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A Summoner’s Tale: Excerpt #2 6

STcover600x800After brunch, Kay and Katrina did hugs all around, loaded the car, and drove away from the Black Swan Vineyard villa where they had been guests for four days. They were supposed to rendezvous with an Order jet at Voltaire Unit, Presidio, San Francisco and catch a ride to Edinburgh. Kay had been persuaded to consult on a Berserker issue and, since it wasn’t an active duty assignment, Katrina came along.

The young married couple had both been changed by the experience of her demon abduction. The feeling of not knowing whether or not they would ever see each other again was still raw and near the surface of shadow consciousness so they didn’t like to spend time apart if it could be helped.

Storm and Litha stood on the pea gravel drive and waved goodbye like an old married couple. They held hands and watched the teal blue Caddy until it went over the hill before going back inside. At home in Houston, Kay had an expensive sports car that had been custom tricked out to accommodate his size, but only a few loaner cars came big enough for him to ride comfortably.          

They closed the door and got as far as the two cordovan, leather sofas that faced each other in the great room before they flopped down. The excursion into the new world of hosting house guests at the newly renovated and furnished villa had been a success.

“I want to clean up the kitchen, but I’m too tired to move.” Litha opened one eye a slit so that she could gauge his reaction. She hoped the thinly disguised suggestion would prompt Storm to volunteer, even though they both knew it was her turn.

He grinned, black eyes sparking with just a touch of taunt. “Nice try though.”

Screwing up her face and groaning, she dragged herself up off the couch and made drama of trudging toward the kitchen.

The spectacle made Storm grin even bigger and his abs rippled with unvoiced laughter. He put his feet up on the heavy, square coffee table, and slouched down into the couch smiling to himself, feeling self-satisfied, and more than a little proud of the vineyard, the villa, and his wife.     So this is dreams coming true.

He had hunkered down, nested, and loved every damn thing about it. When the thought, “It’s too good,” wandered across his mind, he could have slapped himself. In his experience “too good” is a state of being that never lasts long. It’s even shorter when the gods think good fortune has been questioned. Don’t they just love to fuck with that?

He snapped out of the fatalistic philosophizing when he heard a knock on the door. Assuming Kay forgot something he opened the door saying, “What did you…?”

It only took a second for Storm to string together everything Litha had told him about Deliverance, add that to the conspicuous family resemblance, – She got her looks from a sex demon. – and come the conclusion that the caller was his new father-in-law, in the flesh, and standing on their porch. He steadily held the visitor’s gaze and, without taking his eyes away, yelled loud enough to be heard in the kitchen.

“Litha! There’s a demon here to see you!”

There was no question that she heard him because of the volume of response. Shiny, new copper bottom pots make a lot of noise when they land on something as hard as a custom poured concrete kitchen counter or a slate floor.

Deliverance had been staring at Storm without blinking. He had to give the kid credit. Not so much as a muscle twitch or tiny tremor. He supposed she could have done worse. He let the corners of his mouth soften with the humor in his eyes. Storm didn’t show any sign of fear, but he didn’t invite the demon inside as they continued to silently take each other’s measure.

Litha rushed past Storm right into the laughing embrace of the male. Speaking of ‘too good to be true’, that pretty much summed up the demon’s looks. Anybody, even a heterosexual man had to admit that he was stunning.

Deliverance was visibly relieved that she was glad to see him. Still on the wide front porch, he swung her around like she was a little girl and she rewarded him for it with delighted giggles.

When he set her on her feet and drew back to take in her face, she said, “Guess what?”

Looking down at her with pride, he answered dutifully, indulgently. “What?”  

She swept her hand around in the air. “This is where I live!”

Deliverance laughed. “I thought so.”

“Come in. Oh. Wait.” She turned to Storm. “Guess what?”

“This is your dad.”

“This is my dad!”

Her excitement was contagious and starting to make him smile a little. How bad could the demon be if her made her that happy?

Storm offered his hand to Deliverance. “Engel Storm.”

Deliverance gripped the waiting hand. “You taking care of my little girl?”

Storm withdrew his hand, raised his chin a little and, as he was putting his hands in his jeans pockets, in a show of nonchalance, said, “When she’s not locked in the cellar.”

