Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Spotlight/Giveaway~ Jersey Ghouls

Jersey Ghouls Tour Graphic
A.L. Sirois
Jersey Ghouls
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: June 15, 2018
A disabled cop and his ex battle giant centipedes and ghouls in a small riverside community that's about to be flooded out.
The rain-drenched riverside town of Sherwood's Landing, NJ is invaded by a species of centipede from Central America armed with psychedelic venom. Former cop Lafferty "Hoff" Hoffman and his ex-girlfriend Beatrice St. John are swept into terror as their neighbors are enslaved by a centipede-generated group mind. Those remaining free must band together to survive the onslaught of ravenous ghouls.

Purchase Links

Get the eBook copy of Jersey Ghouls for only 99 cents! Offer ends June 15, 2018.


Terry Haggerty was no pushover. She had gone to work at sixteen to save money for college, which is where she met Rook. Before the kids came, they'd often spent weekends at campsites throughout the region. Rook was an avid fisherman and hunter, and although she hadn't had any familiarity with firearms before she met him, Terry now owned two or three guns and was proud of her ability to shoot.
Under Rook’s tutelage, Terry always made sure her guns were in excellent condition. She went now to the gun cabinet in the living room. She kept most of her attention on the sounds from the back porch. From the cabinet she took out her .22 pistol and loaded it. Then she stuck it into the waist of her jeans, and pulled her shirt out to hide it.
She went into the kitchen. She paused at the door to the back porch and drew a breath. Someone out there swore quietly, and there was the tinkle of glass.
Enough, she thought, and opened the door.
Grant White and Rick Carrington stood in the dusk outside. They looked in at her with dull surprise on their faces. She relaxed. She knew them well. They were friends of her late son, Loren, even though they'd been a year ahead of him at school. But what the devil were they up to?
"Hi, guys," she said. "Que pasa?"
Rick snarled in response, and her hackles rose as she realized they were both filthy, covered with mud and dried blood. Something was very wrong here. She pulled the gun out of her waistband. "Just stop right there," she said, pointing it at Rick, who stood slightly in front of Grant at the broken window.
Rick snarled again, but Grant laid an arm on his shoulder. "Hi, Ms. Haggerty," he said in an oily voice. Her hackles rose even further at the sound of it. "We were just wondering where Greg was."
"He's upstairs having a nap."
Grant grinned in a particularly nasty way. She'd never seen such a feral expression on anyone's face. "Oh, I don't think he is," he said. "I think maybe he's out looking for... Jessa."
Unconsciously she took a step or two toward the boys at the window. Their eyes... she leaned forward for a better look.
Rick's arm snaked out faster than she would have believed and seized her sleeve. Terry staggered back and broke free. Rick shrieked wordlessly at her, a sound that didn’t sound as though it could have come from a human throat. Grant shoved him aside and tried to force himself through the broken window. She watched in horror as the glass gashed his flesh. He ignored it. Terry realized she was in mortal danger. She raised her gun and discharged it into his face. He slumped forward without a word. Though her ears rang from the shot, she heard the thud thud thud of Rick Carrington’s feet as he fled into the woods.

Book Tour Schedule

Follow the upcoming book tour from July 11 - 24, 2018.
Join us and visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Jersey Ghouls Book Page at Book Unleashed.

