Sunday, October 5, 2014

Foulweather Twins in Kindle Unlimited

Queen Witch and Chaos Calling are both now enrolled in Amazon's KDP Select program, which means they' re in the Kindle lending library, and Kindle Unlimited. Electronic versions of the books are now available only on Amazon. You can still buy a paper copy through Barnes and Noble.

Queen Witch

Paperback: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Createspace
Ebook: Amazon / Amazon UK 




Stubborn and suspicious are two qualities that don’t go over well in the Queen family…

Where does my story truly begin? Maybe with the birth of twins to a soon-dead witch. Or possibly with the name bestowed on me by the Lady, the immortal we serve. She called me Sage, and my sister Wren. The Foulweather twins. As I choose to see it, my story begins when I first participated in the course of my life. When I started making my own decisions, despite everything I’d been taught. Forced recluse with a secret life? That’s me.

Sage Brighton is a young woman of incredible power, but she doesn’t decide how that power is used, or anything else about her life. As a witch of the Queen family, and a twin, Sage will serve the Lady all her days. The immortal has plans for Sage and her twin Wren. They are to be her Hands, her enforcers in the mortal, modern world. But first Sage must survive her training, learn to control her sociopathic sister without getting maimed in the process, and all the while try to keep something of her life for her own.


Chaos Calling

Paperback: Amazon / Createspace
Ebook: Amazon / Amazon UK 



Stubbornness and suspicion have never served Sage so well…

There are moments when the panic swells in me as I realize afresh what I have done. To betray the immortal I was raised to serve… What was I thinking? But those are just moments. Every day I live with the consequences, and they’re worth it. If the only way I know to make the Lady suffer, to force her power to wilt, is to serve another like her, I will take it. Until I find a better way.

Sage Brighton made a choice six months ago. A choice that changed her whole world. Now she skulks in the shadows, hiding even more from her twin and the rest of the Queen family than she had before. Serving two immortals is stretching her beyond her limits. And then there’s her unwelcome attraction to Chaos, the immortal seeking to destroy her family, and her relationship with Peter. As Sage’s days and nights spiral out of control, can she figure out who to trust? A wrong move now could spell the end of everything she’s worked for. It could be the end of her.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Released an Independent Album!

Melissa Etheridge has released a new album titled This is M.E.

And she did it on her own.

As an independent artist, this news thrilled me! As a fan, I ran out and bought a copy! (By which I mean I went to iTunes and got a copy. YAY!!! An album I KNOW I will love!)

But all fangirling aside, I'm so happy to see artists taking their brands into their own hands. Melissa can absolutely reach her fans on her own, without a record label calling the shots. It's going to be exciting to see how she does with this.

I'm going to point something else out that's an important parallel for authors. Melissa Etheridge has released a record independently, but she didn't do it alone. She's a huge star with big name friends, which comes with its advantages. At this stage of her career, she has more of these connections than any record label. So, it appears she's being a brilliant business woman. She started an independent label, ME Records, and partnered with a TON of big names to make an album. On her website she says simply, "I've made an album I love." And that's another lesson. This is what we get to do as independent artists. Leave the market out of the art, create from the heart, and count on it finding its audience, or not.

Now for the music. :)

Here's more on this new album. You can find links to buy it (like I just did!) on Melissa Etheridge's website.

Give this sampler a listen to get a taste for the new stuff.



She'll also be doing a tour. No Oregon dates...but if she comes to your area, go for me and tell me all about it. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Shield Cover Reveal!

My blog's been quiet, but this writer has been clickety-clacking her early mornings and evenings away, working on the final installment of my Children of the Sidhe fantasy romance series.

Shield has been a BLAST to write. First, I have two rather dark and troubled characters colliding in this romance. Second, I love the reappearances of characters from previous books as the story continues through new viewpoints. I LOVE all of those characters, and I love seeing their stories continue within the overarching plot. This has been such a FUN series to write. I look forward to many more readers discovering my Children of the Sidhe romances. If you love deep fantasy worlds, fast-moving and intriguing plots, and fun, sexy action to boot, check out this series. :)

Shield is the fifth and final book in the Children of the Sidhe -- a series built around an Otherworld war that by now is hell bent on infringing on the human realm. Can Eva and Joel, with their strange powers and stronger-than-steel connection, manage to survive when they're all that stands between the monsters and humanity?


Shield should be available in ebook by early September. I'll then compile the entire series into one book, and I'll also put out a print version of the Children of the Sidhe omnibus, so keep watch for those developments this fall!

BONUS cover reveal -- here's the Children of the Sidhe series omnibus cover!


