Monthly Archives: April 2015

Sam I am…

How is it the end of April? Wasn’t it just February? Dear god. And I’m behind. As usual. Though I digress. It’s Wednesday and another random blog post. Though, with them happening every week, on the same day….hmm, not quite random, lol. Okay, just the topics, I suppose.

Anyway, this week is a writing related post. The concept is simple. Write what you know…do I support this theory or kick it to the curb and just rebel? Dear god. Another topic where it’s neither yes nor no. More of a combination of both. No, I’m not just indecisive—well, I am at times, but that’s not the reason behind my fence sitting. It really is a bit of both.

So…write what you know. Why I agree.

Basically, it adds authenticity to your story. For example. I used to fly helicopters for a living. Now, I’m not saying I’m an expert, but… I have a pretty damn good understanding of how they work, what they’d be used for. The range, type, etc. And I think this shows in the books where one of my characters is a pilot. Okay, so it’s always been the female lead…sue me. I like strong women. But I also think having actually done the act gives me a unique insight over just reading about it during research. I’ve frozen my ass off in northern places. Had wind gusts drop the machine a few hundred feet in the blink of an eye. Had to land in less than desirable places.

This holds true for other aspects. Did you study anthropology? Then you might know a thing or two about dig sites, procedures. Customs of ancient tribes. Do you travel? Great. Write a story based in a country you’ve been to. This experience means you know if the small town has cobble streets or if there’s even a restaurant open past six pm. (Don’t laugh. There’s a small town on the north end of the island where they roll the sidewalks up at five. You have maybe five places to eat after that, mostly pizza joints.) Hell, they don’t even have a Tim Horton’s! I know. Believe me, I know.

Anyway, writing what you know means less research and more accurate descriptions. And when you’re connected to a subject by experience, I do think it shows through. Gives it a natural depth. It also gives you confidence. You don’t worry if you’ve gotten the facts wrong. If Wiki screwed you over this time because someone decided to ‘update’ the post, lol. So, in many ways, I follow this credence. I tend to write what I know. Of course, I’ve had quite the ‘varied’ past. Basically, I’ve done lots of jobs because I had a hard time settling on anything. You know how it is… squirrel.

But there are times when you need to branch out. Mostly because you love a genre or time period or want to challenge yourself. I love the Old West. LOVE. IT. Yes, I watched every damn episode of Dr. Quinn. The third Back to the Future is my favourite. And I loved a short lived show called—Legend, staring Richard Dean Anderson, set in the late 1800s. Oh, and don’t forget about HELL ON WHEELS. Anson Mount! The train race of the 1860s ish… it’s a fantastic show, though at times too ‘realistic’ for me.

And thus, I have more than a couple of books set in this time. But here’s the thing. I’m not a history buff. I don’t have lots of experience in the subject, which means I spend a lot of time looking stuff up. When did towns get indoor plumbing? Showers? What about double action pistols and rifles? What towns were serviced by trains? Hell, did men really where Stetson hats? Now, it’s not as if I can go back in time and live the lifestyle, but it’s definitely a different writing experience than a flight scene. I can crash a chopper with the best of them 😉

And let’s not forget sex scenes. I doubt every author has experienced every type of sexual scene they’ve written about. I’ll confess. I haven’t. (But damn I’d love to try a few of them out…one day. When I have a boyfriend.) Anyway, it’s really no different than branching out and writing a genre you’re unfamiliar with.

Damn, that’s a lot of words to say… ehhh. Whatever.

In the end, I think for people starting out with their first book or two—write what you know. What you love. What gets you excited about writing. There’s always time to branch out and the confidence knowledge brings to the table will be indispensable.

Now check out the other ladies, who probably said all of this in like five sentences. Kind of makes you long for those wordless Wednesdays or the five words or less post.

Jessica Jarman  |  Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica De La Rosa

Gwendolyn Cease |  Paige Prince  |  Kellie St. James

 

RED SKY DAWNING ~ chapter two

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It’s that time again. Chapter two of my erotic fantasy story…up for your enjoyment. And don’t forget. Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win a $20.00 Amazon gift card. It’s free money to spend, folks. And if you jump over to Jessica Jarman’s blog, she’s also giving one away for comments left for her amazing New Adult serial, YOUR LIES. Just click on her banner at the bottom of this post.

You can read the previous chapters here… Prologue. Chapter One. Or via WattPad if that’s your thing, though you do need to create an account for WattPad.

 

Chapter Two

“Dark hells, his soul has been bound to this wretched tomb by a blood spell.”

A voice. A woman’s voice.

“Aelwyn. Breaking a blood spell could kill him, but more likely just kill you. I’m not sure even you’re strong enough to withstand the pain.”

A man. Older. His pitch rising as fear wove through it.

Gentle fingers brushed across Rylan’s forehead, grazing his cheeks before cupping his face. Mumbled words he couldn’t make out echoed around him, building pressure along his torso then down his legs. The air thickened, pressing against his chest, slowly wrapping around his throat, crushing every attempt to breathe. He fought against the force holding him down, managing to lift his hand—wrap his fingers around one, small wrist.

The chanting stopped for a moment, lips grazing his ear. “I know this is uncomfortable, but you have to try and keep still. I’m almost…”

Her voice rasped into a groan as the pressure increased, pain lacing the jumbled words that followed. His limbs shook, a scream tearing from his chest as his skin seemed to stretch in all directions. Colored specks danced in the darkness before they billowed outwards, exploding in streaks of shattered light, finally releasing him. He gasped in a breath, his hand falling to his side as soothing warmth seeped through his skin, a calming glow beckoning him from the gray.

Rylan rolled his head to the side, blinking in an attempt to open his eyes. More pain flared through his temples, sealing his eyelids shut before he’d done more than catch a faint glimpse of light. Low murmurs scratched at his conscience, the noise stopping him from fading back into the darkness.

The warm feeling intensified, prickling his skin, easing the stabbing ache in his skull. The sensation wove through his veins, skipping down his body, lifting the numbing weariness from his muscles. He blinked again, this time prying open his eyes. Long brown hair streaked with gold framed a delicate, feminine face, her green eyes full of compassion. Her fingers lingered on his chin, a soft, aura illuminating her skin.

She gave him a smile, tilting her head to the side. “Welcome back. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to help you. It’s been so long…”

He frowned as her voice trailed off into a rough breath, her eyes closing for a moment as a shiver trembled along her body. There was no mistaking the pain creasing her face. The dark smudges beneath her eyes. Her fingers shook against his jaw, the obvious strain tensing her muscles. He raised his hand, brushing his thumb along her cheek. Bits of ash laced her skin, but he focused on the soft caress of flesh beneath his—the way wisps of soft golden light swirled just below the surface before winking out.

She gave him a stunning smile, her fingers grazing his, when footsteps echoed behind her. He blinked again, shifting his gaze, finally registering his surroundings. Dank stone walls wavered in the flickering torchlight, shadows dancing along the edges of the chamber. Two men stood near the border of light, faces masked, weapons drawn but at rest. Cold bit into his back, the hard surface bleeding through the warm glow he’d felt earlier. Memories tumbled through his mind, lingering images of chains and blood spurring him into action.

He yanked his hand away, rolling in the opposite direction, falling off the stone platform he’d been resting on. Hard rock jarred his body as he hit the ground, the sharp jolt clearing the foggy feeling in his head. He sprang to his feet, swaying against one of the walls when his equilibrium shifted, the room suddenly tilting to the left.

The woman skirted to the side, gaze fixed on him. She arched a brow. “Despite my best efforts, you’re not quite ready to wage war.”

Rylan drew himself up. He’d rot in the dark pits of hell before he showed any sign of weakness. “Who are you? A witch? Where am I?”

An amused smile quirked one side of her mouth. “I’m Aelwyn, and I’m not a witch.” She waved at the chamber. “You’re in a dungeon beneath Aldhaven’s Castle Keep, though I think you know that. I can’t see Cane sparing you the knowledge of where he planned to keep you entombed.”

Rylan sneered at the mention of the vile name. He’d see Cane’s blood spilled along his blade before he left this realm.

“I see you remember Cane. I lifted his blood spell. The one that kept you trapped here.” She sighed, shaking her head. “The man plays with power he can’t hope to control. He’s lucky it didn’t kill you.”

“I doubt it would have worried him if it had.” He studied her, glancing at the men behind her. “Why did you break his spell?”

“Other than because it was wrong of him to imprison you?”

Rylan glared at her. “Do you take me for a fool? Your garb bears the mark of Aldhaven. You serve Cane and his puppet king, Aern.”

Anger rose in her cheeks, the green in her eyes darkening. “I have never served Cane, and I will die before I pledge my allegiance to him.”

“And what of King Aern? What loyalty do you have to the throne?”

Her jaw flexed, sadness reflecting in her eyes. “I’m loyal to the true heir of Aldhaven—Prince Aelrik.”

“Heir? Aern has not fathered any…” His breath caught, some of her words replaying in his head. He took a step toward her, ignoring how the men matched it. “How long have I been down here?”

The lines around her mouth tightened, and she shifted her weight between her feet, a weary sigh finally lighting the air. “About a century.”

He coughed out a few breaths, trying to process the shock. A century? Entombed in this…dungeon? He glanced the length of his body. He didn’t feel a hundred years older.

“You haven’t aged, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Her voice sounded strangely soft. “It wouldn’t have served Cane’s purpose to have you become anything less than the warrior he’d imprisoned.”

He looked at her, anger bleeding through the disbelief. “Is that supposed to be a blessing, witch? Do you think it justifies what he’s done?”

She flinched at the harsh tone as she held up her hands. “I assure you, had Aelrik been able to release you sooner, he would have. It was going to be his first act as king. He knows who you are—why you were taken. He wanted to make it right.”

“Make it right!” Rylan marched over to her, taking her wrists in his hands. “How can you make losing a hundred years right? Friends. Family. Many are likely dead and buried, all while I rotted away inside some kind of enchanted tomb!”

Twin blades gleamed in the torchlight, the edges pointed a few scant inches from his face.

The younger of the two men leaned closer, placing the tip of his sword next to Rylan’s throat. “I’d be very careful how you proceed. She’s the only one in here who doesn’t want to see your blood pool on the ground.”

He gathered his power, feeling it breathe through him as he unleashed the hold he’d used to keep it in check. Buried. He stared at her, watching her eyes widen in recognition as he released her arms, moving several steps back. “Then perhaps she shouldn’t have woken me.”

Aelwyn lunged at him. “No. Wait!”

Flames sparked to life in his hands, racing along his arms until his entire upper body was consumed by flickering red light, licking upwards at the air. He clenched his fists, focusing all his power at the man guarding the wooden door to the tomb. Fire shot forward, hissing as it hit an invisible force, sending it billowing toward the ceiling. Pain erupted in his head, dropping him to his knees as he palmed his temples, his power coiling tight before sinking down inside him again.

Small fingers dug into his scalp followed by another rush of intense, warm light. He tried to pull away, but they held him firm, low murmurs sounding through the room.

Time faded until the pain eased and Aelwyn raised his chin, making direct eye contact before frowning. “Are you in such a hurry to die you’re willing to kill yourself before you’ve taken a single step outside?” She released him, more of those strange golden wisps dancing along her skin before seemingly fading into her.

He pulled free, stumbling backwards until he hit the wall. He stared at his hands. His magic strummed beneath his flesh, the red tinge coloring his skin. He reached for it, assuring himself it still lived within him before sneering at her. “What have you done to me?”

She arched one pretty brow at him. “I’m not a fool, either. I know what you’re capable of. How strong your magic is. There’s a reason you hadn’t lost a battle before coming here. But you’d never faced someone like Cane—been blindsided like that. Attacked when all you sought was peace.”

“There’s no hope for peace—not between our kingdoms.” He nodded at the lone platform. “That’s what attempts at peace get you in Aldhaven.”

“Not everyone shares Cane’s opinions…” She glanced at the other two men, sighing. “Rylan, son of Roan. Heir to the throne of Ravendale.”

He laughed, gaining his feet before leaning against the wall. “So you do know who I am. Is that why you freed me, witch? Do you hope to gain favor with my father? Is he even alive?”

“Stop calling me a witch. I’ve already told you I’m not.”

“Then what are you?”

She pursed her lips together, releasing a slow breath. “An outcast. A relic from a time long before you were born. Before greed and power split our realms. And Roan is still king. But I have no wish for favors from him.” She squared her shoulders. “It’s your help I need.”

