Category Archives: Bites

Harvest Bite

To celebrate its full release,  today I’m sharing an excerpt from chapter one of A Harvest of Dreams & Embers, Eight Kingdoms book five! The second half of the saga begins with Merlin…and mayhem.

 

Chapter One

Sleep had come to Spring, though it did not belong there.

Myrddin advanced alone through the stillness of the Wyrdwood and found even the birds sunk into slumber. Drowsiness had descended, and with it a sacred silence that brought disharmony, reducing the promise of the branches to the ghost of leaves. There had never been such lethargy in immortal Spring before, but the season had traded away its show of splendor for somnolence.

King though he was, even Myrddin was tangled in threads of torpor and his own sudden awareness of the presence that incited them. Why here, why now? Father?

Yes.

With the feeling of acknowledgment came a summons Myrddin could not deny, though he wanted to. No other being was so perilous to him, had ever cost him so much, as his own father. And now, now that he finally had Kas for his own…

Neither the time nor the place of the visit pleased him, but Myrddin could no more deny the summons of the one who had sired him than the buds could refuse the spring.

His heart clenched. Had he regained what he’d lost only to have it taken away? Kas. All his desires were bound up in the single syllable of that name. He would not give his lover up again, no matter what demand the god of the wild had for him.

Myrddin found his father at the heart of the forest, wrapped around its most ancient oak. He knew it was his father, but Myrddin had never seen him like this. As the Stag of the wood, yes, carrying the moon in the spaces between his antlers. As a mist, or in a man’s shape, but like this?

The god of the wood had come to him as a dragon. His father was a moss-backed beast with leafed and feathered wings whose span stretched beyond Myrddin’s sight. He was the wildest and most beautiful of his kind Myrddin had ever seen, but he was a dragon all the same.

Did that mean…he was no longer a god?

There was a shiver in the branching pinions, a sibilant trembling of feathers. A sound like silk being stretched too tight and too quickly snapped through the air as the great wings beat once then settled.

“Father…” The dragon opened his mouth and breathed out the scent of somnolent blossoms, but not a single word in answer. “Father?”

He resisted the urge to go to one knee as he resisted the drowsy pressure of the air, a sudden urge to yawn. Silence greeted him. More than before, stronger the closer he came to the unsteady orb of his father’s eye. He recognized the source of the unnatural sleep with a familiarity that reminded him of his own long-vanished past.

‘My little shoot.’

Not his father’s voice, but the memory of his mother’s, brushed Myrddin with a faint prickling of dread. This sleep was akin to his own lost winter slumber. The sleep that had taken him at Samhain each year, before Spring had had a rite, or a kingdom… When winter had come to him as to the blossoms and dropped him down the well of the sleeping season.

His father blinked one enormous eye, and the flickering facets drew Myrddin in. The eye became a world, a universe in the shape of an ochre orb. “I forget who I was before the birth of this moment.

 

Want more? A Harvest of Dreams & Embers is currently available at Pride Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers. Grab your copy today!

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Christmas Bite

It’s the tenth day of Christmas! Stelios and Niketas, everyone’s favorite pair of werewolves, is back for a very were-y holiday season…and one more special excerpt! Luka’s pack has come to visit their Alpha’s twin for Christmas – bringing along Luka’s year-old pups, of course!

Enjoy, glorious beings!

~ ~ * * ~ ~

They finished breakfast a little after ten. Stelios had just sat down with his second cup of coffee and Niketas in his arms, when the buzzer went off and the Alpha was forced to get up again and let his brother and the rest of his pack in.

Before either of their parents, Luka’s pups came racing out of the elevator, the twins Markos and Marius first, a pair of gray blurs. They were followed by the black, trotting body of their omega brother, Nyctimus. He went straight for Niketas, climbed up the edge of the couch and into the older omega’s lap.

A soft serenade of yips came from his twin brothers as they escaped their mother’s belated attempt to hold them, sniffing at everything in their path with eager, twitching noses. Stelios watched as they circled the room, paused at the hearth, and finally settled at the Christmas tree, dazzled by the blinking lights and their reflections in the wrapping paper on the packages beneath.

