2021-12-31

Light Up the Night!

 How perfect is this? It's New Year's Eve and I'm releasing a story titled Light Up the Night? Anyway, I'm super excited to have this book out in the world! You can get it right now as part of the Shadows and Chaos anthology, check it out!!


Shadows and Chaos

https://books2read.com/shadowsandchaos

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT

Her love will light up his night. If they can both survive that long. 

Heather is having the worst Christmas ever! Or, at least, the worst Christmas since she was forced to become a vampire. Her sire's distracted, her nestmates have forgotten her, weirdos have taken over the lair. The only bright spot in her life right now is Drew--who didn't even used to like her! She knows he's coming around, but that's not good enough. She wants more. She wants everything. She wants him. And she's not giving up. 

Drew Geiger gave up on love a long time ago. Such tender emotions have no place in a vampire's heart. But, somehow, the girl he once described as a "feral kitten" has got her claws in him, and she's not letting go. That would be fine, if only someone didn't want her dead--and if her sire didn't recall that it was Drew who once suggested that maybe she'd be better off that way.

And here's an excerpt for you!

“What’s your pleasure, my girl?” Drew asked, flashing a smile at the young woman who was seated at his bar. It was a foolish question. Pointless, really, since he knew her answer would never be the one he longed to hear—you. And that she was not now, nor ever would be, his. 

 “Nothing, thanks,” Heather answered, before adding a hesitant, “If that’s okay? I just thought I’d sit here for a while.” 

“ course,” Drew replied automatically. “You're free to do whatever you want here. Mi casa es su casa.” The smile Heather flashed him in return caused his heart to clench, and his conscience to pain him because, merciful heavens, he was spouting nothing but lies tonight! 

She was certainly not free to do as she wished, no more than he was. Vampires weren’t, in general, and neither of them were exceptions to that rule. Nor was this a house, for that matter. It was a bar, a nightclub if he were feeling sufficiently grandiose, a place where those of their kind might congregate safely, where they could feed in comfort, dance and entertain themselves, and harmlessly while away yet another endless night. And even though Drew had been given free rein in the managing of it, ultimately Akeldama was not his at all. It belonged to his sire, Conrad Quintano, at whose pleasure Drew served. 

Luckily, since Conrad was neither especially capricious nor unusually cruel, Drew felt reasonably secure in his position. Still, the fact remained: he could be replaced at any time, and on nothing more than a whim. 

“Not hungry tonight?” he asked, for no particular reason—except that it was the kind of thing a friend might do, the type of question a bartender might ask. And, like it or not, those two things were all he could ever be to her. 

She shook her head. “Not really. I grabbed a bite earlier, on my way here.” 

“Hmph.” While Drew generally refrained from eating while on duty, Heather was not similarly constrained. She was young, beautiful, vibrant. She should be out on the dance floor enjoying herself or enticing some lucky human into one of the curtained alcoves for a quick snack. She should not be sitting here, alone at the bar, wasting her time talking to him, of all people. For that matter, if dancing or feeding—or even just a place to sit, and someone to talk to—was all she was after, she could just as well have stayed home. 

 The warehouse where Heather lived with the rest of her clan also doubled as a vampire nightclub, albeit a part-time, and largely illegal one. And yet it hadn’t escaped Drew’s attention that over the past few weeks Heather had been hanging out in here more and more often. “So, what’s going on with you these days?” he asked, as he busied himself behind the bar, putting together a drink he hoped she might like. “You’ve been in here a lot lately. No parties at home?” 

 Heather heaved a gusty sigh. “Other way around. There’s been nothing but parties. Every damn night. It’s too noisy, too crowded; and that’s all down to these new ferals Marc dragged home with him last month. They’re constantly underfoot, always bugging me about something or other. They’re just…ugh! They make me nuts.” 

Drew had to set his jaw to keep his fangs from emerging. “Are you saying someone’s been bothering you? Does Marc know?” Marc was Heather’s sire, and Drew’s friend. It wasn’t Drew’s place to interfere, but all the same, “You have to tell him. If someone’s trying to take advantage of you, he needs to know about it.” 

“What? Oh! No.” Heather shook her head. “No, it’s nothing like that. They’re not doing anything wrong, exactly. They’re just there. You know? Like, all the time. And there are so many of them. And I’m just... God, I’m so over it.” 

Drew suspected the opposite was true, that what was really bothering her was something she wasn’t over—her girlish, and entirely understandable crush on her sire. But one thing she’d said—or, more specifically, one word she’d used—still struck him as being odd. Feral. Feral was one of the words their kind used to describe an orphaned vampire, someone who’d lost their sire and had no one to care for them. It was a pejorative, as ferals were generally viewed as being unbalanced, irredeemable, a threat to society. Not so long ago, Heather herself had been deemed feral. 

“But, surely, they’re not feral any longer, are they? I mean, now that Marc’s adopted them?” 

Heather shot him a dark, inscrutable look. “Is that how it works, now? I thought it was still, once a feral, always a feral. Isn’t that what everyone thinks? That there’s something fundamentally wrong with us, something that can never be made right? That we’d all be better off dead?” 

Drew nodded gravely, acknowledging the truth of what she'd said, even while he went back to constructing her drink. “That’s certainly what everyone used to think up until very recently. And I suppose there are those who still do. But the world is changing. So, I’m sure that won’t always be the case.” 

