Phoenix Contest!

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

Buy Link

Blurb:

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

Excerpt:

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.

Can Vampires Be Gay?

This is an outtake from the Bar story. I also posted it on Sunlight Sucks awhile back because the story was inspired by the true story of a blogger, Miss Britt, and her son. With Halloween soon upon us, I thought I’d post some excerpts of my vampire characters over the next ten days. Just so you know, this is told from the POV of the character whose name I stole and some of the other characters in this outtake belong to the other Bar writers even though this post is wholly my creation. Enjoy!

Mama, What’s A Fag?

Lex walked into the living room to find her eldest son staring at CNN. For a moment, she wondered when he had become like his godfather Stein. Then she realized he was frowning. Aric never frowned. Well, except for when he was pretending to be his Uncle Lucius. Usually, Aric was a very content little boy, if slightly serious. His younger brother Ahren was bright and amusing, the fun guy, very much his father’s son. Aric was more like his mother and uncle, which of course made him the apple of his grandmother Maddy’s eye.

“Aric? What’s wrong?” Lex asked as she sat down on the sofa beside her 8 year old son.

Aric looked at her with those steel blue Kohl eyes, so like his father’s, and those of his Uncle Lucius, cousins Johann and Sascha, and his grandfather Konrad. The puzzlement Lex saw in those blue depths made her realize something really was wrong. She reached out and gave Aric a quick hug.

“You know you can tell me and your father anything. Did something happen at school today? Or at Mary’s?” she asked gently, trying to get to the bottom of the odd expression in her son’s eyes.

“At school,” he finally said, his voice low and filled with confusion. “Someone told my friend Mark that he was gay. We didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded bad. When we went to Mary’s after school, Ahren and I asked Jason what it meant. Jason said it was a mean thing to say to someone. Then Jack said at least the kid didn’t call Mark a fag.”

Aric looked up at his mother with worried blue eyes. “Why are kids mean, Mom? And what is a fag?”

Lex’s heart turned over in her chest. No one had called her sons names, but both boys were inherently good children who didn’t understand why anyone would be mean to another. She bit back a sigh and drew Aric into the curve of her arm. She glanced up and saw her husband and bloodmate Alaric standing in the doorway with his brother Lucius and cousin Griffin. All three men looked like they wanted to hit someone. She shook her head slightly at them, then turned her attention back to Aric.

“Aric, remember how we had that talk about how some girls like to kiss girls and some men like to kiss men,” she began cautiously, hoping she was doing this right.

Aric nodded. “Ahren and I thought it was a little weird. I mean, we don’t want to kiss boys.” He wrinkled his nose then. “We don’t want to kiss girls either though. It’s okay when you kiss us or when Dad does or Grandma Maddy. We kinda expect our family to hug and kiss us.”

Lex turned slightly as a warm body wriggled onto the couch and into her other arm. She looked down into a pair of electric blue eyes very like Alaric’s. Ahren grinned up at her and leaned against her breast, his gap toothed six year old smile showing the buds of his fangs.

“I like it when Aunt Opal hugs me,” he told his mother with an emphatic nod. “She smells nice.”

Lex looked over Ahren’s head at Lucius, who was grinning. “You’re definitely one of your Aunt Opal’s favorite nephews,” Lex told him with a smile. “I know for a fact that your Uncle Lucius likes it when she hugs him.”

“She hugs him all the time.” Ahren made a face that was definitely a grimace.

“That’s what I mean, Mom,” Aric cut in. “When we grow up we want to be like you and Dad and Uncle Lucius and Aunt Opal. We don’t want to kiss boys.”

Lex frowned. Had the boys gotten the idea that kissing someone of the same sex was bad? The very idea horrified her. There were a lot of things she would tolerate in her children, but intolerance wasn’t one of them.

“Even though you don’t want to, it would be okay with your father and I if you did want to, Aric. Not everyone thinks like we do,” she stated cautiously. “When Jack said that it was a good thing that the boy at school hadn’t called Mark a … a … fag…” Lex stumbled over the word, her face a mask of distaste, “… he meant that at least the boy hadn’t been more mean to Mark.”

“But what is a fag, Mama?” Ahren asked, his pale face scrunched up in a look of puzzlement.

Lex glanced at the adult men in her life. Alaric looked pissed. Lucius didn’t look much different. It was Griffin whose dark eyes held an expression of deep empathy that made Lex realize he truly understood how she felt about her children being exposed to such cruel words.

She opened her mouth to explain to the boys, but stopped as Griffin came into the room and knelt before the couch. His dark eyes went from Aric to Ahren.

“The word fag is said by ignorant people,” he began. “Mean people who don’t understand that there are many different ways to love. They don’t understand, so they make fun of it and say cruel things. People who are gay love people of the same sex. The boy who called Mark gay was using the word like a curse word, in a mean way. Fag is a cruel name for men who are gay, men who love men.”