Anna grinned her apology at Stelios for a moment, before she shucked her clothes, shifted to wolf shape and slipped across the room to chastise her offspring while Luka shook his head. “Trouble, as always. They’re impossible, unless they’re watching their brother—Merry Christmas, Stelios.”

Stelios grinned at his twin, brushed cheeks with him and embraced him with one arm. “Like us, then—”

“When we were pups.” Luka slung himself onto the couch, nudged Niketas with his shoulder and got a yawn in return. “Why so lazy, omega?”

“Ask your brother, Alpha.” But he grinned, nudged Luka back and let the pup in his lap worry one of his fingers with blunt milk teeth. “Looks like family life agrees with you. How’re things on the mountain?”

Stelios turned his attention away from their low conversation as the elevator came back up and spilled the rest of Luka’s pack into his entryway. Ares and Alexandre were indeed followed by Leon and Dmitri, but Leon greeted him while blushing and avoiding his gaze.

It had been more than a year since the day Stelios had confronted the blond on the mountain, but ever since then a single look had been enough to make Leon redden and look away. It might have been cute, except that Stelios didn’t think he was ever going to forgive Leon for taking Niketas that one time—even at Luka’s order.

The fact that Leon now seemed interested in him changed nothing. Stelios had no interest in the blond’s crush, and only nodded at him curtly while he slapped Alexandre on the back, shook Ares’ hand and closed the door behind Dmitri. Still, when he turned back to face the sofa, he relaxed. There was such an increase of warmth in the room.

Luka sat with an arm along the back of the couch, behind Niketas’ shoulders, and his hand resting on Anna’s back as she lay curled up beside him, tugging the twins back under control when they tried to wander. Stelios didn’t go to his chair, but let Alexandre take it. Instead he bent by the couch and picked Niketas up, pup and all.

“Ah—hey! Sir—”

“You’re in my spot. Don’t worry, I have another one for you.” He settled himself next to his brother, and Niketas in his lap, draping the omega’s legs across Luka’s knees. Niketas let out an apologetic whine, but Luka only shifted and sprawled a little more, stuck his arm back behind Stelios instead, and sighed as he stared into the fire.

Apparently pleased by the new arrangement of adult bodies on the sofa, one of the twins escaped Anna’s grip and climbed his way across his father to get his paws on Stelios’ side and nuzzle at him, then pulled himself up Niketas’ thigh to press his nose against his brother’s.

The Alpha allowed it, then scruffed the pup gently, shaking him a little. “Are you going to stay like this the whole visit? I was going to play a movie for you, but you won’t be able to see as wolves.”

Luka caught his gaze, grinning. “Christmas Carol? Which one?”

Stelios leaned forward, pressed his lips against Niketas’ throat, breathed in the scent of his hair, then let his eyes drift closed. “You pick. I’m not sure which one you want to show the pups. If they’ll be boys for a bit…”

Wiggling, a little more active now, it was Nyctimus who responded first, shifting in Niketas lap from black-furred pup to plump, black-haired toddler. “Gon’ watch? Plee?”

Niketas ruffled his hair. “Yeah, pup. C’mon, shift over if you wanna stay up here.” The little omega obeyed obligingly, and beside him, Marius shifted too, nestling between Stelios and his father, sitting half on each of them.

“C’mon, Markos, don’t you wanna see?” Clearer, more forceful than his brother’s, the words finally compelled his twin to obey, and Anna slipped away with a last nip of reprimand to shift and get dressed again herself.

Luka watched her go, then hefted Niketas’ legs out of the way and got up to go look at Stelios’ collection of videos. Niketas growled low in his throat as the riled, squirming pair of Alpha toddlers tried to climb him the moment their father was out of the way. Stelios watched them trying to orient themselves, while their brother submitted, wiggling out of their way, but the adult omega wasn’t having it.

Niketas brushed them aside, then scruffed them when they bared their teeth, pressing at him with tiny sparks of Alpha aura. He tossed them down to the end of the couch, then turned a little, tucked his face into the side of Stelios’ neck and closed his eyes. “Brats. But this is nice. Missed my pack…and you’re warm.”

