When twenty-three year old Tala Velsik appears in a last minute performance art piece, she has no idea that public nudity will be the least of her worries. Wearing nothing but silver paint and a pair of antlers, her body is bared to hundreds of eyes, but one penetrating stare simmers through the others, Adrian Caro.
Adrian Caro is one of the world’s most famous directors and photographers, but with striking features and a body made for sin, most would guess he belonged in front of the camera.
Of course, the last thing Tala needs is romance, even with a walking Adonis. Mounting bills, a dead end job and a set of childhood memories most therapists would pale at; love is low on her list. Assuming, of course, her new admirer allows her to have a say in the matter.
Shocked yet thrilled by Adrian’s passionate domination, Tala can’t help but feel she’s standing on quicksand. For all his wealth, fame and talent, Adrian is tormented by his own demons; hiding secrets big enough to destroy them both.
About the Author
Amélie S. Duncan writes contemporary, erotic romances with a dark edge. Her inspiration comes from many sources including her life experiences and travels. She lives on the West Coast of the United States with her husband.
When did you begin writing?
All my life I have been a storyteller. My younger years consisted of making up stories and skits to share with my family. When I was a teenager, I wrote more poetry and short stories than anyone else I knew. As I got older, my stories became darker and I drew from experiences surrounding a tough patch in my life.
In college, writing was academic and I put aside my personal stories. But a few years ago, I began writing again; only it didn’t come as easily as I remembered. I spent a lot of time studying and developing stories. I was always a lover of paranormal romances, but I progressed to erotica, and erotic romances. I shared my writing with my husband and friends. Friends were a bit more reserved about what I was creating, but my husband loved how alive I was when I was writing and encouraged me to pursue this dream. I am forever thankful for his support.
What genre do you write and why?
I write contemporary erotic romance stories, but I also include darker elements in my writing. I’m an avid reader of dark erotica, erotica, erotic romances, paranormal romances and new adult stories. They all inspire me creatively. So, I write what I truly love and enjoy reading and hope those stories will resonate with like-minded readers.
Can you tell us a little about your book?
Little Wolf is truly, at its heart, the love story of my heroine, Tala Velsik. She has a had a tough life growing up with her unmediated, paranoid schizophrenic mother and an absentee father. In her teen years, she was adopted by the family of Jax Molsom, her best and only friend.
She faced her haunted pass and challenging life with strength and resilience, managing to take care of herself and all those around her. In her pursuit to do just that, and pressing forward in her chaotic and difficult life, she helps her brother with his dreams and ends up crossing the path of famed photographer and director Adrian Caro.
Adrian’s life is quite a contrast of Tala’s, but he is also personally unfulfilled. So he makes a deal with the devil in his pursuit of happiness. As their worlds collide, the secret he is hiding becomes his biggest challenge of the story. Ultimately, this secret threatens everything.
I am long-winded, but purposely being vague to avoid spoiling the story. Ultimately, it is a story about finding love, care and family. These things come at a price, and it isn’t always perfect or easy, but even the most damaged among us can find it.
What is the inspiration behind your book Little Wolf?
Little Wolf was first and foremost inspired by my work in the mental health field. My experience is with children, teens and women like my heroine, Tala Velsik. Their lives are often tragic and chaotic at times, but many of them remain strong and resilient. They are also extremely tough on the outside, but their hearts are so beautiful. Their loyalty a wonder. So this book was inspired by all the Tala’s I fell in love with over the years.
The location where the majority of the novel takes place also has a special spot in my heart, as I studied there and always wanted to write about the beauty and kindness of the people I met while abroad. Overall, the family and community there are so unique that I felt this was the perfect setting for Tala and Adrian’s story.
How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
Actually, my cover designer found the photo, as I was indecisive. I loved the picture, and the way it turned out is beautiful. I am very happy with it.
Name your all-time favorite book?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
If your book was made into a movie who would you cast and why?