“Change isn’t necessarily a good thing,” Heather muttered quietly. 

“Very true. But in this case, I believe it is. After all, I used to be one of those people, myself. But now I know better. And, frankly, I would have thought you did too.” 

 Inexplicably, that brought a smile to her lips. “Yeah, you’re right. Sorry. I know I’m being bitchy. They’re just so damn thirsty—you know? For food and attention. They take up alllll Marc’s time, and... I know it’s silly, but I guess I feel left out.” 

“It’s not silly at all, actually. As a vampire, you’re still very young. You’re still finding your feet. It’s natural for you to crave your sire’s attention—in fact, you really can’t help doing so.” 

Heather shrugged. “I guess. And I mean, I’m still Marc’s only legit spawn, you know? I feel like that should count for something. But instead, I feel like roadkill, sometimes.” 

“Roadkill?” Drew repeated skeptically. 

 “You know, something that’s been run over and left behind.” 

Drew shot her a look, but rather than commenting he slid a glass across the bar to her. “Here. Try this. See what you think.” 

“What is it?” 

“Taste it and see.” 

Heather’s eyes narrowed. Sizing me up, Drew thought. Trying to decide whether to trust me. And while, in theory, he approved of her being cautious—caution and luck were the only reasons some vampires continued to stay alive—in practice he was disappointed. “It’s not a trick—you have my word. I’m not trying to drug you, or poison you, or whatever else you might be wondering.” Which is exactly what someone would say if they did mean her harm

“That’s not what I was wondering!” 

“You’re safe here. Always.” 

“I know.” 

“Good. Then drink up.” 

“Why won’t you tell me what it is?” 

“Because I’m not sure if I made it correctly. And I don’t want to influence your opinion.” 

Heather rolled her eyes. Drew held his breath as she lifted the glass to her lips and took a small sip. Her eyes flew wide. “No way.” 

His heart plunged. “Not right?” 

“Drew…you made me an egg cream?” 

“I think so? Is that what it tastes like? Is it all right?” 

“Well, yeah!” She took another, longer sip, then asked. “Do you even know how long it’s been since I’ve had one of these?” 

“Not that long, I’d imagine.” 

 “Ha! That shows how much you know. It’s been ages!” 

“That would be impossible.” If Heather had hit her very first quarter-century mark, Drew would be amazed. He, on the other hand, was currently feeling every one of his three hundred and fifty-four years. “So, it’s really all right?” 

“It’s perfect.” She sipped again and sighed happily. Then her expression shifted back to wary. “Hey, wait a minute. This isn’t some sneaky way of saying you think I’m acting like a kid, is it?” Drew shook his head. 

“No, it’s my sneaky way of saying life is always going to change. And not always for the better. So, it’s important to take as much pleasure as you can from the ordinary things in life.” 

“Like egg creams?” 

 He returned her smile. “Exactly.” Then he turned serious. “Look, to be honest, I suspect most have us have been through something not so different from what you’re experiencing. One day we’re loved, cherished, the object of someone’s deepest desires, the next—our world is upended, and we find ourselves lost, unloved, unwanted. And that’s if we’re lucky.” 

Heather ducked her head. “I know.” Her downcast expression tore at his heart. 

“But remember what I told you,” he said as he reached across the bar to squeeze her hand. “You always have a place here. If you need someone to talk to, or if you just want to sit here and not talk, or…whatever you need. Anything. You need only ask.” 

Heather studied their joined hands for a moment. When she lifted her gaze to his face, he saw she was smiling faintly. “Thanks, Drew.” 

Drew gave her hand a final squeeze then let her go. “You’re most welcome. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s getting late. I have to see about closing up.” 

“Oh!” She glanced at the clock over the bar. “Shit. I’m sorry. I should go. I didn’t realize it was so late.” “No, you’re fine,” he said, putting out a hand to stop her. “Please stay. Relax. Finish your drink. In fact, give me just a few minutes, and I’ll walk you home. All right?” “Okay, sure.”

2021-12-20

Looking for a few good reviews...

 

 I have review copies available for both I'll Be Home for Christmas (currently available as part of the Holiday Kisses collection)  and Light Up the Night (releasing later this month in the Shadows and Chaos anthology). 

Descriptions below. Hit me up if you want one via the contact form on my website! PGForte.com




I'll Be Home For Christmas 
 An Oberon Christmas Story 

All Scout wants this holiday season is to get home in time for Christmas. But when your home is in quirky little Oberon, California, nothing is ever that simple. 

 It’s the night before Christmas and Scout Patterson is flying home to Oberon after a business trip to LA when a chance, mid-air meeting with an angel has her dreaming of a weird Christmas—one in which she sees what the town would have been like if she had never returned.







Light Up The Night 
A Children of Night Ugly Christmas Sweater Story 

Her love will light up his night. If they both can survive that long

 Heather is having the worst Christmas ever! Or, at least, the worst Christmas since she was forced to become a vampire. Her sire's distracted, her nest-mates have forgotten her existence, and a bunch of weirdos have taken over her lair. The only bright spot in her life right now is Drew--who didn't even used to like her! She knows he's coming around, but that's not good enough. She wants more. She wants everything. She wants him. And she's not giving up. 

