“No Boundaries” – Excerpt from COME WINTER’S PALE (Chronicles of a Dragon’s Realm)

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image by bogglyeyes

Today, I thought I would share something completely different, for me. This is blast from my past, reinvented. When I was a kid, I started researching and writing a series of Arthurian Legend inspired books. My original intention was to be historically accurate, and write a series of historical novels. However, as I grew older, and my writing style became more defined, the historical novels I began in my youth began to evolve, as well. In the case of this series, I began to shift toward Steampunk, bringing together the history and details of the legend as I researched it with a Steampunk world. In essence, I recreated the Arthurian story in a Steampunk world.

“No Boundaries” – Excerpt from COME WINTER’S PALE (Chronicles of a Dragon’s Realm, Chapter III, Book 1) –

Some things just aren’t meant to be.  Kata LurAine had heard the phrase her whole life.  Sitting at the knee of her stern, proper grandmother as the old woman taught her to stitch the painstaking designs into the coverlets for her hope chest was the first time.  Or, more properly, just after she’d about turned the white silk red with her blood from pricking her fingers.  That was when Granddam Maralaese decided that Kata was a lost cause – destined to never marry.  A failure.

Kata snorted to herself as she dropped the faceplate of her welding mask back over her face and lit up the torch.  Like she needed some dainty little cross-stitch pattern to make her life whole.  Like she even needed a man.  She was content here in her workshop, surrounded by metal that hummed and whirred with a life dear Granddam would never have understood.  Never mind that metalcrafting wasn’t a woman’s world.  And, okay, so most men turned their noses up at a woman with grease smudges and soot on her face, and sporting helmet-head hair from her welding mask.  But she didn’t care.  She couldn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t.  And it wasn’t a big deal, right?

The torch lowered, and the flame clicked off as Kata rested her palms flat against the scarred steel of her workbench.  She had to quit lying to herself.  It did matter.  It mattered a lot that no one saw Kata – not the real Kata, anyway.  Not that being seen was her goal in life, she told herself stubbornly as she flipped the mask down again.  But it would be nice.

She kicked the torch back on, and let the flash of flame against metal soothe her as  the machines in her shop hummed and whirred on.  If this was her lot in life, she could live with it…

A sound startled her out of her zone, and the torch flame skipped up, searing a long line of sooty copper along the face of the steamship she was working on.  Irritated, she shoved up the mask and whirled toward the source of that sound.

“You should know better than to sneak up on a woman with a torch!”  She glared up into the face of the stunned-looking gentleman – he in his just-so waistcoat and gloves, a dark cane resting between his arm and side that she’d bet any of her machines he didn’t actually need – standing in the stable doorway that served as entrance to her workshop.

He blinked again, clearly nonplussed, and she was left to wonder if he was a little thick in the head.  Then, he opened his mouth, and she was certain he was.  “You’re a woman!”

She rolled her eyes and muttered, “Thought we’d established that, already.”

He shook his head, and stepped forward.  “No, you’d don’t understand.  I was told this was the place to go to commission an airship.  They said you’re the best around.”

She peered at him through narrowed eyes, assessing if he was pulling her leg.  She stalled on his face, again.  He had angular features with just enough smoothness to blend them together, dark hair cropped to his collar in current high fashion, and forest green eyes that were arresting in their intelligence and perception.  Something twisted in her chest, and her throat closed up for a moment.  She hated that feeling – the attraction that zinged through her – knowing there was no future for it.  There never was.

They talk a lot,” she managed gruffy, yanking the mask back down to conceal her face.  “Just who are they, anyway?  For that matter, who are you?”

“Jarath Pherson.”  He doffed his Homburg and strode further into her personal domain, raising Kata’s hackles.

“Never heard of him.”  She set her jaw, determined to ignore him.

He coughed.  “That would be me.   Tarsak Memkno recommended you.”

She froze.  Tarsak?  The little gnome was her idol, her mentor – the man who knew everything there was to know about airships and landracers.  Adrenaline rushed through her.  Tarsak really thought she was good?  A grin spread over her face, and she turned toward Jarath as she lifted the mask again and shut off her torch.  Finally, her chance to prove herself once and for all – convention, and what she should be doing, be damned.

“Well, then, what are we waiting for?”

“Confessions in Blood” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

Project Prometheus BadgeEvery once in a while, as an author, you encounter a scene that just blows you away. This scene was that for me — totally unexpectedly. I originally intended for Trevor to come around alone, to have to battle his thoughts and personal demons completely alone, to illustrate how much inside of himself he’s gone in order to retreat from what he can’t understand or face. Instead, his disappearance dragged Jaye into the mix, and this amazing bit of character exposition developed all on its own.