He smiled, allowing a single flame to flicker to life from his fingers. He watched the way it danced, allowing the steady strum of energy to calm his nerves before glancing at her over the wavering red light. “What did you do to my magic?”

Aelwyn glanced down. “I merely channeled it. You can still use it to defend yourself or us, but any attempts to target it against us or someone I deem worthy…” She cocked her head. “You’ve seen what happens.”

“And you claim you’re not a witch. How else would you be able to work such…powerful spells?”

“As I told Bearn…the world’s not as simple as everyone thinks. And for the last time, I’m not a witch.”

He pushed out a long breath. Every flex of her muscles, every twitch of her mouth told him she was speaking the truth. Her hatred for Cane practically rolled off her in visible waves. So why was she hiding the true nature of her power from him? As if she thought it’d scare him? Repulse him.

He pushed off the wall, walking in a slow arc from one side of the chamber to the other, keeping them in front of him. If he could get to one of the men’s swords… “You spoke of needing my help.”

Aelwyn glanced at the older man, then back to him. “I mentioned that I was loyal to the true heir of Aldhaven.”

He smirked. “Your precious Prince Aelrik. You mentioned that right before you tried to kill me.”

“The spell won’t kill you. And if you’d allowed me to explain before wielding your magic…you wouldn’t have been hurt.”

Her words washed over him, and he glanced away, gently flexing his muscles. Though he distinctly remembered falling to the ground in agony, all traces of pain were gone. As if it’d never happened. Rylan looked at the woman—Aelwyn. Her hair had been braided back from her face, the rest left to cascade along her shoulders and down her back. She was beautiful, but in a way he’d never seen before. Pure.

His gaze skipped along her torso. Her body looked remarkably strong for her size—easily several inches shorter than him. Firm muscles moved beneath her pale skin, with just enough curves to soften her silhouette. But her hands—they barely looked capable of holding the sword sheathed behind her back, though they’d been surprisingly strong when they’d touched him.

A ghostly image wavered in his mind, the echoed voice of a seer playing through his head.

He shook away the memories, drawing his focus back to Aelwyn’s face. The dark smudges beneath her eyes had deepened, as if she’d weakened further since he’d woken. Even the slight tremble in her hands had increased. As if sensing his thoughts, she crossed her arms on her chest, effectively shutting him out.

Rylan ran a hand through his hair, wondering where this discussion was going. “Do you have a point?”

The brave warrior was back, her chin held high, her mouth pulled tight. “My br…” She paused, clenching her jaw before continuing. “The Prince was attacked two nights ago on the castle grounds. I believe he’s been taken to Ravendale as tribute for Merek, Roan’s advisor.”

“I’m aware of who Merek is, sweetness. I grew up there. But what you’re suggesting is treason. Merek’s not the kind of man to tempt my father’s patience with such traitorous plans.” He arched a brow. “Or are you suggesting my father’s behind the abduction?”

“No.”

“Not that it matters if he is. Your king took his son. Seems only fitting…”

“So you’d put your people at risk to get revenge on a man who’s nothing more than a shell of what he once was? You’d watch your kingdom destroyed for selfish pride?”

Rylan grinned, allowing the flame in his hand to bounce above his palm. “I’m having a hard time seeing the downside in this. You’ve released me, and my father has revenge. A way of bargaining for my release. I’m unclear how that will result in the devastation of my people.” His grin flourished. “Perhaps you should have thought this through.”

“Your father’s gone mad. He has as much knowledge and control over your kingdom as Aern does over mine.” She snagged her lip, looking uncharacteristically unsure before releasing her worried flesh. “It’s Cane. He wants to start another war.”

“Another?” Rylan scoffed. “When, exactly, did the war end?”

Aelwyn sighed. “After you…disappeared, your father had his priests erect a barrier around Ravendale. Only those born within the kingdom can pass. Others require an escort to safely breech the wards. It has resulted in a false form of peace for some time.”

“It sounds as if my father found a way to achieve what I couldn’t. Why would I risk that for you? Even if you were to give me my freedom?”

“Because your people are dying, Rylan.” She took a few steps closer, the golden light shimmering across her skin as if sensing her unrest. “That barrier is killing your crops and your livestock. Killing your people. If Roan doesn’t remove it soon—they’ll be nothing left but weathered bones.”

“Killing…” He extinguished the flame, moving slightly toward her. “How do you…” He paused, giving himself a mental shake. He’d been asleep too long—had seemingly forgotten his negotiating skills. “You seem to have a way with spells and barriers. Why don’t you simply lift my father’s wards?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Are you saying you can’t break it?”

“Of course, I can break it. But…” Her lips quirked, fading into a slight frown. “Ravendale’s barrier isn’t a simple spell. It’s a living, breathing entity. The priests who’ve fashioned it weave their magic through it as if its an extension of their physical body. After all this time, it’s become a part of them. To destroy it…” A shiver trembled through her. She glanced at the men on either side of her, sighing. “To destroy it would be to destroy them. Only they can extinguish it and still live.”

His chuckle was fuller. Deeper. “Oh, sweetness. Do you honestly expect me to believe you’d mourn the loss of a handful of my people?”

“I’d prefer not to have innocent blood on my conscience.”

He glanced at the men. The younger was obviously a warrior, bearing the mark of captain on his garb. The other—even from across the room, Rylan could feel the older man’s magic strumming around him, vibrating the air with its unrest. The man was a master sorcerer.

Rylan motioned to them. “Even if that’s the truth, I don’t think your captain and master share your reservations.”

She took one more step forward. “I will not shed Ravendale blood. There’s been enough to stain the land for a thousand centuries to come.”

He raised a brow, then continued pacing, still working out a way to get one of their swords. “So what is it you need from me?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I need you to get me through the barrier—help find Aelrik then return us to our land.”

He stopped, drumming his finger on his lips. “You want me to be your guide?”

“If that’s what you’d like to call it…then yes.”

“All for the safe return of your Prince?”

“Have you not been listening? He’s the only hope both our realms have of ever finding peace. Real peace—not the kind manifested by illusions and magic. Aelrik is not his father’s son. I promise you that.”

He released a heavy breath, shaking his head. “You’re in love with him—Prince Aelrik. Why didn’t I realize that from the start?”

Her brows furrowed into a crease across her forehead. “Of course, I love him.”

“So this is a lover’s quest?”

“Lovers? Why would you suggest that?”

“Sweetness, there’s only two types of men a woman risks her life for—her lover or her son. And you’re not old enough to have a son. What are you, thirty years? Less? Have you even reached the age of consent?”

“I’m thirty-five. And what has that got to do with anything? Aelrik’s not my son.”

“No, because he’s your lover. Or are you merely in love with him? Does he even know you exist? Dressed the way you are…” He sighed. “I don’t recall seeing many Aldhaven maidens garbed as warriors.”

“I’m not—”

“Is this in an effort to gain his affections?” Rylan moved closer, smiling inwardly when her captain followed suit. “Are you hoping he’ll return your feelings if you save him?”

“I…”

Rylan stopped abreast of her, using his height to try and intimidate her. “Do you honestly think any man could ever want you?”

Tears gathered behind her eyes, her obvious pain coiling guilt in his chest. He had every right to lash out, to hurt those who’d imprisoned him. So why did the mere sight of her glassy eyes tear at him?

Her captain lunged forward, brandishing his blade. Rylan reacted, spinning away before, twisting back, catching the man on his left side. The captain landed an elbow to Rylan’s chest, winding him slightly before catching him in the jaw. Rylan grabbed a hold of the man’s arm and shoulder as he reeled backwards, gaining ground, when the air around them crackled.

Aelwyn raised her hands, those golden wisps shimmering to the surface of her skin. “Enough!”

The glow billowed outwards, exploding in a burst of yellow light. The air swirled around him, tossing him backwards against the wall. Colored dots swam across his vision as a force held him pinned to the stone, his feet dangling above the ground.

She stormed closer, the yellow aura intensifying until he had to squint against the glare. “Don’t mistake my gender for weakness. That kind of error could well be your last.”

He blinked, chest heaving, his magic writhing in protest beneath his flesh. It coiled tighter, small flashes shooting out, spinning with hers until the red dimmed to a warm orange.

Aelwyn’s mouth gaped open, her eyes widening in shock before she waved her hands, removing the invisible hold as quickly as it’d manifested. He dropped to the hard surface, bracing his weight against the wall to stop from continuing down onto the damp rock. Aelwyn’s labored breathing drew his attention. Her body shook, head bowing to her chest as she tripped to one knee before gathering her composure and pushing herself upright. She met his gaze then turned, taking a few shaky steps away before her shoulders drooped and she spun, once again focusing on him.

“I’m sorry. You have every reason to be angry. To be suspicious of what I claim. To hate me for nothing more than my heritage.”

Rylan watched the last of her magic wink out. “You control air? But I thought you were some kind of fire mage? Why else would your skin glow?”

She didn’t answer, just let her gaze run the length of his body. “Did I hurt you?”

He stared at her. Something in the tone of her voice, the pleading look in her eyes, compelled him to answer. “I’m fine.”

“I could…” She moved toward him a few feet before stopping—physically drawing herself back. She took what looked like a series of calming breaths before raising her gaze to his. “I’m here to make you a proposition.”

He rubbed his shoulder where it’d impacted with the wall. “What kind of proposition?”

“An exchange. You help me—”

“Us, Aelwyn.” Her captain stepped forward. “Bearn and I are part of this, now.”

She glanced at the man. “I can’t ask you to willingly commit treason, Tarn. Bearn, either.”

“Prince Aelrik was my responsibility. It’s my duty to see to his safe return. Even Cane will have to acknowledge that.”

She snorted. “Once he discovers you’re with me, any loyalty to you or Bearn will be severed. You know this.”

Tarn shook his head. “Matters not. We’re accompanying you, so you’d best make peace with it.”

A hint of a smile quirked her lips before she glanced at the older man, nodding when he merely arched a brow. She focused back on Rylan. “You will help us gain safe passage to Ravendale, see us through the barrier and back again—after we’ve freed Prince Aelrik.”

Rylan leaned against the stone, tilting his head as if he were actually contemplating it. “And in return?”

“Once we’re safely back in Aldhaven, I’ll release the spell binding your magic. And you’ll be free to return to Ravendale.”

“And if I refuse?”

Her expression hardened. “I will get Aelrik back. At any cost.”

His lips lifted into a smile. “Then I have a proposal for you, sweetness.”

 

Thanks for reading. Chapter Three will be out the second week of May. Don’t forget the gift card giveaway. Now hop over to Jessica’s blog for her story. It really is awesome. Just click on the banner below.

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I need to go back in time…

Another week and another Wednesday Random post. I was sort of hoping for one of those picture only ones, lol. Though when do I only ever post images? Never. I know. Hey, at least I’m not shy…

But before I start, some selfless promo. Don’t forget to have a gander at serial… chapter one…and comment to be entered in a chance to win $20 Amazon gift card. Just click on the banner.

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And Jess’ serial, too. She’s also offering up a $20.00 Amazon gift card. And her story rocks!

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So this week it’s a subject I could probably waste more than a few pages on, because it’s one of my biggest time drains. I SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON…

I know. Trust me, I know. The list is probably as long as Santa’s…just not sure if it’s the naughty or nice one:) So I’ll have to restrict it. At least we all know that things like cooking, cleaning, organizing… won’t be on the list. And neither will exercising, because that’s always a great use of my time, and always the right amount, lol. The only question is will the limited version be numerical or alphabetical?

1— The Internet. No. One. Is. Surprised. And I don’t mean doing work or research. I mean just looking random shit up. Reviews for items I might want to buy. What the weather’s like in Ireland this time of year. Looking up names for characters because I can never make up my mind.

2—Social Media. I’m not hugely addicted, but yeah, I often scroll through FaceBook or Tumblr when I should be writing. Editing. It’s a time drain. You jump in then three random IQ tests later, you’re down an hour.

3—Binge watching Netflix or another streaming program. And I can watch quite a bit when I’m in the mood. Teenagers don’t help. More often than not one of my kids (insert Jared’s name here 🙂 will put on a show, like the Flash, or a movie. And even if I’ve seen it more than once, I get sucked in. And it’s so shiny, so pretty…I just can’t look away. Sometimes I’ll plan work items I think I can multitask on for while I’m watching, but let’s face it. I could do lots of other things other than this.

