Friday, February 28, 2014

Paranormal Romance Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Secret Cravings Paranormal Blog Hop. I'm giving a pdf of Witch's Touch, Book 6 in the series and my latest release to some lucky commenter. Be sure and leave a way for me to contact you in your comment. Game: Tell what your winter's been like in your corner of the world in a few, simple words and I'll drop your name in the witch's hat. Drawing will be Sunday night and winner announced on Monday. Good luck!
BLURB:

Death takes an unscheduled holiday…
Giver of Life—Nyra Winters has two abilities that no witch before her has ever possessed—the power to heal and restore life. However, her constant interference in Death’s plans makes her a target of the angry god, King Titan, ruler of the Underworld.
      

Seeker of Death—Dym Satarius, Prince of Death, is sent to the magical realm of Ru-Noc to collect Nyra Winters. Devoid of all emotion, Dym believes this assignment will be no different than any other—collect the witch’s soul and return to hell—job done—but something goes terribly wrong and he is stranded in Nyra’s world without his powers or the ability to return to his realm.


Witch’s Touch―Where life and Death collide…
Don't forget to use this link back to SCP so you can check out what the other authors are posting.
http://secretcravingspublishing.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Please Welcome Romance Author, Laurie White!

Please leave Laurie a comment.


BIO:

Laurie White is the author of two romantic suspense novels published by Sweet Cravings Publishing. Her latest novel, WITHOUT A TRACE, is now available from Secret Cravings Publishing. Laurie is a member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with family, traveling, and watching movies. She is the proud mama of four adorable cats and lives in the hills of Tennessee.
                               

BLURB:

Magazine journalist Rachel Bennett has a reputation for getting to the heart of a story. However, when her sister disappears and is suspected of embezzling from her employer, the story has suddenly become personal. The last thing Rachel wants right now is the distraction of Matt Romero, the detective assigned to the case. She has no desire for involvement with this rough-and-tumble cop...or so she thinks.

Matt accepts the risk that goes with his job. Two years ago, his wife was murdered, a tragedy he blames himself for. He's vowed to protect his family and friends because he doesn't want to go through the pain of loss again. However, the lovely journalist soon begins breaking through the icy wall around his heart.

As Rachel and Matt search for answers in order to find her sister, they uncover a corruption that puts them both in danger – and a passion that puts both their hearts at risk.

EXCERPT:

Something wasn't right. 

Rachel Bennett felt uneasy from the moment she'd set foot in her sister's apartment. A bead of perspiration trickled between her shoulder blades. 

She'd been unable to reach her younger sister Paige for the past three days. She hadn't even shown up at work. Rachel cut short a long-awaited Palm Springs vacation out of concern for her. The three-hour drive back to Los Angeles this morning was a blur. 

“Paige?” 

Something made her almost whisper the word. She paused outside Paige's half-open bedroom door before peering into the sun-splashed room. A hint of Paige's signature scent, Ed Hardy, hung in the air. The bed, normally covered with a cheerful floral comforter, sat unmade in the messy room. Unusual for her neatnik sister. 

She would never just take off like this. At least not willingly. 

What's happened to my sister? 

Rachel noticed several black smudges on the wall by the window. A nervous feeling gnawed at her. Slowly, she stepped into the bedroom, toward the telephone. She needed to call for help. 

“Police! Stop right there.” 

The resonant male voice was strong and authoritative. Rachel froze, confused, blood pounding in her head. The hair on the back of her neck prickled. “I'm Rachel Bennett. My sister, Paige Bennett, lives here. I have a key.” 

“Okay. Turn around.” 
n slow, careful movements, Rachel complied. Her pulse thrummed even harder as she came face-to-face with the most overwhelming man she'd ever laid eyes on. His features were rugged and darkly handsome, his hair black as sin. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she'd been holding. 

A twinge of wariness assailed Rachel as her gaze took in the man. All in all, he made a dangerously sexy package despite his ordinary dark gray suit and tie. He looked like no cop she'd ever seen, but his open-legged stance and the familiarity with which he held his pistol—aimed at her—seemed to show years of experience on the force. Or simply a lot of practice using a gun. 

Certainly he won't shoot, she told herself, heart crashing hard against her chest. “Can I see your ID?” 

The man's steely dark eyes never left hers as he unclipped the gold badge from his belt and held it out to her. 

