Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Journalist - Crime - Mystery #Fiction #Crime #Mystery

R.N. Crane is here to tell us about his crime mystery novel The Journalist.

Read on for details...

________________

 

 

Crime, Mystery

Published: August 2020



Favor Bosworth, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Paper, investigates murders in the Loch Raven reservoir and the Las Vegas wash feeding Lake Mead. The murdered girls went to Law School at UNLV along with Dan Brock who left school early to pursue a career in investing. Favor interviewed many of the girl’s classmates but only a few seemed to have the means, opportunity, and motive for murder.

Favor is also tasked to evaluate Brock Investments for reporting false investment returns. She is assisted by two Private Investigators, Flint Osborne and Lauren Scott. The investigators and the reporter are led around Big Bear Lake, and through Long Beach, and Orange County looking for evidence. Favor finds that, in the end, no one is who they appear to be.



About The Author


R.N. Crane lives in Orange, California. He is a retired engineering consultant writing romantic suspense and detective crime novels. The Journalist is his newest novel. He is a member of Orange County Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Mystery Writers of America.




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Monday, January 25, 2021

Enemies to Lovers: Series Starters Set - Fantasy - New Adult - Paranormal - YA - and a Giveaway #Fantasy #NA #YA #Paranormal #Giveaway

Brittni Chenelle is here to tell us about Enemies to Lovers, Series Starters Set, fantasy, new adult, young adult, and paranormal.

She's also hosting a great giveaway.

________________

Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set
Brittni Chenelle
Publication date: January 22nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Young Adult

Their most dreaded rivals might be their greatest need. But with peril dogging their every encounter, will they give into dangerous desires?

Box set: 750+ pages of angsty enemies-to-lovers adventures with daring heroines and their foes destined to become forever partners.

Princess Charlotte’s whole world changed one morning over breakfast. With her mother announcing a rushed arranged marriage to a humorless prince, she’ll do anything to stop the wedding – including shooting him with an arrow. But after the kingdom is invaded and a sinister plot to capture her discovered, can she convince her unwanted suitor to help keep her out of enemy hands?

Reina Bennet won’t stop believing that she’ll eventually get her abilities. But when her childhood champion grows up into a smug superpowered bully, her escalating rivalry with her ex-friend gets them both kicked out of school. And after he ends up in a rebel group at their new academy, can she put aside her grudges for a chance at a fresh beginning?

Princess Sinna of the Shadow Court fears her fated mate means certain death. So when a magical ceremony reveals him as the powerful vampire king, she’s eager to prove she can be a worthy Hunter by killing him. But can she stop herself from falling hard as she tries to seduce him into a fatal embrace?

Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set is a kickass collection that includes the YA fantasy Kingdom Cold, the new adult fantasy The Fae & The Fallen, and the adult paranormal romance Chaste Blood. If you like strong women, diverse characters, and emotionally-charged conflicts, then you’ll adore Brittni Chenelle’s bestselling sensations.

Buy Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set to turn animosity into passion today!

Goodreads / Amazon


Author Bio:

Brittni Chenelle is a USA Today Bestselling Multicultural Fantasy Author who specializes in multi-POV romances. She loves to explore the blurred lines between good and evil and believes wholeheartedly in a great story's ability to bring people together.

When she's not writing, she can be found at her home in South Korea where she spends far too much time consuming coffee, dark chocolate, and videos of animals doing human things.

Visit www.BrittniChenelle.com to browse her complete catalog, including upcoming books.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube


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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Mastering Maya - a BDSM Erotic Romance - #BDSM #Dominance #Submission #Bondage #Discipline

Lisabet Sarai is back with her newest hot romance - Mastering Maya, a BDSM erotic romance.

Read on for details...

______________


New Release!

Mastering Maya:

A BDSM Erotic Romance

Contemporary BDSM Erotic Romance

KINKY LITERATURE - AMAZON US - AMAZON UK - SMASHWORDS - BN

KOBO - ADD ON GOODREADS


Blurb:

How much heat will it take to melt the Ice Queen?

