QSFer Nicole Dennis has a new MM fantasy book out:
Betrayed, Morric McShayne, a bloodline elemental witch, wakes during a lightning storm, bound to a post—the latest sacrifice to appease a dragon. He swears to survive as the last McShayne and there is no dragon until a powerful claw plucks him away from the precipice.
With every equinox, the dragon’s keeper, Xavier, pushes back the loneliness. The keeper holds a secret until magic flares. This sacrifice is different.
They battle desire and duty. When a single kiss changes everything, can the Fae help them answer more secrets and a legend’s promise? Do they fight against Fate’s choice?
Book One in the “McShayne Bloodline” series:
Magic passed through ancient bloodlines for generations. A powerful family gifted with Elf and Fae magic and natural human magic, the McShaynes watched over the balance of nature. While the Otherkin receded from any human connection, the McShaynes refuse to leave their ancestral lands and blend with humans. Until the humans turn against magic. Four McShayne sons spread across the lands. Each one fears he is the last, unknown to each other. They fight to survive the harsh atmosphere, maintain their bloodline gifts, and discover love and family.
There had to be an ironic explanation for this entire situation. It couldn’t possibly be reality, but this felt more than a simple dream, even the nastiest nightmare.
Morric McShayne blinked open his crusty eyelids. His vision blurred and darkened. His head ached and felt heavy. He didn’t remember taking one of his sleeping potions to help get past one of the many sleepless nights. Thanks to that blasted dream and those eyes haunting him. Those brilliant emerald eyes. He didn’t know who those eyes belonged too. A rich tenor tone with a lilting accent whispered mate to him. The voice went with those eyes.
Only he didn’t dream those eyes tonight. This wasn’t a dream. This wasn’t even a regular sleep. This was something else.
Morric wiggled his jaw. A harsh flare of pain spread across one cheekbone. He winced against it, then groaned and mumbled under his breath.
Drugged and punched. What in the name of the Crone did I do this time? Give someone the wrong tea?
No, someone gave him the wrong tea. At the town meeting last night.
Morric remembered performing the vernal equinox dance within his protective circle to spread nature’s energy into the land. He’d reenergized the forest and land after the long winter’s sleep and prepared it to accept and grow the new seed. While he danced, he pulled down the energy and light from the full moon to replenish the earth. The gifts of the three Blessed Ladies joined him to bring life back. Of course, he did all this sky-clad, as was his custom with all his equinox dances. Only when he finished did he feel someone’s gaze upon him. Someone invaded his sanctuary. Dark hateful energy came with the obtrusive gaze and broke harsh against the welcoming warm energy and light created by the dance.
After pulling on his robes, he returned to his snug cabin. Dressing, he groomed himself in proper “town” attire. He left his beloved forest to head into town for the dreaded meeting. He rarely went into the small town, but it was one of those mandatory town-hall meetings that happen every season. If he didn’t go, the town would try to pass some new law to make all his work illegal or take away his lands and plow through the forest to make way for some new farming land. They tried it exactly once when he didn’t go to a meeting and he made sure either option would never pass. No one tried to propose the law again, but he made enemies with his vehement determination to protect his life and the forest.
Something happened at last night’s meeting.
The memories were fuzzy, but Morric remembered accepting the cup from Lady Jackson. That was the only time he didn’t keep track of where his cup of tea came from. After that, the night became a blank.
Wake up, Morric! Figure out what’s going on. You’re not home. Trouble. This all means trouble. In the name of the Crone, wake up!
Bright light flashed. The deep rumble of thunder grew into a raucous roar. The sound of it vibrated the very Earth. Cold droplets continued to splash across his skin. His russet brown hair draped past his shoulders; thick wet strands flopped across his face. Clothing hung against his body, saturated and clinging to his chilled skin. His shoulders ached. When he tried to pull them down, he couldn’t budge his arms.
Wait. Earth? Rain? Lightning? What in the name of sweet Maiden is happening?
Morric forced himself to focus when he opened his eyes. This time he made sure they stayed open. He needed to figure out what was happening to him. His life, his forest, and his magic depended on staying awake and focused.
Sometime during the night, a fierce storm descended upon their small section of earth. Located at the very edge of the forested land, against the vast ocean, Morric knew thunderstorms could become vicious with all the moisture surrounding them. Even tucked in his cozy thatched cottage protected by powerful ancient oaks, Morric didn’t dare venture outside into one of these storms. This wasn’t the welcoming kind of rain to soak the ground with life-giving water. This storm could become a life-taker.
Now, somehow, he stood in the vast open. He was literally surrounded by the storm’s wrath.
“Sweet Maiden, this isn’t good.”
Stating the obvious didn’t help his predicament look any better.
Morric tilted his head and followed his arms up into the night. Wide iron cuffs secured around his wrists, locked tight, and connected to long heavy chains. He wiggled his fingers and hands, but couldn’t spread them further to find a way to escape. The iron in his cuffs caused his energy to spark and flutter.
An elemental witch with some Fae heritage, Morric hated the feel of iron on his skin. Luckily, the iron wouldn’t burn his skin like his ancestors, but it made him uncomfortable. It created a prickly buzzing type of feeling that wouldn’t dissipate. His magic and energy were fuzzy behind the iron shield, almost lost to him. Thanks to the aching pull against his joints, he knew the stretch of his arms went almost too far and far too long.
“I’m not trussed up here like a turkey to be comfortable.”
He studied how someone secured the chains to the iron ring connected to a post. The post had been planted deep into the rocky ground.
Oh, sweet Maiden, this can’t be real.
Morric realized exactly where he was.
The sacrifice precipice.
A glance down gave him the final answer. The pure white robe of a sacrifice with a simple shirt and pants underneath. His feet bare on the cold ground. The fabric almost translucent from the torrential downpour.
Morric screamed his outrage to the night. He tugged his wrists against the cuffs, rattled the chains against the pole, and only caused more tugging on his shoulders. It was pointless to continue screaming. It did nothing to fix the situation, but he got it off his chest.
Sacrifices? Really. The idea of them was so outrageous and outdated. The nature and beliefs rooted strong in the small town that grew next to his forest over the generations of his family.
For years, the townspeople believed a dragon lived in the northern mountains. They insisted how the dragon controlled the weather and the destiny of the growing and harvest seasons. Without the dragon’s approval, the town wouldn’t have a successful season and could potentially starve during the endless winters. For this reason, the townspeople decreed they would offer a sacrifice to appease the dragon. A human sacrifice. Since that decree, Morric lost track of how many young people were lost to this archaic belief system.
“Superstitious fools. Dragons are extinct. Everyone knows this fact. No one has seen a dragon in a generation.”
Ever the quiet one growing up, Nicole Dennis often slid away from reality and curled up with a book to slip into the worlds of her favorite authors. Over the years, she’s created a personal library full of novels filled with dragons, fairies, vampires, shapeshifters of all kinds, and romance. Always she returned to romance.
Still, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told and she began writing them down whether during or after class. She continues to this day. Only recently has it begun to become fruitful, spreading out to let others read and enter her worlds, meet her characters, and see what she sees. No matter what she writes, her stories of romance with their twists of paranormal, fantasy, and erotica will always have their Happily Ever Afters.
She currently works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her characters and worlds to escape reality from time to time. At home, she becomes human slave to a semi-demonic tortie calico.
She loves to hear from readers and fans, so don’t be shy.