“Matt Romero, LAPD Detective Support and Vice,” he said. 

Rachel studied the badge. In her work as a writer for Southland Life magazine, she'd seen enough cop badges to know this was the real thing. What sort of trouble could Paige be in? 

“How did you…?” 

“The apartment manager let us in. We had a search warrant.” He lowered his gun, then clipped his badge back onto his belt. 

“Search warrant? Has something happened to Paige?” A cold knot formed in the pit of her stomach. Although a part of her didn't want to know, her reporter's instinct demanded answers. 

Skepticism flickered across Romero's face, but as he studied her he seemed to relax. He holstered his weapon. “I saw a photo on the desk over there of you with your sister. You resemble each other very much. Why don't we sit down?” He motioned toward the living room. 

Rachel trudged down the hallway, struggling to prepare herself for whatever this man was about to tell her. Horrifying possibilities whirled in her mind. Had Paige been arrested for some reason? Worse yet, badly hurt or even—no, she couldn't allow herself to think about that last one. A shudder rippled through her. 

Then she felt one of the detective's large hands on the center of her back. The guiding gesture, although gentle, unnerved her. The heat from his palm burned through the thin fabric of her blouse. She walked a bit faster. 
In the living room, Rachel sank into Paige's comfortable powder blue sofa. She took a deep breath to calm herself, but her stomach knotted up when Romero settled into the chair beside the sofa, right next to her. 

“Why are you here, Detective? Where is Paige?”                                                   

“That's what my partner and I are trying to find out, Ms. Bennett.” 

“What do you mean?” she asked, managing to sound a lot less anxious—and a lot less aware of the man across from her—than she really was. 

He looked her dead in the eye. “Your sister is missing, Ms. Bennett.”

 BUY LINKS:http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/

Monday, December 16, 2013

Today's Special Guest, Romance Author, Emily A, Lawrence!

Hi Readers,
Today's wonderful and amazing guest is romance author, Emily A. Lawrence. Please make her feel welcome by leaving a comment.
Tabs
 
The Guardian Of My Soul

Soul’s Desire Series

Book 1

 

“The Guardian Of My Soul” is the first book in the Soul’s Desire Series, and tells the story of Kristen and Alec, two people who struggle with one another, as well as with their own fears and insecurities.

Kristen Mancuso, daughter of a renowned fashion designer has everything her heart desires, and yet she’s still unhappy. After her father’s death, her mother’s overprotectiveness has prevented Kristen from choosing her own path in life, and she often feels as if she's a prisoner in her own home. Kristen thought her twenty-first birthday would magically bring her the freedom she craved. She was wrong.

When her mother hires Alec Warner to be her personal bodyguard, Kristen rebels against it, unaware of the true reasons why he’s needed and the very real danger threatening her safety. Having someone shadow her every move is the last thing she wants. Alec is handsome, intimidating and determined to stand between Kristen and anyone who would harm her.

Kristen doesn’t know what to do with Alec. She’s drawn to him, and while he is committed to his job, he refuses to allow her to control him the way she does with other men. Their relationship is volatile and explosive, yet they discover they have more in common than they ever dreamed. Together they face demons from their past and secrets which could tear them apart.

Alec and Kristen fight their attraction for one another, but that’s one battle where losing may very well give them everything their souls desire…

*Content Warning: intended for mature audiences 18+ 
  
Excerpt:

I heard a banging at my door, not a gentle knock but a loud racket which shook the whole door. My eyes sprang open. What in the world? I looked around the room, trying to get my bearings. The hotel room was bathed in warm, bright light and my heart skipped a beat when I realized it was morning.

“Oh, Kristeeen?” Alec’s grumpy voice sounded over the loud banging.

Fred jumped off the bed and rushed to the door wagging his tail, visibly excited to hear him.

“Fred, how can you fraternize with the enemy?” I grumped, heading to the door. As soon as I opened it my traitor of a dog jumped into Alec’s arms and licked him as if he were his favorite person in the world, making him chuckle.

“Finally, the princess decides to greet the day,” he said and grinned at me once he was done petting the dog. Suddenly, his eyes dropped and his smile slowly faded away.

I blinked perplexed. Is he staring at my breasts? My God, he's staring at my breasts! The realization elicited tremors all over my body, causing my nipples to strain against the fabric of my nightgown. Holy crap! My nightgown! I tensed when I remembered the transparent lace across my chest.

