Monday, 30 November 2015

Captivated By The Winter King by Mistral Dawn


Hey Everyone!! ☺️
It's finally here!!! ☺️
Captivated By The Winter King is out and available for download!!! ☺️

You can find it at these retailers:



I'm so grateful for all of your encouragement and support, and I really, really, really hope you like this newest installment in my Spellbound Hearts series!!  Please consider leaving a review so I'll know what you liked and what you thought needed improvment! ☺️  You readers are my favorite people in the whole world, and you make writing a joy.  So, thank you!! ☺️  To help show my appreciation, I've posted the first chapter of Captivated By The Winter King below.
 Have a safe and happy holiday season, everyone, and happy reading!!! ☺️
                                                                                                                      


***Trigger warning:  The following excerpt contains material that may be distubing for some readers.  If depictions of domestic abuse upset you, this may not be the story for you.


Captivated By The Winter King: Chapter One:

Rain poured from the sky making a steady drumming sound against the car. Kate listened as the patter of the raindrops harmonized with the swish-swish of the windshield wipers as they fought a valiant battle to keep the glass clear enough to see through. The white noise the combination made was a perfect accompaniment to the static that filled her mind. She wasn't sure, but she thought she might be in shock and she pondered that possibility in a desultory manner.

The air outside was hot and humid, but Kate had turned the air conditioning in the car up all the way, causing everything to feel cool and clammy. She shivered. It wasn't even the honest chill of winter, but instead a sticky, moist dankness that seemed to settle into her bones yet still left her skin and throat dry. But she was grateful that the junker of a car at least had a functioning air conditioner. Kate hated hot weather.

She had never wanted to leave the northeast to spend the winter in Florida. That was Erik's idea. Predictably, her mother had agreed with him and pressured Kate into making the trip. Agatha Graham was always in favor of anything that might move Kate and Erik closer to matrimony.

Tears filled Kate's pale gray eyes as she thought about her now ex-fiance. He was a beautiful man, who seemed to have been painted in shades of gold. Even at thirty-seven, his hair remained a lovely dark blonde. His hairline started just a few inches above his eyebrows and showed no signs of thinning. He wore his short tresses slicked back in a shiny business-appropriate style that created the illusion that he wore a golden helmet. A large man, with a powerful build, there wasn't an ounce of fat on his frame. At six foot two, his height topped even her own impressive five feet eleven inches. His eyes were a warm chocolate brown, but it had been quite some time since she had seen him look at her with anything but coldness in them.

For years, she had tried to make things work between them. Not because she loved him or thought he loved her, but because her mother was so determined to see them together. She could hear Agatha's voice in her head even now. "Smile, dear, and think about how comfortable your life will be with him. He's a good provider, and will give you a position in society. A woman can put up with a lot to gain that."

Fighting back both the moisture in her eyes and the echoes of her mother's words, Kate tried to figure out where she should go and what she was going to do for money. She would be okay for a while, her Nana had left her an inheritance when she died and Kate had kept that money safe in a bank account that Erik didn't know about. But it wouldn't be long before she would need to find a job, and she had no idea how to go about doing that.

Her mother had pushed Kate at Erik since just after she graduated from high school. Kate had managed to evade her mother's matchmaking efforts long enough to start college, but by the time she finished her Junior year the combined pressure from Erik and Agatha had convinced her to drop out of school and focus her attention on pleasing her fiance. Not that she had ever succeeded in making him happy. So, Kate never started her Senior year and had failed to earn a degree.

With no degree or work experience, she was at a loss as to how to find a job that would pay enough for her to live on. Going back to school might be an option, but she had no idea how to find out if any of the classes she had already completed could be used in a new program or how long it might take to finish a degree. Kate knew her situation wasn't unique, lots of women had been abused by their husbands or boyfriends, and most didn’t have a safety net like what her Nana left her. But she had never before realized how dependent she was on Erik and her mother.

At thirty-two years old, Kate had never lived on her own. She had never needed to find an apartment, arrange for utility services, find or hold a job, or do any of the other things most adults took for granted. Even during her brief stint in college, she had stayed close to home and lived first with her mother, and then with Erik. One of her ex-fiance's favorite things to berate her with was her utter uselessness. And, to her shame, she couldn't argue with him.

Oh, she had done charity work, served on various committees for different organizations, and decorated and kept the homes that Erik had provided for them. In short, she had spent her time doing all the things women who belonged to rich, important men did. But, as her ex-fiance was fond of pointing out to her, none of that was worth a whole lot.

In all honesty, her biggest accomplishment in life was knowing how to shop. Even her mother, ever ready to aid her only daughter with well-directed criticism, admitted that Kate always had impeccable taste and an infallible eye for aesthetics. In spite of her impossible figure, and the frizzy, orange-red hair that defied hair dye and styling products, Kate always looked well-groomed and elegant. With an uncanny nose for classic style and timeless beauty, Kate could make even flea market finds fashionable. It was that saving grace that had allowed her to decorate a man like Erik's arm for the last twelve years.

But a talent for shopping, dressing, and decorating wouldn't put money in the bank or food on her table. At least, she couldn't see how it would, and she didn't have anyone to turn to for advice. Her mother wasn't an option. Agatha had made it clear on more than one occasion that if Kate didn't make things work with Erik, she would wash her hands of her.

It had been the older woman's life-long goal to improve her position within society, and to secure one for her daughter, and she had long ago decided that marrying Kate to Erik was the way to do it. After all, Erik's family connections were beyond reproach, coming as he did from old money. And the man himself was a successful, respected attorney who was a partner in a large, prestigious law firm. He was exactly what Agatha had been training Kate to attract and marry from the time the girl was a toddler.

Her mother meant well, Kate knew that, and she did what she did out of love. But sometimes her words cut deeper than any knife could reach. Kate was never pretty enough, demure enough, or feminine enough to please her mother. She had always been tall and slender for her age, and when she hit puberty things had only gotten worse. Taller than all the girls and most of the boys in her age group, Kate had been gawky and socially awkward as a teenager. Her mother would mock her, calling her beanpole and Olive Oil when she became frustrated with her daughter's angular frame. Agatha was forever trying to get Kate to pad her clothing and had even tried to convince her daughter to have surgery to enhance her figure. But it was Kate's height that was the final straw that caused her mother to give up changing her appearance as an impossible task.

Agatha considered Kate's looks mannish and beyond redemption, so instead she channeled her energy into molding her daughter's behavior. She insisted her only child's education focus on art, music, and deportment; and refused to allow Kate to study subjects like math or science, except the bare minimum required by law. As a result, Kate's skill at balancing a checkbook was far below her ability to arrange form and color to produce a final product that was pleasing to the eye.

