Sasha and I are going to be MIA from Dec 9th to Dec 16th. We’ll be driving up to and all around New York. So if you absolutely need us to do something that can’t wait until after we get back, speak before Dec 1st or you’re likely SOL.
Much love to everyone who has been enjoying High King ^__^
Coming up in the next few months: The Werewolf of Grey Lake Inn through LT3 in December. This is a solo release of a story I had in anthology, and part of mine and Sasha’s Paranormal Days verse.
Trick of the Light is the start of my super villain series, which I’m self-pubbing, and it comes out in January. Some will remember this verse, back when it was just a bunch of silly little shorts I wrote on LJ. For those who just went OMG Dixie! he is the second story.
Tournament of Losers is my 67k fairy tale coming out in February, another LT3 release.
And for the moment there are no releases lined up for March or April, but come May my necromancer/dragon story, The Only Option, will be coming out through All Romance Ebooks 🙂
For those eagerly awaiting Lesto’s story, that is June’s release.
And the rest of 2016 can just wait a bit ^^; Though most of it is already booked, including Shield of the Dragon and The Painted Crown.
IN THE WORKS
The Lady and the Thief Is a lesbian tale part of Deceived verse (complete with Suitable cameos).
Dragon Magic, which I started forever ago and am finally getting around to finishing. I am never writing telepathy again x_X
Close Enough to Touch, the third Anti-Heroes book (#2 is already done)
And last, but not least, a book I always said I wouldn’t write for various reasons (too intimidated being one of them). Below the cut. I hope everyone has had a good weekend, and has a lovely week.
Part One: The Banished Knight
“Damn it all, I just bought these.”
“You mean I just bought them,” Devlin said in the snotty tone he only used when he was in a truly foul mood and wanted company for his misery.
Neirin looked up from his charred and blood-spattered trousers, casting Devlin a look that held every bit of the ire he was feeling. “Shove off, Winterbourne, or I’ll toss you right into that pile of ash and stomp on you. The trousers were bought with your coin because the pair they replaced were set on fire. By you. While I was wearing them. I think I’ll throw you in that ash anyway.”
“Someone is getting tetchy,” Devlin drawled. “Lack of food? Lack of sleep?”
Refusing to dignify that by acknowledging it was said, Neirin bent to retrieve his poor sword, which looked the worse for wear after their nasty fight with rogue wolves and a handful of particularly nasty trolls. Standing, he pulled a piece of cloth from an inner pocket of his jacket and tried to clean the worst of the mess from the blade. He frowned at the nicks, and a scratch that no amount of buffing was going to save. Damn it.
He shoved the sword back in its sheath and tried to think of something else. Troyes growled sleepily beside him, and rubbed his head along Neirin’s thigh. Neirin stroked his scales, silently soothing him. “Food soon, I promise.” He looked at Devlin. “Are we done here?”
“One should hope.” Devlin threw out a hand to recall his runes, kissing the last as he dropped them into the bag in his jacket. “Let’s be on our way, the sun is rising faster than any of us wants.” He strode off across the yard, looping around the house rather than choosing to cut through it.
Once had certainly been enough. Neirin dragged himself after Devlin, fighting the exhaustion that washed over him but not quite managing to stifle a yawn. The carriage was where they’d left it, the horses waiting patiently… but there was no Barra or Midnight. “Would it be so difficult for people to stay where I tell them just once?”
“Oh, yes, because you did such a bang-up job of staying where you were told last month when we were dealing with that demon,” Neirin said.
Devlin didn’t bother to look at him as he replied with a few choice words regarding Neirin’s parentage.
“You two are in fine form tonight,” said a smooth, cheerful voice.
Neirin could practically see the unhappiness drain from Devlin’s body as he turned and held fast to the figure that practically threw himself into Devlin’s arms. Devlin kissed him softly, then drew back with a stern frown. “Where did you go?”
“We made one last sweep of the house and two more of the little terrors bolted into the woods. They’re gone now. Barra stopped at a creek to wash the blood from his hands.”
“Fat lot of good that did,” Barra grumbled as he came out of the woods, clothes a bit askew and a leaf in his hair. He smiled as he saw them, laughing softly as he reached Neirin. He pulled a kerchief from his jacket pocket and reached up to wipe at Neirin’s cheek. “Ash.”
