Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Morning at the Vineyard – A Snippet from Ties of Blood and Bone: The Second Book of Binding

Alerich woke up to wintery sunlight filtering in through the gauze curtains and his grandmother’s lady’s maid, Odette, rapping on his door, her pretty, polite voice carrying through it. “Breakfast is served.” Alerich rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. Odette’s presence meant his grandmother, Hildreth, was here. And if Hildreth was here it would be non-stop wedding talk for the next two weeks.

He wondered if there was a trellis outside the window. Was it sturdy? It wouldn’t be the first time he’d escaped out a window and wouldn’t be his first trellis climb, but he was a big man and preferred to not have another one break halfway through his descent.

He sighed and pushed up onto his elbows and then swung his legs off the bed to take a sitting position. It would be no use. His grandmother had a tracking spell on him, much like the one she had on Elspeth. He could feel it, a subliminal tingling at the back of his neck. Hildreth would be able to find him no matter where he ran. He stood and hooked his thumbs into his red boxer briefs and slid them off over his hips, tossing them to the foot of the bed, and made his naked way to the en suite bathroom. A quick shower was in order, then.

After his shower Alerich went in search of breakfast, wearing a clean pair of black jeans and a red cotton button-down shirt with the top two buttons undone, his longish, black hair still damp. The house was large, but not so large that he could not find the dining room in short order. Even still, he was the last one to breakfast and his grandmother’s gunmetal blue eyes narrowed slightly with disapproval as he entered. Bloody wonderful.

“I’m glad to see you have finally decided to join us, Alerich.” Hildreth’s tone was arid, her clipped Dutch accent still present even after decades of living in Britain, and her crisp white hair was pulled up into some complicated coiffure of Odette’s doing.

Quiet conversation around the table stopped for a moment, all eyes on Alerich. His blood ran cold at the shifting sight of the demon, sitting in what passed for its human form near his father’s end of the table eating roasted bone marrow. Today, it seemed to prefer to be mostly male, and his form was something close to stable, though even as he watched it changed subtly.

Arariel.

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Liminal Space – A Books of Binding Flash Fiction

Etienne paused within the cold-flame-wreathed rift, within this liminal place between realms. Before him lay the Mortal Realm, and behind him, Faerie. He had spent weeks seeking a rift to pass through. He had wandered alone, his body aching with the agony of knife and fire that still wracked each step. His mind aching with the sting of humiliation, desperation, and betrayal. He had endured it all, looking for this passage—this escape. But now, he paused.

There was nothing for him among the mortals. Not anymore. Not since his beloved Bess had died. Not since the plague that had robbed him of her sweetness, of her kisses.

Of their children.

But behind him he was a hunted man, scarred by his enemies. By his sidhe step-father. Scarred by his allies for his own protection, because a sidhe magician had carved spell glyphs into his flesh—glyphs of compulsion and control—and the only remedy was to brand dwarven runes over each and every one.

And still his step-father hunted him. Still he could not rest.

That was the thought that propelled him forward, even as pain knifed through his chest. He had not set foot in the Mortal Realm since losing her. Losing them. Losing everything. But Bess would not want him to die at his step-father’s hands. She would want him to live, even as hollow as his existence had become.

He would persist for her.

With that, he shouldered the pack over his raw shoulders and threw his lot in with the mortals.

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Uh-huh – A Books of Binding Flash Fiction

Elspeth plunked down the last square tile with enthusiasm. “I’m out.”

Alerich eyed the pieces, trying to keep the corners of his mouth from twitching into a smile. He waved at the board. “You’re cheating.”

Indignation gave her voice an edge. “Am not.”

“Elspeth, ‘spong’ is not a word.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it’s really not.”

“Yes, it really is.” She picked at a speck of lint on her blouse. “It’s a potions word.”

“Uh-huh.” Alerich settled back in his chair and took a sip of his bourbon, then motioned at her with the glass. “Define it.”

“A spong is a … It’s kind of a … It’s like … “

Alerich was losing the battle with the corners of his mouth. “Uh-huh.”

“Will you shut up, I’m trying to figure out how to describe it to you. It’s kind of a specialty item. You have to know a lot about potions to have even heard of it.”

