While I’ve often played with the paranormal in my fiction, and I’ve taken many a stroll through the realm of Fantasy, it’s rare when I take the step of overlapping the world of myth, legend, and magic with our scientific and technological world. In the case of my High Stakes series, I’m doing just that – blending a world most people consider little more than myth into our world in a way meant to make you believe in the possibilities of magic, and love, all over again.
This excerpt is taken from the second book in that series. Hope you enjoy reading as much as I’ve been enjoying the writing process!
Bound in Blood…
Ten years ago, Geoff Grayson made a blood pact with the woman he loved, and wronged. He swore on the honor of his clan and the wrath of the All Father he’d stay away from her, and never hurt her again. Now, an impulsive bet with his best friend has brought Geoff up against his pact, and everything he’s always felt for Kyna Ravensfall. But the woman who’s now Headmistress of the prestigious Dalamor Bardic Academy isn’t the girl he remembers. That innocent, sweet girl has becomes a cold, haunted woman with a proposition of her own. If Geoff wants her to schedule an admittance sitting for young Ysabet MacCorran, he’ll have to agree to craft a tale unlike any he’s ever made – and somehow remember his vow. Only, Geoff’s already decided it’s all or nothing, and the prize he’s after is Kyna’s heart.
“Wuttin” — Excerpt from SKALDED (High Stakes, Book 2) —
He was weak. He knew it — which didn’t mean he had to acknowledge it. Geoffrey Grayson, Master Skald of the Thorolfkin, pushed back the strands of straight, moon-pale hair that escaped the leather thong at his nape. His azure, lupine eyes moved slowly over the collection of gargoyle-encrusted buildings looming at the end of the road, and the swift, bittersweet tug of memory assaulted him. That place housed his fondest memories, and his worst nightmare. The ache of nostalgia was nearly overwhelming.
Dalamor Bardic Academy didn’t change, though everyone who set foot through its gates did. Him included. He came here a cocky youth, fifteen years ago. And, in the dark, rush-lit halls of Dalamor, he was forever changed. He fell in love for the first – and last – time. And he saw his future happiness forever crushed – or so he thought – in those very same halls. When he last left Dalamor, he expected to never see the Gothic structures again. He barely even acknowledged them, in his pain. And when she took a position as one of the Academy’s teachers, he knew he’d never come back. Then, she was promoted to Headmistress, and the banishment became final.
Geoff shifted uneasily on the leather seat of his Harley Davidson as he recalled the last time he saw Kyna Ravensfall. It was during his cousin’s Ektesgatt to one of her sisters. The wedding was held here at Dalamor, and he’d been asked to stand up for Borand. He hadn’t known the bride asked her sister to stand up for her, as well. The ceremony was torture, watching her as those words were spoken, and knowing she would never come to him, never let him near her. She was his wuttin — he’d claimed her. And the idea she might have been with someone else since she sent him away made him want to howl with rage. But he held onto his control, until that night. Then he shifted, went prowling to burn off his rage in the hunt.
He found her, instead. She hadn’t known he was there, watching her from the garden laurels, or she never would have shown her vulnerability. During the Ektesgatt, she refused to even look at him, and she was aloof and shrewish – not at all the girl he remembered.
That night was different. Geoff closed his eyes and recalled the vision burned into his memory. She drifted from the building like a ghost, clad in deep burgundy that enhanced the pale, unfed starkness of her skin, and he rethought his assumption she moved to another’s arms after him. She looked as if she hadn’t fed in years. Her beautiful, long hair was gone, as well, and he mourned the loss as he studied her short, spiky cut.
Given the early hour of morning, and the deep, misery-laden rings beneath her eyes, she’d likely been unable to sleep. She was thinner, too, which concerned him. Her crystal blue eyes were so bleak he felt the urge to whine, even now, with the pain those eyes stirred in him. Though she looked miserable and weakened, at the time, she’d still been beautiful enough to take his breath away, and stir his long-denied body.
Then, she tipped her head back, let the moon bathe her face, and loosed the small cry he would have heard anywhere in the Strata. It was their distress call, the howl he taught her to use whenever she was in danger or distress. In the end, that cry prompted his desperate bet with his best friend, Alasdair MacCorran. He needed an excuse to come back to Dalamor, to speak with Kyna face-to-face. It was probably foolish, considering how she responded to him at Borand and Deirdre’s Ektesgatt. But Geoff trusted his gut, and it said Kyna needed him. Even if it was only to feed, he didn’t care. He wasn’t about to abandon her. She was his wuttin — his soul mate. How could he ever abandon his soul?