Stone Wings | Jenn Burke
The Gargoyles of Arrington #1
His curse can only be lifted with true love, but can true love come from a fake date?
Being the personal assistant to a trio of cursed gargoyle brothers who sleep for a hundred years and wake up for twenty-five wasn’t a career proposed by Josh’s high school guidance counselor, but it’s a job that he’s eminently suited for. Not to mention a job his family has been doing for generations. The brothers are truly excellent bosses, but Josh is surprised when Drew offers to pretend to be his date for his high school reunion. And even more surprised by a supposedly fake kiss that feels as real as a kiss can get.
Drew and his brothers owe Josh and his family for watching over them each time they turn to stone for a hundred years, and for helping them reintegrate into the world when they wake up. The least he can do is pose as Josh’s boyfriend for a night. Even though true love can break his curse, he knows he won’t find it with Josh. Nothing that real can come from a lie. Or can it?
When the fake boyfriend situation stretches into two nights, and then more, Josh and Drew can’t fight the attraction blazing between them. There’s no harm in exploring it, right? No expectations. But when paranormal danger comes to Arrington, Josh and Drew are going to have to battle for every moment of peace…and maybe a real happily ever after too.
STONE WINGS is a 50,000 word male/male paranormal romance featuring a mechanic who happens to have wings and is a literal monster in bed, a personal assistant who’s always had a crush on him, stone skin or not, and a relationship that’s going to take a leap of faith to give the fairytale a happy ending.
I tossed an envelope with a bill on the “to be paid” pile, and couldn’t hold in a groan at the next bit of mail in my hands.
“What?” Before I registered that Drew, one of Teague’s younger brothers, had joined us, he’d plucked the postcard out of my hand between the claws of his forefinger and thumb. He scanned it, then grinned, showing every one of his pointed teeth. Unlike Teague, Drew didn’t have tusks, but a row of shark-like daggers filling his mouth. His features were more feline, and he also had wings, which, as far as I knew, couldn’t support him in the air—they were for show only. I’d always wondered if he was disappointed in that.
“Your high school reunion is coming up?” he asked incredulously.
I couldn’t look at him, but instead tidied the piles of mail that didn’t need any tidying. “I’m not going.”
“Why not?” Teague asked around a mouthful of fiber.
Ugh. How could I explain? The brothers had never attended high school—they had zero concept of modern day education except for what they’d watched on TV. Which, to be fair, was both horrible and not horrible enough. Sometimes when someone got bullied, there was no magical glow-up that showed everyone they were wrong, that the person was smart and handsome and worth their attention. And it wasn’t even that I was really bullied. I mean, I’d dated one of the most popular guys in school, and I hadn’t been ugly by any stretch of the imagination. But I just hadn’t fit, probably because I had this huge secret I could never share with anyone. I’d always known there was more to the world than the rest of my classmates even suspected, and that had made me a little weird. My uber-popular high-school boyfriend Brandon made sure I realized, over and over again, that he was doing me a favor by being with me.
“There’s a reason I don’t have any friends from high school.”
Drew rolled his eyes at his brother. “They were assholes, huh?”
It never failed to impress me that the gargoyles had so quickly adapted to modern language. For only having been awake for twenty-three years—this time—they’d managed to pick up the lingo pretty well. But I guess they had to be incredibly good at adapting to their circumstances to survive the curse without going mad.
One hundred years asleep, twenty five awake, until they broke the curse. It was some true love nonsense that would do it. Or, well, maybe not nonsense because one of the brothers had managed to break the curse the last time they were awake.
According to their youngest surviving brother, Rian—who was probably off researching somewhere this morning—it had been love at first sight for Finnian, when he’d seen Elizabeth walking down the main street of Arrington, British Columbia, when the town was made up of barely more than a tavern, a general store and a warehouse. Despite the era demanding women dress a certain way, Elizabeth had been scandalous in a man’s shirt and trousers, her hair braided down her back, smile wide and eyes sparkling as her father made her laugh. Finnian had fallen head over heels at that moment, and though it had been a rough ride to their happily-ever-after, they’d achieved it and—boom—curse broken.
I knew the brothers were happy he escaped their torment, but their eyes were always a little sad when they spoke of him.
With a sigh, I shrugged. “High school sucked.”
Teague frowned, his pronounced brow wrinkling. “Didn’t you have a boyfriend in high school?”
Of course he’d remember that. I evened out the edges of the stack of mail in front of me. “I did.”
“And he broke up with you.”
I looked up with an exasperated sigh. “Thanks, Teague. Glad you could help me revisit one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.”
Whose boyfriend breaks up with them on prom night? Mine, apparently. Like, at prom. In the middle of the slow dance right after Brandon had been crowned Prom King.
“So that’s why you don’t want to go.” Teague, as always, was way too perceptive.
“Can you blame me?”
Drew tapped the postcard. “It says you can bring a plus-one.”
“You might have noticed that I have a distinct lack of plus-one candidates at the moment.”
One of his wings lifted and flexed, his version of a shrug. “I’ll go.”
I rolled my eyes. “Great. The only thing more embarrassing than going by myself would be to go with one of my bosses.” Gathering up the mail I needed to open and deal with, I waved a hand. “It’s no biggie. I don’t have to go.” Even if, by not going, I felt I was letting all the assholes in my past win.
I wanted nothing more than to show them all I’d succeeded. I mean, not in a Carrie kind of way. More in a you knocked me down, but I got up again sort of way. Maybe I’d even sing Chumbawamba while I was at it. That would definitely secure my reputation.
“What if I pretended to be your boyfriend?”
About the Author
Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she was a preteen reading about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.
Jenn is the author of a number of paranormal and science fiction romance titles, including the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (authored with Kelly Jensen) and her newest series, Not Dead Yet, both from Carina Press.
She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.