The Tarka chuckled and shoved her away. She stumbled a few steps, dropped the sticks and unsheathed her blades. Her fingers gripped the smooth leather wound around the hilts. The power vibrated against her skin. The electrifying blue energy danced along the shafts and whined, begging for blood. She whirled around and her hood fell back. The wind pushed her hair across her face.
The Tarka remained expressionless and drew his second sword. He now wielded two blades like her. “Ah. Now we see the true you.”
She lunged. He parried. The power of the swords pulled at her. She fused with them, merging into one, as if the blades became extensions of her arms as she danced. The light reflected off the metal and she became a flurry of sharp edges. Each slash propelled her faster and she spun, transforming into a whirlwind of blades.
~~ Excerpt 2 ~~
The Tarka held perfectly still, gray gaze flashing, white-blond hair shining under the setting sun. He looked like a warrior angel sent to Earth to smite the pest-like humans.
She clutched her staff and brought it up with numb fingers.
He raised a dark eyebrow. “You plan to fight me with a stick?”
“I can hand it over and tell you what to do with it, if you promise to follow directions.” She moved the stick slowly. Not fast enough to give away her skill, but enough to warm her wrists and get blood flowing back into her limbs.
“I’ll take option number one, thank you,” he said.
“Fine with me. I’d prefer anything to becoming your next sacrifice.” They’d never confirmed the Arkavians were responsible for the bloody sacrifice they’d stumbled on, but no crazy magical beasts had roamed the forest since the portal opened, so they made an assumption. She glanced behind her at the trees and George’s exposed foot. What the hell had the Tarka done to him?
“He’s incapacitated. You won’t find any help from him.”
Taya snarled while her mind raced. The man hadn’t used any magic yet. Maybe he didn’t have any. Maybe only some of the blondes had power. Could she outrun him? She wasn’t fast, but he was bulky with muscle, and wore lightweight armour and a heavy cloak to stave off the damp cold.
Where would she run to? She couldn’t lead him to the others, and she couldn’t survive long in the woods without supplies.
The man cocked his head, studying her and probably reading every thought screaming through her head. “Sacrifice? Exactly what kind of fantasies have your kind concocted about us?”
“I would hardly call them fantasies.”
“What would you call them, then?”
He nodded. “Is this where you tell me my evil ways are done?”
“I’m not sure. Is this where you make some grand speech about ridding the world of my kind or do you plan to preach about the superiority of your race and how you deserve to leach off our planet?”
“I’m waiting for you to finish warming up so we can get on with it.”
J.C. McKenzie is a book-loving, gumboot-wearing, unapologetic science geek. She’s the author of the Carus Series, an urban fantasy five-book saga published by the Wild Rose Press. Born and raised on the West Coast, J. C. sets the majority of her books in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy heroines and brutish, alpha-type men.
Follow Zoraida’s magical journey with three short stories about her life as a small town fortune teller in the Midwest–Plus a tale about Castle Logan and how it got its dark reputation.
This collection makes a great introduction to the Magical World of Zoraida Grey. If you enjoy these stories, take a look at Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones in which Zoraida leaves her hometown and winds up in a haunted, witch-infested Scottish castle–Book 1 in the Zoraida Grey Trilogy.
Why it works or how it works is a mystery to me. My spirit-self is somehow separate but not separate, the same but not the same. A glowing filament of ether connects it to me. It sees and hears and smells but it can’t do anything. Nobody else knows about it but me. And Granny. One time I sent my spirit-self to stand right beside her while she was cooking beets—just to see if she would notice. She jumped a little but then she smiled in a sad way. Then she hugged me real tight, leaving beet stains on my t-shirt. She never talked about it, but I got the feeling she knew somebody else who had a spirit-self long ago and thinking about it mad her sad.
Tonight, my spirit-self is uneasy. The odor of carrion mixes with the musk of stagnate water. My spirit chases the glowing wisp of scent past the scummy pool, gliding across the choked stream, over the ends of worms and half-chewed bones in the ooze, into the dense brush surrounding heaped stones to a dark opening.
A raccoon’s den, perhaps. Or the abandoned home of any of a hundred animals who live in the lush woodlands. I move closer, peeking into the gloomy cave. Spirit journeys are absolutely silent, but something inside the cave stirs at my approach. It’s too late to run.
Award-winning author Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with seven cats, two fish, one dog, and one husband.