About A.L. Sirois

A.L. Sirois
A.L. Sirois is a writer, developmental editor, graphic artist and a performing musician. His publication career began in 1973 with the appearance of the short-short story "War Baby" in Fantastic. (It would be called "flash fiction" nowadays.) He has gone on to have fiction in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Fantastic, Amazing Stories, and Thema, and online at Electric Spec, Mystery Weekly, Every Day Fiction and Flash Fiction Online, among other publications. His story "In the Conservatory," from Thema, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In addition to JERSEY GHOULS, other Sirois works include a children's book, DINOSAUR DRESS UP (Tambourine Press / William Morrow), a graphic novel, THE ENDLESS INCIDENT (2014), and a fantasy novel, THE BOHEMIAN MAGICIAN, published in 2017.
As an artist, he has hundreds of drawings, paintings and illustrations to his credit. Al has contributed comic art for DC, Marvel, and Charlton, and has scripted for Warren Publications. He wrote and drew "Bugs in the System" for witzend #12, the famous comics fanzine started by for MAD artist Wally Wood. He lives in Rockingham County, North Carolina with his wife and occasional collaborator, author Grace Marcus. Together they are writing a Young Adult novel set in ancient Egypt.
Social media links: Facebook | Twitter


Jersey Ghouls Giveaway Graphic
Prizes up for grabs:
1. Print Copy of Jersey Ghouls by A.L. Sirois
2. Color Rough of the book cover, painted in acrylics on illustration board
3. Drawing of the book cover on tracing paper
4. Drawing of the book cover on layout bond paper
Contest runs from June 15 - July 24, 2018.

In partnership with
Book Unleashed Logo

Guest Author Day with Sarah Baethge

Please give a warm welcome to Ronald Carpenter from The Illumination Query by Sarah Baethge today as we sit down and see what makes him tick.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not taking care of the animals?
I like to go around on my bicycle. Before I started traveling for the Eclipse, a bike was how I always got around my home town of New York City. I’ve actually never owned my own car.

What is it about your love interest Prisca that makes you crazy in a good way?
Wow, who have you been talking to? Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Chubb is great, but she’s my supervisor, not my lover. Yeah we spend a lot of time together but I wouldn’t say we are crazy about each other.

Do you sometimes want to strangle your writer? Thrash her to within an inch of their life? Make them do the stupid crap they makes you do?
You mean that me attacking her is an option? You bet I want to! My life was going great and I loved my job when she decides to make me become indebted to a secretive company called the Eclipse, that has a bad reputation. When my bosses hear I’m dealing with them, they simply cut me loose to try and avoid controversy. The Eclipse does take me in, so I guess that’s something. But I certainly didn’t try to set myself against that little twerp she lets the focus of the story focus shift onto. And in all that happens, I tried to talk calmly with Nigel, just went along with what he set up; he’s the one who attacked me! That irritating writer still tries to paint it like I’m somehow the bad guy.

Favorite food?
That’s a change of pace, did I get too excited with the last question? Hmmm, I guess I like hot dogs.

Tell me a little bit about your world. What are your greatest challenges in that world?
I’m a zookeeper, I can keep my cool with supposedly dangerous animals. I guess I find animals more reasonable than people sometimes.

Describe yourself in four words.
Reasonable, strong, trusting, kind

What do you do for a living?
I worked at the Central Park Zoo, now keep control of dangerous creatures that the Eclipse is collecting.

What do you fear the most?
I fear that other people’s bad decisions and my own hesitations might leave me standing against what is right.

Pre-order a copy of the sci-fi/fantasy The Illumination Query at

The Speed of Darkness, Book 1

Available at:

Buy links:

               The Eclipse Co. is evil.
Ronald Carpenter receives help from this secretive company, but he has no clue how it will change his life. Can their offer of a higher salary make it worthwhile for him to give up the job he loves, and help with activities that he feels are just wrong?

What makes someone agree to act like a monster?

Nigel Hunter’s experiment looks like it could enable incredible powers. When he gets the Eclipse’s help to try it upon himself, the company decides that he needs to be taken prisoner to test it fully.
When what the Eclipse does pits Ronald and Nigel against one another, can either one of them escape?

Prisca wasted no time. Without even asking what it was, she offered to double my current salary if I could immediately agree to take a high position in their nation-wide test-subject handling team. Although that seemed a generous offer, I had to tell her that I enjoyed living in New York.
“That’s no problem,” she insisted; “we have a far-reaching set of operations. You could really be centered just about anywhere in the country that you want. We only need a person who could be available for emergencies. Someone for when the situation could use a little more thought and tact than we expect from either Roscoe or Bucky who aren’t truly based anywhere either.”

