“Heir to Atlantis” – Excerpt from WAVES (High Stakes)

13-WavesToday, I thought I’d share something a little different. This is from my Urban Fantasy series High Stakes.   The series blends our world with the magical worlds of the Strata – a place where the worlds intersect – and most of the stories in the series are at least loosely based on different musicals and fairy tales.  This comes from Waves, a new erotic romance inspired by the Hans Christen Andersen story “The Little Mermaid.”

Dr. Shelby Morrison always felt a little like a fish out of water. Most at home in the water, her profession as a marine biologist seemed the perfect fit… until the discovery of a family heirloom in her mother’s estate drops Shelby in the middle of a search for a lost world, and brings her up against a bounty hunter whose story strains reality to breaking, and whose mission could leave Shelby either royalty, or dead.

“Heir to Atlantis” – Excerpt from WAVES (High Stakes, Book #13)

The waves bundled onto the rocky shore, a splash of cool, wet blue and white froth that slammed against the coast before quickly retreating. Russ watched the ebb and flow morosely as itchy restlessness wound through him. He missed the surf, missed the feel of warm water surrounding him, growing cooler as he descended into the dark depths below where humans could go, until he crossed the barrier and into the underwater cities of the Lux Magica. Merpeople weren’t fish. They didn’t have half the body of a fish, either, and he often laughed at the images humans painted of the Merfolk. But he wasn’t laughing, anymore.

He was supposed to retrieve the princess and return to Atlantis. Only, the stubborn woman didn’t want to go. And she was messing with his head. Every time he looked into those big green eyes, he saw the sea-foam, and his heart softened. He saw uncertainty, and fear, and pain, and he wanted to soothe them all. A royal Atlantean wasn’t supposed to know those feelings. Those were for the outcast Merhunters like himself. Doubt, fear and pain were emotions that had no place in a respectable Mermaid’s life. And he had no right to think he was worthy of wiping them away.

Russ’ gut clenched as he recalled her beauty. Atlanteans were beautiful, even by Merfolk standards. They were some of the most beautiful people in all the Lux Magica. Among humans, the princess shone like a perfect pearl in a bed of dross. How she managed to hide that beauty, to keep it from becoming a burden to her in this uncivilized world, he had no idea. But she didn’t belong here. And he didn’t have the right to want her. He had a job to do, and her parents wouldn’t thank him kindly if he despoiled their daughter. Which didn’t stop his fists from clenching when he thought of the list of suitable matches her father showed him when his assistance was enlisted in retrieving the headstrong runaway.

What anyone failed to mention to him, though, was that she had no memory of who she really was. Oh, he’d seen that wistful look in her eyes whenever she looked out at the ocean, and knew the longing she held inside herself. It matched his own. Only, she also had a confused look, like she didn’t understand why she felt so drawn to the sea. And when he mentioned Atlantis, she laughed at him and called it a fairy tale. She was a scientist, she said, and she’d rather confine her searches to the real world. Whatever the hell that meant.

“There you are!”

He turned at the exasperated sound of her voice, to find Shelby Morrison striding toward him, her long, sleek legs carrying her into his space. His chest tightened and his breath whooshed from him as he took in her perfect form, her beautiful face. It wasn’t fair. No woman should be so gorgeous. She shouldn’t have the ability to tug at his heart, either, but the sadness in her eyes did just that, even as her annoyed expression tugged his lips up into an ironic smile.

“Looking for me?”

Was that a blush that stained her creamy, porcelain skin? He couldn’t be sure. He watched her puff up like a disgruntled seagull, and resisted the urge to attempt reading her. If she had any memory – even an instinctive one – of who she really was, she could slap his telepathic fingers hard enough to make them bleed. He wasn’t in the mood to find out.

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“Ghost of YesterYule” -Excerpt from SKALDED (High Stakes)

Legend says that to look into the eyes of a Thorolfkind is to give him a piece of your soul.

Legend says that to look into the eyes of a Thorolfkind is to give him a piece of your soul.

