New Release – Unholy Cause By P.L.Blair

Today I have a recently released novel, Unholy Cause, book five in the Portals series by my friend P.L.Blair.  The first chapter is here also for you to enjoy. This is a fantastic series and I highly recommend it.

Unholy Cause -Final edited.jpg

 

Description1

Kat’s life hangs in the balance as she becomes a pawn in the game of the Unseelie Queen – a female who can jump from body to body and who now seeks an ancient device that will allow her to conquer both the Realms of Magic and the earth known to humans. Kat’s elven lifemate Tevis can save her, but only if he helps the Unseelie Queen find the device that she seeks.

The two detectives, elf and human, face their biggest challenge yet, and a choice that places not only their partnership but their very lives in peril.

 

chapter

THREE YEARS PAST

 

Anhlaf stared at the sleeping woman, and revulsion stirred in his gut. “Are you sure,” his voice a whisper that only his companion could hear, “this is the one?”

“I do not make mistakes.” Though the Other also spoke in a whisper, Anhlaf could hear the contempt that laced Its tone.

“But she looks so – ordinary,” he protested. “So – Human.”

“Yet the Ancient Blood flows in her veins, the Blood of the Queen. I feel it, even if you do not.”

Anhlaf Sensed that he had overstepped, and that amends were needed quickly to forestall the Other’s wrath. Only the fact that they both served the Queen kept him safe against the creature, and if he stirred the creature’s anger … “Forgive me.” Anhlaf added a slight bow for emphasis. “It is just that she is so … so …”

“Ordinary. Yes.” The Other barked a laugh. “And … no,” shaking Its head as though It Sensed the question the smaller male did not dare ask, “there is none closer to the Queen in Blood than this one.”

Anhlaf smoothed his face into a mask against his disappointment. No matter how intently he looked, he could not see the promise that his companion found in this … Human.

“Wake her,” the Other said.

He blinked at his companion – a creature scarcely more than a shadow, a vaguely humanoid shape darker than all but the deepest gloom in this night-shrouded room. Wake her

But that was indeed his purpose here. He was the intermediary, the one chosen to speak to the woman, the one who would tell her of her Destiny, who would convince her to come with him to the Realms of Magic. She would never see the Other …

He stepped to the side of her bed, then stopped, and looked toward the Darkness hunched in the far corner. “Did the Queen tell you her name?”

 

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New Release – A Fragile Peace by Lisa Williamson

Today I have a new release for you by my friend Lisa WilliamsonA Fragile Peace, is book three in the Saga of Loralil Greyfox series.  I was privileged to read it early and it’s fantastic, I would recommend you read the whole series starting with Endings.

A Fragile Peace

DESCRIPTION

Elves are a people of clans, tribes, and nations. Their lives are filled with family. When her village ended and her parents where killed and her revenge cost her the last of her family, Loralil was cut loose of the ties that bind elves to life.

Karleen and Levy have managed to keep her from death wishing and pulled her back from her inner darkness, but she refuses to speak. Out of concern they hit the road again to bring her to the last known enclave of Grey Elf healers. They can only hope those mystical healers can help her find a fragile peace.

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Character Interview – Maddison Wood from The Contract by Melissa Barker-Simpson

Today I am bringing you an interview with Maddison Wood who resides in the story The Contract by author Melissa Barker-Simpson.Melissa Simpson Changing Worlds 2

ABOUT MADDISON

Name: Maddison Wood

Sex: Female

Age: 28 (born 2018)

Eyes: Green

Hair: Midnight blue

Body Type: Tall, and lithe

Facial features: Upturned eyes, oblong face, high cheekbones, and full lips.

Skin type/tone: Warm brown

Ears: Small, round ears

Interesting physical characteristics: I can focus power into my hair and use it as a weapon

Background:

Hi Maddison and welcome, can you tell us where and when were you born?

My actual place of birth is unknown. I was found at the edge of Blackbush forest in a shallow, unfinished grave and taken into foster care.

Tell us some of the places where have you lived?

I lived in many foster homes in and around London until I was 13, at which point I ran away. I found my way into the Enchanted Realm and was discovered by Tristan Thorne, a vampire and member of the Enraptured. He took me in, gave me a family and trained me to become a warrior. Since then I have lived across the UK.

Tell us about your family members?

Triston’s son, Zachariah Thorne and Michael Gilliford from the House of Gilliford are my brothers. They are my family.

Where did you go to school?

I have no formal education. I was homeschooled (or at least that’s what it said on the paperwork) until the age of 13. After that, the Thornes took over my training.

Character Interview

 

Can you tell us how you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?

It was unexpected. As a hunter I often take dangerous assignments, but things reached a whole new level of complicated this time around.

What words of wisdom would you give Melissa if she decided to write another book with you in it?

