The Magic & Mayhem anthology is out! If you want to read my sweet little short about a mercenary and a mage, today is the day you can start doing that ^__^ and I totally don’t remember if I posted an excerpt of it anywhere, so there is one below, sorry if it’s been read before ^^
Everyone deserves to see themselves in stories, to see themselves get a happy ending. For the past few years, GRNW has helped to see those stories reach more of the LGBTQ community, and gain traction is libraries and beyond.
Furthering that goal is this collection of fiction and essays, including information on how to get books in libraries, letters from authors, why positive and happy queer books are so important, and short stories about tattooists, soldiers, mages, and cyborgs that span the LGBTQ spectrum.
And my story is Demonica
Shale groaned as Keira set a plate heaped with food in front of him, along with a large pitcher of ale and a platter of biscuits, butter, and cheese. He’d cleared a quarter of his plate before she’d taken her seat.
“Breathe every few bites,” Keira said with a sigh. “Are you even tasting any of that?”
“It’s delicious,” Shale replied before shoving another bite of butter-soaked biscuit in his mouth.
Keira lifted her eyes to the ceiling. “You’re disgusting. When your arm doesn’t work right tomorrow and you have to spend three hours cleaning out crumbs and dried gravy, don’t whine to me.”
Shale paused long enough to glance at his left arm, but it was well-covered, from fingertips to just past his elbow, with a special-made, magica-treated leather glove that protected it from far worse than him being a messy eater. He’d also spent the better part of the day getting his arm, eye, and right leg tended, and most of what money had been left had gone to refilling all the medicine he had to take because of them. The Torrien Desert was always hard on his mechanica parts. “Shut up, I’m fine.”
Sighing again, Keira tucked into her own food at a much more sedate pace. They’d just started on second helpings when shadows fell across their table. Shale ignored them. Anyone worth taking a job from knew better than to bother them when they were eating.
Keira kicked his good leg under the table, but when Shale only grunted and started massacring another biscuit, she turned to their unwanted visitors—and choked. Shale tamped down on his annoyance and ate the bite of spiced potato on his fork. He chased it with ale as he looked at their guest—and damn near snorted all of it up his nose. He hastily set the mug down and wiped his face with a kerchief he pulled from a front pocket of his jacket.
Six guards stood clustered around the front edge of their table, dressed in the red-and-green garb of the Grand Duke of Soria Bell, who controlled the northeast section of Renmarkane. Peculiar. What would Her Grace want with them? Shale hadn’t seen her since, well, a time he was happier not thinking about. It had been made pretty clear to him that she and the rest of the family were done with him. Not a good sign she wanted to see him now, five years after they’d cut ties.
Keira grunted. “We’ve been gone the past five months and have only been back in Soria Bellmane eight hours. Whoever the fuck said we did whatever Her Grace is pissed off about is lying.”
The woman marked as a captain stepped forward, the torchlight gleaming in her dyed crimson hair. “Are you Shale Teor and Keira Mark?”
“No,” Shale said petulantly.
Quirking a thin black brow, the captain said, “The Grand Duke seeks to hire you.”
Keira sneered. “The Grand Duke can seek—” She broke off with a grunt when Shale kicked her under the table. Smiling stiffly at the captain, Keira said, “With respect, Captain Whoever You Are, of what possible use could a couple of glorified fetchers be to Her Grace? Surely you’re capable of doing the job.”
“I’m Captain Tula Rumark, and if she wanted me to do it, I would. She wants the pair of you.” With a sigh grand enough to make Keira’s look a paltry effort, Tula motioned to her soldiers and said, “Take them.”
Shale barely had enough time to snatch up his bags and grab a last biscuit before the guards swooped in and hauled them away. As they were dragged along through the streets of Soria Bellmane, he grumbled, “Just once I wish we’d be allowed to finish a meal before another bit of trouble found us.”
“I think we both know we’ll never be that lucky,” Keira said, and they both fell silent the rest of the way through the city and across the great bridge to Soria Bellketh, the castle of Lord Sara Halruul, the Grand Duke of Soria Bell.
It was as beautiful as ever. The sight left him sad and aching. This place had been home once—the only place to feel like home since he’d lost the first one. Mother of All, he didn’t want to be here. He twitched as they passed through familiar halls, scents washing over him and churning up further unpleasant memories of the last time he’d been there.