Awesome Authors Presents Tanith Davenport

In the Halls of the Mountain Troll by Tanith Davenport

Chapter One

Rain spattered the windows of the café, mist making the sunlight bleak. At a table by the wall a man was sitting with a breakfast tray, a small stack of paper on the seat beside him, oblivious to the sideways glances given by the other customers. His messy beard, tousled brown hair and heavy duffel coat gave him the appearance of a slightly cleaned-up vagrant.

“This place is too expensive.” Astri Ingebrigtsen dropped her food on the table and sat down across from him, throwing her dark hair back out of her face. “At this price these eggs should be gold-plated.”

“Get Micke to pay.” Otto grunted, looking down as he dug through his paperwork. “He wanted to stop here.”

“I did. He moaned.”

Otto rolled his eyes just as Micke appeared beside him, breakfast in hand. Without a word Micke picked up the papers and dumped them unceremoniously on Otto’s tray before sitting down with his own.

“Paying for Lise’s too?” Astri asked casually.

“Get lost,” Micke snapped.

As Lise joined them with her own food, Astri turned her attention to her breakfast, smiling to herself. Micke was so easy to wind up.

But God, it had been a miserable week. She cast a rueful glance out of the window to where their trailers sat in the car park, each attached to a Jeep. They were a necessity when they were on a job that required travel, but try as they might, it was impossible to keep them properly warm inside, even with the help of space heaters and extra blankets.

And this had been a long job. Traveling every day, out hunting every damned night. She was beginning to think it would never be over.

Otto was spreading a map out on the windowsill, eating his svele one-handed as he ran a finger along the road markings. The shrill ring of a mobile phone cut through the air and he cursed, dropping his fork and burrowing his hand into his coat pocket.

“Otto here.” He paused. “Not yet. We left Trondheim this morning.”

Astri exchanged glances with Lise. This sounded important.

“We should get there around two. We’ve booked ahead. Tell him to wait in our cabin.” Otto hung up the phone and eyed Astri and Lise, who looked back at him innocently.

“That was Gunther. Our new addition will be meeting us in Orkanger.”

“What did you say his name was?” Lise asked through a mouthful of bread.

“Kai. Kai Amundsen.” Otto glared at Micke, who had let out a dismissive snort. “Enough, Micke.”

“We don’t need more people.” Micke twisted in his seat to face Otto, his mouth twisted in disgust. “Too many of us attracts attention. And we don’t need a greenhorn holding us back.”

“We’ve been over this. We need his research to capture it.” Otto held up a hand to forestall any further response. “This is not negotiable. Eat.”

“He’s right, Micke,” Lise cut in. “We’ve been chasing it for weeks. This could mean we finally catch it.”

Micke slammed his fist on the table, making the cutlery jump. “I do not need some college student to tell me how to do my job. When he’s never in his life caught a tr—”


About to snap back at Astri, Micke caught her eye and shut his mouth, Astri hastily scanned the room to see if anyone had overheard.

It didn’t seem like it. A few heads had turned at his outburst, but apparently nobody had picked up on that last dangerous word.

She glanced through window again at their trailers and Jeeps. It would be so easy for people to work out what they were doing. That film a few years ago had helped throw people off the scent, making the truth much less likely to be believed. But even so, they were hiding in plain sight. It only needed one conspiracy theorist to blow the whole thing wide open.

Micke kept his head down for the rest of the meal. The rain had eased a little, but the wind hit them in the face like a knife when they opened the door. Automatically, Astri pulled up her hood and fastened her coat. Lise ran across the gravel car park toward their car, her blonde hair streaming behind her like a silk scarf. By the time Astri reached it, the engine was already running, and as she climbed into the passenger seat she felt the warm blast of the heater.

“What the hell are those two doing?” Lise asked, switching the windshield wipers on. Astri squinted through the smeared window to see Otto and Micke standing next to their car, apparently having an argument. Micke was wrestling with his coat, which flailed wildly in the wind, and repeatedly pushing blond strands of hair out of his face.

“Looks like Micke’s lost the fucking keys again. Let’s just go.”

Lise nodded, putting the car into gear, and Astri unearthed the GPS from the glove box, fitting it onto the air vent. Their motel was already programmed in. As the screen glowed with their route, Astri leaned back in the seat and let out her breath in a rush.

God, she hoped this new guy would help them finish this job before they murdered each other.

* * * * *

“Do you think that’s him?”