“Confessions in Blood” — Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Atlantis Silver, Book #3) —

Ten minutes and a gurney trip later, Jaye frowned in true worry as she realized Trevor was still dazed and not at all himself.  Even worse, the bright fluorescent lights illuminated the blood on his dark skin that the moonlight and shadows masked.

Helping him to his bed, she left him just long enough to collect gauze, warm water, and antiseptic.  She doubted he lost enough blood to need emergency surgery or a transfusion, though the amount was alarming to view.  She frowned.  Even knowing it was probably a superficial head wound, and looked worse than it was, she was worried.

Standing before him, she dipped a piece of gauze in the warm water and began gently cleaning the blood from his face.  If she could get through the blood, she could find out if he needed stitches or not.

Trevor flinched with a hiss, and she raised startled eyes to find him regarding her with clear eyes, as if he’d never been the animal she found hidden in the bushes.

“Jaye?”  His voice was weak, and his hand trembled as he lifted it – the only signs he was actually unwell.  He glanced toward the window, and his brow furrowed.  “What time is it?”

“About two in the morning.”  Jaye bit her lip.  He lost track of time, and she didn’t like that.  Losing time was a bad sign in psychiatric medicine.  She wiped away the last smear of blood, and a chill passed through her.  There weren’t any wounds.  Not a single laceration.  She swallowed past her trepidation, but her voice still came out small and breathless.  “What happened to you?”

He tensed. “I don’t remember.”

The tone of his voice alerted her something was wrong, even before she met his gaze.  His eyes were clear, but evasive.  Damn it, he was lying to her.  “Trevor…”

“No.”

She loosed a small cry of exasperation.  Zero-two-hundred hours, when she barely slept last night, was not the time for him to start pulling his stoic routine on her.

“You never were a good liar.”

His gaze darkened as he stared her in the eye.  “And you must have a lot of practice at it.”

Those words drove the breath from her even more than his bitter tone did.  Had he finally remembered Somalia?  Did he know what she did?  She sought blindly for a place to sit as her knees weakened with fear.  “What do you mean?”

The anger dropped from his face, and he reached out to her, oblivious of the blankets dropping, leaving him naked from the waist up.

“Hey, I’m sorry… I don’t know what that was.  I just… I don’t want to talk about where I went, okay?”

For a reason she couldn’t explain if he asked, his secretive attitude annoyed her.  She went back to cleaning the smaller blood smears from his face and neck.  “Great.  Fine.  Do you want to at least tell me how you ended up naked and covered in blood?”

“Not particularly.”

“Damn it, Trevor!”  She threw the gauze into the bio waste container with more force than necessary and glared at him.  “This isn’t a game.  I’m trying to help you.”

“I’m fine.”

“Funny.  Your boss doesn’t think so.”

“I said, I’m fine.”

“Bullshit.”

His eyes narrowed.  “You never used to swear.”

She bit down on words that would turn the air blue, and instead snapped, “Yeah, well I had to get tough.”

The frown on his face pulled her attention from her anger, even before he hazarded, “Because of me?”

She flinched, in spite of her attempt to remain neutral.  She couldn’t help it; she’d run from the truth for too long.  “Yes.”

His gaze turned away, toward the window, and he looked truly ill for the first time.  “I’m sorry.”

The words hit her out of nowhere, and stung because he had no idea how little she deserved them.  She should be the one begging for his forgiveness.  Jaye bit down hard on her lower lip, and stepped closer.

“Don’t apologize,” she whispered as she stroked his cheek gently.  “Not to me.”

Want to know more?  Find out how it all starts in IN HER NAME, currently available from Desert Breeze Publishing.

“Magic Mirror” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

Project Prometheus Badge

Trevor Watkins is the miracle of the hour; the survivor of an unassisted coma. But he awakes in a strange place, with no memory but one – the smiling face of a woman with jade-green eyes he has a dreadful feeling he’s supposed to hate. Trapped in a living nightmare from which he believes there is no escape, he finds himself face-to-face with a betrayal he can’t help but forgive, and a secret he can’t hide from. Now, the jade-eyed beauty from his past can set him free, if he’s willing to let her step into a world that could take her away from him forever.

“Magic Mirror” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Book #3)–

Red Widow’s fists clenched, driving her French manicure into her palms, as she glared out at the neon-lit night.  She wanted that mirror.  She was prepared to do whatever it took to make sure the Musir didn’t win, again.  Daniel was one of the newer generation of Arachaena.  She had to educate him.