 Drew Geiger gave up on love a long time ago. Such tender emotions have no place in a vampire's heart. But, somehow, the girl he once described as a "feral kitten" has got her claws in him, and she's not letting go. That would be fine, if only someone didn't want her dead--and if her sire didn't still inconveniently remember that it was Drew who'd once suggested that maybe she'd be better off that way. ​

 ***This story features characters from PG Forte's Children of Night series, characters from Kinsey Holley's Hidden Fae series, and a few from Erin Nicholas' Sapphire Falls series. It follows Going Back to Find You and Going for Brook, both previously released as part of the Sapphire Falls Kindle World***

2021-12-07

New Release! Holiday Kisses!




HOLIDAY KISSES
A Sweet, Hot, and Christmassy Anthology

Experience the magic of romance this Christmas. Holiday Kisses is a festive collection of eight exclusive Christmas stories that will make you fall head over heels in love. Are you ready to take a journey with us? Get into the Christmas spirit with these swoon-worthy romances this holiday season.


➜ Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/47Owyq
➜ Add to your TBR: https://bit.ly/38r8iuw

Holiday Kisses released today! The antho includes my short story, I'll Be Home for Christmas. This is a straight-up Christmas story. And, much like the movie whose plot it borrows (It's a Wonderful  Life) and my own personal favorite Christmas Film, 1947's The Bishop's Wife, while there are romantic elements--and a HEA--it's really not a romance. In part this was because there's only so much you can do with 15K. It really didn't allow for a romance sub-plot. I might revise it for next year and make it longer, add more scenes, catch up with a few more Oberon characters in their alternate reality, but overall I'm pretty happy with the story as-is...well, other than the typos which STILL found their way into the finished version despite multiple sets of eyes on the MS and TWO rounds of edits. Besides, I also have another Oberon Christmas story idea on the calendar for 2022, and a FUN new cover (see below). 

Meanwhile, here's an excerpt from I'll Be Home for Christmas:


Where are you? Standing inside the terminal, suitcases at my feet, I scan the crowd for a glimpse of my husband. I’m starting to worry. I’d expected to see him when I cleared the gate. Or at least by the time I’d collected my bags. But even after an unprecedented, twenty-minute wait for my luggage, Nick still isn’t here. I’ve called home, called his cell; I’ve tried texting—nada. Even his voicemail isn’t picking up. 

 He could have gotten stuck at work. When you’re a cop, disruptions are a way of life. But it’s not like him not to have called or left a message. Unless he did, and it hasn’t downloaded? It’s not impossible. There’s something about the area surrounding Oberon that plays havoc with cell signals—which is why so many of us still rely on landlines. The locals will tell you it’s the magic, but I’m sure there’s a more prosaic explanation. But, anyway, belatedly realizing that that’s probably what’s happened, I decide to go outside, where the signal is (hopefully) stronger, and check again. But as I’m reaching for my carry-on, the bag is snatched from my hand. 

“Hey!” Glancing up, I find myself face to face with Edge. 

“What’s taking so long?” he scolds as he slips the bag’s strap over his shoulder. Then he grabs the rest of my things, as well. “I got you a car. Let’s go.” 

 “You…what?” 

“We’re out here,” he says as he heads for the door. 

 “There is no ‘we,’” I mutter, hurrying after him. 

“Look, I appreciate the thought, but I don’t need a car. I have a ride coming.” 

He glances at me over his shoulder. “You’re waiting for Nick?” 

 “Not that it’s any of your business, but yes.” 

 “I figured. That’s off the table now.” 

“What is?” 

 “Nick. He’s not coming.” 

 “Why not?” I ask, almost tripping in my haste. “What do you know?” 

Edge waits until we’re outside before he answers. “I realize there’s a lot here for you to process. And it’s gonna take time to adjust—no question. But it’s all part of your Christmas gift.” 

“Gift?” Ideas dance in my head like sugarplums. “What gift?” Could Nick have bought me a new car and sent this joker here to deliver it? No. Impossible. Nick would never expect me to get into a car with a stranger; in fact, he’d be furious with me, right now, for even following Edge outside. “I’m not taking another step,” I say as I glance around, hoping to catch sight of a security guard—or anyone who could come to my aid. “Not without an explanation. What gift are you talking about?” 

“My gift to you. A new life.” 

 “A new…what? Look, you’re clearly playing me, so—” 

Edge looks perplexed. “Why would I do that?” 

“How the hell should I know?” 

“Whoa,” he says with a flinch. “Could you not use the H-word?” 

 “I’ll say worse than that if you don’t give me back my bags right the fuck now.” 

“Already done,” he replies, tossing them into the back of a shiny, red Mustang convertible that has me doing a double-take. “See? You’re all set.” 

“I…don’t understand.” I’m looking at the twin of the car I was driving when I first returned to Oberon, feeling a sense of unease so strong it borders on nausea. Even by Oberon standards, this is one hell of a freakish coincidence. 

 “Remember how you said that the fear of losing everything was always there, hanging over your head, that you couldn’t be happy because of it?” 

 “That’s not exactly—" 

 “And how no one would have even noticed if you’d never come back? That everyone’s lives would’ve gone on just the same—with or without you?” 

