Saturday, January 9, 2016

Love Me To Death Cover Reveal!


Love Me To Death
Sharlay
Publication date: February 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Brennan Cole…

Is a player. He sleeps with women at night and kicks them out of his bed by morning. NO strings. NO attachments. And NO falling in love.

But not even his good looks, hot body or sexy way with words can get him out of the eviction notice stuck on his door.

Desperate for money and running out of time he finds himself signing a contract for an acting job that is about to break every rule that he’s ever made…

Neddie Waters…

Is dying. With only a year left to live, falling in love is the last thing that she wants to do.

But with a mother desperate to see her find her one true love before her final days and an inability to say no to the one woman that she loves more than anything in the world, Neddie sets herself a simple task…1. Hire someone to play her ‘lover’.
2. Don’t fall in love.
Easy…right?

Love Me To Death Book Cover (Paperback)
Author Bio:
Author of Romance Books with a twist...
Sharlay is a British author who released her first book, PRETEND in 2012 following it's huge success after uploading it in draft form to the free and popular writing site, Wattpad. After the book received millions of views (to date the book has exceeded 9 million views) and became a finalist in the site's annual contest, fans wanted to know where they could obtain the paperback and ebook version. This began Sharlay's journey as a self published author.
Sharlay is also one of the very few authors with a single pen name. At heart she is a storyteller and loves to write in any genre but always loves to include an element of romance. Her books have fallen into the Young Adult and New Adult romance genre and will most definitely give you a HEA (Happily Ever After).
Sharlay loves her family, friends, amazing readers and God. She is extremely blessed and privileged to be living her dream!
When Sharlay is not busy talking to the characters inside her head then you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or her website...talking about the characters inside her head with the awesome readers that she loves to connect with!!

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Grave Attraction Tour & Excerpt!

GRAVE ATTRACTION
Grave Series
Book Four
Lori Sjoberg

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Date of Publication: January 5, 2016

ISBN: 9781601832719
ASIN: B00VZZM4YE

Number of pages: approx. 247
Word Count: approx. 90,000

Cover Artist: Lyrical Press

Book Description:

He’s a reaper who works by the book. But a sexy shifter will have him changing the course of fate just to be with her—if a killer doesn’t get to her first…

After four years as a reaper, helping souls cross into the afterlife is a job Adam Javorski has finally gotten used to. But when he arrives at the site of a serial killer’s latest victim, finding a living—not to mention gorgeous—hostage is the last thing he expects. The young woman captivates him in a way no one ever has—so much so, he breaks rule number one by helping her escape…

Marlena Walther doesn’t remember the man who rescued her. But when she sees Adam again, she recognizes him instantly as her soul mate. While the two work together to track down a killer determined to finish what he started, their undeniable attraction draws them even closer. Now Adam is the only one who can protect Marlena from a vengeful murderer—if he’s willing to sacrifice everything for her.