“Give him to me!” I snatched Fred out of his arms and used him to hide my aroused state. “What’s wrong with you, hammering at my door like a crazy man?” I fussed.

He cleared his throat as if to regain his voice before he answered me. “I’ve been standing here for more than five minutes calling you and nothing. What was I supposed to do? You said eight sharp and it’s almost eight thirty.”

“Damn it!” I hurried back inside the room and put Fred on the bed, then quickly looked for something comfortable to change into. I took out a pair of denim shorts and a white shirt from my suitcase, then tugged at my nightgown to pull it off over my head. I stopped halfway when I noticed him sitting on the bed, casually assessing me. “Alec!” I shuddered, gaping at him in shock. “What are you doing in here? Can’t you see I’m trying to change clothes?” I stammered in bewilderment. I couldn’t believe he’d gotten a glimpse of my equally transparent panties.

“I’m just waiting to take your luggage.” He smiled innocently, clearly not finding anything wrong with his actions.

“Wait outside, you peeping tom!” I was amazed by how brazen he turned out to be.

“My bad,” he said dryly and left the room.

It took me a moment to recover from the shock and register the warm wetness between my legs. I sighed, once more feeling betrayed by my own body. “I can’t believe him! And I refuse to be turned on, no matter how he makes me feel!” I grumbled.

When I finally exited the room, I found him waiting in the hallway and I marched up to him. “I can’t believe you saw me in my underwear! I am furious with you.” I walked on, eager to put some distance between us.

“Hey!” He grabbed my arm and pulled me abruptly, my chest slamming against his hard torso. “You’re right. What I did was inappropriate and I’m sorry. I just found myself absentmindedly walking in. I didn’t mean to be rude.” He excused himself.

“You expect me to believe that?” I murmured flush against him, taken aback by his sudden change in attitude.

“Yes, I do.”

“You were checking me out.”

“Was not,” he retorted calmly, his face merely a few inches away from mine. Then I caught the smile in his eyes. He was lying like a dog.

“Let go of me,” I whispered, feeling my heart pounding heavily and my chest heaving in agitation.

Being this close to him was doing funny things to me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. Everything in me wanted to move closer, to lean in, to touch, but I stubbornly resisted the unwelcome temptation.

What are you doing to me? I cried out in my mind.

He leaned toward me slowly and I panicked, my breath catching in my throat. With a sudden jerk I managed to free myself from his grip and rushed to the elevator, never looking back. He followed me in silence, hauling my luggage after him. We travelled down together and I was so aware of him, my whole body reacted as if he were a powerful magnet. I was drawn to him, hanging on to the rail just to stay upright. His eyes held mine with an intensity which made me feel lightheaded and I gasped for air as the space around us suddenly appeared to be too small.

Buy links:

Kindle:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1dTWA7A
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/17NEfoL
Paperback:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/19Xw35f
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1b6yYJ5

 New release...

 A Dream Come True
Weekend Getaways Series

Book 3
“A Dream come True” is the third book in my “Weekend Getaways Series” published by Secret Cravings Publishing, continuing the story of Carly and Robert. You can find the previous two (Hot Dreams of a Lonely Soul --- Hopeful Dreams and New Beginnings) at the following link:

A Dream Come True
Book blurb:
Hope lit up Carly’s heart as she could finally express her needs and wishes, no longer afraid to voice her thoughts. After putting aside her troubled past with her abusive ex husband, Carly began a new chapter in her life along with her new husband, Robert, the man who had brought her more joy than she had ever thought possible. After having the wedding of her dreams, Robert surprised her with a romantic honeymoon at a cabin in Alaska, just a few days before Christmas. But, in spite of all the happiness, the sight of the Christmas tree brought back sad memories that Robert fought to help her overcome. What more was left for her life to be complete? Could all of Carly’s dreams come true at Christmas?

 Buy link:
Secret Cravings Publishing: http://bit.ly/1cCJpc3

 Author bio:
Emily A. Lawrence lives in Transylvania with her family, hence her love for vampires and paranormal books. She is extremely passionate about fiction and has been writing stories, mostly fan fiction, for years now, but only began thinking seriously about publishing approximately a year ago. Having her family's support, and encouraged by friends and fellow authors, she pursued her dream of becoming a published author.

