QSFer Mell Eight has a new MM fantasy romance out: Soul Bond.
Soul Bond is normally the most romantic night of the year, but for Hew, that night promises to be a nightmare. Afflicted by a terrible curse, Hew knows he must either submit to blackmail or get help. Magic is illegal, so Hew must break the law and dive into the seedy underbelly of the city, where he finds more than he ever believed possible. However, even with Ren’s help, breaking Hew’s curse might ensure their executions on Soul Bond Night, rather than experiencing the romance the holiday usually promises.
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“Word on the street is you can help me find something I’m looking for,” Hew said as he took the empty chair at a four-seater table adjacent to the bustling bar. The tavern wasn’t fancy, but it was located in one of the steadier lower-class neighborhoods. Hew had heard they watered their beer down with actual, clean water, and the bar patrons were primarily there to relax after work rather than get drunk and be rowdy, including the three people now staring at him, mixed expressions on their faces.
The man to Hew’s left was rat-faced and scowling, but he was also leaning away as if he wanted to escape before this conversation escalated. The woman on Hew’s right was homely and broad, with the shoulders of a person who worked the docks and a nose that had been smashed and not healed properly. The man directly across from Hew was the one he was actually interested in. He went by the street name Skink, and he was as skinny as his namesake with a pinched face and long nose, but his eyes were shrewd as he took in Hew’s feigned nonchalance.
“I’ve been known to help a friend or two with some issues,” Skink replied with an easy shrug. “But I don’t know you, stranger.”
Hew leaned forward slightly, although he kept his hands in view to show he wasn’t offering a threat. “I could be an excellent friend to have.”
He slowly reached into his tunic, brown and homespun. He might be in one of the better lower-class neighborhoods, but Hew wasn’t about to come here dressed like someone who didn’t belong. The coin he pulled out glimmered in the glow cast by the candles in the flickering overhead lights. The silver chit—a quarter silver coin in proper parlance and equal to five full coppers—continued to glimmer as he set it on the table.
“If you have more of those, I agree we could be great friends,” Skink said, eyeing the chit. He looked back up at Hew rather than taking the coin, his eyes narrowed. “Tell me what I can help you find, friend.”
Hew leaned closer and lowered his voice. “Someone who can help me with a magical issue I’m having.”
Skink immediately leaned back and the rat-faced man let out a snort and stood. “I’m not being part of this,” he snapped out before heading over to the bar to order another drink. The dockworker crossed her arms over her chest, flexing impressive arm muscles, but otherwise didn’t react.
“Magic is illegal, punishable by death,” Skink finally replied. “Keep your coin. I’m not helping anyone and getting my own head chopped off.”
Hew reached into his tunic and pulled out two more silver chits, laying them on the table with the first one.
“I’m not looking to cast magic. I need someone to help me solve a rather, erm, delicate issue I’m having because of magic.”
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.