Deliverance snorted. “I’d like to see you try it. Did she ever tell you what she did to my cousins?”

shrugged as if to say, “Aw, shucks, it was nothing.”

Storm was interested. “No she didn’t. Was it fire related?”

Deliverance looked at Storm like he must be mentally deficient. “No,” he said slowly like he was trying to exercise great patience. “Fire wouldn’t hurt my cousins.”

There was a very loud ‘duh’ that hung unspoken in the air.

Storm was thinking that it was shaping up to be a long afternoon.  

Litha shook her head a little and repeated, “Come in,” to her father, the demon.

They gave him a tour of the house and he pretended to be interested in every tidbit about the renovation while rarely taking his eyes away from his daughter. When they circled back to the kitchen, Litha glanced toward the pantry with a dismissive wave in that direction, “I’d offer you something to eat, but…”

Deliverance nodded in the direction indicated. “You have women in there?”

Litha and Deliverance both laughed at his joke. Storm didn’t question the fact that he didn’t think that was funny. He knew, all the way to his core, that it wasn’t funny and thought it may have bordered on disturbing. The fact that Litha found it hysterical was disturbing.

“I’m not staying long. Just wanted to pop in and bring you a wedding present, or housewarming gift, or whatever you want to call it.”

Litha perked up. “Present?” She looked around thinking he had set the bar pretty high with a red, convertible Aston Martin that held a vintage Gucci suitcase full of cash in the trunk. “Where is it?”

“In the abstract.”

“An abstract present?” She blinked. “I don’t get it.”

“Do you want to guess? Yes! Let’s do that. It’ll be so fun. Three guesses and I’ll give you a big hint. Ready?” Storm was trying to remember if Litha had ever said her father had a personality like a game show host. “It’s travel related and better than owning your own private jet.”

“Wow. Really. Okay. I’m in.” She glanced toward Storm. “Storm can play, too, right?”

Deliverance leveled a look on Storm that left no doubt he considered that his new son-in-law was intruding on his visit with Litha. “Sure. Go for it.”

Litha noticed the change of tone and the reduction in the level of enthusiasm, but pretended she didn’t.   

 “I surrender.” Storm would rather observe than horn in on their fun. The dynamic between his bride and her father was interesting and surprising. He knew Litha had tolerated learning about her heritage and was mentally flexible enough to adapt, but he had no idea she held the demon in such regard and with so much affection. “Litha’s better at guessing games.”

Litha jerked her head at Storm and narrowed her eyes. “Liar. There’s not a game on Earth I can win when you’re playing.”

“There’s one.” Deliverance sang those two words as he crossed his arms over his chest and stoked the mystery with his smile. As an incubus demon he had an acute appreciation of the value of anticipation.

Stumped by the esoteric clues – travel related and better than a private jet – she lunged at her father and grabbed two fistfuls of shirt. “Tell me!”

He laughed, clearly delighted by her display of delirium. “No, but I’ll give you another clue. And, watch the threads! My sustenance depends on good grooming, you know.” She snorted as he gently wrested her hands away from his shirt.

“Somehow I think you’d survive, fresh pressed ‘threads’ or not.”

Deliverance bowed his head a little in appreciation of her admiration. “The lord of the manor here…” He jerked his chin toward Storm. “…is not what you think.”

Litha dropped both hands to her sides and took a step back. She sobered instantly, all levity gone from her expression and tone of voice. “You’re not here to make trouble, are you?”

Deliverance was taken aback, a scowl looking out of place on his flawless features. “Certainly not. I would never do anything to hurt you. It’s not anything bad. He’s just not fully human.”

She stared at her father for a couple of beats then looked at Storm to judge his reaction to the outlandish and completely unexpected announcement. Except for a muscle that twitched involuntarily under Storm’s right eye he had not reacted in any visible way.

“This isn’t fun anymore, Dad. Start explaining now.” Litha watched the demon pull a heavy, wrought iron bar chair away from the kitchen island and gracefully take a seat like he knew his way around a barstool.

