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Destiny Finds Her
Destiny Series, Book 1
Genre: Romance/Time Travel
Number of pages:178
Cover Artist: Sister Sparrow Graphics
Jami – Content with her life working for a publishing house, enjoying her caffeine addiction and her daily banter with best friend Todd. Jami wasn’t one to believe in Destiny. When her world turns upside down just days before her 25th birthday, her beliefs are challenged and time is ripped away. Dozing off in the sun one moment and sitting in a field of heather with a talking hamster the next will rattle any normal girl. But hearing a sexy deep voice and turning to find the Highlander it belongs to will rock anyone’s world!
Devlin-. He loved the annual festival, all the hustle and bustle around the keep, what he couldn’t handle was his mother hounding him about finding that “one” to settle down with as the middle brother he still had plenty of time. He escaped daily to do his rounds along the land’s perimeter, but one day he found someone he wasn’t expecting. One look, one smell was all it took. He would find out who she was.
Faced with the obstacle of overcoming her fears and embracing her powers, Jami’s destiny is hers to take. Or is it?
Available at Amazon
I took a seat on the stones and pulled my knees up to my chest, resting my chin and just taking it all in. Moss crept up the stones on the bank, giving way to a lush carpet of grass and wildflowers. Again, I smelled heather, but couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from. Heather couldn’t survive in this climate, even next to this little brook. It must be the combination of all the wildflowers’ scents mixed together.
My eyelids became heavy. This seemed odd as I’d rested well last night and hadn’t been up that long. I sat there, feeling a bit hazy and sleepy, and noticed a small creature venturing up, maybe to drink from the brook? It wasn’t a squirrel. The tail wasn’t long enough. Maybe a chipmunk, though the markings on the fur weren’t right. This wasn’t anything I’d seen before.
I watched it, trying to decide what animal family it could be from, when it looked up at me. It stared right into my eyes. I gawked, my eyes widening when I realized this little creature’s eyes weren’t the little black dots I would expect, but a misty gray seeming to swirl as if a fog was contained within them. This little creature winked, and then scampered away.
I shook my head. My imagination was running away with itself again. I attempted to move, but my body had other plans. Instead of finding myself standing, I’d actually lain down. My eyes got heavier the longer I rested. A small nap can’t hurt. I had no pressing work, and the call to Todd could wait. I closed my eyes and let the sun warm my face as I drifted off to sleep.
“Jami,” a voice whispered
Startled, I sat up and shaded my eyes.
I scanned the trees, trying to locate the owner of the voice.
“Down here, dearie.”
Peeking down, I found that the little creature who had scampered away, was in fact at my feet, gazing at me. I drew my feet up quickly.
“I’m dreaming.” I scanned the area again. “Who’s there? This isn’t funny.”
“Yes, dear, ye are dreaming and please quit thinking of me as a creature. I have a name, and it’s Roma.”
I stared at this little creature with its round black eyes and fluffy, multi-hued brown fur. I rubbed my eyes. Sure enough, she was still there. “But, how?”
“It’s a dream, dearie. Anything can happen in dreams”
“Who or what are you?”
“As I said, my name is Roma, and all ye need to know is I am here to help you. To give ye a bit of advice”
“What kind of advice?” Heck if this was a dream, I may as well play along. It could make for a great story if I remembered it when I woke up.
“Keep an open mind and an open heart. Yer fate is going to show itself to ye soon.” Roma skittered away into the trees.
About the Author:
Mother to two boys, 3 four legged babies, and wife to a loving husband who doesn’t mind the extra voices in her head.
Miranda grew up on a dairy farm in Illinois, but calls Portland, TN home now. She is an avid reader, coffee addict, and loves her day job working at the local public library. Though her true passion is in creating her own worlds, characters, and stories for her readers.
Free eBook – Blue Rose, Book One PLUS – scroll down to enter a contest for The Last Akon, Book Two
Genre: YA Fantasy
Number of pages: 397
Word Count: 73,062
Cover Artist: Renu
“After speaking to the other angels on the team, I hang up my cell and sigh. No one’s heard from Aaden in months. This bothers me not only as the leader but as his girl–well if I was his girl–which I’m not. Great. Now on top of being grounded, I’m sitting here acting girly and needy. Argh!!!
Screw this! I start to head downstairs to plead my case to my parents again, when something out the window catches my eye. I lean in closer to get a good look. What I see astounds me: soundlessly and without hesitation, the humans line up and jump off the roof one at a time…”
PLEASE NOTE: This book contains a scene in chapter 12 that is for mature audiences only. Readers can skip this chapter without missing any info vital to the plot.
Available Free at Amazon
“That didn’t look like nothing, Pryor. He’s terrified. You were Binding him,” my dad accuses.
“A little,” I admit, avoiding eye contact.