4—Being a taxi driver. While this area has improved a bit since Kyle got his driver’s licence. And because he’s a great kid who’s usually willing to be my driving minion. I still spend way too much time driving teenagers around. School, hockey, aerial arts, friends’ houses. Tim Hortons! No, I take that back. It’s always time well spent going to Timmy’s. But you get the gist. And it’s not like you can accomplish much while driving.

5—Staring a my computer, wishing my story would write itself. And it’s sad how often this happens, sigh.

6—Pixelmator. While most of the time I’m using this program for work—to make book covers and other graphics—there’s lots of time I just play. 🙂 The same with Everweb. I get on there and just start having fun. Decide now’s a good time to redo my website, or make a cover for a book that’s not releasing for months, lol. But I love it, so… it’s all good.

Those are my major time drains. Go check out the other ladies and see what’s on their list.

Jessica Jarman  |  Bronwyn Green  | Kayleigh Jones

Jessica De La Rosa  |  Kellie St. James  |  Gwendolyn Cease  | Paige Prince

Song flash fiction—I will possess your heart.

So it’s time for another song flash fiction. And this month it’s the song, I WILL POSSESS YOUR HEART by Cab for Cutie. I don’t think it’s a surprise that this wasn’t my choice, lol. I’ve actually never heard it before, but it’s not too bad. If you’d like to give it a listen, here you go…now there are a few different versions of this one. One has a four minute instrumental at the beginning, but I believe this is the ‘radio’ version.

Like all flash fictions, they’re always harder than they seem. It’s as if every idea flies away once it’s time to write. And I know I’m taking this in a completely different direction. At least, I’m betting on it. So, without further delay, here’s my music flash fiction based…

 

“An angel?” Kei scrubbed a hand down his face as his head tilted forward. “They sent me a fucking angel?”

Fire licked across his skin, the tiny arcs flashing bright in the darkness. Anger fuelled the flames, burning the yellow wisps into a deep crimson. Of all the bloody fuck ups…

Kei crossed the cemetery, stopping just shy of the symbol he’d inscribed on the ground. Black ash coated the parched dirt, traces of blood baked into the grooves scored across the land. He stared at the man crouched within the circle, muscles strained, creamy skin gleaming in the moonlight. Crisp white feathers fluttered in the breeze, his wings still unfurled across his back. Sweat beaded the guy’s flesh, trailing down the strong curve of his spine. Summonings weren’t pleasurable for demons. For angels—they killed as often as they succeeded.

Key frowned. He’d cast a fire enchantment. Used more than a bit of his blood and all the damn power he could spare as payment. A desperate last effort to prolong his life just enough to hunt and kill the wizard who’d cursed him to this fucking realm. The god damn human world. The one sorcerer who could destroy this dimension and a dozen more like it if Kei didn’t end the war before it began. He’d expected a blood demon. A soulless vessel he could possess until he’d found his prey. Preserve what little strength he had left before the final battle.

And he’d fucking deserved one. Fire enchantments were tricky. Risky. He would have gladly accepted death as a suitable recourse for a botched attempt. But he’d gotten every intonation and ancient pronunciation right. Had known the moment he’d finished, he’d been successful.

And yet, he’d somehow summoned a fucking angel.

Kei crossed his arms over his chest as he braced his feet shoulder-width apart. “Don’t suppose you’re really a blood demon in disguise?”

The man’s ragged breathing filled the air, his head finally lifting enough to meet Kei’s gaze. Pain creased his forehead, his clear blue eyes wide with surprise.

Kei shook his head, leaning his hip against a tombstone. “Guess that’s a no.” He held up his hand, attempting to stop the being when he looked as if he was going to try and stand. “I wouldn’t do that just yet unless you like falling. Ground’s a bit rocky for that.”

The angelic man glared at him, pushing to his feet before stumbling across the circle. He hit one of the stone crosses, the dull thud echoing through the graveyard. He sagged against the headstone, anger colouring his eyes.

Kei tsked. “Can’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Silence, demon, before I strike you down for simply standing there.”

Kei chuckled. “Yeah, you might find that whole smiting thing a bit difficult. Summonings tend to drain your life-force. And I didn’t use near enough energy to fuel an angel.” He cocked his head to the side. “You got a name?”

The man clenched his jaw, drawing himself up despite the ways his limbs shook from the strain. “I’m an angel, not stupid. Names are powerful.”

“Right. Because that’s really what I’d been hoping for. A self-righteous asshole with enough soul to fill this godforsaken cemetery. That was my plan all along.” He sighed. “The name’s Kei.”

“I don’t care.”

“Shithead it is.”

The man sneered. “I won’t fall for your tricks. ”

“No, you chose to fall from the fucking sky, instead.” Kei closed the distance, wondering when the guy would notice he was buck-ass nude. “How the hell did you get here, anyway?”

He arched a brow. “And here I thought you might be slightly more intelligent than most demons.  You just said you summoned me. There’s a blood token carved into the ground. You figure it out.”

“I cast a fire enchantment. For a blood demon.” Kei smirked. “I’ll admit, ancient spells aren’t my specialty, but even I’m not incompetent enough to fuck it up to the point I get an angel as compensation. Why are you really here?”

“Again. You summoned me.”

“Are you deaf? I said I summoned a blood demon. Fuck!” Kei turned, taking a few angry steps away before spinning. “Why would I raise the one being who can’t help me?”

“Since when do demons require help?”

Kei blew out an exasperated breath, twisting his palm face up before allowing his magic to spark to life. A flicking light appeared above his hand, the heat warning his skin. “Fire mage, shithead.”

“You said you were a demon.”

“I said I summoned one. You decided I was a demon.” Kei allowed the flame to bounce in his hand before racing up his arm then down the other, finally winking out. “Don’t suppose you’ll surrender your soul long enough for me to possess your heart—use your body to hunt down a wizard that needs exterminating?”

The man shook his head, finally glancing down. Kei smiled. Despite the fact the guy was far too pure for Kei’s tastes, he had to admit, he was more than attractive. Messy brown hair tousled about his head, strong smooth features that curved in perfect symmetry—the man was beautiful. Even his body seemed flawless—pale skin covering lean muscles that flexed with every small movement. If it weren’t for the fact the angel had been drained of his energy, Kei bet his ass the other man would be a tough opponent to best. That’s if the guy would actually fight.

Kei’s shoulders slumped as he braced his weight on one of the gravestones. “Of all the creatures I could have gotten by mistake, it had to be you.”

“Do you really expect me to believe this was an accident?”

“I don’t really give a fuck what you believe, shithead. I wanted a blood demon.”

“Stop calling me that.”

“Then give me something else to call you.” Kei snorted. “Bloody hell, it’s not like I can kill you. Even weakened, you’ve got far too much raw power for me to challenge. Especially when I haven’t come close to recovering from my offering.” He raked a hand through his hair. “And why the hell would I summon an angel? I need a creature that can kill, not a holier than thou prick who can’t so much as nick someone’s skin without having a moral crisis.”

The man straightened, his chest thickening as he drew himself up. Kei did his best to ignore the way the man’s cock rose, heavy and hard, between his legs. The end shiny in the waning light. Damn it, now wasn’t the time to get distracted, especially by the one being he couldn’t have.

“You’re mistaken if you think I’m incapable of destroying you the moment I regain my strength.” The man smiled at Kei. “Even my soul can stand the pain of seeing the rest of your blood stain the ground.”

“Great. I cast a spell for a demon and get the one angel who doesn’t seem to have an issue with slaying a mage. Must be my lucky day.”

“Then perhaps you shouldn’t have cast the spell at all.”

“I didn’t summon…” Kei cursed under his breath. He’d failed. One last chance to stop a war before it destroyed a thousand worlds, and he’d somehow failed without ever getting close enough to try. He met the man’s heated gaze. “If I had enough strength to send you back…” He huffed. “Guess you’re stuck here until I recharge, though I’m not sure exactly how to return you, seeing as I didn’t ask for your presence in the first place.”

“Like you’d send me back.”

“With pleasure.”

The man’s grim expression faltered. “Why did you summon a blood demon? You’re a mage. Far more powerful than some empty shell of a beast.”

“I needed something I could control. A way to conserve my power without abandoning my quest.”

“Quest?” A harsh laugh rumbled free. “Since when is killing a quest?”

“Since it’s the only way to prevent a war that won’t end until every living creature in every damn realm has been purged from existence.”

“War?” The man tilted his head, staring at Kei as if seeing him for the first time. “Who is it you seek?”

“You’d known him as Merrick.” Kei arched one brow. “I believe he used to be one of yours before he fell. Only he chose his destiny.”

“Merrick? But he’s…” Disbelief shaped his features before he motioned to Kei. “Where’s your army, Mage?”

“Why do you think I tried to summon a demon?”

“You’re alone?” The man’s mouth pinched tight, his focus shifting to the symbols still visible within the circle. “Are you mad?”

“From the moment you appeared.”

The man sighed, his gaze finding Kei’s again. “Gabriel.”

Kei frowned. “What’s that?”

“My name. It’s Gabriel. And you just got far more than you bargained for.”

 

That’s it for me. Please go visit the other ladies and see what story the song inspired for them.

Jessica Jarman  |  Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica De La Rosa  |  Gwendolyn Cease

 

 

Five words or less

Welcome to another edition of five words or less Wednesday. Yeah, right, like I’m only going to say five words. I already have far more. But I don’t ‘count’ these ones, lol. They’re just me blabbering on…because in case you haven’t noticed, I like to chat.

Now before I get into this week’s blog, a quick announcement. All Romance ebooks (ARe) is having a blast sale today, and Ricochet and Force of Nature are part of it. Just click on the banner and you can enjoy 25% of of them and a selection of other books!

AREBLAST

Now, back to business. This five words or less topic is… MY BLOG, MY FICTION, MY CREATIVE PROCESS. And trust me. This is so not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it’s freaking hard.

So, here goes…

Postcards from the edge.

I know. But damn, it’s hard, remember? And it’s the best I’ve got. Now check out the other ladies to see what they came up with. And don’t forget to comment on Monday’s Red Sky Dawning chapter for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Jessica Jarman  |  Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica De La Rosa

Gwendolyn Cease  |  Kellie St. James  |  Kayleigh Jones

 

 

SERIAL—RED SKY DAWNING…chapter one

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Let the games begin. Today is the official start of my serial…RED SKY DAWNING. It’s a project I’m doing with Jessica Jarman, who has a fantastic story planned out called… YOUR LIES. I’ll be posting her banner at the end of each chapter. Just click on it and you’ll pop on over to her post.

Since this is the first chapter, just a bit of background. While our stories are completely separate, it’s based on a common theme. Enemies to Lovers. Mine is erotic in nature. Jess is writing an NA. So please, if you find graphic language and scenes unappealing, then you might want to skip some chapters. These stories are intended for folks eighteen or older…so if you’re not, please find something else to read.

I’ll have every chapter readily available in the free read section of my website, so you don’t have to hunt around or scroll through blog posts to find them all. I’ll list the link at the start of each chapter.

Finally, both Jess and I are doing monthly giveaways. We’ll each be giving away a $20.00 Amazon gift card at the end of each month in a random draw to anyone who leaves a comment. If you comment for both posts in any month, you get entered twice. Easy peasy. So, without any more delays… chapter one…

Click to read the Prologue

Chapter One

This was treason. Once she broke the wards sealing the chamber and stepped inside, her life was forfeit.

Aelwyn stood in the underground passageway—flickering torchlight dancing across the damp walls as she stared at the wooden door nestled within the rock. The magical barrier surrounding the entrance thrummed in the air, the intricate weave pushing outwards as if drawing a deep breath. She took a step forward, tracing her fingers along the edge of the seal. The energy sparked, sending ripples across the surface—destroying the seamless illusion for a few precious moments before settling again.

Her magic flared in response, covering her skin with a soft, golden glow. Her energy recognized the darkness staining the strands like a festering wound. An evil that smothered the kingdom, poisoning the very air until every breath burned with malice and death. It was only a matter of time before Aldhaven fell beneath the weight of its power, leaving nothing worth saving alive.

Never. She’d give her dying breath to save her people—save Aelrik.

