Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ warning labels by clicking on their names.
It’s time for another Promptly Penned. The prompt will appear in bold in the story.
Elinor woke with a gasp, sitting straight up in bed, glancing around, eyes wide and barely focused. Kyle laid his book in his lap and shifted toward her, rubbing her back. “You okay, El?”
She blinked up at him. “I had the dream again.”
“The one where you’re married to some other guy?”
She nodded again, looking almost haunted. “We have a baby. I don’t remember giving birth.”
“Well, you wouldn’t, necessarily–it’s a dream.” He closed his book and laid it on the nightstand.
She slumped back against her pillow. “It’s just so real.”
He leaned over and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Dreams are funny things.” She laid her hand alongside his cheek, and he nuzzled her palm. “Want me to get you a drink of water?”
“Yes, please.” She smiled wanly. “You’re so good to me.”
Kyle got up and filled the cup in the bathroom and brought it back to her. “Here you go, babe.”
She downed it all. “Thank you, Ky…” Her words were already starting to fade. He settled back into bed and picked up his book, occasionally checking the time. He’d even started to drift off a little when the sounds of a snuffling baby and furniture being moved in the next room roused him.
He blinked blearily at the man in the doorway then glanced at the clock. “You’re late.”
The other man shrugged and started stripping down. “The baby needed to be changed.”
“Whatever.” Kyle got out of bed and pulled his clothes on then tossed the pajama bottoms he’d been wearing to the guy in the doorway who immediately pulled them on.
“She out?” he asked nodding toward Elinor.
“Gave her a dose about an hour and a half ago.”
He nodded and crawled into bed with her and closed his eyes, as Kyle padded out into the hallway to look for his shoes and coat.
The baby in the next room began to fuss, and he froze as he heard the guy mutter sleepily. “It’s your turn to get up with her. I fed her last time.”
“What?” Elinor’s groggy-sounding groan drifted to him, and he almost felt guilty.
“The baby’s hungry. It’s your turn.”
He mumbled something Kyle couldn’t make out.
Squatting, he felt for his shoes but froze at the sound of rustling in the room. Elinor was climbing out of bed and stumbling toward the doorway. She paused, and he could make out her silhouette clearly in the light from the window.
“I had the dream again.” Her voice was a little shakier this time.
“Oh, about your other husband? Kyle, right? Too bad he’s not around. We could put him on diaper duty.”
“Yeah…right.” She stumbled into the baby’s room. “It’s just so real,” she murmured.
There was no almost, this time. Guilt climbed up his throat, and tasted a lot like bile. But it wasn’t like he could opt out. None of them had a choice in this. Least of all Elinor. Not anymore.
Click the other bloggers’ names to read their takes on the prompt.
She studied her reflection in the mirror in the hallway outside his hotel suite. She knew what he’d see. A young ingénue eager to soak up his knowledge and wisdom. And possibly his cock if he thought she was legal and he could finesse her into it.
He was beyond predictable. While doing his college campus speaking tours, he’d only grant interviews to guys who clearly wanted to be him. Or pretty young women he could impress and seduce. She might be young and pretty, but she had no interest in his knowledge and wisdom. And even less in his dick.
She checked the time on her phone then opened the recording app that would send everything straight to the cloud and activated it as she knocked. Hugging her notebook to her chest, she widened her eyes and bit her lower lip while she waited for the door to open. The perfect picture of butterflies and nervous admiration.
He opened the door looking surprised. It was just as practiced as her expression of innocence. No…more so. He stood there with his shirt sleeves rolled up to reveal still muscular forearms, his white dress shirt unbuttoned at the neck and the tie he’d worn to the book signing long gone. In one hand, he cradled a snifter of what looked like brandy. “Oh, Miss…Camden, is it? I’d completely forgotten you were coming.”
it was a struggle not to roll her eyes.
“Please come in.”
He gestured for her to enter the suite, and she stepped past him, nearly brushing against him as she did. It wasn’t calculated on her part. That was all the room he’d allowed her.
“I was just having an after dinner drink. Why don’t you join me?”
She smiled slightly and glanced down at the floor as she shook her head. “I’m not twenty-one, yet.”
He bumped his shoulder into hers and winked. “I won’t tell if you won’t tell.”