She already has and, if I have anything to do with it, we’ll take many more adventures together. My advice would be to let go of the reins a little – I’m not easy to control!

How does Melissa see you?

Stubborn, I imagine. Hopefully fun, because I have a few tricks up my sleeve and enjoy taking her by surprise. Unpredictable, definitely. It’s a safe bet to say I amuse her, because I’ve heard her laugh out loud!

Do you think Melissa portrayed you accurately?

Absolutely. We had a few battles in the beginning, but she gets me. Ultimately it’s all that matters.

Was there a major turning point in your life?

It was certainly a shock when I hit puberty and discovered my powers. The family I was living with at the time kept me in an attic. I know, it sounds so cliché, and I still don’t know why they took me in (except from the financial gain of course). I was discarded, like all the other trash they stored up there. They weren’t stupid, or physically abusive, just neglectful. My foster mother enjoyed to torment me, she called me Rapunzel; the attic was presumably my tower. When she brought my daily rations she would open the hatch and make a crack about my hair. She probably regrets it now, because I showed her exactly what I could do with my hair!

Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

I was captured during the Demonic War and forced into slavery. It took me years to break free, but when I did – when I learnt to truly control my power – I swore nobody would ever chain me again.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

I wouldn’t be guarding it very well if I answered that!

What is your most prized possession? Why?

My suit. It was a gift from Michael and it’s the only thing I wear. It is a kind of uniform, imbued with the power of the elves.

How do you envision your future?

I try not to think about it too much. I prefer to live in the moment. Wherever I am, I’ll never stop fighting – not as long as there’s someone to protect.

In what situation is your self-esteem most at risk?

Usually when I’m around Orion Reece. Orion is a god, one of unrivaled power. I have strong natural defenses so I’m not easy to manipulate. But Orion weakens those defenses, and though most of his tricks don’t work on me I have a healthy dose of fear where he’s concerned.

Is there anyone in your life that you are attracted to?

That’s up there with guarding those secrets. I have a strange connection to the Hympe King, Tobias Locke. He drives me insane, most of the time.

What scares you about him?

His ability to get under my skin. Nobody does that quite like Tobias.

What does he know about you that no one else does?

He knows more than most about my past.

How do you decide if you can trust someone?

Trust has to be earned. I trust only a handful of people with my life, though that number is growing.

How do you know you love someone?

When I let them in, and allow them to see who I truly am.

How would you change the world?  The things around you? The people around you?

That’s a tough question, because the world is a dark place and has been since the war. It’s not easy once you know the monsters are real. Until things change for the better, I’ll continue to do my job, so others can sleep easier at night.

How do you learn best?

By observing and then doing things my way.

What are your goals in life?

To rid the world of filth, and when I say filth, I mean the demon scum who prey on humans. There’s no way to truly eradicate the darkness, because life couldn’t exist without it. But one of my ongoing life goals is to cause as much trouble for the Fractured as I can – those beings who live in the shadows, intent on destruction.

What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?

Does fighting count? I guess I enjoy movie nights at Merc Hall. Not necessarily for the films. When a large number of hunters gather together, trouble ultimately arises. Okay, I’m usually at the centre of it, but a girl has to find her fun somewhere!

What are you most afraid of?

Losing my independence.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

To find out who my parents are.

What do you like best about yourself?

My skills as a hunter.

What do you like least about yourself?

My distrustful nature.

What do you like best about your best friend?

I have two best friends – Zachariah and Michael. I like knowing I can count on them. Their friendship strengthens me. They are my true home.

What do you like least about your best friend?

Michael is too hard on himself, and Zachariah has a tendency to shut people out. We’re a lot alike in that way, so I’m usually the one to challenge him on it.

What do you think other people think of you?

In general, people probably don’t know what to make of me. They’re curious about the suit, especially as the elves rarely open their ranks to outsiders. I scare some people, which isn’t a bad thing in my line of work. But I’d like to think I’m respected for my skills.

What’s your greatest source of frustration?

Tobias Locke.

What’s your greatest source of joy?

Knowing I have people I can count on when all hell breaks loose.

What are you especially proud of in your life?

That other hunters come to me when they’re in a tight spot.

If you could change anything about your life what would it be?

My experiences make me who I am, so I wouldn’t change anything.

What is your most prized possession? Why?

My rings. They’re made from aquilliam, a rare elfin metal. They were a gift from Michael’s father. I use them in a variety of ways, and they easily absorb my power.

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Character Interview – Arthfael – Taken By The Huntsman by Mistral Dawn

Today I have an interview for you with Arthfael who resides in the awesome book Taken By The Huntsman by fellow author Mistral Dawn.

