Teaser Tuesday – A Lesson In Wickedness!

That’s right, lovely people, it’s Teaser Tuesday! I know it’s normally Thursday, but I’m switching things up, just to confuse everybody. I’m going to share a little snippet from A Lesson In Wickedness, the 5th book in the Grim Alliance series, which is well under way! So enjoy a little light reading on your break, ladies and gentlemen. 🙂 (Bearing in mind this is still unedited!)

Tuesday Teaser

The night air was cool as it kissed Mika’s cheek, still damp from the evening’s rain. She leaned back against the white bricks of the house, folding her arms as she cocked one leg against them too, blowing out a harsh breath. She closed her eyes, welcoming the sting of relief as her tired eyeballs rested for a moment. It had been a long few weeks for all the Reapers, but Mika was feeling it now. As the oldest—besides Greek—she had always felt more wearied from than the others. A cold shiver travelled across her skin as an insect dropped onto her arm, flying off again rapidly as her eyes snapped open to stare at it. You’d think they wouldn’t like dead flesh, but there you go. A morose smile curved her lips as she gazed across the garden, lazily watching the tall wildflowers and grass bending against one another in the semi-darkness of twilight.

Her nerves jumped as she was startled by the sound of heavy footsteps coming through the hallway, and Gabe stepped out through the open front door. He pensively turned his green eyes to Mika, rubbing a hand over the blond stubble on his head, giving a shifty look over his shoulder back inside. The sound of the others chatting travelled out to the still air, and he cleared his throat softly. “Er…you’re not going to tell Talia I was out here, are you?”

Mika raised an eyebrow, grinning coyly. “Why? Lover’s quarrel?”

“No, but there might be one if she spots what I’m doing.” In answer to Mika’s frown, he pulled a crumpled pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket, holding them up for her to see before tapping the packet and pulling a slim stick out. He rummaged in his other pocket, finally pulling out a yellow lighter, snapping it and holding the flame close as he took a drag. The tall Reaper’s eyes closed in pleasure, and he took a long drag, placing the lighter back in the seat of his jeans. “Oh, gods. I needed that.” He gave Mika another panicked glance. “Seriously, don’t tell Talia. I’m trying to quit, but it’s fucking hard, you know.”

“Gabe,” Mika admonished, giving a cluck of her tongue. She peered around the corner of the open doorway. The hallway was dark, a shaft of light showing across the floor from the door to the living room, left ajar by a few inches. Laughter came from within, and she could hear the raised sounds of the TV.  Groaning aloud, she turned back to the stillness of the night air, shaking her head at Gabe. “You know I’ll get in trouble if your faerie sees you. And I don’t want to be on the wrong end of Mother Bear.” The Reaper pushed herself off from the wall, her hair bobbing with the movement as she stared at Gabe. He stared back, unblinking, taking another sharp drag of his cigarette as though it might be his last. Eh. It’s his un-life. “Fine. But you have to give me one.”

Gabe scoffed, his forehead wrinkling as he widened his eyes in surprise. “Since when do you smoke?”

“Since you lot never notice me sneaking out the back and spraying myself in deodorant. Since when do you sneak out the front to have one?”

“Touché.” The blond Reaper held his pack out, allowing Mika to take one. He tilted his head back as he passed her the lighter, narrowing his eyes. “You know, smoking is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The lighter made a grinding noise as the flint struck, and a large orange flame leapt up, dying down as Mika pulled it, and the poisonous contents of her cigarette, into her lungs. Passing the lighter back slowly, she blew out a long plume of smoke over her shoulder, resting one hand on her hip. Great, more deep talk. Just what I need when I feel like my brain’s wound down for the year. She cast her eyes back towards the waving wildflowers at Gabe’s statement. “What do you mean by that?”

Gesturing for her to follow with a jerk of his head, Gabe turned and headed over to the far side of the house—the side with no windows—towards a large, black garden sofa. The wooden decking groaned under his weight as he marched over to the couch, sinking himself down into the cushions with a contented sigh, pulling his feet up and resting them against the arm. Mika stepped up to the far end of the corner-sofa, plumping herself down as she continued to stare over at Gabe. I want to know what the hell he meant by that statement. Fear gripped her for a second. She was always worried that her sarcasm and iciness made the others think she didn’t care about their group, when nothing could be further from the truth. I love this gang of misfits—even our new misfits. We’re a family. Even if sometimes it’s like the Addams Family. And I’m Wednesday. Who didn’t love Wednesday?