 Emily loves creating new characters with whom readers can identify themselves, and losing herself in their worlds. Usually, she writes contemporary romance in three heat levels: sweet, sensual and erotic. However, she would like to try her hand at other genres one day, such as paranormal or mystery.

 When she's not writing, she enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures, new sceneries, food and meeting new people, or simply reading a good book.

 Author contact links:
Blog: http://authoremilylawrence.blogspot.ro/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmyALawrence?ref=tn_tnmn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmyALawrence

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/authorlawrence/
Email: emilyalawrence88@gmail.com

 
Thank you, Tabitha, for hosting me on your blog today! J

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chapter One/Witch's Touch/Coming Soon!

Hello Readers,
I know some of you have been waiting a long time for this book. For some reason, this was one of the most difficult books I've written to date. Enjoy this first chapter and get a feeling for the beautiful Nyra Winslow. Her hero, Dym, the sexy Prince of Death will arrive at her door shortly.


BLURB:
Death takes an unscheduled holiday…
Giver of Life—Nyra Winters has two abilities that no witch before her has ever possessed—the power to heal and restore life. However, her constant interference in Death’s plans makes her a target of the angry god, King Titan, ruler of the Underworld.

Seeker of Death—Dym Satarius, Prince of Death, is sent to the magical realm of Ru-Noc to collect Nyra Winters. Devoid of all emotion, Dym believes this assignment will be no different than any other—collect the witch’s soul and return to hell—job done—but something goes terribly wrong and he is stranded in Nyra’s world without his powers or the ability to return to his realm.