“You remember saying you thought his eyes looked like mine?” Litha’s gaze flew to Storm. Though her face remained passive, it was easy to see her mind was doing some lightning speed gymnastics. She nodded silently. Storm looked at Deliverance to see if he would agree to a resemblance. “Well, you were right. They do. That’s because his father was Abraxas. Probably a distant relative, but definitely same tribe.”

When Deliverance finished that sentence, there was no response. The silence drug on as both the newlyweds processed individually, internally testing the likelihood that the news was the truth.

Finally, Litha said, “And you thought this would make us happy?”

He beamed. “Yes. It’s my gift.”

Litha lifted fingers to her temple and stared at the ground for a minute. “I can’t believe I’m asking this, but how does this relate to trav…” She stopped in mid sentence and looked a little stunned. She jerked a wide eyed gaze back up to his face. “You’re saying he can ride the passes.”

“No.” Deliverance was shaking his head emphatically. “He doesn’t have enough demon blood for that. But he can piggyback. Well, not literally.” His eyes drifted down Storm’s body and up again unapologetically as if he was calculating how much Storm might weigh. “He could go along with you and survive it.” He turned to Storm. “Just don’t get separated from her because she’s your ticket in, out, and everything in between.”

Litha took in a big breath and let out a curse ending in, “…Jezebel’s Juice.”

“You don’t look happy,” Deliverance was just starting to tune in to the mood in the room.

“Well, I don’t know how I feel about it. I’m, um, surprised to say the least.” She wanted to look at Storm and get a read on how he was taking the dubious news, but, at the same time, hesitated to see his reaction. “When we’ve had time to get used to the idea, I’m sure we’re going to be really excited.”

“Well, yeah! Go anywhere you want to go instantly? Do anything you want to do? How many humans can say that?”

She stared at him. “None.”

“Exactamundo!” He jumped down from his stool in a fluid move and bent to give Litha a big smooch on the cheek. “Getting hungry. Gotta go.” He grinned and straightened the sleeves of his sports coat by pulling on them.

“Thanks for coming, Dad.”

“Welcome, beautiful.”

“Say goodbye to Storm,” she directed.
            Deliverance tossed a look over his shoulder that implied he had forgotten Storm was there. “Engel Beowulf Storm. Take good care of my little girl.”

“Stay right where you are.” Storm said it quietly, but in the demanding tone of someone unaccustomed to being ignored. When Deliverance turned and faced him, he added, “With all due respect, Sir.” Storm may have coated the honorific title with a little too much sarcasm, but he wasn’t in the mood to guard against belligerence. “I want to be sure I’m not misunderstanding. You’re claiming my father – biological father – was an Abraxas demon?”

“Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one,” the demon said cheerfully right before his expression abruptly changed to serious; as if he had just stumbled upon an unexpected obstacle. “Hold on. I’m not impugning your mother’s name or anything as Dark Ages as that. Right?

“Just look at it this way. If he was an Incubus, she wouldn’t have been able to resist. I mean…” He held his arms out in a pose that was reminiscent of Fonzy from the old TV show, ‘Happy Days’, in evergreen reruns on the grid of screens in the demon’s living room.

Storm was every bit as unimpressed as you would expect a Black Swan knight to be. His manner and tone were even. “Where’s your proof?”

Deliverance didn’t look offended. If anything, Storm’s reaction seemed to soften him around the edges. He shook his head slightly in a way Storm had previously thought was unique to Litha. “The only proof I can give you is the fact that you can survive the passes. Of course…” He smiled just a little too wickedly to suit the lady of the house. “… if I’m wrong, you’ll be dead.”

Storm straightened, pulled his jaw in, and glared. He looked like he would love nothing more than to throttle one exceptionally pretty, super arrogant demon currently standing in his kitchen with blatant effrontery written all over his smug mug.

“Comforting,” Storm said drily.

“Ask your mother then.” He cocked his head in a way that served to remind Storm that Deliverance was not exactly human. “Doesn’t she live nearby?”

Storm almost took a threatening step toward daddy dearest. Litha sucked in a breath as she practically read her husband’s mind.

“Dad,” Litha said quietly while pulling on his sleeve, “time to go.”

“Alright, love. See you soon.”