Amazon    BN    iTunes    Kobo    Google Play

Excerpt 

It was a wonder none of the neighbors had noticed that something wasn’t right with the house. Storm shutters covered every single window, with locks keeping them bolted in place. It might be considered normal during hurricane season, but year-round? Definitely weird. The pulse of pending mortality emanated from the building, weak but growing stronger by the minute. Soon, death would claim another victim, leaving Adam to clean up the mess.
As a reaper, that was his calling. Day in and day out, he claimed the souls of the recently departed and guided them to the next stage in their journey. Often, that meant a better place. Other times … not so much.
He’d been on the job for almost four years, after losing his own humanity in the south side of Chicago on a warm October night. Back then he’d been a cop, and a damn good one. But that hadn’t stopped him from royally fucking up and damning his soul in the process.
Shaking his head, he forced the painful memories from his thoughts and focused on the house across the street. Inside, the call of death intensified, gathering steam until it buzzed through his blood like a chain saw. He gritted his teeth when it reached a crescendo, his hands clenched against the steering wheel. He hated this part—not doing anything when you knew someone was about to die. It went against all of his instincts. But Fate had strict rules concerning interference, and he knew better than to challenge her authority.
Less than five minutes later the garage door opened and a silver four-door sedan backed down the driveway. Seven little stick figure decals were lined up on the back window, and Adam couldn’t help but wonder if they signified actual family members or the number of people he’d murdered. As for the killer himself, he seemed deceptively average: white male, average height, average build, with short graying hair and brown eyes. No visible scars, tattoos, piercings, or other distinguishing features. His mediocrity served as camouflage to conceal a predator lurking in plain sight.
As soon as the car drove out of the subdivision, Adam popped the lock to his door. “Call me if he comes back early,” he told Martin as he stepped out of the truck. From past experience and Dmitri’s notes, he knew the guy would only be gone for about ten minutes. Just long enough for the sick fuck to buy a half gallon of ice cream from the nearby grocery store.
Under cover of darkness, Adam crossed the street and approached the wood-frame house. He ignored the sign that warned of an alarm, since it merely served as a deterrent. No serial killer worth his salt would run the risk of the alarm sounding off and triggering a visit by local law enforcement. Retrieving the set of picks from his back pocket, he worked on the locks on the front door. The bottom one opened with little effort, but the dead bolt gave him a minute of trouble before the tumblers clicked into place. He took a deep breath, mentally bracing himself for the horrors that waited inside. The stench of fresh death and lingering decay assaulted his nostrils the instant he crept into the foyer. As a cop, he’d never gotten used to the smell, and he doubted he ever would as a reaper. With the lights out, he couldn’t see a damn thing, but he waited to flip the switch until after the door clicked shut.
The small foyer led into a large living room with a brick fireplace. There wasn’t a single piece of furniture in sight, and the vaulted ceilings and shuttered windows gave the place a cavernous feel. Blue plastic tarps covered the hardwood floor, probably to protect it from stains. Or perhaps they were there to make it easier for the killer to remove the body.
The victim was a male this time, barely out of his teens. The poor kid had been chained by his wrists to the wall a few feet away from the fireplace. He was clad in only a pair of ratty black jeans, with a silver collar fastened around his neck. The blade of a dagger was buried in a chest so mutilated it was almost unrecognizable. His pale green eyes stared into oblivion, his mouth opened in a silent scream. The soul had already broken free from the corpse, hovering close but not quite touching. Confused and despondent, he retained his human form, unaware that he no longer needed to conform to his prior physical constraints.
Pushing back against a rush of anger, Adam stepped closer to the body. The cop in him demanded immediate justice, but that was no longer part of his job description. He narrowed his focus, reaching out with his mind until he locked onto the kid’s essence. He sensed no taint of evil on the soul as he slowly drew it toward him. To calm the spirit he sent out wordless reassurances, promising safety, closure, and the end to physical pain.
Pacified, the soul offered no resistance, merging with Adam’s body in a wash of benevolent warmth. The kid’s essence carried a unique quality that Adam couldn’t quite define. Demon, mage? Honestly, he couldn’t say for sure. His experience with non-humans was limited. As the kid’s spirit distilled to its purest form, it became aware of the death of its body, and confusion gave way to panic.
“You’ve got to get out of here before he gets back! Please! Go, and warn the others. If he finds them, he’ll kill them all—oh wait! You need to free the girl first. She doesn’t deserve what he plans to do to her. Please say yes, I’ll do anything you want, please, please, please …”
Adam squeezed his eyes shut while he contained the soul, blocking out the unwanted flood of emotions for the sake of his own sanity. During his time on the force, he’d grown desensitized to crime scenes, but all that training flew right out the window when the dead insisted on talking. For him, it was one of the toughest parts about being a reaper, so much that it came close to breaking him during his first year on the job.
Finished, he turned away from the body, eager for a breath of fresh air. And a beer. He was halfway to the front door when a female’s voice shouted out from the rear of the house.
    


About the Author:

Lori Sjoberg is the award winning author of the GRAVE SERIES. She lives in Florida with her husband and four-legged fur baby.

Growing up the youngest of three girls, Lori never had control of the remote. (Not that she's bitter about that. Really. Okay, maybe a little, but it's not like she's scarred for life or anything.) That meant a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits - you name it, she watched it. It fed her imagination, and that came in handy when the hormones kicked in and she needed a creative excuse for being out past curfew.

After completing her first novel, she joined the Romance Writers of America and Central Florida Romance Writers. Now she exercises the analytical half of her brain at her day job, and the creative half writing sensual paranormal romance. Grim reapers are her specialty, but she loves to write about all creatures of the night. 

You can read more about Lori at http://lorisjoberg.com/


@Lori_Sjoberg




Destroyer Rising blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!


Destroyer Rising
Eric Asher
(Vesik #5)
Publication date: December 29th 2015
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy



It’s been three years since we failed Vicky, the child once known as Elizabeth Gray. Three years she’s lived as something not quite alive, but far from dead. Her path grows darker, even as she spreads light and hope through a tortured world. The Destroyer has come to claim her, and I can’t fail her again. I won’t. Elizabeth’s fate lies in the Burning Lands, and we will storm the gates.