Copyright © 2016, Miranda Stork.

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Just A Quick Newsflash…

IT’S LIVE, PEOPLE!

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A day early, TWICE AS GUILTY is now up on Amazon, B&N, Apple, and a bunch of other places! 😀 This time you get two Reapers for the price of one…

Drew and Devin were always more than twins. More than brothers. More than bandmates.

They even died together.

When Drew and Devin become Reapers, both of them bury their past and focus on saving souls for the Hall of Rest. The darkness of their childhood, and the brightness of their brief stint as a famous band, disappear as they are reborn in their new role. They secretly long for the women who will be their soulmates—and Devin believes he has found his, in the faerie Helena.

But Empusa is already two steps ahead of the Reapers, and a spy in their midst begins to unravel the close connection of the twins, ultimately leading to destroying the Grim Alliance from within. Events will make Devin and Drew question their past, as well as their future, and will test the boundaries of brotherly love. A block on the Hall of Rest means souls are trapped in Empusa’s realm, and puts a strain on everyone involved.

The Reapers must find out Empusa’s plan in time, or the Hall of Rest will fall to the goddess’ grasp, as will the Grim Alliance—and the twins who are at the epicentre of the fallout.

Amazon US

Amazon CAN

Amazon UK

Apple (On Preorder until tomorrow)

B&N (On Preorder until tomorrow)

Thanks for continuing to read about the Grim Alliance, everyone. I’m having the most fun yet writing this series, and it’s not even got to the really juicy parts yet! 😀

Thursday Teaser – Creator of Shadows!

 

“Help us! We’re trapped!”

“Trapped…”

“TRAPPED!…”

 

Andred’s eyelids burst open as she let out a cry, staring blankly up at the ceiling and not knowing if she really had called out of not. As the dream tumbled into place, she reached across a shaking hand to turn the lamp on, needing the comfort of the glow around her bedroom. As the bulb burst into life, shining on every corner of the room, she eased herself up. Her flesh still trembled from the nightmare, and she wiped a hand across her face, staring down at it with wide eyes as she realised she was coated in cold sweat. It had drenched her bedsheets, all of them twisted and tangled up in her legs and half on the floor.

Letting out a shaky breath, the goddess leaned her head back against the headboard, her chest heaving like a pump. The nightmare had been too real, too vivid. So many wailing voices and cries, all trapped together in the darkness. And that feeling that hovered over them all, a being of unimaginable terror that prevented any of them from ever leaving. And the Andred herself had been one of the many, calling out names of people who would never come, who would never hear them, shrieking until her vocal chords gave out.

As she rubbed her sore eyes with her fingers, trying to ease herself back into some form of calm, she heard footsteps hammering down the hallways outside. A second later, the door burst open to reveal Vladimir, out of breath with flashing eyes. Casting a quick glance around the room, he came over to Andred’s side, taking in her frightened expression and soaked bedsheets. Shaking his head, he grasped her cheeks gently in his palms, forcing her to stare into his piercing eyes. “Andred, what happened? I heard you screaming.”

“Oh, Vladimir,” Andred whispered, her own voice croaky and weak, as though she really had been screaming endlessly in that horrifying void. Her eyes fell to his side, unable to look him in the eyes, and they fell on the sight of his sword, hanging by his side. He was dressed only in pyjama bottoms, but he had still found time to arm himself. Throwing her arms around his neck, uncaring what the implications might be, she let out a sob.

“Hey, ssh. Was it a nightmare?” the vampire asked gently, concern thickening his accent as he rubbed a hand over her back soothingly. Andred could feel his palms pressing her closer with each motion, willing her to be alright.

Nodding her head profusely so he would know she was otherwise unaffected, she pulled away and leaned against her headboard again, locking puffy red eyes with his fierce gaze. “Vladimir, it was a terrible nightmare. And the worst part is…it was real,” she whispered.

“No, not if it was a nightmare. It will—“

“If I dreamt it, it was a nightmare, Vladimir,” she countered firmly, clasping his hand so tightly her nails dug into his skin. Throwing the sheet off herself, she drew her knees up to her chest and let go of him, hugging them into her chin. “You’ve never asked about my ancient years. I was known then by my formal name of Andraste. My sister was Brigitania, and between us, we were in charge of the land now known as Britain—here, in short. She had the north, and I had the south. We were older than those names, of course, but it’s the name we were known by when we were truly known as Goddesses of the Green Isle. I had the gift of divination, and I could bestow it on anyone I chose. But it also means when I dream, I see into other worlds, other places.” She gave an involuntary shudder. “And I saw somewhere terrible tonight.”