Mistress Maya’s precise discipline and unshakable self-possession are legendary in the Boston kink community. Newcomer Dom Shark is fascinated by her beauty and power from the moment he sees her flogging a sub at Club Inferno. Behind the Ice Queen’s mask of perfect control, he senses a spirit aching to submit. He's determined to break through her defenses and bring her the same release she grants to the lucky slaves she tops.

When Maya dismisses Master Shark as young and inexperienced, he offers her a challenge: a night together, during which he'll show her what it means to be mastered. If he fails to bring her to new heights of bliss, he agrees to become her slave.

Can he make Maya trust him enough to surrender? Or will the flawless, untouchable dominatrix take possession of his body as well as his heart?

Note: This book was previously published by Totally Bound. It has been revised, expanded and re-edited for this release.


Excerpt:

While washing the stickiness from her hands, she surveyed herself in the mirror. Milk-white skin and ebony hair from her Black Irish father, cut severely to the level of her jaw; high cheekbones and plump lips from her Lebanese mother. Her nose was a bit prominent, and a few tiny lines decorated the corners of her green eyes, but, all in all, she approved. Not too bad for a thirty-six-year-old broad. Most of all, she liked the strength she saw in her expression. She lived her own life. She made her own decisions. She controlled herself. No one else could step in and take that control away.

But that strange Dom…

She’d felt oddly transparent under his scrutiny. It had been unsettling, but exciting, too. The challenge in his eyes had been too blatant to miss. He wanted her. He wanted to play.

A vision seized her—the nameless stranger bent naked over the foot board of her bed, with his arms spread wide and his wrists roped to the bedposts. Tattoos would wind around his biceps—barbed wire, or perhaps Celtic patterns. His taut, round butt elevated by pillows, he’d beg her to fuck him. She’d beat him first, though, marking his long thighs with her crop, paddling his butt cheeks to the color of raw hamburger. Maybe she’d clip weights to his scrotum and nipples, or trap his swollen prick in a tight leather cage.

And he’d plead for more—more pain, more humiliation, more proof of her power. She’d never head his voice but she imagined it, deep and a bit gravelly, a contrast with his James Dean bad-boy appearance. It would be so sweet, finally giving him what he craved, donning her harness and driving her prick into his ass.

The image was so vivid! She dimly realized that she’d sunk to her haunches, her thighs splayed open, just inside the ladies’ room door. Three fingers of one hand were buried in her cunt. With her other, she plucked at her nipples through her bra, twisting them almost as hard as she imagined doing to the stranger.

She settled the pad of her thumb against her clit, while her fingers delved deeper. She was already close to the edge, self-stimulation combining with fantasy to ramp her back to the brink where James had left her, only ten minutes before.

Someone will see…

She arched her back, screwing the stranger Dom for all she was worth. The knob near the base of her dildo rubbed over her clit as she rammed into him, giving him what they both craved. He whimpered with pleasure, his strong body totally open to her power.

You’re losing control…

Doubts buzzed like mosquitoes, distracting her from her pleasure. She focused on her fantasy sub, reading his body language, sure that he wanted more. He tightened his butt around her silicone cock, transmitting the pressure to her sensitized tissues. “You’re mine,” she cried in her daydream, drilling into his ass as though to tear him open.

You’re mine.

The thought intruded. It was Roger’s voice at first, warm and cultured, seductive and treacherous. Then it deepened and grew rougher. All at once, her fantasy shifted.

She was the one tied spread-eagled with her ass in the air, not just her wrists but her ankles too, the ropes so tight she could scarcely move. Her shoulders ached with the pull of the bonds. Her cunt dripped onto the carpet. A blindfold hid her tormentor but she couldn’t ignore his fingers, poking into her to gather her pussy juice then smearing it over her anus. The rude fingers probed, loosening her, triggering sharp stabs of delight. She contracted her muscles, trying futilely to keep him out, but the fingers dancing in her cunt melted any determination to resist. “You’re mine,” he repeated, whoever he was, rubbing the knob of his huge-seeming cock against her back entrance. “Let me in.”