Witch’s Touch―Where life and Death collide…
                                                                     
                                                                       CHAPTER ONE
 
The Present
 
“Don’t die, Mama. Don’t die, please. Nyra Winters gasped and jerked out of the trance she’d sank into. Blinking, she tried to focus on the dimly lit room, but everything remained a blur. She knuckled her eyes hoping it’d speed up the return of her normal vision.
It didn’t help. Gods, these spells were occurring way too often.
It wasn’t so much that she deliberately broke the coven’s laws to stay out of bygone times, but more like something or someone summoned her, taking charge of her mind and plunging her into the events that went on before.
But who?
She knew of no one who wanted her to dwell on the past.
Slowly, her vision cleared. As she grew more aware of her surroundings, Nyra’s nose twitched at the pleasant fragrances of lavender, lemon balm, and sage, filtering beneath her nostrils. Her precious potted herbs. She’d be lost without them.
The soft crackles from the dying coals in the fireplace filled the room. The tortured sound of her strangled sobs drifted away like wisps of smoke. Samhain. She hated it when she journeyed to the night her mother was shot. In her mind, she still saw her father holding the gun, his hand unsteady, eyes dark as onyx from the Black Magick sludge that coated his brain.
Nyra rubbed the dampness from her eyes and shuddered as recollections of that terrible night gripped her soul. She resented the fact that someone took away her control and forced her to remember a past she’d rather forget.
When it happened, the darkness blanketed her mind like a black shroud. At those moments, her vision narrowed until all she saw was a long, dark, endless tunnel to the past—and the unfamiliar voice of a male calling her, urging her to remember—but remember what?
From experience, she knew when she was summoned, she slipped into a deep, catatonic state where she couldn’t see or hear anything in the present. Each cross-over took her back to the night Elsbeth died. Every return to the present left her shaken and floundering in a sea of daunting pain, confusion, and unanswered questions—and always, always the awareness of the dim outline of a dark stranger who insisted she find him, free him, and bring him to her world.
Who-who-who?
Nyra smothered a scream of frustration. So many unanswered questions.
Who was the stranger?
What did he want from her?
Why hadn’t her mother’s soul returned and claimed the body it belonged to?
Was her mother’s spirit too weak to travel from one plane to the next?
Or had her mother’s spirit simply been in too bad a shape to survive? To return?
She had no ready answers. As the centuries passed, Nyra feared Elsbeth might never return from the dead side.
Flinging back the faded quilts, she scooted to the edge of the old-fashioned iron-rail bed and pressed a trembling hand to her heart.
And the male who called to her—was he waken, demon, or warlock? Why was he so insistent she remember him when she knew well she’d never laid eyes upon him? The salty tang of tears touched her lips, startling her to the fact she was crying. Annoyed, she sniffed. Nyra couldn’t remember the last time she’d wept. Full-blooded witches couldn’t cry. Instead, their hearts bled when they felt sorrow, but she was an Impure, half-human, and as such, she shed tears, but she rarely let herself lose control and give into the urge to cry.
“I’m a healer, Mama. I can save…you.” Inwardly, Nyra flinched. Her shoulders shook with grief. The painful memory of watching her mother fade into the Realm of Souls left a hollow ache in her heart. Icy sweat dampened her body and left her skin chilled and slick. Her thin flannel gown felt clammy against her thighs. “I’m sorry, Mama.” A sob tore from her throat before she could suppress it.
“He summoned ye again?”
Nyra nodded, though she knew the three-foot Futhar rabbit couldn’t see her in the shadows cast by the lit candles scattered around the room. Even the fire glowing from the stone fireplace appeared to have lost its enchanted spell and barely flickered.
However, there was no hiding her despair from Karma. The familiar’s magical senses were much stronger than a witch’s, and Karma knew her well.
“Does he seek to lay blame on ye, Nyra?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I don’t know what he wants. I don’t get the feeling I’m in danger. It’s almost as if he wants me to recall something from that night. I have no idea what it is he wants me to remember. He never mentions blame. His voice is gentle and encouraging.”
“Good. It wasn’t yer fault, Nyra.” Karma held up a bent and twisted wand made from the branch of a magical Black Willow tree. She waved it around drawing sparkling green symbols in the air, and muttering words only a Futhar understood. “There now, yer bound to feel better soon.”
Magical waves of warm sympathy floated around Nyra. As the warmth circled and engulfed her, Nyra smiled in spite of the sorrow wrenching her heart. After all the speech lessons she’d provided for the rabbit, the Futhar still retained a bit of her familiar accent. She surmised Karma always would.
Futhars had a way of hanging onto a part of their past, and it was usually most prevalent in their speech patterns. Their accents were as varied as their personalities. The one thing all Futhars had in common was a fixation with mating. Their fascination wasn’t always focused on their own sexual needs. Quite frequently, their obsession was with the subject centered on the witch they claimed.
