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Working Title: Midlife Magic School

Women's Paranormal Fiction and Romance

“Happy birthday!” The animated monkey dances in perpetuity on my phone. Jess, my best friend since we were assigned to be roommates our freshman year of college, is halfway across the country. Our friendship has boiled down to texts of heartbreaking vulnerability between waiting out field hockey matches and grocery store scavenger hunts.

Current gif notwithstanding.

“How’s it feel to be the big 5-0?” The number on my screen stares at me, like a sideways monster aghast, kinda like how I feel.

I shake my head, setting my curly brown locks bouncing. “Like thirty, but with more padding, less primping, and—”

“Mom! Sarah’s not giving me the car keys.” The whine of a boy’s puberty-ridden angst pierces the air from the second floor above me.

My own daughter is now a freshman in college, and home for spring break. I love her, but I’ve also come to love having the house to myself. The quiet. The extra space. The manageable piles of laundry and reasonable amount of dishes. Things that stay where I leave them. A return to privacy. Just a few more days—

“Jeesh. Calm down. Put on more body spray or something. Is she olfactorily challenged?” Snickers are met with the moans and grunts of teen angst.

And my sixteen year old son is going on a first date.

The phone in my hand buzzes—a gif of a mostly naked man giving me bedroom eyes gets me unreasonably hot and bothered, the caption letting me know he’s got my birthday gift.

Jess, like me, is going through menopause. The hormones are a bitch. I think not having a husband to help me ride them out makes me a cold bitch.

A cloud of Axe body spray wafts over me as my son vaults down the last stairs, Volkswagon Jetta keys in hand.

“Don’t rush!” I warn, and more ineffectual words have never been spoken.

The Seventy-Seven Year Tithe

Dark Paranormal Romantic Fantasy

Blurb

You are hereby notified of the collection of the seventy-seven year tithe.

The sacrifice must be in good health and capable of withstanding mental torture.

 

Dear Sir/Madam:

 

I believe the enclosed packet of letters belongs to you. I couldn’t help but peek, and I must say, please keep them in a safe place. Someone might take them seriously. I mean, in my mind I honestly know there’s no such thing as an Unseelie Queen, but young adults are impressionable. And curious. I doubt any could resist the inlaid box, with the lock left open. Definitely not the embossed antique parchment inside or the hand written notes in color-changing ink.

 

But a human sacrifice! Such detailed instructions are dangerous. And the romance of Len and Syl! It’s not for impressionable ears.

 

The whole thing still gives me nightmares. I really should just burn it and the danger it represents, but I can’t bring myself to.

 

Especially not after everything I’ve done.

 

Maybe you will be able to, or at least keep it in a safe, secure place. A word of advice, though—don’t actually read them.

 

Do not get drawn in.

 

It’s not too late for you.

Placeholder Title: Fire

YA Fantasy Romance

Blurb

I was royalty and in one moment I lost everything.

Now I am an orphan with only the clothes on my back.

I must go to the one place I abhor.  Some would call it revenge, others justice.  I just want answers.

The plan is rife with danger. 

But I have nothing to lose.

And maybe, just maybe, everything to gain.

Chapter One

   "FIRE! ". The scream rends the night and jerks me awake, only to land in a nightmare of smoke and flame.

   I roll out of my bed, covering my mouth but coughing nonetheless.  Training and adrenaline kick in while my sleep-addled brain is still trying to catch up with reality.  Thank goodness Father insisted on all those extra classes that steel my thoughts now.  My world whittles down to safety protocols and contingencies plans.  

   Identify the threat.  I grab the perennial blade stashed in my bed before crawling along the floor.  My ears prick for noises of my guards, or fighting.  Presume the worst, I recall. I spare a brief moment to listen at the door that connects to my sitting room.  If this was a trap, someone would be waiting there to kill me.  Leaning in, I can feel the door is warm.

   Listen to your intuition.  My heart thuds a war drum rousing the masses while my gut sinks.  Everything in my body screams this is not the way out. What are my other options? 

I look toward my balcony and the surrounding windows.  Ominous flashes of color sear the night enough to illuminate the smoke billowing outside. I'm on the fourth floor.  An intentional move to deter attack, but one which also hampers flight.  Plus, I'd be laid open to any archer, the smoke and night inadequate cover for an assassin who's sole duty is to watch my rooms for movement.  No, that choice is only a last resort.

     There are the secret passageways, and my body is already on the move as my brain concedes this is the best option. Much as I want to go outside or take the most direct route, the old passages are formed from doubled walls throughout the oldest parts of the castle.  The stone is less likely to collapse or catch fire.  I know I can find the way in the dark; it's been drilled into me.  I just need to get to the tunnels.  It should be an unimpeded escape.

     I soak linen from my bathroom, thankful I've always soaked stories up like a sponge.  Even morbid ones like the Great Fire of '16.  I know it's worth the precious seconds to be prepared and help me breathe. 

     Then, behind a tapestry and a panel, I get to work on the lock.  My hands shake but pure determination gets me through.  I crouch down and rush past, closing the door swiftly after me.  I'm taking in huge lungfuls of air before I register it's cold moldy taste.  Thank God.  This way has not been breached, at least not nearby.  I rush through the narrow passage while my luck holds, not letting my brain focus on anything more than the next step in front of me.

     Get to safety.  I run through the twists and turns on automatic until I finally start a steep descent.  Only then do I allow myself to wonder.  Where is everyone?  Surely sometime else in the family should be in the passageway by now?  Nanny and the twins? Dierdre would probably try to scale the wall, and Phillip would definitely fight along his guards.  But Isabella would know to come this way, right?  And Mother?  Father?

     I stumble as I choke the tears back.  I've got to hold it together.

★★★★★  I really felt like I knew the characters personally.