Searching her face, Vladimir asked quietly, “Where was it?”

Andred screwed up her face to catch onto a fragment of the dream, a memory which was fast fading away with being awake in the light and safety of her room. “I’m not sure, but…it wasn’t here. It was somewhere else, another plane. Like the Otherworld, but not there. And there were voices, so many voices. All calling out and crying our names. Like they knew us. And…I think they do.”

Vladimir’s features paled, and he shifted on the bedspread, pulling one leg up to see the goddess better. Giving a shrug, he asked, “Are you going to give me a clue?”

“The Dansu?”

His mouth fell open as he let out a soft gasp, and he blinked a few times, carding his hand through his hair. Finally he uttered, “But it can’t be. All those years ago, they helped us to fight the demons. We knew they were going to the Otherworld—“

“They never got there,” Andred interrupted, shaking her head slowly. Biting her lip, she fisted her hands against the sheet, scrunching it in her palms. “I’m not sure what’s happened, but they’re trapped somewhere. Someone—or something—is keeping them there. And I don’t know why.”

 

Taken from Creator of Shadows, Copyright © Miranda Stork 2014

 

Have you read the first and second books in the Scarlet Rain Series yet? Get the first one, Vigilante of Shadows, FREE for a limited time! click here!

And grab the second book, Keeper of Shadows, here!

Snippet Time – Creator of Shadows!

I love reunions. Just saying. Especially when it’s a character from the past. Also, PSSST! I’m going to have the pre-order links hopefully up by end of the week, so watch out for them. 😉


Arianwen swallowed hard, her throat tightening with worry. They hadn’t expected the people here to know anything about the goings-on in the capital, but they seemed as informed—possibly more—as they were. Deron stepped out carefully from behind Inghard, offering up a tense smile to the two guards. “Both,” he answered easily. “I’m human, and I have friends who are part o’ the Human Resistance. But ‘dis lot,” he gestured with a thumb, “are part o’ the Immortal Resistance. The point is, we’re all Resistance.”

The older man narrowed his eyes at Deron for a moment, chewing at his lip. Seemingly satisfied with the answer, he gave a curt nod, replying, “Aye, we agree. But it’s all humans here, I don’t think I can let you in. We won’t attack you, but you’ve got to move on. Get going.”

As he and the younger man turned to leave, Arianwen was gripped by a sudden mad idea to run over to him, and her legs pumped forwards before she had a chance to think over her decision. “Nae, lass!” Aodhan cried out as she jogged towards them. Opening her mouth to shout for the older man, her heart leapt into her throat as two hot black barrels appeared in front of her face, the young man’s tense features at the other end.

“We said ‘get going’, immortal. Do as you’re told,” the young man hissed in a faint French accent, his hair blowing gently in the wind that had picked up, scattering dust particles through the air. As if to make his point further, he clicked the safety off on the weapon, and moved forwards enough to make her stagger backwards, her feet scraping against the loose gravel below.

Holding her hands up to show she meant no harm, she shook her head, gazing deep into the man’s eyes. She saw terror there, not the cold, steely gaze she expected of someone guarding an entire fort. Speaking softly, she urged, “Please listen to me. We’re really not here to harm you in any way, or anyone inside. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have to be, I promise you. There is only one thing we want, and that is to bring the Clan to their knees.” Arianwen bit out the last few words, venom from her emotions flavouring each syllable.

The older man spun on his heel and took in the sight of the demoness stood on her own, hands still raised in the air, before marching back across and lowering the younger man’s rifle. “Easy, Pierre, easy,” he soothed. “Let’s not lose our heads. They already said they mean no harm.”

Pierre gave an exasperated sigh, but he slung the gun over his shoulder as his companion asked, giving Arianwen a cold stare. “And you believe them?”

“Yes,” the other man replied, “I believe them. They haven’t tried to attack us in the last few seconds, have they?” Pulling his own rifle onto his back, he clasped his hands in front of his camouflage-covered torso and directed his attention at Arianwen, giving her hands a gentle nod. As she lowered them slowly to her sides, he continued, “My name is Franklin. We’re not making you stay out here because we don’t want you. But there are children inside there, and youngsters who have never been outside the walls of the Castle. Do you have any idea how it feels to be that human and terrified?”