“Do you have any idea how important that mirror is?”

His sigh sounded exasperated.  “Yeah, I know.  It was the inspiration for the tales of magic mirrors throughout European history; even believed to be the legendary mirror through which the Lady of Astolat watched Lancelot.  And it unlocks the Portal of Kronos.”  When she turned toward him, she saw his grimace.  “Aren’t we both a little old for fairytales?”

His sarcasm annoyed her.  That was part of what was wrong with this new generation of Arachaena.  They were decadent, self-indulgent, and jaded.  They didn’t understand the powers of the world, or why they were important.

“It’s no fairytale, Danny boy.  And the mirror is more than a mere key.”

He lifted one brow in skeptical attention.  “Convince me.”

“Cover that mirror in the blood of a Musir, and it acts as a beacon through the oblivion beyond the Portal.  We need it to guide the Great Lord back.”

She turned just in time to see him sit forward, his interest suddenly intent.  “How much blood?”

A slow, deadly smile curved up her lips as she moved to the bedside table, and extracted a silver kris knife that glowed with a dim blue-white light.  “One of our archeological crews uncovered this on a dig in Greece.  It took some work, but we figured out what it’s for.”

“And that is?”

“You shed the Shadow Walker’s life blood onto the mirror’s surface with this knife, and it begins a chain that no power on Earth can halt.”

She stabbed the knife’s point into the table between them, and met his gaze with narrowed eyes.  He would do what she wanted.  She wouldn’t tell him about the magical lettering said to reside within the mirror’s surface.  Or that those letters would become clear in the presence of Ausar’s vessel.  That was a secret she planned to keep to herself.  Those letters were one part of the key to the Philosopher’s Stone, and the source of everlasting life.  The Musir were reincarnates; they hadn’t yet figured out their own history.  Aside from that threat, only the Widows and Dimitri Lapinov knew about the truth of the Philosopher’s Stone.  And she intended to keep it that way.

 

Read the book that started it all! IN HER NAME is available now from Desert Breeze Publishing!

The Creation of an Author, Part 3: What’s With All This Romance, Anyway?

One question I get asked a lot is “Why Romance?”… Most people who know me probably think I’m one of the least romance-minded people in the world.  *laughs* Truth is, I’m probably one of the biggest romantics you’ll ever meet.  I’m just not one of the most traditional romantics.

Most people think of romantics as people who believe in happily-ever-after, are interested in lots of lovey-dovey public displays of affection, and (in the case of women) have what psychology refers to as “Cinderella Complex” – ie, someone’s going to sweep them off their feet and change their lives.  If that’s what you think of as “romantic,” hey, more power to you – but it personally makes me gag. Strange sentiment from a self-proclaimed romantic, yes?

Here’s what I believe (and this is my personal feeling, so I don’t expect anyone to understand or agree):

I don’t believe in happily ever after.  I never have.  Call me a realist about this part of it, but I know beyond any doubt (and I always have), that we as human beings don’t get to determine what makes “ever after.”  We don’t steer our own course when it comes to death (unless you like to indulge in self-destructive behavior or plan to commit suicide – neither of which I recommend), and I don’t believe we directly have any influence over what happens after we die (I’ll save the whole argument of reincarnation vs. ascension for another time and place).  So I consider it arrogant to assume that love is forever.  I firmly believe it can last as long as life, however.  I do believe that, in rare cases, when it’s strong enough, it can endure lifetime after lifetime, beyond the boundaries of death.  But in time, I do believe that love changes, becomes something else.  So I’m more inclined to a “happy-as-long-as-we-can-be” philosophy.

It’s not every girl’s dream to be rescued, or to have some Prince Charming ride in and sweep her away (truth is, I’ve always found that aspect of Fairy Tales to be a little on the creepy side).  But just because a girl prefers to face her own perils doesn’t mean romance doesn’t appeal to all women, no matter the size, shape, age, or sexual orientation… And certainly no matter how much one might protest or claim otherwise.

Some of us are quite capable of solving our own problems, tilting at our own windmills, and facing our own demons.  Some of us kick ass when it comes to taking care of our business, and we certainly don’t need another person to step in and save the day.  We’ve got it well under control, thank you very much.

But does that mean we want to spend our lives alone, or facing an existence built on something dull and lifeless, or even frightening?  Of course not.

