Rafael has been called many things throughout time -- demon, fairy, monster -- but even he has no idea what he truly is. The only thing he knows for sure is that he’s not human… and that he can influence the minds of those around him without even trying.
He hides in plain sight, making a living as a magician and stage hypnotist, allowing his audiences to assume that his feats of mind-reading are mere illusion. Most humans succumb easily to his powers of persuasion, but when his very presence robs people of free will, it’s hard to truly get close to anyone.
When he meets Carrie, a strong-willed and wounded woman uniquely resistant to his abilities, Rafael is intrigued. But Carrie fears his powers. She won’t easily open up to him, but he’s determined to get into her head.
Praise for Mind Games
"This was a great book... There were quite a few smutty parts (no complaints here!) and all in all I thought it was a good book. I'd recommend it to someone looking for a short but steamy read."
-- 4 Stars from CrystalU, Amazon Review
"This book pulled me in and kept me entranced till the end. The feelings of love, hate, and pain coming out in waves making you want to cry while you read. This was such a beautiful book!"
-- 5 Stars from Di Kecap, Amazon Review
"This is a short story... perfect for an afternoon read. I liked the heat, too. Rafael and Carrie really scorch the page. I recommend it."
-- Nymphaea, Long and Short Reviews
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Copyright ©2022 AJ Graham
“Come on, Carrie.” Elena placed her hands on her hips. “You agreed we would see this together. Why the sudden change of heart?”
Carrie hung back. She and Elena stood outside the theatre, a large stone building with wide steps leading up to tall, black double doors. During the drive there, Carrie had been relaxed and happy. She’d even managed to forget about her frightening experience earlier that day. But as soon as they arrived, a chill raced down her spine, and goose bumps rose on her skin.
The building itself was a little creepy, with the gargoyles crouched on its roof and the black awning over the door, but that wasn’t the source of her discomfort. It was as if some half-buried instinct was trying to warn her of danger. The back of her neck prickled, and her stomach tightened. “I don’t know.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m just uneasy, I guess. What if this guy really does have some sort of power?”
“Weren’t you just telling me there’s no such thing? You don’t honestly believe that the guy can control minds, do you?”
Carrie sighed. It had always been like this when they were kids, too. Elena had always wanted to go to the scariest movies, or try the wildest roller coasters, while Carrie held back and voiced her concerns. Sometimes she got tired of being the cautious, timid one. “Okay, okay,” she said. “We do have the tickets, after all. I guess it would be kind of stupid to turn back now.”
“I’ll be fun. You’ll see.” Elena took her by the wrist and half-led, half-dragged her up the steps to the entrance doors. She pushed, and the doors creaked softly open. Carrie followed her in, holding her breath.
The lobby was smaller than she’d expected -- or maybe it just seemed tiny, because it was so crowded -- and lit by overhead lamps of ruby glass. Judging from the way the light flickered, it was either real flame or an excellent imitation. The low hum of conversation filled the air. Folds of rich, bloodred velvet cloth covered the walls. The floor was hard, black stone tile. A strange, spicy-sweet scent tickled Carrie’s nostrils. She looked around and saw incense burning in bronze wall sconces between the hanging cloths. Plumes of fragrant smoke rose into the air. In the crowded, confined room, it was difficult to avoid breathing it in. A drowsy, relaxed feeling crept over her. She felt suddenly lightheaded and buoyant, as if she could float up to the ceiling. She blinked hard and shook her head, trying to clear it. She wondered what was in that incense and if it was legal.
A deep voice issued from hidden speakers. “Greetings. Our show is about to begin. We would like to remind you that eating, drinking and flash photography are strictly prohibited.”
The door at the other end of the room opened, and the crowd began to file in. A woman in a black uniform took each person’s ticket as they passed. The normality of the procedure made Carrie feel a little better. It was only a show, after all.
They entered a large room lined with plush, red seats. The walls were of rough, black stone -- or a plaster imitation of stone, perhaps -- giving the room a cave-like feeling. Candles flickered on the walls. The room was large, but it didn’t feel vast and open. Maybe it was the lighting, or the shape of the walls, but the theatre felt intimate, dark, and secret. The spicy-sweet incense smell still hung in the air, diluted, less potent, but present nonetheless. “They really went all-out on the ambiance,” Carrie murmured.
Carrie and Elena took a seat near the back -- the front rows were already full -- and sat, staring at the black, velvet curtains that hid the stage from view. After a few minutes, the overhead lights dimmed, so only the tiny, dancing flames of the candles remained. Carrie sat in total darkness, hands curled into tight fists. The curtains parted, and a spotlight fell on the center of the stage. A man stepped forward, into the light. Carrie’s heartbeat quickened.
“See?” Elena whispered. “I told you he was hot.”
Hot didn’t really cover it.
Rafael Samson was tall, broad-shouldered, dressed in black boots, black pants (very tight pants) and a long-sleeved, black silk shirt with laces rather than buttons up the front. The first few laces had been undone to reveal a hint of smooth, hard chest. The BDSM-goth getup wasn’t really Carrie’s style, but the man himself was undeniably attractive. The snugness of his clothing emphasized his broad chest, his narrow waist and long, slim legs. He was not overly muscular or bulky, not a body builder, but he was no lightweight, either. He was sleek and powerful, like a panther. Ebony hair, fine as silk, spilled around his shoulders, down to nearly the middle of his back. As he moved, it swayed and shone in the dim light, shimmered, almost, as if it possessed an inner, otherworldly glow.
“I’m jealous,” Elena whispered. “His hair is prettier than mine. I wonder what he uses to make it shine like that. That can’t be natural.”
Carrie smiled, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the man on stage. His skin was very pale, very smooth. When he stopped and faced the audience, he looked like a living marble sculpture, with his perfect, chiseled features and cool expression.
Carrie didn’t know precisely what she’d expected, but even after Elena’s remarks, she hadn’t expected him to be so beautiful. That was really the only word that fit. His face was angelic in its loveliness, but in spite of that, there was nothing feminine about him. His mouth was stern, almost ruthless, as if smiling did not come easily to him, his cheekbones high and aristocratic, and his brows were dark slashes over his cool, intense eyes.
Carrie had never experienced such a strong, immediate surge of lust at the sight of a man. A flush rose into her cheeks as she thought about what it would be like to run her hands over that hard, lean body. Judging from the package outlined by those snug, black leather pants, he had an enormous cock. She imagined touching it, feeling it rise and harden beneath her fingers, and the thought made her blush even harder. The slight tingling in her clit spread and deepened into a throbbing ache, and a growing emptiness wanting to be filled. She took a deep breath. What had gotten into her tonight? Did that incense contain some sort of airborne aphrodisiac?