Urging her father toward the door, she glanced at Storm and didn’t like what she saw. “I’ll let him out and be right back.”

Baby Makes Good! 1


My Familiar Stranger has been nominated for the Best Reviewer Read of 2012 by The Paranormal Romance Guild.

Win or lose – what an honor.


Roommate Contest Indie Romance Con in 2013 Reply

IndieRomCongrabbuttonWhen you’re putting your Christmas wish list together, don’t forget to ask for the means to attend the very first Indie Romance Con.

I will be there and hope you will be, too.

To enter Leigh Savage’s roommate contest, click here.

Muscles & Mistletoe BLOG HOP Underway !! 32

GIVEAWAY: One Set of Signed Paperback Copies of ORDER OF THE BLACK SWAN, BOOKS ONE and TWO plus a gorgeous BLACK SWAN mousepad. (U.S. only!)

WINNER is Larissa Rodgers. Congratulations. You have ALSO been entered in the GRAND PRIZE raffle.

WHAT’S MY FAVORITE PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL WITH A HOLIDAY IN IT? This does not have to be a holiday book  – just has to have a holiday in it.

Why, that would be My Familiar Stranger, of course. Christmas expressed as Yule because it is an alternate dimension.

My Familiar Stranger can be downloaded for FREE at any of these links:





HAPPY HOPPING and visit all these blogs participating.

What’s A Nice Girl Like You Doing In An Alternate Dimension Like This? 2

A computer-generated rendering of a possible six-dimensional geometry similar to those studied by UW-Madison physicist Gary Shiu. (Image: courtesy Andrew J. Hanson, Indiana University)

I guess I’m a bigger fan of science fiction than I realized before I started writing. My introduction to sci-fi was several collections of short stories beginning at about twelve-years-old and, although I will not reveal my age, I will say that I have lived long enough to see many of the outlandish and outrageous proposals of what the future might hold become true. This happens with such regularity that, somewhere along the way, I began to wonder which comes first. Are the sci-fi writers clairvoyant or do they give inventors/implementors ideas? I strongly suspect the latter – the message then being, be careful what you write?

Some of my best reviews mention the concept of parallel universe. While I love getting great reviews as much, if not more, than anybody, I feel compelled to try and correct this misimpression.  The concept presented in the Black Swan series is that of ALTERNATE DIMENSIONS which is quite different.  I did take a stab at having the character, Deliverance, explain it in The Witch’s Dream without getting too technical and drowning readers in more than they wanted to know on the subject.

Here are a couple of questions that came up on Bitten by Books in a release party for The Witch’s Dream. I’m going to publish them here to shed some light on the subject.

kimberly says: October 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Victoria, how did you come up with the parallel universe theory and having a close double for everyone? And why did Elora have to go through such “re-birthing” pains?

Victoria Danann says: October 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Okay, first, the idea presented is this series is based on Parallel Dimensions which is really different from Parallel Universe theory. Parallel Dimensions are planetary – different planes functioning without conscious awareness of each other, but all tied to Earth. At one time it may have been a notion of science fiction, but scientists have been discussing the possibilities more seriously for the past fifty years or so.

I was working with the idea metaphysically because I had a thought one day that some of my dreams are reflections of other versions of myself, connected by a spiritual thread that reveals itself through the unconcious in dream state. That plus some instances of turning things around – like one day dealing cards counter clockwise when I have been dealing cards clockwise all my life, or looking for the trash under the right side of the sink when it’s been on the left in every house I have EVER lived in. (This is hard to explain briefly. LOL)

The reason why Elora had to suffer is because, if it turns out to be true that there are multiple dimensions in play, the objects and people within that dimension will be vibrating at speeds that are compatible with that plane, but not compatible with others (else there would be accidental cross-over). Because her cell density was designed for another vibration – and because the device was pre-experimental – it was a disaster. We have to assume that, given time and enough mishaps, Monq would have solved the problem.