Arianwen drew herself up smartly, smiling broadly. “I do,” she answered honestly. “I wasn’t always an immortal, you know. I was once human, like you all. And Deron here is human, and Psyche is…” She trailed off as she gestured towards her jet-haired friend, struggling to find the right words. “Well, she’s still half-human, anyway.” Turning back to Franklin, she added, “We know, believe me. I used to be a police officer before the war started. I know what people are capable of. And I also know what’s capable if we stand by and do nothing.”

Franklin gave a heavy sigh and squeezed his temples between his forefinger and thumb, before blinking and looking back up at Arianwen with tired eyes. “I’m sorry,” he retorted with a shrug, “there’s nothing I can do. Rules are rules.”

With that, he gestured to his companion, and they both turned to head back to the entrance. “No!” Arianwen begged, breathing heavily. “You have to listen, I—“

“Arianwen! Arianwen Harris?”

The male voice that called out her name from above the watchtower was familiar and hard to place all at once. Her mind buzzing with names of anyone and everyone she had known in her lifetime so far, she gazed up towards the tower and bright blue sky, squinting and using her hand as a shade. An elderly man was leaning over the side of the walls, waving frantically down to her. Narrowing her eyes further, she searched his face, flickering over every wrinkle and line around his shining eyes—it can’t be. It is! Waving excitedly back, she shouted up, “By the gods! Shiner! What the hell are you doing here?” Turning back to Aodhan with a face flushed with happiness, she grinned and cried out, “Aodhan! It’s Shiner!”

The rest of the group exchanged confused looks with each other, watching curiously as Aodhan’s jaw dropped and he raced over to Arianwen’s side. Gazing up with her, he let out a low gasp. “F**k me, it is. I never thought I would see that wee guy again.”

The elderly man disappeared from view, and unintelligible shouts came from the other side of the fort. Cries and yells could be heard making their way down from the air to the ground, and when they hit the bottom the screech of pulling wires echoed into the hazy afternoon air. With a groan, the metal entrance door scraped forwards, heaving up from the ground as the pulleys worked their magic in opening it wide. Arianwen nearly had to cover her ears from the metallic sound as it rose up into the air and revealed the inside of the fort, a crowd of people stood on the other side with wide eyes and frightened expressions.

As the dust cleared, Shiner came striding through the crowd, racing outside to meet his old friend. Arianwen’s lip wobbled before she felt the emotions bubbling up from her chest, and her eyes watered with tears. Holding her arms out wide, she sprinted across and wrapped them around the old man, sobbing with relief—relief that he hadn’t died, relief that she had found him again, and he was safe. She felt the warmth of Aodhan’s hand on her back, and he slapped a hand on Shiner’s shoulder. “Good to see you again, old man,” he said hoarsely, voice thick with feeling.

Breaking the bear-hug, Shiner stood back and smiled broadly at the two before him, wiping his tired eyes with the back of his sleeve. His features were etched with lines and worry, and his once thick hair was thin and grey, but it was definitely still him. “Come on,” he croaked in his Geordie accent. “Let’s get you inside, like. We can talk about why both of us are in the middle of nowhere in the fort.” Giving a wave to the two guards, he beckoned the group forwards.

After glancing nervously at one another, then over to the two demons, the others eventually trudged forwards. They stared forwards, ignoring the two guards in case they changed their minds, and they vanished into the fort as the heavy door slammed down again behind them with a cloud of muddy dust.

 

Taken from Creator of Shadows © Copyright Miranda Stork 2014

So What’s New, Scarlet Pimpernel?

Holy wardrobes, Batman! There’s no way it’s been two months since I posted on here…has it? You guys remember my usual drink, right? I wouldn’t like to have to repeat that recipe again. Anyhoo, HELLO! And hello to the new followers I’ve gained over Christmas and New Year – it’s fab to have you here. Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope you don’t have any resolutions I wouldn’t do. 😉

As for my resolutions, just before Christmas I embarked on a big one – signing up for a degree with the Open University. It starts in just two days, and frankly, I’m chewing my nails off just a little bit. A tiny bit. It’s not really because of anything more nerve-racking than it being a new experience, so I’m loving it, but at the same time, I feel like that new kid at school again. Still, at least I get to behave like a student now, leaving clothes in a dirty pile, not doing the washing-up….what? It’s practically law. I mustn’t do these things. It’ll upset the Law of Students Leaving Their Clothes Act….er….well, never mind about all that. I’m posting a snippet today to kick things off for the New Year, so look at that instead. Shiny, shiny snippet!

