Author Archives: Tara Maya
Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
Author Archives: Tara Maya
A Single Thread of Magic
Cade MacRoich is Ehríad, a faelah bounty hunter. When he is compelled to deal with a collection of particularly nasty monsters in the mortal world, he stumbles upon a stream of Faelorehn magic that leads him to something astonishing.
The Morrigan’s Game
The children of the Weald are protected by the forest’s ancient magic, but when the Morrigan’s faelah manage to break through that barrier, Cade’s sister calls upon him for help.
Cade has tried in vain to forget about the alluring Meghan Elam. Unfortunately, the Morrigan’s interest in the young Faelorehn girl puts her in danger and makes Cade realize he is willing to risk everything to keep her safe.
Why did I choose to write a short story (which is truthfully a collection of three very short stories) that had already been covered in Faelorehn? Well, I have three good reasons for doing so:
Faelorehn is told strictly from Meghan’s point of view, so my readers never get a good sense of what is going on in Cade’s mind, and let’s face it, he is rather intriguing. I wrote Ehriad, in part, to delve into the mind of our Faelorehn hero. At the start of the series, the only image we get of Cade is through Meghan’s eyes, and she’s a bit star-struck by the whole concept of Cade and what he has to tell her about her heritage. There are so many unanswered questions and a whole lot of reluctance to trust Cade, so I felt, to be fair to him, I should tell at least part of his story. Therefore, I picked three scenes from Faelorehn (well, technically one scene takes place primarily in the Otherworld) to help alleviate some of that mystery and to let (if not Meghan) the reader know that although Cade is aloof at times, he is so much more than a pretty face delivering shocking news.
The second reason I went about writing Ehriad was because I wanted to give a more richly detailed, in-depth view of the world I had created for Faelorehn. In the first novel of the Otherworld Series, Meghan only barely enters the Otherworld, so the reader doesn’t get a good sense of what it’s all about. Instead, they must rely on what Cade tells her (or, in most cases, neglects to tell her), and what she must find out on her own through research and unfortunate encounters with faelah. With Ehriad, and especially with the story The Morrigan’s Game, the reader is transported to the Otherworld with Cade. I also include Enorah, Cade’s sister, as one of the main participants in a quest to destroy some of the Morrigan’s monsters. Enorah and Cade have a very close relationship and that doesn’t really get touched upon until Dolmarehn. Both Enorah and Cade have suffered similar pasts and they bond over their mutual love for one another and the sacrifices they are willing to make for each other. I don’t go into depth with this past in Ehriad, but I wanted to set the stage for future Otherworld books.
Lastly, a large part of my motive for writing Ehriad was for my readers. Yes. I wrote Ehriad, in part, for my readers. Like many authors, I do look at reviews and feedback for my books. One common complaint about Faelorehn was that there wasn’t enough about Cade, and I couldn’t agree more. However, it wasn’t in my power to elaborate since Meghan is the one doing all the thinking and talking in the first book. Therefore, I set about picking out scenes I thought my readers might enjoy seeing through Cade’s eyes. After publishing Ehriad, I decided to go ahead and do the same for Dolmarehn. In this case, I actually posted the question to my readers: What scenes from Dolmarehn would you like to hear from Cade’s perspective? I had some great feedback and got to work on Ghalien. In the end, Ghalien became a short novel with only two of the scenes my readers recommended. I’m hoping, one day, to get to the others and then to scenes from Luathara as well.
Sometime in the future, I hope to write more from Cade’s perspective (dare I say a novel, or two, or three . . . ?). With so many characters running around in my head, trying desperately to get my attention, it can sometimes be difficult to decide where to start. Luckily, I have my Muse to help me get things in order. Yes, the Otherworld and its many characters have definitely gotten under my skin and I can’t see myself shaking them any time soon. So to answer the question I’ve been asked many a time over: Yes, the trilogy may be complete, but I am by no means finished with the Otherworld.
I just wanted to take a moment to remind you that review copies of my books are always free! If there’s a book of mine you’ve been wanting to try, just email my assistant, let her know which one and she will send you a copy. All I ask is that you leave a review of the book when you’re done. This does not have to be a 1,000-word essay on your blog, but can be as simple as a recommendation to your friends on Facebook or a quick sentence on Goodreads or Amazon. You can even review just Hood & Fae, my new novella which is currently only available in the Faery Realms bundle.
UPDATE: Hood & Fae is now on Amazon, available independently, as well as at other online retailers.
First, a little about the books. A NA/Mature YA dystopian trilogy, they are full of action, love, and survival. Set in the not so distant future, two desserters fight to save each other while learning that the truth behind the twisted science keeping them alive.
Will they choose what’s safe? Or will they choose to survive?
Waterproof (Book 1)
Dying of thirst is the new reality.
Five years after the last drop of clean water disappeared, global societies collapsed and nuclear war shattered all hope of recovery. In a place now only a skeleton of its former self, survivors fight to avoid capture by the government. Forced to work in factories that produce the only drinking water available, those who go in, never come out.
Zach and Vivienne have lived as deserters since they were teenagers. Fighting amongst their own and scrounging for the necessities of life, they’ve learned to rely on each other in every way. Yet when tragedy strikes and the true objectives of the government facility are revealed, their world is ripped apart.
A fate once thought to hold their demise may be the sole answer to their survival. Who can they trust? Who can they believe?
And now a little about the fundraiser. Be sure to check it out because not only can you help support a great cause, but you can win a KINDLE FIRE HD!
