Books and BBQ sauce: what's not to love?

It's a new month and we're back with more contests for you to enjoy. Whether you're a fan of The Unbelievable Mr. Brownstone series or new to it, these prizes are going to appeal to you.

Enter to win the first 3 books in the Unbelievable Mr. Brownstone series, signed by author Michael Anderle!

Then, once you've entered, if you share the contest from the entry site, you'll be entered to win a case of Brownstone's favorite Jessie Rae's BBQ Sauce!

You know how much Brownstone loves BBQ, so you know this is going to be good to put on your smoked meats.

Click here to enter for your chance to win.

These contests run for about two weeks, so don't delay on entering and sharing! And good luck!

Electrifying Fan's Pricing Saturday July 31, 2021

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The sparks are flying and the deals are electric.

Fans' Pricing Saturday, July 31, 2021

Note: We requested the price changes from Amazon on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, they don’t change all of the prices at one time. Please double-check the price before clicking “Buy”.
All of these new releases are 99c for one day only!
And they are also available for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Grab them today before the prices go up!

Dragon approved complete Boxed set

Dragon Approved Omnibus

Rebel Tribe e-book cover

Rebel Tribe

Contained Apocalypse e-book cover

Contained Apocalypse

Nine Lives e-book cover

Nine Lives

Circle in The Deep e-book cover

Circle in The Deep

World's First Wizard Complete Boxed set

Worlds First Wizard Complete Series

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If you see this message after July 31st and want to be notified of future price promotions, please sign up for our email list at www.lmbpn.com/about/email.

Book Bundle Wild Wednesday Jul 28th, 2021

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Bundles of books at a great price!

 

Wild Wednesday, July 28, 2021

 

Each week we bring you a list of books from not only LMBPN authors, but also friends of ours, that are on sale! Here’s a fantastic opportunity to discover some new authors or some exciting books you may not have seen yet.

Most of these books are FREE in Kindle Unlimited, but all are on sale today.

Please remember to double-check the price before you one-click.


 

Dragon approved complete Boxed setDragon Approved Complete Series Boxed Set:

With every passing day, more and more Dragonriders are falling under the scourge of the Dark One. The forces of humanity and their allies are desperate. They need a new hero to step up and turn the tide. Myrddin, the resistance’s leader, thinks he might have found that someone…on Earth, of all places.

Word has just come from the east that the Dark One is launching his largest assault yet, but there is still time to stop him. If, that is, they can find someone good enough to take him on.  Alex Bound just might be the rider they need. But a human has never been accepted as a Dragonrider.  Let alone a blind human…

Get This Deal

 

World's First Wizard Complete Boxed setWorld's First Wizard Complete Series Boxed Set:

Enter a darkened world where, so far, no one has won World War I and now dark monsters are choosing sides in the World First Wizard Complete Series boxed set. Dive into a double-fisted tale of war, magic, and bloody conspiracies in the grim alternate history of the War to End All Wars.

Included in this set:

Witchmarked, Sorcerybound, Wizardborn

Get This Deal

 

 


 

Bat Shift Crazy e-book coverBat Shift Crazy:

I think I’m going batty… Literally… I told myself I’d never go back. I’m returning to the Vilokan Asylum of the Magically and Mentally Deranged… Not to get treated… but perhaps Doctor Cain can help.

The world’s original werewolf… and its first murderer. If anyone can help me get a handle on an undesirable shape-shifting situation… it’s him. But there is a coven of bat-shifting vampires with other plans. Surely their appearance and my… acquisition of this ability… isn’t a coincidence. If I’ve learned anything hunting vampires, it’s that I can guarantee that they’re up to no good. And I can’t help but wonder… am I the one hunting them?  Or have the tables turned?

Get This Deal


Better Demons e-book coverBetter Demons:

A dangerous job, a pair of pint-sized familiars on her shoulders, a crush on a constellation … No wonder Theo Apollonia’s relationship status just says, “It’s complicated.” Snarky thief Theo Apollonia has life figured out: steal priceless artifacts—pay off her debts. But when she and her familiars, Simon and Garfunkel, botch their most dangerous heist yet, they find themselves on the wrong side of a powerful demigod … Turns out all the legends are true. Banished demigods really do hold grudges.  Now Theo must take on powerful mythical guardians, warring gangs and an underground arena where mythical creatures battle to the death. First rule of mythical Fight Club: everyone dies.

Get This Deal


 

Brother Blood Sister Death e-book coverBrother Blood Sister Death:

Twin Vampires. Different motives to kill.

Hybrid vampires Daniel and Diana feel technology’s cold, uncountable tendrils hunting them. Daniel scientifically satisfies his needs. Diana, his twin sister, hunts in the old-school way, leaving patches of greasy, scorched earth or mutilated bodies for her brother to take care of.

Daniel created Matrix, a face pack for beauty shops, which pulls blood through skin, leaves blissful clients, kills and alerts no one. Daniel cultivates his human side; Diana mocks him. Impatient, she hunts out of spite as much as need.

Get This Deal

 

The Battle for Texas e-book coverThe Battle For Texas:

The Battle for Texas begins with the brave defense of the Alamo in which every man is killed. The women of the Alamo, Susanna Dickinson and Caroline LaFont are spared. Luke Calhoun, who arrived too late to join the defenders of the Alamo, is held captive by the Mexicans until the end. It is then that he is freed by Santa Anna in order to lead the women to safety.

Luke joins Sam Houston in the epic battle for Texas Independence on the plains of San Jacinto, a battle Caroline observes from a secure position. The ordeal she and Luke have faced has brought them together so that, as man and wife, they begin their future in a free Texas.

Get This Deal


 

The War Business e-book coverThe War Business:

Sam Raven and Aaron Osborne forged a warrior’s bond in the toughest covert battles of the Iraq War. Now, Aaron is desperate for Raven’s help. He owes a debt to the kind of people who don’t take IOUs and plans to rip off a pair of French drug dealers to get the money fast.

Raven thinks the plan poses too many risks, but Aaron saved his life once, he can’t let a friend down. The best way to make sure Aaron gets away clean is to help him pull off the heist.

But when Raven discovers Aaron has lied to him, and the stolen money is actually financing a war profiteering conspiracy to ignite a conflagration in Europe, he’ll chase his old friend from one side of the world and back again to prevent the deaths of millions of innocent people.

Get This Deal

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Bewildering Snippet of Osprey Chronicles Book 1

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Rebel Tribe: Osprey Chronicles Book 1

 

Lost in space, no knowledge of who she is. There must be a good reason that she pushed the engines and found herself in this situation.


 

VCS 01 (Osprey Chronicles) snippet

 

1 – 

“Engine core critical failure imminent.”

Orange-yellow warning lights flashed from every screen. The command center was a cylindrical room, over eleven meters in diameter, with each flat end covered in monitors and control panels that were blinking in distress. The curved wall served as a walkway…when the gravity-spin generators were functioning.

They were not. 

Scraps of smashed casing and ripped wires drifted in the zero-G environment. Dozens of small electrical fires raged across the consoles, eating up oxygen. The smog of ozone and burning plastic filled the air.

Near the center of the chamber, a petite woman in a silver flight suit dug through the guts of the fire suppression system, her legs wedged against a support strut to keep her from floating away.

Coughing and fanning away smoke, she slammed the butt of her multitool against a flow valve, knocking it open. Flame suppressant hissed from the tubes, smothering the electrical fires and filling the command center with an inert gas mix that made her lungs itch. There was a whoosh of dry air as the supplementary oxygen system engaged.

“Engine core critical failure imminent.” The sexless voice echoing around the chamber sounded disinterested, even bored.

Heart pounding in her ears, the woman shoved herself away from the fire suppression system and glided smoothly to the engine core interface. 

“I heard you the first time.” She scanned the monitors, desperate for any hint of good news. “Give me new information.”

“Coolant pressure rising. System failure due to internal strain,” the voice said calmly. Then it added: “I told you the jump was a bad idea.”