The omega let out a long sigh as Stelios squeezed him with the arm around his back and nuzzled him. “That why you’re falling asleep on me?”

But Niketas lifted a lip, nipped at the side of his throat, then yawned again. “You know why.” He closed his eyes as a low swell of music rose from the TV, and the pups immediately turned their attention to it, going still as Luka came back to his spot.

~ ~ * * ~ ~

Want more? Until the end of December, Another Christmas is only 99 cents!

Snow Bite

This very first, exclusive excerpt of White Magic, a dark fairy tale, is only the beginning. Keep an eye out for more of this very special story, coming in ebook and paperback, as we approach release day: Christmas Eve!

 

Chapter One

EXCERPT

It was at the wedding that Snow White saw her stepmother for the first time, and was enchanted. Not by a spell, though the woman was a witch and the princess knew it in the first moment. No, the girl was caught by her stepmother’s presence, her brilliance, her stunning beauty.

In white and gold, her silk robes heavy with embroidery, the gleam of the new queen’s gemstones and jewelry was not what held the girl’s attention, but the woman herself.

This new mother was pale as fine ivory, her skin smooth, her eyes black as the bottom of a well. Her hair was spun copper, hot coils wound about her ears, long braids flowing into a mass of curls and every strand in motion, a thousand vermilion snakes erupting in a tangle of perfect beauty.

A sensation like hot water, or sparks flung from a fire, prickled on Snow White’s skin. She smelled something sweet and sour, a violent, violet odor of blossoms and rust. Without knowing how or why, awareness coursed through her, a living thing on its own.

Magic.

The wedding ceremony passed in a blur before the princess’s eyes, with one center, one focus, blazing bright and wild. Her stepmother was a witch. A witch! The knowledge beat in Snow White’s breast, alive, dancing, a fire with a heart of storm.

Even at the reception, she thought her stepmother spilled the secret from laughing lips with every sound, but no one else cared to hear it, or no one could. Only Snow White stared at her, enraptured. Magic. It was here – it had finally come.

She was the king’s daughter, it was true, but she wanted neither riches nor the kingdom. Only magic. To be a witch; to hold the power in her own hands.

That night, and for several days after, Snow White watched the new queen’s treasures being brought in, across the white-stoned courtyards, beneath the shadow of green leaves and up the stairs of the empty western tower, where they were hidden behind a black door, freshly painted.

Clothes and furniture, chests and cases did not much interest the girl, but there were other things. A bright steel cauldron, its bottom not black but white. Hangings for the tower walls, each one marked with strange embroideries, runes and symbols, vistas of foreign lands.  A box of dark wood, ornamented with a single seal – a potted plant with forty brilliant blossoms, yet no scent.

Last of all came a mirror, wrapped in cloth of gold. On each of those things, Snow White smelled the magic-fragrance she had encountered at the wedding and the iron tang of blood.

The girl made up her mind by the end of the fifth day. Why should she settle for a stepmother, when instead she could have a witch?

 

Want more? White Magic is here!

The Garden

Well! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? But this week, there’s a tiny bite to feed your soul…from The Garden, an upcoming Beauty and the Beast story, set in a strange, new world.

Enjoy!

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Chapter One

Excerpt

 “He did not know she was a fairy – so the story goes. The young prince saw an old woman, and he liked to surround himself only with beautiful things. He was aware that not all were created equal – like the rose beside the dandelion. Yes, one a lovely blossom, the other considered no more than a weed. Both were flowers, but a rose…

“A single petal, a breath of fragrance, could put a garden full of other blossoms to shame.

“So it was that it exceptionally pained him to be made ugly; to be made into a beast. So it was that it was agony to sustain this new, cursed life, an agony of existence for which there was no relief.

“‘Devour the roses’, she had said to him. ‘Devour the most beautiful rose, again and again, since you care for what is beautiful more than for human life!’

“Because he did not know she was a fairy, only thought her an old woman – and he had turned her away, and it was a cold and rainy night.”