From now until May 31st, Amber will donate 100% of the proceeds from EVERY sale of Waterfall and Waterproof (ebook AND paperback) to her month-long fundraiser for www.water.org. As The Water Crisis Chronicles is based in a dystopian society where war over clean drinking water has destroyed the world, this cause can help make sure that we don’t ever reach these extremes. You can read more about what inspired Amber to create The Water Crisis Chronicles here. In short, the world is sorely lacking in freshwater resources (drinking water), and it may be only a matter of time before we reach a pivotal point. Will we destroy the world with our wars? Maybe. Will we ever get the upper hand on the crisis? That’s the plan.
Let’s do what we can to help save the world. Everyone can conserve water, and everyone can support the non-profit organizations really out there in the field and making a difference for millions of people who can’t go to school or get out of poverty because they must search for water all day long.
So from April 30 to May 31, each time you buy one of the books from The Water Crisis Chronicles or donate directly to the cause, you can enter to win a Kindle Fire HD. Just $0.99 (the cost of Waterfall) or $2.99 (the cost of Waterproof) can go to support a worthy cause and help bring clean drinking water to those who need it most.
I’m so excited to be on the blog today talking about the Fairy Realms Bundle! I have always loved stories about fairies of every sort. As a kid I devoured anything about them that I could get my hands on about fairies, sprites, or pixies. As I grew older, I kept my passion for fae under wraps.
I kept my fairy books hidden under my bed, out of sight from any of my friends that might stop by. While I still loved the fanciful stories, they were not the sort of thing to make you popular in the seventh grade. See that was in the days before Kindles or iPad, reading wasn’t exactly the cool thing to do and reading about fairies…Well, that was just social suicide.
Of course secrets always have a way of getting out and sure enough I outed myself one day in study hall. I sat there, barely awake, doodling on the cover of my notebook. What was I doodling? A wood nymph…Yeah, that spread like wildfire as soon as one of those snobby too-perfect popular girls looked over my shoulder and saw it.
So yes, I was known as the freak, the one with her nose stuck in a book, the one reading about forest nymphs. That followed me all the way through high school, but that’s okay. When I became a writer, I never forgot those “fairy tales” from my youth. I wrote my own twisted version of one of my favorite fae legends and something amazing happened…readers actually like it.
Yes, suddenly I wasn’t alone. There were other people out in the world that loved the idea of magic as much as I did! It was as if all of a sudden I was that humiliated kid again and could thumb my nose at all of the “popular kids” that made my life hell for years.
Which brings me to why I’m telling you all of this, thanks to my own little Gypsy Fairy Tale Series, I got the chance to work with some really great authors that love all things fairy as much as I do. In fact, my novella Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale Book One) is included in the Fairy Realms Bundle.
So, now that we’re friends, and I’ve confessed one of my most embarrassing moments, I’d like to ask you to go and download Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles: Multi-Author Bundle of Novels & Novellas for 0.99 cents. You could read it just because it’s so popular right now on Amazon, but you could also read it for that poor girl that was ridiculed in the seventh grade for loving fairies.
Check out the first book in Helen Harper’s Blood Destiny series: Bloodfire.
Mackenzie Smith has always known that she was different. Growing up as the only human in a pack of rural shapeshifters will do that to you, but then couple it with some mean fighting skills and a fiery temper and you end up with a woman that few will dare to cross. However, when the only father figure in her life is brutally murdered, and the dangerous Brethren with their predatory Lord Alpha come to investigate, Mack has to not only ensure the physical safety of her adopted family by hiding her apparent humanity, she also has to seek the blood-soaked vengeance that she craves.
A sound came from outside and the waiting pack straightened their shoulders and puffed out their chests as if they were one. I did the complete opposite and tried to hunch down. The wooden doors at the right of the hall swung open and twenty or so people, all dressed from head to toe in designer black, came casually striding in.
As if they owned the place, I thought, gritting my teeth and hunching down lower.
The Brethren stopped and lined up in front of us. All of their hands were resting lightly on weapons that hung from their belts. Even from my lowered position I could see the glint of steel. Flexing their authority, no doubt. I looked fixedly down at the floor instead.
A tall gray haired man stepped forward, eyes sweeping over all of us. The room was so quiet that I fancied I’d be able to hear Anton’s balls finally dropping behind me. I risked a glance up at their new leader. He wasn’t what I’d expected. No obvious outpourings of power or charisma. He didn’t look weak physically but neither would I have thought that I couldn’t beat him in a fair fight. This was just a guy – and an old guy at that. I studied him carefully. There was certainly an air of grace and elegance surrounding him and he held himself with confidence and the suggestion of strength but still…I didn’t see it. Maybe it was a shapeshifter thing.
He started to speak. “The Brethren brings condolences for the loss of the Cornish pack’s alpha. We know that he was a good leader who kept the Way and held you together. Do not fear that we will not uncover the truth of what happened.” His slate gray eyes slid over the room. “His death was untimely and – unexpected.”
I blinked at the sudden unexpected rise of tears and my throat constricted and felt tight. John had kept us safe, all of us safe. He had never treated me differently, despite my non-shifter status, and had even spent a ridiculous amount of time training me to fight so that I could hold my own against the rest of the pack should they suddenly decide that having a puny human amongst them was them was too much insult to bear. And there were some who thought that way – Anton behind me for one.
A memory rose unbidden of my ten year old self and John outside the keep.