“Can vampires be gay?” Ahren asked cautiously. He was obviously thinking hard about everything that had been said.

“Our world has few restrictions, Ahren,” Griffin replied. “In the Otherworld, if you can dream it, you can be it.” He made a face then. “Apologies to Rocky Horror, but if the words fit…” He shrugged. “The point is, boys, that ANYONE can be gay. No one asks to be. They just are. The same as mean people. We don’t know why people are mean… they just are.”

Aric and Ahren looked at each other, and then at their father’s cousin. “We don’t like mean people,” Aric said solemnly.

His brother nodded. “We won’t ever use those words, Uncle Griffin,” Ahren promised.

“Maybe we don’t want to kiss boys, but we understand that just because we don’t want to do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong,” Aric stated, his words slow and thoughtful.

“Love is a good thing,” Lex told them, her throat tight with suppressed tears. “Don’t ever think that it’s not. When someone loves you, you are blessed, whether that person is a boy like you or a girl.”

Now, Lucius came into the room and sat on the arm of the couch beside Aric. “This is like the discussion we had about whether vampires are better than dragons,” he told the boys. “No one is better than anyone else. We are all just different from each other.”

“And sometimes we can’t help who our hearts decide to love,” Alaric said as he sat down on the couch beside Ahren. His long arm stretched out to brush back a stray curl from the side of Lex’s face. The love on his face for his bloodmate and his children was palpable.

“Ugh. You’re not gonna tell the story about how your heart decided to love Mom, are you?” Ahren groaned.

Aric made a little sound and frowned at his brother. “It’s okay when they tell that story. It just means they love us,” he said chidingly to Ahren.

“It means they love each other. That’s okay, but man, we’ve heard that story a million times already,” Ahren complained.

“You’re very lucky to have a family that loves you,” Griffin told them. “Maybe the reason that boy was so mean to Mark is because at home, no one loves him unconditionally, the way your family loves you.”

Aric and Ahren exchanged another look. “We have each other,” Aric told Griffin. “That kid doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. Maybe that’s why he’s mean.”

“Maybe one day someone will love him and he will stop being mean,” Ahren said.

“I feel sorry for him now, even though he was mean.” Aric and Ahren both nodded and the adults heaved sighs of relief as the moment passed.

“Do you think Gerda made cookies?” Ahren asked his mother.

Before Lex could answer, Griffin rose to his feet and held his hands out to the boys. “I bet she did. Let’s go see.”

As the three of them left the room, Griffin was heard to say, “Did I ever tell you about the time your Grandma Maddy tried to make me eat an entire plate of Gerda’s cookies with milk?”

“That was when she thought you were Uncle Lucius’ son!” Ahren piped up, his voice full of laughter.

“But Aunt Carlisle gave you her Chivas instead of the milk, right?” Aric asked, his own laughter joining his brother’s.

Lex looked at her husband and then at her brother-in-law. “This family really is blessed, isn’t it?” she murmured.

“We weren’t always, but apparently, we are now,” Lucius admitted.

“We’re a fucking miracle, Angel. That’s what this family is,” Alaric chuckled. “Another crisis averted.”

“It’s too bad we can’t eradicate the hate in this world as easily as we’ve all managed to find love in this family,” Lex murmured, leaning into Alaric’s embrace.

The Kohl brothers burst into laughter. “I don’t think our roads to love were very easy, Angel,” Alaric told her. “Luc and I both are just damned lucky. Our boys will be too. They have a loving family who teaches them that some of the most important things in life are love and tolerance.”

Lucius stood up. “We better hurry or Griffin and the boys will eat all the cookies,” he grinned.
As the three of them walked toward the kitchen, Lex said, “This family is the most tolerant I know. Look how they put up with Big Al the Drunkard and Luc the Procrastinator for so many years.”

Lucius looked at his brother Alaric over Lex’s head. “For that, I think we are owed her share of the cookies.”

A gurgle of laughter escape Lex. “Not if I beat you to them!”

The tiny petite Lex bolted for the kitchen, leaving the men in her family scrambling to catch up to her. The sound of laughter and love rang out in the big white house where love reigned supreme.

Hope you enjoyed this story!

Black Angel

Well, I did it. I killed off Macaire the Fallen Angel. Those of you who read my earlier post about Macaire know this wasn’t an easy thing to do. Originally, Macaire was supposed to be redeemed at the end of this part of his story. However, in my head, I visualized Macaire as Heath Ledger. When Heath died, it became increasingly difficult to write Macaire. That’s when I knew I had to kill off the character.

Writing Macaire’s death should have been easy. I’d been steadily making him more unhinged and evil from the time Heath died, with the idea that it would be simpler to off a really bad guy. I mean, killing Onyx the evil black dragon was a piece of cake. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way you want them to. Macaire was always essentially a good guy, so in the end his death wasn’t the happy event Onyx’s was. It was just tragic.