She calmed any unrest, focusing her magic, when footsteps sounded behind her. She spun, sword at the ready, her magic shimmering around her like a protective shield. Two men stopped at the mouth of the passageway, shoulder-to-shoulder, weapons poised in front of them. She stood her ground as they approached, finally baring their faces to the wavering firelight.

Tarn, her brother Aelrik’s personal guard, moved forward, nodding at her. “Princess Aelwyn.”

She didn’t miss his tone—equal parts reluctance and fear. Rarely did that word “princess” pass the lips of any within the castle walls. It was reserved for the rare moments her father paraded her in front of the commoners—proof that the king cared for his people…even his daughter marked as a monster.

Her father. King Aern. A man of many faces with lies to suit each one. Knowing his blood ran within her veins—that part of him would forever live inside her. It sickened her to think she’d once loved him. Trusted him. How she’d been so blind as a child—believing she was the one who’d failed him.

Aelwyn reined in her power, keeping it tightly coiled beneath her skin, extinguishing the warm glow along her flesh. She took a calculated step away, drawing her sword back but not sheathing it. “Captain Tarn.”

She glanced at the other man, noting the hint of silver around his temples. The master sorcerer had lived through two kings, his age just now starting to bleed through.

“Master Bearn.” She arched an eyebrow. “Are you two following me?”

Tarn’s gaze fell to the sword still poised in front of her chest. “I wasn’t aware you had skill with a blade.”

She gave him a mocking smile. “I wasn’t aware you knew anything about me other than your fear. Or is it revulsion?”

Tarn’s mouth pinched tight, the lines around the edges deepening. “Cane has ordered the castle grounds secured. It’s not safe for you to travel beyond your chambers until we catch the men responsible for Prince Aelrik’s disappearance.”

“Then I suggest you arrest Cane.”

Tarn’s nostrils flared as he took a step forward only to have Bearn bar the man’s way with his arm.

Bearn gave her a curt nod, sheathing his sword before crossing his arms on his chest. “Obviously recent events have upset you. It’s understandable…losing your brother like this—”

“He’s not dead.” She slid her sword into the leather strap across her back. “And I’m past being upset.” She drew herself up, allowing a tinge of her power to shimmer along her skin. She didn’t miss the way both men tensed, any hint of smiles fading. “If you’re here for my safety, I can assure you, I’m not in any danger.”

Tarn scoffed, pushing past Bearn. “We both know the sword is only for show. That you’re incapable of killing. It goes against your very nature as a…” He shuffled, the word seemingly stuck.

“Healer?” She cocked a brow. “Does it sicken you so much you’re unable to speak the word?” Her power flared, the golden shimmer dousing the corridor in light. “Am I that much of a threat to you? To Aldhaven?”

Bearn moved in front of Tarn. “Enough, Aelwyn. We’re not your enemy.”

“No. You merely serve him.” She drew a deep breath, once again coiling her magic beneath her flesh, acutely aware of how it pulsed in protest, as if sensing her unrest. Her fear.

Bearn shook his head. “Cane is your father’s—the King’s—advisor. The man has served Aldhaven for nearly three hundred years. Your father trusts him.”

“Then my father’s a fool. Cane doesn’t care about him, about the people of Aldhaven. He doesn’t worry if there’s enough food to eat or how many will die of ailments I could heal.” She tamped down her anger, knowing they’d never see Cane for what he was. That he was the real monster living within the castle walls. “He’s waiting.”

“For what?”

“The bloodline to end.”

Bearn sighed. “Aelwyn. Cane’s not of royal blood. He can never be king.”

“Who needs to be king in title, when you already rule the kingdom.” She rolled her shoulders, pushing out a rough breath. “Don’t you think it’s convenient that my brother disappears on the eve of his thirty-fifth birthday? The night in which he’s to be crowned king? That my father has locked himself within his chambers, allowing Cane to oversee his duties? Is none of that alarming to either of you?”

Tarn moved beside Bearn, his sword still drawn. “King Aern is overwrought with grief over losing his only son—”

“I told you. Aelrik is not lost. Not yet.”

Tarn scowled. “We’ve searched every room within the keep. I have soldiers scouring the village and the lands beyond. But other than the tower guards hearing him call out—seeing him fighting off intruders…” Tarn finally lowered his blade, turning his head away. “I don’t even know how they gained access to the grounds. He should have been safe. I’d performed a thorough sweep of the castle keep not moments before. If I’d thought he’d been at risk, I never would have let him walk alone.”

“That’s easy. Cane let them in.”

Tarn’s head snapped up, his eyes narrowing. “That’s traitorous talk, Princess.”

“Call it what you will. That doesn’t negate the fact it’s true.” She held up her hand, stopping him from answering. “I felt him remove his wards on the south gate. Why would he do that other than to allow others inside? People he didn’t want discovered.”

Bearn’s mouth gaped open before he pinned her with his gaze. “You felt what?”

Aelwyn sighed. She’d already said too much. “Enough. While I appreciate your protection, as you can see, I’m not in need of any. I’ll find my own way back to my tower. I always do.”

Tarn shook his head. “Cane’s orders were clear. You’re to be kept in your chambers until further notice.”

“A minute, please, captain.” Bearn edged forward. “What did you mean by you felt him remove his wards?”

She studied the man, noting the worried furrow of his brow. The beads of perspiration lining his upper lip. Tarn wore a similar expression. She just wasn’t sure if it was her or her statement that scared them. She weighed her options, not that she had many. She knew the men well enough to know that they wouldn’t leave—not without her. And she wasn’t going anywhere until she’d removed Cane’s protection and unsealed the door behind her. Taken the only risk that might save her brother.

Aelwyn squared her shoulders. “As you know, it takes power to unweave a spell. Ripples from that burst of energy travel outwards like undulating waves through the air. Each caster leaves a mark behind—a brand. Just like this barrier.” She turned, gently touching the invisible shield, watching as sparks crackled across the surface, bathing the corridor in red light before winking out. “It reeks of Cane—of his energy. It lurks in every shadow, in the dark corners of the woods. The very air suffocates beneath the weight of his magic. It’s a wonder anything grows within the borders of Aldhaven.”

“Feeling a barrier a few feet away isn’t what I’m talking about, Aelwyn. I can sense Cane’s wards inside this tunnel as easily as any mage.” Bearn pinned her with his gaze. “But what you’re claiming—there’s no way you could know he removed the enchantments without being there. Without being close enough to see him.” He glanced at Tarn. “No one can sense magic in the manner in which you claim—”

“I felt it, Bearn. As surely as I can feel Cane’s magic scouring the castle grounds as we speak—always searching.” She sighed. “You have no idea what I’m capable of. How strong I really am.”

Tarn cocked his head to the side, giving her body a long slow sweep. “Are you threatening us?”

She laughed. “Are you a threat? Did you come here to kill me, captain?”

“Of course not.” He huffed. “None of this matters. We came here to escort you back to your tower.” He waved at the way out. “If you’d be so kind…”

“Not until I’ve accomplished what I came here for.” She drew herself up. “I’ll give you both one chance to leave. I suggest you take it.”

“I just told you we aren’t leaving here without you, Aelwyn.”

“Then you leave me no other choice.”

She lifted her hands, allowing the energy beneath her flesh to materialize. Flashes of gold streaked through the air, a thousand threads weaving into a wall of light behind the two men. They jumped, twisting to watch the last flickers of magic lace together before slowly fading.

Tarn turned, sword once again at the ready. “What in the dark hells did you just do?”

She offered him a small smile. “I merely sealed the entrance. I need to ensure Cane won’t sense what I’ve done until it’s too late.”

His expression firmed. “And what is it you plan on doing, Princess?”

She snorted. “Do you really think I plan on killing you? Or Bearn? I didn’t have to seal the tomb if that was all I wanted.” She glanced at his blade. “I’d prefer not to have that in my face, captain.”

“Then release us, and I’ll put it away.”

“I asked you to leave.”

“And I told you I have orders.” He arched a brow. “I’d rather not fight with you.”

Aelwyn’s skin prickled a moment before Bearn struck. She released her power, shielding his attack, deflecting it against the barrier behind her. The wards hissed in response, deep reds flaring from the surface. Bearn reacted, blocking the unwanted blast from him and Tarn, sending another bolt toward her. She allowed her magic to wrap around his, altering his strands to suit her needs before pushing it into the stone walls. They shook then shot outwards, encasing both men’s hands in rock, effectively immobilizing them.

Bearn gasped, staring down at her as she slipped between them, hoping to defuse the situation without using any more power. Even with the corridor sealed, she couldn’t chance Cane might feel her magic—the man’s power nearly as great as hers. That he’d be able to send reinforcements before she’d done more than spar with her brother’s keepers.

“Enough. If I’d wanted you both dead, neither of you would be breathing.” She released a weary sigh, removing their restraints and pulling her energy back as she walked over to Cane’s barrier before glancing at them across her shoulder. “All I want is to save my brother. Return the rightful heir to the throne.”

Tarn stared at her, face pale, eyes rounded in shock. “How…”

Bearn flexed his hands, looking at them as if he’d never seen them before. “Impossible. You altered my threads…then manipulated the rock. No one can control more than one element.” He glanced up at her in horror. “No one. Not even Cane, and he’s…”

She gave him an apologetic grin. “I’m afraid the world isn’t quite as simple as you thought.”

The man scrubbed a hand down his face. “How long have you been able to do…all this?”

“Healers are born with their abilities. They don’t come into their power like others. You know that, Bearn.”

“Is it just earth you can control? What about fire? Air? Can you redirect anyone’s energy?”

She gave him a guarded smile then a nod.

“Dark hells.” He glanced at Tarn then back to her. “So you could have…revolted. Killed us all. Why haven’t you? After all you’ve suffered? Being isolated to that…tower. Being shunned as you are. Why not use what you have?”

“Because just thinking about taking your lives… It guts me. Causes pain that seeps into my bones. If I were to actually do it, the strain alone…” She bowed her head. “That’s the gift and the curse of being a healer. Immeasurable power, but an even greater conscience.”

Bearn relaxed against the wall, his strength seemingly drained. “You said you felt Cane release his wards. On the south gate. Just before your brother was attacked.”

She nodded. “I was in the north forest. By the time I was able to return…” She bit back a sob. If she’d only gotten there sooner. If she hadn’t ventured to the woods in search of solitude. Peace.

Bearn nudged Tarn, motioning to his sword. “You know what you’re suggesting?”

“Only what I’ve known for as long as I can remember. Aelrik knew it, too. Why do you think Cane got rid of him? Aelrik was going to banish him. Attempt to stop this war before it starts.”

Tarn shook his head, finally sheathing his blade. “What war? You’re not making any sense. And how do you even know Aelrik’s still alive?”

“I’m his twin. If I can feel Cane’s power, Bearn’s…is it so unbelievable that I can sense my brother? His power? Wherever he is?”

Bearn scoffed. “Prince Aelrik doesn’t posses any power. You’re the first royal to be born with any of the gifts in nearly five centuries.”

She gave him a genuine smile. “He’s my twin. Do you really think he’s barren of any magic?”

Bearn frowned. “But…”

“He controls it. Hides it.”

“I might not sense magic the way you’re suggesting you do…” He chuckled. “Who am I kidding? After what you’ve just shown us. I have no doubts you’re capable of all you claim, but…I’d know if Aelrik had abilities. He couldn’t hide that much power. Especially, when he was younger.”

She sighed. “I…shielded him. For his own safety. If Cane had discovered he had abilities…” She waved off the look he flashed her. “None of which matters. We’re wasting time. Sooner or later, Cane’s going to come searching for me. He can’t afford to leave me alive. And when he realizes I’m not in my chambers…” She nodded at the door. “He’ll know I came here.”

Tarn scowled. “How can he know when we didn’t? It was luck we saw you dart across the keep.”

“Because the key to getting my brother back lies beyond that door.”

“I hate to disappoint you, Aelwyn, but there’s nothing within that room that can save you. Or Aelrik. It houses a man, nothing more. A monster from long before you were born.” Tarn glanced at the old wood, pursing his mouth. “I’d assumed Cane had killed the prisoner years ago.”

Aelwyn raised her brow. “Is that what you think? Do you even know who’s in there?”

“A butcher, the likes of which our lands haven’t seen in over a century.”

“His name, Tarn. Do you know his name?”

“Nah. Though something tells me you do.”

She smiled, nodding her reply.