High Stakes is probably one of my most unusual twists, in fiction. An Urban Fantasy style series with a few unique twists, the series is set both in our world and in a parallel world where all the beings and creatures considered little more than myths in our world were banished to at various points throughout history. Their society in the world known as the Strata has developed to blend both the magic our world has largely lost, and the modern technology we’ve embraced in its place.
Geoff Grayson is a perfect example of this. As a Thorolfkind – a lupine shape-shifter, not to be confused with a werewolf – he is part of a mythic race driven out of our world centuries ago. As a skald he is trained to use an ancient form of magic only master storytellers can summon. But he is also a man quite interested in our world and its technology, and makes good use of the technology he can.
Kyna Ravensfall is his opposite in many ways – a form of vampire unseen in our world in a thousand years, she has insulated herself in the world of the Strata and made no attempt to ever leave its comforting familiarity. But they share many things in common, as well, and those things they share in common have bound them together, despite the differences and defenses ripping them apart.

“Ghost of YesterYule” – Excerpt from SKALDED (High Stakes, Book 2)

 

Kyna sighed as she sank onto a bench beside the hearth, letting its warmth seep through her chilled soul, even as the sounds of students laughing and singing drifted to her.

There was once a time she loved Yule.  As a girl, she waited all year for the bright festivities, waited anxiously through the solemn ceremony of the Holly King and Queen, until they could all retire to the main Hall, where the scents and sounds of the season would wrap around her, and the laughter would begin.

That girl was gone, and Kyna mourned her difficult passing.  Even as she gazed out over her students, innocent in their joyous laughter as they exchanged baubles and quips, and sang festive, jolly songs, Kyna felt the prick of pain to her heart, the wound re-opened.  It was at Yule that her life tore apart, so many years ago.  Now, she wanted to run to her students, to break up their festivities and warn them not to laugh so much, or sing so cheerfully.  Laughter was fleeting, and love died a long, agonizing death.  She wanted to spare them her heartache, by showing them the truth…

“You shouldn’t sit alone under the mistletoe.  Someone might think you were looking for company.”  The gravelly, husky whisper danced along her nerve endings, the voice of Yules past, and Kyna’s hand shook so violently wine sloshed from her goblet and over her hand.

A low, humming noise filled her ears, and she found the vessel gone, her hand clasped in a large, strong hand she knew oh-so-very-well.  A gasp flew from her as his tongue smoothed over her skin, cleaning away the wine.

“Wine?”  He looked stunned.  A ghost of a smile flirted with her lips.  Did he truly expect that she found their separation any easier than he did?  She’d been slowly dying for a decade, unable to feed properly.

“Yes.”  It was all she could force past her constricted throat.

He groaned, the sound a low growl that reverberated through her body, setting loose wards she’d crafted so painstakingly over the years.  As his mouth returned to her skin, her eyes closed as a tiny moan escaped her.  She didn’t want to see him, to know the reality of what she contemplated.  She was too vulnerable, too hungry.

“Geoff…”

“Shh.”  The admonishment growled from him, even as he raised her to her feet and tugged her lightly into his embrace.  “No talking.”

She melted against him, her eyes closed and her mind shut against what she was about to offer – about to beg for.

“Take me.  Please.”

She heard his intake of breath, felt him hesitate.  Geoff was an Alpha.  Alphas didn’t hesitate.  Her eyes snapped open, and she knew instantly — ten years wasn’t long enough to wipe her heart clean.  A century wouldn’t be near long enough.

2015 Release Poll

As 2015 approaches, I’m making my list of projects for the coming year, and when I plan to have them finished. Some are set in stone (Publishers kind of like to know when they’re getting stuff… ;)…), but I decided to try something a little different, and have my readers weigh in on what you want to see, in 2015. So, from my upcoming self-publishing ventures, I’ve created a little poll, where you can vote for the series/books you most want to see released before the end of 2015. Be sure to cast your vote! 🙂

“Wuttin” – Excerpt from SKALDED (High Stakes)

Legend says that to look into the eyes of a Thorolfkind is to give him a piece of your soul.

Legend says that to look into the eyes of a Thorolfkind is to give him a piece of your soul.

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?