EXCERPT:
It felt good, right even, to be stocking and straightening the shelves again. I pulled a snow globe, of all things, from the top shelf and frowned at the broken Gateway Arch inside. We’d need to return that to the supplier. I shook the glass orb and watched the silver pieces swirl around the cityscape, clicking and tumbling as they went. A vision flashed through my mind, a torrent of power unleashed by the Old Man and the Fae, sending entire cities into oblivion. I shivered and my knuckles whitened on the base of the globe. Falias had appeared in that maelstrom, before the souls had swarmed Vicky and before I had peeled them off her with my necromancy.
Vicky.
I was sure Happy would have let me know if he’d learned anything new about Vicky, but I closed my eyes and pushed my aura out anyway. The experience didn’t give me a sense of travel like it used to. The slightest effort told me where the bear was.
“Have you heard anything?” I asked.
The panda raised his head and looked directly at me from his perch inside the birdcage. From Mike? His voice boomed in his panda form. I have not heard from the Smith in days.
“Do you think he’s okay?”
I can’t fully express the unnerving oddity of having a ghost panda laugh at you. Happy’s skull-rattling chuckle faded. He is a fire demon within the Burning Lands. I am certain he is well.
“How’s Vicky?” The question died on my lips and turned to a scream as golden light blinded me.
Damian! Damian, answer me!
The bear’s voice cut through the storm of screams and terror in my head for only a moment, and then chaos reigned. Gold turned to ash, and ash to darkness, as a monstrosity that could not be real blasted my mind. Hunched and looming, with long, silver teeth. Its entire body squirmed and writhed, promising death to all who dared near it.
Light swallowed the awful vision. The nightmare of a thousand dying souls replaced it. The fire, the loss, the light. I didn’t know if it was flames or tears that burned my face, but it felt like my skull was coming apart at the seams. And then the vision was gone. Only darkness remained.

Author Bio: 
Eric is a former bookseller, guitarist, and comic seller currently living in Saint Louis, Missouri. A lifelong enthusiast of books, music, toys, and games, he discovered a love for the written word after being dragged to the library by his parents at a young age. When he is not writing, you can usually find him reading, gaming, or buried beneath a small avalanche of Transformers.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Anna and the Vampire Prince Tour & Giveaway!

Anna and the Vampire Prince
The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles
Book Ten
Jeanne C. Stein

Genre: Paranormal

Publisher: ARe Books

Date of Publication: January 1, 2016

ISBN: TBA
ASIN: TBA

Word Count: 17,000

Cover Artist: Erin Dameron Hill

Book Description:

Saving her family means saving the world.

Vampire Anna Strong should be enjoying life with her new husband, Frey, but she’s too devastated by the loss of her mother to focus on much else. That is, until her niece’s best friend is kidnapped, and Anna leaps into action.

Angry citizens blame the recent rash of kidnappings on France’s immigrant population and threaten retribution that could upset the economy of the entire nation. If Anna is going to save the girl and her family vineyard, she’ll need the help of one of the oldest vampires in existence—her good friend Vlad.

Vlad and Anna set out to solve the kidnappings and save Southern France, but they soon discover the stakes are higher than they imagined. If they fail, it could be the end of the world as they know it.



About the Author:

Jeanne C. Stein is the award winning, national bestselling author of the Urban Fantasy series The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. Anna Strong was named one of Paranormal Fantasy’s Top ten Ass-Kicking Heroines by Barnes and Nobles’s reviewer, Paul Goat Allen in 2013. Jeanne also has numerous short story credits, including the novella Blood Debt from the New York Times bestselling anthology Hexed and, most recently, The Wolf’s Paw in the bestselling anthology, Nightmares Unhinged.

Jeanne lives in Denver, CO and is active in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (where she was honored by winning the Writer of the Year award in 2008 and was nominated again in 2011.) Her newest venture, The Fallen Siren Series, is paranormal romance written in collaboration with Samantha Sommersby under the pseudonym S. J. Harper.  The first book in that series, Cursed, debuted in 2013. A prequel novella,Captured, is available free and the second book in the series, Reckoning, was released October 7, 2014. Novella 2.5,  Forsaken, is available at all online stores.

For more information on other books by Jeanne, visit her official website: www.fallensiren.com







Blood, Milk & Chocolate - Part 2 Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Blood, Milk & Chocolate – Part 2
Cameron Jace
(The Grimm Diaries, #4)
Publication date: January 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales

Carmilla Karnstein’s journey through the Seven Seas, trying to find the Tower of Tales and meet Lady Shallot so she can help her and Angel to escape from Night Von Sorrow’s wrath. Lady Shallot finds them an island on the back of whale. They call it Sorrow and begin a journey of most heart wrenching secrets. What and where Sorrow really is. Who the Lost Seven are. And most of all who Carmilla and her new born daughter really are.
In the fourth installments of this epic tale, nothing is like it seems, some of the favorite character dies, and the thin line between good and evil blurs even more.