It’s just a little bit from the upcoming Creator of Shadows, and things are kicking off between Feoran and Lorenna. Seriously, things are on fiyah right now. Enjoy! (and I promise the next post will not be so late next time! 😀 )

‘As if on cue, keys rattled in the lock above Lorenna’s head. She jumped up in readiness, cursing the lack of protection she had for herself. Her violet eyes drifted over to the bed, a brief thought about trying to snap off a leg dancing around her mind. But there wasn’t time. She shuffled backwards as the oak door shuddered open, revealing the ominous silhouette of Feoran.

“Hello, little witch. Enjoying your stay?”

Lorenna gave a sneer. “The views aren’t much, and the food is terrible. I’d rate it a shitty experience so far.”

Feoran strode into the room, the sconces from behind casting light across the sharp planes of his face, black eyes gleaming like hot coals. A slow grin crossed his face, and he shrugged casually, meandering across the stone slabs until he halted in front of her. Lorenna flinched, but kept her features cold and unafraid. “Little witch, you’ll find you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you know. I have much more comfortable rooms than this.”

“I’d rather jump in a pit of snakes, thanks.” Lorenna’s mouth drew in a hard line.

Feoran hid a snigger. “That can be arranged.”

Lorenna gave a dry laugh, and tossed her hair over her shoulder, folding her arms. “So what do I owe this immense pleasure to? I’ve got a busy day, you know.”

“Doing what? Making sparks?” The vampire jerked his finger towards her hands. “You can’t do much else in here. I had it specially made for you.”

“How kind,” Lorenna spat, her breathing speeding up with her rising fury. “Let’s cut to it. What the f**k do you want, Feoran?”’

Taken from Creator of Shadows, copyright © Miranda Stork 2014

Thursday Teaser – Daughters Of Brigitania!

Good mortenoon, folks! 😀 Yes, I’ve had a wee break over the last week from blogging due to some personal stuff, but never fear! We’re picking right up where we left it last week (and including a cover reveal I’ve reblogged from the Tarasphere, be sure to check it out), and continuing with a wee snippet from Daughters Of Brigitania. Enjoy! 🙂

There was a creak as the wooden door to the hut was flung open, and a breathless Aiia burst into the room. Her cheeks were flushed from sprinting, and she gasped hard for breath. Cartimandua resisted the urge to roll her eyes at her sister’s impudence. Instead casting a wary eye towards the watchful druid, she forced a smile onto her cold face, and urged her sister forward. “Yes, Aiia? Do you bring us news? I’m afraid you must not excite our atmosphere. As you can see, we have a visitor.”

Aiia glanced over towards the white-robed old man, giving a hasty nod before rushing across to the Queen’s side. Falling to her knees at the side of the throne, she gripped onto her sibling’s sleeve, pressing her forehead into the fabric so firmly it would leave a mark. “Cartimandua, my Queen, I beg of you to rethink your battle against Venutius. It is tearing your people apart.”

Taking a mere second to think through Aiia’s words, Cartimandua sharply looked over towards the group breathlessly watching them, waving them away with a hasty sweep of her arm. “Please, leave us. I must speak alone to my sister.” Murmurs of contrition rose up amongst the advisors as they stood, and they swiftly made an exit with the druid in tow, leaving the hut with nothing more than the hint of the scented smoke hanging in the air. As the door banged shut behind them, the guards taking up their place once more at either side of it, Cartimandua roughly dragged her sleeve away from the young woman at her feet.

Aiia stumbled back in shock at the force of the movement, correcting herself as she rose to her feet, wiping at her eyes hurriedly. Cartimandua spat into the flames in front, an ugly scowl marring her perfect features. Twisting so rapidly her dress nearly sank into the embers, she grabbed Aiia by her tunic, pulling her in closely. “You stupid girl! What do you mean by running in here and acting like a common servant? Are you not royalty? Are you not a princess? Then act like one, and do not embarrass me by weeping at my feet!” she hissed, releasing her sister with a hard motion.

“Cartimandua, I’m sorry. I have spoken to you about this every morning, and every evening, and I no longer know the words to turn you back from this wretched decision!” Aiia cried out, wringing her hands in despair. It was so unlike her to fall to this depression, but it was perhaps the only way Cartimandua would listen. “And it is a wretched decision—the Carvetti at this moment gather outside with their King, ready to tear their own families apart! You will have no tribe to rule over soon.”