My cover artist Kellie Dennis did amazing work pulling this whole series together with a new, romantic and fantastic look and feel. Thank you, Kellie, for your brilliant design work and incredibly kind nature. You really make the design process fun. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Winner of My Summer Lovin' Blog Hop Prize!

Thanks for all of the great comments on the Summer Lovin' Blog Hop over the weekend. Hops are so much fun, and such a great way to find new authors, new books and new friends.

The winner of the prize here on my blog is Wanda Craighead! I've just sent Wanda a $20 Amazon gift card! Happy, happy summer! :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Lovin' Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Summer Lovin' Blog Hop hosted by Jane Wakely at Romance Blog Hops (hopswithheart.blogspot.com)!

And isn't she right? Romance is a great way to beat the heat!

Now that the spring fever has passed and summer vacations are ahead, it's time to fill out that vacation reading list!

I would, of course, love for one of my books to make your reading list. You can check out the first three chapters of each of my romance books for free by visiting my paranormal romance books page. I'm currently writing the fifth and final book in my Children of the Sidhe romance series that's rooted in Irish mythology.

If you love the fae, Otherworld adventures, and a fair amount of steam in your romance, check out Tribute, the first book in the series.

There are three grand prizes for this blog hop. To enter for them, please visit the Rafflecopter!

Each author is doing an individual giveaway, too. I'm excited to give one lucky reader a $20 Amazon gift card, for stocking up your Kindle or buying that print book you've had your eye on! To enter, please comment on this post and remember to include your email address so I can contact you if you're my winner. I'll choose a winner at random the day after the hop ends. Yay! Enter now! I'd love to give you stuff! :)

I wish you the best this summer -- glorious sunny skies, out-of-town weekends, complete lack of sunburns, the pick of your favorite fruit crop, etc! All the best. And happy reading!

Remember, this is a blog hop! Here are links to the authors participating! Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mid-Week Update: Back to Shield

I swear, I'm back to writing the book I'm supposed to be focused on! :) A few weeks ago, I entered a stalling phase on Shield, the final Children of the Sidhe novella. It was all going so well, and then the fear got ahold of me. The FINAL book in a series. With all of that PLOT STUFF and the need for it to COME TOGETHER. The need to GET IT RIGHT. I know what happens, but I still need to write it. Around this time in any project (about two-thirds written) I start thinking about the fact that people will be reading this soon. And then I get scared and start flapping around and have trouble focusing.

I'm pretty sure this effect will diminish with more books. I sure hope so. After all, there's no such thing as getting it right. Perfection is an ugly hole to get mired in with writing. It can stop writers dead in their tracks. Luckily I already learned that lesson. :)

It took me a couple of weeks to figure out I was stalling, and where I was going wrong. In the meantime, I wrote one short story and worked on a couple of others at various stages. So while I'm a few weeks late on my "major project" of the moment, it wasn't wasted time. I continued to write. In the long run, writing something every day will add up, instead of waiting for the muse and ending up with big gaps of wasted time. I definitely have enough stories to work on!

Now I'm back to writing Shield. I have about 8-10k left to write. I'll finish it by the 25th, next Wednesday. Exciting! Here I go........

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tribute (Children of the Sidhe, #1)


Hazel Fintan is the reluctant daughter of the Irish love god, Aengus. She tries to blend in the human world, but her effect on human men makes normal relationships impossible. She’s never cared for her father’s world, especially its infuriating men. Being drawn into a conflict with a legendary race over an impossible tribute doesn’t improve her perception of the Sidhe. But meeting Ian could make the whole adventure worth it.

The tribute may be what brought them together, but Ian MacIlroy knows destiny when it stares him in the face with stunning green eyes and a gorgeous smile. Now he has a new mission. Hazel will be his, at any cost. And the cost could be high when Otherworld’s enemies are denied what they seek.


Excerpt:

Chapter 1
Getting her oil changed wasn’t exactly Hazel’s idea of a fun chore for Friday afternoon, but the sixteen-year-old drooling over her made it nearly unbearable this time. Literally, drooling.

She shot him a short-tempered look as she put on her sunglasses, the Portland sun requiring it for once, though a deep gray line of clouds already clustered along the western horizon. “Can you just finish with the car already?”

He gulped. “Hey, when I’m done do you want to go to dinner or something?”

Hazel sighed and cast him a sweet smile. “You don’t want anything to do with the likes of me, kid.”

He just smiled at her and nodded, his brain obviously addled.

“So that’s a no. No dinner. Just finish my car. Thanks.”

Confused and deflated, he shook his shaggy hair into his face so she couldn’t see his profile as he worked. He called out to his pit crew, his tone wistful and sad.