“You could have killed him,” she says.
“I wasn’t going to hurt Principal Walsh. I just wanted him to shut up. He was going on about conforming to the status quo, and frankly that’s unacceptable behavior for an educator. I was doing humanity a favor by rendering him silent.”
About the Author:
Lola was seven when she first came to this country from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She attended Columbia College in Chicago, where her main focus was creative writing. In addition to plays, she also writes screenplays and short stories.
She has been commissioned to write for ABC, CBS and Princeton University. She won the NAACP award for her play “The Bones of Lesser Men”. In addition to being nominated for LA Weekly awards. Her work has also received positive reviews from The LA Times, Variety and LA Weekly.
5 WINNERS will receive a free copy of THE NORU: BOOK 2: THE LAST AKON
An epic romance and an epic contest from NY Times and USA Today best selling author, C.L. Wilson.
Win this beautiful Winter White Rose pendant. Entry details following excerpt from THE WINTER KING.
The Winter King
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Avon Romance
ISBN 13: 9780062018977
Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when Falcon, the prince of Summerlea, stole Wynter’s bride and murdered his young brother, Wynter vows vengeance. Calling upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart, he gathers his armies and marches against Summerlea, crushing their armies and spreading icy winter in his wake.
After three long, bitter years of battle, Summerlea is defeated and Wynter comes to the heart of the kingdom to issue his terms for their surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth of love and melt the Ice Heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.
The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will turn her out in the ice and snow of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer Kingis out of daughters. All the while, Wynter will enjoy the vengeance of knowing the Summer King will suffer each day without his beloved daughter(s), as Wynter suffers each day without his own beloved brother.
The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond.
Blamed as a child for the death of her beloved mother, Khamsin Coruscate, the forgotten princess of Summerlea, has spent her life hidden from the world like an embarrassing secret. Dressed in cast-off gowns and left to her own devices, with only the determination of her loyal nursemaid to ensure she receives the education befitting an Heir to the Summer Throne, Khamsin haunts the abandoned towers and gardens of Summerlea’s royal palace, close to her beloved late mother’s treasures, and waits for the day her father will recognize her as a Princess of the Rose. But though she dreams of the valor and sacrifices of ancient Summerlea heroes and pines for paternal love that will never come, Khamsin is no sweet, gentle, helpless princess-in-a-tower. She is a fiercely passionate creature with a volatile, rebellious temper that is often as reckless and destructive as the dangerous forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.
Together will their stormy personalities be able to meld or will their powers destroy not only their love but the whole world?
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Vera Sola, Summerlea
“Do you have to go?” Seventeen year old Khamsin Coruscate clung to her beloved brother’s hand as if by her grip alone she could anchor him fast and keep him from leaving.
“You know I do. Our treaties with the Winter King are very important.”
“But you’ll be home soon?” Whenever he was gone, the ancient walls of the royal palace of Summerlea that had been her home and her prison since birth seemed somehow more confining, more restrictive.
“Not this time, little sister.” Falcon shook his head. A strand of black hair that had pulled free of the queue at the back of his neck brushed against the soft, dark skin of his cheek. “It will take weeks to negotiate the treaties.”
Khamsin scowled, and the wind began to gust, sending Kham’s habitually untamed hair whipping into her mouth and eyes. “Why does he have to send you? Why can’t his ambassador negotiate the treaty? He’s sending you away because of me, isn’t he? Because he doesn’t want you spending so much time with me.” Her hands clenched into fists. The wind sent her skirts flying and a dark cloud rolled across the sun.
Their father, King Verdan IV of Summerlea, didn’t love her. She knew that. He kept her isolated in a remote part of the palace, hidden away from his court and his kingdom, on the pretext that her weathergifts were too volatile and dangerous and she couldn’t control them. That was all true. Kham’s gifts were dangerous, and she couldn’t control them any better than she could control her own temper. Until now, however, he’d never stooped to sending his other children away to keep them from visiting her.
“Here now. Be calm.” Falcon smoothed her wayward curls back, tucking them behind her ears. Compassion and pity shone softly in his eyes. “I wish I didn’t have to leave you. But Father believes I’ll have the best chance of getting what we want from Wintercraig, and I agree with him.” Summerlea, once a rich, thriving kingdom renowned for its fertile fields and abundant orchards, had been in a slow decline for years. Although the nobles and king maintained a prosperous façade for political and economic purposes, beneath the gilded domes and bright splendor of Summerlea’s palaces and grand estates, the rough tatters of neglect were beginning to show. “Besides, you won’t be alone while I’m gone. You have Tildy and the Seasons.”
