Tag Archives: Magic

Lick of Fire

This  Lick completes the teaser  from The Burning Season, currently available here! Remember, Licks are NSFW excerpts, so read carefully – and look forward to another erotic excerpt on the smutty seventeenth of next month!

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Bran let his head drop back against the bed, cried out and bucked into Macsen’s touch. There was nowhere to go, no escape from those hands, that mouth sucking against his flesh, but escape wasn’t what he wanted.

He wanted more, and more. More than the languid stroking of Macsen’s thumb against the head of his cock, more even than the rush that was the sharing of Macsen’s deepest nature. The dark of it came over him like he thought his own heat must come over Macsen, sudden, full, undeniable.

“Macsen, more, please, I need more.”

The words came aching from his mouth, and Macsen pulled away, licked his teeth and looked up with blood on his lips still. The sight made Bran tighten his grasp against the bedclothes. The fingers pulled out of him, and warm hands spread Bran’s thighs apart farther, left him empty, needing, feeling his pulse in the hundred marks Macsen had left on his body. He felt a soft tongue on the wound Macsen’s teeth had left in his thigh, soothing, reminding…still not enough.

Not nearly enough.

Now that his hands were free, Bran reached down to tug at Macsen’s hair, pull him up. Yes, up. He didn’t have the strength to move his lover, not if he didn’t want to be moved, but Macsen was pliant, let Bran tug him into place between his thighs, nuzzled his cheek against Bran’s cock.

Macsen, please, suck—”

His tongue lapped around the head, pulled Bran a little at a time into his mouth. Slow. So slow that Bran could feel every stroke of tongue, the coolness of Macsen’s breath, the softness of his lips. “Oh yes—yes.

Before he knew what he was doing, Bran was holding Macsen’s hair tight in his fists, guiding the movement of his head, thrusting his cock up into Macsen’s mouth. Red-violet, heavy-lidded, pupils wide, Macsen stared up at him, and Bran’s gaze traveled between that wanton look and the way Macsen’s mouth stretched around his cock.

Again, Macsen pulled back, and this time all Bran’s tugging was for nothing. “Macsen—”

“Have I proved yet that I’m the patient one?”

Bran sucked in a breath, scowled but couldn’t sustain the expression. “You—”

Macsen only grinned. “I.” He leaned forward, lapped at the underside of Bran’s erection, laughed huskily at the sound of Bran’s groan and closed his mouth over the head of his cock again. His tongue moved in darting patterns, and no matter how Bran pulled at his hair or bucked his hips upward, there was no more than that—only a tease.

A minute, two, and Bran tensed, so close, not close enough. Easily, Macsen’s fingers slipped inside him again, and that was more than enough to prod his nerves higher, always higher, but not enough to bring him the release he craved.

There was heat at the curve of his hip, the dip of his pelvis, Macsen’s mouth, one kiss after another. Macsen’s tongue drew wet lines of desire across his skin, along the length of his cock. He spoke in a murmur, close to Bran’s skin.

“I want the taste of you to bring with me, Bran.”

The words licked at him like that wicked tongue, sent a jolt through him and invoked a new flush of flame.

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…”

Summer Bite

As the pre-order date for The Burning Season draws closer (April 10th!) snippets and bits – and thus bites! – shall begin to appear. This first one comes from the very beginning, which is always the best place to start! 

To claim Bran forever, Macsen has begun the ancient ritual of sidhe courtship—but such a rite is a trial in more ways than one. Tradition requires that Macsen seek Bran’s favor in his own country, and a Summer courtship is teasing and promising. More than that, Summer’s Queen will come between Macsen and her son however she can. But despite his mother’s disapproval, Bran’s will is bent to the same purpose as his Macsen’s—the achievement of four proofs of love, proofs that only Bran can determine or acknowledge. One step at a time, they come closer to a day when nothing will be able to separate them—but a familiar foe is more than willing to try. In the mortal world, the year has continued to pass without a hint of green. The Green King has prevented the spring, and thus all seasons but winter…but it’s Macsen whom Dealla blames, and all her plans for violent retribution are directed at him. Failure may cost her everything, but that is a price she has long been willing to pay.  In the wake of her invasion, Macsen is left with a dilemma that might not be easy to solve. Love, or vengeance—which should he choose? Can they live together in the same heart?
This is that shiny, shiny cover I was bragging about – Beautiful, Bran!

 

Chapter One

Macsen lay unmoving, not sleeping, a hand over his eyes to block out the damned and brilliant sun. He was as the wolf in his winter coat, oppressed by the Summer swelter, but he endured for Bran’s sake. He had made a promise to stay, despite his discomfort in a place ruled by the sun. He had kept it, would keep it, but the time had come to go back to his own place. To return to the Red Kingdom, even if only for a little while.