A proud member of the Scottish Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at Scottish festivals watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.
Intelligence analyst Charity Masters is raising her niece after the death of her brother. If that isn’t enough to up-end her world, she’s pulled into a government project involving shifters, and a handsome distraction in the form of tempting hawk shifter, Mason. Although her strong personality has kept men at a distance, will she allow Mason close enough to appreciate the woman inside?
As clan leader of his Native American tribe, Mason Wegi wants to ensure their relationship with the government remains beneficial but well-contained. While focusing on a project involving human and shifter DNA experimentation, not only will he have to safeguard his people, but that of the alluring and willful beauty, Charity.
Will two people from different worlds come together for their happily-ever-after?
“Are you all right?”
Charity gasped as she reacted on instinct, rolling once again and springing up, preparing for…
Always priding herself for being prepared for the unknown, Charity certainly wasn’t prepared to come face to face with a gorgeous man on a trail in Sierra Vista. As she straightened to her full height of five feet ten inches, the man still towered above her by at least half a foot. With her back to the sun, she could see his features clearly, and what she saw nearly stole her breath.
Raven hair framed his lean face, falling well below his shoulders. Topaz eyes shined brightly as his brow knitted with worry, even while his luscious mouth hinted at a smile causing his tanned skin to crinkle at the corners. Muscled arms relaxed at his sides. A rusty orange t-shirt covered his chest, stretched across clearly defined shoulders and pecs. Gray athletic pants encased his legs and he wore running shoes dusty from the dirt, looking like they got good use.
Charity blinked several times while trying to clear the haze in her head as she met his stare. “I’m fine now, thank you.”
While the man scanned her body, he asked, “Did you take a tumble? Are you sure you’re all right?”
Charity looked down at the dust and debris on her clothing, and tried to swipe herself clean. Her white tank top and red running shorts weren’t any worse for wear, but a few scrapes on her left leg got her attention. She removed the bandana around her head, allowing her long blonde hair to fall free and curtain around her as she bent forward to wipe at the cuts. When she peered up at the man again, she saw his concentrated gaze continuing to scan her.
“Are you sure you don’t need medical attention?” he asked, his voice gruff.
Charity straightened. “No, really, thank you. I nearly had a close encounter with a rattlesnake but was saved by a hawk. It was, uh, well it all happened rather quickly, stunning me. I’m not far from home, so I’ll be fine.”
“If you’re sure.”
The tenor of his voice and the note of care had her warming, and not from the overhead sun. Once again she mentally shook herself as she finger-combed her hair and twisted it back up, securing it with her bandana. When she met the stranger’s gaze, his eyes snapped from her chest to her eyes, and she swore she saw a blush sweep over his cheeks.
When the man cleared his throat, he offered an introduction. “I’m Mason, Mason Wegi.” The sound of his name was like putting a ‘W’ in front of egg and adding ‘ee’. “I was just out for a run myself. I certainly didn’t expect to come across a fair maiden in distress. Not that I’m complaining.”
~~ The following books are on sale until March 21st for only 99 cents! ~~
Guardians of Erin, Book One
Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.
At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate. For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.
But Aengus is secretive, with good reason. He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld. Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland. Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.
The night air was deliciously cool. Moonlight and darkness held equal sway over the backyard thanks to the shifting clouds. I dashed across the lawn and halted in the exact spot where Aengus had stood. Panting, I looked around, willing some kind of clue to materialize.
The ruins in front of me darkened as large, heavy clouds swallowed the moon whole. The wind tugged at my long, loose hair and pajamas. Tiny raindrops spattered on my nose and cheeks. I turned my palms to the sky, and cold rain pelted them.
“Great.” Intending to return to the house, I swiveled around.
I gasped. My right hand flew to my chest. “Aengus?!”
The man himself stood an arm’s length in front of me. “Why are you here?”
“You scared the crap out of me!”
The strident sound came from the ruins. I whirled around and stared at the dark keep.
Aengus grabbed me from behind. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. I reveled in the feel of his taut body, of his warm flesh against mine.
Suddenly, everything changed. The rain stopped. The wind died. The entire landscape was bathed in the soft hue of twilight. Breasal Castle looked brand spanking new, just as it had during the bizarre dream in which I brought Aengus to the cottage. But this time, I knew I was awake.
Dumbfounded, I gawked at the medieval magnificence before me. I had no idea what had happened and no desire to pull away from his embrace.