“I did not say that.” It’s true, of course, but… 

 “But you thought it, right? And, while I don’t happen to agree, I figure it’s your life, your choice. So, I gave you what you’ve been wishing for: a do-over, a clean slate, a fresh start. You’re free to build a new life now, one that will make you happy, one you can believe in. Okay?” 

 I open my mouth, then shut it again when I can’t think of anything to say. 

“Right. So”—Edge digs a set of keys from his pocket and presses them into my hand—“here you go. Merry Christmas.” I

 frown at the familiar keychain. Even that’s identical to the one I’d used five years ago. When I glance up again, Edge is already on his way back inside. “Wait! Where are you going? I can’t take your car.” 

“Sure, you can,” he replies as the doors slide shut behind him. “And it’s not mine—it’s yours.” 

 I start after him, stopping only when I realize I’d be leaving my bags unattended. Before I can figure out what to do, the security guard I’d been praying for a moment earlier suddenly materializes at my side. 

“Move along,” he snaps impatiently, giving me no opportunity to explain. “Nope, don’t want to hear it. Just get in your car and go. If this were any other time of the year, I’d already be writing out a summons.” 

If it were any other time of the year, this probably wouldn’t be happening, but there’s no use arguing. I might as well go home, I decide, as I pull away from the curb. I can call Larry from there. Surely, he can tell me how to contact Edge and return his car.

* * * 

And coming next December (maybe): Oberon's magic strikes again. This time, Lucy's stuck in a time loop where she experiences Christmas every day. The. Exact. Same. Christmas.  And it will just keep repeating until she gets it right. It's like Groundhog Day, only in December. 

One of these days, she's really going to learn to stop wishing for the chance to do it all over again.



2021-10-16

Angels in the Angles

 

When I  started writing I'll Be Home for Christmas--which releases on December 7!!--I hadn't planned on making it a crossover story. It was supposed to be a pretty straight-forward riff on It's a Wonderful Life, featuring Scout from my Oberon series as she got to explore what life in Oberon might have been like if she'd never returned home. But once I started figuring out who my angel should be--and I'll admit I was heavily influenced by Dudley from the 1947 classic Christmas movie, The Bishop's Wife--I  remembered Edge. Once I  put him on the plane with Scout it was magic. Or, at least, that's how I remember it.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Edge...I'll let him introduce himself:

“People have all sorts of misconceptions about angels. They think we’re perfect. They think we don’t have feelings or emotions or lust after each other’s bodies—and occasionally after yours as well. That’s nonsense. Of course we do. We’re only human, after all. Or at least some of us were. Once. 

My name is Edge. I’m an angel. And this is my story. 

I understand how confusing it might seem at first, all the questions you’re probably asking yourself. Like aren’t angels and humans fundamentally different? Aren’t we completely separate species? Weren’t angels created first? The simple answer to all those questions is yes. But whoever said the universe was simple?

 There’s nothing uncomplicated about the human heart. There’s nothing easy when it comes to free will. If you consider all the trouble a soul can get itself into, or if you think about all the tasks the celestial hosts are called on to perform, you’ll see why it only makes good sense for there to be more than one type of angel in the world. 

Besides, if you’d ever caught even a glimpse of one of the seraphim—those fierce and fearsome creatures forever on fire to do battle against the forces of darkness—you’d think twice too about using them as messengers to ordinary people. Never mind sending one of them to stand watch over the kiddies while they sleep! 

The path to becoming an angel is actually far easier than you might imagine. All you have to do is lose your soul. That’s another concept many people find difficult to grasp. Soul loss. It’s something else that comes entirely too easily to most of us. Sudden death, violence, a lack of closure, guilt—that’s all it takes sometimes. You lose your way. You disconnect. Your soul fractures. The next thing you know, you’re waking up here. Stuck in limbo. Unable to move on to heaven…or the next plane of existence…your next lifetime… 

Okay, you want the truth? We don’t really know where we’re supposed to go from here. All we know is we aren’t going anywhere. Not yet. Not until we’ve found our closure, mended our fences, or in some cases, performed a truly unselfish act. 

Unselfish. Now that’s hard. Most of the folks here don’t have it as tough as that. They’ve just got closure issues to deal with. Closure is a piece of cake. It’s something almost anyone can manage once they’re ready for it. I’ve seen people find closure in the damnedest things. But unselfish acts—truly unselfish acts? Well, that’s a whole nother story. 

Take me, for example. I committed suicide. That’s what landed me here. And you really can’t get much more self-absorbed than that.”

***
Edge of Heaven is available HERE

It was a reckless act of passion that ended Edge's life and left him in Limbo--literally. Now, he's stuck here. While most of the other angels-in-training move quickly up the celestial ladder, Edge knows it can never be that simple for him. He's dealing with issues that are a lot more complicated than a simple lack of closure. 

 While Edge doesn't know for sure what it will take to get him into Heaven, there is one thing he's certain won't help; that would be his latest assignment guiding angel-baby Matteo Matinucci while the newbie find his wings. 

 But twenty-something Mattie--sexy, beautiful, recently departed and openly gay--could turn out to be the answer to all of Edge's prayers, as well as the fulfillment of all his fantasies, even the hot, sweaty, secret ones he's never confided to anyone.