He smiled to himself. Yes, only a little while. Then I will return for you, Bran. The last time Macsen had come here had been for him, too. For the oath that almost shattered us…but nothing will come between us now. He bared his teeth. Despite himself, he knew that nothing wore the shape of the Summer Queen. Your mother does not want me to have you, lover.

Privately, he considered that she might have good reason for her fear and suspicions. The last few times he had come here had been for Bran, love on his mind, but long before, he had come here in response to a challenge. He closed his eyes, and the memories were there within him, waiting. Winter chill superimposed over the green of the leaves. The great lake frozen and red with blood, and all the blossoms fallen under the weight of snow.

If there was one thing that was the same, it was that even then, he had come for a son of the Summer Queen…

Goddess

As accompaniment to my latest Rant, have this snippet, which comes to you from the first draft (ooooo! scary!) of the prologue of Earthbound!

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Pine for me, and I will return from the moon to love, brown earth and green leaves and the flowing water. Pine for me, but that means to remember my name.

Tell me, beloved, how do you forget what you cannot remember? I have been drawn to you from the beginning. Timeless, I am still enamored of time, and all its passing shadows…you are those shadows.

What lives in them is a man, and a woman. You and I, beloved. Shall I tell you their story? Once, it was for her, not the world, that he would have done all things, any thing. And so it was for her, not for the world, he shot the sky. His arrow past the moon, white-shining in a world made clear as glass by the fall of night.

The sun rose. The sun rose. The sun rose and rose and rose and rose until the face of the earth heaved and flame rode its curves and settled in the hollow throat of the world and cried out from the curled and hidden core, hidden at last in its own petals.

“Enough, enough, we can bear no more!”

He heard. You heard. Hou Yi, the archer. Did you know then? No… But the price of heroism would be steeper than the mountain, steeper than the curve of the sky. Nine times, you lifted your bow to heaven. Nine times, slew the sons of the brightest light. So that the fire fell, gleaming, bolts brighter than lightning piercing heaven and earth together…and not to be undone.

Your reward was your punishment. To put on the robe of heaven is to forget the world left behind, and you, you forget even now what you have done that was forbidden, even in the name of saving the whole of the earth. I remember, what you do not. That is my punishment.

To slay a god with mortal hands…

But this is not the first time I have told this story. This is the last, because you do not understand it, do not hear me, and you are the one it is for.

What speaks the shadow to the one who casts it, what speaks the shadow to the sun? Ages of ardor and ages of agony, and they were mine – as I was like you, doomed from that first stretch of the bow. 

Now I must acknowledge having planted temptation in your path – but in the manner of all good things, what I give is no more, no less than I sought. Whatever you suffered in the light, yes, all those eons in which I begged and you did not listen, do you suffer more in the darkness?

What are the thousand woes of your new existence? Are you still the lord of frigid stars? Are you still my darkest king?

What are you?

Sun Bite

This bite, like the first,  comes from Dark Side of the Sun. Enjoy a taste of Bran Fionnan – Macsen does!

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Bran burned to see what was in Macsen’s hand, gleaming yellow, calling to him with his own power. It was the dagger Bran had made for Noirine. The dagger that had been meant to kill the Red King, this smug vampire standing in front of him with a smile on his face.

The old mix of fury and guilt rose up and choked him. The heart of his rage, close to the surface after a day spent brooding, had been soothed by the promise of Macsen’s mouth and hands on his skin, had faded into the background confronted by something as inexplicable as this vampire presence and his own trust. Now instead of the pleasure those touches had promised, he was being goaded into a fight, and even knowing the reason didn’t relieve the sting of Macsen’s last comment.

“It won’t be so difficult—after all, you’re the one that forges these weapons, aren’t you? You should know how to use them.”

Bran was aware that as of yet, the one he intended to fight had done nothing to him to warrant such a violent response. He was aware that it was unfair to take out twenty years’ worth of pent up emotions on someone who had himself been hunted and harried for his existence alone.

The Milesians were fools, of course, to think they could influence or destroy the Red King and his court. Standing in Macsen’s presence, he could see that now. He couldn’t see what it was about Macsen that drove the Milesians to such extremes, seeking to destroy him, any more than he had ever been able to see what it was about himself that disgusted them so.

He was aware that men did not hold the wolf responsible for its kill, that the wildcat was not reviled for eating the flesh that sustained it. It was stupid to assume that men would have no predator, and completely idiotic to think that men could destroy such a predator if they found it.