Mistral DawnTakenbytheHuntsmanBOOK DESCRIPTION

Discarded and ignored by those around her for most of her life, Cassie is a lonely human woman struggling to find her place in the world and meaning in her life. Cadeyrn is the Erlking, the leader of the Wild Hunt, a hundreds of thousands of years old Fae who has always known his purpose. He has spent his entire long existence tracking the criminals of Fairie and punishing them for their crimes.
While hunting for the murderer of a child who has escaped to Earth Cadeyrn comes across Cassie and realizes that she is the one that the great mother goddess has designated as his soul mate. He kidnaps her and takes her to his fortress in Fairie to protect her from his many enemies. He knows she will be angry and that he’ll have to work to earn her trust, but he finds his task to be even more challenging than he had thought it would be due to Cassie’s difficulty in opening her heart.
Will Cadeyrn be able to convince Cassie that the bond between them is real and earn her love?

Character Interview

Name: Arthfael

Sex: Male

Age: Thousands of years old

Eyes: Slate-gray

Hair: Bushy brown

Body Type: Six feet tall, built like a line-backer

Facial  features: Squashed in face with a big round nose

Skin type/tone: leathery, warm brown

Ears: Normal

Interesting physical characteristics: He’s half Brownie and half Giant.

Background:

Where and when were you born? In the mountains of the Giants.

Where have you lived? With the Giants, with the Brownies in the Summer Court, and in the castle of the Erlking.

Family members? None I’m in contact with.

Schooling? It’s different in Fairie.

 

Hi Arthfael, welcome, can you tell us how do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?

Very happy that the master and his Anamchara were able to work things out.

What words of wisdom would you give Mistral if she decided to write another book with you in it?

To try to understand how difficult it can be for someone who is born different.

Do you think Mistral portrayed you accurately?

I do. Mistral understands that it can be hard for those who society rejects.

Was there a major turning point in your life?

When I came to live in the Erlking’s household and found some measure of acceptance.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

My heritage. Strangers never understand.

How do you envision your future?

Helping the master as much as possible, and maintaining order in his household. There are also a couple of Brownie females I’d like to know better, if I can ever work up the courage.

How do you decide if you can trust someone?

I rely on the master’s judgement.

What parts of loving come easy to you ?  Hard?

I love easily, but have always been rejected. Even my parents were unable to truly accept me once I reached maturity.

What are you most afraid of?

Being turned away from service to the Erlking.

What are you especially proud of in your life?

Having worked my way up to a position of trust in my master’s household.

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Character Interview – Jillian from Bound By the Summer Prince by Mistral Dawn

Today I have an interview for you with Jillian from a wonderful book, Bound By The Summer Prince by fellow author Mistral Dawn.

Mistral Dawn BoundByTheSummerPrinceBOOK DESCRIPTION

The Summer Court is in an uproar. The king has just been executed for unpardonable crimes, and the queen is prostrate with grief over his loss. This leaves the Summer kingdom bereft of true leadership; a problem which is compounded by the fact that the laws of Fairie require balance to be maintained by having a male and a female ruler for both Season Courts at all times. Uaine, the Summer prince, is the only one who can put things right, but he is without a mate. Knowing that he must take a bride quickly, for the sake of his people, even though he is struggling with his own feelings of pain and anger over his father’s treachery, he goes for a walk in a forest near the palace to try to clear his head and determine how best to choose a female to rule beside him.

While walking Uaine discovers a human female running loose in Fairie, which is against the most basic tenets of Fae law. Furious at one more problem he must deal with, he takes her prisoner and locks her in the dungeon; only to discover later that she is his soul-mate. The magical bond between them means they are meant to be together forever, but humans can’t feel the magic of Fairie. Will Uaine be able to win her heart and convince her that she can trust him to keep her safe from all the dangers of Fairie…including himself?

Roni is a human con woman and petty thief. Having run afoul of the local crime syndicate in the city where she is staying, she finds herself running for her life. Trouble is no stranger to her, but when she falls through a hole in a wall and finds herself in a world with carnivorous trees and rocks that eat people she realizes she may have found more of it than she can deal with. Rescued/arrested by the prince of the Summer Court, it doesn’t take long for her to formulate a plan to use him to get herself home. Unfortunately for her, she soon finds that her heart, which she had thought long ago turned to stone, has begun to feel the love she has been playing at. Will she be able to overcome a lifetime of caution and allow herself to follow her heart? Can a criminal love a cop?

Please be aware that this book contains explicit sexual scenes, depictions of BDSM, and anal play. If these things disturb you, then this may not be the book for you.

Character Interview

Name: Jillian

Sex: Female

Age: Thousands of years old

Eyes: Gray

Hair: Curly, white-blonde, waist-length

Body Type: Tall and thin

Facial  features: Sidhe features

Skin type/tone: Very pale

Ears: Pointed

Background:

Where and when were you born? I was born in Fairie’s Summer Court

Where have you lived? In the Summer Court, and often in the palace.

Family members? I have no close blood-relatives, but the Summer queen is as a sister to me.