Gods. Wouldn’t it be great to be normal?

Crushing men wasn’t Hazel’s idea of a good time. It was just that many of them had no control over themselves when she was around. The drooling was not attractive. But they didn’t know that. They didn’t even realize how silly they looked. It was part of her draw; men tended to be totally focused on her, unable to string together more than a sentence, much less keep her entertained for a date. They were compelled to look, to touch if she’d let them, hovering over her the entire time.

She’d heard she was lucky. Some Sidhe drew humans to madness, despair – even violence. They just wanted to love her.

Still, it was annoying.

A buzzing from her purse cast a wave of relief over her. Blessed distraction. She looked up and caught the boy staring again, and frowned at him as she reached into her purse.

Checking the number that had just flashed on her cell phone, Hazel sighed. The age-old question: to answer, or not to answer? Swallowing, she hit send.

“Hello?”

“Hazel. Glad I caught you. Got a little problem I could use your help with.”

“Thankfully, your problems don’t have anything to do with me anymore.”

“They do when they’re not mine specifically, but more, you know, ours.”

“Great,” Hazel said. If he meant what she thought he did, her hope of getting out of whatever this was had just faded fast.

“There’s a human over here who needs to get in touch with the Fomorii. Has to pay a tribute of some kind, but hasn’t been able to get through. Think you could take him?”

“Can I take him?” Like she didn’t have enough to do. “Drake, this is your job. You know I was never into this stuff.”

“You’re missing the point. He needs to go. I can’t take him, so I thought of you.”

“Why can’t you take him?” Drake was the obvious choice. After all, he worked for the Sidhe Authority, taking care of the Otherworld government’s business in the human world. Hazel had as little to do with Otherworld affairs as possible.

“Let’s call it a little interpersonal issue between me and the Fomorii contact. I’m waiting another decade at least before I meet up with that guy again, for everyone’s sake. I’m supposed to be smoothing relations, remember?”

“See, that’s what I’m talking about. When we were together, I dealt with your interpersonal issues. Now that we’re not, I don’t see what this has to do with me.”

“You’re Sidhe, so you’re in. Our problems are your problems, and this falls into that category. Just think, what would Aunt Brigit say?”

“Damn,” she growled. He had to bring her aunt into it. Of course she knew what Brigit would say. You get the benefits; a certain amount of dirty work comes with it. Help your people. “Tell me what I’m supposed to do again?”



Eddie Drake’s office – if you wanted to dignify it with that name – was a run down loft in a run down neighborhood. From one threadbare couch, Ian MacIlroy stared out on a lifeless street. Drake was on the phone, and Ian could hear every word being said through the flimsy partition that separated the waiting area from Drake’s inner sanctum – which housed more threadbare chairs and an ancient, scratched up desk.

Ian counted himself lucky that Drake was willing to help him. He wasn’t sure what he would have tried next. He’d been looking for almost a year now, trying to figure out this tribute, how to get it paid and get back to his own life.

A year. Hard to believe that was the price he’d already paid for this mad errand. A year of his life wasted on attempts, and still nothing to give the Fomorii.

The door to the office swung open and Drake stepped out. “She’s on her way. Be here in a flash. Want a beer while we wait?”

Drake popped the caps on two bottles and handed one to Ian.

Ian gestured toward the street. “Seems pretty quiet. Mind if I ask why you’re located here?”

“An assignment. Lots of portals in Oregon. I only asked for beyond the veil.”

“I’ve never really understood why Sidhe would choose to live beyond the veil with humans.”

“Plenty of perks. Sidhe living among humans tend to get what they want, most of the time anyway.” Drake took a long swig, as he looked Ian over. “I’m hoping Hazel will be able to help with your problem, at least get you in to talk to the Fomorii. We’ll figure it out.”

Ian put his head in his hands. “I’m just out of ideas. I don’t know how to satisfy them, but I know I must before I can get back to my life.”

A tall woman burst into the loft, red hair alight in the afternoon sun and arms full with a box that rattled as she pushed the door shut with her hip and set it on a table just inside.

“What’s in the box?” Drake asked.

“More of your stuff,” she told him as she came across the room. She stretched out a hand to Ian. “Hazel Fintan. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Ian MacIlroy. Glad to meet you.” He stood to shake her hand. Her height surprised him; she was only about an inch shy of his even six feet. She was also a knockout. Big surprise.

“Good, you’ve taken care of the introductions for me. Now give Hazel the same story you told me, from the beginning.” Drake winked at her and nodded at another chair opposite Ian.

Rolling her eyes at Drake, Hazel took the chair and gave Ian a long once over that made him grin. She was definitely Sidhe.