It occurred to Bran that the Milesians had been badly misled by the ease with which their ancestors had banished the Irish sidhe, but that was a misconception that would only be corrected by future pain.

Bran looked up at Macsen, resolved to do what was necessary, and nodded once.

“All right. All right, I’ll do what you want—and hold you to your promise, Red King.”

Macsen smiled slowly. “Sidhe don’t break their word like men, Bran. What I say, I will do. Now, choose a weapon!”

Blacker than the night sky, Macsen’s aura flowed around Bran and buffeted him with power. Bran took a step to his left, his gaze fixed on Macsen, and reached behind him through the open door of the smithy. The staff was where he had left it, leaning against the wall just inside the threshold, and Bran grasped hold of it and squeezed it tightly. It hummed in his hands, drawing on the spark within him to further awaken the living gold in its bright, new spirals.

Bran faced his opponent and breathed deeply. He held the staff he had made poised across his body and saw Macsen stare at it, appraising. It was a gorgeous weapon, iron-hard oak capped and shod and inlaid with gleaming gold.

“Make a good show of it, Bran Fionnan!”

They rushed together and the lash of air that accompanied Macsen’s movements was a blow on its own. Bran’s thoughts overflowed in the wake of it. No wonder Noirine hadn’t succeeded. How could she? She had been fast, but not fast enough, strong, but not as strong as the Red King.

Bran came back to himself to find that while he’d been distracted, Macsen had gained a steady grip on his staff. He stared at Macsen’s hands, pale, smooth, the nails glinting like glass, then found himself flying over Macsen’s shoulder and down onto the ground. Macsen tossed the weapon away from them into the night, and Bran sucked in a deep breath and met violet eyes with his own gaze. He saw promise in them, promise and lust and amusement.

That last irritated him, and he wondered if he might be able to make an impression. He had no weapon, but so what? The power inside him was what was dangerous, wasn’t it?

Bran grinned and pushed himself onto his feet, crouched low to the ground and tracked Macsen’s approach. When the Red King laid hands on him, exercised a tithe of his strength and lifted him, Bran dangled in his long-fingered grasp like a doll for half a moment. Then he reached for power and felt heat flood his flesh. His skin glowed with gold light, but Macsen only laughed at him and squinted through the brightness.

“That won’t do a thing, Bran Fionnan. Not your power, not to me. Not even you and the gold you wake together can harm me. It’s just bad luck for you, none of your kin would have as much trouble. Weren’t you listening? There’s a bond between us, a bond neither of us can break. A bond of trust…and a bond against such dangers.”

Bran understood nothing but that he had failed, but he wasn’t too unhappy, just confused. He hadn’t really wanted to hurt Macsen, after all.

Macsen put him down, but his hands held Bran still, and Bran twisted in struggle. He didn’t know if he was struggling for show, or because of his own internal conflicts, and he didn’t know if what came next was an accident or not. Was it because he pressed too hard, moved just too far trying to get away? Was it just because Macsen wanted it, even as Bran himself did?

A kiss.

Hunter’s Bite

Another bite! This one comes from The Circle Unbroken, book two in the Eight Kingdoms series. Enjoy, in preparation for tomorrow’s book three cover reveal! 

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“Bran Fionnan!”

His name came hunting him with laughter on the wind beyond it, and the voice of a mortal girl that scattered across the snows of the Red Kingdom.

“Bran Fionnan! Come on, Bran, faster. They’re coming, they’re coming!”

In a flash of red hair and crunching footsteps, Bran saw Saoirse Saorla pass before him and farther out into the wilderness.

“Saoirse, wait!”

He left the wood and moved toward the middle of the frosted meadow, the sound of Saoirse’s steps the only thing he could hear besides his own breath. It was over now, he knew it. There was no escape from the ones who hunted him and the girl in such an open space. Blossoms hummed at his feet, and Bran scattered scentless petals as he broke a path through fragile ice flowers to the girl’s side.

“I think we’ve lost, Saoirse.”

“Not yet.”

“Pick a direction if you want, but I don’t think it will matter.”

She turned her face away from him and peered out across the snow. Bran followed the path of her gaze with his own, sought movement beneath the tall pines they had just left, but there was nothing visible except the girl’s footprints, a clear trail across the wilderness of the Winter landscape.

Though he had run behind her, Bran was pleased to see his own feet had left no imprint on the snow—he was learning fast, faster than the girl, it seemed, but then that shouldn’t have surprised him. He was sidhe, of course things would come more quickly to him—things like how to make the weight of his presence nothing if he wanted it to be. Intent as she was on gaining skills and powers, Saoirse was still a mortal girl.