No, her mother would not be at all sympathetic to Kate's plight, and could not be counted upon to provide assistance. As for friends, Kate had them once, but somehow they all seemed to drift away over the years. She knew why that was, and it was her own fault for allowing it. Erik had always been jealous of Kate's time. He worked long hours under stressful conditions and expected her to always be available to cater to his needs when he wanted her. That made keeping in touch with friends almost impossible.

Of course, that suited him just fine; he'd never liked any of her friends anyway. He preferred that she spend her time at home, taking care of their apartment and making sure everything was kept the way he liked it. It had always been his argument that he was devoted to her, and so he should be enough to satisfy all her needs.

To prove his commitment, he had proposed to her in lavish style a few years into their relationship; even though they had been living together for several years. She would never forget their engagement; it had warmed her many times when the realities of their life together left her cold. On her twenty-fifth birthday, he had surprised her with a date of fairytale splendor. The evening began with him picking her up from their apartment in a horse-drawn carriage and taking her to the fanciest restaurant in town. There, he ordered Dom Perignon and beluga caviar, followed by filet mignon, grilled white asparagus, and a delicate potato mousse. He spent the entire time making her feel as if she were the only person in his universe.

They had talked for hours, and he had complimented her both on her looks and on her opinions. She had never felt as beautiful, articulate, or special as she did on that night. After dessert, he pulled a black velvet box out of his coat pocket and got down on one knee before her. Every eye in the restaurant was on them as he explained how much he loved and cherished her and that it was his greatest wish that she would allow him the privilege of doing so for the rest of their lives. Then he had opened the box and revealed a flawless, emerald-cut diamond ring. He had slipped the jewelry onto the ring finger of her left hand as she sat before him speechless. The stone had covered her entire digit to the first knuckle.

The people in the ritzy establishment had applauded and even whistled as she forced her stunned muscles to work and nodded her head in an affirmative answer to his question. He stood, pulling her up with him, and gave her the most tender and passionate kiss she had ever experienced. They rode home together in the back of a luxurious limousine, necking and carrying on like two teenagers on their way home from the prom. When they had arrived at their apartment building, he actually carried her through the front door and into the elevator.

That night he made love to her as if she were the most precious thing on earth. She actually achieved orgasm, something she had never done with him before or since. When she awoke, she was convinced she had found the Prince Charming she would spend the rest of her life with. After he had left for work that morning, she called her mother and told her all about it. Agatha, of course, had been ecstatic and had pushed for a quick wedding date. But after seven years, one had never materialized.

After that one magical night, Erik had gone back to treating her as he always had. Except that over time his barbs got a little sharper and his demeanor a little chillier. There always seemed to be some condition she needed to meet before he would agree to set a wedding date. No matter what she did, it was never good enough. She was never good enough.

She had bowed to his pressure and followed her mother's advice for years, and things just kept getting worse and worse. With her friends long-gone, it had been easy for him to convince her to give up her charity endeavors one after another. After all, if she wanted to be his wife, she would need to keep her schedule open so that she would be available to meet his needs. Anytime she left their apartment, she would first need to gain approval from him for the errand and give him a precise timetable for when she would return. This was, of course, so that he would know where to reach her if he needed her.

Then there was sex. She grimaced just thinking about it. Sex was always to be available to Erik upon demand. If she even thought about refusing or making an excuse, he would treat her coldly for days afterward and threaten to find someone else to meet his needs. It might have been bearable had she enjoyed sex with him, but after the night of their proposal he had never gone to any trouble to see to her pleasure. As a result, sex became a chore, something she needed to endure long enough for him to slake his lust on her body. Even that might not have been so bad if he had just wanted a convenient hole to pump himself into, but he began insisting on things that she didn't want to do.

It started with him getting rougher and rougher with her. If she cried out in pain, it just excited him and spurred him to hurt her more. She was afraid to find out what would happen if she complained or told him to stop. But when he suggested asking another woman to join them, she had put her foot down and refused. The result had terrified her.

That was the first time she had told him "no" in a long time. A look of maniacal fury had filled his eyes, and he flew across the room to grab her. The first blow had surprised her, but she saw it when he drew his fist back to punch her again. She had tried to raise her arms to protect herself but, for all her height, Erik was much stronger than her. He spent several minutes pummeling her, and when he let her go she fell at his feet like a rag doll, sobbing out her fear and horror.

He had stood there looking at her for a few minutes, and then stormed from the room and out of the apartment. After a while, she had collected herself and made her painful way home to her mother. Agatha had taken one look at the bruises that covered her daughter's face and made an immediate trip to the nearest high-end department store. She returned with half the store's inventory of foundation and cover-up cosmetics and proceeded to instruct Kate on how to conceal the evidence of the beating. The remaining cosmetics were gifted to Kate in case they should be needed to cover any future beatings her fiance administered. Not once had her mother entertained the suggestion that Kate should leave Erik. Her social ambitions unaffected, Agatha had insisted her daughter return to her abuser immediately.

Hurt and not knowing what else to do, Kate had complied and returned to the apartment she shared with Erik. She never asked her mother for help again. Erik had been waiting for her when she arrived home. He met her with a gorgeous bouquet of roses, an expensive diamond tennis bracelet, and a sincere-sounding apology. Begging her forgiveness, he vowed he would never lay a hand on her in anger again.

Kate knew that wasn't true. She had seen the after-school specials and knew that people who abused their partners didn't stop unless they participated in serious therapy. And even that was no guarantee. Not that she would dare suggest that Erik see a shrink, she could imagine his reaction and it sent chills down her spine. But she had nowhere else to go. Not believing him, but feeling that she had no choice, Kate had forgiven him. Of course, that was only the first of many beatings.

For a while afterward, Erik had treated her better. He seemed to make an effort to restrain his temper and had acted as though her happiness mattered to him. Things were good, for a while, and she almost convinced herself that she was wrong. For a while, she thought that maybe, just maybe, he would be the exception. That he truly was sorry and would never hit her again. For a while.

But it wasn't all that long before she said something that again made him angry. Just like all the textbooks said, a cycle of him beating her and then apologizing and promising not to do it again repeated over and over. Each iteration of the cycle had a shorter cooling-off period, the beatings coming with greater frequency. Each time he blamed stress and pressure from work, and each time she forgave him because she didn't know what else to do.

In fact, one of the reasons for their trip to Florida had been so that he would have the opportunity to relax and feel less stressed out. He had told her he needed a vacation, and that the snow and dark skies of the northeast winter made him feel anxious and depressed. Some time off and fun in the sun was all he needed, he insisted, to recharge and get a better handle on his temper.

They had been in Florida for a little over a month, and he had beaten her three times. She had achieved an almost academic detachment, and found it interesting that his apologies had changed. In the past, when he apologized he had taken the blame and promised to change. Now, he was blaming her and suggesting ways for her to change. She became pretty sure it wouldn't be long before he killed her and had found it quite difficult to muster up any concern over the matter. Until the last beating.