I had been crouched down, throwing dagger in hand, shaking in fear.
“Mackenzie Smith, if you give into fear then it will rule you. Take the fear and turn it into focus. Use that focus wisely. Feel for the creature and prepare your mind.”
We had been hunting a small wyvern that had been terrorising local farms. The Cornish pack was generally peaceable and didn’t engage in much fighting (well, very few people or even Otherworldly things came to sleepy Cornwall to fight) but John had insisted that this was the time I put my training to the test in the real world. I had straightened up slowly and targeted my thoughts towards the clump of trees at the far end of the field. No fear.
A huffing sound had vibrated towards us. I had blocked out everything else and focused on the noise, willing the wyvern to leave the safety of the brush and come out.
“That’s it,” came John’s voice. “You WILL do this.”
I remember gripping the dagger tighter and taking a step forward, probing the trees with my eyes until I spotted a sudden movement on my far left. I took a step forward, and then another. Without warning the wyvern had burst out of the copse and flown like a dagger towards me, staying low to the mossy ground. I kept hold of the fear and, as the creature swooped close, I swung up, gripped onto its leathery neck and hung on with one arm. The wyvern had screeched in rage and dragged me up. It had veered one way then another, trying to shake me off before a taloned claw came swiping round to scrape me off. I had raised my leg and snap kicked the claws out of the way. I felt hot inside and knew that the fire, if I let it, would burn out of control. With my free hand I felt for the soft space in between the beast’s shoulder blades and sank the dagger in. Of course once the wyvern tail-spun down I had belatedly realised I was far too high and that hitting the ground was going to be very hard and very painful.
“Focus the fear and fan the flames,” I had whispered to myself, before letting go of the wyvern’s neck at the last minute and rolling to the side to avoid being squished.
My technique had been sloppy and careless but John had run towards me with a huge grin splitting his face. He’d gathered me up in a bear hug.
“See? See? I knew you could do it. You might not be a shifter, girl, but you have got skills, and power. You’re amazing.” His eyes had shone down at me with pride and I had realised in that moment that nothing else mattered. I had killed the wyvern and he was proud. It didn’t matter that I was human; I could focus my mind with more skill than most shifters and I had taken down the little dragon when half of the pack would have been too scared to try. I belonged.
Later we had stripped down the carcass together and burnt it. I still had a tooth from the creature’s mouth in the small chest where I kept my meager valuables. John had not let me fail at anything – but now he was dead and I had failed him.
Not without some effort, I zoned back into the present and realised that the gray eyed man was still talking. “These are dangerous times and you are without an alpha. For thirty years we have left you in peace. We respect the Cornish pack and the work that you do keeping this corner of the country safe, however we also offer you an opportunity to brighten these sad days. We will aid you by conducting the ceremony and appointing a new alpha, as is our responsibility. We will hold evaluations and interviews with every single pack member to ensure the appropriate alpha is chosen.
“And we also extend you an invitation. The best and the brightest among you may join us, come to London and become part of the Brethren, the shape-shifter elite. We have spaces for new recruits. This is your opportunity to join in the battle to keep all of this world, not just Cornwall, safe from all harm.”
A tremor of excitement and fear ran through the assembly. Well, that was interesting. Not only would the individual pack members be able to leave and join other packs around the country but they now could also become part of the so-called elite. I knew that just as there would be many shrinking from this challenge, just as many would rise to it and demand it. My brow furrowed. No doubt the Brethren were really just looking for cannon fodder. I felt my hackles rise while forcing myself to acknowledge that this could be a good thing. As much as I might despise them for their reported brutality and aggression, the Brethren could be doing me a massive personal favour. A new alpha would keep my geas in place, and the Brethren’s recruitment drive would surely allow me to see off the likes of all those troublesome shifters who still couldn’t accept me. And who were probably champing at the bit to show off anyway. I was still contentedly sure that Julia would be named alpha – otherwise why else would her Voice now be working?
Without false modesty I knew that, despite my human shortcomings, Julia was right and the pack benefited from at least some of my skills. I might not able to shift but I was pretty much the best they had in any fight, to the extent that since I’d turned into a teenager and gone into defense full time they hadn’t lost any shifter to anyone or anything. Apart from John. I grimaced and shoved that thought away before it overwhelmed me.
Beside me, I could hear Tom panting like a puppy, patently desperate for approval. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he jumped up then and there screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” Never mind, I’d manage to convince him otherwise later.
Forgetting that I was supposed to be keeping my head down, I scanned the ranks of the other Brethren shifters. I was curious now about what their feelings were about taking in some of their distant country bumpkin cousins. My eyes travelled down the line. There was a bored looking blonde haired woman with a stance that suggested predator –wolf perhaps – then a slight dark man who was obviously a fox judging by the calculating cunning in his eyes, then there was…uh-oh.
The next shifter was looking right at me. Green gold predatory eyes gazed into mine expressionlessly. I snapped my eyes back to the floor and stopped breathing.
I’m no-one, no-one worthy of attention, I whispered silently, trying to quash the rising panic. I couldn’t endanger the rest of the pack by being discovered. Every sinew in my body screamed but I forced myself to keep my eyes and head trained on the ground.
Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Seconds passed. Minutes.
If you’re in the mood for a steamy romance, check out Gracen Miller’s Rockin’ the Heart.
If music nourishes the soul…
Loved by millions, but shunned by blood, Heath “Fang” Fangor has led his band, Hot Wired, to the top while others have fallen by the wayside. He devoted his life to music, and from that devotion harvested a new family—his band mates and fans.