Tarn mumbled a curse. “I do know he’s a murderer. That he tried to kill your father. Kill Cane. That it took a room full of men just to capture him. That Cane cursed his wretched soul to this…tomb. Alive but not living. Suspended in time.”

“A butcher? A murder?” She eyed Tarn. “The same things could be said about you in battle.”

He glared at her. “I don’t kill for the sheer pleasure of it.”

“And are you so certain that this man does? Tell me, who made this claim against him?”

“Cane gave a full…”

Aelwyn smiled. “Tell me. If you believe me when I say that my brother is alive…where do you think Cane would hide him?”

“There’s no dark corner within our realm Cane could keep the prince and get away with it. I’m sorry, Aelwyn. Someone would know. My men would find him.”

“I agree. Nowhere…within the borders of Aldhaven.”

Tarn grimaced. “I know what you’re thinking but…” He carded a hand through his hair. “He can’t be in Ravendale.” He snorted at her continued silence. “Aelwyn. The borders of Ravendale have been impassable ever since King Roan erected that cursed barrier. No one can pass through the seals in either direction without a guide—one native to his land.” He sighed. “I’m afraid Roan has gone quite mad.”

“He thought he was protecting his people—his kingdom. After his son seemingly vanished…” She sighed. “But while the barrier guards his realm from attack, it’s slowly destroying his people. Their crops no longer flourish. Their livestock are dying. Droughts and storms plague the land. If Roan doesn’t have his priests remove the seal soon…his kingdom and all his people will die.”

“Roan can’t remove the barrier. The only reason there’s been any form of peace for the past hundred years is because of that seal. As mad as the man is, even he knows destroying the spell will result in…” Tarn’s breath hitched as he glanced at her. “War.”

“Aelrik wouldn’t go to war.” Bearn pushed in beside Tarn. “Your brother isn’t interested in conquering Ravendale. Gods know we have enough issues within our own borders to deal with. War…it’d be the death of Aldhaven, as well.”

Aelwyn bowed her head in acknowledgement.

Bearn scoffed. “Why would Cane want to go to war after all this time? What purpose would it serve to decimate his own kingdom with such an ill-conceived plot?”

“For power.” Aelwyn placed her hand on Bearn’s shoulder. “Why rule just one realm when you can have two. And once he’s in control of Ravendale, who will stop him from branching out farther? Castlegate would be within his reach. Oakwood next. Every kingdom lined up for his taking. But Cane needs access. And it all starts with getting Roan to remove that seal. With conquering them. And what better way than to have the missing heir to Aldhaven turn up within the man’s borders? Proof Roan is no longer fit to rule. And without an heir to take his place…”

“The burden would fall to Roan’s Advisor, Merek.” Bearn shook his head, pacing away before spinning to face her. “This makes no sense. Even if you’re right—if Cane had your brother abducted. If right now, riders are taking him east to Ravendale—there’d be nothing left of both our realms worth ruling over.”

“Do you think that concerns a man like Cane? One who’s spent three centuries controlling the royalty within these walls? My grandfather. My father. Aelrik was the first of my family to have the courage to stand up to him. To believe in a better future for our people. I won’t let Cane destroy that.” She stared at the door, drawing a deep breath before placing her hands over Cane’s barrier. “Either you believe me or you don’t. Decide now. Once I remove Cane’s wards—there’ll be no turning back. For any of us.”

Bearn moved in beside her. “This is Cane’s seal. I doubt even you can break it.”

Aelwyn looked over at the man. “Cane used dark sorcery to cast this spell. He thought it’d make the seal unbreakable. What he didn’t know was that, like the darkness from which he fashioned it, the wards fester. They shrivel and die, tattering the threads at the ends. And after a century of decay, they’re weak. Exposed.” She focused on the barrier, using her magic to find the frayed threads. “I suggest you and Tarn take a few steps back. Barriers don’t disintegrate without a release of energy. You might not want to be that close when it falters.”

Bearn’s eyes narrowed, his gaze running the length of her before he moved back, taking Tarn with him. Aelwyn waited until they’d gone as far as her seal before grasping onto the weakened edges, testing each one until she found the thread that held the others in place. Cane’s magic pushed in defense, bulging outwards, threatening to expand to the width of the passageway. Sparks erupted along the surface of the ward, the perfect illusion fading into a bloody red. She focused her energy, winding it through the fabric, slowly replacing his strands with hers. As each corrupted thread failed, a tendril of fire blazed from the barrier, singeing the rock an eerie black. Heat poured from within the seal as a cloud of ash swirled around them.

She kept working, blocking each withering thread as it lashed out at her, leaving raised welts along her skin. Bearn yelled at her from behind, but it was crushed beneath the hiss of fire—the scent of brimstone that wrapped around her, smothering her other senses. Sweat beaded her flesh, her muscles cramping from the strain. Time faded into the background, dimmed by the darkness clawing at the last of the threads—one final attempt to swallow her.

She closed her eyes, weaving her strands by feel alone—trusting the pulsing light to guide her. More threads bit into her skin, cutting lines across her flesh before the air stilled. A wretched howl screeched around them, the darkness funneling upwards, billowing out against the rock overhead. It churned like deadly storm clouds before exploding into a burst of fire, raining shards of flaming ash across the corridor. The last of the barrier shimmered then winked out, leaving nothing but an empty void.

Aelwyn fell to one knee, her hands braced against the cold stone as the scenery swam across her vision, nothing but a smear of gray light visible amidst the motion. Her stomach heaved in protest, her muscles shaking from fatigue. A warm palm touched her, drawing her back. She glanced over her shoulder, her gaze finally focusing on Bearn. The man’s pupils were blown wide, disbelief shadowed across his face. She glanced at his hand, certain this was the first time anyone other than her brother had displayed any form of affection toward her before turning away. A simple show of power wouldn’t change their perception of her. She’d always be a monster. An outcast.

Bearn’s grip tightened. “Aelwyn? Are you well?”

She laughed at the absurdity of his question, finding a way to push to her feet. She swayed against the slick wall, her fingers sliding down the surface as she tried to catch her balance.

Tarn lunged at her, shouldering her weight, preventing her from crashing to the ground. “Easy, Princess. If that was half as draining as it looked…”

She blinked, wondering if she’d missed the usual sarcasm in his voice—the hint of revulsion—before gathering her composure. She allowed herself one more moment of rest within his embrace before easing free. He gave her a raise of his brow but released her, stepping back.

She drew herself up. “I’m fine. That was…more difficult than I’d imagined. The strands weren’t quite as weak as I’d hoped.”

Bearn chuckled. “I’ve never witnessed that much raw power.” He sighed. “If Cane discovers the extent of your skills…”

“He’d have me sentenced to death. Though I doubt anyone other than my brother would shed a tear.”

Bearn’s smile faded as he glanced at Tarn. “It seems we owe you an apology. We just assumed—”

“That I was an abomination. Yes. I’m well aware of what is said about me.” She shifted her focus when a smear of red drew her attention. She turned back, a ripple of nausea burning her stomach as she stared at the gash on Tarn’s biceps. The ragged flesh glared at her, the steady trickle of blood like a knife to her soul.

She turned toward him, taking a firm step forward when he held up his hands, matching her movement backwards.

His gaze skipped to Bearn then over to her. “Aelwyn? What are you doing?”

She motioned to his arm. “You’re hurt.”

He glanced at the injury, waving her concerns away. “It’s nothing. I’ve received far worse merely training.”

“I can heal you.”

“With all due respect, Princess…”

“Does your hate and mistrust run so deep you’d see me suffer just to protect your wounded pride? Do you know what it does to me to feel the tear in your life force and not be able to mend it? How it burns at my soul?” She took another step forward. “Am I that frightening?”

Tarn’s eyes narrowed, his pride bleeding through. “I’m not afraid of a maiden who stands several inches shorter than me and I could easily crush with my weight.”

“Then prove it.”

He glared at her, turning to Bearn, but the sorcerer merely held up his hands.

“Don’t look at me, captain. I’ll admit I’m reasonably afraid of what she can do.”

Tarn huffed. “Fine. But so help me if you attempt to do me harm…”

She shook her head. “Just relax, captain. This won’t hurt, though you should be aware. Cane will be able to sense my magic upon you.”

“Sense what? You haven’t done anything.”

Her lips quirked at his show of obstinance as she closed the distance, placing her hands above and below the wound. The damaged threads wavered in the air, the ends dancing like fireflies around the cut. She focused on a single strand, gently weaving it to its mate, using her own power to bridge the gap. Golden light sparked through the passageway, chasing away the gathering shadows. Bearn murmured something behind her, his voice foggy. Distant. She moved from one thread to the next, stitching each one together, smiling when nothing but smooth, pale skin gleamed back at her. She gave one last push of energy then removed her hands, the last flickers of her magic swirling across Tarn’s arm.

Tarn gasped, running his fingers along his flesh, mouth gaped open. He inhaled roughly, his gaze finally finding hers. “By the gods, I…” He swallowed noisily. “And how, exactly, will Cane be able to tell that you…healed me?”

She took a few steps back. “In order to mend your flesh, I have to weave my energy through yours. To repair the broken threads. I’m afraid the invisible mark is permanent. Anyone gifted with magic will sense it, so the next time you see Cane…”

Tarn focused on her. “I have a feeling my next meeting with Cane will be my last. One way or another. So his knowing won’t matter, will it?”

“I did give you a chance to leave.”

“And I’m starting to think we should have accepted your offer.” He glanced at the welts and cuts along her skin. “Why haven’t your wounds healed?”

She offered him a genuine smile. “I can’t heal myself. It’s a gift to be shared. Not coveted.”

Tarn’s expression softened, the concern on his face somewhat unnerving. She held his gaze, unsure how to react when he shook his head.

He turned toward the door. “I still don’t understand why you broke Cane’s seal. I told you. The man inside…he won’t help you. Or Aelrik.”

She took a deep breath, moving forward, exhaling as she passed through where the barrier had been moments earlier, not stopping until her fingers wrapped around the large, metal ring. She tugged, cracking open the door. Air hissed from inside the tomb, the sudden cold sending a shiver racing down her spine. She paused, preparing herself for the upcoming battle before glancing at the men over her shoulder. “Every man has a price. You just have to know what it is.”

Tarn stepped forward. “And what is his?”

“Freedom.”

 

Please visit again in two weeks for Chapter Two. And jump on over to Jess’ blog to read Chapter One of her amazing story… YOUR LIES. Just click on her banner. And remember to leave a comment and be entered to win a $20.00 Amazon gift card.

your lies banner

 

Thank you for being a friend

Travelled up the road and back again. You’re a pal and a confidant.  Good god, I need to just stop. And I don’t even want to know how many of you recognize that song. What can I say. I have a photographic memory and yes, I used to watch that show. But I digress.

So this week, we’re supposed to write a thank you letter to an inanimate object. I’m sure a lot of folks would choose coffee. I’m odd in that I hate coffee. Everything coffee. Yes, even coffee crisp and if you don’t know what that is, because I’m not sure if you can buy it in the States, then no worries. But I’ll just say that they took perfectly good chocolate and made it taste like coffee.

There are a few things I could pick. Diet Coke. One of my two, true addictions. Well, three now because Steeped Tea at Tim Horton’s… yeah, baby. That’s my second calling. But when I think of what has helped me cope over the years—beside chocolate—there is one thing that stands out. Exercise. But not just any kind. Beachbody. Yes, the company. But specifically Shaun T and Tony Horton. Their products help fashion my moods. Bring me up when I’m done… (up when I’m down, lady…pretty lady…)

Whoa, okay, maybe I should be thanking whatever drug I obviously need to go on. Anyway, Not sure I know what I’m doing but here goes… A thank you note to T25 and P90X…

Dear Shaun and Tony,

I hate you. Hate you with a vengeance that knows no bounds. You break me. Push me to the edge, never allowing for excuses. You see me at my worst, but expect my best. You make me laugh and cry. Drive me until my muscles literally fail. Then tell me to stand. Push harder. Dig deeper. And why?

Because you love what you do. Because you know that beneath the pain, the sweat, the tears, I love what you’ve made me become. Strong. Confident. Determined. You’ve shown me that trying is winning. And that my best is always good enough.

But it’s more than that. It’s a way of life. An attitude adjustment. The calm in the chaos. For those thirty to sixty minutes, it’s all the focus I need. Nothing else exists. Just us…the mat. Those damn weights. There are no limits, no impossibilities. Just my own conviction. And my unrelenting need to keep pushing play.