The Queen was about to retort when she halted herself, understanding sinking into her mind. Aiia was right. Regardless of what the druid had told her, there was no point in being Queen of a desolate landscape. I will hear her out, then throw her out. Circling the room, she pursed her lips, keeping Aiia in her sights as she did so. “And how do you know this? Have you seen it with your own eyes?” she snapped.

With a resigned sigh, Aiia cast her eyes to the ground, and nodded. “I have indeed. Many of the crops are going untended as the farmers who came with Venutius have once more joined him. Two of our healers have also left, and many people grow sick without their aid. We have very little food to see us through the rest of the month, Cartimandua, and Venutius’ men prevent and traders from entering the fort.” She gave a sideways glance towards her sister, who stood frozen, staring out towards the doorway. Aiia knew that Cartimandua had barely been outside since the siege had begun, instead choosing to hole herself up and only receiving the druids. Outside, her people were falling apart as families divided over their rulers’ quarrel, splitting fathers and sons.

“But the druids have told me I would win,” Cartimandua murmured, pacing across to the flames. There was a heavy pause as she hovered her head over the flickering heat, swaying her palm through the orange tongues. Snapping her fingers abruptly, she crooked her fingers over to one of the guards by the door. He stepped forward, bowing low as she murmured something to him. He gave a gruff reply, and beckoned to his companion, before both of them left to head outside.

Aiia smiled for the first time in days, relaxing her tense shoulders. “You’re going to call your men back,” she said with relief.

Cartimandua glanced over her shoulder, sending her a cold glance. “Certainly not!” she cried. “I will not admit defeat, otherwise Venutius will choose to do this whenever he feels wronged. I am sending an envoy to Piercebridge, he cannot stop an envoy, he knows this. I will send for the might of Rome, and let him understand that I am right.” Her tone was icy as she finished speaking, twirling the beads around her neck with calculated pulls about her fingers.

Slumping against the throne, Aiia’s face fell. Her brows crossed as her sister’s words sank in, and dread pulled at her guts. Venutius was right. Cartimandua fully intended to let the Romans have their way, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop them. At least, not from Stanwick. As Cartimandua strolled across to peer outdoors, Aiia’s face creased with tension once more. Then it would have to start away from Stanwick. Her resolve doubled.

Like this snippet? Why not sign up to my newsletter here, where you can be kept up to date with all my releases, including Daughters Of Brigitania. 😀

(Taken from ‘Daughters Of Brigitania’, Copyright © 2013 Miranda Stork and Kathryn Northwood. Do not reproduce, use, copy, or include in any way in any format, digital or print, without prior permission of the author.)

Teaser Thursday – Creator Of Shadows!

Hello, lovely peeps! 😀 I know, I know what you’re thinking…no, not that thing about the cookies. That I was going to put up a snippet of Daughters Of Brigitania today? Well…I’m not. Muhahaha! I’ve decided it might be nice to give you guys a peek at Creator Of Shadows instead, the third in my Scarlet Rain series. Enjoy! 🙂 

*And as always, this is from a WIP, so remember there might be a few editing errors. 😉

If she tried slamming herself against the door one more time, she was going to break something vital.

Lorenna gave a grunt, and slid down against the polished wood, landing heavily on her butt. She lifted a grubby hand and ran it through her stuck-together hair, rolling her eyes in disgust at the tatters. She slumped back and roved her eyes around her cell, taking in the broken bed and bench. The floor was made up of grey slabs of stone, cold and unforgiving as she perched herself on it.

“You could have at least left me with some water!” she cried out, twisting herself so her shout could be heard outside. Lorenna sighed to herself, and leaned her head against the door once more. She didn’t have a clue where Feoran was. Or why he had taken her—well, no, that wasn’t strictly true. It was because he had the hots for her. Unrequited hots, I’d like to add. But it still didn’t explain exactly why he thought locking her up would help her see him in a romantic light. Stockholm Syndrome might be the closest he would get, and that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

Receiving no answer, the witch rubbed her hands together, firing up her magic. Thrusting her hands out, she attempted to blow a hole through the stone walls…succeeding only in making a few small sparks jump away from her fingers. “Bloody hell!” she yelled in frustration. There seemed to be some kind of barrier in the room, preventing her from casting any spells. Perhaps snatching her away from battle hadn’t been a spur of the moment thing, after all. Feoran had obviously planned this for some time.