Want more? The Garden is coming soon!  

Deathless Bite

Today is a deathless day…or should I say, the day of Deathless? Now on early release at Pride Publishing, this second Tale of the Eight Kingdoms starts in the ancient woods of Britain, ten thousand years before the events of book one, and takes us to the meeting of Kas and Myrddin, and the first Spring Rite.

Enjoy this exclusive excerpt from the very beginning of Deathless!

 

Chapter One

The nights were growing chill, but the change of the autumn foliage had turned the river valley into a sea of flames. Leaves fell like sparks, browned the underbrush and bared the branches of the wood, but not only the canopy was failing. On a bier in the open, breathing slowly and quietly, Myrddin’s mother, the old chief’s daughter, lay dying.

“Mother, you can’t go!”

“Oh, it’s time. It’s past time, Myrddin. Look at you, my little shoot. You don’t change any more, but you’ve grown, and your mother is old and only a woman. Now is my time.”

Myrddin gripped her fingers tightly. The lines of her face were smooth, but worn, and her hand was limp in his grasp. The only brightness left in her was in the green shimmer of her gaze. Already he could feel her slipping away.

He supposed he should be grateful it was happening now, at the end of autumn, and not when he’d already begun his winter sleep. But how could he be? Grateful. He could have hated it—her dying—if she didn’t look so much like she was letting go of something heavy that she’d carried for far too long.

It was still agonizing to watch.

Why did death have to come so gently? Like a fall of rain—like falling asleep after making love. Myrddin could have hated it, except that she welcomed its coming.

“You’re going where I can’t follow, Mother. I won’t have anyone if you…when you die.”

She laughed, or at least she made a sound that was something like it, and he winced. “You have to learn to let go. Let it be. We’re all mortal, aren’t we? Yes, all of us but you. And you…my son, if you can’t learn to let us go, you’ll have no companion but pain, and that’s…not…what I wanted for you.”

“Mother…”

Red leaves fell onto the furs that covered her, then mingled with her hair as she tried to lift her head. One descended lightly into the spread-open fingers of her unclasped hand, and she smiled. You’ll have to learn. You will, won’t you? Promise me you will.

“I—promise.”

Good boy. Now, let them bring me where I want to go.”

Myrddin lifted his gaze. Her bearers were already waiting around them, their eyes averted from the final parting of mother and son. “Mother. You don’t have to do this. What good is it to just—

I want to die where it began. That’s all. For you, and for me. Won’t you come with me? I won’t make a journey in this world again.

He stared at her, almost shook his head, then squeezed her fingers and let go. “I’ll be watching. I can’t… I’ll just…be watching.”

She sighed, reached up and patted his cheek with her free hand, and the bearers came forward and took up her bier with careful hands. His mother’s fingers slipped out of Myrddin’s grip, and he stepped back, and back, watched her go into the forest then turned and fled up the side of the valley. The sun was setting, and the evening came full of swallowing shadows that he followed along the ridge above the crest of the valley.

He couldn’t stand it, couldn’t bear it, but he was equally incapable of avoiding it, of denying her or leaving her behind. Even at a distance, even in darkness, he could see the cortege accompanying his mother’s body, heard the wails of the tribe’s women as they fell in line behind. He wanted to go to her, stand with her, wait until the end, but he couldn’t do it. Not this.

As he thought it, the wind moved, a sudden hush of gusts that nearly blew him over. It was only then, forced out of his grief, that Myrddin felt the oncoming tide. Power was flowing around him, the green whispering. The wildlife was growing awake, aware, and the blood of his father inside him, the immortal link that connected Myrddin to the growing and greening of the world, pulsed alive.

The whisper rose through the wood until it was a roar among the leaves, a howl in the throats of wolves. The sudden baying of stags mingled with a thousand fluted melodies as the birds scattered from the trees, and the trees bowed, bent, rolled their shoulders and tossed their heads with no need for the wind.

Still, the wind was rising, carrying whispers and roars, howls and birds. Awake! Wild spirits of the spring sped past Myrddin, not focused on him, not paying him any attention, and he closed his eyes but couldn’t close his mind to the message. Awake! He comes, He comes.