A man can desire nothing else…or can he?
Living in the shadow of her brother’s fame sucks! Sam Collins is desperate to have what she wants—a simple and uncomplicated life. She’s no stranger to scandals and how they work. Now that she’s inadvertently dragged Fang into the center of her latest gossip, could the scandal she created in her quest for freedom have gone too far?
Amid stardom the heart stages a new melody…
Fang has more fame and fortune than he will ever need, but none of that matters if he can’t have the woman of his dreams. Years have been wasted waiting for the right moment to approach the woman his heart desires above all others. There’s just one major problem…she’s his best friend’s sister. To have her, he will have to risk it all.
One that might be responsible for Rockin the Heart!
(Warning: Strong language)
Heath was a rock star god. The tight lines fanning outward from his silver eyes classified him as a pissed off rock star god.
“Wanna tell me what you did this time to get the platinum treatment?” He indicated the jail cell, while ramming his fingers through his shaggy, jet-black hair.
Preferring to shrink into the shadows and avoid a confrontation with him, Sam took a deep breath and rose from the bench. She stepped away from the metal seat to draw closer to the bars dividing them.
She’d expected her brother, Jason—Jase—to ride to her rescue. Like always. Her foundation. Predictable. Dependable. Rattled by her sibling’s abandonment, she ogled the skull on Heath’s shirt, mortification overwhelming her.
If Heath was Jase’s replacement, then he’d been serious when he said ‘don’t call me the next time you’re arrested.’ She’d assumed he yelled that in anger. She was surprised he’d bothered to offer aid at all.
Gut hollow at her brother’s desertion, she cleared the ache out of her throat and asked, “Can’t you just bail me out and we’ll forget this ever happened?”
Knowing he wouldn’t go for that suggestion, Sam swallowed hard and shuffled her feet. Disappointing Jase was one thing, but letting Heath down was an entirely different matter. She’d crushed on the man since her tenth birthday when he’d given her a heart-shaped jewelry box. Didn’t matter he’d been too old for her at a mature fourteen. That infatuation hadn’t waned with age either, but only grown stronger. Not that he showed her a stitch of interest. To him, she was nothing more complicated than a kid sister.
His digits curled around one of the bars. The tattoo lettering on his left knuckles fit his current disposition—ired. On the other hand the letters H-O-T-W graced his knuckles. If read together, they spelled out the name of his band: Hot Wired.
“Not this time, Samantha.”
She cringed. The only time he broke out her full name was when he was upset or disappointed with her.
“You been drinking?”
“You know I haven’t.” Just shy of twenty-one, in her world getting liquor wasn’t an issue. Neither was alcohol her preferred drug of choice.
She rolled her eyes, the question too stupid to warrant a response.
“This type of publicity is bad news for the band.” She’d heard that one before. None of her recklessness damaged Hot Wired’s career. Not that she sought to hinder their mega stardom. She wasn’t that selfish, she just struggled with controlling her impulses on occasion.
Therapy failed to help. Yelling spawned further rebellion.
Living under the umbrella of the band’s fame grew tiresome. Her life should be her own, to live however she pleased. Weary of the media hounding her, she craved going back to a time when nobody knew her name. A normal life like when she’d been a kid.
She’d grown up on daydreams of the band making it to the big times. They won the lottery of recording deals, while Sam discovered stardom came at a high price. Along with that knowledge came the freebie of all lessons…fantasies were often better than reality. The last time she’d visited the mall without a trail of vipers eager to report her purchases she’d been fifteen.
Was it too much to ask to have a date the world didn’t scrutinize? Even the loss of her virginity made headline news. That act should’ve come with the expectation of privacy. Thanks to the tabloids, Jase almost burst a blood vessel over that exploitation.
Once she’d picked her nose in public on purpose because a rag-reporter stalked her. Scratched her butt on another occasion. Gave them something to write. Those were the photographs and articles that gave her incentive to laugh.
“The only reason they’re not pressing charges is because of Jase.”
“Thanks for the reminder.” Along with it came the reminder that her brother sent Heath instead of coming himself.
Despite the news-hounds, she got out of a lot of shit thanks to her brother’s identity. This incident would be all over the rags and Internet before morning.
‘Hot Wired’s drummer’s sister is at it again!’ They’d go on to paint her wild and immoral comportment.
Have at it you fucks. Can’t hurt me any more than you already have, but what about the band?
Distance from Hot Wired would aid all of them. She’d get her peace of mind back, and they’d be devoid of the rebel-rouser in their group.
She’d mentioned changing her last name and moving back to their Southern roots in the small Alabama town where she’d been born. Jase had gone bat-shit crazy at the suggestion and went on and on about how their parents would be rolling over in their grave at her abandoning the family name.
The name-change idea had been discarded. Swept under the rug like a dust bunny never to be spoken of again.
Torn between two worlds, Sam was suffocating. Living with someone she couldn’t have in a world where she didn’t belong.
She sank back down onto the bench and lay down on the uncomfortable metal, staring at the ceiling. “Go away, Heath. I’m not in the mood for a lecture.”
A sigh came from him, followed by a long pause. She anticipated he’d argue, but she focused on the water spot marring the tiled ceiling and prepared herself to fight back.
The sound of his retreating boots hitting concrete echoed in the room. His exit surprised her, but relieved her too. Faced with his disappointment, she vowed again she’d terminate her criminal behavior.