“I don’t remember jumping,” the woman snapped. “I…I don’t remember anything.” The realization of this thought hit her hard. She knew she was on a ship, but where or why? She couldn’t recall anything. Not that it mattered now. 

There were more pressing issues to deal with. Issues like not dying.

“Certainly,” the calm voice continued. “You commanded we jump through the wormhole despite numerous warnings on what wormhole travel does to the human mind and—”

“Vent all of the coolant,” she yelled.

“Not recommended. Thermal shock may damage the engines. Might I remind you, we’re trying to cool the ship. Not overheat it.”

“A critical flood will ruin the whole damn thing rendering this ship useless. Pick the devil you can live with. Vent the coolant!”

There was a beat of silence between the wail of distant sirens. Then: “That is not a recommended course of action. Aptitude monitors have determined that your judgment is impaired. Initiating control override.”

She glanced at the AI interface. The screen had gone blank, activating a nanny mode that would take hours to override. Until then, that smug voice would do what it thought was best for the ship. 

Her ship.

“Like hell you are.” She thrust the plasma multitool over her shoulder and closed her fist, squeezing all four triggers at once. A lance of ionized plasma lanced through the air, filling the chamber with a fresh shower of sparks and cleanly slicing through the AI mainframe casing, taking the damn thing offline.

The sirens stopped.

“Override that, you pompous asshole.” She released the multitool and turned back to the engine controls. Every single emergency light flashed red. Coolant pressure critical. It might already be too late to save the engines, but if she didn’t try, the ship would be dead in unknown areas.

Venting coolant into space at these pressures, though, would generate one hell of a kick.

She snatched a restraint harness from the wall and shoved it over her shoulder. It surprised her that the memory-straps knew her shape and closed automatically across her chest.

She punched the valve activation controls.

The superstructure around her, already battered, screamed as a brutal pressure change blew its cooling systems clean, venting into the cold vacuum of space. 

She slammed against her safety harness as the ship rocked. One of the straps caught her stomach, winding her. By the time she caught her breath, the pressure valve gauge had slid from the red zone down to the green. Engines damaged, but online.

She felt an instant of elation before the drifting multitool slammed into her face.

***

She startled awake with a sneeze that cut through a dead silence. Pain lanced through her nose, making her vision blur. By the time it cleared, a faint mist of bloody spray had drifted around her face.

“God damn it,” she muttered as a throbbing headache, the mother of all hangovers, pounded the inside of her skull.

She let out a shuddering breath and prodded her face. Her mouth and chin were sticky with blood. Her nose was swollen and tender. Hair, matted with blood, clung to her temples.

She squeezed her eyes shut, reaching for clarity behind the headache, but it wouldn’t come. She stared at the array of monitors and computer banks curving around her, willing them to spark some recognition. Nothing.

Shit.

She swallowed a dry lump in her throat. “H…Hello?” She peered down, where an unlit access tunnel opened into the module. Overhead, a similar access tunnel curved out of sight.

She willed herself calm with a few deep breaths.

“Start with the basics,” she muttered to herself. “Where are you?” 

Scanning the blinking monitors, she found nothing to tell her where she was. Then checking her memory as to what happened, she met with an equally useless answer. 

She had no memory of anything before the fires. 

“Okay, okay, the basics, remember. What is my name?”

She waited, but if she knew even that much, the awful headache buried it. 

Reaching up, she opened the harness buckle on her shoulder. The straps slackened, letting her float free at the center of the chamber. Burnt wiring and melted plastic pockmarked the banks of computers stretching around her.

Above and to her left, she spotted a metal cabinet door painted with a red cross. Shoving herself against the harness support, she drifted to the cabinet and fumbled with the latches. The door swung open, revealing rows of neatly ordered medical supplies.

“Praise God in heaven.” She grabbed a packet of medfoam and ripped it open with her teeth. The mirror mounted to the inside of the cabinet door caught her eye. 

She didn’t recognize the golden-eyed woman staring back at her. Blood plastered her short, tightly curled black hair to the left side of her skull. Her skin was bronze, except for where it had gone purplish-black over the crooked swell of her nose. 

The concussion treatment, she thought, is mental and physical rest.

She chuckled and dabbed the sticky foam over her bloody scalp. She couldn’t remember her name, but she could remember basic first aid. 

“One step at a time,” she muttered.

Where the medfoam touched her skin, it smoothed and hardened into a sterile lattice that would stop the bleeding and keep her wounds clean until she could get proper treatment. 

“No gravity,” she told the mirror as she wiped the blood from her chin. “By the shape of the room, it looks like rotational gravity generators are supposed to keep people stuck to the sides. They must be offline. You know how gravity generators work. You’re on a spaceship. What are you doing on a spaceship? Where is the rest of the crew?”

No answer came to her except the throb of pain from her nose. She thought she recalled the scream of sirens, but if it was a nightmare or true memory, she couldn’t say.

Concussion treatment: Limit exposure to bright sounds and light.

Somewhere down the hallway, an alarm began to beep. 

She pressed her eyes shut. It was a loud, steady beep—at three-second intervals, almost languid. Too slow to be urgent. It could wait.

She faced the woman in the mirror and glared at the swelling mass of her nose. No amount of first-aid analgesic was going to fix a dislocated nose.

“All right.” She set her jaw and hooked her legs around a support strut. She drew in one deep, sucking breath. 

“What’s your name?” she asked the woman in the mirror. When the woman didn’t answer, she squeezed her eyes shut and brought her hands to her face, resting her thumbs along the bridge of her nose.

If she were dreaming, this would sure as hell wake her up.

“What’s your name?” She screamed, ramming her thumbs together. There was a sickening click of cartilage as her nose popped back into place. White-hot agony lanced through her face. She kicked, her boots slamming into the side of the console as she convulsed. The alarm abruptly silenced. 

She panted, glaring at the golden-eyed woman, who was still an utter stranger. A few gulps of water from one of the sealed bottles in the cabinet made the pain retreat a little further. 

She patted down her flight suit, looking for a personal computer, a commlink, hell, even a nametag would be welcome—but her attire was sleek, featureless, and without pockets. Even her utility belt was empty.

Something bumped her leg, and she looked down to see a drifting plasma multitool. She stared at it for several seconds. There was dried blood caked to the blunt end, decorated with a few curly black hairs. 

I was holding it, the woman decided. I was about to do something. 

She remembered, suddenly, the brutal pain of it slamming into her forehead—the smell of burning plastic, the unique singsong alarm of the… The coolant alerts.

“Oh shit.” 

She snapped the multitool to her belt and swung around, towing herself up the side of the command center to the engine core interface. Coolant pressure had fallen to zero. She had vented all of it from the main systems to prevent an engine flood. 

Why would the engines start to flood? The idea alarmed her. She felt like she’d walked into the middle of a holo-drama. Something must have gone terribly wrong to put the engines in danger of flooding.

On the other hand, a system without any coolant would overheat in hours, a day at the most, merely from generating the minimum power necessary to sustain life support.

When she tried to switch over to reserve coolant systems, the system didn’t respond. She popped off the interface panel to see a mess of blackened, twisted wires. She cursed, pounding the wall with her fist. 

The comm speaker beside her blurted static. She stared at it, then cleared her throat. “Computer? Anybody? This is…” She stretched, reaching for her name, but it didn’t come. “Do you copy?”

No answer. Overhead, one screen flickered. She pushed herself closer to see a blinking command prompt.

The computer core beside the screen was cracked neatly in two, probably damaged in whatever disaster had caused all the fires, but somehow the miracle of transistors and circuitry clung to life.

She cracked her knuckles and started typing. A quick hardware assessment told her the primary CPU had sustained damage, but the backup was in better shape. With some careful negotiation over broken keys and a damaged touchscreen, she sifted through the mainframe until she found the right paths to switch operations to the backup. A new prompt appeared on the screen.

Switching computer cores may change some functions. Proceed? Y/N

Any function was better than none. She couldn’t get a good diagnostic of the ship without a functioning central computer. She tapped the Y.

The screen went blank. 

Static crackled through the comm speakers. She closed her eyes, praying.

