QSFer Amy Lane has a new fantasy/paranormal book out:
Lady Cory has carved out a life for herself not just as a wife to three husbands but also as one of the rulers of the supernatural communities of Northern California—and a college student in search of that elusive degree. When a supernatural threat comes crashing into the hard-forged peace of Green’s Hill, she and Green determine that they’re the ones in charge of stopping the abomination that created it. To protect the people they love, Cory, Bracken, and Nicky travel to Redding to confront a tight-knit family of vampires guarding a terrible secret. It also leads them to a conflict of loyalties, as Nicky’s parents threaten to tear Nicky away from the family he’s come to love more than his own life.
Cory has to work hard to hold on to her temper and her life as she tries to prove that she and Green are not only leaders who will bind people to their hearts, but also protectors who will keep danger from running rampant.
Little Goddesses Book Four
Second Edition. First Edition published as Rampant: The Fourth Book of the Little Goddess Series by iUniverse, 2010.
GREEN CAUGHT Cory’s eye as she stood next to him, trying to look like being part of the “officiating party” didn’t chafe her like wet underwear. They were surveying the gathering in the winter twilight: sidhe side by side with lower fey, side by side with were-folk—all of them in human skin, all of them showing only happiness and well wishes for the three mates about to be bound as Cory and her lovers had been bound, in front of their people. It was what he had always believed was possible on his hill, and he was pleased.
Tonight Cory was dressed in a cream-colored, full-sleeved, full-skirted dress with an old-fashioned tabard that she had knit herself, although not for this occasion—she had been speechlessly flattered when he pulled it out of the closet to go over the new dress. Her hair was up in a complicated knot accented with myriad tiny braids—and although she had complained that simplicity never hurt anyone, he’d been the one directing the sprites, and she had finally conceded that yes, she did look a little more Lady Cory–like with the delicate hairstyle. Besides, he’d told her, with her riotous reddish-brownish-blondeish hair, about half an hour after the ceremony, the hairdo would be toast anyway.
Right now, she was casting reassuring glances and making soothing conversation with the fidgeting werewolves about to be publicly married on the hill. Public bondings were as rare in the shape-shifting world as they were in the fey and vampire worlds. The Goddess loved her children, but her willingness to become other forms had led to a fickle and bizarre set of mating rules for almost every species. Werewolf couples could, presumably, mate for life—but the werewolves often got along better as wolves than they did as humans, and so they chose not to. The fact that Jack and Katy had loved Teague long before any of them had become werewolves was probably what made this ceremony possible. The fact that the trio planned to eventually live next to the main house and not in the sexually and emotionally charged melting pot—and that they were hometown human to the core of their damaged and recovering psyches—was probably what would make the bonding successful.
Teague, the new alpha, had an innate sense of what should be respected. Without being asked, he had suggested having the ceremonies after the vampires awoke, so that was who they were waiting for. The dark blond, hazel-eyed, bandy-legged Irishman had passed up being short by a few bare inches, and now he held on to his nerves between his lovers. He stood more than half a foot shorter than Jack, his dark-haired, blue-eyed first beloved, and only a couple of inches taller than Katy, the determined young woman who had beguiled them both.
On this night, his palpable relief upon seeing Green and Cory more than made up for what they’d had to give up to be there on time.
“Glad you made it, brother,” Teague muttered with his characteristic gruffness.
“You say that like you didn’t just come skating in at the last fucking gasp,” Jack chastised sourly, and Teague flushed.
“Gifts,” he said shortly, and Green looked sorrowfully at the terrible fear that surrounded the man’s body like cotton wool. Oh, if Green could give Teague any one thing for a wedding gift, it would be the ability to believe he was truly loved, so the padding of fear that vibrated around his tightly muscled shoulders might never have to be resurrected.
“What?” Jack was saying blankly, as aware of that terror of rejection as Green.
“Gifts, Jack-ass. You needed gifts.” Teague turned his head away. Katy and Jack met eyes, and then met hands—around Teague’s taut, shivering body.
“You are our gift, you dumb motherfucker,” Jack said grimly and then winced when Katy kicked him in the ankle.
“He’s right about one thing,” she said, rolling her eyes. Katy was a pretty girl on most days, with dusky skin and blue-black hair layer cut around a heart-shaped face. Tonight she was more than beautiful in a cream-colored wool dress with a dramatic blue shawl that Green knew for certain Cory had knitted for her just for the occasion.
“You are our gift, Teague. Nothing else was necessary.”
“Bullshit.” The word was gruff, but his chest seemed to grow with their touch, and in a moment he was again the strong, brave man that Green had seen through years of abuse and self-hatred.
At that moment, the last sword of sun was sheathed at its source and twilight dappled through the trees. Cory’s body suddenly went on alert, and she turned her head with preternatural grace, as though listening to her favorite song from a radio in the house. There was a fluttering, and lovely pale shadows, dressed in their best and often most dramatic clothing, sprang from the dark of the grove.
The vampires arrived.
Cory snorted in private amusement. “You know they flew out the front door so they didn’t have to lift the trapdoor, right?” she whispered into his ear.
Green chuckled. “But of course.” Vampires—well, their vampires, anyway—loved to make an entrance. Odds were good they had all gotten ready before dawn broke and then arranged themselves in a position least likely to rumple their clothes when they arose so they could arrive as close to the moment of darkness as possible. It had worked—their entrance was spectacular.
In a moment there was a flicker of pale faces in the ambient light of the Goddess grove, and the collective denizens of the hill let out a little sigh. The sprites rose gently into a halo of light-flickering color-spangled bodies, and every person—from the small naked nixies in every color from dark blue to coffee-brown to star-white, to the elegantly dressed, aloof and beautiful sidhe, some much older than Green—regarded the three werewolves in the center of the grove with reverence and joy.