Leslie Miner says: October 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Can you tell me more about your thoughts on parallel universes? I know, a complex subject.  In Book One, my thought was Elora came from what I would consider our present life plane.  I thought maybe she went to a past life plane when she ends up at Black Swan headquarters.   I know there’s a past-present-future going on at all times (or I should say that is what I think), but in Book Two when Deliverance describes the parallel universes, it sounded like there were a ton just in one level of existence.  I confused myself.  : )

Victoria Danann says:October 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Okay. Let me make some distinctions here that are probably going to be hard to follow in a couple of paragraphs. I don’t write about Parallel Universes. That’s a COMPLETELY different thing. I write about the possibility of ALTERNATE (not parallel) DIMENSIONS and it IS complicated!! It probably requires more imagination than PNR.

The theory is that there are lots of different levels of existence going on around us at the same time. We are not aware of each other because we’re operating at different levels of vibration, but WE ARE OCCUPYING THE SAME SPACE AT THE SAME TIME! I know it’s hard to get your mind around. When Elora traveled from one dimension to another, she had to speed up her level of vibration – the one she had been built for – which is why it tore her body to shreds.

Leslie Miner says: October 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Just read your response about parallel dimensions rather than parallel universes. So is this similar to my thinking of a past/present/future going on simultaneously?

Victoria Danann says: October 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm

No. I’m really not addressing time at all. You’re talking about Einstein’s theory and, as much as I would love to think I’m smart, I can’t get my mind around non-linear time. Been trying for decades. Can’t do it.

 NOTE: Please keep in mind that I am just a writer of fiction and FAR from an expert on this subject. I just know enough to suggest the idea. However, there is plenty of in-depth material if you’re interested in pursuing the idea further. It may not be long before it is proved to the satisfaction of the scientific community and may someday soon appear in high school science textbooks. Here’s an article entitled Physicists Find A Way To ‘See’ Extra Dimensions.”

MY “Review” of The Witch’s Dream 2

Following is a “review” I wrote for Goodreads on October 12th. It probably should be called “Author’s Notes” instead, but I take media outlets where I find them.

I wrote it so I might be biased. Since I rarely get an opportunity to give my opinion, I’m going to grab the chance.

Every book in this series – at least through the first seven – will pick up where the last ended. In that sense it’s a true serial. I’m in the process of creating a saga, a single story told through a series of books.

The way I see it, Book One, My familiar Stranger, drew the parameters of the world, introduced the main characters, and set up the story.

This second book is pure romance. I have informally subtitled it “a love letter to Paranormal ROMANCE”. It might be seen as the second act in a three act play.

Book Three, The Summoner’s Tale (to be released Valentines’ 2013), is a fasten-your-seat-belt sort of climactic ride wherein I have the opportunity to resolve some things in ways that will be surprising to readers and, I believe, satisfying as well.….

When I started writing the series, I promised to begin introducing some real life anecdotes from my years as a practicing “metaphysician”. The firefly picnic is based on a real life event.

When The Summoner’s Tale is released, I plan to also release the first three books as one volume and am very excited about that. Readers who discover the series thereafter will be able to read the story as conceived without intermission. For those of you who joined me on the adventure early, thank you very much. Without YOUR support we never would have completed the first “volume” of three.

The Witch’s Dream Releases Under the Auspices of the Hallows Spirit Reply

Released October 14th.   Amazon BEST SELLER in Fantasy Romance.

a love letter to Paranormal ROMANCE

In keeping with the season, I’m including an excerpt from the book at the end of this post that described a witchcraft event. (Not to be confused with Wicca. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan, just as all Christians are not Catholic.)
Litha Brandywine is a witch who is employed by The Order of the Black Swan and, when it comes to events of a paranormal nature, she’s the best tracker alive. In the scene cited here, she is performing a rite to locate a missing person.
Though the book has been out for less than a week, several people have commented about the details of the working described. Let me take the opportunity to say that this is a work of fiction. The magick described in the book is based on actual practice, but, according to the very wise policy originally established by the Egyptian Mystery Schools, I would never accurately recreate the details of a spell or method that could hold a potential of harm in the wrong hands; either to the would-be practitioner or others. Enough things are depicted to convey the feeling, but enough details are always scrambled, disguised, and withheld to prevent misuse as a result of the description.
READING THE SERIES IN ORDER HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  MyFamiliar Stranger, BOOK ONE. This series is a true serial in the sense that every book begins where the last ended. BOOK TWO, The Witch’s Dream is a PURE romance and might be seen as the second act in a three act play.