Sobering, he turned to his story. “Unfortunately there really isn’t much story to tell. I guess it is something that happens in my family. Every generation pays their dues. A very specific tribute handed over to the Fomorii. It’s been that way for fifty generations or so.”

“What do you get out of the bargain?” Hazel asked.

He paused, not sure how to put it. “Um… a fertility blessing.”

“Is that all?” She laughed, her smile lighting her eyes engagingly.

“Anyway, the tribute is one hundred eggs of a certain pond turtle in Europe. Of course, that turtle has gone extinct since my father collected his tribute. No turtles. No eggs. No tribute,” he summed up with a shrug of the shoulders.

“So, Ian here needs to speak with the Fomorii, for obvious reasons. Some other tribute will have to be decided, and it should probably be soon. These transactions tend to come with a certain window of opportunity. We wouldn’t want Ian to miss it.”

Ian went pale. “No, I can’t miss it. I have to do this right. My family is at stake.”

“What happens if you don’t make tribute?”

“Several things. Most importantly, our family ends with my generation. If we don’t make tribute, no one in my family will have another child. Everything’s at stake.”

“Alright then,” Hazel said. She turned to Drake, all business. “Who do I talk to?”



Chapter 2
They stood on a rainy corner a few hours later. Hazel had no trouble reaching the Fomorii, and now it was down to the waiting game. She looked over at eye-candy, passing the time. For a human, Ian was hot – broad and muscular with dark blue eyes and brown, wavy hair. A little too wholesome to be her type, sure, but he was nice enough to look at.

Right on time, a black limousine pulled up, and the rear door swung open to receive them.

“Come,” a voice, nearly a hiss, issued from the back seat.

Hazel sat across from the Fomorii contact, with Ian beside her. She’d never met one of the Fomorii before. He wore a glamour. It was a pleasing human face, but she knew it could not be his true face. Right now it smiled pleasantly, as he took his time looking her over.

“Hazel, daughter of Aengus,” she spoke, reaching out a hand.

“So your message said.” He eyed her hand, extended in such a human gesture. When he did not reach for it, she took it back, settling into the opposite seat.

“I am Ellis, son of my father. His name is none of your concern.”

Hazel laughed.

Ellis turned to Ian. “The reason we’re here?” he asked shortly.

“I’m Ian MacIlroy. My family owes you a tribute we are unable to pay. Hazel brought me for your advice.”

“Yes, you owe the medib. Did you say you are unable to pay?” His dark eyes had become slits.

“The turtle is extinct. There are no eggs.”

“Hazel, did this one just tell me that the key ingredient of the Fomorii festival drink ajma no longer exists?”

“Ellis, you heard correctly. That’s exactly what he told you. How will he pay his tribute now?”

“Do you know of ajma?”

“I can’t say I’ve heard of it.”

“Ajma is the bringer of bliss, the entrance to ecstasy. You’re the daughter of a love deity, aren’t you?”

Hazel drew in a breath. She hadn’t realized he would know of her father. “I see. It’s an aphrodisiac, then?”

Ian groaned.

“The most powerful known, and it must have the medib.”

“It’s about to get pricier then, isn’t it? Not much to be done about extinct eggs.”

“No. Unsuitable. You must make tribute.” He pointed at Ian.

“I will. I swear it. But what can I bring you since I can’t bring the eggs?”

“Who knows of a replacement for the egg in ajma? Does a love god know?” Ellis’ gaze swung to Hazel. “Ask Aengus.”

It was Hazel’s turn to groan.

“If he knows of something suitable, bring it to me. Bring it by the full moon. If not, the tribute goes unpaid.”



With two weeks until their deadline, Hazel had to think fast. First, she flipped open her cell and called the last person who dialed her.

“Hello?” Drake answered.

“Was there another reason for pulling me in that you wanted to divulge?”

She thought she heard a gulp on the other end before he answered. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, a little something about this errand requires that I call my father. Did you know about that when you called me?”

“Come on Hazel, calm down. Yeah, I figured. I’d heard the Fomorii were getting bent out of shape over an aphrodisiac, so when Ian told his tale I put two and two together. I just didn’t think that was the best way to approach you with it.”

“Instead, present the hot guy in need of help, and let my natural kindness set in? I should have told you to go–”

“You think he’s hot?”

“Jealous?”

Drake laughed. “Hon, I’m over you.”

“Yeah, yeah. I just dropped him off. Don’t blame you for not wanting to meet up with that contact, by the way. Creepy.”

“Fomorii.” After a pause, he asked, “Have you called Aengus?”

“I’m about to. You owe me big.”