The single most important thing to the familiar was to make certain the witch mated with the right male or female. If there was any question in the Futhar’s mind concerning the male for the female, then their fixation turned into a contest of wills with the witch’s chosen mate. A waken’s Futhar was just as difficult and unmanageable. However, one could hardly fault their loyalty and love.
With unsteady hands, Nyra thrust strands of hair behind her ears. “I tried hard to save her, Karma, but the past returns like a punishment.”
“Humph! Yer conscience is yer punishment. It eats at ya and there’s no reason fer it.”
“It was a long time ago, I know, so why does it haunt me?” Nyra drew a long shaky breath and slowly exhaled. Her heart was soothed by the Futhar’s touch of warm magic, but the ache remained in her voice, beyond the familiar’s control. “The passage of time means nothing. The waning of centuries doesn’t help lessen my feelings of guilt. I can still hear Papa ranting. I try desperately to warn Mama, but I never get the words past my lips.”
“Ya were a child of six, Nyra, yer magic unskilled. Yer mama knew that. She didn’t expect ya to save her.”
“I expected me to save her. I’m a healer!”
Some healer she’d turned out to be.
“Sweet child, as powerful as yer magic may be, ya cannot allow this man to keep taking ya to such a painful place. He might mean ya no harm but, no matter what, ya cannot change history. Yer burning yer self out, my Nyra, like a dying star, I see you fading before my very eyes. It’s time to let go, child.”
Nyra flopped back on the mattress and flung her arms over her eyes. “I don’t think he means me harm. He just wants me to remember him for some reason, but I don’t, I can’t. I never see his face, so how can I? Papa was the only male I was around in those days.”
“What do you see?” Karma asked. “When he summons you to him? What do you see?” Her voice quivered with curiosity.
 “His hands. Rather, the top of his hands, and his shoulders. He has a tattoo on top of his left hand, a pentagram, so I have to think he’s…maybe a witch, but not waken. He never wears a shirt. His chest is broad, shoulders wide and roped with muscle. He’s so mysterious.”
“Humph! Sounds like a pervert to me. The man summons ya and hasn’t the decency to put on a shirt?”
Nyra couldn’t keep from grinning. “He’s not perverted. I think he’s just awakened. He’s on the side of a bed, his head bowed, dark hair falling around his face and I see —”
“What?” Karma exclaimed excitedly.
“Markings on his right shoulder.”
“Markings? What kind of markings?”
“I don’t know.” Nyra shrugged. “A bird…I think.”
“A bird?” Karma sounded puzzled. “Ya mean like a blue bird?”
“No.” Nyra shook her head. “I think it’s a blackbird, a crow, maybe. I swear he acts like I’m the one who has summoned him, instead of him calling to me.”
“Hmm.” Karma wiggled her ears and twitched her tiny nose. “Curious.”
“He needs my help, Karma.”
“Ya can’t help him. Ya don’t even know where he is, let alone who he is. Ya can’t change things, Nyra.”
Nyra sighed. “I wish I could change one thing, Karma. I want to prevent Mama’s death. You’re right though, something inside me dies each time I fail to save her.”
“It’s wrong, child,” Karma said gently. “King Titan never gives back that which he has claimed, nor will he stand for ya to take what he legally possesses. There are rules in which we all must live by. What about this male? Can ya recall his looks?”
Nyra frowned. “Only that he’s dark and has long, dark hair. He has to be waken, yet, I sense something different about him. Oooh, I don’t know. It’s driving me crazy.”
Karma sniffed her disapproval. “No matter. Ya allow this…this person to draw ya into the past. I know as well as ya know that the only reason ya risk going back is ya think to find yer mother’s soul and help it rejoin her body. If ya persist in breaking King Titan’s rules, he will send Death on swift wings fer ya.”
“I don’t care. I–I wake up sometimes and I–I think I see her.” Nyra’s throat tightened. She felt as if she was strangling on emotion. “He–her blonde hair lifts in the summer breeze. Her smiles, I–I see her smile, Karma…hear her sing. The sound of her laughter dances on the wind.”
The Futhar stepped out of the deep shadows of the room and moved closer to Nyra. Anyone not accustomed to their magical world would be shocked to see a three foot rabbit wearing a long blue flannel gown, purple ruffled sleeping cap, and wire-rimmed glasses perched on the end of her tiny pink nose, and walking on two legs.
Nyra sat up, her hands unsteady, and lifted the rabbit onto the bed beside her. “Mama always smelled like daffodils and sunshine,” she ended with a shaky sob. “Oh, Karma, she’s been gone for so long, so many centuries, I don’t think her soul will ever find her body.”
She knew she sounded like a little girl, but at the moment, she felt like the little girl she’d once been.
Karma slipped the wand beneath the pillow beside her and produced a tissue from the air. She shoved it into Nyra’s hands. “There, there.” She patted Nyra’s slender shoulders. “Yer still grieving, my Nyra. Ya couldn’t save her. No one could. Sometimes…it’s a witch’s time to go. When it is, her soul seeks eternal rest. I highly suspect where yer mama’s soul is involved, that’s the case. Elsbeth would not be happy without yer father. He was her one true love.”
“He–he shot her, Karma. My papa. Th–the blood…so much red, the color…so vivid, it stands out in my mind and I can’t bear it.” Nyra whimpered and used the tissue to wipe away the fresh tears splotching her face.
“That just shows ya, Nyra. Yer mama’s heart was pure that night or her blood wouldn’t have been scarlet. It would have been thick as the Styx River and dark with the evil in that room, but she was untouched by it.”
Nyra nodded and tried to breathe, but it was hard when her spirit felt so crushed. “Dark blood doesn’t always signify evil. You know a waken’s blood is darker than others, so are some witches’. Sometimes, it’s the way it is…”