The static clarified into a voice, mild and sexless, with the faintest hint of an accent she couldn’t quite place. Irish, maybe?

“Please stand by while system reboots. Initializing.”

The monitor in front of her flared to life.

“Good morning, S. W. Jaeger,” the AI said. “How can I help you?”

 


 

How did she come to be there, what is her mission, where is she going? Find out on July 28th, when Rebel Tribe: Osprey Chronicles Book 1 is released.

 

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Feel Good Week in Review July 18 – 24, 2021

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Feeling Good about all the new books released this week.

July 18 – 24, 2021

Feel great about these new books here: Week in Review


Fated Bond e-book coverA Fated Bond:

Magic, dragons, elves, and vampires are my new normal. At any point, I might get attacked by an angry book, be on the shit-list for forgetting to hook up my battle bear’s keg, or get called to investigate a gruesome magical murder. And how cool is that? Well… the investigating part, not so much the murder.

When Garnet brings Team Trouble in to investigate a string of discarded bodies, none of us likes where the evidence points. My Spidey-sense says something isn’t right. In the human realm, the evidence doesn’t lie. In the empowered realm… nothing is as it seems. Join Fiona as she strikes off on another action-packed adventure in the ninth installment of the Chronicles of the Urban Druid.

Read Now

 

Diplomatic Resurgence e-book coverDiplomatic Resurgence:

What if you found out your life was a lie?

Everything has changed in a blink of an eye, yet Seraphina Waters must find a way to solve a civil war while fulfilling her scariest role yet as Maid of Honor.

The past resurges to haunt both Link and Phina, revealing secrets hidden for decades.  After the truth is revealed Phina has to pick up the pieces. Not easy when the sum of your interstellar experience is measured in months while dodging assassination attempts and navigating new relationships.

Read Now


The Drow Lineage e-book coverThe Drow Lineage:

Her Drow Aunt is off the throne and all of Ambar’ogúl is looking to Cheyenne to guide them. Can the Goth Drow find a replacement for the throne? Better be fast.

There’s a long list of dangerous to-do’s and not a lot of time. Heal the blight. Take out the traitor in the FRoE. Break the rest of the curse on her mom.

Can Cheyenne step into her role as Drow Royalty on Earth?

Will Ba’rael’s parting-gift poison ever depart from Cheyenne’s body?

Read Now

 

Birth of A Goddess e-book coverBirth of a Goddess:

What’s a girl to do when she finds out she has a great destiny? Reject it, of course. Until she starts having dreams that are someone else’s memories.

The world is on its second pandemic in a decade and EMT Angelica Morgan is burned out. An old boyfriend, and surprise her new boss, puts her on administrative leave. Believing tea and cookies is a good solution, Angelica heads to her grandmothers.

 What Angelica learns sends her careening down an entirely new path. One she isn’t even sure she wants no matter how much she desires to help humanity. 

Read Now


 

Circle in the deep e-book coverCircle in the Deep:

Across the sea from the bloody adventures of Skharr the Deatheater, another fell-handed wanderer treads a bloody road.

Leaving her people's crumbling decadence behind her, Axe-Wed wanders a savage world intent on making her way one axe stroke at a time.

When she finds herself the victim of a nefarious kidnapping Axe-Wed must battle her way through darkness and horrors in the deepest dungeons, as her allies face intrigues and treacheries in the world above, as the city teeters on the brink of destruction.

Read Now

 

Nine Lives e-book coverNine Lives:

Olivia Adler’s completely normal adoptive parents don’t regard her extrahuman status as a secret, but they keep her medicated and on a day schedule. Without those meds, Olivia discovers powers and instincts beyond those of a normal owl shifter. Just as she starts exploring these new traits, her unrequited crush, cat shifter Tony Gitano, dies, and his body vanishes from the hospital. Olivia can’t mourn Tony for three reasons. Number one, she’s too busy assisting the Law Office of Ichiro and Dunstable with a high-stakes trial. Second, the Goblin King has charged her with a Quest in the Under. Third, she’s got a sneaking suspicion that PPC’s surly neighborhood cat-man is only mostly dead. The Unseelie Monarch isn’t the only one taking notice. The Gatto Gang boss can’t abide someone like Olivia investigating his alleged part in Tony’s demise. Will Olivia prevail, or die?

Read Now


Get Excited About New Books Here: Week in Review

 

 

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Vibrant Fan's Pricing Saturday July 24, 2021

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The deals are as colorful and the characters in these stories.

Fans' Pricing Saturday, July 24, 2021

Note: We requested the price changes from Amazon on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, they don’t change all of the prices at one time. Please double-check the price before clicking “Buy”.
All of these new releases are 99c for one day only!
And they are also available for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Grab them today before the prices go up!

Kurtherian Gambit boxed set books 1 e-book cover

Kurtherian Gambit Boxed Set Books 1-3

Learning to Give e-book cover

Learning to Give

Fated Bond e-book cover

A Fated Bond

Diplomatic Resurgence e-book cover

Diplomatic Resurgence

The Were Witch Omnibus

The Were Witch Complete Omnibus

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Birth of A Goddess

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The Drow Lineage

Back Yard BBQ $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway.

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If you see this message after July 24th and want to be notified of future price promotions, please sign up for our email list at www.lmbpn.com/about/email.

Riveting Wild Wednesday July 21, 2021

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Compelling stories at great prices!

 

Wild Wednesday, July 21, 2021

 

Each week we bring you a list of books from not only LMBPN authors, but also friends of ours, that are on sale! Here’s a fantastic opportunity to discover some new authors or some exciting books you may not have seen yet.

Most of these books are FREE in Kindle Unlimited, but all are on sale today.

Please remember to double-check the price before you one-click.


 

The Were Witch Omnibus Series e-book coverThe Were Witch Series – Complete Omnibus:

Bailey Nordin is feeling the stress of pack obligations arriving too soon in her life. She prefers working on cars to going on a date. A good fight is just a morning’s workout, and Bailey's sarcastic wit has killed any chance of a love life. Her future isn't looking bright.

Roland is on the run from three powerful witches who want him for…what he can provide. Trying to hide from the witches, he ends up in the middle of a town so small, it's hard to find it on a map. She's a Were, He's a wizard. He could be her ticket out of her problems—if she believed in magic.

Buy Today

 


 

Legacy marines ebook coverLegacy Marines:

Esther and Noah Lysander are the twin children of General Ryck Lysander, Commandant of the Marine Corps, leader of the Evolution, and Chairman of the Federation. When they are told that their father and mother have been assassinated, they are both devastated.

Cut adrift, they each decide to enlist in the Corps—but for different reasons. Esther feels it is her duty to carry on the family legacy, confident that she can excel and reach the top. Noah simply wants to earn his father’s pride, even if it is too late.

Buy Today

 


The United Federation Lysander Twins Series CoverThe United Federation Marine Corps' Lysander Twins:

As children of General Lysander, they are not “normal” recruits. Seniors and peers are well aware of their background, and the twins can’t escape the public eye. From under their father’s heavy shadow, the two have to discover his or her personal path in the Corps, even when that seems to pull them apart from each other.

Included in this Set: Legacy Marines, Esthers Story: Recon Marine, Noah's Story: Marine Tanker, Esther's Story: Special Duty, Blood United

Buy Today

 

The Godmakers e-book coverThe Godmakers:

On the edge of a war-weary and devastated galaxy, charismatic Lewis Orne makes planetfall on Hamal. His assignment: to detect any signs of latent aggression in this planet’s population.

To his astonishment, he finds that his own latent extrasensory powers have suddenly blossomed, and he is invited to join the company of “gods” on this planet.

And people place certain expectations on their gods….

Buy Today


 

ALLIANCE E-BOOK COVERAlliance:

Life in the fringe colonies is tough, but to Dante it’s home. Captain of the Xeartais crew, he leads a ragtag bunch of miscreants just trying to survive. But not everyone at the local space station plays fair. When Dante decides to unite several crews in an alliance it causes a ripple effect that will either tip the scales for good or end in ruin.