She pretended to consider it and bit her lip again. “Okay. Maybe just a small one.”
“It’ll be our little secret.” He grinned at her. His thinning, silvery hair glinted under the dimmed lights of the chandelier hanging above the living room area in the suite.
Crossing the room, he turned his back to her as he poured her drink. Surprise, surprise.
“Just a little one,” she reminded him with a giggle.
He chucked. “I promise. I won’t get you in trouble.”
“So, do you write in your hotel rooms when you’re on tour like this?”
“Getting stared on the interview already, huh?”
“Well I’m so excited! This is like a dream come true–I mean, your Regina Jones Mysteries are just so tense and exciting.” You know… if you like serial rapists and murders.
He chucked again. She was really beginning to hate that sound. “When I’m on the road, this is where the magic happens.”
“Would it be okay if I took a few photos of the space? You know–to use with the interview?”
He turned momentarily, his brows drawn together, but then he smiled. “Sure, go ahead.”
She flipped the camera on the phone to take a quick selfie, making sure her nail polish was in the shot, then reversed the camera to get a wide angle shot of the room, including, Dirk Rook, author of one of the most popular genre fiction series, headed her way with a second snifter of brandy.
She took the glass then spun in a circle as she took more photos around the room while discreetly dipping her finger in the drink. “I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but what’s your process like? How do you produce such tightly written novels at the rate you do?”
Settling into the seat across from where he sat on the couch, she glanced at her nail polish. It had turned color. “Oh, wait! Before you answer that, can I get a shot of you on the couch. With the drink on the coffee table next to your laptop, it’s the perfect shot to open the article with.”
He grinned, clearly pleased and rested his arm across the back of the couch. Predictable to the core. “Okay, one more quick photo.”
She raised her phone again and took a quick selfie making sure that the roofie alert nail polish was in the frame then quickly took a few of him. Pretending to take a small sip of her drink, she set it on the end table next to the chair. “Whoo!” She giggled. “That’s strong!”
He inclined his head slightly. “Well, it’s good brandy. Probably not what you’re used to at college parties.”
“Plus I’m a total lightweight. She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Okay, this aspiring writer needs to know. How do you do it?”
She wrote his answers in her notebook, plying him with more questions while occasionally pretending to sip at her drink. She didn’t ask him any of the questions she really wanted to ask–like why he relied on horrifying racist stereotypes and why he was such a misogynistic piece of shit. She just threw him softball questions and feigned drunken lightheadedness.
When she finished her last question, she staggered to her feet and stumbled forward, notebook in one hand and phone and glass in the other. She lurched forward as Dirk sat forward.
She stumbled forward again, and her notebook flew out of her hand hitting him square in the face. The papers she’d tucked inside flew everywhere. Most were copies of articles about him.
“Oh no!” she wailed. “Those are the stories I’ve been collecting about you!” As his gaze drifted to the fluttering pages, she lurched into the coffee table and quickly exchanged her glass with his. Then she pushed herself up to a standing position, closing his laptop lid as she did.
His face darkened with anger at her touching his belongings. But he schooled it as she smiled adoringly at him and held up her glass. “Let’s drink a bread! No…” She squinted at him. “A toast!”
He stared at her, seeming more bemused than anything else right now.
“Where’s your drink? You need a drink.” She looked around as if searching for it.
He picked up the glass and stood. “Okay, what should we toast to?”
She leaned across the table and brushed her hand across her chest and looked up at him with what she hoped was a drunkenly earnest expression. “The best writer in the whoooooooooooooolllllllllllee world.”
He grinned, and she raised the glass to her lips and took a huge gulp. He did the same, a predatory glint brightening his gaze.
She raised her glass. “This is good–we should have more!” She took another swallow, and so did he.
Suddenly, his legs wobbled and she scooped the glass out of his hand and set it on the table right before he sat down hard on the couch. “You–what–you…”
“Close your eyes, Dirk. I’ll be gentle. I promise.”
That’s it for me this week, but be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories by clicking on their names below.
Okay, so new year, new goals and all that. The biggest goal is while I’m still doing freelance work for others, but I’m making a concerted effort to put my writing first. It bums me out, but that’s not what’s been happening for the last year or two. And that needs to change.