Holiday Kisses is available for pre-order HERE

Experience the magic of romance this Christmas. Holiday Kisses is a festive collection of ten exclusive Christmas stories that will make you fall head over heels in love. Are you ready to take a journey with us? Get into the Christmas spirit with these swoon-worthy romances this holiday season.

️ Adina D. Grey - Special Christmas Present
Emily is perfect, but I could never make her as happy as she deserves.
Tyler is everything I've ever dreamed of, but I'm not enough. Will the magic of Christmas be enough to erase all doubts from their hearts?

Ann Grech - Gift Unwrapped
Two men to choose from... Unwrapping her gift was never so much fun.

Maci Dillon - Candy Canes & Cocktails
Stranded in a snowstorm with a swoon-worthy bartender never tasted so good.

Rosie East - Home for Christmas
Coming home for Christmas isn't always as simple as it seems...

️ Samantha Baca - Snow Place To Go
What happens when a woman looking for love gets stranded with a man who’s purposely avoiding it?

PG Forte - I'll be home for Christmas
A meeting with an angel has Scout dreaming of a weird Christmas—one in which she sees what life might have been like for her friends and family if she’d never come home.

️ Andrea Marie - Mrs. Claus
What starts as just a job, quickly opens the door to endless possibilities, including a chance at true love.

️Holly J. Gill- Christmas Mistake
When one mistake changes everything, how can you come back?

️Lynn Stevens - One Wish Only
We had three months together, then she was gone. I pushed her away, helped her run faster halfway around the world. Me and my big mouth, complete with the inserted foot. Now six months later, she’s standing in front of me as beautiful and stubborn as ever. And it will take a Christmas wish to win her back, or I’ll be forced to let her go forever.

2021-09-25

Sweetest Revenge!

I'm so excited to announce the release of Revenge Is Sweet: A Collection of Halloween Tales of Revenge, which includes my  own story, Hungry Heart.

  Hungry Heart is a (hopefully) creepy little tale that I pulled out of Oberon's seventh book Visions Before Midnight. It's currently part of the Revenge is Sweet Collection of Halloween Tales, which has a suitably creepy cover. 

It's the most wonderful time of the year...for revenge. 

Halloween is a time for tricks, mayhem and murder. This collection of Halloween tales follows the wronged as they seek retribution for the crimes against them. 

By whatever means necessary. 

Read the deliciously dark stories from S. K. Gregory, Ashley Brion, R Jaye, N. D. Testa, DJ Shaw and P.G. Forte.

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09H3643ZH


Those of you who've read Visions Before Midnight will be familiar with this story, since it's basically Cara's first person account of several of the events in that book.  I was really hoping to have re-released the Oberon series by now, but Life Happened instead, and a lot of my plans for this year went by the wayside. But I'm' thrilled with how the story came out, and I  LOVE this anthology with its perfectly spooky cover. Hungry Heart has its own cover, of course, since it will be released later on its own. You can get a sneak peek of that cover HERE

And, now, I think it's time for an excerpt...

BLURB: Cara Matthews is trouble. That's one thing that pretty much everyone in the town of Oberon can agree on—parents, teachers, other students, her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Seth Cavanaugh.

 Well, if you give a dog a bad name, you probably shouldn’t be too surprised when they live up to it. 

 This Halloween, after one insult too many, Cara decides it’s time to get revenge. And it doesn’t much matter who gets hurt in the process.

EXCERPT: “Fuck my life.” I’m hanging out in the cafeteria, waiting for the chance to grab some lunch, and doing my best to appear inconspicuous. If the startled looks being sent my way are anything to go by, that’s not going so well. I guess maybe I said that out loud, without really meaning to. Or else this is first time anyone in this gulag that calls itself a private, all-girls high school has ever heard someone’s stomach growl. But who cares what they think? Not me. I’m hangry and tired and fresh out of fucks. This is not where I thought I’d be at this point, or how I imagined my life would turn out. 

See, it’s my senior year, which is something I’ve been anticipating forever. Or, at least, since that miserable day in kindergarten when I was first introduced to the concept of punching down. Even at five-years-old I understood that until you’d arrived at the top of the heap, you were destined to be kicked in the face by those ahead of you. All the fucking time. But am I feeling the joy now that I’ve finally made it to the ladder’s top rung? No, I am not. At seventeen, my life is completely out of my control. 

 I suppose things first started going wrong for me when my mom got sick. But then she died, and everything got so much worse—like a snowball down a mountain. My dad lost his shit. I made mistakes. Although, I prefer to think of them as errors in judgment; and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that others do the same. But as usual, I’m alone in that. At least I’m consistent. 

After that, one thing led to another. And now, here I am: trapped at the mercy of my stick-up-her-ass aunt, and the permanently pissed off principal who runs this place—both of whom hate me. Between them, they’ve decided that the best way to keep me in line is to pile on the extracurricular activities. 

 D’you wanna know what the worst part of that is? They’re gonna end up thinking their stupid plan worked. Which is not the case. I’d already decided, all on my own, that it was time for a change. Getting tossed out of my last school, where I really liked being, and where people liked me; coming too close to being incarcerated—and then losing most of my friends when that didn’t happen—that was all the wake-up call I needed. But do you think anyone believes me when I tell them that? No fucking way. 