What started out as a means to get fitter. To fight the slide into middle age, turned into a love affair of grandiose proportions. You’re my salvation. My one true beacon. Even when everything else in my life is uncertain, I know you’ll be there. That I can escape, even if only for a few precious moments. And that by taking the time to give you everything I’ve got, I’ll get so much more in return. Except for those jokes. The ones that never change. Really, Tony. You should have thought that part through.

And Shaun. Yes, I really do want to hurt you at times. Kick that pretty boy face. But I know that’s only because you’re breaking down the walls. Then helping rebuild them. I know there are those around me that don’t think we’ll last. That inevitably, I’ll stop watching you. Participating. But those people don’t understand the lure of endorphins. The feeling you get when your sweat is dripping on the mat, every muscle quivering with fatigue. When it takes all your strength just to pick yourself up and hit the shower. That kind of love never fades. Never falters.

So here’s to us. To having you kick my ass for the next fifty years. For sharing those moments when nothing else matters, and everything seems possible. I thank you. Until tomorrow. Because it’s that really hard video and I know I’ll hate you again. And continue to do so for the rest of my life.

Yours always,

Kris

I have no idea if that’s even what the blog was supposed to be about, but damn it, my best is always good enough. Tony said so. Now go check out the ladies. I’m thinking they didn’t pick the same thing I did…just a lucky guess here. But I’m sure it’ll be spectacular.

Jessica Jarman  |  Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica De La Rosa

Gwendolyn Cease  |  Kellie St. James  |  Paige Prince

red sky dawning—serial cover reveal

OMG. I can’t believe Jessica Jarman and I are finally… yes finally starting our serial stories. A bit later than we’d planned, but hey—it’s going to be epic. So, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Jess and I plan on releasing a new chapter twice a month—on the second and forth Mondays—until the stories are done. And I can personally tell you that my book is going to be long. LONG PEOPLE. As in full-length novel. Likely more of a super novel. Because this story— it’s morphed from an idea into a never-ending saga in my head. And I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Posts will be made here, and on WattPad, if I can figure that out, lol. I’ll do my best to link previous chapters so if you miss one, it’s easy to find.

Also, Jess and I will both be doing monthly giveaways. I’m thinking Amazon gift certificate. But I suppose the possibilities are endless. We just want folks to drop by, have a read and enjoy how the stories unfolds. Nothing tricky, lol. All you’ll have to do is leave a comment and BAM, entered. Comment on both chapters that month and you’re entered twice. Winners will be picked at random and announced.

So to start off, here’s the parameters we chose for our stories. It had to paranormal…and the underlying theme was enemies to lovers. I chose to do a fantasy-type book with magic and warriors set in a medieval-type kingdom, in the erotic romance genre. Jess is going NA…with a more contemporary feel to hers, but also filled with magic and intrigue.

My book is titled… RED SKY DAWNING. It’s MF, and I’ll warn folks now—there will be explicit sex scenes. So if that’s not your thing, then you might want to skip those chapters. I’ll try to remember to give a warning, lol…but consider this a blanket warning for the entire book. I don’t hold back. There will also be explicit language at times. So again, fair warning.

Now, for the fun stuff. Here’s the cover for the upcoming event. And not to toot my own horn, but damn I love this cover. LOVE IT. It’s exactly what I envisioned long before I found any images to make my dream a reality.

 

red sky dawningNow, while the actual chapters start next week, I have done a chapter’s worth of flash fiction on this story, and honestly, it gives wonderful insight into Rylan’s character. So, here’s the blurb and the prologue to get you started. Chapter one will be here in less than a week!

In a world where magic can destroy kingdoms, there’s no greater force than the bonds of love.

Rylan, son of Roan, and heir to the throne of Ravendale, has been fighting his father’s battles since he was old enough to hold a sword. His abilities as a fire mage gave his kingdom the ultimate weapon, until he seemingly vanished. Left vulnerable, his father erected a magical barrier that has provided Ravendale with a false illusion of peace—until now.

Shunned by her own people for being born with a power no realm has witnessed in over five hundred years, Aelwyn, Princess of Aldhaven, bears the mark of the gods, themselves. Both blessed and cursed, she’s devoted her life to protecting her brother, Aelrik, until he can take his rightful place as King—and finally end the war between her kingdom and Ravendale.

But his mysterious disappearance on the eve of his coronation brings a new scheme to light—one that’s designed to thrust Aldhaven into another millennium of bloody war. Left with no other option, Aelwyn has freed the only man capable of getting her brother back—a brutal, Ravendale warrior captured a century before she was born. But his cooperation comes with a price.

Enemies by heritage, Aelwyn has to put her faith in a man whose conquests are the horrifying legends of her past. Their mission is simple—rescue Aelrik and prevent a new battle from tearing both their worlds apart. There’s just one problem—circumstances of their agreement have put Aelwyn into her enemy’s arms, and she’s seeing a different side of the man history has labeled a murderer. Knowing firsthand that claims are often wrought from fear, she can’t help but strive to see the warrior beneath the lore. The man within the monster. But falling in love is a dangerous choice—one that might break far more than just her heart.

Red Sky Dawning

Prologue

“No.” Rylan stood outside the worn tent, feet braced apart, arms crossed over his chest, staring at the tattered flaps that snapped in the late evening breeze. Shadows played inside the small space, glimpses of flickering candlelight visible between the fluttering pieces of canvas.

Garreth slapped him on the shoulder, stepping up beside him. “Ah, come on, Rylan. It’s all in good fun. Not often we happen upon a town with its own seer.”

Rylan glared at his friend. “If you’re so enthusiastic, be my guest.” He waved at the opening. “Have the old witch read your fortune because I already know my future.”

“Do you, now? And what’s that? That you’ll be king? Find yourself a pretty maiden and make a few heirs to the throne?”

Rylan firmed his jaw, ignoring the flash of magic beneath his flesh. Garreth was just trying to lighten the mood. Give Rylan something other than war and battles to focus on. Perhaps a glimmer of hope.

He held his power in check, glancing at the tent. “We both know maidens and heirs aren’t in my future. Blood. Death. A kingdom with little chance of ever seeing peace—those are what lie in store for me.”

“There’s more to life than fighting your father’s battles, Rylan. You’ve done nothing but train and wage war since you were old enough to hold a sword. It’s no secret, your magic gave your father a far more powerful weapon than he ever imagined.” Garreth placed his hand on Rylan’s shoulder. “Maybe it’s time to consider ending this fight with Aldhaven. Find a way to do what Roan never could.”

“And what’s that, Garreth? Win?”

“Make peace.”

Rylan scoffed, breaking his friend’s hold and taking a few heavy steps away. “Peace? They raid our lands, pillage our towns. They kill women and children alike over a patch of earth that barely grows enough food to feed a family, let alone a village. Don’t you think my father would make peace if there was peace to be found?”

“We do the same to them. Kill them just as swiftly, as indiscriminately. Over that same piece of parched ground. My sword bears as much innocent blood as any Aldhaven soldier. Maybe more.” Garreth paced over to stand next to him. “Tell me. Do you even know why we’re at war? Does anyone even remember?”

Rylan held Garreth’s gaze, the truth of the man’s words settling hard in his gut. How many times had he pondered that very question? Asked his father—King Roan—what stood between them and a world without bloodshed?

Rylan ran a hand through his hair. “What would you have me do? I’m not king. Not yet.” He snorted. “Chances are, I’ll give my life for Ravendale long before I sit on any throne.”

“Make Aldhaven an offer. A show of good faith. Give them a reason to want to end this war as much as we do.”

“And what shall I give them? My life? Yours? My father’s crown?” Rylan shook his head. “I’ve heard the rumors, same as you. They say King Aern merely sits on a pedestal like a puppet on a string. Controlled by a sorcerer whose magic is equaled only by his thirst for more power.” His shoulders drooped, the sheer weight of that knowledge draining his strength. “We both know there’s no reasoning with men like that.”

“Then be the kind of man that dares them to walk away. To decline your offer. I’ll stand beside you. Every warrior you’ve ever accompanied into battle will stand beside you. You’re more than our prince. You know that.”

Rylan scrubbed his hand down his face, giving Garreth a smile as he palmed his friend’s shoulder. “And here I thought you wanted me to seek my fortune? If this is what the witch will tell me, I don’t think I want to venture inside.”

Garreth slapped him on the back. “You’re just afraid she might tell you, you’ll live long enough to have a woman rule over you. That the mighty Rylan—heir to the throne of Ravendale—will be struck down by love, not a blade.”

“There are a number of possible futures in store for me, my friend, but love isn’t be one of them. That, I’m certain of. My father’s already had my fortune read by every gypsy in the kingdom.”

“Then this one won’t come as a surprise. Who knows. We’ve never ventured this far north before. Perhaps that’s changed your fortune.” Garreth motioned to the flap. “Need I remind you that you lost our bet three nights ago. I’ll consider that debt paid if you simply go inside. Give the lady a chance to see something new.”

“If it’ll stop this endless chattering, it’ll be worth hearing my dismal fortune, yet again.”

Rylan ignored the smug grin Garreth flashed him as he strode toward the tent, brushing aside the flaps in one quick motion before entering the dim interior. Candles bathed the area in a soft glow, the scent of rose heavy in the air. He looked over his shoulder when the flaps snapped behind him, fluttering a few more times before suddenly stilling—the beige cloth hanging limp in the doorway.

“Come in, Prince Rylan. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Rylan jerked his head around, staring at the beautiful woman standing beside a small, round table. Golden hair hung down to her waist, her green eyes sparkling amidst the shadows.

She motioned to a chair angled in front of the table. “Please, sit.”

He covered half the distance, still gawking at her. “How do you know my name?”

“You’re the Prince of Ravendale. Everyone knows your name.”

“Not this close to the border. In a town I’ve never visited. Most people wouldn’t give me a second look.” He frowned. “But you’re…”

“What?” She smiled. “Not what you expected?” She moved gracefully to the chair opposite the one she’d offered him. “Would it ease your mind if I were older? If my hair was a dingy shade of gray? If my skin showed signs of experience—of days spent laboring in the fields? Does my appearance unnerve you, My Prince?”

“This has nothing to do with your appearance and everything to do with the fact you claim to be a witch.”

She laughed, the lilting sound oddly relaxing. “I believe the word you seek is seer. I’ve never claimed to be a witch. I don’t possess magic in the way you do. Mine is the gift of sight.”

“And that precludes you from being a witch, how, exactly?”

“Are you so hardened that you can only see the world in black and white?” She motioned to the chair again. “We both know your curiosity outweighs your hesitation. So please…sit.”

Rylan eyed her for several heartbeats, glaring at the doorway when he heard Garreth mumble something about paying his debt through the flaps of the tent, before continuing over to the seat. Rylan pulled it out, scanned the room once more then slid onto the hard wood. The legs creaked as he shifted forward, placing his elbows on the woven cloth covering the surface of the table. His gaze focused on the large, crystal orb centered on the fabric, a multitude of colors swirled through the clear stone.

She joined him at the table, studying him in return. Her gaze felt strangely intimate, as if she could somehow see inside him. A frown curved her lips, her brow furrowing. “You carry a heavy burden, young Prince.”

He didn’t reply, wondering if this was the best she could do.

She nodded toward the ball. “You don’t believe I can see your future, do you?”

“I believe you want me to believe you can.”

“You think all you have before you is death. Blood to be spilled on the battlefield. Your blood.”

He grinned, wrapping one arm around the back of the chair as he leaned against it. “I’m a warrior. That’s to be expected.”

“And you believe this is where you’ll die? On the battlefield, serving your father—your kingdom?”

“Even if it had not been foretold by countless seers, such as yourself, my future holds no mysteries, madam. No one wins every battle.”

“What if I were to tell you, they were wrong? That they couldn’t possibly foresee what your future holds because it becomes a black mist within the ball?”

“A black mist?” He edged toward her. “Is that not my death?”

“It symbolizes change. The end of one life but the beginning of another.”

“Must you speak in riddles?”

She shrugged, waving her fingers over the smooth glass. A white cloud stirred within the crystal, swirling like a building storm. She hovered over the ball, gaze fixed within it debts. “So much pain. So much suffering.”

Rylan squared his shoulders. He knew how this story ended. Had been told it numerous times. Why Garreth seemed to think Rylan would get a different version mystified him. He was a warrior. He’d die in battle.