So, I’ve been writing every day. I’m experimenting with what time of day works best. But I’m doing it–even with the other projects, I’m still adding to my story every day, and I’m super excited about that.
So this month, I’ve edited an 80K book, a 73K book, a 32K book, and some other minor odds and ends for peeps. I’ve also prepped five 80K (avg.) novels and half of an 800 page book for audio.
I’ve also finished up a number of (late) Christmas gifts and client orders, and I’m working on other late gifts.
I didn’t get all of my blog posts, unfortunately. We had to put Morrighan, our kitty down, the night before the post was due, and I just couldn’t do it. So, in the interest of self-care, I tapped out. I might eventually write it, because it bugs me to leave stuff undone, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t.
Self-care is another thing I’ve ben getting better at this year. I’m making far more of an effort to do it than I have in the past. I’ve also gotten back into the habit of my daily gratitude journal.
So, my goals for February are:
That’s it for me on the goals front. Click Jess‘ name to see what’s up with her goals.
My kids are long past the age of picture books, but that doesn’t stop me from loving them, and occasionally adding one of two to my collection. In no particular order, these are some of my faves.
10.) Where the Wild This Are by Maurice Sendak
9.) Drac and the Gremlin by Allan Baillie
8.) Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
7.) I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joose
6.) Stellaluna by Janele Cannon
5.) Wild Child by Lynn Plourde
4.) Catkin: Mouse Hunter, Closer Than Friend, Wind Dancer at the Bough’s End by Antonia Barber
3.) Tough Boris by Mem Fox
2.) Loveabye Dragon by Barbara M. Joose
1.) The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
That’s it for me this week, though I have scads and scads of other books I wanted to add to this list. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ lists by clicking on their names below.
Feel free to skip this, because it’s full of the sad.
A week ago today, we had to put our sweet girl, Morrighan, down. She’d lost a lot of weight, and despite feeding her a bland diet of bone broth and boiled chicken (gag) she wasn’t putting it back on. As it turns out, her kidneys were full of cancer.
We made the horrible (but ultimately best) decision to put her down. It’s never an easy decision to make. But it feels so much harder to come to terms with because she was so young. Not even 10 yet. Usually, our cats live between 16-18 years.
It’s been extra awful because Willow, her litter mate, has been wandering around the house crying for her. And I keep finding her laying in the weird hidey holes her sister liked to lay in. Places that Willow’s never been interested in before.
We we adopted them, Matt said that we had to get them both because splitting them up would be like splitting up me and my sister, Cait. It made me cry happy tears when he said it. Now, the memory of it just makes me cry, period.
And honestly, I just fucking miss her. She’d hang out with me, for hours while I worked, and she’d sleep on my pillow at night. I miss her purr and her meow and her constant chatting with me. She was kind of a mouthy cat and would chatter. She’d also help me knit. And crawl under the covers at night to play cave kitten. Or play blanket monster while attacking out feet.
I know that there are people who might think that going from a house with four cats to three wouldn’t be a huge deal or even very noticeable. But I feel her absence constantly. And it really fucking hurts.
That’s it for me, today. I’m going to go cuddle Willow and check out the other posts. Hug your critters for me.
Happy Tuesday to you! And Happy New Book Day to you, too! My lovely and talented friend, Samantha MacLeod has a nw book out, and I (because I’m all kinds of lucky) got to read an early copy of it.
It. Was. Fabulous.
As I’ve mentioned more than once, her breathtakingly lyrical stories breathe new and unexpected life into the old gods and the mortals who cross their paths. No, seriously–she’s that good.
And she’s also a good sport because she agreed to let me ask her a bunch of nosy questions. And she’s got a blurb and excerpt to share with us, today! But first, let’s be nosy…together.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Oh, I’ve always been a writer. Even before I knew how to form letters, I’d fill pages and pages of sketchbooks with crayon stick figure stories. I was a weird kid; honestly, I’m kinda surprised my parents didn’t take me to counseling.
What made you realize you wanted to write romance?
It took me a very long time to give myself permission to write. I went 13 years without writing anything longer than a grocery list because none of my ideas were Very Serious or Literary. In my late 30s I finally decided to write the kind of book I wanted to read, and to use a pen name to protect my fragile little ego. I haven’t looked back since.
Do you have any hobbies?