I’d like to say that the money made no difference, that the new job’s questionable moralities stood no chance at making me turn my back on the job that I loved; yet that is a lie I have trouble trying to sell that idea to myself.
That, and the idea of importance that would come from a job for a company who seemed to be willing to ship me about the whole country if not the whole world just for my own expertise wasn’t slightly tempting. A job as ‘Animal Security Manager’ for The Eclipse would be much easier to talk about than a profession where I still have far too many people react like I just claimed to do nothing more than shovel lion droppings all day.
So perhaps I did agree with a small twinge of greed in my heart. Perhaps I was a little quick to sign all of the happy non-disclosure forms without any qualm. I am sure that developing products and testing their effects when used as weapons might hold secrets to make whatever we’re developing ineffective if word of how they are put together did get out. Requiring me to keep my mouth shut was simply nothing more than a logical precaution.

Giveaway below

I was born in Houston Texas in the spring of 1982. I grew up in Texas and Louisiana. I was an intern for Lockheed-Martin out of high school and got to work on computers at NASA Houston for the company. I graduated from Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas with a national merit scholarship in 2000. In November of 2000 I was in a car wreck while traveling to college at The University of Texas at Dallas and the wreck left me in a coma for 6 months. After waking, I have written and self-published short fantasy and science-fiction stories online.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

WRITERS WRITE... WRITING PARTNERS FEUD ~ Review: MIDNIGHT IN MONGOLIA, A Blenders Mystery, 4 By Veronica Helen Hart


May 2018

Tattle leans back in her office chair and groans. "I'm so old I can cough, giggle, sneeze and pee all at the same time."

Wrye waggles a finger at her, "You are such fun to listen to when you lie, cause I already know the truth. You don't consider yourself old."

"Well, maybe not, but the joints are sure smarting. Guess I shouldn't have danced the night away."

"Listening to disco again before bed."

Tattle shrugs, "Of course not! I was out swinging with my peep."

"It really is disappointing when a liar's pants don't actually catch on fire."

"Excuse me, m' sleuthy bud, but I'm not done lying yet...."

"Yes, you are, m'literary twitter and tweet, it is time for our Love of Literature Leap review!"

The two fled and leap into MIDNIGHT IN MONGOLIA, A Blenders Mystery, 4 By Veronica Helen Hart

Al and Larry, part of the Keegan Bay Park Blenders, had followed Doll to the reality TV set of Cooking for Your Life with Mandy Young, and opted for a day of sightseeing. While off on their jaunt, the two were kidnapped in the Mongolian Desert by a high cheekboned man in a cowboy hat and a Peter Lorre (forties actor) look-alike. How could that happen and why? Easily, it is after all Al and Larry, and, well, they were mistaken for American executive that actually had broken down on the road.

Doll, of course, is immediately entwined in an convoluted rescue scheme, ransom bid and no police. You guessed it, they wouldn't help. Howard, who had also tagged along on the excursion, insisted on having her back. Despite being 92 years old, he doesn't shy away from danger. Besides Al and Larry are part of the Blenders, and his friends.

Meanwhile, Al and Larry continue dealing with the debacle they find themselves in, now not as ready to admit they aren't who the kidnappers thought. Dare they pull it off? Dare they manage to escape? Dare Doll and her Blenders find them before they vanish completely? Dare you chuckle and giggle at the humor? Only the desert knows for sure.

"This is the perfect fit in this wonderful cozy mystery series. The entire series is a refreshing change from the norm. It is more reminiscent of Murder She Wrote TV series except with extra sleuths to enjoy. As always, the plot is solid, the suspense is ever present, and the prose is quick. I also enjoy the rich, very real dialogue, that reflects the Keegan Bay Blenders age group. This book was jam packed with excitement and adventure that kept you guessing until the end. It had a nice menagerie of twists and turns as well.  Putting it down is not an option."