The corners won and he had to hide the smile in another sip of the bourbon. She was so much fun to wind up. “Uh-huh.”

“Look, I don’t care if you believe me. It’s a word. You can ask grandmother if you want.”

“Uh-huh.”

“God, you’re such a baby! Fine! I’ll just take it off the board. Here, ‘song,’ unless you don’t think that one’s a word either, Mister Never-cracks-a-spellbook-but-thinks-he-knows-every-word-ever-said. It’s a perfectly good word, but no. You have to be such a bad loser. So, fine! I’ll take it off the stupid board. There. Are you happy, Mister Game-police?”

“Uh-huh. ‘S.’ ‘Songs.’ I’m out.”

Elspeth glared at him for a moment, then produced a sound somewhere between a growl and a scream. She pushed away from the table and stomped off through the dim of the library.

Alerich watched her go. She was fun to wind up, but he would be paying for this one for a while. ‘Spong.’ Why does that sound familiar? He took another liberal sip and stood, carrying the heavy glass with him to the ancient dictionary on its stand. He turned the onionskin pages delicately. The smile came back, this time more rueful than wry. “‘Spong. Noun. A projection of land; an irregular, narrow, projecting part of a field.’” He glanced at where his sister had stormed off. She would most likely be in the greenhouse. He took another sip of the bourbon. She might throw a pot at him, and spong was definitely not a potions word. He settled into an armchair by the fire and picked up his book. He might tell her eventually.

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An Excerpt from Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding

With a little over two weeks left before release, we thought you might all like a peek at an excerpt from Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding.  In the next couple of weeks we will be taking a closer look at many of the characters from Faerie Rising as well as releasing a few new flash fictions.  We hope you enjoy the excerpt!

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An Excerpt from Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding

The world shifted sideways. Winter braced herself against the wall with her one good hand, the chalk grinding against the concrete as she fought the initial wave of disorientation. Something was horribly wrong. Within the rift, power was building up, as if someone had just crimped a running hose.

And she was holding the nozzle.

Nine glyphs in the warding, each unique, complex, and time consuming. Each must be drawn with precision, or the whole seal would fail. Winter had never drawn glyphs so fast in her life, her hand frantically scraping the chalk against the wall in her desperate race against… against what? It felt like a tidal wave, rushing implacably toward her. Somehow, something was affecting the balance of power.

She spoke each glyph as she drew it, magic resonating in her voice with each syllable. Six glyphs to go. Its name spoken, the glyph would take on a glow, casting the hole in sharp relief, bringing out each line of exhaustion on Winter’s face.

Highlighting the growing cracks in the cement around the rift.

After the seal went up, the cement became irrelevant. It could be ground to dust, and the seal would hold. Before then, however… the seal needed a matrix, something solid to hold the lines she drew with the enspelled chalk. Before then, the seal was all too fragile.

When the surge hit, it would blow the rift wide open. There would be precious little left of Winter and probably the surrounding square acre or so.

Five glyphs.

She wasn’t going to make it. Winter’s shoulders were burning, her hand beginning to cramp and shake, her hurt wrist felt like it was on fire. The glow of the warding began to fade as her magic was drained by pain and panic and exhaustion. She needed more power. She did not have time to ground and pull power from the earth… leaving only one choice. “Karen!”

There is power to control in a name. She spoke the name with resonant Command, and suddenly the cougar was there, terrified eyes wide on the wizard beside her. Ruthlessly, she pushed aside the older woman’s flimsy natural protections and pulled what power there was into herself. It was wild, and tasted of dark places, pain-filled joy, and kittens warm in the den. This was not a wizard’s gift she used, but came of her mixed blood. The spell flared back to life, and Winter redoubled her efforts.

Four glyphs.

The hole began collapsing inward, little chunks of cement falling into the flame-wreathed darkness.

Three glyphs.

The chunks were getting larger, the cracks creeping closer to her fragile chalk lines.

Two glyphs.

The surge was now audible, a tsunami rushing toward them.

One glyph.

The ground beneath her knees was quivering with the building pressure.

The warding blazed just as the tidal wave of magic rammed it from the other side, the whole ravine shuddering from the impact, then the lettering settled into the cement, leaving the two women alone in the quiet night.


Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding will be available in e-book and paperback April 1, 2017.  Grab your pre-order at http://getBook.at/FaerieRising .

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Cover Reveal for Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding

We are very excited to reveal the cover for Faerie Rising: The First Book of Binding at long last!  The wonderful design team at Deranged Doctor Design blew us away with this cover.  We hope that you all enjoy it as much as we do.  Faerie Rising (in e-book format) is now available for pre-order at Amazon and will release on April 1, 2017.  The paperback will be available soon.

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Guest Blog- Cover Reveal for Flash Point By C. L. Schneider

We are always looking for great new books in the urban fantasy genre, and we are excited to have a guest blogger today who is releasing the first book in her new urban fantasy series, Nite Fire: Flash Point, soon.  We are thrilled to welcome C. L. Schneider!

 

Cover Reveal

I’m excited to share with you the cover for my upcoming release! After completing the Crown of Stones Trilogy last year, I wanted to do something different. And this series is it! Flash Point is the 1st book in The Nite Fire Series, a fast-paced, entertaining urban fantasy full of action and mystery. Nite Fire centers on the character of Dahlia Nite, a shapeshifting creature-hunter from a parallel world—ruled by dragons.

 

Cover of Nite Fire: Flash Point by C. L. Schneider

Nite Fire: Flash Point

Slated for execution, shapeshifting assassin, Dahlia Nite, flees her world to hide in the human realm. As payment for the shelter they unknowingly provide, Dahlia dedicates herself to protecting humans from what truly lives in the shadows. Moving from town to town, she hunts the creatures that threaten an unsuspecting human race; burying the truth that could destroy them all.

But the shadows are shifting. The lies are adding up. And when Sentinel City is threatened by a series of bizarre brutal murders, light is shed on what should never be seen. The secrets that have kept humanity in the dark for centuries are in danger of being exposed.

Wrestling with a lifetime of her own deceptions, Dahlia investigates the killings while simultaneously working to conceal their circumstances. But with each new murder, the little bit of peace she has found in this world begins to crumble. Each new clue leads her to the one place she thought to never go again. Home.

 

EXCERPT

His roar blew the hair back from my face. His oddly pliable jaw opened with a wet crack of cartilage. Dropping, extending past throat, then chest, the square edge of his jaw came to rest even with the center of his abdomen. Outlined by fleshy lips, the dark maw within held an inner ring of uneven teeth, all stained with a deep red grime. Pushing out from their center, the del-yun’s gray tongue ejected like a whip. A heavy discharge of green followed. Hitting the floor in front of me with a moist splat, the glop of saliva gurgled and smoked as it devoured the concrete. A smaller rivulet of smoke curled up from the front of my left boot, where tiny beads of the creature’s spit were eating through the laces.

“Come on,” I groaned, “not the boots…” Bending, I slid my knife in behind the black crisscross. In the corner of my eye, I saw his tongue emerging again.

I broke the lace with a quick yank.

Flinging off the still-bubbling piece as I straightened, I flung the knife next. My throw was directed at his tongue, hoping to sever the bit wagging down over his teeth. But at the last second, he moved. My weapon sailed past his tongue, in through his wide mouth, and impaled his left cheek. The tip of the blade pushed out with a spill of yellowish blood and sliced tissue.

I raised a finger. Fire trickled from my nail. It slid off the side of my hand and onto the floor. Watching its journey, the del-yun knew: one little touch was all it would take. His blood would catch like kindling, and my fire would follow it down inside him like a flame on a fuse.

 

*Flash Point will release in paperback the last week of February with a pre-order for the ebook to follow.

 

BIO

Schneider is a New York-based author of adult epic and urban fantasy. Born in a small Kansas town, she grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape in high school, on a typewriter in her parent’s living room. Schneider’s epic trilogy,The Crown of Stones, tells the story of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic.Nite Fire: Flash Point is the first book in a fast-paced urban fantasy series with shapeshifters, dragons, and parallel worlds.

Learn more about C.L. Schneider and her work at clschneiderauthor.com where you can read reviews, excerpts and sneak peeks, and subscribe to her newsletter. An active part of the indie author online community, you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+, where she is often found chatting about books, zombies, coffee, and the daily ups and downs of writing.