Teague’s shoulders straightened, and he readied himself to pledge protection over the two people who protected his delicate and fragile heart, and Cory smiled at all of them reassuringly—she’d done this too. They would live through the ceremony and rejoice.
When the mass inhalation of anticipation stopped and hovered for a moment, Green began to speak. He spoke simply and from the heart, and watching Cory’s face in the twilight, he couldn’t help but wonder what his beloved would make of the wedding vows. Her heart was filled with unexpected poetry, as much as she still tried to hide it.
Jack began to speak, and then Katy, as they had planned, and Green’s attention wandered a little to the very young, very mortal woman next to him.
She was completely enraptured by the proceedings, her eyes never leaving the lovers’ faces and especially lingering on Teague. Both of them had a soft spot for Teague—he reminded them so much of Adrian, the vampire they had both loved beyond death. Watching Teague get the happy ending they had been denied was cathartic, somehow, and this wedding was important to both of them.
But there was something troubling her—something she would not vocalize, even to Green—and he was damned if he could figure out what it was.
He’d been proud of her this afternoon. She’d worked so damned hard for that human piece of paper, at one point sacrificing her health to do so. To have it pulled back from her, like a carrot on a string, had just been too fucking cruel for words.
And his beloved had always had a temper.
They’d expected fireworks, all of them, and she’d given them socks. On the one hand, it had been a sign of maturity—and she’d been forced into maturity, like a lush cabbage rose into a daisy’s box. To see that she had simply changed, become a tighter, more complex version of herself instead of simply a squashed one, had been heartening.
But the thought of her tamping down all of that passion, all of that temper inside a box of her own devising had been heartbreaking.
So he watched her now, her face open and joyful and happy, and wondered if maybe he wouldn’t have been happier if she had lit the sky afire with her fury instead of sitting down and knitting with tiny angry stitches.
His attention was distracted by a sudden silence.
It was Teague’s turn to speak.
The man looked decidedly uncomfortable. His skin was taut over his cheekbones, and a pulse throbbed at his temple. His eyes were wide and dark, and Green could smell his absolute terror of having his emotions out here in the open for the world to see—the texture of his fear was thick and viscous.
“I don’t have any good words,” Teague said, stripping off his jacket. “I thought and I thought…. I watched the two of you sleeping in the moonlight, and I wanted to cry, but I didn’t have any fucking words.” He looked beseechingly at Jack, the man at his back for nearly two years and in his bed for scarcely three months. “You know me, Jacky—if I ain’t being a smartass, I just ain’t being.” Now he moved toward the tie that he’d spent a week picking out, and in a moment it was over his head and discarded on the ground.
Jack opened his mouth to reassure Teague that it was all okay, but Teague cut him off, lost in the misery of being speechless for the one thing he wanted to articulate.
“So I don’t have good words… but I’ve got….” His hands came up to the buttons of his white shirt. He looked over his shoulder at the bemused gathering, the expression on his face ripe with the misery of a private outpouring in a public occasion.
But not with indecision.
With an impatient rip that sent buttons spattering across the lawn—Cory had to duck to avoid catching one in the eye—Teague ripped off his dress shirt and the T-shirt underneath and stood shivering and half-naked. The tattoo that completely covered his back was bright and eloquent as he couldn’t be.
Three wolves played under a full and vibrant moon, framed by a border of oak and lime boughs. The little she-wolf had a black coat with whitish fringe, like Katy in her other form. The big, lanky beta wolf had shaggy dark hair and blue eyes. The tightly muscled, intense alpha wolf stood between them, glaring from Teague’s back, fierce and protective and angry at anyone who dared to intrude on the threesome.
The tattoo depicted a burning, intense, uncomfortable kind of love, the kind that spoke of death for an interloper, of the agonizing fear of separation.
Green blinked in surprise and looked to his beloved to see what she thought, since she had been the first on the hill to mark herself for love.
There was an unholy sympathy in Cory’s eyes, a fierce glee. She knew that angry, protective wolf. She was that wolf.
None of Green’s concern about her almost passive acceptance of the day’s disappointment vanished—in fact, he was suddenly very afraid of what she would do to the thing that truly touched her fury. He’d been there the one time that had happened, and she could barely live with the results. But that was not his focus for this evening.
Katy and Jack had found their voices, found their touches tentatively on Teague’s back. Even through the magically healed and permanent ink they could see he was erupting in gooseflesh and shivering in the February mist.
“Jesus, Teague,” Jacky half laughed. “A simple ‘I love you’ would have done it!”
Katy leaned up and kissed his cheek soothingly. “It’s beautiful—it says everything you wanted, I can see it. I love you too, mi corazón. Don’t worry about words.”
Teague accepted her kiss, bumping noses with her playfully like the wolves they were. Then he glared miserably at Jack, who was bending over to fish the rumpled dress jacket out of the dew-shot grass. It was wet. Jack shook his head and handed it to Green, shrugging out of his own jacket at the same time.
“I love you, asshole,” Teague groused, not meeting anybody’s eye.
“I love you too, you dumb motherfucker,” Jack sighed, draping his jacket over Teague’s shoulders. The three of them stood, the perfect triad of gruff affection and true love, in front of their family and friends.
There was a burst of applause and cheering, and then, on Green’s cue, a long, drawn-out bow to the lovers as the ceremony closed itself.
Teague was so relieved that it was over that he didn’t catch the droll look between Katy and Jack that indicated he’d cut about fifteen minutes out of the ceremony they’d arranged. If Green didn’t know Teague better, he’d think the werewolf had planned it that way.
Talking was still not Teague’s strong suit.
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