Personally, I’d’ve thought being forced to wear the same butt-ugly uniform each day was punishment enough. But, in order to ensure that I do exactly what I—swear to god—was planning on doing anyway, they’ve put me to work—before school, after school, even during what’re supposed to be my free periods. They’ve got me helping out in classrooms, running bullshit errands, mentoring the younger kids; do I look like Mother Teresa? Imma give you a hint: the answer to that is no. 

I’m not convinced it’s legal. Not that anyone cares. My aunt’s made it crystal clear that as long as she’s paying my bills, I can either argue with her or I can eat. And if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that eating is important. You know that thing they say about how you shouldn’t try and make decisions when you’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired? It’s really true. And since hungry, angry, lonely and tired basically defines my life, I figure maybe I’m just better off not thinking at all. 

 It’s not right, though. And I’m tired of things that aren’t right. Specifically, I’m tired of things not going right for me. I used to have friends. I used to have fun. Hell, I used to be fun. But that seems like another lifetime. Now, I’m the butt of everyone’s jokes, the girl least likely to succeed at anything. Other than getting into trouble. Because like I said, that’s all most people think of when they think of me. No one appears to have gotten the memo that this version you see right here? This is the all new and improved Cara Matthews. The girl who will succeed, who’s not just a screw up, who gets to have whatever she wants. Ah, if only… 

 “She was watching you again,” one of the two girls in front of me says to her friend. “It’s really weird.” And, just that fast, I’m momentarily distracted from my own problems. 

 The girl who’s speaking has light brown hair and amber-colored eyes. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen her before. Her companion, on the other hand, is a little taller, with darker hair and looks vaguely familiar. Judging by their uniforms, they’re both freshmen, which means I probably don’t know either of them. It also, almost by definition, means that nothing they say is going to be of any real interest. But they’re speaking quietly, in that way that people do when they’re sharing a secret. So, of course, I can’t help listening in. 

 I love secrets, don’t you? Good secrets are fucking delicious, way better than sex or chocolate or the kind of really good high that I no longer allow myself to think about. Nothing makes me feel more powerful or more alive than learning new things about the people around me. Especially when they’re the kinds of things they don’t want anyone else to know. 

 The second girl is looking puzzled. “Who are you talking about?” 

 “Mrs. Kline. She does it all the time. Sometimes, she stares at me, too. But mostly it’s you.” 

“You’re imagining things,” Frosh Number Two says dismissively. “Why would she be watching either of us? We haven’t done anything wrong. Yet.”

 I like this girl. That “yet” shows potential. But she’s dead wrong if she thinks Olivia Kline is the kind of crackpot you can write off as harmless. 

Trust me on this. I’ve been stuck shadowing that bitch’s stupid ass for the past few weeks, as part of my indentured servitude gig, and I can tell you right now, that that teacher is bad news. I’m not yet sure what she’s up to—right now, it’s just a feeling I have—but I swear she’s up to something that’ll probably turn out to be Very Not Good for somebody. And if anyone were to tell me that she’s taken a particular interest in me, not only would I take their warning seriously, but I’d be very, very concerned.


2021-06-03

When Magic Realism Meets Romantic Suspense

 


I just posted the following (hilariously accurate, IMO) description of my current WIP The Serpent Sigil (part one of Love Among the Runes:

"I'm working on the first novella in a trilogy. It's a humorous, magic-realism-meets- romantic-suspense story featuring an Oakland cop who was accidentally possessed by Loki when he was 13 and has been his vassal ever since. It's got ritual murder, Norse gods, and magical summonings existing side-by-side with crimes involving cryptocurrencies, bespoke synthetic drugs, the dark web and mail fraud. Also, craft beer and artisan pizza."

I think it's scarily and hilariously accurate. Also, it pretty much demands an excerpt...or maybe I'm just procrastinating.



"This is great,” I say, gesturing at our dinner, ignoring her doubts, and resisting the temptation to tease her about having investigated me in order to find out what I like. The beer is my favorite local micro-brew, Bancroft Brewery’s intensely hoppy Hop On It IPA. And the pizza— “I gotta say, I really like your taste in toppings!” that’s my favorite, too. 

 “I know,” she says with a wry tilt to her smile that makes me pause. She didn’t really investigate me…did she? 

 Of course, she did. Why would she not? 

Fiona shrugs. She reaches for a beer and twists off the top. “Obviously, I asked around. Wouldn’t you have done the same?” 

“Maybe? I mean, I don’t date much, so it’s never really come up. But, I suppose, if I really wanted to impress someone, I might try a little detective work.” I think about that for a moment, as I take two plates out of the cabinet next to the sink—melamine, casual, but not paper plate casual—and then add, obviously without thinking, “Of course, with my luck, it would come across as being too stalkery. And I’d end up scaring the shit out of my prospective date” 

Fiona chokes on her beer, and I hurry to reassure her, “Not that I’m suggesting that you… I’m flattered that you’d go to that much trouble. Really.” 

 And this right here, in case you’re wondering, is a big part of why I don’t date very much. That and the presence of my forever chaperone. 

“Mm. Very flattered, I can tell.” But her eyes are sparkling, and she sounds like she’s teasing, so hopefully I haven’t offended her too badly. 

 You could date more often. I would offer no objection to it. In fact, I’d quite like it if you would

Oh, I bet you would. Horny old goat. 