EXCERPT:

Life in the Seven Seas didn’t promise a happily ever after for Angel and me. Sailing in our small boat, I didn’t know what was worse. The nights or the days.
The days were gloomy. Looms of mist surmounted our boat, and we could hardly see the horizon. Angel liked to call it the sea’s edge, as if there was an imaginary waterfall at the end where all ship’s fell off into oblivion. The apple trader I fell in love with surely had a dark imagination.
The nights in the Seven Seas were the embodiment of scare. The fear of the unknown. Because we still couldn’t see ahead. The hope of finding the Tale of Towers and meeting Lady Shallot to help us escape Night Von Sorrow were diminishing tide by tide. The Seven Seas were a slow death. Day after day, I began to realize we may have fooled ourselves, thinking we could really escape and find a place we could call our home.
And there was more.
By day we sometimes saw other ships looming beyond the mist which draped like curtains before our eyes. The mist blurred our destinations. And the thing we thought we glimpsed behind may have been illusions.
“Do you see them, Angel.” I said.
“See what?”
“The ships looming behind the mist. The silhouettes of sailors. Their red eyes.”
“I see nothing, Carmilla. You’re imaging things. The sea does that sometimes.”
I turned back to him. He was standing at the farther side of the boat, trying to catch some fish. He had been like that since I’d sold my soul to fate. Nothing mattered to him but food.
Angel spend half of the days catching an incredible amount of fish. To me, the fish saved me from starving. But to Angel, the fish he caught meant nothing but blood.
I had seen him ripg a large fish with his teeth and sucking out the its red guts with insatiable hunger. He had to drink fast before its blood clotted. One after the other. Someday when he couldn’t catch the fish, he jumped into the water, disappeared for hours and then reappeared with a big fish between his teeth.
“You breath under water?” I remember asking.
“I guess so,” He didn’t even care that he began acquiring incredible vampire powers. “I can only do it when I am really hungry.”
We’d sit next to each other. I ate fish. He drank its insides. The rest of the day he’d sleep, tired of hunting for blood. This wasn’t the love stories I had imagined when I first met him.
But I wasn’t surprised. I, Carmilla Karnstein, was bound for sorrow by Captain Hook, Fate of the Seven Seas. And Angel was risking his full transformation into a vampire like his father.
One night, I realized we we were two survivors unable to love each other, but couldn’t. Survival took most of our time, and the bond between us thinned with every passing wave rocking our boat of life in the Seven Seas.
That night was the first time I thought about having a child. Angel and I needed something we both cared about to keep our bond from fraying. And it was a strange thought. Because somehow I knew, deep inside my soul, that I will not only have one child. But two.
Something told me I will have two girls. Twins.

Author Bio: 
Cameron Jace is the bestselling author of the Grimm Diaries and Insanity series. A graduate of the college of Architecture, collector of out-of-print books, he is obsessed with the origins of folk tales and the mysterious storytellers who spread them. Three of his books made Amazon's Top 100 Customer Favorites in Kindle 2013 & Amazon's Top 100 kindle list. Cameron lives in California with his girlfriend. When he isn't writing or collecting books, he is playing music.
Sign up for his mailing list here: http://bit.ly/1sxp3p1


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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Alphas in the Wild Tour & Excerpt!

Alphas in the Wild
Ann Gimpel

Dream Shadow Press
102K words

Release Date: 12/21/15

Genre: Paranormal Romance Anthology

Dark. Delicious. Unforgettable.

The hottest alphas live--and love--in the mountains.

Tumble into second-chance love, where magics collide, mountain gods are out for blood, and aliens invade Earth.

Book Description:

Alphas in the Wild is an action adventure, paranormal romance collection with three full-length books.

Hello Darkness

Earth magics collide, forcing Moira Shaughnessy to take a chance on a man who hurt her so badly she never forgave him.

A ranger for the U.S. Park Service, Moira is in serious trouble. Fleeing from her cheating husband, who’s a Native American shaman, she stumbles into the arms of a man she never thought she’d see again. He hurt her once by choosing his magic over her. Would she be a fool to take a chance on him now?

Alpine Attraction

Tina made a pact with the devil seven years ago. It’s time to pay the piper—or die.

Independent to the nth degree, Tina meets everything in her life head-on—except love.

Caught between misgivings and need, Tina signs on as team doctor for one of Craig’s climbing trips to the Andes. Though he was the love of her life, she pushed him away years before to keep him safe. Even if he doesn’t love her anymore, there’s still no one she’d rather have by her side in the mountains. And if she’s going to die, she wants to make things right between them.

A Run For Her Money

Sara’s day begins like any other. A routine extraction in tandem with a local Search and Rescue team. Routine crashes to a halt when she ends up trapped in a hut, high in the Sierras. Four days later, running out of food for herself and her dog, she makes a bold dash for safety.

