Black Crimson by Linda Kage

A Little Red Riding Hood Story
BOOK 4 in The Fairytale Quartet
Contemporary Adult Romance
Orginally published 30 August 2021
100,570 words, 342 pages
4-Flame Sensuality Rating

Camille had only been heading to her grandma’s house because Gran couldn’t figure out her cable again, but along the way, she stumbled across the city’s notorious graffiti artist. And now that she knows who the face behind the spray paint can is, she can’t seem to listen to her friends’ sage advice and follow the safe path, leaving well enough alone. She’s determined to coax Black Crimson into agreeing to an exclusive interview so she can become the famous newspaper journalist she’s always wanted to be.

But in this contemporary twist to the “Little Red Riding Hood” fable, our redheaded heroine learns just how dangerous talking to strangers can her heart.


Chapter One

A sudden gust of wind forced violent raindrops to bombard my living room window, making the glass rattle ominously.

Nestled snugly on the couch, I jerked my knees tighter against my chest, and my toes curled protectively inside my thick, cozy socks before I glanced at my muted television across the room to see if any severe weather warnings had popped up yet.

When I found no dooming forecast scrolling across the bottom of the screen, I went back to reading my Kindle, where my paranormal story had reached a particularly gruesome pinnacle.

Blood and body parts were flying liberally. So many bones had been broken in the span of the last five minutes that my own were beginning to ache in sympathy. I winced and nearly ducked for the heroine when a severed arm sailed past her head.

Though, really. I couldn’t fathom why she’d followed the hero out there in the middle of the night, to begin with, when she knew exactly what he turned into during the full moon. Just because he’d told her he loved her didn’t mean he’d refrain from killing her along with everyone else once his monster was unleashed.

Silly character.

But then, I guess that would mean foolish me too because, more importantly, no one was forcing me to read this.

At night.

During a thunderstorm.

Creepy stories always kept me up, restless and alert to every creak and groan around me, especially when I’d been drinking. And yep, after a curious glance toward the coffee table, I noticed my wineglass was empty. As was the bottle sitting next to it.

Sleep would most definitely be eluding me tonight.

But I didn’t particularly care. My big vice was romance novels. I just loved them. And the cheesier and sappier and more unrealistic they got, the more I invested myself in them because, by that point, it was pretty much only the emotions they seemed to evoke that mattered. They were just so yummy and fulfilling and...and amazing. I devoured them like potato chips, damning any sleepless-night consequences that might follow.

So basically, I was pretty much determined to finish this entire book tonight.

The monster who had once been Declan, her lascivious lover—

Cue eye roll from me, but a brief one, because this shit was too intense to spend a whole lot of time making fun of right now. Maybe later, though, since finding the problems was almost as fun as reading the good parts. It made me feel like a detective, sussing out these little issue eggs that— But yeah. Later.

—spun at her gasp. His eyes glowed red with lust and hatred as they focused on her, causing a throb of primal yearning to pulsate between her legs.

“Oh, geesh, really?” I muttered. “You just watched this dude rip out your history professor’s throat, and now you want to get freaky with him after turning him down so many times when he was being sweet and kind and generous in his human form? Unbelievable.” Except I bet the scene that followed was going to be too hot to resist, so sign me up right alongside her because I was the one who flipped the page on my e-reader, eager to see what happened next.

Celeste stretched out a trembling hand and called his name, imploring, “I know you’re in there, my love. Stop this madness and come back to me.” The fur-covered beast arched his neck—long snout gaping, sharp fangs flashing in the moonlight—and spread his arms wide at his sides before roaring his frustration into the night. His need to kill warred with the devotion for her blooming from his human side.
"I love you," Celeste said simply, her damp, translucent gown fluttering against her heaving breasts. “Kill no more. I beg it.”


Melodramatic dialogue notwithstanding, I still wasn’t sure when it had started raining to even make her gown damp. Or were her clothes wet and clinging—sorry, make that fluttering—from mere sweat after her long, strenuous dash through the night to find him? And why had she gone out barefoot in her silky, white translucent nightgown?

Shoes. Socks. Long, warm pants and sweatshirts, maybe even some gloves and a stocking cap. Survival, people. It was actually a thing some considered important. And it wouldn’t have taken her long to throw them on before tracking Dec down, either. I mean, come on, Celeste. What were you thinking?

But I guess I had to give her props for being so brave. Utterly stupid, but still...brave. And all in the name of love, too.

A jealous, longing sigh hissed from my lungs. It was just so freaking romantic.

I doubted I would ever be so brave for any reason. And I definitely couldn’t imagine any man changing his natural inclinations just because he loved me above all else.

But wouldn’t that be something? A love so strong and resilient that it defied logic and reason.

Damn, I idolized these books. I’d totally be messaging the author after this to tell her how much I adored her story.

Curious to know if this all-consuming devotion they spoke of really could conquer this dude’s bloodlust, I polished off the next paragraph in record time as Declan beat his clawed fists—yes, I quote, clawed fists—against his chest, fighting an internal battle of wills before, finally—decision made—he dropped his arms, the hair on them giving way to human flesh and his fangs retracting as he focused on her and—

Books in This Universe

Monster Among the Roses Kissing the Boss B and E Ever After Black Crimson