C. L. Schneider

Links

Website http://www.clschneiderauthor.com/

Twitter  https://twitter.com/cl_schneider

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/CLS.Author

Google# https://www.google.com/+CLSchneider

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCLSchneider

Universal Link to Crown of Stones Trilogy  http://mybook.to/COSTrilogy

Amazon Author Page http://author.to/CLSchneiderAmazonPg

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Seashells – A Books of Binding Flash Fiction

The boy was crying under a picnic table, but Winter didn’t know why. He was a lot older than her, six, maybe even seven. She crawled beneath and sat down next to him, not caring that her red and white sundress would get mussed. She’d lost her sandals somewhere but she’d managed to hold on to her red hat. Grandma Bridget said it was important so she didn’t burn in the summer sun.

The boy looked up at her, his expression wary, and wiped his face on his coat sleeve. It was peculiar, wearing a suit jacket to a family picnic. But this boy was a guest and Winter smiled at him, wanting to make him feel better.

The boy did not smile back.

Okay, she had to try harder. She reached out and took his hand, and his black brows rose at her touch.  Her smile widened and she gently pulled him out from under the table and away from the party. They walked in silence through the gardens, pixies flying from flower to flower overhead, until they came out the other side through the garden gates and their feet sunk into the sand of the beach. The black-haired boy looked around, his dark blue eyes devouring the sight of sand and sky and water. So much water.  This was the ‘Cific Ocean, and it was beautiful.

Winter led the boy to the other side of the big dune where it was cool and quiet and where the water brought the scent of salt and fish to pool at their feet. She sat down and took off his shoes and socks, smiling, because she knew it hurt to have sand in her shoes, and shook the sand she found in his out of them, setting them beside him. The boy watched her as if trying to figure her out, and she simply continued to smile.

Winter saw a seashell half-buried next to the boy’s shoes and picked it up, brushing off the sand.  It was a clam shell the size of her hand, pretty and pearly on the inside. She handed it to the boy whose brows rose again, but this time a tiny smile played at the corners of his mouth. Winter bounced up to her feet with a grin. So he liked shells? She could find shells better than anyone!

“Where are you off to?” the boy asked, but she was already back with a spirally shell with a broken tip to offer him. And then she moved a little further away, looking for more shells.

The afternoon passed and the shell pile grew and the boy’s smile widened. Winter brought him squishy seaweed and dune grasses and succulent ice plant flowers and he collected them all, touching and smelling each offering with fascination.

Over the top of the dune appeared Winter’s Uncle Adrien, her Aunt Gwen’s new husband, with a camera in hand. He snapped a picture and smiled down at them in his sad, gentle way. “There you are. Your father is looking for you. It’s time to go.”

The boy looked disappointed but he quickly put his shoes and socks back on and stood, slipping his jacket on and buttoning it, pocketing a shell as he did so. “Ta.” He inclined his head to her and turned to follow Uncle Adrien back to the house.

Winter smiled and waved at him as he walked away, sorry to see her new friend go but determined to show him a happy face as he left.

(Interested in finding out more about Seahaven and The Books of Binding?  Please subscribe at the bottom of any page of our website: www.aelowan.com.)

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The Opening Lines of Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Our friend over at https://writingouttakes.wordpress.com/ showed up their fantastic first lines today, and after totally geeking out about them we thought that looked like a lot of fun.  So we have the first few (current) paragraphs of Faerie Rising.

The little bell above the shop door preceded the desperate cry of, “Winter, we need you!”  The urgency in her friend’s voice tore the wizard’s attention from her task.  She dropped the open box of sterile surgical instruments on the long counter and rushed across the back room clinic, passing the city map of Seahaven that took up one entire wall.  On the map were neat red dots and a note for every violent incident this year.  It was the end of October and the map was so covered in red that it looked like it was inflicted with a virulent rash.  Winter pushed her way through the thickly beaded curtain into the still-darkened storefront.