If you’ve ever viewed my Pinterest account, you know I have a healthy obsession with David Gandy, so Adrian Caro would be him. Although, I always think of Adrian with a deep sultry voice, but I like his accent. A wonderful blogger brought my attention to Emilia Clarke for Tala Velsik. Blythe Danner for Sophie Caro. For the rest, I’m not as certain.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t really believe I ever thought I could be a writer. My friends and family always told me I was a great storyteller, but it seemed like a dream so far out of reach. I did well in story writing throughout my educational life, but it was only recent and through the encouragement of my husband that I began to really develop stories. It didn’t all come together at once, but I found wonderful people to help me and I’m continuously working to be better. So I hope to one day truly consider myself a writer.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Writing a book doesn’t take nearly as long as developing, editing and publishing it. I find the first draft is pretty quick, but I would never publish that because it’s always awful! I would say for Little Wolf, it took a few months to write it, but much more time to develop the story with my development editor and beta readers.
Do you have a sequel or new books coming out in 2015?
Yes. I have a series entitled Tiger Lily which I plan to release soon. As for a sequel to Little Wolf, I haven’t written one yet, but I may consider doing so in the future.
“No, Monique, we are going to Sacred Coeur tomorrow,” Sergio said.
She pouted, but Sophie walked over and hugged her, kissing her cheek. A pang went through my chest at the love and comfort between these two women. It scraped against a deep longing in me to have a similar connection with my mother. I stroked the knife wound on my forearm, remembering that it had been earned one of the times I had trusted in and tried for that kind of comfort.
“Tala? Tala? Someone give Tala a hug, I think she could use one right now,” Fatou said.
I blinked at her. “What? Huh?”
“You were staring, and you looked sad,” Fatou observed.
My cheeks warmed. “I was just lost in thought. I don’t need a hug.” My tone was harsher than I meant, and Fatou bristled. I immediately felt guilty.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean—” I tried to recover.
“Nothing’s wrong with getting a hug,” Fatou smiled, seeming to have already forgotten my tone. She came around the counter and wrapped her arms around me as I chewed my cheek to stop from crying.
What is wrong with me?
Adrian took over from there, kissing my face and cheeks with soft assurances.
I shook my head. “You did, but not anymore. I’m perfectly capable of tending to myself.”
“I’m also perfectly capable of tending to you,” Adrian said with a Gallic shrug.
I looked away. “You’re overwhelming me. I don’t like games or riddles. I like straight talk. I don’t like coddling—”
“You do like coddling, that’s a lie,” Adrian said. His tone was so full of disappointment that it made me spill out an explanation.
“Fine. I don’t trust coddling. Trauma growing up… snore. So no more of that.”
He cupped my face. “Tell me what happened.” His eyes bore into me, but I didn’t want to share a part of myself with a wealthy, famous man who couldn’t possibly understand, someone I was sure I wouldn’t see again anyway.
I rubbed the back of my neck. “It’s in the past where it belongs and has no relevance to my job with you.” He swallowed and his mouth turned down. My heart stuttered. I didn’t understand why I felt bad, but I decided to offer him more of an explanation. I took a deep breath before blurting out, “My mother is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. She was unmedicated for most of my childhood.”
He stroked my face gently. “She hurt you.” His eyes flashed and his mouth curled up. He appeared pumped and poised to slay the demons of my past.
I licked my lips. “She’s better now. She lives at Newton House in Middletown, New York. It’s a partially private group home. She’s one of the reasons I agreed to come here. Helping her afford her home. So, I’m fine,” I babbled. “She had childhood trauma too, but she’s doing better, and I want her to stay there.”
“So you work and do day labor to cover the cost of her housing?” The look on his face showed he didn’t agree with my sacrificing for someone who had hurt me.
I moved on my side, facing away from him on the bed. “Newton House is more than housing. She gets doctors, therapy, counseling, and activities. My mom was good when she was on medication, and you have no right to judge me. I wouldn’t expect someone like a Carlotti to understand anyway.”
“Just because I have wealth doesn’t mean I have lived a charmed life. I’ve experienced pain and loss too. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was twelve. There wasn’t enough Carlotti money to save her and keep her with me.” Something inside me melted, and I turned back over and didn’t protest as he moved me closer to him and embraced me.
“Daddy?” I’m five years old, running barefooted up to the blue Mini Cooper. I’m wearing a dirty striped shirt and shorts. My hair is a tangled in pigtails. The pretty lady with golden hair is smiling at me.
“Can I come?”
“No, sweetheart. Next time, I promise.” Daddy comes and pushes me back. I fall on the sidewalk and start crying.
“Next time. Now be a good girl and go find your momma.” I wiped my face as I watched the car move down the street.