Jared’s walking the Muir Trail when all hell breaks loose. After hunkering beneath a boulder pile for days, he dares a difficult cross-country route, hoping it’ll put him into position to approach a backcountry ranger station. He locates the station, but it’s locked tight. He’s packing up to leave when a helicopter lands, with Sara at the helm. There’s no time to trade war stories. It takes a leap of faith, but they throw in their lot together. Can they face the impossible and come out the other side unscathed?

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     iTunes

Kobo     ARe     Google Play


Excerpt from Hello Darkness:
Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.
Paul Simon, Sounds of Silence
Moira Shaughnessy’s booted feet hit the ground in front of the Family Medicine Clinic. Slamming the door of the dusty white Park Service pickup, she considered ignoring her boss’s orders, peeling out of the parking lot, and heading for the Baxter Pass trailhead. She had a crew to oversee, goddammit. A work project to complete. But her boss, John, had been painstakingly clear, both yesterday at Park Headquarters in Three Rivers, and a mere ten minutes ago on the sat phone. Granted, he’d been far more pointed on the phone.
“It’s not a suggestion, Moira,” he’d growled. “This is a directive—from me. I want to hear from someone with MD after his name before I authorize you to head up that work detail. Do not set one foot on the trail before you receive my orders, e-sign them, and e-mail them back to me.”
“But that’s usually a formality—”
“Not this time. No buts. I made you an appointment at the clinic in Bishop that clears some of our crews. They’re open until six. I already lost two rangers this summer in the Pinecrest fire. That was two too many in my book, so get your butt into that clinic.”
Moira gritted her teeth. She’d thought she could avoid dealing with the whole mess by leaving the office early yesterday and taking one of the northern passes over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but John tracked her down.
Phooey. I ran, but guess I couldn’t hide…
It was downright annoying that her boss needed a doctor to reassure him she wouldn’t collapse—or something—in the backcountry. For the briefest of moments, she felt like pounding her fist into the nearest tree, but then she pulled herself together. Nothing was wrong with her, except her slimy, cheating husband. Sure, she’d lost a few pounds since she left him, but she hadn’t been all that hungry.
Problem was, John remembered similar struggles from years ago when she first started working as a park ranger. She hadn’t eaten enough then, either, and grew far too thin. Just her luck, he’d been overseeing a backcountry work detail when she got woozy and fell off one of the mules.
Understanding surfaced; embarrassment followed. Her boss cared about her. That wasn’t a bad thing. Anger bled out of her with a whoosh.
“May as well get this over with,” she muttered.
Moira walked briskly to the clinic, pushed the door open, and headed for the counter. The antiseptic smell common to all medical offices hit her like a wall as she strode across the scrubbed linoleum floor.
“Yes?” A young woman with dyed red hair looked up from her computer screen with eyes so green she had to be wearing colored contact lenses.
“Moira Shaughnessy. I think you’re expecting me. My boss called from Kings Canyon-Sequoia Park Headquarters.”
The receptionist clicked a few keys. “Your insurance card, please.”
Moira blew out a frazzled breath and dug through her fanny pack for her wallet. Once she found it, she extracted the plasticized Blue Cross card, handing it over. “I’m really in a bit of a hurry—”
“Here’s your card back.” The clerk gestured at the nearly full waiting room. “The doctor will be with you as soon as he can. He had a full schedule before he agreed to work you in.”
“Is it okay if I go outside for a few minutes? I need to lock my truck. I, uh, didn’t think I’d be in here for very long.”
“Sure. So long as we know where to find you.” The phone trilled, and the receptionist picked it up, Moira obviously forgotten. “Family Medicine, how may I help you?”
Moira let herself back outside. Too restless to return to the overcrowded waiting room, she paced up and down the parking lot. Fall had turned the aspen trees lining Bishop’s streets to shades of red and gold that were quite striking, but all she could think about were the minutes ticking by. It was twelve miles from the trailhead to the top of the pass, and a couple more to where her trail crew was. Leaving today would be foolhardy at this point. She’d never even make the pass before night fell.
“Damn it!” She glanced at her watch. How long was this going to take anyway?
“Ms. Shaughnessy?” A man’s voice sounded from behind her.
She spun, surprised out of her funk.
And stopped dead.
“Tim?”
Moira stared at the tall, rangy man with long, white-blond hair and ice-blue eyes. He was dressed in teal scrubs and sandals with a stethoscope draped around his neck. A broad grin split the clean planes of his face. She’d forgotten how heartbreakingly beautiful he was.
“I saw the name and hoped it was you.” He held out a hand, but she remained frozen in place. “After all, how many Moira Shaughnessys could there be?”
She stood there, flabbergasted. What were the odds? She hadn’t seen Tim O’Malley since they’d both graduated from U.C. Davis. When she realized her mouth was hanging open, she shut it with a snap.
“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” One corner of his mouth turned down in an expression she remembered all too well.
“It’s just… I mean I never expected…” She felt warmth rise from the open neck of her buff-colored uniform shirt. Heat suffused her face until she was certain every freckle was outlined in bright, living color.
“Hey, mo ghrá. I know we didn’t split up under the best of circumstances…”
“No shit. And you can skip the beloved part.” A familiar anger stirred, but she batted it aside.
“Moira, I’m sorry. I was sorry then, and I still am.” He sounded so sincere, it tugged at her heartstrings. Part of her wanted to believe him, and part of her was afraid to.