“It isn’t the same. They aren’t you.” He was the handsome Prince of Summerlea, charming, witty, heroic. He’d lived a life of adventure, most of which he shared with her, entertaining her with the tales of his exploits…the places he’d seen, the people he’d met. His hunts, his adventures, his triumphs. No matter how much her nursemaid, Tildavera Greenleaf, doted on Khamsin, or how often the three other princesses, Autumn, Spring, and Summer, snuck away from their palace duties to spend time with their ostracized youngest sister, Falcon was the one whose visits she couldn’t live without.
“Now there’s a pretty compliment. Careful, my lady. You’ll turn my head.” He smiled, and warmth poured into her. It was no wonder the ladies of their father’s court swooned at the slightest attention from him. Falcon had a magical way about him. He could he literally charm the birds from the trees with his name-gift—controlling any feathered creature on a whim–and the weathergift inherent in his royal Summerlander blood was stronger than it had been in any crown prince in generations. It was as if the Sun itself had taken up residence in his soul, and its warmth spilled from him each time he smiled.
Kham took a deep breath. The sharp edge of her temper abated, and in the skies, the gathering storm began to calm. Perhaps King Verdan truly had chosen to send his only son as envoy to Wintercraig for political reasons. Long, long ago, as a small child crying herself to sleep, she’d decided Falcon was the reincarnation of Roland Triumphant, the Hero of Summerlea, the brave King who had defeated an overwhelming invasion force with his wit, his weathergifts, and a legendary sword reputed to be a gift from the Sun God himself. If anyone could charm the cold, savage folk of the north into concessions most favorable to Summerlea, Falcon could.
“Will you at least write to me?” she asked.
“I’ll send you a bird every week.” He tapped her nose and gave her a charming, roguish grin. “Cheer up. Just think of all the swordfights you’ll win when you’re fighting invisible opponents instead of me.”
Kham rolled her eyes. He’d been teaching her sword-fighting for years, but she had yet to best him in a match.
“You know,” she said as they walked towards the doorway leading back into the palace, “it might actually be a good thing that you’ll be spending months in Wintercraig.”
“Yes. You can use that time to find out what happened to Roland’s sword.”
Falcon tripped on an uneven flagstone and grabbed the trunk of a nearby tree to steady himself. “I’m sure I’ll be much too busy to chase fairy tales, Storm.”
She frowned in surprise. “But you’ve always believed the stories were true.” Blazing, the legendary sword of Roland Soldeus, had disappeared shortly after the heroic king’s death. Legend claimed it was the Winter King, the father of Roland’s betrothed, who had spirited the sword away so Roland’s brother Donal couldn’t claim it. Every royal Summerlea Heir for the last two millennia had dreamed of finding the legendary blade and bringing it back home where it belonged. Falcon had spent years chasing lead after lead, determined that he would be the one to find Blazing and restore Summerlea to its former glory.
“What about those letters?” she added. “The really old ones you found tucked in that monastery? You said they proved the stories were true.”
“That was six years ago. I was seventeen. I wanted the stories to be true.” He gave her a quick hug and a brotherly kiss on the forehead. “I’ve got to run. I’m meeting with Father and his advisors to go over our list of demands and concessions one last time before I leave. I’ll see you in a few months.”
“I’ll miss you every day.” She trailed after him, feeling bereft and forlorn when Falcon turned the corner and disappeared from view. But this time, she also felt confused. She’d never known Falcon to give up on something he felt passionately about. And he’d been passionate about finding Roland’s sword. He’d been certain he was on the right trail. He’d shared his discoveries with her because he knew she was just as hungry as he to find the legendary sword.
So why would he deny it now?
* * *
“She’s not good for you.”
Wynter Atrialan, King of Wintercraig, cast a sideways glance at his younger brother. “Don’t say that, Garrick. I know you’ve never liked Elka, but in six months time, she will be my bride and your queen.”
Garrick shook his long, snow-silver hair. Eyes as bright and blue as the glacier caves in Wintercraig’s ice-bound Skoerr Mountains shone with solemn intensity that made the boy look far older than his sixteen years.
“You love too deeply, Wyn. From the moment you decided to take her to wife, you’ve blinded yourself to her true nature.”
Wynter sighed. “I should not have shared my worries with you when I first met her.” Wyn was an intensely private man, but he’d never kept secrets from Garrick. Not one. Wyn had raised his brother since their parents’ death ten years ago. And in those years, he’d never tried to sweeten the ugly world of politics, never tried to gloss over his fears or concerns—even when it came to the more personal but still political matter of selecting a queen. If something happened to him, Garrick would be king, and Wyn didn’t want his brother thrown into such a position without preparation.
Unfortunately, the years of openness and plain, unfettered talk had paid unanticipated returns. Because of his unflinching honesty with Garrick, no one in Wintercraig–no one in all the world, for that matter–knew him better than his young brother. Not even Wyn’s lifelong friend and second-in-command, Valik. Such deep familiarity could be as troublesome as it was comforting.