Chapter 3
 “We’re going out, babe. Need your help with some emergency shopping, and I’ll treat you to dinner after.” Hazel told her best friend Alise when she answered the phone. They’d forsaken hellos long ago.

“Pick me up in an hour.”

Hazel filled Alise in on their way to the mall. She was insulted to find that the dark-haired beauty beside her was more interested in the chance to meet an old race of beings than the cute guy she’d met. That was Alise, though. She’d always been more into this Otherworld stuff than Hazel, regardless of the fact she was purely human.

Growing up next to Hazel had been luck of the draw, but Alise hadn’t let any of it slide by her. She knew more of the history, more of the legend and myth, than Hazel had ever been interested in learning. She had also grown into a powerful witch in her own right. Having a goddess next door helped, and Alise’s interest kept Brigit from going overboard drilling Hazel.

The truth was Hazel was more interested in the human world than what Brigit could teach her. She never planned to return to Otherworld. Oh, maybe for a vacation or two, but not to stay – much to her aunt’s chagrin. Hazel often wondered if Brigit regretted the choice to raise her among humans.

It was nearly impossible to find a parking space. After circling for what seemed like hours, Alise took matters into her own hands. With a flick of the wrist, she repainted the lines at the end of one row of cars, leaving a spot at the end just for them.

“I won’t get a ticket?” Hazel still hadn’t paid the last one. Mental note.

“Nope, the illusion will hold for the afternoon. Let’s go.” Alise grinned, positively gleeful. She did love pulling one over on people.



Hazel shut the car door with one hip, wrestling her shopping bags into order as she struggled toward her house.

“I’d say that was a success,” Alise said as she juggled her purchases in a similar fashion.

“Yep, everything I need to spend a few days in the company of a complete hottie. Let the seduction begin.”

“Weird you met him through Drake, though.”

“I’m trying not to think of it that way. Opportunities come as they will – who am I to refuse them, even when they come through the evil ex?”

“Good point. It has been awhile. Don’t blame you for taking whatever comes your way.” Alise smiled sweetly at Hazel’s scowl.

“Hazel?” Brigit spoke from the kitchen.

“I’m home,” she called in response. She and Alise managed to get into the kitchen, where they set their bags on the table and watched sweaters and bras promptly spill out.

“Looks like quite a shopping trip,” Brigit said from the other side of the pile. Her blond hair and blue eyes could still be seen, but the rest of her was hidden behind a pastel castle of clothing. “What’s the occasion?”

“Since when do I need an occasion to spend?” Hazel asked. Sidhe were drawn to beauty, and for those who lived beyond the veil, that tended to mean shopping addiction. Brigit was old enough to have avoided such a fate; she’d already hoarded baubles aplenty long before shopping malls existed.

“Hazel met a guy,” Alise informed Brigit, a mischievous glint in her eye.

“A new beau? Tell me about him,” Brigit ordered. She swept over to the stove and put on a kettle for tea.

“I don’t know much about him yet. He’s gorgeous, and his name’s Ian. He’s human,” Brigit clicked her tongue in surprise at that, “and stuck with some tie to the Fomorii.” Hazel nodded, her commentary complete.

“So, I gather it’s the gorgeous part that got you?” Brigit laughed.

“Sure. Why not?” Hazel reached for an apple from a bowl on the counter, and settled back, taking a huge bite.

Brigit smirked. “Ian, hmm? Well, I think it’s wonderful.”

Hazel was going through her purchases. A coral sweater caught her eye. That’s the one she’d wear tomorrow. With some tight dark jeans and boots, she mused.


Ian didn’t stand a chance.

###

If you enjoyed this free excerpt, Tribute is available at these retailers:

Vessel (Children of the Sidhe, #2)


Eddie Drake, notorious agent of the Sidhe Authority, has always been a womanizer. So he’s loath to admit when he can’t get a certain black-haired witch out of his mind. But can Drake, the fae enforcer, protect Alise when she gets mixed up in plots being incited among the Sidhe?

When Alise Rodgers wakes up in Otherworld, a mysterious connection to the place haunts her. And then there’s a more immediate concern – she would never have expected to find Drake sitting vigil for her. While she’s grateful, she’s not at all interested in his bedroom eyes. But they must work together after Alise discovers a rebellious plot brewing among the Sidhe, and puts her life on the line in the bargain.