“Grannie told me some of it—about the Arch Druid stuff. And you having to be celibate or something.”
He creased his brow, the smile fading. “I’m glad she did. I was sworn to silence about Druid affairs.” He cleared his throat. “In truth, I still am.”
“What she told me didn’t make it any easier. I tried to call you—a bunch of times.”
“I know.”
“Christ, Tim, it’s been close to ten years.”
He looked chagrined. “I suppose I know that too.”
Her heart, already damaged from her sham of a marriage, squeezed painfully in her chest. She’d loved Tim once. And thought he loved her. They’d known one another since they were children growing up in the same sprawling Irish immigrant community.
“So what happened?” She eyed him, struggling for equanimity. “It’s a long way from Druid to doctor. Or are you a nurse here?”
“Nope, I’m the doc. My training took up eight of the ten years since—”
The clinic door flew open. A harried-looking, overweight woman in white scrubs rolled her eyes. Her short brown hair stood up in spikes, and her muddy green gaze shot darts. “There you are. Dr. O’Malley, you have patients.”
He waved her to silence. “Fine, Bridgette. I’ll be in soon.”
“But—”
He made shooing motions with both hands. “I said I’ll be in soon.”
Bridgette screwed her face into a disapproving frown. “Whatever,” she snapped and banged the door shut.
Tim closed the few feet between them and laid his hands on Moira’s shoulders. “Can I buy you dinner? Or maybe just a cup of coffee, if you’re still mad at me and not willing to risk an entire meal.”
“I’d like that, but I’m on my way to work. See…”
She took a big breath, and an annotated version of her story tumbled out. She mentioned her divorce and her lack of appetite, but skipped the low points about her marriage, figuring it wasn’t really any of Tim’s affair.
“Last time I wasn’t very hungry was right after you and I broke up. I’d just started working for the Park Service. Unfortunately, John—that’s my boss—has a long memory.”
Tim listened until she was done talking, and then placed his stethoscope in his ears. “Take a deep breath.” He moved the bell to several locations on her chest, and then had her turn around and positioned it on her back. “Your heart sounds healthy to me.” He gripped her wrist, taking her pulse as he ran his gaze over her body in a familiar way that tightened her throat and made her belly clench with heat.
“What do you weigh?” He eyed her again. “Maybe one thirty?”
Moira nodded. No point in lying since he could drag her inside and plunk her on a scale. “One twenty-two.”
“It could be worse. Have you had issues with anorexia since—” color blotched his cheeks “—well, since us?”
Moira shook her head. “I’ve maybe lost ten pounds this time round.” She looked away. “The problem was a whole lot worse ten years ago.”
“Moira.” His voice cracked with emotion. “I’m sorry. Scarcely a day goes by—”
“Don’t.” The word tore out of her. “Just don’t. I have to get to work. I’d never have stopped, except John insisted.”
He stepped back a pace and nodded. “You should be fine, so long as you start eating again. What is it your boss needs?”
“A phone call, I think.”
“Not a fitness for duty statement?”
She shook her head. “No. Nothing so formal.”
Not yet anyway.
“Good, because that would require a real physical and some labs. Jot his number down for me.” He pulled a small notebook out of a pocket and handed it to her, along with a pen.
As she gave it back, he caught her hand in his. “I’ve thought about you so many times over the years. I guess I always believed—” The color in his face deepened. “When will you be back through Bishop so we can talk? Or better yet, I’ve got a few days off after today’s clinic. I could backpack with you. Meet you wherever you’re—”
“Uh-uh.” She shook her head. “It’s against regulations to bring civilians, other than the trail crew, on Park Service work projects.”
His blue eyes twinkled. She’d forgotten how intense they were, like a multihued ocean. “You told me you were heading over Baxter Pass.”
“Yeah.” She smiled back because she couldn’t help herself. “So I did. I’m also telling you not to follow me.”
He bent his head, and brushed his lips over hers. The kiss was so sweet and so fleeting, memories flooded her, and she pulled away, her heart doing flip-flops.
“If it won’t be different this time, don’t start.” Her voice held a thin, strained note.
“Things will be different. I would’ve called you. Almost did a hundred times, but I felt so rotten about—”
“Dr. O’Malley.” Bridgette clumped across the yard and grabbed his arm. “You have patients.”
He shook her off. “When have you ever known me to leave before I’ve seen each and every one of them?”
“Never.” She sounded sullen.
“And it won’t happen today, either. Get back inside, and hold down the fort. If you could take vitals on everyone it would be a big help.”
Bridgette’s gaze moved from Tim to Moira. Pursing her lips in an unpleasant expression, she stalked back into the clinic.
Tim turned to Moira. “It was wonderful to see you again. Here.” He scribbled something on one of the tiny sheets of notebook paper, tore it off, and handed it to her. “My cell. Call anytime.”
“I just may take you up on that.”
 * * * *
Tim wasn’t ready to go back into the clinic. His emotions were too close to the surface. He watched Moira’s truck drive out of the parking lot heading south. The last time he’d seen her ate at him like an out-of-control cancer. They’d spent hours in his apartment arguing. Though he’d dissected it a hundred times, trying to figure out what he could’ve done differently, he’d never come up with anything useful.
He made a strong effort to stuff the memory into its subterranean hidey-hole, but it wouldn’t cooperate. Since the professional objectivity he’d need to face a waiting room full of patients had just scattered like so much dust, he set off at a brisk pace intending to circle the block. He knew from experience that once that particular memory surfaced, he had to let it play itself out.
Bridgette and the clinic would just have to give him a few minutes more.


