C.G. Coppola is the author of the sci-fi adventure series, Arizal Wars, and the contemporary romance series, Better Than This. In addition to stories that explore magic and the paranormal, she writes realistic fiction set in fantastical universes, usually with a lot of kissing. Married with two fur-babies she spoils rotten, C.G. Coppola lives in Florida where she grew up and attended college. When not writing, she can be found decorating the house, bantering with her husband or dancing to Meghan Trainor—sometimes all at once.
June aka Quick Claw
I want revenge. It’s been fifteen years since a home invasion changed everything. But I’m Quick Claw now, and everything I’ve trained for has led to tonight—to making the two men who broke into my apartment suffer. That is, until my moment is stolen by Black Coyote, the city’s infamous vigilante.
An error on his part, he makes me a deal—what if we help each other?
Nikolai needs a female to help with undercover roles, and I need to track down my intruders again. Win-win. And while I’m still upset my original plan fails, I don’t expect the security and comfort I feel around Nikolai…or how attractive he is. I’ve spent my life working towards justice, but suddenly, revenge isn’t the only thing on my mind…
Nikolai aka Black Coyote
I need to stop an arms-dealer from polluting my city. Fighting crime as Black Coyote, I lead a small team to assist in protecting the citizens of Perish. But I don’t always get it right. Because when I end up saving a woman who isn’t in danger, I discover it’s Quick Claw, the female vigilante from the news.
Feeling guilty, I offer an exchange of services: my assistance for hers.
At first it works, but I don’t expect the reality of June—or how she makes me feel. So, when an impulsive decision exposes a high importance mission, I know I’ve fucked up. To make matters worse, a ghost from my past returns, throwing everything into chaos, and sending June and I down a path I’m not sure we can return from.
I don’t think June has ever said my name like that. So soft. So delicate, like a warm whisper tickling my chest. Whatever she wants, she can have it. I don’t care. I’ll burn the city down just to give it to her if she says my name like that again.
“Yeah?” My focus falls to her lips.
I wonder what they taste like.
A small lump rolls down her throat as her eyes shift between mine, and then down at my mouth. “Thank you.”
Not what I expected. “For what?”
“What do you mean for what?” She laughs. “For everything. For helping me tonight. For talking with me about…things. Shit, for the Mustang you lent me! Which…” She kicks off, swinging herself. “Continues to start each time. Loving it.”
“Glad to hear.”
“Seriously though…” She grabs one of the chains on my swing, pulling me closer. “You’ve been awesome so…thank you.”
I clutch one of her chains, holding us together. “You’re welcome.”
June bites her bottom lip, her eyes shifting between mine, and then down at my mouth. Every male instinct roars for me to kiss her, to taste her. And fuck, do I want to. Licking my lips, I’m about to lean in…
I stop. Am I taking advantage of her? Tonight has been a long time coming for June, so is this her being vulnerable right now? Is that why she’s looking at me the way she is? Like she wants me to kiss her. Or does she really want this?
Confused by the sudden doubts, I turn away, releasing her chain, and we separate again, swinging in the quiet.
Shit—what did I just do?
I fucking ruined it. She probably thinks—I don’t know what she thinks. It can’t be good, not if I pulled back when it was obvious I was about to kiss her. Still, I don’t want to do anything I’ll regret, or anything she’ll regret.
I won’t risk it.
“Come on.” I move to a stand, ignoring her confusion. “I’ll take you home.”
June sits a moment, staring off. I should say something, but I have no idea what. After a second, she pops up, and we head for my bike in silence, some of the warmth from before gone. It’s a quiet ride to her apartment, and I’m not sure what to say when we get there either. Part of me is dying for her to ask me to come up, but I know I won’t even if she does. Nothing can happen tonight. Tonight is reserved for her, for what she accomplished, and I’ll remind her of that.
Reaching the back of her building, June climbs off the bike just as I shut off the engine. Kicking my leg over the thing, I prop the vehicle up on its kickstand, fully intending to walk her up to her door.
“I’ve got it from here.” She unlatches the helmet.
“Yeah?” I try keeping the disappointment from my voice.
Placing the headgear on the seat behind me, she nods. “Totally.” She steps back, stopping a foot or so in front of me. A small smile creeps in. “Thanks again, Nikolai.”
June stares a moment, almost expectantly. What am I supposed to do? Or should I say something? God, I suck at this stuff. When I don’t move, she walks up and wraps her arms around my neck in hug, burying her face in my chest. Whoa. Shocked for only a moment, I return the gesture, wrapping my arms around her warm body, squeezing her back.
This feels beyond amazing, like I’m soaking up the sun. I’m not sure how long we stand like this, but I hope it’s forever.
I could do this forever.
All too soon, she releases me, pulling her warmth away, her eyes refusing to meet mine. It’s a punishment for earlier, and I deserve it. Already turning, she walks away, offering a departing wave as she heads for her stairs. “Night.”
As always, I wonder if she hears me.
Without sounding too cliché, I’ve always wanted to write. (Lame response but it’s true). I’m not sure of a time I didn’t want to write, which is why I’ve steadily been crafting stories since childhood. I loved the creativity so much that I majored in Creative Writing at Florida State in 2008. Unfortunately, social media blossomed a bit later and traditional publishing seemed an unrealistic goal—but I went for it.
