QSFer Amy Lane has a new fantasy/paranormal book out:
Cory’s newly bound family is starting to find its footing, which is a good thing because danger after danger threatens, and Green can’t be there nearly as often as he’s needed. As Cory learns to face the challenges of ruling the hill alone, she’s also juggling a menage relationship with three lovers—with mixed results.
But with each new challenge, one lesson becomes crystal clear: she can’t be queen without each of the men who look to her, and the people she loves aren’t safe unless she takes on that queendom with all of the intelligence and courage in her formidable heart.
But sometimes even intelligence, courage, and steadily increasing magic aren’t enough to do the job, and suddenly the role of Cory’s lovers becomes more crucial than ever. Nobody is strong enough to succeed in every task, and Cory finds that the most painful lesson she and her lovers can learn is not just how to deal with failure. Cory needs to learn that one woman is only so powerful, and she needs to choose wisely who sits outside her circle of family, and who is bound eternally in her heart.
1st Edition published as Bound: The Third Book of the Little Goddess Series by iUniverse, 2007.
I PULLED out my bag and situated myself in the deafening silence, then looked at Hallow expectantly. “So… any questions I can answer today, Professor Hallow?” I asked, feeling like I was eating my heart just to prompt the whole process that I had dreaded for weeks.
“A few,” he said firmly, as though he was ready to get down to business. “Would it matter?”
“Well, I thought questions were the point,” I said, confused.
“I meant, would it matter if everybody heard what you said about them?” he prompted, and I flushed.
“Yes,” I said, shamed. “They rely on me. They follow me. Even…” I choked, because this truth was still painful. “Even Bracken. You don’t… go off… on people who follow you.”
Hallow nodded. His look of perpetual worry deepened, and I felt my stomach clench. This was totally going to suck. “You didn’t say ex-lovers,” he said, and it was such a non sequitur that now I was the one who was confused.
“You said ‘ex-friends’—and as mad as you were, I knew you weren’t serious. You didn’t say ‘ex-lovers.’ Why not? It wouldn’t have mattered—you were just ‘going off,’ as you said. You were going off in a totally safe place, with a totally safe person, and as upset as you were, you still didn’t say ‘ex-lovers.’ Can you tell me why?”
I shrugged. “My love is a matter of life and death—to both of them.” I shrugged again, my flush intensifying. “You don’t say shit like that when it’s that important. Not even when you’re mad. Not even when it’s safe.”
“Not even in your own head?” he prompted gently, and I was instantly horrified.
“Goddess, no!” I gasped, the pain of even the thought too awful to contemplate. “No. Not even to think about.” I wanted to make him even take the idea back, as childish as I knew that to be.
He nodded again, and I was starting to dread the slow, thoughtful incline of that noble head. “You’re awfully controlled for someone so young, Lady Cory.” He didn’t miss my wince with the honorific, but he didn’t say anything about it, either. “You didn’t even lose control when you lost control. Can you remember the last time you completely lost your cool about something?”
Crap. It took me a minute to discipline my mouth and be sure my voice wouldn’t betray me. “Of course I do,” I said casually, working the cable needle deftly, knitting, knitting from the needle, knitting some more. “You couldn’t have missed it. I was covered in Adrian’s blood, I almost killed Bracken and Arturo, and a hundred vampires died.” I swallowed, proud of how good I was getting at saying that without completely losing it. “I don’t want to let that happen ever again.”
“Which part?” he asked, an emotion in his voice that I couldn’t define. I looked sharply at him, and he went on. “The part where you lost your lover, or the part where you killed the people responsible?”
Fucking hell. I looked him in the eyes and shook my head. “You know, Master Hallow, this whole therapy thing is sooooooo going to suck large,” I said, so much feeling dripping from my voice that I was surprised it didn’t melt the floor.
Hallow cocked his head sympathetically. “You owe me fifteen more minutes, my lady,” he said gently, and I thought with a shocking jolt of venom that I could really hate this guy.
Fifteen minutes later, nothing had changed my mind. I felt like I had been put through the wringer, and my anger at my people hadn’t dimmed one itty-bitty little teeny tiny bit. Hallow walked me to the door as promised and put his gentle hand on my stiff shoulder. Then he spoke in a voice meant to carry. “It was good talking to you, Lady Cory.” He gave a little bow as he said it, which made my mortification complete. “I look forward to talking to you next week.”
I smiled at him pleasantly and said, sotto voce, “If you think I’m ripping my soul open like that for you next week, you’re high.”
“If you don’t,” he said softly, “I’m going to insist to Green that you take a full hour at least twice a week.” Then, louder, “So—next Tuesday, then?”
“If I don’t eat your liver first,” I smiled, and he smiled blandly back before gesturing Bracken inside his office. I glared at everyone left, and they all had the grace to look ashamed.
“I’m going running,” I snapped. “If anyone tries to follow me, I’ll fry them to the last grizzled pubic hair.”
“Cory, it’s not safe—” Nicky started, and I cut him off with a glare.
“Fuck you, Nicky, and the posse you’re riding on.” And with that I shouldered my backpack and took off, not even bothering to look behind me, because I was serious and I was pretty sure they were more afraid of me than they were of Bracken.