 



About Lisabet::

Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – over one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads, Pinterest, and  Twitter. Join her VIP email list here: https://btn.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh

 

 

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Boss Assignment - Rogue Protectors Book 3 - Romantic Suspense #Romance #Suspense #RomanticSuspense

Victoria Paige is here to tell us about The Boss Assignment, book 3 in her Rogue Protectors series.

Read on for details...

________________

Title: The Boss Assignment (Rogue Protectors, Book 3) 

Author: Victoria Paige 

Genre: Romantic Suspense 

Release Date: February 20, 2021 

Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC. 


Thief. Enforcer. Womanizer. Billionaire Antonio Andrade has been called all these things. His road to respectability has been buried in bloodshed. And his foes are waiting for him to have it all, so they can rip everything away.

Framed. Threatened. Abducted. Virologist Charlotte “Charly” Bennett is in a tailspin of trouble. The man who kidnapped her thinks she’s guilty of the bioweapon he wants to destroy. Agreeing to be used as bait could be her one chance to reclaim a normal life. If she survives.

With time running out and a hidden enemy on the move, Antonio and Charly rush to stop the mastermind behind these acts of terror. For Antonio, sticking to his plan should’ve been easy. Until passion ignites between them. Now Antonio must decide between preserving his legacy or protecting Charly. But as danger closes in and tragedy strikes close to home, that decision is torn from Antonio’s control. And straight into enemy hands.

Would you like to know when The Boss Assignment is available? 

Sign up<HERE> for Victoria’s new release alert

Tweet: Check Out the #CoverReveal for Book #3 in The Rogue Protectors series, The Boss Assignment by @vpaigebooks HERE>> https://ctt.ec/T5DF4+ ‎Sign up here to be notified when the book is #Live https://bit.ly/3i7yZrZ<br /> Start the series @Amazon #KU https://ctt.ec/L92cM+<br /> #BAPpr #RomanticSuspense

Victoria Paige writes romantic suspense with badass alpha males and smart, feisty heroines. Her heroes are possessive, overprotective, and frequently the obsessed, jealous type with a penchant for strong language. Her heroines are strong-willed and intelligent women who can hold their own against a bossy hero. Her books are sexually explicit and may contain dark themes, morally ambiguous choices, and disturbing situations

Victoria lives in Richmond, VA with her husband and their German Shepherd Dog.

AMAZON KU

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Blood and Bone - The Blood and Bone Series #1 - Contemporary Romance - and a Giveaway #Romance #ContemporaryRomance #Giveaway

Paula Dombrowiak is here to tell us about her contemporary romance Blood and Bone, book 1 in her Blood and Bone series.

She's also hosting a great giveaway.

________________

Blood and Bone
Paula Dombrowiak
(The Blood and Bone Series, #1)
Publication date: October 30th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Love is complicated, messy, and sometimes painful but oh so worth it. A heartbreaking journey through love, friendship, family, and fame.
Music brought them together, addiction tore them apart, loyalty saved them. It was always Jack and Mia, everyone else was just collateral damage.
Jack O’Donnell‘s life was teetering on the edge. Forced, as a teenager, to make a decision that would change his life forever, he left his hometown to pursue a music career with collaborator Mia Stone. Living in a van by the beach was not the glamorous Los Angeles lifestyle they had envisioned but sparked the most creative time of their lives. Making it big was all they ever wanted but when it happened, friendships were tested, hearts were broken, and lives were changed forever.
Erin Langford is a seasoned journalist tasked with writing a feature on Jack O’Donnell. Being at the right place at the right moment puts Erin in a unique position to get the story, but at what cost? Having preconceived notions about Jack’s rock star image, she learns there is more to a story than just the headlines. The two embark on a journey through Jack’s past where he recounts the rise and fall of his band Mogo and the irreplaceable bond between himself and collaborator Mia Stone. The feature she thought she was going to write, turns into so much more.
Blood and Bone is an evocative story told in alternating time periods, from the early ’90s to the present day about deep bonds between flawed people whose only outlet of self-expression is through their music.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords


EXCERPT:

“I didn’t get this gig because of my looks.” Erin explained but he seemed unfazed. “Just so you know.” Never had she cared about such a thing from any other interview, but she wanted Jack to respect her. That was the only way this interview would be taken seriously.

“If you say so.” He did not seem convinced.

“I have a pretty extensive portfolio.” She felt compelled to make him understand that she was not being used as bait or whatever he thought. “Edge is just one of the magazines that I’ve written for.” She clarified. “You can look up my work.”

“I believe you.” Jack said putting his hands up but it was Erin who was not convinced now.

Returning to business. “I’m going to turn on my recorder.” She told him.

“Ah, we’re getting serious now.” Jack leaned back in his seat, trying to appear comfortable but everything about him was tense.

“Where should we start?” Jack asked, smoothing his hair with one nervous swipe of his fingers.

Erin took out her notebook and clicked the pen open, always well prepared. The waitress dropped off their drinks. She discretely placed a napkin near Jack with her name and number written on it. This angered Erin as she felt slightly protective over Jack after the events of the morning and gave the waitress the stink eye as she left the table.

Jack ignored the waitress and gave all his attention to Erin, waiting for her to continue. “You look displeased.” Jack suggested.

“I just think that’s presumptuous.” Erin motioned to the napkin.

“How so?” Jack cocked his head.

“Well, for one, we could be on a date.” Erin said in an annoyed tone.

“Would you like for us to be on a date?” Jack’s smile unnerved her.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Erin scoffed.

“You brought it up.” Jack shrugged innocently.

“Ok, that’s not…” Erin was frustrated. “Never mind.” She settled back in.

Erin cleared her throat and went back to business. “It’s been 20 years since the first album came out. I’d like to go back to how the band was formed. There’s not a lot of information on this subject, other than you being high school friends, but I’d like to go a little deeper and talk about what it was like before the fame.” She said.

Erin could see a slight tick at the corner of Jack’s eye. “If that’s ok.” She added, swallowing hard.

Jack took a sip of his cappuccino and Erin could tell he was very pleased with it. “I was a sixteen-year-old asshole of a kid who was destined to drop out of school and end up in jail.” He said. “Music was all I had.”

“Well, you did drop out and you did end up in jail, on more than one occasion.” Erin sifted through her notes. “But my guess is that there was a lot that happened in between.” She took a sip of her latte. Every place made chai differently and she was not impressed but it was drinkable. She was partial to a shop around the corner from her apartment in Queens.

Jack chuckled. “That’s a matter of public record.”

“You said music was all you had. Why?”

Jack’s expression darkened.

“How did the band get formed?” Erin rephrased.

“It’s how every great love story begins.” A touch of nostalgia in his eyes. “I met a girl.” A smile spread across his face that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “I met a girl and she ruined me forever.”

Erin could not tell if he was talking about Mia or Amber. She only knew that she wanted to find out.

Author Bio:

Paula Dombrowiak grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois but currently lives in Arizona. She is the author of Blood and Bone, her first adult romance novel which combines her love of music and imperfect relationships. Paula is a lifelong music junkie, whose wardrobe consists of band T-shirts and leggings which are perpetually covered in pet hair. Music is what inspires her storytelling.

Paula is currently working on a sequel to Blood and Bone which focuses on Hayley O'Donnell's music career while living in her fathers shadow.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub / Smashwords


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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Loving Modigliani - Historical Paranormal Fiction - Fantasy - Magical Realism #HistoricalParanormalFiction #MagicalRealism #FantasyFiction #LiteraryFiction

Linda Lappin is here to tell us about Loving Modigliani, historical paranormal, fantasy, magical realism, and literary work.