Schooling? It’s different in Fairie.

Hi Jillian, how do you feel about the ending of the book, without giving too much away?

Very happy for the prince and his Anamchara.

What words of wisdom would you give Mistral if she decided to write another book with you in it?

Focus on my relationships with others, you may notice a pattern.

Do you think that Mistral portrayed you accurately?

I do. I am something of a private person, and people don’t always understand everything about me right away. I believe Mistral understands who I am on a deeper level.

Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

When I realized I could not be loyal to the entire Summer Court, and had to choose which of the royals would have my backing. Fae politics can be brutal.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

I don’t have any secrets, but I don’t always discuss aspect of myself with everyone I meet. Those who wish to know me should spend time with me.

How do you envision your future?

Helping Uaine and Roni to bring peace to the Summer Court, and make the transition of them filling the roles of king and queen as seamless as possible. Also, I will always do everything in my power to ensure the safety and well-being of all of the Summer royals who demonstrate honor.

How do you decide of you can trust someone?

It is not always easy, sometimes people can be deceptive on the surface.

What parts of loving come easy to you ?  Hard?

I find it easy to love others. I have many friends who I am loyal to, and enjoy the company of other people. But if you spend time with me, you may notice something about me that is different than many Fae.

What are you most afraid of?

That Briallen will never fully recover from the loss of her husband.

Is there something you are especially proud of in your life?

That I’ve been able to help ensure peace in the Summer kingdom, and that my actions helped prevent a war.

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First Chapter – The Traveler by Lisa Williamson

Today’s First Chapter is from The Traveler by my friend Lisa Williamson.  This is a terrific story, do yourself a favour and check it out.

Lisa TheTravelerDESCRIPTION

Edana is the finest courier in the Six kingdoms. With her black stallion Midnight, she has built a reputation. But a robbery attempt and cursed blade turn her world upside down.

Now fighting for her life, Edana must rely on unexpected friends and kind-hearted strangers who introduce Magic and Prophecy into her life. Tales of elves, dwarves and elementals are proving true.

Is Edana really who they say she is? Can she really bring closure to an ages old tragedy? Or will events that took place before her birth doom her and all who love her to utter destruction?

Chapter

Riding through the storm, Edana sighed as the shelter finally came in sight. She had been riding for hours in the massive storm. The crash of the thunder had become just background noise to her. As her horse stumbled to a halt, she pulled her mind together and with great effort looked around. They had stopped in front of the first travel shelter she had seen in days. It was one of a series of small buildings scattered along the old grand highway or should have been. Most had been left to the elements, falling to ruins that had barely a single wall to set a tent against. With an effort of will she unclasped the hand holding the reins, her fingers were white from the cold. She pushed back her heavy, wet hair with a shaking hand and sighed wearily. “This is a good enough place. Time to rest.”

With a groan she leaned to the side and slid off the animal’s back. Landing in a heap on the ground, she lay panting. “We traveled too long this time, boy.”

The horse put his head down and nudged her, whickering. She reached up and grabbed his halter and the horse pulled his head back, helping her stand. “Thanks, boy,” she murmured. Leaning against his warm bulk, she surveyed the shelter. From here it looked solid. That was to be hoped for, as the weather outside was abysmal. She slowly put one foot in front of the other and led her horse toward the front door. The stables were off to the side but she did not think she could make it there and back to the shelter, she was so tired. Pushing open the door she headed inside.

The shelter was black as sin inside but she knew that lamps were kept just inside these shelters and she groped around until she felt the cool metal of a traveler’s lamp. Picking it up she shook it gently to see if it had any oil inside. There was a satisfying splash, so she fumbled in her pockets and pulled out her striker. It took three tries but she finally got it lit.

The lamp threw out a pool of golden light across half the room. The travel shelter consisted of one great room with a fire pit in the center. She could see a neat pile of firewood to the left and large wooden chests along the right. A smile crossed her weary face as she opened one and saw it was filled with dried goods. Whoever was in charge of this stretch of the old highway was following the rules perfectly.

She turned as her big companion nickered. “What? Oh, sorry, boy. Let’s get that saddle off you right now.” She worked the water-soaked leather through the buckle and slid the saddle off. She looked about and then saw the saddle stand off to the side. “They really know how to stock a shelter in these parts.” She struggled with the heavy saddle and placed it on the stand. Then she turned back to her mount.

He was a beautiful beast, more than a normal saddle horse.   He came out of bloodlines that had been specially crafted for endurance and brains. That he was easy on the eye was a surprise. Most of the foals thrown by his dam were of a muddy brown with intelligent eyes and a sturdy body, but the stud that had mounted her had been one of surpassing beauty. It was thought that since he was not of the same breed that the colt would be a cull. She had convinced the owner of the dam to let her take him off his hands, sight unseen. Now she held the ownership of one of the smartest horses ever bred.