It was just after two in the afternoon and Astri and Lise had finally pulled their car into the car park attached to the motel. One large cabin rose in front of them, obviously the main building, while several smaller wooden cabins stood along the edges of the car park, each with its own deck. In front of one, a young man was seated at a table, scanning the area every few moments.

“Don’t know.” Astri shrugged. “You go and check us in. I’ll go talk to him.”

The air was dry, but bitterly cold. As Astri crossed the car park toward the cabin, the young man stood up as if he was expecting her. He was tall, heavily wrapped in a bulky red jacket, blue jeans and black hiking boots. A woolly red hat lay on the table, but his head was bare, blond hair blowing in the wind on top of a pointed face with cool green eyes and tanned skin.

From the name, Astri guessed he was Norwegian. Good. The last one they’d been sent had been English, and while her English was fairly fluent, trying to translate directions in the midst of the action had been a nightmare.

Hei. Is it Kai?”

“It is.” Kai raised one eyebrow, his mouth curving into a smile. “Is it Astri—or Lise?”

“Astri. Good to meet you.” Astri took the steps in one bound and accepted his offered hand, looking up at him with a smile.

Now that she was closer to him, she could see better the planes of his face, how the sunlight—what little there was—struck the angles of his cheekbones and the dimple in his chin. His eyes had a touch of mischief to them. His smile seemed well-used, unusual in a profession like theirs.

He was looking down at her with a knowing glint in his eyes—So you’re checking me out, hmm? Astri met his gaze unabashedly. Sure, he was cute, but it had been a long time since she had gotten dressed up and made up for work, and she was damned if she was going to show shame at her own windblown hair and clean face now.

“So this is the cabin.” She threw a casual eye over the building, noting its air of neatness and cleanliness. “Nice.”

“It’s not bad. Three singles, a twin, living room and en suite. Need help with your gear?”

“I won’t say no.”

The cabin was more attractive inside than Astri had expected. As she dropped her backpack and case on the bed, she glanced approvingly at the varnished wood walls and woolen rug. It was better than most of the places they stayed in, and considerably more so than the trailer.

Lise passed and high-fived her on her way out, dragging a case behind her. Out on the deck, Kai had sat back down at the table and, from somewhere unnoticed, produced three bottles of beer.

“I don’t want to know where you were hiding those.”

“Somewhere cold.” Kai raised his beer in a salute as Astri sat down. “And more to follow. I bet you could use it.”

“You bet right.” Astri saluted him back and took a long, satisfying gulp from the bottle.

“So how did you get into all this anyway?” Kai glanced across at the trailer. “I haven’t met many women in your line of work.”

“How many people have you met in my line of work?”

“Not many, I admit. But they were nearly all men.”

“There aren’t many of us,” Astri conceded. “I was working as an animal handler in a zoo. Some of us were called out to trap a wolf, only it turned out not to be one.”

Kai raised an eyebrow. Astri threw him a knowing look. They both knew what it had turned out to be.

“After that, I had a government official call me and ask if I could help out with some more animal trapping, as they put it. They introduced me to Otto, and a year later it became a full-time job.”

“Can’t be a very comfortable job.” Kai cast a more pointed glance at the trailer. “Cold. Dangerous. Well-paid?”

“Not bad. But, you know…” Astri rested her chin on her hand as she thought, remembering her early days with the team. “Every day is something new. Something interesting. I feel like I’m really doing something. Even though nobody knows about it, and even though it means being out half the night. When you’ve finally brought one down…”

A clearing, surrounded by trees. Mist rising. Standing together, the four of them, facing the body. Red streaks of light across the horizon.

“My first time, we just stood there, cold and dirty and tired, and the sun came up over the trees…”

Astri broke off, noticing at last that Kai was leaning back in his chair, watching her with a smile on his face. Rambling on like an idiot. “So what about you?”

Kai’s expression didn’t falter. “I’m a researcher. I was studying cryptozoology, mostly focusing on unexplained animal sightings—”

“Like the yeti?”

“Mostly big cats, but yeah. I took out some grad students to do some fieldwork up around Lom and encountered one of your mountain friends. Luckily our worthy government crew were also scouting around and helped us get away. They offered to give us funding to study that particular breed, and I’ve been working on it ever since.”

“So do you think you can help us, then? We’ve been trying to catch this one for ages.”

“I think so.” Kai threw her a lazy grin, which Astri found herself echoing. “I’m looking forward to it, actually. I think you and I will make a great team.”

His eyes met hers, and Astri held his gaze, feeling her heart jolt strangely.