Baking! I’d be a lot skinnier if I ran marathons as my hobby. Instead, I bake chocolate muffins.
Do you have any bad habits?
Which of your characters would you least want to take a road trip with, and why?
King Nøkkyn is the first straight-up villain I’ve ever written, and he’d be a total dick on a road trip. He’d refuse to stop at any cute little road side attractions, and he’d force you to pump all the gas. Plus, he’d probably make a million snide, condescending comments about the state of your car.
Also, I gotta say, as much as I love Loki, a road trip with him would probably be an epically bad idea. I feel like you’d wake up on a beach in Tijuana with a warrant out for your arrest and no idea what happened to the car.
Introvert or extrovert?
Oh, such an introvert. My husband says I’d be happy living in the woods with just an internet connection. He *might* have a point…
What do you like best about writing?
That magical, magical first draft. I’m a pantser for life, and usually I feel like I’m the first person to read the story. It’s really amazing to watch it unfold on the keyboard.
What do you like least?
Line editing. I do a LOT of grading in my other jobs, so that part feels the most like work to me.
Do you have a day job in addition to writing?
Yes, yes I do. I teach online philosophy classes at a community college, and I teach English reading and writing to immigrants and asylum seekers. They’re both rather excellent gigs, but I’d like to step away from teaching so many classes (usually five a semester, sometimes six) and focus more on my writing.
What are your favorite kinds of stories to tell?
I’ve got kids – ages eight and four – and I love re-telling myths to them, especially on long car rides. I do multiple voices and everything. This backfired slightly when my daughter, at age three, told my mother how Loki was bound beneath the earth using the entrails of his own son.
Questions about the book.
You have what’s clearly a deep and abiding love for Norse mythology, and I love that you’re bringing it to an audience who may be less familiar with the Norse tale than other mythology. What’s the specific draw for you?
I wonder this myself all the time! Part of the draw, for me, is the pure strangeness of the myths. So few of the stories have survived, and the myths that are recorded in the Eddas are more like outlines than fully-fledged stories, so Norse mythology is rife with blank spaces. I feel really drawn to fill in those blank spaces. Or perhaps compelled. 😉
The Monster’s Lover is your most recent release. What can you tell us about it? How did the idea come to you?
The Monster’s Lover is the first book in my five book fantasy romance saga The Fenris Series. And the Norse myth of Fenris is such a fascinating story!
In the myths, Fenris is one of the three monster children Loki had with the giantess Angerboda. He’s a giant wolf who is first befriended by Odin’s son Tyr and then horribly imprisoned by Odin and his family. It’s a short story, but it’s packed with unspoken assumptions and really tragic betrayals.
My entire series started when I asked myself two questions about the original myth: What if Fenris had a human form as well? And what if he fell in love?
What do you like best about Fenris?
Fenris tries really hard to do the right thing. He’s brutally honest, and in a lot of important ways he just doesn’t understand people. He expects the entire world to be as forthright and trusting as himself, and that leads to tragic consequences.
What do you like best about Sol?
Sol was raised in an oppressive society. As a woman and as the daughter of former slaves, she had no rights. Yet she still has this inherent sense of justice and fairness that flares to life when she’s angry. I admire that about Sol.
What other characters in your story are you especially fond of? Why?
Well, my very favorite character shows up in the last two books of the series. If you’re a fan of my Loki series, you’ll get to see Loki, Sigyn, and their sons Nari and Vali in the fifth and final book.
In The Monster’s Lover, I have a soft spot for Sol’s mother. She’s a woman who’s faced a lot of tragedy and who’s been forced to make terrible decisions. She ended up being more interesting and complex than I’d initially imagined.
Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult to write? If so, how?
Super serious, emotional conversations are always a challenge for me. The whole Fenris series is told entirely from Sol’s point of view, so I had to depend on those conversations to reveal a lot of Fenris’s backstory and personality… and Fenris really hates to talk about himself!
What’s up next for you?
I know I say this every time, but I really am going to write something that’s NOT inspired by Norse mythology!
Now, let’s check out that cover.
Promised to cruel King Nøkkyn’s harem, Sol Eriksen is out of options, and nearly out of time.
When she meets a distractingly handsome stranger in the Ironwood Forest who claims to be a legendary monster, Sol thinks he must be a madman, or a demon. She knows she shouldn’t listen to him. Or trust him. And she should not, under any circumstances, kiss him again.