He looked at her for a moment and then nickered. He knew that he had worked hard and that his mistress was tired, but he also knew from experience that the human would take care of his needs before her own. He was more intelligent than even she knew, more than could be expected of a four-footed kindred. The stallion that had mounted the mare that was his dam was not really a horse. He was something out of legend and though he had spent all of his life with this young woman he knew just what he was.

Edana dug through her saddlebags till she pulled out the currycomb, brush and a big rag. She wiped down the massive body, being sure to get her mount as dry as she could. She did not want the fine animal cramping with the cold or getting a cough. When she finished getting him dry she moved to start a fire. “I’ll finish grooming you as soon as I get a mash started, boy.” Edana never noticed that she talked to her horse like he was another person. She spent so much time alone that it had become second nature. As the fire caught, she added a few pieces of wood slowly, making sure that she did not snuff out the building flame.

Sitting back on her heels for a moment she sighed. The heat felt so good. She had not realized how cold she had become. Somewhere on the road she had just become automation, urging Midnight on toward the comfort she knew was ahead. Now she could feel the cramp of returning circulation and winced but continued getting food prepared for them both.

She stood and then picking up the brush, started to groom Midnight’s side with large sweeping motions. They both started to relax as she did so. The motion was almost hypnotic to Edana. She had always loved grooming Midnight. He was such a pleasure. Though he gave the groomers at her various stops trouble, she never had a moment of it from him in the four years they had been traveling on the road. Many times she had been told she should have him gelded, that a tiny woman like herself should not trust a full stallion but she refused. It would have been more than a crime to injure such a fine specimen of horse.   She had occasionally thought about putting him out to stud but he had either been too young or just not interested in the mares offered.

Sooner than she realized she had him completely brushed and combed. His sides glowed like obsidian in the firelight and he nudged her with his muzzle. Edana smiled, pulled an apple from her pocket and held it out for him. Midnight lipped it and took small, neat bites from the apple without ever nipping her hand. After he finished he nudged her again, pushing her toward the large barrel near the fire.

Edana chuckled, “Are you trying to tell me to take a bath, m’boyo?”

Midnight nodded his head with a wicker. She shook her head and laughed. “Oh M’boyo, no one would believe me if I told them you answered my questions.” She looked down at herself. “But you are right. I could use a bath.” She moved to the fire and then scooped up the oat mash she had made for him and brought the bucket over, “Now you eat this while I get the wash water set up for me.” She winced at the condition of her travel leathers. “I think I need to do a wash of more than my body. These are filthy.”

Soon she was immersed in a large barrel that had to have been left in the shelter for just that purpose. She sighed as the water she had heated relaxed her tired, aching muscles and then she reached for the bar of soap she had laid nearby. Dunking under the water she worked up lather in her hands and started to wash out the tangled mess of her flame colored hair. Though not of the classic lines preferred around the nations, Edana was a beautiful woman. She never thought so, believing herself to be rather plain. She dressed in men’s clothing, wore her hair bundled under a loose cap and strapped her breasts down. Traveling alone as she did was dangerous enough for a man. A woman was just asking to be set upon and raped if she was discovered.

She had become a bit of a legend in the courier trade. She was totally trustworthy, had never sold out one of her customers or stolen from them. She always delivered her packages on time or as close as humanly possible. After the time she successfully delivered a package to the authorities even though she was near bled white from the wound she had gotten, she was in demand. The fact that the small woman would deliver, no matter the cost to herself had hit a cord with the customers.   Though from that day she had made sure to look deeper into her clients. She had not known that the package the Lady Maythia asked her to take to the king’s man in the next town was proof of her husband’s treason. If she had she would have asked a much higher fee.

She awoke at a pressure on her shoulder. With a start she looked about. Just above her shoulder was Midnight. She smiled and rubbed his muzzle. “Did I fall asleep?”

Without watching to see if he nodded she heaved her body up and out of the now cool water. Goosebumps prickled her skin as the water cascaded down. “Brrrr.It is a little chilly yet in here,” she jumped once more as the massive black head bumped her back. She looked back as she stepped out of the water and her eyes widened. Midnight was holding a large towel gently in his teeth. Now that was more than strange. How had the horse known she would need a towel? She grabbed the cloth and dried herself quickly and then slipped into her last set of clean britches and a soft, often patched chemise. She reached out then and caressed Midnight’s cheek. “You are such a smart one, m’love. Such a good boy.” She continued to whisper little endearments to her mount as she set up a bowl of mash for herself and settled down on her bedroll. She fell to and soon the room was filled with the sound of the fire crackling and of one human eating.

