QSFer Wendy Rathbone has a new MM fantasy/paranormal book out:
Can a human and an immortal find love in a world where they are sworn enemies?
Lace is an immortal from another dimension on Earth. His world is slowly disintegrating, and he and thousands of other immortals have been fleeing into the human dimension for years.
The hitch is humans have found out about them, labeled them “vampires”, and fear has driven their governments to wage war on these beautiful beings.
The story of Lace begins when he wakes, memory-less, in a secret military prison and meets Firi, someone who is familiar to him, someone he desperately needs to remember.
A male/male romance about secrets that can get you killed, impossible rescues, and old lovers who cannot be trusted.
The Vampire-Fairy Series Book 1
Wendy is giving away ne eBook copy of her Dreamspinner book: “The Android and the Thief.” The winner can request it in their preferred format. Comment on this post for a chance to win.
Tonight, Firi felt pulled to be outside, to walk in places that had been forbidden to him for eight long years.
Firi moved into the feathered greens and blues of the meadow, looking up through distant trees at the approaching auburn dusk.
An ache permeated his body as if he could feel the burning of the clouds as the orange sun penetrated them. The dust scents of this time of day, the rime, the watery moss, the fading September rusts on the edges of life itself came into him, pungent, smoky, drenched in loamy wind.
In an impulsive gesture, he dropped to his knees, hands in the weeds and soil, needing to feel it against his skin, that drift and delft of brush, rock, dirt. Light-colored moths flew up. On bent and fading long grasses, he lay back and stared at the gold-stained sky.
He watched the brass sun set. He watched the first star come out to rule the ancient night.
Something seemed to ghost in on the wind that night, an essence of frozen sky, a quivering nightfall that brought sounds of old footsteps, images of bedraggled coats and gas lamps from a hundred years ago or more, or maybe from another realm.
The campfire skies of September invaded the pores of the skin and sent the heart a message of such longing, the mind was forced to say, “Time for a journey.”
But it was just a feeling, nothing more, he told himself, gazing at a rising moon until it baked his brain in feverish despair and delight. It was just a memory from sleep that kept repeating: emerald storms and black suns and sylvan haunted music infecting the skull, tunes of runes, leaves, green love out in the pastures where the deer drank down the sky.
Whatever it was, Firi fell into a reverie.
In a flush of fantasy, he plummeted deep into a shadow-woven dreamwood where the familiar faerie monster vampire man appeared at his left shoulder, dressed in a white shirt with lace at the collar, and began to whisper in his ear.
But this was different from his usual fantasies, everything containing more depth, scent, feeling. The colors of the dreamwood were brilliant in his mind.
He saw himself standing first in the meadow, then in the wood, the shadow from his past beside him. Had he gotten up? Was this real?
The breeze frazzled him. He most definitely was not asleep. The trees of the waning month, of this strange new wood, were goblin-armed, reaching to snare any passersby.
“Is this real?” he asked breathlessly. Hopefully. For so long he’d wanted to meet this being again.
The vampire at his side said, “We meet again, Firi. It is very real. Let’s go down by the hot spring where the moss is velvet and the water warm as autumn wine.”
What hot spring? he thought as he willingly moved along with the shadow, matching its pace.
The tips of the vampire’s fingers brushed Firi’s arm and they walked as if through a dream.
At the touch against his arm his skin flamed. Already today, the things he’d been thinking before he’d gone to lie down in the meadow had him in a restless state, a fever. Overwhelmed, embarrassed, he let his arm fall away, slowing his stride just a little in hopes the vampire wouldn’t notice.
But they were linked. Of course he noticed.
And damn, this had to be real. It felt so real.
Above them the sky wheeled in jade-tinted blackness. Tiny sparks of stars pulsed and trembled in purplish undulations.
All around them the goblin trees thickened and Firi thought he saw wrinkled old-man faces in the trunks.
Three small moons rose upon the tree-tangled horizon. He remembered: Raven. Bleak. Wise. They hung like crystals in the leafless trees, chiming.