“I—” Her voice sounded breathless, and she cleared her throat. “I think you’re right.”

The squeal of tires sounded in the distance. Otto and Micke’s Jeep tore into the car park, screeching to a halt inches away from its counterpart. As the driver’s door swung open, the sound of raised voices reached them, obviously midway through an argument.

“He found the keys then,” Lise commented, coming out of the cabin behind them. “I hope you’ve got some more of that beer.”

* * * * *

The sun was setting behind the trees, streaking the sky with orange. Astri picked up her fourth bottle of beer, shivering at the combination of cold air and cold glass. She would have to go to bed after this.

Otto and Kai seemed to be getting on like a house on fire. They had begun by comparing notes on fieldwork. Much to Otto’s surprise Kai had been able to overturn everything he knew about the breed. Now they were toasting each other and making ribald jokes about the mating process.

“I heard of one pair,” Otto announced, “who mated against a tree and brought down the forest like dominoes.”

Kai convulsed with laughter. “Classic. ‘Oh, Brunhilda, did the earth move for you?’”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake!”

Astri turned in her seat to where the angry shout had come from. Micke stood at the edge of the deck, leaning on the rail. He glared at Otto and Kai with an expression of pure disgust.

“Do you think I want to hear a debate about how trolls fuck? Do you?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Otto retorted. “You might stand a chance with one. Trolls aren’t fussy.”

Micke’s face was suffused with rage. Astri bit her lip, fighting back laughter. It was never a good idea to bait him.

Lise held up her beer bottle, her arm swaying drunkenly.

“And then maybe you’d be less frustrated and stop pining over Astri, right?”

Micke’s eyes widened. An uncertain silence fell over the group.

Don’t laugh…

It was too much, and she was too drunk. Astri let out a helpless giggle and, within seconds, Otto, Kai and Lise had collapsed into laughter.

Without another word, Micke turned and stormed into the cabin, slamming the door behind him.

“Oh, we’ll suffer for that one.” Otto clapped Lise on the back. “He’ll never forgive us.”

Astri caught Kai’s eye. He raised a questioning eyebrow and she shrugged in response.

Don’t ask. It’s not worth it.

Shortly afterwards, as darkness fell, the group got up to go inside. Otto disappeared into the twin room and Lise and Kai into two of the singles. Astri took her turn in the bathroom before heading back into the living room for a glass of water.

Micke was standing at the window, looking out. He turned to face her.

“That was unfair.”

“What was?”

“You know what.”

Astri picked up a glass and turned to run the tap into it. She did know what he meant. She had laughed at him pining over her.

“If you have a problem with that comment, take it up with Lise.”

Micke moved, and Astri felt his tall presence close behind her. “I have a problem with you laughing at me.”

“I was laughing at the situation. Drop it, Micke.”

His hand fell on her shoulder. Automatically Astri shook it off. She turned to face him, staring him dead in the eye.

Confronting Micke was like confronting a troll. All brawn and no brains. All anger and no thought. It wasn’t as though he was unattractive—he was muscular, powerful, and his square jaw and messy blond hair would easily draw in women.

Women who weren’t her.

“I’m not afraid of you, Micke.”

Micke leaned in closer, until they were almost nose to nose.

“What does he have that I haven’t, Astri?”

In response, Astri threw the water in his face.

Micke jerked backward one hand over his eyes. Astri took the opportunity to escape to her bedroom, bolting the door behind her.

God. Micke was such an ass sometimes.

If only he wasn’t so good at his job. She knew Otto found him almost as annoying as she did—he’d have been happy to kick him off the team given the chance. But as it stood, they needed him—and he knew his strength and fearlessness kept him right where he was.

She stripped off her clothes, slung them over the back of a chair and burrowed under the duvet, allowing her eyes to close.


He was the first positive male experience she’d had in ages. It had been over a year since she’d dated, and Micke—ugh, forget it. But Kai…


She drew her ankles to opposite edges of the mattress, imagining exposing herself to an invisible onlooker—one with blond, tousled hair and green eyes, a knowing smile quirking his lips.

For a brief moment she considered reaching for the toy she kept in her luggage, but decided against it. Its vibrations would be too loud, even behind a closed bedroom door. Instead she slid a hand down to play with her folds, feeling them grow moist under her fingertips as an image of Kai crept into her mind.