Read on for details...
__________________

 

 


The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne

Paranormal Ghost and Love Story

Historical Paranormal Fiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction

Published: December 2020

Publisher: Serving House Books



A ghost story, love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

PARIS 1920 Dying just 48 hours after her husband, Jeanne Hebuterne--wife and muse of the celebrated painter Amedeo Modigliani and an artist in her own right -- haunts their shared studio, watching as her legacy is erased. Decades later, a young art history student travels across Europe to rescue Jeanne's work from obscurity. A ghost story, a love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.

Loving Modigliani is a genre-bending novel, blending elements of fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery, and suspense.


Praise for Loving Modigliani:

"LOVING MODIGLIANI is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning pages late into the night" --Gigi Pandian, author of The Alchemist's Illusion

"Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part treasure hunt, Linda Lappin's Loving Modigliani is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning the pages long into the night." - Best-selling mystery novelist Gigi Pandian



Other Books by Linda Lappin:


Signatures in Stone

2014 Overall Winner DAPHNE DU MAURIER AWARD for excellence in Mystery Writing, also Winner in the Historical Mystery section of the Du Maurier Awards, from Romance Writers of America.

Seeking inspiration in the timeless Italian landscape, four unlikely misfits find their destinies entangled in the meanders of the mysterious sculpture garden of Bomarzo, peopled with freaks and monsters. Daphne, a writer with a hashish habit, Clive, American gigolo and aspiring artist, Nigel, an English aristocrat down at the heels, and Finestone, a fly by night art historian come together in a decrepit villa looked after by two Italian servants who are not what they seem. To find their heart's desire, all the characters must descend into the depths of hell, but not everyone will make it out alive. In the hideous sculptures of Bomarzo, Daphne must face up the hidden sides of herself while solving the mystery of murder for which she is unjustly accused. She will discover that her own journey to hell has already been written sculpted by an unknown genius centuries ago in these signatures in stone.

Amazon



The Soul of Place

In this engaging creative writing workbook, Linda Lappin, novelist, poet, and travel writer, presents a series of insightful exercises to help writers of all genres -- (literary travel writing, memoir, poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction) discover imagery and inspiration in the places they love.

Lappin departs from the classical concept of the Genius Loci, the indwelling spirit residing in every landscape, house, city, or forest, to argue that by entering into contact with the unique energy and identity of a place, writers can access an inexhaustible source of creative power. The Soul of Place provides instruction on how to evoke that power.

The writing exercises are drawn from many fields such as architecture, painting, cuisine, literature and literary criticism, geography and deep maps, Jungian psychology, fairy tales, mythology,metaphysics,theater and performance art, all of which offer surprising perspectives on our writing and may help us uncover raw materials for fiction, essays, and poetry hidden in our environment.

An essential resource book for the writer's library, this book is ideal for creative writing courses, with stimulating exercises adaptable to all genres. For writers or travelers about to set out on a trip abroad, The Soul of Place is the perfect road trip companion, attuning our senses to a deeper awareness of place.

"Insightful exercises help creative writers of all levels attune themselves to the power of place." Amy Alippo, National Geographic Traveler

Amazon


About The Author


Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.



Contact Links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

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Promo Link


Purchase Links

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Book of Bastards - Fantasy #Fiction #Fantasy

Ransom Stephens is here to tell us about The Book of Bastards, a fantasy.

Read on for details...


____________________

 

 


Fantasy

Date Published: January 14, 2021

Publisher: The Intoxicating Page



Welcome to The Gold Piece Inn, where you can drink, gamble, and play!

Or hide.

Cursed on the day the king is assassinated, Dewey Nawton is compelled to protect the widowed queen, but protection means different things to different people (and different curses).