Edana finished up and then stretching, she stood. “Time to put you in the stable, my friend.” She smiled as Midnight shook his head. “Now, boyo, I’m sorry but I can not be sleeping in the same room with a man now can I?” She chuckled as she said that. It was not as if she hadn’t shared camps with her big, black horse but the room was small and a horse needed to be stabled at night, no matter how odd a specimen he was.   She chuckled and opened the shelter door, motioning for the beast to pass her by. Midnight looked at her for a long moment and then stepped through the door like a prince on his way to court. Edana could not help herself, she laughed. Midnight was better company than many of the men she had met in her life. She slapped his rump and followed him out.

Outside the night had cleared up. The rain had stopped and though the ground was soaking, the air was crisp and clean. Edana took a deep breath and flung out her arms. She loved the nights when the air was like it was now and the sky was so clear that the stars seemed like diamonds scattered across velvet. She tilted her head and watched Midnight move forward. He looked to be in fine shape and she was glad. She had been worried that she had ridden him too hard that night, but he was fine. She walked toward the stable and he came to walk next to her. She rested a hand on his shoulder and softly sighed with happiness. She had never needed to halter him or use a lead rope. He had always walked with her. “You know boyo, I don’t think you need to be in the stable tonight. How about I let you into yon pasture?” She nodded to the fenced in area next to the stable. It was not large but it looked more comfortable than a box stall to both the horse and his mistress. Midnight nodded and whickered his agreement. Edana smiled and walked over and opened the gate. With the sweep of an arm she ushered him in and then shut the gate. “Now be a good boyo, and stay in there.”

Edana turned back toward the shelter after one last pat on Midnight’s nose and then walked off.   The sound of the door to the shelter closing and being barred was the only sound in the quiet that had descended over the little clearing. After a few long moments of Midnight staring after his mistress a new sound broke the quiet. It was low, musical laughter and the massive black head turned about to look over his shoulder. There, sitting on the fence, was a being made of starlight and magic. A huge sigh came out of the black body and then it too shimmered in the starlight.

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First Chapters – Stormcaller by P L Blair

Today’s First Chapter is from Stormcaller, book two in the Portals series by my friend P L Blair.

StormcallerDESCRIPTION

Tlaloc, worshipped by the ancient Aztecs as a god of rains, storms and disease, has come to Corpus Christi, Texas, with an ultimatum: He will be worshiped as in times past, including Human sacrifice, or he will destroy the Texas coastline with a hurricane. It’s up to Police Detective Kat Morales, her Elven partner Tevis and the rest of an elite team headed by the Wizard Arvandus to stop Tlaloc before he makes good on his threat. The adventures that began for Kat and Tevis in Shadow Path continue as they race
against time, and between worlds, to defeat the Stormcaller.

Chapter

Kat pounded for the third time on the door to room 47 of the Drop Inn Motel. Cute name, the kind that got giggles or groans, sometimes both, from the Winter Texans that had once been its major source of clientele. The Drop Inn hadn’t been a viable tourist spot for decades.

But she and Tevis hadn’t come here looking for tourists.

“Tomas Alvarez!” she called for the third time. “Police! Open the door or we’ll bust it open!”

Silence — for the third time. Kat glanced at her partner. The Elf — a couple of inches taller than her five feet six — returned her gaze with piercingly blue eyes and, just perceptibly, he inclined his head. He’d drawn his service revolver.

So had Kat. She braced to kick the door open TV-cop style. She’d never tried it before. It might work.

Then on impulse, she tried the knob instead. It turned easily, and the door swung open.

Too late she realized she stood in the line of fire from anyone in the room. Damn! Harley would chew on her for that!

But she heard no gunfire, felt no burn of a bullet slamming into her. She saw a basic motel-room design, bathroom just inside the door to the left, to the right a recessed cubby for hanging clothes, the hangers empty. The room had one bed, and Tomas Alvarez sat tailor-fashion in the middle of it, a Mexican-American Buddha, except he was skinnier. Black hair badly in need of a cut fell past his shoulders and over his face, and a mustache that looked like a fuzzy black caterpillar lodged under his nose.

He grinned and spread his arms wide as if he sought to embrace the world. “Welcome, amigos. Welcome!” His slurred speech and off-kilter grin told Kat all she needed to know. Whatever Tomas Alvarez had been eating, drinking — or smoking — recently had been a ticket on the Highsville Express.

“Tomas Garcia Alvarez.” Tevis stepped past Kat, his short-cropped blond hair, his gray slacks and paler gray shirt a favorable contrast to Alvarez’ overgrown black locks, torn jeans and a muscle shirt long past its prime. The Elf leveled his gun in proper police procedure. “You are under arrest for the deaths of four people. You have the right to remain silent —”

“Skip the Miranda.” Alvarez lowered his arms. He looked closer to sober than he had a moment earlier. “I know it better than you do, Elf.”