It was hours before the rest of the shops in the Historical District would open, the sun was just trembling on the mountain’s lips and the deep shadows cast by the century-old buildings left the streetlights still lit.  Through the doorway walked Giovanni and Katherine, though “walk” might have been too casual a description.  He leaned heavily on her smaller frame, but she bore his weight easily with her right arm about his slender waist, holding both his and her jackets in place against his back.  Katherine kicked the door closed behind her and showed Winter her face, pale beneath the thick spray of blood that glittered on her skin and hair.

Winter swallowed down the rising bile of panic as the meat smell of heavy bleeding reached her.  In her experience, that was the smell of a loved one’s violent death.

She had seen a great deal of death.

“What happened?” she asked even as she quelled her trembling belly with a wash of icy professionalism and shoved a half-empty box aside with her foot to make a clear path.  The shop was a disaster, thick with dust, boxes everywhere and the shelves half empty.  And there was precious little she could do about it anytime soon.

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A Snippet From Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Scrambling, Winter gave up a few more feet to the goblin’s slashing claws and used the precious seconds she bought to rummage frantically in her massive canvas bag, murmuring the charm to bring a small parchment envelope to her hand while watching carefully for its next move.  She should have had it out before.  She knew that, now.

She had started with a rake to defend herself, but then found out how well the nasty little thing could climb, as the continuous throbbing on the back of her right hand attested to.  She had never actually been trained for this, unlike her cousins and two older sisters.  She was supposed to be a teacher, a healer and a Potion Master.  She should be home, tucked away in her family’s kitchen teaching a handful of little cousins to brew simple decoctions, not doing battle with a pseudo-demon the size of a throw pillow in Karen’s backyard.

And losing.

“Blast!”  It darted to one side, trying to get past Winter and out into the night.  She had to keep it boxed in, just for a few more moments.  If it got loose into the neighborhood, she would be days finding it again, and by then it might have graduated to attacking children.  Only luck, a couple hours of stressful patience and a trail of about two pounds of fresh chopped beef had gotten it into the shed.  She kicked out, taking it in what passed for a midsection, and it bounced against the back of the shed like a large hairy soccer ball.  Tools popped from their perches, and a pot was knocked off its shelf, all raining down on the neatly swept concrete floor.  A burning sensation flared up her right calf, and Winter knew the little monster had scored, too.

Keeping her eyes fixed on the ugly little hair ball, Winter tore the top off the envelope.  The goblin crouched just out of reach, panting in a wheezy sort of way, slime dripping from its broken bottle teeth, all its eyes glittering back and forth desperately searching for a way past her.  Fear seemed to roll off it like a dark fog.  Wherever it came from, it probably had no idea where it was now.  It may have even seen what happened to its little friend.  Winter knew how it felt, trapped and desperate to find a way out, bloody images of her loved ones tearing at her memories.  For just a moment, she felt sorry for the evil little thing.  No one would be coming to rescue the goblin, either…

Then again, she wasn’t the one eating the neighborhood cats.  She raised the envelope…

With blinding speed nearly twenty pounds of goblin impacted with her upper chest.  Winter did not realize she was falling until the autumn-wet lawn struck her in the back, and she grabbed a fistful of greasy, matted fur with her left hand as it made to leap over her head to freedom.

It retaliated by sinking jagged teeth into her pale wrist, right through the sturdy fabric of her uncle’s old Army jacket.

Winter let out a yelp of startled pain, but did not release the frantically scratching beast.  It flailed about, claws raking her chest, her neck, her face, digging bloody furrows into her skin wherever it could find purchase.  She beat against its thick body in panic, the envelope almost forgotten in her clenched fist, and it worried at her wrist like a dog, the teeth digging deeper and deeper into flesh towards bone.

Rolling to her side, she released her grip on the envelope a little, half dumping, half pounding the goblin with red, glittering dust, drew the magic from within herself and through gritted teeth released it in a resonating word of command.  “Bind!”  It was not needed, the spell in the powder was already primed, but she was in pain and wanted to be sure it worked.