Every girl dreams of being a princess (even if some of us are far more Xena than Sleeping Beauty). Not literally, of course, but at least in the eyes of someone else.  We want to be special, to be seen as someone beautiful, awe-inspiring, and beloved. We want to feel as if we’re the most important person in someone’s life, and to know that they compare every other woman they meet to us, and find those others lacking.

It’s hardwired into us to crave grand gestures of love and affection – some symbol that tells the world just how special we are to someone else.  For a lot of women, that’s what an engagement ring is all about.  It’s what lavish weddings are all about.

Plenty of people (women included) scoff at romantic fiction.  They call it trash, written porn, smut, etc, etc.  I can promise you this – none of those people have ever actually read a Romance novel.

Are there novels that are explicit?   Of course there are.  But then, there are Horror novels that are graphic about blood and terror.  There are adventure and action novels that are over-the-top with violence.  Crime novels that are almost too ghastly and grisly with their details, to read.

What is it about Romance that so sends people running?  Could it be the unwillingness to face their own deeply-buried desire to be truly loved?  Perhaps it’s that they’re stuck in our prudish society’s mindset that anything involving sex should be shunned.

Personally, I think it’s the former.  Porn is a billion-dollar industry for a reason… People don’t have a problem with sex.  People have a problem with love.  The idea of facing your own emotions, of admitting that you want more, that you’re looking for something spiritual as well as physical, is something that sends a lot of people (both male and female) running for their lives.

Romance novels are about more than sex.  They’re about connection, about love that’s true, deep, and abiding.  About the emotions that are tangled up inside of sexual desire, and about letting go of the desire, to get at one’s heart and soul.  And they make us face our own wants and needs – make us step up and say, “Yes, I do want more from this relationship than just sex.”  They’re not about perfect people, or larger-than-life situations.  They’re about ordinary people who discover the most extraordinary gift of life – the ability to love and be loved.  In short, Romance novels are about every girl’s dream come true – not the perfect man or woman (after all, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” person), but the perfect match of two hearts and two souls.

 

As for the level of sexuality in some Romance… Well, I don’t personally have a problem with it, as long as it’s kept tasteful.  Personally, I’m not by nature a physically demonstrative person when my emotions are truly engaged.  Instead, I’m more likely to get quiet and retreat inside my shell.  Am I afraid of my own emotions, sometimes?  Hell, yes.  I’m afraid of getting hurt, of being taken advantage of, because I care too much, or give too much.  Once the floodgates open, it’s often difficult to stop the emotions, and I’ve got a long history of pain caused by letting others actually see what they mean to me.  So, instead, I either get very quiet, or I turn into a clown.  People may think nothing bothers me, that I’m either aloof or goofy. Truth is, I’m neither.

There are many times I’ve been accused of being too logical and not at all romantic. Truth is, while it’s easy to express and explore my romantic side on paper, I’m far less comfortable expressing it in real life. Not because it’s not there, but because what’s missing is trust. I have a long history with broken trust, and early experience with overwhelming physical trauma. Both have made me hesitant toward physical contact, and even more hesitant toward reaching out to others, emotionally. So, I turned my attention toward writing about relationships that are troubled, but capable of overcoming that trouble. I write strong women with damaged trust and a desire to fix their own lives — sometimes even a desire to not even let anyone else into their lives. I write strong men who are secure and strong enough to show the heroine how important she is to him, and let her be an active partner, not just a window-dressing prize to be rescued.

This is what it means, to me, to write Romance.

“Againt the Rules” — Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground)

MindKillerCoverMatt Clipper is a product of the streets. His slot with the Commandos depends on his ability to keep playing a game with death he’s growing tired of. But with no military skill set, no education to fall back on, and no special skills to call upon, the streets and gangs are his only way to contribute to the team. But when the game he’s been playing goes from deadly to suicidal, his only hope of salvaging his sanity could rest in keeping how close to the edge he really is to himself.

 “Against the Rules” – Excerpt from MIND KILLER (Underground, Book 2)–

This couldn’t be good.  Jen LaSaulle swung her chair toward the hydrolift’s monitor as the signal of keycard activation buzzed in Comms.  The only people not in the Underground tonight were Ishmael, who was probably at least three thousand miles away, and Matt, who shouldn’t be back until dawn.

She sucked in a breath and fought away the grip of queasiness as her gaze locked onto the image of the black man currently slumped against the wall of the hydrolift, one hand pressed to his side.  Was he injured?

Her heart twisted as she searched his face for signs of pain, and found only weariness.  He must have forgotten about the monitoring system, or he’d never show this kind of vulnerability.