For the record, I have dated, and it’s been…okay. But the stealth aspect has always bothered me. A lot. I mean it’s fine for a random 20002 scenario—your basic hit and run—but if you’re hoping for something real or lasting, then I think little things like honesty and transparency are important. Everyone involved should have a clear understanding of just who and what they’re getting themselves into. Unfortunately, attempting to explain to a potential bedpartner that there might occasionally be an incorporeal demi-god joining in on the action seldom turns out well. In fact, it’s a real good way to find yourself sleeping alone. 

“But, just so we’re clear,” Fiona says. “This isn’t a date.” 

“What’s that?” Okay, now I feel stupid and—let’s face it—a little let down. “Oh. No, of course not. I didn’t think it was. Did I say date?” 

“Because I don’t date cops.” 

“Right. Me, neither.” I’m nodding, like one of those damned bobble-head dolls now and I can’t stop myself from adding, “It’s not like a hard limit, though. For me, that is. It’s just—” 

“Not a good idea.” 

“No. Exactly.” 

“Because it tends to end badly so much of the time.” 

“Definitely. I mean, in general. But—” 

“And having to work together afterwards is so awkward.” 

“Absolutely. ’Couldn’t agree more.” 

“And then, of course, in my case, there are already enough cops in my family. More than enough.” 

“Oh, for sure.” 

“I would have to be crazy to want to add more to that equation.” 

“I can totally see that. What a nightmare.” 

“It would be nonstop: shoptalk 24/7. I’d never get a break.” 

“Right? Horrible.” 

“Yeah.” 

“Yeah.” 

Finally, having beaten that subject into dust, we both fall silent. “So,” I say, before things can get more awkward. “Let’s eat! Do you want to sit in here? Or in the living room?” 

“Let’s go inside,” Fiona suggests. “I think there’s a game on, isn’t there?” 

“Sure. Has to be.” 

FYI? As far as I can tell, there’s always a game on—of some sort, anyway. And at risk of having to turn in my Guy card, I don’t care all that much about any of them. Still, we fill up our plates and settle on the couch and I happily relinquish control of the remote to Fiona, but after fiddling with it for a few moments, and flipping through some channels, she gives up on the game as well and turns on some music channel instead. 

And then it’s just us and the food, a surprisingly smoky soundtrack of mostly piano and sax, and a quietly brooding Asgardian prince lurking in the wings. And it’s nice; pleasant, relaxed, hardly crowded at all. 

“I like your house,” Fiona observes after a few minutes, between bites of pizza. 

“Thanks.” I glance around appreciatively. “I like it, too.” 

It’s a hundred-year-old Craftsman bungalow; all dark wood, clean lines, and the aforementioned plethora of windows. By now, I feel like I know every inch of it. I’ve rewired the antiquated electrical system; sanded and refinished the floors; stripped decades of paint from molding and paneling; replaced windows; repaired tiles; replastered walls. I’ve painted and stained, polished, restored— 

 “Have you lived here long?” 

 “Feels like decades, sometimes. But. No. Just a few years.” 

“Okay…” 

I don’t think she’s just feeling the need to make conversation. Personally, I would have said the silence between us was comfortable rather than awkward. But, just in case, I rush in to fill the gap…and end up babbling again. “Yeah, I got lucky. There was a dip in the market and, to be honest, it really did need a ton of work—” 

You did not ‘get lucky’. I found it for us. I told you when to buy it, how much to offer... 

“—so, I bought it and, uh, I’ve been remodeling it, bit by bit, ever since.” 

Fiona grins. “So, is that what you do in your spare time? Work on your house?”

 I smile in return. “What spare time?” 

She gestures with her bottle toward the TV. “Point being, I kind of got the impression that you’re not really into sports?” 

I shrug. “Not really. I’ll maybe watch a little MMA, from time to time, but not so much otherwise.” 

“Wow, that’s…” 

“Too weird for you?” 

“I was going to say refreshing. And very different from…well. My brothers, for example.” 

“I’m sure.” 

“What about when you were a kid, though? You must have played something, at some point? Little League? Pee-wee Soccer? Flag Football? Hockey? Bowling? Swimming?”

I shake my head. “Nope. No team sports. It wasn’t… Well, it was just my mom and me. And we moved around a lot, rarely had enough for the essentials, never mind any extracurricular activities. Also…well, she had her own issues, her own…interests, let’s say. Those generally took priority.” 

 “Ouch.” Fiona murmurs—possibly reacting to some hint of the bitterness that I really don’t even feel anymore; or possibly because that sounds pathetic to her with her large family and sheltered upbringing. Still, I’m surprised. Is she judging me? 

I cock an eyebrow at her. “Ouch?” 

Color floods her cheeks. “Sorry. It just…well, it sounds like… Are you two not close?” 

“No, we were. But I was just a kid when— when she died.” 

 “I’m sorry.” She shoots me a look, not quite pity, but still too close for comfort. 

 I shrug it off with a, “Yeah, well. What are you gonna do? That’s life, right?” and lift my beer, ready to retreat behind my bottle, when it occurs to me that’s just what Mom would’ve done. What she did do, in fact. I lower the bottle, no longer thirsty, and reach for the pizza instead. 

“Last piece. Wanna split it?” 