Myrddin didn’t need to wonder who. There was only one reason for this much excitement in the wild. My father is coming and why? Now? When it’s too late for him to do anything. A flush of rage replaced his grief, but it was rage tempered by truth and sense. His mother had been an offering since before he was born. That had been the reason why he was born. She had belonged to his father from the moment she had chosen to give herself as a gift to the God.

I was just the result, not the fulfillment. My mother, but she belongs to Father as she has always done.

There had never been any doubt about his father. His mother had been taken, and given a child, and returned…and he was that child, bound to the spring as much as to the mortal world—or more, maybe.

Immortal powers were stronger. Immortal purposes were more demanding than anything but death, and Myrddin remembered his birth—remembered his first year as well as yesterday.

By the end of his first summer, dressed in a loincloth of leather and painted with the brown mud of the forest, he had toddled behind the hunting men. By the end of his first autumn, he’d been strong and straight enough of limb to walk with them. He’d had the look of a boy of ten years, though he couldn’t yet count even one, but he had carried no weapon and only clung to the edges of their sight.

It hadn’t been their prey that he was after, only the wilderness that ran before their footsteps…until autumn had ended, and the first snow had begun to fall.

Snow. Timeless and endless and white, it had fascinated him, then made him irresistibly drowsy. He’d gone to his mother and spoken his first words.

“Mother, I’m tired.”

“Then sleep, dear one. Sleep…”

And then, and every year since, her lullaby had gentled him into the dark. He had slept through the winter and its whiteness, the long, cold months. Only his mother had never been surprised. Like the spring shoots, he had grown and blossomed with the passing of the seasons. She had thought it only natural that winter was time for him to sleep.

“But there won’t be anyone to sing me to sleep this year.”

The flush of anger at his father gave way to grief again, and Myrddin looked up and saw that his mother and the villagers who followed her had almost passed out of sight. He caught up quickly, with the feeling he was stepping in his father’s footsteps as he crossed the ridge line back down toward the floor of the valley.

The procession wound through the trees, bringing his mother one final time through the wood she loved. Myrddin stopped when it stopped, and stood still, arrested in place for no reason he could explain. It felt wrong to move forward, though he could sense his mother’s death coming for her, walking toward her. It was here, in the wood! On the path—in the clearing—right in front of him…

A silence the likes of which Myrddin had never experienced came crashing down.

He tried to take another step forward, but the air was heavy, liquid and too thick to move through. In the same instant, Myrddin saw a shadow dart from the forest with the speed of a fleeing beast, the speed of a predator following. He saw a moment in which darkness lay itself like a shroud of shadow over his mother, a shadow the shade of the forest canopy at night.

Then, color flowed into the dark. His father. The God was green, green and growing as the vivid earth, green as the forest leaves, and He was brown, as the eyes of the stag and the pelt of the stag, and His eyes were black as the rich, turned earth of spring.

“Father… What…are you doing?”

The words fell heavy as stones from Myrddin’s mouth and disturbed the silence, but not the frozen moment. He took a breath and held it as his father bent and lifted his mother in his arms.

And now it is time for you to come with me.” His father’s voice did not disturb anything, nor his mother’s, as it came just after.

“Is this what dying is?”

Myrddin heard his father laughing.

Yes. No.”

The world snapped open and shut.

Want more? Grab Deathless here, on early release at Pride Publishing, before it’s out anywhere else!

Shadow Bite

To celebrate today’s early release at Pride Publishing,  today I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt from chapter one of The Shadow Road, Eight Kingdoms book four! 

Enjoy this crunchy little bite, and of course, if you want more, grab a copy here!

Through the barrow, across the ice, over the bridge and the river’s black water, Macsen ran quickly, following the promise of heat. Summer fire was making its presence known in the middle of Winter, fire and coiling smoke and the scent of golden power.

A smile crawled across his face, eager with anticipation. He knew where Bran was now, and he stalked around the palace, through the green of the orchard. Yes. Yes. He could see through the open spaces of the entryway that Bran was at his forge, muttering to himself, shaping the precious metals Macsen had left for him with practiced movements.