Kit is running from the stifling life others wanted her to lead. When she arrives on Ephren and runs into the Xeartais crew, she wonders if she’s finally found somewhere she belongs, but she brings her own issues with her, and life in the alliance isn’t exactly safe.
With the pirates uniting behind a single leader as well, only one thing is for sure: Those who can fly, must. And every good mate counts.

Buy Today

 

COLORADO RENEGADE E-BOOK COVERColorado Renegade:

HONOR FORCES BOUNTY HUNTER ELIAS PROSPER TO TRACK DOWN A RENEGADE UTE, NO MATTER THE COST.

Bounty hunter Elias Prosper is as tough a man as the West has produced. But as hard as he is, he has a soft spot for children and women. When a Ute named Painted Bear casts off the ways of the white man and spirits away a Ute boy and a white woman, both of whom Prosper had rescued earlier, the bounty hunter ignores his wife’s pleas to stay home and instead heads into the mountains to hunt down the renegade warrior.

Buy Today

 


 

BLAZER E-BOOK COVERBlazer: Devil's Jury:

At a Nevada casino, a war erupts – the combatants: two outlaw biker gangs. Days later, Sergeant Steve Blazer of the San Francisco Police sees the surveillance video, and something tells him that violence is coming to his city. Enlisting the help of the California Highway Patrol, he takes steps to prepare his squad, known as Special Forces.

The problems begin overnight, when a new batch of methamphetamine hits the streets, taxing the cops in their efforts to fight it. The enemy is an outlaw biker gang known as The Devil’s Jury, and they have come for revenge on two special defendants, ex-cop Mark Powers and Sergeant Steve Blazer.

Buy Today

 


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High Charged Snippet for The Outcast Royal Book 1

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Circle in the Deep: The Outcast Royal Book 1

 

It's a tricky thing to determine where the line of right and wrong is when pillaging a city. Only a certain type of warrior will know the difference.


 

1 – Khardalis, the Iron Maiden and crown jewel of the Behemon Mountains, lay stripped and broken before her enemies.

The armies of Hasriim the Great already flowed through her streets and the first screams of the harrowed population were soon joined by the ravenous crackle of fire. In the waning night, the mingled voices of victims and flames would rise like an apocalyptic choir to echo across the mountainside.

The city had stood defiant for too long against Hasriim and as such, her humbling would be the subject of dread legends for years to come. Tales would be whispered of how rapine, slaughter, and plunder had left her a shell only fit for vultures and jackals. In cities as far as the fabled courts of Xhulth across the Caged Sea or even far Verenvan, dire stories would be told of the noble houses down to the last babe in arms butchered and hung from the palace Citadel.

Not every word would be true but the message would be clear. Khardalis was broken as was fitting for all who stood against Hasriim the Great.

Yet not one word would be spoken about how it was not Hasriim, however great he might be, who accomplished the fall of the proud city.

That dubious honor lay with a band that skulked around the gutted barbican of the Goat’s Gate.

The fortified gatehouse squatted upon the junction of the city’s outer wall. A branch of the interior wall provided, like yawning jaws, access to a rough mountain track into the Behemon Mountains.

The gate’s name had been a matter of some debate amongst the learned antiquarians of the city. Some had postulated that it was so named because this was where mountain shepherds used to drive their flocks into the city in antiquity. Others said that anyone exiting from said portal had best be as surefooted as a goat if they planned to travel the treacherous slopes beyond.

A few truly innovative and progressive academics proposed that the appellation of goat was derived as a derogatory term resulting from early conflicts between nomadic and agrarian peoples, but academics often say many silly things and their fellow civilized men indulge such foolishness. 

Regardless, those scholars would soon never argue again as they died amongst other civilized men, while the Goat Gate was held by a small detachment of those distinctly less civil. 

Moments earlier, they had ensured rapid ingress into the city. Now, they were determined to halt any egress. That is, of course, assuming one couldn’t pay.

“That’s everything we have,” a woman sobbed and clutched a silken shawl around her with one hand while the other pressed a small boy to her hip. The child shivered in the night air and the thin nightgown trembled against his spare frame.

“Not everything, me thinkz,” a tall, barrel-chested man rumbled in a basso voice thick with a northern accent. He looked up from perusing the pack he held open with one hand while the other hand rested on the pommel of a sword in a battered scabbard. Seeming all the larger in the coat of scales and gorget worn across his broad body, he loomed over them both.

With thick, scarred fingers, he’d already plucked out the bag of coins and a wineskin that lay at his feet but he now squinted at the woman in the light of the burning city. His pale eyes glimmered in a gaunt face. He sucked his teeth and turned his visage to a skull’s rictus grin before he nodded.

“What do you me—” She began to weep but saw the heavy fingers stretched toward her. Fearing the worst, she cried out and tried to draw back but the brute’s fingers snagged the opal necklace around her throat.

“You are having theze.” The big man chuckled as the child at her side began to cry. “Give me theze and onez in you earz, then it be everything, me thinkz.”

“Please…please!” the woman croaked and her eyes bulged as her fingers struggled with the necklace. “Take it, please, but don’t hurt us.”

After another agonizing moment of fumbling, the necklace came free.

“Hurt?” the brigand asked with a bemused chuckle as he admired the necklace in his fist before he winked at the bawling child. “Why think me do that, eh?”

“Because your face looks like the celestial end of a hell-bound demon,” drawled a man from under the gate’s shadow. “And that’s when you’re in a good mood.”

The speaker emerged from the belly of the barbican. Bandy limbed and wiry with a horn bow slung over one shoulder, he wore a padded tunic crisscrossed with a leather harness from which hung a long-knife and a quiver of arrows. His voice was even and calm but something in his flinty gaze made mother and child shrink away.

The bowman’s black-eyed gaze played across the woman and lingered at every place where her thin nightgown shifted and clung to the soft body beneath. His expression didn’t change but his shoulders seemed to roll forward while his advancing steps took on a distinctly predatory gait.

“Perhaps the lady is looking for a guide, hmmm?” he all but purred in the back of his throat. “Someone to see her and her dear son to safety?”

“I can’t pay,” the woman said with a shiver and hugged herself. “He has everything.”

His lips curled to form a cold smile.

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll find a way to balance the scales.”

“Weren’t you—” The big man began to turn to the newcomer but fell silent at the wicked light in his companion’s eyes. The shadows on the gaunt face deepened as he looked at the beset mother with a shrug. The necklace fell amongst the other plunder at his feet and he refused to look at the sniffling little boy.

“Earringz first, me thinkz,” he grunted flatly and moved his hand to rest it on the pommel of his sword again.

Desperation and fear warred on the woman’s face as she struggled to remove the earrings, but a keening scream from deeper within the burning city held her attention for a moment. Something grew hard and remote in her eyes. She handed the earrings over, turned to the “guide,” and nodded stiffly, but she held her head high as she met his merciless gaze.

“Very well,” she said, her throat so tight she almost whispered. “Get us to safety and you can…can have whatever you want.”

As if to illustrate the point, she loosened her grasp on the shawl and straightened to draw her shoulders back. His smile broadened and it was his turn to nod.

“This way, my lady,” he said in a throaty invitation as he gestured toward the dark passage leading out of the city.

The big man would not look at either woman or child as they began to shuffle past him. Without turning, he raised his voice to address his companion, his gaze fixed beyond the bloody streets and fire-spattered buildings.

“Be quick about it, Norlen,” he called in an ashen voice. “Ax-Wed won’t like, me thinkz.”

Before the man could respond, a third figure emerged from under the gatehouse and her icy tones froze both men like an arctic gale.

“What won’t I like, Brekah?”

He stiffened while Norlen turned jerkily to regard the speaker who stepped from the dark. Their reaction was muted, however, compared to the beleaguered woman who gaped openly.

Had she ever seen such a creature?

The figure that strode forward, in spite of the armor and mail-curtained helm she wore, was ferociously female, but she was a lioness to the domestic feline cowering of the two men. She stood eye to eye with Brekah and her every movement betrayed a strength and agility that pushed beyond mere sinew. One gauntleted hand clutched a flaccid wineskin while the other rested upon the head of an ax on her belt.