“I tell you I’m done. Not just done. Fucking done.”
Tears streamed down Moira’s swollen, blotchy face.
“I’ve waited for you since I was sixteen years old, Tim O’Malley. That’s six years in case you can’t count. I didn’t expect much back then, but we’re nearly done with college. You won’t do any more than kiss me. You won’t live with me. You won’t talk about getting married. Fuck! Why am I even bothering?”
She jumped to her feet and ran to a window, gripping the sill hard enough to whiten her knuckles.
He grabbed her arm. “I—I do love you, Moira. I’ve told you I want to save sex until after we’re married.”
“Well I don’t. Besides, you never asked me to marry you.”
“You’re not being fair. There are things I can’t tell you.”
She whirled, her golden eyes on fire. “Fine. Keep your fucking secrets. And keep your fucking virginity. I talked with Father O’Brannigan—”
A chill marched down his spine. “You what?”
“You heard me. I had to talk to someone. Even he said it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had sex. He said God would forgive me so long as we got married. What’s the problem? Do you like boys? Jesus, even the clerk at the corner store is hotter for me than you are.”
Mo ghrá—”
“Don’t ‘mo ghrá’ me.” She twisted out of his grasp. “Get out of here. Don’t worry. I’ll be gone by the time you get back.”
“Moira—”
“For the love of Christ, just leave. If you ever loved me—” Her face crumpled and she sobbed helplessly, turning away from him.
Feeling like he was being torn in two, Tim stormed out of his apartment. The minute he got to the bottom of his steps, he began to run. He loved Moira. Loved her with every fiber of his being. But he understood his duty to his Druid heritage too. Slated to be the next Arch Druid, he was forbidden physical congress with women. His magic needed to be honed to the highest possible level.
Sex would interfere.
Tim ran until sweat streamed down his sides, despite the chill of an unseasonably cool June in California. A full moon hung low, clinging to the horizon. It was a lover’s moon. He cursed, drowning in irony. A lover’s moon, but not for him.
He wasn’t surprised when he ended up ten miles north of Davis at the Druids’ priory. Despite it being three in the morning, he pulled the bell chain. Its somber chime matched his mood.
The intercom next to the carved oak door crackled. “What business brings you here?” It was a standard Druid greeting, though the speaker sounded half-asleep.
“I must see Liam. Now.”
“Tim O’Malley. Is that you?”
Tim blew out a ragged breath. “Yes. Let me in, goddammit.”
A tone sounded, and the door swung open soundlessly on well-oiled hinges. A man he didn’t recognize hustled up the long hallway. “Master.” He inclined his head.
“I’m no one’s master. Go back to sleep. I know the way.”
Liam McAllister’s quarters were on the third floor of the rambling stone structure that had once been a Catholic monastery. Tim pounded up the stairs, his stomach so tight he wondered if he’d vomit. He’d just raised a fist to hammer on Liam’s door when it opened, and the Arch Druid stood before him. If the older man had been asleep, it didn’t show.
“Welcome, son.” Liam held out his arms, but Tim shook his head. Without waiting for an invitation, he stomped into the spacious quarters lined with leaded glass windows on two walls. The moon mocked him, front and center in those windows.
“You have to release me from my vows.”
Liam drew his thick eyebrows together. “You must know I cannot do that. You didn’t take vows. You were born to your calling.”
Tim spun to face the man who’d been like a father to him. Long, white hair framed his bearded face. Bright blue eyes radiated concern. The Arch Druid was tall—of a height with Tim—and wraith-thin. Black robes flowed around him.
“But it’s not like I’m the Dalai Lama.” He took a breath to steady himself. “You don’t understand. I love Moira. It’s tearing me up that I can’t have her. Christ! I can’t even tell her why I can’t make love to her—or marry her.”
Liam nodded slowly. He reached a kindly hand toward Tim. “Actually, you are a lot like the Dalai Lama. ’Tis the goddess who picks our progression. Would you care to sit, son? I believe a spot of spirits might calm you.”
“Irish whiskey won’t solve this.”
Liam made a snorting noise. “A dram of good Irish whiskey will solve practically anything. Or at least soften it till it feels more manageable.”
He pulled a decanter close and poured amber liquid into two cut-crystal shot glasses, pushing one toward Tim. “You will be able to wed once your training is complete, and you sit in my place.”
Battling frustration, Tim drained his glass. The whiskey burned going down. It matched the fire in his soul.