DESCRIPTION: From New York to Ireland to Edinburgh to Siena to the Texas Hill Country to Napa Valley, a secret society, a witch, a demon, a psychic, a berserker, an ex-vampire, modern day knights, heroes, werewolves, elves and fae come together where emotions intersect. The story maps a trail from rages to epiphanies, but, in the end, proves that true love can find you in the strangest places, when you’re least expecting it, even when you’re far, far from home.

He was left behind when Elora Laiken made her choice. Now he’s had it with love, but a transplanted witch who happens to be the world’s best tracker hopes she can change his mind.

The Witch’s Dreambegins with B Team on temporary assignment to Black Swan headquarters in Edinburgh where they are supposed to fill in for stretched-thin resources and assist with a werewolf issue. They’ve been given permission to stop in Ireland for a few days and help celebrate a handfasting at the palace in Derry.When they reach Edinburgh, the afterglow of an elftale wedding quickly turns all business. A missing person report turns into a demon abduction. A simple werewolf sanction becomes a diplomatic issue requiring the one thing Elora is no longer willing to give – finesse.

INCLUDES: The first chapter of the third book, The Summoner’s Tale.

Erotic content: 18+ A few steamy scenes. No menage. No BDSM.

It was Litha’s great honor to have the dragon temporarily in her keeping as he had been recognized as a potent object of power and in service to magick for millennia. The proud Teuton dragon currently served as The Order’s own version of Prometheus, silently holding the world on its shoulders while also protecting its treasure: a precious crystal ball held lovingly in its curved claws. The multifaceted crystal ball picked up every color in the room and reflected it back onto walls and ceiling as rainbow prisms. The effect was a space that was magical as well as magickal.  Litha’s dragon, and she thought of him that way as she was his temporary caretaker, was charged with several tasks and he performed each admirably.
The globe, rendered in shades of green and brown, was perhaps a foot and a half in diameter and hinged very much like one of those liquor cabinet parlor tricks. It would separate at the equator and become two parts of a sphere, one half stationary, one half lid. When opened, it revealed one of Litha’s two most prized treasures, a concave, black glass, scrying plate the same diameter as the globe’s equator. The dragon stand had been built so that, when standing barefoot, the scrying plate was at exactly the same height as Litha’s navel.
She reached out and lovingly ran her hand over the dragon’s head as if he was a living pet. Sometime during the past two thousand years, his eyes had been replaced with black glass. The candle flames and rainbow prism danced together in his eyes making them seem so intelligent and lifelike that it was easy to imagine him as a familiar.
Litha pulled her red robe closer as she paid homage to the Spirits of the Four Winds whom she would be summoning to assist with Locating Magicks. Real witches are risk takers, comes with the territory. Even so, few witches would dare wear red when practicing the magickal arts because the color red possesses powerful attraction properties. That means red can be a shortcut in summoning, but also attracts the bad as well the good. Litha came from a rich history of witch ancestors who tended to act according to a philosophy of “great gambles bring great rewards” and, at some point, it had become part of the family’s genetic legacy. It was partly natural to her and partly logical since Litha knew she was powerful, or practiced, enough to hold a sufficient protection barrier while admitting friendlier Powers of Assistance and accepting their help.
The witch took up a large purple candle and began circling the globe in the center of the room in a clockwise direction. She carefully counted nine revolutions as she sang an old medieval melody with lyrics written and substituted by the witch, herself. Her singing voice was quite pleasant although the quality of performance would have no bearing on outcome. The melody was not more magickal because it was medieval. It was simply a useful hook on which to hang the quatrains she had quickly, but specifically composed for chanting which would be crucial to outcome. She wrote the four-line rhymes in her head while she was bathing and now repeated them in magickal form while she raised energy by stirring the atmosphere into the equivalent of a small whirlwind.