It didn’t work out on the traditional front, but I continued working on my craft, writing stories I never planned on sharing until I decided to self-publish my debut novel, Escape from Harrizel, in 2013. Once I realized I didn’t need a traditional publisher—that I could do it myself—I started self-publishing and haven’t looked back.
I start with an idea. Normally, it’s a scene. Just one scene that I really want to read. The entire story grows around it, and I end up discovering so much about what I’m writing as I go through the first draft. Once I have a better idea, I write a loose outline broken up by chapters, fully aware that my characters might change their mind at any time. Usually they don’t after I outline, but in that first draft…I have no idea what’s happening and it’s amazing.
I have a very attention-hungry husband and two dogs just like him. In the blocks of space where I’m not writing, I’m usually with one of them, playing fetch, giving neck scratches, or bantering over the most ridiculous issues. In general though, I love traveling and trying new experiences—except anything to do with heights as I’ve recently come to realize.
I start the next book! Honestly, there is no real celebrating other than the internal excitement that the story is done. Not just because I’m done with it, but because I’m able to offer it to the world. Sometimes though I will go out for dinner with the hubs and order two Angry Orchards instead of one. I am quite the rebel.
I’m honestly not sure I celebrate. I think I just kind of pat myself on the back and keep going. I think the celebrating part comes when people actually buy the book—looking at you readers 😉
I’d planned on writing a very different story. In fact, the first scene I wrote that inspired A Royal Pairing in Perish never made it to the final draft. And, if we’re being honest, the entire concept changed. Multiple times. Even the characters evolved based on beta feedback because like my early readers, I was still missing something major.
Then, someone pointed out that my hero, Nikolai, reminded her of Batman. That’s when I knew what I was missing—and what I wanted to write. I rewrote the story another two times until I got it right: a dual point of view noir romance with characters inspired by Batman and Catwoman.
No, and thank God for that. Don’t get me wrong—I love June and Nikolai (and all the rest)—but each have undergone individual trauma that’s shaped them into vigilantes, and I’m glad none of my family or friends have experienced what they have. Of course, I might’ve stolen a personality trait here and there. What can I say? I’m surrounded by awesome people.
Actually figuring out what the story was about. The first few drafts didn’t have any vigilantes, and for a while, I didn’t think I’d crack the mystery of what I really wanted to say. It all started from a scene that no longer existed, so rewriting until the story revealed itself took patience (which I do not have) and several, several attempts to get it right.
Oh, man I LOVED writing the dialogue between June and Nikolai, especially before they get together, and especially during the Pearl Nightclub scene. Honestly, once I figured out what I was writing, the whole thing became fun!
(Once I figured out what I was writing) the influence came from every show and movie my husband made me watch about Batman. I’m not kidding. While I’d like to say I was inspired by literature or something prose-related, the best I can point you to is the Michael Keaton version of Batman, the 1990s animated Batman series, and the Justice League and Teen Titan shows. All inspiration for A Royal Pairing in Perish.
With another quick puff of the cigarette, I release the smoke to the side, turning to June. “Think we got his attention.”
“When he comes back around, I’m going to…” I bring my mouth to her ear, loving how close I’m allowed to be. “Play our parts a little. Okay?”
“You don’t have to tell me.”
“Just want to prepare you.”
June chuckles, turning her face toward mine. She bites her bottom lip and my chest tightens. “Consider me prepped.”
“Yeah?” I ask, because I can’t stop staring at her mouth. Those lips. So soft and red. So sultry…I still wonder what they taste like.
“Yes, Oscar,” she whispers, inches from my mouth, and I’m dying to lean in. “I’ve been prepped for a while now.”
Wait—what? Is she in character, or talking about us? I look up. A thousand words exchange as we lock eyes, but only two fall out. “You have?”
“Coming back around,” Michael’s voice rings through my ear.
Her eyes shift between mine. “You haven’t noticed?”
A thrill races through me, heat pumping into my chest and stomach. I keep my composure, even though my heart is beating like a drumline. Tucking my nose back to her cheek, I bring my mouth to her ear again. “Wasn’t sure.”
“He’s definitely got eyes on you two,” Michael’s voice chimes in. “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
“Maybe I wasn’t obvious enough.”
“It’s not you.”
“It’s you?” She laughs.
“Yeah…” I brush my mouth against her throat, feeling her shiver as I taste her soft skin, her pulse pounding beneath my lips. I press a gentle kiss on the thumping surface, feeling another tremble as a soft, authentically feminine sigh escapes. “I’m just not good at this kind of stuff.”
“Almost to you,” Michael advises.
“Could’ve fooled me.”
Everyone at the table shouts suddenly, stealing my attention. One of the guys across the way tosses his cards down, shaking his head in disappointment. The man next to him laughs loudly, puffing on his cigar with a celebratory grin.
“Oscar?” she whispers.
I look back at June, my focus falling to her lips, entranced. “Yeah?”
“He’s looking at me.”
That’s a tough one. I kind of want to meet everyone. Obviously, I want to say June and Nikolai, but meeting Kato would be super fun too! If I had to choose though, I’d go with Nikolai, and I’d ask him to say something in Russian to me…