“She is cold,” Garrick insisted. “She does not love you as she should. She wants to be queen more than she wants to be your wife.”
“Elka is a woman of the Craig. She is as reserved with her feelings as I.”
“Is she? So that is why she laughs and smiles so warmly when the Summerlander is near?”
Wynter frowned a warning at his brother. “Careful, Garrick. Elka Villani will be my wife and queen. Insult to her is insult to me.”
“I offered no insult. I merely asked a question. And based on my observations, it’s a perfectly legitimate one.”
“You are misreading what you see. Elka knows it’s vital the Summer Prince feels welcome here if we are to come to an amicable agreement.” The lush, fertile fields of Summerlea provided much needed sustenance to the folk of Wintercraig during the harsh, cold months of a northern winter. Their grains, fruits and vegetables, which Wintercraig bought with furs, whale oil and forest products, could mean the difference between life and death for his people during years when their own harvests were poor. That had, unfortunately, been quite often of late, since the summers had grown shorter and food from Summerlea had been growing steadily more dear after Wynter had taken the throne. Falcon Coruscate, son of the weathermage king who ruled Summerlea, had come three months ago at Wynter’s invitation to negotiate terms of a new treaty that would ensure longer summers in the north and more affordable trade in foodstuffs for the winters.
“She makes him feel welcome to more than the court,” Garrick corrected. “She flirts.”
Wyn arched a brow. “And if she does, where’s the harm in it? A pretty face and a sweet smile can persuade a man better than cold figures and dry treaties—especially self-indulgent peacocks like the Summer Prince.” He smiled when Garrick rolled his eyes. “You don’t remember our mother, but she could charm a Frost Giant into the fire. Father used to call her his secret weapon. Elka merely uses her gifts to aid the realm, as any good queen would.”
Garrick gave a snort. “How fortunate that she takes to the task so well. All right, all right.” He held up his hands in surrender when his brother’s glance sharpened. He paused a moment, using hammer and chisel to chip unwanted ice from the frozen sculpture he was working on, then added, “But even if you trust her, you’d best keep an eye on the Summerlander. He’s up to something.”
“Foreign dignitaries are always up to something. That’s called politics.”
“He’s been asking too many questions about the Book of Riddles.”
Wyn’s hand stilled momentarily in its work on his own sculpture. “Has he?” He tried to pull of nonchalance, but shouldn’t have bothered. Garrick knew him too well.
“That’s what he’s really here for. To get the book and find Roland’s sword.”
Roland’s sword was a fabled Summerlea weapon of inconceivable power. It had disappeared three thousand years ago, not long after the Summer King who first wielded it sacrificed his life to save his kingdom from invasion. Many myths and legends swirled around its disappearance. One of those legends suggested that the Winter King of that time, fearing the sword’s power would be misused by Roland’s successors, had smuggled the sword out of Summerlea and hidden it in a place it would never be found. The Winter King had also left behind a book of obscure clues and riddles that supposedly led to the sword’s secret hiding place, in case his own descendants one day had need of the legendary weapon’s vast power.
“Well, good luck to him with that,” Wynter said. “The sword is a myth. It’s long gone by now, if it ever existed at all. And he won’t find whatever treasure the Book actually does protect, either, because he will never find the Book. It’s kept in a place no man can go.”
“But Elka can.”
He scowled. “Garrick, stop. She is my betrothed. She will be my queen. She would never betray me.”
Garrick heaved a sigh. “Fine. She is your true and worthy love. I’ll never suggest otherwise again.”
“Good.” Wyn pressed his lips together and focused on the small block of ice sitting on the pedestal before him. Patient as time itself, he carved away the excess ice until he revealed the hidden beauty inside. Fragile, shimmering, a bouquet of lilies emerged, petals curved with incredible delicacy, each flower distinct and perfect, rising up from slender stems of ice. “What do you think?” he asked when it was done.
“That’s beautiful, Wyn. One of your best yet.”
Wyn smiled. When it came to ice sculptures, Garrick hoarded his compliments like a miser. Only perfection earned his highest praise.
“Do you think she will like it, then? Frost lilies are her favorite.”
Garrick stepped abruptly away from his own sculpture–a complex scene depicting a family of deer welcoming their newest, spindly-legged member into the herd–and brushed the dusting of ice crystals from his furs. “Any woman who truly loves you would love it, Wyn. It’s obvious how much care you put into it.”
“Then she will love it. You’ll see.”
“I’m sure she will,” Garrick said, but his eyes held no conviction.
“Coruscate!” Wynter’s roar shook the great crystal chandelier that hung in the entry hall of his palace, Gildenheim. He stormed up the winding stairs to the wing where royal guests were housed and burst into the suite that had been occupied for the last two months by the Prince of Summerlea. The rooms were empty, and judging by the state of the open drawers and the clothes flung haphazardly about, the inhabitants had vacated the place in a hurry.