Norlen was the quickest to recover and strode quickly to scoop up the wineskin pilfered from the woman’s pack.

“We’re merely dealing with things,” he said with an unctuous smile as he held the wineskin up as an offering. “Nothing you need to worry about.”

Eyes like forge-heated copper flashed within the shadow of the helm’s sockets as Ax-Wed looked past the wine to where the mother and son gawked at her. She looked at Brekah, who still refused to face her, and glared at Norlen.

“No.”

The words were as cold and hard as the grinning edge of the weapon at her belt.

His face spasmed with hatred but he mastered his expression and proffered the wineskin again.

“I don’t know what you mean.” He chuckled, an almost clucking sound in his dry mouth. “Take the skin and let us get back to it. The others will be back soon and they will probably have many more chickens that need to be plucked.”

Her gaze wandered to the wineskin for a moment and her fingers tightened on the limp sack in her hand. With a low sigh that slithered through the metal links that veiled her face, she let the empty skin fall from her grasp as she stepped forward.

“That a girl,” Norlen said encouragingly and a genuine grin crept across his face. “There you go. Climb right back—argh!”

His words ended in a choking gag as Ax-Wed stepped past the outheld liquor and seized him by the throat. With an ease that even the larger man would have struggled to display, she dragged the gasping, gargling bowman to one side. His eyes bulging, he clawed feebly at the armored limb that held him in a grasp as hard as the steel it was clad in.

“Brekah,” she said without an ounce of strain in her voice. “The pack.”

With a grumbling grunt, Brekah ambled around and held the pack out to the woman who stood moon-eyed with her child pressed against her hip.

“Take it,” Ax-Wed instructed in a calm, unhurried voice.

The woman hesitated for a moment and her fingers trembled when they stretched toward the pack. Then, with a lurch of resolve, she snatched it from him.

“Go.”

Again, the voice was untroubled despite the fact that Norlen now groped with one hand for the blade at his belt.

“Don’t,” she said and turned a chilling glare upon the bowman, who stilled although one hand still clenched around the arm holding him.

“Go,” she repeated and kicked the plundered wineskin toward the woman without turning her gaze from her captive. “Save as much of that as you can. In three days, you should reach a lodge on the north face. If it is empty, fine, but if not, use that wine to barter for assistance. They don’t get good wine up there very often.” 

The woman slung the pack over her shoulder and scuttled forward with the child in tow. She hooked the carrying cords of the vessel with unsteady fingers but her voice was clear as she straightened to address the towering warrior.

“Thank you,” she whispered as she began to edge toward the portal. “May the gods bless you.”

“Go.”

She needed no more encouragement and turned from the ruins of her old life, dragging her son beside her. Before she vanished down the tunnel-like portal, the lad looked over his shoulder long enough to wave a hand in farewell.

Ax-Wed waved in return but something like a shiver passed over her.

When they had moved far enough to satisfy her, she returned her gaze to Norlen, who wheezed through her constricting fingers as he glared at her with undisguised hatred.

With no more effort than if he were the little boy who had fled, she threw him aside. He lost his footing and landed on his backside with a wounded grunt.

“Not a zmart thing, me thinkz.” Brekah groaned and rubbed the back of his neck as though he experienced a sudden ache.

“Maybe.” She shrugged and let her shoulders sag before she rolled them.  “But right isn’t always smart.”

“Truth.” The large man nodded and gestured with his chin at the recovering Norlen. “But him not having zuch ideaz, me thinkz.”

The bowman found his feet and snarled obscenities and blasphemies in three different tongues as he unlimbered his bow.

“Don’t ever touch me again.” He growled belligerently as his fingers brushed the fletching of the arrows at his hip, his bow already freed from his shoulder. “Ever.”

Ax-Wed still rested her hand on the head of her weapon and regarded him coldly as his fingers closed around the shaft of an arrow.

“You’re a fine shot, Norlen,” she said in the same sanguine tone. “But don’t be stupid. Not twice in one day.”

He tugged the arrow halfway from the quiver and her fingers tightened enough that her gloves creaked slightly.

“Oh, this one isn’t for you,” he retorted venomously as he rolled the arrow between his fingers so the barbed head clicked against the others. “I think this one will be for your little friend.”

She tilted her head enough to look down the passage through the barbican where the woman and her son emerged from the shadow of the wall.

“Don’t.”

Steel had returned to her voice but this time, he merely sneered.

“It’s a far stretch on a small target but you said it.” He chuckled cruelly through bared teeth as he drew the arrow completely from the quiver. “I’m a fine shot.”

The ax seemed to fly into her hands and one hand grasped high while the other slid toward the bottom of the haft. There was no further word of warning this time but a low, wet snarl rose from deep in the lioness’ chest.

Brekah’s gaze darted from one to the other, his eyes wide and frightened. His mouth gaped and lips twitched as half-formed admonitions bubbled in the back of his throat.

“W-wait…n-now… Ho-hold…”

An eternal second stretched as poisoned glare met smoldering glower, then Norlen’s mouth moved as he raised the shaft to his bow.

“This’ll teach y—”

The ax whistled gently before a dull, fleshy thud drew a ragged groan from Brekah. The sound was followed by the heavy thump as Norlen fell on the bloody cobbles. His limbs spasmed and organs voided to leave nothing but a sharp fecal stink in the air.

For a moment, an unnatural silence seemed to settle over that corner of the city as Ax-Wed drew a rag from her belt. Brekah turned away and shook his head.

The lioness had barely begun to clean her blade when he turned to face her, his eyes glittering and huge.

“No need for that, me thinkz,” he warned in a hoarse whisper and hooked a thumb over his shoulder.

Almost a dozen wretches in disheveled finery staggered up the abattoir of a street and looked over their shoulders constantly as if harried in their approach. They appeared to be a handful of small families and couples, all wearing or adorned by the kind of casual finery that inspired loathing and avarice in those denied such things. Some seemed to have had time to throw bundles together or retrieve small chests, but others appeared to have only what they wore.

At first, they seemed to be driven by the sight of the burning city but Ax-Wed’s gaze settled on the rangy figures arrayed behind them. The light of moon and flame gleamed on battle-greased blades and glinted off hard-worn armor. With cruel laughs and rough threats, they drove their herd toward the Goat Gate, their smiles keen and sharp as they all anticipated a good shearing.

“You run now they won’t chaze, me thinkz.” Brekah grunted and his gaze slid off her to Norlen’s cooling corpse as his nose crinkled. “Too buzy to follow, but you ztay and there’ll be more blood, me thinkz.”

She squared her shoulders, tucked the stained rag into her belt, and settled both her hands atop the ax head.

“I won’t run.” She shrugged and nodded toward Norlen’s body. “I gave him a chance. It’s not my fault he was too stupid to take it.”

The man shook his head and stole a glance over his shoulder.

“Norlen more popular than you, me thinkz,” he stated matter of factly. “More popular and been two-backing with Targhli for pazt few monthz. She’ll want zatizfaction, me thinkz.”

Now, it was her turn to shake her head.

“Even if he brought it on himself for wanting his way with a desperate woman?”

Brekah shrugged and turned toward the street again.

“Never bothered her before,” he grunted, the words slow and sour. “Won’t matter now, me thinkz.”

Ax-Wed’s chest swelled to answer but her shoulders sagged and she let the retort dissolve into a long, low sigh.

“What will you do?” she asked finally and raised her gaze to confirm that the divested nobles were barely a stone’s throw from the gatehouse.

“Watch,” he replied over his shoulder. “Tell them what happened if they azk but they won’t wazte time azking, me thinkz.”

She nodded and forced herself to wait in stillness and silence as the predator-stalked herd approached. Almost in counterpoint to the warrior’s poised position, the fallen nobles began to bleat their fearful entreaties.

“Please, have mercy,” they pleaded as their gait slowed to a nervous shuffle and they stared in terror at the bared blades behind them. “This is all we have left in the world. Mercy, please!”