As King Nøkkyn’s grip around her tightens, Sol finds her last chance at freedom may lie with her mysterious new lover, the man who calls himself Fenris.
I closed my eyes, tilted my face toward the fading sunlight, and ran my fingers through my wet hair, carefully avoiding the sore lump on the back of my skull. The fear and shame of the day slowly melted from my body, evaporating in the thick evening light. I was safe under the trees, just like Da always said.
I can scarcely explain what made me turn.
There were no strange noises, nothing out of the ordinary. The river hissed and murmured. Birds cried from the canopy while the wind whispered to the treetops. Shadows pooled beneath the pines’ thick trunks, and the evening insects began their songs.
Still, something silent and invisible thickened the air, raising the hairs on the back of my neck. I opened my eyes and turned away from the Lucky, toward the deep forest.
He stood a pace away from me, beneath the trees. Not hiding, but not exactly visible. He was so motionless, he may as well have been made of wood himself. My heart jumped, and I grabbed a river-smooth stone in my fist before coming to my feet. If he tried to throw mud at me, I’d smash that stone into his skull.
His pale eyes blinked, and he tilted his head to the side as if trying to understand what he was seeing. My breath caught in my throat. He wore no shirt; black curls of hair scattered across the rippling muscles of his chest. His bare skin reminded me of my own nakedness, and my cheeks warmed.
“Who are you?” I demanded.
He frowned, then tilted his head to the other side.
“Are you from the village?” I asked. My voice trembled slightly as I tightened my fingers around the cool rock pressed to my palm. I’d never seen him before, but that meant little. Town people moved around like seeds on the wind.
“No.” His voice sounded odd, as though he were unused to speaking. “I am not from the village.”
My fingers relaxed around the smooth stone from the riverbank. He wasn’t one of the boys from the village, come to further torment me. Thank the stars. I glanced down at my stained, wet dress spread over the grass, then at my own exposed body. I’d never been naked in front of a stranger before. King Nøkkyn most certainly would not approve. The thought sent an unexpected ripple of heat through my core.
“I’m not decent,” I said, wrapping an arm around my breasts and cupping my free hand over the curls between my legs.
His gaze dropped, as though he were just now noticing I was completely naked. He watched me for a long time, his eyes widening as they traveled down my arms, over my legs, and along the bare contours of my hips. My skin warmed as he watched me, almost as though he were running his elegant fingers across my body, chasing away the cold of the Lucky’s waters.
“You’re quite beautiful,” he said at last when his light eyes returned to my face.
Beautiful. How many times had I heard that? Ever since I was a child, I’d been dogged by that word. I’d grown to hate it.
But, coming from his soft, full lips, the word brought me pleasure. Beautiful. It was unreasonable, but I was glad to hear he found me beautiful. My lips started to curve, and I turned away, embarrassed to have the stranger see me smile.
“Excuse me,” I said.
I bent toward the grass and let the rock slip from my fingers when I grabbed my dress. It was still wet, but I pushed it to my chest anyway, making sure the damp, stained cloth covered my breasts before I stood again.
He’d moved. The stranger was one step closer to me. I blinked, trying not to stare at the way his muscles curved and arched toward his hips. He was totally naked, and I had to force myself to tear my eyes away before they could linger between his legs.
Was he mad? Was this a demon from the fiery depths of Múspell?
He was certainly handsome enough to be a demon, with his pale eyes and high cheekbones. His hair spread over his shoulders, a dark amber like the last flash of life in a dying fire. A tiny green twig twisted in the strands. Something unexpected tightened deep inside me as the silence between us stretched taut.
Perhaps he was trying to lure me toward him, so he could grab me around the waist and drag me back to Múspell. I watched him through narrowed eyes, wondering about Múspell. How would his demon fires compare to the cold stone of King Nøkkyn’s fortress?
I’d never seen the fortress of Nøkkyn the Mountain King, of course, but everything I’d ever heard about it was frightening. Some of it was downright terrifying, like the stories of rotting heads on iron spikes lining the gates. Even the head of his first wife, if the rumors were true. Could life with the demons of Múspell possibly be any worse?