He heard a fall of water, the slaps of a thousand droplets upon the surface of a pool, and smelled the clean mist scent, the bracken-like rain.
A sound of wings from an invisible creature paused by his head, then rushed on.
He wanted to say, You came back. You’re here. His heart swelled but he remained silent.
As they came closer to the water, everything looked edged in blue light. The vampire was whispering again. “They say the original seeds of our people come from this very area of land. A lot is disappearing. Remember this.”
That was when he truly knew this was no fantasy. Something had happened in his mind in that meadow. Something had come into his dreams and led him away. It was very real.
His excitement increased.
“Where are we?” Firi asked. If they had gone through some portal, he didn’t remember it.
“Land of a thousand autumns,” the vampire replied.
They came to the pool where a waterfall spilled. The moons made a tri-fold reflection on the dark water. There were skeleton faces in the night clouds. Everything smelled so sweet, honey-dew and pear, wine and ivy.
“Why are we here? Why have you come to me?”
“I told you we were going to the hot spring.”
“But why are you here? Or rather, why am I here?”
“For your sake, Firi.”
“I never told you my name.”
“I’ve known your name for years, since the day you helped me.”
“I have never known yours.”
“Lace,” was the single answer he received.
Firi felt a little gasp inside his throat. It was such an odd name, but beautiful, too. Lace, he repeated to himself over and over in his thoughts. There was some kind of power in knowing that small detail and his body responded to it in its heightened awareness. The name, so sylph-like, was heat and strength, power in delicacy. The name was like a caress. What did he expect? A hard and common name like Ed or Bob? A mysteriously complex name like Darian or Sharife? Or like his own weird name: Firisian?
“You didn’t answer my question,” Firi said, working hard now to hold his voice steady. “Why are we here? Is this your world? It’s sort of familiar, but…”
“We must exchange the autumn wine again. You must drink this time. We must drink together.”
“Are you hurt again?”
“I’m fine. For now. But you are rare, one of the Halflings. Now that you are of age, your blood must be quickened so your strength will increase. Have you not felt it?”
“I don’t know.” Firi had felt a kinship to the vampires, most certainly, and an empathy for them. As well as obsession, both mental and physical. Especially for Lace. But it embarrassed him, all of it, the forbidden nature of his feelings forcing him for years to be secretive and shy, to feel bad at the idea that he was fraternizing with the enemy. And worse, since puberty his swift arousals whenever he thought of the vampire left him with such guilt and longing.
“Are there others like me?”
“Halflings are very rare. Mixing our blood with humans results in carriers within the human race. Carriers can pass their gene down for centuries without producing a Halfling. In all my long life I’ve only encountered two, not counting you. They are gone now. There are probably more. Finding them would be near to impossible.”
“You found me.”
Lace turned his head and gazed softly at him. “No. You found me.”
The falls were loud, the water sparkling in triple moonlight. In a near-whisper, Firi said, “I want to be like you.”
Wendy Rathbone has been writing gay lit and m/m romance since 2012. She’s also an avid reader. Mostly she indie publishes, but her first professionally published novel, “The Android and the Thief,” just came out from Dreamspinner in 2017.
Pre-2012 up to now, she’s also written an awful lot of fanfic, as well as science fiction and fantasy short stories and poetry for magazines and anthologies such as: Asimov’s, Bending the Landscape, Hot Blood, Darke Phantastique, and too many more to name. She has a degree in Creative Writing from UCSD.
Wendy lives in the high desert of southern California amidst the quail, roadrunners, hawks, ravens, rabbits, coyotes, bobcats and lovely groves of Joshua trees, pine and ocotillo. She travels for her business with a booth of clothing and jewelry, participating mostly in Scottish Highland Games and Renaissance Faires. She’s been with her partner, Della Van Hise, for 37 years. Her secret to relationship longevity is loyalty. And, of course, love.
Queer Sci Fi is currently her favorite group to belong to on Facebook.
Contact links for Wendy:
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