What would he do? Would he be slow, tortuous—would he take charge, make her wait? Or would he be fast, passionate, overwhelming her with desire and need? Her toes curled in the sheets as her fingers moved faster, picturing Kai above her—running his hands over her skin, thrusting his cock into her, crying out in pleasure as—


She bit her lip hard as bliss overtook her, throwing her head back into the pillow as a long, slow breath escaped her.

The afterglow was broken by a crash from the kitchen.

“Micke!” she heard Otto yell through the wall. “What the hell have you broken?”

“Fuck off!” was the angry response, followed by the slam of a drawer.

Shaking her head, Astri rolled onto her side, closing her eyes.

Back to reality.

About Tanith Davenport

Tanith Davenport began writing erotica at the age of 27 by way of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. Her debut novel “The Hand He Dealt” was released by Total-e-Bound in June 2011 and was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for 2012.

Tanith has had short stories published by Naughty Nights Press and House of Erotica. She loves to travel and dreams of one day taking a driving tour of the United States, preferably in a classic 1950s pink Cadillac Eldorado.

Tanith’s idea of heaven is an Indian head massage with a Mojito at her side.

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Books by Tanith Davenport

The Hand He DealtThe Hand He Dealt
Contemporary, erotic romance

Astra Scott likes to live life to the full. A sorority girl and Gaming Management student, she spends her days studying and practising guitar, and her nights partying or working at the Fountain Casino, where she has an internship as part of her final semester. The only blot on her landscape is Ash Drake, her best friend Sasha’s boyfriend. Arrogant, physical and blond, Ash has never forgiven Astra for her rejection months earlier and enjoys annoying her at every turn.

But when Astra’s boyfriend Harry reveals a shocking secret, Astra responds in the only way she can think of: by finding a way to take on a more attractive, masculine role in the relationship. Her experimentation with sex toys finds a surprising outlet in Sasha, but when Ash discovers their secret and wants to get involved, Astra finds herself torn between dislike and desire… and as their undercover relationship grows, Astra finds herself falling in love, a path she feels can only end in heartbreak. For Ash may be the only man whose own fantasies are a match for hers, but can she knowingly steal his affections from her best friend?


Contemporary, erotic romance

Tara Thornton hasn’t spoken to her sister in two years, ever since Azure married the man of Tara’s dreams. Tired of the rift, Azure invites her to take a Mediterranean cruise on a friend’s yacht and, bowing to family pressure, Tara accepts.

Forced to be in close proximity with the man she still desires, Tara is thrown into confusion. The presence of celebrity theme park owner Liam Wilder and the reality of his marriage to Azure send Tara into a tailspin and, in an attempt to regain control, she responds to the advances of hot fellow guest Ryan Hyde, while determined to feel no affection for him.

But Ryan has a way of getting under her skin, and Tara’s plan to get closer to Liam is rapidly losing its importance as Ryan begins to break down her defences. Can she let go of Liam, let Ryan into her heart… and tell Azure the real reason for her silence?

I Heard Your VoiceI Heard Your Voice

Paranormal, erotic romance

Tamar Steele’s life was never supposed to be like this. A sensitive working with a team of paranormal investigators, she is trapped in a loveless relationship with the team’s medium, Reed James, who believes that having sex on haunted ground enhances paranormal activity. Tamar maintains their partnership for the sake of the crew, forcing herself to ignore the burgeoning sexual tension between her and fellow investigator Jason Bray.

Until one night when, alone and bored, Tamar sings to herself and is knocked to the ground by an invisible force. Somehow she is able to invoke spirits with the power of her voice. And one particular sexy, matchmaking spirit is determined to turn her life upside down.

Ready for HimReady for Him

BDSM, erotic romance

In the bar at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Jade Bleecker celebrates with her three best friends, all of whom are there to get married – Jade is their bridesmaid, and beginning to believe that three times a bridesmaid really does mean never a bride. Tattooed, pierced and a martial artist, Jade is used to inspiring fear rather than desire in men, and even if she did find one who could handle her – well, no man is worth trusting with her body.

But, as she is leaving the bar, she comes upon a mugging in progress and, with a few swift moves, makes short work of the mugger. Invited up to the victim’s room for a nightcap, she is stunned to discover he is Will Vandenmeer – billionaire poster child of the Vandenmeer hotel and casino chain, and owner of The Sanctuary, one of the best known BDSM clubs in New York City.

Jade finds herself hopelessly attractive to the sensual, dominant Will, and when he offers to induct her into the world of BDSM, she accepts… but can she truly give herself to him, and is Will ready for what Jade has to offer?

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