She settled the backside of her wrist against her forehead. She made that promise to herself often and botched the good intentions each time.
After a moment, a new set of footsteps approached the cell. Even with her eyes closed she determined the intruder wasn’t Heath. In a room full of guests, she could identify his gait. Heath’s solid steps and long stride made for a unique swagger that bespoke his self-confidence. Celebrated his rocker status. Watching him walk compared to admiring art. Ogling his ass as he strode away…eye-gasms.
This individual’s fast-paced walk reminded her of the peppered rounds of gunfire. She waited for the person to speak. The clink of metal striking metal and locks disengaging snagged her attention. She turned her head. The thirty-something deputy swung the cell-door open. “You’re free to go, Ms. Collins.”
Sam rolled off the bench and grinned at the officer as she sidled past him. She’d bragged as they booked her that they wouldn’t hold her long and the charges wouldn’t stick.
In the lobby, Heath waited for her with his hands shoved in his jeans pocket. His shaggy-butchered hair shadowed his eyes, doing a good job of hiding his expression, but the hard line of his jaw indicated he’d married his irritation. Lectures were sure to come.
Looking at him, no one would guess he rocked the panties off chicks worldwide. With his long-sleeved, pull-over black shirt, sporting a white skull, his snug well-worn jeans and scuffed boots, he appeared as average as any hard American worker.
That’s what I need to warm my cold bed. Average. Not my brother’s best friend and rock star god.
There was nothing average about Heath Fangor—Fang to his band mates and the world. Neither would he seduce her. Not even as a one-time gig. The man and his fucked up principals…or maybe they were her fucked up principals because she couldn’t say for sure if she’d enter into a one-night-stand with him if he begged for one. She wanted more, and a one-nighter would be difficult to live with.
“Thanks for the bail out, Fang.” She breezed past him with all intention of snubbing him, but he caught her arm. He held on tight, giving her a warning glare when she tried to jerk free.
“Don’t be ungrateful, brat.” He towed her toward the elevator.
“Thanks for the autograph, Fang!” She glanced back at the deputy who’d released her from the cell. He waved a piece of paper at them, grinning ear-to-ear.
Heath shoved her into the lift. The moment the doors shut, he slammed his palms down on either side of her head. Sam sucked in a breath, her eyes frozen on his sexy-ass mouth. The bottom lip was slightly puffier than the top, nice and pink, and wet. He’d probably licked them, which explained the sheen. She had naughty fantasies with them as the star of the show navigating her body. The damage she suspected they could accomplish created a slippery situation in her panties.
A slight tilt of his lips before he said, “Eyes on mine.”
She refocused and locked onto his silver gaze. The accusations she saw there struck her like a blow to the gut. Looking away would be easier, but Heath had a way of holding her to a higher level with just a penetrating stare. His expectations were tall, and she despised him for having such grand aspirations for her.
“What’s gotten into you? Base diving—”
“That was fun. You should try it.”
“—bar brawls, knifing chicks in Miami—”
“Hey! I was found innocent of that allegation!”
Elevating his eyebrows, he called her statement a lie without uttering a word.
“—and now you’re adding grand theft auto to your long list of offenses.”
Discover Kelbian Noel’s Witchbound series with this sample from book 2, Sprung.
Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson’s life is almost perfect. Almost. Even perfect has its glitches.
What happens when the one with all the power makes the biggest mistakes? Welcome to my life.
Four months ago, I couldn’t have been happier. When my parents got divorced, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Especially when Mom married a guy half her age. But then I found out I wasn’t the average Joana. Discovering magic existed and, best of all, I could use it, made everything easier to deal with. That is until I got a little too spell happy. But what girl wouldn’t defend her best friend against a world-class creep? Now I’m stuck in a nightmare, forced to make life and death decisions I never dreamed I’d face.
Love the magic. Hate the responsibility.
I tiptoe across the room to stand in front of the chest. Running my fingers across the dark ancient wood, I glance back at Nana, one more time, before making my move. She’s fast asleep, still seated in her favorite chair in front of the window. Head slumped to the side, mouth parted, slightly.
With lips bitten together and eyes squeezed shut, I hold my breath and ease the top drawer halfway open. Slipping my hand inside until I find my treasure, I pull back slowly, the small green book firmly grasped between my fingers. With a final glance at Nana, I sink to the floor, leaning my back up against the corner wall.
I’ve been visiting her in this home for almost five years, but it wasn’t until a few months ago things changed. Five years, without a word, and I’m the first one she opens up to? I stroke the rough pages of the book with my fingers. It can’t be a coincidence. From what I’ve learned so far, magic never is.
I close my eyes again and mutter the spell she taught me on the very first day.
“Solidify this room and refresh this place. Sterilize my thoughts, anoint their minds. Consecrate this space.” A slight breeze blows across the room and I tilt my head upwards with a smile. After all these weeks, and all the spells, the wonder of it all is still firmly intact.
Magic is real. And it’s in me.
All those weeks ago, this Secrecy Spell kept every nurse and orderly from doing so much as knock on the door. For hours, she filled my head with stories she’d been telling since my childhood. Tales that, up until now, I thought were just that—fairy tales, stories to coax a little girl to sleep. But I was wrong. And she was harboring a huge secret.
Ever since, that same spell has allowed me to snoop at will—provided she doesn’t wake up from her nap anytime soon.
I gaze back down at the book, holding it close to my face and picking up where I left off.