His lips brushed my right ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “This way.”
His right arm released me, and his left slid down to my waist. Maintaining body contact the entire time, he steered me toward the stand of oaks on our right.
Once sheltered by the trees, he turned us around so we faced the castle.
“Are we hiding?” I whispered.
“Why? And what just happened?”
“I can’t say.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
Until that moment, I’d forgotten I wore pajamas. Now I was acutely aware of it. Satin was pleasing to the touch, but something told me my attire had nothing to do with his grip on me.
I looked up at him. “Not that I mind, but why are you holding me so close?”
His hand tightened on my waist. “It’s necessary.”
“I don’t suppose you can explain that, either.”
With his gaze locked on the castle, he shook his head. He pressed his right forefinger against his mouth in a silencing gesture. Then he pointed up at the keep.
High on the battlements, the black-haired woman from my dream—and from Branna’s painting—paced back and forth. Her hair whipped about her pale face and slender frame.
She paused beside a gap in the crenelated wall and glared down at the fairy mound. Her colorless lips curled into a sneer. Then her human form morphed into a dark shadow, which fragmented into what seemed a million black particles. They swarmed into the air and shot across the twilit sky, disappearing into the distance.
I took a deep breath. “So she’s real.”
He nodded. “She’s real, to be sure. Come.” With his arm still hooked around me, he led me out of the woods and toward the fairy mound.
Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents’ disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she’s determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.
Ashling could use a little help herself. She’s struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.
As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.
Thunder shook the night as the Dullahan’s black stallion reared beneath him on the sweeping lawn below. The horseman thrust his severed head toward the sky and called out the names of those he hunted.
“Dylan Donoghue! Maeve Donoghue!”
Powerless to stop him, I watched from the bedroom window. The glass panes infused my palms with the chill of death itself. Out of sight, my parents screamed, then fell silent. The sound of laughter followed.
Exultant. Spiteful. Malignant.
Aoife! The wind demon whose foul plot shattered my family with a single blow.
Hate and despair welled inside me. “No!”
“Ashling, wake up!” My sister shook me awake.
She switched on the lamp between our beds, and I scanned the room. The same sash windows as in the dream. The same luxurious décor in shades of periwinkle, white, and gray. Even my slippers beside the bed were the same. But the night was quiet, and there was no immediate danger.
Deirdre tucked her long, blonde hair behind her ears and gave me a knowing look. “Another nightmare about the Dullahan?”
Nodding, I wiped the sweat from my brow. “And Aoife.”
“Sounds almost as bad as my dream the night he took Mom and Dad.”
“We don’t know he took them.”
“We don’t know he didn’t.”
“They’re not dead!” Dread clutched my heart, and I pushed out a long breath to calm myself. “They can’t be.”
Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.
Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past.
Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house’s dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Fountain Dead is a carefully crafted story that takes place in two time periods, in two POV’s.
Emma, born in the 1800’s, didn’t have a lifetime of love and happiness. There was a brief period of time she thought she’d achieve her HEA but her life took a grisly turn. Family turned against her and she learned the hard way not to trust anyone.
Mark’s story took place in 1988 when his family moved to Winona and into the Durley house, Emma’s family home. From the start, Mark knew something was off about the house. It was messing with his mind, his sister’s and eventually it turned its attention to others. The house was cursed. Anyone who entered it was prey.
Mark didn’t want to live in the house but a child must live where their parents tell them. His parents were oblivious to the danger lurking in the house but Mark wasn’t. He saw the spirits, humanoid creature, and saw the effects of possession firsthand.
As we watch Emma’s life progress, we see every monumental point in her life was somehow tied to what Mark and his family was living through in present time. At first, the time period/POV’s flip-flopping did mildly annoy me. It was occurring way too rapidly. I actually started taking meticulous notes because I wondered how each moment in the past would have an impact on Mark in his time period. It wasn’t until I was about mid checkpoint that I didn’t mind the flip-flopping speed as much because NOW the puzzle pieces were clicking together and the grand picture was almost revealed.
The link between past and present was mapped out very well and the ending was spectacular.
Cliffhanger? Yes, Theresa’s final moments in Fountain Dead let readers know there was more evil to battle.
Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides with her two fur babies, who are her creative sidekicks. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Traveling is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and the occasional romance. Oh, and she likes to guest blog about writing, television shows, movies, and books, mostly in the horror genre.