By the time Davy joined me on the track, I’d run half a mile on sheer pissed-offness. I’d run it too fast in the driving rain, and I was winded, sore, drenched, and irritated—but I was still angry, so when Davy came up beside me I didn’t slacken my speed.
“Wow, Cory, you’re going pretty fast,” she said, surprised, and I just nodded, knowing that talking was beyond me right now. “Any particular reason?”
“I want my husband to live,” I puffed out, and Davy, being a smart young woman, nodded and said nothing else for the rest of the run. It turned out to be pretty short, because in two more laps I had to slow down against my will, and we walked in silence for half a mile before my breathing slowed and she asked me if I wanted to talk about it. I shook my head.
“I just got blackmailed into therapy,” I said sourly. “Ask me if I want to talk about anything else today.”
Davy barked out a laugh. “That’s harsh. What did he use as blackmail?”
I sighed, and it came out as a shudder. “My running time,” I said, still blowing a little. It was pounding down frigid cloud-piss, but between my temper and the run, I was overheated. Frustrated, I pulled off my sweatshirt and my white T-shirt, leaving me in my black sports bra, walking faceup in the cleansing rain. Davy stopped suddenly, her yellow rain poncho making a whisking sound.
“Wow!” she breathed. “Cory, that is one hell of a tattoo on your back. Does it mean anything?”
I stopped, right there on the rubberized track. “Yes,” I said through a suddenly rough throat. “It means a lot… but it’s sort of hard to explain.”
“Give it a try,” she asked, lost in the weaving of leaves and blood that was written on my back.
“They’re symbols,” I said gruffly, “for people I love. It… it was sort of our way of binding ourselves to each other, so that… the world would know we belonged to each other.”
“Which one is Bracken?” she asked.
“He’s the sword with the red cap on it. And the blood.” I shrugged. “It’s sort of an ancestral thing for him.”
“Who’s the hawk?”
I shrugged again. “Nicky.” She’d met him.
“But you two… you’re like brother and sister…,” she said, puzzled.
“Yeah. We should be, but… but our world is complicated.”
Davy laughed. “It’s the same world I live in.”
“It is,” I answered, and a wave of discomfort and worry suddenly crashed into me and broke. “You just don’t know it. Look… Davy….” And at that moment, we both took a breath that we didn’t finish.
“Holy crap, what is that stench…?” She choked, and as quick as that, we were wearing the shield I’d practiced two days before, and the fight with Hollow Man was on.
“Davy, we’ve got to get to Bracken and the others,” I said breathlessly, calling silently for Green. “That smell is a bad thing, and we don’t want to be here when it pounces.”
I’d left my backpack in the locker room today, and I fleetingly mourned it as I grabbed Davy’s hand and pulled her at a dead run toward the gate at the far side of the field from us. She was reluctant to go, and my shoulder twisted backward as I jerked her body forward and she finally took the hint and joined me. A hundred meters, I thought with fractured logic. We were both runners—we could make a hundred meters in a fairly brief amount of time.
And then something hit the shield with a ring like a marshmallow church bell, sending Davy and me flying in my cushioned bubble of power, bouncing us off the ground like kids in one of those big inflatable playpens. And the smell…. Why couldn’t my shields ward off the smell? I thought dismally, but there was no time, no goddamned time to figure it out.
“What in the hell….” Davy pulled herself to her feet, and I grabbed her hand and dragged her back into our full-out run.
“Shut up and keep running,” I panted. “And if I go down, go get Bracken.”
“What’s after…?” And we were hit again. It was moving too fast to see, and it didn’t shatter my shield, but the invisible wall did get weak on the bottom, and we both went down face first. My nose exploded in white pain, and between that and the stench, my stomach cramped—but it wasn’t just me out here, it was Davy and me, and I needed to get her to safety. Both of us came up wiping blood from our knees, hands, and mouths, but I was the one who bounded to my feet again and went lurching for the end of the field.
“Shit!” I spat, reinforcing my goddamned shield and taking up that dead run one more time. I’d done something serious to my face when we went down, and not only could I not clear the stars from my vision, but my first breath had me choking on blood. Twenty-five meters, I thought, gasping from my mouth. We had twenty-five fucking meters and my mad was on.
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Amy Lane is a mother of two college students, two grade-schoolers, and two small dogs. She is also a compulsive knitter who writes because she can’t silence the voices in her head. She adores fur-babies, knitting socks, and hawt menz, and she dislikes moths, cat boxes, and knuckle-headed macspazzmatrons. She is rarely found cooking, cleaning, or doing domestic chores, but she has been known to knit up an emergency hat/blanket/pair of socks for any occasion whatsoever, or sometimes for no reason at all. Her award-winning writing has three flavors: twisty-purple alternative universe, angsty-orange contemporary, and sunshine-yellow happy. By necessity, she has learned to type like the wind. She’s been married for twenty-plus years to her beloved Mate and still believes in Twu Wuv, with a capital Twu and a capital Wuv, and she doesn’t see any reason at all for that to change.
Yarning to Write: http://writerslane.blogspot.com