If this strange madman dragged me away, I’d look at those bright blue eyes every day, those full lips and high cheekbones, that thick, auburn hair swirling around his temples. My heart thrummed against my breastbone so loudly, I worried he’d hear it.
“What do you want?” My voice wavered like sunlight across the water.
You can get your own copy of The Monster’s Lover by clicking on the links below. And this week, it’s FREE!!!
Born and raised in Colorado, Samantha MacLeod has lived in every time zone in the US, and London. She has a bachelor’s degree from Colby College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago; yes, the U. of C. really is where fun comes to die.
Samantha lives with her husband and two small children in the woods of southern Maine. When she’s not shoveling snow or writing steamy sex scenes, Samantha can be found teaching college composition and philosophy to undergraduates who have no idea she leads a double life as an erotica author.
I don’t know why I agreed to this trip. I don’t know what I thought would be different here. Other than the weather. Maybe I thought that would be enough. I can feel his eyes on me, though. Watching from the shore while I float alone in this giant aquamarine gem. The sun and salt seeping into my pores.
For whatever reason, we have the beach to ourselves, and the water is unusually calm–the complete opposite of the snowstorm pounding home. The complete opposite of the tornado of possibilities whirling through my head. Squinting into the sun, I line them up one by one, examining them from every angle–checking them for chips and cracks. Trying to gauge their buoyancy. They likelihood of their survival. The likelihood of mine.
I know he’s wondering about my decision–the same one I tried to give him a week ago. But when I’d started to speak, he saw the tears in my eyes. I could tell because he froze for a moment then looked away and asked if we could discuss it after we got back. And stupidly, I’d agreed. He’d barely made eye contact since then, but it didn’t mean I didn’t feel his gaze on me. Heavy as the pounding heat of the sun–like if he stared for long enough, he could figure us out. Figure me out.
The problem was, I already had. I didn’t love him the way he wanted me to, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’d tried so fucking hard. In a way, I was still trying, I supposed. Wasn’t that why I’d agreed to come in the first place?
While he waited for me to pronounce our relationship alive or dead, I let myself sink beneath the surface and stared up through the burning water all the way to the cloudless sky, wishing that flying away were as easy as floating in the warmth of the gulf.
That’s is for me. Click on the names below for the the other bloggers’ takes on the prompt.
We’re starting a new feature for the blog group called First Time. We’ll be showcasing a variety of firsts from different stories. Some might be published. Some might be unpublished. It’ll be up to the author of the blog.
This month, it’s First Meeting, so I’m going to share the first meeting of Rowan and Gwydion from SUMMONED which is one of the stories from THE CHARMED COLLECTION.
“As I will, so mote it be.” Rowan Spencer’s words hung in white puffs of breath in the chilly, late spring air as she released energy into the ground beneath her. A ripple of power spread through last autumn’s leaves and fallen twigs, churning the dirt below as though it were water. The lines of the circle she’d cast glowed faintly blue-white underneath the shifting leaves, disrupting the near darkness surrounding her.
Nervously, she knelt outside the circle and watched as the light brightened, searing the damp leaves and grass with its heat. Usually when the energy left her body, it slowly dissipated until it was gone, but this seemed to be increasing with every passing second. She only hoped that meant the spell would be successful. It needed to be successful.
The earth suddenly roiled below her, and she stumbled to her feet, unable to tear her eyes from the ever-brightening circle. She glanced around, hoping no one was nearby to notice the otherworldly glow shining through the trees. The ground rumbled as if something huge fought its way to the surface.
Her heart leapt into her throat. This wasn’t right. Simple protection spells didn’t involve burning leaves or miniature earthquakes. What had she done? And more importantly, how the hell was she supposed to stop it?
She dropped to her knees, laid her hands on the trembling earth and tried to call back the energy she’d sent forth. It didn’t work. A startling shock traveled up her arms and into her chest before she could pull her hands away. It reminded her of touching her grandparents’ electrified fence as a child. She’d wandered around for the rest of the day convinced that she’d drop dead at any moment because she’d disobeyed and snuck into the cow pasture.Now, like then, she wasn’t sure if she’d survive the consequences of what she’d done.
Roots and vines crawled toward the center of the circle, pulsing and rising from the earth—coalescing into a mound at least half a foot taller than her. As she watched in growing horror, the vines continued moving of their own volition, and a definite shape began to form. Discernible arms and legs appeared along with a head and wide shoulders.