After completing nine circles and chants, Litha used the flame of the purple candle to light a large white candle with three wicks. She then sprinkled a mixture of Dragon’s Blood resin, Solomon’s Seal, white sage, and crystalline salt directly onto the candle’s flames. When the herbs caught fire, she invited into the circle those who could be of service whether spirits, guides, or elementals with the caveat that they were welcome so long as they wished her well and would not prove to be a lot of trouble later on.
When she was satisfied that conditions were optimum, she opened the globe. She always felt a rush of satisfaction upon viewing the gleaming surface with alphabetical, numerical, alchemical, and Theban script symbols etched on its surface in circular patterns. Taking hold of the pendant necklace that she always wore, she pulled downward to remove the outer cover which was a crystal with planed edges forming a heptagon. No one would guess that the crystal was a cover disguising a pendulum of black opal, perfectly weighted for scrying, encased in a Celtic knot filigree of white gold matching the necklace chain.
The pointed stone was the rarest black opal, alive with deep red flecks called “fire” by jewelers. Litha’s pendulum had been hand crafted for her by the monks of Cairdeas Deo and given to her on her sixteenth birthday. Or, rather, the day that had been arbitrarily established as the day they would celebrate her birth.
That birthday was a milestone because it was the day she had been given the freedom to legally drive by herself. In the process of celebrating by doing exactly that she came across a scene that would forever be etched in her heart: a pink Italianate villa sitting high above the Sonoma Coast with vineyards terracing toward the sea, neighboring hills covered with flowering yellow mustard so that it looked like something from a fantasy. She had pulled the car over, taken a mental snapshot, and knew that someday she would drive through the gate and it would be hers.
She ran her finger over the pointed end just to reestablish the connection – which was never really broken.
When she held the pendulum over the glass, it immediately dropped into place and stilled, awaiting instructions from its mistress. She began to trace Katrina’s name, one letter at a time, while picturing Katrina – replaying the snapshot moments of their brief time together – and “hearing” the sound of her voice. Then she began to add details about Katrina’s current situation and state of mind that were gained from Aelsong’s visions.
By the time she reached the “i”, the pendulum was moving on its own to complete the specification ritual. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see candle flames dance and flicker as if a draft had blown through the room. For Litha spontaneous movement of air was a more or less commonplace occurrence, at least when she was scrying. If others preferred to think of the phenomenon as invisible, or discarnate entities, it made no difference to her.
She closed the globe and moved so that she was facing Scotia, then held the pendulum above it simply saying, “Where?”
The pendulum did not move. Which was a first. Frowning, Litha repeated her command a little more firmly, “Where?”
No response.
She lowered the pendulum, took it in her hand, and rolled it around in her palm a few times while deliberately focusing on an image of Katrina.
Again, she held the pendulum above the globe. “Where?”
No response.
Remembering that Aelsong said Katrina was no longer in the same reality, she decided to alter the question. She held the pendulum above the globe and asked, “Near where?”
Almost instantly it began to pull toward the east like it was magnetized. Allowing enough slack so that it could go where it wanted, Litha allowed the point to slide over the map of Europe. Across France. Past Genoa. It came to rest just south of Florence. Siena.
Got it.”
Hope you enjoy this book and have a wonderful
Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, Hallowstide, Hallowmas, the Great Sabbat, the Feast of the Dead, or Witches’ New Year. For Witches who practice one of the branches of magick based in Celtic heritage, it is called Samhain. Pronounced like sau’-wan.
(The image is one my illustrations. It first appeared in Seasons of the Witch in 2011.)
My Best,

An Interview with Rammel Hawking 5

A Conversation (Intervention) with Rammel Hawking

me: Sir Hawking, it’s such a pleasure to get to interview you in person.

Ram: (third finger)

me: (sigh) Okay. What is this about?

Ram: Well, forgive me if I do no’ sound polite, but I can no’ say ’tis a pleasure bein’ interviewed by you.

me: Why not?

Ram: Why no’ indeed. I only agreed because of the chance to say fuck you in person.

me: Okay. What exactly is the problem? You did end up with everything you ever wanted, didn’t you?

Ram: Aye. No’ denyin’ that. My problem is not with endin’s. ‘Tis with the bloody well fucked up middles.

me: I see.