“Rough night?”  She spoke into the Comms headset, aware only he could hear her, in the confines of the soundproofed hydrolift.

Matt’s head jerked up, and all hint of vulnerability was gone as the badass returned full-bloom.  Only now, she knew it was all bullshit.  “Nah, I’m great, Catwoman.”

She rolled her eyes, even aware that he couldn’t see her expression.  When was Matt going to actually let her in?  “I’m a psychologist and a profiler, Clipper.   Give me some credit.”

He swore, and glared toward the camera as the ‘lift came to a halt in the Underground.  “Then read my mind, Doc.  I don’t wanna talk about it.”

Annoyance zipped through her.  This was an old argument.  She wasn’t prepared to have a relationship with a man who couldn’t share himself with her, and he only seemed to want to have a good time.   So they stalled at sex.  She told herself she was fine with that, then called herself a liar.  Still, they had the job, and if he couldn’t respect her as a lover, he was damned well going to respect her as a teammate.  “You don’t have a choice, tough guy.  You have to report in.”

The door to the hydrolift slid closed, but not before she saw his response in an uplifted finger.  Her cheeks burned with fury.  Damn it all, she was sick of this.  She couldn’t get him to talk to her, anymore, without pulling rank as the team fitness evaluator.  Even then, she knew he was handing her a line, even if she couldn’t prove it.  Matt Clipper was not okay.

Shoving to her feet, she stalked through the door and out into the corridor just in time to see Matt heading up the hall toward the housing sector.

“Get back here.”  Her words were cold, and laced with all the fury and pain she held caged inside her.  Matt wouldn’t treat anyone else on the team with this kind of careless disdain.  Why her?  “You know the rules, Clipper.”

He turned, and for a split second, the walls dropped.  Jen sucked in a gasp of surprise and dismay.  Matt was close to dropping – not unusual – but his eyes were wild and troubled.  She had no doubt where he was headed, or what he would do once he got there.  Her anger was forgotten as she hurried toward him.

“Please,” she softened her tone as she approached, and saw him tense as if he meant to flee.  “Just talk to me.  Let me be your friend, Matt.”

He shifted, and his face blanched.  Jen’s eyes widened and her gaze dropped to the floor, where she saw a growing puddle of blood on the concrete and steel floor.  “Oh my god!”

Join the Commandos! Pick up your copy of the critically-acclaimed book that started it all, TAMIA, at Amazon.com today!

The Creation of an Author, Part 2: Facing the Fears and Doubts

Lately, I’ve been considering the fact that, in terms of my knowledge of the publishing industry and how it works, I don’t know anything, really. I know books. I know research. I know what makes the one become the other. Basically, I know the creative end of things. But I don’t know how to sell.

It’s not that I can’t talk about my work. I can talk about my books and ideas until I’m blue in the face (and everyone else is suitably bored to tears, too, I’m sure), but selling myself or my work? That’s not something I’m very familiar with or good at — particularly the former. I’m terrible at selling myself or playing myself up. I’m more likely to point out my flaws and faults than the things I’m good at.

I keep hearing how I need to be more aggressive about my advertising, and my promotion. Truth is, I don’t know how. While I can and will stand up and shout down the whole world on someone else’s behalf, when it becomes about standing up for and talking about myself, I’m just as likely to not make a peep. Even the “behind the scenes” glimpses I give you all, here, are extremely difficult to write. I spend more time questioning whether or not I should, whether or not it’s worthwhile, than any other part of it.

There’s a reason for this. I’ve spent too many years trying to not be noticed. I spent a childhood abused and ridiculed by my peers, and feeling never quite good enough for my family’s expectations. I learned to hide behind my written words and my cheerful, agreeable disposition, to bury myself in something other than the pain that confronted me on a daily basis. I never believed I was worth standing up for, and even after all these years, I still haven’t quite found the guts to become an in-your-face selling machine. I’m way too afraid of being outright rejected again, in a way that has the potential to destroy me.

Do I question whether my work is good enough? Every damned day. Even months (hell, years) after publication, I can look back on a book and point out at least 10 flaws I’d love to correct. 20/20 hindsight, I know, but there it is. I appreciate the good comments I get, but I always seem to gravitate to the criticisms, trying to find ways to turn them into something I can put to work for me, and use help me improve. While this might seem like a very good thing (and it is, in many ways), it also means I don’t talk about my accomplishments — I talk about my failures.