“He’s gone, Wyn.” Valik, Wynter’s oldest friend and second in command stepped into the room. “Laci checked the temple. The book’s gone, too.”
Wynter swore under his breath. Barely two weeks ago, Garrick had warned him to keep an eye on the Summerlea Prince, and Wyn had dismissed his concerns with such blind, confidence! “When did they leave?”
“About an hour after we left for Hileje. Elka and his guard went with him. Bron didn’t think anything of it. The Summerlander kept blathering about not letting some fire ten miles away ruin a good day’s hunt.”
“We’d better start tracking them, then.”
“There’s more, Wyn.” Valik hesitated, then said, “I think Garrick went after them. He and his friends rode out not long after the Summerlander. Bron heard them talking about something the Summerlander took that Garrick meant to get back.”
Wyn’s jaw turned to granite. With Valik close on his heels, he ran back down to the courtyard.
Still saddled and ready to ride, Wynter’s stallion was waiting in the hands of a stableboy, and beside him, a dozen of Wynter’s elite White Guard held Prince Falcon’s valet at swordpoint. The valet looked nothing like the sleek, meticulously turned-out peacock Wynter’s courtiers had mocked amongst themselves. He’d traded his velvet brocade livery for rough-spun woolens, a furred vest, and a heavy cloak. His knuckles were scraped, and his face sported a bruised jaw and an eye that was swollen shut and rapidly purpling.
“We found him in the village trying to bribe a merchant to smuggle him out in a trade cart, Your Grace.”
“Where is he?” Wyn grabbed the valet by his vest, yanking him up so fast the man’s feet left the ground. Wynter was tall, even for a man of the Craig, and holding the Summerlander at eye level left almost two feet between the man’s dangling toes and the icy stone of the courtyard. “Where is that Coruscate bastard you serve?”
“I don’t know!” Clearly terrified, the man started babbling. “I swear to you, Your Majesty! I didn’t even know he was leaving until one of the maids delivered his note. And that only advised me to leave Wintercraig as quickly and quietly as possible.”
“In other words, the coward abandoned you while saving his own skin.” Wyn threw the man aside. “Lock him up. If we don’t find his master, he can face the mercy of the mountains in his prince’s stead. The rest of you, mount up. Time to hunt.”
Minutes later, Wynter, Valik, and two dozen White Guard were galloping down the winding mountain road that led from Gildenheim to the valley below. Wynter howled a call to the wolves as they went, sending a summons to the packs that were spirit-kin to his family’s clan. Wolves were faster in the dense woods, and they tracked by scent rather than sight. The Summerlanders’ smell was alien to this part of the world, so the wolves should have no trouble picking up their trail.
He wasn’t sure if the prince would try heading south, towards Summerlea, or west to the Llaskroner fjord. The fjord was closer, and the port there was a busy one, full of strangers from distant lands. For thieves looking to get out of country quickly, that was the better destination. When the wolf call came from the west, Wyn knew he’d guessed right. He whispered to the winds, calling to the old Winterman in the north to blow his icy horn, then summoning the Vestras, the freezing maritime winds of the western seas to send their bone-chilling fog.
As he and his men rode west, following the call of the wolves, the temperatures began to drop. If the Summer Prince fought back with his own weathergifts, that would pinpoint his location. If he didn’t, the rapidly worsening weather would slow his escape. Either way, Wynter would track him down, and make him pay for what he’d done to the people of Hileje.
The prince had hours on him. That was the purpose of the fire in Hileje—a distraction to get Wynter and his men out of the palace so Falcon Coruscate could steal what he came for and make his escape. But the distraction had been much more than a mere fire. The Summerlanders had raped and murdered dozens of villagers, then locked the rest in the meeting hall and burned them alive.
Eighty-six lives wiped out in one senseless act of violence. Eighty-six innocent Winterfolk who had depended on their king to protect them. And he had failed.
The tone of the wolves’ howls suddenly changed, the howls becoming longer, mournful, announcing a loss to the pack. Wynter sent out his thoughts, connect to the pack mind and seeing through the wolves’ eyes as he searched for the source of that cry. He caught a glimpse of scarlet splashed across the snow, bodies that were clothed not furred.
“No!” He knew instantly why the wolves howled and for whom. “No! Garrick!” He spurred Hodri faster, galloping at a reckless pace. The wind whistled past his ears. Snow flew from Hodri’s hooves.
It didn’t take long to reach the clearing where the wolves had gathered. The smell of death filled the air—a dark odor Wynter had smelled before. It was a scent few men ever forgot.