She was the most beautiful woman with a rich life beyond measurement. But love can sometimes play the villain. For a heart as pure as hers, the break was clean. She loved fiercely, and when the Universe changed course, she forced its hand. Extending a life that was meant to move on.
But her lover’s soul had been promised to another and, despite her efforts, the love was gone. In despair, she vowed to spend the rest of eternity searching for his replacement. She cast a spell more powerful than any other had seen, one that would seal her fate and the future of all Elementals.
From that day forward, the Pure would revere, the Tainted would covet.
“Elementals,” I whisper.
I’ve seen the word at least fifty times in just the first half of the book. The names of most of the spells are in a language I don’t recognize, but in parentheses beside each one is always the word Elemental. Still, I have no clue what it means.
If only I could ask her. I turn the page, my gaze shifting briefly to Nana.
With a finger, I quickly scan through the pages of the text. “Elemental, Elemental, Elemen—“ I hold the book even closer to my face. “Elementals, the vessels of Pure magic. These four rare individuals hold the ultimate power. Ancient and pure. Seoirse—Earth, Govad—Air, Irving—Fire, Conley—Water.”
I read through the rest of the page, glued to the story, taken by each word.
Four clans: Seoirse, Govad, Irving and Conley. The most powerful witches known to man and beast. The originals. Elementals.
Together they wielded the purest of magic. Healed the sick, fertilized the land, and drove out demons. Their magic was revered, but with reverence came covetousness.
The Tainted soon emerged. Joining the family, simply for power, their children were trained to use the magic to their advantage, wielding it to succeed in unfair undertakings such as wealth and popularity in the face of competition.
Dissonance abounded within the village and the Elementals saw it fit to alter access to magic. No longer was it a birthright, but a spiritual connection. The Earth’s mystical power would only yield to those able to commune with its elements.
With this change came an opportunity for all individuals to access Elemental power, magic in its purest form. Thus, a new problem emerged—magic was discovered and used by hundreds. The elements were manipulated, through animal and human sacrifices. Tainted arts began to thrive.
After decades of discord, the Church interceded, vowing to put an end to magic. An end to the Elementals.
But only for a time.
A loud clatter jolts me to attention and I shoot up from the floor. Tucking the book in my back pocket, I quickly close the drawer.
Nana groans, stretching her legs out in front of her. “Did I fall asleep on you again?” She wipes the side of her face with the back of her hand.
“It’s okay,” I say. Darting across the room, I bend to pick up the fallen tray. “I—I have to go. I’m supposed to be at Claire’s and—”
“Secrecy?” Nana sniffs. “Why?”
“Um,” I lick my lips. “I…you looked so comfortable I didn’t want them to wake you.”
“Hmm.” She glances at her watch and my gaze shifts to the floor. “Magic isn’t for such frivolous things, Skye. If that were the case—”
The door to her room opens and an orderly rolls in with her afternoon serving of pills. Nana and I lock gazes, and as he passes by me, I place a hand on his arm, forcing him to make eye contact. “Not today,” I say. “She’s doing just fine.”
With that, he offers a curt nod, and circles back and out the door.
I cross my arms. “What were you saying about frivolity?”
She clears her throat. “You know what those things do to me. Come.” She beckons for me to sit down on the windowsill across from her. “One more story, before you go.”
Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from the novella Hood & Fae, the first of my new urban fantasy series Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords or Google Play.
Cormac waved at me and we both hid behind something I thought was a big boulder, but upon postmortem discovered was the wreck of a station wagon. Skeletons sat sideways inside. Not sure what killed them, as they had their seatbelts on. Granted, garroted around their necks.
“I think I know what echelon we’re in,” I whispered, “Wr…”
“Wreyth,” Cormac said with me.
“You know it.”
“I know goblins.” Not a lot of affection there. “Do you have a gun?”
“Right here.” I showed him the Spirit Gun.
“That won’t work,” he said. “It’s an exorcist gun.”
“So what, it only works in a gym?”
“It only works on ghosts or spirits possessing bodies not their own. It won’t kill a human, unless he’s a werewolf or a vampire. It won’t kill a goblin who is in his own echelon.”
“Do you have a gun?” I asked.
“I hate guns.”
“Seriously? I like guns a lot better than punching. They don’t hurt.”
“I’m pretty sure guns hurt people.”
“I meant they don’t hurt my knuckles.”
Cormac snorted. “Goblins love guns too. Unfortunately.”
He was right. Every single one of the goblins was packing heat. They had some impressive pieces too. Pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, machine guns, grenade launchers, flamethrowers….Sheesh.
“I guess we both better weapon up. Think our friends will mind?”
He gestured to the skeletons. They were not only armed, but the rusty trunk, which Cormac broke open, contained dozens more guns and packs of ammo, and even a nest of grenades. We each grabbed two guns. I packed as many more guns and ammo into the picnic basket as would fit. I wasn’t sure how stable those grenades were, so I almost left them. At the last minute, I plucked two and squirreled them away with the other weapons.
“Can we die here?”
“Yes. And if we die here, we regenerate here—but not as humans. As goblins. We won’t be just dead; we’ll be damned too. So try not to get killed.”
Awesome. I felt a lot better now.
WARNING: This novel is only appropriate for older teens and adults, because it contains #$%*&@ words. Spelled out for real, though. Even that one that starts with “F.” Yeah, it’s in there, in a couple places. Also, “dumbkof,” but that’s in another language, so it won’t bother you.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for they are with me.