Excerpt:


Chapter 1
The Middleworld forest whipped by as Eddie Drake hit his stride. He could feel tension from the past days flowing out of his burning muscles. Plants blurred along the trail at his feet as he concentrated on making the miles fly by.
Most Sidhe didn’t exercise for exercise sake – so maybe it was that small human part of him that enjoyed it. He felt his best after a long run, his mind as clear as his body was fatigued.
His head down, he hit a cloud of pixie dust and heard the offended pixie shout, “Hey! Watch yourself!”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m sure there’s more where that came from,” he shouted back without even looking. Pixies were a dime a dozen. You could hardly shake a leg without, well, running straight into a cloud of pixie dust. He sneezed.
Too soon, he saw home ahead. A little escape, that’s what he’d needed. For a few minutes, the burning of his muscles had distracted him from the oddities his life had taken on of late.
Eddie Drake was no nursemaid. He’d never been the patient, caring type.
He was a playboy, and it used to be pure and simple. He liked the ladies, and they liked him. Maybe he overindulged, that he could cop to. Maybe he’d been with too many ladies, too many times. That sort of behavior certainly couldn’t be seen as a precursor to this. No, his current predicament was more likely a punishment for prior bad behavior. Of course, it was a punishment he was choosing, which made it all the more odd.
To satisfy whatever part of him was so worried, he ducked through the back door and sauntered into the third bedroom, the one that had recently been Alise’s room.
Her condition unchanged, Alise rested, still as stone, under a white and cream quilt that had been his mother’s.
Drake frowned. He’d stopped counting the days; there had been many. Maybe two weeks had passed as Alise lay unmoving. Okay, she wasn’t still all the time. A few nights she’d thrashed and moaned.
He’d been so concerned the first time that happened that he’d stayed with her, holding her on the narrow bed until she calmed and seemed to rest. Relieved, he’d drifted off holding her, and been embarrassed to be found in that compromising position when Aunt Nectar came in to check on Alise.
Cuddling.
Cuddling with the unconscious.
Not a good sign.
If only he hadn’t gotten her into this mess. That’s what had him all tied up in doubt and fear. She wouldn’t be in that bed, unaware of her surroundings but drowning in the music and magic of Tir Nan Og, if it weren’t for him. He’d made the choice to ask for her help when her best friend had been in trouble. She’d gladly given her help, not realizing it would cost her.
So he owed her. At the very least, he owed her a trip back beyond the veil to where she came from, where her family and her world waited. He’d tried to give her that, but she thrashed as they approached the portal and wouldn’t calm until he retreated. He couldn’t figure that out. In her condition, how did she know when he threatened to take her home? Regardless, his attempts hadn’t worked, and neither had anything the local healer tried. Alise didn’t get worse, but she hadn’t come back to herself either. That’s what kept his stomach tied in knots, he told himself as he stood in the doorway, watching the raven-haired beauty sleep.
Footsteps on the path outside brought Drake out of his thoughts. Maybe Aunt Nectar was home early. That would be good, because he had to go to the human world for at least a while tonight. His job waited for him, and some things he couldn’t let go for an undetermined period while Alise lay in that bed.
It wasn’t Aunt Nectar darkening the path.
Bertran stood, apparently evaluating his next step, outside the cottage, surrounded by the bright sights and sounds of a Middleworld day. The weather was perfect, but that didn’t help the storm clouds covering the countenance of this particular thorn in Drake’s side.
“May I come in?” his old enemy asked.
“Not in this lifetime.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Eddie. I must see how the witch fares.”
“You’ve heard how she fares. I wouldn’t put a fox in the same room with sleeping chicks, or a sleeping chick, rather.”
“Don’t grow fond of her. You know her kind do not belong in Tir Nan Og. Isn’t it obvious?” Bertran snickered.
“You presume too far. Your orders carry no weight with me. I’ll answer to Kester or to Ian if he asks it of me. Until then, it is no one’s business how fond I grow.”
“What is it about this witch that’s turned practical, selfish Eddie Drake into the pile of mush I see today? I have to know.” Bertran’s gaze returned to the cottage, as though he was wondering which room she was in and whether he could sneak a quick peek.
Drake just glared and wished he had the magic to cast the smug bastard out of his line of sight. Bertran had always bullied Drake, starting when they were children. He’d been just as untouchable then as he was now as one of the youngest, and strongest, Sidhe Authority delegates. Drake didn’t have that sort of power. He was a grunt doing the Authority’s bidding beyond the veil, in the human world. Still, he knew in this topic Ian – soon to be leader of the Sidhe – would back him.
Ian awaited Alise’s revival just as Drake did. His beloved, Hazel, would not wed until her best friend could stand with her.
“You will tell me when she awakes,” Bertran said imperiously.
“What do you care? I know Alise. What is your interest in her?”
Bertran ignored the question. “You’ve made your choices, Drake. One like you, choosing to live beyond the veil, you’ll never belong in Tir Nan Og. You’re hardly Sidhe at all.” Bertran stalked off and Drake watched him go until he was out of sight, his shoulders tense.
No good would come of Bertran’s fascination with keeping the blood pure. By his definition, Drake had to agree; he was hardly Sidhe at all. And he was glad of it. Smug, overbearing bastards like Bertran were why he’d chosen life beyond the veil to begin with. He’d never been accepted in Tir Nan Og. Well, that was fine with him. He hadn’t needed Bertran’s approval to make a life for himself.
Drake’s exiled father had sent him to Tir Nan Og to live with Aunt Nectar after his mother’s death when he was seven. He’d known nothing of Otherworld at that age. His half-human mother had never entered Tir Nan Og.
He’d been accepted in Aunt Nectar’s home, and loved. But even that foundation hadn’t been enough to protect him from the taunts of the other young Sidhe, over his dark coloring and his complete lack of magical gifts.
As a kid Drake mostly kept to himself. He occasionally got into scrapes, and learned to hold his own. He didn’t have their magic, but he did have brute strength. Every time he got rough with one of them, there were fewer willing to mess with him later. He learned enough about independence and quick thinking to make a great agent for the Authority Guard when he came of age. Now they paid him to live beyond the veil, taking care of their business as needed. An enchanted pendant gave him defensive power, so Sidhe magic couldn’t harm him in the course of business. Other than that, he used his muscles. He liked using his muscles, something he felt most Sidhe didn’t appreciate enough.
Drake wouldn’t have chosen to subject himself to Bertran’s presence, not to mention an exchange of words. He had about as little control over that as anything in his life at the moment.
With that thought, he returned to Alise’s bedside. Maybe she would wake today and they could both get back beyond the veil, sooner rather than later.