He trained his gaze on Liam. “You don’t understand. That may have worked hundreds of years ago. Not anymore. Look at you. Goddess willing, you’ll live another twenty or thirty years. Maybe more. By then Moira will be long since married to another. Hell, she could be a grandmother.” He banged a fist on one of the tables scattered about the room. A lamp rattled ominously, and he reached to steady it.
“Please,” Tim begged. “At least let me tell her why I can’t wed her.”
Liam shook his head. “I cannot do that. The workings of our society have always been secret. ’Tis how we’ve shielded ourselves from the machinations of the Church.”
“The Church isn’t still out to get us. Not actively, anyway.”
Liam turned on him, blue eyes ablaze. “Thinking like that will land you in trouble. Have you not followed their exorcisms? Or their dogma? And ’tis not just the Catholics I’m talking of here. What do you believe clerics think of those like us who call magic, engage in astral travel, and commune with gods, spirits, and the dead?”
Tim’s shoulders sagged. He felt like a sail with the wind knocked out of it, attached to a ship that would never find port. “That we were evil.”
Liam nodded. “Organized religion’s raison d’être is to rid the Earth of wickedness. Moira is Catholic. She goes to confession. I tell you, son, we cannot risk it. ’Tisn’t been so very long since they killed one of us. Surely you recall Sean Newbry. ’Twas scarcely an accidental drowning. His astral self came to me whilst he was dying.”
“And?”
“The parish priest caught him in the midst of a blood offering ceremony, talking with Earth spirits. Sean was certain the cleric followed him since he’d taken care to go deep into the Sierra foothills.”
Tim fought a sinking feeling. “You said drowning.”
“Are you certain you want the grisly details?”
“Yes.”
“Four priests waylaid him late one night, bound him, gagged him, tied a heavy weight about his waist—”
“Enough.” Tim sat heavily. He dropped his head into his hands and remembered what Moira told him about talking with Father O’Brannigan. What a fucked up mess this had turned into. He still cared about Druidry, but did he care enough to give up Moira for the rest of his life?
“Tim?” Liam asked after a long silence.
He looked up. “No matter how I slice and dice this, I don’t want to live without her. Hell, I don’t know if I can.”
“I understand.” A considered intake of breath and Liam continued. “I gave you permission to attend medical school. That was a concession as I’d rather you were here by my side. Then you came up with that idea about a public health degree.
“Mayhap it would be best if you didn’t see Moira—or even call her—at least for a while. Try to immerse yourself in your studies. Believe me, son, when I tell you the goddess takes care of her own.”
A sob rose from the depths of his soul. Mortified, Tim tried to swallow the next one down. He stuffed a knuckle in his mouth and bit down hard.
“’Tis all right. Life does not give us easy choices.” Liam got to his feed, walked around the table, and patted Tim’s back. “There is no shame in tears.”


Forcing himself to return to the present, Tim took a deep breath, and then another. He wasn’t twenty-two anymore. He could stand up to Liam if it came down to it. He pulled open the side door to the clinic and went to the tiny staff room, where he knew he’d find the afternoon’s schedule posted. Despite reliving painful memories, he felt more alive than he had in years.
The goddess had brought Moira back into his life. Things would be different this time. He’d see to it, even if it meant confronting Liam and walking away from Druidry forever.

About the Author:

I'm basically a mountaineer at heart. I remember many hours at my desk where my body may have been stuck inside four walls, but my soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry.

Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), I finagled a move to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. Stories always ran around in my head on backcountry trips, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made me fear for my life, sometimes for company.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. I returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. It wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. I learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel, and I've been writing ever since.

In addition to turning out books, I enjoy wilderness photography. A standing joke is that over ten percent of my pack weight is camera gear, which means my very tolerant husband has to carry the food -- and everything else too.


Find Ann At:




@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)