Here’s some background for you and then I’ll give you the actual post where Macaire dies. Macaire is after Nyx McClaren. Nyx is a water fairy who is bonded to her mate, a silver dragon named Valerian Kronos. Nyx is also a legendary spy called The McClaren. The McClaren is protected by an ancient being, a guardian called an Am-feare fair. Alfred is Nyx’s Am-feare fair and he usually looks like Batman’s Alfred, a white haired old man. The other characters in this post include Sterling and Mal, both of whom are new Fallen Angels, who were set the task of keeping an eye on Valerian, Nyx, and Macaire. Their boss is Elysia, who is in charge of the angels. Her boss is Marius, the Archangel. Elysia’s two sisters, Venetia and Althea are also angels. The song that accompanies the post is by The Cult and it really fits this post well, so make sure you play it. And now, here’s the death of Macaire:

Black Angel

My Rhapsody Playlist

Sometimes being Marius’ right hand sucked ass. Elysia paced her office as she thought, trying to come up with a way to solve all the things that had gone wrong so quickly. Althea was falling in love with Lorenzo Moretti. She should be pulled off of the blue dragon prodigy case, but now that the blues knew there was danger, Elysia wouldn’t be able to place someone else that close to them. For now, to protect the prodigy, Althea had to stay with Lorenzo despite how much it went against the grain with Elysia.

Venetia had her hands full containing the mess that was Ogilvie’s death. Elysia knew she would take a considerable amount of heat from Marius over it too. Originally, Macaire’s assignment was to protect Ogilvie. It had been a long term assignment, something Elysia had never liked, but Marius had strangely insisted on. In fact, Marius had been reluctant for some time to rein in Macaire, something that made Elysia very edgy.

Now, the whole situation with Macaire was blowing up with no one experienced on hand to contain it. Sure, Sterling was ex-CIA, but she was a new angel and Mal was just a baby despite the sexual feelings he already had for his partner. Macaire was rogue and dangerous. He’d killed the man he was supposed to be protecting, just to cause a diversion that would keep Venetia tied up for hours. Now, he was intent on killing his sister and her new husband. On top of that, he had no qualms about taking out an ancient being, the Am-feare fair. Neither Elysia nor Marius knew whether the Am-feare fair would be able to protect the McClaren from Macaire. Neither of them knew whether Oberon’s Ogham rings would protect the couple. The situation was fraught with a host of unknowns and Elysia had no help.

It had been years since she’d been in the field. Not since Althea had become strong enough to handle a job on her own had Elysia actually worked a job herself. This time, she had no choice. Not only was she the only angel available, she was the only one stronger than Macaire. As she transported herself to the dock, she wondered if that was why Marius had allowed things to shake out the way they had. He’d known no one would be able to contain Macaire but her.

When Elysia stepped out of the shadows and revealed herself to Sterling and Mal, she found the young man antsy to get involved in the drama that was unfolding at the Dragonfire.

“Aren’t you going to stop him?” Mal demanded, gesturing toward Macaire, who was tossing a bolt of energy at the McClaren.

“It’s not that simple, Mal,” Elysia said evenly, her eyes never leaving Macaire’s angry form. “I can’t just put whammy on a creature as powerful as Macaire. He’s not a human or a being with a lot less power than me. In order to contain him, I need to use my power judiciously.”

Sterling’s sharp eyes went from Macaire to Elysia and back again. “Even our combined power…?” she trailed off, her voice questioning.

Elysia shook her head, her long brunette hair fluttering. “The two of you are not to do anything but observe. That was Marius’ direct order,” she intoned coldly. “Also, because of the Ogham rings, we must bide our time. There are things at stake in this conflict that must be resolved. We must wait and watch as the scene plays out. I will know when it is time for me to take Macaire in hand.”

The three angels turned their eyes to the Dragonfire in time to see Macaire’s bolt of energy pick Nyx up and fling her against the yacht twenty feet behind her. Mal winced and Sterling’s eyes darkened. Elysia herself betrayed her concern with a tightening of the corners of her mouth. Still, the three of them stood in the darkness and watched Macaire go supernova.

“Aren’t you going to fight back, sister?” he spat as he stepped onto the dock. “You’re not even going to make this challenging for me, are you?”

“You’re not my brother, Macaire,” Nyx panted angrily. “You’re just a pain in my ass!”

At the last word, she threw her hand out and a golden bolt of light shot out directly from her Ogham ring. Elysia’s eyebrows rose. The ring had absorbed the bolt of energy that Macaire had thrown at her and now she was directing it back at him. Unfortunately, Macaire disappeared and the bolt of energy hit the back of the Dragonfire with a muffled boom that rocked the big yacht. He reappeared, laughing delightedly.

He clapped his hands politely. “Bravo, Nyx! Very well played. Those are nifty little rings for sure. I wonder what Valerian’s ring can do. Shall we ask him?”