Brekah drew a deep breath, coughed a little when the latrine stink of Norlen filled his nostrils, and raised a bellowing cry.

“One line, single file!” he ordered with the certainty and volume of a battle-seasoned commander. “No pushing and no cutting.”

“Yeah, no cutting,” snickered one of the she-jackals who nipped at the heels of the herd and flicked a red blade before her. “ʼLess you want us to cut you.”

From the looks of things, a few had already received such treatment. Near the head of the forming column was a gray-headed man with craggy features who clutched a crimsoned scrap of velvet to his face. Behind him, a paunchy woman sniffed and winced as she tried to squint around a freshly broken nose that leaked blood down her face.

“Now, now,” admonished a tall, lean man who emerged from the circling pack. “We are escorts for these fine people, after all.”

His clothing and armor were finer than the others but no less battered and battle-stained. He sauntered toward Brekah through the frightened folk who parted before him. An ivory-hilted sword hung on his belt and a steel-rimmed buckler held lightly in his left hand both seemed parts of his anatomy.

He stopped short when he noticed Norlen’s body a pace away from the grisly totem of his head. A face that might have been beautiful were it not so scar-crossed and soot-smeared scowled first at the corpse and then at the blood still clinging to the ax.

“Explain,” he ordered between clenched teeth and lowered his free hand to the sword at his belt.

“Well, Jaggor,” Brekah began and sucked his teeth again in a death’s head grimace.

Before anything further could be said, the blade-brandishing she-jackal uttered a horrible shriek.

“Norlen!” Targhli screeched and shoved through the cowering civilians. “Norlen!”

Her long-bladed knife still in one hand, she threw herself on the ground before her lover’s sightless eyes in a perverse imitation of worship. Her hard, wild gaze searched the slack expression and then swung upward toward the towering woman with the bloody ax.

“You! You bitch. I’ll kill you!”

The long-knife trembled but the woman didn’t rise from her crouch.

Ax-Wed glared at her and her burning gaze determined the measure of the woman in an instant. She dismissed her easily and turned her lioness’ gaze to Jaggor.

“We had a disagreement,” she said, her voice steady and flat.

The corner of his mouth twitched upward and for a second, cold, reptilian speculation slid behind his eyes. One less share in what was bound to be a prolific haul wasn’t something to ignore.

“You’ll pay for this.” Targhli yowled where she still crouched and the knife quivered in her hand. “I swear it by all the gods and every demon that’s earned a name.”

Ax-Wed didn’t bother to turn her head when she replied.

“There’s no need to pester them. I’m standing right here.”

The woman screamed like a wild cat but when she did not pounce, all understood what the warrior woman already knew.

“What was the disagreement about?” Jaggor asked and his eyes trailed to the pile of booty at Brekah’s feet. More calculations slithered behind his eyes and the rest of the crew seemed to sense it as they began to creep forward between the confused and still terrified flock.

Brekah noticed the change with one sweep of his eyes and took half a step back.

“About a woman,” he said quickly, one hand raised in placation while the other remained fixed on his sword. “Norlen was for taking a woman and Ax-Wed disagreez.”

Jaggor’s fingers tightened around the hilt of his sword.

“So she killed him for having his way with a prisoner?” he asked while the icy arithmetic slid the information on his mental abacus.

“No,” the big man said and took another half a step back when he realized some of the band had begun to creep along the flanks. “He intended to kill the woman’z boy or might have, me thinkz.”

Targhli rose and bared her teeth along with the long-knife in her hand.

“So she killed Norlen, one of her own, for some war-chaff’s whelp.” She growled in fury. “It seems to me like she merely wanted a bigger share.”

Soft murmurs of assent slid between the mercenaries as they crept closer.

“After all, didn’t you hear her say we would have never taken the gate without her?”

Ax-Wed weathered the accusing question without retort, which stoked the discontented current that crackled between the hot-blooded brigands. She rested her hands on her ax and fixed her gaze on Jaggor, their leader, and waited patiently.

Brekah slunk into the shadow of the gate and clear of the encircling band as Jaggor reached the end of his calculations. The leader of the sell-swords stood behind the shrinking circle and with a speculative glance, he assessed the scene with a cool smile.

Ax-Wed read the smile in an instant—one less rival, one less share. With a grimace, she adjusted her footing subtly.

“I suppose I should have known better than to trust a Thulian.” Jaggor sighed and expertly feigned self-deprecating resignation. “She couldn’t help it, I suppose.”

A hate-filled murmur passed through the gathered mercenaries as horrified whispers wove through their captives. All eyes turned to the warrior woman and some of the defeated even squared their shoulders as they stood a little taller.

Yes, a Thulian explained everything, didn’t it? No mortal man could defeat Khardalis but Hasriim had not sent mere men but a demon in mortal flesh. There was no shame in defeat when it took one of such a race to conquer them. After all, weren’t so many ancient stories full of these monsters from the sea, armored giants who worked foul magic with their very breath?

“That’s why its face is covered,” a captive muttered. “To hide the streaked hair and the fangs.”

Ax-Wed chuckled as the pack of jackals closed in.


 

It definitely seems like Ax-Wed has a knack for getting herself into dangerous situations. We shall see if she is able to get herself out. Circle in the Deep: The Outcast Royal Book 1 is available for pre-order now, and available for purchase July 22, 2021.

 

Circle in the deep e-book cover

 

Burdened Snippet for Reincarnation of the Morrigan Book 1

Birth of A Goddess Quote

 

Reincarnation of the Morrigan: Birth of A Goddess

The whole world looks different for Angelica these days. Working as an EMT has left her feeling as though she is not doing enough in the midst of a worldwide crisis.


 

“The Way of Kings is upon her; it shall keep her, it shall bind her 

and through her, the kings of the earth shall fall.” 

  • The Ancient Book of Morrigan, Passage VI

 

The inside of the tenement building reeked. 

My mask did little to block the odors. 

“This used to be a decent place. Now it smells like someone's been murdered here,” I muttered to myself as I stepped up the sagging staircase to the fourth level. Both the stairs and the railing felt like they would give way at any moment. If it weren't for my job, I wouldn't have come anywhere near this godsforsaken place. 

I reached the landing and surveyed the narrow hallway, peeling wallpaper, and exposed brick in the dim light of the small amount of sun allowed through the window at the end of the hall. What the hell happened here? Did the owner just decide to up and leave? 

I wrinkled my nose. It smelled like cigarette smoke and piss. 

I heard movement behind me and turned. Two men had stumbled out of the room across the hall. They smelled even worse. Their eyes raked over me, full of predatory intent. “What are you doing here, little girl?” 

I stiffened. The men were taller than me, but I was by no means little. I fixed the one who had spoken to me with a cold stare. “Out of my way.”

The man's brow rose, and he snickered. “You shouldn't be here.” 

Why the hell not? I thought. Who was he to determine where my job should and should not take me? He grumbled to his companion before shutting the door with a bang and trudging down the stairs. It was like they didn't even care why I was here. My fingers curled into fists. 

Outside, the streets were vacant and had been for some time. Nearly a year, I reminded myself with no small amount of indignation. Fear had struck, and the crowds had thinned. It had been inevitable from the start, ever since we first heard from the other side of the globe of the sickness that would soon spread. 

I reminded myself that there were over thirty thousand hospitalized already and shook my head. So much could have been done to stop the spread. My job was the same since I still performed my Emergency Medical Technician duties daily, but there was an added weight. Don't let the patient know there isn't room for them. Help them think they will be okay. Especially, I thought, if it is a child.

For once, I was glad I wasn't more than an EMT.

The paramedic was ahead of me. He had already found the room from which the call had been made and the girl inside. He gathered the small malnourished child in his arms. I looked her over. She's not older than ten, I realized. The girl's blonde hair was matted with sweat and blood, and her arms and neck were bruised. Seven minutes from when we had received the call until we'd arrived.

I looked for a phone. There wasn't one in sight. I looked for other people. There were signs of them, but they were not here. They abandoned her, I thought, my blood beginning to boil. 