The two of them were staying in a small cottage on the beach. Erik loved the sand and the surf, and the sun just gave his golden skin a little darker tone. Kate had the delicate, fair complexion that matched her fiery red hair, and her skin turned a shade to rival her tresses when she spent any time in the sun.

Kate had stayed behind while Erik went out to give his new boogie board a try. Her refusal to come and cheer him on had annoyed him, and she had thought it might be a good idea to do something to mitigate his anger. It occurred to her that if she made him his favorite dinner of scallops and linguini he might be appeased enough to let her lack of enthusiasm for sun worshiping go.

Leaving him a note about where she was going, just in case it took longer than she thought it would, Kate hurried to the market. She figured a quick trip to get the supplies she would need for such a meal, and she might, with luck, be back before he realized she had left. But she hadn't accounted for southern Florida traffic.

By the time she returned, he had been waiting for her for quite some time. As she entered the kitchen to put the groceries away, she noted the stiff, still way he sat in the living room. The television was on and he appeared to be watching some kind of sports game, but his jaw was clenched tight and a tick had started at the corner of his left eye. She knew she was in trouble, but had forged ahead with making the meal. Maybe the smell of the food cooking would help him calm down.

With the garlic, scallions, and mushrooms sizzling in a skillet with butter and olive oil, she set a pot of water to boil for the pasta. The scallops themselves would cook in almost no time, and the pasta was fresh and would take only a couple of minutes. If she timed it perfectly, everything would be done at just about the same time, and would be piping hot and delicious when she served it to him.

Just as she laid the scallops in the pan, he had come up behind her. She jumped when she turned to find him there, but quickly looked away from the icy rage in his eyes. "I'm making your favorite tonight," she had mumbled. "Scallops and linguini in a cream and butter sauce. If you go sit down, it should be ready in just a few minutes and I'll bring it to you."

He had moved closer, caging her against the counter with his body, and she shrank into herself and refused to meet his gaze. He raised one hand and held it, trembling, by her face. As if he intended to cup her cheek. But she knew better.

"Where were you, Kate?" he asked, his voice shaking with suppressed fury. "You weren't here when I got back. I thought you weren't feeling well enough to go out?"

"I-I-I," she stuttered. Swallowing, she forced herself to form coherent words. "I wanted to surprise you. I thought you would like it if I made your favorite dinner."

"You know how upset it makes me when I don't know where you are, Kate. You know I worry when I don't know how to find you." The volume of his voice increased with each sentence. "You know you're supposed to ask me before you go anywhere." He was almost yelling.

Gulping, Kate pointed to where the note still sat on the counter. "I left you a note. I just wanted to do something special for you."

In two strides, he went to snatch the note off of the counter and was back, forcing her to huddle against the counter. He crushed the paper in his fist. "You're so fucking stupid, Kate! I don't want a fucking note telling me where you are! I want you to have the fucking guts to tell me yourself!" he screamed into her face.

She had grimaced at the insult and the crude language. "I know, Erik, I'm sorry," she said, trying to pacify him. "I'll try to do better." A weak smile flashed across her face and she pointed at the pan that was still on the stove. "I need to turn the scallops over now, or they'll burn. You don't want your lovely dinner to burn. Why don't you go sit down and let me bring you something nice to eat?" she pleaded.

With a roar, he had flung the hot pan and boiling water across the room. Kate had screamed and tried to duck around him to run, but he had grabbed her and slung her to the floor. He kicked her in the ribs. "You stupid, fucking, cunt!" he screamed as he dragged her up and threw her against a wall.

Her head had bounced off of the wall when she hit it, and she had seen stars. She watched as his fist descended, and she had thought that he was finally going to do it. That this was the time when he would finally kill her. She didn't remember much after that until she woke up.

It was unusual for him to knock her out when he beat her. In general, he preferred when she was aware and terrified. As a result, she was a bit disoriented when she came to. She hadn't moved at first; she had only lain there on the floor and listened. Her whole body throbbed in a symphony of pain. She had breathed through her mouth, trying not to whimper, desperate to remain still and silent.

But Erik wasn't there. As she continued to strain her ears for any hint as to his location and mood, she became aware of a rushing sound. It took her a while, but she finally figured out it was just the sound of her own blood moving through her head. It was so quiet and still, that's all there was to hear.

Kate had realized that she had an opportunity, and she needed to take it. For some reason, this beating had shaken loose the apathy that had possessed her for years. She had believed that she was going to die and had realized that she didn't want to. For the first time since the horrible nightmare began, she felt the reality of the threat Erik posed to her and she was terrified. She wasn't ready to die yet! With a new resolve, she forced herself to get up off of the floor. It involved a lot of pain and suppressed cries but, determined, she made it to her feet.

She went to the bathroom and washed the blood from her face. Her features were distorted where the contusions Erik had inflicted were already swelling. She decided just to let the wounds show. She felt broken inside, it seemed appropriate for her appearance to match. Moving to the bedroom, she had dug a large suitcase out of the back of the closet.

For years, Kate had kept this suitcase packed, and she took it with her whenever she and Erik traveled. She had never opened it before, and he had never asked her about it. A fact for which she was grateful. In the suitcase were all the clothes she still had from before she moved in with Erik. Ever since she and Erik had started living together, he had paid for all her expenses, including her clothing. But the clothes in the suitcase were hers. She supposed, on some level, she must have been planning this for a long time.

One of the things that Erik liked to threaten her with anytime he thought she might leave, was that if she took any of the things he bought for her, he would have her arrested on charges of theft. With his connections in the legal community, she had little doubt he could follow through on his threat. But the contents of the suitcase hadn't been bought by him.

She had removed her torn, bloody clothing, and changed into some of the clothes that were in the suitcase. For the first time, she was glad she hadn't gained any weight since college. Her preference for classic, timeless garments also stood her in good stead. In spite of the fact that the clothing in the suitcase was over a decade old, it fit her perfectly and wouldn't stand out if she wore it in public.

After removing the engagement ring she had worn for seven years, she had left it on the top of the bureau in the bedroom. Then she gathered up a few other personal items that hadn't been purchased by Erik and called a cab. When the taxi arrived, she had the driver take her to an ATM where she withdrew $500 of the money that her Nana had left for her. It wasn't much to start a life on, but it was too late for the banks to be open and the ATM had a limit. She figured it would be enough to pay for the cab and rent a car so she could get as far away from Erik as possible.

The driver kept throwing furtive looks in the rear view mirror at the bruises that decorated her face, but he didn't say anything as he drove her to the car rental agency. The only such business in town that was still open at that late hour had a limited selection of available vehicles. In fact, there was only one, and there was little doubt as to why that particular car had yet to be rented out.

The gentleman who waited on her apologized for the lack of quality and offered to at least have their service mechanic go over the car when he arrived in the morning. Kate had informed him that she was in a hurry and would take whatever they had. Casting a quick glance at the wounds on her face before letting his eyes slide away, the man hadn't argued.