"Doll is just a fabulous character, all spunk and no-nonsense. And it is an extra treat to watch the secondary plot of her trying to decide if Michael is truly the man she wants to spend forever with. Will she ever give up on wondering what happened to Barclay? Do you find out in this book? Ah, this is where I say, read, m'friend, read. I really love this series and intend to devour the books I have missed and further read any future ones. It is imaginative and cozy mystery masterpiece."

Hope you took pleasure in this month’s review. More to come in June!

Happy Spring!

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by:  Angelica Hart and Zi

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a free ebook (choose erotic or romantic thriller) and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Book Review- Harvest Song by Yasmine Galenorn

The final battle looms against Shadow Wing and this time Delilah finds out just how strong she really is and what she will do to get her happy ever after with Shade and by proxy, the Harvest Lord.

My Rating for Harvest Song- 5 Stars and a Series Recommended Read!

The final battle looms closer as the D’Artigo sisters-Camille, Delilah & Menolly-and their allies find that Shadow Wing has set Yerghan the Blade after them with orders to kill us any way how. When he attacks their family home, Delilah finds out her love, Shade, down and fighting for his life. Now its up to Delilah and her family & friends to save Shade from the Realm of the Wandering Souls for if she isn’t able to bring Shade back to her, he will be lost in the mists of limbo forever.

Yasmine Galenorn has captivated me since the very first book of hers I read, which incidentally was Witchling, book one of the Otherworld series. Since that first introduction to the D’Artigo sisters, I have waited with bated breath for the next installment of this fascinating and wonderful series. This is an author who knows how to world build with the best of them and create such an intriguing and marvelous world that you can’t help but fall in love with her books. I love how this author captures each of her main characters so perfectly and in this second to final book, the stakes are even higher for Camille, Menolly and Delilah. The final battle looms ever closer and I am eager to see where the author goes in the final book of the series.

What makes HARVSET SONG so amazing in my opinion are the cast of characters. They are varied and quite entertaining. Who knew that after the first three books of the series it would branch out to now twenty books with a cast of characters I have grown to love and adore. With the right amount of tension, humor and action, Ms. Galenorn delivers a fast-paced thrill ride from start to finish. The story is quite enjoyable and one I couldn’t put down. I loved how much Delilah has grown since her first book, Changeling. She has become a warrior by the time her final book, HARVEST SONG, was released. She has had some ups and downs but with Shade and by proxy, the Harvest Lord, as her love’s, we see how much Delilah as grown into herself. Her relationship wityh Shade fulfills her even as danger mounts all around them. Her relationships with her family and friends continues to grow and I couldn’t help but smile as we got to the end of the book, even as I knew there was one more book to finish this amazing series yet to come.

HARVEST SONG is a book that you must read to get all the details and whatnot that has come to the final battle with the demon lord, Shadow Wing. If you haven’t tried this series yet, I highly recommend that you do today. Its sexy, entertaining and downright so much fun.  You’ll laugh, cry, scream and swoon as you flip pages and as I raced alongside Delilah as she tries to save Shade, you cannot help but be caught up in the moment as she figures out that without Shade, she will lose half her heart. Ms. Galenorn is a master storyteller that will highly entertain you. I am sad this series is ending yet I am thrilled the author is self-publishing the last few books to finish the spirit seals arc that was introduced in book one, Witchling. Now to wait for the final book, Blood Bonds, I am going to enjoy her other new series that I fell in love with and mourn the end of a series that gave me a new author to auto-buy.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement

Find Harvest Song at Amazon

Discover the Otherworld Series at the Author's website and I recommend starting from the beginning as each book capitalizes on past events in the books building up to the final battle with Shadow Wing.

Book Spotlight & Giveaway~ Nothing is Predictable

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Adalina Mae will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Zara is eight years old, her father, in a drunken rampage, accidentally shoots himself dead.