Macaire snapped his fingers and an immobile Valerian appeared on the deck of the Dragonfire. Nyx McClaren’s eyes flashed blue green fire. Sterling shifted restlessly on her booted feet, and Elysia knew her first instinct was to protect the man who was held captive. Her CIA training allowed her to remain focused on the target, Macaire, all the while plotting how to release the victim. Elysia was more than pleased with the cool logic of Sterling’s thoughts under pressure. Mal, on the other hand, was showing signs of impatience, something Sterling was going to have to train out of him.

Valerian Kronos was glaring angrily at his mate while she glared angrily at Macaire, who was grinning with triumph. Casually, he tossed another bolt at Nyx. She moved with lightning speed, trying to avoid the bolt but it followed her like a heat seeking missile, tossing her a good hundred feet down the dock. Valerian’s eyes flared with heat and his Ogham ring glowed brightly. Nyx picked herself up and stalked back toward the Dragonfire, her ring glowing more and more the closer she got to Valerian.

“Let him go, Macaire. This is between you and me. If I die, you know he dies too, so there is no need for you to keep him here,” Nyx gritted out, her voice cold as ice.

Macaire shook his head. “Oh, on the contrary, Nyx,” he told her in a smoothly contemptuous voice. “I have every reason to keep him here. You would do anything to save his silver hide. That is an ace in the hole to me. Just a little insurance in case the Am-feare fair here gets out of hand.”

“I cannot engage you, Macaire. You know that. I can only protect Mrs. Kronos. I cannot raise my hand to stay you until your overt actions become more than she can handle on her own,” Alfred intoned, his huge robed body as motionless as stone.

“Well, then. I suppose it’s time to up the ante, eh old man?” Macaire’s laughter was filled with insane delight as he waved his hand toward Valerian Kronos.

As if a hand had pushed him, Valerian toppled over the rail of the Dragonfire into the murky river. Nyx let out a startled cry, knowing, as they all did, that Valerian was unable to move because of the whammy Macaire had put on him. He was sinking like a stone in the river, unable to swim.

“You sonofa…” Nyx rushed Macaire, her movements a blur. In the blink of an eye, her hands were around his throat, squeezing powerfully into the muscle.

Macaire’s face turned purple as he stared unblinkingly into Nyx’s furious eyes. Elysia made a motion with her hand toward the river and Sterling took off running, diving off the dock into the oily water in one swift movement. Mal rushed to the edge and crouched there, waiting for her to come back up with Valerian.

As Nyx struggled with Macaire, both the Am-feare fair and Elysia closed in on them. Elysia wasn’t sure what to do other than play a waiting game. This was the Am-feare fair’s responsibility. If by chance he was unable to contain Macaire, Elysia herself would do it.

“I will make you pay for what you’ve done to my family,” Nyx growled into Macaire’s face.

“MY family. Mine before it was ever yours!” Macaire rasped. His arms came up and knocked hers away. He tried to put the whammy on her, but strangely, it didn’t work.

Nyx’s Ogham ring was emitting a high pitched whine and Nyx herself was glowing with a weird purplish light. The Am-feare fair hadn’t made a sound, but Elysia knew he was concentrating on Nyx and Macaire. A glance at the river showed that Sterling and Valerian still hadn’t come up. That worried Elysia a little, but she had to stay focused on Macaire.

“Fuck you, Macaire,” Nyx spat as Macaire grabbed her arm, twisting it painfully. “You’re no McClaren. A McClaren would never do anything as dishonest as what you’ve done. You had the opportunity to be more than the McClaren. You had a chance to help people as an angel, yet all you’ve done is feed into the base emotions of greed and jealousy and envy. You do not have the qualities necessary to BE the McClaren!”

Nyx wrenched out of his hold. Fury lit Macaire’s expression and the wind began to tear at everyone’s clothes. He drew a deep breath and when he exhaled flames shot out of his nostrils, licking toward Nyx. She laughed at him, which seemed to infuriate him even more.

“My mate is a dragon. You think I cannot withstand fire?” she taunted him, her long ponytail whipping in the wind. “You’re foolish, Macaire. Just give up before you do something that will require that Alfred destroy you!”

Elysia shook her head. Nyx shouldn’t be taunting him. It was a bad move on her part. She had no idea what she was up against. Thus far, Macaire had only been toying with her. Elysia wondered if he was done playing now. He certainly looked as if he was.

Sure enough, Macaire made a movement with his hand and Nyx floated up off the dock, as if held by an invisible hand. She struggled, but couldn’t free herself. The Am-feare fair took two steps forward.

“Let her go,” he intoned.

Macaire tossed the huge man in the purple robes a sardonic look. “I think not, Alfred,” he said mockingly. “I think it’s time I showed you all what kind of power you’re messing with. Valerian is gone to the bottom of the river now. Next will be Nyx. If you get in my way, Alfred, you will go before her.”