Kat had no doubt that he did. Tomas Alvarez had a rap sheet that could’ve stretched from Corpus to Victoria, armed robbery, aggravated assault, dealing drugs, illegal gambling, plus a few things the police had heard about but hadn’t yet been able to pin on him, such as being the heavy muscle for the Mexican mob. All that, and he hadn’t hit his fortieth birthday yet. Tomas would be just hitting his stride, except he’d made a mistake.

Four of them, two days ago.

Alvarez shifted his gaze to Kat, blinked. “You should be giving me a medal.”

“If that is your way of saying you killed those people,” Tevis said as Kat holstered her gun and stepped toward the bed, pulling a set of cuffs from her belt, “you should not say anything more.”

“Get up.” Kat emphasized the order with a flick of the hand holding the cuffs. “Slow and easy.”

Alvarez complied, making no effort to resist as Kat slipped the cuffs first around one wrist, then the other. He could’ve made life very difficult. He stood close to six feet, and though he might not have weighed much more than Tevis —the jeans and filthy shirt hung on his nearly skeletal frame — Kat could feel muscles like steel cables in his arms. He would, like Tevis, be considerably stronger than he looked. She turned Alvarez, pushed him back against the bed so the backs of his knees struck the edge of the mattress. He plopped into a sit.

“I have him.” The Elf’s voice, flavored with an accent not quite Scottish, remained neutral. His gun hadn’t shifted from Alvarez’ head.

Kat nodded, stepped back, pulled a pair of latex gloves from a pocket of her slacks.

Alvarez met her eyes again, and his lips pulled back from very white teeth, a predator’s grin. “Hurricane Cassandra.”

“What about Cassandra?” Tevis sounded suddenly wary. Looked wary.

“She’s supposed to hit Corpus Christi this time tomorrow. Category Four storm. Wipe this place off the map.”

“Yeah.” Kat crossed the short space between the bed and the four-drawer dresser that seemed to be standard issue for just about every motel room she’d ever seen. Might as well start with the obvious. “So,” she did not look at Alvarez as she spoke, “why aren’t you doing something sensible, like packing up to get the hell out of Dodge, instead of killing people and cutting their hearts out?” She opened the top left drawer.

“The storm will not come.”

Kat did look up at that, met Alvarez’ eyes in the mirror above the dresser. “So you’re a weather man now.”

His lips parted, revealing teeth that looked very white against the black woolly-worm mustache. His eyes, so dark they looked black, glittered, and he licked his lips. “I am a priest of Tlaloc.”

Tevis stiffened. “Tlaloc.” His voice held an edge.

Alvarez shifted his grin to Kat’s partner. “You’ve heard his name.”

“I have.” After his initial reaction, Tevis reverted to his neutral tone, emotions concealed behind the mask that his face had become.

“He has given me a new name. Jaguar.” Alvarez pronounced it “Jag-u-ar.”

“You have seen Tlaloc.” Tevis kept his voice very neutral.

Kat returned her attention to her search. Behind her, as she slid open the top lefthand dresser drawer, Alvarez said, “I found him three days ago.”

“Found him,” Tevis echoed. Kat checked the drawer’s contents — maps of Corpus Christi and the surrounding areas (Rockport, Aransas Pass, Ingleside …) Regional telephone book. Pamphlets and handouts from area restaurants. She closed the drawer and opened the one beside it. Tevis asked, “Found him where?”

“On the beach.”

Kat could visualize Alvarez shrugging. The drawer was empty. She knelt to check out the remaining two.

“He was sitting at one of those picnic tables,” Alvarez said. “I knew who he was as soon as I saw him.”

“How?” Tevis asked.

Kat opened the bottom left drawer: Empty.

“I just … knew. He was dressed like a biker — you know. Leather pants. Leather jacket. That kind of thing. But I knew those were just borrowed clothes. I’ve seen pictures of Tlaloc — drawings. You know. I could see him the way he was supposed to be dressed.”

“How?” Tevis’ voice held a flintlike quality. “How did you know how he was supposed to be dressed?”

Kat opened the fourth drawer. Bottom right. It yielded underwear. If it belonged to Tomas, it indicated he was a tighty whitey kind of guy. She found several muscle shirts, a couple of them marginally cleaner than the one he wore, no socks, and one garment that felt like a muscle shirt or a tee, rolled around something that felt hard. She unrolled it carefully.

Behind her, Simon said, “I don’t know. I just … I could see it, that’s all.”

The tee opened in Kat’s hand, and a long, black, bladelike something dropped into her hand. She remembered what Herrera had told her and Tevis last night, after the medical examiner had finished autopsy on the last body they’d found. They’d be looking for a weapon like a knife, he’d said, but it wouldn’t be a knife. There’d been a raggedness with the victims’ wounds inconsistent with the cleaner edges a knife would’ve left. Kat pulled a blood test kit from her shirt pocket, Q-Tip and solution. She made the test, watched the cotton on the end of the Q-Tip turn red. No surprise.