Her childhood memories leave her struggling with romantic attachments and hinder her from developing healthy relationships.

Seeking answers, She meets a monk for wisdom, and a gypsy for insight.

The journeys Adalina Mae takes us on are interspersed with heartbreaking moments as well as hilarious escapades.

This is life and nothing is predictable. The story keeps you on your toes and offers mysteries to solve.

Why does Zara have recurrent nightmares of her last night with her father?

Why does she struggle with love?

Read an Excerpt:

Have you ever flown Alitalia? My God, how hot are the pilots?

Roma! Here I come again and this time, I planned on spending a whole week exploring.

Bella Roma! Ciao bella! Bella! Bella! Bella! I heard constantly throughout the week I was in Rome. As I walked through the Colosseum, I felt the presence and energy of the roaring crowd from thousands of years ago haunting the place. I walked through the ruins, touched the stones that possibly Caesar had once passed. I felt connected with my inner spirituality and with everything around me. I felt free of the burdens of the past. My inner demons had lost their battle. I was victorious, with the awareness of a life to look forward to. All those months learning how to meditate had finally paid off. I had found peace of mind.

About the Author:
Adalina Mae is the author of the published novel Nothing Is Predictable and soon to be released Nothing Can Last Forever.

After leaving the corporate world of management, she decided to pursue her lifelong passion to write.

She's also a lover of movies and hopes that her novels become a motion picture.

Adalina wrote Nothing Is Predictable to inspire optimism and positive thoughts, reminding us we are strong and can overcome life’s challenges. Particularly those who suffered childhood trauma like she has.

She is determined to spread the inspirational message of her story.

Her life's incidents have taught her that Nothing Is Predictable and Nothing Can Last Forever.

Book stores Link:
Amazon only link:
Book Trailer:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book Review- The Sugarhouse Blues by Mariah Stewart

The Hudson sisters find more than they bargained for when to get their inheritance, they first must work together and restore a family owned Art Deco theater in the sleepy town  of Hidden Falls, Pennsylvania.

My Rating for The Sugarhouse Blues- 5 Stars and a Recommended Read

With a large inheritance at stake, the Hudson sisters-Allie, Des and Cara- find that they need to work together to get the last project their father wanted them to work on, finished to its natural beauty. The family owned Art Deco theater was a gem at a time when people got dressed up to go to the theater and more. Now as they try to restore it, the sisters also must navigate past secrets and try to deal with all the secrets their father had hidden.  When a freak storm damages the building as well as the hand painted ceiling, its up to Des to find the money to repair it. But as Des figures out the ways of grants, donors, etc. as well deal with secrets and old hurts, all three will need dig deep and find out, once and for all, just what the true meaning of family is.

I adored the first book, The Last Chance Matinee, and was thrilled to see Des get her story next. In this second book, we learn more about Des and how her past wasn’t all so rosy, why she moved so far from Hollywood and how her relationship with Allie is so strained to this day. Ms. Stewart continues the story of the Hudson sisters with THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES and I loved each bit of it. From the dynamics of the sisters to Des trying to navigate the money portion of the project they are working on. When Des confronts her past hurts and tries to keep a promising love interest in the friend category, I was rooting for her all the way. I love all three sisters and thought the relationship with Allie and Des was interesting especially as Cara is a sibling they had no idea existed. Ms. Stewart delivers an emotionally charged second book in her new trilogy, The Hudson Sisters, and I couldn’t put it down.

Des is a former child star who now rescues dogs. While being in Pennsylvania to restore the family theater isn’t one that she actively wanted but now that she is in the middle of the project with Allie and Carta, she finds herself enjoying every minute of it, even with the damage the storm did to the theater. The familiar cast of characters from book one continues to take center stage in book two and I loved how we got to know Des better as well as know what caused the strain between her and Allie. The author does an amazing job in capturing each of the sister’s different personalities perfectly in THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES. Ms. Stewart delivers an amazing story that will keep you riveted and as you flip the last page, eager for book three, which is Allie’s story. If there is any indications, Allie’s story is going to have fireworks especially with a certain town cop who drives her batty most of the time. But with Des, she finds herself drawn to Seth and I was really rooting for her to get him out of the friend zone she put him in. All the characters are well written and just leap off the pages. I loved all the characters we have met so far and a few new ones in THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES.