Alfred took another step toward Macaire. “I cannot let you harm the McClaren.”

Macaire put out his free hand toward Alfred. “I AM THE MCCLAREN!” he yelled furiously. “She is nothing! Just a fucking girl! A girl who got everything that should have been mine! She got my title, my castle, my very life! SHE TOOK IT FROM ME!”

Macaire’s fingers twisted and Nyx twisted in his grasp, as if her body was being crushed by a giant unseen hand. Blood trickled from her nose as she struggled to get free. The Ogham ring was emitting a loud ringing whine now.

“Fuck. You.” Nyx’s words were obviously a struggle to get out, but the fury in her eyes matched Macaire’s.

He twisted his hand again and her body bent in the air, blood now trickling in a stream from her ears and the corner of her mouth. “I will never give in,” she panted, blood spraying with every breath she exhaled.

The Am-feare fair made a movement, his hands emerging from his robes. Macaire laughed at him, making Nyx twist even more grotesquely in the air. Alfred took a step toward Macaire, intent on making him release Nyx.

Elysia’s eyes widened then as the leg of Nyx’s black catsuit split down the thigh as if rent from within. There was a glint of metal there, yet Nyx’s arms were nowhere near her thigh. Elysia bit back as gasp as she saw a deadly little blade appear. She recognized it at once. The Am-feare fair began to smile and lowered his hands.

“Giving up, Alfred?” Macaire mocked, his laughter maniacal. “You know you cannot win. I am the true McClaren. This bitch imposter will now die and I will take back what is rightfully mine!”

As Macaire moved his hands to crush Nyx, the lethal little sgian dubh shot through the air toward the angel. Just before it buried itself in his throat, Macaire saw it coming and screamed. “Noooooo!”

There was a gurgle as the dirk buried itself to the hilt in Macaire’s flesh. His hands came up to claw at it, but he could not remove it. No longer held in Macaire’s power, Nyx fell to the dock unconscious. Alfred ran to Nyx. Elysia ran to Macaire. Behind her, she heard a splash as Sterling broke the surface of the river.

Macaire lay on the dock, his pupils expanding as black blood poured from the wound in his throat to puddle beneath him. Elysia knelt beside him and took his hand. He worked his mouth, but no words came out. In her head, she heard his thoughts.

Why?

Because this was not your destiny, Macaire. You are not the McClaren and were never meant to be so.

Then why show me what should have been mine? Why?

Elysia shook her head sadly. I don’t know. At some point in our existence, Marius takes us each back to our pasts to show us who we were. I do not know why. I have my suspicions, but they are only conjecture.

Why did the sgian dubh attack me? I am a McClaren.

Above them Alfred intoned, “The blade is cursed in several ways. Primarily, it will seek out evil and seek to kill those who act with evil intent. It is also cursed to only work when thrown from the hand of the McClaren. The last part of the curse is that it will seek to protect the McClaren from any harm. The blade was forged by the first Am-feare fair and cursed by his lover, a witch. The blade was made to perform its duties flawlessly. And so it has this night.”

Alfred turned and walked away, picking up Nyx’s limp body and stepping onto the Dragonfire. Elysia looked over her shoulder and saw Mal carrying the dripping body of Valerian Kronos. Sterling’s eyes were filled with concern.

“You can save him,” Elysia told her. “The Ogham ring protected him from drowning, did it not?”

Sterling nodded. “It’s why I couldn’t get him up to the surface. The damned ring was fighting me. I couldn’t get a grip on him,” she said. “It was like he was in a protective bubble.”

Elysia gestured toward the yacht. “Take him to his mate. They need each other to recover,” she said quietly.

“What about Macaire?” Mal asked.

Elysia turned away from them. “He is my responsibility.”

Sterling and Mal stepped onto the Dragonfire and disappeared below the deck. When they were gone, Elysia stroked her hands over Macaire’s golden hair. Tears were leaking from his eyes.

I am to go now, aren’t I? he asked her.

She nodded. I cannot stop the blade from doing its duty. It is your time to go, Macaire.

He blinked at her, his throat working, causing the blade to sink in further. More black blood gushed from the wound. I’m sorry, Elysia. I was wrong. His eyes pleaded with her.

I wish I could help you, Macaire, but I cannot. You set yourself on this path, and it is not for me to alter its course. I wish you peace in the Afterworld.

Elysia pulled the dirk from Macaire’s throat and a flood of black blood spurted from it, soaking through his clothes. The light in his eyes faded swiftly, the pupils expanding until the irises were gone. Elysia closed his eyelids and looked for the dirk but it was gone. When she looked back at Macaire he was fading swiftly until the outline of his body became whisps of fog that disappeared into the night.