Chapter 2
The dark room flickered with the light of a single candle. A veil lay soft against her skin. She knew the room for her tomb, and the knowledge was a comfort.
Then flashes, scenes passing rapidly. This must be what they meant when they said your life flashes before your eyes.
A fair man with dark eyes and golden hair, his jawline too strong to be attractive. Instead he was cartoonish, and seething with barely suppressed rage. He held a knife by its hilt as though ready to throw it.
Rage burned through her as well. Vengeance swelled in her blood. She would smite him to the ground. He would die writhing in agony; such was the punishment for disobeying her will.
A swarm of ravens, the man’s eyes wide with fear, his lips stretching in a scream.
The voice, not her own, “As I willed it, so is it done.”

Struggling from under an ocean of dreams, Alise Rodgers surfaced briefly, or she thought she surfaced. But she saw a face that couldn’t be hovering over her own. Quickly she succumbed again to the immense weight that clouded her mind and confused her senses.
When next she surfaced, Alise focused with all her might on her surroundings. She could feel the song, or maybe hear it, just as she remembered, reverberating through the land that was Tir Nan Og. So she was in Otherworld, as she barely remembered. Forcing herself, she locked that music, that magic, into a small compartment of her mind, where it could tease her, but it would not overwhelm her senses. It took some time, and energy she didn’t have. Finally, she’d erected enough mental barriers, locked that part of her so easily seduced by Tir Nan Og so far inside, that she felt she might be able to function.
She opened her eyes, blinking slowly to grow accustomed to the light.
Drake held her hand, sitting concerned at her bedside. She shook off his fingers and frowned at him.
“Yes! Now I know you’re coming out of it. That’s the antagonistic Alise I know.” His teasing words did nothing to improve her state of confusion. What the hell was her best friend’s ex doing sitting vigil for her? She’d been out of it for gods only knew how long – from the sawdust taste in her mouth it had likely been weeks – and this was the company she’d been left with?
“What?” she croaked.
Drake handed her a glass of water, the condensation cool between their brushing fingertips. She drank thankfully. While she did she thought about the fact that he was just as handsome as usual in that devilish way he had, and she was pretty sure she looked like something the cat would drag back out. At least it was Drake, and there was a less than zero chance they’d ever hook up, so what was she worried about?
“You’ve been out of it.” Drake stated matter-of-factly. He stretched and flexed his muscular shoulders as though he’d been in one position too long.
“You don’t say.” Her glare returned. “How long?”
“About two weeks.”
“You’re kidding.” She sat up in a rush, and fell back when her head swam dangerously. She needed to get herself under control. But last she could recall there had been so much on the line. She had to know how the battle had ended. Was that why Drake was here? “Hazel? The Fomorii tribute crap? You better start talking.”
“Calm down. Seriously, you’re pushing it, even for you.” His look fierce, he leaned in until she resumed her position stretched out on…Oh, gods. This wasn’t his bed, was it? That cut it, she couldn’t relax. She sat up again, meeting his glare with her own. She was more careful this time, steeling her stomach against an ugly wave of nausea.
“Okay. I’ll say it again. Start talking.”