If you enjoy a fast pace family centered story, then I highly recommend this new series by Mariah Stewart. Though I caution that you need to read these to get all the details that are mentioned from book one her in book two. So, start with The Last Chance Matinee then move to THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES next. Now all I can ask the author is- Book three soon I hope?

This is an objective review and not an endorsement

Discover the first book, The Last Chance Matinee at Amazon and see where the Hudson Sisters trilogy began.

Book Spotlight- Blood Bound & a Giveaway

Title:  Blood-Bound
Series: Ace Assassin, Book One
Author: Kaelan Rhywiol
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: June 11, 2018
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Female, Male/Male
Length: 90900
Genre: Paranormal, paranormal, vampire, assassin, demisexual

Add to Goodreads


Rhian is content in her life. As a pwca, a Welsh shapeshifter, she is bound to the Dark God Arawn as an assassin. So when he assigns her as ambassador to oversee Ontario for him, it's a shock.

Her new job? To find out who murdered her predecessor and bring them to justice, as well as to oversee the otherkin and clean up their messes before the humans find them—all to preserve the illusion that magic and supernatural creatures do not exist.

The problem? One of the otherkin she's supposed to oversee is her estranged husband, Kai, the only person Rhian never regretted having sex with, and the only one she can't forgive.


Kaelan Rhywiol © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Remember Your Vows


“This is a story of vengeance, magic, lust, what it means to love, and what you’ll pay to have it. It’s not a pretty story, but it’s mine, and it’s real. Oh, and I swear a lot. Fair warning.”

Everything ached. I lay back in the hot water lapping around the curves of my breasts and inhaled the intoxicating aromas of jasmine, rose otto, and sandalwood. I needed to restock my essential oils next time I went Earth-side, or maybe just pay someone to go for me. I didn’t really like going to Earth anymore; it brought back too many bad memories. So many things I’d rather forget.

I lifted my foot and tried to let the cascade of drops from my toes distract me.

It didn’t work.

My heart burned like molten lead in my chest and my eyes stung with unshed tears. It’d been three hundred years since I’d fled our small, garret apartment. I’d carried nothing but my clothes and my beloved husband’s guitar.

My family had welcomed me with open arms, and I’d started training in their arts the next day. I rubbed my fingers together over the flat roughness of my bow-string calluses. I’m not sure I would’ve come if I’d known they were assassins. Not even with my father’s threat.

I dropped my head back against the curve of my pool and let the scalding heat of the water soak into my bones. I couldn’t age, but my years weighed heavy as the depths of the sea god Manawydan’s dark home tonight.

I opened my eyes to find dusk had stalked in on cat paws as I soaked. The coronas from my candles gleamed sparkling gold through the steam rising in drifting curlicues on the evening air.

My bath sat in the middle of my backyard, surrounded by riotous dark-green yew hedges. Eldritch hot tubs were so much better than the kinds on Earth. Or so I tried to convince myself. I leaned forward to refill my glass, then settled in to rest against the curved and polished bottom of the pool to sip my wine.

Hoping it would ease the ache of repressed tears as well as numb the pain in my arm.

I finished my drink, and the glass clicked against the polished stone lip of the pool. I needed my solitude, especially tonight. With a glance, I took in the wild pixies zipping over my garden and then listened with closed eyes to the buzz of their wings. All underscored by the mournful howls of the spirit-hounds as they cried their grief.

I’d caused that.