Bits of work were scattered here and there on tables. The beginnings of what might be a silver bridle, golden baubles filled with fire and a dozen gossamer lengths of chain were coiled and piled on each other.

Macsen’s attention was drawn to Bran’s hands, the smoothness of their movements, the easy way his fingers shaped the softness of the gold. There was something sensual in the motions, in his perfect focus, the way his eyes didn’t wander at all and a tiny wrinkle deepened between his brows. The intensity of his attention to his work was such that he still hadn’t noticed Macsen’s presence.

He almost took a step forward, arm outstretched, but caught sight of his own fingers, dark with bloodstains, and grimaced. Quietly, still unnoticed, he slipped away, up to their room and the bath. Macsen stripped out of silk as bloody as his body, and the water went red as he stepped into it. It grew redder still as he bathed, scrubbed gore from his face, his hands, even his hair.

When it flowed clear, he lingered for only a moment before he grabbed a towel and wandered back into the bedroom, considering. Talaith was gone. He would have to do everything himself, or find some other servant, and even the thought made him scowl. When Macsen opened the wardrobe, it was empty, nothing hung. His clothes, where were they? But then she did that too, didn’t she? He’d have to go down into the storage closets and find everything there.

He wrapped his towel around his waist, pushed wet hair back out of his eyes and contemplated a secondary irritation. His comb, where was that? He scowled, then turned to face the door as it opened.  It wasn’t Bran, he knew that instantly, and who else would dare? But he saw first not the one who had come, but what they had brought with them—his clothes, and things glinting silver. Momentarily, a familiar face emerged from behind the pile.

“Saoirse! What are you doing?”

“I… Since Talaith… I thought you…” And she stopped dead, but still peered up at him, curious and perhaps confused. “Should I leave? I didn’t mean to be trouble, but I helped Talaith sometimes and I never once saw you come down where everything is, so I thought you would need…” Again she stopped. “Red King?”

He had too many thoughts for words, and only shook his head and turned away. Whatever she thought of that, he didn’t know. Her stillness dissipated and she came into the room, began to lay things out on the bed. Tunics and trousers in red and silver, blue and gold, more choices than he needed and some that weren’t even his clothes.

“Girl—”

“There’s things for Bran, too. He likes new clothes after he’s been working. And I brought combs and brushes, but not jewelry. Bran doesn’t need it, not with your gift, and I haven’t seen you wear anything but your crown. Do you, Red King? If you do I’ll bring it next time but—”

Next time. Have you appointed yourself my keeper, Saoirse?” But he was already laughing before she could answer, laughing and shaking his head. “Do what you please, I won’t complain. You’ve done well. I don’t know where anything is, not after so long. But how did you know? How did you know I needed you?”

“I told you, I helped Talaith—and I was watching for you. Bran asked me to. He said he gets distracted when he’s working. He said he wouldn’t notice when you’d come back. I don’t know why he wanted to know, it’s not like you wouldn’t go to him first. You always go to him first. But you looked like you wanted to surprise him and you were very bloody, so I haven’t said anything, not anything. I went downstairs instead.” She wrinkled her nose. “Red King, tell him please that I did notice, and it’s only your fault that I didn’t say.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You think he’ll be angry?”

“Not Bran. It’s not easy to make him angry—you know that.”

Macsen studied her more closely when she smiled. Subtle changes that he had missed were making themselves known to him now, and he was…confused. Were her features sharper, her teeth more pointed?

She is not the same as she was.

“Girl, you’re changing.”

“I am. I am!”

“And you like it.”

“Yes.”

“Good.” And as if he had never said anything else, he returned to the previous subject. “Since you’ve done so well, this will be your responsibility. You’ll be our handmaid, mine and Bran’s.” He met her gaze. “You don’t mind? You were a princess once.”

She dimpled, grinning, and he saw that, yes, her teeth were sharper. “This is more fun, Red King.”

Darkest Bite

To celebrate the contract being signed just this morning, and because a few lines of this were shared during #1lineWed on twitter today, enjoy a tiny Bite of Deathless!