He reined Hodri in hard, leaping from saddle to ground before the horse fully stopped. The first two bodies were boys Wyn recognized. Garrick’s friends. Sixteen years old, the same age as Garrick. Arrow-pierced through their hearts. They’d been dead within minutes of being struck.
A moaning cough brought Wyn scrambling to his feet. He half-ran, half-stumbled across the snow towards the source of the sound, but when he got there, he felt as if his heart had stopped beating. He fell to his knees.
The coughing boy was Garrick’s best friend, Junnar. He’d been gut-shot, and the dark, matter-filled blood oozing from the wound told Wynter the boy was a dead man even though his body still clung weakly to the last threads of his life.
Junnar lay atop the prone, lifeless figure of Wynter’s brother. An arrow–its shaft painted with the Prince of Summerlea’s personal colors –protruded from Garrick’s throat.
“Garrick?” After moving Junnar to one side and packing his wound with snow to numb the pain, Wyn reached for his brother with trembling hands. His fingers brushed the boy’s face, and he flinched at the coldness of his brother’s flesh. Garrick had been dead for hours. Probably since before Wyn had left Gildenheim in pursuit. How could Wyn have lost the only family he had left in the world and not known it the instant it happened?
Horses approached from Wynter’s back. Then Valik was there, laying a sympathetic hand on Wynter’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry, my friend. I’m so sorry.”
Wyn nodded numbly. The ache was consuming him. The pain so deep, so indescribable, it was beyond feeling. His whole body felt frozen, like the ice statues he and Garrick carved together.
“Help Junnar.” How he spoke, he didn’t know. His voice came out a choked, gravelly rasp. “Make him as comfortable as you can.”
He waited for Valik to lift Junnar and settle him off a short distance before gathering Garrick’s body into his arms. He held his brother for a long time, held him until Junnar breathed his last and the White Guard packed the bodies up for transport back to Gildenheim. Their hunt for Prince Falcon of Summerlea had ended the moment Wynter found his brother’s corpse. But there was no doubt in any of their minds that this was far from over.
Wynter carried Garrick in front of him on Hodri’s back, cradling his body as he had so many times over the years after their parents had died and it had fallen to him to raise his brother. He carried him all the way to Gildenheim, releasing him only to the weeping servants who would prepare Garrick and the others for the funeral pyre.
Wynter stood vigil by his brother’s side throughout the night. He murmured words of sympathy to the parents of the other lost boys, but shed no tears of his own though his eyes burned. At dusk the following night, he stood, tall and dry-eyed beside the pyres as the flames were lit and remained standing, motionless and without speaking, throughout the night and into the next morning. He stood until the pyre was naught but flickering coals. And when it was done and there was nothing left of his brother but ash, Wynter mounted Hodri and took the long, winding road to the Temple of Wyrn, which was carved into the side of the next mountain.
Galacia Frey, the imposing and statuesque High Priestess of Wyrn, was waiting for him inside the temple. She had come the night before to bless his brother and the others and to light their pyres, before returning to the temple to await his visit.
“You know why I have come.”
Her eyes were steady. “I know. But Wyn, my friend, you know I must ask you to reconsider. You know the price.”
“I know and accept it.”
“There’s no guarantee the goddess will find you worthy,” she warned. “Many men have tried and died.”
“You think that frightens me? If I die, I will be with my brother. If I survive, I will have the power to avenge him.”
She closed her eyes briefly and inclined her head. “Then take the path to the left of the altar, Wynter Atrialan, King of the Craig. Leave your armor, clothes and weapons in the trunk by the door. You must enter the test as you entered the world. And may the goddess have mercy on your soul.”
A copy of THE WINTER KING, complete with a gorgeous white rose snow globe pendant reminiscent of the book!
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About the Author:
C. L. WILSON grew up camping and waterskiing across America, from Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, CO, to Lake Gaston on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to Georgia’s Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. When she wasn’t waterskiing and camping on family vacations, you could usually find her with a book in one hand and a sketch pad in the other—either reading, writing stories, or drawing. Sometime around the ninth grade, she decided she was better at drawing her pictures with words than paints and charcoals, and she set aside her sketchpad to focus entirely on writing.
Wilson is active in Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA), her local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys golfing, swimming, reading, playing video games with her children, and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid collector (her husband says pack rat!), and she’s the proud owner of an extensive collection of Dept. 56 Dickens and North Pole villages, unicorns, Lladro figurines, and mint condition comic books.
Wilson currently resides with her husband, their three wonderful children, and their little black cat, Oreo, in a secluded ranch community less than thirty miles away from the crystalline waters and sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key on Florida’s gulf coast.
** TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY **
Heat level: mild
Date of Publication: December 18, 2013
Number of pages: 50
Word Count: approx. 15,000
Wow! I had my blog formatted and prepped, ready to pop in my review of Chenoire, which I just finished reading, and all I can say is WOW. Okay, that’s not good enough. I’ll need to tell you more because I absolutely INSIST you read this fascinating short novel by Susannah Sandlin.
