QSFer Edale Lane has a new FF alt historical book out, Night Flyer book 5: Shadows Over Milan.
What happens when heroes fall?
Murder strikes Milan, threatening the city’s future under an ominous shadow of war. Was it the Spanish, the Germans, the Milanese, or were darker forces at play? The city is thrust into a frenzy only the Night Flyer can quell, but can she halt the wheels of war?
Maddie’s greatest fears are realized when the Night Flyer suffers a serious injury that leaves her just short of dead. Florentina suffers more than physical pain as she grapples with a crisis of faith. Will she be forced to choose between continuing as the Night Flyer and staying with the woman she loves?
The final installment of the Night Flyer Series is riddled with mystery, political intrigue, danger, and heart-felt moments as the various storylines from throughout the saga come together in an exciting conclusion you don’t want to miss!
Warnings: fighting violence, one brief scene where a character recalls a cruelty to animals incident.
That night Florentina stood on Madelena’s balcony in her nightgown and robe, gazing up at the stars. The rain had passed, leaving a fresh scent in the air. As she contemplated a myriad of subjects, she felt Maddie’s arms wrap around her from behind, and was comforted by her nearness.
“What are you doing out here?” Maddie asked as she pressed her body to Florentina’s back.
Fiore exhaled in blissful satisfaction, bringing her hands to cover Maddie’s at her waist. “Contemplating the mysteries of the Universe.”
Florentina caught Maddie’s chuckle as she squeezed her tight. “Of course you are,” she cooed with delight. “And what enigma have you discerned?”
Florentina sighed and turned in Maddie’s arms to face her. “That I have limitations,” she uttered in dismay, “and I would rather I did not.”
Over a year ago when Shadow Guild assassins in the employ of a chaos lord threw bombs through the church windows onto the very row she, Maddie, and the children occupied, her Night Flyer reflexes got them safely out of harm’s way. She still bore a few light scars from the glass and large splinters that were blasted into her back. But today….
“I would say that is a drawback common to all humans,” Madelena responded.
“I was so terrified, Maddie,” Fiore admitted. “I heard the thunderous hooves, then saw, and I ran. I tried to get to her, but I realized I wouldn’t make it. I knew the horses were faster and I could not save Betta. It felt like a sword slicing me from throat to gut,” she bemoaned.
“Sweetling, I heard, saw, and experienced the same panic, the same hopeless fear,” Maddie said. She kissed Florentina’s lips tenderly, keeping her in a tight embrace. “You were swifter than I was.”
“But I wasn’t fast enough,” she lamented. “It makes me feel like, if I can’t protect the ones I love, then what good am I?”
“Come to bed with me now, Fiore,” Maddie instructed, and she led her by the hand.
They snuggled in Maddie’s oversized bed, complete with pastel satin sheets and an array of goose-down pillows. Despite the lover nestled on her shoulder and being drowned in luxurious comfort, Florentina was troubled.
Maddie placed a kiss to her cheek and slid fingers across the smooth fabric of her gown, tantalizing the flesh beneath.
“We weren’t alone,” she explained as she lay facing Florentina propped on pillows. “Betta and Matteo would not have been so far ahead of us, and you would have had time to reach them. Benetto was closest; thank God he was able to protect her.”
Florentina locked eyes with Maddie, a bewildered expression on her face. “I kissed him; I was so grateful and relieved that I kissed him.” She breathed in and out and shook her head. “I am so conflicted now.”
Maddie pushed loose brunette hair behind Fiore’s ear and kissed her tenderly. “I can only imagine.”
“It was one thing to forgive him, to not think about him at all, to be indifferent to the man,” she continued. Florentina sensed the churning of too many raw emotions. “He killed my father, and yes, he is working to better himself and he has been grandfatherly with the children, but now I have all this thankfulness and appreciation for him. It just doesn’t feel right.”
“To be honest,” Maddie said, stroking Florentina’s cheek. “I am having some of the same mixed emotions, though not with the intensity of yours. People can change. They usually don’t, but it is possible, and I believe he has.”
Florentina nodded. “Would it be a betrayal of my papa if I were to develop any measure of affection for the man who murdered him? Forgiving and forgetting is one thing, but I see him all the time now; he is part of the family. I just don’t know how I should feel.”
Madelena kissed her again and asserted, “What you need to settle in your mind and heart is the answer to one question: is the Benetto who protected Betta the same man who killed your papa two years ago?”
“That is indeed what I must determine,” Fiore agreed. “Oh, Maddie, if he had not been there… I couldn’t…” Tears streamed from her eyes in a most unfamiliar way.
“You can do amazing things, mi amore; but no one can do everything or save everyone. Betta is safe, and you did everything humanly possible. Speaking of which, you haven’t said what happened when you and Antonio caught up with the coach.”
“Oh.” The tears dried up. Florentina propped herself on an elbow and turned her body toward Madelena. “We discovered Marquis Jaquet de Lozere’s dead body. He had been stabbed.”
Concern arrested Maddie’s features. “That is indeed an unfortunate turn of events.” They gazed at each other for a long moment. “I suppose the Night Flyer will wish to investigate.”
“You are quite correct. But there is nothing I can do about it tonight.”
Another pause hung in the air, then Maddie spoke. “Let me hold you. It has been a dark day and much weighs on your mind. It is my turn to be strong for you.”
Fiore caught her lips, kissing them with life-affirming fervor. When she released them, she breathed, “I love you so much. You always know exactly what I need and are happy to give it to me.”
“You are my life, my very breath,” Maddie uttered in a husky tone. “Now, come to me.”
Maddie pulled her in and Florentina snuggled close with her head resting on one full breast and a hand cupping the other in the sweetest embrace she had or would ever know, and prayed for sleep to capture them both.
Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who is realizing her dream of being a full-time writer. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. After driving an 18-wheeler cross-country for eight years, she now lives with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.