My biggest fear, career-wise, is that no matter how much I write, or how good others believe I am, I’ll never have the guts to actually make my dreams come true. I’m terrified I’ll spend my entire life being that author everyone says “Who?” when you bring up the name. Do I want to be the center of attention? Hell, no. But it would be nice to know that I’m actually being seen. I’d gratefully settle for mid-list. I don’t have to be the best out there (I’m not convinced I ever could be), but I’d like to know that I’m worth something to someone.

And now, I think I’m done rambling, for the day. Have a blessed and wonderful day, dear readers.

“The Green Man” — Excerpt from PHOENIX RISING (Legends of Tirum)

PHOENIX RISING CoverPhoenix Telyn Gwndal has finally accepted the Majik that’s her birthright. But when her mission to finish her father’s quest sends her into the beleaguered Borderlands, she’s about to discover Fate has quite different plans from the ones she’s made — and they involve a man she’s already promised herself never to love, and a proud people she can’t turn her back on. Can Telyn escape Destiny’s designs with her heart still intact?

 

“The Green Man” — Excerpt from PHOENIX RISING (Legends of Tirum, Book 2) —

Excitement pulsed a fiery song through her veins as she urged Bloodcloud toward the forest surrounding Phoenix Hall. She had no fear of its darkness — her Bathron eyes would grant her vision even in its darkest corners and brambles. And, if Kishfa rode with her this night, she’d have the Phoenix Book in her hands before the morning light.

Bloodcloud, however, didn’t appear as thrilled about their destination. At the edge of the forest, he shied up and danced away from the path several steps on two powerful legs, nearly throwing her from her seat on his back. Gripping his flanks hard with her knees, she leaned into him until he was forced to drop his weight back down. Yet, he refused to move forward, digging in with the tenacity of a pack mule.

Telyn’s brow furrowed. She’d never seen him act like this before. Bloodcloud was a trained warhorse, and until now, she’d have sworn he didn’t have a skittish bone in his whole body. If he backed away, it was for a very good reason.

“Come now, old friend,” she crooned to him as she stroked sure, calming hands over his softly bristled coat. “What bothers you? Is there Majik in these woods?”

“Now there’s a fool’s query if I ever heard one!”

Telyn’s head snapped up at the sound of a new voice. She’d swear she was alone out here. There shouldn’t be anyone within a league of this place. But there, just in the shadows of a large roan tree, leaned the form of a man — if indeed he was a man, and not some form of spirit come to haunt her. He was whipcord thin and dressed head-to-toe in what looked like moss, leaves, and brambles. Between his crossed arms rested a long bollstaff decorated in what appeared to be shiny eggshells, silverflower, and crane feathers. Every sense she had went on alert as the anaqueri at her side hummed to life and began to sing a familiar tune — impending battle.

“Who are you?” she demanded, uncertain she was willing to battle what might turn out to be some specter of this place. “How did you get here?”

He straightened, and stepped forward into the light, blocking her path into the forest. “Those would be questions for me to ask. You, after all, are the stranger here.”

This was becoming more confusing by the moment. “You mean you… live here?”

His eyes — a deep, forest green that blended into the darkening wood behind him — glinted with cold humor. “These wood be my home, and all that is seen. For I, Warrior Maid, am the Jaran Green.”

“The Green Jaran?” Telyn barely held in her scorn. The Green Jaran was a myth — a tale told to children to frighten them into good behavior.Said to be the lingering spirit of one of the Old Gods, the Green Jaran supposedly guarded the wood and all it housed, and often stole naughty children, whom he made into his goblinesque servants in punishment for their wicked ways. “Who are you, really?”

His gaze narrowed in cold fury that gave her pause. “Trust not your own eyes?”

Telyn frowned as she let her gaze travel over his unusual appearance. He certainly looked the part of the Green Jaran. Hadn’t she just learned the impossible about herself? Who was she to doubt the man before her?

“All right. So you’re the Green Jaran. However,” she paused, considering the wisdom of her next words. She had no idea what kind of power he truly had. Then, she shrugged. If he meant to kill her, there wasn’t much she could do to stop a god, after all. “I’m not a child. You can’t frighten me.”

He flicked her words away with one long-fingered hand. “You’ve come for the Book.”

She gaped. “How… I mean…”

“I know much about all who venture through my wood. But you, I have known since the moment of your birth, and I knew that one day, you would come. You have come for the Book.”

After what he just said, it would be foolish to deny his words. “Aye.”

“Then you should be terrified.”

Follow the Legend from the beginning… Get your copy of DAUGHTER OF ASHES, today at either Desert Breeze Publishing or Amazon.com!