Which was how, she reflected, she had come to be driving in the pouring rain, on a deserted country road, at night, by herself. She had been afraid to take any of the main interstate highways. Not knowing where Erik had gone or when he might return, she didn't know how much time she had before he realized she was gone. Once he did, it seemed likely he would use his connections in law enforcement to have her detained. She didn't want to risk being found.

Before leaving town, she had stopped at an all-night convenience store to fill up the car's gas tank and buy some portable food and beverages. She had also purchased a map and found the road she was currently on. In theory, it would take her all the way to Georgia. It seemed like a serviceable enough road. Her only real problem with it was that the storm and the lack of streetlights resulted in a stygian effect that created the surreal illusion that she was the only person in the world.

It was funny because she had felt that way for quite some time, but it took a drive through the dark to make her realize it. Oh, Kate had read all the books. She knew the psychological theories behind domestic abuse. She knew that being able to isolate their victims was one of the key elements that abusers depended on. The texts always made it seem so cut and dried, with clean lines and clear edges, something easily defined, identified, and avoided. But the reality wasn't that simple.

The advice was always the same: leave. But it wasn't that easy to just pick up and leave one's whole life behind; to have nowhere to go and no idea how to get started with a plan. Even now, Kate didn't have a clue where she was heading. The only thought in her head when she had left was to get away. But get away to where? At the moment, all she knew was that she was heading north. She wanted to see the snow; she was tired of hot, sticky weather.

But she knew she couldn't go home to the apartment she had shared with Erik. She couldn't even risk going back to the same town. She didn't want him to find her. Seeking help from her mother was also out of the question. So she had followed the advice that all the experts gave to domestic abuse victims, she had left. But she had nowhere to go.

There were supposed to be agencies that would help women who were fleeing from abusers, but where were they? How did one go about making contact with such an agency? Who would she even ask? She couldn't go to the police. If she did, Erik would use that to track her down.

There had been many times when Kate had listened to other women sneer that they would never allow a man to hit them. That if any man ever tried, they would leave. That any woman who put up with such behavior was a fool. She might be a fool, she had certainly been told she was often enough, but Kate also knew it wasn't that simple. Being beaten for so many years had been terrible; it had been awful to always be afraid and have to tiptoe around Erik's moods. But at least it was the devil she knew. Now she was faced with the fear of the unknown.

Even with all that, Kate knew she was lucky. She had the money Nana had left her and she didn't have any children. She couldn't even imagine trying to make this trip with kids in tow. Women who managed to escape domestic abuse with their children were amazing, and true heroes. She had no idea how they did it. That kind of strength was beyond her.

The thoughts running around and around her head were driving her crazy. It was like having a rat in her brain that was gnawing to get out, and she couldn't bear to be alone with them anymore. She reached a trembling hand out to turn on the radio, hoping for something soft and soothing. Feeling lost in the darkness, she needed a message of hope.

Instead, the station the radio was tuned to was playing something loud and jarring. Dangerous sounding. She couldn't take it, and looked away from the road to change the channel. As she fiddled with the radio trying to find music that would help calm her, she kept flicking her eyes up to keep track of where she was going.

Suddenly, a cat appeared in the cone of illumination thrown out by the headlights. Kate had barely a second to register the half-drowned animal's presence before slamming on the brakes and praying that the car would stop in time. As she skidded across the wet road, one of the car's rear tires blew and she lost control. The vehicle careened off the edge of the pavement, and down an embankment into a patch of forest along the side of the road. Kate fought for control and tried to steer enough to avoid the trees, but the momentum of the car and gravity carried her deeper and deeper into the woods.

An enormous tree loomed large right in front of her, and Kate knew she would never avoid it. She threw her arms up over her face to protect her head and braced herself for the impact and the sound of shattering glass and shearing metal. It never came. Instead, the light from the headlights seemed to be swallowed up into a well of darkness, and the car started spinning. As the vehicle spiraled faster and faster, it made Kate dizzy and disoriented her even more. Pressure built in her head, and just when she thought her eyes were going to explode out of their sockets, her world seemed to shatter and everything went dark.

Keeper’s Fate by Sabina Bundgaard




Title: Keeper’s Fate
Author: Sabina Bundgaard
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Urban fantasy/paranormal Suitable for YA/NA
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


Blurb:

I thought the worst was over after the demon had killed three other Keepers.
I was wrong.
Two of my friends are missing and rumors about the Hidden Keys of Fate are resurfacing.
When the director of Protection of the Supernaturals Police asks me to help locate one of my friends, I jump at the chance.

My name is Anna Carringthon, and I’m the Keeper of the Invicto.
I’m on my way to Egypt to change Fate.





Buy Links:




Author Bio:

Sabina Bundgaard lives in Denmark with her husband and their two children. By day she races around the countryside, delivering mail and packages to people. By night… Well, that’s a different story.
While drinking one of her many flavors of tea, she delves into the mysterious realms of her imagination. Writing about everything from Elves and Dragons to Romance and Erotica, she tries her wings to see where they will take her.
Her favorite pastime when not writing is reading, making jewelry and speaking to her friends all over the world, celebrating their victories and happy times.



Author Links: 

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Sunday, 29 November 2015

The 11th Percent (The 11th Percent Series, #1) by T.H. Morris

I enjoyed this exciting, fast-paced and original book. It brings a fresh and unique look at spirits and the afterlife.

The story is well-written, with lots of action and plenty of suspense. I was hooked from the first page.

Johan and the supporting cast were well-developed, had their own personalities, and were, for the most part, likeable. Even the unpleasant Trip, turned out not to be a villain, which I didn’t see coming!

Thanks to the descriptive and engaging writing, I felt as though I had joined Johan and his new friends in the challenging world of the 11th Percenters.

The book ended well, leaving room to continue the story, but without a cliffhanger.

Thank you to the author for gifting me an eCopy of the book.



Synopsis: 

Jonah Rowe, a bored accountant and aspiring novelist, is sick and tired of his job as an accountant. He is burnt out from all the office gossip, politics, and double talk, and he longs for his life to matter. Truth be told, Jonah wants anything besides the lame routine of coasting through his workday....only to psych himself up enough to do it all over again the next day. He only wishes that his life had some meaning.

Amidst the combination of writer's block and society's expectations to have a "real" 9-5 job, Jonah gets his wish.

His world is turned completely upside down one evening when his vision inexplicably turns blue for several moments. He then receives a warning from a spectral visitor that not only is he in danger, but everything in his life is about to change.

Overnight, Jonah transforms from an overworked, underpaid accountant to the centerpiece of a spectral battle. Will he rise to the occasion? Can he accept that everything he knows about life and death is completely wrong? And, most importantly, will he be able to comprehend and harness the power of the mysterious 11th Percent?