Chenoire is a superbly written, character driven story that moves at a brisk pace and delights the entire way. Ms. Sandlin perfectly captures the flavor of the Louisiana bayou with lively, authentic dialogue and a cast of enchanting characters. The paranormal elements are believable and blend well in a contemporary setting. But it’s the chemistry between Faith Garrity and Zack Prejean that wraps around you like a vice and refuses to let go. An added bonus is the healthy dose of humor which made me laugh on more than one occasion.
I love the way Faith and Zack each have an opportunity to display their insecurities, attraction and bravado. This can be tricky. Done poorly, the reader is subject to head hopping but Chenoire is well written and provides wonderfully entertaining banter. Ms. Sandlin has given this reader two of the most beloved characters she’s read in quite some time.
Chenoire is short, only about 15,000 words but it packs a much bigger wollop. I really can’t imagine anyone not loving this book!
When Faith Garrity’s twin sister died, she lost a part of herself. Unable to move past the pain, the once-driven ornithologist is at risk of losing her career as well. To save her job, she heads to the oil-ravaged wetlands of Louisiana. There, in the bayou community of Chenoire, she encounters the handsome but guarded Zackary Préjean, still suffering from a great loss of his own.
She’s drawn to Zack, but soon finds that the Préjean family isn’t what it seems… They have dangerous secrets—and deadly enemies. Caught up in a feud that threatens the area’s uneasy truce, Faith and Zack must learn to trust each other. Survival will require enormous sacrifice, but it just might also give them both a way to move on.
Zack Préjean wiped the blood from his skinning knife onto the faded blue bottom of the apron he wore, scanning the bayou that backed up to his papa’s back porch. Something had drawn his attention, but he couldn’t figure out what.
He’d been working on the small gator for half an hour, figuring to take off enough fresh meat for dinner and prep the rest to deal with later—it was too small for the skin to be worth much. The calls and caws of the birds and cackles of swamp hens soothed him, and God knew he needed soothing. Spending the whole month of gator season at Chenoire wasn’t what he wanted to be doing. But Papa had asked him outright for help, and he had to honor that.
Finally, he figured out what had caught his attention; the bayou was too quiet. He wedged the knife through his apron ties, covered the gator with a towel, and closed his eyes to focus on what he could hear. Footsteps coming from the path leading down to the house—heavy ones, stirring up a whiff of anger.
Zack tripped on his way through the kitchen, catching his toe on the edge of a chair because he’d been staring out the front window instead of watching where he was going. All this family time must be getting to him, because for a moment he swore he’d seen not a man on the path that angled toward the small circle of houses where the Préjeans had lived for generations.
No, he thought he’d seen an angel.
Except angels didn’t stomp their feet, curse like sailors, and swat at bugs, which is what this one appeared to be doing. What the hell was a woman doing on foot way out here at dusk?
Crossing his arms over his chest, Zack leaned against the frame of the front door, silent and still, waiting to see what trouble she brought. She looked like a city woman, and city women always brought trouble.
He couldn’t keep the grin off his face. Whatever else she was, his citified swamp angel was pissed off and dirty as sin. Bits of mud flaked off what might be a long, lean pair of legs underneath the grime that covered her from her shoes to the bottom of her khaki shorts—or maybe they were mud-covered black shorts. Hard to tell. Her hands flew around her head, batting at what Zack knew were probably the armies of tiny no-see-ums that swarmed near the small stand of trees this time of day. Occasionally, she swatted at her own head, giving her short blond hair a disheveled look he’d mistaken for a halo.
“Damned gnats. I’m gonna—” The angel finally spotted him and stopped in her tracks, dark-blue eyes growing wider as her gaze dropped from Zack’s face to the vicinity of the knife.
He cleared his throat and stifled the laugh that threatened to escape. “You lost, Angel?”
About the Author:
Susannah Sandlin writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, and a new romantic thriller beginning this month with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series.
$40 Amazon Gift Card
5 ebook copies of Begotten
Click link below to enter:
The Forsaken Prophecies
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 78280
Cover Artist: Ghislain Mallet
Begotten is a tale of good versus evil. While it’s not marketed as a Christian based book, it should be. I found the story entertaining with enough human interest to balance the strong biblical theme.
Megan Johnson is devastated when her husband is killed in a tragic accident, but not as much as her son, Tristan, who dreamed of the horrifying events before they happened. At the funeral, Tristan hears a loud tapping and an ominous stranger convinces him it’s his father inside the casket. Tristan jumps into the grave and attempts to rescue his deceased parent.