“Tevis.” She held out the murder weapon so her partner could see it. “Positive,” she said when his eyes met hers.

He grimaced. “Obsidian.”

“The weapons of my ancestors.” Alvarez sounded … Kat mentally searched for a word. Proud. Pleased. Arrogant. “Tlalac says the blood of the last of his ancient priests flows in my veins. He says that is the reason I recognized him when I saw him on the beach.”

“Good for you.” Kat rewrapped the blade in the tee, stuffed both into an oversized Ziploc bag that she pulled from a pants pocket. She’d finish processing when she got the blade back to the lab. She replaced the underwear and the rest of the garments in the drawer, closed it, straightened. She ignored the urge to go wash her hands. She had a feeling she’d just found everything it was important to find in this room, but it wouldn’t hurt to search the rest of the place. She caught Tevis’ gaze. “Who is Tlaloc?”

“Tlaloc,” it was Alvarez who answered, “is the lord of the rains. He is the bringer of storms. The lord of the winds.”

“The weather god of the ancient Aztecs,” Tevis injected drily. “Or so he made himself to be. They appeased him with sacrifices of blood and human hearts.”

“Charming.” Kat headed toward the bathroom.

“Tlaloc has returned.” Alvarez’ voice followed her. “He has been away for many generations of Human kind, but now he has returned, to reclaim the lands he once ruled.”

“Tlaloc never ruled these lands,” Tevis said. “The Aztec realms lay to the south.”

“Tlaloc will rule where he wishes to rule. He will rule here because I am here. And the people of these lands will give him what he desires — blood and the hearts of all those who are his enemies. Not all at once,” with a leer in Kat’s direction. “But over time, at the time of sacrifice, the feast days.”

“What if we don’t give him what he wants?” Kat asked.

Alvarez scowled at her. “Tlaloc does not ask. He takes. And if he does not get what he desires, he will send the storm and destroy this place.”

Kat looked at Tevis, who turned his head to meet her gaze. She didn’t ask the question aloud, but he obviously knew.

He inclined his head. “If it is,” slight emphasis on the word, “Tlaloc, he can. He would. But,” focusing on Alvarez, “how do we know it is the real Tlaloc?”

“I told you.” Alvarez shrugged. “The storm will not come.”

“Cassandra.”

“Sometime soon, Tlaloc will send it away. That is his sign that he truly is who he says he is. After that …” He shrugged. “Tlaloc himself will tell you.”

“Tlaloc is a powerful god,” Tevis said. “Why does he ask our permission when he could simply take what he wants?”

“Because he wants sacrifices. He wants prayers with the offerings to him. He wants a temple built to him, one with many steps — one step for each day of the year — and priests to serve him under my leadership.”

“He wants to be treated like a god again,” Tevis murmured. He shook his head. “Kathryn, are you finished with your search?”

“Give me a few minutes.” She hurried into the bathroom, ran checks for fingerprints, swabbed surfaces for blood. She found fingerprints — no surprise there, either. How many people had stayed in this room through the years? Some undoubtedly would belong to Alvarez, along with a lot of unknowns, but she’d send them all to the lab anyway. She found blood residue in the sink. That would be where Alvarez had cleaned the weapon. There were no drawers, no cabinets. Everything else tested out clean.

She hadn’t really expected otherwise. She turned toward the door, stepped out into the main room, nodded at her partner.

The Elf motioned for Alvarez to stand up. “Time to go, Tomas.”

“Jaguar,” he said as he came to his feet.

Tevis grimaced, then motioned Alvarez toward the door.

Kat had parked a few doors down from Alvarez’ room. Even though she and Tevis had come in her own unmarked Taurus, she hadn’t wanted to risk spooking their perp. She stayed watchful during the walk to the vehicle, all her senses on high alert. She noticed Tevis did likewise. But Tomas Alvarez might have been on a jaunt to the one of the bars a few blocks away, his features relaxed, his stride easy. It didn’t even seem to bother him having his hands cuffed behind his back. His lack of resistance didn’t make Kat feel any better.

At the car, Kat opened one of the back seat doors, and Tevis nudged their prisoner in. Not that Alvarez needed much prodding. He eased down onto the seat, leaned back — even flashed a white-toothed grin at Kat.

A predator’s expression. She scowled at him and closed the door.

Then she looked at her partner standing beside her. “So,” she asked, “what do you make of it?”

He shook his head. “Either his story is true — Tlaloc has indeed returned to this world — or else he is a psychotic killer with a vivid — I would almost say ‘unique’ — imagination.”

She sensed there was something more, something he hadn’t said. “And?” she prompted.

“And …” He sighed, and one shoulder just perceptibly rose, then fell, in a shrug. “Given the little that I do know of Tlaloc, I am hoping we are dealing with the psychotic.”

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