The creature froze in place, her wrist still clamped between its jaws.  Discolored teeth remained imbedded in fabric and flesh, but at least it had stopped chewing at the wound.  Winter tried in vain to breathe without smelling.  Wherever the little goblin had come from, it stank, and fear mixed with exertion did not help with the odor.  Her own pain and adrenaline were not helping, and she fought down a wave of nausea.  Grunting with hurt at the jostling, Winter jerked her bag out from beneath her hip and with one hand and her teeth uncorked a small blue bottle.  The acrid smell made her nostrils sting.  The goblin apparently smelled it, too, because it began to drool heavily in fear on Winter’s hand and arm.  She upended the bottle, the thick liquid soaking into the beast’s matted fur, and again produced a voice resonant with magical command.  “Banish!”  Again, the magic in the potion was already primed, but sometimes a little overkill did not hurt.

With a shrill keen and a cloud of noxious smoke the goblin vanished, the release of its weight and jaws painful in itself.  Winter rolled carefully up onto her knees, ignoring with limited success the way her torn stockings neatly wicked up the freezing moisture from the plush lawn to chill her skin.  Without teeth to block up the wound, blood welled up from the torn flesh, black in the suburban twilight, and began to run in rivulets down her hand.

She knelt there quietly, watching the first glittering drop fall silently onto the grass, and sluggishly fought back the roaring rush of exhaustion in her ears.  Darkness crept along the edges of her vision, and she shrugged her injured arm carefully out of her coat sleeve and knelt in the chill in just her long dress and her sweater, which she slipped off to bind about her hurt wrist.  It felt so good, just being still.  Just for a few more minutes.  She remained kneeling in the street-lit yard, watching the weave soak up blood and slime, and found herself fighting back sudden frustrated tears as the pain wound its way to her brain past the kinder adrenaline.  Her older sisters Sorcha and Mirilyn – even her younger cousins – they were so much better at this than she was.  They were stronger, faster, less scatterbrained…  Her wrist throbbed with her pulse, still fast, and the smaller stinging scratches echoing across her face, chest, and arms made her wish she could kick the evil little thing just a few more times.  Sorcha had once taken on an entire pack of hell-hounds that threatened her day-camp, for heaven’s sake.  Granted, Grandfather and Mirilyn had had to rescue her, but they had all three come home in triumph.  A single nasty little goblin would have been no match.  What was she doing wrong?

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The Characters of Faerie Rising – Jessie St. James

When Jessie St. James was twelve years-old she stumbled into Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe, a little family-owned store full of herbal products. After taking a light-fingered look around she attempted to leave with some of the smaller merchandize and came face to face with one of the proprietors, the wizard Winter Mulcahy.  Winter had noticed that the girl was using magic to aid her shoplifting – but put a broom in her hand and had her do chores in the shop rather than calling the police.  At the end of the afternoon Winter rewarded Jessie’s good work with the items she had tried to steal.  Jessie has been Winter’s shadow ever since.

Jessie began training her magic with Winter’s twin cousins, Kelley and Martina, whose offensive abilities were more in keeping with Jessie’s flamboyant style than Winter’s tamer potion making. But that came to an end six months ago, when the twins were killed – the latest in the long line of Mulcahy wizards to die.  Winter has been forced to continue Jessie’s magical education as best she can, but with the crushing weight of her responsibilities Jessie is often left training on her own.  Most days she can be found at Curiosity’s after or, much to Winter’s eternal consternation, during school hours.

Sixteen year-old Jessie’s home life is a mess. Her parents, Joanie and Darryl St. James, are career alcoholics, controlling and verbally abusive towards their daughter and each other, and resent Jessie’s involvement with the Mulcahy family.  Not possessing any magic themselves, they are unaware of the preternatural world their daughter has whole heartedly joined and see Winter as a busybody.  Jessie in return does everything in her power to avoid her parents, taking advantage of their drunken forgetfulness to spend nights sleeping anywhere but at home.

Quick of wit, artistic, and unabashedly outspoken, Jessie has quickly made friends throughout the preternatural community, especially among the vampires of Seahaven. Many nights she can be found couch surfing at their Theatre in the Historical District when she isn’t hiding from her parents in the tiny apartment above Curiosity’s.

Winter is sick, falling apart from the strain of holding Seahaven together alone. Everyone in the preternatural community can see it, and they all talk to Jessie about it.  Jessie is desperate to help her friend and mentor, but Winter won’t let her.

But being told “no” won’t deter a young wizard like Jessie…

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