As if on cue, keys rattled in the lock above Lorenna’s head. She jumped up in readiness, cursing the lack of protection she had for herself. Her violet eyes drifted over to the bed, a brief thought about trying to snap off a leg floating past. But there wasn’t time. She shuffled backwards as the oak door shuddered open, revealing the ominous silhouette of Feoran.

“Hello, little witch. Enjoying your stay?”

Lorenna gave a sneer. “The views aren’t much, and the food is terrible. I’d rate it a sh***y experience so far.”

Feoran strode into the room, the sconces from behind him casting light across the sharp planes of his face, black eyes gleaming like hot coals. A slow grin crossed his face, and he shrugged casually, meandering across the stone slabs until he halted in front of her. Lorenna flinched, but kept her features cold and unafraid. “Little witch, you’ll find you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you know. I have much more comfortable rooms than this.”

“I’d rather jump in a pit of snakes, thanks.” Lorenna’s mouth drew in a hard line.

Feoran hid a snigger. “That can be arranged.”

Lorenna gave a dry laugh, and tossed her hair over her shoulder, folding her arms. “So what do I owe this immense pleasure to? I’ve got a busy day, you know.”

“Doing what? Making sparks?” The vampire jerked his finger towards her hands. “You can’t do much else in here. I had it specially made for you.”

“How kind,” Lorenna spat, her breathing speeding up with her rising fury. “Let’s cut to it. What the f*** do you want, Feoran?”

He twirled around and made his way to the bed, seating himself on it heavily. Lorenna’s eyes flickered over to the open door, but she knew better than that. Feoran followed her eye-line, clearing his throat to attract her attention back to him. “If you want to put it so bluntly, a f***. What do you think I want, Lorenna? A cosy conversation?”

Taken aback by his words, the witch swallowed anxiously, trying to coax some saliva back into her dry throat. She shook her head resolutely, tightening her grip on her skin. Her violet eyes darkened to purple as she innocently replied, “You know what, Feoran? I think you’re a lot like the Phantom of the Opera.”

“Not quite what you would expect under the surface and into choral music?” he smirked back, letting his tongue run over one fang.

Lorenna’s lips twitched, and she retorted, “No. Just as ugly under the mask and twice as unlikely to get the girl.”

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(Taken from ‘Creator Of Shadows’, Copyright © 2013 Miranda Stork. Do not reproduce, use, copy, or include in any way in any format, digital or print, without prior permission of the author.)

Thursday Teaser! Daughters of Brigantia

Hello, lovely folks! 😀 Today is Thursday, and it’s not as easy with the alliteration on this day! Thursdays will alternate between teasers from my current WIP, and ‘Take Over Thursday’, when another author will have a guest post up instead. 🙂

So for today, enjoy a teaser from Daughters of Brigantia, the historical novel I’m working on under my pen name, Kathryn Northwood. Enjoy! (Also, bear in mind this is a WIP…there may be a few typos I’ve missed at the moment. 😉 )

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© Wikicommons

© Wikicommons

Venutius stared down into the valley surrounding the fort, watching the men steadily building up the wooden posts at the far end. It grew every day, and made him worry more about the advancing Romans. Cartimandua seemed to keep more and more secrets to herself every day, and as merely a prince regent, he had little say in the matter. Taking in a deep breath, he let it out again over the early morning mist floating over the landscape.

The sound of someone approaching made him twist around, his heart plummeting like a stone within his chest. Closing his eyes for a second, as though to shut himself against the world, he summoned his courage and turned to face the messenger he knew had brought the bad news. To his shock, Aiia stood with clenched fists before him, her red hair flying wildly in the wind that whipped the strands across her neck.

“Aiia…my boy. Is he…?” Venutius let the sentence sit, his tone tense as he held back his sorrow. He already knew her answer.

Her clear eyes seemed to flicker with something, and she gave a glance to the bodyguard by his side, stood silently with folded hands. “I have something delicate to tell you. We need to be alone,” she replied.

He motioned the guard away, who strode far enough away to miss the conversation, but still close enough to run over if needed. Watching the man as he walked away, Aiia bit her lip and slowly made her way across to her brother-in-law, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. She barely came up to his chest, but there was something very adult in her stance. “I’m afraid…the child has not made it into the world.”