Megan knows something was bothering her son before the accident, and is even more concerned by his actions at the funeral. Tristan grows more distant with each passing day, eventually running away with a cult leader named Vincent. When her husband’s best friend offers support, Megan discovers feelings that take their relationship beyond platonic. To make her life even more confusing and tumultuous, she begins to experience psychic powers.
Megan’s visions warn her of Tristan’s imminent danger. She will risk anything to save her son but she’ll need God’s help to fight the evil threatening their lives.
This book was originally published in 2005 as With Black and White Comes The Grey – The Battle of Armageddon. It’s been re-written in part, edited and some names have changed but the story is basically the same. If you haven’t read it in either incarnation, and you enjoy Armageddon themed stories with a strong biblical slant, you’ll enjoy Begotten.
In the blink of an eye Megan Johnson’s perfect life turns into a nightmare. Her beloved husband mysteriously dies in a car crash and her fourteen-year-old son, Tristan, runs away with a diabolical cult leader named Vincent Hellion. Her world is spiraling to destruction. She leans on her husband’s best friend, Rhett Foster, for support and help. But when feelings she thought she never had for Rhett begin to surface and unknown psychic powers possess her, she becomes more confused than ever. She tries to push her feelings for Rhett aside and focus on her visions to save her son before it’s too late.
Rhett Foster has loved Megan for so long. But he never confessed his feelings to her because his best friend was her husband. Now that her husband is dead, he struggles with his conscience. Should he tell Megan how he really feels or should he honor his best friend’s memory?
Megan’s desperate quest to find and free her son sets them both on a path of love, danger, and renewal. If they return, their lives will be changed forever.
Megan closed the door and leaned on it. She began to cry. Fatigue and the doctor’s words took their toll on her.
Rhett hugged her and caressed her long hair. “You heard what the doctor said? Tristan is going to be all right.”
She sniffled. “But what if he gets worse? Mark and he were so close. He lost his whole world a few days ago.”
“He still has you,” Rhett said.
“Yeah, but what if he doesn’t let me in? What if he won’t let me help him and support him? He’s a teenager now, Rhett. At his age, who knows how he will react.”
Rhett stared into her eyes, which she knew were watery, red, and puffy. “Then I’m here. Granted, my relationship with Tristan isn’t anywhere as close as his relationship had been with his dad, but we are still close. If he won’t confide in you, then I’ll try. The kid is tough. You and Mark hit the jackpot with him. He’ll be okay.”
“I hope you’re right, Rhett.”
He pulled out a compact pouch of tissues from his suit pocket. “Here you go.”
She smiled, wiped her teary eyes, and jokingly said, “Thanks, do you have any mascara in there, too?”
He put his hand in his pocket to check. “No, just a small lint remover. Care to use it?”
They both laughed at his joke. Then Megan felt a twinge of guilt for experiencing a happy emotion when she buried her husband just a few hours before. She turned serious. “Why is it that you always know what to say or do? It’s like you can read my mind.”
He smiled as he raised his left eyebrow. “That’s because we’ve known each other almost all our lives.”
“That’s true. There’s nothing we don’t know about each other. We have no secrets. You’re like the big brother I always wanted.”
Looking up into the air, he nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I know. You always say that.”
“But it’s true. You’ve always been there for me, and for Mark.” A yawn escaped her lips. “What am I thinking right now?”
Rhett winked as he spoke. “Okay, okay, I get the hint. I’ll go now.” With genuine concern, he continued, “Are you going to be okay?”
“Yes, I think I’ll go to bed early.”
He opened the door. “I’ll call you tomorrow from work. Bye.” He kissed her cheek and left.
* * * *
As Rhett closed the door behind him, he rubbed his nose. Megan’s soft locks had tickled his cheek. He could still smell her strawberry scented shampoo. He thought about what she had just said as he stood on her porch. “We have no secrets,” she’d uttered. She was wrong.
He had a secret that he kept from her all of these years. He wondered if he should ever tell her the truth. Their friendship would be at great risk if he did.
Rhett got into his car, put on the radio, and tuned it to his favorite station. The Wind Beneath My Wings was playing. He had a flashback of when he and Megan had been seventeen. They were dancing to this song at their prom.
Since they didn’t have any dates, they decided to go with each other. A smile formed on his face as he remembered how they both had two left feet. A spectacle they had made of themselves on the dance floor. Ah, the fun times they had. Megan was certainly someone special. How boring his life would have been if she had never come into it.
He drove off, vowing to protect her and her son in these troubled times. He owed it to Mark and to himself.
About the Author:
Giovanna Lagana is a freelance author. Some of her short stories and poems have been featured in magazines like Tales of the Talisman, Short-Story.Me, Static Movement, and Fear and Trembling Magazine, etc.
To learn more about Giovanna and her writing, please check her website at: www.giovannalagana.com