Her words trailed away with a sob. Nyra’s fingers trembled. To steady them, she dug them into the blanket twisted about her hips. “Papa just…he stood there, wild-eyed, the pistol belching smoke. The look on his face…Samhain, his eyes were so dead and blank…but for a moment, there was a spark of life. It was as if he couldn’t believe he’d hurt Mama. He ran, Karma. He flung down the gun…an–and ran…out the door, into the night. With…her!”
Karma squeezed Nyra’s icy hands. “There. There. It was a long time ago, over three hundred years. Don’t think about it, Nyra. Troubled times, they were. Ya know yer papa was hexed, yer only tormenting yerself.”
“I know.” Nyra crawled beneath the covers. “I know it happened a long time ago, but when I see it, when I return there in my mind, the pain, the sorrow, it’s all fresh. It feels like it happened yesterday.”
The familiar settled on the pillow beside Nyra’s head. “I can place a magic spell over ya,” she offered kindly. “Remove the terrible history from yer memory.”
“No. No matter how painful, I want to remember what happened. They tried to take it all away from me, erase my mind of the details, but I fought them. I’ll never allow magic to steal my memories. I want to find the witch who destroyed my parents.”
“They?”
“The coven,” Nyra whispered unsteadily. “They took my sisters from me, separated us, and forced us to dwell in the world of humans. No one would tell me where they’d taken my sisters.” Fierce anger heated her blood. “I’ll never forgive the coven for keeping us apart.”
“Be kind to them, child. They meant well. They meant only to protect the three of you from the evil witch.”
Nyra sniffed. “I wasn’t as lucky as Kirrah and Saylym. They were so young, their memories easily manipulated. They forgot everything. They forgot me, Karma. You have any idea how it feels to be forgotten? I didn’t forget them.”
As a child, she’d heard the fight unfold between her parents. Slipping from the bed in the loft she shared with Kirrah and Saylym, she peeped over the edge to the floor below where her parents stood arguing. Her innocence, a child’s innocence, was shattered that night as she secretly watched, and listened to them quarrel.
Kirrah and Saylym slept through the terrible fight, until the booming retort of the flintlock woke them. The three of them bounded down the rickety ladder and ran screaming to their mama.
Soon after, the coven swooped in on their besoms. They took her and her sisters into the night, wrenching them away from the appalling scene inside the hut. Over three hundred years passed before she saw Kirrah and Saylym again. Even when their memories started to return, they hadn’t remembered that night, her, or even each other.
But she—she remembered everything…she’d touched the blood on her mama’s breasts. In her child’s eyes, it had been surreal, an unnatural red that crawled across Elsbeth’s snowy white apron, scarlet, and evil, something loathsome and alive, devouring her mama as she lay wounded and dying.
Nyra poured every bit of magic she possessed into healing the injury that night, but the coven pulled her away, telling her it was too late.
“No,” she screamed. “I’m a healer. I can help her!”
For a six-year-old, the battle between her and the elder witches raged hot and fierce. She’d fought them with everything she had, screaming, crying, and clawing. She resisted their magical chants, argued, and pleaded. The verbal dispute did her no good. She was a little girl, too young to handle the fierce magic growing inside her. Too young to understand she couldn’t save her mama, and too young to take on the powerful magic of the older witches.
But her mind had been strong, and though the coven made numerous attempts to erase her memories, they hadn’t been able to without destroying her completely. No one wanted to see that happen, so they backed away from inflicting too much damage to her mind—to her soul. Still, in her heart, she’d never forgiven them, and never would.
No matter how long it had been, no matter the passing of centuries, the grief always blindsided her. Just like her memories, the years of loneliness couldn’t be erased. She hadn’t lost just her mama that night. She’d lost her sisters and her papa, too, her entire family gone before she had time to realize everything was tragically changing.
She’d stood there helpless, her mama’s blood dripping from her fingertips, and the coven shuffling her away. They hustled her and her sisters into the night, into a life none of them could have foreseen.
Living close to Salem Village had been dangerous for witches. After her mama’s death, and all the hangings, Nyra’s use of magic was forbidden. The coven ordered her to leave the dead, dead. Her magical powers were concealed from human eyes, unused in the mortal world.
Like a delicate flower strangled by a patch of weeds, Nyra choked by degrees in the illumrof realm, alone, except for her Aunt Glorma, who wasn’t really her aunt, but a member of the coven assigned the task of parenting her.
Nyra knew she’d never healed from all that happened that terrible night. She’d never quite learned to trust anyone with her heart, soul, or her life. She vowed no one would take control of her magic again or forbid her the use of it.
She’d settled in Sanctuary now, back in the realm of Ru-Noc. Back to the land of witches and wakens. Home. Nyra brandished her magic as she saw fit, even though she knew it made her the target of some very unsavory demons and worse.
But no one was ever telling her what she could or couldn’t do with her skills again.
No one.
And if that meant King Titan got pissed at her, well then—what was one old god’s wrath compared to her magical skills?
She’d handle him when the time came.