Terror dried her mouth as she tried to convince her body to move, to run away and never to return to this place, but apparently, her body had zero interest in listening to her. It remained as firmly rooted to the ground as this humanoid figure seemed to be.
She wished Meaghan or Emma were here. Hell, both of them.They’d always had far better control of their powers than she’d ever had. She was an idiot to have attempted this on her own. No. That wasn’t true; she’d done tons of protection spells over the years. Granted, none of them on as large a scale as this one, but the area of effect shouldn’t matter. But somehow it did. Or, she’d really screwed up something. Something major.
A sudden breeze blew past her, whipping her hair into her eyes and causing them to tear. The breeze picked up the dead leaves that carpeted the orchard floor, drawing them like a cloak around the figure. They clung to the shape, forming a sort of skin over the vines.
Again, she tried to force herself to run, but she remained frozen in place—no more able to leave than the trees surrounding her. Her breath caught in her throat as a faint glow pulsed in the chest cavity of the figure. With every passing second, it grew stronger and more vibrant until it expanded and radiated through the entire body, bright as the noonday sun. She closed her eyes against the intense glare.
When she opened them again, the light was gone, but the figure wasn’t. Blinking around the floating black spots marring her sight, she stared in jaw-dropping awe at the man in front of her. Golden skin covered perfectly shaped muscles and wide, well-formed shoulders. Light brown hair dusted an equally broad chest and narrowed over tightly delineated stomach muscles, before thickening as it extended lower. Catching sight of a huge cock, she lifted her gaze sharply upward, meeting the brightest green eyes she’d ever seen.
The man held her gaze for several long, terrifying moments before glancing around the grove of trees. “You have summoned me, but I see no sacrifice.”
Rowan couldn’t force her voice to work any more than she’d been able to force her limbs to move. His words were heavily accented, sounding vaguely British.
“I require an answer.” His voice was rough as though he rarely spoke, and it sent shivers sliding down her spine, but at the moment, she couldn’t decide if that was a positive experience or not.
She swallowed several times, trying to form words. “I think there’s been a mistake.”
He shifted and stared at her. With his hands on his hips and an eyebrow raised, he should have looked silly. Instead, he looked intimidating and downright scary. What had she done?
“There is no mistake, little witch. You summoned me. I answered.”
She shook her head from side to side and opened her mouth, but no words came out.
He took a step forward. Then another and another until he stood at the edge of the still glowing circle she’d cast. She glanced at the ground, at his bare feet. Would he be able to cross? Circles were meant to keep in the power that had been raised. And entities, too. She’d been with Emma and Meaghan before when they’d secured spirits in a circle to help them cross to the other side. But whatever this guy was, he was no spirit.
He followed her gaze to the illuminated line and swept his hand through it, eradicating it.
Finally freed from her stasis, she took several steps backward. “Who are you? What are you?”
The hint of a smile curled his firmly sculpted lips. “I think you know who I am. Why would you summon me if you did not?”
“I didn’t mean—” She couldn’t force herself to finish the sentence. Instead, fear got the best of her, and she turned and ran.
She made the mistake of looking back at him. His gaze had narrowed, and a frown marred his face. Her chest constricted in terror, and she tried to run faster.
She heard a rustling along the ground, but she ignored it and dodged a fallen log. Something brushed against her ankle, tickling her bare flesh.
“You will not run from me.”
“The hell I won’t, bi—” The rest of the sentence was swallowed by her squeal as something wrapped tightly around her ankle, yanking her to the ground. Rolling over, she sat up and tugged at the vine in which she’d managed to entangle herself. As she pulled futilely at the growth, more vines crept across the ground. Toward her. Her heart slammed wildly against her ribs as she attempted to rip the foliage from her body.
More tendrils wrapped her other ankle, holding her snugly, while additional plants encircled her wrists. She tried to free herself to no avail. The man stood over her, and with a wave of his hand, all of the vines pulled tight, pinning her spread eagle to the loamy earth. So quickly, she didn’t even see him move, he suddenly loomed over her, his arms extended and caging her beneath him.
If you’d like more, you can help yourself to THE CHARMED COLLECTION.
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