Rising to her feet, Elysia sighed heavily. This was not the first angel she had seen go to the Afterworld. However, every time she witnessed it, she felt sick to her stomach. She looked up as Sterling and Mal joined her. Sterling had already removed the water from her clothes.

“What do we do now?” Sterling asked Elysia.

The tall brunette cleared her throat. “Just make sure they get back to Scotland without any further trouble,” she said softly. “I need to check on Venetia.”

Sterling and Mal nodded and Elysia took herself back to her office. Sitting in the corner on the settee was Marius. He had a tray of tea and was sipping from a porcelain cup. Elysia bit her lip and sat down in the chair across from him. He leaned forward and poured her a cup of tea, adding a bit of cream and a lump of sugar, just as she liked it. He handed it to her and she sipped the hot beverage, thinking there was nothing a good, hot cup of tea could not overcome.

“It is done.”

“I know.” Marius sipped his tea, his pale blue eyes on the woman who had been his right hand for centuries. “You never like this part.”

“No.” Elysia refused to look at him.

“You liked him.”

She sighed and set the cup down, her eyes finally meeting his. “I did. Until he decided he didn’t want to be one of us any longer. Then I knew he was on borrowed time. I just did not want to be the one to witness his passing. I like the creation of life, Marius, not the ending of it.”

Marius stood up and walked over to where she sat. He stroked a hand over her glossy brown hair. “I know, love. I know.” He bent and kissed the top of her head and dissolved into thin air.

Elysia sat sipping her tea for a long time, staring out the window at the puffy clouds in the night sky. There should be something to herald his passing, she thought, like the bell ringing in that Christmas movie when the angel got his wings. He’d had so much talent. It made her heart ache to see it all wasted.

After a long moment struggling to set aside her sadness, Elysia pulled a file folder toward her, seeking to bury herself in her work.

This post is dedicated to Heath Ledger, a talent that left us far too soon.
4 April 1979 – 22 January 2008

Have a great day!

The Immortal Wedding

I just thought I’d drop an excerpt in here for people. It won an award for best wedding story over at WritersCafe.org. It’s from the Bar, so the character of Alaric Kohl belongs to Jennifer Morgan not to me. There are other characters mentioned that belong to other writers, although the characters themselves are not in this post. Just thought I’d clarify that for you since some of Alaric’s dialog was written by Jen. There’s a Rhapsody link in the middle of the story. Click it to hear the song Alexandria walked down the aisle to.

Enjoy!

The Wedding of Alaric & Alexandria

Stef and I walked to the vestibule outside the terrace room where Alaric and I were to be married. I was trembling but excited, my heart beating faster than it ever had before. The double doors into the room were closed, but I knew that Alaric waited on the other side for me. “The music will start and you need to wait for the chorus to start walking, okay?” Stef whispered as she fussed with my dress and veil and bouquet. “Are you okay in those shoes? They’re new and I don’t want you to trip on the stairs.” She frowned down at my feet, and I smiled feeling a little dazed.

“I’m okay, Stef. Really. When have you known me to trip in a pair of Manolo Blahniks?” I joked as I reached out and squeezed her hand.

She gazed down at me with a soft smile. “I know that you wish Carlisle was here to be your matron of honor and that Matt or Stein was here to walk you down the aisle. And I know Alaric wishes his brother was here to be his best man,” she said quietly. “But I know they are all here with you in their hearts, Lex. Ronnie and I are privileged to be your witnesses.”

She bent and kissed my cheek. “I’ll leave the door ajar so you can listen for the music. You just walk straight to stairs. At the bottom, on the terrace, is Alaric,” she told me. “When Alaric kisses you at the end of the ceremony, the first of your three songs will begin to play with the fountain. Then we’ll have dinner and cake on the terrace. After that, you and Alaric are officially on your honeymoon!”

Stef squeezed my hands. As the grandfather clock in the vestibule chimed midnight, she slipped through the door, leaving it ajar. I drew a deep but shaky breath and stared at the oak panels in front of me. The rest of my life was waiting on the other side…

My Rhapsody Playlist

I listened to the song from the night of our bonding and felt tears begin to fill my eyes. Hastily, I blinked them back. It would not do to trip on my way down the aisle, which included stairs, because I was blinded by tears. I quickly thought back over my time with Alaric, the dreams, the first moment I’d seen him at Wicked Pleasures, his handkerchief, bumping heads over the suitcase, ordering the same food, and that moment in the bathroom when we first saw each other naked. Every moment was clearly etched in my mind.

I pushed open the door and stepped through, a prayer to the Mother in my mind. Thank you for giving me Alaric, Mother. Thank you for not forgetting me. I promise never to disappoint him or you.

I looked down and saw Alaric’s blue eyes shining at me from the terrace overlooking the Bellagio fountains. His love was plainly written on his face for anyone to see, but I knew what he had gone through to make it to this moment.