Maybe that was for the better. Had the abuser been nearby, I would have broken protocol and acted in what my superiors considered an “uncooperative” way. Our job is to protect people and save lives. Why shouldn't that mean breaking a leg or two on those who get in the way? Thankfully, I had never broken anyone's leg or been fired from my job as a result, but these days, it was more tempting than ever. 

We took the girl to the emergency vehicle and switched the sirens back on. I examined her as the paramedic drove us to the hospital. After a quick assessment, she had three cracked ribs and a broken nose. I could well imagine how she'd acquired such injuries. To my relief, none of her bleeding was internal.  If I ever find out who did this to her, they're going to pay, I promised. 

The paramedic glanced at me in the mirror. His expression said, “Stay cool, Ang. We're almost there.” 

Didn't you see what her living conditions looked like? I could have shot back. This was not the time, however, to start an argument with my colleague. 

Along with the paramedic, I jumped down from the vehicle and helped carry the girl in on the gurney. Hospitals were currently the most crowded places in England. If they tell me there is no room, I'll make room for her myself, I thought as I remembered how many sick people were already here. 

We walked in and were given doubtful glances. “It looks like she's been given all the treatment she needs,” one of my superiors said. 

I started to object, but the paramedic laid his hand on my arm. “You should have seen where we found her. She can't go back.”

I'll give her my bedroom at home if I have to, I was prepared to say, but our superior gave one last long, doubtful look before nodding. Even if the hospital was overrun, it was a safer place for the girl. Within minutes, the child was admitted, and I was given leave to go. I checked my watch. I had started my shift thirteen hours ago. 

“A whole eternity ago,” I muttered to myself. 

The paramedic nodded at me. “Good job.” 

I returned his words but didn't feel satisfied. There has to be more I can do. Every time I entered a hospital, I felt like a cabin boy aboard a ship during a storm. I didn't do the same job as the sailors, but I could feel the storm just the same. Walking toward the exit felt like trudging through a battlefield after a long, hard rain. Perhaps I was exaggerating, but I felt like a soldier whose job was far from done. We might not have been fighting a war with guns and bombs, but we were fighting all the same, and I was on the front lines. 

I folded my arms and stared at the Accident and Emergency Department's doors. Shes a child, I thought with simmering rage. What the hell is wrong with this world?

I submitted the paperwork describing the incident and what had been done for the patient, then finished with disinfecting the emergency vehicle and checking the equipment inside so it was ready for the next patient. “Everything good?” my replacement asked as I hopped down and closed the back doors of the vehicle. 

I nodded. “Takes longer to disinfect these days.” 

 “Have a good night, Angelica.” 

Feeling like I would collapse at any given second, I reentered the hospital to gather my personal items but kept to the side of the hall so the other workers could make their way around me more easily. “Ang!” a voice called from somewhere behind me in the crowded hallway. 

I was surprised to be able to hear my name amid the commotion in the hospital. Who is calling me? Only the people closest to me got to call me Ang. I could barely keep my eyes open, but I turned to lay them on a tall, slender man approaching me. I would know his pleasantly browned skin, the trimmed facial hair beneath his mask, and his soft, dark eyes anywhere. I mustered a smile. “Simon, hello.” To myself, I thought, I'd love to chat, but you have no idea how badly I need to sleep. 

Simon halted, and concern drew his brows together. “Long day?”

I nodded. “Long year.” I straightened my posture so he would not see the fatigue weighing on me, though there were plenty of other signs of it. The last thing I'd be doing when I got home would be looking in a mirror. I didn't need to see the dark circles under my eyes to know they were there. 

He sighed. “Tell me about it.”

“It’s different out there. You get to see what’s going beyond these walls.” I gestured at our sterile white surroundings. At least this place was clean, unlike the tenement building we had just come from. I was eager to meet whoever the owner was and give him a piece of my mind. That’s not your job, I told myself. But what if I made it my job? 

“What is going on?” Simon asked. 

All who were employed in the medical field could only go to work and their homes. Walks outside or venturing where uninfected people might be found were off-limits, so we didn’t accidentally infect them. That was the cost of being a warrior during this time. “They’re all inside, just like the rest of us. It’s empty. The countryside should feel empty, not the city.”

Simon nodded.  “I miss the countryside. Remember—”

“Haiti,” I finished. My smile grew broader beneath my mask. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. There were so many children and too few beds.” Haiti had been on my mind every second I wasn’t on call in the past several months. 

“Too few of most everything,” he added. 

It had been ten years since Simon and I were in Haiti with a team providing hurricane relief. Undernourished people without homes and with severe injuries had been more than enough reason for each of us to go. It had been the beginning of a new perspective for me; the world was so much bigger than I used to think it was. Haiti had made me see that, and now, in England’s overrun hospitals, I was glad to have adopted that way of thinking.  

Simon leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. He flashed me a grin. “You were a spitfire in Haiti.”  He was teasing me, but he wasn’t wrong. “Spitfire” was perhaps too light a word to describe the woman he had been with on the island. I had gone into that country innocent but willing and been forged anew. At least, that was what my mother had said. I’d needed to be tempered, she had said. 

I returned his grin. “Yeah, yeah, you all had to keep me reined in. You think I’ve changed, but you haven’t looked closely enough.” Simon laughed, and I wondered which memory he was thinking about. “I’m being run ragged,” I confessed before he could pick one. It was obvious, I knew, but I still felt weak saying it. “Like you can’t tell.”

Simon’s grin faded. “I can see that. I brought up Haiti because I wanted to remind you what we said there: if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can be of little use to those around us.” 

I nodded, agreeing with him, but stiffened. “I won’t take time off. I can't handle that kind of guilt.” 

“I couldn’t handle it either, but I’m going to find a way. I hope you can do that as well.” 

I gave him a wry grin. “Thanks for the reminder.” What I didn’t say was that there was no way in hell I would willingly take a break. That girl we just brought in doesn’t get a break from her life, so why should I? 

Simon gave me a gentle smile. “It was a reminder for me too. I know the guilt you speak of. I think everyone here does. I’ll let you go now. Make yourself a nice meal tonight and read or watch something you like.”

 He’s just trying to help, I reminded myself. Aloud, I said, “Thanks, Simon. I think I will.” As I turned to leave the hospital, however, the last thing on my mind was a hot meal and a distracting television program. The girl we had just brought in had probably not had either for a long time. 

I glanced back at the Accident and Emergency Department. “Fight through it, little one.” 

I meant it for the girl, but also for myself. 

***

 

My flat looked dingy with the curtains pulled, dirty dishes in the sink, and unclean laundry in various piles. Under normal circumstances, I could get my shit together, but between shifts, I could only manage few hours of sleep and quick-to-make meals. Cleaning wasn’t a high priority for me right now. If I opened my curtains, a sliver of the sunset would stream in, and soon after would come sweet, soft moonlight. 

I slumped onto my faded green sofa and kicked off my shoes, not bothering to open the curtains. The electricity powering the lamp’s bulb hummed faintly in the otherwise silent air. When my flat was this quiet, I could hear everything with my keen ears. After the sounds of sirens and a full hospital all day, the silence of my flat felt like divine peace. 

I lived alone but was often visited by my winged neighbor. The crow liked to caw from my windowsill and peck on the pane. Another reason for me not to open my curtains. As soon as it saw me, it went into a frenzy. Anyone who’d regularly heard me say, “Fuck off” to a crow probably thought me insane. I agreed. You need to sleep, I told myself. 

As soon as I thought this, the thump, thump of bass from across the hall reached my ears. I groaned. My neighbors loved their late-night parties. They’re part of the reason we’re still in a pandemic, I thought. 

I hated being in my flat almost as much as I hated being in the hospital. Everything felt too heavy. Burdensome. England was burdened, and I knew the rest of the world was feeling it too. I didn’t want to begin to consider how a country like Haiti was faring during a worldwide pandemic. 

I was just beginning to turn my thoughts toward what I would have for supper when my phone dinged. I scanned the notification, and my insides tightened unpleasantly. 

Angelica Morgan is instructed to take a week’s recuperative leave by order of the Emergency Department Director. 