Ram: No. You do no’ see. You sit there in your tidy, little, safe, air conditioned version of reality without a single bloody care for what you are puttin’  me through. Have you ever had a broken rib? It hurts! Do you know that?

me: Well, I…

Ram: You write like ’tis nothin’. And ’tis nothin’ compared to a concussion and a hundred and forty three stitches. How would you like to have to face your mother lookin’ like that?

me: Um, that doesn’t happen until Book Two, The Witch’s Dream which was just released today.

Ram: So just because they have no’ read about it yet means it did no’ happen? (chuffs) My mother cried for hours when she saw me lookin’ like this. That was a bloody fun time I can tell you.

me: I’m, uh, sorry. I didn’t realize she would take it so hard…

Ram: Come to think of it, I should have brought her with me. (evil smile)

And what about that bit between me and my da – when he asks how the other fella looks? And you make me say the other fella got away with no’ so much as a scratch? To add insult to injury you made me smile while I said it! So then he asks me to explain how it happened and I have to tell the fuck all, king da’ of Elfdom that I got a hundred and forty three stitches in a knife fight in a bar!

me: (sigh) I admit that was an understatement but, technically, it was true. You did sustain your injuries in a knife fight in a bar.

Ram: (gaping) You are cold as Paddy’s feet on a February morn.

me:  Now wait a minute…

Ram: Just gettin’ started.  

me: Oh here we go. (Muttering to myself at this point.)

Ram: Can you even begin to imagine that three months feels like an eternity when you’re an elf waitin’ on his mate to make up her mind?

me: Well, I have a pretty good imagination…

Ram: Oh? You can imagine how it feels to have a ragin’ cockstand for weeks on end that does no’ even wane when you sleep? Balls achin’ like they’re bein’ squeezed. Just how is it exactly that you can imagine that, Mistress? How about this one? Can you imagine how it feels to wake and find your love lookin’ back at you with vampire blues? Let me tell you how it feels. Your insides go completely cold. When that chemical hits the bloodstream it truly does feel like ice in your veins.

me: I’m sure that was a very unpleasant experience…

Ram: Unpleasant? You really are a stonehearted bitch. I feel like kickin’ the legs out from under your chair.

 me: (Trying not to laugh.) I was feeling really bad for you, and a little guilty, right up until you just threatened to dump me on my can. Which was very un-knight-like behavior. I never would have written you that way.

Ram: Oh no? Well, I have a surprise or two and here’s the first. You’re fired.  

me: You can’t fire me, Ram. I’m the Creator.

Ram: You know, you sounded just like her when you said that. ‘Tis very disconcertin’.

me: Well, you know there’s probably something of me in every one of the characters.  

Ram: Characters, is it? “Tis all we are to you? (Looks like his feelings are hurt then curses in Irish under his breath.) Right. Well, that explains a lot. You want to know who’s the real villain in your stupid stories?

me: I see where you’re going with this, but, Rammel, writing villains is not the same thing as being a villain. My stories are just a reflection of life.

Ram: (sneers) Aye. A House of Mirrors reflection.  

me: Well, yes. Otherwise, it’s called the daily news. How about this? I’ll give you a reprieve and visit the less pleasant stuff on somebody else for awhile.

Ram: You do no’ seem to be gettin’ it. ‘Tis no’ up to you anymore. Consider this an intervention. You’re hurtin’ people. ‘Tis goin’ to stop. 

me: Okay, look, everything you say is true, but you’ve left out the other side. And I really do love you. Probably more than any other of you, uh…

Ram: (narrows his eyes) …characters. I might be willin’ to let bygones go, but it works both ways.

me: What does?

Ram: I know what you’re thinkin’. I heard your twisted mind riflin’ through possibles and sortin’ out what you’re plannin’ to do to us in Book Three.

me: You did? (I swallow.)

Ram: Aye. And some of it ’tis nothin’ less than sick. We’re all thinkin’ perhaps ’tis time for you to see someone.

(My husband walked in just as I was concluding this interview. He asked what I was doing and, without really thinking it through, I made the mistake of telling him the truth after which he replied that he had always wondered how I can be content to be alone for extended periods of time only to find out that I only appeared to be by myself.)