 

Deep in the winter’s dark promise, as far from spring and his own country as he had ever been, Myrddin finally encountered something completely beyond his experience. Slim, naked, wild-haired, beautiful, a stranger was crouched by the water of a trailing spring, black as the night, black in the chill, and when he turned at Myrddin’s voice, the wide of his black eyes was the wide of the startled deer.

“Hello -” Myrddin paused, heard something riled, whispering, but it came from the air all around him and not from the stranger he had spoken to. “Where did you come from, where are you going? Will you let me stay a while, will you answer my questions?” He took two steps closer, then three. “I’ve been looking for someone. Someone to help me with a rite of spring. To invent something beautiful and take away the power overflowing my soul. Someone… Do you know anyone?”

He was answered by nothing, and at the same time by a myriad of silences, one quiet become many voiceless truths. The wideness was fading out of the dark eyes that confronted him a little at a time. The voice that answered him was soft, but it only spoke his own words with the intonation of some other power heavy behind them. “Some…one. Anyone?”

The words were halting, the sound of them almost swallowed, more a questioning echo than real speech. Myrddin took one step closer. The stranger took one step back. “Can’t you answer me? Who are you? What’s your name?”

“Your name?”

“Myrddin—my name is Myrddin. And you?”

“You…”

“Do you not have a name? Do you not know words? Who are you?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Myrddin!” But this time he started laughing and couldn’t stop—it really was like talking with an echo. Maybe this stranger didn’t know how to speak? But he was gorgeous, and the dark of some terrible, magnetic power leeched out of his skin like rain from clouds, soaking and unavoidable.

 

Lost Bite

To celebrate the upcoming blog tour accompanying its full release, enjoy this exclusive Bite of Undone!

undone_exlarge_2_800

Tighe wandered through Summer, and the wood wound a path to nowhere, because that was his desire. Nowhere was a lake he didn’t know, a quiet river and the warm sun on the green grass beckoning him forward. He lay there, drowsing by the water, and let the silence and the sun’s reflection soothe his new and not unexpected heartbreak.

It was his own fault. Maybe by now he should have learned to look away, close his eyes, not listen when someone said things he couldn’t bear. He should have learned to live with the lie, but it was the same every time. He couldn’t do it, and now here he was again.

He wasn’t focused on Nuala. She would fade fast enough from memory, just like the others who’d been in her place in the past. But the things he missed when he was alone—a warm companion, someone to hold and hold him, pleasure and teasing and conversation… His thoughts turned to those things one at a time, then all at once. Each one was its own small torment.

More than all other things, he hated to be alone, unless he was working. There were only so many hours he could spend in his workshop, and what then?

“What now?” He closed his eyes and sighed. Maybe because of the sun, maybe because of the silence that came to him on the breeze, Tighe fell asleep there by the water, and only woke to the sound of splashing and a sudden gasp. He jerked himself upright and blinked into wary wakefulness in an instant. There was a screen of brush between him and the water, and he peered between the leaves, still but for his stare.

He saw a stranger, shedding drops of water like shining scales, his hair dark with dampness and the silk of his trousers clinging to his skin as he came out of the deep water and into the shallows.

Broken Bite

The first Tale of the Eight Kingdoms, Undone, is now on early release through Totally Bound! As such, it seems like a good time to give you all a taste of Tighe’s story – enjoy!

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Chapter One

“It’s over between us, whatever it was that we had.”

The Summer air was bright, but the beauty of the day did nothing to soften the words that Tighe had come to say to his lover. Blinking, shaken, Nuala stared back at him with something shimmering in her eyes, maybe almost-tears, not quite. “Tighe, you don’t mean it. You can’t!”

“I do.”

“But I love you!”

“You don’t.” He watched her for a long moment, daring her to speak. She said nothing, and he shrugged, almost smiling. They always say nothing. He reached out to the curve of her cheek. “You might want to or wish you did. You don’t. Why would you say you do when you don’t?” He pulled back his hand and shrugged again. “Goodbye, Nuala.”

