Late yesterday (by Pacific time standards anyway) Liquid Silver Books released Where There’s Smoke, Book Three of the Phoenix Prophecy. I’ve been begged by many a fan and reader to give them more M/M stories. I understand there is a large community of readers who adore these books. But, you know me, I march to my own drummer so I can’t always write these stories. I write what my head dictates I should write, het or gay.
I am hoping that everyone loves Zander and Voth. This is an action book almost opposite in nature to Rousing Caine. In Caine, it’s all about what’s happening inside Jason and all about Caine’s emotions. In Smoke, it’s all about the action. My heroes are on a mission and there are those who try to stop them. There’s an out and out battle with cobra shifters where the heroes are greatly outnumbered. In this book, it’s the action that lends poignancy to the emotional moments.
If you would like to win a copy of Where There’s Smoke and other books in the Phoenix trilogy, (Deeper Than the Ocean by Dee Carney and Playing Wolf by Mina Carter) head on over to Liquid Silver’s SEx Blog and comment on my post about my first release with this publisher. You have until about 7 am Monday morning to do this.
Here’s the info on Where There’s Smoke. I hope you enjoy it!
Where There’s Smoke, Book Three of the Phoenix Prophecy
Molten Silver Title
A murderous father. A son with a price on his head. Zander’s year-long affair with a mysterious woman ends when she tells him that her abusive mate is the father he’s never known. The woman, a prophesy-dreaming immortal known as the Phoenix, explains that Zander has three brothers and that his father killed their mothers. Now, the Phoenix has dreamt of her mate’s death and Zander’s destiny. Voth is the Phoenix’s successor and Zander’s true mate. The two set out to find Zander’s brothers while eluding the assassins sent after them by Zander’s father. Passion burns hot between them, sealing their fate, as their journey leads them to fulfill the Phoenix’s prophecy
Zander followed Nix to the fire pit where the flames rose a bit higher than they should have for an ordinary fire. They swelled when Nix came closer, and he realized they were responding to the presence of the Phoenix. A draft of cold air brushed his face, and he looked up, his eyes tracking the movements of the pale brown bird with the long tail as it circled the campsite.
“Why are we here, Nix?” he asked quietly.
Seating herself on a smooth boulder, she looked at him across the width of the fire pit. “Because it’s time for you to know the truth and meet your destiny. Your path no longer lies with mine,” she said simply.
Anger poured through him in a rush and heated his cheekbones. Silently, he cursed his pale skin and hair. “I hate it when you go all phoenix on me. What truth and what destiny?” He stomped closer to the fire pit, and the flames leapt higher. The bird circling above swooped lower.
“My mate is your father, the demi-god Ancelin.”
Nix’s words hit him like bullets, and he recoiled, taking several steps back from her. Cold air swirled around him and the brown bird dove toward the fire pit, the long tail brushing his cheek. As the bird entered the flames, a small explosion occurred, and the flames swelled higher, out of control for a split second. Then they calmed, burning with an eerie glow Zander had never seen before.
“So you’re my step-mother.” Zander’s jaw clenched.
At first, he wasn’t sure what to make of Nix’s confession. He’d always known his father was an asshole. What decent man seduced a presumably innocent girl then abandoned her once she was pregnant with his child? It didn’t matter that Zander’s mother had used her more-than-considerable shape-shifting powers as well as her magic to deceive his father into thinking her innocent. To Zander’s knowledge, his mother had never had a chance to show his father her true face. The man had simply appeared every night for a week, got his rocks off, and then bailed.
Nix grimaced. “I dislike that term. It implies I’ve treated you in a motherly fashion as befits the wife of your father. My position with regard to your father is tenuous at best. When I mated Ancelin, I thought he would be faithful to me and treat our bonding as sacred. I thought he respected and cared for me a little. I suppose I was naïve, because I was wrong on all counts.” She shrugged, her slender shoulders rising and falling gracefully. “It doesn’t matter now. Ancelin’s fate has been decreed. The Phoenix has spoken to him in his dreams. He lives on borrowed time.”