I woke with a start. “Daddy.” Did I call out his name?
I wiped the moisture at my temples with a tissue. Adrian had stayed long enough to hold my hand for the second takeoff, then walked back to the cabin with Henry. I suspected he didn’t want to be berated with more questions from me, but I wasn’t bothered. In fact, I wanted the time alone to think about all that had happened and formulate a plan on what I should do.
The sound of the engines may have muffled the sound, but the images were loud in my head, heightening the ache in my throat as the memory hung in my mind for me to process. From what I recalled, I imagined over the years he was off to great adventures, and I was so envious. The promises to take me had started around that time. Every year, I watched his car drive away.
Don’t feel it. I dug my nails into my skin until I had half-moons on my arm. I needed some way to deal with these feeling rising in me.
“Time to get up.” His voice pulled me from my dreams. I gazed through my lashes, then blinked a few times at the windows and noticed the sun hadn’t risen yet. I turned to Adrian, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, bouncing on his feet. True to his word, he was up and ready for me to start his new routine.
I covered my head with the pillow. “I thought you were on vacation,” I grumbled.
He pulled the pillow and sheets away and handed me a sports bra, shorts, and a t-shirt.
“It gets too hot later to run,” he said in explanation. “We’re off to Ouest Coriche for our daily run with Henry.”
I grimaced as I put on the clothes he had laid out for me. Once I was finished, he chuckled and tied my long, black hair in a loose ponytail.
“You’re grumpy in the morning.” He looked sweltering hot, and alert. He’s a morning person too.
I scowled at him before going to the bathroom and cleaning myself up as quickly as I could. Then I followed him down the stairs and out to the car where Henry was waiting for us. Watching the two of them prep like professionals made me nervous.
I did a few leg and arm stretches. “I’m a beginner, go easy on me,” I implored.
“Dites-le nous en français, tell us in French,” Henry teased, and they laughed in unison.
I made a face. “I don’t know how to say it in French yet. Uh. Facile s’il vous plait? Easy, please?”
Adrian suddenly wrapped his hands around my waist and kissed the side of my head.
“Votre français est mauvais, Your French is awful.” I hit his arm and ran for the car, door already opened, and dove inside.
“You little brat,” Adrian said when he reached me. He pulled down my shorts and swatted me on the ass.
I mewled and giggled at the same time. “Ouch!” He leaned down and kissed both cheeks, then helped me pull my shorts back up.
“Behave, or there will be more.” His face was dark, and I felt a stir below my waist.
Henry climbed in the front and called back to us. “We’ll do a few miles down the beach to start. You’ll love it.”
I scrunched my face. “Hey, I’m a beginner! Remember? On sand?” I whined. They both chuckled. I crossed my arms and stared outside as we made our way up the coast.
He was right about one thing. I loved the view. Even with the absent sun, the swaying palms and oceanfront was breathtaking. He parked, we checked our sneakers and water bottles, and took off.
As the sun rose, I heated up fast. I took frequent breaks as Henry and Adrian looped me in the area, their set circle, creating the pace for the run. I tuckered out after my third loop and shook my head as the two of them competed in gladiatorial runs against each other. Even with the breeze off the water, I was too hot.
I finally stopped. “I can’t move anymore,” I called out. Adrian came over and gulped his water down before handing the rest to me. I took a sip and wiped my forehead.
“Get on my back,” he ordered.
I frowned. “I’ll hurt you. We’re too far from the car now.”
He snorted. “I didn’t say I would carry you the whole way, little wolf.” His face was firm, and I now knew that meant this would go his way.
I sighed and wrapped my arms and legs around his neck and waist as he lifted me up with an ease that suggested I might be weightless. I buried my face against his neck and inhaled. He smelled so good, even when covered in sweat.
“What are you doing?” Adrian asked in an amused tone. He knew exactly what I was doing, so I only giggled. He hopped a little, and that made me laugh.
“Tala.” He sighed my name and started walking us down the beach. I was unfamiliar with our surroundings, right up to the car where we found Henry waiting for us. When Adrian put me down on my feet, I spontaneously wrapped my arms around and hugged him. He rubbed my back.
“What’s this for?” he asked. I looked up and saw the surprise and delight in his face, and a flutter went through me.
“Do I need a reason?” I asked softly.
He hugged me tighter and kissed my hair. “Never.”