seduction and adventure.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I enjoyed this different take on some of the classical myths. Kyra is the daughter of Ares, the greek war god, and she's fighting darkness. She decides to destroy Marco, a warmonger, and discovers that she's attracted to him. His blood could kill her. I did like this different take on the creation of an immortal and how humanity and greek gods could interact. It made me want to read more by Stephanie Draven.This edition also contains Midnight Medusa, an interesting look at a medusa and the creation, and redemption, of a monster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Greate job exitedly waiting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ooh I can feel it too! Something Awesome is about to happen. 10/10! Keep going!
wandaf More than 1 year ago
I highly reccomend this book especially if you like Mythology in your paranormals like I do.Dauther of Ares and former Underworld nymph Kyra meets sexy shapeshifting human hydra Marcos.A plan to kill hom to keep him from being used by her father becomes a plan to protect as Kyra finds Marcos hard to resist.This is a great read I could not put it down.Stephanie Draven is a fantastic author .
ladyraven63 More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with Myths and Legends when I was 7 years old. Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic....it didn't matter where they were from, I loved them all and still do. The love of Paranormal Romance came much later but imagine my interest when both genres mixed and I came across Stephanie Draven. And I wasn't disappointed either! Great interpretation of mythical creatures in a modern setting and the relegation of many godly characters to a more mundane role is inspired. I loved Hecate in her shop. Classic! The emotional connection with the main characters is very good and the storyline kept me enthralled until I turned the last page...to find a bonus, Midnight Medusa as well. Another wonderful story with a lot of pathos. I'll definately be reading her other books as soon as possible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
murphyslibrary More than 1 year ago
(from Murphy's Library - rated 3 and a half there) You've got to have some balls to write about mythology and make it work. Draven haven't got balls, but she's got something much better: courage. This is the type of book you will read truly fast. Sit down, open it, and when you last expect it you will be near the end. Not that it makes the book less exciting. No! The book has the pages it has to have, and its construction is great. Kyra is a great main character, and I loved how her personality was well built. She is a warrior nymph-and I think Stephanie did a really good job with Kyra's mythology- and her destiny is to conquer a hydra, but Kyra interpreted it differently and thinks what she needs to do is to kill one. So, you could say, her destiny is to kill Marco Kaisaris. Marco is an arms dealer with powers, a Hydra, and, ultimately, Kyra's biggest problem. Can she kill someone that attracts her that much? I think so, especially since Marco's kisses leads her to a poisoning case. But can she do it even after seeing Marco's soul? The book is a big web of mythologies and fundaments that we've heard since our childhood, but it is really well put together. Marco is the character you can crush on-badass, misterious, beautiful and sexy-and Kyra is the woman who can kick some asses, but seems to be too affected by Marco's power over her. It is cliche? Oh, hell, yeah, it is. But it is the type of book you need to read once in a while to decompress. In terms of decompressing, Poisoned Kisses was the book that better did its job in a long time. It reminded me of the Otherkin Series, by Eve Silver, the narrative and the way the story hooked me. I liked it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
War creates more than chaos in this unique and gripping tale of passion and monsters, betrayal and redemption. A reader is going to find the Greek myths twisted and invigorated with a delicious twist sure to please in Poisoned Kisses. Kyra comes from an ancient dysfunctional family. Her dad is Ares, the war god, and he's one determined man who intends to find the ultimate weapon of war. The only thing standing in his way is his daughter, a young woman, by his standards, who is capable of great things. If only she'd just quit trying to go soft on him and stop making his carefully laid plains go awry. That's one of the things I liked about Kyra. She's not afraid of her dad and she should be. She bucks the status quo of the millennium by not wanting to blow people up but to guide them and actually do good things. She's sort of stuck being dual natured and there is a lot of well developed internal angst because of it. She's soft on one side of her personality but the other she's clearly daddy's girl, especially when she gets mad. Another thing her background colors is her way of dealing with issues. She has this destiny which was foretold. She interprets the completion of it in one way, by using violence and it gets her a lot more than she bargained for. Her one action sets her on the road to self-discovery and emotional growth. She fights it because she can't trust it. And that itself is another issue - trust. To give and to earn it - it's a compelling element throughout the story. To call Marco a tortured hero is an understatement. He gets betrayed by his government, his friend and a lover. They use him and they try to kill him. How's a guy supposed to have hope after all of that? And obviously, that trust issue is a huge chip on his shoulder. When I first met him, I only had Kyra's opinion to go by. As the tale unfolds, I learned along with Kyra just what makes Marco who and what he is and he is as far from being a monster as the war gods are close to being the Easter Bunny. When faced with the truth, with the reality of what he's been doing all these years, I believe that that had to have been one of the most eye-awakening moments for Marco and I liked where the author took him then - the dialogue, action and decisions he made, all of it actually brought Marco to full life for me. It was a delight watching him slowly but surely fall in love with the emotionally flawed Kyra. Inasmuch as she helped him, he in turn gave her the courage to be who she really wanted to be and do what needed to be done. The author did a wonderful job of using descriptions. I enjoyed Kyra's first reaction to Marco and his to her. Their emotions were believable and powerful. When they got together in the physical sense, Ms. Draven provided an absolute treat to this reader because their distinctive encounters are a credit to the talent that Marco has. They were fresh, imaginative and fascinating. Kyra's talent in being able to discern the differences were what made it work so well. When I thought about it, the concept is actually pretty hot stuff. Poisoned Kisses isn't a light and fluffy read. It's hard edged, gritty, and serious. It even delves into the possibility of why war is so prevalent and dare I say, popular. Ms. Draven has provided this reader with a clever and intelligent story with an out of the ordinary romance that hooked me as soon as Kyra drew her knife. Originally posted at: The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Hot, steamy and addicting! Stephanie weaves a tale so sexy and entertaining that takes you to a whole new level of romance. Kyra and Marco are the perfect couple - body, mind and soul. If you're a fan of romance, you HAVE to read Poisoned Kisses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nynrose More than 1 year ago
Poisoned Kisses, by author Stephanie Draven, is a romantic tale that inspiringly retells classic Greek mythology in modern day times, filled with tantalizing romantic interludes and in-depth characterization. In Draven's tale, the heroine, Kyra, is the daughter of Ares - the Greek God of war, and is a former nymph of the Underworld who has decided that she has had enough of death and destruction. She has pitted herself against her father and his plans to draw power and worshipers from fueling further wars. Ares has his sights set on Marco Kaisiris, a soldier turned arms dealer who has witnessed so many atrocities that he's become the human version of a hydra; a man capable of taking the form of any person who has ever harmed him, and whose blood is poisonous to those it touches. Kyra's determination to kill Marco, to keep him from her father's grasp, quickly becomes a tale a woman willing to cast away her immortality in order to protect the only man that she's ever loved, and who's ever truly understood her. Stephanie Draven's has a knack for drawing the reader in, leaving them at the edge of their seat, wanting for more. Her books are a recommended read all around.