“Tighe!”

He walked away and didn’t turn back to face her. She would be watching for him to do just that, for any sign that he would give in and return to her. But I won’t, Nuala. Over between us, he’d said, and he’d meant it. She had come to him years ago seeking the secrets and the strangeness of the son of her mistress, her queen. She had been so sure of her own beauty, her own charm, that she had been laughing and unafraid, at least at first. There had been no worry in her when she’d met his eyes.

She had been unafraid until she had learned the truth. Until she knew what it was he was really seeing, the secret heart of her, essence and echo. Fear had grown from that seed, had hidden a no behind every yes. I saw everything you are, Nuala. Ever since you have been pulling away, and now—

The lie had been in her voice. He hadn’t even needed to look at her to see the truth, but it was right there, right in front of him. The only lie he couldn’t forgive. So now it’s over, and in a day or a month or a year of Summer time, she’ll be healed of me, while I go on forgetting how to forget.

He could keep no one. He would be alone without her, as he had been alone before. I knew it would happen. Already he was missing her. If only there was someone else…but who would bother? He had grown famous in Summer, and for a while it had seemed as if he’d never have a shortage of partners. There were so many eager to try their luck. But luck wasn’t with him—or them.

It occurred to him that it might be time to leave Summer again, wander out of the hidden kingdoms of the west and travel into the gray, to seek some other secret world—the silk lands, the dream lands, the Yaksha kingdom or the ships of the middle sea. But that was running away, and he knew it.

Instead, he walked around the front of the palace, entered the great gates and strode through the gleam of the entrance hall looking for his mother. She was in her throne room, alone in her high seat and smiling. Even when she looked up and saw him she was smiling, not a flicker of distress. It was disturbing.

Not since the first time he had met her, a boy of twelve, had she failed to react to the peering curse of his glance. Now all he saw in her was softness and a loving glow. “I thought you should know. Nuala won’t be happy for a while.”

“You left her? Tighe.” She sighed.

Burning Bite

Pre-order for The Burning Season  starts Friday! As promised,  I thus deliver to you this second Bite, which continues from where Summer Bite left off!  And of course, keep an eye out for a tiny, exclusive preview of this month’s Lick, to be posted tomorrow!

Winter’s love is blood and chaos…but fire isn’t all that smolders at Summer’s heart.
Winter’s love is blood and chaos…but fire isn’t all that smolders at Summer’s heart.

 

From Chapter One

Macsen opened his eyes and stared up at the golden ceiling of Bran’s room for only a moment before he was blinded by dazzling reflections. He covered his face with his arm again. There would be time enough for those thoughts. For now…he would have to think of a proper good-bye. Bran wouldn’t like it, but he had responsibilities… And Summer isn’t good to me.

He knew the first thing Bran would suggest, but Macsen couldn’t bring Bran with him, not this time—not so soon, and not when his intentions were to make a point that couldn’t be questioned. “It will be sharp and deadly…at least for you, Elenn.” His smile gained teeth. I promised you pain. I always keep my promises, always.

“Macsen, you can’t kill my mother.”

He turned and caught Bran looking at him, wide-awake and a smirk on his face to match the tone of his words.

“How long have you been up, Bran?”

“Long enough.”

“Summer’s made you sneaky.”

Bran snickered at him. ”Like that means anything coming from you. What are you thinking? I thought you said you’d be good.”

It was Macsen’s turn to laugh. “Good? Me? Never.” He turned and took Bran into his arms. “I wasn’t really thinking about your mother, I was thinking about you. About courting you, and what her face will look like when she’s forced to acknowledge me as yours.”

Bran blinked at him. “Don’t you mean acknowledge me as yours?”

“No. It will be far worse for her to know that you have chosen me. After all, she already knows you are precious.” Macsen drew his fingers across Bran’s chest, up past his throat and tangled them into his hair. “Just like I know it.” Macsen kissed him, pressed closer. Bran was heat and eagerness in his hands, and Macsen took full advantage of his willingness to deepen the kiss, nip at his lips.

“Too soon I’ll miss you, Bran…”