Follow Jonah's journey in this new breed of ghost story!


 The Author:

I'm T.H. Morris. The "TH" piece of it are the initials of my real name, while "Morris" honors my late grandmother, whose memory is the impetus of my series in many ways.

I was born in 1984 in Colerain, North Carolina, a town so small that I'm STILL surprised when I see it on the map. I've been an avid reader since I was very small, and always had partiality to tall tales, fables, fairy tales, mythologies, and later on, science fiction and paranormal.

I suppose that I've always wanted to be a writer. I've always had millions of stories in my head, but I had no earthly idea how to go about making them into books. Plus I had a lot of "well-meaning" people who attempted to beat it into my head that I needed to let go of "childish" dreams and focus on a "real" job.

But in February 2011, my mind had different plans. I had a seven-hour uninterrupted dream that I recounted to me wife the following morning. She told me, "That needs to be a book."
I started writing the next day, and The 11TH Percent Series was born! I haven't looked back!

Lifeblood by T.H. Morris



Lifeblood (The 11th Percent Series, Book 3) is LIVE!






Book 1 - The 11th Percent


Jonah Rowe, a bored accountant and aspiring novelist, is sick and tired of his job as an accountant. He is burnt out from all the office gossip, politics, and double talk, and he longs for his life to matter. Truth be told, Jonah wants anything besides the lame routine of coasting through his workday....only to psych himself up enough to do it all over again the next day. He only wishes that his life had some meaning.

Amidst the combination of writer's block and society's expectations to have a "real" 9-5 job, Jonah gets his wish.

His world is turned completely upside down one evening when his vision inexplicably turns blue for several moments. He then receives a warning from a spectral visitor that not only is he in danger, but everything in his life is about to change.

Overnight, Jonah transforms from an overworked, underpaid accountant to the centerpiece of a spectral battle. Will he rise to the occasion? Can he accept that everything he knows about life and death is completely wrong? And, most importantly, will he be able to comprehend and harness the power of the mysterious 11th Percent?

Follow Jonah's journey in this new breed of ghost story!



Book 2 - Item and Time


Jonah Rowe’s life is going great. His accounting days are behind him, he has a job in a bookstore that he looks forward to each day, and he has more allies than he can count among his fellow Eleventh Percenters.
But when a mysterious woman suddenly invades Jonah’s dreams, warning him of danger of a chronological nature, a game of cat-and-mouse ensues that will intertwine their fates.

Who is this mystery woman, and why does she believe that both she and Jonah are in danger?

Will Jonah find all the answers?
Will he be able to protect this woman and himself?
Most importantly, will he be able to do this before time runs out?


The second installment of The 11th Percent Series brings back familiar faces, while also introducing new ones.

A race against time ensues, spirits abound, and enemies appear in the unlikeliest of places as this new breed of ghost story continues!



Book 3 - Lifeblood

Jonah thought he had The 11th Percent figured out.
There was more to life than he’d thought, spirits were real, and he had access to ethereal powers. He got that.

But he hadn’t expected this. This was one threat too many. One revelation too many.

He wasn’t prepared for ethereal creatures who threatened the body and the mind.

Jonah is the only thing in the way of the town of Rome being bathed in lifeblood. And the worst part of it is that his survival hinges on his confronting the one thing he never thought he’d have to.

His past.

The new breed of ghost story continues in this multilayered book that introduces new allies, unearths old secrets, and presents fresh threats!




The 11th Percent (Book 1) and Item and Time (Book 2)
are both 99 cents from now until December 6th!

The 11th Percent:

Item and Time:


T.H. Morris Bio


I am an unabashed bibliophile, and have been my entire life. From a very, very early age, I ate up tall tales, fairy tales, Greek and Norse mythology, all types of children's fiction, and fiction I had trouble understanding because it was for people older than I was at the time. At times, it was nothing strange for me to read every day, all day.

My love for fiction spilled over into my childhood. My imagination was well stoked. To this day, I remember setting up my action figures specific ways, with explanations and background info to justify the reasoning they were positioned so. I guess even back then, you could say I was creating characters and backstory.

I think the bug to actually write a book of my own happened in the fourth grade. We had an assignment to make nine-ten page "books" which were actually pieces of notebook paper bound by construction paper and yarn. We had to read these stories to the other fourth grade class. I did that, and loved it. I loved for people to hear my words, thereby share my vision. It lit something in me, however faint it may have been at the time. But it sparked then and never left. Throughout my adolescence and years at undergrad, many ideas swirled about in my head, but none could actually be turned into full books. In 2010, I attempted to write a book, but abandoned it unfinished. In early 2011, I had an uninterrupted, seven-hour dream that I recounted to my wife after we were awake. When I was finished, she said flat-out, "That needs to be a book." So I set to work, not having a concrete, rigid plan and allowing the story to lead, guide, and sometimes, throttle me. The result was The 11th Percent. While I was in the process of writing it, it became crystal clear that that dream had no plans to be contained in one book, so what was initially The 11th Percent has become the The 11th Percent Series. I put pen to pad and let it guide me.

Creating these people and situations is one of the most wonderful things imaginable. I am in this for the long haul. I love breathing life into my creative visions, and am thrilled and excited to share those visions with all of you.

For information on anything involving my books, check me out at 



Saturday, 28 November 2015

In the Beginning (Baby Girl #1) by Elle Klass

A powerful and well written, but brief introductory novel to a series, that has left me wanting more.

The author does a great job of depicting events and settings and bringing her characters to life.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

FREE on Amazon 







Synopsis:

Follow Cleo on her epic saga which begins when she abandoned by her mom at twelve. She has no other family which she is aware of, and in order to survive she leaves her home and lives on the streets. She meets interesting characters and gets into amusing predicaments all in the name of survival, such as jumping trains, being chased through the woods by a crazy man with a loaded shotgun and witnessing an unspeakable crime. After a few months on the streets she runs into another group of kids, Einstein is the oldest and a leader in the group, and they form a family of sorts. For survival and money they lean towards a life a crime which inevitably breaks up their family and sends Cleo and Einstein spiraling into their own adventure. Eventually they settle into a “normal” life however their pasts can’t be hushed forever …


The Author:
Elle was born in Redwood City, California and spent her childhood growing in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a bachelor's degree in education. For fun she reads, spends time at the beach, travels, and enjoys time with her favorite friends, and family. She is night-owl and gets the majority of her creative writing done during the dark hours.

The Secret by Karen J. Mossman

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Pre-order The Secret by Author Karen J. Mossman.


http://amzn.to/1QxnlUx


To be published: December 1st. Genre: Romance/Suspense



Synopsis


A secret is a secret for good reason. Kerry O’Brien has a secret so terrible it burns inside her. All she wants is to be part of a normal family, but with a step father like Bill, that is impossible.

