DSP Publications author Patricia Correll has a new Fantasy/Paranormal book out:
Hour of the Lotus:
General Sho Iwata is devastated when the man he secretly loves, Prince Narita, is struck with a mysterious illness. Iwata’s current lover, Hiroshi, is well aware of the general’s unrequited passion. But that isn’t his biggest problem. His sister is Narita’s favorite consort, but Hiroshi believes she has been replaced by an imposter. When they discover the true cause of the illness, they will have to battle an ancient spirit and survive.
Lord General Iwata Sho sets out in search of the mysterious Fox Hunter. When he finds his former lover, Hiroshi, he discovers a changed man, scarred inside and out and consumed by vengeance. Together with Narita’s grown son Daigo, Iwata and Hiroshi pursue the malicious spirit as it leaves bloodshed in its wake. Iwata worries about what will become of Hiroshi when the fox is defeated—if Hiroshi’s revenge doesn’t kill him first.
“IS HE any better?” Iwata asked quietly.
The physician shook his head. He was a large man, but his fingers were long and swift, his touch precise; he’d sewn Iwata together more than once. “No, Lord General. You just saw him. He’s the same.”
“All right. Thank you.” Iwata bowed and turned to go. The halls of the Nightingale Palace were unusually quiet. He saw only a few servants, and none of the prince’s household. The air inside was heavy with summer and thick with the sweetish smell of illness. Iwata held his breath until he reached the walled courtyard. It too was empty. He opened the gate himself, stepping into the town that clung to the palace walls.
The streets were sunlit and dusty. Streams of people choked the roads. Iwata ducked his head, staring at his sandals. The women in their bright summer robes, the men talking loudly as they strode past: they all acted as if nothing was wrong, as if the prince wasn’t deathly ill.
He passed the barracks. Several soldiers leaned out the windows, their faces brimming with questions, but when they saw their commander’s bent shoulders, they drew back. “Lord General?” one of them ventured. Iwata ignored him and strode on.
He went to the inn nearest the palace and climbed the back stairs to avoid the gregarious landlady. He slid aside the door of his room. Hiroshi was where Iwata had left him: kneeling at the desk, writing letters in his precise calligraphy. He lifted his gaze to Iwata, worry pinching his face. “How is Prince Narita?”
“No better.” Iwata took off his dirty sandals and stepped barefoot into the room. The reed matting scraped his feet.
Hiroshi frowned, pulling at the scar on his cheek. It began at his temple, tugging one eye into a perpetual squint, and slashed across his face to the corner of his mouth. When he’d first joined the prince’s unit as an officer, the men had grumbled that it was only due to his older sister being Prince Narita’s favorite consort. Iwata had thought so too, until the previous summer; when a Yennish rebel laid open Hiroshi’s face from temple to chin. Hiroshi had run the man through and kept fighting until the field was cleared.
“It’s hot today.” Hiroshi laid down his brush and went to the jug of water on the corner table. He wet a cloth. “Here, Sho. Wipe your face.” When Iwata didn’t move, he stepped forward and did it himself.
The damp cloth did feel good, washing away the dust and the heat and the greasy film of sickness. Iwata allowed his eyes to close. Hiroshi’s hands were gentle. “I’m going to the palace tomorrow, to visit my sister,” he said. “I haven’t seen her since before the prince took ill.”
“Lady Kumomo never leaves his side.” She’d been there every time Iwata had visited, though she discreetly withdrew to the corridor until he left.
“She agreed to have lunch with me tomorrow, at least. I can ask after the prince for you, to save you the trouble of making the trip again.”
Iwata’s eyes jerked open. Water trickled into them, but he didn’t blink. Hiroshi hesitated, still holding the cloth up to Iwata’s face. After a moment he let his hand drop.
“You think I’m that disloyal?” Iwata hissed. “You think I’m so lazy that I’d begrudge him a few miles’ walk?”
“No. I only thought you need a rest, Sho. You’ll wear yourself thin with your worrying.”
Iwata stared at him. Hiroshi’s gaze didn’t waver; it never had, in all the time Iwata had known him. Abruptly he stepped forward and pulled Hiroshi into his arms. The wet cloth dropped heavily to the mat.
“I’m sorry, Hiro,” Iwata mumbled into his neck. “But the man I’ve served more than half my life might be dying.”
Hiroshi pressed his hands into Iwata’s shoulders.
“I know,” he murmured.
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Patricia Correll believes that all humans are natural storytellers. She’s been telling tales since she could string words together, but in the last thirty years or so has graduated from My Little Pony stories to the unholy trinity of fantasy, SF, and horror.
She lives with her husband, their sons, and a fifteen-pound calico cat. When she’s not writing, she spends her time being a stay-at-home mom, occasionally working at a bookstore, and trying to make her cat lose weight (which is almost impossible to do). She also eats lots of ice cream, pretends to be a gardener, and possesses staggering amounts of Hello Kitty merchandise. She likes maxi dresses because they hide both her fat calves and her two-pregnancy stomach.