Chapter 3
Alise’s instant interrogation was no less than Drake had expected from her. She’d never been meek, and he’d never seen her quiet. Feistier than most, she even had a small streak of downright mean. He could dig it, he thought with a smile. At least she put his concerns to rest by living up to expectations.
He answered her questions as well as he could. The battle with the Fomorii had proven short, and successful. None of the enemy had survived, and they’d suffered no casualties. That’s how smart it was of the Fomorii to invade Underworld.
He got down to the news he knew would thrill her. “Hazel is in Underworld. She moved in with Ian and they’re talking marriage. Soon. Like as soon as you woke up, the last I heard.”
Alise smiled. “That’s big news.” Her brow furrowed, as she got lost in her thoughts for a moment.
“Hazel was here every day. Between us we about wore out this chair.” He kicked a leg of the strangely carved wooden monstrosity.
“Why were you here so much?” She asked the question with her brows raised in a way that both mocked him and conveyed her intense interest in his answer.
“I don’t know. I guess I felt responsible for you being in Otherworld to begin with. And we couldn’t figure out what was going on with you. What if you’d never woken up?” He couldn’t believe he’d said that. How cruel to point out how dire her situation had been right after she woke up.
“Was Hazel as worried as you were?”
“She just kept saying how strong you were. If you weren’t getting worse, you were sure to get better soon. All that hopeful crap.”
Alise snorted a laugh.
As though talking about her had brought her instantly to his door, Hazel walked in the front door, calling, “Hello?”
He didn’t mind the intrusion. Though they’d only broken up about six months before, they’d somehow made a transition into an easy friendship. Maybe it was her new relationship with Ian, and with the Sidhe in general. Hazel hadn’t been interested in the Sidhe way of life, until she met Ian and he convinced her to give him a try. He was no playboy, no Eddie Drake.
“She’s awake,” he said as Hazel peered into the small bedroom. His aunt’s cottage wasn’t large. She lived here alone now. When he was younger the place felt cozy. His aunt had only to start a soup in the kitchen and the savory scents would waft over the entire place. Bread was a whole other story; out of this world, or the one beyond the veil. Once he reached full size – which for him was six foot two and a couple of bills – the house felt snug, but he wasn’t here much.
“Oh, thank the gods, each and every one of them.” Hazel pulled Alise into a tight hug and then pushed her back so she could look her over like a mother cat. “How you feeling, sweetie?” she purred.
“Not particularly sweet. Haven’t bathed in – what did you say it was? Two weeks?” Alise regarded Drake with a sardonic smile.
“Well, I wouldn’t say you didn’t bathe. You had several sponge baths,” he told her.
“You fiend. You didn’t dare.” Her eyes narrowed in a look that told him she was thinking up the worst punishments she had in her arsenal.
He laughed. “No. You’re right, I wouldn’t dare. You’re a hot head, and a powerful witch to boot, and I’d be pretty stupid to cross you, Alise. Hazel bathed you. I even left the room. Might have peeked a time or two, though.”
Hazel socked him in the arm. “You did not. I shut the door, you big brute. Quit torturing her. Is that why you’re still here?”
“Fine, I’ll take the not-so-subtle hint and mosey on so you two can talk.” He picked himself up off the chair, suddenly intensely grateful to be seeing the end of this vigil. He wasn’t used to sitting still so much.
Before he reached the door Alise said, “Drake? Thanks.”
Her smile was the prize. What the hell was the matter with him?


“I hear we have a wedding to plan,” Alise took in her best friend as she reclined back among the pillows on the bed. She couldn’t believe how tired she was already.
“Crazy, huh?” Hazel shook her head, and Alise understood what she was feeling. A lot had changed. A month ago Hazel hadn’t even met Ian, and now she was living with him. To top it off, here she was talking to her best friend in Otherworld, a place she’d never dared hope to tread. Sure, she knew Sidhe aplenty from having grown up next door to Hazel. Many of them were scary, some were downright dangerous, and they were all selfish and arrogant.
Hazel turned the conversation around. “You look different. Are you sure you feel okay?”
“As good as can be expected. I slept for ages. Strange dreams, too. I don’t feel like myself, but does that surprise you?”
“No. It’s just…” Hazel searched her eyes, and Alise didn’t know what she was looking for. “Never mind. I’m sure you’re right, you just need to get more rest.”
“Ugh. More rest?” She snuggled down under the blanket, knowing she’d be asleep again before long despite her objections. “Let’s talk more about this wedding. Do you have a dress yet?”
###

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