Set in the 1970s when secrets like this were only ever whispered about, Kerry somehow keeps her humour by pretending everything is fine. Then she meets biker Tommy, and he has his own secret; one that impacts on her.

Kerry’s secret becomes harder to keep and the tell-tell signs are harder to hide. Can she keep it together? Can Tommy and Kerry get it together? 

Then the worst happens and Kerry’s secret is a secret no more.




Excerpt


He laughed and it was infectious. Even grubby, my Tommy looked gorgeous.
"What are you doing?"
"Just tinkering, making sure everything is a good as it can be. I'm finishing up now."
"Don't finish on my account," I said, perching myself on a wall. "I'm happy to sit and watch you."
"You would, too," he said with a smile. He wiped his hands on the rag that was hanging out of his pocket.
Then he kick started the bike, got off again and leaned over to rev it up. I watched the way his long body stretched over the machine and the way a flick of his wrist produced such a powerful noise.
I went to put the kettle on as Tommy cleaned himself up at the sink. I was now left-handed.
"Would you like some tea?" I asked Iris and Tom who were in the back room chatting.
"Yes, thanks," she said, speaking for them both as I went back and busied myself.
"What wrong with your arm?" Tommy asked.
"Nothing, why?" I said, feeling self conscious as I reached for another couple of cups.
"You're holding it funny."
"I cracked it on the banister last night," I admitted, refusing to meet his eyes as I opened the fridge for the milk.
"What do you mean, you cracked it on the banister?"
I wasn't even going to say that, but an element of truth wouldn’t harm – maybe.
"After the adrenaline of last night, I ran up the stairs and stumbled just as I turned to go on the landing. I went to grab the rail and missed."
He just stared at me. "I wasn't going to tell you because I knew what you’d think."
"What do I think?”
“That he did it.”
“And did he?”



The Author


Karen J Mossman married the boy next door in 1980 and they went on to have 2 children, both of which were born on the same day, 2 years, 2 pounds and 2 hours apart. All of which was when they lived at house number 22. At present she lives in Manchester in the UK, but hopes to be a resident of Wales in 2016.




Other Books by Karen



Friday, 27 November 2015

Vampyr: The Complete Trilogy by K. M. McFarland

I enjoyed this somewhat steamy trilogy, and getting to know all the characters and their relationships to one another.
K. M. McFarland has taken the vampire genre and given it a new twist, giving us vampires with 'humanity' but without losing their predatory nature, and a unique take on vampire reincarnation.
My feelings towards the characters changed often, some for the better and others from like to dislike, depending on their role within the story.

As characters joined, left and reappeared, it could have got complicated and confusing, but the author kept it all straight in my mind.

My only complaint would be the occasional repetitiveness of one character explaining the past to another, but all in all, it was an entertaining and interesting read.

The author gifted an ecopy of this trilogy to me.


Synopsis

Vampires are alive and well in the Big Easy. In the modern world of forensics, technology, and security cameras everywhere, vampires are now forced to live in secret. In this new age where vampires have evolved into gentle predators mainly depending on alternative methods for acquiring blood, vampire bars have risen in popularity. Owned by a former rock star turned vampire, Quinn Forrester, Vampyr is New Orleans' most popular venue. Aside from being the French Quarter's coolest music club, it is also a secret vampire bar serving the finest quality human blood to its vampire clientele. The cryptic alley next to it seduces the most delectable humans just itching to quench a vampire's thirst. Welcome to Vampyr!

SONG OF THE VAMPIRE: In 1989, Quinn Forrester was a successful rock star living a dream with a wife, a baby daughter and a hit record. Little did he know that was all about to end the night he met Giselle, the mysterious vampire who would change his world forever. Eighteen years later, a chance meeting with Nadia, the daughter he abandoned as a baby the night he was turned, shakes his lonely, tormented world. Quinn and Nadia reconnect and bond, but Nadia’s fate is sealed. Saved by Quinn’s blood, they guide each other through the dark world they have become a part of. As they help each other battle their demons, shocking lies, secrets and deceptions are revealed culminating in the discovery of the truth about the night Quinn was turned.

UNDER A BOURBON STREET MOON: New Orleans - an enchanted city filled with legends and folklore of Voodoo, vampires, and ghosts. Tucked away in the heart of the French Quarter is a secret vampire bar masked as the coolest music club on Bourbon Street owned by the hottest vampire, Quinn Forrester. Welcome to VAMPYR. Quinn and his vampire lover, Giselle, seem to have the perfect romance, but their relationship is put to the test when a beautiful mortal woman from his past and an adorable country singer, who has just arrived from Nashville with her own connection to Quinn, enter his world. While Quinn battles his past that has suddenly come back to haunt him, Giselle must decide if love is enough to save their turbulent relationship.

MASQUERADE: Quinn has his hands full as the owner of all three vampire bars in New Orleans. As he gets closer to his new attractive young personal assistant, the successful entrepreneur also must deal with his unique blended family: a vampire daughter, a mortal daughter who sees dead people, a spiritually connected vampire ex-girlfriend who is her mentor and a deceased ex-wife that just won't stay dead. Is his mansion big enough?



The Author

K. M. McFarland made her way into this world in Nashville, Tennessee and spent most of her childhood on the Florida beaches before making her way to the Big Easy. Immediately falling in love with the city's unique cultural flavors, she calls it home. Voodoo, vampires, ghosts, and haunted houses are all a part of its ambiance and have been her inspiration as well as her fascination with New Orleans' colorful history. She has a passion for photography and loves photographing the unusual. Aside from roaming the French Quarter researching her next book, she enjoys reading, music, art and spending time with family and friends. As long as there's a cup of coffee and a glass of dry red wine in her day, life is good. Her secret ambition: to play the wicked witch of the west in "The Wizard of Oz" one day.

She loves hearing from her readers. For the latest on new releases and events, she invites all of you to visit her at her website, www.kmmcfarland.com.

ROGUE by Robin Bonzon



Title: ROGUE
Author: Robin Bonzon
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Guardian Publishing
Hosted by: 
Lady Amber's Tours


Blurb:

In a world where shape shifters have been granted limited rights as members of society, Dani takes on the role of investigator for her pack, and her first assignment threatens to bring back haunting memories. Rafe, her former mentor and the man who rejected her years ago, is leading a rebellion against the Wolf King, Mikhail, and she’s been tasked with proving his betrayal and bringing him to justice. Just thinking of Rafe brings back the heartache of the past, but she has a job to do and an important role to play, with the responsibility of protecting her pack, but at what price to herself?

Author Bio:

Robin Bonzon has been writing since she was a child, and has always been passionate about the stories in her head. She has a penchant for the Paranormal and can't resist hoping that werewolves and vampires really do exist. She lives in Dallas, TX, where she spends a great deal of her free time watching horror movies with her husband, Justin, and dancing with her very mature 1-year-old son, Tristan.