The woman gasped as pure, golden light burst from the orb, filling the room with an angelic glow. Heat warmed his skin, stirring his cock beneath his breeches until it sat hard and heavy against his stomach.

Rylan pushed to his feet, drawing his sword as the light gathered strength, curling around him like a loving caress. His skin prickled in response, the image of a woman wavering in his mind before quickly vanishing. The light dimmed, turning to orange before slowly fading, nothing but the ghostly echo of his name ringing in his ears. He spun around, searching the small space before settling his gaze on the seer. Sweat beaded her brow, dark circles smudging the flesh beneath her eyes.

He stormed to the table, grabbing her by the collar. “What foul sorcery do you practice, witch? What do you hope to gain by lying to me?”

The woman’s breath raked across his wrist, the harsh sound catching him by surprise. Rylan released her, uncertainty building in his muscles.

She took a few labored gasps before finally lifting her gaze to his. Tears shone in her eyes, her obvious pain etched in the fine lines around her mouth. “It cannot be.”

He huffed, rounding the table—grasping her arm and lifting her to her feet. “What? What did you see?”

She stared at him, eyes rounded in horror, mouth slightly open.

He gave her a firm shake. “Speak, seer. What did you see?”

“Light. Pure, light unlike any I’ve ever seen. It’s…inside her.”

“Her? Who?”

The seer sobbed, tugging against his hold. “I must go. Prepare…”

“Tell me what you saw, witch, or I’ll strike you down.”

The woman looked up at him, all traces of smugness gone. “I saw a woman…standing beside you. Her arm marked by the gods, themselves—feathers from the angels above. She’s…”

Rylan shook her again. “She’s what?”

“The answer. To everything.” She leaned in close. “To you.”

* * * *

“They’re flanking right.” Rylan pointed toward the moors on the other side of the river. “Don’t let them take the bridge, or we’ll be cut off.”

Garreth gathered a group of soldiers together, barking out orders before sending them toward the stone structure, a tremble rumbling through the earth as their feet struck the ground in perfect precision. He turned toward Rylan, face weathered, blood smeared across his jaw and down his mail vest. His shoulders drooped for a moment before he drew himself up, heading across the open space.

Rylan scanned the surrounding countryside. The sun dipped low against the distant hills, the last rays of light just cresting the rocky slopes, bleeding the sky into a deep violet off to the east. Long shadows stretched across the land, slowly hiding the mangled bodies littering the battlefield. He glanced down, hating the splatter of blood caking his armor and skin.

He’d lost count of the number of men he’d slain as he’d cut his way through the writing mass of flesh, his only focus on avoiding injury. Staying alive long enough to get what remained of his legion to safety. Save those still breathing. Blood dripped from his blade, but he didn’t have the strength to wipe it off—aware more would simply take its place.

Aern’s troops had struck at dawn, the attack more calculated and brutal than any Rylan had faced yet. The sheer number of men, alone, had cost him a quarter of his warriors. The rest had merely tried to keep the advancing lines in check—hold their position until they could rally…or retreat. They’d managed to limit the skirmishes to the outskirts of the small village nestled on the river, but it wouldn’t be long before one of the lines broke through—before those villagers still seeking shelter within the tattered huts became casualties of a much greater war.

Garreth grabbed his shoulder, his hand trembling slightly as his breathing roughened. “We won’t last much longer. Not like this. For every man we cut down, three more take his place.” He shook his head. “I swear Aern emptied every damn settlement between the border and his precious castle to garner this much presence. Some of his soldiers look as if they’ve never swung a sword before today.”

“Skilled or not, they’re slowly gaining.”

“Aye.” He met Rylan’s gaze. “We both know there’s only one way we might come out of this alive.”

Rylan’s magic snapped just below his skin, threatening to break free of his hold. Ever since the first clash of metal, it’d been writhing within him—coiling tighter until every breath stung from the sheer force of it. Flickers of red sparked along his arms, tiny curls of smoke disappearing on the steady breeze.

He took a deep breath, once again pushing down the energy. “You know I don’t have that kind of control. Not here, with my men dying around me. Once I release it, there’ll be no stopping until I either kill them all—or it kills me.”

Garreth pursed his lips. “We’re outnumbered, Rylan. And this wave is just his foot soldiers. Soon, there’ll be archers, horsemen. What then? We can’t last out here against that kind of offense.”

Rylan glared at his friend, taking a few heavy steps away before turning. “Those houses are made of wood and straw. What do you think will happen to them once I release a wall of fire?”

“Better to burn our own village to the ground than to wait for Uldhaven soldiers to do it for us.”

“And the women and children hiding inside? What of them?”

“They’re dead for certain if Aern’s men break through.” He glanced away. “Or they’ll wish they were.”

Rylan pushed a hand through his hair. “Maybe if I had a chance to rest. To meditate. I’d have the kind of control I need to be discriminate about what I burn, but here. Now.” He sighed. “If my father had spent more time allowing me to hone this power instead of just assuming I could wield it, perhaps I could live up to everyone’s expectations for it.”

“Roan only cares about winning. At any cost.”

“Including his son.”

“We’re all expendable. Pawns for his games.”

“Well, perhaps I want more.” He waved at the battles waging around them. “What kind of king sits on his throne when his warriors fight for his kingdom? He should be here—leading his men—bleeding alongside them, not watching the sky fill with smoke from the walls of Ravendale.”

“Then call the retreat.”

Rylan snapped his head around. “We’ve never pulled back before, Garreth. Roan—”

“I don’t give a fuck about Roan or his orders. You’re my king, Rylan. Since you first saved my life in battle along with fifty other soldiers…you’ve been my king. I don’t care about ceremonies or crowns. Save your men. Live to fight another day, my friend. There’s more to your future than blood and death.”

He chuckled. “Just because one witch saw something other than swirling blackness in her crystal orb doesn’t mean anything. You know that.”

“Perhaps. Or maybe it’s a sign.”

Rylan closed his eyes, trying to block out the clattering of swords and the lingering screams of men dying on the battlefield. Garreth was right. It was pointless to fight a battle they had no chance of winning.

He glanced at his friend, nodding. “We’ll fall back. Take as many villagers with us as we can. Make our stand on more favorable ground. Sound the retreat, I’ll cover…”

A whoosh of air made him pause a moment before Garreth grunted, slamming backwards into the ground. A lone shaft poked out of his shoulder, the feathered end fluttering in the breeze.

“Garreth!” Rylan knelt beside the man, fingering the arrow. “Hold still.”

“No. Save…”

Garreth’s voice keened into a ragged cry as Rylan yanked the shaft free, tossing it aside. Blood flowed from the open the wound, pooling on the parched ground before slowly sinking into the earth—staining it an eerie red. Rylan gathered his magic, allowing a small stream to discharge, sending a finger of heat into the other man’s flesh. Garreth’s hand locked around Rylan’s, eyes wide before his head tipped back, his scream echoing across the moors. His friend clenched his forearm, nails biting into Rylan’s leather cuff before Garreth’s hold weakened, his arm falling limply to the ground.

Another volley of arrows landed in a scattered pattern around Rylan, one grazing his biceps. Rylan turned, his vision bleeding into red as sparks erupted along his flesh, flaring into flames as they raced up his arms then down his torso, consuming his upper body in a blaze of fire.

He stood, his magic pushing outwards, pressing against his fragile hold until it broke, tearing a scream from within his chest. The energy billowed outwards, coalescing into a ever-increasing wall as it raced toward the river, leaving a path of charred earth in its wake. A cloud of arrows rained down toward him, the shafts hissing into flames as they struck the barrier, the remnants falling to the ground as burning shards of ash. Shouts sounded from his troops as the men dove off the bridge, sinking beneath the water in an attempt to escape the fire. Agonizing cries rose above the roar of the flames, the pungent aroma of burnt flesh filling the air.

A horn blared off to his left, and Rylan turned, watching as a unit of Uldhaven soldiers breeched the village, torches already setting some of the huts ablaze. His magic pulsed in response, extinguishing the last of his reservations. He glanced at his friend, whispering his apologies as he started across the field, an arc of fire preceding each step. Men charged at him, none breaking through the fiery barrier as he made his way to the edge of the settlement, the dirt path baking into cracked, stone-like chunks beneath him.

He stopped, drawing his magic tighter, allowing it to swirl into a raging wall around him. The flames crackled and hissed, the heat setting everything within reach alight. Another horn sounded as he drew his power inward, then forcefully released it, feeding the fire until the very air sparked around him. Pleas and cries fell beneath the weight of his magic, his echoing heartbeat the only tangible link back.

Time faded into shades of red, his surroundings nothing more than the dancing flames scouring the land. It wasn’t until water lapped at his thighs that he realized he’d fallen to his knees at the river, a blanket of steam rising from the surface. His lungs burned as he sucked in a few labored breaths, his focus slowly clawing its way out of the fiery haze.

An eerie silence covered the land, the distant squawking of birds ringing through his head. Flames still flickered in the surrounding trees—every inch of the earth within his field of view charred a deathly shade of black. Moans rose above the crackle of burning wood, the mournful sound like a knife to his soul.

Rylan palmed the shoreline, head bowed, muscles cramping with fatigue when a hand landed on his shoulder.

“Rylan.”

He stared straight ahead, unable to look away from the utter devastation, even to met Garreth’s gaze. “Dark hells. What have I done?”

“We need to gather what’s left of our legion and leave. Before Aern’s troops find a way to launch another attack.”

“Another attack?” Rylan stumbled to his feet, kicking up a spray of water as he took a few shaky steps before turning. “Look around you! There’s no one left alive to launch an attack. I’ve killed them.” He released a choking breath. “By all that’s holy, I’ve killed them all.”

Garreth moved forward. “They brought this on, themselves. They—”

“No one deserves the magnitude of violence I displayed here. They’re soldiers following their king’s orders. They’re no different than us.”

“Then the blame rests with me. If I hadn’t gotten hit…”

Rylan palmed his friend’s good shoulder. “We both know it was only a matter of time before I lost control. Seeing you struck down…” He released his hold, allowing his arm to fall to his side. “The blood spilled here is on my conscience. I’m merely lucky I didn’t decimate my own men, as well.”

Garreth sighed. “What’s done is done. Even you can’t change the past.”

“No. But I can shape the future. This is only the beginning. Once Aldhaven hears of this massacre, none of the border villages will be safe. Aern will send his men to destroy every living soul born of this kingdom…unless I stop him.” He waved at the desolate landscape. “Stop this.”

Garreth pursed his mouth. “Do you honestly believe Aern will listen to reason? To you?”

“It’s unlikely. But I have to try.” He shook his head. “I’d rather die trying to establish peace the live like this. There has to be a glimmer of hope—some kind of light to end the darkness.”

“Then I’ll grab our mounts. Gather supplies—”

“Not this time, my friend. I have to go alone.”

“Rylan. I pledged my allegiance to you, and you alone. You just saved my life. I won’t turn my back on you, now.”

“I need someone I trust to lead the men. Help whoever’s still alive find their way back to the keep. If I fail…”

“Then there won’t be enough swords—enough magic—to keep me from seeing Aern’s blood spilled.”

Rylan nodded. “Ornery as always.” He took a few steps, glancing sideways at Garreth. “I owe you far more than just my life. Thank you.”

“For what? As I recall, it’s you who’s saved me.”

“For never seeing me as Roan’s son. Godspeed.”

Garreth grabbed his arm, stopping him. “I meant what I said. I’ll be waiting for your return.”

Rylan smiled. “Then I’ll expect you to save me some of the good mead and not that swill you usually try to pawn off as my share of the victory.”

“Don’t die on me.”

“I’ll do my best.”

 

Now, as much as I love the cover, Jess and I also have banners, so we can link to each other’s posts every week. And let me tell you. Her story…it’s amazing. I you haven’t caught the snippets she’s posted in her flash fiction, you’re in for a treat. Here’s more information on hers. I suggest you hope over to her blog and read up even more about her fabulous story….YOUR LIES.

 

your liesTo go to Jess’ site and learn more about her story, click on the banner below. But here’s the blurb.

Keeping her magic secret keeps Delia Lancaster safe. That is the one truth among the lies that make up her life. Having left the safety of home for college, Delia clings to that truth. Trusting someone with her heart is difficult enough. Trusting someone with her secret? After everything she’s already lost? Next to impossible. And isn’t it just her luck that the first guy she feels any interest in just happens to be the charming and very attractive face of the anti-magic movement on campus?