I nibbled a piece of cheese—also imported—a rich, double-cream Brie. Expensive as all get out, but what good was being a god’s assassin if I didn’t use my murder-gotten gains as I wished?

The hellish fire of strained muscles painted my shoulders from grappling my opponent, and I winced as I extended a leg. I think I’d pulled a glute too. Gave new meaning to the concept of pain in the ass.

Which this contract had been, and then some. My prey had taken me all over—this side of the veil—before I’d found and finished her. She’d made me slew through bogs, avoiding the water-leapers, so they didn’t try to eat me. The bat-winged, frog-like, carnivores called llamhigyn y dwr usually left we hunters alone, but avoidance equaled wisdom with something that could make me its dinner.

I lifted my left arm out of the water. Searing claws still raked up the nerves, but I sat watching the wound close that would’ve left a human in surgery for months. It had finally stopped bleeding and healed over.

I poked at it and winced. “Gormless nimrod.” My muttered exclamation hushed the pixies’ quiet murmurs for a moment, but then they went about their business.

The arm was still incredibly tender, and the skin stretched thin and silk smooth over the gouges and punctures. The rogue cwn annwvyn had been evil in the worst definition of the word, and canny with it. The spirit-hunting, red-eared, white hound had marked me well before I’d taken her down.

She’d betrayed our Lord and Master Arawn. She’d taken numerous children in a disgusting pact made with one of the Dark God’s banned scions. But she’d been my friend, and my heart ached with the memory of her blood spraying in searing arterial jets—the same brilliant red as her ears—across my face. My gut twisted at the recollection of how her eyes had glazed over as her life fled. I’d known Halley all my life—or most of it—for all the years since I’d run away from Earth, anyway.

I hadn’t wanted to kill her. The cries of her kin on the wind tortured my already broken heart.

I smiled through my heartache, a battle rictus more like, reaching for some joy to alleviate the grief. At least, I’d been able to restore a child to its family and recalling the sight of the mother’s face filled me with gladness. I only wished I could return all of the stolen bairns. I’d never wanted kids of my own, but seeing the mother’s weak-kneed joy had warmed my heart from the death-born chill of murder. For a while.

A buzzing whir akin to the sound of a hummingbird’s wings came from the darkened maw of the open doors of my home. The jet-black six-inch form of one of my servants—also known as nagging busybodies—zipped through the opening, her eyes blazing gold.

“Tsk. I wish you’d be more careful, mistress.” One of my few servants, Carys, was a burly pixie female dressed in nothing but her saffron yellow hair. She lifted the clay pitcher of wine to fill my glass. “You heal well, but I don’t like seeing you injured. You may be a big, bad hunter for our god, but you’re still my charge.”

Pixies, like most of us otherkin, took their vows seriously.

“Don’t fuss, Carys. Please. I’m absolutely knackered.”

“Yes. Well. I’ll worry if I want to.” She stuck her nose in the air and sniffed at me. With a sad look on her face, she said, “A messenger has just come and brought this for you, mistress.”

Carys’s great-granddaughter, Aderyn—one of the other pixies belonging to the small clan that made its home with me—flew into the back garden. She dodged curls of steam, carrying a gold-flecked green-black scroll case. I dried my hands on a plush teal towel before I reached for the elaborately carved item.

Only one being would send me something like that. The value of it on Earth-side would be enough to feed a small country given the price of kin-stone. The gemstone created from the crystallized blood of my people was rare, tightly regulated, and difficult to work with.

My guardian pixies waited like attendant cats while I uncapped the case, pulled out and unrolled the high-linen-fiber paper from its kin-stone spool. I read the words written in old Welsh three times before I believed them, and then rage boiled like bile in my gut, threatening to overwhelm me.

“No.” My voice echoed a broken note against the enshrouding hedges and standing stones of my garden as my present life crashed into the wreckage of my past.

“What is it, mistress?”

For a long moment, I couldn’t speak. Then I didn’t as I closed my eyes, concentrating, reaching within myself for the blood-bond with My Lord and Master. A bond born of loyalty and arcane blood ritual. ‘Why?’