I began to walk toward him, unable to look away from his eyes and his smile. He was dressed impeccably in a black suit with a crisp white shirt and tie, a white flower pinned to his lapel. His hair was neatly trimmed and brushed back from his face, giving him a much more elegant look than the shaggy hair falling in his face that I was used to. As I thought how incredibly beautiful he was, I felt him remembering things – how electric my touch had been to him that first night at Wicked Pleasures, how the dreams had confused and angered him, how he had been unable to stay away from me, how the scent of my skin and the look in my eyes had drawn him, how the sight of my hard nipples under my tank top had driven him mad with lust at the dinner table.

I stepped carefully down the stairs that led to the terrace, acutely aware of Alaric’s eyes on me. Our memories filled our minds, everything that had led us to this moment. The poignant thoughts made my knees weak, and it was all I could do not to grasp the stone balustrade to steady myself.

I was still shaky when I reached Alaric’s side, but I smiled up at him. He returned it, taking my trembling hand and raising it to his lips, his eyes never leaving mine. Then we turned to face the man in the elegant black suit who was to officiate our wedding. Dimly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Ronnie and Stef standing to one side holding hands. Then I saw the camera crew that was videotaping the wedding for the live internet podcast our families and friends were watching.

The officiant smiled at us and said, “We come together, not to mark the start of a relationship, but to recognize a bond that already exists. This marriage is one expression of the many varieties of love. Love is one, though its expressions are infinite.”

We are already one, my Cherished One. This just makes everything more permanent, Alaric’s voice whispered in my head.

The officiant continued on, “It is fitting to speak briefly about love. We live in a world of joy and fear and search for meaning and strength in the seeming disorder. We discover the truest guideline to our quest when we realize love in all its magnitudes. Love is the eternal force of life. Love is the force that allows us to face fear and uncertainty with courage. But, you must ‘be of love a little more careful than of anything.’ For the giving of yourself in love is difficult: you must learn to give of your love without total submission of yourself. Therefore, in your giving, give your joy, your sadness, your interest, your understanding, and your knowledge–all expressions that make up life. But in this giving, remember to preserve yourself–your integrity, your individuality. This is the challenge of love within marriage.”

He turned to Alaric and asked, “Alaric, do you come before these friends and family to proclaim your love and devotion for Alexandria? Do you promise to respect her, and to care for her during times of joy and hardship? Do you commit yourself to share your feelings of happiness and sadness? Do you pledge to remain faithful to her?”

My fingers trembled in Alaric’s as he said in a firm voice, “I do.”

Now the officiant was looking at me. “Alexandria, do you come before this gathering of friends and family to proclaim your love and devotion for Alaric? Do you promise to respect him, and care for him during times of joy and hardship? Do you commit yourself to share your feelings of happiness and sadness? Do you pledge to remain faithful to him?”

I swallowed and was surprised when my voice came out calm and strong, “I do.”

The officiant slipped his hand into his pocket and produced two glittering platinum rings which he held out on the palm of his hand. “The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual bond which unites two loyal hearts in endless love. It is a seal of the vows Alaric and Alexandria have made to one another. Bless these rings Holy Mother, that Alexandria and Alaric, who give them, and who wear them, may ever abide in thy peace. Living together in unity, love and happiness for the rest of their lives.”

He turned to me and held out a ring to me. I took it, looking down at the swirled design.

“Alexandria, in placing this ring on Alaric’s finger, repeat after me: I, Alexandria Valentine McBain, give myself to you, Alaric Volker Kohl, in marriage and vow to be your wife all the days of our lives. I give you my hands and take your hands in mine as a symbol and pledge of our uniting in one flesh. I give you my love, the outpouring of my heart, as a symbol and pledge of our uniting in one spirit. I give you this ring from out of my worldly goods as a symbol and pledge of our uniting as one family.”

I repeated the words as I slid the ring onto Alaric’s left hand, feeling the warmth of his skin against my fingers.

Then the man was turning to Alaric and handing him a ring. “Alaric, in placing this ring on Alexandria’s finger, repeat after me: I, Alaric Volker Kohl, give myself to you, Alexandria Valentine McBain, in marriage and vow to be your husband all the days of our lives. I give you my hands and take your hands in mine as a symbol and pledge of our uniting in one flesh. I give you my love, the outpouring of my heart, as a symbol and pledge of our uniting in one spirit. I give you this ring from out of my worldly goods as a symbol and pledge of our uniting as one family.”

Alaric took my hand in his and slid the ring onto my finger. I gazed down at it noticing that it was identical to his except that it had a swirl of diamonds decorating the front. I felt my heart turn over in my chest as I looked up at Alaric, holding his hands tightly in mine.