Neirin captured his chin and leaned down to kiss him, enjoying the smell of fresh leaves that clung to him, and a faint tang that belonged wholly to his werewolf blood. He smiled as he drew back. “Shall we be on our way now that this little side trip is at an end?”
“Yes, we shall,” Devlin groused, and climbed into the carriage.
Barra lifted his eyes to the sky and slipped away to mount the driver’s seat. Next to Neirin, Troyes shifted into his human form. He smoothed down his clothes then lifted his head in silent demand. Neirin gladly acquiesced and kissed him, the hot, metallic scent and taste of dragon surrounding him, mingling in his mouth with the lingering taste of Barra. If there was anything better than his dragon and his wolf, Neirin never wanted to know it.
Troyes nuzzled against him then slipped away to join Barra. “Wolf-elf kiss.”
“Stop trying to be bossy.” But even as he issued the reprimand Barra was leaning in to kiss him.
Smiling, Neirin unbuckled his sword and followed Midnight into the carriage and settled across from him and Devlin, setting his sword belt next to him on the seat. “Well that is certainly enough of that. I suppose there is little chance of dinner now.”
“We’ll muster up something,” Midnight said with a smile. “I do not want the two of you cranky on through morning.”
Devlin grumbled, but Neirin let the words wash over him, leaning back against the plush cushion of the carriage and closing his eyes. He was tired. They’d been on the road for a month, going here and there as they tracked down the rogue monsters of an alchemist who had lost his bloody mind.
And throughout the affair—actually starting a few days before it—he’d been plagued by bad dreams and a constant feeling of being watched. The prickle on the back of his neck had been there so long he was almost growing used to it. Even now his fingers itched to try and rub it away.
He ignored it. Whatever was wrong would present itself eventually and going out to find trouble was not something he cared to do. Well, not anymore. His days of guarding the border of Clan Pendragon territory were seventy-three years in the past.
Seventy-three years… yet he had scarcely aged a handful according to the mirror. Free of Pendragon lands he should have begun to age more like a normal human. He still would have lived longer, but he was no sorcerer or witch to conceivably live hundreds of years. He had initially marked to proximity to Devlin and other Nightwalkers. Barra’s longevity was partly that, the rest accounted for by his fairy blood. But for Neirin and Troyes there was little explanation save that is was residual effects from Pendragon.
It had never proven to be a problem, so he’d never pursued and neither had the others. Tried not to think about the family that had lived and died without ever trying to contact him. The descendants who probably didn’t know he existed. Did anyone remember him? He could think of one person, but if he remembered Neirin at all it was just as one more dusty, faded memory lost among a hundred thousand others.
“You seem particularly foul of mood this evening.”
Neirin dragged his eyes open. “Yes, and you’re so cheerful. We were meant to be home hours ago. I’m exhausted, hungry, and bloody damn tired of cleaning up other people’s messes.”
Devlin opened his mouth, and Neirin braced to hit him, because that was exactly how this night was going—
“I think a good trip to the country would do all of us some good,” Midnight cut in, voice as soft and sweet as ever. He was curled close against Devlin, their arms twined together, the brooding Mad Duke and his adoring draugr. They were the strangest pair Neirin had seen in all ninety-eight years of his life, but also one of the most beautiful in the strength and depth of their bond.
He would envy it, save that nothing could compare to having Troyes and Barra at his sides. Midnight and Devlin might be a beautiful pair but Neirin was part of a beautiful three and that suited him far more.
Old memories filled his mind like faded, cracked paintings in a forgotten attic, but Neirin batted them away. Even before he had been banished, his daydreams had been only that: the foolish imaginings of a boy who fancied himself a man. His marriage had been arranged, his future laid out. Whatever he had truly wanted back then, it had already been out of his reach. He was much happier with his three than he ever would have been with four, be it daydream or arrangement.
Neirin drifted off to a tangle of memories and dreams, mouth pulled down and his brow deeply furrowed. Voices speaking in murmurs, occasionally saying his name, floated around him, comforting in their familiarity but not enough to help him escape the unhappy rest.