He answered immediately. ‘As you have had a trying day, I will explain. This time. You are the only available hunter I have with the appropriate skill sets. You are deserving of the boon. You have served me well as a hunter for two centuries. It is more than time I honored you with a promotion and lands of your own. You are beautiful, which will be of aid to you as my ambassador. You have contacts in many layers of society, and you are currently off mission. It behooves me to send you there. Your abilities and attributes are ideal for the assignment and… you have avoided it long enough, my hunter.’

‘No, I don’t want it. No.’

‘Yes.’ His tone made it clear He’d accept no argument. That to Him, an immutable decision had already been made. ‘You have crossed the veil several times over the centuries, and you have never seen him. Never dealt with it. Aside from that, your predecessor has been murdered, and you are the only one with enough skill on the otherside in the twenty-first century to be able to solve the mystery. You are the only one of my hunters who I can send. It is immaterial that it is to London.’

‘He’s there.’

‘Yes. I expect you to find amelioration with him and remember your vows.’

‘I won’t—’

‘Do you love and trust me, my hunter? Do you have faith in me to know what is best for you, and to look out for your well-being?’

I did love Him, and I trusted Him, but this asked too much. I reluctantly answered, ‘Yes, My Lord.’

‘Congratulations on your promotion, my pwca.’

‘Yes, My Lord.’

He cut off the contact, and I sat in my bath, my arms wrapped around my waist. Tears leaked down my face in a scalding rain as my pixies looked on in worry.

“Which bloody vows?” My voice echoed forlornly in my garden, sounding as lost as my soul felt.

I liked the life I’d forged here in Annwvyn. I loved my home. I glanced up at its graceful, silvery branches swaying above my head. I adored my place among the other hunters, free of burdens other than the contracts given us by our Lord. I held no title and wanted none. I had the honor of being part of Arawn’s court with none of the responsibilities and the freedom to avoid most of my nasty family.

As His warrior, His messenger, His enforcer and assassin, He paid me well, and I got to exercise my bloodlust within acceptable boundaries. This? This boon of His? It tore me from everything I loved about my life, taking with it every ounce of peace I’d managed to find to fill the void in my heart.

“Fuck.” I reached for my wineglass and guzzled it.

Carys silently refilled it. “My lady?”

“He’s promoted me. The rat-bastard is sending me to the otherside to hold Ontario for Him.”

“But…isn’t that where—”

“Yes, of course. He knows that too.”

“Oh, my lady, I’m so very sorry.”

I laughed, harsh and bitter. “Me too, Carys. Me too.” I swallowed through a tight throat full of sandpaper. It hurt to force words out. “Pack my bags. I’ll need to cross over soon. His Lordship hasn’t ever been known for patience.”

“Yes, mi’lady.” The two pixies, jet-black bodies and brilliant hair flashing, disappeared into a tree the size of a skyscraper, my home, to pack my things.

I stayed in the tub, drinking wine like water and silently raging at my Master.

The hounds of Annwvyn continued to mourn.


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Meet the Author

Kaelan was born and raised in upstate NY, in the Adirondack mountains.

Xie started writing when xie turned 11 and hasn’t ever stopped as evidenced by the massive amount of notebooks and digital files of xyr writing xie has hanging around.

Kaelan holds a B.Sc in bioanthropology/forensic chemistry and an MST in education/world history. Xie loved university, so holds minors in English, Creative Writing, Linguistics, Graphic Design, and Modern Dance.

Xyr hobbies include reading, spinning wool with a spinning wheel, cooking, knitting, sewing, and making jewelry.

Xie currently lives in Southern Ontario, Canada with xyr husband of 19 years, their two kids, a foot fetishist of a cat, two crazy kittens, and a grumpy chinchilla.

The best place to connect with Kaelan is on twitter, where xie spends way too much time.

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