I licked my lips and said, “Alaric, when I met you I was dying. The dreams were so beautiful they made me ache, but I was so heartsick and out of hope that I couldn’t believe in them. Then I literally ran into you, and the moment my eyes met yours, those dreams came to life. You told me to fight for us, to believe in us. You told me I was your future, and you gave me hope. You loved me like no one ever had before. You took my broken heart, my broken spirit and made me whole again. My love for you is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. You are everything to me, my love, my lover, my Cherished One, my husband, my partner, and the father of my children. You are the sum total of my world, and I thank the Mother every day that your heart chose me to complete your destiny. I could never express in words how much your love means to me. I can only hope that because of our bonding that you know what I feel for you. I am so grateful to have you, Alaric. I love you.”

Alaric’s hands squeezed mine and he smiled down at me, his deep, honey over gravel voice making me shiver with awareness of him. “Alexandria, my Angel, the moment you collided into me, I knew my life had changed. I looked into your beautiful eyes and took in the unmistakable fragrance that is solely you and all my dreams came alive. I was bitter and disillusioned. I had no hope that those feelings would ever change. Then I looked into your eyes, and I saw a young girl, innocent and tenderhearted, who had been wounded by life and wanted nothing more than to be safe and loved, to have her dreams come true. I knew that no one else had ever seen her hiding there within you, and I wanted nothing more than to be the one to give you back your dreams and your life. I wanted to be your hero because when I looked at you, Angel, I saw my future. Your love took away my bitterness and made me complete. You say you are grateful, I say I am lucky. Lucky to have you, lucky that you deem me worthy of your love, lucky that you have given me back my soul and my reason to live. You are truly the angel of my dreams, Alexandria, and I will love you forever.”

The officiant stepped back from us saying, “In as much as you have each pledged to the other your lifelong commitment, love and devotion, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Alaric, you may kiss your bride!”

Alaric took my face in his hands and I felt his thoughts inside me. Mine, all mine. Forever, Angel. Then his mouth was on mine in one of those tender, hot passionate kisses that I loved so much. I reached up to sink my fingers into his hair, kissing him back with everything that I was. My fangs dropped as his tongue teased them and I did the same to him. He broke the kiss to lean his forehead on mine, a grin making his face look very young and carefree, despite the lethal fangs that gleamed in his mouth.

“Look at the fountain, love,” he whispered, and I turned my head a little not wanting to look away from his electric blue eyes. The fountain was cascading in time to the song I’d chosen. I watched for a moment and then turned back to my husband.

“I’d rather look at you,” I whispered back to him.

“In that case Mrs. Kohl, would you give me the honor of the next dance?” He swept me into his arms as the next song began.

I rolled my eyes. “Bastard!” I whispered teasingly. “You’re gonna make me go through all the bells and whistles when you know all I really want is you naked.”

Alaric threw back his head and laughed. “We’re only doing this once, Angel, so you better make the most of it. I doubt you’ll get me in a penguin suit again for the rest of our lives.”

I shook my head as Alaric twirled me across the terrace, the fountain doing its dance in time to the music. “Oh, I think I might be able to,” I smiled up at him. “Carlisle and Stein still have to get married and who knows what will happen with Sacha and Dare.”

Alaric shook his head and grimaced a little. “And there’s always my brother. Maybe he’ll make an honest woman of Opal,” he said quietly. “The way he feels about her, he should.”

“They all need to take a leaf out of your book, Alaric. You did exactly what you knew would take away my doubts forever. The whole world now knows who I belong to.” Alaric’s arms tightened around me, and I smiled at him mistily. “You know this won’t be easy.”

“I know, Angel,” he murmured. “But after years of drunken indecisiveness, I’ve found my way. I won’t lose it again.”

He bent and kissed me and I murmured against his lips, “You’d better not my husband or I’ll have to have a GPS installed in you instead of the new Beemer.”

“But I’ve got one, Angel,” he chuckled, swinging me around and off my expensive Manolo Blahniks. Right inside my head and my heart. You’ll always be there to tell me where to go.

To bed? I laughed delightedly.

In a little while, Mrs. Kohl. First, I have surprises for you.

You think you can’t surprise me in bed, Mr. Kohl? I arched my eyebrows at him.

He grinned wickedly. Oh, I’ll do that too. Just you wait. But first, all the little trappings of our special night await. Just for you Alexandria Valentine Kohl. Because I made a promise to myself to give that girl I saw inside you every dream she’d ever had taken away from her, starting with the lavish wedding.

Just giving me you was enough, Alaric. Even if you are an ass.

I pulled his head down and kissed him hard. I wasn’t naïve enough to think that things would always be this happy and poignant. The megabitch inside me would never go away completely, and Alaric would always be an ass about some things. I’d probably throw every glass in our house at him before a year was up, but I knew we had some very yummy ways to make up, including the incredible pleasure of biting each other far into eternity. I resolved to buy lots of glasses…

This is the Photoshop version of Alaric and Alexandria (Marcus Schenkenberg and Kelly Monaco). We had photos for their wedding too, a photo of her dress, the rings, etc, but that’s too much to post here.