Author Links: 
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Excerpt: 


“You’ll have to do better than Chanel No. 5 and a baseball cap to disguise your beautiful face and delicious scent.” Dani jumped at the familiar voice, much too close to her ear. She cursed under her breath and spun on the barstool to glare at Rafe Winters, standing inches from her. How had she missed his approach? She should have heard or smelled him before he got close to her.

She was off her game.

Dani told herself her lack of sharpness had nothing to do with Rafe being the target of this assignment.

Her deep-seated hatred of the fellow werewolf, her former mentor, surfaced with a vengeance, and she spat words laced with venom. “It’s not Chanel, wiseass. It’s Obsession. Some men like perfume, you know.”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “So, you’re here to pick up men? Then what’s with the ball cap?”

She scowled down into her drink. “Bad hair day.”







Thursday, 26 November 2015

Spotlight on Fall of the Walker King by J.K. Norry


Author: J.K. Norry
Book: Fall of the Walker King (Walking Between Worlds, Book III)
Genre: Contemporary/Philosophical Fantasy
Release Date: December 1st, 2015


About the series




Some warriors have a special sensitivity, a rare compassion that makes them the perfect soldier for the perfect army. In life, these men and women are superlative fighters and law officers. In life, they often discover that their instinct for justice hinders or destroys their career in a sometimes imperfect army. In life, these souls are bent and broken by bureaucracy. It is not until death touches them that these unique warriors truly come alive. They become Walkers, immortal soldiers in an eternal army that wages constant war on the demons of humanity.

In the Walking Between Worlds trilogy and companion tales, the world of the Walker is finally revealed. Heroes that have lived in the shadows for thousands of years tell their stories at last, as a new story takes shape in present-day San Francisco. A new Walker is made that must undo centuries of damage as he risks everything in a desperate search for his lost love. One man must forge a path wide enough for everyone who walks between worlds, or see the way of the Walker lost forever.

The angels in heaven have capitalized on the situation rather than correct it, and the dragons in hell rule their realm with fire. Both forces stand against the Walker army as its new king is thrust into power and cast into danger time and again. From epic battles below to all-out war above, these brave patriots of the universe put everything on the line to save an unknowing world once more. If anyone can find a way, it is them . . . but time is running out, and the light is growing dim . . .


Book I - Demons & Angels

Meet the unsung heroes of the supernatural, those who walk between worlds to help humans battle their demons. This is the spellbinding tale of a special group of people whose lives were changed forever when their eyes were opened to a new reality. Watch the ordinary collide with the extraordinary to test the mettle of their souls and the power of their love.

The first book in an exciting new series, Walking Between Worlds; Book I: Demons & Angels introduces us to a new way of looking at both the natural and the supernatural worlds. Join Paul Stone and Kris Reed as they walk between worlds in search of answers and themselves.





Book II - Rise of the Walker King

Step once again into the lives of Walker Paul and his trusted Guide Kris as they delve deeper into the meaning of walking between worlds and battling people's demons.

Walking Between Worlds; Book II: Rise of the Walker King continues the exciting saga begun in Book I. Now that the king has risen to power, he must look within and without for answers to save both himself and the Walker's world.

With friendly devils and murderous angels, dragons that belch flames and demons that run like a river, this philosophical fantasy will delight the adventurous spirit that walks between worlds in all of us.





Book III - Fall of the Walker King

Walking Between Worlds, Book III: Fall of the Walker King brings the Walking Between Worlds trilogy to a breathtaking and explosive conclusion. Walk alongside characters old and new as they navigate Hellish realms where blood rains from the sky, and Heavenly worlds that would imprison or destroy their very souls.

As war looms above and violence simmers below, a dark danger is lurking between worlds that threatens every realm. A new Walker struggles to fulfill his destiny while the old fight for their very lives. With the fate of all the worlds in the balance, a new way must form to take the place of the old as everything falls away. Yet it must be enough, and it must come in time . . .







Jay Norry Bio

Jay Norry is the author of Stumbling Backasswards into the Light, a spiritual autobiographical novel set in the mountains of the Puget Sound, and Walking Between Worlds (as J.K. Norry), a fantasy series set in San Francisco. He is the owner of Sudden Insight Publishing, an indie publishing company he founded in 2014 as a venue in which to publish his books. In 2016, Jay will join the Underground Book Reviews (www.undergroundbookreviews.org) team as a monthly columnist (Norry's Toolbox) and indie book reviewer.

Currently Jay resides in Northern California with his girlfriend/Girl Friday, Dawn, and their dogs, Mammoth & Ximena. When he's not busy writing, Jay enjoys wine tasting, gardening, coming up with new DIY projects, and fixing things around the house MacGyver-style.

Jay's books are published by Sudden Insight Publishing (www.suddeninsightpublishing.com)

Read his blog on spirituality, writing, and life in general at blog.jaynorry.com


Connect with Jay/J.K. Norry



Sign up for Jay’s monthly newsletter, and get the first Walking Between Worlds companion story for FREE! 