The jarring halt of the carriage did wake him, and Neirin jerked up and cast one hand toward his sword. Then comprehension fell and he sat back with a sigh. “Are we home?”
“Finally, yes,” Devlin replied, and swept out of the carriage as only a man so insufferably arrogant could. Neirin followed him, down to the dark street and up the wide steps of Devlin’s townhome. Neirin’s home for the past seventy-three years, when they weren’t in Winterbourne Manor, anyway.
The smell of food washed over him as they entered, and he paused only long enough to discard his sword, coat, and jacket. Devlin was already seated when he arrived, and Neirin took his own seat, quickly followed by Barra on his right. Troyes, as usual, eschewed the dining room in favor of going straight to the kitchen. He’d eventually head up to the bedroom for Neirin and Barra to find him later.
Thanking the servants as they set plates in front of him, Neirin tucked in. None of them said a word as they ate, not even Midnight, who merely sat there drinking from a cup made of dark green glass. When his plates were finally empty and his good mood nearly restored, Neirin pushed away from the table and rose. “I am to bed. I hope I do not see any of you again until late tomorrow.”
Devlin grunted, not bothering to open his eyes or sit up from where he’d slumped back in his own seat.
Barra smiled and rose to follow Neirin, tangling their hands together as they headed upstairs to their bedroom. Troyes was already fast asleep, sprawled out like a puddle of liquid metal on the floor at the foot of the bed.
Stripping, Neirin tossed the clothes in a pile with the rest of the wash then climbed into bed. Barra followed him a moment later and Neirin pulled him close. He mustered the energy for a goodnight kiss, murmured goodnight, and fell asleep breathing in Barra’s woodsy scent.
He woke in the dark, gloomy gray hours of earliest morning. Once upon a time, it would have been too early even for the lamp lighters.
But what had woken him? Barra was still fast asleep, warm and soft against his side. If he’d woken Neirin, there would have been no call for complaint. Sadly, that was not the case.
The prickling at the back of his neck was stronger than ever, an unsettled feeling strumming through him, making him want to lash out someone. He gently extracted himself from Barra and slid near soundlessly from the bed.
A soft growl drew his attention to the window, where Troyes had pushed back the curtain to press against the glass—in dragon form, when he knew to be more careful when they were in London. Neirin joined him, pushing the curtain back further and resting another hand on Troyes’s head. “I don’t see anything.”
Troyes growled again, low and rolling, but beneath the displeasure was a hint of pain—anguish, in fact. Which could only mean one thing: he sensed another dragon. What would clan be doing in the city? “Stay here.” Troyes snarled at him. “I mean it,” Neirin said. “I’d rather have you to protect me, you know that, but it’s more important that you stay here to protect everyone else if someone from the clan has come to get rid of us once and for all. Even Devlin, as powerful as he is, won’t be any match for the full weight of the clan following a kill order.” Neirin moved away, but turned back as Troyes whined. He knelt hugged Troyes close, kissed him behind one of his fanned ears. “I’ll be all right, beloved. Take care of our wolf-elf and those other brats.”
When Troyes growled in reluctant acquiescence, Neirin rose and went to get dressed.
He pulled on his boots, still caked with mud and gods alone knew what else after their fight the previous night. Shrugging into a coat he headed downstairs. His sword was where he’d left it in the front hall, leaning against the table where Devlin seemed to have dropped everything in his pockets.
Buckling the sword in place, Neirin headed outside into the misty gray. The familiar, not entirely pleasant smells of London washed over him, but laced through it was the unmistakable metallic-tang of dragon. And the thick, spicy bite of power, heavy enough to coat his tongue and the back of his throat. Neirin’s knees felt weak as the power washed over, a familiar urge to kneel and bow his head jolting through him.
It couldn’t be. He wasn’t allowed to leave Pendragon lands, wasn’t even capable of it for more than a few hours at a time.
He followed the feeling as it strengthened, down the street and through the thickening mist to an empty lot where a building had recently burned down, the victim of gas and a careless owner. His breath caught as he reached the center of the lot, one hand falling reflexively to the hilt of his sword. The rest of the world was drowned out by a buzzing in his ears as he stared in disbelief.
Seventy years had passed, but Prince Avalon had not changed a day.