His entire life, Maddock Roberts has watched his parents work to relieve magic users of the burden they carry, the disease that corrupts them. Popular and confident, Maddock finds himself a leader in the fight against magic. Eyes on the future, he’s more than ready to take up the mantle and continue the battle beyond the boundaries of campus. The last thing he needs is to be distracted by a pretty face. Particularly when everything about her—her actions, her words—makes him question everything he’s held as truth.

Working with the magic Sympathizers on campus brings Delia face-to-face with Maddock more than she wants. Physical attraction, Delia can handle, but getting to know the man behind it all…and liking what she finds? That’s a problem she doesn’t need. Despite her best efforts, she and Maddock grow closer, and keeping her secret becomes more difficult. But their fledging relationship isn’t the only thing that could be destroyed if the truth comes out. Her life is at risk, and it may already be too late to walk away.

And here’s my banner. Just for fun.

A picture’s worth a thousand words—april

It’s time for another flash fiction. And this month I’m kinda stumped, lol. I mean, it’s a perfectly normal picture. One that could launch a thousand different stories. And yet… Maybe it’s because I’m engrossed in my current project—finishing up the next Tombstone book. So my head is filled with shifters and werewolves. And this image—so not one that screams paranormal, lol. At least not to me. Zombies, maybe…yeah, I watched the season finale of Walking Dead. Can’t you just picture them getting mauled by fifty walkers? But I digress.

Anyway, in an effort not to wimp out, here’s my photo inspired story. Be it what it may. And yes, cop-out comes to mind. But at least I’ve written something…and not two paragraphs where they get eaten by the undead.

 

Aaron groaned inwardly as the closing scene of the movie cut through the darkness. The couple stood in the middle of a deserted road, silhouettes backlit by the moon. A sappy love song played in the background as the man cupped the woman’s head, tugging her in for a searing kiss.

He shifted restlessly in his seat, sparing a quick glance at Lincoln. Aaron had only agreed to come to the damn movies because Linc had shown up at his doorstep and threatened to call Aaron’s parents if he didn’t venture beyond the front porch. Do something other than sleep and drink. Just their luck, the action film Linc had promised they’d watch had been sold out, and they’d ended up in the chick-flick from hell. Linc had merely shrugged, claiming anything was better than Aaron simply sitting on the damn couch…staring at nothing.

Linc elbowed him, drawing his attention. “See? It wasn’t that bad.”

Aaron shoved his hand through his hair. “Right. Sitting here watching that couple fall in love on screen was just what the doctor ordered. Thanks, buddy. I feel so much better, now.”

Linc sighed. “While I’ll admit the choice of film wasn’t the best, it beats sitting in your damn boxers sharing peanut butter off the spoon with your dog.”

“Rex is an excellent companion. He doesn’t nag, doesn’t judge, and I get the lion’s share of the food.”

“Do you even hear yourself? It’s sad, bro. Real sad.”

Aaron looked away, scrubbing his hand down his face. Rough stubble scratched at his skin. He hadn’t shaved in a week. Not since he’d come home two days early from his three-month tour in Antarctica to find his lover in bed with another man. And his life had gone in the fucking shitter.

He let his head fall back against the seat as he slumped down in it. “I’m dealing.”

“No, you’re hiding. Spiraling. Just about anything but dealing.”

He glared at Lincoln. The man had been his friend since fifth grade. One of the few he had left from that part of his life. And the only person who knew how much Aaron had struggled with his decision to take the post, knowing he was putting his personal life at risk. But damn it…it’d been the opportunity of a lifetime. Something he thought Garret had understood and supported.

Of course, Aaron knew better, now. That Garret’s easy acceptance had been largely due to the fact he’d been sleeping around. That their lack of a sex life for the month prior to Aaron’s departure had been more than inconvenient timing or fatigue. That they’d been messed up long before he’d jumped on an airplane heading south.

Lincoln nudged him. “Come on. We’ll grab some pizza and beer and go back to my place. Give you a change of scenery.”

Aaron’s stomach flip-flopped at the thought, he just wasn’t sure if it was fear or anticipation. “What about Brian? He’s not exactly my biggest fan.”

“Don’t worry about Brian.”

“Dude. He accused me of trying to undermine your relationship. He said, and I quote,  “I was secretly trying to split you two up so I could finally make a move,” end quote. He’ll flip if I show up unannounced.”

Lincoln’s expression sobered as he leaned forward in his seat, elbows braced on his knees. He took a few deep breaths then glanced at Aaron. “Brian’s gone.”

Aaron frowned. “Gone? You never mentioned he’d taken another assignment. Where’d the magazine send him this time? New Orleans to cover Mardi Gras?”

“Honestly? I don’t know. Care even less. He’s gone, gone, Aaron. I kicked him out.”

A rush of blood pounded through Aaron’s ears, his heart clamping tight in his chest. “You did what, now?”

Lincoln threaded his hands behind his neck as he heaved out a slow breath. “You were right. Bastard was using me to make connections. Climb some fucking ladder at work. As soon as he got that promotion, he changed. Started staying out late, coming home drunk, his clothes reeking of Axe. When I confronted him about it, he told me I was imagining things. That I was just jealous of his success.” Linc snorted. “Can you believe that? I got him the damn job to begin with, but I’m the jealous one.” He shook his head. “I’m just embarrassed I didn’t see it before. That I was so damn blind.”

Aaron placed his hand on Linc’s shoulder. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“Are you serious? Took me four days to get you to open the damn door. Another three to get you to leave the house. Talking has been the last thing on your mind.”

“I was angry. Hurt. Fuck, still am. But I’d like to think I would have pulled my head out of my ass long enough to be there for you.” He leaned closer. “How long?”

“Shortly after you left.”

Aaron pushed to his feet, staring down at his best friend. Hell, the man was so much more. He just hadn’t realized it until he’d spent three months removed from everything. Everyone. “You’ve been dealing with this for nearly three months and never said a damn thing? What about all those times we talked on the phone? The couple of video chats we managed? I wasn’t ‘spiralling’ then. Wasn’t too engrossed in my own hardships, then, to lend an ear…buddy.”

Lincoln stood, nearly banging into Arron’s chest. “Don’t you think I wanted to tell you? Fuck, to tell someone? But I know you. If I’d even hinted that Brian and I had split, you would have jumped on a damn plane and hauled your ass home. I couldn’t let you do that. Being part of that research team was too big of an opportunity for you to throw it away because I got my damn heart broken.”

“Don’t you think that was my choice to make?”

“Not this time.” He gave Aaron a shove. “Come on. I’m hungry and the staff is staring at us as if we’re freaks.”

“Hate to break it to you, Linc, but you are.”

“Jackass.”

Aaron smiled, following Lincoln back to his car—staring out the window as Lincoln drove through town, stopping at some two-bit pizza place to grab some food while Aaron darted across the street to get beer. Neither spoke until they’d settled on Lincoln’s couch, an old movie playing on the television.

Aaron nudged his friend. “You okay?”

Lincoln chuckled. “I thought I was supposed to be cheering you up? Making sure you didn’t fall off the deep end.”

He shrugged. “Not that I want to admit it, but…I think I knew we were over before I left. That a part of me took that job as a way of distancing myself. Preparing for the inevitable, if you will. Besides, I never realized how wrong the bastard was for me until he was gone. Sometimes we’re just too close to see what’s right in front of us, ya know?”

Linc’s jaw clenched, his focus dropping to Aaron’s mouth then back up. He seemed to take a shaky breath before flashing a fake smile. “Trust me. I’ve spent the last few months wondering what I ever saw in the creep. I should have listened to you.”

“That’s not what I meant, Linc, and you know it. And I seem to recall you mentioning that Garret was a player. That guys like him didn’t stay. But as usual, I needed to find out the hard way.”

“Garret’s an ass to think he’ll do better.”

“And Brian wouldn’t know a good thing if it bit him in the ass.” Aaron grinned. “You didn’t actually bite him in the ass, did you? Because, dude, that would be so ironic.”

Lincoln shook his head. “And to think I chose to be your friend. What was I thinking?”

“That we’re a pretty damn good team? That I’d be fucking lost without you?”

Lincoln’s face paled, a rough breath sounding between them. He looked away, stumbling to his feet before heading to the kitchen. “I need another beer. You want one?”

Aaron trailed after him, heart thrashing in his chest. He waited until Lincoln turned before making his move, trapping the man against the counter. Lincoln inhaled sharply, the raspy sound only feeding Aaron’s resolve.

He leaned in, praying he wasn’t destroying the only relationship he’d ever had worth saving. “Do you want to know the real reason I didn’t answer my damn door? Why I’ve been fighting to keep you out? I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my distance. That after everything that happened, I was too damn raw to keep lying to you. Pretending that you’re nothing more than a friend. Because if there’s one thing that damn tour made me realize, it’s that there’s only one person I can’t live without. And I’m scared to death of making the biggest mistake of my life, and having him walk away.”

Lincoln stared at him, his breath rasping between them. Aaron held his ground, wondering if he’d just ruined twenty years of friendship when a slow smile curved Linc’s mouth.

The man leaned forward, stopping when his lips brushed against Aaron’s. “About fucking time.”

 

And that’s it for me. Go check out the other ladies. I know they have some amazing tales to tell.

Jessica Jarman  |  Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica De La Rosa

Paige Prince  |  Gwendolyn Cease  |  Kayleigh Jones

 

Summer, it’s like the world’s best story…

I always seem surprised when these favourite things posts pop up. Not sure why. It’s the first Wednesday of every month and yet…yeah. I never seem to see it coming. I know what you’re thinking, but—remembering is hard. Don’t judge. Just enable.

Anyway, this month it’s favourite seasons. Now, I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be my overall favourite season. Stuff I like about different ones or the one I like most. And do things like duck season/rabbit season, skiing season, hockey season, ’tis the season to be merry—do they count?

Okay, well, let’s just start and see what happens.

In terms of traditional seasons, my all-time favourite is fall. I like the warm days but with a hint of crisp air. The leaves in every shade of red, orange and yellow. I like the cool nights that call for your favourite sweater. The days are still long enough you can do something in the evening, and for those rainy days, there’s new shows on the tele. There’s just one downside to fall. School.

So, once my kids are down with school, there won’t be a reason to not enjoy autumn. But school is why currently summer is the best. Yup, it’s all because I don’t have to nag kids to get out of bed, worry about homework or care who goes to bed when. Hell, who sleeps over for that matter. It’s just free time. Now, I’m lucky—out here on the west coast, we don’t get extremely hot summers. Usually mid twenties during the day and cooler at night, quite often low teens. No roasting or freezing. But that is a downside to summer. Here is how I see summer—Phineas and Ferb captured it perfectly.

I am not a heat worshiper. I don’t like it over twenty and I don’t like humidity. I grew up out east, so yeah, I’ve had my share. But summer means it’s light out until eleven. You get to go barefoot and I can run in a tank and shorts. There’s something very freeing about that. Warm summer breezes and you actually don’t mind when it rains.

Winter—I’m not a lover of winter. Yes, it’s pretty. The first snowfall. Pristine white covering the trees. All very photo-worthy. But I don’t like the cold and I don’t like the short days. I do like to ski, but—there hasn’t been a lot of good ski seasons out here lately. Now, out here, we don’t get much snow, but we get rain. Lots of rain and wind and it’s grey…all the time.  So not a lot of positives here for winter. And no, Christmas isn’t even really a positive for me anymore. I’m currently disillusioned by the commercialism of it. Perhaps at some future point I’ll love it again, but right now—not feeling it.

Spring. Yes, the smell of flowers and everything turning green is cool. The days starting to get longer is a plus. But I don’t love it as much as summer and fall.

As for other seasons—I enjoy hockey season, but it grows weary on me. I love watching my boys play and officiate, but I’m always done long before they are, lol. Now I do love “new series starting” season. My daughter and I love watching Castle. We also watch Canada’s Worst Driver, Walking Dead and The Flash. It’s fun seeing new episodes of the shows you love, so yeah, there’s that.

I think that’s it for me. I’m sure the other ladies have some brilliant insights. Check them out.

Jessica Jarman  |  Bronwyn Green

Gwendolyn Cease  |  Paige Prince  |  Jessica De La Rosa