I groaned again. This day just got better and better. Had the paramedic told a superior I had been slacking? I had felt off and distant today, but that hadn’t stopped me from doing all I could to help that poor girl and my previous patients. I had responded quickly, and we had arrived in time. I opened the message and reread it. It was signed by someone familiar.  

Simon Lorne 

My eyes widened. Simon and I had worked at the same hospital for years, but since I was outside the facility most of the time, I seldom saw him. I had assumed he was just a doctor, but apparently, he had moved up. Desperate times make more leaders, I mused. Despite my irritation at his message, my heart warmed. Good, he deserves it. 

My phone made another sound, this time indicating a call. “Hello, Mum.” I leaned into the sofa and pulled my long dark hair out of its braid. 

“How are you, dear? I haven’t spoken to you in nearly a week,” my mother responded. A week to her was a long time. For me, the days blurred together. My concept of time was utter shit these days. 

“I’ve been working,” I answered, then realized I sounded irritable. Reasonably so, but I didn’t want my mother asking too many questions. The thumping stereo across the hall grew louder, and I was tempted to throw my shoe at their door. “It’s a strange world,” I added. “How have you been holding up?”

“Oh, nothing to report here. I feed the birds and the cats. I read the papers, but they all say the same things. I play chess.”

“By yourself?” 

I imagined my mother flashing a charming smile. “I can have more than one personality if I want.”

I laughed, feeling better. “I don’t believe chess requires much personality.” 

“How are you, really?” my mother prodded. 

I’m burnt out, Mum, I almost admitted, but I didn’t want her smothering me with concern. Now that I was her only child, I received all of her attention. Sometimes, it was too much. 

“The hospital is having me take a break, but I don’t think I’ll be able to stand it.” The thought of being inside my flat for a week while there were children in horrible situations like the one I had attended to today made my stomach churn. Anger and frustration flared within me, but I realized Simon was trying to be generous. 

He’s always tried to help me, I thought with fondness. My time with him in Haiti had been a bittersweet experience. I didn’t like to think about the feelings I had developed for him while we were there, especially since we had returned to normal life as mere friends. Now he was a colleague with whom I had once shared an adventure, nothing more. 

To my mother I said, “Simon Lorne. You remember him? He was in Haiti. Well, he’s the new Emergency Director, and apparently, he deemed it necessary I take a break.” 

“Oh, yes,” my mother responded. Her tone grew more cheerful. 

Here it comes, I thought. 

 “A wonderful young man. A bit of a studious one, I remember, but quite handsome.” 

“Studious” was my mother’s way of saying “nerdy.” 

With a sigh, I responded, “Yes.” 

“I always thought you two would make a lovely pair. Are you sure—”

“That was ten years ago, Mum,” I cut in. I leaned forward, rubbing my eyes. “Now I work under him.” 

“Still, you know I’m not getting any younger, and I would love to be—”

“A grandmother,” I finished. “And I would one day love to be a mother, but now is not the time. I’m not sure it ever will be.” The world was in shambles, and I could barely keep my own life together, let alone that of a child. 

My mother sighed. This had to be the hundredth time we’d had this conversation. 

“I’m sorry I won’t make you a grandmother anytime soon, but this world needs to change before I’ll be comfortable having a child. So, since nothing will change the world right now, you are stuck with just me, Mum.” 

“I understand, Ang,” my mother replied in a sad yet earnest tone. “Perhaps, though, change is coming.” 

A silence fell between us, and I could sense my mother searching for words on the other end. “You should take a true break, dear, and go visit your grandmother. It’s quiet out where she lives. A change of scenery.”

I thought back to what Simon had said earlier about the countryside. My grandmother lived in a cottage surrounded by forest, and although it would be a delightful location to rest, my grandmother could be tedious company. A long drive there, and even longer stories to sit through. Despite this, I had past memories of staying with her that were pleasant. 

“I don’t know, Mum.” 

If my mother had been with me, she would have shrugged, pulled me into a hug, and said, “Do something for yourself.” I didn’t get a shrug or an embrace, but she did say the words. My spirits warmed when I heard them. 

“Thanks, Mum. You're right.”

I knew her eyes sparkled as she replied, “Always.”

 


 

Something tells me that the righteous indignation that keeps rising up inside of Angelica is going to serve her well in the future. Get ready for the release of Birth of a Goddess: Reincarnation of the Morrigan Book 1. Ready for pre-order now, and available to all readers July 21st, 2021.

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Sharpshootin' Week in Review July 11 – 17, 2021

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This week's books are all bullseyes!

July 11 – 17, 2021

New Books Here: Week in Review


 

Ogres and Mom e-book coverOgres and Mom:

Lucy Heron knew Los Angles was a little weird, but dangerous magic is upping the ante and making art 3D. At first, it was just one incident, but trouble never stops there. Graffiti is peeling itself off the walls and starting fights on the streets of L.A.. Paintings are coming to life and stepping out of their frames. Tucked at the bottom of the art is the only clue – the tag, VX.

Can the Silver Griffin Agent tag the art back before humans start to notice it’s not part of a movie? And what is happening at a strange tattoo parlor? The Silver Griffins will need to cover the entire city to put a stop to it. Tracking down the mystery artist, organizing PTA fundraisers, keeping an eye on the Underfoots. It takes a magical mom and her family to juggle it all.

Read Now

 

Night Sworn e-book coverNight Sworn:

With the Sanctuary under threat and the agency showing they’ll stop at nothing to detain mythicals and disappear them, Aella finds herself on the front lines once more. But this time the whole world is watching. Up against an agency director who appears to have unlimited resources and no hesitation in doctoring film and lying to make Aella look bad, she must be above reproach.

Can she save the mythicals in need of her help without harming a single agent or soldier? And will the Sanctuary stand with her finally? With help from a surprising source and the continued growth of another element, Aella might just have a chance.

Read Now


 

PROMETHEUS WAKES E-BOOK COVERPrometheus Wakes:

A lifetime of breeding…and the Gigante were slaves. Could they be freed?

Alistair made a single wrong assumption and now he, Thoreaux, and Caesar battle for their lives in a cruel set of games designed to weed out the weak. Losing means death.

The game’s giants aren’t the only threat. The corporation’s CEO is hunting them too.

Faced with the horrible reality of an entire race born into servitude, Alistair now only has one option. Find a way to free them… or die trying.

Read Now

 


 

Clawing for Escape e-book coverClawing For Escape:

When the theft of a magical artifact goes wrong, its power opens a rift between our world and the Void which surrounds all planes of existence. The black disk threatens to suck our world into the Void, but Magic Managed is on the scene, ready to save the day. Galen and Vala ‘manage’ this misadventure well enough — at least at first. But then another portal opens. And another. And another…

The threat didn’t end with the first disk’s disappearance. If anything, it is only growing. Worse still, these portals won’t shut down. Vala’s special magic gave her the glimmering of an understanding of the nature of magic itself. But will that knowledge be enough to solve the riddle of these portals? Or will our world be sucked into the Void and lost forever?

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Learning to Give e-book coverLearning to Give:

Fail to prepare, or prepare to fail. If we're not ready for Temperance Fairbanks, she'll terrorize everyone. Especially my friends from other magic schools, who we're hosting for extramurals. She vowed to hurt them any way she can, and she's already got help.

My roommate Grace has a plan. Social warfare, breaking reputations and hearts, including her own. But our group's a mess of failing health and broken homes. The new kid's a self-professed coward. If I'm our only shot to keep Temperance at bay, we’re in trouble.

Do I have something to give besides brute force, or will I end up setting off a powder keg?

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SHE IS THE LAW E-BOOK COVERShe is The Law:

Is she a cop with a cause or a devil in disguise?

Terra Kris failed when she was supposed to look the other way during an assignment. For that act and her unrepentant attitude, she has powerful people gunning for her.

Now, someone has decided to use a new AI embedding program snuck in during an emergency operation. Where she goes, they can follow.Until she figures out what is going on.

Then there will be hell to pay.

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New Books Here: Week in Review

 

 

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