I repeated my version of the psalm as I watched the ribbon of blood drift from my wrist. I’d hoped it would be a distraction—something to stop me from wondering what my sister’s dying thoughts had been. Exhaling slowly, I let the emptiness consume me.
Jordan had kept my secrets and I had kept hers. In the end, it came down to just one secret between us that took her life. Now, it would take mine. I should have said something, but nothing I said or did now could bring her back or make anyone understand what she meant to me.
Are you here, Jordan? Are you with me? Tell me about heaven…
I told myself Jordan was gone, never coming back, but her memories continued to haunt me. I had no idea if there even was an afterlife. If God existed, I was convinced he had given up on me. Not once did I sense he’d heard a single one of my prayers. I wasn’t asking for the world—I only wanted to know if my sister was safe and at peace. What was so hard about that?
She should still be here. It wasn’t fair.
I’d been the difficult one—much more than Jordan. For a while, I’d even gotten into drugs. Mom and Dad had worried I’d get Jordan into drugs, too. But I wouldn’t. Not ever. Besides, that part of my life had been over long before Jordan’s death. A small gargoyle tattoo on my left shoulder was all that remained of my previous lifestyle.
Mom and Dad started treating me differently after Jordan’s funeral two months ago. She and I were twins, so I understood how hard it was for them to look at me and not see her. Sometimes, they wouldn’t look at me at all. Mom went to the psychiatrist, but no one asked if I needed to talk to someone about what happened. No one asked if I needed sleeping pills or antidepressants. Yeah, sure. Don’t give the former addict pills of any sort.
Not one person saw the all-consuming suffering that gnawed at my soul. Why couldn’t anyone see? Jordan had been more than my sister—she’d been my Samson, my strength. I would have done anything for her, and yet, I’d failed her. I wasn’t the one who’d killed her, but I might as well have been. How could I ever live with that? My heart had a stillness to it since her death.
I shall fear no evil.
I couldn’t very well recite the first part of Psalm 23 because it said I shall not want, and I did want. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted my sister back. Clearly, goodness and mercy were never going to be part of my life ever again. In my mind, I saw myself walking through the iron gates of hell with demons cackling gleefully all around.
I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and didn’t know of another way to stop the pain. Doctors removed a bad appendix. Dentists pulled rotten teeth. What was I supposed to do when my very essence hurt, when the cancer I’d come to call depression made every decent memory agonizingly unbearable?
Before I’d gotten down to cutting my wrist (I managed to only cut one), I’d taken a few swigs of Dad’s tequila—the good kind he kept in the basement freezer. I’d used another swig or two to chase down the remainder of Mom’s sleeping pills in the event I failed to hit an artery or vein. Then I’d set the bottle on the ledge of the tub in case I needed further liquid encouragement. Instead of using a knife or a razor, I attached a cutting blade to my Dad’s Dremel. The Dremel was faster, I reasoned. More efficient.
It would have been easier to OD, I suppose. But I felt closer to my sister this way, to suffer as she’d suffered.
I recited the line from Psalms 23 again. It had become my personal mantra.
The words resonated in my parents’ oversized bathroom. I’d chosen theirs because the Jacuzzi tub was larger than the tub in the hall bathroom. Jordan and I used to take bubble baths together in this same tub when we were little.
Innocence felt like a lifetime ago. I searched the bathroom for bubble bath but came up short. Soap might have made the laceration hurt more so it was probably just as well. Besides, the crimson streaming from my wrist like watercolor on silk was oddly mesmerizing.
The loneliness inside proved unrelenting, and the line from the psalms made me feel better. I prayed for the agony inside me to stop. I argued with God. Pleaded. But after all was said and done, I just wanted the darkness to call me home.
I tried not to think of who would find my body or who’d read the note I’d left. I blamed myself not only for failing Jordan, but for failing my parents, too.
My lifeline to this existence continued to bleed out into the warm water. Killing myself had been harder than I’d imagined. I hadn’t anticipated the searing fire racing through my veins. I reached for the tequila with my good arm but couldn’t quite manage. Tears welled in my eyes.
Part of me foolishly felt Jordan was here. The other part feared she wasn’t.
Give me a sign, Sis. Just one.
I imagined seeing my parents at my funeral—their gaunt faces, red-eyed and sleepless. How could I do this to them? Wasn’t the devastation of losing one child enough?
No. Stop. A voice in my head screamed. Don’t do this. Don’t. Please…
I shifted my body, attempted to get my uncooperative legs under me. I could see the phone on my parents’ nightstand. I could make it that far. Had to. The voice was right. I didn’t want to do this. I felt disorientated, dizzy. Darkness crept along the edges of my vision. Focusing became difficult. A sweeping shadow of black caught my attention. Someone stood in the bathroom—not my sister. A man. Had I managed to call 911? I couldn’t remember getting out of the tub. And why’d I get back in? Did I use a towel?
Mom is going to be pissed when she sees the blood I’ve tracked all over the bedroom carpet.
“I’m sorry,” I told the man in black.
“It’s okay, Keely. Don’t be afraid.” Not my father’s voice. It was softer, with a hint of sorrow. Distant. Fleeting. Later, I’d feel embarrassed about this, but for now I was safe from the nothing I’d almost become. My teeth clattered from the chill. My eyelids fluttered in time with my breaths. The tub water had turned the color of port wine. The ribbons, the pretty, red watercolor ribbons were gone.