Fall of the Walker King (Walking Between Worlds, Book III)
by J.K. Norry


CHAPTER ONE

William stood at the center of the Heavenly space, his head bowed and his gloved hands clasped before him. He had heard of the Walker Council, of course, but he had never had occasion to stand before them. He had also never imagined that meeting them one day would mean standing trial before them on that day.
He wore his custom spelled armor, yet he felt completely vulnerable. He could call upon his key or his weapon with a thought, yet he felt completely defenseless. Paul had told him a little about the council, that an ancient angel with dark skin seemed their best chance at an ally. Yet when William looked upon the first eight unfamiliar faces, he saw nothing but a bunch of stern and ugly old white guys.
The ninth face was old and ugly and white as well, but it was not unfamiliar. Andre had somehow transmuted from Watcher to angel without a break in consciousness. William wondered if making the rules and breaking them whenever you wanted was the best way to run a governing body. It certainly didn’t seem to be the way angels should behave.
“We can read your thoughts, Walker.” One of the round-faced, mostly bald men spoke venomously.
‘But are you listening?’ The Walker thought forcefully.
There was a sly smile on one face at that, and William saw friendly laughter behind the angel’s eyes. He spoke next.
“We do not take action lightly or often, Walker,” he said kindly. “The criticism we receive for our policy of non-interference is rivaled only by the criticism we receive on the rare occasion that we do interfere.”
“My criticism never falls on anyone with the courage to stay their path or keep their word,” William replied calmly. “There is no honor in breaking one’s own code.”
The angel seemed unperturbed, but he also seemed the only one.
“I can see why the Walker King chose you,” he smiled.
“Calling himself a king does not make a man a king,” another angel spat bitterly. “There has not been a Walker King for a great long time, and if Walker Paul was the great Stone Walker, he failed to fulfill his own grand prophecy.”
“We found Walker Paul’s soul, then?” Then angel with the mirthful eyes turned in his seat to address the speaker.
“Of course not,” the speaker crossed his arms and frowned. “He was destroyed by dragon fire, along with Ximena.”
“You’re sure about that?” The smiling angel was clearly amused with the exchange.
“Of course,” he replied tartly. The other angel was clearly not amused. “We would have found them by now.”
“Did we not seal up the realms in between?” His dark luminous eyes twinkled mischievously, and he looked pointedly at William.
“Is this conversation appropriate during this trial?” Andre spoke up, leaning forward and trying to catch someone’s eye.
“You were told not to speak,” the angel’s merry eyes went cold. “You are too close to this matter, and too new to the Council.”
Andre settled back in his chair and folded his arms sullenly.
“And yet you have a point, Angel Andre.” The two angels were clearly battling for control. Now the dour one was smiling, thin-lipped and humorless. “Walker William is on trial.”
“Can we all just stop using that word?” The jovial angel spread his hands. “We already know the outcome of these proceedings. The only three responsible for the destruction of souls seem to have been destroyed completely themselves. Walker William will not be dehumanized, or punished in any other way. In fact, we-“
“Enough!” The dour angel slammed his soft fist into the soft woven light that made every inanimate shape in the room. “If you suspect that they have not been destroyed, you should not speak so blithely about it.”
“Very well.” The angel with the easy smile folded his hands calmly before him. “I will admit that the evidence points to Ximena and the Walker King being destroyed.”
His dour face was turning red now. “And I am happy to get on with our business with Walker William if you will please stop calling that miscreant a king.”
Walker William cleared his throat.
“I destroyed a soul,” he pointed out. “I killed a dragon.”
“No you didn’t,” Andre sneered. “Walker Paul killed that dragon after it gutted you.”
The dour angel shot Andre an irritated glance.
“Besides-” he began.
“Andre destroyed a soul,” William said calmly, holding the accused’s gaze. “He murdered Mason.”
“As I was saying,” the unhappy angel’s icy tone cut in, “even if you had killed a dragon, it would have been because you were following orders. That guilt would fall on Walker Paul, as Andre’s guilt transfers to the Dragon Queen.”
The more pleasant speaker cut in again.
“Now on to more pleasant matters,” he said. “Walker William, you no doubt remember Walker John?”
“Of course.” William nodded tersely. He saw no need to share his assessment of the man. In getting to know other Walkers, he had learned that the appointed leader had struggled with what little authority he had had. On the other hand, nearly every Walker had treated the self-proclaimed Walker King with a respect that bordered on reverence. He looked from one self-righteous glowing face to the next, thinking how impossible it would be to explain what they did not wish to understand.
The jovial angel was looking less than jovial, and William tried to quiet his whirling mind.
“We are prepared to offer you the position vacated by Walker John,” the dour angel said. “You seem to be someone the Walkers are willing to listen to and able to follow.”
“They followed me when I followed the Walker King,” William cut in. “Why would they follow me if I become your stooge?”
“Just because we can read your thoughts does not mean you need to express them all with such brash disdain,” the happy angel didn’t look happy at all as he spoke. “Surely you can step back far enough from your imbalanced emotional state to see that we are all just trying to make the best of a bad situation.”
William took a deep breath and did not voice his next several thoughts.
“What if I refuse?” he asked.
“Then you will be dehumanized.” The dour angel seemed pleased at the prospect. “Your memories of your life as a Walker will be erased and you will live out your mortal life as a normal man.”
William felt his eyes go wide. “My memories will be taken?”
“It’s a new policy,” the dour angel said dismissively.
Andre looked left and right, then decided to venture a comment.
“Also,” he said, “your Guide and your Watcher will be relieved of duty and released from their consciousness to properly pursue their after-earth life.”
The Walker did not like to make decisions based on the feeling that he had no other choice. He thought of the men and women he had fought beside and loved; the Walkers he had trained, and the Guide whose touch made his heart sing. William knew he could not allow himself to be swayed by anger, but what about love?
“Walker William.” The angel’s smile was lighting his features again. “If I may . . . what would Walker Paul want you to do?”
The fluidity within him turned to stone. “What are my duties as a servant to this council?”
“As leader of the Walkers,” the angel’s smile was unperturbed, “you will assist in training new Walkers, you will find new Walkers to replace those we have lost and you will explain the new rules to all of the Walkers. Furthermore, you will assist in rehumanizing the Walkers we have deemed no longer fit for service and finding suitable replacements for them as well.”
“You will also report to the Council daily,” the unhappy angel added with a wry smile.
“Daily?” William frowned.
“We have seen what a Walker can do in a day,” he shot back. “You will report daily.”
The happy angel sighed, allowing his practiced look of infinite patience to fray.
“For now,” he amended.
William addressed him. “What are the new rules?” He wished he had paid attention when the trial had begun; William had assumed that none of this would matter by the time they had tried him, and had not paid attention to their introductions. He didn’t remember any of their names.
“Walkers are once again forbidden from interacting with each other,” he began, then his smile broadened. “Stephan, Walker. My name is Stephan.”
“My job would be a lot easier if I could let Walkers work together, Stephan.” William tried to hide his irritation at feeling so violated.
“The walls between worlds have become dangerously thin due to recent events.” The dour angel refused to be left out of the conversation. “One of those events was the gathering of a Walker army; another was excessive walking between worlds, including unauthorized entry to above and below; still another was the destruction of souls and the misplacement of millions of demons. Every dire consequence the Council is now dealing with would have been prevented by keeping Walkers from gathering. Only the Walker Leader may interact with other Walkers.”
“And only on official Walker business,” Stephan tried to lighten the blow by smiling. It didn’t help.
“Walker movement is restricted as well,” the other angel went on. “Walkers shall not go above or below the seven layers of reality that make up the Earth dimension.”
William narrowed his eyes. “I don’t even know what that means.”
“Ask your Guide,” Stephan responded. “And let all of the Walkers know: we will be keeping an eye on them, particularly the surviving members of the army.”
“Violations will not be tolerated,” added the dour angel, “and punishment will not be lenient.”
“No need to threaten those who have not yet committed any transgression.” Stephan waved his hand in William’s general direction, and something took shape in his hand. “Take that scroll to the new Queen of Hell. We have not been able to establish a clear line of communication with her as of yet, but she is bound by law to update your key to match your new position.”
William frowned. “By what law?”
The dour angel leaned forward and narrowed his eyes hatefully at the Walker. “By highest law. By Council law.”
“And what if she kills me?”
Stephan shook his head. “It is highly doubtful. We would be obligated by law to bring her to justice.”
William almost laughed. “And who would take her place?”
Now the dour angel looked downright pleased with himself. “The Council would act as Hell’s governing body until Creator appoints a replacement.”