Zander pondered her words. He had spent the past year since his mother’s death searching for his father. Almost the entire time he’d been searching, the answers had lain in his arms. He’d been fucking Nix for a year, and she’d never told him the truth. Fury lashed him, but he tamped it down. After all these months, he knew a little something about Nix. She had reasons for her silence. Apparently, the time had come to find out those reasons.
“So my father mated you and then cheated on you. Now, he’s dreamed of the Phoenix and knows his death is coming, is that correct?” he asked, drawing the words out slowly and thoughtfully.
“Yes, but there is more,” Nix replied.
The cool tone of her voice told Zander she held her emotions on a very tight rein. She sat as if relaxed, but her pose didn’t fool him. A maelstrom of emotions rode her hard. He walked around the fire pit and sat on a rock near her, looking into her turquoise eyes.
“Tell me,” he whispered, his mind racing. So far, her revelations had been only a little shocking. Whatever else she told him couldn’t be nearly so surprising.
A flicker of anguish registered on her face momentarily. If Zander hadn’t been watching her closely, hadn’t known her so well, he wouldn’t have noticed that spasm of emotion at all. “Your mother was not the only girl Ancelin seduced after he mated me.”
Nix hung her head in a shamed manner, almost as if her mate’s acts of infidelity had somehow been her fault. Zander’s eyes narrowed. Why the hell would she feel responsible for what that bastard had done? Had she rejected him, leaving him to seek pleasure with another?
Her head shot up, her eyes flashing fire. “Of course not!” she exclaimed. “In the beginning, I loved him. Until he betrayed me with your mother. Even then I forgave him and welcomed him to my bed. But he didn’t want me. He spurned me yet again and left to seduce another. When his seed took root, he left her and took another lover. He stayed away until he had impregnated her as well. Only then did he return to me, bragging of the fertility of these women.”
Nix’s long, slender fingers stroked her flat abdomen. “The Phoenix sometimes cannot procreate. There is always another waiting in the wings should this be so. I have no children, therefore, my successor has been chosen,” she murmured almost to herself.
The flames in the fire pit swelled once more, and Zander frowned at them wondering if Nix controlled them. He knew she had the ability. Every phoenix controlled fire. It was as if they were fire.
“So you’re telling me I have siblings. Brothers? Sisters?”
“Brothers,” she whispered, her eyes closing for a split second.
His mind tried to sort out her confessions. Three women, three sons. One prophecy. Leapfrogging from one set of ideas to another, a sickening truth occurred to him, and his eyes widened.
“Fuck me,” he breathed. “Did my father kill my mother?”
Nix bit her lip, then she nodded. “The prophecy said that three hands reached for his throat. He took that to mean that each of the women who bore him sons would try to kill him. So he killed them first.”
A fury greater than any he had ever experienced began to grow inside him. “You knew I’d been searching for my mother’s killer, yet you kept this to yourself.” The flat tone of his words conveyed absolutely no emotion. He knew it would tell Nix just how angry he really was. “Why would he kill the women? Why wouldn’t he think it was his sons after him?”
With a sigh, Nix stood and paced around the fire pit. “Your father easily believes women will betray him. In your mother’s case, she truly did, although not out of maliciousness. When he discovered the truth of who she was, her days were numbered despite the prophecy, Zander. Your father does not take betrayal well.”
Irony rode her expression as she paused in her pacing. “He must always control everything and everyone around him. Betraying him in any way is a death sentence.” She shook her head a little, her long ponytail swaying. “He has no trust in women so his first thought after the prophecy came to him was that I arranged for it because of his infidelity. His second thought was that I would use the three women who bore him sons as the instrument of his death.”
“He doesn’t have much imagination, does he?” Zander muttered sourly. The whole story left a bitter taste in his mouth. He knew what his mother had done in order to have him and had wondered if her deception had brought about her death.
A soft bark of laughter escaped Nix. The rusty sound told him that her amusement wasn’t the pleasant kind.