Dull gray clouded my sight.
A voice whispered to me, and my consciousness floated to the surface again.
Cold. So cold.
“I’m right here.”
There was no fear in me as the man bent forward, his face inches from mine. He was my father’s age, and yet strangely older. His eyes were so…blue, almost iridescent. The irises were rimmed in a fine line of black, and the creases etched at the corners reminded me of sunbeams as he gave me a weak smile. The oddly. Dressed. Paramedic. A warm hand reached into the water and cradled mine. My fingers clutched his. I sighed, feeling myself floating, drifting. Light—high and intense exploded before me. No! Too much. Too much! I shuddered and labored to catch my breath, but it wouldn’t come.
Finally, the comfort of darkness rose to greet me.
Start your weekend off with some paranormal romance and download Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne.
I’m seventeen and he’s twenty-one.
That’s okay… isn’t it?
He drives a Lamborghini.
He was born in 1462.
He seeks revenge, but there is one person standing in his way.
On a high school trip to London, Madison Lambourne meets seductive stranger Johnny De Vere, who believes he knows her already, and is torn between love and revenge.
Eager to learn more about this beautiful, lonely, young man, Madison agrees to go with him to a re-enactment at the Tower of London. Dressed as a highborn medieval lady in a black velvet gown, she accidentally slips through a doorway that leads to the past. Knowing she will not last long on the streets of medieval London, Johnny must follow her… with devastating consequences for them both.
A wild time-travel adventure full of love, lies, mystery and betrayal.
I run, with my heart thundering and a rushing sound in my ears. I’m hampered by my gown, which is bundled up over one arm. My bare legs are visible for all to see but I no longer care. I try to head back the way we came, but the maze of narrow streets confuses me and it is so gloomy and dark. There don’t seem to be any streetlights around here so I head for a dim light at the end of one of the alleyways, hoping to find my way back onto a main street.
About halfway down the alley I am whirled around, shoved roughly into a wall. I feel the texture of crumbling plaster – or is it dried mud – under my fingertips, and a lattice work of sticks underneath. I scrabble against it, but I can’t get free. Something thick and warm and hairy – a man’s arm, I guess – is around my neck, suffocating me. I scream, but he silences my scream with a huge hand over my mouth. Something glints in the darkness, and I feel a pinprick of pain on my neck.
A knife. He has a knife.
I tremble. The blade of the knife is against my neck. The point touches my flesh and if I make the slightest movement he will cut my throat. I’m weak with terror, and my knees threaten to give way and shorten my journey to my inevitable, violent death.
“Unhand her, ruffian, or you’ll swing for this!”
Johnny’s voice in the darkness. I dare not call out to him though. The pressure of the blade is still there at my throat. It does not waver. In fact, my attacker, who I cannot see but I can smell, is laughing.
“Find your own sweetmeat, lad!”
Johnny inches nearer to me. Even in the darkness I can feel it. “Leave her be, or your life ends tonight!”
The older man snorts in disgust. “You’re no match for me.”
This time it is Johnny who laughs. “Indeed I am not. I will vanquish you and tomorrow your body will be on that stinking midden with the horse dung, where it belongs.”
I sense a frisson of fear go through the hefty body of the evil man who holds me. His beard is touching my face and his foul breath nauseates me. Still he refuses to release me.
I see a flash of steel and a dagger is drawn. “I warned you.” Johnny’s voice is low and menacing. A whispered curse in the darkness.
In an instant the men engage in one swift lunge. The knife falls from my neck and clangs onto the cobblestones at my feet. I sense Johnny’s body close to mine, but I can’t see him. I can’t see what’s going on at all. The sound of metal rasping against metal chills me, and then there is a cry of pain.
“Please! Have mercy!”
Johnny’s voice answers him – stern and cold. “Would you have had mercy on the girl, you foul dog?”
The man who attacked me falls to his knees with a heavy thud. I stand, quaking with terror in the dark alleyway, unable to move or speak. Then, an even more chilling sound – my attacker, on his knees, begging for his miserable life.
“Please, sir, please. I didn’t mean her no harm!”
I tremble and try to touch Johnny’s arm. “Let him go!”
A tense moment passes. A black silence. I almost wonder if my plea for mercy came too late. Perhaps the deed is already done and the evil man lies dying at my feet.
But then, Johnny speaks. “Begone! The lady’s heart is warmer than my own. She spares thee.”
In the darkness the man struggles to his feet, panting with fear. He doesn’t stop to look for his knife. He starts running – running away from us down the dark alleyway. As fast as he can go. I listen, hardly daring to breathe, until I can’t hear his footsteps anymore. Johnny takes my hand, and though I want to recoil from his touch – I don’t. He has saved me. He has saved my life.
“Come on!” he says, angrily. “I find the stench of that ruffian’s blood detestable, and we must find a safer place than this. London is full of cut-throats, Maddie.”
Johnny pulls me along by the hand and we head towards the light again. My dress is trailing in the filth, but I no longer care. We come out onto a wider road – but there are still no street lamps. I’m shaking, but it is all becoming clear.
I look up at the face of the man who has just saved my life.
“The moat,” I whisper, my voice shaking with fear. “At the Tower of London. There was water in the moat.”
“I know.” His voice is terse. Cold.
“But the moat was filled in,” I say. “Ages ago.”
“I’m sorry. You were never meant to see… ”
I’m shaking uncontrollably now. “Where the hell are we, Johnny?”
For more from Cody, visit her blog.