Macsen had warned them that it would be like this when he’d ordered these lessons, when he had listed powers and promises… Things Bran might possess now, and did not know, and that the girl might never gain. Swiftness and strength, magic and mischief, fire and Summer’s wholeness. Bran had thought his lover was just being hopeful at first. He’d never felt a whisper of such powers, had felt nothing inside him but the gleaming brightness that he could spill into gold, into weapons. But Macsen had been proved right, as he usually was—even if it seemed like their lesson was only a game. A Hunt, which always ended with them as prey.

As this thought passed through his mind, Bran heard a shriek from beside him and turned to see a sudden tussle in the snow, Saoirse panting and red-faced under the playful attack of many beings much smaller than she was. She turned and tried to run again, but there was no getting away this time. Tiny fingers were tangled in the long red threads of Saoirse’s hair, and even as Bran took a step and moved toward her, he felt the chill dampness of two hands, ten fingers icy-cold around his throat.

“Do you concede, Bran Fionnan? Saoirse Saorla?”

Bran nodded, sighed. “Of course, Ffion.”

He saw Saoirse pouting out of the corner of his eye.

“Bran, we lost again.”

“Did you think we wouldn’t? There’s a long way to go before we can compete with hunters like these, Saoirse.”

Flitting figures no longer than Bran’s hand whispered and murmured to each other as they emerged into the open and hovered near him, laughing openly now, no menace in their whispers. Saoirse turned her back to him and to them, but coddling hands reached out and stroked her hair into place again. Don’t be angry, don’t be angry. The words came from all directions and no direction. Saoirse only huffed.

“I’m not angry—but I want to win! I’ll find a way someday, just wait.”

“Enough now, girl.”

Ffion came forward and settled onto the snow, long bare legs crossed at the ankle, a crust of frost moving outward from her skin.

“Bran Fionnan, Saoirse Saorla, sit with me.”

Bran sat with his legs one over the other, elbows on thighs, his chin in his hands. Saoirse spread her outer cloak on the ice beside him and sat, drawing the edges of the fur up over her feet. When they were settled, Ffion began her questions.

“Tell me, one of you—why is it you do not win against us?”

Bran’s brow furrowed, but he said nothing. Saoirse looked from him to Ffion and scowled.

“I was going to say because you’re sidhe, but since Bran’s sidhe too, that’s not fair. Unless… Unless it’s just because I’m human.”

She said the last word lowest, as if it were a curse not for polite company, a word to be feared.

“Saoirse…”

Bran wanted to comfort her, but he couldn’t deny that her existence had its own troubles. Wasn’t that why these sessions had begun in the first place? To protect her as much as to teach me. But I can’t tell her that. His brow wrinkled and he frowned, trying to come up with an explanation that might soothe her, but Ffion spoke first.

“Saoirse Saorla, listen carefully. I and my kin bested you both because the Hunt is our nature. We are of the Red Court, vassals of the Red King—our essence is his essence.”

“So if you are Hunters… What’s in my nature? What will I do best?”

Bran was interested in that answer too, but Ffion only shrugged.

“I do not know. You are in between, not one thing or another. One day perhaps you will be closer to sidhe than human, unchanged and yet no longer truly mortal. Yet maybe that is not so, and you will always be as you are now.”

“In between? Not one thing or another?”

“Only your own real self.”

Bran saw a darkness on Saoirse’s face as she turned away and tried to catch a snowflake on her tongue. Behind the puckering of her brow was a shadow of pain, and he thought he could guess its source. In her father’s palace, she had suffered for her kindness, had paid in blood to keep the secret of Bran’s trust. Bran had been told by those that had tended her that she would wear the scars of her last night in the human world forever, but what he saw now was more than scars—it was an abuse of her spirit.

“What are you thinking about, Saoirse?”

He asked the question knowing the answer, because she had to say it, bring out into the open.

The girl scowled and her gaze darted in his direction, then turned away again. “My father—that last night.”

Ffion spoke comfortingly. “The King paid them. Paid them for it all—paid them for everything.”

“Not everything. My sister—”

Ffion scolded, but softly. “She is for Bran Fionnan, for our Shining Prince. For his vengeance—vengeance paid is vengeance earned.”

Bran avoided Ffion’s stare, but couldn’t escape from Saoirse’s words, all but contemptuous.

“But Bran Fionnan doesn’t want to fight.”

The girl was giving him the most terrible look she could muster, but he pasted a shiftless smile on his face and only shrugged, tried to smile and felt his face contort into something…other.