“Once he killed the three women, the prophecy came to him again. It was then that he began to seek out his sons. Even if he knew the truth, you and your brothers would not be safe.” She waved her hand toward him, and his skin burned with power where her mark lay. “The truth is that your father has four sons not three. One woman bore twins. You have three brothers, Zander. Already there is a connection between you in part because of Ancelin’s blood and in part because you all bear the mark of the Phoenix. I am not sure if your brothers feel this connection, but I know that you do. You have dreamt of them.”
Zander sucked in a breath. Over the past six months he’d had dreams of a merman and two werewolves. Men who also bore the mark of the Phoenix on their bodies, but in different places. The werewolves were marked on the opposite sides of their chests. The merman was marked on a bicep. His own mark was more personal, caressing the skin at the side of his throat. His gaze caught and held Nix’s.
“You marked us.”
She nodded. “The night your father had the Phoenix prophecy. The marks help protect you from him.”
“He wants to kill us.”
Again, she nodded. “I marked each of you more than a year ago. Your brother Danyl’s mark did not physically appear until I met him and touched the spot where I knew the mark lay. Your brothers, Jayce and Ryder, had their marks appear when Ancelin tried to kill them.”
Zander narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. “Mine appeared the first time I made love to you. I thought you did it,” he murmured.
Nix smiled. “I did. But not then.” She sat on the rock beside him. “After Ancelin killed the three women who’d borne him sons, the prophecy again came to him as he slept. Once more, it told him of three hands reaching for his throat, that his death drew near. So he knew he had not stopped anything by killing those women. That is when he decided to kill his sons.”
“Why are you telling me now? Why didn’t you tell me when I met you for the first time?” Zander’s head ached from the info dump. He’d fantasized of taking Nix from her abusive mate and keeping her for his own. Now, he knew it would never happen. Best a demi-god and take the man’s mate? No way. Zander had a lot of gall, but tempered it with the wisdom to know when he faced a losing battle.
“It will never happen, not because you cannot best your father, but because I am not destined to be yours, Zander,” Nix said with quiet emphasis. “Your mate is another.”
Zander’s breath hissed in sharply. Her tone conveyed a gravity that spoke to him of prophecy. Yet, the Phoenix had never come to his dreams.
She smiled at him, the corners of her bowed mouth curved upward with a spark of amusement. “I came to you in person, Zander, because a prophecy came to my dreams. The Phoenix is your destiny, your mate, but I am not.”
He hadn’t thought she could surprise him any more than she already had, but her words stunned him. Shaking his head as if to clear it, Zander deliberately caught her gaze with his and held it.
“How can that be, Nix? You are the Phoenix.” He kept his voice pitched low, hoping it didn’t give away the turmoil within him.
“But Zander, did I not say that the Phoenix has come to my dreams? It has foreseen my death. The one who takes my place is your mate.”
The soft cadence of her voice washed over him, and he shuddered. The finality, the surety in her words rocked his world. Nix was going to die. The reality of it made his chest ache. His lungs burned with every breath he took. His father would bring about her death. Every cell in his body knew it, and his hatred for the man who gave him life flared anew.
“I cannot deny your reasoning, Zander. Ancelin does figure into my end.” Her smile gentled as she shifted on the rock, leaning forward slightly as she spoke. “We are all part of a larger destiny, you know. Every life is entwined with another, affects others. Each act of destiny affects many. The universe is much more than the sea and shore before you. Beneath the waves lie things you have never seen, and beyond the stars lie things you cannot comprehend. Each thing is a piece of the puzzle that knits together the fabric of this universe and beyond. What your eyes see is a miniscule part. What your heart feels is a much larger, grander portion. What your soul knows is infinite.”
Zander clamped down on the urge to tell her being cryptic and going phoenix on him wouldn’t stop him from trying to prevent her death. Instead, he focused on the words that had the potential to fuck with his carefully balanced existence.
“Since you know who my mate is, why don’t you clue me in?” He tried to keep his words from sounding edgy with the sense of betrayal that had crept into his emotions.
The fire glowed brighter, and the flames rose impossibly high. Zander suddenly wondered why the nondescript brown bird he’d seen earlier had done a kamikaze into the fire. Realization sparked inside him, and his eyes went from Nix to the strange glow in the fire. The outline of the bird appeared and morphed into the shape of a person. A man stepped from the flames.