Kings have dictated every role Queen Dafina has ever played. Now, a halfling innkeeper assigns her the role of serving lass. But is The Gold Piece Inn just another tavern? Could it be an orphanage? … surely, it’s not a brothel.

Oh yes, she’s fallen from grace, but will that stop her from leading a handful of pirates and a dozen bastards to avenge her king and rescue Glandaeff’s faeries, elfs, and mermaids (and merbutlers!) from a brutal tyrant?


Dewey has a secret. Dafina has a secret. The Bastards have two secrets.

Is there even a sip of moral justice in all this bawdiness?


Early Reviews

The Book of Bastards combines a riveting, intense plot of righteous vengeance with tongue-in-cheek banter that will keep you turning the page with eager anticipation. With settings that make you wish they were real, characters you can't help but cheer for, and twists that keep you guessing, Ransom Stephens has crafted an engaging tale that makes every minute of reading, time well spent. I don't often reread a book, but I think I'll make an exception. Loads of fun. Highly recommended. – Brian D Anderson, million-selling author of The Bard and the Blade

A delightful, detailed tale about morality, being honest with yourself, and self-reflection, even when you don’t like what the glass has to show. A perfect treat for lovers of rich fantasy worldbuilding, gory battles, and the kind of thoughtful, character-driven stories that make your brain whirl, your imagination dance, and your heart surge.” -J.M. Frey, bestselling author of The Accidental Turn Series


Excerpt

Dewey took his seat between the fireplace and the only glazed window in the building. He could see the street, the saloon, the casino, the red-carpeted stairway, and the balconies and rooms on the second and third floors. He listened to the minstrel’s ballad of a heartbroken pirate on a desert isle, ate salmon grilled in rosemary and served on sourdough bread, felt the warmth of the fire on one side and the cool evening fog on the other—and none of it soothed Dewey’s worries.

Then he saw her on the porch. She fell through the door but not the way drunks fall. She reached up as though climbing from an abyss, and wailed, “Oh gods, please help me. Anyone, please!”

Loretta got to her first, dropped to her knees, and took the woman’s hands.

The woman grabbed at Loretta, tears cascading down her face, sobs racking her from head to toe. “Please!”

It’ll be all right, dear. We’ll care for you.” She looked up at Dewey and added, “We will care for her.”

Dewey stood over them. Children accumulated. Teen-aged Aennie said, “She’s the cleanest beggar I’ve ever seen.”

Another kid plopped down next to the woman and held his worn black feet up to her clean pink soles. “Somefin wrong wit her feet.”

What the?” Loretta said. “Feet don’t come that clean. I’ve tried.” She held the woman at arm’s length and examined her. “She’s a bag of bones, must be starving—Macae, fetch salted bread.”

Get her out of sight,” Dewey said.

You know her?”

To the barn. Now!”

Loretta lifted her, muttered, “She weighs nothin’,” and guided her back outside.

The screech owl that lived in the barn announced to everyone within a mile that a stranger had arrived.

Dewey looked back at his inn. The minstrel had switched to a light ditty about a horny woman who carried drunk men into a field and took advantage of them—the sort of song that’s mostly chorus so anyone can sing along. Children were underfoot and some of the goats had found their way back inside. Bob was pouring ale and wine, the servers who weren’t delivering food and drink were lounging on the laps of smiling patrons. A serving-lad named Faernando slipped off a sinewy woman, the profiteer sailor and card-cheat named Baertha. She threw the lad over her shoulder and carried him to the stairs just as the chorus returned to “she threw the boy down, he popped up, and she made him a man.” The crowd erupted. Baertha took a bow, the lad waved, and Dewey held out his hand. As she passed, Baertha dug into her belt and tossed a silver ohzee. Dewey said, “You give him two of those when you’re through. If you hurt him, it’ll piss off the wrong kinds of faeries.”