 Fee shakes her head, still looking a little too pensive. Do I know how to kill a mood, or what? I nudge her shoulder with mine. “Wanna wrestle for it?” 

That wins me a smile, a return nudge, and a wry, “Nope. All yours.”

****

To learn more about the Love Among the Runes trilogy, check out the series page on my website:


ALSO, don't forget the following promotional offers available this month:


2021-05-30

Love's Curse is Available Noww!


The heart is treacherous. Love is cursed. Dive into this collection of paranormal romance to find loves strong enough to break the veil between realms.

NOTE: by downloading this collection you are agreeing to sign up for the mailing lists of the participating authors:

Mandy Melanson, Elle Ryan, Lisa Wood, Helena Novak, PG Forte, Angelique Jordonna, Mira Kane, Dusty Grein, AJ Mullican, Rhetoric Askew, LLC

Get your FREE copy HERE!




If you've been following me for a while, you might already have read my story, Blame It On The VooDoo, as it was originally released as part of the Nine Naughty Novelists' short story collection, Nine Nights in New Orleans.  That collection is no longer available, and I'm not certain what I'll do with the story, although I do have some very vague, amorphous ideas for turning it into a series. I'm thinking jaded vampire dom, and his submissive (sometimes) voodoo priestess lover solve magical crimes in The Big Easy. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds that idea absolutely irresistible--right? 

ANYWAY...whether you've read it already, or not, you'll definitely want to pick up a copy of this collection before it goes away. It will only be available for a month. 

Here's the blurb and a short excerpt: 

What’s a little black magic among friends?

Vampire Rene Boudreaux is more than a little annoyed. It seems sexy voodoo queen Zirondelle Doucette has got him under her spell. Can Zee convince Rene that the only real magic is love? Or will he continue to blame it on the voodoo?

***This short story does NOT feature any of the Children Of Night characters. This is an entirely separate vampire world based in New Orleans that I may expand on, at some point.***



“It’s getting to where you can’t swing a dead chicken around here anymore without it smacking into one damn psychic or another.” 

Zirondelle Doucette couldn’t help the grin that spread across her face as she listened to her Aunt Serafina’s complaints. Her aunt stood at the window of their family’s shop, staring out at the street, and Zee didn’t have to guess too hard to figure out the cause for her discontent. Another “damn” psychic had recently put out her shingle in the previously vacant storefront directly across from their own. 

“And if it’s not a psychic it’s a card reader,” the other woman continued, grumbling crossly. “Or a palm reader. Or tea-leaf reader—” 

“Or a purveyor of Voodoo essentials?” Zee suggested, holding up the little gris-gris bag she’d just finished assembling. 

Serafina turned her head to glare at her niece. “Don’t sass me, Zee. You know exactly what I’m talking about.” 

 “Yes, Ma’am, I do.” Ducking her head, Zee started in on the next charm. She knew it wasn’t psychics per se with whom her aunt had a problem. Serafina was a tolerant soul, not the kind who’d ever take a stand against anyone else’s religion or spellcraft or spiritual beliefs. It was the idea of all those make-believe mystics making a mockery of their family’s calling that was trying the older woman’s temper, and not without cause. The Doucette family had owned and operated their establishment in the self-same Royal Street location for several generations, dealing in authentic rituals, in candles and jujus, talismans and spells. It was hard not to take it personally when your way of life was turned into a kind of circus act by greedy imposters. But as Zee and her aunt both knew, the charlatans did in fact have a place and a purpose in the grand scheme of things. 

Oh, how the tourists loved them. They ate up their acts and purchased their trinkets as eagerly as they did the beignets at the CafĂ© du Monde. Or jazz on Frenchmen Street. Or hurricanes in Pat O’s Courtyard. It was all part of the Crescent City mystique, like Po’ Boys and crawfish, pralines and beads. In an odd way, they kept things safe. They kept the merely curious from straying into dangerous territory. 

“Oh, Lawd.” Aunt Serafina’s sudden gasp caught Zee’s attention. She glanced up in surprise. 

 “Auntie, what’s wrong?” 

 “It’s him.” Serafina scurried back behind the counter where her niece was working, babbling nonsensically. “He’s back. He’s coming this way. What should we do? What does he want this time?” 

 “Do about what?” Zee asked, feeling mystified and mildly exasperated. “Who’s back?” She loved Serafina; truly she did. Her aunt had taken Zee in after her parents passed, without question or hesitation—the only member of their somewhat eccentric family who seemed to have any idea about what to do with a bewildered little girl who’d suddenly been orphaned. Zee would never forget the older woman’s kindness but, all the same, there were times, like now, when dealing with her aunt seriously tried Zee’s patience. 

 The Doucette family had a certain reputation; they were known for being fierce and fearless. They prided themselves on it, in fact. But Serafina had always been unusually timid for a Doucette. Right now, her pale eyes, also unusual in a Doucette, were wide with fear, the pupils dilated; her voice was but a whisper. “Monsieur Boudreaux.” 

 Boudreaux. The name itself meant very little. It was as common as dishwater around those parts. But between the look on her aunt’s face and the singing certainty in her own heart, Zee knew exactly which Monsieur Boudreaux Serafina meant. She meant Rene Alcide Boudreaux. Zirondelle’s Monsieur Boudreaux. Dominant. Vampire. Master. 

 But not her master. No, not yet.