Venutius’ face paled, and he took a staggering step backwards, huffing out a breath. His world collapsed around him and fell into the valley below. My boy…

“There’s something else, which I feel you should know. It…” Aiia licked her lips in a nervous gesture, and paced to his side, placing a soft hand on his arm. “I’m so sorry, Venutius. The child wasn’t yours.”

Thinking perhaps he had misheard her, Venutius laughed dryly, and shook his head. “I beg your pardon, Aiia. I’m afraid I do not understand your meaning.”

Peering up at him with soulful eyes, Aiia repeated, “The boy was not your son, Venutius. My sister has lain with another man, and deceived you.”

A hand flew to his mouth in shock, but a second later it fell to his sword hilt. Dark bark-coloured eyes burning with rage, he hissed, “Who is it? I’ll cut him from limb to limb for this. Tell me, by the gods, tell me!”

“Please, Venutius! It’s not important, he’s just a boy. It was my sister who led him on, not the other way around. She lied to me as well, told me nothing had happened. But the boy…he held his colouring, Venutius, not yours. She admitted it to me.”

Ignoring her pleas, he grew more irate, sliding the sword out with a measured pull. It glinted in the early sunlight, bouncing off the blade with a dangerous ferocity. Aiia drew herself in front of him once more, grabbing both of his arms with a pleading gesture. He glanced down at her worried face, and shook his head, trying to remove her arms.

She clung to them tightly, and only let go of one arm to cup his face with a gentle hand. She pulled his face down to hers, and whispered, “Please, leave the boy be. Do not cause strife because of my sister’s wrongdoing.”

“You’re…you’re right. I am mourning, Aiia, that is all. I apologise.”

“I do understand, Venutius. She lied to me too.” Aiia stared up into his emotion-filled eyes, his strong jaw, his giving lips. Before she knew what she was doing, she let her hidden feelings for him erupt in a passionate press of her own mouth against his. His musky scent surrounded her, and she let out a soft moan.

Venutius pulled back sharply, gasping and holding his sister-in-law back. “No, Aiia, you mustn’t,” he hoarsely managed.

Her lip wobbled, and she clutched his head in her palms once more. “But Venutius, she has betrayed you! I love you, I would never do what my sister has done.”

“No, Aiia.” His tone was firm as he gently removed her hands, placing them back by her sides. Taking a deep breath, he avoided her yearning gaze as he added, “I love your sister. Whatever wrong she has done me, I owe it to my people—and yours—to rule by her side. I cannot pretend I shall forget this transgression of hers, but I must live with it.”

Aiia snapped her wrists away from him, her passion melting into dismay. “Even after what she has done to you?”

Her brother-in-law hung his head. “Perhaps it is partly my fault. I have still not given her a child, and she has gone elsewhere to produce an heir for the Brigantes. You must understand her position, Aiia, it is not her own.”

She let out an anguished hiss, rounding on him, her cloak and nightdress billowing out in the cold wind that picked up. A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance as dark clouds slowly took their place across the sun, as if the gods were agreeing with her case. Venutius gave them a nervous glance, but Aiia never flinched. “I would give you everything I am, Venutius. And yet, you remain with my sister! You deserve to have her. May the gods give you everything you both have coming!” Her voice rose to a hysterical pitch as she finished her curse, turning and sprinting in the direction of Moonbourne. Venutius didn’t even try to run after her, simply letting her go without a backward stare.

She raced faster through the grass and mud, her cheeks flushed with the embarrassment of being rejected, her eyes shining with dark purpose. Meddu ran out from her sister’s roundhouse and tried to stop her, but she simply shook her head and carried on running. Making her way up the hill, she ran full tilt into Gaisio, stumbling drunkenly out after another night of songs and beer.

He frowned when he saw she was still not dressed, and in such disarray. “What on earth has happened, Aiia?”

Ignoring his direct question for the moment, Aiia breathlessly asked, “Where you serious about going to fight back the Roman invaders with our Catuvellauni cousins?”

“Yes. Why?”

She took a careless glance over her shoulder, towards the hut of her sister, and over to the other side where Venutius could still be seen staring out over the valley below. Determination was etched on her face as she replied, “Because you were right. And I’m coming with you.”

Like this snippet? Why not sign up to my newsletter here, where you can be kept up to date with all my releases, including Daughter Of Brigitania. 😀

(Taken from ‘Daughters Of Brigantia’, Copyright © 2013 Kathryn Northwood. Do not reproduce, use, copy, or include in any way in any format, digital or print, without prior permission of the author.)