In other words, it was just another night at The Gold Piece Inn, and no one had noticed the beggar at the door.

Dewey rushed through the kitchen and out to the barn. He dodged sheep, rabbits, a sleeping cow, nearly stepped on the tail of an old bloodhound, and climbed the ladder. The loft was covered in straw and cordoned into sections by blankets of differing color and quality. The woman lay on a brown blanket next to an unshuttered window that let in the last light of the day. Loretta appeared to be threatening her with a baguette.

She’s lovely but there’s nothin’ to her,” Loretta said to Dewey. And then to the woman. “You faer?”

I require your aid,” the woman said. “Please, my children …”

Loretta took a bite of the baguette dripping with salty olive oil and then offered it to the woman again. “Never seen a beggar who won’t eat. She elfin? Your kind?”

No, she’s as human as you are.”

Loretta leaned forward and sniffed the woman’s neck. “She don’t smell like a human.”

She bathes. Some people do that, you should try it.” Dewey helped the woman up.

Loretta examined her hands, no scars or calluses. She ran her fingers through her long, straight black hair and mumbled, “Fine as silk.”

Dewey said, “When have you ever touched silk?”

Loretta said. “I didn’t think skin got that pale.”

The woman’s eyes lost focus, and she fainted.

Farqin shite!” Dewey said, “Get some water—nay, a blast of brandy.”

Loretta dropped down the ladder in a fluid, practiced motion.

Dewey waited a few more seconds and then whispered, “Queen Dafina, what are you doing here?”

She sat up straight, dabbed her eyes, and said, “I require your help.”

You have to get out of here.”

You must assemble the bodies of my husband and children.” Her voice cracked. “They require decent burial.”

The usurper has them. There’s nothing I can do.”

I can pay you more than you can imagine.”

Maybe so but pay means nothing to a dead man.”

Think of the favors I can grant, I can—” and then she went quiet and looked down, blubbering out the words, “My children, my husband, everyone is dead.”

I’m not, and don’t plan to be any time soon.”

She looked up at him and then around. She fondled the rough threads of the blanket and pulled a piece of straw through a gap in the weave. A lamb bleated below, and a mouse scurried across a rafter overhead.

Surely you don’t want to watch more people die.”

The Queen stood and bumped her head on a beam. Dust sprinkled onto her face. “No,” she said. “No, anything but that.”

I’d like to help,” he said. “Dozens of good people, your subjects and their children, live here—you’re duty bound to protect them, and you know what Lukas will do if you’re found here.”

Right.” She started down the ladder and Dewey held her steady. “I’ll go.” She stepped toward the barn door and Dewey nudged her, gently at first and then with a bit of authority to the side exit that led to an alley out of view of High Street.

He put two silver ohzees in her hand and said, “Take the morning barge back to Glomaythea or get passage on a ship to Nantesse—isn’t that your home?”

It was.”

He gripped her shoulders and rotated her to face him. He waited for her to look up and said. “You asked for my help and I have helped you. Right?”

Yes, thank you good sir.”

He oriented her downhill and gave her a shove. She staggered into the dark alley and down the hill that would take her back to the marketplace if she followed it. She said, “My babies are dead. They’re all dead.”

Dewey shut the gate just as Loretta appeared with a goblet of brandy.

Just in time,” he said. He took it and drank.


About the Author

Ransom Stephens has searched for the Holy Grail in Cornwall and Wales but settled for a cracked coffee mug. He’s won several awards, but they’ve all been named after people he’d never heard of which made for awkward acceptance speeches. The author of four previous novels on simple, non-controversial topics like science vs religion in The God Patent, technology vs environmentalism in The Sensory Deception, oligarchy vs anarchy in The 99% Solution, and love vs money in Too Rich to Die, in his latest, The Book of Bastards, he offers readers what they really want, a story of bawdiness washed down with a sip of moral justice.

I’m a fairly accomplished scientist and technologist, all the details at https://contact.ransomstephens.com



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